Isaac Peterson

Recent Articles

Police violence against Blacks incites unrest nationwide

It has happened here. Could it happen again?  Police won’t say. News Analysis
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Last year, long before most people had heard of Ferguson, Missouri, the United States Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, in essence declaring that racism in the United States had ended. Fast-forward more than a year and Ferguson resembles nothing more than a warzone after the protests over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. Continue Reading →

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Reducing chemical emissions can benefit businesses in many ways

Matching grants are available to greatly reduce costs
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Last week we introduced MSR readers to environmental disparities affecting communities of color and how the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (or MnTAP, a program at the University of Minnesota) have teamed up to offer small businesses owned by people of color the means to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Because the cost of complying with new regulations to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could be prohibitive for many such businesses, a new grant program has been developed to assist them.  

To help businesses meet those skyrocketing costs and keep the companies in compliance with the expected upcoming regulations, the MPCA is offering matching grant funds up to $100,000. Reducing your VOCs can help your business save money because it reduces the amount of hazardous waste you need to dispose of and be permitted for, helps you use less chemicals in your operations, and gives you the ability to promote your green business to the local community. It also means less exposure and better health for workers and helps keep us within federal ozone standards. Continue Reading →

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Anti-poverty action plan drafted for Minnesota

Like-minded groups pool their efforts to advance economic mobility 
 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

The anti-poverty group A Minnesota Without Poverty joined with the Pew Charitable Trust to conduct a day-long workshop in early June that brought together like-minded organizations to devise solutions to end poverty in this state. The workshop, called “Economic Mobility: Moving Toward Enough For All,” featured speakers Nancy Maeker of A Minnesota Without Poverty and Erin Currier of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The workshop also included a panel consisting of Jessica Toft, associate professor at the University of St. Thomas; Ernesto Velez Bustos, executive director of Centro Campesino; Christianne Lind, program officer at the Northwest Area Foundation; Kevin Lindsey, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights; Carolyn Roby, Wells Fargo community relations senior vice president; and Erin Currier. Nancy Maeker explained the purpose of the workshop: “We have pulled together other organizations that are also working on some facet of the bi-partisan Legislative Commission to End Poverty recommendations. Continue Reading →

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Removing toxic chemicals from the environment requires new emission limits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The costs for small businesses to comply could be ‘enormous’
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Many people are talking lately about the numerous disparities in Minnesota between the White population and communities of color. People of color lose in every category. One little-noted area of disparity is environmental; people of color are exposed to more environmental pollution than their White counterparts. (The MSR has recently published the findings of scientific studies identifying these environmental disparities: “Race matters most in determining who breathes bad air,” May 8,  and “People of color most vulnerable to toxic chemical disasters,” May 15) . But while some are talking about the problem, others are doing something about it. Continue Reading →

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One desegregation lawsuit not enough

Minnesota’s about to be sued again for school segregation
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

In about 1995, Minneapolis attorney Daniel Shulman was lead counsel in the landmark Minnesota class action court case Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP, et al. v. State of Minnesota, et al., File No. MC 95-014800, Hennepin County District Court, Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota. The action was brought “for failure to provide an adequate education in Minneapolis public schools as required by the Minnesota State Constitution.”

Although the case resulted in a settlement in favor of the plaintiffs, Shulman, of the Minneapolis law firm Gray Plant Mooty, is instituting a new class action suit, about which he commented, “Essentially, you could say it’s the son of the previous case; it’s the same case. Of course, there will be different plaintiffs, but it will assert many of the same violations, because since the first suit, the situation has become worse than it ever was.”

