Archive Hosted by the AFL-CIO

Discussion: Racial Equity & Budgets

August 26, 2014 By Deb Balzer, Communications Director

Across the state, unemployment is at 4.5 percent, below the national rate of 6.2 percent. While the recovering economy brings new opportunities to some Minnesotans, the unemployment rate in July 2014 was 10.7 percent for African Americans—about 2.5 times the unemployment rate for Whites in Minnesota. By almost any measurement, including wealth, income, housing, incarceration rates, educational opportunity, and health, Minnesota is a state with a lot of work to do on racial equity.

Equity figured especially prominently in the recent city elections in Minneapolis. Having won on an equity platform, Mayor Betsy Hodges recently released her first budget proposal and has focused heavily on equity and growth for the City of Minneapolis in her public presentation of that budget. She echoes the sentiment of Joe Biden: “Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

In her proposed 2015 budget, Mayor Hodges proposed a number of specific initiatives with a clear racial equity component. Some of the highlights include:

  • An additional $1 million City dollars in affordable housing, focusing on family housing.
  • Planning dollars for the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal, to ensure North Minneapolis has its own valuable riverfront amenities.
  • Two new positions in the City Coordinator’s office to focus exclusively on the city’s equity work, ensuring the best possible equity outcomes in every department and every division.
  • $1,140,000 in capital dollars to implement a program of body cameras for the police department.

We’ve invited Mayor Hodges to join us for a discussion on the connection between budgets and equity. She’ll share some of the strategies they’re trying in Minneapolis, and lead a discussion about what more we could be doing in Minneapolis, in other cities and counties, and at the state level to advance racial equity. Mayor Hodges will be with us from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. to share her insights and answer your questions.

Please join the discussion!

 

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43 Comments:

  • Rachel says:

    August 26, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Good morning! Mayor Hodges will be joining us at 8. Before then, do not hesitate to submit your questions or insights to help get us started.

    • Rachel says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:57 am

      MANY thanks to Mayor Hodges for joining us this morning. For our readers: The discussion remains open all day, please continue to share your thoughts and ideas for more a equitable budget in YOUR city.

  • Betsy Hodges says:

    August 26, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Howdy! I have joined the conversation and excited to get going!

  • Steve Fletcher says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Good morning, Mayor Hodges. Thanks for joining us. I’m excited to hear from you because I think your message about building equity into budgets is really important.  How do you think this approach changed the outcome of your budgeting process? What’s there that might not have been in your draft of the budget without that equity lens?

  • Elliot Altbaum says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Hello Mayor Hodges,
    I agree that keeping housing affordable in Minneapolis is a good goal, yet the continuing the concentration of poverty that results doesn’t seem like a good side result. Are there efforts to use the new $1 million dollars for affordable housing in neighborhoods that traditionally not seen much affordable housing?

  • Deb Balzer says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Good morning Mayor Hodges and thanks for joining us.  In your 2015 budget proposal, you have some $1 million for affordable housing. What does that look like?

  • Betsy Hodges says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Department heads are asked to present to me their ideas for their budgets, including enhancement requests in the spring. I asked them to give me their best thinking about what they could do for equity if they had 5% more dollars that would just go for that. (I also asked separately about growth and about growing the city.) The answers I got were a good baseline - I think the work we do moving forward will build on that.

    As for what would be different - some items were pretty clear, like CSO classes int he police department. That’s the best channel to getting officers of color into the department. The idea of making sure we built in dollars for the disparities study and the ADA study were highlighted by staff, for example, and not as obvious. Also, dollars i our B-TAP program to assist minority owned small businesses.

    • Elliot Altbaum says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:29 am

      The CSO program is a great idea to make the police department reflect the people of Minneapolis and provide the resources for people to get there who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Is this idea scalable to other departments of city government?

