Last April, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis gave his State of the City Address. He cited Apollo high school’s first championship soccer team (based primarily on Somali talent). He mentioned new crosswalks at South Junior High School, but ignored civil rights groups and federal agents investigating organized race-based attacks on Black students.
St. Cloud: (1) still protects racist hate crime perpetrators (the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center reveal more about local White supremacists than City Hall, law enforcement, local politicians and school board members); (2) refuses to protect Black school children (which explains federal investigators spending enough time in town to qualify for cut rates on hotel rooms and meals); and (3) White flight by students and teachers is another cheap diversion from protecting and serving Black children generally, Somalis particularly.
Since St. Cloud’s racist brand/image is routinely exploited by Black whistleblowers and Twin Cities news reporters, Kleis lifted spirits through imagineering, propaganda and revisionism. Diversionary fantasy provides escape from racist reality.
Kleis said, St. Cloud has a “deep respect for history.” Local racists were duly flattered. Then, Kleis delivered a claim fit for Michele Bachmann or Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Newman, “St. Cloud was voted most livable city on earth.” Even St. Cloud’s failure-plagued White supremacists would laugh at such an absurdity.
How could the world’s “most livable” and “most secure” city possibly escape mention by the anointed authoritative “best cities” ranking groups? Business Week, CNNmoney.com, Forbes, Fortune, Kiplinger, Money magazine and Places Rated Almanac would surely have noticed.
Maybe St. Cloud’s public relations (PR) imagineers, The Lakota Group, failed to contact Associated Press, Minnesota Public Radio, Star Tribune and WCCO-TV. Maybe St. Cloud’s other PR propagandist, Next Communications, forgot to notify Minnesota Business, Minnesota Monthly, Mpls-St. Paul, Twin Cities Business and Twin Cities Magazine for Women.
Evidently, neither KARE-TV or TwinCities.com were fooled. (“St. Cloud loses livability award;” KARE-TV, October 13, 2009; “St. Cloud loses livable city award;” TwinCities.com, October 13, 2009)
Certainly “most livable city on the planet” claims would shock Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder readers. After all, MSR’s editor Jerry Freeman humiliated St. Cloud by questioning Black students’ safety. (“Is it safe to send our children to St. Cloud?” editorial: Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, February 7, 2007)
Were St. Cloud leaders suddenly modest about the “most livable city on the planet?” Maybe desperate efforts to divert attention from racism stimulated City Hall’s imagination. Similarly, St. Cloud State University (SCSU) explained the suspicious loss of 2,200 students not as inability to serve them, but as “right-sizing.” Yes, “Safety for students of color is a historic concern.”
Maybe “most livable city” hallucinations will return commercial air service to St. Cloud after losing four airlines. (“SkyWest to end St. Cloud-to-Chicago flight March 1,” St. Cloud Times, January 6, 2015)
Kleis said, “We’re a community that cares for the future.” Then stop fantasizing about the past and present. After ex-Star Tribune columnist Doug Grow ridiculed St. Cloud’s “inglorious history,” “future” is a last resort.
Since St. Cloud racism is so controversial, a Twin Cities press conference could address misconceptions. Invite high school counselors, parents, potential students of color, and Twin Cities news reporters. Possibly, one of the civil rights groups or ethnic councils would sponsor the event. Kleis and SCSU’s president could address current racial conditions.
Beyond higher out-of-state tuition rates benefitting St. Cloud’s desperate economy, why are foreign Asian students preferred over Black foreign students in the world’s “most livable” city with such “deep respect for history?”
Myrle Cooper is a retired faculty member at St. Cloud State University.