Mpls proposes ordinance amendment redefining ‘small’ minority businesses

Through My Eyes
The Minneapolis Story Continues…
Ron Edwards

This column provides an example of what Justice Louis Brandeis called “great unfairness” to the public: “Many bills pass in our legislatures which would not have become law if the public interest had been fairly represented.”

A recent City of Minneapolis document includes the agenda item “Timeline for SUBP [Small and Underutilized Business Program] Ordinance Amendment” for its February 24, 2011 meeting to discuss how to continue legally discriminating against communities of color by providing a sub-part ordinance amendment to “13CFR, Part 121 of the Minnesota Department of Administration Business Standard” (Title 13, Code of Federal Regulations. Part 121: “Small Business Size Regulations”).

This provision defines what size qualifies as a “small business” in terms of MBE (Minority Business Enterprise), WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise), or DBEP (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program). I encourage readers to go on line to take a look at the Minneapolis statutes ( to examine the recommendations of the Disparity Study Report of October 21-22, 2010 (see my columns of November 17 and 24 and December 15, 22 and 29, 2010).

The city takes its “size” limit criteria from the Metropolitan Council’s limit on minority participation in light rail — less than $750,000 personal net worth. This provides a clearer understanding on why there will be no meaningful or honest or transparent discussion in regards to the continued legal economic rape of the African American community.

The goal is to narrow minorities to “disadvantaged” minorities, where the qualifications for procurement and contract award is having a net worth that does not exceed $750,000, eliminating the few African American MBEs large enough to compete for contracts. The Minneapolis City Council will legalize discrimination against people of color with amendments that make it legal. (Slavery, Jim Crow, and the “final solution” were also legal.)

When the Disparity Study was first delivered to the City of Minneapolis on Oct 21 and 22, in-depth discussions were to take place on the City of Minneapolis’ failure to provide economic opportunities for protected class citizens. By November 4, 2010, their prevailing wisdom was that a plan was needed to cover up everything by amending 13CFR, Part 121. This is why I urge readers to go to the web pages above and to review the Disparity Study and its recommendations of October 21-22 to see for themselves.

The Civil Rights Department is expecting the city council to also pass significant amendments to Title XVI, Chapter 423 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinance, achieving more rule by regulation, by March 10, 2011, barely two weeks after the February 24 public hearing that I wrote of last week. All the follow-up formalities must be done by March 31.

To achieve such speedy action, the Civil Rights Department and some City officials are working to figure out what will be discussed and who will be allowed to discuss it leading up to the public hearing of February 24, and specifically how that public hearing will be controlled.

In mid-December, 2010, the Civil Rights Department asked the City Attorney’s office who is to be invited to the public hearing. Normally, by “law and access,” any citizen, regardless of race/creed/color, has a right to attend, sign in, and be heard. It appears more time is being committed to putting in the witness stand more previous perpetrators and master planners in the economic rape of the African American community than community members.

In the mid-December meeting, MBEs were purged from the discussion, providing a new definition of those who would be chosen to enjoy future economic opportunities (contracts, consultant fees, other remunerations).

The City has proposed that the meetings on January 13 and 27 are crucial for setting in place the necessary criteria for the new identification of who is part of a disadvantaged group. The net-worth limit of $750,000 excludes small minority businesses large enough to bid.

Not many in our African American community have a personal net worth of $750,000. Only those who have at least that much are big enough to compete, yet they will be ineligible to participate and bid on future contracts or obtain financial assistance (loans) from the Twin Cities’ large, White lending institutions.

I’ll give you additional, in-depth information on the personal net worth limit in future columns. I look forward to the public discussions and public hearing of February 24. Who in the African American community — those who need to be protected under color of law — will be invited or even allowed to come in and give testimony?

What’s next for “democracy” in Minnesota and, by extension, in the USA? Stay tuned.

For those wanting more background to prepare for making public testimony at the February 24, 2010 hearing, see the compilation of my columns and book chapters that relate to this at

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota.

Order his books at Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at