Saturday, May 23, 2015

Army Gold Star Wife Stephanie Dostie on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month in 1999 to ensure the nation was given the opportunity to publically demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifices and successes made by our servicemembers - past and present. Each year the president makes a proclamation, reminding Americans of the important role the U.S. Armed Forces have played in the history and development of our country.
Memorial Day, is the only federal holiday in May and is celebrated on the last Monday of the month. The day, dating from the Civil War era, traditionally has marked recognition of those who have died in service to the nation. Each year on Memorial Day, the White House Commission on Remembrance promotes one minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time to honor the military's fallen comrades and to pay tribute to the sacrifices by the nation's service members and veterans.



 On Saturday, May 23, 2015 tune in to hear Gold Star Wife, Stephanie Dostie who lost her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dostie, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. Tune in to hear her talk about her meeting her husband for the first time at UT Knoxville, falling in love, and embracing being an Army wife with her heart and soul.


Listen to her recount their early years of marriage moving from country to country prior to 911. She talks about her husband's love of family and country and his bravery. She tells the last days of  Sgt. Dostie's life and how she knew he was KIA before she ever received the knock on the door at Fort Campbell shortly after Christmas.




Stephanie Dostie talks openly about raising the children alone and the difficulties of the early years without the love of her life and hero. She talks about the support of the Fort Campbell community and what has helped strengthen her over the years. She also talks about the importance of being there for other families and gives the audience suggestions on how they can comfort, support, and honor families who have loss a service member.

This show promises to empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your BEST life. Living Your Best Life, can heard on 760 The Gospel in the Middle Tennessee region, Tune-In, www.UStream.TV and military bases from 9-10AM CST.


More About Dostie Family and the National Memorial Day Concert

The 2015 National Memorial Day Concert will be broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on NPT and other PBS affiliates around the country on May24. This year, two Middle Tennessee children will be among the honored guests whose stories will be part of the annual celebration.

Bayleigh and Cameron Dotsie will be among the honored guests. The National Memorial Day Concert will be part of the segment wherein letters from servicemen and servicewomen and/or their families are read by celebrities. The Dotsie children are Gold Star Children who have lost a parent to war. Their father, Shawn, was killed 10 years ago while serving in Iraq. Their story focuses on memories of their father before he went to war, and then how everything changed when just after Christmas “two men in uniform” came to their house. Bayleigh‘s words will be read by actress Stefanie Scott.

NPT will broadcast the National Memorial Day Concert live at 7 p.m. on May 24, with an encore presentation immediately following at 8:30 p.m.

The National Memorial Day Concert will be hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise — celebrating their 10th anniversary as co-hosts — and will include appearances by General Colin L. Powell (Ret.); seven-time Grammy Award-winner Gloria Estefan; actress Stefanie Scott; “The Voice” season five winner Tessanne Chin; classical cross-over artist Katherine Jenkins; and renowned tenor Russell Watson in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jack Everly.
Also participating in the event are the U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff with The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus, The Soldiers Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Armed Forces Color Guard, and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.


All Photos: Stephanie Dostie

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Erik Milam on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations, leaders, and volunteers who lead by example. With extraordinary acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations, leaders, and volunteers  embody, "Be the change you want to see in the world.
 

 On May 2, 2015, tune in to hear TrustCore's Erik Milam share about overcoming, beating the odds, and dealing with self doubt. Erik Milam, a former Montgomery Bell Academy football player turned financial planner will share about his challenging childhood and college years and how those challenges did not deter him from being successful in life and at life.

Erik Milam speaking at the NBJ's 40 Under 40 Luncheon on March 27, 2015
Erik Milam receiving a standing ovation after his inspirational speech!
Milam, 34, was chosen as one of the top 40 Under 40 by the Nashville Business Journal in 2015 and in 2014 by the inaugural Investment News 40 under 40 for being a leader in his industry and in his community. Listen to Milam talk being told as a child he will never be able to climb stairs because of cerebral palsy but years later is running in marathons. Hear him discuss his speech impediment but is now a sought after motivational speaker! Overcoming odds and difficulties are woven into Milam's DNA and he lives his life to the fullest. Milam is truly an example of turning obstacles into assets. This interview will keep you empowered, inspired, and motivated to live your BEST Life long after the show is over.

