Legislative auditor fails to file equity part of stadium equity report
On May 14, 2012, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed Vikings Stadium bill, House File 2958. It was touted as a Mona Lisa, a perfect creation, bringing a windfall of prosperity for Minnesota businesses and workers alike.
Unlike the Twins and Gophers stadiums that had few minority workers, it was promised that this time there would be significant hiring of Twin Cities African Americans and the legislature would audit it, providing an annual review, audit, and certification that the accuracy and authenticity of all matters of business transactions and employment (including equity employment) affiliated with this billion dollar public project would be audited (see Stadium bill Section 11.4, sub-paragraph 7, entitled “Audit”).
Instead, the Legislative auditor is not doing the equity category employment audits, as the newly created Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA) is having the employers keep track (easier to falsify their own books when doing the equity auditing themselves, as they did with the earlier Twins and Gophers stadiums).
The legislative auditor is only auditing the financial side, leaving the reporting of how many workers by equity categories (minorities, African Americans, women, veterans, etc.), to the contractors. The contractors-foxes are again falsifying the hen house-stadium equity hiring numbers.
Three years ago we wrote that we trusted the Minnesota Legislative Auditor’s office to fulfill its responsibilities and obligations. We still do. What we didn’t figure is that the audit of hiring categories would be defined away to the contractors, not the Legislative Auditor. That leaves us with questions and concerns.
The latest report, January 15, 2015, entitled “Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Legislative Report,” does not meet the statute that entrusts the final examination of the accounts, the numbers, the books, the distribution and the certification by the legislative auditor, as equity hiring numbers are not included.
Reports indicate that the minority community hires (Blacks, separate from women and veterans), have absorbed 317,347,000 hours. But has it? In the area of targeted business inclusion, the MBEs (Minority Business Enterprises) have been awarded $2,852,690. Did they? These numbers are from the firm HKS. Mortensen and its companion partner, Thor, have received $69,037,137 in salaries and compensation for minorities. This suggests a tremendous economic surge for the African Americans. But did it?
Stadium Bill, House File 2958, includes a specific provision in Section 17, Line 18.32, regarding employment and those organizations that would be given priority in the area of recruitment, training, and job development (one of the areas, Section 17, line 19.12, at least benefits one of the legislative authors). The legislation encompasses the opportunity to concentrate heavily in the areas of zip codes centralized in North Minneapolis.
The legislation states: “establish workforce utilization goals equal to at least current city goals, including workers from city zip codes that have high rates of poverty and unemployment.” And yet the number of hours shown on the document submitted by EAF (Employment Assistance Firm) is a grand total of 129 hours out of those zip code areas, out of a total work force utilization of 317,142 hours 129 hours. This is very troubling.
What is the explanation? January and February were very productive months for construction on the stadium. Yet submitted documents for 2014 were the same as those submitted for 2013 by the same 12 organizations that were paid $315,000 for recruiting and hiring in a variety of apprenticeship positions. Where did it go?
Denying young people opportunity in education and jobs can lead to frustration and riots, whether in towns that have mostly White officials and police, as in Ferguson, or Black officials (mayor, police chief, council, etc.) and police as in Baltimore. What will result from prevented opportunities in Minneapolis?
We ask the legislative auditor to determine the authenticity and integrity of the contractor reports on hiring hours by equity category. The legislative auditor has the authority and the power to recommend the appropriate action as his office will in the case of the investigation of the Minneapolis Urban League. We expect a fair and equal distribution of sanctions as required.