Vikings Stadium legislation called for an equity plan outlining Black participation in construction contracts and workers. Its absence is the story of continued injustice, discrimination, and official sneering at the idea of Black participation.
This major story of 2012-2013 will be a 2013-2014 albatross around the necks of the self-appointed and imaginary Twin Cities leaders and journalists who stand silent as the Equity Plan sinks in “best effort” cement boots to a lake bottom. In the People’s Stadium’s two big broken promises — equity plan and “no new taxes” — we see how the “rights culture” of the 1960s has continued too many aspects of the Democratic Party’s White rights Jim Crow culture in American cities, with the purposeful disobeying of the requirement to bring an Equity Plan for seating African Americans at the stadium construction economic table.
State legislature mandated an equity plan. City council promised it. Facilities Authority Commission admitted the lack of an equity plan with the Twins Stadium, saying that would not be repeated with the Vikings. Yet all three have let it die.
In a week’s time the Facilities Authority, according to their own press releases, will receive bids for the construction, management, and participation in the stadium, doing so without having given bidders equity-plan guidelines or direction. A $753 million contract to be signed January 25, 2013, without an equity plan is the same as posting signs: “Blacks need not apply.”
State Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey called for 32 percent participation. The issue is not about percentage, but about fairness. It’s as simple as that.
Both Black and White contractors have said there are few if any qualified stadium construction workers in the Twin Cities. Needed, therefore, is either a plan to train them now or a commitment that construction workers brought in from out of state will also include a fair number of qualified Black construction workers.
Realistic equity plans have been a running concern in this column since 2005. The continued silence and lack of public discussion is troubling.
The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights punted the equity plan to the Metropolitan Council. Who is working with Commissioner Lindsay? No one will say. Who will hold to the fire of equity plan accountability the feet of the construction manager, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Minnesota Sports facility?
Lindsay’s goals for inclusion of Africa Americans in the construction of the People’s Stadium are ambitious. Korbel’s are treacherous. The City’s duplicitous. What word will fit the governor and legislature?
All we see are “leaders” posturing as primetime players in meetings that give cover for the silence. Their concerns are for contracts for their organizations, not jobs for workers. At draft time, professional sports leagues like to say everybody is on the clock. And yet, so far, “everybody” is being defined as “White only.”
Is the silence because leadership agreed, in return for lining their personal pockets, to fight neither additional taxes nor excluding Blacks? Think about the timeline once again: Bids are to be received and opened by January 8, with the winning bid announced January 25, 2013.
December saw a surge of stories regarding how teams and their owners and political flunkies all have a “sports welfare” safety net, but not the tax payers nor for minority workers (see www.sportsonearth.com/article/40595178, December 12, 2012). Expect more delays in the stadium opening.
But there is still hope for change; the stadium legislation decree of an annual report to its Special Legislative Commission (12 members sitting as a kind of super-committee, serving as official hiring fiscal cliff monitors). Without an equity plan, a Black hiring safety net, Blacks again get plunged into the dark pit of noncompliance and noninvolvement. It is as simple as that.
So what will the Sports Facility Authority report to the legislative super committee regarding the legislative intent and expectation of Black participation in the construction of the People’s Stadium? Our final line of defense against exclusion is what our three Black representatives expect and will fight for in terms of full involvement of the African American community. It is now up to them.
Leadership has moved on to talking about light rail, another disaster, as they jump ahead to another project to keep meeting money flowing to them but not to workers. We still wait for one single public meeting regarding the future of the African American community in the construction of the People’s Stadium. Has the stadium already gone over the civil rights cliff?
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.