A coalition of advocates for disadvantaged Utahns now wants to know if women and minorities are getting a fair shot at the millions of dollars in contracts being awarded for the 2002 Winter Games.
Salt Lake 2002 & Beyond, the group behind the successful effort to put a representative of low-income residents on the Olympic organizing committee's board of trustees, is calling for a review of procurement policies."We believe the Olympic committee is maintaining a rather closed procurement system," the Rev. Ralph Crabbe, coalition chairman, said. "We want it to be open not just to women and minorities but to everyone who qualifies."
A list of detailed questions about the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's purchasing procedures has been sent to trustee Don Cash, the chairman and chief executive officer of Questar Corporation.
Coalition members are hoping for answers at the trustees' next meeting Thursday to such questions as whether Olympic organizers have set aside a percentage of contracts to go to women and minorities.
The coalition's recently adopted goals for the Games include getting 10 percent of all contracts awarded by the organizing committee set aside for women and minorities.
Mike Korologos, spokesman for the organizing committee, said an effort already is being made to encourage women- and minority-owned businesses to bid for contracts. Olympic organizers are expected to spend a total of $1 billion.
Korologos said 25 women- and minority-owned companies were contacted last November for their recommendations for the procurement policy, adopted by trustees last March.
The policy includes the statement that it will be "applied in a manner that provides fair and equal opportunity to Utah businesses including women- and minority-represented businesses."
Korologos said it's important to remember the Olympics are not "an engine for social change." He said it's difficult to set aside contracts because much of the Olympics will be funded through corporate sponsors.
Organizers do hope that at least half of the contracts go to Utah companies. "Beyond that, it's too early," he said, adding the procurement policy is as open "as we can possibly be and still get our job done."
Other coalition goals are building 2002 units of affordable housing, targeting areas affected by Olympic development for special attention, establishing a trust fund for community improvements and creating jobs.
The group also intends to monitor the civil liberties of homeless, minority, low-income and disabled Utahns to make sure their rights are not violated by efforts to curb loitering and similar crimes during the Games.
The coalition is promising to watch the housing market, too, to ensure that low-income units aren't priced out of their homes by landlords who increase rents during the Games.
Crabbe said he hopes the Olympic committee will incorporate the coalition's principles into its policies. "We want them to be sensitive and conscious of the whole population," he said. "I don't think that's too much to ask."
The coalition represents Crabbe's church, Trinity AME, and more than 20 other organizations, including the Crossroads Urban Center, Centro Civico Mexicano, the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities and the ACLU.
Earlier this year, the coalition helped pressure Gov. Mike Leavitt to appoint Maria Garciaz, head of Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services, to the Olympic committee's board of trustees.