Neighborhoods 2020 work group blasts process, lack of transparency

In its quest to remake Minneapolis, current city leadership isn't stopping at the physical, built environment. They want to greatly reshape -- or eliminate, to be honest, if they had their way -- the 70 neighborhood associations that have given residents who choose to get involved some real say over the character of their neighborhoods.

It's "Out with the old, in with the ... well, we'll figure that out later." The members of Neighborhoods 2020 Workgroup 2 are not happy. Read their letter below.


March 19, 2019

Dear Mayor Frey and Minneapolis City Council,

We, the members of Neighborhoods 2020 (N2020) Governance Structure Work Group 2 (WG2), came together at the call of the City of Minneapolis from our diverse set of life experiences, representing the various stakeholder roles set out in the Work Group selection process (representatives of neighborhoods, cultural communities, undoing racism/equity, and NCEC and NRP Policy Board). We commend city representatives for understanding in theory, if not in practice, that the knowledge base, criteria, and improvement recommendations for well- functioning community groups should come from the people with recent and relevant experience in grassroots organizing at the hyperlocal level. We are writing to thank you for the opportunity to serve and to express strong concerns regarding the process we experienced as participants in a work group run by the Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) department.

WG2 members were enticed to participate in a “transformative” process to help shape the future of our unique network of neighborhoods and community cultural organizations. We were told that we would play a “vital role” in “providing judicious advice” to the City Council, and that our recommendations could be transmitted as part of a staff report or as a distinct memo of our own content. Given these roles and expectations, in the beginning we were excited by the idea of creating an autonomous and independent set of recommendations. However, transparency was soon lost in the way we were managed and our ability to readily address our clear directives were thwarted by NCR.

From the outset, NCR dominated WG2 meetings: they created and ran agendas without input by WG2 members, and predetermined topics and content of presentations, some of which were not relevant or helpful to our discussions. WG2 did not have the latitude to structure meetings, locations, or times that would better achieve equitable work group and public involvement. Time and scheduling pressures were constant. WG2 members felt disempowered and distracted from our stated primary purpose.

Prior to the first draft recommendation being written, WG2 asked for several items that would help us form a more equitable and clear policy recommendation. We wanted to hear from the public in listening sessions. We asked to collaborate, interact, and integrate ideas with our colleagues on Work Groups 1 and 3. Later, we requested an extended deadline for drafting recommendations and/or the ability to phase in recommendations per sensical order following the products developed in other work groups. Our “homework” never included the two years of public comment already received on the subject (only documents submitted by NCEC and individual neighborhood orga