The Minneapolis Story Home Page

The Experience of Ron Edwards

A Renaissance Black Man in a White Man's World

A Beacon for Freedom in the City

2004 Columns
Quarter 3: July thru September ~ Columns #13 - #19

Home | 2004 Columns » | All Columns » | 2004 Blogs »
« Previous Quarter | Next Quarter »

September 23, 2004 Column #19: A new toughness in the Civil Rights Department As a result, forces of reversal spring into action

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

In the September 9 edition of this newspaper, Isaac Peterson III authored a front-page story about Jayne Khalifa, the new director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department ("Mpls Civil Rights charts new course"), and Pauline Thomas followed with a column on the community support Ms. Khalifa needs (September 16).

Ms. Thomas' comments were on point and timely. Here is why. Prior to her appointment on July 1, 2004, we all wondered if Ms. Khalifa possessed the toughness to do battle with the barracudas that swim city hall's corridors of power, barracudas that leave in their wake the bones of past directors. We wonder no more.

We are pleasantly surprised by the aggressiveness and vision of Ms. Khalifa, tough yet gracious, tough yet diplomatic. This has caused the forces of reversal and nullification to spring into action.

The first force of reversal and nullification to act is the Minneapolis Charter Commission, which will be holding a public hearing on September 29 to consider significant changes to the charter, changes that would forever eliminate the effectiveness of the Civil Rights Department and, thus, the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission.

Not since the days of the late Ike Watkins (who, as chairman of the Charter Commission, stopped all attempts to circumvent and to water down the civil rights ordinances) have we had such a bold play as the one being advanced by the Charter Commission. Part of this is because we have not had a sentinel to watch over the Charter Commission since the death of Mr. Watkins a couple of years ago.

A second force of reversal and nullification is seen in the defiance of both the board and the staff of the Civilian Review Authority, who don't want to recognize the authority of Ms. Khalifa. Once it appeared that she could not be compromised nor intimidated, a coalition of these forces of reversal and nullification came together to undermine her position and, by extension, further fracture the civil rights ordinance and, therefore, the civil rights of the citizens.

This raises serious questions about (1) the timing of the Charter Commission's interest, (2) the lack of a well-publicized notice of the upcoming public hearing of September 29, and (3) the defiance of the Civilian Review Authority to recognize and respect the office of the director of the Civil Rights Department.

This is not hearsay. We were present during the public hearings of 2002 regarding the authority and supervision of the office of the director over the civilian review board operations, including its staff. Now that they see that Ms. Khalifa cannot be compromised, they refuse to recognize and respect her authority. As we pull these covers back, we see again the business-as-usual plantation politics. Stay tuned.

We've been Scrooged
The decision by the Target Corporation to eliminate the Salvation Army bell ringers during the Christmas holidays, as reported in the Minneapolis and St. Paul major newspapers a week ago, really makes one wonder about the Dayton family's vaunted commitment to humanity and caring.

Has the new generation of the Dayton family become so mean and uncaring and not needlessly "politically correct" that they are willing to stand by and say nothing as a proud family heritage of five percent is turned into that of Scrooge's zero percent, as Target humbugs the small charitable giving contributions that provide a significant amount of caring in our community?

Has the Salvation Army's ringing of the bell and receiving a dime here and a dollar there so punctured and disturbed the profits of a once-great corporation that they do this to ring the bells of Wall Street? Why does Target cower before the Salvation Army's ringing bells? Are church bells in neighborhoods that have Target stores next?

As this column has pointed out before, Target has not minded ringing its own bell for gifts and contributions from the City. And they really rang the gift bell with their downtown HQ and store. They didn't mind silencing the bells of North

Minneapolis, pulling their store out and going back on their promise of giving back to the community that had and continues to give so much to it.

We had high expectations of the spirit of giving and truth. Target has Scrooged us, just as they Scrooged Detroit, pocketing the tax write-offs made up by us shopper taxpayers.

So now it is time to Scrooge them. We won't be Christmas shopping this year at any Scrugett. We'll look for stores to shop in where bell ringers still ring for caring and humanity.

