|Council Says Fears
About Architect Were Financial, Not Racist
January 18, 1997
WEST COUNTY TIMES
Saturday, January 18,
RICHMOND City Council members said their questions have been answered about an architect's contract with the city, but they took aim at a Latino activist critical of one of the council members who scrutinized the deal.
In a letter to the council, Alberto Rocha of the Federation of Employed Latino American Descendants and IMAGE de Vallejo, two Hispanic civil rights groups, criticized Councilman Tom Butt for questioning the contract. The architect, Ricardo Magana of Richmond, is Latino and Rocha argued that the contract would be a "symbol of hope" for the city's Latino community.
But the letter, which called Butt's questioning "racist," riled council members.
"The sentiments expressed in the letter are not exactly those of my community," said Councilman John Marquez. "He represents an organization in Vallejo, and I have not heard those statements here."
Magana has been hired by the Redevelopment Agency to design shoreline projects in south Richmond. While council members said they have no problem with the choice, they questioned contract language they believed could have meant a steep hike in the project's cost.
At the council's meeting last week, Isiah Turner, deputy city manager for community and economic development, said Magana has pledged not to exceed the project's $220,000 cost and will complete the contract in 1,192 hours. Council members worried there had been no stipulation that the project must be finished during that time.
Butt, who along with Councilman Alex Evans raised many of the questions, said he didn't receive the letter, but was upset by the charge.
"I terribly resent it," Butt said.
With Magana's assurances to stay on time and on budget, council members unanimously approved the contract. But Mayor Rosemary Corbin said Rocha's letter nearly killed the deal.
"It is only by trying very hard that I'm able to support this," Corbin said.