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2011 Columns
Quarter 1: January thru March ~ Columns #1 - #13

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March 30, 2011 Column #13: When corruption trumped justice:
In the matter of Glenda Telford and Sheila Haynes

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Pull quote: There was no settlement, no justice, for Glenda Telford or for her sister, Sheila Haynes, nor for hundreds of other people of color who had been told that their cases had been investigated.

My May 6, 2009 column on race-based Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) incidents highlighted the existence of serious corruption and cover-ups involving the city of Minneapolis and its police department. The column dealt with the notorious Valachi, the primarily White gang task force unit, the Black police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department, and a four-part series by the Star Tribune that had been following our investigative reports of cover-ups and corruption for over two years.

Key lines from that column: “As we have detailed for the past several years…the real attempt was to pin White corruption on Black officers”; “dirty cops (the majority…according to the [Star Tribune], would be White)”; “Ms. [Sheila] Haynes [was] pressured to falsely testify that Black police officers were in the pay of Valachi.” It got so dangerous that “the federal government suggested to Ms. Haynes that she leave the state for her own safety”.

The Star Tribune editorial of Tuesday, April 28, 2009, expressed regret that settled lawsuits prevented the truth from being told. This is why the African American Ms. Haynes’ sister, Glenda Telford, and her two juvenile sons were treated unjustly by the Civil Rights Department and the Civilian Review Police Authority. Pretending to investigate her complaint, they instead helped carry out an MPD vendetta against this family because of Ms. Telford’s sister, Sheila Haynes.

Ms. Haynes helped expose police corruption in the metropolitan area. Ms. Telford had no clue that by the very early summer of 2009, a decision had been made to circumvent and suppress the complaint she submitted on behalf of herself and her two sons to the Civil Rights Department.

Ms. Telford was told her case was being investigated. All the players knew it was not being investigated: the head of the Civilian Review Authority knew; the head of the Civil Rights Department knew, which the CRA reports to; the investigators knew, who on paper investigated but did not in reality; as well as clearly powerful forces within the police department who knew the case would never see the light of day knew. Physical attacks on members of the Telford family in March 2009 were an attempt to intimate Ms. Haynes so she would not testify about the information she possessed about corruption at the highest possible law enforcement level.

In my May 6, 2009 column (again, see here), I appealed for support for Ms. Haynes, who had significant information that would have helped Officer Mike Roberts. As I have reported, Ms. Haynes and her family attempted, through Officer Roberts’ attorney, to deliver her affidavit to the presiding judge in the trial. She indicated that she was prepared to be examined on the allegation contained in the affidavit and give sworn testimony to the statements contained therein.

For whatever reason, Officer Roberts’ attorney decided not to forward the document to the court. As a result, Officer Roberts entered a plea bargain and spent time in the penitentiary. In the meantime, Glenda Telford had no idea that she too had been targeted along with her children, that there would be no justice, no investigation, no findings in her request for justice and civil rights to provide redress in her case.

My investigation led me to believe and understand that it is a common practice to engage in massive purging of cases within the Civil Rights Department and in the Civilian Review Authority, that shredding of evidence became the order of the day. See a partial list of cases shredded in my previous column (March 23 2011).

Sheila Haynes, as reported in my May 6, 2009 column, was an assassination attempt target. Only by the Hand of God did she survive being killed in Mississippi.

We know what happens to Black police in this city: They become invisible. We know what happened to Mike Roberts. We know that the book on corruption was closed by a $3 million settlement ordered by the federal court in late 2010. But there was no settlement, no justice, for Glenda Telford or for her sister, Sheila Haynes, nor for hundreds of other people of color who had been told that their cases had been investigated, all receiving the same conclusion: No probable cause could be found.

Clearly, what could not be found was/is justice. When you can shred cases and ignore the statutes of law, you are doing pretty good in embracing the doctrine of former Supreme Court Justice Taney, who said there are no rights, no obligations, and no expectations that the Negro should have in the quest for justice. True that in Minneapolis, where corruption trumps justice.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, his solution papers and his "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis, and his work to contribute to the planning to help mold a consensus for the future of Black and White Americans together of Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 12:38 p.m.


March 23, 2011 Column #12: Minneapolis Civil Rights case backlog eliminated — by shredding: The matter of Ronald G. Brandon, ousted chief investigator of Minneapolis Civil Rights Department.

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Last week’s column reported three Minneapolis Civil Rights Department (MCRD) personnel who have emerged as heroes in exposing serious ongoing ethical and illegal MCRD breaches. This week, a fourth: Ronald G. Brandon, former chief supervisor of the MCRD Investigative Unit.

His ouster from the department and City of Minneapolis came after his expressions of serious concern to superiors of the tampering with cases under investigation within the department. Some feel it was the case of Glenda Telford and her two children that may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Evidence shows that during the week of February 5, 2010, a very peculiar assignment was given to MDCR investigators: Supervise temporary employees in the destruction by shredding of hundreds of MCDR civil rights complaint cases filed by citizens.

It is clear that most of these cases were not investigated despite their receiving letters claiming investigation. All but one received an MDCR letter denying their claims on the grounds of no probable cause.

Peculiar to the retaliation against Mr. Brandon was the sequence of, first, his promotion to assistant director by the new director, Velma Korbel, only to be then demoted in less than two months. Rumor has it that he thought the new incoming director wanted to do the right thing.

To his surprise and demise, he found himself forced out of employment by the City of Minneapolis and replaced by the man who had been the chief investigator under Korbel in the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, an individual who had previously been acting director of the MCRD prior to the arrival of Michael Jordan, Ms. Korbel’s predecessor.

Mr. Brandon was assigned to Regulatory Services. Within weeks he was told the position had been eliminated. He became one more City employee joining the ranks of the unemployed, betrayed for doing his job.

Here are a few of the names from a list I have received of citizens who had filed civil rights complaints against major institutions and businesses in Minneapolis, including the police department, only to have their cases denied and purged by shredding, many done during the week of February 5, 2010:

Alemu Abebe, Case File #A6149-PA-5
Kebede Belay, Case File #A6518-EM-1A-RP
James Davis, Case File #A6450-EM-1A
Tonya Glover, Case File #A6635-EM-1A-RP
Bernard Harris, Case File #10-092589-PS-1A-7-RP
Juvenile, Case File #09-14391-PS-1A
Juvenile, Case File #09-14-406-PS-1A
Carol Kelley, Case File #09-23928-EM-10-11
Linda Reynolds, Case File #A6444-RE-1A
Glenda Telford, File #09-07461 (no case file number)
Cordell Watkins, Case File #A6636-EM-1A-RP
Mamie Young, Case File #A6375-EM-1A-5

These cases’ files were not only shredded, but never investigated, which Ronald G. Brandon could not and would not tolerate. It cost him his job and his career.

