School district provides ‘Kindergarten Report’ on HQ construction


Will Vikings stadium reporting be the next fairy tale?


At the Minneapolis School District (MSD) sub-committee meeting of September 24, a final report was presented — “Minority, Women and Diversity Business Participation Oversight Committee” (MWDB-POC Report) — on the construction of the MSD Headquarters (HQ) building in North Minneapolis, including reporting on minority hiring compliance. I call it a “Kindergarten Report” because the report is long on words, short on numbers, and fanciful with the truth.

This is not to put down kindergarten children. They are too honest and innocent to present as truth the fabrications presented in what was more like a Star Chamber-type report, a report in a style children like: fanciful fairy tales.

The report stayed true to the traditional Minneapolis pattern and practice of providing fanciful fabrication of project hiring compliance reports (think also Twins ballpark, Gophers’ stadium, U of M Fairview Children’s Hospital, etc.) either not using African Americans, or claiming the use and presence of African Americans in construction projects when they were nearly nonexistent.

The MWDB-POC Report continues Minneapolis’ dark and dishonest pattern and practice of dishonest job hiring compliance reporting. It lacked names of actual participants and lacked certification and authentication of minority workers.

In my 2002 book, Chapter 8, p. 132 (# 41in my website’s “Solution” section), I reported the 20th century norm (1910-1998) of “a 28% average cost overrun of projects, to keep neighborhoods docile” by providing “extra money for selected developers and community leaders.” So I again raise the still unanswered question of cost overruns, as I did two years ago, regarding the new MPS HQ building in North Minneapolis.

It was announced that it would cost $27 million. It wound up costing $41.2 million. For what and to whom did the $14.2 million cost overrun go?

Once again, Minneapolis Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel is in a conflict of interest: She is a member of the committee gathering the data while also being the one who signs off on whether the data actually reflects achievement of the stated hiring goals.

And now, “here they go again”: Ms. Korbel and her civil rights department have still not provided the report regarding the upcoming Vikings stadium that was due June 29. Even worse, the Black leadership has remained silent, more interested in funds for themselves than jobs for African Americans.

An additional fairy tale façade of the MWDB-POC Report alleges that M.A. Mortenson, general contractor, had 759 workers on the project, with 156 “minority” and 50 women. For two years, a group of observers, including this columnist, watched the construction of the District HQ.

We had individuals take video shots of the construction and the workforce. Think back to when you passed by that site: For two years, do you recall ever seeing over 200 minorities and women working on the project?

We anticipate the old pattern and practice to be attempted with the Viking stadium: Numbers will be provided in the final breakdown of the workforce, but the numbers, again, will not be verifiable. Although the MPS HQ project was nowhere close to being as expensive as the upcoming Viking stadium will be, the principal concern remains.

The Vikings need to be made aware of the pattern and practice of misrepresentation of MBE and WBE reports on construction projects in Minnesota so early reports of not meeting it don’t add delays.

At the September 25 Minneapolis School Board meeting, I raised another question I asked two years ago: Was it true that the school district did not buy American and that the steel used to construct its HQ building was actually brought from China? Could this be why the Minnesota legislature now requires a majority percentage of the steel to be used to build the “People’s Stadium” come from the people’s state’s taconite mines of Northern Minnesota?

This is why I call for a review of the documents of certification of the MPS HQ building, assuming they have not been shredded, to truly certify that the school district supported the American economy and American manufacturers. It is fair and right to ask for and expect to receive these documents for review.

Another disappointment: The questions put forth by a reporter for this paper who was promised clarification on the numbers remain unanswered. Will the City again dodge using an agreed-upon audit method to certify and authenticate Vikings stadium numbers?

The Minnesota Vikings need to know so they can deal with this legendary pattern and practice of Minnesota and avoid unnecessary delays.

Stay tuned.


Ron Edwards hosts Black Focus on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s Black Focus V  on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at Columns are archived at chives.htm.