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Monday, February 17, 2014

Just how much is a human life worth on the black market? Where does Minesota rank in this terrible crime? The answer might astound you. January was Human Trafficking Awareness month. TruthToTell took a long look into the many forms of exploitation and enslavement happening at the hands of trafficking lords in Minnesota. This week we encore Part One. With these crimes often happening in plain sight right under our noses, we seek to find ways to be keen to these types of crimes as they are happening, and learn the best ways to offer help to victims. In this series, we’ll also speak to survivors of these heinous crimes about their experiences as a victim as well as their lives after breaking free.

Minnesota’s native women, particularly along the North Shore, are disproportionately affected by sex trafficking. Taken from their homes through coercion or desperation, they are often spread around the state and the country providing services to eager Johns (the majority of them are white males, according to research by PRE, Prostitution Research & Education). These practices affect an average of 100 girls under the age of 18 every month in Minnesota, according to FBI reports.

But Native women are not the only ones affected by these tragedies. Current victims are of all races and ages, as well as domestic and international origins. Sex trafficking is also not the only form; other trafficking victims are exploited for free labor, producing babies, supplying human organs, and more. The perpetrators can range from strangers dangling a carrot before desperate people, kidnappers, crooked doctors and lawyers, to one’s own family member.

New laws have been passed in recent years to protect victims who have the courage to try to break free from their servitude, so they are not punished for the crimes they were driven to commit against their will or deported for an illegal immigration status they have no control over. There have also been landmark decisions recently concerning the punishment of trafficking perpetrators. Just last week, Ramsey County issued an unprecedented 40 year prison sentence to Otis Washington, for his involvement in a family operated sex trafficking ring. And as you read this, more policies are being drafted.

TTT’s Andy Driscoll and Michelle Alimoradi talk with our guests about these points and more this Monday at 9am on TruthToTell. 

On-air guests: 

SUZANNE KOEPPLINGER: Executive Director,  Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center,  Consultant, Office for Victims of Crime Training, recipient of the Minneapolis FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award and Hennepin County  Attorney’s Community Leadership Award.


JEFF BAUER: Director of Public Policy and Civic Engagement, The Family Partnership, Master’s degree in Public Policy, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, helped pass lead Safe Harbor law in Minnesota that protects children from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

 


TERRY FORLITI: Alumni Programs and Volunteer Manager and former Board Member, Breaking Free, Current Board Member, Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Coalition , survivor of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

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What sort of civilized democratic society formed along a set of basic rights and principles maintains such wide disparities between its treatment of one demographic set of citizens (Whites/Caucasians) versus all the others (People of Color and those in poverty and homelessness) whose contributions should be as important as anyone’s.

Urban America has so long been plagued with glaring disparities in education, nutrition, healthcare, and employment opportunities, not to mention prison pipelines and treatment by members of law enforcement and corrections, that one would think some measure of shame would fall on the consciences of those who claim to be living and behaving faithfully under this nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Simply not so.  Nearly 250 years after our original founding premise that “all ‘men’ are created equal” in the eyes of the state and their maker, the enduring disparities have not only not been washed away by law or conscience, they have recently intensified, as persistently chronicled in studies from a variety of sources – including the University Law School’s Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity (Oct, 2013) – originally The Institute on Law and Poverty – directed by Prof. Myron Orfield; the Minnesota Department of Health’s recent report on structural racism and health disparities and Prof. Michelle Alexander’s indictment of the law enforcement and correction system’s treatment of men of color – The New Jim Crow.

Still, the institutions serving our diverse urban cores keep setting goals and objectives designed to rid us of the chronic gaps in providing safe and encouraging spaces and participatory opportunities in the mainstream of this otherwise most affluent culture. The questions must be asked – when are words and plans simply not enough to close the widening achievement gaps in our P-12 education settings?