Congrats in order
Congratulations to Valerie Wurster, who just became the first African American woman to become Minneapolis Deputy Chief of Police, and to Medaria Arrandondo for his promotion to inspector.

Posted 09-23-04

September 9, 2004 Column #18: The betrayal of a trust, the fracturing of an institution

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

On August 18, 2004, at 9:15 am and 9:17 am, Brett Buckner, president of the Minneapolis Branch NAACP, created one of the most embarrassing moments of the appellate and supreme courts of the State of Minnesota by sending out emails from the court's office about cases pending before the courts.

Working with Sandra Miller, the judicial administrative assistant for the chief judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Mr. Buckner and Ms. Miller disseminated a very well-crafted plan to harass and ultimately force out their opposition. In the 9:17 am email, Mr. Buckner calls for forcing out the NAACP appointed branch administrator, Mr. Carl Breeding. Mr. Breeding has been under intense attack by Mr. Buckner; by Rev. Gill Ford, NAACP regional administrator; and even by some members of the national NAACP board of directors. Could our local branch and national NAACP be more out of touch with reality?

In the 9:15 am email, Mr. Buckner calls for the removal of 26 members of the local NAACP for having filed a lawsuit against the branch regarding the 2002 elections. One of the individuals identified in the email who has played a role in the ongoing cover-up of the local chapter's affairs was Claudel Washington, NAACP State Conference president, Minnesota-Dakota Branch, located in Duluth.

Although Mr. Buckner has been asked to step down, he resists doing so. Although a financial audit (which for four years we have called for) is supposed to take place, will it? We don't understand why Mr. Breeding will be removed by the end of October, as problems obviously still exist.

The current negotiations with the state of Minnesota and the federal government in regards to the program known as the Parent Information Centers, which are under the custody and control of the Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP, strikes us as negotiating with the fox guarding the hen house after he has already dined on the hens.

Truly sad, disturbing and offending is the direct interference by the local branch of the NAACP in the trial of Alfred Flowers before the Supreme Court (see story in the 9/2/04 Star Tribune). Mr. Flowers and his attorneys have filed a petition for writ of supervisory control because of the interference in the judiciary process by the NAACP.

The NAACP would deny Mr. Flowers and his sister a fair trial in a Minnesota state court. In a document filed August 25, 2004, Mr. Flowers gives a chilling narrative of the judiciary interference and obstruction by Mr. Buckner and the NAACP. They have also interfered in a second legal matter that is pending in the Hennepin County District Court before Judge Kathleen Anderson.

The NAACP's ability to compromise high-ranking judiciary offices and prestigious law firms represents a serious betrayal and fracturing of an institution known as the courts and a doctrine known as justice free from interference and obstruction. Why do the NAACP officers act as gods on Mt. Olympus, able to do whatever they want, including betraying the trust placed in them and fracturing the institutions of justice?

The NAACP and Danny Glover
When will the Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP pay the $4,550.15 that is owed Mr. Glover and Felix Justice, who were the keynote speakers in November of last year?

Minneapolis city government grinds to a halt
Back in March of 2003, The Minneapolis City Council passed an ordinance embracing a Code of Ethics and an Ethics Board. A year and a half later, the Ethics Board, and by extension the ordinance, still have not been activated.
In a meeting on August 31, 2004, the three-member board was still talking about how to get started. Note that during public testimony of January, February and March, 2003, the appeal was made to have some racial balance on this ethics board. The appointing authority (the chief judge of Hennepin County District Court, the dean of the Minnesota Law School, and the dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Law) allegedly used the City's open appointment process.
You guessed it: no person of color. White board, taking care of White folks' business. City council and the mayor asleep at the switch. Business as usual. Ethics of show, not substance.

Note our call for ethics as one of the seven in our "7 Solutions" paper for the problems of Minneapolis on our website.

Vikings update
In four days, the Minnesota Vikings, under Red McCombs and Mike Tice, will be shooting out of the tunnel for another season of Vikings football. The propagandists for the local newspapers say the Vikings will be 14-2 and will win the conference, division and Super Bowl titles. We'd like to know how the negotiations are going for the selling the team.