Erik living life to the fullest!

Living Your Best Life, can heard on 760 The Gospel in the Middle Tennessee region, Tune-In, www.UStream.TV and military bases from 9-10AM CST.


More About Erik Milam

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Colonel Alvin E. Miller, Sr. on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes


Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations, leaders, and volunteers who lead by example. With extraordinary acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations, leaders, and volunteers  embody, "Be the change you want to see in the world.


 On Saturday, April 25, 2015 Colonel Alvin E. Miller, Sr  will join us in the studio to share about his 30 plus career in the military. He will also share about his life growing up in a community that counted on young men being in prison or in the grave. Instead of being a statics in the prison industrial complex, Colonel Miller, Sr. became a leader of leaders. Hear his storied journey from being a Treasure Coast, Florida native who graduated from Fort Piece Central High School where he excelled in sports.

After gradating from high school, Colonel Miller, Sr. attended college at Eastern Kentucky University. In 1979, he led Eastern Kentucky University to winning the NCAA-1AA National Football Championship (the first in school's history). ABC Television and Chevrolet Automotive Corporation voted Colonel Miller as the Semi-Final Championship Game and the National Championship Game MVP.

His stellar collegiate career led him to trying out for the Houston Oilers. Listen to Colonel Miller, Sr share how he transitioned from athlete to an Army officer and from military to ministry where he prayed for President Obama. Hear him talk about going from ghetto to God as he share his thoughts on the state of young black men today.

This interview promises to empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your BEST life. Living Your Best Life, can heard on 760 The Gospel in the Middle Tennessee region, Tune-In, www.UStream.TV and military bases from 9-10AM CST.





Saturday, April 18, 2015

Soprano Abiodun Koya on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

 Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations, leaders, and volunteers who lead by example. With extraordinary acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations, leaders, and volunteers  embody, "Be the change you want to see in the world.
On Saturday, April 18, 2015, Living Your Best Life in partnership with GSH Media Group, listeners will hear Soprano Abiodun Koya share about her life, her musical and acting careers, her work with young performers and what keeps her inspired daily. She will also share about her upcoming performances for wedding nuptials for members of the military. The Nigerian native was recently featured in the Americolor Opera Alliance’s presentation of LaRoche, an original opera about the only black male passenger on the ill fated Titanic, where she assumed the role of “Madam Mae/Top Lady.”  



Tune in to hear how Holmes felt after hearing Abiodun Koya, known affectionately as Abby, performance in Atlanta. Listen to them talk about the text message to Soprano Karen Parks that sealed the deal for Abby to consider performing in the Bahamas. Since meeting, the two have been planning several upcoming performances to benefit military families and veteran nonprofits around the country and in the Bahamas.

Abby And Genma visiting the Parthenon in Nashville, TN  
Abby on the campus of TSU with Music Major Darius Lewis
Abiodun Koya also is preparing for several concerts in Nigeria and an upcoming reality TV show. Hear hear talk future projects, her love of Nashville, and her desire to help others, especially women and young girls in her native country. At the end of this fun and lively show, you will also hear a melody of some of Genma's favorite classical songs performed by her friend Abby.


This interview promises to empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your BEST life. Living Your Best Life, can heard on 760 The Gospel in the Middle Tennessee region, Tune-In, www.UStream.TV and military bases from 9-10AM CST.

More About Abiodun Koya


Abiodun Koya in the Sirius XM Studios with Genma Holmes
Abiodun Koya, Abby, as she is fondly called, has sung for presidents, senators, ambassadors, governors, less privileged children, and Congress members to mention a few. A highlight of her career was an invitation to a black history month performance at the White House. Abiodun was recently featured in the Americolor Opera Alliance’s presentation of LaRoche, an original opera about the only black male passenger on the ill fated Titanic, where she assumed the role of “Madam Mae/Top Lady.”

