James Nobles

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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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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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