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Box 20, Folder 20, Document 8

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May 12, 1967

A regular meeting of the Urban Renewal Policy Committee was held on Friday, May 12, 1967, at 10:00 A. M. at the Atlanta Housing Authority, 824 Hurt Building. All members were present as follows: Mr . Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr.

Rodney M. Cook, Chairman Edwin L. Sterne Hugh Pierce E. Gr egory Griggs John M. Flanigen George Cotsakis Frank Etheridge

Also present were:


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Mr. Collier Gladin, Planning Direc t or, City of Atlanta Mr . George Aldridge, Direc t or, Community Improvement Program Mr. Jim Kluttz, Atlanta Planning Department Mr . Robert Sommerville, Executive Director, Atlanta Transi t Company Mr . M. B. Satterfield, Executive Director, Atlanta Housing Au t ho rity Mr. Les Persells, Director of Redevelopment, Atlanta Housing Authority Mr. Howa rd Openshaw, Chief, Planning-Engineering Department, Atl a n ta Housing Authority Mr. J ame s Henley, At lanta Housing Authority Mr . By r on Attridge and Mr. Lynn Hewes, King & Spalding, At t orneys Mr . J a ck Glenn and Mr. J. B. Blayton, Members, Board of Commiss i oner s , At lant a Housing Authority Chairman Cook cal l ed t he me eting to or der a nd expl ai ned the purpo se o f this meeting is t o hear a p re s entation from Al derman Q. V. Wi lliamson relative to the Rockda le Ur ban Renewa l Project Area . While awa iting his arrival, the committee conside red schedu l ing o f dates f or the deve lo per's presentations on 7.6 a c re s in the Raws on-Washington Proj ec t Area, scheduled for 22l(d) (3 ) development. It was unanimou sly de cid ed t o hear from all developers who had s ubmi tted bid s on Wed nesday , May 31, 196 7 , beginning at 3:00 P. M. It was al so a gr eed that each developer would be given a fifteen minute presentation period, with f i fteen mi nutes al lowed f o r questions and an swers. Each committe e member was presented wit h a synopsis o f each proposal for revi ew. Mr . Perse l l s also rep o rted that developer's presentations had been held on Parcel 73 in the University Center Pro ject Area . At this time, Alderman Williamson arrived at the meeting along with Senator Leroy R. Johnson and representatives of various Negro organiza ti ons. Chairma n Cook stated that a few days ago certain charges were made t o him concerning the Rockdale Project which he felt was of a serious natu r e and shou ld be presented to this com:nittee for consideration and disposition as it sees fit. He then turned the meeting over to Mr. Williamson. Alderman Williamson stated he had discussed this matter with the Mayor on


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Wednesday; that he had also met with membe r s of the Atlanta Summit Leadership Conference, the NAACP, Op e ration Breadb a s ke t, Atlanta Voters Lea gue and other organizations that are terribly concerned about urban renewal in Atlanta because "Negroes have gotten nothing but the brunt of being kicked off the land"; that they have not been allowed to participate in urban renewal at any level and have not been allowed jobs nor investments in urban renewal property; that the only land Negroes have gotten out of urban renewal was land the colleges bought which "they paid for out of the nose and paid more than anyone else paid for similar urban renewal land"; that the Wheat Street Baptist Church is a prime example - they paid twice what the land was worth for the (d)(3) development they erected on it, to the extent that the project was almost economically unfeasible. Mr. Cook stated that some statements already made by Aldennan Williamson do not coincide with the facts and he asked Mr. Persells if he cared to respond. Senator Johnson asked that they be allowe d to state their position, after which they would be happy to answer any questions or clarify any statements, but to interrupt with questions during the presentation breaks the continuity of thought.