Abby holds a B.A. in Business Management and devotes her time and resources to her charity foundation, the Courtesy Foundation, which raises scholarship funds for girl orphans in Africa. She uses her musical platform to shed light on issues affecting African children and women.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Melinda Doolittle KeyNotes GFWC Brentwood Woman's Club Fundraiser

Melinda Doolitte
GFWC Brentwood Woman's Club (BWC) annual Step Up: It's a Charity Affair fundraiser will feature recording artist, Melinda Doolittle, on May 5, 2015. Melinda who became a household name on season six of American Idol continues thrilling audiences with her powerhouse vocals and charm will have dual roles as the club's guest speaker and performer.

In 2013 alone, Melinda was featured on 5 studio albums, including her sophomore release You're The Reason. Her latest album offers listeners a true glimpse into Doolittle as an artist, as she wrote and performed half of the songs on the album. Melinda told the Hollywood Reporter that she approached the album "from the aspect of love. It’s what shapes my life daily. I wanted to be transparent and honest."

BWC's Step Up: It's a Charity Affair fundraiser continues to grow in attendance and has garnered wave reviews throughout Williamson County. The fundraiser supports several endeavors of the club including its educational program. BWC's educational program includes an endowment fund with Columbia State Community College
The Club strongly believes the more scholarships it gives, the more the more opportunities others have to make a meaningful contribution to their communities. Education can assist in the goal to end poverty, attain a better job, improve their quality of life and create a better world.
At the annual fundraiser, the community is also introduced to Brentwood's Woman of the Year. Prior honorees have been Linda Lynch, City of Brentwood Community Relations Director; Joyce Keistler, Director of the Martin Center; Susan Leathers, prior Editor and Co-Owner Brentwood Home Page, Franklin Home Page and BrentWord Communications; Linda Jackson, Executive Director of BRIDGES; Nancy Osman, community volunteer and Director of Ty2 Foundation, and  Jennifer Wolcott, community volunteer with the American Red Cross and the Boys Scout.
Step Up: It's a Charity Affair and Brentwood Woman of the Year Luncheon
Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
Silent Auction starts at 10:30. Lunch served at 11:30. 
Brentwood Country Club
5213 Country Club Drive
Brentwood, Tennessee 37207
Tickets $50.00
RSVP: edkathkc1@att.net
More About Brentwood Woman's Club
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is a unifying force, bringing together local women’s clubs, with members dedicated to strengthening their communities and enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.  With 100,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members are community leaders who work locally to create global change by supporting the arts, preserving natural resources, advancing education, promoting healthy lifestyles, encouraging civic involvement, and working toward world peace and understanding.  The Brentwood Woman’s Club has been a chartered member of GFWC for over 40 years.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Can We Pause the Walter Scott Video?



The video of Walter Scott being shot in the back by officer Michael T. Slager. The video has been played over and over on every news cast.

The video shows that deadly force was used to stop Walter Scott. The video also shows how causal the officer Michael T. Slager looked right after Walter Scott fell to ground after being hit by five bullets. To many, the video proves that the death of Black and Brown people vary greatly from what the police officers report and what witnesses see. Many have commented that watching a video of someone being shot over and over desensitizes the masses and dehumanizes a human being.

The video is on every countless timelines on  Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. And every cable outlet and mainstream media news cast have replayed the video of Walter Scott being shot multiple times and dying without ceasing since it surfaced two days ago. At what point does showing the video over and over, from the chase to the Scott falling on the ground to his death is enough? As grateful as the Scott family must be for the video being shared with them, when do we as the public and media say enough with the replays. Or at the very least pause the video out of respect for the grieving family.

#pausethevideo

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dr. Susan H. Edwards to Speak at Brentwood Woman's Club April Meeting


Dr. Susan H. Edwards, Executive Director and CEO of the Frist Center for the Visual Art, will be the Brentwood Woman's Club's guest speaker for their monthly meeting on April 7, 2015. Dr. Edwards will share about leading one of the most dynamic museums in the world and upcoming exhibitions to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

The Brentwood Library is located at 8109 Concord Rd, Brentwood, TN 37027. The meeting starts at 11:00am promptly. BWC's general meetings are open to the public.

More About Dr. Susan H. Edwards:


Dr. Susan H. Edwards was decorated as a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) in a ceremony at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in 2011. The medal was presented by the Consul General of France, Pascal Le Deunff.


