Racism in rural Minnesota? (5×8 – 2/15/11)

Suggestions of racism dog Brainerd, the myth of the green job, matrimony in Mora, neighbors in the news, and can anything save the Minnesota Timberwolves?

I’ll be live-blogging the release of Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget this morning at 10:30. Stop by and provide your reaction. His office gave reporters a look at the package in advance with a promise not to say anything until this morning’s news conference. They couldn’t keep the secret. Welcome to the Capitol, governor.


I wrote yesterday on 5×8 about the African American man who was beaten in Brainerd because he is black. Brainerd is being forced to take a long look at itself. Last night, for example, one parent wondered why Brainerd schools don’t recognize Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a holiday, but take a day off a week later as a semester break?

“My hope is that you’ll recognize that people of color should be recognized by recognizing this day,” said the parent, as reported by the Brainerd Dispatch. “I know we talk about Martin Luther King Jr. (during the school day) but it’s not the same as having this day off. I would contend also that something needs to be done. … As more and more people of color come into this community, more people are going to ask you to recognize this as a holiday.”

The school officials said they’d address the situation later this year when they work on next year’s calendar. The subtle — maybe not-so-subtle — suggestion is that Brainerd has a race problem.


A new study says the push to “green jobs” won’t increase employment much; it’ll just snuff out “non-green” jobs, Slate reports today.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center asked Gürcan Gülen, a senior energy economist at the Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, to assess the state of the science in defining, measuring, and predicting the creation of green jobs. Gülen concluded that job creation “cannot be defended as another benefit” of well-meaning green policies. In fact, the number of jobs that these policies create is likely to be offset–or worse–by the number of jobs that they destroy.

But maybe Minnesota could be a lab rat to see if that’s true. Seventy-percent of the green jobs created in Minnesota, MPR’s Tom Robertson reported last month, are in rural Minnesota.

Kyle Uphoff, an analyst with the agency, said employer surveys have so far identified fewer than 1,000 green job openings. Many of those aren’t new jobs, but rather traditional jobs that have taken on some additional role related to green practices.

Meanwhile, former TV newsman Don Shelby is blowing the whistle on Rep. Michael Beard, the state lawmaker spearheading efforts to roll back climate change legislation in Minnesota:

I wondered where Beard learned his climate science. He says he reads a lot. I asked him what he read, and he gave me the names of several conservative blogs sites. The scientist he pays particular attention to is Dr. Patrick Michaels. Michaels admitted on CNN that 40 percent of his funding comes from fossil fuel producers.

But Shelby barely grazes one aspect of Beard’s scientific analysis: his religion:

Beard believes that “God is not capricious. He’s given us a creation that is dynamically stable. We are not going to run out of anything.”

Journalists hate to quiz anyone about religion — none has yet pursued former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s assertion that “God is in charge” and should “be part of the discussion.”


What do you do in Mora, Minnesota at the end of a cross-country ski race (the Vasaloppet) ? You get married, of course:

More pictures are on the race’s Facebook page.


Neighbors in the news today:

In the UK, a man’s garden is littered with old military vehicles. He likes to fix them up an then drive them around the neighborhood (video from BBC).

In Pennsylvania, a man stuck a large, lighted cross on his lawn. The neighbors weren’t impressed.

I’m not looking to be a bad neighbor, I believe in God, I believe in being Christian, but if you are truly Christian, then you would be supporting and respecting your neighborhood,” said a neighbor.


A few weeks ago, Mayor R.T. Rybak, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, and a group of downtown businessmen, pitched the idea of $150 million in taxpayer money to gussy up Target Center, owing to the economic shot-in-the-arm it gives Minneapolis.

This was last night’s tip-off crowd at Target Center:


The announced crowd was about 11,000, which means Target Center was half full. It wasn’t.


The DNR has given the Legislature a 25-year plan for maintaining and improving the state system of parks and trails. What would you do to improve Minnesota’s parks and trails?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: An oncologist examines cancer through history, to show how social attitudes and scientific understanding have changed over time.

Second hour: In his new book, neurologist Oliver Sacks shares his encounters with the most fascinating medical mysteries of the mind and recounts his recent struggle with eye cancer.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Jacob Hacker of Yale on “Winner Take All Politics.”

