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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Monday, April 19, 2010

An open letter to Michael Caputo of Minnesota Public Radio

Michael Caputo
Analyst, Public Insight Journalism
Minnesota Public Radio News

Mr. Caputo,

Per your letter below in response to my suggestion, I’m not interested in talking to you about my “expertise” in anything.

I don’t think anyone has to be an “expert” to see the injustices inherent in the institutionalized racism being perpetrated and perpetuated by Bemidji City officials, Kraus-Anderson Construction, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Congressman Collin Peterson, State Senator Mary Olson, Representatives Brita Sailer and John Persell.

It is bad enough that Minnesota Public Radio has chosen not to report on the Draconian conditions workers in the Indian Gaming Industry are forced to work under--- loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws… now, once again, you have chosen not to cover another story about working people.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed Executive Order #11246 to enforce “affirmative action” because he recognized the very deep-seated structural, systemic and institutionalized racism in this country.

It does not take an “expert” to understand that this very deep-seated structural, systemic and institutionalized racism is part of a “way of life” in northern Minnesota.

I feel sorry for the people of Minnesota who are relying on MPR for their news if you don’t comprehend the gravity of the racist injustices embodied in this Bemidji Regional Event Center given the deep-seated poverty among the Native American Indian communities on and off the Indian Reservations, which themselves are a most despicable example of institutionalized racism where poverty and unemployment is intentionally maintained at such high levels in order to create a “pool of cheap labor” for the Indian Gaming Industry.

Executive Order #11246 was created just for situations like a massive public works project such as the Bemidji Regional Event Center requiring the demographics and living conditions and standards of people of color, women and the disabled to be taken into consideration prior to moving ahead with even the planning process of this type of massive undertaking.

You and your news department at MPR are fully aware that no affirmative action program was developed, implemented or enforced for the planning, construction and now the hiring of staff and maintenance personnel by an outside management firm who was not required to divulge its own track record regarding affirmative action nor was VenuWorks required to prepare such an affirmative action policy prior to beginning the hiring process which is now underway.

It is your responsibility, not mine since my name is not on your paycheck, to have looked into all of this.

If Minnesota Public Radio is not concerned about the FACT that institutionalized racism is being orchestrated and carried out by public officials and the private contractors and management firms they hire then as far as I am concerned this is another very serious matter that needs to be looked into as to your own role in this pattern of institutionalized racism because your failure to report on this institutionalized racism is thus preventing people from becoming aware of this most disgraceful situation in the kind of timely manner in order to remedy this problem of not having developed and implemented an affirmative action policy/s on this once in a life time opportunity for people to attain meaningful employment in a good, clean, safe working environment at real living wages and salaries.

Affirmative Action is not something politicians, public officials and those in private enterprise have an option of choosing to implement or not; Executive Order #11246 makes Affirmative Action a REQUIREMENT on a public works project of this magnitude.

Minnesota Public Radio has made numerous reports on the Bemidji Regional Event Center with not one single one of those reports relating to employment practices or complaints regarding the lack of Affirmative Action; in fact, you are well aware that a lawsuit has been filed by the Native American Indian Labor Union #12 and that suit is presently before Beltrami County District Court Judge John Melbye at this very moment--- a law suit Minnesota Public Radio has NOT so much as reported on. You CHOSE not to send a reporter to Judge Melbye’s Courtroom because you did not want to report to your listeners what was said and took place in the Courtroom.   

Mr. Caputo, this is not about “experts” telling Minnesota Public Radio the facts of this case and the ramifications of the poverty resulting from institutionalized racism; this is all about Minnesota Public Radio’s refusal to report the facts in a timely manner so that people can take the actions they deem appropriate to attain justice and the human right to gainful employment--- without which people will be poor.

But, as a matter of fact, you and your news organization are fully aware that there are any number of “experts” in northern Minnesota you can go to for a story on the failure of elected and appointed public officials to enforce affirmative action--- might I suggest that you send your news crews out to the Beltrami  County Food Shelf across the street from the Bemidji City Hall and ask any Native American Indian standing in line waiting to receive food if they would like the opportunity to go to work on or at the Bemidji Regional Event Center… there is your “expert” Mr. Caputo.

Mr. Caputo, I would note that my original letter to you resulted from Minnesota Public Radio doing a story about racism in northern Minnesota; it would seem to me that since you recognize that racism has been, and continues to be, a serious problem in northern Minnesota that you and your staff would have the common sense to make inquiries to determine if people’s rights were being protected in all phases of the planning, construction and operation of the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

Might I suggest you consult with Anna Marie Hill to find out what she thinks about there being no affirmative action hiring policy in place for the Bemidji Regional Event Center or as your news staff refers to this racist boondoggle so affectionately as “the BREC.”

Why not have your news crews ask around to see if there has been any enforcement of affirmative action for any of the public works projects any place in Minnesota… I trust, that while you are probably no “expert” on affirmative action since if you were you might have taken this a bit more seriously; but, I trust that you understand that there is a difference between having an affirmative action policy and a non-discrimination policy. You might begin your news report on this matter by asking the Bemidji City Manager, the Bemidji City Attorney and the Bemidji Mayor if they understand the difference between the two.

I trust that you are fully aware that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party does not have affirmative action as part of its “Action Agenda.” The Republicans in Minnesota are adamantly opposed to affirmative action without explaining what they will do to remedy the “un-level playing field” created by centuries of racist injustices and genocide; the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party refuses to insist on the enforcement of affirmative action--- once, again, an issue that MPR has refused to report on… probably because if people started a new political party looking after their interests your work-load would become unbearable.

I trust that MPR will be covering our organizing drive of BREC staff and maintenance workers better than you have covered the issues of institutionalized racism and affirmative action--- but, no doubt you will provide more in-depth coverage on how the decorative shrubbery was chosen.

Thank you for responding to my concerns albeit in a very superficial and insulting manner.

Yours in struggle for full equality of all peoples and full rights and real living wages for all workers,

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541

Please check out my blog: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Let’s talk about the politics and economics of livelihood for real change.

From: Caputo, Michael [mailto:mcaputo@mpr.org]
Sent: Monday, April 19, 2010 7:28 AM
To: amaki000@centurytel.net
Subject: MPR News thanks you for your message...

Dear Alan:

Minnesota Public Radio received your email and we appreciate your willingness to comment and to share. Your comment on the affirmative action program at the Bemidji Regional Event Center was read. We take these kinds of comments seriously.

MPR and American Public Media (which operates MPR along with national programs like Marketplace and Speaking of Faith) have developed a way to partner more closely with folks on news coverage. It’s called Public Insight Journalism, but it really is a way to tap you on the shoulder when we cover issues that mean something to you.

Take a moment, to tell us about your expertise – what you do for a living, what you are passionate about. That way, when a topic or story surfaces related to your expertise, we can contact you in advance for your input.  Just click the link below.

And feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns.

Thanks again,

Michael Caputo
Analyst, Public Insight Journalism
Minnesota Public Radio News
(651) 290-1081