Minneapolis Civil Rights Department

Recent Articles

MPD and MFD in trouble

Racial balance is being lost
The facts of the last 40 years reveal Minnesota is not, when it comes to African Americans, liberal and progressive. It is illiberal and regressive, openly and defiantly not complying with federal or local civil rights laws and rules, adopting purposeful amnesia to counter such inconvenient memories. • 1972: the federal court in the State of Minnesota, imposed sanctions on the Minneapolis Fire Department and the City of Minneapolis for such violations. • 1979: a request sent by this columnist, as chairman of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, to the federal court for a review of its 1972 decree. The court did so and imposed sanctions on the City of Minneapolis and its fire department, appointing a special federal oversight committee. Continue Reading →

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Velma Korbel must go!

Resignation must be submitted immediately
It is not often that a Minneapolis City Agency Department Director receives separate, negative stories in the Star Tribune on the same day, reporting incompetence and belligerent leadership. Velma Korbel accomplished this June 16, 2014. Star Tribune headlines:

• “Divisive Minneapolis civil rights official in hot seat again”

• “Korbel speech ‘magnified’ concerns about management style”

• “Report: Minority participation in Minneapolis contracts falling”

Compare those with the reporting in these selected MSR columns over the past five years:

• “Toxic and corrupt environment in civil rights department,” April 10, 2014

• “A reappointment that is a mistake: Velma Korbel to again head the Department of Civil Rights,” February 19, 2014

• “Justice for David Cornelius Smith: In spite of obstruction of justice from the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department,” June 5, 2013

• “Will Blacks finally get a fair share of work on this stadium? Chair of stadium authority raises serious questions about past inclusion,” February 20, 2013

• ”Minneapolis Continues its fairy tale of compliance. Only painful sanctions will make these tales come true,” December 15, 2010

Director Korbel does not meet the administration/management responsibilities entrusted to her office, nor does she follow the agency’s responsibility to fight discrimination and civil rights violations. Continue Reading →

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Toxic and corrupt environment in civil rights department

Retaliation continues in the department I now call the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Misconduct. Former employees of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department affirmed this in testifying to its “toxic” environment at the March 19 hearing on the reappointment of Velma Korbel to head the department. Among those testifying were Ms. Semone Desal and Ms. Kristin White. Ms. White testified that when she reported to human resources of the environment of corruption and cronyism inside the department, she was fired the next day. It is telling that the council votes were split, 9-3, to reappoint. Continue Reading →

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Nine hundred complaints disappear

Only 16 cases under investigation

The Police Misconduct Board operates under the custody and control of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. The Police Misconduct Board has hired a significant number of attorneys over the last year. They receive a nice stipend to review and make determinations regarding allegations of police misconduct. Observers as well as workers in City Hall want to know why, under Michael Brown, 900 police complaints, going back several years, have now been jettisoned with no more than 16 active investigations. Police officers call this “bait and switch” and unidentified “Xs and Os.”

Nine hundred complaints have been passed through a shredder. Continue Reading →

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Gary Cunningham gives back, as his uncle Moe taught him

The ‘one story’ of European colonialism informs his work
By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer


Minneapolis-native Gary Cunningham’s career has been long and varied, and his résumé reads like a “Who’s Who” of local government agencies and organizations. He has been involved with, at various times:

• NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in North Minneapolis, where he was CEO and director of primary care;

• Hennepin County as director of planning and development;

• Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, as associate collegiate program leader and research fellow;

• Minneapolis Public Schools as executive director of human resource services/acting operations administrator;

• Scott County as administrator and chief executive officer; and

• The African American Men Project as its director. Before all of that, Cunningham was raised by his uncle Moe, a community activist who Cunningham credits with giving him the guidance that blossomed into a career of service. “There was an expectation that you would use

your skills, talents and abilities to give back and contribute to the well-being of the community, particularly African Americans and other people of color,” Cunningham explained about his uncle. After graduating from Minneapolis’ Central High School, Cunningham became involved with the Community Gardens in South Minneapolis and then went on to run the Grand-Central Co-Op, a grocery store across the street from his old high school. Continue Reading →

