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2012 Columns
Quarter 3: July thru September ~ Columns #27 - #39

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September 26, 2012 Column #39: Where is the equity plan for the Viking Stadium?

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

The Minneapolis City Council passed a binding resolution May 10, 2012, directing the Civil Rights Department to report to the June council meeting: “1) Master agreement details, including stadium equity plan; 2) Enforcement and reporting structure relating to Stadium Equity Plan” (see City Council website, www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/
@clerk/documents/webcontent/wcms1p-093512.pdf.

It was approved by Mayor Rybak May 25, 2012. Velma Korbel and her Civil Rights Department has yet to report. Are the State, authority, city council and mayor paying lip service to the stadium legislation or are they serious? No report nor steps to correct reflects “not serious.”

The resolution identifies expectations and reporting responsibilities within the city council’s structure, as defined in Article 1, Section 16, of the stadium legislation. The Minneapolis Civil Rights Department is to be a contractor to the Stadium Facility Authority in enforcement participation, employment, and setting goals for construction contracts to be awarded to women and minority-owned businesses. Clearly, the very fact that such a resolution has to be made at all, and once made is not followed at all, shows just how much official and unofficial resistance and lack of concern regarding including African Americans is still present in Minneapolis and its city council and agencies.

Other significant areas directed that the City’s Civil Rights Department has failed to execute identified in the City Council Resolution of May 10, 2012 and approved May 25, 2012, include timelines for regular reports to the city council regarding the master agreement and equity plan throughout stadium construction, as well as establishing a joint oversight committee for the equity plan, membership and purpose of the committee, a plan for post-stadium construction, and a workforce plan identifying workforce development, job training and placement.

I will deal with additional directives over the coming months. The reality remains: A first report on the master agreement, the equity plan, the creation of oversight committees, etc., was to be made to the council no later than June 29, 2012, three months ago. Why has the “timely manner” requirement been abandoned on reports regarding including African Americans, women and other minorities, while awarding multi-million dollar contracts to others continues uninterrupted?

I have been watching closely the activities, decisions and awarding of contracts by the Sports Facility Authority: $100 million in contracts already awarded, and a $50 million contract about to be awarded to an architecture firm, and none to African Americans.

At its September 14, 2012 meeting, the Sports Facility Authority approved an internal affirmative action plan. And yet the City continues to ignore the failure to report on the external equity plan and committees, per city council directive. On August 24 and again on September 14, during the public comments time of the Sports Facilities Authority meetings, I asked: “Where is the report on the equity plan and master agreement?

Response? Silence. Minnesota Human Rights Director Kevin Lindsey, in a conversation involving the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority staff, indicated in a meeting that he was aware of the city council’s resolution but for political reasons did not want to comment, even privately.

It remains troubling that the people’s contracts are being awarded, the people’s money is being allocated, the people’s stadium plan is moving ahead and yet there is no people’s plan that includes the African American community’s people. None will comment on why the June 29, 2012 reporting date came and went without the required report.

Clearly, the State, City and authority continue to fail to ensure that the stadium legislation Chapter 299, Article 3, is followed. Once again, African Americans are denied a seat at the table in the construction of the “people’s stadium.” This has nothing to do with the fact that the African American community’s unemployment is three times that of Whites. It is a matter the devastating failure of Velma Korbel and her department to do as directed, as all aid and abet the denial of the African American community to be meaningfully involved in the building of the people’s stadium.

Once again, intentional failure is preventing protecting the rights of all of the people and particularly African American people. Shame lies over the house known as the Civil Rights Department and its collaborators: the State, city council, and agencies of the City of Minneapolis. Our dysfunctional institutions, leaders, and policies continue to bar opportunity with bad schools, non-hiring compliance, drugs and incarceration, potentially fostering another round of unrest and violence. Dysfunctional indeed.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2012 , 1:48 p.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


September 19, 2012 Column #38: Chuck Wexler in town, security plan in place

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

While Democratic and DFL Party heavy hitters were in Charlotte, NC for the Democratic National Convention, including Mayor R.T. Rybak, the legendary Chuck Wexler, executive director of the powerful Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) was in meetings in Minneapolis (see my September 5 column, “Status quo fixes won’t stop the frightening violence”).

Mr. Wexler was here to evaluate and sign off on a new security plan to deal with Minneapolis African Americans (read “youth”). These are not my words. These are words that came out of a number of meetings with Mr. Wexler and his associates.

This new security plan includes monitoring and evaluating security conditions within the Somali community that again gives Mr. Wexler the possibility of implementing in other cities around the United States what will be developed here in Minneapolis. As happened some years ago, “Wexler helped develop and implement a comprehensive anti-crime strategy [in Minneapolis] that is now a model for public-private cooperation” (however, as crime still continues unabated, grain is a more reliable export).

It is important to note that in the Wexler discussions, no priority was given to African American “leadership”, although elements have been assigned security roles and presence, specifically in downtown Minneapolis, but under the supervision of the Youth Coordinating Board.

In a meeting in the Riverside community, there was much discussion with the high-ranking security officials about bringing the “Black problem” (read African American youth) under “control,” that persons trained in security operations and intelligence gathering need to be positioned and on patrol.

A troubling aspect remains: the continued claim of Minneapolis African American “leaders,” in confidential communications with their handlers, that they enjoy a significant relationship with Black police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), and thus should get in on the money. Their claims of having such relationships are not true.

The Somali community, on the other hand, has developed a good relationship with African American police officers. Money has been spread around. Thus, Mr. Wexler’s evaluation of the accurateness, authenticity, and effectiveness of African American leaders was found to be negative.

The Chamber of Commerce has high expectations for a downturn of the downtown Minneapolis Black problem that will lead to ways of dealing with the African American problem in other parts of the city. These discussions have a heavy flavor of confidentiality, continuing the lack of transparency.

Reorganization will soon begin within the MPD, which is consistent any time there is an appointment of a new chief. Mr. Wexler and his organization have been retained to make sure that all the square and round holes are properly filled.

The Wexler discussions make clear and put in the open: a lack of confidence in the African American “leadership” that has been awarded millions of dollars over the last decades. The new confidence is in the new peoples on the blocks, the Somalis, the Latinos and the Asians.

