The Minneapolis city council might learn a very hard lesson in political expectation-setting this summer. Several of its members have gone full tilt into the #DefundthePolice movement on the progressive fringe, but can they deliver on it? Do they even have the authority to deliver on it?
Actually … no, not really, as the Star Tribune briefly explained yesterday. In fact, they have to fund and staff its police department in accordance with its population by the terms of its city charter:
Can the Council “defund” the police and stop paying them?
The Council must follow the City Charter which requires the funding of “a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, and provide for those employees’ compensation, for which purpose it may tax the taxable property in the City up to 0.3 percent of its value annually.”
In other words, “not entirely” means “not at all.” It can limit the police department’s size to this formulation, which at present would allow the city council room for a reduction — but nothing like “defunding” or “dismantling” implies. At present, the Strib notes, the PD has 892 sworn officers and 175 civilian employees, with a population of 425,400 or so as of 2018. That would require a minimum of 724 employees, about 25% reduction over the present staffing level. However, the union might have a lot to say about those kinds of cuts, to which we’ll return in a moment.
Why not just change the city charter? It’s not that simple, at least not for the city council to do on its own. It would almost certainly require a vote by the whole city:
Who can change the charter?
The council alone cannot do this. It needs to be a 13-0 vote with the mayor’s approval. But three council members have not said whether they support the dismantling and one seat is vacant.
It’s unclear whether a 12-0 vote would be considered unanimous for the purpose of changing the charter.
Mayor Jacob Frey has already declared his opposition to defunding and dismantling the police department, so that seems like a non-starter anyway. He did so again today on CBS This Morning, which we’ll cover in a later posy. Anything less than 13-0 plus the mayor, and it will get tied up in court for years. It would take a direct vote from the city’s residents to settle the question, and after watching what happened when the police retreated two weeks ago, getting a simple majority for eliminating the police seems like a very heavy lift. Salem VP (and my pal) Tom Tradup predicts a lot of business owners will close up if Minneapolis even comes close to doing this, based on his experiences in Chicago:
If not wanting to be burglarized, raped or murdered constitutes “a place of privilege” in the mind of Minneapolis’ City Council, I probably won’t be the only person scratching the city off my family’s travel itinerary.
It is sad and pathetic that America—the land of the free and the home of the brave, a nation where opportunity abounds and people cling to the bottom of pickup trucks just to get across our borders for a chance at a better life—has been portrayed around the world by our slanted, mentally sick and agenda-driven media as home to little more than violent rioters and looters and rogue cops. While ignoring the very clear and present danger of public officials with a view of our nation similar to that of an ant.
Minneapolis has—literally and figuratively—hung out the ‘GOING OUT OF BUSINESS’ shingle. Hopefully, the rest of America will learn from their mistakes.
Well, they haven’t yet, mainly because the city council can’t do it on its own.
Even so, however, council president Lisa Bender and her allies on the council are playing a dangerous game. They are setting expectations for a dismantling of police that they don’t have the authority to accomplish. What happens when they inevitably fail? Let’s just say that avoiding Minneapolis this summer might not be a bad strategy.