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.
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. Columns are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.