The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association’s Public Safety Task Force operates to encourage and inform community participation in the ongoing debate about the critical public safety issues we are facing in Minneapolis. As you know, there are relevant news stories or political developments just about every day, and this information overload can make it difficult to figure out where the city is heading and how best to add one’s voice to the conversation. There is no simple answer to these questions, but the news in recent weeks has made it increasingly clear that public safety will be the dominant issue in this November’s election—not only because the mayor and all city council members will be up for re-election, but because of two charter amendments that are also likely to be on the ballot. We would like to call your attention to recently published news stories about them.
Restructuring Public Safety
One of these proposals is a slightly revised version of the controversial amendment that was proposed last fall, but which did not make it to the ballot. Like last year’s amendment, this Public Safety Amendment would abolish the Minneapolis Police Department as a city department, eliminate the requirement to maintain a minimum number of officers, and greatly reduce the mayor’s responsibility and accountability for law enforcement. Here are television and print news stories on this proposal:
The Star Tribune also published a brief article on the city council’s vote to initiate the process needed to advance this amendment. This article has some additional interest because our two downtown council members have markedly different positions on the matter. CM Steve Fletcher is one of three council members sponsoring the amendment, while CM Lisa Goodman, one of two council members voting against moving the motion forward, is quoted in a sharply critical comment:
This amendment, or one similar to it, is being promoted by a political committee, which has recently received half a million dollars in outside money, as detailed in another Star Tribune article:
If you want to express your views on this amendment, you can do so at a public hearing on Thursday, February 18th, at 1:30 p.m. The agenda for this meeting will be posted here when it is available. The Public Hearing Notice for this meeting is posted here.
You can sign up to participate in this public hearing through this link: Attend a City Council Meeting. On the sign-up form, under “Meeting”, select “February 18th…Public Health & Safety.” There is an option to upload an attachment if you wish.
You can also submit a written comment via email:
General email: CouncilComment@minneapolismn.gov
To contact all Council Members at once email: CityCouncilMembers@minneapolismn.gov
Restructuring City Government
While the public safety amendment would increase the city council’s power, the amendment under discussion by the Minneapolis Charter Commission would restrict the council’s influence over the operation of city departments, including law enforcement and public safety programs. Correspondingly, the mayor’s administrative responsibility and accountability for city departments would be strengthened. Although this “Structure of City Government” amendment doesn’t yet have a formal name or final proposal, it is a highly significant development for the public safety debate, as described in this Star Tribune article:
Much of the momentum for the Structure of City Government amendment comes from a series of interviews that charter commissioners conducted with Minneapolis department heads’ about how the current structure is functioning. If you wish to read the commissioners’ report in full, it can be found here:
The editorial board of the Star Tribune has endorsed the Charter Commissioners’ work on the amendment:
There will be continuing developments on both of these proposed amendments in the months ahead; we strongly encourage downtown residents to follow them closely. In addition to the comment opportunity noted above, we will publicize other opportunities whenever they arise.