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A Beacon for Freedom in the City

2003 Blog Entries
June ~ Entries #2 - #10

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Blog #10. June/July 2003: Federal Hope 6 Money: hope for housing or hope for lining pockets?

Questions have been raised regarding the authenticity and accuracy of information in my book. With the exception of one number (52 units) copied from a report later said to be inaccurate in terms of units built or renovated (although please note the amount spent, nearly a billion dollars, has never been denied), the numbers are based on specific documents, some to the Federal government, documents which carry penalties if not accurate. So let us look at page 3 of the “Near Northside Hope 6 Revitalization Application” the city gave to the Federal Government, delivered May 17, 2000, in which the city states: “The total development cost for the 900 units to be built on the near North side site, plus the 167 units of the off site units required by the consent decree is estimated at $219.4 million.”

The Hope 6 application for $35 million was for funds to be used primarily for “site improvement and dwelling structure.” When you add up the total of funds to be used, the $219.4 million, you have to ask, where is it? My contention is that it was transferred from its original purpose to help the poor and minorities to a different minority: the wealthy developers to develop downtown. The city believed it would get the $35 million in Hope 6 money and $27 million in PH development, and $7 million in MROP moneys, and then a Hope 6 demolition grant of $1.8 million. This means $71,005,873 from HUD (federal dollars). It then expected to pick up $73,146,550 in non-HUD public funds, including $5.7 million in state funds, $18 million in local funds, and then $48,800,000 in “other” funds. They then expected to pick up private funds through tax exempt bonds to the tune of $10,802,000 combined with additional private LIHTC money of $14,101,000. Other funds they anticipated were $2,514,000 in home buyer down payments. Then: $47,781,000 from a private lender.

That is a total of $75,200,000. Notice the figures: 71, 73, 75 to total $219,351,000. When they went out to meet with the Feds in May of 2000 they told the Feds this was all pretty much secured. Of course it wasn’t. But it sure sounded like a great program. HUD knew it was bogus, but its job was to dispense the funds. So it did. There is just one problem: the great weakness in the city folks’ scheme: they built very few units. I guess they think we can’t count. The chickens now come home to roost.7. Holmann/Heritage Park: turning dirt or turning paper? How can dirt be turned to develop this land on the North side of Olson Highway at the corner of Aldridge (the so-called Phase I-A) if the money has been spent and the developer, McCormick Barron, is demanding yet more money? Where are the 120 units the $7.5 million was supposed to build? Where is the money? What happened to the $10 million bond, the Hope 6 and other monies? And what about the two parcels of land that are supposed to be part of Holmann/Heritage Park for which the money was supposed to be used to purchase land that is still not yet owned by the project? Where did that money go?

Blog #9. June 28, 2003: Hollmann/Heritage Park: exception or business as usual?

In my columns, I have been asking about the monies to the Basset groups, subsidiaries of McCormack Baron, and the builders of Holmann/Heritage Park. According to CM Dean Zimmerman, $10 million has been spent on a holding pond by the lake. Now, I am not disputing that the city records say this. But I’ve looked. Where is this lake? I didn’t see any lake or holding pond. Do you? Surely they don’t mean the standing water there, do they? When asked about it, City Council President Ostrow said he didn’t know but that the information was with lower echelon folks in MCDA.

Two things are clear: the first is that they seem to know the money was spent but that secondly, they really don’t know what it was really spent for. I suspect they really do not know. And that makes me ask: how many other millions of dollars that have been designated as spent on specific things were not, and just disappeared? Is this some kind of Ponzi scheme? Is this why the city’s bond ratings are in trouble, and why the city budget now includes $130 million just for debt service?

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Blog #8. June 27, 2003: Hulks or Heroes in our community?

A favorite comic book hero of many of us, The Incredible Hulk, comes to screen this week as “Hulk.” I refer to this summer: Shall we take the path of unrest (my Chapter 16) or the path of positive possibilities (my Chapter 17). I invite you all to the latter. In Genesis 32:24-30, we read of Jacob in his wrestling with the angel to obtain God’s blessing. Let us be like Jacob and not surrender to our anger and the false notion of rioting as inevitable. We can’t know the motives of events and things and people that toss us about. In the depths of despair of the German concentration camps, Victor Frankl reminds us that we still have the last freedom: our choice of attitude. I choose to keep the city’s feet to the fire because I believe the city wants to do the right thing if we show it that it can rather than give them yet another excuse to put us down and “keep them in their place.” Let us respond with our vision of ourselves, not with theirs. Let us show them the example to set rather than follow theirs. We pray on behalf of them, not just on behalf of ourselves.

Friday June 27, 2003

Blog #7. June 26, 2003: NAACP to Ron Edwards: You are kicked out and banned, and oh by the way, on your way out apologize to us for printing the truth.

Oh lordy, oh massah, how true it is: you become what you hate. And now the NAACP wants to be the Plantation Master of its darkie boys and girls. W.E. B. DuBois quit the NAACP in the ‘40s because the NAACP he felt was too timid in White society while holding back Blacks, not advancing them. And to paraphrase the old statement about the French: 100,000 Blacks can’t be wrong. Here I mean the 100,000 Blacks of Minneapolis. When the Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP can only garner 450 members, many of them White, and must, to keep its Plantation attitude, bring in the Whites to provide the votes to elect its President (85% of those who voted for the winner last time were White), we do not have an organization advancing the cause of Blacks. They advance only the cause of Whites. In my book, “The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes,” I was less than flattering about the NAACP in Chapter 14. But the truth will out. In my book I also quoted their Chairman, Julian Bond, who also was not flattering about his own organization. So why kick me out, ban me, and demand an apology? Because, sadly, the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP has become, in some instances, what it has always hated, and in this case that means it now defines “freedom of speech” the way the Massa did: whatever the Massa okays. The NAACP used to stand up for free speech and its right to criticize Jim Crow and other discriminatory and segregationist laws and processes. Now it wants protection for its speech and protection from criticism by censoring the free speech of others, and when they can’t silence them kick them out. But what puzzles me the most is that they would ask me to apologize for telling the truth. June 26, 2003, 8:00 a.m.