As I asked in my column two weeks ago (September 5): “What will Chuck Wexler do to contribute to ending the dysfunctional institutions, leadership and policies impacting on our community?”

When will a new generation of leaders step up to replace the current group of old-time, self-styled, self-appointed, ineffective African American leaders? Who will respond with more than just requests for more money for themselves? Who will demonstrate they can meet high a level of expectations and be willing to be held accountable?

Who can positively contribute to developing and presenting a plan for security? How much longer will the old guard, which has fed at the trough of financial opportunity for two decades, as was said in the Wexler security meetings, continue to try to do so? It’s now time to stand and deliver by whoever will be the African American leadership for the future, to produce or stand down.

Homeland security starts with hometown security: equal opportunity in education, jobs, housing. Where is the plan for this? As long as inner-city youth are given sub-prime education and not offered needed training for qualifying for quality jobs, the Black youth problem won’t go away.

Contractors, both Black and White, have stated Minneapolis does not have a workforce qualified for stadium construction jobs. Why not? What has been done with all of the training money? The stadium and downtown redevelopment cannot survive a status quo that fosters violence: bad schools, few jobs, drugs, crime. Thus the fix areas remain readily in sight: education, jobs and housing.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2012 , 3:35 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


September 12, 2012 Column #37: Tone down the rhetoric on Black Museum’s money problems. Franklin National Bank is not the villain here.

September 12, 2012

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

Who would ever say that the legendary and renowned Dorothy Bridges would be involved in harming her legacy and imprint on a community bank, Franklin National Bank, which has done so much for the African American community under her leadership?

Thus we are puzzled by the attacks on Franklin National Bank (“Stalled museum now battles bank,” Star Tribune, September 1, 2012), and, by implication, on Dorothy Bridges, who was CEO of FNB from 1999-2008 and put all of her energy, her soul, and her vision into making Franklin National Bank the best it could be (doubling the bank’s assets to $116 million).

She did more for the African American community than any other bank. During her tenure at Franklin National Bank, we heard about the institution’s generosity, sensitivity and openness, a legacy crafted by Ms. Bridges.

Ms. Doroty J. Bridges departed to Washington, D.C. and then returned last year to be a Senior VP of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. All signs point to a community bank that stayed the course.

Upon her return to Minneapolis, Bridges said her “mission is to support job creation” in the Fed’s ninth district, consisting of Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. So why the attacks when so many of those who are part of the core leadership of the Black community in Minneapolis have borrowed significant amounts of money from Franklin National Bank and then defaulted? 

We need to stop being silent about the troubling number of Black leaders who have defaulted or who are in the process of defaulting on loan obligations to FNB, often due to their “sharing” loans with friends and family, taking away from their stated mission. The shoe is now on the other foot.

People now see how dangerous it is to play the race card when allegations and contentions are not supported by the facts. We must accept that not everyone is a good manager of financial responsibility and accountability, losing focus and failing to improve on a church or expand another Black nonprofit, or in an attempt to save a longtime youth agency as diverted funds sabotage stated dreams and visions.

The sad attack on Franklin National Bank is an attack striking out to wound the very institution that has, in fact, made every attempt to help them carry out their agendas. This is the battle we see waged by the Black Historical Museum against Franklin National Bank, the state of Minnesota, and Hennepin County.

The fact that negotiations are taking so long reflects the museum’s problems. The museum took a $1.2 million loan from FNB, $1 million from the state of MN, $1.5 million in bonds from the City of Minneapolis, $500,000 from five Minnesota corporations, and $300,000 from other sources. And the museum still can’t open?

 The museum has failed to meet the condition of the State of Minnesota for granting its monies: that FNB would have first position in a default, or otherwise tax payers of Hennepin County and Minnesota would have to pay. To continue, the museum has to put up new collateral, which it claims it doesn’t have.

Clearly, Franklin National Bank is not the villain, is not an evil community bank. It would have been difficult for it to fall in that direction given the nine years of dedicated leadership by a woman who is also chairperson of the NW Area Foundation, a board member of the Minneapolis Foundation, and holds numerous other prestigious directorships and positions.

There needs to be a toning down of the rhetoric and attacks, especially by those leaders financially supported with loans from Franklin National Bank. Then all can come together and begin a process of healing and stop playing the race card and confusing all communities, regardless of race, creed, color or national origin.

This column carries on the legacy of MSR’s founding publisher Cecil E. Newman (see the documentary “A Black History Chronicle Exclusive — Cecil E. Newman: The Friendship, the Life and the Legacy,” produced by ShenaBarber.com Productions and available on YouTube). Those in the documentary state that if Cecil Newman were alive today, he would still say, “We aren’t working hard enough.”

The documentary reported Cecil’s principles that the paper had to be “critical when necessary,” that “we can’t let friendship with individuals or organizations dictate what will or won’t be written.” Cecil was “a watchman.” He “held them accountable.”

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2012 , 6:05 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


September 05, 2012 Column #36: Status quo fixes won’t stop the frightening violence

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

It is the elephant in the room that people don’t want to talk about: the ongoing street violence affecting so many African Americans in this country due to the dysfunctional institutions, leadership and policies that allow caste-like barriers — bad schools, few jobs, drugs, crime — to remain in place and foster violence.

It is alarming. It is frightening. But so long as these dysfunctional institutions, leadership and policies hide behind the lie that they can’t be fixed, they won’t be, even though the fixes are readily in sight: education, jobs, housing. 

The mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, recently announced that Chuck Wexler and the Police Executive Research Forum would be brought back to Minneapolis to advise on developing strategies to deal with Minneapolis’ violence, as if the extent of the violence is the issue. Until the dysfunction of our institutions, leadership and policies is fixed, violence won’t be fixed.

Let’s look at a couple of cases of violence’s impact: Priest, Jones and Johnson, three young African Americans gunned down in a variety of ways two days apart, one in North Minneapolis and two in South Minneapolis. Frightening is the hardship that extends throughout a violence victim’s family and friends.

