Camacho, who served as a cabinet member under California Gov. Jerry Brown in the 1970s, said a failure to make the list in time could cost Hispanic contractors across California an estimated $270 million in stimulus dollars alone.
"I know that discrimination is alive and well in California," he said. "The effects will continue to live with us for several generations."
Organizations of other ethnic groups are no doubt hopeful that the new list will give their businesses a boost.
A spokeswoman with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California declined to comment on the situation involving Hispanics, but said she agrees with the study's conclusion as it relates to American Indians.
"We definitely know we are not receiving the value of what we could be getting," said spokeswoman Tracy Stanhoff, adding that she can't comment on the Hispanic group because the organization tries to steer clear of commenting on the situations of other ethnic groups. "It needs to be done. If the world was fair, then we would all be at the same level, but it isn't that way."
Ironically, the new race-conscious configuration has also rankled a faction that the Hispanic Contractors Association considers an opponent. The Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation, an organization with Libertarian leanings, considers nearly all race- and gender-based contracting policies unconstitutional.
Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Ralph Kasarda told HispanicBusiness.com" target="_blank">HispanicBusiness.com that the organization is considering filing a lawsuit against the state of California for re-instating the race-conscious program.
"To this date, Caltrans has not identified any actionable instance of intentional discrimination," he said in an email Monday.
Furthermore, Kasarda argued, Caltrans' own race-conscious policy is discriminatory, victimizing not only white males but, now, Hispanic males as well.
"If Caltrans believes that discrimination against Hispanic males in contracting is a remedy to discrimination in the highway construction industry, it must have reason to believe that Hispanic males are intentionally discriminating against other racial groups and women. What else could justify such an extreme measure?"
The disparity study was the direct result of a landmark 2003 lawsuit, in which a group of Caucasian-owned contractors sued the state of Washington over a paving contract, claiming reverse discrimination. In 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled partly in favor of the contractors, and consequently all the western states were told they must conduct disparity studies to determine which ethnic and gender groups -- if any -- qualified for race-based contracting preferences. The 2005 ruling prompted Caltrans to put a temporary moratorium on its race-conscious program.
Other states conducted their own disparity studies. In Nevada, the study found that Hispanics are still at a disparity in the Las Vegas area, but that blacks and women are not. However, the Nevada Department of Transportation, at the urging of the study, ended up dropping the race-conscious program altogether, because the disparities in question were statistically marginal, Nevada DOT spokesman Roc Stacey said.
In California, there is an added layer. In 1996, voters approved Prop 209, a broad amendment to the state constitution that eliminated affirmative action.
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