When will MN’s ‘no Black workers need apply’ policy end?


Who will monitor and enforce Black participation on the so-called ‘People’s Stadium’ project?



ThroughMyEyesnewMy concern is for the ending of the discrimination patterns and practices that prevent access for Black men and women to the opportunities of Minnesota (education, jobs, housing), with discrimination led by White and Black elites (City agencies, nonprofits, foundations, churches, corporations, the NAACP, Urban League). My Solution Paper #46, on my website (www.TheMinneapolis Story.com) lists my columns providing details, enough to launch a dozen lawsuits.

Minnesota’s discrimination molehills have been easy to sweep under the rug. But the discrimination mountain looming on the horizon, the billion-dollar stadium, will take the “easy” away.

The task of continuing these discriminatory patterns and practices falls prominently to Mortenson, one of the most blatantly discriminating companies in Minnesota, as it was picked as the Vikings Peoples’ Stadium construction manager.

The discrimination patterns and practices are simple: Redefine any special interest as a “minority” except Black workers. Minnesota keeps letting non-Black races, creeds, orientations, women and other interest groups cut into the head of the line, forcing Black workers to stay at the back of the bus.

No mystery. No puzzle. Mortenson has practiced its skill at excluding Black workers and hiding the fact with false figures and failed outside monitoring. It is as clear as the fingers on your hands, as seen in this roll call of Mortenson discrimination for Minneapolis: TCF Stadium, Target Field, Children’s Hospital of the University of Minnesota, the Minneapolis Public School District Headquarters in North Minneapolis, and now the Vikings “People’s Stadium.”

The Minneapolis Civil Rights Department leads the way — “Minneapolis can meet its minority hiring requirements without hiring a single Black worker,” in the words of a former department head. They are followed by the backing of Black and White Minneapolis officials (City agencies, nonprofits, the NAACP, Urban League, foundations, churches, corporations).

Thus, it is no accident nor surprise that the equity legislation for the Vikings’ stadium does not specify how the hiring of Black workers will be monitored, documented, authenticated and certified.

The complaint filed by Marvin “Corkey “Taylor with the federal government and the EEOC that I wrote on last week clearly identified these patterns and practices. I’ve asked at meetings and hearings: How many Black workers will be hired? The stadium legislation carefully has no mandate, only “best effort,” meaning, “Hey, we tried.”

State officials, such as Wanda Fitzpatrick of the Metropolitan Council, and the representative of Ryan Construction have made it clear: The universal agreement is that there will be no percentage or numbers assigned in the state of Minnesota to any racial group, and specifically African Americans, who are the most deprived of all. So “minorities” does not mean Blacks.

This doctrine of benign neglect includes reporting hours and funds paid to Blacks that actually went to Whites. The April 14, 2009 letter from Lynn Littlejohn of Mortenson to Dick Strasburg of the Minnesota Twins contains a “SWMBE Participation Summary.” One of the firms identified is J.R. Jones, a company that did finishing carpentry. It claimed J.R. Jones received $5,300,000, of which, at page six, it states the subcontractor, Tri-Construction, was paid $795,000. Where did the rest of that money go?

In a similar document, $1.4M was on the books as paid to Tri-Construction. But it was not paid to Tri-Construction, even though it was identified as a minority business enterprise. In all, it was reported that over $2,000,000 was paid to Tri-Construction. But it was not.

Mr. Taylor and Mr. James Patterson brought this to the attention of the Ball Park Authority. Mr. Patterson was discharged. Mr. Taylor was demoted. Is it coincidence that Tri-Construction had a direct business relationship with Mortenson Construction?

In a confidential communiqué to Velma Korbel, Mr. Taylor explained the nature of his illness and the air he had to breath in the closed, dank, basement office they demoted him to, which contributed to his death (“My health issues…prolonged hours in that air”). He reported summaries of the disparity study, the Twins report, Security Update Validation Program (SUVP), the Central Certification (CERT) Program, Section 3/Certification, the Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED) Program. When will the department release his reports?

City officials knew that Mr. Taylor was being pushed to the limit of his health, that his condition was perilous. In a word, they were helping to kill him. He was one of five identified to be purged, four of whom are now gone (two have died).

Minneapolis makes it clear: Get in our way and we’ll make sure you are dealt with by any means necessary. I did not just stand by and watch. I filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Department against Mortenson and its role in the construction of the Twins stadium.

The department denied it. Their power and authority to make things go away is part of Mortenson’s chilling legacy and power.

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 www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneap olisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.