Mr. Williamson continued to state that after analyzing urban renewal in At l anta f or the past ten to twelve years, taking into account "what goes on" at the Atlanta Housing Authority, particularly in public housing, these org ani zations wonder if Atlanta shouldn't get out of the urban renewal business; tha t Atla nta mu st let Negroes participate and become a part of urban renewal i f i t is t o survive. He s t ated t hat Negroes a l so have serious problems wi t h e xisting public hous i ng a nd these organizations a l so wonder if Negroes wou l dn' t be better o f f living in slums on the ir own land than in some of the public hou s ing in At la nta. He cited the Ea gan Homes as an example and brief l y d i scussed some of the deplorable conditions e xisting in this p r ojec t , su ch a s r oach and r odent infesta tions and t he Au t hority's refusal to e x te nninate the premise s and de nying the tenants t he ri gh t t o do so at their own expense. He empha s i z ed t he city requires private owne rs t o do this. Other problems he mentioned were t hat t e nant s we r e not a l l owed to have a te l e phone extension upstairs and e ntry ways to the a pa rtmen ts are rec e s s ed and do no t have adequate lighting ; a case of r a pe was cit ed a s be i ng a t tributab le t o this. He stated further that t e n an t s a r e r eluc tant t o compl ain f o r f ear of being ev icted by the manageme nt; that these tenants , in many i ns tances , rather than live in this proje c t under bondage , would be better o ff in s l ums with freedom. He went on to say that the c a se at po i n t is that thi s is the type of thing urban renewal and public hous ing is producing in Atlanta and it must be stopped. As to the question of Rockda l e, he stated that two years ago a group of Negroes began ini tia l efforts t o organize this community and devel op support of area resident s for a plan f or Rockda l e; subsequently, a community organization was formed and working with the Atlanta Housing Authority, assembled a proposed plan for Rockdale according to their rules and regula t io ns. He stated that propo s als by three other developers were also submitted, t wo of which were later disqualified because they did not abide by the rules o f bidding; however, two weeks later, following a meeting of the Housing Authori t y's


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Board of Commissioners and passage of a resolution by them, these same two plans were reinstated, notwithstanding their previous disqualifications, and that this is the basis of their complaint. After this, Mr. Williamson stated it is his understanding from sources that he can secure information from that the Housing Authority narrowed the consideration to two top plans - the Douglas-Arlen and Rosen proposals - and he was told by staff membersof the Authority that both of them were about equal, but when he receives information that somehow plans can be reinstated that do not meet the bid proposals of the Authority, then the Douglas-Arlen group knows they are at a disadvantage; that it is the same old routine of urban renewal - Negroes aren't allowed to participate because the Douglas-Arlen group has Negro participation, even though Rockdale is a Negro community and will serve Negroes. He stated all they are asking is that the plans be judged on merit and where the Douglas-Arlen plan is as meritorious as any of the others, and Rockdale being a Negro community, it should be given to Negroes; that if Negroes can't participate in urban renewal at all levels, then the City Fathers should leave them in the slums, rather than uproot them and take their property; that the time has come when he felt this needed to be said publicly. In reply to questioning by Chairman Cook, Mr. Williamson named the Rosen and Chruckrow proposals as being the two which were disqualified and then reinstated. He then called on Senator Johnson to speak. Mr. Johnson stated he felt this matter was of enough importance and seriousness tha t he had interrupted a speaking engagement in California to return to Atlanta today for this meeting; that because of his absence from the city he had no t had an opportunity to prepare for the meeting as he should have. He then st at ed "I bel ieve with all my heart and soul that we have been discriminated against be c ause we are Negroes and that if we were not black, we would have been awarded the Rockdale Project". He then explained that he drew the charter of the Rockdale community organization and they began working on a plan for the area long before the bidding was opened; that they were successful in securing a sponsor, builder and archit ect and eventually a plan was submitted t o the Housing Authority according to the bid pr oposals. He stated furt her that after so doing and while waiting on a de cision , and believing in the operation of democracy, they were info rmed that po litic al influence was being used to get the Rosen plan approved; tha t he immediately began to investigate and pose questions, among o thers, as to why the two proposa ls which were disqualified were reinstated; that the foremost thought in the Negroes ' mind s at this time was "you folks happen to be of the wrong hue and you are not going to get it"; that they were told by the Housing Authority, as stated by Alderman Williamson, both proposals were good and a ssuming this is so, then he felt it incumbent on the City Fathers t o " bend over backwards" t o award the development to a Negro group, compos ed of Negro architec t s, lawyers, real estate brokers and builders, who are loc al ly based and have a vested interest in the heart of a Negro community and will represent Negro people who were moved from the area and will probably move back whe n housing is available. He also noted that Rockdale is in the heart of his senatorial district and Alderman Williamson's third ward. Senator Johnson stated further that it greatly disturbs them that on the one hand they have been told by members of this connnittee that no decision has been made and

