Isaac Peterson

Recent Articles

Gregory Gray reflects on a lifetime of public service

By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

 

“I think the one thing that links most of my career in public service has been some type of advocacy or support for communities of color and low-income communities,” says Gregory Gray, looking back at his many years of life and service in the public sector. Gray’s service has included stints with the Minneapolis Urban League, the Minnesota House Minority Caucus, Community Action of Minneapolis, and the Legislative Commission to End Poverty By 2020, as well as working with former Minnesota State Representative Neva Walker on immigration issues. Gray is currently serving as the chief compliance officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. At Human Services, Gray said, “I head up both the legal department — the internal audit department, our appeals area, our contracts and procurement department, the ethics office, the privacy office — and regulatory areas that hopefully keep the agency on the straight and narrow in terms of abiding by policies and procedures. “But at the same time, since I serve on the senior management team there, I get to have some influence over policy on those areas that I care about, whether it’s health care, issues relative to welfare, a variety of issues that still impact low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.”

One effort of which Gray appears to be particularly proud is the report issued by the Legislative Commission to End Poverty By 2020. Continue Reading →

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Dialogue now focused on how best to strengthen, not eliminate, state ethnic councils

No final decision expected until the 2014-15 legislative session
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

As previously reported in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the legislative audit of the Minnesota councils of color created quite a stir, containing criticisms of the councils as well as the governor’s office and the legislature for lack of oversight and guidance. The audit suggested four options for improving the operations and efficiency of the councils. One of the suggested options, placing the councils under the auspices of the State Department of Human Rights, seems to have attracted the most attention and the most support. Legislative Auditor James Nobles explained to us that the advantages of such a move would be that “You’re connected into the governor’s cabinet; the Commissioner of Human Rights is a member of the governor’s cabinet and formulates a policy and an agenda that the governor will get behind. And that’s pretty powerful… If you connect up with the governor and his agenda through the Commissioner of Human Rights, I think you’re going to get a little more power behind your message.”

Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Director Ed McDonald disagreed, saying among many other things, “I think that what that would do for the councils is move it into partisan swings. Continue Reading →

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‘Now is the time’ to diversify the MPD

 Veteran officers campaign to bring more women and people of color into the Mpls police force
 

By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

 

It is no secret that historically the relationship between the Minneapolis Police Department and communities of color in Minneapolis has been tense, at best. Between brutality, shootings, racial profiling and other problems, the tension has led to the creation of a civilian review board, and even at one point, to federal mediation. Yet the tensions continue. Minneapolis police officer Eric Lukes, a 27-year veteran of the force, is attempting to put into place a long-term solution to improve relations: recruiting more people of color to be on the Minneapolis police force. To that end, with support from the Minneapolis NAACP, Minneapolis Urban League, and the Community Standards Initiative, the first of an undetermined number of events was held Saturday, April 19, at North High school to generate interest in the community to join the force. Continue Reading →

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McDonald: Folding the Council on Black Minnesotans into the State Human Rights Department is a bad idea

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Last week, Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Directory Edward McDonald responded to an audit release by the Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) in March (See MSR April 17-23, “Director defends Council on Black Minnesotans: ‘We’re doing it’). Among the four recommendations the OAL offered to increase the effectiveness of the COBM was restructuring the council under the State Human Rights Department. This week, McDonald responds to this recommendation. “I think that what that [placing the councils under the Human Rights Department] would do for the council is move it into partisan swings. If there is a Republican governor, then the council more than likely will be supporting a Republican agenda. Continue Reading →

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Director defends Council on Black Minnesotans: ‘We’re doing it’

‘We’re growing our community. We’re determined.  We know we can do even more.’
 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

In March, the Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) released their audit of Minnesota’s four councils: the Councils on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Black Minnesotans, Chicano/Latino People, and Indian Affairs. Last week the MSR spoke in depth with Legislative Auditor James Noble about his report. “We laid out four options,” Nobles said, “but what we asked is, ‘What option is not just maintaining the status quo?’ Because we think that the voices of these communities need to be amplified and heard more.” The options:

 

1. Continue Reading →

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NAACP Labor Chair is ready to fight for jobs

She says no one would call her a ‘well behaved’ woman
The new faces of the Mpls NAACP: MSR’s story on the new officers of the Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP (“Minneapolis NAACP swears in new members,” Feb. 27) revealed among other things that women now constitute a majority of the new leadership. This week, meet Tee McClenty, head of the Branch’s new labor committee. 
 
