A May 30 Star Tribune article, “Stenglein builds on strengths,” announced Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein becoming CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. (“…some 300 downtown businesses and large regional companies,” “movers and shakers,” with “a new plan for a vibrant and livable 24/7 downtown that can house double the 34,000 people who now live there.” It “will help forge public-private partnerships at a time of limited government funding.”)
Stenglein “has the reputation of seeing the importance of investing in the Black communities’ economic growth,” as seen in “his African-American Men Project, an effort to rethink county policy to get more young black men employed and out of trouble.”
Unfortunately, the documentation/statistics/lack of jobs shows good intentions were not met, as the African American community gained little financial stimulus. Recall the statement of former Minneapolis Civil Rights Department Director Michael Jordan, about five years ago, that Minneapolis can meet its diversity hiring goals without hiring a single Black person.
Reaction? None. Government and corporate Minneapolis silently endorsed a doctrine of intentional neglect of economic uplift for the African American community.
What now? There are four actors who will determine Minneapolis’ prosperity or decline: (1) the new Minnesota Sports Authority (the ”municipality within a municipality”); (2) the Minneapolis Downtown Business Council; (3) the city council and City departments (especially the Department of Civil Rights); and (4) the Vikings (top developers who are putting up half the stadium money).
These four will choose between community common purpose of inclusion and prosperity or community exclusion and continued decline. The future’s focal point: the new Vikings Stadium.
We congratulate the Wilf ownership group for exercising extreme patience rather than be intimidated to bolt to Los Angeles by those I listed in my 2003 and 2005 Roll Calls, who, since 1997, have advocated for the Vikings to leave.
We are heartened by reports that our Roll Call, our Chapter 15 on the Vikings in our 2002 book, and our columns and solution papers on the Vikings since, have helped influence fence-sitters in both legislature and city council to vote for the stadium deal.
So what’s next? The Stenglein piece notes “the nagging perception — true or not — that downtown, especially the Warehouse District, isn’t entirely safe.” The big task, Stenglein said, will be ”integrating residents into downtown.”
Over the Memorial Day weekend, a state of near emergency existed downtown. Groups fought. People were shot, stabbed and beaten. Police were almost overrun. White media didn’t tell you. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Police reports confirm what happened.
Question #1: Will Minneapolis repeat its 1960s civil uprisings that briefly caught the attention of Big Corporate in Minneapolis until they developed a plan to compromise and eliminate aggressive Black leadership so they could get back to their exclusion business as usual?
Question #2: Where did all of the financing go for training programs that were “going to get more Black men employed and out of trouble”?
Question #3: Where are the skilled workers these programs were supposed to produce?
Question #4: Why was there so little Black participation on the Twins and Gophers stadiums?
Question #5: Do Great White Dreamers realize that not allowing for Black dreams as well results in nightmares for both?
Question #6: When will silent Minneapolis media stop contributing to our decline by ending their cover-ups and propagandizing?
Question #7: Will the “Big 4” heed the diversity/inclusion vision of former Urban League and NAACP leader Nellie Stone Johnson: equal access and equal opportunity in education, jobs and housing for all, Blacks and Whites?
Since 2002, in my books, columns and papers, I’ve asked, “Where’s the Plan?” No plan equals no hiring equals more hopelessness among young Blacks. The October 2010 “Diversity Report” stated 2.54 percent availability of and .15 utilization of Black Americans. This is an indictment of the City and of training programs of OIC, the Urban League and others.
Diversity/inclusion is possible. I call on the “Big 4” to adopt the prosperity diversity/inclusion model of the Metrodome from 35 years ago. I worked with the head of the Metrodome construction project. He discovered that Minneapolis had a shortage of White skilled workers as well, so he arranged for skilled workers, White and Black, to be brought to Minnesota from around the country in order to complete the Metrodome project, meeting compliance requirements in doing so.
We wish you the best, Mark. We look forward to seeing how you “Big 4” get it turned around.
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 solution papers for community planning and development, “web log,” and archives at www.the minneapolisstory.com/tocar chives.htm.