Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg approves resolution to keep conflict minerals out of future tech purchases

ST. PETERSBURG — Every year, the city spends about $1 million on technology equipment.

Before a deal is signed, the city wants to know several things about the companies vying for contracts, including information about finances, warranties and durability of the items.

Soon, officials will ask an additional question: whether the company's products contain conflict minerals.

"As we enter into these agreements we want to be sure that our vendors will be complying," said Louis Moore, the city's director of purchasing. "If they're not, we would recommend that we not do business with them."

Conflict minerals, similar to blood diamonds, are mined in war-torn regions rife with human rights violations, especially Central Africa. The minerals, including tin, tungsten and tantalum derived from them, are frequently used in things like cell phones and laptops.

But human rights advocates say the minerals also fund armed groups committing violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which some have called the rape capital of the world.

The mention of conflict minerals in purchasing agreements, solidified by a resolution recently approved by the City Council, is new for St. Petersburg.

City Council member Steve Kornell championed the issue this summer and spearheaded a push for the city to shun companies using conflict minerals in their products. The City Council approved a resolution 5-3 last month.

"We are only the second city in the United States to do so," Kornell said. "The greatest respect we can give to people like Martin Luther King Jr., and Gandhi and others who stood up for human rights is to take their lessons and apply them right now. … I'm proud of this. I'm proud of our city."

Last spring, Pittsburgh also passed a resolution calling for companies to take steps to remove conflict minerals from their supply chains.

Kornell hadn't heard of the issue until representatives of the Enough Project brought it to his attention several months ago.

The Enough Project, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and connected to the Center for American Progress, works to prevent genocide and human rights violations.

Matt Brown, a spokesman, said the organization hopes other cities follow St. Petersburg's lead.

"We're hoping it has some teeth with purchasing decisions," Brown said. "And even if it doesn't, it's so symbolic. People are saying even though this issue is far away … we care."

Kornell said it was an easy cause to embrace.

"We were able to piggyback on all this infrastructure already set in place by the federal government," Kornell said, referring to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The law, passed last year, contains a provision requiring companies to report whether minerals they use originate from the Congo.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is crafting the rules and regulations that will govern the law.

Moore, who said the city's $1 million in technology purchases go toward things like cell phones, computers and other equipment, said the resolution won't be tough to implement.

"It's really not going to cost anything," he said. "This will just be one other thing we ask of companies."

He said many of the companies the city buys electronics from, including Dell and Motorola, already are taking steps toward ridding their products of conflict minerals.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at of (727) 893-8643.


Learn more about the fight against conflict minerals at

St. Petersburg approves resolution to keep conflict minerals out of future tech purchases 11/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 5:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]