Minority Contractors Win Arbitration Award | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Minority Contractors Win Arbitration Award

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Renna Fisher and Jackie Williams, owners of Fish & Fisher Construction, have won more than $1 million in arbitration over a discrimination case.

[verbatim] An American Arbitration Association panel awarded minority contractor Fish & Fisher $1,283,351 in a dispute with white owned L & T Construction. The dispute arose over work performed by Fish & Fisher at the Blue Springs, MS construction location to build a Toyota Prius Plant. During the arbitration hearing, sworn testimony by Leavy Harris of L & T revealed that L & T Construction never entered into a joint venture with M & H Construction, as had been announced by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and Toyota. This testimony is crucial to the civil action filed by Jackie Williams and Renna Fisher, African American principals of Fish & Fisher, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Western Division.

Fish & Fisher filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit in February (2009) alleging that Haley Barbour, Governor of the State of Mississippi; the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and Toyota of North America, conspired together to deny Fish & Fisher the opportunity to bid as a prime contractor with Toyota. The complaint alleges that Barbour, MDA and Toyota discriminated against Fish & Fisher because of their race in that only white owned construction companies were allowed to bid on the $1.5 Billion Dollar project.

"Testimony during the arbitration also revealed that L & T Construction did not meet the qualifications to bid on the Toyota contract as plaintiffs alleged in their complaint," said Byron Perkins, attorney for Fish & Fisher. "MDA and Toyota announced a joint venture between L & T and M & H; however, that joint venture was never entered into according to Harris. Fish & Fisher alleged that when L & T failed to meet Toyota's qualification and failed to create the joint venture with M & H, the project should have been re-bid. However, the project was not re-bid because of L & T's relationship with Barbour. Harris described his relationship with Mississippi State Government to be, 'as strong as a deer.' Testimony also revealed that Harris purchased air time for Barbour's gubernatorial election campaign," Perkins added.

Previous Comments

ID
148667
Comment

Haley is a lawyer and should know that he does not need his hand caught in this cookie jar. Thanks for the post, Ronni M. We can always depend on hearing it first in the JFP. Keep up the great work!!!!

Author
justjess
Date
2009-06-12T08:52:39-06:00
ID
148668
Comment

Good for Fish & Fisher. People are too dismissive of claims regarding discrimination and mistreatment of minority firms by larger white-owned contractors and design professionals as "whining" by unqualified blacks and women. It does happen. Especially in the dog-eat-dog world of the construction industry. I didn't know enough about the details of this case to comment one way or the other, but Fish and Fisher must have had a pretty clear case to win this arbitration battle.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2009-06-12T08:54:43-06:00
ID
148670
Comment

This is not a "black" or "white issue. This is a "green" issue. Unless I am mistaken, I doubt Fish and Fisher had a working relationship with Haley Barbour. By working relationship, I mean, gave money to Haley Barbour. If testimony revealed that Harris purchased air time for Barbour's gubernational election campaign, then I think we can fully ascertain why L&T kept the contract. Suggesting this is merely a "black" and "white" issue is a little sloppy. Follow the "green", not the race.

Author
jbreland
Date
2009-06-12T09:32:57-06:00
ID
148674
Comment

Sure its a 'green' issue, jbreland. Fish/Fisher was denied the opportunity to seek a bigger piece of the pie thanks to MS Good Ol' Boy politics, at which Barbour is a master. Fish/Fisher are the ones claiming they were discriminated against because of their race, and so far the results of the arbitration suggests that their claim has some merit. And given the recent issues raised with the 'Black Troopergate' scandal, as well as the lack of racial diversity in the Barbour admin as baquan mentioned, it makes this issue stink even more.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2009-06-12T12:00:49-06:00
ID
148680
Comment

