Last week, the city council—the majority of whom ran as progressives, pledging to address Minneapolis’ atrocious racial disparities—made drastic cuts to racial equity programs and the clean energy partnership. On Wednesday, December 10, at 6 pm, the council will vote on a final budget and whether to reinstate these cuts.
We’ve seen this pattern before. At all levels of government, a myth of scarcity tells low-income people and people of color that there just aren’t enough resources for us. We know that’s not true, and this “latte levy,” cutting property taxes a ridiculous $2.50/year for the average homeowner, illustrates it perfectly. We don’t have to choose between affordable housing, clean energy, and racial equity programs. We can create a Minneapolis that works for everyone. But it might mean some homeowners have to give up a latte.
Please call your council member and tell them to reinstate funding for racial equity and clean energy. You can find more info on how to call your council member here. Then please join us for the public hearing tomorrow at City Hall. Meanwhile, here's more info about the proposed cuts.
One Minneapolis Fund
The City Council voted to cut $180,000 from the One Minneapolis Fund, which supports leadership development and civic engagement in communities of color, actively working toward building a more inclusive Minneapolis. In 2014, One Minneapolis received $500,000 in grant requests, only $62,000 of which was funded. Mayor Hodges proposed increasing its funding to $212,000 in 2015--but the Council has now slashed it to $32,000.
Organizations that have received this funding include the Lao Assistance Center, Waite House, and the Conflict Resolution Center--organizations rooted in communities of color that can identify, define, and address their own leadership development needs with measurable results. The One Minneapolis Fund, by providing resources to community organizations for grassroots leadership development, is an important beginning step to investing in our emerging leaders.
Clean Energy Partnership
Twin Cities delegation to the People's Climate March in New York in September.
The City Council voted to cut $75,000 of $150,000 for the innovative Clean Energy Partnership, the first-in-the-nation agreement between a municipality and utility companies to work toward greenhouse gas emission goals. This pioneering, first-of-its-kind partnership came about after a long campaign with Minneapolis Energy Options, in which NOC was a partner, to develop an alternative to corporate control over our energy sources. Cutting this funding will mean the city will not be able to hire a staff person to implement the partnership. This partnership represents $450 million in annual citywide energy expenses in Minneapolis. These are funds that could be used to drive clean energy job creation, offset energy costs for low-income families, and pioneer a new energy future.
The clean energy partnership is a critical issue to environmental justice. As the Washington Post detailed this week, the racial divide in this country is so deep that black and white people actually breathe different air. One example the Post cites is that in communities of color, “levels of nitrogen dioxide, a common pollutant associated with asthma and heart disease, are 38 percent higher than in the air whites breathe.” In Minneapolis, we’ve successfully fought to keep the HERC incinerator, which blows dangerous toxins into north Minneapolis and the Phillips neighborhood in south Minneapolis, from expanding. But it’s still there polluting our communities. We need energy sources that don’t shorten our lives. The clean energy partnership is a crucial opportunity to build clean energy alternatives, making clean energy accessible to everyone, not just those who can afford it.
NOC meeting/action this Saturday with 400 community members demanding police accountability and racial equity.
The City Council voted to cut $125,000 to counseling and outreach programs to homeowners in communities of color. We know the banks systematically prey on homeowners of color. A University of Minnesota study this spring showed that in the Twin Cities, banks are systematically redlining homeowners in communities of color looking to buy new homes or refinance. In the absence of bold action to hold the banks accountable for their role in decimating the wealth of communities of color, the city council’s actions to cut the limited homeownership counseling and outreach programs that exist are absurdly conservative.