Black unemployment is double that of whites and even higher for teens and 20s Black males. Equal access to education and jobs is shrinking, as seen in the lack of stadium hiring of minority contractors and laborers. Add to that the failure of tornado recovery, and a fix of “status quo containment” as the new form of “roundup” won’t work. 
Mrs. Helen Williams is the only person in Minneapolis we’ve seen who backs up her caring with action, who is there, being extremely effective in helping victims’ families with funerals and burials.
Example: Mr. Priest stayed in a refrigerator of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office for over eight days because the family had no help or assets and were under threat of harm and death. Mrs. Williams then became involved. The family was forced to abandon a church setting and instead held the funeral in an open area at a cemetery in Northeast Minneapolis.

Mrs. Williams and the family reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department. Without the intervention of Chief Tim Dolan, there may well have been a confrontation and attack on the funeral procession. The effort by Mrs. Williams to coordinate the graveside service and the commitment with the chief of police providing protection reminds us of what frightens us all, potential violence even for victims’ loved ones.

There were no TV cameras there, no major newspapers. There were just the loved ones of the deceased, terrified and in fear for their lives. MPD, under Chief Tim Dolan’s orders, allowed for a level of comfort and protection. 

I don’t know how Chuck Wexler will address these issues. But when people lack the assets or benefits to lay a loved one to rest because of economic hardships in the community (especially among “the last to be hired and first to be fired”) and must also live in threat-induced fear, we all need to take a look at the future of the African American participation in the American Dream.

The HBO series Wired ended with the shooting of a major African American character by a nine-year-old African American boy, almost like in continental African unrest. What will Chuck Wexler do to contribute to ending the dysfunctional institutions, leadership and policies impacting on our community that can prevent such little boy “fighters” rather than blaming the community?

On March 30, 2011, Governor Mark Dayton and his cabinet lowered the drawbridge and crossed over to North Minneapolis to talk about a better life and opportunity for African American residents. They crossed back over the drawbridge, drew it up, and haven’t been back.

Should he and his cabinet lower the drawbridge and return, I urge them to talk to a person like Helen Williams, and starting with her to begin a dialogue that will help create a positive path to safety and comfort, education and economic development in Black communities.
African Americans have earned the right to ask that the dysfunction of the institutions, leadership and policies preying on them be fixed. We have earned the right to be a part of the great American Dream, the Minnesota Dream. A first step is treating African Americans with dignity and respect while lowering the drawbridge to institute inclusion, not containment and roundup.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2012 , 8:16 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


August 29, 2012 Column #35: Where is Thinh Q.N. Tran? Supposed business associate of Eric Mahmoud disappears with fraud case

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

Pull quote: As New Visions rent money was not applied to the mortgage by the Mahmouds, where did the money go?

The cascading unraveling of the schemes of Eric Mahmoud, reported in three recent stories in the Star Tribune (August 10, August 20, and August 22, 2012), began in Atlanta in 2005 and again in Minneapolis in 2010. On April 21, 2010, District Court Judge George F. McGunnigle gaveled his Hennepin County District Courtroom into session and assessed Thinh Q.N. Tran and Eric Mahmoud $313,000 in penalties to be paid to Wells Fargo Bank for defaulting and defrauding regarding the Minneapolis property at 2508 Golden Valley Road. The Court File No.: 27-CV-09-24544.

The 3 Star Tribune stories are: 
---State examining finances of charter founder's schools
, August 10, 2012.
---State inquiry focuses on failed north Minneapolis school,
August 15, 2012,
---Mahmoud, MDE clashed over pulling grant
, August 20, 2012,

Because of the Mahmouds' actions, a small African American family-owned business, New Visions Day Care, which paid the Mahmouds $5,000 per month rent, was forced out of business. But the Mahmouds’ actual loan payment was half of that. And yet the property was allowed to go into default. As New Visions rent money was not applied to the mortgage by the Mahmouds, where did the money go?

The New Visions lease agreement signed August 6, 2007, by Eric Mahmoud did not include Mr. Tran, even though Mahmoud told New Visions that Tran owned the property. For nearly five years, New Visions paid nearly half a million dollars in rent, at $5,000 per month, with the lease agreement clearly stating the rent is to increase by $100 per month each year. In the meantime, Mr. Tran was never produced.

Court documents obtained by this column reveal the disturbing fact that as early as 2007, the owners of New Visions Day Care were asking for clarification regarding who really owned the building, and who was Mr. Tran and how could he be contacted. This went on from August 2007 until the Hennepin County Court judgment on April 21, 2010.

The lease included responsibilities beyond the $5,000 per month rent; all utility payments (water, electric, gas, trash removal), as well as additional responsibilities were to be jointly paid. Mr. Tran became the owner. How? When? And was he really? The court documents of the decision of April 21, 2010 raised serious questions about whether Mr. Tran even exists.

Very troubling is that when New Visions Day Care signed this lease agreement August 6, 2007, they had no idea that Mahmoud had been arrested in the state of Georgia for fraud and was to plead guilty in 2010. Had the tenant been privy to this information, they would have had a better understanding of how things played out in Georgia in 2005.

When the four African American sisters who owned New Visions Day Care asked community leadership for intervention to help deal with the circumstances and the problems being exposed, leadership in our community turned their backs on the four women of New Visions, with non-leading leaders again causing negative consequences due to conduct unbecoming Black leadership.

Recall that many of our “leaders” from 2007-2010 knew of the legendary house flipper Larry Maxwell, but did nothing. He is now in a federal penitentiary.

We live in extremely difficult times for the African American community. Eric and Ella Mahmoud and community so-called “leadership” that supports them are not making it better. Make no mistake, this is not about making money. This is about failing to produce the best possible opportunities for the education of our children.

Under “leasing premises,” the leasing agreement states that the premises would be used solely for education. This in itself raises serious questions about what is “new and understood,” as New Visions Day Care was not a subsidiary of the Seed Academy, being totally independent of it. Perceptions and understandings changed when New Visions was told that the building had been sold to Mr. Tran. But Mr. Tran was never seen by the owners of New Visions, nor could he ever be reached nor did his representative ever respond to New Visions Day Care’s owners.

This column doesn’t know if Mr. Tran even exists. We do see troubling patterns and practices that exist. The owners of New Visions Day Care had no idea of a felony arrest in Georgia in 2005 and subsequent guilty plea in 2010 by Eric Mahmoud. Such patterns and practices are causing other African American dreams to shatter.

