The Mayor of Birmingham boasts of using state power to create an artificial class of black millionaires. We call this racial socialism. It’s standard operating procedure in black-controlled municipalities.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin: ‘Unapologetic’ spending $100 million with Black, women-owned businesses by 2025, by Roy S. Johnson , Al.com, September 15, 2021
A parade of Birmingham mayors—Black mayors—has been criticized for a perceived dearth of Black millionaires in the city, a direct result, many believe, of a lack of intentionality in spending public dollars with Black- and women-owned businesses.
The oft-cited holy-grail is Atlanta, where former mayor Maynard Jackson threw down the gauntlet with local banks and businesses during historic tenure as the city’s first Black mayor in the 1970s and early 1980s and laid the foundation for a plethora of wealthy African Americans in the city.
In January, Birmingham revealed it spent $24.4 million with Black- and women-owned businesses in fiscal 2020. Last week, during a wide-ranging conversation with me about what he must accomplish before 2025 for his myriad promises to be fulfilled, Woodfin called that spending amount “unacceptable” and vowed to be more intentional—more Maynard Jackson-like—in his second term.
“I’m a fan of Maynard Jackson, as well as [former Washington D.C. mayor] Marion Barry,” he told me, “What they said to their business community is, ‘This is who we are, this is where we need to be. You have the option, we’re going to get there together, or things won’t grow the way they need to.”
“We have a very ambitious goal during the next four years in support of Black-owned businesses and women-owned businesses: We’re going to be unapologetic, and unabashed how we get there.”
That goal, the mayor shared, is for at least $100 million in public spending with minority-, women-owned businesses and other DBEs (disadvantaged business enterprises) by 2025. Getting there will require aggressive implementation and enforcement of spending requirements in order for businesses to qualify for tax incentives – particularly in the construction industry where more than $1 billion in projects is expected to be completed within the next few years.
In December 2016, you may recall, Topgolf, along with St. Louis-based ARCO Murray Construction Inc., signed an inclusion agreement with the City of Birmingham with a goal of 30 percent participation by minority- and women-owned firms in the construction of the now popular facility just east of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Convention Center. As an incentive, the city, in a separate project agreement, promised Top Golf a minimum annual payment of $228,000, or 30 percent of sales tax revenue, up to a cap of $1.5 million, to meet the goal.
Yet two companies shanked. In a letter to Topgolf dated May 28, 2019, and obtained by AL.com, Woodfin revealed Topgolf and Arco Murray, based on their own documentation, spent $601,919.99 with minority- and women-owned firms to complete the $24.6 million project—$17.1 million of which was building costs, $7.5 million was listed as “other” related costs.
That was just 3.52 percent of construction costs spent with minority firms, and 2.5 percent of total project costs, the letter outlined. As a result, the city terminated its project agreement with Topgolf and ARCO Murray and did not pay the incentive [More].
The key takeaway from this story is Top Golf executives did a risk assessment study, realizing it would be smarter to abandon the promise of hiring non-white contractors for a tax-incentive and instead barely employing any non-white contractors to build their attraction in downtown Birmingham.
Other than this, nearly 75% black Birmingham is just another city where racial socialism is par for the course for how life in the public/private sector happens.