Susan H. Edwards is Executive Director and CEO of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee.  She also originates exhibitions, publishes, and lectures in the areas of modern and contemporary art and photography.  She is the author of Ben Shahn and the Task of Photography in Thirties America as well as articles that have appeared in The History of Photography, The Print Collectors’ Newsletter, and numerous exhibition catalogues.  She serves on the Bogliasco Foundation Advisory Board, Harvard University Art Museums Collections Committee and is an advisor for the Stephen Taller Archive at Harvard University. She is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors.


More About the Brentwood Woman's Club:


The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is a unifying force, bringing together local women’s clubs, with members dedicated to strengthening their communities and enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.  With 100,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members are community leaders who work locally to create global change by supporting the arts, preserving natural resources, advancing education, promoting healthy lifestyles, encouraging civic involvement, and working toward world peace and understanding.  The Brentwood Woman’s Club has been a chartered member of GFWC for over 40 years.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nashville Airport Commissioner Tells Room Full Airport Security Firm is Horrible



 On Wednesday, March 25, 2015, I attended the 1:00 Board Meeting of Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. The room was packed. The surprise on the board members faces can be seen as they walked into March every seat taken and no space left on the wall meeting that included staff, contractors, bidders, 'happy airport employees from a video,' lawyers for their clients, media, and a few faces who seemed as if there were there to watch me.(Yes, that was very obvious.)

Apparently, the March 17, 2015 meeting of the GAOPE committee stirred the pot for many and put how business is done at MNAA back in the public spotlight. Many issues that were laid plain for all to see at the committee meeting were treated like lost luggage and the conversations in the business community, especially among women and minority entrepreneurs, about procurement procedures or lack there of were now being scrutinized by the public at large.

When you add the systemic culture of purchasing goods and services for MNAA that has been laden with decades of favorites vs. best practices with contractors and subcontractors and the over studied SWMBE program that resembles a merry go round with the number of program managers it has had over the years, it is hard to help MNAA see that diversity starts within an entire organization and assigned to a lone staffer or two who will eventually not accept status qua. Diversity in leadership, staff, board appointments (yes, I know the Mayor appoints the board) IS good business. Instead of listening with hearing ears and seeing with open eyes, MNAA took the approach after the March 17, 2015 meeting that MNAA will show you how good we are doing. They played for a packed house a "Nashville Airport Experience" video that proved nothing and only came across as condescending with the  "wes happy, i's happy, u's happy" vibe.

With the video being shown at the start of the board meeting, I was keenly aware that this was the airport response to my blog posts. When I asked a staffer later that day, if showing a 'happy folks' at the airport video part of the norm for board meetings? My question was met with a deadpan stare and a tart reply, "You are a big girl. What do you think?" Right, that what I thought.

Besides the 'happy folks' video, the other stand out moment of the meeting came courtesy of  Commissioner Bobby Joslin. I learned quickly to watch Joslin. He shares whatever thoughts are running through his head and delivers unforgettable nuggets that stay with you long after he has stopped talking. He came blasting yesterday and trust me, he did not disappoint my pen. But his words made my heart race a bit faster as I thought about his comments later that evening as I was booking a flight for a sudden trip.

During the board meeting on separate occasions, Commissioners Deborah Wright and Dexter Samuels tried to convey their thoughts to other board members that the contracting process that MNAA uses is seriously flawed and MNAA's 2006 procurement procedures manual was not being followed. (Those rules will be addressed in detail in a separate post.) In between votes for several contracts, Commissioner Joslin shared his frustrations as to why anyone would questions the business as usual model that has become an institution at MNAA. To help the spectators in the room understand Joslin's world view he shared his thoughts about one particular business who he viewed unfavorably. Joslin said, "What is the problem? We have a horrible security firm, we have had all kinds problems out of them and we hired them again." Commissioner Joslin trying to defend the board's decision to rehire a firm whose bid is at the root of much ire told a room full of seasoned travelers, the security firm hired by MNAA was horrible. What? Let us pray..."Dear God, Help."

Now, let us dissect that statement in more detail.