In my column of last week, I reported how a former contract compliance investigator and attorney, Loren Marker, confronted the Minneapolis City Council in their session of March 2, 2011, with evidence and allegations of criminal and civil malfeasance during the time that she was employed as a contract compliance specialist. That should have been a red flag to the city council, but for whatever reason, it was not.

I also reported that Mr. Calderone submitted written documentation that he had been ordered to provide unverifiable diversity numbers in both hiring and contracts on the $200 million U of M Children’s Hospital project. It is rumored that Ron Brandon did as Eddy Calderone did.

At the time of Mr. Calderon’s declaration to Michael J. Rumppe of the Human Resources Department, others also became aware, such as Mr. James Patterson, who was also forced out of the department, and Marvin “Corky” Taylor, then deputy director of the MCRD, who was soon demoted and is now on track to be terminated from his position as a contract compliance specialist.

This disturbing pattern shakes to the foundation any level of confidence or trust in the City of Minneapolis and its Civil Rights Department: filed complaints not investigated; filed complaints shredded; filed complaints, with one exception, responded to with letters denying claims on the grounds of no probable cause. These letters were posted within a period of March-April and early May 2010, corresponding to the events and assignments of the week of February 5, 2010.

At least seven specialists were brought in during that week. Under temporary contracts and supervised by permanent investigators in the MCRD, they purged citizen complaints, preparing to make the mayor look good on his announcement four months before that the Civil Rights Department no longer had a case backlog.

We’ll have more over the next five weeks. Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, his solution papers and his "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis, and his work to contribute to the planning to help mold a consensus for the future of Black and White Americans together of Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 3:40 a.m.


March 16, 2011 Column #11: 3 Heroes of the Civil Rights Struggle Against Corruption: Lauren Marker, Eddie Calderon, Marvin Taylor.

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

This column continues my five-year investigative reporting of a city government that stands for itself, not its citizens. This government, the City of Minneapolis, continually makes reports with false and erroneous information about its compliance to the general pubic, to the State of Minnesota, and to the federal government, and treats whistleblowers with intimidation and retaliation.

The three heroes in this column stood up against Minneapolis slapping the faces of its citizens, both directly (by denying Blacks jobs) and indirectly (through the taxes Whites have to pay for Minneapolis corruption).

In Tunisia, a government official’s slap to the face of a citizen ignited citizen revolts across the region against governments that were operating for themselves and not for their citizens. Those sparks are now igniting fires across the United States. We see a historical turning point as citizens rise up to repair governments that do not stand up for those they supposedly represent.

Lauren Marker, attorney and former contract compliance specialist in the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department (MCRD), reported corruption to the Minneapolis City Council on March 2, 2011: hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with fraud, kickbacks, document shredding and report falsification. In one case, the person identified as the contact person for certifying compliance had been dead over seven years.

No one challenged her report. No one asked her questions to examine what she said. No one brought forth information to repudiate her allegations of corruption and misconduct.

For being a whistleblower, Ms. Marker lost her position and her 20-year career in city government. The current and past leadership of MCRD and this city government are known for intimidation and retaliation. Understandably, Ms. Marker has filed a legal action against the City and against specific individuals within the MCRD.

Eddie Calderone, a 32-year employee of the Civil Rights Department and one of the most respected individuals in his contract compliance field, also had his career ended for doing his job. On Thursday, May 20, 2010, at 9:41 am, Mr. Calderone reported by email to Michael J. Rumppe of the Human Resources Department the questionable patterns and practices within the MCRD, one of many documents submitted by Mr. Calderone on inappropriate conduct and mismanagement.

The specific project under discussion in Mr. Calderone’s email involved a $200 million Children’s Hospital project in which no African Americans were being contracted with or hired to work. Mr. Calderone reported that he was ordered to violate the law by accepting numbers not certified as provided by the prime contractor, Krause Anderson, and to submit the false data into a database which provides legal standing for information dissemination by the City in the area of contract compliance.

Marvin Taylor, Mr. Calderon’s immediate supervisor, expressed surprise and concern that his authority was being circumvented and that Mr. Calderone was being directed by the highest possible authority in the department to circumvent the law. Mr. Calderone pointed this out in his May 20, 2010 email.

Mr. Taylor has raised questions about the pattern and practice of cooking the numbers and creating false documentation. Mr. Taylor was demoted and now finds himself under administrative sanctions, with possibly no more than 40 days left before his 25-plus-year career with the City of Minneapolis is ended.

Marker, Calderone, Taylor: three heroes — a White, a Filipino, a Black — all in the field of social justice. They stepped up to the plate in their own way, in their own time, to do the right thing.

Two were immediately forced out and the third is about to be. They were met by the forces of nullification and reversal, forces still allowed by this administration and council to champion injustice and corruption.

For over five years I have reported on the staggering amounts of money city government gives out to its friends and political companions while the African American community receives less than one half of one percent of those dollars. You’ll not read of these heroes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune nor see them on major TV stations.

Who will stop punishing courage with dismissal? My five-year investigative reporting on this continues next week regarding the former chief of investigation for the MCRD, who lost everything because he would not continue in silence as case files were shredded and as misinformation was given to citizens regarding the status and future of their complaints to the MCRD.

This is a mean-spirited department given aid and comfort by an equally mean-spirited city government that lacks compassion for the franchise and future of the African American.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, his solution papers and his "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis, and his work to contribute to the planning to help mold a consensus for the future of Black and White Americans together of Minneapolis.

Posted Thursday, March 17, 2011, 4:24 a.m.


March 09, 2011 Column #10: “The Plan” revealed: no more jobs for Black Minnesotans in 2011 and beyond.

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

One of the important features of history is date sequences. They identify occasions of events, including place, circumstances and people involved. Here are some recent historical landmarks in the purposeful denial of jobs to Blacks in this city and state.

Historic date: April 18, 2008 — Report of Michael Jordan, then director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (DCR), using 20 references to “monitoring,” “compliance with,” and “increased opportunities for MBEs [Minority Business Enterprises].” All untrue.

Historic date: August 28, 2009 — MinneapolisStory blog entry with list of 12 columns, 2005-2009, reporting incidents of noncompliance.

