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Long-Time Resident Stands Up for Pillsbury Commons

Camillo DeSantis defends the project and charges some of its opponents with fear mongering.

has spent nearly 60 years as a Richfield resident and just as long as a community activist and working in the social services industry.

With being loud and proud in their opposition, DeSantis has made trips to the microphone during Richfield City Council public forum and recently wrote a lengthy letter to the city in an attempt to squash "

Richfield Commoners United, a neighborhood group that has formed against the development, also goes by Richfield SOS (Save Our Suburb). DeSantis argues the group's circulars making their way through the city are "examples of fear mongering, distortions, innuendos, misinformation, wild and misguided speculation, falsehoods and confusion to name some."

He also stated the families who would be living in the complex are working to earn a living just like anybody else in the neighborhood and workforce families should stop being referred to as "low-income."

"The SOS group consistently refers to the potential Pillsbury Commons residents as 'low-income' with the demeanor that they are inferior, the “scum” of the earth, and the lowest of the lowest and taking advantage of various forms of public assistance," DeSantis wrote in his letter to the city. "Some even say the entire Pillsbury Commons will become a Section 8 public housing project. This is absolutely hysteria out of control."

DeSantis also believes the project would allow workforce families to get their piece of the American Dream.

"The American Dream isn't limited to a single-family home," Camillo wrote. "What is sad about all this is the fact that Richfield is essentially 99% community, a work force community and we are squabbing over something everybody needs, a place to live."

DeSantis closed his letter with a couple questions for people to mull over:

"We often hear words like justice, equality, fairness, respect, opportunity, family values and children are our future," he wrote. "Are these universal values or selective values? Are we willing to apply them to the potential Pillsbury Commons families as well?"

DeSantis' full letter to the City of Richfield is attached to this article as a PDF.

Tell us how you feel about the project in the comments section below.

