As the Minneapolis City Council prepares to vote on a citywide sick-leave policy, city officials have yet to release e-mails and other public data about the Working Families Agenda that shaped initial proposals last fall.
The Star Tribune submitted the request Oct. 13, seeking copies of e-mails sent to or from Mayor Betsy Hodges, her chief of staff John Stiles, and Council Members Lisa Bender, Elizabeth Glidden and Andrew Johnson during a six-week span. The request was made about a month after the city released a proposal that included a sick-leave ordinance and what would have been the most sweeping requirements in the country on workplace scheduling.
The mayor and the three council members had expressed public support for at least some of the reforms.
The proposal met fierce opposition from business owners, including many who packed listening sessions and community meetings with council members.
By Oct. 15, Hodges and council supporters had tabled the scheduling proposal and decided to turn the discussion about sick leave over to a new work group.
That group released its recommendation to the council in March and city officials drafted a proposed ordinance that is scheduled to go to a vote May 27, following a May 18 public hearing.
In the meantime, the city has not released the requested documents, despite at least 18 written inquiries by the Star Tribune over the past seven months. Starting in February, the newspaper received repeated assurances that the records would be ready soon. Officials have declined to answer questions about the number of pages or e-mails they are reviewing or the specific reasons for the delay, other than noting that the request had yielded more records than expected.
In recent years, similar requests for e-mails have been fulfilled after a few weeks or months.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Christian Rummelhoff, assistant city clerk and director of records and information management, said the city expects to release the information soon.
“This data practices request has taken time to process, longer than most requests the city has received,” he said. “Along with the city’s obligation to making public information available upon request, the city also has the responsibility of redacting nonpublic information from any data released. For this particular request, the city is in the final stage of redactions. We expect to be in a position to release data in the next few days.”
State law requires that government offices maintain records and provide requested public data within a “reasonable amount of time.”