Many of our leaders now say, in defense of these patterns and practices, that this conduct is acceptable and is the order of the day. In this column, we passionately and emphatically disagree. It is not acceptable nor is it the order of the day for the children of the African American community.
Stay tuned.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 , 6:55 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


August 22, 2012 Column #34: The commissioner of education did the right thing.

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

We and our beloved city are faced with a challenging question: Are we committed to the principles and values of decency, trust, honesty, integrity, and transparency of action, or do we, for the sake of a dollar and a color code, embrace and poison ourselves, with that which is evil, dark and decadent that can not only destroy us as a people, but also destroy the society and institutions we share with Whites and others?

We can place no greater hope than on these virtues so as not to get distracted by corruption, misrepresentation, and hypocrisy. And yet many accuse Minnesota’s education commissioner, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, as being somehow irresponsible and a hater for not embracing and advancing the code of Blackness, even for wrongdoing. She would be criticized in this corner had she done anything differently when information and documentation was brought to her attention.

It all started with the exposé in the Star Tribune story, of August 10, 2012: “State examining finances of charter founder's schools,” and in the Star Tribune August 15, follow-up story, about how the charter school’s founder’s “$273,000 salary raises eyebrows.”

What is even more shocking is that this information and evidence has been in the archives of the Minnesota Department of Education since 2001, under a different administration (we first exposed the education crisis in the chapter on education in our 2002 book). Dr. Brenda Cassellius merely accepted the mantel of responsibility by carrying out the duties of her office. The law required it.

To even suggest that the due diligence under her supervision should be attacked, maligned and she be removed from office represents the height of hypocrisy, and a continued commitment to the corruption of self-appointed Black leaders that are destroying African American communities across the United States.

She did not invent house flipping, fraud, and other charges and allegations that were brought against individuals doing business in the state of Minnesota and other places across the United States. She did not consort in 2005 with persons from Minnetonka, MN or Cleveland, OH, or Atlanta, GA. She had nothing to do with a plea bargain agreed upon in the district courts of the state of Georgia. What would you do, dear reader, when presented with such information and this evidence?

Too many who call themselves responsible adults sacrifice our kids for their paychecks (one book has called education Death at an Early Age). Had Dr. Casellius not carried out her responsibility under color of law, she would have been fair game for every politician, elected or appointed, especially on the Republican side of the aisle in the state of Minnesota, giving Governor Mark Dayton no choice but to have asked for her resignation.

It is puzzling that those who are identified as having been involved in mismanagement and other questionable conduct have not stepped aside, in good faith, without pay, to await the completion of any and all investigations of allegations laid against them and their organizations.

Regardless, the commissioner of education of the State of Minnesota did the right thing; she placed it into the hands of the legislative auditor for the state of Minnesota to give it separation and to avoid allegations of impropriety on her part. The legislative auditor, Jim Nobles, is one of the toughest examiners in the United States. He is a strength of the state.

The malice involved is by those being investigated, not the commissioner and the administration. The victims are not those being investigated but the children in their charge and the taxpayers whose money they received.

I commend the two Black legislators out of Minneapolis for not caving in to those attempting to destroy a public official who did what the law required, taking action supported with facts and documentation. We have no idea in this corner what documentation the Star Tribune has. But we know what we have. What we have clearly demonstrates that Dr, Cassellius acted with the utmost of integrity and commitment and requirements of law.

The attacks on Dr. Cassellius for doing the right thing for our children should bother the African American community. The thoughtless consequences will be bad for our children.[Ed. note: Dr. Caselliuss' motto is "Leading for educational excellence and equity. Every day for every one."]

Clearly the one group to benefit is the one we all claim we care about and have great love for, the children of our community, those will be our future and legacy. God accept our prayers for our community during this dark hour.

Stay tuned.

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 , 12:25 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


August 15, 2012 Column #33: Require auditions for stadium construction contracts. Proven past success with diversity hiring should be mandatory

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

If you read legislation closely enough and know how to connect the dots and read both the lines and between the lines, you get a better sense for what is there, what is not there, and what can be interpreted either way later.
 
The stadium construction legislation calls for diversity in hiring even if a plan is not in place. No plan in place means the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) doesn’t have to wait for a diversity plan: It can keep constructing.

Some in our community brag they will be successful providing stadium construction hiring diversity and equity. How? Our MSR column of April 5, 2012, “Hiring mandates must be in place for Viking stadium project,” was not about wishful thinking or beating a tired drum. It was a warning about the legislation.

The awarding of 34 contracts at the MSFA meeting August 3 discloses a lack of diversity. Is the MSFA content to wink at the spirit of the diversity requirement but not follow it on expediency grounds, due to no plan? The City was supposed to provide a master agreement and a Stadium Equity Plan by June 29, 2012.

On May 25, 2012, the city council, backed by the mayor, approved the development of a diversity plan. Even without one, the stadium legislation creating the Sports Facility Authority empowers it to act on its own to make contractors prove past diversity to pass auditioning for contracts.

In other words, legislation allows the MSFA to conduct research to examine any and all issues involving MSFA’s mandate and stewardship. That includes seeing whether those auditioning for contracts are qualified by having a positive history of diversity compliance. 

Five past projects can easily reveal who meets and doesn’t meet the diversity requirement needed to qualify for stadium construction contracts: Twins’ Target Field, Gophers’ TCF Stadium, Fairview Children’s Hospital of the University of Minnesota, the Minneapolis Board of Education’s new headquarters in North Minneapolis, and light rail, both the Hiawatha Corridor and St. Paul’s University Corridor. 

Contractors on those five projects have put surrogates into play for the stadium, each maintaining they have the best diversity and equity records in the history of Minnesota. We say:  Prove it. Of interest is that M.A. Mortenson, prior to the signing of the stadium legislation by the governor, was contracted to do a mock-up construction budget.

The legislation is quite clear: “Sub 9” (under “Powers and Duties of the Authority”): “The authority may conduct research studies and programs, collect and analyze data, prepare reports, and conduct all necessary hearings and investigations in connection with its functions.”

