Virginia Beach proposes alternatives to disparity study; Bruce Smith responds

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Two months after businessman Bruce Smith called for Virginia Beach to conduct a disparity study that he would help pay for, city council is looking at how to move forward to address Smith’s concerns — but the city’s recommendation isn’t to conduct one.

The city’s director of finance Patricia Phillips and purchasing agent Taylor Adams presented the briefing to city council at its meeting Tuesday evening.

A disparity study is conducted in three phases, and the city recommends it move forward with only the first phase. Adams said an independent study would be a way to get an outside look at the Small, Women and Minority business program.

“Given the considerations, particularly those requiring us to satisfy race-neutral initiatives, before we consider race-conscious initiatives, at staff level we feel that this first phase … it’s a nice bite of the apple that would give us some data that we could give back to you and let you know just where we stand in the process,” Adams said.

In terms of small business procurement for city work, race-neutral initiatives do not give advantage to any person or contractor based on race. Conversely, race-conscious initiatives would intend to effect and improve minority group participation in procuring city contracts, according to Adams.

Under this plan, the city would only review its policies, procedures and programs.

Smith, a former star in the National Football League, was among those who gathered in the city council work session conference hall.