From July through September, the full City Council met seven times, five of which were regular meetings. In this City Council meeting recap,marked agendas are linked to for reference. Select committee meetings are also included, where necessary to provide additional context.
The full City Council is chaired by the council President and Ward 8 Councilmember Andrea Jenkins. Ward 13 Councilmember Linea Palmisano serves as the council’s vice president. A previous article includes an overview of the City Council, whether councilmembers are running for re-election, and the committees the councilmembers serve on.
Over the past few months, council meetings have focused heavily on issues related to public safety, particularly the location of the Third Precinct building and funding for alternative responses for public safety, including behavioral crisis response and violence interrupters. The City Council also had two rideshare worker protection ordinances come before them, they adopted the CIty’s Equity Plan, and heard the mayor’s 2024 budget presentation.
The council unanimously approved a legislative directive to explore co-locating the Minneapolis Police Department staff at the First Precinct and Third Precinct. This would involve combining the two precincts at Century Plaza, the currently planned location for the First Precinct. Generally, the First Precinct covers Downtown/Central Minneapolis, and the Third Precinct covers Southeast Minneapolis. Southwest is covered by MPD’s Fifth Precinct.(This proposal was later rejected by the council at the September 19 Committee of the Whole meeting.
The council approved a motion, by a vote of 12-1, to eliminate the current, now non-functioning, Third Precinct location from any further consideration as a police precinct and express a commitment not to house any police facility or functions at this site. Palmisano was the sole no vote.
The discussion over the future home for the Third Precinct arises out of the previous building being set ablaze in 2020 in the protests and demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd by then MPD officer Derek Chauvin. The City began a public engagement process for the future of the site in April, although the process was widely criticized by community groups for a process they viewed as “rushed” and a “false choice” between two options. The third option at Century Plaza was announced at a press conference on July 17.
The council unanimously approved all but one of the MinneapolUS contracts for violence interrupters, totaling $1.8 million. The $265,000 contract for Restoration, Inc. was approved by a vote of 8-5.
- Yes: Chavez, Chughtai, Ellison, Jenkins, Johnson, Osman, Payne, Wonsley
- No: Goodman, Koski, Palmisano, Rainville, Vetaw
Ward 3 Councilmember Michael Rainville initially expressed his intent to vote against all of the contracts, raising concerns that there was insufficient accountability, metrics, or transparency on the results of these programs, and expressed concerns that there was not sufficient support for violence interrupters in the Third Ward. Rainville changed his mind following comments from Ward 5 Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison and Violence Prevention Coordinator Ethropic “E” Burnett regarding the history of the program and the program’s efforts to apply data and analysis.
The votes against the contract for Restoration, Inc. appeared to be primarily based on concerns raised by Ward 4 Councilmember LaTrisha Vetaw, who said the approach used by this group, operating in Ward 4, was not right for the area.
The council unanimously adopted a $7.2 million three-year contract with Canopy Roots for its behavioral crisis response work. The proposal was originally for a $4.3 million two-year contract, however, Ellison amended the contract to extend it by an additional year. This followed a request made in a presentation by now former Program Manager Gina Obiri from the Office of Performance and Innovation. Arguments for extending the contract included ensuring stability for the behavioral crisis response program would enable Canopy Roots to improve recruitment and retention of staff and that expanding funding and staffing was necessary to meet demand for the program.
The council unanimously adopted the Climate Equity Plan, which was universally praised by councilmembers and received a standing ovation from the council and the audience. Various councilmembers noted the importance of the new plan to address the urgent impacts of climate change, and pointed to aspects of the plan such as investment in the Green Zones, which are areas with high levels of environmental pollution and racial, political, and economic marginalization. Several council members thanked volunteers from MN350 for their advocacy on the People’s Climate and Equity Plan.
In a brief meeting, the council unanimously approved two new deputy police chief positions focused on implementation of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights settlement and upcoming Department of Justice consent decree and on the management of the Internal Affairs bureau.
The council unanimously approved a director of public health initiatives position focusing on, among other things, the city’s response to the opioid epidemic.
The council unanimously approved programmatic dollars and a legislative directive for a truth and reconciliation process, originally established by the council in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
The council unanimously approved a legislative directive related to obtaining information regarding noncompliance with Chapter 445 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances: Snow and Ice Removal as an element in the rental license tiering process.
August 15 Adjourned Meeting
The council met to receive Mayor Jacob Frey’s 2024 budget address and referred the mayor’s proposed budget to the Budget Committee for consideration. Frey highlighted investments in public safety, including addressing police reform for the consent decrees, and the behavioral crisis response and violence prevention programs. Frey also highlighted investments in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Climate Equity Plan, public housing levy, and assisting the Park & Rec Board with repairs of parkways.
The council approved an ordinance supporting transportation rideshare worker protections, including ensuring the equivalent of a $15 minimum wage by a vote of 7-5. Prior to the meeting, Uber and Lyft threatened to raise prices, reduce service, and/or pull out of Minneapolis altogether if the ordinance was adopted. Frey sent a letter to the council urging further review of the ordinance, requesting changes, and suggesting that the City defer action and wait for the State work group to complete its work.