The words sound as committed as ever, but repeated five-year strategic plans and similar documents have thus far been toothless in actually closing those gaps. Not that the schools themselves are completely responsible for either the gaps or closing them. This is a community-wide, Metro-wide and citywide problem of the first water. Lying underneath all of these issues is the aforementioned structural racism that drives, often too subtly to be identified and addressed in truly effective and accountable ways. In fact nearly 70% of all enrolled students are of color in Minneapolis (as they are in so many cities). And, still, segregation by geography, class and income persist.

Now, the Minneapolis Schools have concluded one 2007 Strategic Plan, issued a 5-year Enrollment Plan (in the face of declining enrollment, despite population growth) and a preparing for the construct of a new, 5-year Strategic Plan. These are all probably necessary, but does the public really get it? Can the District possibly meet its ambitious goals and implement its objectives – as they adjust themselves each year – to successfully create an educational climate full of achievement and opportunity for all students, let alone the larger goals of college attainment in communities of color?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI query senior Minneapolis Schools officials as to the successful and not-so-successful outcomes at the end of one strategic plan and moving into another while giving action to its enrollment plan approved in December.

GUESTS:

BERNADEIA JOHNSON – Superintendent, Minneapolis Schools (Independent District #1)

 

 

 

KIM ELLISON – Member, Minneapolis Board of Education – At-large; Clerk of School Board

REBECCA GAGNON -  Member, Minneapolis Board of Education – At-large; Board Treasurer

 


 

AND YOU!! Call and join this conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post on TruthToTell’s Facebook page.

Monday, February 3, 2014

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"Americans overwhelmingly agree, nobody who's working full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty…and that is why I firmly believe it is time to give America a raise,” This was the proclamation of President Obama in his recent 2014 State of the Union address. The President even gave some credit to higher wage renegades at the St. Paul-based chain Punch Pizza (though he caught some flack for saying they were based out of Minneapolis) for voluntarily raising their starting wage to $10 an hour because it was the right thing to do for employee morale. But the president’s comments on Tuesday night weren’t the first we’ve heard about raising the minimum wage in America.

The debate over whether or not raising the minimum wage will help or hurt already struggling low-wage Americans has been raging on for decades, particularly in the wake of the great recession.

Supporters of a raise tout that raising the minimum wage to a living wage will give people more money to spend, which in turn would boost spending and jumpstart the economy. Several conservative business people are coming round to this fact.

Dissenters, however, worry that a forced wage increase will present too much of a burden on small businesses, thus forcing them to cut jobs or go out of business all together. Worse still, is the concern that increased wages will lead to consumer price inflation that will nullify any progress supporters of a wage increase hope to gain.

The current state minimum wage in Minnesota is $6.15 an hour, which seemed generous when the adjustment was made in 2006, but now all of Minnesota’s neighboring states have raised their minimum to match the new federal minimum of $7.25 and Minnesota has yet to join the club. Many argue that there is little need to do so because most businesses are beholden to the federal minimum anyway, but new pending legislation in the state House and Senate, are proposing wage increases somewhere between $7.75 and $9.50 per hour. Some, including Governor Dayton, would say that this still isn’t high enough, considering that the Living Wage Calculator (by Poverty in America), calculates the living wage for a single person with no children in Hennepin County at $9.69 per hour.

Who has it right? Can anyone really know for sure until these changes go into effect? Can a wage increase in absence of any other corporate regulation at the federal level to reign in greedy profit margins really do more good than harm? TruthToTell’s Andy Driscoll and Michelle Alimoradi ask these questions and more of our guests this Monday.

Guests:

SEN. JOHN MARTY - (DFL- 66), Chair, MN Senate Environment and Energy Committee


REP. JIM ABELER -  (R-35A), Candidate for US Senate in 2014


 

 

 

REP. RYAN WINKLER - (DFL-46A); Co-Author, HF 1980 calling for a Constitutional amendment requiring inflation-adjusted minimum wages starting Jan. 1, 2015



 

REP. JOHN LESCH - (DFL-66B-St. Paul)



 

 

JESSICA ENGLISH -  Organizer, Take Action Minnesota;  Single mom and former retail worker

 


SCOTT COY KENDALL, Now a Robbinsdale Dominos Pizza employee, after being laid off in the recession.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Help TTT continue to produce hyper local public affairs programming like this each week. Donate to TruthToTell's parent, CivicMedia-Minnesota today!

