Rolley criticizes Rawlings-Blake on slots deal
Mayoral candidate and former city planning director Otis Rolley criticized Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today for allowing the states slots commission to loosen the minority and woman hiring requirements for the city's planned casino.
"In this economy, with things being as bad as they are... I don't understand how there could be a waiver for the minority and women-owned business requirements," Rolley said in an interview following an afternoon press conference in front of City Hall.
"It speaks volumes about her commitment to helping the majority of the citizens find jobs," he said.
Keiana Page, a spokeswoman for Rawlings-Blake's campaign, said that Rolley "has been making multiple attempts over the last few days to get attention for his campaign" and has been "misrepresenting facts for political gain."
Earlier this week, the state slots commission voted to relax the minority and woman-owned business participation requirement for the casino contract. Bids for the project were initially due in late July, but the deadline was extended to September-- after the mayoral primary.
Following complaints from potential bidders that the terms of the deal were too onerous, both the city and the state announced in the past couple weeks that they were relaxing some requirements. Bidders are required to agreement to the terms of a memorandum of understanding with the city as well as respond to a request for proposals from the state slots commission.
The slots commission eased the minority and women participation requirements following a law suit from Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer that alleged that the terms of the project discriminated against white men.
Moldenhauer's company was the sole bidder in 2009 when the slots commission sought a developer for Baltimore's commission. The state later rejected his bid, prompting Moldenhauer to sue both the city and the state. The slots commission began seeking new bids this spring after those suits were partially resolved.
Page noted that it was the state slots commission that eased the minority participation agreement -- not the city.
Rawlings-Blake "has been in support of women and minority participation goals in city projects," said Page. "She has been vocal in the past about advocating for increasing minority participation."
But Rolley countered that Rawlings-Blake should have used the "bully pulpit" of her office to fight against the state loosening the minority requirement.
Rolley had urged reporters to call into Marc Steiner's radio show on WEAA earlier this week as Rawlings-Blake was giving a live interview to ask about the minority hiring issue.
In response to a question on the topic, Rawlings-Blake explained that there had been a legal challenge to the state slots commission's minority participation requirements.
"We have very strict minority and women goals [for city contracts] and we take it very seriously," Rawlings-Blake said, adding that her staffers reach out to small businesses to help them obtain contracts.
"We work hard to make sure minority firms are represented at the table," she said.