Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson recently rejected the “language” of a public safety ballot question drafted by the Minneapolis City Council. Many details were left out of the ballot question asking voters whether to replace the police force with a new but mostly undefined “Department of Public Safety.” Judge Anderson argued that the language was “vague,” as well as ambiguous and incapable of implementation. She called the language of the amendment insufficient, unreasonable, and misleading. The proposal is grounded in the roots of the “defund the police” movement but has been kept vague in hopes that more people would vote for it.
The lawsuit was initially filed by three Minneapolis residents who had no idea what the language entailed. They did not know if it meant removing the police chief, ending the minimum staffing requirement for the force, or any other options. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also opposed the ballot question, arguing that the city council was using “misleading language” to avoid transparency. Attorney Joe Anthony, who represents the three Minneapolis residents, called the ruling a “courageous and correct decision.
“Basically what the judge said was, you’ve got to make it clear so that people can see what they’re voting on,” Anthony said.
The question lacks many other details, including the fact that a new police department would begin reporting to the 13 city council members and mayor, instead of just the mayor alone. The city council held an emergency meeting to draft a new language of the bill, with only council member Lisa Goodman voting no.
Attorney Joe Anthony argued that the ballot language could violate the court’s injunction since it still does not provide all of the necessary information about the Minneapolis Police Department. He emphasized how the Court needs to clarify its language before running the risk of violating the order.
The language doesn’t acknowledge whether the department will disperse entirely or what the new order will become on Dec. 2, which is the day that the charter amendment can be implemented. This is the second time this summer that the city has been sued over the ballot question.
The Minneapolis City Council has continued to punish its city and residents by slashing the police budget and letting officer levels fall well below the mandatory minimum. A judge even ruled in favor of ordering the city to hire more cops. That’s when the city council crafted their ballot measure to work around numerous staffing requirements. Even Democrats Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Tim Walz have criticized the proposal.
Medaria Arradondo, the city’s police chief, said he was strongly against the proposal and that the chain of command between the police chief and mayor was “critically important.” He argued how reporting to the city council would be confusing and wholly unbearable, adding that he has support from Attorney General Keith Ellison and Rep. Ilhan Omar on the issue.
City attorney Jim Rowader recently presented a new ballot language, which was approved 12-1. The new wording talks about employing a “comprehensive public health approach” to replacing the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. These specific functions would be determined by both the “Mayor and City Council,” adding that they would not let the mayoral power exclude the establishment. The department would be led by a Mayoral-nominated Commissioner while the Police Department and its chief would be removed.
Rowader said he tried to do his “absolute best” to satisfy the concerns of the state, as well as the judge. Democrats are trying to push out police departments in cities full of violent crime. If the language of the bill cuts the police department entirely, the taxpayers’ should know about it. Residents will leave Minneapolis just as fast as they are leaving New York, California, and every other Dem-run area.