Historic date: June 18, 2010 — Star Tribune editorial headed, “This is one list we’d rather not top,” about the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) study and testimony released to the U.S. Congress showing African Americans 3.1 times more likely than Whites to be unemployed in the metro area.

Historic date: November 3, 2010 — Since those elections, both parties have shouted the clarion call for jobs, jobs, jobs. Where are they?

Historic date: October 22, 2010 — “Diversity Study” report to the City, with 17 pages of recommendations, from NERA Economic Consultants. Key statement: “Minneapolis currently does not monitor compliance during performance. Contractor utilization is reviewed at contract closeout. This is too late to correct any deficiencies to ensure M/WBEs are treated fairly on their contracts.”

Historic date: October 27, 2010 (five days later) — on page 2A of USA Today, Living Cities Foundation press conference in Detroit announces $16 million granted to each of five cities, including Minneapolis, for the employment of the unemployed, underemployed and hard to employ. Where is it? Where did it get diverted to?

Historic date: February 24, 2011 — Publication of the letter of Dr. Samuel L. Myers, Jr. rebutting the October 22, 2011 Minneapolis “Diversity Report.” Had Dr. Meyers read my books, columns, and website, where I have thoroughly documented the purposeful job-denying economic rape of the Black community by the public and private sectors since 2002, he would not have written such an abstract letter devoid of street-level reality. (See my most recent columns, November 18 and 25 and December 8 and 15, 2010, and January 5 and 19 and February 9, 2011, archived at www.MinneapolisStory.com).

Dr. Myers’ real goal seems to be to get the grant given to NERA, the Texas firm that conducted the study. But being in Minneapolis is not enough if you are blind to the facts and deaf to what is said by workers. Dr. Myers writes of documents that don’t exist (either shredded or never existing in the first place).

Dr. Myers seems to place the blame for defective and incomplete information at the doorstep of NERA. The reason the NERA report contains flawed information and statistics, which they admit, is because the data and information they obtained from the DCR was flawed, with made-up numbers, contract payments, payroll information and Social Security numbers that never existed.

Dr. Myers won’t acknowledge the City’s GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. He ignores the City’s refusal to follow its own regulations, and he ignores the former DCR director Michael Jordan’s public comment that major contracts under the legal custody of the DCR could be executed and completed without hiring a single Black person.

When Dr. Myers suggests there might be “discrimination against White male-owned firms via existing race-conscious programs,” he shows just how out of touch with reality he is. He joins other so-called Black leaders more focused on their next funding project than on justice and fairness.

The continued blocked unemployment of Blacks in the Twin Cities is an albatross of shame around the necks of those purposefully denying employment justice and fairness of law in the workplace. The historical timeline above reveals those in power (and those who elected them) not giving a damn. (For greater detail, see today’s blog entry on my MinneapolisStory.com website).

The DCR has moved the discussion in a different direction, away from accurate reporting and following the law. Instead, the department is proposing in its business plan to downsize and remove itself from the active field of investigations by 2014, removing the need to pretend it enforces civil rights law.

There it is, “The Plan,” out in the open, plain and simple.
So no matter how passionately Governor Mark Dayton talks about jobs for African Americans, there can be no concrete or structured plan to guarantee an opportunity in the marketplace for African Americans as long as this well-designed commitment to end civil rights enforcement holds.

More studies are not needed. We already know that any attempt to provide opportunity for meaningful economic inclusion of African Americans in the state of Minnesota is doomed to failure.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011, 8:00 p.m.


March 02, 2011 Column #9: Sensitivity and Compassion in Education
The commitment to educate 835,000 children in Minnesota

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

On Tuesday night, February 22, 2011, at Sabathani Community Center, State Representatives Hayden and Champion sponsored a reception and town hall meeting for the new Minnesota Education Commissioner, Dr. Brenda Cassellius. Attended by over 70 Minnesota citizens, it included at least 8 State Legislators, 3 from out state Minnesota.

It is quite clear that Governor Mark Dayton, in selecting Dr. Brenda Cassellius for Minnesota Education Commissioner, has selected a person whose philosophy aligns with his, making it clear there will finally be educational change we can believe in, change that will put children’s results and graduation first.

Far too often in public education, the commitment is about paid administrators/experts and their benefits, with little caring about the children’s learning or about the parents and the communities in which they reside.

The Governor Dayton - Dr. Cassellius partnership is a welcome change to the broken approaches of the past 8 years. The Governor comes from wealth. Dr. Cassellius was born and raised in public housing in southeast Minneapolis. Her young mother had a passionate commitment to the education of her children. Yet, as Dr. Cassellius made clear to those of us in attendance last Tuesday, she and Governor Dayton have a passion, sensitivity, and commitment to educate, to get results, to graduate students. They both recognize that students must excel and graduate if our state is to survive in the very competitive world market place.

Dr. Cassellius’ presentation, her response to questions from the audience, and her reflection on the vision, shows the commitment she and the Governor have for the educational success of Minnesota’s 835,000 students.

For this columnist, educated in the Minnesota public schools, it was refreshing to listen to and to evaluate a commissioner who truly cares about the children, an educator who started out as a teacher’s aide, became a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, and then an associate superintendent in the Minneapolis public schools.

Dr. Cassellius next enjoyed the experience of being mentored by former Minneapolis Superintendent of Public Schools, the legendary Carol Johnson, who the Commissioner worked with for three years in Memphis, TN.

Dr. Cassellius’ two children attend school in their neighborhood in South Minneapolis. She and the Governor are committed to strengthening the foundation of public education in Minnesota. This won’t be easy. Too many draw their compensation, salaries, benefits and other relief from the public education budget, who are not committed to graduation results for our students. The degree of commitment to public education is one of the controversial discussions going on within the Minneapolis public school administration. See my Chapter on Education, partly titled “Stop Clubbing the Cubs” posted on my web site, at https://www.theminneapolisstory.com/solutionpapers/40Chap7.htm.

It is quite clear that Dr. Cassellius understands the governor’s vision for the retooling of education in the state of Minnesota, as she presented her points of commitment and success they are committed to. The Governor recently committed to something rare among state chief executives in America today: he put money into increasing educational opportunity as opposed to cutting it as part of his budgetary commitment.

Everyone understands that, sadly, there will be resistance and obstacles to this vision. There are powerful forces at work in America, in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, California, and others, that now maintain that educational opportunity cannot be afforded to all of America’s students, starting with the youngest of preK through 12 students.

