Resignation must be submitted immediately
It is not often that a Minneapolis City Agency Department Director receives separate, negative stories in the Star Tribune on the same day, reporting incompetence and belligerent leadership. Velma Korbel accomplished this June 16, 2014. Star Tribune headlines:
• “Divisive Minneapolis civil rights official in hot seat again”
• “Korbel speech ‘magnified’ concerns about management style”
• “Report: Minority participation in Minneapolis contracts falling”
Compare those with the reporting in these selected MSR columns over the past five years:
• “Toxic and corrupt environment in civil rights department,” April 10, 2014
• “A reappointment that is a mistake: Velma Korbel to again head the Department of Civil Rights,” February 19, 2014
• “Justice for David Cornelius Smith: In spite of obstruction of justice from the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department,” June 5, 2013
• “Will Blacks finally get a fair share of work on this stadium? Chair of stadium authority raises serious questions about past inclusion,” February 20, 2013
• ”Minneapolis Continues its fairy tale of compliance. Only painful sanctions will make these tales come true,” December 15, 2010
Director Korbel does not meet the administration/management responsibilities entrusted to her office, nor does she follow the agency’s responsibility to fight discrimination and civil rights violations. Velma Korbel has been provided every opportunity to turn her department around, including the new mayor’s ill-advised recommendation for a second term, which received three Council “no” votes.
The mayor supports Korbel despite observations of the committee Korbel’s department reports to, as well as those of a council member who at one time worked for Korbel. Korbel’s unwillingness to avoid political disaster takes the City’s eyes off the civil rights goals: end discrimination and exclusion. Her unwillingness to play nice reflects a disregard to provide a “no harm” shield for her department. Some say the lack of significant accomplishments during her tenure as department director raises the thinking in some quarters that the department’s only purpose is to skirt civil rights issues.
The disparity report of October 2010 laid out the department’s problems, with solutions for correcting problems and meeting its statutory mission and obligations. Korbel’s belligerent lack of compliance is reflected in the number of lawsuits, both internal by employees and external from plaintiffs suing the department, as she directs the violation of the very civil rights entrusted to the department.
Why are her belligerence and failures continually tolerated? The testimony of former employees outlines her unwillingness to uphold the purposes of this department to serve the mayor and council’s civil rights responsibilities to focus on civil rights compliance. Instead: chaos, City civil rights non-compliance, and lawsuits. The department has been a disaster through two directors and two mayors. When will the city finally get into full civil rights compliance?
It is good to see the Star Tribune finally addressing this in its two-part series. No one person or department has the answer or all of the truth, but we won’t find the answers or the truth until we all work together.
The City needs to govern fairly, to serve as a citadel of fairness and protection for its citizens, its employees, and its visitors. We as citizens deserve better than what council/department currently offers.