 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Labor activist Tee McClenty, originally from Camden, New Jersey, has a long history of service and of representing labor interests. As she tells it, “I’ve been a labor activist for a very long time. I worked at a long-term care facility, where I was a union steward. Continue Reading →

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State auditor clarifies intent: Make ‘minority councils’ better, more effective

Legislature, governor’s office partly to blame for problems
 
Second  of a  three-part story

 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

In last week’s issue of the MSR, we detailed the points made by the Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA) in their annual audit of the four “minority councils” in Minnesota (See MSR April 3-9, “Audit questions need for Council on Black Minnesotans”). The report released last month, which was critical of the councils’ effectiveness, also included criticism of the governor’s office and the legislature which the councils report to. In response, Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Director Edward McDonald said the report “appears to be nothing more than a veiled attempt to stymie the Council on Black Minnesotans’ civic engagement and the promotion of strong human rights enforcement in Minnesota.” The MSR subsequently spoke with State Auditor James Nobles at length about the four options the report offered to restructure the councils, which are:

1. “Maintain the four councils, but clarify their primary purposes; require them to adopt strategic plans, develop policies and procedures, and work more substantively with state agencies; and encourage them to become more involved in the appointments process and better communicate with the public;

2. “Restructure the councils by placing them under the [State] Department of Human Rights and requiring them to adopt certain operational changes;

3. Continue Reading →

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Given much, foundation manager is passionate about giving back

By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

 

Tolá Oyewole is a self-described hard worker: “I am a hard worker almost to a fault,” she says. Over the years, many Twin Cities-area organizations and companies have benefited from Oyewole’s hard work. Currently she serves as the foundation and corporate giving director at Cargill. As such, she is the day-to-day manager for the Cargill Foundation in Cargill’s Minneapolis headquarters community. The Cargill Foundation provides local funding for education for children K-12 and for early childhood nutrition for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Continue Reading →

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NanoDay returns to Sabathani Community Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

On Saturday, April 5, the 3rd annual NanoDay event will return to the Sabathani Community Center.  

What is NanoDay? NanoDay brings together university researchers, science educators, and the public for an afternoon of learning, hands-on experiments and fun for both children and adults, all focused on exploring the world of atoms, molecules, and nanoscale forces. A range of Nano programs demonstrate the special and unexpected properties found at the nanoscale. Participants will be able to examine tools used by nanoscientists, showcase scientific advances using nanotechnology, and participate in discussions of technology and society. Continue Reading →

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Audit questions need for Council on Black Minnesotans

Council director calls the report ‘flawed,’ its recommendations ‘a disgrace’
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Earlier this month, Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released its annual audit of the four “minority councils” in Minnesota. These councils — identified by the OLA audit as the “Councils on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Black Minnesotans, Chicano/Latino People, and Indian Affairs” — were created between 1963 and 1985 by the State of Minnesota. They are, also according to the audit, “primarily charged with advising policy makers and serving as a liaison to state government.”

The audit report was somewhat critical of the councils. Following are conclusions from the audit of the councils:

• “Overall, there is little evidence that the state’s four minority councils have been effective advisors or liaisons to state policy makers

• “The councils have not been adequately integrated into state policy making

• Statutes set forth various duties [for] the councils…but the councils’ overall purposes are unclear

• “…the councils have done a poor job setting specific objectives and identifying outcome measures to assess the impact of their activities

• “There has been ‘little substantive collaboration among’ the councils

• “Communication between the councils and the organizations that work with their constituents has been inadequate”

The audit was also very careful to note that not all problems concerning the councils were with the councils themselves. The governor’s office and the legislature, under whose auspices the councils exist and operate, drew

criticism as well. Continue Reading →

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