Kinda like Obama in Chicago. From January, 2018.
“The strategy of Omar and Russ was to sell their new privatization plans to all white wealthy homeowners and to ignore all Black, Muslim, Somalis, Oromos, poor, and low- income residents of Glendale, and Cedar Riverside who are fighting 24/7 to save their community.” Defend Glendale & Public Housing CoalitionJanuary 4, 2018 ·
MPHA Enlists Rep. Ilhan Omar for Its Privatization Campaign
On September 6, 2017, MPHA’s communications manager Jeff Horwich wrote an email to the McKnight Foundation about a then-upcoming event hosted by Rep. Ilhan Omar called “Coffee and Kulan: Affordable Housing.” He wrote, “It promises to be interesting–our first demonstration of what Rep. Omar’s support can mean as we move forward.”
Then, on September 15, Horwich sent an internal email to further highlight Rep. Omar’s event. He wrote, “It goes without saying why this is a particularly notable event and location. Rep. Omar’s district includes both Glendale and Cedar-Riverside, two areas very important to us. There will certainly be questions from the audience, and it could get interesting. Rep. Omar has expressed her intent to help us move our conversation forward in this potentially most difficult of places, and this will be our first chance to see what her involvement could mean.”
Omar’s event took place on September 19 at the Prospect Park United Methodist Church, just blocks away from the Glendale public housing neighborhood in her district. Rep. Omar and MPHA director Gregory Russ purposefully decided not to invite the Somali and Oromo East African active leaders at Glendale and the Defend Glendale & Public Housing Coalition who are fighting displacement – even though the word Kulan is a Somali word that means “meeting.” The majority of attendees were white homeowners, of whom all but a few have little connection to DG&PHC, and may not be aware of MPHA’s current plans. The strategy of Omar and Russ was to sell their new privatization plans to all white wealthy homeowners and to ignore all Black, Muslim, Somalis, Oromos, poor, and low- income residents of Glendale, and Cedar Riverside who are fighting 24/7 to save their community. This was clearly a divisive attempt.
At the event, MPHA director Gregory Russ simply gave his usual talking points, carefully crafted to obfuscate his privatization plans for Minneapolis public housing, and to downplay their destructive consequences of displacement of thousands of low- income residents out of Minneapolis. He and Rep. Omar forgot that in 2015, the Prospect Park Association (PPA), with a strong pro-Glendale board, along with the Defend Glendale & Public Housing Coalition passed a resolution to protect Glendale, with no privatization or demolition. PPA is the neighborhood association of Prospect Park, the neighborhood where Prospect Park United Methodist Church and Glendale Townhomes are located.
It’s clear from MPHA’s emails prior to this event (which the Defend Glendale & Public Housing Coalition has acquired through public records requests) that it was no accident or coincidence that MPHA chose Rep. Ilhan Omar to propagate its now-debunked narrative on its so-called “preservation” proposals for public housing. MPHA was confident it had Rep. Omar’s support “to help move” its “conversation forward,” and deployed her to create an illusion of support in the Somali and East African community for Gregory Russ’s privatization plans.
In reality, Russ’s scheme is to use the theoretical market-rate values of MPHA’s properties to lure private investors, to whom ownership of public housing will be sold. It includes concrete plans for Glendale that have been drawn up by the so-called “team of experts” bankrolled by MPHA and the McKnight foundation, in clear violation of the unanimous 2015 City Council Resolution that declared “any redevelopment in the Glendale Townhomes area and any redevelopment or improvement plan for that area will follow a separate, open, transparent public process that will include participation of Glendale residents.”
It seems when it comes to privatizing public housing in Glendale and Cedar-Riverside, where the East African community forms the predominant group of residents, Rep. Ilhan Omar is MPHA’s sole ally. As a Muslim, Somali woman, she is the only elected official on record supporting privatization and displacement plans of poor and low- income residents of color out of Minneapolis. Russ’s plan is to target East African neighborhoods and then move to North Minneapolis, etc., while Rep. Ilhan Omar becomes the first cheerleader for this plan. Rep. Ilhan Omar is known internationally, nationally, and locally to be a progressive elected official who fights for the poor, Muslims, and the forgotten. Yet, here she is on record supporting plans to displace the poor, Muslims and the forgotten she says she protects. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Gregory Russ are selling Trump and Ben Carson’s plans to destroy public housing for developer profits as a “progressive” scheme. Why is Ilhan playing along with this? Who does she really serve? These are questions public housing residents, and the voters of Minnesota House district 60B have a right to an answer.
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