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The United States is unique among the world’s democracies in the relative absence of socialism as an accepted worldview and political movement. Unlike most democracies, the U.S. does not have socialist party capable of winning major elections – a fact that might surprise some Tea Party members who insist that President Barak Obama is himself a socialist!

Yet socialism has played an important role in American history—especially here in Minnesota, where socialists were at the heart of the labor and progressive farm movements, were elected mayors and city council members in both Minneapolis and St. Paul and played a critical role in the foundation of the Farmer-Labor Party.  And signs that history may be repeating itself surfaced in Minneapolis this past November when Ty Moore of Socialist Alternative came within 229 votes of being elected to the city council.

Given the growing divide between the 1 percent and the rest of us and the continued ability of corporate America to shape our political choices, it is no wonder that socialist ideas are making a comeback.  And while large numbers of Americans continue to favor capitalism over socialism, a 2011 poll by Pew Research showed that 49 % of respondents between the ages of 20 and 29 had a positive view of socialism compared to 43 % for capitalism.  Interestingly, the same poll showed Blacks favoring socialism over capitalism by 59% to 34 % and Liberal Democrats preferring socialism by a similar margin. 

Without giving too much credence to one opinion survey, the combination of social trends and renewed organizing on the ground suggests that we may be in for a renewed encounter with socialist ideas and politics.  So what is socialism anyway?  Is there more than one kind?  What role has socialism played in our political history—and perhaps most importantly, what role will it play in the months and years ahead?

To help us think about these questions TruthtoTell’s Andy Driscoll and guest co-host Tom O’Connell welcome two guests who are deeply familiar with socialism past and present. Tune in Monday at 9am. 

On-air guests:

PETER RACHLEFF- Professor Emeritus in History, Macalester College, social justice activist

TY MOORE- Recent Socialist Alternative Minneapolis City Council Candidate

Monday, January 20, 2014

 

Help TTT continue to produce hyper local public affairs programming like this each week. Donate to TruthToTell's parent, CivicMedia-Minnesota today!

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“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” 

-Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This Monday, on the day this nation celebrates the birth of civil rights champion Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it seems appropriate that TTT spends this day taking a critical look into the modern-day forms of human exploitation and enslavement. These crimes disproportionately affect those in our society who are poor, abused from a young age, and psychologically conditioned to believe they are not worthy of a better situation than they are in.

The month of January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month and TruthToTell has put together a special two-part series in which we take a deeper look at how victims get sucked in to trafficking situations and what some brave victims, survivors and advocates are doing to help them break free from their oppressors.

This week, TTT’s Michelle Alimoradi talks with local journalist Bukola Oriola. Bukola is a survivor of labor trafficking and has now dedicated her work as a journalist to advocating for human trafficking victims and survivors through community education and survivor support with her organization, The Enitan Story. In 2012, she wrote a memoir entitled, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim, she also hosts an advocacy program on North Metro Cable Access TV in Blaine called Imprisoned Show.

Tune in Monday at 9am when Michelle and Bukola talk about the psychology of victims, why they often don’t ask for help while they’re being victimized, and discuss how each of us as concerned citizens can maintain a healthy, helpful level of awareness to curb these fast-growing, heinous crimes. 

On-air guests:

BUKOLA ORIOLA- Labor Trafficking survivor, Journalist, Human Trafficking Advocate, Founder, The Enitan Story, Author, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim, Producer/Host, Imprisoned Show

Monday, January 13, 2014

Help TTT continue to produce hyper local public affairs programming like this each week. Donate to TruthToTell's parent, CivicMedia-Minnesota today!

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Just how much is a human life worth on the black market? The answer might astound you. January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and for the next two weeks, TruthToTell  takes a long look into the many forms of exploitation and enslavement happening at the hands of trafficking lords in Minnesota. With these crimes often happening in plain sight right under our noses, we seek to find ways to be keen to these types of crimes as they are happening, and learn the best ways to offer help to victims. In this series, we’ll also speak to survivors of these heinous crimes about their experiences as a victim as well as their lives after breaking free.

