Minneapolis group submits signatures for initiative to replace police department with department of public safety
A Minneapolis group—Yes 4 Minneapolis—submitted over 20,000 signatures to the city clerk for an initiative to repeal and replace provisions in the city charter governing the police department. In order for the initiative to appear before voters in 2021, 11,906 signatures—5% of votes cast in Minneapolis in the last statewide general election—must be deemed valid. The city clerk has 10 days to verify signatures after the city’s charter review commission receives the measure at today’s scheduled meeting. If the city clerk finds that not enough signatures are valid, the group has ten days to file additional signatures.
The initiative would remove language concerning the city’s police department from the city charter, including provisions requiring minimum funding for the department and giving the mayor control over the department. It would replace the police department with a department of public safety. Under the initiative, the mayor would nominate—and the city council would appoint—the commissioner of the public safety department. The city council is also considering a potential 2021 charter amendment concerning the structure of the city’s police department.
Last year, the Minneapolis city council approved a measure for the ballot to remove the police department from the city charter and replace it with a department of community safety and violence prevention. This measure would have given the city council, rather than the mayor, control of the department. The Minneapolis Charter Commission did not send the proposal back to the city council until after the city council’s deadline to add the measure to the November 2020 ballot, which prevented the measure from going before voters.
In 2021, Ballotpedia identified five certified local ballot measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, reductions in or restrictions on law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage.
Voters in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, decided police-related measures last Saturday, May 1. Austin voters approved a measure to authorize the city council to determine how the director of the Office of Police Oversight is appointed or removed. San Antonio voters rejected a measure that would have repealed local authority for collective bargaining with the San Antonio Police Officers Association to negotiate wages, healthcare, leave, and other policies.
In 2020, Ballotpedia identified 20 notable police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties that qualified for the ballot after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. All 20 measures were approved.
Redistricting Review – a summary of this week’s map-making news
The U.S. Census Bureau released the apportionment counts based on the 2020 census for the House of Representatives on April 26, which effectively began the 2021-2022 redistricting cycle. Six states—Texas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon—gained seats in the U.S. House. Texas gained two, and the rest gained one. Seven states—California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—each lost a seat.
During this year and next, state legislators, governors, and special redistricting commissions will draft and implement new congressional and state legislative district maps that will be used for the next 10 years. We’ll bring you regular updates here in the Brew about all of the many redistricting ongoings. The pace is expected to be fast-and-furious in the coming months and year ahead.
Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania
- The group Democracy Docket filed three separate lawsuits on April 26 asking courts in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania to intervene and set up timelines for enacting court-drawn maps for the 2022 election cycle “in the near-certain event” that governors and legislatures in each state fail to do so. All three lawsuits allege that “there is no reasonable prospect that … political branches will reach consensus to enact” lawful district maps in a timely manner because the three states operate under divided governments (i.e., both the Democratic and Republican parties control at least one of the following: the governorship, the upper chamber of the state legislature, and the lower chamber).
- State lawmakers released proposed district maps for the state senate and house on April 21, making Oklahoma the first state in the 2021-2022 cycle to produce draft maps. In lieu of final 2020 census data, which has not yet been made available to the states, lawmakers used the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for 2015 through 2019 to draft their proposals.
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told reporters on April 27 that he was considering the state’s “legal options” with respect to New York’s loss of one congressional seat to reapportionment. According to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, New York could have kept this seat if 89 additional residents had been counted in New York. According to Janna Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, no state has ever succeeded in challenging apportionment counts in court.
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced the appointment of Mark Nordenberg as chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission on May 3. Nordenberg joins Sen. Majority Leader Kim Ward (R), Sen. Minority Leader Jay Costa (D), House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R), and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton (D). The state supreme court appointed Nordenberg as chair after the four other members of the commission failed to agree on an appointment. The commission has the sole authority to draft and implement new state legislative district maps.
Local roundup: Results from Saturday’s municipal elections in Texas
Tuesday’s Brew reviewed the results of Saturday’s local ballot measure elections in Austin, Dallas, Lubbock, and San Antonio. Voters also cast ballots in local and municipal elections across the state. Here are the highlights from those results:
- Mayor Ron Nirenberg won re-election among a 14-candidate field, receiving 62% of the vote. Greg Brockhouse, who lost the runoff election to Nirenberg in 2019, 51% to 49%, finished second with 31.5% of the vote. Nirenberg was first elected San Antonio mayor in 2017, defeating then-incumbent Ivy Taylor in a runoff. Media outlets have reported that Nirenberg identifies as an independent.
- Deborah Peoples and Mattie Parker advanced to a June 5 runoff from a 10-candidate field, with Peoples receiving 33.6% of the vote and Parker getting 30.8%. Brian Byrd, the third-place finisher, received 14.7%. Incumbent Betsy Price, who the Texas Tribune identifies as a Republican, did not run for re-election. Although municipal elections in Fort Worth are officially nonpartisan, Peoples is the chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party. Parker has not previously held elected office. She received endorsements from Price and state Reps. Craig Goldman (R) and Phil King (R).
- Jim Ross and Michael Glaspie advanced to a runoff from among seven candidates. Ross received 47.9% of the vote, and Glaspie received 21.3% of the vote. Incumbent Jeff Williams could not seek re-election due to term limits. Local news outlets identify Williams as a Republican. The Arlington Spectator, a local blog, posted a spreadsheet showing that Glaspie had voted in two of the previous six Republican primaries and that Ross had voted in two of the previous six Democratic primaries.