Mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia is running as a strong advocate for women — but the former sanitation commissioner got failing grades on something that should be her biggest selling point.
During her six years running the city’s Sanitation Department, Garcia got all D and F grades for the number of government contracts she’s handed out to women and minority business owners.
In the period from October 2019 through September 2020 — just before Garcia resigned to run for mayor — her agency awarded less than 1 percent of over $500 million in spending to such companies, the city comptroller’s office said.
That number came after a 2019 audit listed the Garcia-run Sanitation Department among a group of de Blasio administration agencies that gave out few contracts to minority- and women-owned business enterprises, or M/WBEs.
“Five agencies — the Departments of Finance, Environmental Protection, Transportation, Sanitation, and Citywide Administrative Services — have consistently earned ‘D’ and ‘F’ grades for M/WBE spending over the last four years,” city Comptroller Scott Stringer wrote in the 2019 “Making the Grade” audit.
“The lack of consistency across agencies is troubling — particularly because these agencies make up a disproportionate amount of dollars that the City spends. More attention needs to be paid toward inclusion of M/WBEs among these agencies in order to push the entire City forward.”
Despite the failing grades from the comptroller’s office, the Sanitation Department was quick to defend Garcia, saying she had little choice of whom to hand contracts to because so much of the garbage budget goes to huge waste management companies.
“The Comptroller’s grade is based on one and only one metric: total dollars spent on MWBE contracts vs. total dollars spent on non-MWBE contracts. By far, the largest portion of DSNY’s budget spent on contractors is for the maintenance and operation of massive solid waste facilities — recycling centers, landfills, waste-to-energy plants — and the transport of solid waste to those facilities. This is hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and there are an extremely small number of operators of these facilities, none of whom are certified MWBEs,” department spokesman Joshua Goodman said.
“Given that, DSNY has put a very strong emphasis on MWBE contracts in other areas, and is very proud of its work with MWBE vendors in the Emergency Food program in particular.”
Both Garcia and Stringer are vying to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall, though Stringer authored the reports before Garcia declared her mayoral bid.
Garcia has surged into second place in recent polls and Stringer has fallen to the middle of the eight-person field following allegations of sexual harassment. Stringer has denied the claims by two different women.
According to Stringer’s office, Garcia’s Sanitation Department got Fs on the “Making the Grade” report from 2014 through 2016 for contracts given to MWBEs. In 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the agency got Ds.
During her last year helming the department, Garcia awarded just $3.6 million out of a total $538 million in eligible spending to the firms. The contracts constitute .7% of spending.
The Sanitation Department also gave “limited” contracts to MWBEs for COVID-19-related goods and services, the 2020 report says. Out of $473 million in COVID response funds, just 14% went to those companies.
Five other Democratic mayoral candidates — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former Citigroup executive Ray Mcguire, ex-Obama housing secretary Shaun Donovan, civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley and entrepreneur Andrew Yang — have said they’d boost MWBE procurement if elected, according to the Gotham Gazette.
A spokeswoman for Garcia defended her boss’s record.
“This recycled report from a political rival ignores the reality that in many of these sectors the City needs to first invest to establish M/WBEs to contract with because today there are currently no M/WBEs that operate recycling facilities, transfer stations, or barges at the massive scale that NYC demands. As Mayor that’s what Kathryn would do,” the rep, Annika Reno, told The Post.