A coffee hour meeting organized as a community forum brought together Senator Pogemilller, Senate majority leader, Senator Linda berglin, Chair of Health and Human Services Budget Division and representative Karen Clark of Committee of Public Health and housing and members of the African community including business owners, community leaders, media and other professionals to update each other about the state of the State.
“I want to thank to you all for coming and participating this wonderful discussion with us” said Senator Berglin who spoke first. She said she works at the budget division, where deficit is hovering around 935 million and 1 year is left to solve that deficit. Most of those budgets cuts comes from her area. The largest cuts were payments from State to the hospitals. “I hope we don’t lose any of those programs as a result of these cuts” Berglin added. “One of the things we succeeded is that we didn’t let the governor’s cost cuts program to go forward” added Representative Karen Clark.
Clark elected in 1980. Karen represents an inner city district in South Minneapolis, the lowest income Legislative District in Minnesota, and consistently receives 75-85% of the vote from her constituents. In 2004 she received 88%, the highest vote margin in the state.
“ We are in a tough time, economic performing bad, prices are going up on almost everything.” Pogemiller said. “Things will settle soon after the election” he added. Lawrence “Larry” J. Pogemiller is a legislator in the Minnesota Senate representing the 59th District. He is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and currently serves as the Senate’s majority leader.
Pogemiller is known for his combative leadership style and also known to have a rocky relationship with Republican Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty.
Representative Karen Clark introduced a bill that would cut work hours required by families receiving MFIP in half. Those receiving help from the Minnesota Family Investment Program have to work 20 hours a week and attend school to stay in the program. Clark said the work requirements, plus the demands placed on single parents by children, often force clients to work three jobs at a time thereby hurting their education and their relationship with their children.
Audience raised questions ranging issues from foreclosures, employment, racial profiling, charter schools to increasing crime among youth in the immigrant families and requested from the politicians their assistance in dealing those issues. The legislatures agreed those concerns, promised them to work with those individuals, exchanging contacts to follow up in a later days.
The event held at the 1st Cup Cafe in South Minneapolis, attended by a large number of community members, some of those members came from organizations such as Channel Afrique, Somali Confederation, African Women Connect, African Path, African Fest, African Chamber and many others. The event moderated by a businessman and community activist Osman Sahardeed. It is a part of an African Leadership Forum which is being held quarterly. A town hall meeting that brings together community and its leaders, sponsored by the African News Journal.