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In breaking news, Springboard Economic Development Corporation has reported another heinous disparity within MnDOT that goes against federal regulations as it pertains to the awarding of federal contracts supported by federal funds. The war against Black contractors at MnDOT continues with arrogance and abandonment of process shown by $715 (seven-hundred and fifteen dollars) awarded to Black contractor in the last year. Minority contractors to include women and persons of color all together received approximately $1 million. Still, not enough.
by Donald W.R. Allen, II – Editor in Chief/IBNN NEWS and Black Politics in Minneapolis
St. Paul, MN (IBNN NEWS/News Brief/July 25, 2011)…The Minnesota Department of Transportation received $67,888,916 million dollars in federal money.
Of that amount, $715 dollars was awarded to Black Contractors from October 1, 2010 – March 31, 2011.
On August 4, 2010 Minnesota Public Radio published a story titled, “MnDOT grant to help minorities get construction work.” The Minneapolis Urban League’s president Scott Gray said in the story, ”Some of the money will be used to bring together construction company owners, union officials and community groups to set a hiring goal for the 2011 construction season. Gray said some of the money will also be used to subsidize training costs.”
Gray also said, “Both MnDOT and federal transportation officials have expanded their efforts to encourage contractors to hire minorities.” Oh really?
Gray concluded the story by saying, “Gray said the training program will be modeled after one in Milwaukee.” Obviously Minneapolis is no Milwaukee and both cities have record disparities on a state level as it pertains to the hiring of Black contractors – so what’s the point?”
The problem is, the grant wasn’t to help minorities get construction work – the grant was to assist the Minneapolis Urban League in paying salaries as confirmed by MnDOT’s collaborative organizer Emma Corrie. This story was also propagandized in the Insight News and the Minneapolis Urban League News Letter (PDF).
The person hired by the Minneapolis Urban League to replace Roosevelt Gains, (Gains, who operated the MUL’s workforce program), was laid-off July 1, 2011. This is beginning to stink of what IBNN alleges as a corrupt process inside of the Minneapolis Urban League.
Minneapolis Urban League’s Mitchell Davis told IBNN NEWS, “I don’t have any comment on this. My focus on the state budget cuts.” Our question to the Minneapolis Urban League would be, “Why has there been no forward progress on highway heavy job training and hiring?”
National Urban League CEO Marc Morial who is urging a job creation meeting with President Obama is missing the point. The Urban League is disconnected from the Black community and has not performed in the best interests of the Black community. The National Urban Leagues supposed “War on Unemployment” is nothing more than pomp and circumstance meant to bedazzle the “upper-crust” of stratified, stuck up Black spokespersons with no real actions taken. Its common sense and folks see right through million dollar conventions that waste money when the dollars could be redirected to actually help the middle-class and poor versus paying for the best hotels, food and venues for Urban League leaders.
This payoff to the Minneapolis Urban League by MnDOT to create a training program for highway heavy jobs is nothing more than “coonery” of a process that continues to fail both the Minneapolis Urban League and Black people in the state of Minnesota.
This also brings into focus Congressman Keith Ellison, state representative Bobby Joe Champion (58B) and MnDOT’s Commissioner Thomas K. Sorel who even with Governor Mark Dayton commitment to “clean up” MnDOT shows that Governor Dayton has broken another promise by re-appointing Commissioner Sorel. The “clean up” of MnDOT has not emptied the garbage.
Other questions community stakeholders must ask the Minneapolis Urban League is, “What happen to the $150,000.00 grant from MnDOT and why in one-year minority contractors only received $715 dollars? But we can’t just focus on the MUL.
Summit Academy OIC who trains highway heavy workers must re-evaluate the relationship and activities connected with bringing MnDOT’s disparities to a public focus. While shutting down a jobsite or holding a funeral for civil right and fair hiring practices might be great for local news, it obviously has done nothing to change the “process” inside of MnDOT.
Minnesota has the highest unemployment for African Americans only ahead of Mississippi in the country. This money from the federal government is termed federal aid. Black America cannot prosper without construction jobs from infrastructure projects funded by all Americans through tax dollars. Will the Urban League take the challenge or continue to ignore the work disparity?
It seems no effort has been made to address the 2010 Minneapolis Disparity Report, nor the many challenges that have come to the surface since the May 22nd tornado in north Minneapolis. The National Association of Minority Contractors-Upper Midwest are still scratching their collective heads and wondering who will speak or represent them at the table of plenty?
Black (DFL) elected officials in Minnesota seem to have walked away from this very serious issue. Maybe it’s time for the Republicans to show how things are suppose to work.