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2004 Columns
Quarter 2: April thru June ~ Columns #7 - #12

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June 17, 2004 Column #12: Why does the county attorney fear change?

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

The story of the Hennepin County Attorney's May 27, 2004, letter to Police Chief William McManus in the June 10 edition of the Star Tribune is self-explanatory: She indicates that, in her view, there are serious flaws in the proposed changes for internal investigations of incidents in which there are fatalities involving the Minneapolis Police Department.

We are as puzzled as Chief McManus about the timing and the rationale being used by the county attorney in her sudden interest about cases involving fatalities, the majority of which take place in the African American communities, and her desire not to see changes. Sure, changes are needed in the system used by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office that, since the year 2000, has investigated 19 officer-related fatalities in which all officers were cleared.

Nobody is 100 percent. You can't learn from mistakes made when no mistakes are admitted. Community leaders and Chief McManus are obviously not satisfied with that system. As a community, we feel we are under siege and to be victims of non-success because the County purposefully uses a program that delivers the "no mistakes" results it wants.

As a community, we have a right to periodically ask for both a review and, when needed, changes when a system clearly doesn't work. Four years. Nineteen incidents. No comment from the county attorney. A new police chief comes. Change is called for. Now we hear from the county attorney: Keep the status quo; changing the process isn't the proper way to go.

Why? Chief McManus, over the past 29 years of his experience in Dayton, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., has seen the changes he seeks work. We think change is an excellent idea. We have long believed the County did not want anyone to look at or change the way it reviews misconduct, particularly when there are fatalities.

Just under the story of the county attorney is the story of the death of an African American in St. Paul, James Cobb, who died after a struggle with police early Wednesday, June 9. What is this rash of fatalities in the Twin Cities involving African Americans and the police when there are attempts made at "restraint?"

The county attorney needs to know that we in the African American community, whether in St. Paul or Minneapolis or anywhere else in the state of Minnesota, reserve the right to seek change in a system that fails us. If you were a racecar driver, you would say that too often the big automobile of justice in cases like this doesn't operate on justice cylinders.
After reviewing things, including consulting with the communities of color, Chief McManus recommends needed change. What is the county attorney afraid of?

We also wonder why there are those in the Minneapolis City Council trying to stir things up by saying that the office of Chief McManus and the mayor's office are not maintaining lines of communication. We know that is not true. We suspect that what is at play tonight in our city is that William McManus is maintaining "too much" contact with the communities of color. Apparently, this is not the preferred style of Minnesota nice.

Too much color at KTSP?

That is the rumor at TV station KSTP, Channel 5: too much Harris, Angela and Reggie, the three prime Blacks on air on that channel. Although on her beat, CJ hasn't written about it at the Star Tribune. We understand.

Nonetheless, reliable sources indicate to us that the leadership in the news operations at KSTP Channel 5 told the above-mentioned "big three" that the reason KSTP's ratings are down is because there are too many "dark spots" on the screen.
The Timberwolves have far more than three dark spots and yet get top ratings. So we suspect the Black talent is being scapegoated for management's poor decisions. So we want to know, KSTP, why do you think it's color? Say it ain't so, baby. Say we haven't slipped that far, especially after bringing Ed Asner back in to rejuvenate the old image. Or is the rejuvenation just to disguise a return to the old business as usual—no Blacks on the screen?

We believe KSTP is looking in the wrong place. Instead of the screen, it should be looking in the mirror. Come on, KSTP, stop using the color of those on the screen to explain why you can't get your ratings up. Maybe you need to get some Viagra.

Posted 06-17-04

June 3, 2004 Column #11: Loss of Moss bodes ill for advocacy City Inc. needs to reverse this decision

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

May 20, 2004
We were dismayed to learn that Harry "Spike" Moss is being terminated from his position at City Inc., effective July 8, 2004. This action is being taken by the administration of City Inc. because, they say, there is no longer any funding for Moss's position. Say what?