Commissioner Dr. Brenda Cassellius reaffirmed that the commitment and vision mean that dollars and the “priority” that the results of “children come first” are the educational goals to graduate all students. Dr. Cassellius showed her compassion, sensitivity and caring for the educational opportunities and advancement of educational success for all Minnesota students. A lot of people talk about but don’t deal with the achievement gaps that exist. It is welcome news that this commissioner, based on her own upbringing, educational attainment, and experience, is fully committed to the success of all students.

Most welcome also is that, as a person of color, she is not bashful in talking about commitments to the children of the sons and daughters of the African. This column applauds a young, dynamic commissioner of education who, by the way did not apply for the position. In conversations with a long time advisor to Governor Mark Dayton himself, the determination was made that Dr. Brenda Cassellius was the person to be entrusted to moving Minnesota to the forefront of a new design and a new commitment to American and Minnesota educational results.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Friday, March 4, 2011, 2:22 p.m.


February 23, 2011 Column #8: Council on Black Minnesotans next to fall?
Resignations raise concerns over accountability

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

For many months in this column, we have addressed the accelerating rate surrounding the demise and collapse of Black institutions. It is misleading to think this is a great nova exploding upon the scene without warning, without advance declarations of problems, as if Black institutions and organizations are “all of a sudden” disappearing and going out of business.

Cecil Newman and Nellie Stone Johnson continually gave warnings about wayward Black institutions taking their eyes off the prize. I covered this in detail in my 2002 book, The Minneapolis Story (see Chapter 14 online at www.theminneapolisstory.com/solutionpapers/37Chap14.htm).

Next up on the demise list: the Council on Black Minnesotans.

Rumors are currently circulating that several members of the Council on Black Minnesotans (CBM) suddenly resigned without explanation. Well, not exactly. Their terms did expire January 3, 2011, and a fellow columnist did indicate it should happen.

What is troubling in this corner is the peculiar timing: It has happened before a full accounting has taken place, especially of the great tobacco windfall of 2005-2006 received by the CBM.

Why has there been no year-end report on the results of the CBM’s African American Tobacco Education Network anti-smoking campaign, for which the CBN has statutory responsibility as established by the legislature? Documents show $2.8 million have flowed through the CBM pipeline since 2006.

Yet there appears to have been no audit since 2008. The last newsletter on the CBM website is dated January 2006. The site’s “Statement of Revenues and Expenditures” makes no mention of the tobacco money.

Under Minnesota law, the governor’s office is the appointing authority for the Council on Black Minnesotans until the legislative auditor has signed off on an audit. How can there be CBM resignations or appointments without the audit?

Under Minnesota law, the governor’s office is the appointing authority for the Council on Black Minnesotans. Usually appointments and resignations are not made until the legislative auditor has signed off on an audit. How can SNIP 8 resignations SNIP be accepted without SNIP an audit?

Taxpayers, through the State, are owed an accounting of the responsibility exercised by the overseers entrusted with the State’s taxpayer money. Doesn’t fiduciary responsibility require an audit before one resigns and steps away from the table? Rumors of malfeasance, incompetence and lack of performance by the CBM can only be proven or disproved with an audit.

These are very tense times at the State Capitol for organizations such as the CBM, as the Republican majority in both houses is talking of eliminating bodies like the Council on Black Minnesotans. The CBM is very important for the African American community. It is an important way for the Black community to stay in contact with state government and vice versa.

Rumors suggest that the resignations were submitted after serious conflict within the council. What were the conflicts and how were they resolved? Unproven rumors left to fester offer a golden opportunity to Minnesota conservatives to cut off the head of a council important for Black Minnesotans. We need the CBM to play a meaningful role in addressing state action that involves the future of the African American in Minnesota.

I call upon the governor to not accept resignations until maximum protection can be afforded the survival of the Council on Black Minnesotans. To do anything less is to betray the legacy and vision of Hubert H. Humphrey, Nellie Stone Johnson and Cecil Newman.

The council must remain. It is the right thing to do for the right reasons.

Meeting by invitation only
How is it that the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights director is now escalating secret government in the city? Director Velma Korbel has decided to hold “by invitation only” meetings leading up to the public hearing on the Disparity Study, a meeting already pushed back to March 2 at 1:30 pm, and to be held before the Public Safety Committee. The Public Safety Committee will also be looking at possible police budget cuts, which guarantees the presence of large numbers of police.

Think of it, my friends: Blacks showing up to discuss inclusion in jobs in the presence of a group, the Minneapolis Police Department, that traditionally opposes enabling talks about Black inclusion in this city.

And think of this: bringing together in the same room on the same day two groups that are extremely opposed to each other, one side wearing guns. To the Black community, such scheduling is like mixing kerosene and gasoline with the Minneapolis City Council striking the match.

The obvious question is why would a study dealing with disparity and race be sent to the Public Safety Committee when everyone had agreed three months ago that the city council, acting as the Committee of the Whole, would conduct the public hearing? Is this about naked intimidation and retaliation, Cairo style?

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, Februrary 23, 2011, 11:55 p.m.


February 16, 2011 Column #7: In Minneapolis, Black History Month has become Black Mystery Month. Local censorship mirrors that of Egyptian autocrats.

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Censorship, whether by “our” side or “their” side, is still an infringement on freedom of speech, whether in Minneapolis or in Cairo. This occasional “State of the Community” column coincides with the “State of the World.”

As newspapers and TV news shows work against limits of time and space, websites have become important for more in-depth reporting and commentary. The Internet scares those who want to control others and deny free speech and free assembly.

Despite earlier meddling with parts of the Internet in China, Iran and Tunisia in terms of Google, Facebook and Twitter, now, for the first time, a government, Egypt, shut down the entire Internet on January 28. Completely. Opposing free speech and assembly in Cairo, the government forced the throwing of a “master switch” to “off.”

Egypt shut down free speech and commerce and people’s ability to easily communicate. Ironically, the U.S. Senate has recently introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. government to do the same thing in an “emergency.” I attended a June 2006 conference in Minneapolis dedicated to the fight to keep unfettered access to all kinds of Internet content.

Minneapolis. Cairo. The world. Let’s now turn to the Council on Black Minnesotans and the Urban League.

The Council on Black Minnesotans’ meeting of Tuesday evening last week, February 8, in St. Paul was one of the rowdiest in its history. The St. Paul Police Department had to be called in to restore order. People had to be escorted from the building. Witnesses indicate that it was a classic clash with the Black ecumenical community.

