CSI Part II: The money changers won’t change a thing


After weeks of bird-dogging Governor Mark Dayton and community “leaders” to show us the elusive $26 million proposal sent to him by a small fraternity of men, nothing has been released. More troubling, we hear the governor is considering approving the proposal.

Our calls for transparency have been met with complete radio silence. Yet, we did receive what is said to be a leaked copy of the proposal (see copy below).

The 27-page proposal starts with something true and ends with something false. The truth is that we urgently need investment into developing new structures in the black community. Our community’s unique disparities are well documented and warrant a plan with real solutions.

But it’s false that the proposal authored by a select circle of men (women, as usual, were relegated to peripheral roles in this male power grab) represents an honest attempt to address our issues. Nothing proves that more than the super secretive way in which the plan was put together. And, to be frank, some of the names attached to this proposal have long histories of hustling, not helping.

CSI on a bigger scale

The recent breakup between the Minneapolis Public Schools and the Community Standards Initiative brought the issue of backroom dealing into focus and painted an ugly picture of how our “leaders” get so intoxicated by personal interest that they forget the mission is to serve our people.

If there is $26 million to be had for the purpose of improving black lives, we need it. But not as a result of a handful of intermediaries seeking to enrich themselves (or the handful of legitimate individuals they have enticed into participating). The investment must have a transparent and competitive process that allows for all the agencies, programs, and individuals in our community to have a fair shot at gaining scarce resources.

The Black Advocates for Education began as a response to the lackluster investment Minneapolis Public Schools was making into their efforts to improve outcomes for black males. The district earmarked only $200,000 for the effort, but gave $375,000 to the CSI. We were outraged by the weak funding for real programs, and the larger allocation for a political vanity project. We demanded the district find at least $1 million for their Office of Black Male Student Achievement. Now we have word that the district will attempt to do just that, if they can find the money. That’s progress.

So, our question is why would there be a $26 million plan that would include absolutely nothing for this effort? Not even $1 million out of the total to support it. If you search the names of the 11 men who stand to gain millions under the plan you will find several who have never achieved results for our people, yet the current proposal would pay them before funding something critical like the effort to save black males in the public schools.


New leaders, better outcomes

We need a paradigm shift that deconstructs the nonprofit industrial complex which in many ways is a middle-class jobs program for professional activists and public administrators of public and philanthropic funds.

And, we need white politicians and funders to stop doing the politically expedient thing. They need to stop choosing our leaders for us, and stop using middlemen to buy the community. They must realize little has changed under the tenure of the current names associated with this proposal. Doubling down on these individuals as the chiefs of our community is a fool’s investment.

CSI should be the final testament in a long book about no-bid, non-competitive processes that continuously feed a few barons, but rob our people of the resources they need to truly improve the direction of our community. We need a plan with real metrics and measurable outcomes. We need to know there will be some accountability beyond the high hopes written into the current plan.

And we need a plan that breaks the cycle of poverty pimping, not continues it. Our stance is firm: no more business as usual.

In a recent city council meeting one Northside city council member said “there are a lot of people doing work in north Minneapolis, getting a paycheck, patting themselves on their back because they’re doing the right thing. But it doesn’t trickle down, and the superstructure, the infrastructure, does not represent that community.”

We agree. Now is the time to end the game of sloppily written money-seeking proposals and strive for real progress. That starts with transparency and real leadership, two things the current proposal lacks.


Community Proposals for to Gov. Mark Dayton

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