This is troubling, to say the least. A man who has worked so diligently and tirelessly on behalf of this community for better than 40 years should have been given—must be given—the greater consideration and respect he has earned in this community, not unemployment and economic hardship.

Although we have no way of knowing for sure, we do know that there are those who say this is a calculated decision to silence the voice of Spike Moss. We hope that this is not true, and we look to hear from City Inc. to tell us it isn't so.
But this does make us pause to think how this can happen to a person who has already been spoken of so highly by the newly arrived chief of police for the City of Minneapolis, William McManus. Chief McManus has spoken on various news channels of the respect and appreciation he has for Moss. This speaks volumes to the effectiveness of Moss and calls into question the actions of City Inc.

Over the decades, Moss has gained the support and the respect of some of the most influential philanthropic giants in the history of this state, and the undying gratitude of the people served by City Inc. How is it that there are no funds for Harry "Spike" Moss? How is it that there was no intention to request such funds on behalf of this community advocate?
The announced departure of Moss from the institution that he helped to craft and develop needs to be reversed. What City Inc. has done raises a serious question about the future of advocacy on behalf of the African American community in Minnesota. Our community advocates are special. They must be judged and evaluated on their positive effectiveness, their commitment, and on their compassion and caring for the people of the community.

Based on that standard, Moss has more than met the test, and must be retained by City Inc. to continue in the role he has played so well for them for over 30 years.

Another terror alert

A little less than a week ago, the Bush administration, through Attorney General John Ashcroft, issued a nationwide alert that they are certain that Al Queda will strike the U.S. in the summer of 1994.

Ashcroft said this was based on intelligence received and on an Al Queda statement after their Madrid bombing that they were 90 percent ready to strike the United States this summer. In making the announcement, Ashcroft released the pictures of seven anticipated terrorists who are their targets of interest.

What is troubling is Ashcroft's statement that such an attack could create the same results in our election year as happened in Spain. Why would he speak with such certainty? Some have wondered if he isn't saying that our being attacked will create a state of emergency that will require his canceling our 2004 elections.

Say it isn't so, John. We know constitutionally the elections are never to be cancelled. What or who does this administration really fear? Does the Patriot Act give them this authority? We need to know.

As citizens, especially those who are the least, we need to know they won't do again what was done to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, when Japanese living in the West Coast states were sent inland, many to detention camps. We need to know that our voting franchise will not be taken away, and that our constitutional protections will still be in place.
Think about it. Tell us which it is, John.

Sports update

By the time this column appears, we assume the Minnesota Timberwolves will be down three games to two. But then, we're not sure. The series may be over, and the Lakers may be waiting for the winner of the Eastern Conference.
These are two great teams. It is so difficult to defeat the powerful quartet of future hall-of-famers of the L.A. Lakers. But the Timberwolves may surprise us, and maybe there will be a seventh and deciding game back here in Minneapolis.
Regardless, congratulations to the Timberwolves. and specifically to league MVP Kevin Garnett. Either way, it will be a Minnesota team that wins.

The future of gasoline

Wow! Gasoline averaging $2.17 over the last 10 days makes us kind of wonder what the future holds. Looks like we may be speaking sooner rather than later of new types of cars, some that will run on water (engines that extract the hydrogen) or sunlight (solar powered batteries).

This administration doesn't seem to have any more clue about how to protect the American consumer in terms of energy than have previous administrations. Is OPEC trying to influence our elections? We'd like to know.

Posted 06-03-04

May 20, 2004 Column #10: “Cry, the Beloved Country”: Still crying here in Minneapolis, 50 years later

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

In the last three months, the battle for the soul of the city and the future of our race has been raging. The names of Barry, Paterson, Little and Fraser are now part of the honor roll of African Americans who have lost their lives on the streets of this city as an outgrowth of this battle.

