Minneapolis council committee forwards city coordinator appointment without recommendation

2022-05-24 21:13:21 –

Interim City Coordinator Heather Johnston’s ardent supporters and opponents gave her to the Minneapolis Council Committee on Tuesday before the panel transferred her permanent appointment to the full council.

An 8-4 vote by the Committee of the Whole House sent the nomination to the council without recommendation. The move followed nearly two hours of testimony, including calls from a group of former and current city officials asking them to refuse Johnston’s appointment. They say she hasn’t dealt with discrimination and concerns about “toxic” work culture.

“Some of your testimonies were difficult to receive, and I think it will take a few days to actually sit down on this testimony,” said Council Vice President Linea Palmisano. “This is not a positive or negative recommendation.”

Supporters of Johnston included former and current colleagues, including former Mayor RT Ribak and Mayor Chanhassen. They described Johnston as a tough, friendly and reliable leader who works across departments.

The full council can vote for Johnston’s nomination on Thursday. If approved, Johnston will be the third person to be the city’s coordinator in the last four years.

Johnston has been the Interim City Coordinator since August. Mayor Jacob Frey nominated her for her permanent position earlier this month.

Immediately after Frey announced the nominationn, a group of current and former employees of the Minneapolis City Coordinator Office sent a letter to the mayor and council asking them not to choose Johnston.They said This department has a history of “toxic, racist and dangerous work environment”, and Johnston has not done enough to stop it in a tentative role.

The group wrote that the city did not provide sufficient support to black employees after police killings and other traumatic events in the area. They have not been given sufficient opportunities to work remotely to minimize exposure to COVID-19 and microaggression from the general public and other urban workers, expressing concern about government activities. He said he felt dismissed and despised when he did.

At a morning press conference and hearing, the group repeated the same message, stating that it had forwarded the complaints of discrimination to the Minnesota Human Rights Department to urge investigation and gain the protection of the employees who spoke.

“Heather consistently and deliberately chose not to listen to discrimination complaints and directly harmed black staff,” said Gina Obili, who works as a program manager at the city coordinator’s office. “The vote to confirm Heather is a vote to deny our humanity and dignity.”

Johnston’s supporters praised her budget chop and courage to work in difficult situations.

“The city is in a dramatically better financial position than it was ten years ago. There are many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is actually Heather Johnston,” Rybak said. I mentioned at the meeting.

Johnston previously served as City Budget Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer, and has held positions in Burnsville, Chanhassen, State and Federal Government.

On Tuesday, Johnston addressed the general public for the first time since the allegations surfaced. She continues to support the transformation of racism that pervades the city’s system and develops a “comprehensive, innovative, anti-racist, and equitable culture for all employees.” Said that he was.

“Cultural changes take time and cannot be done alone,” Johnston reiterated, reiterating that he has no intention of retaliation against the employees who spoke.

“I believe that the best way to tackle the difficult problems facing the city is to work together, learn from our mistakes, build trust, and work hard to create a better Minneapolis. “She said.

In Minneapolis, the city coordinator is one of the highest ranked non-elected positions, serving as mayor and city council adviser. Approximately 40 employees work in the office, while hundreds of employees work in additional departments that also report to the city coordinator, such as communications, emergency management, human resources, and finance. Positions have salaries ranging from $ 182,111 to $ 228,774 and have experienced high levels of turnover in recent years.

Johnston has been leading the division in a tentative position since next August. Mark Ruff’s resignation.. Frey in early May Appointed her to a permanent role It will run until 2025.

The mayor “discussed informally about other candidates,” but was asked how the mayor’s search was conducted.

During his ten months as interim city coordinator, Frey was “impressed by Johnston’s leadership, personality and dedication to the team,” said Katie Lauer, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.

At a hearing, the group criticized the mayor, stating that the mayor was unable to carry out a “transparent and impartial-focused” recruitment process due to the city’s high-ranking status, and was the leader of the top-posted colored race. Said few. According to the mayor’s office, in Minneapolis, three out of ten department heads are of color.

In a previous interview with Star Tribune, Frey stated that Johnston would help rebuild the city’s racial and equity sector, help manage various labor issues, and establish voters for a new government structure approved in November. Praised the coordination of the department.

On Tuesday, the mayor urged members of the council to be rational and fair, saying, “The difficult problem we are experiencing is greater than Heather, and certainly no one in the nine months or so she was there. Will be bigger than it can handle “in this positive role. “

Some council members questioned the legality of advancing Johnston’s nomination in the possibility of a city allegation review and a human rights investigation.

“I don’t even understand why we’re having this conversation,” said Councilor Robin Wonsley Wolova. She urged the council and the mayor to postpone Johnston’s appointment until the investigation was completed.

Wonsley Wolova and council members Elliott Payne and Jason Chavez cried at a council meeting saying that employee testimony sympathized with them.

“I’m watching like a hawk, so the day you appear five minutes late, you won’t be fired for that,” Chavez said. “I intended to vote in favor of this appointment, but I’m not doing it anymore.”

Minneapolis council committee forwards city coordinator appointment without recommendation Source link Minneapolis council committee forwards city coordinator appointment without recommendation

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