The New York Carib News | By Mell P
On Wednesday, April 07, 2021, Carib News held an Editorial Board Meeting with Senator Kevin Parker, Candidate for NYC Comptroller.
Carib News Publisher Karl Rodney opened the meeting with a welcome and congratulations, and the discussion floated right into the NYC State budget and affairs that needed particular attention.
Senator Parker shared that even though African-Americans and Latinos are women and represent over 60% of the population, they only represent about 20% of the people who are doing business with the city.
He also shared that “the city of New York has a budget that last year was about $92 billion of that $92 billion. Only about $20 billion was contracted out”.
Less than 2% of the money under management by the city of New York goes to those communities.
Parker is running on the mandate of ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR ALL NEW YORKERS.
He emphasized this point during the meeting stating, “It can’t continue to go that way and we need to do better.”
He offered suggestions of a couple of different things that can be done.
1. Getting African-Americans involved in business development at the state level. Having served on the statewide task force, he knows firsthand how to raise the amount of money in terms of no-pay contracts for MWB ease – raise it from $500,000 to a million dollars.
2. Getting a list of all the MWBE’s in the State.
3. Enforcing MWBE, and asking for MWBE participation in every contract.
4. Doing a better job with black investment managers, giving preference to New York-based businesses and helping black money managers to figure out their standing.
Reverend Dennis Dillon challenged the Senator to say specifically how he would implement these measures since they don’t fall within the purview of the Comptroller’s Office.
And if you know anything about the Senator’s track record, he shared that for the past 18 years having served as Majority Whip he has built good enough political relationships with members of the Assembly and the Governor to be able to get those bills signed.
He shared that “directing investments towards New York City companies did not necessarily mean that they’re going to go to black, Latino,
Asian and women companies”. He spoke about hiring someone specifically to work on the MWBE side, but then another person to look at how we divest internationally.
Yvonne Graham, Associate Commissioner; Director, Office of Minority Health New York State Department of Health one of the icons of the community also joined the discussion. she posed the question: What would be your approach to investing in youth engagement and youth empowerment and re-imagining the way we deal with our youth?
Sen. Parker: “For that question and thank you for your friendship and your partnership on many things that we worked on in our communities. There’s kind of three areas, right? The first school – working with the Department of Education, working with the City Council and the Mayor to improve the curriculum in schools, building out the impact of school-based athletics.”
Senator Parker went on to share that the city needs to use an economy of scale to build those programs. And also a need for universal afterschool where every single building needs to have an after-school program that would require a partnership between the schools and local community, nonprofits.
Finally, he spoke about the importance of school-based health clinics. he mentioned that he was actively working on a trauma-informed care bill that really requires every single teacher and the Board of Ed to get training on trauma-informed care and to have a trauma-informed specialist in every single school district in the city of New York.
As Comptroller he spoke directly to speeding up payments for nonprofits – 90 days instead of 120, and reviving steel pan as part of the historical element of New York that is now being lost due to gentrification.
Janice Lawrence-Clarke, President and Creative Director of JLC PRoductions, concerned about the cultural perspective and the policing aspect of Caribbean festivals, asked if there is a way to include sensitivity training.
Sen. Parker responded that the training is already being done and has been for years, however, a bill to expand said training is in the works.