GUEST COMMENTARY: Jackson City Councilman Aaron Banks - - Jackson, MS

GUEST COMMENTARY: Jackson City Councilman Aaron Banks

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Greetings, I’m Aaron Banks, City Councilman for Ward 6 in Jackson. During the emergency water crises that our capital city faced a few weeks ago, there were several missed opportunities. I want to be very clear as to why we should be about the business of fixing Jackson and we must put Jacksonians to work:

Let me be clear, my comments on emergency contracts was not about Equal Business Opportunity (“EBO”) participation. It was about local contractors (both minority and majority companies)… folk in Jackson not being chosen to serve as prime contractors for these emergency contracts.

These local contractors have performed the work on an emergency basis in the past, they have the capacity to perform the work and they pay taxes to our great city.

These emergencies ARE predictable, in that they occur every year during the winter.  Therefore, claiming that these contracts must be awarded year after year to nonlocal prime contractors is disingenuous.  The claim that enforcement of EBO plans during these annual emergencies is a “check-the-box” exercise that is insulting and creates confusion about the real issue…which is the selection of local contractors who have already exhibited the ability to do the work in the past.  Again, this is about companies in Jackson with the capacity not being over-looked.

As a matter of FACT, our Public Works Director, Mr. Robert Miller, admitted at a public meeting before City contractors that he did not contact any local companies because he did not know any of them because he’s new to Jackson.  This is understandable, but you know them and I know them. 

I think we can get this right. We are headed in the right direction. As I’ve stated before, I commend our Public Works Director and this Administration for their handling of this “annual”  burst pipes/winter emergency.

In closing, there are several minority and majority firms in Jackson who can do the work and who have performed the work on an emergency basis for the City in the past.  Since these businesses are in Jackson and pay taxes here, we should first look local to get the work done. Political prejudice and favor should not guide our decisions.  At the end of the day, we should reward, not punish, companies that have chosen to remain in Jackson, that pay taxes in Jackson, and that are committed to Jackson. That is just good old common sense. 

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