Posted 09-09-04

August 26, 2004 Column #17: Man the lifeboats! Minneapolis vessels hitting icebergs and sinking all around us. Examples: The USS Heritage Park (Hollman) and the USS Pioneer Press: Images of the Titanic.

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

This is our tenth column on Hollman/Heritage Park since April 9, 2003. We want the USS Heritage Park to sail, not sink. Yet, on July 8, 2004, the executive committee of Minneapolis' Empowerment Zone, guardians of the treasury, seeming cousins to the Count of Monte Crisco, attempted to upright, without pubic review, the Heritage Park project.

On page one of the confidential Empowerment Zone Executive Committee report, made around 7:35 am on July 8, the staff recommended that $2.9 million in FY2000 state bond funding be allocated to McCormick Baron, of St. Louis, the developer of Heritage Park, to close the "significant gap in funding for infrastructure at Heritage Park."

A Hennepin County District Court ruling in the matter of the Reichold Property ends bond funding in December of 2004. The money must be moved to McCormack Baron to keep Heritage Park from sinking.

The recommendation from the staff was that "by reallocating the full amount," it would give Heritage Park the ability to spend all of the funding this year. With great naiveté, the report says the following: "We would look to future legislative sessions to secure additional bond funding for SEMI [a tax incentive district of the city], when the timing is appropriate," as if the legislature would do so. This shows they believe "the fix" is in, even though our judgment is that the legislature is not going to raise their sinking boat.

Rumors are sweeping through city call about Ken Havey, executive director of the Empowerment Zone, who will be bailing out (oops, resigning) in October. Another rumor is that Lee Pao Xiong, project manager of Heritage Park, will be departing before the end of the calendar year. Resigning? Or ousted? What are the icebergs ahead?

Another looming iceberg is the lack of enough funds for Heritage Park environmental cleanup, specifically on the south side of Olson Highway. How can this be when we reported last year from official documents that over $6 million had been spent on environmental cleanup? How can this be after the glowing City Pages August 4 cover story on the heaven they see in Heritage Park?

How could there still be the need for environmental cleanup? What did City Pages miss about Mr. Havey and Mr. Lee Xiong? It seems in this corner as if someone said after that July 8 executive committee meeting, "Let's do damage control." Is this a new name for "new job" lifeboats?

Journalism in jeopardy

How is Charley Walters, St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch sports columnist, able to continue to raise the bar on being stupid and mean-spirited? In his August 15 column, he wrote, "You've got to wonder how long it will take Arizona Cardinals Coach Denny Green to negatively affect the personality of nice-guy rookie receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., of Minneapolis."

Are you as offended as I am? Can you imagine how offended Mr. Fitzgerald's father, a long-time reporter and sports columnist for this paper, must be by this blatant and malicious attempt by this core of Pioneer Press bigots (Mr. Walters and his editors) to try to sink Larry, Jr.?

Why do they think they can malign and create division among African Americans, particularly between generations, and especially in the world of sports? We all know Larry, Jr. was a ball boy for years with the Vikings under Coach Green. Who of us fathers wouldn't want our sons to have that experience under Coach Green?

Mr. Walters has shown the level of racial bias that a columnist and his editors in this town will stoop to in order to deliver the philosophy and doctrine of the late great American segregationist, Senator Bilbo of Mississippi.

Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. is a far superior sportswriter and columnist than Mr. Walters, by any objective standards. The mini-minded-mini-men-of-mini-ville still rule the Pioneer Press.

In his autobiography out this month, Robert Smith writes glowingly about Coach Green. And Daunte Culpepper was quoted speaking very positively about Coach Green before their game Saturday. The Titanic of hate and racism that allows such scurrilous nonsense to be published has not yet sunk. We can only hope they find the iceberg with their name on it. Their racism and hatred deserve an early and watery grave.

We continue to haunt
The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes continues to sail on, through the frosty icebergs of Minnesota and our leading Twin Cities papers, which continue to ignore the book.