      • Betsy Hodges says:

        August 26, 2014 at 8:34 am

        Not sure. We are less likely to send people through school to train for other positions, unfortunately. The fire department is busily recruiting early in Minneapolis high schools.

  • Betsy Hodges says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:13 am

    For affordable housing - I am a proponent of housing throughout the city, particularly along our transit corridors. Everyone is happier in a mixed income neighborhood. These dollars I would like for family housing, to take advantage of federal operating dollars, but placement of them is policy that we will decide separately.

  • Betsy Hodges says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Though I was Chair of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council when we brought public housing to Linden Hills.

  • Steve Fletcher says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Is this process scalable? Should we be budgeting this way at the county and state level as well? How do you think that would that change the state budget?

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:19 am

      In terms of scalability I imagine so. The County level is different - they have the county administrator who I believe is the person who brings it forward. So he would take direction from his board first. At the state, I think Governor Dayton clearly prepares his budget based on his values, but I am not sure what process he uses

      • John Bueche says:

        August 26, 2014 at 8:28 am

        What are some strategies for refused incarceration?

        • Betsy Hodges says:

          August 26, 2014 at 8:34 am

          I don’t know what that means.

  • Kyle says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:25 am

    I’ve read interesting material on how the placement of body cameras reduces actual incidents and erroneous complaints regarding interactions of police personnel in the community. 1.1 Million is a lot of money, but I’ve not seen anything that shows what potential savings in legal costs are to be had, or let alone the social value of positive community relations. Has there been any kind of estimate from Minneapolis to show how it really isn’t that expensive to implement and maintain the back end data warehousing infrastructure?

    Aside from the costs, have you had any thoughts as to who will own and have access to the recorded information?

    What kind of authority will the positions at the coordinator’s office have?

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:30 am

      We have those estimates but i don’t have them at my fingertips now. Send me an email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I can get you data. we are putting together the policies about data access now with a workgroup my office participates in.

      • Betsy Hodges says:

        August 26, 2014 at 8:32 am

        As for the positions in the coordinators office, I left it loose on purpose so the new coordinator could help shape it. But they won’t be enforcement positions. They will be more about coordinating the work and helping plan and track it.

  • Steve Fletcher says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I was interesting to see body cameras for the police force in the budget. In light of the tragedy in Ferguson, many people wanted to see that, but I assume, given the timing, that you’d already added that before Michael Brown was killed.  What led you to make badge cameras a priority?

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:28 am

      I had campaigned on them, so yes it has been in the works a long time. The Chief is totally on board, and we are making sure the policies and procedures are in place to make sure they operate well. They are a great tool - for residents and officers both they can show what actually happened in an interaction. In other cities use of force has gone down, and so have complaints overall.

  • kay kessel says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Dear Mayor Hodges

    I so respect your leadership on racial equity.  Last March I co-chaired a LWVMpls Forum on Interrupting the Prison Pipeline.  It was because Pastor Brian Herron told my AAUW Women’s group that one in three African Amercan males in Minneapolis are destined for prison by third grade. In researching information for the Forum I learned about the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.  From what I learned there is more of a financial investment in Ramsey than Hennepin-and there seems to be more reduction of youth becoming incarcerated because of the coordinated efforts between the Ramsey Co. Corrections, St. Paul Schools, and St. Paul Police. Do you have staff that are overseeing the effectiveness in Hennepin County? We also learned that 98 percent of the youth in Stadium View, Henn Co. Juvenile Detention Center, are youth of color and most from the north side zip code.  This is a crisis for our youth in Mpls. We met with staff from both Stadium View and Totem Town.

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:36 am

      Kay - it’s a huge issue, indeed. I know our department is working with Hennepin County on alternatives, as well, and can check into the status.

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:36 am

      Also, thank you for your kind words.

  • Rachel says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Can you tell us more about the redevelopment of Upper Harbor Terminal?

