City council actions :: Dolan hearing set

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March 1, 2010
By: Cristof Traudes
Cristof Traudes
Hearing on Dolan set for March 3

A public hearing has been scheduled for March 3 to discuss the reappointment of Tim Dolan as the city’s chief of police.

Under Dolan, first chosen to lead the Minneapolis Police Department in 2006, there has been a marked drop in the city’s crime rates while several initiatives he’s championed — primarily, the city’s movement toward youth violence prevention — have taken on a high profile. But the chief also has been criticized for his response to accusations of police officers’ infractions, highlighted by a December evaluation from a citizen board that called his responsiveness to police misconduct insufficient.

Mayor R.T. Rybak, who suggested the reappointment, said there is a definite divide in people’s opinions of Dolan’s work. However, Rybak said, Dolan’s overall track record is one of success, particularly in his work on youth violence prevention and in his leadership after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.

“We have to unfortunately realize that this department has long-term issues with the community,” Rybak said. “But they did not begin with Chief Dolan.”

Before setting the public hearing, a committee of four voted unanimously to move ahead. Two on the committee, City Council members Robert Lilligren (6th Ward) and Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward), said they had unresolved concerns about Dolan and that they were undecided on the reappointment. Their votes in committee, they said, were simply to send the discussion to the full council.

The public hearing will be at 1:30 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall, 350 S. 5th St. The full council’s debate and vote is expected March 12.

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Fire chief, attorney, others reappointed

Although police Chief Tim Dolan has an extra public hearing and process to go through before he finds out whether he’ll be serving another term, many other department heads already are set to continue on.

The City Council unanimously approved the reappointments of four department heads, siding entirely with recommendations from Mayor R.T. Rybak. They are:

Fire Department: Alex Jackson

City Attorney: Susan Segal

City Assessor: Patrick Todd

City Coordinator: Stephen Bosacker

Along with Dolan, four other Rybak nominees remain in the pipeline. They are Mike Christenson of Community Planning and Economic Development; Gretchen Musicant of the Department of Health and Family Support; Steve Kotke of Public Works; and Rocco Forte of Regulatory Services. Forte’s position is a new one, created in December when the City Council passed a charter amendment to make Regulatory Services a charter department.

The only standing department head who didn’t receive Rybak’s nomination for a return is Civil Rights Director Michael Jordan. A search for a replacement is under way, with a nomination expected in April.

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Report: Most voters want to keep RCV

Did Minneapolis’ new voting system confuse those who used it? Survey says, “No.”

A report prepared by St. Cloud State University and presented to the City Council’s Elections Committee says that eight out of 10 voters knew they were going to be able to rank their choices in the Nov. 3 municipal election, 60 percent actually did so and almost all understood ranked-choice voting’s general mechanics. The news was favorable for the city, finding that 41 percent of those surveyed preferred the system, compared to just 27 percent who wanted back the traditional primary system.

According to further findings:

— Sixty-five percent said RCV is fair or very fair.

— A majority of voters across all age ranges considered RCV simple to use.

— A majority of voters across all ranges of education said they understood RCV.

— Sixty percent of candidates polled said RCV helped their campaigns.

— Six out of 10 voters said RCV should continue to be used in the future.

Pat O’Connor, who served as interim elections director last year, said it was always his intent to do a study of the city’s first RCV election to better learn from the experience.

“We felt it was important,” O’Connor said. “We felt it needed to be done.”

He added that a cost analysis of RCV — which was billed as a single-day, less expensive alternative to the two-day traditional primary system — will be completed this month.

Upon news of the study’s findings, the nonprofit that campaigned to bring RCV to Minneapolis released a statement saying they weren’t surprised.

“We have heard that once people experience RCV they won’t like it,” said Jeanne Massey, FairVote Minnesota executive director. “The facts say something completely different.”

St. Paul is expected to use RCV in its next municipal election. FairVote currently is campaigning to also bring it to Duluth.

Read the complete St. Cloud State report at bit.ly/9PVpXD.