Many seek answers, but few will commit to talking to our youths to convey to them our sense of their importance to the future of our city. In the 1948 novel Cry, the Beloved Country, in the days just before South Africa's apartheid became official, Alan Paton wrote of Blacks and Whites seeking justice and kind racial relations together, as their shared future as a people and the Black African's quest for freedom and emancipation from fear were on the line.

That is our situation in Minneapolis today, over 50 years later. We work for social justice to unite our city, so as not to be a city of conflicting groups. To hold dignity separately, we must first hold dignity together, many united as one; that is the soul of Minneapolis that is ours to win or lose.

We saw this battle for the soul of Minneapolis at a funeral two Saturdays ago in which over 800 people paid their respects to Christopher Little, a young man clearly respected and loved by his peers. Ninety-five percent of those who gathered were young people. Their average age was probably 17. There were far too few adults.

The heartache and sorrow that we saw at the funeral, and later at the cemetery, moved us deeply. As a citizen, as a journalist, and as an activist, we ask, "Where have we gone wrong? What can we do about it?" That which must be conveyed to each generation, firmly and without equivocation, is that our young people are as important to us as anything that God has created.

Too many of our young people feel abandoned, labeled as bad seeds. They feel there is no hope. They feel no one has a vision of a tomorrow for them. We know that is not true, but they think it is.

These are our children. What will we give them for their future? Will we continue to turn toward the wall of silence, as some did in "Cry the Beloved Country," as the local NAACP has done? If we don't express our concern and demonstrate our caring, this generation and, thus, our race will be lost.

We are not talking about a race as color, although that comes into play. We are talking about those who identify themselves as the sons and daughters of the African. Those names that we identified earlier are part of a small army of those who have fallen. Our young people cry out for help. Instead of turning to the wall of silence, I invite you to demonstrate high hopes and expectations for our youths.

Whether it is a 53-year-old African American caught in the middle of a crossfire on a street in North Minneapolis or a 16-year-old child gunned down on those same streets, we must not convey the idea that we no longer care to offer kindness, that we no longer love them, that we no longer have high expectations for either their individual success or that of our race as a whole, that we no longer are concerned that the existence of our race is in jeopardy.

What we say here in this column is not new. It has been said since time immemorial: Let us not turn our backs on our youths or our race. Let us end our silence. (See my paper on Higher Hopes for Youths.)

Attempt to intimidate fails

We applaud this newspaper once again for its steadfastness and its commitment to honest journalism. We were amused, but not surprised, to learn that some Minneapolis officials attempted to intimidate this newspaper as they requested censorship of this columnist and others.
It is always refreshing to seethose with whom you work closely stand by you and support you. The officials who showed up at this newspaper making up stories and spewing lies and innuendo must be placed on notice, and so I now make that the order of the day.

And so to you, the City's Empowerment Zone director, and to you, the City's director of communications, as you advance your threats and statements of intimidation, you become an open book. We accept the challenge. Let the battle begin. And may the better soul of our city and community win.

Historical appointments

Congratulations to Wurster, Arnson, Bahman and Edwards (no relation) and their appointments by Chief Robert McManus last week as heads of the 2nd, 4th and 5th precincts, and the Internal Affairs Unit. In appointing two Black men, a Black woman, and a White woman, this chief is showing he can walk the talk of truth. We invite the City's Empowerment Zone director and the City's director of communications to do the same.

Posted 05-20-04

May 5, 2004 Column #9: Dark tunnel of deceit and deception The story behind the story of the Mpls Branch NAACP's collapse

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

Last week in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, award winning journalist Isaac Peterson wrote about the NAACP and the April 17, 2004, letter sent by Carl L. Breeding to Brent Buckner, Minneapolis NAACP Branch president. Breeding is the nationally appointed administrator of the Minneapolis Branch.