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on the other hand he gets a call in California saying the Rosen plan had already been sent to FHA by the Ho using Authority and he submitted this is a serious matter. He further commented that after talking with member s of FHA and persons alrea dy engaged in 221 programs, it is his understanding that even if their pla n was submitted to FHA, it would be altered before bein g returned; that you never get plans back from FHA exactly like they are submitted. He cit ed as an example the Allen Temp le Project. He went on t o say they had also been told Negroes had nev e r built anything this big; t hat the ti me wasn't right and there was a question of the ability of the Union Baptist Church to administei the project since they had no previous experience. Senator John s on stated their position here in the 196O's, whether it is i mmediately managing or selling, is to do ri ght; that most of the reasons cited agains t their proposal are not meritorious arguments since the project would be Federally regulated anyway. He again ci ted Allen Temple as an example. He the n concluded by ·stating t hat all they are seeking is "a fair shake of the dice and don't deny us because we are black"; that they feel there is rank discrimination somewhere in the Rockdale project and they are asking this committee to right it. Mr. Cook asked Mr. Johnson who told him they would not get this project because they were Neg roes. Mr . Johnson rep lied "Mr. Cook you know that I cannot reveal my source of information anymore than you could, but as surely as there is a God in Heaven I, and we, have been t old we would not get this project because we are black". Mr. Johnson did say that hi s source of information had the contacts to know whereof he speaks. At . this time, Chairman Cook and Mr. Gladin excused themselves from the meeting t o keep a previous appointment in the Mayor's office. They did no t return during the remainder of the meeting, although they had hoped to. Mr. Griggs presided as Chairman during the rest of the me eting. Reverend Sam Williams then addressed the committee briefly on three points: (1) that so much time has to be spent by Negro es keeping vigil to see that even token justice is done; (2) the c ruelty of denying Negroes because of historic disabilities imposed upon them whi ch they themselves did not p l a ce upon their shoulders; and (3) the fact that Negroes should be al lowed to share in the financial rewards flowing from urban renewal. Reverend Williams also s tated he was personally familiar with the Eagan Homes situation because a member of his congregation lived there and he agreed these things must be corrected. Reverend Grier, representing Operation Breadbasket and a group of ministers, and Reverend Dorsey of Operation Breadbasket , both endorsed the remarks of Alderman Williamson, Senator Johnson and Reverend Williams . Mr. Griggs assured Messrs. Williamson and Johnson that it is of great concern to membersof this committee that the charge of racial discrimination in Rockdale ha s been made. Mr. Cotsakis then stated he had to leave the meeting on a previous commitment, but before departing he stated for the record that in all the meetings of the


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Policy Commi ttee he had par t icip ated in he had never heard the word Negro mentioned, nor had he received any indication of racial discrimination as far as any particular proj ect is concerned. Senator Johnson commented "you don't have to say the word to do the act". Mr . Persells then responded to the charge s as follows: As to no participation on the part of Negroes in planning, he s tated there was a cons iderable period of time whe n there wa s little, if any, par ti cipation in urban renewal planning by whites or Negroe s; that the planning and action that went on took place at the off icia l level and the participati on of the cornmunity at large was extremely limited; that only within the last two to fo ur years were people outsid e o f o ff icials really brought into planning in urban renewal to the extent of actual participation. The first effort at involving parti cipation on the part of persons living in the project area t ook place in the West End Project through a Ci tizen s Advisory Corranittee, whic still functions. The second effort t ook pla ce when the Buttermilk Bo ttoms North Avenue Project (which was combi ned wi th Bedford-Pine) was initiated ; the c itizens residing in the project area fo rmed an organization ca lled "URESCUE" whi ch, from that day f o rward, actively and fully participated in every planning decision affecting the area; that this organizat ion has had a profound effect on the urban renewal plan f or this area and he expected it to continue to do so. Mr . , Persells commented further t h at at some point you have to d evelop a basis f or discussion; in the case of Rockdale the people were moved, the land cleared and then came the question o f utilizati on of the l and; that it was determined many years ago that Rockdale would be used f or schools, playgrounds and residences, with an incidental po ssibility o f furnis hing a service shopping area for the 1500 families that would live in the are a . The allocation of 1500 units was based on a limitation on sewers, documented by the Sewer Departme nt. Mr. Persel l s stated further the initial concept was f or single family r esidences, however, this was never possible, t opographically or financia l ly. Mr . Perse lls said further that for a long time prior t o this there wa s, in Atlan ta, a gr ow ing consciousness of t he importance of good urban desi gn , one reason being there ha d been several i llust r a tions of awards made on a flat do ll ar s ystem whe re t he redevelopmen t s had not been too good, so i t wa s ult i mate ly determi ned tha t in multi-fami l y developments it would be de s irable to make the offe ri ng s at a f i xed land pri ce and awa rd t he b i d base d on compet i tive design c rit e r i a ; t hat a pri me reason f or this change in policy was to avoid the type o f pr ob lem mentioned by Mr . Wi lliamson whe re Wheat Street Baptist Church overbid on the land . He s tated t hi s was a very unfo rtunate situation but could no t have be en avoid ed at that t i me wi th the existing laws . I n adopting the fixed land price s y s tem, Mr. Perse ll s s tated an elaborate procedure was e s tabl i shed to insure that awards wo uld be on the basis of design criteri a a nd not po litical or o ther f acto r s . This procedure involved staff reviews and recommendations, ora l presentat ions by developers and recommendations from e xperts in th e fi eld of planning, architecture and housing.

