Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Friday, March 31, 2006

Interim Police Chief Dolan

Last Wednesday at the Executive Committee we approved designating Assistant Chief Tim Dolan as Interim Police Chief. He is set to take over as head of the police department April 15th and serve for 90 days. We can also decide to extend that time if needed.

It is unclear if this means that Dolan is a likely candidate for the permanent appointment. What is clear is that it is the Mayor’s appointment to make. His office is still in the process of looking at options for how to go about making this important decision.

I am advocating an open and more extensive search. While I know we have outstanding candidates within the department, I think it would be a mistake to limit ourselves to an internal search. This is a critically important decision. We should make using the most careful, open and complete process possible. I do not want to overlook excellent candidates from outside the city, though I do want to give those qualified officers within the city a fair chance at the position.

I will also work hard to make sure that any candidate I support will be committed to supporting the role of civilian oversight and the Civil Review Authority process as well as continuing our efforts to create a more comprehensive state of the art model of community oriented policing in Minneapolis.

If you have views on this I encourage you to contact your Minneapolis elected officials.

Instant Runoff Voting Study Task Force

Since Monday, my office, (meaning my hard working and amazing Policy Aide, Robin Garwood and my dependable, competent Associate, Nancy Olsen) has been scrambling to set up a task force to study Instant Runoff Voting.

The Better Ballot Campaign and FairVote Minnesota (full disclosure: I was a founding member of FairVote, and Robin is on its board currently) are pushing to put IRV on the ballot in Minneapolis this fall. One of the important steps in the process was to put together a task force representing all institutional stakeholders to study the viability of IRV in Minneapolis and recommend whether or not to proceed. My colleague and fellow IRV advocate Scott Benson moved a resolution creating this task force which passed the full council on March 10th.

Then the task force sort of fell through the cracks until Monday, when FairVote President Tony Solgard asked our office what progress had been made. Turns out the task force was to have been convened and chaired by the single Council Member who volunteered to serve on it. But no one had taken this step.

So I did. I volunteered to chair the task force (and therefore volunteered my aide Robin and associate Nancy to convene it). And since then the scramble has been on. I’ll post from time to time about this ongoing process.

Our first report back to the council is due at the April 25 meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations committee.

Monday, March 20, 2006

McManus leaving

As you have no doubt heard, Chief of Police William McManus has accepted a new job in San Antonio.

With the departure of Chief McManus we will now have to go through another search. I hope we can use this as an opportunity to find the best person for the job, and that we do not limit our search to people already within the Minneapolis Police Department.

Among other things, I will be strongly advocating that any new chief must publicly commit to work with the Civilian Review Authority (CRA) and Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) to increase police accountability and responsiveness in Minneapolis. We deserve a new chief who more fully accepts and utilizes the CRA process, and works well with the PCRC. I will be asking every prospective chief whether she/he will comply with all aspects of the CRA ordinance, and I will only vote for a candidate who convinces me that she/he will. In order for civilian oversight of the MPD to work, we need a chief who understands its necessity and fully embraces its implementation.

Additionally, I want to see McManus’ Community Policing Initiative move forward. We must rebuild and improve community-centered policing in Minneapolis. Although just in its beginning stages, I think this initiative offes great potential for improving policing. I encourage all interested residents to read the report summary when it’s posted on the City website March 30th, attend the event that evening (4-6pm at the Zurah Shrine Center), and/or send comments to police@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

the ethics of conference rooms

Several days ago I was contacted by a candidate running for Green Party endorsement for a State office, asking me to reserve a conference room in City Hall for his and other candidates’ campaign kickoff press conference. (I won’t be mentioning any names in this post because I don’t want this to be construed as campaigning for the candidates in question).

I thought this sounded fine, and reserved a conference room. Then I thought about it for a second. A conference room is a public resource and we were talking about using them to assist 3 political campaigns. Was this really city business? A red flag was raised and it is our policy in the Ward 2 office that when in doubt, we check it out. So I decided I’d better ask the City’s Ethics Officer. (Note: as of right now, that link is factually incorrect. The Ethics Officer is now Susan Trammell. My aide has requested that the website be updated.) (Edit: the link is now fixed. Kudos to the City's website folks!)

The Ethics Officer was a position I fought hard for when on the Mayor’s Ethics Task Force in 2003. Her job is to interpret the City’s Ethics Code and offer opinions in these sorts of gray-area situations.

A few hours after asking for an opinion, it came back: don’t reserve the conference room. If the candidates want to apply to use a space in City Hall themselves, that’s fine, but I should avoid any appearance of my having pulled strings, or having inappropriately used public resources for non-public purposes.

Especially when she disagrees with my first assumptions, I’m sure glad we have an Ethics Officer down here to help keep us “electeds” from getting ourselves into trouble.

Oh, and the candidates are fine – they’ve found another venue for their kickoff.

And for future reference, if you want to reserve public space in City Hall, such as the rotunda, go here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Welcome

Welcome to the new Second Ward blog. I’m Cam, Council Member from Ward Two, and I’ll be posting here regularly. My aide Robin will be posting here from time to time as well.

My hope for this space is that it will be a forum for civil, constructive discourse focused on how we can make Minneapolis, and Ward Two in particular, a better place for everyone who lives, works, learns and plays here.

I want this blog to be a place where I can share some of what our office is working on, my priorities and concerns, and explain the reasoning behind some of my votes and other actions. I also want to share some of the day-to-day experiences of this challenging, fascinating job and the intriguing world that is City Hall.

But it’s just as important to me to hear from you. What do you think of what I’m up to? What should I be working on? Where am I right, and where am I wrong? When posting, please know that your comments are being screened, so don’t waste your time swearing or libeling people – no one but Robin will see it. Please do feel free to criticize me though. We won’t edit out anything for that sort of content.

Check out my profile for phone numbers and email, and feel free to get hold of me anytime. Thanks for visiting and I hope to hear from you soon.