Shulman explained the legal basis for the original case: “Under the United States Constitution, there is no right to an adequate education; the U.S. Supreme Court has said that. Continue Reading →

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Special Integration District school resists takeover attempt

Goal of ‘mitigating racial isolation’ in East Metro threatened by ‘school grab’
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributiong Writer

 

First of a two-part story
 
Parents and students in the United States scored a major victory 60 years ago in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, which decreed an end to school desegregation. More recently, Twin Cities parents and teachers scored another victory in a long and convoluted fight for school integration. That fight also is related to a lawsuit brought over school segregation. The roots of this most recent battle go back to a lawsuit filed in the mid-1990s by the NAACP and Minnesota attorney Daniel Shulman, which sought to end school segregation in Minnesota. The suit ended in a negotiated settlement that, among other things, resulted in the creation of the Choice is Yours Program, which allows students living in poverty to attend schools outside of their district. Continue Reading →

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State Services for the Blind reaches out to people of color

Local, national organizations help the vision-impaired maintain a rich life
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Over many years, studies have shown African Americans to be more prone to diabetes than Caucasians and to have a higher incidence of diabetes-related vision loss or impairment. The Minnesota State Services for the Blind, a relatively little-known State agency, can help people of color with vision loss or visual impairment, whether diabetes-related or from other causes. Says Lisa Larges, Services for the Blind Outreach Director, “My main goal is to connect with people who aren’t as likely to hear about what we can offer, like African Americans, people of African descent, immigrant communities, and other traditionally underserved areas of the state. There are a lot of people out there who could really benefit from what we can do for them, but they just don’t know about us.”

Larges explains that State Services for the Blind (SSB) can provide services in roughly three areas:

• They “provide access to print and alternative formats: audio and Braille”;

• They offer a “radio talking book service where we read newspapers, books, and magazines over the air on a closed circuit radio station or through a phone line”;

• They have a “vocational services unit that provides employment assistance to anyone who has visual impairment that makes it difficult to perform job functions or functions in daily life. They provide things like career planning and

assessment, help with finding a job, assistance with training, assistance with technology.”

Larges continues, “Once people have jobs, we work with employers to make sure that the work setting is accessible.”

SSB also has a senior services unit that Larges says works with more than senior citizens. Continue Reading →

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State senator gets serious about ending poverty in Minnesota

Sen. Marty to introduce an anti-poverty ‘Worker Dignity Bill’ in upcoming session
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Poverty in Minnesota has been the subject of much talk and some action. From 2008’s “Commission on Ending Poverty in Minnesota by 2020” to other currently ongoing groups and commissions, ending poverty in Minnesota remains a work in progress. Minnesota State Senator John Marty intends to be in the frontlines of the anti-poverty fight. Marty, a member of the legislative commission tasked with ending poverty in this state by 2020, notes that since the beginning of the commission, half the time — six years — to the stated target date to eliminate poverty has expired, with much work still needing to be done. “One of the things one of the groups within the commission came up with,” Marty said, “was that we have to invest more money in constructing more homeless shelters.”

While agreeing that homelessness is a serious problem, Marty insisted that “we’re supposed to be coming to an end of poverty. Continue Reading →

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United Nations treaty can help fight racial disparities in Minnesota

Local advocates join delegation to Geneva 
to encourage treaty enforcement
 

By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

 

In the mid-1960s, the U.N. proposed a treaty — the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination — that was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1994, to little or no fanfare. As the treaty’s name states, it is intended to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination worldwide. An international body convenes every few years in order to monitor the progress of each nation toward implementing the treaty and eliminating racism of all forms inside its borders. The next such meeting is scheduled for August of this year in Geneva. Minnesota will be represented. Continue Reading →

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Conference recruited fighters for War on Poverty

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Fifty years ago, in 1964, then-president Lyndon Johnson mobilized the resources of the U.S government to engage in his historic War on Poverty, saying, “The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”

Fifty years later, although there were some victories in the effort to end poverty, obviously much work remains before victory may be declared. To that end, on May 1 a coalition of Minnesota organizations banded together for the Minnesota Poverty Call to Action. The group was hosted by the Minnesota Community Action Partnership. Community Action Agencies were themselves created by a War on Poverty program. Continue Reading →

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