Set asides for disabled veterans: you can be a Times Square Sidewalk vendor

Back in 2004 President Bush signed House Bill 108, requiring 3% of all Federal contracts go to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB). The law is widely ignored by major government contractors (know as “Primes” in the government acquisition business). A recent issue of Vetrepreneur Magazine (stories not available online) lamented the failure of any federal agency to meet goal. A few States have mirrored the Federal legislation– and become Vet friendly- but Ohio isn’t one of them.

In the reporting on the Times Square bombing attempt- it’s good to see that at least NYC grants Service Disabled Veterans special sidewalk vending privileges:

it was the keen eyes of at least two of them — both disabled Vietnam War veterans who say they are accustomed to alerting local police officers to pickpockets and hustlers — that helped point the authorities to the Pathfinder, illegally and unusually parked next to their merchandise of inexpensive handbags and $2.99 “I Love NY” T-shirts.

Shortly before 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, the vendors — Lance Orton and Duane Jackson, who both served during the Vietnam War and now rely on special sidewalk vending privileges for disabled veterans

via Times Square Vendors Who Alerted Police Called Heroes –

I only wonder if the paperwork involved to become a sidewalk vendor is as complex as it is to get a GSA schedule so that Government Buyers can buy with ease from SDVOBs. A GSA schedule for those of you aren’t in the government contracting circle is a “pre-approved”contract to provide goods and services to the government at set rates- so that government buyers don’t have to do too much research to compare bids. It has requirements that often revoke small businesses schedules built into it- making it even more difficult to gain and maintain a contract. Of course, Congressman Mike Turner’s wife had a GSA schedule- and was doing business with the Army Corps of Engineers while he was sitting on the Defense Appropriations Committee.

With all of the newly created Service Disabled Veterans, now, more than ever this kind of set aside is needed. Unlike set asides for minorities – these new veterans gave something voluntarily in service to our country- that can’t be replaced by money. The old guys- like the two street vendors- were probably drafted.

Of course the first thing that the officials start talking about in averting the next bombing is some high tech surveillance system with the millions going to one of the big government prime contractors like Halliburton (who did so well with the Deep Horizon blow out protection valve). Instead, maybe we should be hiring our Service Disabled Veterans to patrol the streets and keep an eye out for this kind of thing. Isn’t that what we trained them to do?

Hats off to Mr. Orton and Mr. Jackson for serving our country once again. Shame to our country for thinking special sidewalk vending privileges are as good as we can do for these people who fought and served.

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