Cunning, undemocratic neighborhood process continues near U

by Steve Ficker, Minnesota Daily reader

I’ve been a member of the Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association since 1997. The association’s nearly all-white board has been spectacularly undemocratic and adverse to community residents other than homeowners. For many years, it openly discriminated against students, deeming them temporary residents.
In 2005, I proposed allocating Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds for the construction of low-income affordable housing in Prospect Park. The proposal passed easily at a neighborhood-wide meeting. But the Action Plan that PPERRIA distributed and represented on its website to be the approved plan omitted the just-approved requirement to build low-income housing with NRP dollars. 
In 2007, Home Improvement & Affordable Housing Action Plan funds were transferred to the Center for Energy and Environment, which was chosen to administer the neighborhood’s NRP home improvement loans. So far, PPERRIA has produced no record of implementation of the affordable housing construction strategy nor authorization for transfer of these funds to the CEE. I’ve repeatedly asked PPERRIA’s leadership for a complete accounting of these funds and actions, to no avail.
At the 2013 Annual Meeting, PPERRIA distributed large yellow and black buttons at its sign-in desk. The buttons boldly stated, “Member of a small, determined, politically well-connected clique (PPERRIA, INC.)” — a reference to previous criticism.
Later during the meeting, PPERRIA’s board isolated itself from the membership and amended its bylaws without notice. The amendments serve to disenfranchise residents and concentrate power with a select few. The board has progressively taken rights from the membership since 2000.
At the April 2014 Annual Meeting, members were no longer allowed to speak on behalf of their board candidacy. By the time my candidacy was announced, most ballots had already been collected. The president told me someone else said they’d file a complaint after they also weren’t allowed to announce their candidacy.
Despite years of criticism, there is currently only one person of color on PPERRIA’s approximately 40-member board. There’s no board member advocating from
Glendale Public Housing’s 184 units. There are currently no students on the board. Last year, there were zero board members of color.
These are just a few examples of what passes for community engagement in Minneapolis. How can this organization continue to qualify for Citizen Participation Program funding?
My neighborhood association should be an embarrassment to the city and our entire region. Instead, the city and local political entities back it up while residents get cheated.