“Classic” because the preachers used scripture to justify their approach (differing from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolence approach). Unless there is significant leadership provided by the governor’s office and the legislature, this could spiral dangerously out of control.
That dangerous tendency was evident earlier in the day last Tuesday at a community center in the heart of St. Paul’s Black community. There an inquisition took place seemingly driven by the presence in our city of the National Urban League’s Senior Vice President of Affiliate Services Mr. Herman Lessard.

Mr. Lessard was here to discuss reorganizing the Minneapolis Urban League into a Twin Cities Metropolitan Urban League. It has been reported that heated exchanges and threats took place between the participants. Allegations of fraud, theft, and other transgressions seemed the order of the morning.

This comes at an awkward time for the Urban League in light of the question raised about a $240,000 grant to the Urban League from Homeland Security to participate in surveillance of the Black community’s “mental health.” Sources report that when the question was raised about this grant, the room erupted into turmoil.

I am puzzled by the Urban League’s lack of both transparency and full disclosure over this Homeland Security grant. If the federal government is telling the Urban League to conduct surveillance of the Black community, what are they hiding? Why is the Urban League playing Egypt to our Cairo?

The State of our Community so far this year has thus been difficult. The City, Inc. shut its doors, its demise sudden and without warning. Then a major TV station reported a break-in at City, Inc.’s Northside administrative HQ, in which financial records, computer hard drives and data discs disappeared.

Then word came out that City, Inc. bills and obligations cannot be met and checks, some for as much as $13,000, bounced due to insufficient funds. To this we might add that no information is available, as if a “no” master switch had been thrown.

The Star Tribune sits on the story while members of our community suffer the pain caused by conduct unbecoming those in positions of responsibility. There is now a certain uneasiness sweeping through our African American community.

People are hurt, threats made, leadership falls silent…and then more stories arise of more conflicts and threats, raising questions that those in positions of authority and responsibility refuse, so far, to answer. What has happened to our moral compass?

Recently, several columnists in this paper have raised serious questions about the hypocrisy and the collapse of alliances and associations that once were in place. They build upon the warnings and investigative reporting of Booker T Hodges, president of the local NAACP branch, who has pointed out the inconsistencies and hypocrisy that have become all too commonplace among African American ecumenical “leaders.” See here and here.

How tragic and ironic that much of this failure of Black leadership is happening during Black History Month. We should be celebrating the greatness of the legacy of our great people rather than destroying it.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted February 17, 2011, 4:25 a.m.


February 09, 2011 Column #6: TITLE HERE

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Last week, newly elected Democratic Governor Mark Dayton announced a $1 billion jobs stimulus program for Minnesota. It sounds great on paper, but until I see a commitment to reversing the traditional disparities in such projects, it’s just a continuation of employment apartheid in Minnesota.

The record shows [reported in this column as Disparity Study, Part I of November 17, 2010, and Part II of November 25, 2010], that no matter where stimulus proposals come from, African Americans are denied jobs. For eight years, this column has been asking for the plan of inclusion in employment, education and housing consistent with the spirit of Cecil Newman, Nellie Stone Johnson, Dr. Thomas Johnson, Frank Alsop, Father Denzel Carty, and other great Black Americans who have passed from this life.

They would be heartbroken to hear that not only is there no plan in existence or contemplated, but also no Black or White community leaders have stepped up to oppose this. They want nothing to interfere with their separate gravy trains.

This turning of their collective backs on opportunity for African Americans defeats the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Black history, and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. History will rightly record these betrayals as acts of cowardice as “leaders” repudiate the dream and legacy of opportunity and freedom for African Americans in Minnesota.

A $1 billion jobs stimulus program for Minnesota is absolutely great — if you’re White. It is one of the reasons that leadership of all colors in the Twin Cities have refused to discuss and examine the 2010 Disparity Report of October 21 and 22 (again, see my 2010 columns of Nov 17 and 24, and December 15).  What and where is the Plan for 2011?  [Thus we offer our own thoughts on planning here.]

Only cowards or quislings would turn their backs on the findings and the warnings contained in that half-million-dollar study disclosing one of the things that is absolutely guaranteed in Minnesota: that people of color, and particularly African Americans, will not get a fair shake when it comes to hiring, the awarding of contracts, and other acts denying general areas of economic opportunity.

There are many in the Black community who say they have the ear of the governor and of the power merchants of the Democratic Party, and yet none of them has spoken above a whisper regarding how Black Minnesotans will fit into this $1 billion jobs stimulus program.

Maybe we have embraced more quickly than I realized what the White governor of Ohio told the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus: that he didn’t need Black people to do anything for him and his administration in regards to the future of African American economic opportunity in Ohio. The only difference between these White governors is that one is Republican and the other a Democrat.

At least in Ohio, the Black legislative delegation challenged the governor of that state to ask for the inclusion of all Americans irrespective of race, creed, color or national origin. When will the Blacks of Minnesota stand up?

It’s February, Black History Month, and yet no one has the courage to demand the basics that there be a place at the table for all of our citizens, regardless of their race or their color or whoever they may be. Think about it, my friends: a $1 billion jobs stimulus program in which the governor is saying he wants to borrow money to make things better so White Minnesotans feel more comfortable knowing there is success at the end of the great highway of White prosperity.

How much longer until Black Minnesotans and others of color are afforded that same courtesy and respect? My oh my oh my oh my. As Bilbo would say, along with Strom Thurmond, happy days are here again for you know who.

Let us offer our prayers for the sons and daughters of the African Americans of Minnesota, the victims of nullification and reversal in exchange for a better White Minnesota. Even in the worst of circumstances, we have been the most loyal and faithful to the republic, to this state, and to the Democratic Party. Yet we find ourselves once again oppressed by intentional nullification and reversal of the interests of Black Minnesotans.

Nellie Stone Johnson said, “Without education there can be no jobs, and without jobs there can be no housing.”

Vikings stadium construction jobs? Was the Vikings team’s stadium left off the construction jobs bill by mistake, as was the African American Museum? The museum has been put back on the list. Will the Vikings be put on the list? If so, will the team stop breaking the compliance rules identified by the Diversity Study? Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted February 13, 2011, 11:22 p.m.


February 02, 2011 Column #5: Questions about Spokane after MLK Day.

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Why has there been such little coverage of the attempted bombing along the MLK Parade route in Spokane, Washington, January 17, 2011? Is it because of the Eastern Washington and close-by Idaho hot beds of White supremacists, Aryan Nation types, survivalists, and other American fringe White groups? Is it another negative outgrowth of the terrorist shooting in Tucson? How can journalists justify not reporting the news?

