The Standards and Procedure Committee (SPC) meeting was pert near the final act of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) on September 7, 2016. In Part 1 we analyzed the first of a series of videos created by D. Okar at CDDF Productions from public records of that critical meeting. As far as I can ascertain, the Rules of Decorum, so carefully crafted by Walther and Rice, have not been adopted. But I have a lot more Park Board video to work dig through and one never quite knows what gems await discovery.
Knowledge of the SPC itself was found just that way. It was a crucial bit of information because it brought together so many loose ends and answered a few important questions, too. The speed with which MPRB President Anita Tabb moved to warn, eject, and have arrested, members of the public in the first few minutes of Open Time that evening had always confused me. Discovering the scheduled SPC meeting and the impending presentation of enhanced Rules of Decorum, requested by Tabb, answered the question of what particular park business all the chanting was accused of keeping the Board from completing in a timely manner. The Board did not want to stay up past their bed time to change the rules in ways designed to more effectively shut down dissent the next time around.
To be clear, the video and this post are not works of balanced journalism. We do not pretend to be anything other than a kind of video magnifying glass or microscope. We focus our lens, our time, and our effort on those stories we want to look into more deeply. By watching, reading, and thinking, you share something of the perspective I accentuate in the works. You will notice that these are edited pieces. I must work to gain your trust so that you will understand that my purpose as an Editor working with the words of strangers is to distill the essence of each message, not to judge the content of what is said and by whom. That judgement is up to you. In ways that any old lawyer might comprehend, the story is meant to lead you to my way of thinking. My goal is to convince you to acquit those I defend and convict those I hold to account with their own words.
The long list of people shut down by Anita Tabb begins with Adrien Hoffer-Carter (if we got the name correct) and Constance Pepin. Neither are overly combative or anything approaching rude. Their combined message sums up the points of resistance quite succinctly. Take care of workers, treat people equitably, steward the land, and protect public spaces from corporate encroachment.
I suggest that each of you take a few minutes to get familiar with an episode from September 7, 2016 Open Time. It gets a lot of attention from people shut down for running over the 1 minute limit imposed by President Tabb that evening. Relatively early in the public comment phase, Tabb acquiesced to Kevin Moody and allowed him to extend his speaking time 4 or 5 times. I’ve edited for brevity, but the point remains that Tabb was flexible enough to accommodate Moody without shutting off the microphone, demanding he quit speaking, or even calling the Parks Police. Not shown in the video, Moody’s praise for the Loppet Foundation and the value of the Adventure Center. It is a coincidence of course, that his opinions were shared by Tabb and almost everyone else on the Board. but of course. Her deference to Moody was, like her crack down on the agitated opposition, assumed to be “content neutral“. As the Decorum and Resistance Series’ roll out, I think it will become increasingly difficult to support that assumption. See if you don’t agree.
For example, the next clip shows that Tabb acted very differently when speakers decried the Loppet Donation Agreement, demanded the MPRB protect union jobs, or raised the uncomfortable issues of racial injustice and discrimination. Listen to Cynthia Wilson and Cathy Jones. They are insistent, pointed, frustrated, yet respectful. Pay special attention to Jones’ story about visiting Parks Superintendent Jayne Miller’s home, because it will come up again in Part 3. Miller is at the center of the accusations of race-based decisions about promotions and firing in the Parks System. Her removal or reprimand remains a core demand of many that spoke on September 7, 2016 and some that did not get a chance to speak before they were ejected and/or arrested from Open Time by President Tabb. Stay tuned.