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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Moment of Truth for Bicking

[This post is from Dave Bicking. He is up for reappointment to the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority, which investigates complaints of police misconduct. I consider Dave to be the city's foremost intellectual and trusted watchdog.]

I attended the City Council's Committee of the Whole meeting this morning. You'll recall that after the hearing at the Public Safety Committee last Wednesday (March 24), they passed a motion to move forward all the applicants' names with no recommendation, for discussion at the Committee of the Whole. As I noted then, the usual process is to move it forward to the City Council meeting directly, and normally the Council is presented with a list of recommended appointees at their meeting - the decisions having been made behind closed doors in the meantime.

So it looked hopeful that this would at least lead to a bit of open discussion today on the merits of the applicants. Or at least a brief discussion regarding the remarkable and unprecedented unwillingness to reappoint a reliable incumbent CRA board member.

Ha! I of all people should know better. That just isn't the way things are done in this city. Instead, when we finally came to the report from the Public Safety Committee (after 2-1/2 hours), Don Samuels, Public Safety Committee Chair, just read off the recommended list of names - three appointments chosen by the mayor, and one "chosen" by the City Council - though one wonders who actually made that choice.

At least that was a little better than the usual process - we know one day ahead of time who the Council will be voting on. One other significant piece of good news - Ward 2 Council member Cam Gordon indicated an intent to introduce a substitute motion during the Friday meeting. He didn't reveal the nature of that motion, and there was no further discussion.

I'll bet you can guess by now that I wasn't on the recommended list. Here's who was: Mayor's choices: Arlene Santiago, Ward 11 Dean Kallenbach, Ward 6 Pramma Elayaperumal, Ward 2 City Council choice: Mary Pargo, Ward 2.

I don't think it is appropriate for me to comment on the merits of any of these appointees, at least until after Friday's meeting.

There is a reason I listed their wards. It is very unlikely that it is just coincidence that the only two applicants from Ward 2 were both chosen, especially since one existing board member is also from that ward. I think the intention was to lessen the likelihood that Cam Gordon would try to amend the list to include me, since that would mean going against someone from his own ward. Given Cam's announcement that he plans to introduce a substitute motion, that appears not to have worked. (Thank you, Cam Gordon!)

IF Cam can find a second for his substitute motion tomorrow morning, there will be a discussion, or at least a vote, regarding my reappointment (assuming that is Cam's motion). That is a very good thing. At least Council members will have to vote for or against my reappointment. Maybe someone will even express a reason publicly. In three emails and in my public testimony, I asked for any Council member with a concern about my reappointment to let me know what that concern is, so I could address it. I have received NO responses.

I want to thank the two brave souls who accompanied me this morning - and apologize for leading them into such tedium. Tomorrow morning's full Council meeting may be more interesting. (9:30am, Room 317, City Hall)

Also, thanks to all who have signed the petition in support of my reappointment. I sent that to the mayor and all Council members early this morning. It lists 4 organizations, and 316 individuals!!! That is beyond all expectations! This petition, and the overall campaign we have waged, is like nothing the City Council has EVER seen for a board appointment. It shows not just good organizing, but also the depth of support and concern regarding the CRA and its mission. If nothing else, the CRA is far better known than before. If this comes to a vote tomorrow, we get to see if any of the City Council members give a damn.

152 of the signatures are online at: http://www.petitiononline.com/CUAPB004/petition.html

I've also formatted the statement, the signatures, and all 42 comments from the online petition into a single 6-page Word file, which I would be happy to send to anyone who is interested.

Still time to call or email your Council member before tomorrow morning!

I'll report to you again after the final vote tomorrow.

Dave Bicking


At Fri Apr 02, 12:37:00 AM CDT, Blogger Johnny Northside! said...

If you define "dissent" as filing a frivolous defamation lawsuit, then I guess you'd be right. Hey, while I've got you on the line, maybe somebody who knows Bicking can explain how he was "defamed" by an email that didn't even NAME HIM?

At Fri Apr 02, 07:28:00 AM CDT, Anonymous youmayberight said...

@Johnny Northside. "Frivolous defamation lawsuit"? Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't believe Dave ever filed a defamation lawsuit. He was part of an application for a writ of mandamus that would require certain actions by the Chief of Police and the Chair of the CRA Board. As to "frivolous," I don't think the judge who heard the motion would agree with you. She in fact ordered the CRA Board Chair to show cause why the writ should not be issued and took the other portion of the motion under advisement. She still hasn't ruled on that. If she thought it was "frivolous," I don't think she would be taking this long deciding.

