Three Minneapolis residents — including a couple who last year sued over the city's police staffing levels — brought a lawsuit Monday seeking to have ballot language for a public safety proposal that would disband the city's police department tossed out.
Attorneys for Don and Sondra Samuels, as well as Bruce Dachis, argued that the language city officials approved this month is "misleading" and fails to inform voters of key aspects of the proposal, the Star-Tribune reports.
"Voters need to understand that outcome and timeline," attorney Joseph Anthony wrote in the court petition. "The current ballot question hides that information from them. This must be corrected."
Before the court now is a question of whether Minneapolis officials should revise the language that appears on the ballot when voters decide the fate of the city's Police Department this fall. Early voting begins Sept. 17.
The proposal that Yes 4 Minneapolis--a coalition of left-wing and civil rights groups--wrote would remove language in the charter that requires the city to keep a Police Department with a minimum number of officers based on population.
The ballot initiative reads: "Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety which could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, with administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety?"
Attorneys for Dachis and the Samuelses argue that the question should mention that, if approved, it would remove three things from the charter: minimum funding requirements for police; a reference to the police chief's job; and a line that gives the mayor "complete power" over police operations.
If voters approve the plan, the mayor and council would decide how to design the agency and whether to include officers.