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Th is procedu re wa s f ollowed i n the case of Rockda l e . The se r ecommenda t i on s were then presented t o t he Urban Renewal Poli cy Commi tte e who s pen t in e xc e ss o f f ive hours ev a l uating the f our proposa l s . The pr opos a ls we r e t hen pre sented t o t he Board o f Commi ssioners o f the Ho using Autho r i t y a nd t h ey discussed t hem v ery c arefu l l y, howev er , no de c i sion ha s been made by t hem. At thi s point , Mr . Per s ell s com.~ ented t hat no on e had a tt emp t ed to infl uence him in thi s matte r o r con t ac ted him ab out it exc ept Mr. Wi ll iamson an d Mr . J ohnson; that whe n the y visited his o ffi c e he a dvis ed them a t t hat t ime that he wa s a s ta ff member , no t a de c i s i on o r po li cy make r , and he woul d be remi s s in hi s duty if the s t a ff had i nfl uence on policy t o the exten t t hat it was . an overr id ing fa c t o r , ra t her t han a r e commendat ion, and such was no t the ca se wit h Rockdale . Mr . Per s e l ls commented on the s tatement that Ne groes do not hold re sp onsible j obs i n urb an renewal , or t hey hold l ow type j ob s. He s t a t ed this is s imply no t an a c curate s tatement ; that there are a number o f Negro peop le involved in urban renewal a t h i gh and l ow l eve ls and their jobs are open f o r inspection ; that there are v acan t j ob s wh i ch are yet to be fi lled and when quali fie d Neg r o peo p l e ca n be f ound , who a re will i ng t o a cc ept t he job at the salary it c arri es , he would per so na l ly re commend them f o r empl oyme nt. As to the allegation , by imp l i cat i on o r dire c t statement, tha t there ha d bee n no previous la nd purchases invo lving Negroe s and t he que s tion o f t he Ne gro colle ges pa ying more f o r uban re new al land t ha n anyone el s e, Mr. Per se l ls s a id t ha t p r i o r to Ro ckdale, awa rds were stric t l y on t he ba s i s o f the h ighest bidde r, wi t h some c on siderat i on g i ven t o des ign f acto rs, and he could r ec all onl y two ins ta nces when awa r ds we r e made o ther than t o the high b idder and these ha d c lear-cu t re ason s which h ad no thing to do with the qu e s tio n o f ra c e ; that t he re hav e be e n seve ra l ins tanc e s whe r e Neg r oes hav e been s ucc es s f u l bidder s , f or e xamp le, Ci t iz ens Tr us t Company; f urther, at the t ime the Unive r si ty Cent er Urb an Renewal Proj e c t was being planned, it ap pe are d that it wo uld be impo ss ib l e t o f inanc e a proj e c t of t he size des i r e d by t he co l l e ges and so the col le ge s , i n o r der t o make t he project fe a s i ble and se cure t he land, ag reed to pay $40 , 000 an a cre; t ha t h e had neve r heard them comp la in ab out this ; that Whe a t Str eet Ga rde n s , again, wa s a n unfortuna t e se t o f circumstances, but t hey related t o the t i me and s ituation as i t was t hen; t ha t bas ed on his exp e r ience, t he Negro co llege s would have pai d more f o r t he l and wi thout the be nef it of the urb an renewal project. Mr . Pe rsells did no t comment on the pub l i c hou s i ng , except t o s ay the things mentioned in regard t o Eaga n Horne s ar e not who lly accurat e and do no t fairly repre sent the si t uation a s i t i s. He then made brief concluding commen ts on s everal othe r po ints rais ed by Messr s. Williams on and J ohnson. He s t a ted th er e had b een an ass umption made that the two proposals me ntioned (Douglas-Ar len and Ro s en) were equal , but he could assure everyo ne tha t whe n a decision is reached, it will be bec au s e the two were not equal. They had a l so assumed that the Rosen pr opos al doe s not involve Negro pa r t icipa t io n , but Mr . Per sells stated t hey might well include local Negro participat ion , j u s t as Douglas-Ar len does; t h at t h e Ro sen group has agree d to "spin o f f" po rt ions of the t ota l development, in the same manne r a s



