4/27/2004 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Hinky Business over Civil Rights Director Selection

STIRRINGS OVER CIVIL RIGHTS DIRECTOR SELECTION PROCESS--COMMUNITY MEETING RESCHEDULED

Community Meeting on Civil Rights Director Selection Process
Thursday, April 29
6:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Urban League North
2100 Plymouth Avenue

Shortly after the so-called community advisory committee (stacked with city hall insiders) narrowed the candidate list for Civil Rights Director to two choices, Mayor RT Rybak cut the list to one candidate. It appears that his announcement was timed to undercut the ability of the community to meet the two finalists and choose for ourselves who we want for this extremely important position.

Rybak chose Jayne Khalifa, Director of Penumbra Theater, as the candidate he will present to the executive committee for possible confirmation. Both the process and the candidate are controversial. The other finalist, Jessica Lynn Jackson, was preferred by Natalie Johnson Lee, a member of the executive committee. In addition, it was just learned that Jayne Khalifa's ex-husband works for KP Recruiting, the search firm that selected her for this position. Serious questions are being raised about propriety and possible conflict of interest--once it was known that Khalifa was interested in the position, perhaps this search firm should have bowed out of the process. They certainly should not have interviewed Khalifa.

Candidate Jayne Khalifa is controversial for another reason: Little is known about her background and commitment to civil rights. (More would certainly be known if Rybak & Co. hadn't blocked the community from meeting with her). Some have raised questions about her competence as the Managing Director of the Penumbra Theater. An article from City Pages spells out the issues:

Shadow and Act, Scene II
http://citypages.com/databank/20/981/article7992.asp
VOL 20 #981 . PUBLISHED 9/22/99
The turnover at Penumbra Theatre continues.

THE FINANCIAL TROUBLES besieging the Midwest's premier African-American theater company (detailed in the September 8 issue of City Pages) came to a head last week when two key Penumbra Theatre employees tendered their resignation, bringing this month's total to five, and the total staff-attrition rate to 30 percent. Among the departing are the education director, the marketing director, and the entire finance department.

Although managing director Jayne Khalifa asserts that staff changes are not unusual for a company of Penumbra's size and budget, the fact that Penumbra has the kind of turnover one would expect to find at a Perkins underlines the theater's persistent pecuniary problems--a $260,000 operating deficit, cash-flow miscalculations, and occasional missing paychecks. According to Angela Earl, a part-time box-office assistant who walked off the job last week, she and other employees were told that "they better not have spent their paycheck, because they weren't getting paid this week." Earl, who has been especially vocal in her criticism of the theater's management, says that the en masse defection came in reaction to what she calls a "cover-up" of the theater's shaky financial status.

"They're not publicly acknowledging that they're in deep trouble," she says. "They'll say I'm just some disgruntled employee, but there's more to it. A lot of us want to protect [Penumbra], but maybe they're going to have to fall before they get better."

And while Khalifa does indeed describe Earl as a disgruntled employee, she nevertheless acknowledges that tight finances have created quite a bit of friction within the organization--especially given the impending pressure of a capital campaign to raise $11 million for a new facility. "What do people think a deficit means?" she asks. "It means you owe people money that you can't pay them."

Whether this will interfere with asking people for more money remains to be seen.
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THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE COULD VOTE TO CONFIRM THIS CANDIDATE AS EARLY AS TOMORROW. WE NEED THEM TO SLOW DOWN AND INVOLVE THE COMMUNITY IN THIS PROCESS.

WHAT WE'RE ASKING YOU TO DO:
1) Call or email members of the Executive Committee first thing tomorrow (Wednesday, April 28) morning: Tell them to slow down and involve the community in the process of selecting the next Civil Rights Director.
RT Rybak 612-673-2100 mayor@ci.minneapolis.mn.us
Paul Ostrow 612-673-2201 paul.ostrow@ci.minneapolis.mn.us
Robert Lilligren (612) 673-2208 Robert.Lilligren@ci.minneapolis.mn.us
Natalie Johnson Lee (612) 673-2205 Natalie.JohnsonLee@ci.minneapolis.mn.us
Paul Zerby (612) 673-2202 paul.zerby@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

2) Attend the community meeting Thursday night to discuss the slick tricks the Mayor's office has used to get the candidate they want, regardless of what the people need and to devise strategies for including the community in the process.

3) Read this week's Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (coming out Thursday) to learn about this situation in more detail.


Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


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