Spokane papers and news outlets immediately reported the incident and covered the frightening discussions of what happened on MLK Day: the discovery by city workers of a suspicious knapsack left on a metal bench on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Main Avenue in downtown Spokane. Their alertness led to a re-routing of the parade as bomb squads investigated and found a powerful bomb with substances, still being analyzed, that have added a bio-chemical dimension to the bomb’s analysis.

Some may object to the use of the word terrorist in connection with Whites, seeing terrorists as non-Whites. But the Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force (made up of the FBI and other local law-enforcement agencies) investigates Whites too. And African Americans know all too well the centuries of White terrorism (slavery, Jim Crow, inner cities).

Bombs left to kill people are acts of terror, regardless of who leaves them. What is disturbing to me is that with the exception of Spokane’s major paper, The Spokesman-Review, the national media both Black and White seem to have been pressured into silence (for others it could be they deem bombings of MLK Day marchers as inconsequential).

Even more terrifying about this explosive device, according to the FBI, is that it had substances being analyzed for biological and chemical capabilities. I encourage my readers to go online and read the daily Spokane paper, The Spokesman Review. If not for the alertness of three city workers, we would not be talking about what could have happened but of a devastating terrorist attack inside the United States. We would be talking about the first reuse by White supremacists of methods of mass destruction since Oklahoma City.

It has been reported that the epicenter of the planning and manufacturing and testing of the explosive device is Sand Point, Idaho, and the areas along the Priest River and Priest Lake about 50 miles West of Sand Point, Idaho. It appears that the device was transported down Highway 2 through Newport, Washington into the Spokane metropolitan area.

This would not be the first time that White supremacists in the Spokane area have launched terrorist actions. Again, review the stories in the local Spokane paper, The Spokesman-Review, going back 30 years, long before 9/11. And as this column reported last week, White America is still having a problem discussing, analyzing and investigating misconduct based on race, religion and politics. It is clear that the fourth estate is terrified of retaliation by White supremacist groups in the United States, and in particular, in the Northwest, which includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

It certainly provides a significant discomfort to what is left of the Black press and media. We are on extremely shaky grounds. I imagine it is different for members of the Black fourth estate to call attention to a very dangerous pattern and practice of terrorism inside the United States, which cannot be identified with people of color.

As local print and broadcast stories there in Spokane show, the authorities have known about the activities in the so-called panhandle section of Idaho for over 30 years. But one of the discussions that is taking place among White extremists is that the intelligence services of the U.S. have neither the energy, resources, or interest to watch as closely as they did in the days immediately following Oklahoma.

White extremist groups are taking full advantage of the downsizing of intelligence gathering against their planning and plotting. An explosion killing hundreds on January 17, 2011 would have been a disaster carried out by a device with bio-chemical components that could have torn this country apart in terms of racial backlash.

Let us hope that the master planners and designers of this device are brought to justice quickly. This nation is at a delicate and crucial crossroads in which all who plot and plan against democracy must be placed under equal scrutiny.

As Justice Louis D. Brandeis said, “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” So help us God. And God save the United States of America. Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted February 2, 2011, 4:22 p.m.


January 26, 2011 Column #4: The Black Church and the Black Council square off

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Pull quote: A failure by either side to explain their actions in favor of facing off in battle denouncing each other will impede justice, especially in education, jobs and housing.

Is God dead in Minneapolis? A nation or community destroys itself when powerful political and religious institutions part ways, hurling torrents of invective at each other, heaping scorn on each other’s ideas, and praying to the same God for help in beating each other.

Too many think the key is to find moderates to bring the sides together, but moderates (as opposed to “moderation”) by definition are indecisive. Needed is to weave together the best that the Black church leaders and leaders of the Council on Black Minnesotans stand for, not their actions.
The ministers seem to have forgotten the Sermon on the Mount. The Council on Black Minnesotans (created by the Minnesota legislature in July 1980 to advise the governor and legislature on Black issues) seems to have forgotten the issues, especially of education, jobs and housing. Needed are nonviolent solutions of inclusion, not violent ones of exclusion.

These two factions’ actions reveal that they are not working together for the betterment of the community. Instead, they display deep-seated divisions and animosity.

Only the Council knows why they chose to withdraw the invitation to former state representative Randy Staten to speak at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.

Only the Black churchmen know why they marched into the auditorium of Central High School, almost a 100 strong and dressed in Black, denouncing the Council on Black Minnesotans and threatening to use violence.

Members of the Black clergy say there has been inappropriate conduct by the Council on Black Minnesotans in terms of the handling of the tobacco settlement monies entrusted to the Council. For the last couple of years, the Council has awarded grants and awards totaling $250,000 per year.

By Minnesota legislative statute, the Council is to regularly provide financial reporting to the legislature. Troubling are comments by the legislative auditor.

Also troubling is the invitation to Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman (understandable in the legislative/political context).

The Rev. Jerry McAfee scolded and repudiated the Council on Black Minnesotans for inviting Congresswoman Bachman (also understandable in light of her attacks on President Barack Obama, her taking personal credit on Monday the 17th for the ouster of former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and in light of other very unkind and volatile statements she has made against the franchise of the African American).

It is as legitimate to ask why the Council and the so-called MLK Commission extended this invitation as it is legitimate to ask why the Rev. McAfee threatened violence. These questions must be addressed.
The Black Church spokesmen called for the Council on Black Minnesotans to stand before a citizens’ tribunal of the African American community to explain their actions. I take a different approach.

Certainly the legislative committee with oversight of the Council on Black Minnesotans must summon them to explain the various allegations laid against them by the Black Church group and the concerns of the legislative auditor. It is the right thing to do to begin the healing between two political bodies important to the well-being and future of the Black community in Minnesota.

This is not the time for organizations to destroy themselves fighting internally in the community. Already we have lost too many organizations. Too many questions are unanswered regarding the collapse of organizations and the disappearance of African American leaders not able to stand in the well and ask the questions of inquiry (not to mention “lost” community monies).
When anyone or any group is repudiated, they must be held accountable and explain their actions. If there is a need to ask for forgiveness, in the spirit of MLK, Jr. and others, that too must be done.

A failure by either side to explain their actions in favor of facing off in battle denouncing each other will impede justice, especially in education, jobs and housing. This can cause an unraveling of the fibers of strength that are so fundamentally important to tie the African American community together as one, doom unification, and undermine the future of the African American in Minnesota.

