Early Briefing: Construction's Outreach

*In 1984, when Kyle Brown started at Miller & Long Concrete Construction, most workers were black. But by the mid-1990s, they had been replaced by Latinos. And Brown, 48, vividly recalls his initial loneliness as "the outsider." Now, he has been sent on a mission to alter the trend. Officials at the Bethesda-based company say they are partly motivated by a desire to give something back to the majority-black District neighborhoods where they do some of their construction. In addition, many city contracts require that a percentage of workers be District residents. Relying heavily on non-citizen workers is also a concern

Kyle Brown, right, of Miller & Long Concrete addresses employees at a job site. (By Dominic Bracco II -- The Washington Post)

At least once a week, Brown makes the rounds of job-training classes sponsored by church groups, government ex-offender programs or such nonprofit groups as Goodwill. Almost every day, he visits or calls a current black employee to offer encouragement and mediate conflicts. Company officials say his efforts are bearing fruit: Until recently, black hires tended to quit within days or weeks. But only six of the 45 black workers recruited in the past two months have left.

*Community banking executives around the country responded with anger to the Bush administration's strategy of investing $250 billion in financial firms, saying they don't need the money, resent the intrusion and feel it's unfair to rescue companies from their own mistakes. But regulators said some banks will be pressed to take the taxpayer dollars anyway. Others banks judged too sick to save will be allowed to fail.

Peter Fitzgerald, chairman of Chain Bridge Bank in McLean, said he was "much chagrined that we will be punished for behaving prudently by now having to face reckless competitors who all of a sudden are subsidized by the federal government."

*Fairfax County officials proposed a one-day furlough of all county employees and ordered across-the-board program cuts and a virtual halt to hiring, capital spending, travel and vehicle replacement as the nation's worsening economy continues to affect the region's largest local government.

*This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, but don't expect any gala celebrations, writes Joe Davidson in the Federal Diary. The Coalition for Effective Change, an organization of current and retired federal managers and professionals, did hold a forum to mark the occasion, but it was hardly a festive affair.

In fact, featured speaker Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University, began the day by announcing: "The state of the federal service is not good."

By Terri Rupar  |  October 15, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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