The Spokesman-Recorder has been under attack from those in the community who want the truth suppressed. The story behind the story exposes both the cover-up of Buckner and others and their attempt to tarnish Breeding by falsely claiming he was off base and overstepping his bounds by being arbitrary, capricious, mean-spirited, and acting against the branch's best interest. And even though the Minneapolis Star Tribune knows of this as well, we are not surprised that they continue to suppress the branch's misdeeds while this newspaper continues to speak to the truth.

Buckner and the current NAACP leaders continue their predecessors' habit of covering up the truth. Despite Breeding writing Buckner on January 30, 2004, directing him to discharge six employees who had been hired illegally and in direct violation of the constitution and by-laws of the NAACP and its personnel policies, Buckner wrote questioners implying that he had the authority and, in some cases, the concurrence of the national administrator to take the action when clearly he did not.

Despite the branch leadership having been informed by October 20, 2003, that it was placed in receivership and that a special administrator, Level 2, was being appointed to take control and custody of the branch, they still went ahead and spent over $119,800 without authorization and approval, as Breeding reminds them in his letter of April 17, 2004.

A communiqué of March 2, 2004, discusses the cover-up of the branch account balances that were lied about to members at meetings in January, February and March 2004. That communique addresses accounts that need to be reviewed: Wells Fargo Merchant Account, $27,056.73; U.S. Bancorp money market account, $16,520.04; U.S. Bank Business Checking Account, $8,756.59. These accounts total $52,333.36. In the course of communiques between principals of the NAACP and Breeding, a request to transfer $14,690.94 was authorized. (Some of this has been discussed in previous editions of this column.)

It is the U.S. Bank amount that has really caused concerns, frustration and outrage at the misinformation provided the membership as recently as the branch's April meeting. No one realized that $86,000 in investment monies had, in fact, been cashed in without authorization or concurrence of the general membership, despite NAACP branch officials insisting that the $86,000 was in place.

Copies of communiqués between NAACP officials explain. For example, Andy Martin's communique of March 2, 2004, at 11:17 am, speaks in terms of how information should be made or not made to the membership. Many are outraged. At least two of the former employees ordered dismissed on January 30, 2004, have filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court against the NAACP branch.

This is so tragic, my friends, for this city and our people need what was once a great organization to be in the forefront of those issues that continue to confront our community: the lack of economic achievement, the continued discrimination in education and housing, the ineptness of our community to be front and center in the selection of new police chiefs and heads of the Civil Rights Department.

The local branch has lost its credibility as a civil rights organization that protects and buffers its people because its leadership and their supporters have slid down the dark tunnel of deceit and treachery, as was pointed out by Breeding in his landmark letter of April 17. How sad it is. Roy Wilkins and others who worked so hard to create this organization and give it the credibility of purpose must tonight be crying from the heavens above as they watch the decline of a once-proud organization.

For now, the music of deception of this branch has been stopped. The game of musical bank accounts is, for now, over. But the current leadership merely continued an old melody. Those who came before, including those at national, got to sit down before the music stopped. As in all games of this kind of musical chairs, the current leadership is left standing holding the bag. When will the past leadership and national be held to account for their role in this sad, long chapter of NAACP history? And will future leaders start the tune again, or put it away forever?

Civil Rights Department musical chairs

Mayor R.T. Rybak has nominated an executive director of the Civil Rights Department of Minneapolis without having the four finalists meet with the community and talk about their credentials. Is it any wonder that Natalie Johnson Lee, Green Party, 5th Ward, chairperson of the Health and Human Services Committee, does not want to dance to the mayor's tune? Council Member Johnson Lee has said that we first need to have the community involved in the examination of the credentials of the nominee. Good for you Natalie.

WEBMASTER'S NOTE: The letter referenced above of Carl Breeding to local branch NAACP President, Bret Buckner, is printed below in its entirety. It also appeare as printed in the 4/28/2004 edition of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, as part of the article entitled: "Buckner ordered to 'cease and desist,' " written by award winning journalist Isaac Peterson, III. The material of the Breeding letter is a true copy, with Bold emphasis added.

