Rybak declines to reappoint rights diirector

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 3, 2010 - 12:15 AM

Rybak plans to nominate the sixth civil rights director of his tenure by April.

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Michael Jordan

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Michael Jordan won't be reappointed as civil rights director for Minneapolis, Mayor R.T. Rybak announced Tuesday.

Rybak said in a letter that he's seeking reappointment by the City Council of all of his current department heads except Jordan.

The mayor nominated Jordan in 2007, saying then that Jordan would bring a "high level of both professionalism and passion." He said Tuesday he's beginning a search and hopes to have a replacement nominated in April.

The decision not to renominate Jordan was not unanticipated, but Jordan had little to say on Tuesday. "It was a nice opportunity," he said. "It was a privilege to be head of the department."

Some on the City Council regard the department as dysfunctional and indicated dissatisfaction with how it progressed under Jordan. The mayor's spokesman, John Stiles, said Rybak is seeking a new direction for the department.

The new director will be the sixth civil rights director to serve under Rybak, including two interim appointees. Both Rybak and a key council member have proposed changes in the city's handling of civil rights complaints. Rybak proposed shifting complaint-handling to the state, while Betsy Hodges, the council's budget chair, proposed a multipronged study of department issues. Community opposition beat back both proposals.

Michelle Monteiro, chair of the city's Civil Rights Commission, said that the more leadership turnover the department has, the more difficult it is to achieve rights compliance. She hopes for a director committed to rights compliance and to keeping complaint-handling within in the department.

Stiles and Jordan both said they expect that he will serve until the council appoints a new director. The department has a budget this year of $2.4 million and 19 workers. That's down from 26 workers as recently as 2008. Monteiro said it will be hard for any director to succeed in the face of further cuts.

The three main jobs of the department are to investigate complaints of discrimination in civil rights, to monitor compliance with city requirements for hiring and contracting goals involving women and minorities, and to staff the Civilian Review Authority, which considers complaints of police misconduct.

Rybak plans to present his renomination of Police Chief Tim Dolan at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Executive Committee, with a public hearing March 3. Also renominated were Assessor Patrick Todd, Attorney Susan Segal, Fire Chief Alex Jackson, Public Works Director Steve Kotke, Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant, City Coordinator Steven Bosacker and Community Planning and Economic Development Director Mike Christenson. Rybak also nominated Rocco Forte as regulatory director, a position recently added to the list of charter department heads whose appointments are considered by the Executive Committee and approved by the council.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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