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State-wide Transportation with Katie Hatt at Stone Arch PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Farrell   

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 Saturday, July 11           8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.


Mattie's on Main, 43 Main Street SE, Minneapolis


Katie Hatt, non-profit consultant and former staff member for Peter McLaughlin will discuss how the 2015 legislative session impacts state-wide transportation.

Katie Hatt is a public policy consultant and lifelong Minnesotan.  During the recently concluded 2015 Legislative Session, Katie provided expertise on transportation finance and policy issues for community-based organizations advocating for long term, sustainable, and multimodal transportation funding.   Katie’s past clients include the McKnight Foundation, the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, the Ford Foundation’s Metropolitan Opportunity Unit, and the City of Minneapolis. 

Earlier in her career, Katie worked for the Minnesota House of Representatives (DFL Caucus Research), the Metropolitan Council, the Office of Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, the Longfellow Community Council and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.  Katie holds a degree in Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts.

As usual, invite anyone interested--free and open to the public. Come, buy your coffee (the law is you can't bring food or drinks into a restaurant), learn a lot and have your questions ready.





Making Democracy Work - Think Again Brooklyns PDF Print E-mail


Helping Elected Officials Do
What They Said They Would Do


Tuesday, July 21     6:00 p.m. - Pizza Buffet & Social      6:30 p.m. - Program

City Council Chambers, 
Brooklyn Park City Hall, 5200 85th Avenue N


Please RSVP and Share on Facebook

Professor Don Ostrom - Retired Professor of Political Science
Gustavus Adolphus College



Results of 2015 Legislative Session - In her column in the Star Tribune June 21st, Lori Sturdevant noted that none of the three major political players delivered on their top priority items.  Senate DFLers wanted a transportation bill, funded by a gas tax, that would repair roads and bridges and upgrade transit over the next 10 years. House Republicans wanted a $2 billion tax cut.  Governor Mark Dayton wanted universal public preschool education.  None of the three players priorities passed.


don ostromTopic - If few campaign promises become legislation, how do you know if your elected officials worked for the policies they said they would support?  Professor Don Ostrom will explain the complex process by which legislation is introduced, developed, and blocked or passed in committees and the floor of the House or Senate and then negotiated in a conference committee if different bills are passed by the two bodies. The Governor (or President at the federal level) can veto a bill so negotiation with the administration is also an essential part of the process. Professor Ostrom will suggest ways that citizens can evaluate their elected officials' performance and how they can contribute to the legislative process to enhance the likelihood their policy preferences will become the law of the state or the nation.
Our Speaker - Professor Ostrom received the Gustavus Faculty Service Award for distinguished service and the Swenson-Bunn Teaching Award for extraordinary teaching.  After completing his B.A. in U.S. Government and Politics at St. Olaf College, he served two years in the Peace Corps at the University of Nigeria. He obtained an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Washington University (St. Louis).  During his career at Gustavus, Don Ostrom was chair of the St. Peter School Board and a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. 

Sponsored by Think Again MN and cosponsored by the Brooklyn Park Community Engagement Initiative, and the Brooklyn Park, Osseo, Maple Grove, and Brooklyn Center Chapter of the MN League of Women Voters.





Achieving Health Equity through Development along the Bottineau Light Rail Line PDF Print E-mail


Think Again Brooklyns Forum Highlights


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Larry Hiscock, Program Officer for Transit Engagement at NEXUS Community Partners, gave the main presentation on “Achieving Health Equity through Station Planning” at the Think Again Brooklyns forum on May 19, 2015.  Mr. Hiscock told us that 27,000 people were expected to use the Bottineau Light Rail Line by the year 2030, but transportation wouldn't be the only benefit of LRT. During the coming years and decades, there will be extensive development along the line. For every dollar spent on the transit line itself, we can expect $7.00 in development investment around the station areas. The challenge for communities along the line is to guide this development so it can contribute to health equity.


larry hiscock"Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to realize their health potential, that is the highest level of health possible for that person without limits imposed by structural inequities." Hiscock noted that 30% of a person's health is influenced by a person's life style, and the other 70% is influenced by structural factors such as a person's education, income, the percent of income spent on housing, and availability of transit.