Second hour: MPR’s Mike Mulcahy and Tom Scheck explain the governor’s budget.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: Talk to a college freshman today, says sociologist Richard Arum, and you’ll hear something interesting: They thought college would be harder. What are college students are learning?

  • Justin

    It saddens me to think that in today’s age of enlightenment about social issues that we still continually run into the issue of race, and that there are still those ignorant enough to think that one race is better than another. And to have it happen in our backyard (up north) is even more depressing. My hope is that stories like this will help, not hinder the situation.

    With regard to the Timberwolves, I think it would help attendance if they didn’t stink. Sure, it’s fun to watch Kevin Love, but who else plays for them? Some Beasley guy, I hear, but he’s hurting. Other than that, people around here seem to go from Twins to Vikes to Wild and back to Twins. Just my 2 cents.

  • Bob Moffitt

    When I see headlines like “The Myth of the Green Job” I think of past headlines like “The Internet: Just a Fad” or “Dewey defeats Truman.”

  • Shane

    Regarding Martin Luther King, Jr. day; I don’t think having the day off is the best way to celebrate his work. I remember when I was in high school (’04-’08) we didn’t get the day off, however, we did have speakers come in to talk about what he did and how his works affect the nation. I feel that this is a much better way to celebrate his birthday than having the day off.

  • Heimbuch

    In the DC area, the MLK holiday is celebrated with opportunities for community service (in parks, libraries, shelters… all over). Offices are generally closed (most observe federal holidays), so people have the ability to participate without taking leave.

    Shane, from the info Bob’s provided, the Brainerd schools are giving the impression that they don’t care about the MLK holiday. It’s probably not intentional, but it LOOKS like they don’t care enough about MLK day to have a day off, but *do* care enough about days off to take one a week later. If one has the luxury of not thinking about race, this appearance might not even cross one’s mind. But there it is. I wonder if they observe MLK day in another way.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob, why do you refer to Willie Navy, the man who was beaten in Brainerd, as “African American”, when he refers to himself as “black”?

    Is it mpr policy? Is “black” a derogatory term? Would a caucasian person born in Africa who emigrated to the United States be referred to as

    “African American”.

    Silly questions on the surface, perhaps, but in a story on racism, shouldn’t someone be granted the dignity of being referred to as they refer to themselves, and put aside a politically correct title that is used primarily by white liberals who don’t want to be thought of as racists?

    I’m not questioning your motives, but rather the inaccurate and in this case condescending use of language by the dominant culture.

  • jtb

    It is unfortunate about this myth of green jobs story from Slate. I thought it was really going to go into how maybe “green” jobs, I would rather call them clean energy jobs; would cut the long term labor that goes into the energy jobs (i.e. coal, oil, and nuclear energy production) for maintenance and upkeep of power plants, abstraction and transportation of fuel, and the day to day business to manage the existing structure of the old way of producing energy. Compare these jobs to the “green” jobs that would be produced. That would have been an interesting read.

    Instead the author goes into the old argument of the inefficiencies of “green” energy, and because of these inefficiencies our energy prices will go up and people will have less money to spend on small business, buying stuff, blah, blah, blah… This country seriously needs to wake up to the 21st century and what is really going on. It is unfortunate (and fortunate) that the country has had low energy costs and abundant resources; we Americans have grown accustom to. It has helped to have cheap energy to propel us to become the super power that we have become and have the luxuries and liberties that we have come to as the “American lifestyle”, but it has made us fat, dumb, and lazy about the energy utilities. This author only looks to the one side of the economics of energy and the future of “green” jobs.

    Our country, much less the world, is going through a transformation in commodities such as energy and fuel that is beyond the borders of any single country. We are in a world market of energy now. We are not the only big dog fighting for fuel , but also China, India, Brazil, and other emerging markets as well as existing energy industrial western countries are clamoring for that same fuel. The writing is on the wall whether we do something with “green” energy or not that energy costs will go up. We are seeing it already in gas prices. Now these United States can sit on their thumb and blame Obama for increasing cost or we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and wheen ourselves on the utter reliance of the ol’ energy producers of coal and oil.