Commissioner Joslin uttered in a public meeting packed with spectators who were seeing MNAA's procurement practices being thoroughly examined because a third contract was awarded to a contractor whose blaring overt actions of charging management fees to subcontractors was one of the main contracting issues. Joslin, unprompted, informed the members of the public present that the security at an airport was in hands of a firm that he stated was "HORRIBLE!" And because of their horribleness, they were rewarded for their horrible service to the public with a second contract. THAT was the Yosemite Sam moment of the day! And that type of reasoning is the heart of the systemic issues with the procurement at MNAA.

“Say yer prayers ya long eared galoot!” How is that for public trust?

More Yosemite Sam comments from the board meeting in another post.

Part One: Cloudy Skies Still Linger over Nashville Airport Contracting With Women and Minority Owned Firms
Part Two: Why Previous Performance Not Considered When Awarding Firm $13.6 Million Dollars Contract. 
Part Three: In Nashville; "A Management Fee" is Not A Kick Back Nor Are Primes Barred From Bidding After Receiving Fees
Part Four: The Financials: Pay to Play Sub Contractor Rules Can Cost You A Contract
Part Five: When Minority Firms Do Not Practice What They Are Screaming


Photo credit: Looney Tunes



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nashville Airport Did Not Consider Previous History As Criteria For $13.6 Million Dollar Janitorial Contract

The Questions Continue:

Commissioner Dexter Samuels asked about the scoring system that was used by the airport staff to review companies' work performances with the airport. Mr. Crook stated that scoring system was 1-6 but will change to 1-5 later. When asked what was the score for SMS, Mr. Crook stated, "no specific numeric figure could be given" but the staff recommendation was to work with SMS because they had "done well." Huh? You follow that. I didn't. By now, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and the slow firing of pointed questions to Mr. Crook was just getting started.


When Commissioner Samuels asked Mr. Crook about the evaluation criteria, it was about as useless  as the scoring system that was not used. There was no evaluation criteria specific to SMS. SMS responded to the RFP, along with 12 others firms in December 2014. Also, the contractor did not have to be located in state of Tennessee. SMS has been with MNAA since 2004 with two prior contracts and this contract, if approved, would be their third contract as the prime contractor providing cleaning and custodial services to Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA). Mr. Crook stated that for three years, the contract was managed by David Howard, assistant manager of Maintenance Services, who expressed support to continuing to work with SMS. MNAA's SVP of Operations, Maintenance and Public Safety, Doug Kreluelan, gave some input about the contract being three years with extensions in prior years but "it takes a minute to get folks out of the airport if you decide to kick them out." Interesting commentary. But according to several subs, that is not how it worked for them but I will save that for a later post.

Samuels appeared perplexed by MNAA's staff being supportive of this prime contractor receiving the contract over firms like "DTZ, DFS, SMC," in light of  potential infractions by SMS. Samuels asked if the relationship between the prime and the subcontractor was factored into the staff's reviews when the staff discussed the awarding of the contract to SMS. "No, that was not a factor," Mr. Crook shared.

After Mr. Crook's response, Commissioner Samuels inquired about the management fee that a subcontractor was charged by SMS. Samuels asked, "How could the prime meet the fiduciary responsibility required to spend with the subcontractor according to the RFP, if the prime charged the subcontractor $195,000 in management fees?" What management fee? At this point, I dropped my pen because the room's atmosphere rapidly changed. I actually looked up to see if an oxygen mask was going to drop from the ceiling. Keep reading.

Mr. Crook who was leaning in his seat at the start of the meeting was no sitting up as further questions about the management fees charged to the subcontractor were asked from Samuels. The board chair, Commissioner Julie Mosley, piped in and said sheepishly, "That was an unfortunate situation but that is in the past." Past? Hmm. Samuels starts to speak as if he was thinking aloud while flipping through a thick binder in front of him. He then began reading about policies and procedures and the board's responsibility to make sure the bidding process is fair and "in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations." He seemed as if he was making sure the board knew the procurement rules even if the staff was not using the rules with this particular contractor and this janitorial contract. I also noticed for the first time Samuels was sitting at the head of the table.  

Samuels continued to question Mr. Crook and the MNAA's evaluation process of SMS, the prime contractor. Mr. Crook revealed that Lynne Stecke, the director of purchasing, checked SMS's references. (I do not remember a "Lynne" being in the room but I felt for certain she was about to be thrown under a plane.) Mr. Crook relied on Lynne's external reference checks and stated she contacted Gaylord, Music City Center, and others to inquire about SMS's work performance with them. When asked if the other companies had diversity requirements as part of their procurement process, Mr. Crook said he would check with Lynne. Paging Lynne Stecke!

