Early Briefing: Man In The Middle

On Mondays we turn the Business section over to coverage of the local business community:


Long a champion for minority-owned businesses, Ron Adolph is stung by accusations that he hasn't done enough to diversify the contractor base. (By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post

* Ron Adolph's firm, the TAC Cos., is under contract to help find minority contractors for the intercounty connector. But one of his biggest clients these days is the developer of the National Harbor project, and by Adolph's estimate, he's helped connect nearly $350 million of $820 million in contracts to women, minority and local firms.

Though TAC does not award bids, it has helped identify many of the local and minority companies that have won them and served as a mediator when issues arose. That is why Adolph never imagined he'd find himself targeted by critics who say he is blocking for a white developer who hasn't done enough to help local businesses.

"I've never been accused of being anything but a strong advocate for black folks, black businesses," said Adolph, an MIT-trained civil engineer who has lived in the District, then Prince George's County since 1983. "As a black person trying to achieve in this county, you get caught in the middle. This is very new ground to me."

* Marriott International has tapped David Marriott, the youngest son of chief executive Bill Marriott, for a key position overseeing hotel operations in some of the lodging chain's most critical markets, including New York City, raising more speculation about his future role in the company.

* Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with potentially conflicting mandates to make keep mortgage affordable and uphold prudent lending standards, are still supporting no money down loans. The companies say mortgages that allow buyer to borrow up to 105 percent of the purchase price help teachers and members of the military.

* As the United Nations met in Rome last week to discuss shortages and high prices of food and international charities scramble to help the nations hardest-hit by the global food crisis, some immigrants in the United States are providing their own version of food aid. They are paying to have provisions delivered to hungry relatives at home.

Filipinos in the Washington region say the unthinkable has become fairly common in recent months: Migrants are stuffing sacks of rice into care packages known as balikbayan boxes and shipping them to the Philippines, where shortages have led to soaring prices and rationing. Area immigrants from Haiti, where skyrocketing prices have sparked riots, are boosting orders of food from U.S.-based money transfer agents. The orders are plucked from the shelves of warehouses in Haiti and delivered to recipients within hours.

* Federal Diary columnist Stephen Barr said military power requires brainpower, and the Defense Department is moving to engage a new generation of scientists and engineers to conduct research that may pay off in technological breakthroughs for the nation's military.

The department last week announced the selection of six university professors who will form the first class of the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows Program.

The professors will receive grants of up to $600,000 per year for up to five years to engage in basic research -- essentially a bet by the Pentagon that they will make a discovery that proves vital to maintaining the superiority of the U.S. military.

By Dan Beyers  |  June 9, 2008; 8:02 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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