Will the Vikings stadium be a repeat of Target Field?




Will the State/City and Vikings/NFL allow the “Blacks need not apply” motto of Twins Field be applied to the Vikings stadium? Recall my columns:

• “Stadiums go up while compliance system breaks down” (June 4, 2008).

• “City failed to monitor hiring during Twins stadium construction” (May 12, 2010).

• “MN attorney general was supposed to monitor Twins stadium hiring” (June 16, 2010).

• “‘The Plan’ revealed: no more jobs for Black Minnesotans in 2011 and beyond” (March 9, 2011)

• “Black jobs promised on Vikings stadium construction. Who will ensure the promises are kept? (February 15, 2012)

• By law: “Hiring mandates must be in place for Viking stadium project.” (April 4, 2012).

Back to the past: August 3, 2007, I filed a civil rights complaint with the Minnesota Department of Civil Rights [MDCR] File # A6392-BS-1F-7, later dismissed due to “lack of jurisdiction.”

My May 12, 2010 column: I “vigorously opposed the breaking of employment compliance law” by the Twins Ball Park Authority. Ironically and tragically, at the same time, the MDCR “allowed the Mortenson Construction Company to self-report ([like putting the fox in charge of the lock on the hen house door].”

What Mortenson and the MDCR did with Twins Field was illegal, immoral and unjust. But companies like Mortenson can’t flout the law or morality or justice without official approval from the State and City, whether granted publicly or behind closed doors, as seen in the columns listed above.

Back to the future: For several weeks, serious, fruitful and transparent discussions have developed between the construction-skills-qualified Gentlemen of the Round Table (of Kansas City) and the two owners of the People’s Stadium (the MN Vikings and the MN Sports Authority). But not by Sports Authority staff, as seen when they assigned the task of talking with the Kansas City Group to a representative of the Met Council (Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities).

We repeat again: The Met Council has no statutory relationship with the construction, design and operations of the People’s Stadium. It has no contracting authority.

Two representatives of the Met Council were earlier hired as contract workers to develop an Equity Plan, which, in the final analysis, leaves out African Americans. As of the writing of this column, they have not acted in the best interest of the Sports Facility Authority, nor of the citizens of the state of Minnesota, nor the African American community.

During discussions with the Kansas City group, the Met Council representatives were unyielding and, in fact, bordering on hostile to the Kansas City group and its chief negotiator (who was a general contractor in the State of Minnesota for 23 years).

One of the most disturbing positions of Wanda Kirkpatrick, director of equal opportunity for the Met Council, an African American herself, was that she had no intention of yielding on the setting of specific goals for African Americans. She and others had no problem setting a six-percent goal for White females within the 32 percent minority goal (some have said 38 percent).

And yet there was fanatical resistance, absolute refusal, to embrace a specific goal for African Americans, all the while knowing that the Kansas City group is positioned and has the workers to fill positions for which there are no African American stadium-qualified workers in the state of Minnesota for work beyond sweeping up and doing manual labor. I have reason to believe this is not the position of the Minnesota Vikings nor the Sports Facility Authority (and specifically not its chairwoman, Michele Kelm-Helgen).

So, what about the attempt to use the Target Field’s “no Blacks” game plan for the “People’s Stadium” (hence the resistance to having clear percentages and numerical numbers for Black workers). The People’s Stadium represents a clear and present opportunity for African Americans to move from the back of the bus to a place of equality seated at the table of opportunity.

Racism didn’t end with laws allowing public accommodations, public access, and public education. Racism ends when discrimination ends regarding access and participation in work leadership and ownership in private and public sectors.

It is not right nor acceptable for African Americans to again be denied participation in the full fruits of prosperity and opportunity. It is troubling and historically dangerous for African Americans to aid and abet the demise of their own people (be they in foundations, nonprofits, government agencies, churches, corporations, etc).

In preparation for our next column, we don’t wonder why Mortenson is so silent, for they are known for endorsing and applauding the rebuffing of the dreams of African Americans. Mortenson’s representatives must understand this is not Manchester England of the 1960s and 1970s. This is America, a land of meaningful opportunity. Biases have no place on these beloved shores of the United States of America.

Stay tuned.


For Ron Edwards’ column archive, TV and radio commentary programs, books, blog, and solution papers, go to www.theminneapolisstory.com.