President Obama asked in Tucson, "What, beyond prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward?" Let’s start with (1) President Obama’s Tucson speech that “we live up [to the] expectations” of the nine-year-old killed in that city January 8, to work together to make America "as good as she imagined it"; (2) be guided by what many called the greatest piece of wisdom literature, the Sermon on the Mount; and (3) the solutions posted on my website, #42 (on planning) and #18 (on reconciling communities and races).
Please stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted January 26, 2011, 3:36 pm

January 19, 2011 Column #3: Tucson Massacre Exposes Broader War Within America

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards, featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

It has been extremely painful to watch the accounts of the horrendous acts of violence and death in Tuscon, Arizona on January 8, 2011, when 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner shot and killed six, including a nine-year-old girl, and wounded 19, including his target, a U.S. Congresswoman.

Even though every time a law is broken doesn’t mean its society’s fault rather than the lawbreaker’s, violence doesn’t take place in a vacuum or outside of a social context. From a Black perspective, there is still that segment in America dishonest in its role in causing violence with a smile: White America.

Too often White America has historically justified its violence on race and religion, targeting African Americans, Native Americans, and now add members of Islam. White America has not been bashful in critiquing the perceived shortcomings of others by race, using perceived shortcomings as an excuse for violence with a smile.

Black America remembers when a brush against a sleeve passing on the sidewalk, a “look,” winning an election, “driving while Black,” or just a whistle (Emmett Till) was justification enough to harass, to beat to death, to lynch, or to burn alive as whole towns of Blacks were burned to death in Florida and Oklahoma. This violence continues in more subtle ways by still denying to many equal access and opportunity in education, jobs and housing, all denied with a smile.

Today, each half of White America is blaming the other half for feelings of hatred that foster their violence, as if feelings were all that mattered. Hence conservative America is angry, maintaining they have been unfairly targeted and tied in to the carnage that took place in South Tuscon January 8.

As I have said in this column over the last seven and a half years, there has not been an honest discussion about race issues that divide and condone violence. This is just the latest.

Far too many on the right were comfortable with the attacks on soon-to-be President Barack Obama (as those on left were comfortable with the attacks of the 1960s). Too many on the left and the right have been too indifferent or too weak to demand an examination of their shared ability to be intolerant and hateful and violent toward each other.

Indeed, as an outgrowth of the left’s apathy, they were swept from power, both in the federal Congress and even here in Minnesota in the state legislature. At this hour, Tea Party-types are angry at the allegation and innuendo laid against them; yet, during the debate on Medicare and better health care for all Americans, they were quite comfortable with hostile confrontations in the hallways of Congress and in front of the White House.

Can anyone truly explain the anger brought to the Tuscon shopping mall January 8?

We will never really know nor be able to say who might have conspired or inspired Loughner. For many there must be a whitewash in keeping with the whitewash traditions of the assassinations of both Kennedys and of Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.

By and large, we are told their assailants were individuals acting alone with no other conspirators. With the exception of Timothy McVeigh in 1995 in Oklahoma, this theme has worked. It means we don’t have to face ourselves, as it is “them” who are evil, not “us.”

Last week, President Obama journeyed to Tucson, Arizona to pay his respects to the deceased and wounded, and he addressed the pain and the need for healing in America. But will we be able to honestly address the existence of the underlying, long-running war within America, a conflict that has led to intolerance, angry discourse, and periodic outright violence?

Let us hope and pray for committed action and a sense of resolve. The victims of the violence referred to in this column deserve that we undertake a meaningful attempt to bring some semblance of sanity to the treatment of “others,” especially children like the nine-year-old girl who had gone to see a young congresswoman she emulated. Our ideals will not survive as a nation if we remain cruel and careless with our future.

City Inc. closes, just as we reported last week.
City Inc.’s doors have been closed (although City Inc. and MPS and others, at the time, denied it),). Will there be another whitewash due to the involvement of both White and Black “leaders”?

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted January 19, 2011, 2:52 am

============================

1-19-11. RE PLANNING FOR FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS (See Solutions Paper #42: Planning).
Look ahead by first looking back at the biggest gaps: in education, jobs, and housing, the gaps in leadership, planning, and city failure of disparity compliance.

1. Re Leadership:Still open for consideration: local NAACP December 12, 2010 assertion in this paper that “Its time for leaders [who] put personal agendas ahead of community interests to go."

2. Re Planning: You will find lists of my columns and book chapters regarding plans and planning for all our communities, Black and white, at this link, Solution Paper #40: Planning, with suggestions for use in resolving the issues of unequal access and unequal opportunity in education, jobs, and housing.

3.  Re city failure of Disparity compliance:  Background to the serious violations reported in the Disparity Studythat found Minneapolis, current and past, is and has not been in compliance.  See my columns on the Disparity Study, Part I of November 17, 2010, and Part II of November 25, 2010See also the list of 12 additional columns written since 2005on the disparities (web log entry of August 28, 2009).


January 12, 2011 Column #2: Collapse of local Black institutions continues. City, Inc.'s failures come at the expense of our children’s future.

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards, featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Pull quote: Dangerous, irresponsible actions by “leaders” serving themselves over the community eventually cause tragic outcomes for our community.

Booker T Hodges, current president of the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP, strongly urged in his December 1, 2010 column in this newspaper that the culture of corruption and corrupt leadership in Minneapolis must no longer be tolerated and excused.

Some suggested he had stepped over the line. Clearly, this is not the case. He has become another strong voice to expose the long-term consequences of self-appointed leaders who lead only for their own agendas of lining their pockets at community expense.

More and more, we see an acceleration of the disturbing pattern of businesses and institutions going out of business that once were identified as being the foundation of the African American community.

In the last week, it has been rumored that yet another institution that has long served this community will close its doors. Even though it was forced to merge 10 years ago with another organization, its legacy and historical importance is still in the thoughts of those who remember when it began in the 1960s.

Thus, I was saddened, although not necessarily surprised, when I heard that The City, Inc. was about to cease operations. Booker T Hodges is absolutely correct: Dangerous, irresponsible actions by “leaders” serving themselves over the community eventually cause tragic outcomes for our community.

A major issue surrounding a number of organizations and their leadership is the mismanagement not only of education, but also of hundreds of millions of dollars that were committed to the education of African Americans and others of color.

Some “leaders” have become careless, having maintained their stranglehold for so long that they not only think they can’t get caught, but they think others are as corrupt as they are. They pursue corrupt actions that qualify as felonies.

There was a saying in World Was II: “Loose lips sink ships.” In the first five days of 2011, we see that theme dusted off within the African American community with “leadership” initiating careless conversations.