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the Douglas- Arlen group anticipated spinning off the whole of the projec t , to a non-pro f it organiza t ion , however, Rosen was explicit in his desire to retain control of the development. As to t he capability of the Union Baptist Church t o c arry out a project of t h is magnitude, Mr. Persells state d that t o let thi s be t he gove rning factor in the de cision would be wrong; tha t t he assump tion has to be ma de .that such an organization would employ pro f essionally skilled peop l e who could assist them in ma nagement activities. As t o the Rose n propo sal be ing submitted to FHA , Mr. Persells stated it was submitted to FHA f or a preliminary review to determine i f it was acceptable to FHA without having t o make major ch anges; i f i t had been r eturned, another proposal would have been s ubmi tted to them; furth e r, it is not accurate to say that pla ns will not be deve l ope d a s submitted to FHA becaus e they will change them; that i f this were t r ue, compe ti tions would not be he ld; t hat while minor changes might be sugge s ted becau s e of topographic cond itions or other reasons, it doe s not mean the basic concept or layout of the developme nt would be altered. As to Negroes sharing in the financial rewards of urban renewal, Mr. Persel l s stated the bu lk of the f inancial rewards which would accrue to Negroes or whites would be in the development stage; after the structures are built, it lies with the continuing ma nagement. Mr. Persells conc l uded by saying t hat he hoped they could continue to opera te without rega rd to race , creed or color and involve the community as a who l e in planning a c t iviti es oriented to urban renewa l projects; that we shou l d no t condemn ourselves by past mistake s, but pro fi t f rom them and move f orward. There we r e then ques t i ons a nd ans wers . Mr . Glenn st a ted he was the n ewe st member o f t h e Bo a rd of Commiss ione rs and in the meeti ngs he had attended race had never been me ntioned and to h is knowledge no dec ision had been made on Rockdale. He pointedly asked "has a dec i s i on been ma de and was r a ce an issue?" Mr. Griggs stated the Po l icy Committee had ma de a recommenda t i on to t he At lanta Housing Authority a nd rac e was not a n is sue; tha t no decis i on has been made yet by the Authori ty. Mr . Pierc e s t ated he would like it clarified about the charge of reinsta t ing disqualif ied plan s. Mr . Persells explained that at no t i me were any o f the f ou r pr opo sals set aside; that in thei r initia l r eview o f the propos al s, which is to determi ne if they are in proper order t o be accepted, t hey did discover minor t echni calities in the Rosen and Chruckrow p ropo sa l s . The Rosen proposal did not submit a bid bond , nor a total dev elopment cost, although suffic ient information was available to arrive at this figure . The Chruckrow proposal failed to meet the exact specifications with respect to their drawings, however, after consultations with the Authority ' s legal counsel, it was felt these were merely minor irregularities and not sufficient reasons f o r rejecting the propo sals since the s e irregularities did not affect any of the design criteria ; consequently, the Board of Commissioners,