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While the average household income in the Brooklyn Park area is $68,000, for black residents, it is $32,395. While 50% of the residents in Brooklyn Park are white, 80% of the jobs are held by white people. People with a lower income have to spend a much higher percent of their income on rent or house payments, not only due to lower incomes, but also to the practice by banks of limiting who could get loans by redlining districts from the 1930's to the 1970's and more recently by directing black and Latino homebuyers to subprime loans. Redlined districts declined socially and economically and continue today to have higher rates of infant mortality.


Low income families also have to pay a high percent of their income on transit. A recent study at Harvard University found that the availability and cost of transportation had a greater impact on families than did income and being a one parent family. Thoughtful development around the light rail which meets the needs and provides opportunities for people of all backgrounds can help reduce the disparities.


structural racism speaker


For a quick overview of the many factors which contribute to structural racism, watch the following 6 minute video. It might take a minute or two to load.








Legislative Panel Reported on Education, June 2, 2015 Print E-mail
Written by John Risken   


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A frank and lively discussion - This year’s panel consisted of Rep. Jenifer Loon, chair of the House Education Finance Committee; Rep. Sondra Erickson, chair of the House Education Innovation Committee; and Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray, member of both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate E-12 Education Budget Committee.lori sturdevant


Moderated by Lori Sturdevant


See the video.




Schools Beating the Odds in Addressing the Achievement Gap PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Risken   


 Principals Discuss What it Takes to Beat the Odds

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We recently asked the District Superintendents of St. Paul and Minneapolis to suggest some principals in their districts who are beating the odds in addressing the achievement gap. From the lists they provided we assembled two panels for two forums, one from Minneapolis, and the other from St. Paul. We think each of them shed a lot of light.


                          Both forums asked the participants to address these questions:

What does it take for a school to consistently beat the odds?
What does it need from the district and the state?
What does it need from its community?
What changes at the district and state levels would be most helpful?


Part One: Principals from St. Paul


The first forum featured

Como Park Elementary, Principal Christine Vang
St Paul Music Academy, Principal Barbara Evangelist
Washington Technology Magnet, Principal Mike McCollar
Harding High School, Principal Douglas Revsbeck


Watch the May 12, 2015 one hour panel presentation and half hour question and answer session or listen to it on your iPod or mPC

Part Two: Principals from Minneapolis


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The second forum featured:


Henry High School, Principal LaTonya Daniels

Anwatin Middle School, Principal Vanita Miller

Anwatin Middle School, Vice-Principal Lorraine Rhodes

Waite Park Elementary, Principal Cindy Muelle

Watch the May 19, 2015 one hour panel presentation and half hour question and answer session or listen to it on your iPod or mPC


Sponsor:  the Achievement Gap Committee

Don Fraser and Grant Abbott, Co-convenors





Dane Smith Interview on Education PDF Print E-mail


Community Empowerment

Northwest Community Television, Channel 12


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Roberta Martin, host of Community Empowerment, recently interviewed Dane Smith, President of Growth and Justice, on G&I's recommendations for Education in Minnesota and on prospects for the legislative outcomes on education.  The interview covered a broad range of education issues, including the momentous shift toward reducing inequalities in the 2013-14 legislative biennium, steps Minnesota can take to insure progress toward greater equality in education and income for people of color, and the prospects for lower costs and better jobs for college students.

The Channel 12 broadcast was produced by Think Again MN.

Watch the one hour interview with Dane Smith on YouTube or listen to it on mp3 or an iPod.






