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:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Three issues to work on next week

Here is some more information on three issues under consideration in City Hall that I want you all to be aware of:

1. Free Speech and the RNC

I continue to oppose the “notice and plan approval” process for “public assemblies,” being brought forward by Council Members Ostrow and Remington. I believe that most protest groups will not participate in a process that says they must provide notice, and I fear that lack of plan approval will become a pretext for unnecessary conflicts between groups and counterproductive involvement of law enforcement during this summer’s Republican National Convention and beyond. My concern only grew larger last week when it became clear that the intention was make a permanent policy change rather than just something for use during the convention as the original name of the resolution indicated.

My concerns include the fact that there is also no way for a person or group to appeal a decision if their plan not approved. Additionally if one group has a plan approved that will effectively keep any other group or individual who is not part of their assembly from using the sidewalk or engaging in protest activities of their own. I am also concerned that we will then be left with a sidewalk closure permit that doesn’t even require the person getting the permit to have the consent of the residents or businesses that rely on those sidewalks for their normal activities. The potential negative, even if unintended, consequences this could have on commerce, labor activities and future protests and rallies far outweigh any potential benefit.

Here is the specific part, as amended, of the Ostrow/Remington resolution I object most strongly to:

“That any person or group planning on holding a public assembly of greater that 50 persons in a location or in a manner that will prevent other pedestrians from using the sidewalks and crosswalks must provide notice of the assembly to City staff and obtain plan approval if the person or group wishes to obtain priority over those person or groups who have failed to register.”

Here the last available version of Ostrow’s proposal

And here is an alternative (in two parts) I have drafted:

This matter will come before the Council on Friday for final approval morning June 6 the regularly a scheduled meeting of the City Council.

2. Lurking and Loitering.
I am moving forward with an effort to repeal the unjust and antiquated Minneapolis “lurking” ordinance. This ordinance disproportionately impacts homeless persons, people of color, and the poor. I believe that we must redirect precious law enforcement resources to behaviors that actually harm someone, and laws that carry meaningful consequences. To accomplish this repeal effort, I will also be adding more behaviors to the loitering ordinance, making it cover crimes related to vandalism and theft. This whole package will came before the Public Service and Regulatory Services Committee on May 21st and the Public Hearing will resume at our next meeting on June 11.

You can see the specific ordinance amendments here:

And get more details on my reasoning behind the repealing the lurking ordinance here:

3. Pre-employment Drug Testing

The Human Resources Department has brought forward a proposal to the Executive Committee last Wednesday to conduct pre-employment drug testing for all City employees. I was the only committee member to oppose this idea.

You more about it here

This issue will come before the Ways and Means Committee on June 2. At it last meeting the committee asked staff to “provide information outlining risk management: a) quantifying liability exposure; insurability issues; asset preservation; as well as a history of these issues; b) a survey of policies in other cities and counties; and c) a legal analysis that would address negligent hiring, noting sensitive and non-sensitive positions.”


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