Prattles

Ramblings of Anna Pratt, Twin Cities journalist

Mpls civil rights: Community members barred from public meeting

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At a recent civil rights taskforce meeting, community members were kicked out even though it was supposed to be “open,” sources say, with Minneapolis civil rights director Michael Jordan calling security to escort them out.

The taskforce is being organized to study the possibility of transferring the complaints investigations work to the state human rights department as a way to cope with budget cuts. By the time Jordan had scheduled this week’s meeting, though, only a handful of committee members had been chosen, as opposed to the dozen or so it requires.

According to a source who was present at the meeting, Jordan told the several community members who showed up that it was an invitation-only thing, adding that it was a staff meeting. Additionally, during the presentations from the department’s division leaders, according to the source, Jordan argued about their budget figures, which didn’t match the numbers in his head.

City Council member Elizabeth Glidden said in a follow-up email on the happening that “due to the proactive work and outreach of my staff Jen White, we learned that Mr. Jordan had planned the first meeting … Because I recently learned that the taskforce was not fully set (with only five confirmed members to date) and I was concerned that I had not heard anything yet (nor had any other Councilmembers) about proposed process and format,” she drafted a letter to distribute at the meeting.

Further, she noted that some community members sought to attend the meeting, but Jordan barred their entry, calling security. Said Glidden, “I disagree with Mr. Jordan’s actions of yesterday, especially since this task force is intended to be a bridge to the community (even if an imperfect bridge) as well as providing valuable insight and comment to the Department and ultimately the Council and Mayor.”

Having met with Jordan and Council member Scott Benson, she said in the email, it has been agreed that all future meetings will be publicized immediately, with information posted on the city’s website. Related materials will also be available there, while the meetings will be open to the public. An evening meeting to get public feedback will happen in mid-May, her email states.

More information about what transpired at the not-so-public meeting can be found here.

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Written by annapratt

April 17, 2009 at 9:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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