Commissioner Bobby Joslin chimed in and stated the board was "very transparent and worked hard" and wanted to know what was being implied by Samuels line of questioning. Samuels who looked as if a gnat had appeared out of no where and batted it away, replied that he wanted to know why SMS was "deemed the responsible bidder" with the issues already experienced with them from previous contracts that both, MNAA's staff and the board, were aware of for some time. (This audit memo from 9/2008 is worth a read.) A lawyer spoke up and mentioned a legal opinion that was given in regards to the contract and the subcontractor's relationship. But Samuels continued pushing back by asking about possible legal issues that may be surrounding SMS and the MNAA. Samuels then inquired if there were conflicts of interests with a firm representing the board and the contractor. WTH? This meeting was beginning to feel like a cheap flight that sounded like a good deal but when you read the find print it states the flight will take 48 hours to reach your final destination. No thanks! I kept watching the board members while trying to take notes.

With this meeting well pass the thirty minute mark, the question of why would this board approve a contract with a contractor who has been charging a management fee to a subcontractor in prior years  hung in the air like the smell of porta potty after a free concert with Luke Bryan. What did the subcontractor get for $195,000? Is this legal? This meeting is not even over and the slow firing of questions from Commissioner Samuels kept coming.

Part One: Cloudy Skies Still Linger over Nashville Airport Contracting With Women and Minority Owned Firms

Part Three: In Nashville; "A Management Fee" is Not A Kick Back Nor Are Primes Barred From Bidding After Receiving Fees
Part Four: The Financials: Pay to Play Sub Contractor Rules Can Cost You A Contract
Part Five: When Minority Firms Do Not Practice What They Are Screaming
Photo credit:  www.dynamicon.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cloudy Skies Still Linger Over Nashville Airport Contracting with Women and Minority Owned Firms





Several years ago, I decided that competing for business where I must label my company as a small woman minority business enterprise was not worth the hoops one must jump through in order to do business with government agencies. There are not enough chemicals formulated to exterminate the vexations that are part of the bidding process before you ever see the first pest that must be eradicated for a government pest control contract. Between being given a colonoscopy without anesthesia to work for an agency that will probe every reason not to work with you and the label you have given yourself by checking the boxes that can make one feel as inept as third grade dropout trying to fill out the SAT to attend college, many small companies believe trying to do business as a SMWBE or DWE is rigged before the invitation to bid is sent out. If the spotlight is not on the process, from the invitation to bid to the awarding of the contract, night and day, the  government contracting procurement system recycles the same frequent fliers from the board approvals to program managers to the contractors to the suppliers to the awarding of the contract from one agency to another. 

Even though I have renounced many minority business programs because of the lack of accountability and the system one must work under to do business, from time to time, I will attend a bid hearing or a government networking event solely to meet other entrepreneurs. Nothing is wrong with networking with majority and minority firms to let them know you are capable of doing business with them without a government mandate. And nothing is wrong with keeping an eye on minority business programs that have the potential to be highlighted for best practices and exposing those who help perpetuate the insanity of even attempting to do business with federal, state, and local agencies as a small company. 

Metro Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA)’s SMWBE program should be one of those programs that must be reviewed and microscopically probed often because of its documented history and failure to correct practices that has revealed how it works (not) with women and minority owned firms. The MNAA’s SMWBE program has been a source of strife in the minority business community for several decades. Doing business with the airport has long been known to produce millionaires, for some, by the awarding of federal and state contracts. Because the airport has tried to keep up with the growth of the rapid changing Middle Tennessee Region, the airport can be a plane load of economic opportunities...for some. The expansion of MNAA and the ease of accessibility to and from the airport are often touted to attract companies that are rich in diverse people from other areas of the country and from around the world, to transplant offices and their greatest commodity, their workforce, to our corporation embracing city. But rich in diversity corporations rarely hear about the disparity study submitted by Griffin and Strong to the MNAA in September of 2007 that backs MNAA’s stated awareness of the need to do more business with local women and minorities owned firms and the number of complaints that have been an “invitation for a lawsuit” for practices that are out of touch with a city that uses diversity and inclusion in its branding to increase economic growth in our area. 