Jeff- The abritration didn't have anything to do with Fish/Fisher being discriminated against, it was about them being paid as a subcontractor for L&T for work they have already done at the Toyota plant. I think they have a vaild reason to sue about the contract not being rebid when the joint venture between L&T and M&H fell through.Because L&T isn't/wasn't qualified to do it alone and neither is Fish & Fisher (their speicalty seen to be dirt work and constuction debris hauling if you look at their website) neither have experience as prime contractors on a project that big. L&T kept the contract because of the good'ol boy network, when it should have been rebid excluding both L&T and Fish&Fisher . I think it had very little to with Fish&Fisher being discriminated against.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-06-12T13:54:38-06:00
ID
148683
Comment

Baquaan. Please look up the following names: Augustus Leon Collins of Madison Helen Amos of Laurel N. L. Carson of Carthage There are a few others that do not come to mind. He has not show any effort to appoint minorities? Rethink that just a tad bit. Also, to designate "pay-to-play" as just a "MS G.O.B. system" is silly. This occurs in all 50 states. Ask the citizens of Pennsylvania about John Murtha

Author
jbreland
Date
2009-06-12T14:50:14-06:00
ID
148685
Comment

Jbreland, regardless of your view of the Fisher case, you're not taking a very sophisticated look at what the "Good Ole Boy" system means -- it has traditionally incorporated "minorities" who go along with the program. Of course, the Good Ole Boy system exists everywhere, but that doesn't mean we don't have a particularly virulent strain in this state. We do.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-06-12T15:29:35-06:00
ID
148686
Comment

jbreland, this isn't the first time these kinds of accusations have surfaced about Barbour. And just because everyone does it (pay-to-play) certainly doesn't make it right. In some circles that's called bribery, which may be why the House Ethics Committee is investigating Murtha and others. Mississippi has long, questionably proud history of "good ole boy" politics that attempt to exclude everyone not in the network.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2009-06-12T15:41:30-06:00
ID
148703
Comment

[quote]Jeff- The abritration didn't have anything to do with Fish/Fisher being discriminated against, it was about them being paid as a subcontractor for L&T for work they have already done at the Toyota plant.[/quote]I know that, Bubba. I'm also referencing complaints that F/F lodged against L/H disclosed in a WLBT report in April: "Once on the job, company President Renee Fisher says his employees were subject to racial slurs and vandalism by workers from other companies. "Trac hoes, different debris stuffed in the mufflers, rags. Water in the fuel," he says. WLBT News asked for pictures of the vandalism, but we were told we couldn't see the pictures because they're evidence." If these allegations are true, it could explain why Fish/Fisher, who were already being stiffed on being paid for work they had already performed, felt justified in filing the discrimination suit against MS and Toyota over not rebidding the job once the construction team the State and Toyota selected fell apart. Look, just because they are suing doesn't mean they will win, or that they should have been awarded the job if they had been invited to bid. I'm not even suggesting that they were the best firm that could have submitted on the job. I see it as an attempt to expose the "good ole boy" as it relates to contracting and Barbour in particular.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2009-06-15T08:28:05-06:00
ID
148767
Comment

Baquan2000, I don't know if you were in the State when Barbour was first elected. One thing that we can not accuse him of is that of being hippocritic. Barbour said from jump street that there were NO WOMEN capable of holding a job in his administration and if so, "IT IS RAAAAARR" (rare). His not hiring other minorities, especially blacks, is a given.

Author
justjess
Date
2009-06-17T08:52:12-06:00
ID
148772
Comment

Baquan2000 said, "I blame a chunk of the black Mississippians for not taking a more serious approach towards educational opportunites." I THINK I understand your thoughts on this issue; however, when you look at the fact that with all of the competent well educated black folks we have in this City, most of the top level jobs are held by whites. Most of the brightest and best young blacks leave the state to find jobs because of the severe discriminatory practice from people such as Barbour, in this state. There are many JSU graduates who work flipping burgers because they can not find jobs. This didn't just start with today's present economy and job market. It was only yesterday in this state that the only "professional" job for a black person was teaching school.

Author
justjess
Date
2009-06-17T09:22:09-06:00

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