In its first 18 months of operation, Montgomery County's cable television company has failed to meet its goals for hiring minorities and for purchasing goods and services from minority firms, according to a County Council report released yesterday.
Less than one-fourth of the affirmative actions goals for hiring have been met or exceeded, while purchases from minority firms have equalled only a fraction of the 10 percent minimum set out in the contract, the report said.
Tribune United Cable of Montgomery County won the right to build and operate the system over eight other firms in 1983 and agreed to the goals as part of its contract for the franchise.
The report, prepared by the council's Office of Legislative Oversight, prompted sharp criticism of the cable company from council members.
"Hiring isn't what it should be and procurement is disastrous,"said council President Michael Gudis. "This is a very serious issue and we consider it of utmost importance."
Michael J. Pohl, vice president of corporate relations for Tribune United, acknowledged some of the problems, but said it was premature to judge the company's efforts on minority hiring and contracting.
"I think our record is pretty good for a company that started in business 18 months ago," he said. "I think we're doing a progressively better job reaching out to these people."
The council ordered the report to look into the company's effort to comply with contract provisions spelling out minority hiring and the use of minority firms to supply goods and sevices after members from the local chapter of the NAACP charged that Tribune United was not meeting its goals.
The contract, for example, stipulates that 51.9 percent of the company's staff would be composed of females, 13.3 percent would be black males and 11.4 percent would be black females.Other percentages have been set out for Hispanics, Asians and for the handicapped.
In each case, the contract requires the company to make "reasonable and good faith efforts" to meet the goals.
While the company has not "ignored affirmative action hiring," the report said it has made little effort to hire the handicapped and could have done more to hire women and minorities in senior management positions.
On minority procurement, the report said there was "little evidence that Tribune United has made a good faith effort to meet its goal."
Of the $39 million spent on goods and services between May 1983 and August of this year, only $139,000, or 0.4 percent, had gone to minority firms, the report found.
"We've done a bad job and we are attempting to do better," Pohl said.
Gudis said he intends to set up a meeting with County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist to discuss the report.