Mayor Betsy Hodges said Thursday she is “happy to remove” a much-criticized nondisparagement clause from the proposed separation agreement with former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
Harteau said Wednesday in a TV interview and confirmed for the Star Tribune on Thursday that she did not ask for the non-disparagement clause, which has attracted criticism from City Council members whose approval the agreement needs before it goes into effect.
Harteau resigned July 21, six days after a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond, after coming under withering criticism for being out of town in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
The deal Harteau’s attorney and City Attorney Susan Segal struck would pay Harteau $183,000 through the end of 2018, which would have been the end of her term as chief, and included a mutual nondisparagement clause that would apply to Hodges, Harteau, all 13 City Council members and city of Minneapolis department heads.
Hodges tacitly admitted in a statement Thursday that the nondisparagement clause was her idea but appeared to walk back her insistence on it.
“When Chief Harteau asked for a letter of recommendation from me, I thought there was an opportunity for everyone to take the high road and that the non-disparagement clause, which is a common practice in separation agreements, could help bring the negotiation to a close,” Hodges said in the statement. “I remain happy to provide the letter of recommendation, but if the clause is not helping with a smooth transition to Chief [Medaria] Arradondo, I’m happy to remove it as long as that removal doesn’t cost us more money.”
The city of Minneapolis executive committee — which includes Hodges and Council Members Elizabeth Glidden, Cam Gordon, Barb Johnson and Kevin Reich — will take up the Harteau separation agreement at its Sept. 13 meeting.
The agreement is scheduled to go to the full council for a vote Sept. 20.