Chai News has been following the saga unfold on the Ethnic Councils as they are institutions connected to the ALANA (African Latino Asian and Native American) communities and direct link to the Executive and Legislative branches of government in Minnesota.
The current councils are: Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs, Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, and Council on Minnesotans of African Heritage.
First lets put things in perspective.
There is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt and reported in the mainstream and ethnic media that the economic assets of the ALANA communities have declined during the period 2007-13, with some communities in a very precarious position (see Policyminute video and data). At the same time the ALANA communities will be the prime additions to the workforce as the rate of growth of the white population is declining and dependents increasing. What we need in this scenario is a highly skilled and productive workforce. The existing data easily leads to the conclusion that there will be large groups of ALANA workers who will be basically competing for low –wage unskilled jobs with a bleak future. This scenario will be a reality we do not do anything today. We will have a permanent ALANA underclass.
The state then is in dire need of the cultural intelligence and resources to change the current trajectory of the ALANA populations and the Councils can play a role provided they have legitimacy both within the state government and within the community.
This leads us to the question – who will choose the Executive Directors of the Councils and is the process transparent?
The director of the Legislative Coordinating Commission who will be leading the selection process mentions the following stages in the selection process- all to be completed by November 15, 2015. (The director was requested to post this process on the LCC website. The process below is what was communicate verbally by the director).
Stage 1: Each Council will nominate 3 people to be on the Search Committee. The House Research office and Senate Research office will nominate one person. The Director of the Legislative Coordinating Commission with be the third person. This group will compile a list of candidates for consideration
Question – Where is the community involvement? There should be at least two members of the community at large in Stage 1. This will ensure a proper check and balance in the system.
Stage 2: A subgroup of 4 legislators will choose the finalists. The House and Senate Majority and Minority leaders will each choose a member to this group.
Question – What role will the ALANA legislators play in this subgroup? How will this sub-group listen to the voice of the community and integrate this input into their decision making?
Stage 3: The Legislative Coordinating Commission will chose the Executive Director.
Question – What role will the community have in this final round? At the minimum the finalists should make a presentation to the community on their vision, talents and temperament and the community should be allowed to provide direct feedback to the selection committee. Will the members of the LCC who are top leaders serve as champions for the new Councils and their new Executive Directors and give full attention to the priorities of the ALANA communities? The LCC needs to make a clear statement of support and leadership in this context.
The new Executive Directors have to be “owned” by both the Legislators as well as the community. They are going to play a very important role in shaping the policies and programs in the state.
Below is the link to the three positions and the application process:
We do have a great opportunity to shape the future – together.