We called it in terms of education (public schools sinking minority students), housing (Hollman/Heritage Park), jobs (Blacks can be put in jail but won't be hired to build them), and public safety (shootings, federal mediation, the attacks on Chief McManus), etc. We have outlined solutions for these areas in our book and on our website that they ignore.
We sail. They sink. As the '60s song says, "When will they ever learn?" Aren't they tired of sinking?

Posted 08-26-04

August 13, 2004 Column #16: MPD Chief unfairly targeted by Star Tribune

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

In a previous column, we touched on what we see as a war against Minneapolis Police Chief William McManus by the Star Tribune. You've not seen any mention of this in the Star Tribune because it is too embarrassing for them. Their city hall beat reporter, Rochelle Olsen, and her editors at that once-great newspaper know what we are talking about.
Whereas the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder has been doing a series of fair and impartial stories on Chief McManus, the Star Tribune posits very ugly dispositions against the chief, with outrageous personal and mean-spirited rumors and innuendoes masquerading as "journalism."

When legitimate reasons delayed the chief from getting his Minnesota police license (there is no time limit), the Star Tribune and TV station KMSP, Channel 9, reported an unwarranted red herring as fact. Yellow journalism became the order of the day for them, not the ethical code of fair and impartial journalism. Encouraging people to advance a lie raises serious questions about the integrity of this once-great paper.

The Star Tribune's parent company sent a University of Kansas journalism professor two years ago to be a summer intern at the Star Tribune His real job? To review and evaluate the newspaper's standards. He reported his findings and made his recommendations to the parent company, findings that were part of why a sports reporter was jettisoned a couple of months ago (for attempting to slander Dennis Green during his interview process earlier this year with the Arizona Cardinals, of which he is now the head football coach).

Let's be blunt: What reason could there be for the continued attacks on Chief McManus other than the relationships he is building with communities of color? Rather than say outright that this is not the right relationship for a White Chief to have with Black folks, the Star Tribune pushed a lie that the chief is a man who abuses relationships, doesn't communicate well, and spends too much time with the field hands.

This is not practicing good, unbiased, honest journalism.

Paradise Found and Lost?

City Pages August 8, 2004 cover story: "Surprise: Heritage Park Is Not Hell on Earth," by Jennifer Vogel. With a drawing of a heavenly city in the clouds, the story then takes us on "A tour of Minneapolis's newest and most rigorously engineered neighborhood."

Paradise is found for City Pages (they have a wonderful front page story, despite the negatives accompanying the positives). Paradise for McCormack Baron (as the cost overruns continue, their cash flow goes up). Paradise for city planners (it has been their annuity for over a decade).

Paradise is lost for "the people." Dispersed original residents not allowed back: paradise lost. Dispersed original residents who can't afford the asking price: paradise lost. Taxpayers who paid an enormous amount of money to "engineer" this paradise: lost. Residents, when the ghosts of the industrial past come to haunt the post-industrial future: paradise lost. Taxpayers, if the bonds don't hold: lost again.

If ignorance is bliss, bliss has descended on Hollman/Heritage Park, where the planners followed their bliss. See the story online at

City Pages reported that the water is not drinkable. But, would Vogel allow children to play in the water? She reports that the ground is still settling and some walls have cracks as a result. But she left out inconvenient facts.
Fact: It doesn't report the airborne lead poisoning of the baby it wrote about last year with whom a settlement is being negotiated. Fact: the black sludge (we have pictures) was not from wood chips, but from the sidewalk and the ponds. Fact: The woodchips were in the tot lot. Fact: There was no windstorm that blew off siding. Fact: Lots of contamination was hauled out after we broke the story.

Vogel calls Hollman/Heritage Park the most "rigorously engineered neighborhood." She says the poor people (code word for Blacks) used to be told, "Don't go anywhere, especially not downtown." Fact: Jim Crow was a bigger "engineer" of housing. Fact: Redlining Black neighborhoods to prevent loans was engineering. Fact: Recent gerrymandering of wards is bigger engineering.

