Bias and Misrepresentation – The Unfair, Uphill Battle We Fight

This past week, a “reporter” (intern) from the Star Tribune joined the Stop The Greenway Facebook group.  She told us she would be walking the greenway, interviewing people for an article.

As it was just on the heels of an incredibly biased article about the greenway, we were excited – there was finally someone willing to listen to those who live on the route!  Many, many people offered to talk to her.

As administrator of this site, someone mentioned that she should talk to me, and I agreed. We exchanged information, she gave me a time she’d be by to talk to me, and said she’d message me when she was near.  I got a message “I’m here!”, and when I replied, she told me she would be 15 minutes.  More than an hour later – then outside of the stated window of my availability   – she finally messaged me.  We decided to take it to email, where I answered her interview questions promptly.

I felt very disrespected at the time, but assumed she was inexperienced. I was still thankful for the idea that someone was finally looking to listen to the residents.  I should have seen the writing on the wall.

The Star Tribune published her INCREDIBLY one sided piece.  Only one resident who was against the greenway was quoted. Our issues were minimized to things like “an ice cream truck can’t get through”, the Grand Opening Situation was described in a patently false, misleading manner.

Once again, those who take a salary for pushing this greenway onto us were front and center. Those with the most resources- those who stand to benefit by taking from others – were given a voice, while those with the least resources – who stand to LOSE from this encroachment – were all but ignored.

This is exhausting.

That “reporter” had talked to many people who are vehemently against the greenway. She looked through our website.  Not only was she well aware of the actual issues, she was well aware of what happened at the Greenway Grand Opening event.  She went out of her way to mischaracterize everything from the “No Greenway!” side.

I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised when it was discovered that the “reporter” and her husband are involved with a cycling activism organization – a fact that should have been disclosed not only to the residents, but to the public who read her incredibly biased and misleading article. That was a huge conflict of interest, and was certainly NOT good journalism.  Hannah Covington (or “Hannah Tines”, as she represented herself to those of us she wanted to interview) and the Star Tribune should be ashamed of themselves. This was absolutely irresponsible and unethical.

 

Before I address some specific issues in her article, I would like to make a few points about what is going on here.

Those who are fighting the greenway stand to lose a lot – access. Home value.  Safety, both for ourselves and our property. (There has been a rise in property damage along the affected route and adjacent alleys.).  We are having our lawns destroyed by those who see them as public property now.

None of us who are fighting against this are getting paid to do so.  We are investing what little time  – and money! – we have (in one of the lowest income areas of the city, no less) to fight this. We cannot afford what this greenway will do to us.

In addition to damage, it will make our homes less sellable. It will cost us money to retrofit our back yards to accommodate use as a main entrance, something they were never intended for. It will cost us money in car wear and tear, using alleys in EXTREMELY poor condition on a daily basis.  It will cost us money to build fences in our front yards, to try to keep the public OUT.

We are fighting an uphill, unfair battle because we CANNOT afford NOT to.

Those we are fighting against – the paid lobbyists, city employees, and bicycling activists that don’t even live here – They’re not in the same position.

Most of them ARE getting paid to be here.  This is literally their job, to force this encroachment on a neighbourhood that is ill equipped to fight back.

They aren’t taking precious “free” time away from their families, this is their job.   Those of us living here can put in a full day at work, and then come home to having to deal with fighting against this, on top of it.

Where we pool money, a few bucks here and there, to cover a $380 printing bill, they have hundreds of thousands of dollars at their disposal. Over $600,000, to be more precise – much of it coming from taxpayers.

Yes, those of us who have to spend our own time and money to fight this are – at the very same time – paying the salaries of those who are fighting against us.  It’s twisted.

The most pro-greenway person who actually lives on the greenway (and there are very few of those) is a young, able bodied man, with a young, able bodied wife, who lives on the corner.  Not only are they not losing their parking (at the street corner, there is less parking than those who aren’t on the street corner, due to space left before an intersection), they have plenty of parking on the side.  Additionally, they are looking to sell their house, and are hoping this greenway will mean a bigger profit for them – everyone else’s losses be damned.

We work to organize residents in an area where many of the homes we canvassed do not even have access to the internet.  They post flashy push-polls online, promote them almost exclusively to cycling groups outside of north, and claim they’re contacting residents.

