Council committee approves reappointments for City Attorney, City Assessor

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March 3, 2014 // UPDATED 4:34 pm - March 7, 2014
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The City Council's Ways & Means Committee approved reappointing City Attorney Susan Segal and City Assessor Patrick Todd today. 

Several people spoke in favor of Segal's reappointment, commending her for work to fight child sex trafficking and domestic abuse, among other things. A few people, however, urged the committee to vote against her reappoinment, including members of Communities United Against Police Brutality and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. 

Jordan Kushner, a member of the guild who represents political activists when they run afoul of the law, raised questions about Segal's legal opinion on the Vikings stadium legislation and said she has been harsh in punishing civil rights activists. 

The dissenters, however, were outnumbered at today's public hearing. 

Mayor Betsy Hodges, who announced her intention to reappoint Segal to another two-year term earlier this year, praised Segal for her "proactive work" on pension reform, domestic violence and downtown livability crime, among other things. The City Attorney's Office is a key partner of the Downtown 100 intiative, which has put a significant dent in nuisance crimes and helped chronic offenders get access to social services. 

While Hodges wasn't a supporter of the Vikings financing deal approved by the Council and noted Segal's opinion has been the subject of criticism, she said she has faith in Segal's legal abilities. "I trust Susan Segal," she said. 

City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8), a former employment and civil rights attorney, also had high praise for Segal and complimented her work on pension reform and helping the city usher in the new ranked-choice voting (RCV) system. 

Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12) asked more pointed questions, including whether she faced political pressure when drafting her legal opinion on the stadium legislation. Committee Chair Council Member John Quincy (Ward 11) interjected during the questions and said Segal shouldn't be cross examined during the hearing.

Johnson voted for Segal's reappointment, but criticized the Council in a blog post: "Too often it feels like decisions are made before we enter the Council Chambers, which does a disservice to the people of Minneapolis who have a right to hear a thorough conversation on matters before their City Council." 

The committee also approved the reappointment of City Assessor Patrick Todd today with little discussion. The full Council votes on the reappointments Friday. 

The public hearing schedule for other department heads reappointed by Hodges is as follows:

— Gretchen Musicant as commissioner of Health/director of the Department of Health on March 17, 1:30 p.m.;
— Steve Kotke as city engineer/director of Public Works on March 18, 9:30 a.m.; and
— John Fruetel as Fire Chief and Velma Korbel as director of Civil Rights on March 19, 1:30 p.m.