Newspaper article

Nondisparagement Clause for Former Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau Causes Dust-Up at City Meeting

Newspaper article

Nondisparagement Clause for Former Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau Causes Dust-Up at City Meeting

Article excerpt

It wasn't going to be routine, exactly, given the controversy over the details of a separation agreement with former Minneapolis Chief Janee Harteau. But once Mayor Betsy Hodges agreed to remove a clause that prevented pretty much everybody who could even possibly be involved (including all past and future mayors) from trash talking one another -- you'd think it should have been easier.

But no.

At a Wednesday meeting of the city's Executive Committee -- made up of Hodges and four members of the City Council -- the mayor asked that the $182,876 settlement with Harteau be sent to the council's Ways and Means Committee without the nondisparagement clause.

That, from their public comments anyway, appeared to be what a majority of council members want to happen. Once that occured, after all, the separation agreement would become a routine matter: Harteau will get paid until the end of her term in early 2019. In exchange, she would agree not to sue the city over her dismissal.

But Council President Barbara Johnson, a member of the Executive Committee, made a different motion. She wanted the original agreement, including the hated clause, to go to the full council. Not because she favors it, but because she doesn't like the way it was handled -- and wants the entire council to be able to weigh in.

"I fully intend that council will eventually take this out," Johnson said. "But I feel the City Council was pulled into this agreement. The nondisparagement clause includes council members, and so we were pulled into this without any input whatsoever."

"I think it is important that council members have the opportunity to discuss it," she continued.

Hodges spoke against Johnson's motion, saying the council would be free to debate and discuss the nondisparagement clause whether it was in the language sent to Ways and Means or not.

But Johnson said since the council was implicated without its consent, it should be the body to remove the clause, not the Executive Committee.

Johnson's motion failed on a tie vote with Council Member Kevin Reich joining Johnson and Council Member Cam Gordon joining Hodges. …

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