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

      it was built a few decades ago with hopes of becoming a major terminal on the river and never quite lived up to its potential. Now that the lock and dam is officially closing for good it is ripe for redevelopment. The city controls the entire parcel, so we won’t have to do site assembly. It is our chance to create development there, but also an opportunity to finally bring river access and amenities to north Minneapolis. Disadvantages include that it is non the other side of the 94 trench, but the Dowling exit goes straight there which is a plus. I put planning money in the budget so we can really assess what we can do and should do there and get going on making it happen.

  • Steve Fletcher says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:40 am

    What got left out of the budget that you really would have liked to add back in, from an equity perspective? If Minneapolis had a sudden windfall, what would you do with it first?

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:42 am

      If I am dreaming big, more money for housing as well as funding for some interesting digital access projects from our IT department.

  • Kurtis says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Aren’t body cameras just going to increase the amount of surveillance that is being done on innocent citizens? It seems like people in Minneapolis can’t go a block without being recorded by the city and all of the data is used by law enforcement, even to find out people’s locations retroactively. Aren’t there better ways of overseeing law enforcement misconduct rather than giving them one more tool to invade our privacy?

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:53 am

      In this case, I don’t think we have a better tool to truly assess allegations of misconduct. It has worked well in other cities. The policies we are putting together are designed to address just the kind of concerns you have and have safeguards in place so the program truly does what it was meant to do. I have to weight the concerns you raise with the overall safety of our residents and this is where I come down on it.

  • Betsy Hodges says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Overall regarding equity and the budget, this for me is just the beginning. With leadership from the Council (especially CVP Glidden and CM Gordon) and me we as a city are putting together our Equity Action Plan. That will help be a guide to future investments we can make. But I started with proposed investments that were based on the hundreds and thousands of conversations I had last year with the community.

    • Steve Fletcher says:

      August 26, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Thanks so much for your work, and for joining us this morning!  I know you have to run, but I want to invite or readers to keep sharing their ideas about investing in equity throughout the day.

  • Kurtis says:

    August 26, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Minnesota 2020 wrote a report about the collateral damages of getting a ticket or arrest related to cannabis. The report indicated that we have some of the highest racial disparities in cannabis arrests in the nation. Do you plan on doing anything about this disparity, perhaps by making cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority like many other cities have done?

    • Betsy Hodges says:

      August 26, 2014 at 9:00 am

      I am looking at that, of rate reasons you cite. When you look at the conversation here in the state just about medical marijuana you see that the police and sheriffs all object pretty strenuously and that’s a tough nut to crack.

      • Betsy Hodges says:

        August 26, 2014 at 9:00 am

        for the reasons*

        • Kurtis says:

          August 26, 2014 at 9:16 am

          I urge you to take action on this issue. I don’t believe that law enforcement would support these racist policies if they saw the numbers in black and white. Please read MN2020’s great report on this issue and share it widely.

        • David Alexander says:

          August 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm

          We need to take law enforcement out of the black market inspired Union… may they truly protect and serve.
          The Union: The Business Behind Getting High”
          http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-union-the-business-behind-getting-high/

          Breaking_The_Taboo is also a worthwhile documentary that addresses the misapplication of law enforcement.

      • David Alexander says:

        August 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm

        Minneapolis could save money it becomes one of America’s greatest cities:More than a dozen cities and counties have directed local law enforcement to de-prioritize marijuana possession enforcement in their areas, either through voter initiatives or through action by elected officials. Some municipalities, such as Seattle and Santa Monica, are faithfully following the ordinances. Unfortunately, others seem to be ignoring the lowest priority measures. Please see the chart at the link for information on LLEP (lowest law enforcement priority) jurisdictions.