Minnesota’s native women, particularly along the North Shore, are disproportionately affected by sex trafficking. Taken from their homes through coercion or desperation, they are often spread around the state and the country providing services to eager Johns (the majority of them are white males, according to research by PRE, Prostitution Research & Education). These practices affect an average of 100 girls under the age of 18 every month in Minnesota, according to FBI reports.

But Native women are not the only ones affected by these tragedies. Current victims are of all races and ages, as well as domestic and international origins. Sex trafficking is also not the only form; other trafficking victims are exploited for free labor, producing babies, supplying human organs, and more. The perpetrators can range from strangers dangling a carrot before desperate people, kidnappers, crooked doctors and lawyers, to one’s own family member.

New laws have been passed in recent years to protect victims who have the courage to try to break free from their servitude, so they are not punished for the crimes they were driven to commit against their will or deported for an illegal immigration status they have no control over. There have also been landmark decisions recently concerning the punishment of trafficking perpetrators. Just last week, Ramsey County issued an unprecedented 40 year prison sentence to Otis Washington, for his involvement in a family operated sex trafficking ring. And as you read this, more policies are being drafted.

TTT’s Andy Driscoll and Michelle Alimoradi will speak to this week’s guests about these points and more coming up this Monday at 9am on TruthToTell. 

On-air guests:

SUZANNE KOEPPLINGER: Executive Director,  Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center,  Consultant, Office for Victims of Crime Training, recipient of the Minneapolis FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award and Hennepin County  Attorney’s Community Leadership Award.

 


JEFF BAUER: Director of Public Policy and Civic Engagement, The Family Partnership, Master’s degree in Public Policy, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, helped pass lead Safe Harbor law in Minnesota that protects children from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

 

 


TERRY FORLITI: Alumni Programs and Volunteer Manager and former Board Member, Breaking Free, Current Board Member, Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Coalition , survivor of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Join us this Monday as we present the reprise of this special conversation:

TruthToTell’s Andy Driscoll and special guest co-host Tom O’Connell with sit down with former Minnesota legislator Kathleen Vellenga (DFL- 64A, St. Paul) to talk about her new historical novel, Strangers in Our Midst.  The story is about two young girls in mid-seventeenth century North America who become unlikely friends. One is an Anglo who came over on the Mayflower, the other, a young girl in the east coast Wampanoag tribe. Forty Press describes the tale as, “a critical moment in our continent's history, remaining faithful to the historical record while avoiding both stereotypes and finger-pointing. It describes a time when love, trust, and understanding struggled to overcome cruelty, hardship, and deception in all societies-and it does so with great imagination.”

Join Andy and Tom as they speak with Vellenga about this new, critically acclaimed work. Tune in this Monday at 9am on TruthToTell. 

KATHLEEN VELLENGA- Novelist, former Minnesota State Legislator in St. Paul’s District 64A

Monday, December 30, 2013

Make a New Year's resolution to support quality local public affairs programming. Donate to TruthToTell's parent, CivicMedia-Minnesota today!

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The New Year’s holiday is a time of promise; marked by those ever hopeful New Year’s resolutions and celebration of better times ahead. In that spirit, TruthToTell will be speaking with Minnesotans across the state, including you, to gather big ideas and special wishes for 2014. Our focus will be both light and serious: from the sheer delight of a good poem, to the mind-turning power of a good idea; to the solidarity that comes with communicating with each other across region and circumstance.

TTT’s Michelle Alimoradi and Tom O’Connell will have Representative Carlos Mariani and Marcia Avner in studio to provide some context for our conversation and add a few New Year’s wishes of their own. Please join our conversation with your thoughts by calling us on Monday at 612-341-0980. 

