By Don Allen
For 160 years, since it’s beginning, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has never included an African American. This is telling in itself on how community members are ignored by big government. We, the Black community, have a serious challenge with members of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.
First of all, Hennepin County has approximately 1.2 million residents, which represents 22 percent of Minnesota and approximately 41 percent of the metro area. Why hasn’t the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners ever reflected or represented the many unique cultures of Hennepin County’s population?
Hennepin County residents must decide to make the Board of Commissioners representative of the various diverse communities of Hennepin County – the current slice of white bread is not getting the job done. We still have ridiculous amounts of poverty, homeless veterans, and a system that will plant a “hub” in the middle of the poorest community and not connect it with jobs and economic stimulus. Again, no one wants to talk about such a taboo topic as eliminating disparities.
On June 20, 2014, New Perspectives Behavioral Health Systems submitted a petition with over 1000 names requesting that Hennepin County commissioners investigate, correct and remedy the skewed process of how 1800 Chicago is allegedly approving and referring African Americans to Park Avenue for chemical dependency treatment at a rate of 300 to four.
Founder of New Perspectives Mr. John Woods said, “This is a shame. I run a business that helps people put their lives back together. Hennepin County has hurt my business because they will not do their job when it comes to approvals for clients to use my programming. I think they are trying to put me out of business.”
Woods is upset because over a month ago, he and his staff mailed a letter to Hennepin County commissioner Randy Johnson. Commissioner Johnson is Woods’ representative in District 5. Woods thought Commissioner Johnson would understand a plea for assistance by a business located inside his (Johnson’s) district. But in this case, Johnson has not called, emailed or stopped by in person. Of course it’s not an election year.
We are concerned that Hennepin County Commissioner Randy Johnson has not responded even though he serves the residents of Bloomington, southern Eden Prairie, Richfield, and a small portion of Chanhassen. Commissioner Johnson was first elected in November 1978; he took office in January 1979, being the longest-serving commissioner since the county’s founding in 1852. Could it be time for a “new perspective” on the Hennepin County board? The simple answer is yes.
Commissioner Johnson’s obvious dismissal of Woods’ correspondence is not only disrespectful but also shows the immediate need to remove and replace the commissioners so people that represent Hennepin County also look like who they represent.
One hundred and sixty years without change is insanity.
Don Allen is an Anchor for AllVoices.com and is the founder of IBNN News, a network member of OurBlackNews.com. He can be reached for comments and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.