Significant economic surge for the Black community by Sports Authority?

Or manipulation of numbers to conceal few Black workers?

ThroughMyEyesnewA week ago, at the meeting of the Stadium Equity Committee, created by the stadium authorizing legislation, Alex Tittle, director of equity for the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) reported that “hours” — not persons — in the workforce would be how the 34 percent minority workers on the stadium doctrine would be counted. Thirty-four percent was advanced almost two years ago by State Human Rights Commissioner, Kevin Lindsay and put into the legislation. The euphoria was understandable. The disappointment and disillusion today is just as understandable.

The 2009 joint study by Mortenson Construction and Conventions, Sports & Leisure, International (CSL) reported: “construction of a new stadium will support approximately 13,000 jobs, including 7,500 construction and trades workers who will be employed during the three-year building process.” Also: “Nearly 4.3 million work hours with almost $300 million in wages for construction workers will be required for this project.” The 34 percent workforce suggests significant economic uplift, not unlike that occurring in the energy fields of North Dakota.

Here is how the Mortenson/CSL figures pencil out when tallied over three years:

• 34 percent 13,000 total jobs equal 4,420 jobs for minorities.

• 34 percent 7,500 construction jobs equal 2,550 jobs for minorities.

• 34 percent of 4.3 million hours equal 462,000 hours of work for minorities.

• 34 percent of $300 million in wages equal $102 million in wages for minorities in salaries, wages, bonuses, subcontract profits and other compensation.

Key question as always: how many African Americans will be included in “minorities”?

The January 15, 2014, report delivered to the legislative commission overseeing the stadium reflected the potentially significant economic benefit for communities of color if the state follows through on its commitment as expressed in stadium legislation Section 17, Article 473j.12, “Employment,” line 19.12: the percentage applies to current city goals: workers from zip codes with high rates of poverty and unemployment. Is the change of 34 percent minority persons to hours to again manipulate the numbers and exclude African Americans, as with the Gophers and Twins stadiums?

This is historically significant as it is the same formula used on the construction of the Minneapolis School District Headquarters, at 1250 West Broadway, which resulted in few actual African American workers. When asked, the district could not produce for this paper the actual dollar amount, although they showed each day on a bill board situated at the site the posting the hours worked by minorities. But few actual African Americans.

Why did Commissioner Lindsay decide this was the clever protocol to adopt, which they announced at the equity committee meeting on January 31, 2014? Will the accounting in three years show few actual African American workers on the Vikings stadium just as with the Gopher and Twins stadiums?

What clever manipulation will be used to make it appear they met Section 13 of the stadium authorizing legislation, 473j.09, entitled “Powers and duties of the authority”? Sub paragraph nine of Section 13 authorizes the MSFA to conduct research, collect and analyze data, and hold hearings to inform decision making.

What study/analysis led them to make the change from number of “persons” to “hours,” and how will it possibly enable ensuring the full inclusion of people of color, especially African Americans, in this stadium project? How were the details of this change expressed in the 2nd Annual Legislative Report presented to the legislature on January 15, 2014?

It is important that the real economic infusion, or lack thereof, into the African American community be made on an annual basis so the enthusiasm and bright future expected for and on behalf of the African American community is realized.

Stay tuned.


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