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Stadium update: Where are the true numbers?

It has been a while since we have talked about what is supposed to be the greatest employment story in the history of Minnesota: the new Vikings stadium, with its price tag of over a billion dollars and thousands of jobs.In terms of dollars added to the local economy, it is a success. In terms of jobs for Whites, it is a success. But in terms of jobs for Blacks, it is a disaster. Worse, it is another scam our Black leadership pulled on our own Black community.Black leaders are as corrupt as White leaders. Not the kind of integration and equality we were looking for. Continue Reading

(l-r) Joyce Ester, Kent Pekel, Dean Barbara Butts Williams. Photos by Charles Hallman

Minnesota college students face loan crisis

Kids from low-income families, communities of color hardest hit by debtMinnesota is fifth among U.S. “high-debt states” where college student debt upon graduation on average has surpassed $30,000, says The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). The 2014 project student debt report that TICAS released last November points out that in 2013 seven in 10 college graduates from public and private nonprofit colleges owe an average of $28,400 in student loans, up two percent from 2012.Minnesota 2013 college graduates loan debt is $30,894. Among state public colleges, Winona State grads had the highest at $33,610, and Minnesota-Crookston was lowest at $27,311. College of St. Scholastica ($43,113) tops the state private institutions while Macalester College ($21,939) was the lowest, says the nonprofit California-based organization.According to a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) fact sheet, Federal Student Loans increased seven percent (54 percent to 61 percent) while grants decreased seven percent (46 percent to 39 percent) over the period 1992 to 2011.Conversely, 60 percent of Black college students qualify for pell grants. Continue Reading

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Council on Black Minnesotans being weakened

In the new movie Selma, Martin Luther King, Jr. works tirelessly to integrate Black Americans socially (education, opportunity), economically (jobs, housing), and politically (voting, holding office). He understood “American” refers not to race, religion or country of origin, but to the ideal of “truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…with certain unalienable rights.”Our leaders have taken their eyes off this prize, turning the Civil Rights Movement into a rewards program for Black “leaders,” not Black communities. On March 8, 2015, this genie of truth was exposed when an “alert” message was sent by Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Executive Director Ed McDonald, identifying House and Senate bills calling for gutting the COBM’s power to look into the issues of diversity, affirmative action, or complaints of violations of the rights of Black Americans in Minnesota.Mr. McDonald identified the legislation and the sponsors and asked his board to authorize him to file suit in the federal district court in St. Paul. The COBM Board, with the exception of two members, refuses to endorse this legal action.Do not these actions reflect how Black American leaders and White Liberal leaders (Democrat Farm Labor/DFL Party) contributed to our Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, and how The Dream [became] the Nightmare, as they try to shift blame in their finger-pointing at White Republicans?For a decade I have written on the failure to integrate Black Americans with White Americans in stadium and arena construction (Twins, Gophers and Vikings). Continue Reading

Steve Krikava, a board member of MAZON, A Jewish Response to Hunger, Colleen Moriarity, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota, and Rep. Sarah Anderson testify for a bill to establish a Healthy Eating Here at Home program. Photo by Andrew VonBank

Shopping farmer’s markets with SNAP benefits gains steam

Fresh fruits and vegetables grown right here in Minnesota are a staple of farmer’s markets, so allowing low-income consumers to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program vouchers to purchase fresh, healthy foods at the markets makes sense, according to Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth).Anderson sponsors HF352, which would appropriate $2 million in the next biennium to create the “Healthy eating, here at home” grant program. Nonprofit organizations could apply for grants to work with Minnesota-based farmer’s markets to provide $10 vouchers to SNAP participants who use their electronic benefits transfer card to make healthy purchases.The bill was laid over by the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee Wednesday for possible omnibus bill inclusion. SF316, a companion sponsored by Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Mpls), is scheduled for a March 18 hearing by the Senate Finance Committee.Grocery stores could also accept vouchers for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables if a federal waiver is obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.“This is something I strongly support,” said Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), chair of the House Agriculture Finance Committee.Pilot programs have proved successful and now it’s time to expand the program statewide, said Colleen Moriarity, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota. The program could help up to 495,000 SNAP participants, Moriarity said.Shopping at farmer’s markets is a great way to socially engage in the community while supporting local agriculture, she added.[See originl piece here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=5582] Continue Reading

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Broad coalition ramps up pressure for action on transportation

 Concerned that state lawmakers won’t act to address Minnesota’s transportation needs, advocates delivered thousands of signatures to the state Capitol Feb. 12, after hearing a call to action from Governor Mark Dayton.“The real question comes down to: What kind of Minnesota do we want in 10 years?” Dayton asked a packed room where members of The Transportation Alliance and MoveMn had gathered for Transportation Day. The groups include labor unions, businesses, local governments and community organizations from across the state.“If you’re willing to accept things getting worse in 10 years . . . Continue Reading