Blog #6. June 25, 2003: As Shakespeare might have said, to cooperate or conflagrate, that is the question? To integrate or segregate, to get along or to foster/accept rioting.

The sub-title of my book’s Chapter 16 on the unrest and disturbances of last summer is still relevant today: “Unrest, Disturbance: The Status Quo Price Minneapolis is Willing to Pay” to keep Blacks in their place. What concerns me is recent statements by Spike Moss in the Spokesman and recently appointed local branch NAACP President Gallman in the Star Tribune, that not only is rioting and more disturbance probable this summer, they seem to welcome it as a way to get White Minneapolis’ attention. Say what? When have riots ever accomplished anything? Those who feel frustrated get to let off steam. Those they are demonstrating against get to say “see, we told you so” about the need to keep Blacks in their place and not integrate them into the economic development and social activities of the city. I reject this approach. As I point out in my book (see Chapters 5 and 17), there are ways for White Minneapolis and Black Minneapolis to work together to solve the problems of integration without riots. Will the police cooperate? Will the Mayor provide leadership for this? Will the city council back him in doing so? Will the Black leadership of the Ministerial Alliance and Leadership Forum do the same? Thus, will some Blacks resort to the old victim’s cry of unfair and turn to looting and rioting as justified because of the ways they have been segregated? Watts is still a ghetto. Newark and Detroit and Benton Harbor have had no renaissance. Will we in Minneapolis continue that historic trend or turn the tables on history’s negative attitudes and work together to pursue the positive possibilities of prosperity and equal opportunity, equal access for all?

June 25, 2003, 9:15 p.m.

Blog #5. June 25, 2003: Will meeting with the Mayor at noon today help ease tensions in Minneapolis?

A meeting has been called for noon today with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, as tensions continue to rise in Minneapolis. We will continue to press for calm, for fairness, for good police relations and for economic development for the Blacks of Minneapolis. Stay tuned.

June 25, 2003, 11:05 a.m.

Blog #4. June 25, 2003: Twin Cities Benton Harbor & St. Joseph:

Michigan’s Version of The Minneapolis Story? A metaphor for the segregation that still exists across this country, including poor police relations? Locally called “Twin Cities” Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Michigan are on opposite sides of a river. Is this tale of two cities, Benton Harbor (mostly Black; unemployment near 10%, median household income is just over $17,400) and St. Joseph (90% white; unemployment 1.6%; median household income $37,000), a mirror of The Minneapolis Story? See the June 19, 2003 “USA Today” <http://www. 2003-06-19-benton-harbor_x.htm>

In Benton Harbor, “the smoldering of a generation of young black men frustrated by slim economic prospects” came to a head when a young Black man in a high speed chase with police was killed when his motorcycle ran into a house. The result: two nights of rioting; 21 houses damaged or destroyed). And it happened before. Read the 1998 book by Alex Kotlowitz (”The Other Side of the River”). The bridge has divided two American towns different by race and class and income “for decades,” and it’s still divided. How long will this continue, how long? They are trying to come together, work with police, work for economic development. When will the Whites of Minneapolis cooperate in these areas with the Blacks of Minneapolis, particularly its youth? Will Minneapolis continue to pay the status quo price of riots or change the status quo in order to work together and bring good police relations and economic development to North Minneapolis?

June 25, 2003, 11:00 a.m.

Blog #3. June 24, 2003: Federal housing funds: employment and training for who: minorities or White middle class bureaucrats?

Part of the funding from the federal government for Holmann/Heritage Park was to be used to provide training for minorities so they could participate as employees in the building of Holmann/Heritage. Did this ever happen? I can’t find a record of it. What has happened to the good old days of LBJ and Nixon when things were actually delivered, often with empathy and sympathy? I don’t see it here, today. The report in the Skyway News in June of 2000 suggests the jobs created were those of White middle class planners. Wasn’t this supposed to create Black construction jobs, not White middle class planning jobs?

6-24-03, 10:45 a.m.

Blog #2. June 23, 2003: Hollmann/Heritage Park: completion of bricks and mortar or just completion of paper?

Phase II of this project was supposed to have been completed after Phase I. In the city’s application for federal funds (document #0348-0043 application), they indicated a start time of Spring of 2000 and ending in the Fall of 2007. Now they are talking 2009 (as noted in a recent article in the Star Tribune). And with just a few units and mostly piles of dirt on the property, and no funds left (as it has been spent) how will it be ready by even 2009? We celebrate with Ms. Jackson and her happiness as reported yesterday in the Strib re Holmann/Heritage Park. But units numbering in the 70s shows little progress. When will the missing units be completed so more can move in and shout Halleluiah? When will the Strib give us true investigative journalism instead of writing press releases masquerading as journalism? The blue collar reporters seem to be gone, replaced by an elite group of creative plantation writers covering over what is really happening at Holmann/Heritage Park. So I ask you, dear reader, what do you see when you look at that project?

6-23-03, 10:40 a.m.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

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