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City Attorney survives committee vote 5-1; full City Council votes Friday

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: March 3, 2014 - 5:50 PM

Easily surviving questions about a controversial legal opinion on the city's support of a new Vikings stadium, Minneapolis attorney Susan Segal was approved for a fourth term as city attorney by a City Council committee Monday afternoon. 

The 5-1 Ways and Means Committee vote forwards Segal's reappointment to the full City Council on Friday. 

Two council members on Monday questioned her controversial 2012 opinion that paved the way for approval of the Vikings stadium. The legal opinion claimed that raising $150 million through a sales tax did not conflict with a provision in the city charter requiring a voter referendum on stadium financing over $10 million. Segal maintained that the money was controlled by the state, not the city. 

A referendum was never held, and the City Council ultimately voted in favor of the $1 billion stadium, which is now being built on the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis. 

Speaking Monday, City Council member Blong Yang, an attorney, said he was "perplexed" by Segal's opinion because it created a new definition for city resources when one was already available in the charter itself. Segal's definition of city resources was a key part of her opinion. "...It concerned me that the decision wasn't really grounded in law all that well," said Yang, who was the committee's lone vote against Segal.

Council member Andrew Johnson came to the meeting with a long list of questions for Segal. Segal, who attended the hearing but was not required to be there, answered several questions before committee chair John Quincy cut Johnson off. Quincy said it wasn't appropriate to cross examine Segal, saying in an interview later that Johnson should have asked his questions before the meeting.

Johnson said he supports Segal broadly but still disagrees with the stadium opinion.

Several others spoke in favor of Segal's reappointment, including former City Council member Don Samuels, current member Elizabeth Glidden, and Mayor Betsy Hodges. Refering to the stadium decision, Hodges said she didn't like the opinion when it was given, but still trusts Segal. 

Several people spoke against Segal's reappointment over the issue of police brutality, saying that the city has not adequately prosecuted police officers accused of misconduct under her watch. 

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