OPINION | Mid-year update on current City issues


We are midway between the start of an historic U.S. presidency and an upcoming historic city election. We mark this midway point by updating stories we have reported on in this column, especially as they relate to the future of public safety and to fairness for Black workers and contractors.

Update: public safety

At this time last year, historic settlement agreements and trials regarding how the MPD discriminates against Black police were anticipated. The trials never happened. And, in the case of the Mill City 5, a settlement far less than what the City proposed in July 2008 took place. Since then, the MPD has begun a historic retaliation.

The first two retaliations are against Lt. Michael Keefe and Sgt. Charles Adams. On the week of August 10, 2009, Lt. Michael Keefe will appear before a “disciplinary board” that will recommend his discharge.

Charges have been filed against Sgt. Charles Adams, one of the Mill City 5, who, according to reliable sources, is facing discipline and termination actions based on “charges” brought against him by the head of Internal Affairs. We will watch this retaliation process closely. If the City continues to look the other way, will you really feel safe?

Update: Jason Anderson and Fong Lee

Three weeks ago, this column reported what the Star Tribune confirmed last Wednesday: the additional acts of violence and public disorder by Fong Lee’s killer, Officer Jason Anderson. Officer Anderson lost his service revolver and was involved in a major confrontation in downtown Minneapolis on June 14 as he celebrated his acquittal in the Fong Lee shooting with his friends. Anderson is currently assigned to desk duty.

The Star Tribune also reported on Officer Anderson’s arrest for domestic assault in his home town of Big Lake, Minnesota. By the time this column is published, the St. Paul Pioneer Press will have published, according to reliable sources, a feature story analyzing the ongoing and previous problems of Officer Anderson, including, as first reported in this column, the allegations of his planting a gun on an African American suspect in March 2008.

Update: the death of Quincey Smith

As of the writing of this column, authorities continue to decline to release information on the rifle supposedly in Mr. Smith’s possession just minutes prior to his violent death from tazers used by the Minneapolis police. Police allege that there are DNA results from the rifle.

In the meanwhile, the County Attorney’s Office refuses to set a date for a review by a Hennepin County Grand Jury surrounding the December 2008 death of Mr. Smith. The Grand Jury may not hear this matter until the last week of November 2009. Why the delay?

Update: Minneapolis Civil Rights Department

No action is contemplated before the mayor’s budget address on August 13. It is rumored that both police and fire departments will face cuts as the City attempts to manage a $24 million deficit. The City’s diminution of civil rights underscores the great outcry for increasing them.

Update: Bids for project at Marquette and Second Avenue

New bids required by the ordered re-bidding were opened at 10:30 am on Tuesday morning, July 21. On Monday, July 20, the city council declined to inquire into the circumstances of the re-bids.

Update: City Heat

After our column two weeks ago, Council Member Ralph Remington (D-10th Ward) called to express his disappointed that we had not given him credit in our July 8 and 15 columns for initiating an aggressive action of inquiry into City Heat. We told the council member we wanted to do right by him, and that he had indeed advised us, in March 2009, that he had asked both Internal Affairs and the city attorney to investigate allegations reported in the White dailies.

Remington’s indication that Internal Affairs did not begin to investigate until June is consistent with the information I received from the head of Internal Affairs approximately three weeks ago. It still leaves the question of why nothing was done when we wrote of City Heat in our columns of January 2 and February 27, 2008, not to mention the City Pages story of February 19, 2008. Why no investigation in 2008?

Update: Whose plan? And planning for what? We continue to wait to see what plans will be offered by the mayor, the chief, and the NW Area Foundation, etc. We invite them to review and consider the plans we have written and published about since 2002, summarized as A Seat for Everyone.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com; hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.

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