Interview with Emma Darnell

Can you tell us about how the mayor made clear what his minority requirements, participation requirements for the airport were?


More than two years before the airport, ah, expansion occurred Mayor Jackson made it very clear, publicly and privately, to representatives of the airlines, to representatives of the architect and engineer, to the general public that the expansion of Hartsfield International Airport would involve significant minority participation. He also stated, and this became a rather, ah, controversial point, that with respect to the status of existing contracts at the airport, there were no existing contracts, and that all contracts for the expansion of the airport, ah, would be bid. This of course created a great deal of controversy, ah, with respect to the architect, ah, and the engineer because we had done business with one architect and one engineer at Atlanta airport for more than sixteen years. Ah, consistent with that policy statement made by the mayor, numerous occasions, ah, to airlines officials and to others, ah, in my shop we developed the minority participation plan for Atlanta airport which involved certain numerical goals with respect to employment for all persons who wished to qualify, ah, ah, as c- as contractors for the, ah, project because the very first step of course was to develop the bidder's list. Ah, the contract compliance officer determined whether or not a contractor or a vendor met those quantitative requirements. And at that time the requirement was that a contractor must demonstrate objectively that at least 25 percent of the total workforce was minority. We moved into the so-called joint venture concept only because it was very clear that in certain kinds of businesses, such as an architectural firm or an engineering firm, it would not be possible that the, ah, firm would have sufficient time and opportunity to meet those quantitative goals within the time, ah, necessary for bidding. So the joint venture concept was only developed as a strategy to be used by firms that could not reasonably meet the city's quantitative requirements with respect to employment. It was never our goal to substitute the minority business, ah, for the minority worker. We wanted to do both. And of course, unfortunately, um, joint venture began to be misunderstood not only in terms of, ah, the thrust and purpose of the joint venture, ah, ah, process, strategy which was to increase minority employment, but it also began to be a code word for Emma Darnell and for Maynard Jackson's whole policy of vigorous enforcement of the city's nondiscrimination laws.


Thank you, cut.