By Charles Hallman
The public has until March 14 to submit comments on the City of Minneapolis’ proposed “Vision, Values, Goals & Strategic Directions” plan. If adopted — the City Council hopes to vote on it March 26 — the proposal will emphasize such “values” as “equity, “engaging the community,” and “building public trust.”
The stated “goals” are expected to focus on economic needs; eliminating racial inequities in housing, education, income and health; and creating a “City government [that] runs well and connects to the community it serves.”
Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden said last month during a noontime community meeting that the plan fits in with the OUR MPLS vision and agenda, which includes a citywide racial and economic equity impact framework. Three public meetings were held around the city to inform citizens and hear comments, and according to a City official an estimated 70 persons showed up.
When later asked how many persons who attended were Black and other people of color, Deputy City Coordinator Jay Stroebel told the MSR that “the majority” of the estimated 20 people who attended a March 3 meeting
were of color. Councilman Abdi Warsame also announced that 22 seniors attended a March 4 meeting in his ward.
Last week’s public hearing, however, during the March 5 city council meeting at City Hall, was attended only by two local female residents. A Southside resident requested that youth violence-prevention programs be included in the goals. Roxxanne O’Brien of North Minneapolis then told the elected officials that she strongly questions whether the City proposal will seriously address the systemic racial problems that ail Minneapolis. Afterwards, O’Brien talked to the MSR.
“I like to use words that cause attention and make people uncomfortable. People are suffering in my community, [and] everybody’s tiptoeing and beating around the bush when we talk about racial disparities,” she said. “I think the problem is with the people with the power — the ones who make decisions. They are not uncomfortable. They don’t have to see what we see or feel what we feel.
“I think that sometimes that’s the reason why they don’t always make the best decisions, because they don’t have to see what we see,” said O’Brien, a community organizer. “I do my best to be as vocal as possible, to help them see how we see it and just hope that it makes some people uncomfortable enough to change it.”
O’Brien also said she was surprised that more people didn’t come and speak to the council members. She thought that perhaps others who might have attended instead participated in the “A Day of Equity” event being held at the State Capitol in St. Paul at the same time.
“I couldn’t be at both places,” she said. “I chose the city council [meeting because] I think it is important to move things locally. I do have faith that they [the council] will make a move” to put forward the City’s proposal.
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