Fact: Minneapolis' plantation system still works—White jobs on Black backs. (Skyway News reported a McKinsey study showing the City spent nearly $1 billion in planning to get 52 units. Some say it was several hundred units; still, for $1 billion? See

Question: Is Vogel following the new trend reported July 31 in the L.A. Times, "Reviving Urban Brownfields" ( to "make it easier to build on California's estimated 100,000 contaminated industrial and commercial properties,…most in heavily developed, rundown neighborhoods"?

The desire not "to punish builders for the environmental sins of their predecessors" is laudatory. Yet California, like Minneapolis, is willing to build over "tainted underground water as long as that water is not used for drinking."
But will they let their kids play in it?

Posted 08-13-04

July 29, 2004 Column #15: All-White 9/11 Commission left a lot unanswered. A Nation Guarded or Unguarded?

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

Millions of Americans waited with great anticipation for the report of the commission on the tragedy of 9/11/01 (which follows the 2003 report of the joint inquiry of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and last month's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report).

But this is not a game of committees. The attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Iran, the Beirut barracks, the Khobar Towers, the USS Cole, and the World Trade Center (1994 and 9/11/01) all give stark testimony to the war on terror confronting us. Those are external threats. We are also concerned about the internal threats by these same legislative bodies on the inner cities. Will these now be joined?

What the 9/11 Commission report said and what the report didn't say will be debated for years. Clearly, decisions were made to place no blame on either the Clinton or Bush administrations. It is as if, by and large, this tragedy that befell America was hatched in a hotel room in Singapore by some baggy-pants men and succeeded because an FBI agent in Phoenix, an FBI agent in Minneapolis, and some other low-level bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., didn't get it right, resulting in the laundry list of attacks above.

It is interesting how the blame is always structural, organizational, and not with the leaders of these structures and organizations. That is a lot to ask. Voters will answer in November. (Or not, if either conspiracy theorists or a Homeland Security-Justice Department memo discussing cancellation of elections in the event of a terrorist attack are correct. All seem to expect a terrorist attack; by whom is not as certain.)

The 9/11 Commission report calls for many things, including a mega national counterterrorism center and the creation of a new Intelligence Czar, as if we don't have enough. The proposed czar (also called for in previous intelligence commissions and task forces that went by such names as Church, Bremmer, Hart-Rudman and Gilmore) would oversee the entire intelligence apparatus of 15 separate federal agencies. Isn't that what Homeland Security is for? Would this mean two czars?

Among the proposals that make us uneasy is that if you put the CIA and the FBI, the NSA, and the other 12 agencies all together, it means all would be involved in both international and domestic intelligence gathering. What about the charter of the CIA prohibiting it from spying on U.S. citizens inside the borders of America?

And, for African Americans who served in the great civil rights battles of the 1960s and who followed closely the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, we know that America's intelligence apparatus already operates both within and outside the borders of this great nation. Just a thought, if you will. Read the full report at

Read the 31-page executive summary at

So the game has begun. The game has been fixed. Or has it? Does it make a difference? The distinguished panel, comprised of members from both political parties, had no members of color. It was made clear that Americans of color, be they Black or Hispanic or Asian, etc., were not deemed intelligent enough, savvy enough, keen enough, versatile enough, or knowledgeable enough to serve on a panel of such distinction.

Let's hope these Whites don't think of White security as important and Black security as not important. This is something that should worry those of us who make up the colored part of the nation. But then maybe the panel was just business as usual and, as they say on the plantation, "no need for you to get in the middle of boss's business."

Time to repudiate Kerner

The deterioration of our inner cities follows government policy framed in the liberal 1968 Kerner Commission Report that stated African Americans are different from others and that we can't make it on our own, and thus must be taken care of by the state (on the inner-city plantation). If we can't make it, why bother with good education, jobs, housing, or public safety?

Will part of Homeland Security be to protect us from terrorists, or to protect Whites from their imagined negative fantasies about us? It is long past time for the Democrats and Republicans to repudiate Kerner. Will they?

Faith-based and the election

It appears there will be a lot of emphasis by the Bush administration on the Black church and the political arena, as we have discussed in previous columns. Look at the significant number of African Americans who have now moved into ministry.