At Fri Apr 02, 05:03:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Well, it all ended quickly, with a whimper not a bang. I am officially no longer a member of the board of the CRA (Mpls Civilian Police Review Authority).

As I said in my last update, the slate of recommended appointees was revealed at yesterday's Committee of the Whole, and it did not include me. That slate was brought forward at today's City Council meeting by Don Samuels, chair of the Public Safety Committee. Don waxed eloquent about the virtues of the applicant that was chosen instead of me as the City Council pick for the CRA (the mayor got to make the other three picks this time). He spoke of her being "fair and balanced" - over and over. Clearly the point made was to contrast that to his claims about me. My name was never even mentioned, of course.

Then Cam Gordon (Green Party Ward 2 Council member) made his substitute motion: to reappoint me in place of the "recommended" applicant. He mentioned that I had "served admirably" on the CRA, and that my reappointment at least deserved debate and discussion. The other Council members clearly didn't agree - not a single one of them would even second the motion, so it died with no chance for discussion or vote - or even for Cam Gordon to speak in favor of the motion. It is very rare for a motion to not receive a second.

I have been pretty diplomatic through all of this, but I have to say: What a bunch of cowards!! Other than Cam Gordon, every Council member and the mayor should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever they think about the merits of my service on the CRA - and I accept that there are legitimate differences of opinion - they should have the guts to say in public why a conscientious, active, and reliable member of the CRA (or any board) should be thrown off the board before even serving a full term.

The one constant throughout all of this is that no Council member will express any reason for not reappointing me. I have asked repeatedly, in emails and at the public hearing, for anyone who had any concern about my reappointment, to let me know their concern so I could address it. I have had NO responses.

This is very shabby treatment for someone who has put in many hundreds of hours of service to the city. You know what they say about bullies really being cowards inside? Today's action was an example of bullies showing their cowardice. I would accept the results of a fair and open process. This was neither. And while this was particularly blatant, it is a pattern of behavior in our city government. That is the biggest reason why I ran for City Council. Since the election, I have seen an accelerating trend toward arrogant, undemocratic, and unresponsive government.

As I've said before, this is not really about me. This is about the protection of those involved in encounters with Mpls police. The real issue is whether there is any control over our police department; will there be any real accountability? Will people abused by the police have anywhere to go where they can be not just "listened to", but where their experience will lead to real consequences? The CRA is an important reform won through years of demands and hard work. Will it be valuable, or will it be window dressing? The answer is still uncertain, but today's Council action says much about their desired direction for the CRA.

Quite a burden rests on the new appointees to the CRA. Rather than give my opinion and judge them now, I would prefer to let them show their merit through action. The new members are: Arlene Santiago, a public defender; Dean Kallenbach, former DFL endorsed City Council candidate against Dean Zimmermann in 2001; Pramma Elayaperumal, a young and enthusiastic applicant who has been attending CRA meetings; and Mary Pargo, a social service worker with Pillsbury United Communities and Executive Director of Juneteeth. Mary Pargo was the City Council pick, the other three were appointed by the mayor.

At Fri Apr 02, 05:04:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

The fight for the future of the CRA is not over. Personally, I will continue to attend CRA meetings, even if only as a member of the public. I will continue the research I have been working on. At this point, there is far more attention being paid to the CRA than before. That is a positive development. Often there is more value in the fight than in the outcome of a particular battle. We have much to build on, and we must do that.

The next step is the upcoming CRA monthly board meeting on Wednesday, April 7, 6:30pm, in Room 333 of City Hall (enter through after-hours door facing 4th St.). The meeting is open to the public, and public comment is allowed. A big turnout will help demonstrate the community's expectations for the new board.

Also please consider coming to tomorrow's meeting of CUAPB (Communities United Against Police Brutality), Saturday, April 3, 1:30pm in the basement of Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. S., Mpls. They will surely be strategizing next steps in their relationship with the CRA, and planning for their input at the upcoming CRA board meeting.

Thanks to all who have been involved. I am uncomfortable with political action which puts me personally in such a public position, just as my City Council campaign did. The real important issue is the strength we have working together. Even in temporary defeat, we have shown that strength, and the fight is not over.

Dave Bicking

At Sun Apr 04, 10:21:00 AM CDT, Anonymous youmayberight said...

@youmayberight and @Johnny Northside: You are both mistaken. There is a defamation complaint, but it has not been filed.

At Thu Jun 24, 03:03:00 PM CDT, Blogger Johnny Northside! said...

So can anybody explain how Bicking was "defamed" by an email that didn't even name him?

The lawsuit is certainly "filed" and was probably filed when the anonymous commenter above made their remark, too.


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