Don’t tie neighborhood funds to representation

I just read your description of the “next generation” of Minneapolis neighborhood engagement in the Southwest Journal (“The next generation of neighborhood engagement,” Dec. 27–Jan. 9). I realize that you are a reporter and do not make policy, but the strong methods used by the city to try and change the makeup of neighborhood organizations is wrong and you should be saying so.

The city is wanting to put funding for neighborhood organizations contingent on how those groups widen the participation of groups like renters and various minorities. Historically many groups have not participated in various neighborhood organizations, primarily because of a lack of interest. Tying neighborhood funding to how much representation certain groups have going forward is (unfortunately) a form of blackmail and should be described as what it is.

Using threats is never a good idea, unless the people or groups involved are not likely to strongly protest. Maybe a follow-up article with a little different spin would be helpful.

Your article was well written, but maybe more feedback from neighborhood groups and unaffiliated residents would be useful.


Jim Miller

Linden Hills

  • Ryan

    There are plenty of organizations in town that are reaching renters, reaching people of color, reaching younger people, and reaching LGBTQ folks. It can be done. It is obvious that neighborhood orgs, in the face of this, are not trying. That is the fault of neighborhood orgs themselves, and no one else.

    Any intent to change this harmful status quo is not “blackmail”. This is asking that city dollars, intended to be spent on “neighborhoods” and everyone in them, stop going to a small subset of the most powerful residents with the most free time. Neighborhood organizations do not look like the neighborhoods they represent. This is a fact that needs to be changed, and all efforts to change this up to this point have failed.

  • Harrison

    So I’m sure you’d agree that from now on any public hearing on proposed bike lanes which does not include a representative and proportional participation of homeowners and citizens such as residents over the age of 45 are invalid and reflect a lack of effort on the organizers to not get those stakeholders to the event.

  • Ryan

    If we were in a world where there were almost no homeowners showing up oppose proposals that don’t affect them, and positively affect everyone else, I might be tempted to agree with you on that. From watching a ton of public hearings however, that’s not the case. Homeowners are in the overwhelming majority, and the things they say (no matter how out there) get treated with a little more respect and credibility.

    I’m glad we agree we need a fair system, because the present system is unfair, and has long been biased against people who don’t own land, or aren’t white.

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