Our own city council people can’t be trusted to look out for our best interests, as they’re too busy looking out for their own. Barb Johnson and Blong Yang are quick to sell us out to a billionaire football team owner, but care little about what is actually going on in their constituency. By all accounts, neither bothered to show up to the Greenway Grand Opening, though they are fully aware of what a contentious issue it is for residents in their respective ridings.

We cannot even trust a mainstream news outlet like the Star Tribune to write about this, without the reporter pushing their own, undisclosed agenda.

It’s very frustrating to be stuck in such a David vs Goliath situation, for something that affects our HOMES, and our lives.

Now, about that article.  A few points, in chronological order:

The title, “In north Minneapolis, neighbors at odds over greenway pilot route”

For the most part, the neighbours are all on the same page. With VERY few exceptions, we are at odds with outside people, not actual neighbours.

 

The photo used for the story:

08_326643_NSBIKE_30109135

This photo is fake, and in NO way represents the “greenway” we’re living with. It was EXTREMELY misleading for them to include this.  For a better idea of what the “greenway” actually looks like, visit our galleries, HERE.

Not only is it a photoshopped composite image, the base image wasn’t even taken ON Irving, where the temporary greenway was installed.  Pictured is Humboldt Ave N, during a pro-greenway day-long event over a year ago.

It has nothing to do with the current reality in any way whatsoever.

Reality:

Photo by Gregory M

Photo by Gregory M

 

“The pedestrian- and bike-friendly route hugs the residential area extending from Jordan Park to Folwell Park.”

The route is neither pedestrian friendly, nor safe for cyclists. It is FAR more dangerous to both – as well as being more dangerous to children, drivers, and homeowners – than it ever was prior to the installation.

Click here to view video of the route, that demonstrates the lack of “safety”.

“A bike boulevard snakes through the next three blocks, which still allows two-way traffic and parking. Cars, however, must navigate around bump-out recreational spaces along the curb.”

There is no such bike boulevard, and that can clearly be seen on the video linked above. They shoehorn two way traffic and any cyclists through what becomes single-car-width spaces, repeatedly, along the route.

“It was here that a food snafu, they say, also snowballed. Participants said it was unclear whether refreshments were for everyone or just volunteers, and tempers flared after some were denied food.”

At no point was it unclear what was going on. This public event, funded by public money, on public space had a public, city employee deny food to anyone who was not pro-greenway. A pregnant woman who lives on that block was humiliated in front of a group of people. This was all despite the event being promoted to everyone on the route, as an event for everyone on the route.. with “food provided”.

When residents took offense to this gross, fraudulent misuse of public funds, one of the other greenway council people told her to stop denying food to those residents opposed to the greenway.  For a full account of what happened, click here.

“There has to be a democratic process,” Yang said, adding that the city should be a “neutral facilitator.”    

We would love to know how the city can be a neutral facilitator, when they are making money off this encroachment.  When the city is paying the salaries of those involved in implementing this, when city resources – website, contact lists, staff, money, and more – are being used to fight against those of us ill equipped to defend our rights – WHERE is the neutrality?

 

 

In closing, we would like to point out: newspapers have an obligation to inform, educate, and even – in some cases – uplift… not mislead, misrepresent, and oppress.

One comment

  • Jon Ekblad

    I just sent the following to 311:

    Dear Minneapolis,

    I am writing to urge the City to rescind its plans to make a Greenway out of Irving Ave N.

    I have examined the complaints of the residents who live on Irving. Clearly they are frustrated that their concerns have been almost entirely ignored, except when they have been mocked and scoffed at.

    As an avid bicyclist, I commute year-round. I live in N. Mpls, and commute to downtown. But I see no need whatsoever, nor likelihood of bikers to use, such a Greenway. It is simply not biker-friendly.

    With no arguable benefits, and many well-founded concerns such as safety, resident parking, emergency vehicle access, blighted property values, sanitation/cleanup unaddressed, etc., I urge Minneapolis to return Irving Ave N to the residents who live there and pay taxes so their expectations can be taken seriously.

    Sincerely,
    Jon Ekblad
    4222 Queen Ave N
    55412

    Please reply or write to:
    jonekblad@writeme.com

    “LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.” – Abraham Lincoln, caps original

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *