MINNEAPOLIS — Four state councils that are meant to address minority concerns have been largely ineffective and should be reformed or eliminated, Minnesota's legislative auditor said Friday.
The audit cited "six overarching problems" including a lack of clear purpose for the councils, poor attendance at meetings and poor communications between the councils and other organizations that serve their communities. The councils do a poor job of setting specific goals and measuring the impact of their activities, and the governor's office often takes a long time to appoint members to the councils, the audit found.
The program evaluation offered four options for change, ranging from maintaining the councils but requiting operational improvements to eliminating them and creating advisory committees within state agencies to address minority concerns.
"While we do not recommend one alternative or another, we think more, rather than less, change is needed," Legislative Auditor James Nobles wrote.
The Office of the Legislative Auditor looked at four independent bodies the Legislature created from 1963 to 1985, the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, the Council on Black Minnesotans, the Chicano/Latino Affairs Council and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. The councils spent about $3 million in 2013 and employed 16 staffers. They're supposed to advise the governor and Legislature and serve as liaisons to state policymakers.
The executive directors of the Asian-Pacific and Chicano-Latino councils welcomed at least some of the recommendations, while the directors of the councils for black and American Indian Minnesotans objected to the report.
"It traps the reader in a litany of revisionist history and the promotion of stereotypical rhetoric about African heritage people and other ethnic groups," wrote Edward McDonald, director of the Council on Black Minnesotans, who urged that the report not be released and said adoption of any its recommendations would be a disgrace.
Annamarie Hill, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, wrote that the auditor's office had "chosen to ignore the unique nature of the Council and the crucial role it plays in fostering and developing the government to government relationship between the State of Minnesota and the tribal governments within the state."