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under the provisions of t he o ffering, waived the se irregularities, but up to this point there was no cons id eration given t o the proposals on the basis o f merit and they were under cons tant review and still are. As a result of this situation Mr . Persells stated it wa s determined that the wording in the offering was too ambiguous and subsequently an addendum to the offering was ma de, setting forth in greater detail the speci fi cations for bidding. Mr . Pierce asked i f any of these exceptions were ever mentioned at the Policy meetings, t o which Mr . Persells answered negative ly, explaining that it was felt this was a re sponsibility of the Board of Commissioners, whose meet ings are a matter of public reco r d. Mr . Wi lliamson con tended that if the Douglas-Arlen group had not "dotted every 'i' and cross ed every 't' t hey would be ou t of the ball game". Mr . Johns on stated it was their understand ing the Policy Corrnnittee wou ld make a re corrnnendation to the Housing Authority , who would be responsible f or making the final decision, but since a re commendation fr om the Policy Corrnnittee is tantamount to approval by the Authority, they felt it was their responsibi li ty t o dis cuss the matter with the Pol i cy Committee and they are here today because they thought no deci sion had been made. Mr. J ohnson stated furth er that he and Mr . Williams on vis ited Mr . Cook in hi s o ffi ce and were told that a decision had been made by t h e Po li cy Corrrrnittee and Mr . Cook suggested they s ee Mr. Persells; that they did visit with Mr . Persel ls who, in turn, suggested they take the matter up with the o ther members of the Policy Committee, resulting in today's meeting . He also mentioned that when Alderman Cotsakis le ft the meeting, he said he would not return to the meeting to vote because thi s Committee had already ma de a recommendation; that if this is the c a s e , then everything said today has been to no avail. He said further that the Ho using Authority permi ts a laxity of rules for some and requires o thers to "toe the mark" and this is where discrimination begins. He submitted that if the Douglas-Arlen group had not submitted a performance bond, they would have been eliminated. Mr. Williamson asked when must the Housing Authority publicize its decision. Mr . Persells stated not later than Monday. There being no further discussion , Mr . Griggs thanked everyone for appearing and the Committee then went into Executive Session. In Executive Session, Mr. Sterne commented that the Policy Connnittee, after studying the four proposals very carefully, and after having the benefit of written recorrnnendations from the experts, did make a recommendation and the final decision rests with the Hou sing Authority; that there is some merit to the statement that generally speaking the Board of Commissioners tends to follow the recommendation of the Policy Corrnnittee; that while he is aware of the Senator's explanation of the insidious way the race issue comes up, he could truthfully say it never entered his mind at any of the briefings or meetings he attended.





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Mr . Griggs stated he was "dumfounded" when Mr. Wil liamson and Senator Johnson came to his office and made the charges they did; that he was completely unaware o f any racial prejudice connec ted with Rockdale. Mr. Persells stated the bids were opened legally on March 15 and the Housing Authori ty is obligated to reach a decision and notify the successful bidder within 60 days, after which they have 10 days to sign the contract documents. In answer to questioning by Mr. Griggs, Hr. Persells stated the Board of Commissioners will have all four proposals before them at the meeting, with a favo rable recommendation from the Policy Committee on the Rosen proposal. Mr . Pierce recalled that he had to leave the meeting of April 25, 1967, at whi ch the four proposals were discussed, prior to its conclusion and at the time of his departure, advis e d the Chairman that up to t h at point, he favored the Rosen plan, based on the plans he had seen and the recommendations that had been given it by the va rious experts; however, he stated that at that time he was not aware of the exceptions which were made, o r the questio n of the race issue, and he requested that if the Chairman did vote favorable for him, that it be stricken from the record.


Mr. Sterne, a l so being a member of the Board of Commissioners, sta ted he wanted to make it clear that the waivers which were granted took place pr ior to any hearings and it was afterwards that the detailed presentations were made on all four proposals. After other brief discussion, the Acting Chairman stated that if today's presentations had altered the position of any committee member, he would entert ain a motion to reconsider the matter. Mr. Pierce so moved and simultaneously moved that the Douglas-Arlen pr opo sa l be a pproved. These motions died for the lack of a second. The Acting Cha irman then entertained a motion to reaffirm the previous de cis i on o f the -commi t t ee. Moti on was made a nd seconded by Messrs. Sterne and Flanigen that acc e p t ance o f the Ro sen p r oposal be reaffirmed, s aid motion being adopted by majori ty vote, with Ald e rma n Pierce voting a dversely.



Respectfully submitted :

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