For example, several community “leaders” recently approached several members of the board of the Minneapolis Public Schools and told them of the importance of maintaining “arrangements” that were in place with former members, thinking that those they talked to would be comfortable with being on the take. They assume everyone is or wants to be a party to plans of corruption and theft.

These “leaders” seem to believe their long term arrangements with certain elected and appointed officials are their entitlement, regardless of whether those “arrangements” include payments over or under the table. This is dangerous for the health of our community and for the perceptions that go with it, especially with Black Minnesotans struggling under the economic hardships that have befallen many.

Such struggles to survive expose the dangerous implications of the lack of education that is the plight of many of our young people who have dropped out (or, as some would say, were pushed out) of our schools, and the plight of those left behind to get a poor, inferior education.

This elephant in the room won’t go away just because folks don’t want to discuss this corruption and theft, be they discussions by the presidents of organizations or journalists or bloggers who would discuss the future and the safety and health of our community and its institutions.

There are those who refuse to address the existence of information and documentation that show that the African American community has been seriously violated economically, politically and socially. As a result, we are losing businesses and institutions.

There are serious questions that must be addressed. Why not start with, “What are the circumstances surrounding what appears to be the failure and, thus, the closing of The City, Inc.?”

This is not something that happened overnight. There must be a full public discussion and disclosure, particularly as the failure has taken place at the expense of the education of the sons and daughters of the African Americans of our city.

Booker T Hodges and others have sounded the alert. This journalist has detected a fear seen in the attempt to discredit the messengers. We must move beyond that, and we must examine the message and the role of those who say they act in our community’s best interest.

We must also confront those who carry out acts that not only create dangerous circumstances and conditions, but that also undermine the future of our African American youth. We cannot do business as usual in 2011.

In a 1995 commencement address, Nellie Stone Johnson stated, “….visions [are] hollow unless you strive to realize a shared vision for the community in which we live.” Stay tuned.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.

For those wanting more background to prepare for making public testimony at the February 24, 2010 hearing, see the compilation of my columns and book chapters that relate to this at About PLANNING: For The Positive Future Possibilities Of Minnesota, for Minneapolis in General and the African American community in particular.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 6:00 pm.


January 05, 2011 Column #1: Minneapolis proposes ordinance amendment redefining ‘small’ minority businesses For SUBP Ordinance (Small and Under Utilized Business Program). It’s not in the public interest, especially not that of African Americans.

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards, featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

                       
This column provides an example of what Justice Louis Brandeis called “great unfairness” to the public: “Many bills pass in our legislatures which would not have become law if the public interest had been fairly represented.”

A recent City of Minneapolis document includes the agenda item "Timeline for SUBP Ordinance Amendment” (SUBP/Small Underutilized Business Program) for its February 24, 2011 meeting to discuss how to continue legally discriminating against communities of color by providing a sub-part ordinance amendment to “13CFR, Part 121 of the Minnesota Department of Administration Business Standard” (Title 13, Code of Federal Regulations. Part 121: “Small Business Size Regulations”).  

This provision defines what size qualifies as a “small business” in terms of MBE (Minority Business Enterprise), WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise), or DBEP (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program). I encourage readers to go on line to take a look at the Minneapolis statutes (www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/government/ordinances.asp) to examine the recommendations of the Disparity Study Report of October 21-22, 2010 (see my columns of November 17 and 24 and December 15, 22 and 29, 2010).

The city takes its “size” limit criteria from the Metropolitan Council’s limit on minority participation in light rail — less than $750,000 personal net worth. This provides a clearer understanding on why there will be no meaningful or honest or transparent discussion in regards to the continued legal economic rape of the African American community. 

The goal is to narrow minorities to “disadvantaged” minorities, where the qualifications for procurement and contract award is having a net worth that does not exceed $750,000, eliminating the few African American MBEs large enough to compete for contracts. The Minneapolis City Council will legalize discrimination against people of color with amendments that make it legal. (Slavery, Jim Crow, and the “final solution” were also legal.)

When the Disparity Study was first delivered to the City of Minneapolis on Oct 21 and 22, in-depth discussions were to take place on the City of Minneapolis’ failure to provide economic opportunities for protected class citizens. By November 4, 2010, their prevailing wisdom was that a plan was needed to cover up everything by amending 13CFR, Part 121. This is why I urge readers to go to the web pages above and to review the Disparity Study and its recommendations of October 21-22 to see for themselves. 

The Civil Rights Department is expecting the city council to also pass significant amendments to Title XVI, Chapter 423 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinance, achieving more rule by regulation, by March 10, 2011, barely two weeks after the February 24 public hearing that I wrote of last week. All the follow-up formalities must be done by March 31.

To achieve such speedy action, the Civil Rights Department and some City officials are working to figure out what will be discussed and who will be allowed to discuss it leading up to the public hearing of February 24, and specifically how that public hearing will be controlled.

In mid-December, 2010, the Civil Rights Department asked the City Attorney’s office who is to be invited to the public hearing. Normally, by “law and access,” any citizen, regardless of race/creed/color, has a right to attend, sign in, and be heard. It appears more time is being committed to putting in the witness stand more previous perpetrators and master planners in the economic rape of the African American community than community members.

In the mid-December meeting, MBEs were purged from the discussion, providing a new definition of those who would be chosen to enjoy future economic opportunities (contracts, consultant fees, other remunerations). 

The City has proposed that the meetings on January 13 and 27 are crucial for setting in place the necessary criteria for the new identification of who is part of a disadvantaged group. The net-worth limit of $750,000 excludes small minority businesses large enough to bid.

Not many in our African American community have a personal net worth of $750,000. Only those who have at least that much are big enough to compete, yet they will be ineligible to participate and bid on future contracts or obtain financial assistance (loans) from the Twin Cities’ large, White lending institutions.

I’ll give you additional, in-depth information on the personal net worth limit in future columns. I look forward to the public discussions and public hearing of February 24. Who in the African American community — those who need to be protected under color of law — will be invited or even allowed to come in and give testimony?

What’s next for “democracy” in Minnesota and, by extension, in the USA? Stay tuned.

For those wanting more background to prepare for making public testimony at the February 24, 2010 hearing, see the compilation of my columns and book chapters that relate to this at About PLANNING: For The Positive Future Possibilities Of Minnesota, for Minneapolis in General and the African American community in particular.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.
Posted Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 11:45 a.m


 


Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for the columns. Please cite www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for blog entries and solution papers.

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