On-air guests:

CARLOS MARIANI – MN Representative, District 65B, Director, Minnesota Minority Education Partnership 

MARCIA AVNER - Former Communication Director for Senator Paul Wellstone, Public Policy Director, Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, faculty with Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Monday, December 23, 2013

In this holiday season, TruthtoTell pauses to reflect on the annual promise of peace on earth and good will to all.  Universal peace may seem an unattainable goal, at least in the short term, but that doesn’t stop peace makers (and war resisters) from working creatively to bring peace with justice to our neighborhoods and the world. 

Tune in this Monday as TTT hosts Michelle Alimoradi and Tom O’Connell talk with four Twin Cities’ peace makers about their work, the lessons they are learning, and what gives them hope. 

On-air guests:

Tim Wallis- Phd in peace studies, has worked on peacemaking all over the world, former Director, Nonviolent Peaceforce, currently working on The Futility of Force affirming diplomacy, mutual trust, and belief in common humanity.

Melvin Giles- Twin Cities Peacemaker, member of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers.

 

 

 

 

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer- Associate Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Founder, Minnesota Arms Spending Alternatives Project (MNASAP),  Author, Authentic Hope: It’s the End of the World as we know it, but soft landings are possible.

Lucia Wilkes-Smith - Long-time participant and former staff, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM).  Currently working with WAMM’s Middle East and Ground All Drones Committee, actively working to inform the public about the illegal SodaStream operation in the West Bank. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

As the debate over public education rages on, one area that almost everyone agrees on is the importance of parent involvement.  But what exactly is parent involvement?  How open are our schools to genuine partnerships? How well do our schools engage with low income communities and communities of color? What happens when the cultural values reflected in our public schools clash with the values and experiences of students and their families?    

The evening of Wednesday, December 11, hosts Tom O’Connell and Michelle Alimoradi spoke to panelists and guests at the Minneapolis Urban League about approaches that go beyond site councils and parent-teacher meetings (as important as they are) to deeper relationships between schools, parents and communities. Tune in this Monday at 9am to hear the audio reprise of last week’s live forum. 

Catch the televised re-broadcast of this forum on SPNN St. Paul Cable Channel 19 and MTN Minneapolis Cable Channel 16. 

TruthToTell: Community Connections is made possible by a generous grant from the Bush Foundation, which has enabled TruthToTell to partner with KFAI Fresh Air Radio, St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), and selected community partners to present these discussions and dialogues on important issues like education, the environment, health care, politics and elections, transportation, Native concerns, youth issues and more, into the key communities affected by these respective topics for radio, television and online distribution.

CivicMedia-Minnesota is a 501c3 non-profit production company based in St. Paul, Minnesota, created to bring civic and media literacy to the Twin Cities region and Minnesota, informing, educating and empowering residents and students in local, state and regional public affairs and to amplify the voices of concerned  communities on key issues facing them every day. CMM’s main goal is to engage citizens by helping them understand issues of governance and public policy, critique media coverage of critical policy matters, encourage public discourse and help people take collective action to resolve problems and influence public policy.

On-air guests: 

Victoria Balko- Former Chair, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change Education Committee

Zuke Ellis & Rebecca Wade- Parent/Teacher Home visit program team, St. Paul Federation of Teachers St. Paul

Kristen Talbert- Participant, Absent Narratives Project sponsored by the Minnesota Humanities Commission, currently works at the Ain Dah Yung Center for Native Youth. 

Tracine Asberry- Minneapolis School Board Member, District 2, former Minneapolis  Public Schools and teacher and parent, PhD  in Critical Pedagogy from the University of St. Thomas

Other Designated Respondants:

Amanda Norman- Board Member, CivicMedia-Minnesota, Project Coordinator on the documentary film project, “Increasing Parent Engagement Through Absent Narratives” from the Minnesota Humanities Commission and the Northwest Suburban Integration School District. Masters in Education from Augsburg University.

Kate Towle- Winner, St. Paul Foundation’s Facing Race Idea Challenge for her work supporting student voice as founder of Project START (Students Together as Allies for Racial Trust, Author, “Cultivating the Untapped Potential of All Parents”