Charter Commission LIVE Spreadsheet

Just like last week, we’re covering today’s Charter Commission public hearing using the purest form of journalism ever invented — the live spreadsheet.

The previous two hearings were to solicit comment on the City Council’s version of the public safety charter amendment. Today’s hearing is about the Charter Commission’s significantly scaled back alternative proposal. Read about the differences here.

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Minneapolis Ward 6 Candidate Survey – Special Election, August 11, 2020

Due to a vacancy on the Minneapolis City Council (created by Abdi Warsame’s appointment as executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority), Ward 6 is having a special election. Though the election falls on primary day, it’s not a primary. The winner will fill the rest of Warsame’s term on the City Council through 2021. Election day is August 11. Voters are already casting early and absentee ballots.

A few weeks ago we sent some public safety related questions to all the candidates. We also pestered them with reminders. Five of the 11 candidates responded with answers:

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Charter Commission Considers Competing Police Ballot Questions

The Minneapolis Charter Commission is considering an alternative amendment to the city charter regarding police and public safety. This means voters could be faced with competing ballot questions in November.

The newest proposal would eliminate a minimum staffing requirement for the Minneapolis Police Department — same as the City Council proposal. But it would leave in place language specifying how that department is embedded within city government. It would also preserve language giving the Mayor “complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command” of MPD.

The City Council’s original proposal would do more than simply eliminate the minimum police staffing requirement enacted in 1961. It creates a new department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. It gives the council the option to create a law enforcement division within that new department. Council members have previously stressed how important it is for the new department’s law enforcement capacity to take a subordinate role to the “holistic” public safety approach of the new department.

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Delay tactics from Charter Commission would deny urgent citywide conversation

[Would you like to send a message to the Charter Commission? Sign up to deliver your words over the phone at two public hearings to be held on July 15 and 21.]

Dear Members of the Charter Commission:

It’s clear that some of you have strong opinions on this public safety charter amendment. I won’t try to change your mind about the specifics of this proposal. It’s okay to disagree. I accept there’s a diversity of opinion from across the city–if not on this commission. Your role, if you think this shouldn’t be on the ballot, is to say so. Say no.

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Reminder: Carol Becker, an elected official in Minneapolis, works hard every day to embarrass us all

I struggle with how often this needs to be pointed out. I haven’t written about it on this website in a while. It’s time for a refresher, because there are probably a lot of people who don’t realize Carol Becker is an elected official in Minneapolis. She’s a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation (which is the often uncontested race at the end of your ballot in odd-year city elections). Even if just one person takes Carol Becker’s concern for “racial disparities” — published yesterday in the Star Tribune — at face value, that’s one person too many.

[If you want a point by point rebuttal to Carol Becker’s latest, here you go.]

Here are three perfect sentences towards the end of her piece that need some unpacking:

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A Brief History of Police Politics in the Minneapolis City Charter (1959-1961)

On July 8, 2020, the Minneapolis Charter Commission will hear from city council members and the mayor about a proposed change to the city charter related to the police department. Broadly speaking, this charter amendment would create a new department (Community Safety and Violence Prevention) to replace the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and give the city council oversight of this new department. The mayor currently has complete authority over MPD.

On July 15, 2020, the Charter Commission will hold a public hearing on the amendment. After that, likely at a later meeting, they will take one of four actions: yes, no, provide a substitute amendment, or delay action. The Charter Commission is essentially offering a recommendation, which the city council can accept or reject. But if the commission delays their action past August 5 (which they have the authority to do), it becomes impossible for this amendment to be put to voters in November.

One question keeps popping up: why does this even need to go to the voters? The Minneapolis City Council has publicly resolved to take action and has a veto-proof majority, so what’s the issue? One key obstacle to meaningful change involves language in the city charter that requires a police department be staffed at a minimum level:

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Minneapolis police proposal would be kept off November ballot if Charter Commission fails to act by August 5

The Minneapolis Charter Commission met yesterday to set a schedule of meetings to consider a proposal put forward by the City Council to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. Next Wednesday, they’ll hear from members of the City Council and Mayor Frey — who opposes the change. A public hearing is set for Wednesday, July 15.

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Editorial Board to Mayor Frey: Stop Scaring Our Moms

Last night, Mayor Jacob Frey was a guest on my mom’s second favorite MSNBC program. He suggested to a national cable audience of increasingly scared moms that our City Council is interested in “abolishing all law enforcement.” This echoes comments he made last Friday about a “wholesale elimination of a police response to violent crime.” It’s important to note that if you listen to members of the City Council, “abolishing all law enforcement” isn’t on anyone’s agenda.

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Mayor Frey and City Council hold dueling press conferences on police charter amendment

Last Friday, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to send a public safety charter amendment forward to the Charter Commission. If ultimately placed on this year’s ballot and approved by voters, the charter change would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new department called Community Safety and Violence Prevention. This new department would have a public health orientation and be focused on violence prevention. It would be led not by a police chief, but by someone with public health or restorative justice experience. Within the new department there would be a division of law enforcement staffed with licensed police officers.

Another way the proposal would change the city’s system of public safety would be who has authority over the new department. Currently the Mayor is given exclusive authority over MPD. If approved by voters, the charter change would grant policy-making authority over the new department to the City Council.

Mayor Frey, who opposes the change, and the City Council held separate press conferences on Friday. Here are some of Frey’s critiques and the response from members of the City Council (mostly Jeremiah Ellison, who has articulated the issues most clearly and directly).

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