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Richfield Commoners United April 26, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Please visit our website: http://www.facebook.com/RichfieldMinnesota
Susan Means Rosenberg April 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I am very proud of Camillo and the stand that he has taken in this issue. His heart is and has always been for the the rights of the poor and justice for all. I stand with him completely in support of this development. He is a beacon of light in the craziness that has befallen this issue and I only hope this letter in support of Pillsbury Commons give those who agree with him the guts to speak for it.
R Bowers April 26, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Bravo, Camillo, for standing up for this project! We desperately need housing that is affordable for working families for stay and grow in Richfield.
Richfield Commoners United April 26, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Students receiving free and reduced lunches: Richfield: 65% Edina: 8% Why do Camillo DeSantis and Susan Rosenberg continue to remain silent on demanding that Edina build its far share of workforce housing but demand that Richfield build Edina's share? Just who are they trying to protect? http://www.mnsun.com/articles/2012/03/29/headlines/68ri29fiscal.txt
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I uploaded the fliers Camillo referred to in his letter as PDFs and they can now be seen above. He mentions two circulars in the letter, but there are three.
Barry L. April 26, 2012 at 09:08 PM
DeSantis argues the group's circulars making their way through the city are "examples of fear mongering, distortions, innuendos, misinformation, wild and misguided speculation, falsehoods and confusion to name some." If some one can help in identifying the examples Mr. DeSantis is talking about in the above PDF's, we can have an open and honest conversation.
Barry L. April 27, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Susan, If Ron Clark was a truly a supporter of Camillo cause, and was building this unit for what you wrote above. Ask Ron Clark to donate every penny of profit from his gross $700,000 -Net $275,000 each year to either a college scholarship at a local community college, or to Fish and Loafs. As Ron Clark has a gift center named after him in Edina. Instead of Pillburys Commons the building could be named after Ron Clark. http://www.ci.edina.mn.us/content/facilities/art_center/facilities/clark_gift_shop/index.htm
Ghislaine Ball April 29, 2012 at 10:17 PM
50/60 years ago when Mr. DeSantos first moved to Richfield, Richfield was a highly segregated, white, middle-class community - for-the-love-of-pete - the Lions and Rotary Clubs used to hold regular minstrel shows and in 1951 when the Samples family moved here from Iowa (one of the first African-American families to move into the city) neighbors held a meeting at a local bar to strategize on how to get rid of them! We have Mr. DeSantos and forward thinking activists of that generation to thank for all the hard work that went into making Richfield the racially integrated community that we enjoy today. With that said, the challenges facing Richfield in the 2010s are quite a bit different than they were 50+ years ago. We have racial integration (Richfield is in fact a model of racial integration), what we need is economic integration in order to position ourselves for Richfield 50+ years from now. Ron Clark's Pillsbury Commons is a step backward - not forward. Certainly race and economics are intertwined and an honest dialogue must address socially uncomfortable issues openly, but the issue that we're facing today in 2012 is about positioning ourselves for economic diversity while maintaining our integrated status and that seems to be a difficult nuance for Mr. DeSantos and Ms. Rosenburg to discern.
Susan Means Rosenberg April 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM
"For the love of Pete" - one would think that when someone is so ready to give an opinion on another's ideas in print, they could get the the names spelled correctly. For the record, it is DeSantis and Rosenberg. Especially when it is on the same page....just a few lines above! And while I am on the subject, I work for "Loaves and Fishes" not fish and loafs. Sometimes that may be a difficult nuance for some to discern...spelling....and accuracy. ~sigh~
Richfield Commoners United May 01, 2012 at 06:46 AM
SuSan,,, Really...answer some questions..
Richfield Commoners United May 16, 2012 at 02:06 PM
At the May 8th City Council meeting it was revealed that members of the city council & HRA commission had been privately contacted by Ron Clark to discuss his new proposal. The topic was brought up when Fred Wroge announced that Ron Clark had called his private phone to request a meeting. Councilman Wroge declined Clark's request, Tom Fritzhenry also declined saying "If he has something to say he can say it to all of us." , When Wroge's 'outing' of Clark prompted Councilman Elliott's admission that he too had been contacted and met with Ron Clark, saying he would not apologize for behind closed door meetings.
Richfield Commoners United May 16, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Given that Ron Clark Construction has received ample time to present their plans to the City Council, HRA and the Planning Commission in meeting after meeting it is very suspect that they would want to meet in round robin format with the HRA and City Council and circumvent Minnesota's Open Meeting Law. Where is the transparency with dealing with Ron Clark? Shouldn't his plans be discussed in the open? What does Ron Clark have to say to them about Pillsbury Commons that cannot be said in a public meeting? While it is unknown if Ron Clark Construction violated any laws, the ethics of this matter is certainly not becoming of a recipient of the Minnesota Business Ethics Award and someone who says, “Honesty, integrity and fair play have always been of utmost importance to us." Please contact members of the City Council and the HRA and let them know that meetings with Ron Clark Construction or their representatives outside of public meetings is not ok.
Richfield Commoners United May 16, 2012 at 02:06 PM
The new application from Ron Clark is still 70 units of 100% Section 42 housing funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credits not Ron Clark's own money. Edina, home of Ron Clark and Ron Clark Construction, still expects Richfield to pick up its share of workforce housing. Nothing has changed. This development is still bad housing policy and bad for Richfield.
Richfield Commoners United May 29, 2012 at 02:35 AM
So Ron Clark pulls a another one... Lets take the Planning commission for a ride...with WE HAVE NOT FILLED OUT OUR APPLICATION AGAIN....Why will the city elected let Ron Clark jerk the city residents around...Now the VOTE for Planning Commission will be pushed back till June 25th...YEA right, and the city staff says ...?
Richfield Commoners United May 29, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Pillsbury Commons Process Hits Another Snag, So lets drag the city residents around and around, Thank you for being the developer you are. My be the city of Richfield will name a gift shop after you like they did in EDINA. for " AN excellent way to win hearts and minds developer" here in Richfield...oh yea we dont have a Art Gift shop but if you have your way we will have the very first SECTION 42 Shelter..Please visit http://ci.edina.mn.us/content/facilities/art_center/facilities/clark_gift_shop/index.htm
Richfield Commoners United June 09, 2012 at 12:55 PM
This is an excelant reponse to Mr. Camillo De Santis http://richfield.patch.com/articles/resident-accuses-pillsbury-commons-supporters-of-crying-wolf
T Bowers June 09, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Barry, you don't think you're fear-mongering? The latest batch of garbage your group placed on our doors states "the future of Best Buy is in question" and the city will "lose an estimated $7million in taxes". That statement is either fear mongering or based on absolutely zero knowledge of business... either way you are mis-informing the residents of Richfield. Best Buy generates over $2 billion in cash flow and has $1 billion in the bank. Is the company changing? Definitely it is. But by listing this under a line "what could happen in 26 years?", your group is doing nothing more than speculating a scenario with no facts to back it up. That sounds like fear mongering to me.
T Bowers June 09, 2012 at 06:04 PM
And in full disclosure, I am a Richfield resident and a Best Buy employee.
Richfield Commoners United June 10, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Tim - both of those statements are accurate - the future of Best Buy is in question and the estimated amount of taxes is $7 million. Cash flow and liquidity speak to the ability of the company's to meet it's debt but not to the long-term viability of the organization
Richfield Commoners United June 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I thought your name sounded familiar ... any relation to Rebecca Bowers of Community Action Partnership in Bloomington? I had a lively discussion with her a few months ago.
Richfield Commoners United June 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM
We want to work together and show there is a better way to provide housing, http://richfield.patch.com/articles/pillsbury-commons-project-effectively-dead?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001#comment_3596579
Richfield Commoners United June 13, 2012 at 08:08 PM
So Ron Clark has a rental Property and he has not paid rental Lic either? Let's see who will call and say why is Ron Clark getting things for free? http://www16.co.hennepin.mn.us/pins/addrresult.jsp Proerty ID#34-028-24-34-0049 Address:7600 PILLSBURY AVE S Taxpayer Name & Address: RICHFIELD PROPERTIES LLC, 7500 78TH ST W, EDINA MN 55439 Page 20 of 26...HUMMM do not see Ron Clark paying rental fee? WHY? http://www.cityofrichfield.org/permits/docs/Richfield___List_of_Rental_Properties.pdf

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