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The challenges of meeting workforce hiring goals




Some companies seem surprised they are considered noncompliant


By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

First in an occasional series


Last week the MSR reported that the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department will now monthly post online all the projects they are currently monitoring and identify them as either meeting goals, not meeting goals, or too soon to tell. Based on current information, at least six of the 57 construction projects’ workforces the department is currently monitoring are not meeting their participation goals of 32 percent minority and six percent female workers. This week we attempted to contact three companies that fell short of both their female and minority hiring goals. Ice Cold Construction has three home construction projects underway totaling $583,854, all located on the same block in South Minneapolis. According to the City, all three jobs are not meeting minority or female workforce goals. Continue Reading →

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Equity director hired for Vikings stadium project

For communities of color, he is now the most significant player

Congratulations to Alex Tittle on being appointed equity director for the Vikings stadium by the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA), as announced Friday, June 14. Welcome, Mr. Tittle, to an historic task. A nine-year Army veteran (company commander and platoon leader) and interim director of the Office of Civil Rights, MN Department of Transportation, Mr. Tittle, will now be the most significant player on the Minnesota civil rights stage. I urge Mr. Tittle to read the results of my research as reported in this paper regarding the lack of diversity, equity and fairness in Minneapolis and Minnesota hiring (archived on my website). I urge Mr. Tittle to hold hearings, as authorized by the stadium legislation, in order for all to see whether plans submitted regarding equity commitment execution are actually followed. Continue Reading →

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Minneapolis Civil Rights to post monitored construction projects online


Public now privy to who is meeting workforce goals and who is not
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer



The Minneapolis Civil Rights Department has made public the monitoring list of city-based construction projects. City of Minneapolis workforce goals are 32 percent minority and six percent female. “We will publish it monthly” on the department’s website, announced City Assistant Contract Compliance Director Michael McHugh last week of the 57 projects currently being monitoring for people of color and female workers. “It is to make sure

that the contractors who are doing work with the City are being accountable to meet the participation goal that’s set for them.”

Each project is graded using three grades: meeting committed goals (M), not meeting goals (NM), and too new to grade (TN). “At the beginning of the project [and] before they actually start work on the project, they state to us what they are going to perform as far as their [workforce] participation goals,” continued McHugh. Continue Reading →

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City confirms ballpark ‘minority’ hiring goals met



But participation by Black workers remains unverified 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


This story was originally printed in the June 10, 2010 edition of the MSR regarding the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department’s inability to report Black inclusion on the construction of the Twins stadium because the department does not — neither at the time this story was printed nor currently — specify any worker breakdown by ethnicity.  

In a story published last January 14 [2009 “Stadium’s construction workforces mostly White — but less so than usual”], the MSR provided workforce hiring diversity data released by the Twins stadium project’s general contractor…

[Minneapolis Civil Rights Director Velma] Korbel confirmed last week that the Minnesota Ballpark Authority (MBA) met its hiring goals: participation of over 25 percent persons of color and around six percent women on the Twins stadium project. Her department has approved the Authority’s supplied workforce data…

However, the MBA website provides only aggregate numbers for a “minority labor force” with no indication of how many African Americans were part of this workforce. Since it appears that the Civil Rights Department did not have access to data that would enable verification of African American participation, there is no way to document how many, if any, Black workers participated in the construction project. Why did the monitoring have to be done through a special contract that prohibits making the results public without the Ballpark Authority’s consent? Continue Reading →

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Vikings stadium officials promise 32 percent diversity hiring!

But no one seems to have a copy of the equity plan 


At a small, special meeting I attended at the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) Wednesday, October 10 that included MSFA Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and Executive Director Ted Mondale, we discussed the so-far nonexistent equity plan for the Vikings stadium that would include African American contractors and workers. The Met Council people present said there was one, online. We noted that is just not true. During the meeting we were told that 32 percent of the hours in stadium construction in the eventual plan will go to minorities and women. Really? Continue Reading →

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