Harris County, Texas is Pushing Affirmative Action
According to Micah Rice of Texas Scorecard, for the past few years, the Harris County Commissioners Court facilitated the enactment of affirmative action policies in local government by incentivizing departments to grant contracts based on an individual’s racial background or sex.
In 2019, the Harris County Commissioners Court gave the Harris County Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity (DEEO) permission to function as an affirmative action arm of the county government.
The DEEO was established through taxpayer funds by Colette Holt & Associates, a company that provides business and governments legal services for “issues relating to inclusion, diversity and affirmative action.” Additionally, the company entered contracts with 11 state governments, 21 cities, and at least eight counties, per its website.
The DEEO currently implements affirmative action policies in Harris County through the “Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) policy”.
The M/WBE policy enables contractors to acquire a M/WBE label, which compels county departments to take into consideration when doling out contracts.
In a similar vein, the City of Houston selects contractors based on M/WBE status and uses Colette Holt & Associates to carry out a “disparity study” on city departments every five years, according to city ordinance.
Harris Health also contracts with Colette Holt & Associates for “disparity studies,” with the most recent study in 2022 calling for the creation of “a new senior leadership position to oversee all efforts towards contracting diversity and inclusion.”
Later that year, Harris Health cited the disparity study as the main reason for tapping Jobi Martinez as its first chief diversity officer, a position tasked with “integrating DEI efforts into all aspects of system operations and decision-making” for the department’s DEI programs.
In July, the DEEO gave a presentation on its mid-year “M/WBE Utilization” report to the Harris County Commissioners Court. The report called attention to how DEEO is increasing the number of contracts granted not by merit but rather by ethnic background or gender by 32.8% compared to 2022.
Towards the end of the presentation, commissioners were asked about taking any action on the resolution. Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis responded, “Keep the numbers going up. That’s the action.”
After the commissioners court meeting, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo posted on Twitter, “We’re working to move past the Old Boys’ way of doing things … Last week, we authorized our departments to study & remedy pay disparity moving towards a more just workplace for all.”
Harris County is Texas’ most populous county. It went for Joe Biden by a 56%-43% margin in the 2020 presidential election. While not deeply blue, Harris County is still a solid bastion for the Left. With affirmative action becoming institutionalized in Harris County, it will only go bluer, thereby putting Texas’ status as a red state in jeopardy.
If these policies are not restrained, Texas will fall down the predictable path of wokism — a prospect that would delight the cultural Left, who is trying to turn the entire country into a leftist laboratory.