Met Council Wants Legacy Funds for Race-Based Park Plan
American Experiment flagged this issue a few months ago in response to news accounts about the Met Council’s latest harebrained scheme of racial quotas for parks.
The Metropolitan Council never saw any human behavior it didn’t want to change. It wants to change the way we get from one place to another, where we live, and where we work. It also isn’t happy with the way we use Twin Cities parks. The Star Tribune headlines: “Racially equitable use of parks is the goal, with big dollars at stake.”
What, exactly, is “racially equitable use of parks”? Are members of some races barred from the region’s parks? Of course not.
…Whether a person spends time in parks or on walking or bicycle trails is entirely a matter of choice. No one makes you throw a Frisbee or have a picnic in a park, and no one stops you if you choose to do so. Has the Metropolitan Council noticed that there are racial “disparities” with regard to nearly everything? Whether it is going to the opera, attending a soccer game, fishing, or sitting outside to watch a fireworks display, there is no activity that people engage in in equal racial proportions. Are these all problems that need to be fixed by an ever more intrusive government?
A few weeks later, we pointed out, local governments were put on notice that $25 million in park grant funding hinged on their staff developing “equity toolkits” and compiling”equity inventory reports.”
The toolkit contains spreadsheets for measuring participation in the parks by ethnicity, establishing race-based benchmarks as a priority for projects. It’s not clear how local staff are supposed to obtain and verify the background information on park users, but they’re encouraged to use so-called “Equity Inventory Reports” to break down ethnic groups into minute percentages.
…The equity initiative also requires parks to track populations with hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care and independent living difficulties. There’s no estimate on the cost of the increased time and paperwork required for implementing the equity toolkit, but the Met Council warns local governments to expect an “immediate increase in time spent completing the relevant grant applications.”
Fast forward and the largest, most unaccountable regional governmental body in the country is back in the news and on talk radio again. The Met Council’s apparatchiks want to force local governments to spend millions of dollars in state Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment taxes meant for park trails and clean water on racial outreach and other programs instead. Up to $100 million may be on the line.
Metro-area communities may be required spend up to 10 percent of their share of state parks Legacy funds to attract more youth, new immigrants, and racial and ethnic minorities to regional parks under a proposal approved Monday by a committee of the Metropolitan Council.
The Met Council’s Community Development Committee was asked to choose sides between its own staff on the one side and its own Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission on the other. It went with the staff on a 4-1 vote at the St. Anthony City Hall.
It’s now up to the full council to settle a ferocious, behind-the-scenes battle over how aggressively to move in spending millions of dollars to attract more underserved communities to major urban and suburban parks such as the Chain of Lakes. The council will take up the matter Sept. 28.
There’s no human activity in which all ethnic groups participate in equally. So why should members of any ethnic group be obligated to participate in the parks in the first place? And doesn’t diverting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars meant to preserve parks threaten the future enjoyment of the resource for all who choose to go there?
Minneapolis’ parks superintendent warned, in a letter to the Met Council, that for the city alone the tab would exceed $300,000 a year.
“If Minneapolis spent that kind of money on fliers, advertising, programs, etc., instead of reconstructing trails and building the new things the community wants,” Jayne Miller wrote, “we would be seriously questioned by our constituents.”
…Conservationists meanwhile contend that the landmark Legacy Amendment that lies behind this money was sold as a quest for clean water and resource protection, while current spending is “unbalanced and biased toward new development and hard surfaces” favored by empire-building parks bureaucracies.