Written by Kate Mortenson, civic leader, business owner, and Ward 13 City Council candidate
Ward 13 residents are highly engaged in our democracy. We pay attention to what our leaders say and do, and we vote. That's why it was especially concerning to me that Ward 13 Councilmember Linea Palmisano, who is also vice president of City Council, omitted significant information about her policy actions on rent control from her weekly newsletter to constituents, dated June 30.
Her personal message to Ward 13 neighbors states that there was a proposal on the agenda for formal introduction of "a strict rent control policy, such that it would appear on the ballot in the November municipal election."
She goes on to add, "This ordinance would have been among the strictest policies in the nation, mandating an annual 3% rent cap with few exceptions. I have been consistently on record that I do not support such a drastic proposal. I made a motion to return the item to authors, essentially meaning it will not move forward with these policy parameters, and that passed."
To be clear, I do not support rent control, because I don't believe it is a sound policy. But sleight-of-hand isn't sound policy-making either.
Palmisano's description of what occurred in the City Council chambers that day was an artful dodge, obscuring important information about what actually occurred and the actual policy question before City Council.
Here's the more complete picture of what happened:
Palmisano had three Muslim colleagues who were out on June 28 observing a Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, that has a significance akin to Easter or Passover. Two of those Muslim colleagues, Councilmembers Aisha Chughtai and Jamal Osman, have been the proponents and stewards of the rent control policy discussion.
Recall now, a majority of Minneapolis voters supported exploration of rent control by direct referendum in 2021. As a matter of procedure at the June 28 City Council meeting, the ordinance language was introduced and a vote taken to move the policy proposal forward to committee for further consideration. Public hearings and/or opportunities to amend language in the proposal were yet to come. But because the ordinance's co-authors and in total three of its champions were absent (Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison was also absent for Eid) the vote to move to these next steps failed.
At the same City Council meeting, Palmisano did a shocking thing. She made a motion that removed the ordinance from further consideration altogether. That vote passed for one reason only – those who would have stood against it were practicing their religion.
Why did Palmisano leave this highly relevant information out of her weekly Ward 13 newsletter? This is worthy of investigation.
In one opportunistic pounce, Palmisano used her leadership to disenfranchise diverse colleagues in a most un-democratic way. Palmisano's leadership actions were a major setback for many residents who already find City leaders untrustworthy in representing all of Minneapolis' citizens. In the same instance, she disallowed a full and thoughtful public consideration of a critical issue – the affordability of housing in our region.
Why did she subvert the Council's own process? This full accounting is information the Palmisano should disclose to those who rely on her as an elected official. Yes, the dynamics on Council are very challenging. However, the role Ward 13 plays in those affairs should be fully transparent and accountable. There's a reason why this work is called public policy. If we cannot count on our representatives to be transparent, with each other and the public, we cannot be an informed electorate.
You can contact Kate Morenston at: email@example.com, 612-385-6370