Minneapolis City Council instead approves a proposal to consider ways to increase regulations, fees and fines.
Send in the clowns -- and the lions and tigers and elephants.
By the narrowest majority, the Minneapolis City Council decided Friday against a ban on wild animal circus shows.
Instead, council members voted 7-6 for option 2: a milder proposal to increase regulations, and raise permit fees and fines for circus operators. That put smiles on the faces of circus supporters and left some opponents in tears.
After two hours of debate, a ban became more unlikely as the council voted overwhelmingly to send the regulation proposal to committee for additional work.
Timothy Davison, a member of the Minneapolis Shriners, which will sponsor their annual three-day circus at Target Center in two weeks, said: "I feel like we won the battle, but we'll see about the war. We'll see what the city comes up with."We are incredibly and tremendously sad and disappointed that our elected officials did not listen to us, but what outsiders were telling them," said a tearful Christine Coughlin, executive director for the local nonprofit Circus Reform Yes. Her group collected 5,000 signatures on a petition in support of the ban.
"In the face of overwhelming constituent pleas, they turned their backs on us," Coughlin continued. "They didn't listen."
Nevertheless, Coughlin said, "we will try to help the city actually put some real teeth into these proposals."
Council Member Paul Ostrow, who sponsored the winning proposal with Betsy Hodges, said he welcomed the input.
"We took the right step," Ostrow said. "It was a vigorous debate, and now we'll go back to work. Obviously, a lot of people are engaged."
Hodges added: "I think it will be good for the city and animal welfare to increase regulation. There is a quiet majority who think a ban is not the right solution."
How the votes came down
Council Member Ralph Remington, who coauthored the ban with Cam Gordon, said he felt "betrayed." He singled out colleague Diane Hofstede, who is believed to have cast the deciding vote.
"At first, she was very supportive, but then in the last 24 hours she started playing coy, and then in her own words, she became 'mum,'" Remington said. "We knew that there might be a swing vote, but she betrayed the people and her colleagues who were counting on her."
Hofstede was unavailable for comment Friday.
"It appeared a week or two ago a lot of council members were clearly lined up," said Ostrow, who had two lengthy conversations with Hofstede on Thursday. "She considered both sides very carefully."
Hodges said Hofstede didn't speak to her after Friday's meeting, but "she looked at me and nodded."
Although he wanted a total ban, Gordon proposed several alternatives on Friday. After the vote, he said he was completely "flabbergasted."
In addition to Remington and Gordon, council members supporting the ban were Sandy Colvin Roy, Elizabeth Glidden, Don Samuels and Gary Schiff.