No need to replace her
Minneapolis celebrates the election of its second female in the history of City Government, Betsy Hodges, bringing discussion about her representing diversity balance. Really? How, when for the next four years there will neither be an African American nor Native American on the City Council?
This is another reason why it is surprising that less than a week after her announced victory the first rumors about change to emerge from City Hall was considering replacing Police Chief Janeé Harteau with an assistant police chief from Seattle, Washington. Why are she and her advisors so politically tone deaf?
This is not good stewardship of our politics. Chief Harteau has been on the job barely a year. After some missteps (typical of all new chiefs of anything, just as it will be for the new mayor), Chief Harteau has begun to work herself into the job and into her responsibility. She has been building bridges both within the department and between the department and the community.
In light of that, I do not understand the thinking of the mayor-elect and her advisors to create friction between Native American and other communities, even in light of the fact that the rumored desired replacement in Seattle is an African American. Why would mayor-elect Hodges want to drive a wedge between Native Americans and others, especially African Americans, when such a change has no discernible merit?
For the first time in three decades there is no African American on the Council. So let us repeat: for the next four years we will have a Council with no African American and no Native American. The rumored “safe” way to make the change — pay the chief a one-year severance in January and demote her back into the ranks — is any thing but, especially in light of center-stage, high-profile, police-misconduct cases in Apple Valley and, specifically, Green Bay.
This does not bode well for the future given the delicate circumstances requiring delicate resolution by both the mayor and the chief. The chief has been working tirelessly to make sure everything is done to properly resolve these cases.
If the decision of the mayor to remove Chief Janeé Harteau is simply because she can, then the Hodges administration would be getting off on the wrong foot, causing injury in this city across the board (racially, politically, socially). Chief Harteau has done nothing to cause consideration of being removed and be so greatly disrespected.
The new incoming mayor has said she is sensitive to the concerns and thinking of all communities of this city. Really? We call upon her to show needed sensitivity, due diligence and, dare we say, wisdom, by maintaining the tenure of Chief Janeé Harteau.
How did this issue top the list when so many other important development and service issues need to be dealt with to get the city back on track? Development issues: Vikings stadium, peoples plaza, light rail, Nicollet Mall, rehabilitation of Target Center, rehabilitation of E block, etc. City services issues: improving education, job growth, housing policies, interacting with other government agencies and bodies (federal, state, county, other cities), diversity in hiring with the Vikings stadium, and reducing law suits against the city.
These issues place a tremendous weight on the new administration. The idea of starting out with steps whose goal seems to be pitting one community against another will not bring stability in race relations nor harmony in general in the city, regardless of such demographic distinctions.
This is unacceptable. Tell us it isn’t so, Madam Mayor. Chief Janeé Harteau must stay.
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