Investigating the contractors who worked on those five projects would be in keeping with Director Ted Mondale’s memo of Aug. 3, 2012, directing that the Vikings and all others begin the discussions and commit to a plan for diversity. The best way for the MSFA to ascertain who should be allowed to submit bids is through hearings and by analyzing their past records.

The legislation states, “The construction manager or program manager may enter into contracts with contractors for labor, material, supplies and equipment for the construction of the stadium and related infrastructure, through the process of public bidding.”

One of the provisions in the legislation that we think is healthy is that the lowest bid does not have to be accepted if, in fact, the Authority and the Vikings have made a joint decision that those desiring to bid have not met the standards set down by the legislation. That means stadium design and construction is to be done only by those able to confirm and prove their past diversity compliance. If not, they can be denied the opportunity to bid (see Section 15, 473j.11 of the legislation). 

It is as clear as the five separate fingers on your hand that the Vikings stadium legislation offers an opportunity for the most successful implementation of diversity participation in the history of this country, opening up access to the corridors of prosperity for all communities — if the MSFA will follow it.

The legislation also calls for 25 percent of the steel used on this great building to come from the ore fields of Northern Minnesota. Clearly the door is open for the opportunity for African Americans to enjoy the benefits reflected in our July 11, 2012 column if “Blacks need not apply signs” are taken down.

The legislation is there for any to review. No mystery.

Stay tuned

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012 , 7:08 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


August 08, 2012 Column #32: Black youth need good educations and jobs, not handholding.

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

Barricades, or containment roundups? That seems to be the false choice offered by the City in dealing with the Black community to provide safe streets for Whites. This columnist, however, stands for safe streets for all, Black and White.

As we have written in past columns, the biggest barricade holding back Blacks and keeping them in poverty and enabling crime is the failure to provide quality education (high drop-out rates, poor quality education, low test scores, suspensions) and quality jobs (related to poor quality of education, poor quality job training programs, and the persistence of public policies of noncompliance and discrimination in hiring). 

Separateness is again repeated with the Minneapolis School District’s plan to give high school students a “gold card” to use to ride public transportation back and forth to school, which will also enable a wider restricting of transportation access. The perception by the Downtown Council and politicians is that the most important issue facing this city is White citizens not feeling safe, whether at night or by day. But the really serious issue is young Black-on-Black crime. 

The corruption by White cops that led to the demise of such police department units as Safe Streets, Violent Offenders, and the Metro Gang Strike Force units has led to blaming Black officers. Black citizens pay the price.

The Police Research Institute has been brought in as a special advisor to the City of Minneapolis, according a Star Tribune blog article (Mayor seeks review of youth violence prevention program, July 30, 2012). So the intense discussion and debate continues within both the public and private sectors of Minneapolis regarding how to handle the “Black youth problem.” [Hence our earlier state of emergency among young Black men.]

We agree with the mayor that although the number of youth involved in juvenile crime has declined 59 percent since 2006, “That is not enough.” But we disagree with the City’s “Blueprint for Action” solution “to put a trusted adult in the life of every child.”   

They don’t need handholding — they need hands-on education and hands-on jobs. The liberal Brookings Institute states that only two percent wind up in poverty if they do three things:  finish high school, get a job, and marry before having babies. But the Minneapolis barricades of political correctness and discrimination don’t allow for that.

The Police Research Institute of Chuck Wexler, Washington, D.C., will be coordinating the strategy to deal with the “Black problem.” In fact, discussions within the new school district headquarters at 1200 West Broadway and the seats of power downtown, center on a “take no prisoners” strategy as the order of the day.

In light of some the troubling history that came out of the corruption trial of police officers Lt. Andrew Smith and Sgt. Patrick King (July 16 through July 26, 2012), this is a department that is clearly in need of a new blueprint for action as well [see more evidence of the need here]. The backup master plan for local containment, military style (roundups), as directed from Washington D.C., is a dangerous, unsafe and unhealthy approach.

Instead, we recommend the plans of our website’s “Solutions” section.

CRA is gone — no surprise
The Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority (CRA), created 21 years ago to give citizens a sense of involvement with the police department, is no more. The Minneapolis Police Federation lobbied for and got new legislation to eliminate all that the CRA was created to do.

In response, the City’s leadership, including Department of Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel, did not put up a fight to keep the CRA. Even former director Samuel Lee Reid II knew but kept it secret, leaving town immediately for a new job elsewhere when the doors closed.

The demise of the CRA, the turning over of the stadium to the new Stadium Authority, and economic and job development for African Americans and others of color reflect how meaningful citizen participation  by citizens of color has gone the way of the dinosaur, as more chairs for citizens of color are taken away from the City table.

The American Revolution fought to conserve liberties it already had that were proven to be humanly possible.  The French Revolution’s “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” reflected its progressive sense that it could create a perfect society and, thus, perfect people.  Fighting for humanly impossible liberties, they erected barricade events eight times during their three revolutions.  But instead of ushering in American style liberties, when it ended the rule of kings, the French Revolution ushered in The Reign of Terror, the Tyranny of Napoleon, and unresolved diplomatic and economic conflicts that led eventually to two world wars.

What will the barricades of Minneapolis lead to? Roundups, or putting chairs back to enable a seat for everyone?

A sad day. A sad commentary.

Stay tuned.

Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2012 , 12:25 a.m

Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns and blog, and solution papers for community planning and development.. All are are archived here. His second book, 2008,8 is A Seat for Everyone.

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


August 01, 2012 Column #31: Minneapolis Police Department tears itself apart from the inside

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

August 1, 2012

Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) truth and lies were on display during the trial that began July 16, 2012. Mainstream media reporting is either silent or soft. What I report is what I heard in court. I was there.

The betting in many quarters was that Lt. Andrew Smith and Sgt. Patrick King would win their lawsuits against the City for transfers they protested. Then they testified and lied through seven-and-a-half days of testimony, self-describing themselves as innocent and as the best investigators in the free world — legends in their own minds.