Understanding the protocol of faith-based funding, we recognize that for those who embrace religion, their next step will be to embrace the windfall—that means dollars—that will be forthcoming to those who champion the "right" cause for whatever current administration is in power.

Posted 07-29-04

July 15, 2004 Column #14: The “$300,000 From Target” One Year Anniversary: How We Doing?

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

It was just a year ago that much discussion took place with respect to the announced closing of the Target store at Lyndale and Broadway and the loss of jobs that went with the closing (see our column of June 18, 2003). Over a period of weeks, discussions and negotiations took place between a coalition of Black leaders and the corporate leadership of Target Corporation. Near the end of 2003, it was quietly announced that Target was going to donate $300,000 to a group for the purpose of planning for the area understood by all parties as West Broadway, with the priority being development leading to new jobs. That was then.

This is now: we were rather taken back in the last ten days when we heard from reliable sources that the $300,000 given to support developing the plan for the area had not been spent. It is now a year later. The longer the City planners plan the longer they get paid. The longer they take the longer inner city residents wait for the jobs that are to come. The only plan we have heard is of the various “leaders” stating their entitlement to a “share” of the $300,000, as they claim entitlement to $100,000 here and $10,000 there and $20,000 over there. Can someone please clarify? It is kind of like the question in the film “A Few Good Men”: what is the truth? Is there an answer we’ll hear anytime soon? Don’t people understand that we can handle the truth?

The future of nursing homes in the inner city.

Many of us were drawn to the story in the July 8th edition of the Star Tribune on the disastrous plight of Concordia Care Center of Minneapolis and the filing of 11 criminal negligence charges against Concordia by the Minneapolis City Attorney. Some have watched in horror at the battle between Attorney General Mike Hatch and the Minnesota Department of Corrections over the assigning of individuals from the corrections system into our nursing homes, primarily in inner city nursing homes of people of color and the danger that now exists for those citizens least able to protect themselves. As the bureaucrats fiddle our people are people are stuck with riddles: why isn’t there more concern and aggressiveness by our elected officials? Why is it that all that seems to count is not our elderly of color but the turf battle between the Attorney General and the Department of Corrections? These elderly are being used as disposable pawns. In this story it is the bureaus that count, not a nursing home for elderly people of color. And in their righteous battle, the Attorney General and Department of Corrections will cause the nursing home’s closing and the loss of all of the jobs there as well, displacing both the elderly and the people of color caring for them. A double whammy. Isn’t this another negative economic downturn obtained by causing the loss so many jobs primarily filled by residents of color of the inner city?

Update Kingdome Oil and Faith Based Management.

Are you as fascinated as we are by the faith-based protocol that has quietly been put in place and bankrolled by Kingdom Oil, and where, for some time now, Hamline University in St. Paul has been offering a four to six week course on faith based management, proposal writing, and issues identification? We don’t know the issues? Are the Republicans copying the Democrats? The liberal Kerner Commission Report in 1968, on which most inner city policy is based, says we descendents of slaves aren’t like other “immigrants”, can’t make it on our own, and need to be taken care of by the government (hence my phrase about Minneapolis: “Life on the Mississippi’s Grandest Liberal Plantation”). Now we have the conservatives essentially saying the same thing, that if only African Americans were just a little better educated, just a little bit more astute, and a just a tad more knowledgeable about proposal writing, we would have probably received our fair share. All you have to do is go back to school, understand what side of the issues you should be on (the side of the party providing the funding), don’t rock the boat nor bite the hand that will feed you (the party “feeding” you), and vote the right way (for the party that provides you some money). The Republicans have learned well from the Democrats. With Republicans and Democrats, all you gotta have is faith.

We, on the other and, have faith in the people. We have identified the issues. We have proposed solutions for how to close the gaps in education, jobs, housing etc, in the “Solution Papers” section of web page (see especially #22,“Seven Themes, Seven Problems, Seven Solutions”) and #23 (“The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit At Together”). In these you can surely place your faith.

Posted 07-15-04, 11:59 p.m.

July 1, 2004 Column #13: Election 2004: The Control of the Black Vote. A bigger version of Florida?