        Seattle, WA
        Oakland, CA
        Santa Barbara, CA
        Santa Cruz, CA
        San Francisco, CA
        Santa Monica, CA
        West Hollywood, CA
        Eureka Springs, AR
        Missoula County, MT*
        Denver, CO
        Fayetteville, AR
        Hawaii County, HI
        Hailey, ID
        Kalamazoo, MI
        Tacoma, WA
        Ypsilanti, MI


        http://www.mpp.org/reports/lowest-law-enforcement.html

  • Betsy Hodges says:

    August 26, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Oliver Steinberg says:

    August 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    When we have institutionalized injustice, it’s hard to make progress towards genuine equality (which I presume is what is meant by the expression “equity” in the context of demographic discrimination, disparities, and deprivation.)  The radical approach is to get at the root of the problem instead of trying to nibble around the edges.  We simply have to dismantle the war on drugs.  Historically, alcohol prohibition spawned crime, corruption, and infringement on liberty—without suppressing drinking.  A prime motive in alcohol prohibition was ethnic prejudice against certain European immigrants, mainly Catholics.  One of the primary motives in drug prohibition laws, from their inception, was racial prejudice against Chinese- , Mexican-, and African-Americans.  Nixon and Eastland doubled down on this in the 1970’s; Reagan escalated in the 1980’s.  Only a handful of dissidents objected.  Four years ago, Dhoruba bin Wahad explained to a class of Hamline Univ law students how Nixon intended the “Safe Streets Act” as the means for militarizing America’s police forces, and that his true purpose wasn’t to restore public order but to quell his perceived “enemies” which included entire segments of the populace. 
      Until we end the drug war, starting with the repeal of cannabis prohibition as Colorado has demonstrated, we will only be chipping around the edges of the institutionalized “New Jim Crow”—so dramatically dissected by Michelle Alexander, the legal scholar from Ohio who has spoken to overflow crowds here twice in recent years.  Yes, the police lobby is opposed—because of legalized corruption in the form of forfeiture statutes; and some public official with spine needs to stand up and spell it out.  The public good and a safer society for all can only be achieved by ratcheting DOWN the police state.
        As I speak with a cross-section of citizens, those from the African-American community frequently describe the harassment they endure through police stops and searches—the pretext is almost always a suspicion of “drugs”—primarily cannabis.  If the pretext for such harassment were abolished, the people will feel more like citizens and less like perpetual “suspects.”  And as was learned after repeal of alcohol prohibition, the way to put the gangs out of business is to take the business out of the gangs.  The rate of firearms crimes—assaults and murders—decreased for ten consecutive years after 1933, according to Census Bureau figures, declining to half of what it was during the last years of Prohibition.  You CAN teach kids to “say no to drugs,” but you can’t teach them to dodge bullets.
        Sorry about the filibuster—but public opinion has shifted emphatically on this issue and the time for leadership is NOW.  Break that prison pipeline; overcome the paranoid fear that paralyzes policy makers; get to the root of the problem.

  • Randy Quast says:

    August 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I was born and raised in Minnesota for 54 yrs now. I am a current resident of Minneapolis. I am a retired successful businessman and I use marijuana on a daily basis. I attribute my business success to having the ability to use marijuana. I also hold a Oregon Medical Marijuana Card (which is worthless according to MN’s laws.) I have been raided by a Drug Task Force team, SWAT-style, for possessing approx. 3 ozs of a nontoxic herb. Because I am white and have money to defend myself, my felony charges were dismissed.
    ’ I am moving from this great City of Minneapolis and the great State of Minnesota to a State where I don’t have to worry about possessing a substance that is less dangerous than beer, less risky than children’s cough syrup, and about as addictive as caffeine. There is no logic in marijuana prohibition. Just special interests with big money. If everybody that was going to have a beer or cigarette tonight, would instead smoke a joint, our public health savings would be astronomical. We are prohibiting a nontoxic plant with medical value.

    It saddens me that I am considered a felon in my home state & city and that I am forced to move to another city to invest my millions of dollars. Minnesota & Minneapolis should realize the economic impact that prohibition is causing. Even more important is the racial disparity of marijuana related arrests. SAD!