Lt. Smith and Sgt. King also lied about Black police officers, including Lt. Lee Edwards, Sgt. Charles Adams, Sgt. K.G. Paulis, and later Lt. Art Knight and former patrol officer Mike Roberts, along with White officer Lt. Michael Keefe, saying they were associates and co-conspirators with Minnesota’s Black gangs. Their testimony did not stop there. They portrayed Assistant Chief Janée Harteau and Deputy Chief Scott Gerlicher as lying, incompetent co-conspirators, as scum of the earth.

Then it was the turn of the MPD. The wild allegations made by Lt. Smith and Sgt. King were countered with the quiet truth testified to by Assistant Chief Harteau and Deputy Chief Gerlicher.

First up was Assistant Chief Janée Harteau, Friday, July 20. She came across as the first person affiliated with the MPD able to tell the truth. Then Tuesday, July 24, around 4 pm, Deputy Chief Scott Gerlicher dropped the bombshell, the sources of the information that led to the transfers Smith and King were suing about: a senior assistant U.S. attorney for the federal district of Minnesota and a senior FBI supervisor attached to the Safe Street Task Force that Lt. Smith and Sgt. King were members of prior to their February 14, 2011 transfers.

The information that is emerging during the trial provides a clear understanding of the depth of real corruption, racial animus, and just plain old mean-spirited disrespect and betrayal by some of the sworn officers of the MPD. Ironically, on Monday, July 23, Tom Lyden of KMSP, Channel 9, was in the courtroom. On his news broadcast that night, he interviewed the attorney representing Lt. Smith and Sgt. King, who claimed he and his clients were “exposing the cancer of corruption” that existed within the MPD.

At the time that statement scrolled across the news screen, Mr. Lyden chose to use file footage of Officer Mike Roberts going into the Federal Courthouse in St. Paul in May of 2009, when he was sentenced in a case, because of Smith and King testimony, that has left deep wounds within the culture of the MPD. Why didn’t Lyden return to court Tuesday to hear the riveting and telling blow delivered by Deputy Chief Gerlicher? Gerlicher testified that it was senior federal law enforcement agents who told him they would no longer accept cases for federal prosecution charges from the Safe Streets Task Force that involved Smith and King.

The attempted defense countered on July 23, by Sgt. Kelly O'Rourke, only dug the Smith and King hole deeper. O'Rourke said the federal U.S. attorney, Todd Jones, was soft on gangs, drugs, and weapons. That will not help the relationship between the MPD and its federal partners.

None of this was reported by KMSP or Star Tribune. It can only be found in this column. See my past articles listed at http://www.theminneapolisstory.com/solutionpapers/31minncops.htm.

In many respects, the attacks on Black officers, on the Black U.S. attorney for the federal district of Minnesota, and on a courageous lieutenant, who happens to be White, speaks to the depth of the tearing apart of the MPD from the inside. It certainly speaks to its diminishing future effectiveness as a law enforcement institution. We need an effective MPD, not an ineffective one.

We don’t know how the judge will rule in this non-jury trial where Lt. Smith is asking for $640K in damages and Sgt. Smith is asking around $570K in damages. The judge will have significant discretion in making his findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Once again, the majority media provides the citizens of Minnesota only a narrow and almost censorship-like journalistic overview of the real corruption and the real cancer that has struck down this department. Assistant Chief Harteau and Deputy Chief Gerlicher should be applauded and recognized along with federal law enforcement for bringing the light of truth to the pursuit of justice for all.

Stay tuned.

Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2012 , 12:33 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


July 25, 2012 Column #30: The policy of retaliation: continuing the story of Courtney Clark

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

When Courtney Clark was told on July 9, 2012, that he had a telephone call coming in from a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he had no idea the level of pain this interview would cause him.

The Star Tribune was interviewing Mr. Clark about the abuse he had been subjected to since 2005, by the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Whatever the combination of causes, he eventually had a stroke, a heart attack, and wound up in a wheelchair, as his overall health dangerously deteriorated.

The key concern that justifies our writing about Mr. Clark is expressed in the title of last week’s column: “Justice for all” means justice for everyone — no exceptions.

Yes, Mr. Clark had been convicted of a homicide. His victim was White. Black Americans understand the consequences of that criminal offense. That he was no angel doesn’t excuse the system for being devils. What the system can do to anyone they can do to the rest of us. That is the lesson of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, “…until they came for me.”

Mr. Clark, a bright and intelligent 39-year-old African American, was first sent to the reformatory at St. Cloud where he began to learn about experimental medical practices, as he became a target of such practices, leading to serious medical problems by 2008. Nonetheless, on that fateful afternoon of July 9, he stood up for right over wrong, for transparency over cover-up, in his 45-minute telephone interview with Paul McEnroe of the Star Tribune.

Besides his story, Mr. Clark also told the story of Robert Mims, a 69-year-old African American, also in a wheelchair, who died the previous evening, July 8. Mr. Mims had been transferred from Pennsylvania to Minnesota (also discussed in last week’s column), as he was considered a troublemaker they couldn’t handle in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Clark reported that during his last three weeks, 69-year-old Mr. Mims was denied medication and medical assistance, dying in severe pain. Mr. Clark reported that this is not unusual in Minnesota. Mr. McEnroe had earlier written a chilling story of a young African American who was denied medical assistance at the reformatory at Rush City, MN (Star Tribune, July 9, 2012, Prisoner dies after denial of care).

For a number of years, people in the know were aware of this policy and practice of medical experimentation that can only be called a form of genocide. Tuskegee is more than just a memory. And so, within hours of the interview with the Star Tribune’s Mr. McEnroe, Mr. Clark felt the full fury of the State’s anger. His cell was tossed and papers and documents accumulated since 2005 by Mr. Clark were destroyed, documents about his case and which attested to his abuse suffered while in the custody of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, both before and after being transferred to California and back.

California found he was not getting his full compliment of medicines and medical care and that the cost of his care was too high. He suffered a stroke and California sent him back.

During the course of the search of his cell and the confiscation of his property, Mr. Clark was roughed up and then put in the “hole,” a small cell with nothing in it but a small toilet. Since these latest events, July 9, 10, and 11, his family has attempted to make inquiry regarding his current status and condition. His privileges have been revoked, and what medical attention he had been receiving has been considerably reduced. As in the case with Mr. Mims, and other African Americans in Faribault denied medical assistance, he is in constant pain.

