I am writing in response to “Minneapolis cops, firefighters seek big cut of virus aid” (May 14). This headline and the story mischaracterized the nature of the letter sent by Minneapolis Fire Local 82 and the Police Federation to Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council.

In our letter we encouraged the city to aggressively pursue a fair share of the federal funding from the federal CARES Act. We also stated that we would actively assist the city of Minneapolis in its pursuit in any way we could.

Rather than reflect the intent of the unions that represent the city’s firefighters and police officers as that of collaborating with the city, the story twisted this into pitting our unions against the city and its other represented employees by suggesting that we were placing our departments and members in higher value than others.

Local 82 and the Police Federation recognize that all departments and all employees are critical and that each have a role in serving the residents and visitors of Minneapolis. It is true that we noted that the act requires that the funds be used for “COVID-related services,” and that the federal regulations make it easier for cities to meet these criteria by applying the funds toward police and fire services. However, the point was that — since Minneapolis employs a far greater percentage of the police officers and firefighters in the state and, therefore, should get a significant share the available funds — by applying these funds to these departments, it would free up money from these two departments to be reallocated internally to limit the extent of budget cuts in other departments.

This would benefit not only the employees of the other departments by protecting them from suffering the consequences of larger than necessary cuts, but also the taxpayers against suffering the corresponding reduction in city services.

In simple terms, the more money the city can get from the CARES Act, the less it needs to cut from its overall budget.

Our only goal in writing to the mayor and council was to offer our assistance in helping Minneapolis to get its fair share of these funds. As the adage goes: “No good deed goes unpunished.”

The Star Tribune surely saw to that by taking what was intended to be a good and selfless gesture and instead presenting it as a bad and selfish one. At a time when the public desperately desires unity and collaboration from and within government, it does not serve the public interest for the media to portray well-intended actions as divisive.

 

Mark Lakosky is president of Minneapolis Fire Local 82.