Alphonso Jackson’s story about canceling a government contract because the contractor criticized President Bush was part of a larger effort to “educate” influential minority business leaders about how things “work” in Washington. A new Dallas Business Journal story has more from his controversial April 28 speech:
Before joining the federal government, Jackson said, he was “na¯ve about how things worked in Washington.”
“After about six months on the job, I had a person come in and say, ‘I don’t think you understand how government works. We don’t bid out anything in government.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? That’s illegal.’ He went on about the lists people get on.
“A lot of blacks and Hispanics don’t know about the lists,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know about this. So we started this process where every time a businessperson of color came in to see me, I’d tell them, ‘Go down to the (minority small business) office and get registered — then I can work with you.
According to Jackson, once you are on the list and get a contract, the money never stops flowing:
Jackson also told the group about a contractor who started with a $50,000 HUD contract in 1992. About six months ago, Jackson said, the agency terminated the contract and redistributed the work to three smaller, disadvantaged firms.
“This is going to astound you,” he said. “When we terminated the contract it was worth $111 million. That’s how government works. Once you get the contract, they just keep giving you tax dollars.”
Jackson stressed that “HUD provides ‘business opportunities for many in this room to get rich,’” adding that “one contract can make you wealthy.” That was the purpose of the speech, to explain to a well-heeled crowd (including former Dallas Cowboys players Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith) how to rake in cash from the federal government.
It’s not about providing a valuable service at a fair price. It’s about getting on the list, getting the money flowing and making sure you don’t criticize the President. Whether the details of Jackson’s speech were fact or fiction, it’s a grossly irresponsible message and a violation of the public trust.