Workforce Equity Requires Top Priority - Dane Smith PDF Print E-mail


Dane Smith complements his interview on Community Empowerment in a recent St. Paul Ledger Capitol Column which reinforces the importance of coordinating workforce training with higher education policy reforms.  He notes that a recent policy brief by the Itasca Project, which includes some of the brightest leaders of our state's largest businesses starts with a clear statement:

"Our regional Competitiveness depends on broadening opportunities for a more diverse and inclusive workforce."  Mr. Smith points out that among 25 major cities, the Twin Cities is near the top in the employment rate gap between white workers and workers of color.  Read about the eight education policy reforms and investments that Dane Smith thinks the legislature should make in "Workforce Equity Requires Top Priority."





The Changing Face of the Heartland, Brookings Essay PDF Print E-mail


Preparing America's Diverse Workforce for Tomorrow

Jennifer Bradley, Brookings Essay

The Brookings Institute recently published an essay in which the Twin Cities is viewed as a microcosm of the growing diversity of the United States.  White children under 10 are already a minority in the U.S., and other Caucasians in other age groups will become a minority as the decades pass.


tipping points when age group becomes minority white 

While Minnesota has traditionally been a more white state than other parts of the country, Minnesota has fast become more diverse due to immigration from a wide array of Asian, African, and Latino nations. Minneapolis and St. Paul have been hubs of refugee resettlement for decades.  Minnesota has twice the share of immigrants from Southeast Asia as the United States as a whole (21 percent versus 10 percent of the immigrant population), and five times the share of immigrants from Africa as the nation as a whole (21 percent versus 4 percent).

Since Minnesota's immigrant population is younger than its white population, most of the future growth in the labor force will come from people of color.  The challenge Minnesota currently faces is preparing its new immigrants for the job market.  Currently they graduate from high school at a much lower rate than the white population.  Both business men and women and educators realize that meeting this challenge requires both high quality education in early childhood and innovative work/study programs in our high schools and colleges. 

Read the Brookings report on the racial disparities in education, employment, and income in Minnesota and the opportunities collaboration between ethnic, government, business, and nonprofit groups in Minnesota present for "Preparing America's Diverse Workforce for Tomorrow."





Transit Travel Time Has Racial Divide PDF Print E-mail


According to a Study of the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities’ public transit system has a racial divide when it comes to how long it takes to get to work.   A study by  Take  Action Minnesota, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, ISAIAH, and the  Center for Popular  Democracy reported that white transit riders, who use transit at half the rate of minority riders, spend three weeks longer per year getting to work than white car drivers.  Black,  Asian. and Latino transit riders spend an average of 4 weeks longer to get to work than white drivers.


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Infrequent service, indirect routes, delays, overcrowded vehicles, and insufficient shelter at bus stops contribute to the transit time penalty.

Watch  Bill  Sorem's highlights  and read Michael McIntee's summary of the press conference.





The Rapid Growth of Solar Energy in MN PDF Print E-mail


At the Think Again Brooklyns forum last week, Lynn Hinkle, Policy Director for the MN Solar Energy Industry Association, noted that nationwide just 20% of homeowners have roofs appropriate for solar panels. However, anyone can invest in solar energy through Community Solar Gardens in which Minnesota is a leader. In the last five years, Minnesota's solar industry has expanded from $150 million to a billion dollar industry. 

Jamez Staples, President and CEO of Renewable NRG Partners, told us about his program for getting people from marginalized communities prepared for solar energy careers averaging $50,000 a year through combined work and study at Minneapolis, St. Paul, and other Technical Colleges.  Mr. Staples noted that growth in the use of renewables could eventually keep the $18 billion dollars currently sent to other states for coal and gas in our own state.

              The Growth of Solar Energy in MN, Think Again Brooklyns, 4/21/15 - Linda Freemon

For additional information on MN's clean energy progress, see the articles below.





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voter id laws discourage voting narrow

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A recent General Accounting Office study revealed that turnout was at least 1.9 percent lower in 2012 in Kansas vs 2008 and 2.2 percent lower in Tennesee as a result of new Voter ID laws.  That means it's likely 34,000 more Kansans and 88,000 Tennesseans would have voted if the new laws weren't in place.  Young people, black people, and newly registered people were the groups that saw the biggest drop in turnout.

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