It’s disappointing that Don Samuels supporter John Goff (Johnny Northside) in one of his recent blogs, would refer to the candidates contesting Samuels for the 5th Ward Minneapolis City Council seat as “midgets.” For starters the word midget is considered defamatory and derogatory to the stature impaired. They prefer to be called little people.
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Not surprisingly Goff’s insensitivity is consistent with Samuels’ attitude toward the little people in his ward. While he was swept into office on a platform of public safety and protecting property values, which were the concerns of many people in the ward– especially public safety-he appears to have neglected the needs of the less vocal little people.
Ironically, despite putting much of North Minneapolis under the watchful eye of Big Brother, in the name of public safety, young men are still dying. The police response to the disturbance on Broadway Avenue that ended with the shooting death of Haywood Eaton was not any faster than under any other previous 5th Ward administration. The fourth precinct station is only five minutes from where the fight broke out; a quicker response may have saved the young man’s life.
He has consistently been quiet on the issues that affect the lives of the “little people” in his ward; the lesser off, the renters, the homeowners struggling to make the mortgage, the immigrants and the “otherwise least of these.”
While houses are being foreclosed on and long time residents are being forced into the streets, as well as long time renters who are sometime victimized as well by their landlords woes, Samuels has been eerily silent.
Unfortunately when he has spoken on the issue of foreclosures it has been incredibly insensitive. In a February 9, MinnPost.com article entitled, “Are foreclosures helping to improve the Northside” the 5th Ward Councilman said, “In the typical American city it has exacerbated the crime problem. But in Minneapolis, certainly north Minneapolis, the foreclosure crisis has improved the safety situation.”
Although North High is considered a mainstay in his ward, he is on record saying it should be destroyed. In fact his words were that is should be, “burned down.” While the public schools may not be all that they should be in Minneapolis and other locales they are all some folks have. Yet Samuels’s response has been silence, rather than roll up his sleeves and help improve what we have.
He has rather cavalierly, dismissed the very real concern of his constituency about police brutality, implying that it is only the concern of criminals. Yet the phenomenon of racial profiling has been well documented. And police brutality is clearly a problem in Minneapolis. And it has affected blacks as well as other working folks and the Hmong community, which lost Fong Lee to police violence. The city has paid out several million dollars to settle civil suits involving misconduct by Minneapolis finest.
While crusading against local stores that have no doubt been problematic, he has not sought a solution for the poor single mother who now has to trek five miles to get milk for her baby.
If anyone is small, or small minded in this race it is Samuel’s, who with his stories of being advantaged have divided rather than united. His insensitivity to the plight of many of his constituents has hindered healing rather than helped. His insistence on tearing down or destroying neighborhood institutions, rather than searching for creative and innovative solutions that would make the Northside a better place to live more than qualifies him as the little person in the race.