As noted in the Peterson article, "the branch has been the subject of a series of investigative articles . dating back to the spring of 2002." These problems have been covered in these columns, as noted below in this paragraph, and in the chapters of my book, "The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes," as noted below in this paragraph Problems reported included the branch's role in a highly questionable Minneapolis legislative redistricting plan [see Chapters 12, 13 and 14 of my book], colluding with the developer to run African Americans out of the Holman project [see Chapters 8 and 14, and 2003 columns #s 2-12 and 2004 columns #s S ], a stolen electionin November 2002, financial improprieties (Chapter 14, Columns 18, and 2004/5, 6, 7, 9), and failing to meet it obligation to its mission and to our community (Chapter 14, Columns 14, 16, 20, and 2004/3, 4, 8, 9).

Indeed, the national NAACP has known, as I outlined it for them in my letters of April 5 and 7, 2002, and my Spril 9, 2002 grievance and petition. As a result, both the national and local branch successfully conspired to have me expelled from the NAACP for speaking the truth (see 2003 web log entries 194, 196, 221-1, 208, and 224). In no case have they ever proved my allegations wrong. The Breeding letter vindicates my letters and grievance. Yet, as of this writing, they have uttered no apology, not moved to re-instate me, nor addressed in any way the problems brought to their attention other than placing the branch in receivership late last year, with an administrator assigned to oversee the branch. (See MSR October 23, 2003, "National NAACP to oversee local branch," and January 28, 2004, "Minneapolis NAACP in receivership.")

Many people have asked the local NAACP to say it ain't so. Which it did. But it is so. Despite this, in developing wording with predecessor leaders, Mr. Buckner sent a letter printed in the April 8, 2004 issue of the Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder ("Minneapolis NAACP sound and solvent"), repeating his assurances that all was well, that the reports of receivership were incorrect, and dismissing any suggestions of anything being amiss.

Sadly, let us repeat: it is so, as affirmed by the letter dated April 17, 2004 to Mr. Buckner from the national NAACP receivership administrator, Carl Breeding, printed last week in the MSR, which exposes the truth about Buckner and the local NAACP branch and repeats what they have been told before but ignored: to cease and desist:

Please note what is missing in this letter: the fact that all of this did not happen just on Brett Buckner's watch. It has been building for years, and has done so with the knowledge and participation of the regional and national NAACP as well. Yes, Mr. Buckner has done all the wrong things Carl Breeding lists. But so too did his predecessors. If Mr. Buckner is made the lone scapegoat, then, when the NAACP opens up again on its own, it will be the same 'ol same 'ol. Minneapolis must bring to account all who led the NAACP to this pass, both national and local, both now in the first decade of the 21st century as well as during the last decade of the 20th century. When the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder quoted one of Buckner's predecessors from last year, Rev. Al Gallmon saying about this, "I'm saddened to hear about it, if it's true," it shows how much people are still hoping this "goes away" (Gallmon helped Buckner write his denial letter). With the national setting up Mr. Buckner as the scapegoat they ensure no real changes can or will take place. We all join with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder in pledging to work cooperatively with whatever new leadership is elected, but will continue to watch carefully and report back whether they are serving the community or whether they have started up the music of serving just themselves. All of us must insist on a full accounting of the past 15 years in order to be able to have a positive impact with credibility and affirmative results in the future.

Posted 05-05-04

April 29, 2004 Column #8: The Empowerment Zones: Minneapolis' version of the plantation

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

For three weeks, this newspaper has run a series reviewing the success (for Whites) and failure (for people of color) of the Empowerment Zone and the millions of dollars that have been awarded to the most affluent of our community. City officials have again managed to use the plight of people of color to relieve their plight: their need for fresh cash.

