Equity in light rail postponed again


The Star Tribune ran stories last week about light rail in the metro area. The real interpretation: purposeful denial, again, of light rail equity for North Minneapolis.

Star Tribune reported, May 12, 2014, that African Americans believe North Minneapolis is “not getting its fair share of transit amenities, despite having a heavily transit-dependent population,” and that there is a “drastic difference between service and amenities in other parts of the city like Uptown and the south side.” In other words, jobs for White city plantation bureaucrats and White construction workers, and more transit for White areas. We need action, not more talk.

Back in 2008 and 2009, Black legislators and leaders were talking about a big public-works project involving light rail in North Minneapolis. But when it became clear the Vikings would get their billion-dollar stadium, the focus of Black leaders’ eyes shifted to stadium money potential, as they abandoned the much needed light rail, despite discussions and long-term promises made regarding light rail.

In the May 12 Star Tribune, Gary Cunningham, a member of the Met Council, Vice President of the Northwest Area Foundation, and husband of Mayor Betsy Hodges, gave views and observations about transportation equity that are troubling. He and other so-called leaders are now pushing for light rail at the southern end of Hennepin County. Mr. Cunningham’s statements favoring light rail outside North Minneapolis puzzle us.

The recent Star Tribune article increased the confusion over such things as equity plan, goals, and expectations in the hiring of African Americans in the far southern regions of Hennepin County. Where is the goal and commitment for well paying public-works projects in North Minneapolis?

The question that must be answered, already out there for public review, is what will be different from what was undertaken a few years ago in terms of transportation plans and goals in North Minneapolis? Rumors swirl within the African American community regarding numerous projects that could have brought employment and prosperity to North Minneapolis but instead are being denied:

• Vikings stadium

• Light rail in the south

• Projects being proposed for Golden Valley Road and Penn

• Projects being proposed for West Broadway and Penn

There continues to be much discussion about equity, equity plans, and opportunity for African Americans, but more years of discussion over action forces the question: How will this be different than the many discussions and meetings, even those with 200 in attendance that talked hope and change but didn’t provide the hoped for change in North Minneapolis?

Commitment from officials must be made, in writing. What sanctions will the legislature, the Met Council, the City of Minneapolis, and Hennepin County execute when, again, there is non-compliance with the promises made in the equity plan? Will there be a full accounting? Will there be disbarment? Will there be fines? Will action be taken to foster full compliance with the promises made?

We will continue to hope for more action and less meetings. We would love to celebrate success stories as opposed to ongoing failures by those entrusted with the power to bring about positive change.

We are reminded of the commitments and promises that were made, the plans put forth, and the many meetings held, after which little happened save more meetings causing more broken dreams and despair (See my columns in this paper of Dec. 5, 2012, Nov. 24, 2010, Oct. 21, 2009, June 17, 2009, July 13, 2005, and April 20, 2005). Our Black community deserves, nay, has earned the right to avoid having another round of purposefully failing the community through purposeful and forced non-compliance.

Stay tuned.


For Ron’s hosted radio and TV show’s broadcast times, solution papers, books and archives, go to www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. To order his books go to Beacon on the Hill Press.