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

The concern expressed in the American media during election year 2000 about “faith based” community social programs funded by the federal government is a concerg again. Many are not aware of the extent and power of these Texas programs brought to the Federal Government by George W. Bush.

We remember the Chief Liaison of the faith based programs, the charismatic Rev. Blair, who spoke here in April and July 2001 (21 States have Liaisons or Offices for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives), including his dynamic presentation to over 250 participants at a Humphrey Institute meeting on the campus of the University of Minnesota. A couple of weeks ago we learned that that the federal faith-based folks held a dynamic two and half day event in the Western suburbs of Chanhassen (the next one is in Boston, July 8), at which there was much discussion about the importance and revitalization of the Black church (why in a Western suburb and why didn’t more community activists know about it?).

When we check the White House web site,, we read this: The goal of The White House Office and the Centers for the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is “to make sure that grassroots leaders can compete on an equal footing for federal dollars, receive greater private support, and face fewer bureaucratic barriers.” Key focus areas: “At-risk youth, Ex-offenders, Homeless, Hungry, Substance abusers, Those with HIV/AIDS, Welfare-to-work families” It is fair to ask: is this the Republican inner city plantation version of the Democrat’s inner city plantation approach?

Our only concerns are that it indeed be a level playing field, not only in terms of Whites and non-Whites but also in terms of the “favored” political party in the Black community and those “not favored,” and that it involve church and state and avoid church or state.

At Chanhassen, an entity calling itself Kingdom Oil provided not only guidance and vision to the 55 – 60 ecumenical Black community ministers summoned to this meeting, it also paid the $500 fee for each of them. So what is the new vision and new sense of direction being shaped for the African American community? Why are the Minnesota Council of Churches and Bethel College (a very conservative religious college) guaranteeing the conference with Kingdom Oil and playing such prominent roles?

We understand that the dynamic leadership of Mr. Jay Bennett, Kingdom Oil’s Chairman and CEO, and the Rev. Richard Coleman, Kingdom Oil’s Chief Operations Officer, is bringing a significant vision for a new Black church and a new direction, politically and otherwise, for Black Americans in the inner cities. Kingdom Oil’s board is diverse (White, Asian, Hispanic, African Americans). But it is the vision for the future of Mr. Jay Bennett that certainly drives and governs the strategy and the philosophy of Kingdom Oil.

Is this the Republican version of the Democrat way of causing us to lose focus with respect to the issues of the day? Is the Democratic inner city trough being replaced by a Republican inner city trough?
In terms of Election 2004, we are offering no position in terms of either Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush. We think they have both been a disaster in terms of communities of color. But, like many, we hope for more detailed descriptions of what to expect as we move toward Elections 2004 and beyond.

The faith based program is widespread throughout the Federal Government in these seven agencies: Departments of Education, Labor, Housing & Urban Development, Agriculture, Health &Human Services, Justice, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. I offer, as a layman, the seven areas of concern in The Minneapolis Story: education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing, and ethics. These seven areas, as covered in the book and in our two solution papers on these seven issues at more than provides what ought to be done. Why do the Democrats and the Republicans, the NAACP and Urban League, Federal secular and Federal faith based, Black churches and White churches, Star Tribune and Insight, continue to ignore these proposals? Is it because they are community based and not based on having to be paid off first? Is “faith-based” an attempt to turn the Democratic Black Church into the Republican Black Church, with the same folks getting payoffs? Democrats have used inner city programs to control Black votes. Are the Republicans now attempting the same thing with their faith based management programs to control the agendas and issues facing our inner city communities? Let both parties compete for our votes in these seven areas.

The revitalization along with a sense of a new Black church serving Black America, as discussed at this two and a half day retreat, is something that appeals to all African-Americans as it pertains to the important role of the Black church, through love and service, to give guidance and vision to the salvation of Black America.

Heritage Park: Are the reports true that we have lost 15 units on the South side of Olson Highway because of environmental contamination?

Posted 07-01-04

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.

« Previous Quarter | Next Quarter »
Home | 2004 Columns » | All Columns » | 2004 Blogs »