The Empowerment Zone is one of the great disasters of economic opportunity for the African American. Columnists Hodges and Thomas in this paper have reflected upon the signal that has gone out, the red flag that has been raised that tells the African American community, clearly, distinctly, and without equivocation, that it is not on the money-spending radar of the City of Minneapolis.

Kim Havey has served as Overseer for the distribution of millions of dollars that have been applied directly against the interests of the African American community. And the ***Minneapolis Star Tribune*** reflects its ongoing lack of commitment to communities of color by having made the political and journalistic decision to suppress any comments or review of the Empowerment Zone.

As was reported in this newspaper a week ago, we were present on the occasion of the Ways and Means Committee meeting when, to shock and dismay, Havey reported that Allina and the YWCA had been recipients of over a million dollars without any RFPs (Requests For Proposals). The person who questioned Council Member Don Samuels later that day about the violation of the Empowerment Zone Governance Board's own policies and procedures said he replied that it was accepted as being okay.

A million dollars to White organizations, as we know, is business as usual in the continued economic rape of the African American community in Minneapolis under any number of administrations. Now it is the Rybak administration doing it. Abuse, lies and deceit seem to be the order of the day for this administration.

How the African American community will ever gain a foothold in the great economic battle that is going on in this city only God knows. Or, in the case of the Empowerment Zone Governance Board and Mr. Havey, only Satan.

It is a sad commentary that this city is diverting from the people within the geographic districts it was intended for the millions and millions of dollars the federal government and U.S. Congress intended to alleviate poverty imposed upon people of color in metropolitan areas. Alfred Flowers and Zack Montoya have been working tirelessly to keep our community informed. We join them and many others who are calling for an audit and for answers from the City of Minneapolis as to why they are violating the legislative intent of congress regarding people of color.

To now publicly state that 10 African American business entities will be considered for immediate funding does not meet congressional intent; nor does it meet the tests of moral honesty and integrity, things clearly lacking at Minneapolis City Hall at this dark hour of nullification, reversal and business as usual.

When will the City lift the bell jar of capital to let African Americans in, as intended by this program?

Civil Rights Department search

An interesting slate of finalists for the position of director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department is in place. We appreciate the story in this newspaper on April 15 of the meeting hosted by 5th Ward Council Member Natalie Johnson Lee (who also serves as chair of the Minneapolis City Council's Committee on Health and Human Services, which has jurisdiction over the Civil Rights Department).

The comments contained in the MSR story are well appreciated by those of us who have long labored in the civil rights vineyard. We look for an individual to fill this position who is not only committed to the fight for civil rights, but who is also committed to challenge, if necessary, the City that employs him or her, including the council and mayor (the legislative and executive branches), if the director determines that there is probable cause to believe that the City has aided and abetted discrimination and racism.

This is not like a corporate job. The intent of the Civil Rights Ordinance (I know, as I was there when it was written) is for the civil rights director to have the latitude to initiate such action against the city.

A good example would be a civil rights director who was prepared to file formal charges against Kim Havey and the Empowerment Zone Governance Board for malfeasance in office. We suggest this would be an excellent question to pose to the candidates. And hopefully, there will be a public hearing when a final nominee is selected. We look forward to the challenge that must be posed.

Duy Ngo We are puzzled by the decision of the City of Minneapolis to ask the St. Paul Police Department to excuse themselves from the internal investigation that many of us thought was going to take place. What is really at play here, an attempt to cover up some previous political commitments made by the current administration? My God, we hope not.

Posted 04-29-04

April 7, 2004 Column #7: No compassion at city hall

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

A double scoop in the matters of Duy Ngo and Rocco Forte

On Duy Ngo

On March 1, 2004, a Strib front-page story above the fold, headlined "Police Probes Faults Cited," appeared on the surface to be great research and credibility with respect to a report done by the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension), requested by new Chief William McManus.