Mr. Clark told his parents and loved ones during the previous week that authorities have told him that he won’t survive in Minnesota’s version of what I am saying is similar to Germany’s legendary Dachau concentration camp of medical experimentation. The Minnesota Corrections System has become an example of those institutions that scarred the humanity of Germany, and now, in this case, Minnesota, for, as one corrections official is reported to have said, “Blacks will become an endangered species if we have anything to say about it.”

Courtney Clark and far too many other African Americans represent a clear illustration of the fact that in some circles, African Americans are an endangered species, and that they have no rights that the Minnesota Corrections System has any obligation to honor. Welcome to Dachau 2012, Minnesota version.

Stay tuned.

Columns referenced in this commentary are  archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.

Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2012 , 5:25 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


July 18, 2012 Column #29: “Justice for all” means justice for everyone — no exceptions

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

The American promise of “justice for all” does not exclude any individuals or groups from its embrace. The cases of Courtney Clark and Rita Roberts are important for that reason. Injustice for them means injustice also for their friends and loved ones. Even the criminal justice and court systems suffer when this vital principle is unequally applied.

Courtney Clark is incarcerated at the Prison Medical Facility at Faribault, MN. He had been transferred to the California corrections system after he became a whistleblower exposing medical experiments performed on African Americans at St. Cloud State Reformatory.

His attempt to acquire justice and redress for his fellow Black inmates led to retaliation. California found the cost of his medical treatments too great and sent him back to Minnesota. As this column is being written, Courtney Clark is at death’s door.

The details of Mr. Clark’s case are contained in the public record of his formal complaints against the medical staff at St. Cloud and the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Courtney Clark suffers from excruciating and continuous pain as gangrene and other medical conditions ravage his body. His mother, a public health nurse for 25 years in Illinois and herself in poor health, seeks help in her fight for fairness and justice for her 39-year-old son.

Mr. Clark is not an angel, but his character is not the subject of this story. The system is the story. The system does not have the right in this democracy to sign off on retaliation, which has been the case for far too many African Americans in the Minnesota State Corrections facilities

That includes the death last week of Robert Mims of Philadelphia, PA, who was transferred to Minnesota and then denied medical assistance. His death is creating political fallout in Philadelphia. The system will fail its attempt to make this go away, as mainstream media will eventually catch up with us.

Rita Roberts is a 42-year-old Asian woman. On April 13, 2010, a police SWAT team knocked on her door. They said they were executing a warrant in search for weapons.

Police, court, and medical reports reveal the following when, unarmed and offering no resistance, she opened her door: She was shot in the face with buckshot that hit her in the upper parts of the body, shattering her jaw and disfiguring her face. Doctors have told Ms. Roberts officially, on the record, that she suffered irreversible damage to the nerves and ligaments of one of her arms due to how she was handcuffed and stepped on, she will continue to lose the use of her arm for the remainder of her life, and she will go blind in less than a decade.

Rita Roberts admitted and confirmed to me that there was marijuana in her home. Her mistake was to accept advice to plead guilty to a third-degree felony that disqualified her for medical recourse. A well-known local White attorney sat on her case for a year and six months, and then dropped it after her guilty plea was accepted by the court. The system crushed her from all sides, all because of marihuana and their weapons warrant mistake.

Courtney Clark. Rita Roberts. Easy to dismiss for some. But we should all care, as these cases raise serious questions about how the system can easily turn the quest for justice against justice itself.

Mr. Clark is clearly a recipient of retaliation for protesting medical practices on African American inmates used as medical guinea pigs. Ms. Roberts has received no rationale for why, after complying and opening her door, unarmed and not resisting, she was shot flush in the face with a pellet shotgun, suffering permanent, irreparable damage that will cost her sight and at least one of her limbs.

Have we so abandoned the concept of justice that “standards” accepted in non-democratic societies are now acceptable in America?

Courtney Clark and Rita Wallace are people of color, one Asian, one African American. Both seek justice and a full review of the circumstances leading to their medical conditions. What will we do to open the door to the hallway of justice so we can close the door to the dark pit of future injustice in the State of Minnesota?

Stay tuned.

Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2012 , 3:12 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


July 11, 2012 Column #28: In Twin Cities, Blacks still need not apply

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

TWIN CITIES STILL WORST IN U.S. FOR BLACK JOBSEEKERS (Star Tribune headline, July 2, 2012). “New report shows little change from 2009 unemployment rates.” – Economic Policy Institute. That is a repeat of the June 18, 2010 report of the Star Tribune of the same Economic Policy Institute report released to Congress showing African Americans 3.1 times more likely than Whites to be unemployed in our metro area (High black unemployment widespread across nation’s metropolitan areas).

Since 2005, I have written 24 columns on this “worst” in the country and why, including my April 20, 2005 column, Black share of upcoming $5 billion in construction: Zero, What can be done to reverse “Blacks need not apply” for the coming great construction boom?

See also my March 9, 2011 column, “The Plan” revealed: no more jobs for Black Minnesotans in 2011 and beyond.

I continue to ask, where are the plans and actions to reverse this “Blacks need not apply” reality? It could not exist if the city’s vision included offering a seat at the table of equal access and equal opportunity to everyone, Black and White. (all 24 columns are listed in my Solution Paper #46, regarding the city's purposeful refusal to be in Disparity Compliance, incvluding

The city’s Black leadership in government agencies, churches, corporations, foundations and education continue to not act to ensure equal education, jobs and prosperity. One result is the violence in our city in the shadow of where the new Vikings stadium will be — a stadium project for which local Black workers are not qualified, according to both Black and White contractors.

Even three- and five-year-olds are not immune to the violence, killed by bullets fired into homes from the street. Violence is being built ever deeper into the fabric of our city. As I wrote six months ago, “When a city and its institutions lose their commitment to humanity and to equality and diversity for all of its citizens, the city loses another piece of its soul and its future.”

Why aren’t liberal-thinking politicians (so-called progressives) and liberal-thinking institutions (so-called think tanks) discussing, developing and enacting a plan of corrective action? Failure to immediately address the 2009 findings of the Economic Policy Institute has caused harm and damage to the African American community.