- Yes: Chavez, Chughtai, Ellison, Jenkins, Osman, Payne, Wonsley
- No: Johnson, Koski, Palmisano, Rainville, Vetaw
- Absent: Goodman
Councilmembers supporting the ordinance noted that rideshare workers needed support now, that the plan was ready to implement as-is, and urged council members not to give in to threats from Uber and Lyft. Council members opposed to the ordinance echoed Frey’s comments on waiting for action from the state, and also noted the likelihood that this motion would be vetoed by the Mayor and there were insufficient votes to override the veto. Ultimately, Frey vetoed the ordinance.
At the meeting, Ward 12 Councilmember Andrew Johnson moved to refer the rideshare ordinance motion back to the Business, Inspections, and Housing Committee, which failed on a 5-7 vote, with the vote count being the inverse of the final vote on the motion (councilmembers who voted yes on the ordinance voted no on the motion to refer, and vice versa).
The council unanimously adopted a resolution to preserve and expand permanently publicly owned, permanently affordable housing, including support for a public housing levy.
August 21 Adjourned Meeting
The council met in closed session to receive a briefing related to the collective bargaining agreement with the Police Officers Unit.
The council unanimously approved a purchase agreement with East Phillips Neighborhood Institute for the Roof Depot site. This has been a long-running disagreement between the neighborhood organization and the city, which had until recently been attempting to build a new public works facility at this site. The momentum changed after the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute won funding for the project at the state legislature. Johnson representatives from the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute and the State legislature for their leadership on this project.
The council unanimously referred an amendment to the purchase agreement for a new First Precinct police station at 1101 3rd Ave S back to the Committee of the Whole for further consideration. This amendment relates to the proposal to co-locate the First Precinct and Third Precinct in the same building.
Many council members raised questions and concerns regarding the amendment, including:
- The $30 million purchase price for the additional floors to house the Third Precinct.
- The 10 year time period for the co-location.
- Whether the city would have need for the space if and when the Third Precinct is relocated elsewhere and whether, if not, the city would be able to recover the costs if it later sold the space.
The council failed to override Mayor Frey’s veto of the transportation rideshare worker protections ordinance by a vote of 5-5, with three members absent. Nine votes are required to overturn a mayoral veto. The number of absent members was not sufficient to have potentially changed the result, because adding three votes to either side would not have gotten to the needed nine votes. The vote was as follows:
- Yes: Chavez, Chughtai, Jenkins, Osman, Payne
- No: Johnson, Koski, Palmisano, Rainville, Vetaw
- Absent: Ellison, Goodman, Wonsley
Mayor Jacob Frey nominated Enrique Velázquez as Regulatory Services Director, and the nomination was referred to the Business, Inspections, Housing and Zoning Committee for its consideration and a public hearing. Velázquez was confirmed by the council on Oct. 5.
September 19 Committee of the Whole
The committee rejected an amendment to the purchase agreement for the First Precinct which would provide for co-location of the Third Precinct at that building, reaffirmed support for the purchase agreement for the First Precinct, and postponed further consideration of the location for the Third Precinct.
Jenkins expressed confusion regarding the vote and indicated she had not been part of conversations leading up to it. She stated that she was under the impression the council unanimously supported this plan.
Council members expressed concerns regarding the cost of this proposal, the long timeline, and the lack of community engagement. They also noted their intent to take the time to study this issue, notwithstanding Mayor Jacob Frey’s urging for the council to make a decision quickly.
The motion was adopted by a vote of 11-0, with President Jenkins abstaining and Ward 6 Councilmember Jamal Osman absent.
The council approved a $550,000 contract increase with the Minnesota State Patrol to provide law enforcement and public safety services to the MPD.
Several council members, including Ward 1 Councilmember Elliott Payne, raised concerns that the State Patrol is not bound by the same restrictions as the MPD regarding matters such as traffic stops, use of force, duty to intervene, and de-escalation, and that this may leave open a door to “work around” the consent decree. City staff confirmed that the State Patrol is not bound by those agreements.
Palmisano noted that this contract was not about the State Patrol performing general policing services, but rather was “a targeted effort where they will have a specific role and function in a coordinated way with our police department,” and suggested council members connect with MPD’s Assistant Chief Katie Blackwell for additional details.
The State Patrol contract funding increase was approved by a vote of 7-5.
- Yes: Goodman, Jenkins, Koski, Osman, Palmisano, Rainville, Vetaw
- No: Chavez, Chughtai, Ellison, Payne, Wonsley
- Absent: Johnson
Councilmembers Wonsley, Chavez, and Osman gave notice of intent to bring two new ordinance introductions relating to rideshare transportation worker protections, following the veto of a previous ordinance by the mayor. One of the ordinances relates to minimum wage and the other relates to transparency, safety, and worker protections. The ordinance introductions were considered at the next council meeting on Oct. 5.
The council received the Mayor’s nomination of Toddrick Barnette, the chief judge of Hennepin County, to serve as the next Community Safety Commissioner. The council referred the nomination to the Committee of the Whole to set a public hearing.
This article is based in part on original reporting of these meetings from Minneapolis Documenters. The August 17 meeting was covered by Documenter Lea Hoikka. All other meetings listed in this article were covered by Josh Martin.
Disclaimer: Josh Martin is an active volunteer for the campaign of Ward 8 City Council candidate Soren Stevenson, including serving as the campaign's treasurer.