As we have watched quietly over the past month, we are still puzzled as to why the Strib continues its selective reporting as it did on that BCA report, particularly on why there never was a serious investigation into who shot Officer Duy Ngo (shot the first time by unknown assailant[s] and the second by fellow officers Storlie and Conway).

That incident of February 25, 2003, understandably tore the department apart and caused serious concern in the minds of officers of color. It is disturbing that the Strib did not report Mike Martin's comment, on page 17 of the BCA report, that it is was Deputy Chief Lucy Gerald and Captain Stacy Altman who "perpetrated" the lies about Officer Ngo shooting himself and calling him a "coward."

The Chief has promised an outside investigation. Duy Ngo has filed a civil suit. Without those false rumors, we would not be in this mess. Why does the Strib insist on printing rumors as if they were facts? Why does the Strib participate in a significant cover-up of that shooting by leaving out such probative information?

We hope that compassion finds its way into the offices of City Hall and that justice will be served.

On Rocco Forte

Fellow columnist Booker T. Hodges received three emails from the mayor: one chastising him for falsely saying Fire Chief Rocco Forte was being driven from office under cover of the pension issue, a second that backed off and discussed "compensation," and a third that reversed itself and admitted Booker T. was correct. (Booker T. also received other racist and threatening emails condemning him and this newspaper.)

So city hall again demonstrated its ability to lie and its attempts to intimidate. Everyone knows Rocco Forte is one of the nation's leading fire chiefs, recognized for both his management skills and his ability to bring diversity to the department. The mayor and his "forces," stung by their inability to make one of the police GLBT persons chief of police, are determined to win on that issue by passing Bonnie Bleskachek over 10 individuals who out-rank her.

Originally told he would head the Department of Regulatory Services, Forte was then offered the dubious job of assistant city coordinator (dubious as there is no job description for this newly found position). We are as amused as we are concerned that he was pushed out so a gender/orientation plan could be implemented. Amazed yet reliable sources tell us he was offered $30,000 less (since reinstated). This is a terrible way to treat one of the city's top managers. It makes us wonder how long he'll stay around. Tell us it isn't true, city hall.

As we submit our column, the Strib is still silent on all that it knows about Duy Ngo and Rocco Forte.

On the NAACP

Big meeting two weeks ago: still no audit in place. Brett Buckner's letter says all is in good shape and his investments are in good shape. Can anyone show documents or minutes where the membership voted to make $86,000 in investments or take out loans for supermarkets, and why $615,000 is still unexplained, as well as show what they spent nearly $200,000 on in the last five months?

On Strib reporting

(1) Twice in the last six months, the Strib has revealed information that makes it harder for police to pursue and prosecute a case. I've registered my concern with Lou Geland at the Strib.

(2) How is it the Strib can be making inquiries on February 29 about a BCA report that isn't issued until March 1?

(3) How is it that when we reported arsenic at Holmann/Heritage Park, the Strib ignored us, and yet when a White neighborhood, Philips, discovers arsenic in a 30-block area, it made the Strib front page last week? The Strib talks the walk of community reporting, but doesn't walk the talk.

On Richard Clarke

Man of truth or man of falsehood? The debate rages on. Now Condoleezza Rice will talk. Although unusual, there is a precedent for her testimony—three have done so, including Carter's Zbigniew Brzezinski on allegations that Carter's brother Billy was unethically working for the Libyan government.

I support Clarke's urging that we declassify documents from before 9/11 and even after. What better way to demonstrate democracy to Iraq? Whether you believe in their method of liberating the enslaved Iraqis or not, Condi will show what Black brains can do.

On brainless racism

Former Green Bay Packer (there is a hint) Paul Hornung said last week that for Notre Dame to win it needs Black players, and to get them it needs to lower its academic standards, just showing how brainless racism is. The NCAA says Division 1-A schools' football teams are 43.8 percent Black. Notre Dame's is 55.2 percent Black. Could Paul get into Notre Dame today?

Posted 04-07-04

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

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

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