When Philadelphia began requiring minority participation in city contracts in 1982, the enabling law had a sunset provision shutting the program down in 10 years. The idea was that the preference for minority contractors would offer an opportunity to build their businesses so they could then compete on an equal basis for public contracts.

 

A U.S. Supreme Court decision voided the city's law before the 10-year milestone was reached, and ever since city officials have managed to run a minority-contracting program that encouraged inclusion without directly violating established law.

But there were always suspicions that the city's minority-contracting program was rife with abuse, that minority firms with political ties got the best action, and that plenty of majority firms were using front companies to get around the minority-participation guidelines.

I'm pleased that city Inspector General Amy Kurland and her investigators have shut down one scam -- a contractor paying an elderly man in an apartment to pretend he was a minority business so the majority firm could land a bunch of city contracts.

If the minority-participation program is actually going to help disadvantaged businesses prosper, the scammers have to get out of the way. Well done, Kurland.

Green light for Democrats

And if the growing field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Pennsylvania needed any encouragement, it's here in the form of the latest Franklin & Marshall poll, which shows that only 25 percent of Pennsylvania voters believe Republican Gov. Tom Corbett deserves re-election. Ouch.

The poll shows Corbett has substantially worse numbers than either Ed Rendell or Tom Ridge had at comparable points in their first gubernatorial terms.

I still don't think Corbett is dead in the water. But he's got some work to do, and a bunch of Democrats look like race horses prancing toward the starting gate.

PolilticsPa reports that a Harrisburg community group has scheduled a gubernatorial debate for June 5, and several high-profile candidates have accepted, including one unnamed hopeful who has yet to announce.

You can see the Franklin & Marshall poll here.