OPINION | The stadiums are done

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Over the last four years, we have written about the preparation and then construction of the Gophers football stadium and the Twins baseball stadium, asking for the plan for inclusion of Black contractors and workers to meet Minneapolis compliance laws in the construction of these stadiums (note that the Twins stadium at the edge of North Minneapolis is another project enabled by dispersing the Blacks who lived there).

In our columns and at planning meetings, we warned that the continued refusal to develop and put in place a plan for inclusion would make it easier for both projects to exclude Black contractors, workers and vendors. The University of Minnesota was honest and forthright from day one, doing what most Minnesota liberal, progressive, institutions do: let people assume they have a plan, as they quietly set no goals and entertain no discussions about the importance of inclusion and go about their business as usual, while not including Blacks.

Many forget that Mortenson built both the stadiums of this billion-dollar construction package. Moral leadership is required, not just laws on paper.

In the case of the Twins, the State legislature required the creation of the Ballpark Authority oversight committee. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, we wrote about its failure to meet its responsibility. To cover itself, the Ballpark Authority entered into a $100,000 contract with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to monitor compliance, meaning to lie for them.

The exclusion “policy” continued as the Civil Rights Department refused to make reports on inclusion diversity to the Minneapolis City Council (no report has been made since July 2008, as an examination of the minutes of the Ballpark Authority shows).

In May 2009, this columnist met with Council Member Benson, DFL, 11th Ward.

I asked about the required quarterly reports on diversity and minority and small business participation on the Twins stadium.

Needless to say, no such reports had been presented. We assume none exist.

We not only encourage State Representative Bobby Joe Champion to make inquiry into the story of excluding diversity at the Twins stadiums, we also encourage the state representative to inquire of the University of Minnesota and its board of regents to seek a report on their TCF Stadium.

There is a desperate need to officially expose how few African Americans worked on these projects as contractors, subcontractors, workers or vendors.

Would I be too far afield to say that practically none participated in the construction of the TCF Stadium, and that any documents stating otherwise have been doctored?

A lot of revenue has flowed in and out of that stadium during its first season – a stadium enabled by taxpayers needs to have included all taxpayers, not just White ones. The bottom line in this American tragedy on race and access is that the African American community was/is treated like a bride jilted on her wedding day.

Some of our Black leaders claim 25 percent of the workforce on the Twins stadium was African American. I’d like to see those numbers certified through a state audit, and see work defined as long term, not temporary workers for a day or week counted as if they were long-term workers.

This should not be hard to do. As the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department received $100,000 to monitor how well the franchise of those of color under the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance was protected, such a report should be possible before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Only dishonesty would create resistance to opening the books to the state auditor to certify the numbers and clarify any possible ambiguity or controversy. How else do we expose the fairy tale that a lot of African Americans were employed long term on both of these facilities over the past two-and-a-half years?

Constantly gnawing at the back of my mind is the statement we reported a little over two-and-a-half years ago, of Michael Jordan, a Black man, director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, saying the City can achieve its minority compliance goals on any project without having to hire a single Black person.

Do you wonder, my friends, why, as contracts were awarded, enormous amounts of money was paid out, and work was done, that, with the exception of this paper, our so-called Black leadership silently stood by as our Black community was easily excluded from participation or involvement in these projects?
Stay tuned.
 
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com; hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMin neapolisStory.com.