Will there again be inaction? Will harm and damage again prevail?

The headlines reflect a dangerous trend, confirming our reporting that far too many African Americans in our community see no future on the horizon for full inclusion and an opportunity at the table of contracts and for economic uplift of jobs for the African American community.

Some reading this column will be tempted to suggest we need to be patient, that it will take at least another decade (and miss the stadium). How many will continue to hide behind that fiction?

Martin Luther King answered in 1963, almost 50 years ago, with “Why We Can’t Wait.” And yet in 2004, then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggested “another 25 years.” One would think Blacks arrived in Minnesota in the 1970s. We all know better.

The Vikings stadium exposes the raw truth: Simple skills are not enough. What will our young men and women do when they are told their “job training” doesn’t qualify them for stadium work? As I’ve asked for a decade: Where is the plan and its enactment to correct this outrageous deficiency in denying African Americans the opportunity to obtain modern skills that will start them on the path to some semblance of parity with their White counterparts in the marketplace?

Black civil rights leadership of a time long passed argued for this, champions like Newman, Johnson, Childress, Alsop, Dr. Thomas Johnson, Judge L. Howard Bennett. They were a part of the Great Commitment in the drive and desire for equal opportunity and for an opportunity to enjoy equal footing (education, jobs, housing).

Who today fights for equal opportunity, fights for the right of employment, fights for the right to provide for one’s family and provide a future for their children? Where is the vision for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?

Who today cares that they are in last place and living once again the shameful position of policies that deny them opportunity and equality? Proof of caring is in executing plans. Where are the plans?

Where are today’s White champions, the Humphreys, the Floyd B. Olsons, the Kelms (Elmer, Tom), the Wendell Andersons, the Charles Horns, who worked so tirelessly with their Black counterparts mentioned earlier in this column to provide equal opportunity and a sense of meaningful and honest inclusion? Where is that commitment today?

What a shameful and dark day in the history of liberalism, particularly amongst the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, compared to what they set out to achieve after the merger of 1944.

Stay tuned.

Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2012 , 12:58 p.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


July 04, 2012 Column #27: Another child’s death spreads fear and dismay. Five Year-Old Shot to Death in North Minneapolis
The City loses another part of its soul.

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

When five-year-old Nizzel Anthony George’s mother laid him down to sleep Tuesday night, June 26, she assumed that her child, her “hero,” as she called him, would enjoy his sleep and have the pleasant dreams of a five-year-old child. Instead, a waking nightmare: “Shot in his sleep, North Side boy dies” (Star Tribune headline, June 26). The headline the next day: “Family angry, police anxious a day after boy’s fatal shooting.”

Minneapolis police say an "ongoing dispute" between youth is behind the gunfire, with shots fired into another house two blocks away earlier that night. The family is understandably angry that the police “hinted” (Star Tribune’s word) that not only does the family know who did it, but they won’t tell, and there are others in the neighborhood who know but won’t tell. 

Mayor Rybak and Police Chief Dolan blame a lack of gun control laws. How can this be when there are over 300 federal and state gun control laws, not to mention all the local ones? The chief, perhaps in a bit of projection (attributing what one believes to others), stated, "The larger public in the United States doesn't really care what happens in the inner city. It's a population that they don't care about."

Really? And he cares? Did he condemn that sentiment? No. Did he call for Minneapolis to rise up and show it cares with suggestions for how to do so? No. For a decade I’ve reported how Minneapolis and its police don’t care (see my dozens of columns on discrimination against and uncaring treatment of Black police officers).

The Star Tribune reminds us that, six months ago to the day, December 26, 2011, three-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr. met the same shooting fate: “A bullet that came through the wall struck Terrell in the head… He died the next day. His slaying remains unsolved” (see my January 11, 2012 columm, We still need help here! African American children continue to die, and with them our spirits.).

Think about it: Two African American children with a combined age of eight years will not enjoy attending school, marrying, raising a family, planning a future. Something is wrong with this picture. As we said in our January 11column, this is not Kabul or Baghdad or Beirut or Belfast. This is America the Safe, America the Beautiful, an America that should be able to provide a safe future for all her sons and daughters. 

I attended the vigil Tuesday night along the 4500 block of Bryant Avenue North, and heard young people cry out and ask questions about the future of their loved ones, their friends, themselves, and their dreams for a safe America, a safe Minneapolis — statements reflecting dreams shattering and the disappearance of a safety net.

The City administration spent all of its time in the first six months of this year concentrating its energy, strategy and future to acquire passage of legislation for a $1 billion stadium it thinks it can use to take care of its friends and allies. When will it put that kind of effort into education and jobs and employment with diversity? C census data show that only two percent wind up in poverty who “complete high school (at a minimum), work full time and marry before they have children.” This is what is needed, not more gun laws.

Ever since the death of Terrel Mayes, Jr., signs and red flags have been forever present, as if we are in a state of war with serious conflicts on the streets of this city and in the metropolitan area. As for those young shooters, you can be sure they understand that they are not written into the equation for the economic uplift of the city. With no better offer, they turn to an alternative lifestyle that provides only the most dangerous consequences for their future and the future of this city.

All such violent deaths are in vain. And when a city and its institutions lose their commitment to humanity and to equality and diversity for all of its citizens, the city loses another piece of its soul and its future. All that we can do, once again, is pray for the Spirit of a five-year-old child and hope the rest of us can stay out of the way of the bullets, knives, mayhem and murder.

So rest in peace, Minneapolis. God knows you will need His strength to figure out how to have a safe future.

Stay tuned.

Columns are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Also ear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and his “web log,” in the archives.

Posted Wednesday, July 4, 2012 , 1:01 a.m

Ron's media message platforms:
(1) Column (since 2003): "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.;
(2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV;
(3) Blog Talk radio podcasts: host of “Black Focus V,” Sundays, 3-3:30 pm; and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm;
(4) Books: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes (2002); and A Seat for Everyone (2008); Order here.
(5) Solution Papers: for community leadership, planning and development;
(6) Blog: "Tracking the Gaps"
(7) CD: Hear his readings;
(8) Archives. (Columns, Blog entries, Solution Papers).


Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.

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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