This month (eight years after the 2007 disparity study), I contacted the MNAA Office of Business Diversity Development to inquire about upcoming contracting opportunities that may be on the horizon. Attending meetings can help one sift through minority program's website BS and actual business being done.  Since I did not hear back from the office, I decided to go to MNAA’s office which is two exits from me. On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the day I stopped by, to my delight (and later dismay) General Aviation Operations Planning and Engineering (GAOPE) Committee meeting was scheduled to vote on the awarding of two contracts with MNAA. The GAOPE Committee with four Commissioners present (Samuels, Mosley, Joslin, and Wright) turned into an information fest that my pen and note pad devoured from start to the end of the meeting. The comments by the Commissioners gave validity to many who have longed stated MNAA has not learned from its past bad performance reviews in the disparity study by vendors and sub-contractors and why no one should believe that MNAA can police itself to foster contracting opportunities for women and minority owned business for locally funded airport projects. 

Below is some of the particulars of the public meeting that shocked me how MNAA awards contracts. The meeting reminded me of stories told by my Mississippi grandparents who lived through Jim Crow South’s unwritten business rules that were often made up on the spot and no matter how a minority owned company ('black folks in business') persevered through a meeting to show they were the best company for the job and could compete, they would be denied the contract even when the majority owned company practiced overt racism in broad daylight for all to see. The majority company was forgiven for being questioned and the minority firm was punished for even attempting to compete and barred from questioning the practices and principles of those involved in the contract decision.

Now the Meeting
The meeting started off slow discussing a bid for asphalt. Nothing seemed unsound in the reasons stated why the airport needed more pavement and recommended a company who is already doing business with the airport to continue their services since they had equipment already on the airport property. The information about the contract and details about the project were displayed on the big screen along with the amount for the contract. A vote was called to approve the contract with a dollar amount of nearly $800,000. All of the Commissioners voted to approve. I wrote "smooth landing," in my notes.

But when Floyd Crook, director of MNAA maintenance facilities, took to discussing the janitorial contract; turbulence was encountered and that contract was met with greater scrutiny that showed some serious issues in how contracts are awarded at the city's prized airport. According to Mr Crook, the "airport staff" (no staff names mentioned) recommended awarding the contract to Service Management Systems (SMS) because they were great to work with and they provided good services. When Commissioner Samuels asked for the award amount they were about to vote on, Mr. Crook did not have the figures nor were the figures on the screen like the details of concrete contract for all to see. (MNAA is approving the contract for janitorial services but Mr. Crook does not have the amount in front of him nor did the board have amount they were voting on. Interesting.)

Commissioner Samuels waited a few more minutes and requested the bid amount again and a staff person jotted out the room to retrieve it. When she returned, Commissioner Samuels stated the award amount was for $13,659,555. I sat stunned not at the amount but that the amount was going to be voted on without stating how much. With a swish of the pen, a company was going to be awarded millions without having to state the contract value? Hmm. The staff must really feel good about SMS. But as the meeting continued, more questions about SMS raised serious concerns as to why would the airport staff feel so confident about this firm who is receiving the contract for the third time. SMS was having one heck of a St. Patrick's Day Party and it was only not even 10:00am.

Commissioner Samuels asked about the scoring system that was used by the airport staff to review companies' work performances with the airport. Mr. Crook stated that scoring system was 1-6 but will change to 1-5 later. When asked what was the score for SMS, Mr. Crook stated, "no specific numeric figure could be given" but the staff recommendation was to work with SMS because they had "done well." Huh? You follow that. I didn't. By now, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and the slow firing of pointed questions to Mr. Crook was just getting started. 

Part Two: Why Previous Performance Not Considered When Awarding Firm $13 Million Dollars. 

Part Three: In Nashville; "A Management Fee" is Not A Kick Back Nor Are Primes Barred From Bidding After Receiving Fees

Part Four: The Financials: Pay to Play Sub Contractor Rules Can Cost You A Contract


Part Five: When Minority Firms Do Not Practice What They Are Screaming