Editor's Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by Richfield resident Joe Hoover.
My name is Joe Hoover and I am a member of Richfield Commoners United (RCU).
Let's really call Pillsbury Commons out for what it is - a big money grab by Ron Clark and the city council, commissioners and it's other supporters. All they hope to do is line their pockets with the money made by this development.
Now the scandalous statement I just made is not totally inaccurate. Ron Clark is doing this for the money, I doubt he would be volunteering his time and donating money for the project. But saying that the city council, commissioners and other supporters are doing this for the money is pretty much making it up out of whole cloth. However, while the city council does get a salary, I think if they added up all the hours they spent acting as council members they would probably come under minimum wage.
I said the outlandish statement to prove a point. and Pillsbury Commons' other supporters have been crying wolf using the "racist" card for far too long to hide their otherwise lack of any clear strong arguments to rebuke what we have been saying against the proposed Pillsbury Commons development with no one calling them out.
Are there people in Richfield whose opposition to Pillsbury Commons is motivated by racist fears? Certainly, but that is not the reason that there is a well organized opposition to the project.
Richfield Commoners United on the other hand has been pointing out that by building Pillsbury Commons in Richfield it would actually be an act of racism, since Richfield is a racial integrated community and it has been shown that Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which is funding this project to the tune of $10 million have the effect of racially segregating neighborhoods and to date most Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects have been built in poor inner city segregated neighborhoods or stressed inner ring suburbs not wealthy communities like Edina. It is important to point out that even though Richfield is integrated the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency specifically requires the developer Ron Clark to target advertising Pillsbury Commons to communities of color. This and the fact that most Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects are developed in which would go a long way to explain why these kind of developments tend to reinforce and encourage segregation in inner city segregated neighborhoods or resegregation in stressed inner ring suburbs.
Pillsbury Commons proponents like Camillo DeSantis and Susan Rosenberg go even a step farther and make the "expert" assumption that even though we may not be using racist rhetoric none the less, they assure the city council, commissioners, the news media and others that we really are racist and we are just being devious by hiding it.
Ok, so then using DeSantis logic, it makes sense to not only accuse Ron Clark of shameless exploitive profiteering but also anyone who supports the project on the city council, planning commission, HRA and even Mr. DeSantis himself. Do we have hard evidence? No, but we know of course what is really driving them. Money makes the world go around right?
Still it is frustrating when we even bring out a hint of an argument that Ron Clark might be gaming the system to financially profit at Richfield's expense we get chided as attacking a businessman only trying to make money. Meanwhile no one on the City Council, Planning Commission or HRA seems brave enough for calling out Mr. DeSantis and Pillsbury Commons supporters on their cries of wolf and playing the race card to distract from the real issues with the proposed Pillsbury Commons development and Richfield's bad housing policies. Sadly, when presented with opportunities to actually discuss affordable housing policies in Richfield, not only are Pillsbury Commons supporters not interested but they have actually run and hid from the discussion.
What really seems to be motivating supporters of the proposed Pillsbury Commons development that use the racist card is a lack of critical thinking and the adherence to an uncompromising ideology.
See the Richfield Patch Pillsbury Commons topic page for more on the project.
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