Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Day The Crazy Parade Ended, A Disturbingly Detailed Account Of What Really Transpired In City Council Chambers When CRA Overhaul Passed (Part One Of Two)

Creative stock photo, blog post by John Hoff

On September 21, the City Council passed a massive overhaul of the city's system for reviewing alleged police misconduct, as numerous mainstream media (including Channel 5, embedded above, reported in detail.

(ADDENDUM, NOVEMBER 3, STUPID VIDEO EMBED ISN'T WORKING AND IS BEING REPLACED WITH STOCK PHOTO. Channel 5, watch and see if I ever embed another of your videos) 

I'm here to tell you the colorful, boots-on-the-ground reality they didn't report, such as:

How Level Three Sex Offender Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer took it upon himself to be a little city council gopher and distribute copies of Cam Gordon's proposed amendments...why the crazy Mpls Mirror lady wrote so critically about Channel 5 reporter Kate Renner...(OK, that's not hard to figure out, actually)...and some interesting background on rabid police critic Chuck Turchick, who was involved in breaking into a draft office in Alexandria, Minnesota in July of 1970.

It's going to be a wild ride.

Well, for a blog post about talking heads at a meeting, I mean.

Here we go...

Children Fill Council Chambers, Sex Offender Hovers In Hallway

There was other business on the agenda that day. The council was passing a resolution honoring Latino Heritage month and "Museum In The Streets," which consists of numerous plaques on Lake Street explaining local history in English and Spanish. A couple dozen Latino children as well as parents and teachers were in the chamber. A school principal spoke movingly about how he crossed the Mexican-American border four times and worked such menial jobs as washing floors.

Don't lose hope if you lack papers, he told the children. Dare to dream.

Right about this time I started wondering, "Where is Spanky Pete the sex offender? Usually he's in city council chambers during these meetings. Wouldn't I love to get a picture of that child molester in a room with all these children and slap it all over my blog."

But Spanky wasn't in council chambers. He was hovering in the hall. A well-dressed woman walked up to Spanky while I watched and asked some kind of directions. As the woman walked away I told her, "Ma'am, just so you know, that guy you just spoke to is a Level Three Sex Offender."

"Ewww," she said, wrinkling her nose.

As documented in the video embedded above, Spanky Pete was wearing a baby blue shirt with a Hennepin County logo and a black hat with the same logo. From his appearance, he could easily be mistaken for some kind of county factotum with powers delegated to him; the sort of person you'd expect to be helpful and give you directions. All of this is the calculated behavior of a deviant sexual predator and the Minnesota Department of Corrections lets it happen while we watch, horrified.

But at least Spanky Pete wasn't in council chambers with the children. Does it even make sense to say, "Good sex offender"?

The children went behind the dais to shake hands with city council members in a long and slow parade. An announcement was made about Council Member Goodman who was getting married that weekend, and Goodman's 101-year-old grandmother was present, older than the right of women to vote in this country and watching her granddaughter acting in the role of city council member.

Representing The Planet Of Bryn Mawr

My attorney Paul Godfread (who might just as easily be called "my blog's attorney") came into council chambers and sat next to me for a bit before rushing off to another meeting. It's good, I thought, to put the legal artillery in a public parade now and then. In my notes for the meeting I can still find the notes I wrote to my attorney.

This could go on for a while. I don't know when the hot CRA topic is on the agenda. But me, Rickmyer and the crazies will sit here for hours if necessary.

Later, as the meeting dragged through minor consent agenda items, I wrote:

I like to image they are aliens who represent different planets in a solar system council. Makes time go faster. 

"The Norm Has Been Pretty Unsuccessful"

Later, I heard one of the crazies in the back was holding up a sign urging council members to look up the word "shame" in the dictionary. Whether this refers to how Dave Bicking should feel over his frivolous lawsuit against CRA Chair Donald Bellfield, well, the sign didn't specify.

Council Member Samuels summarized the proposal before the committee, calling it "a little bit controversial." This is actually accurate and not an understatement. If you discount all the heat and volume created by anti-police crazies, and only consider how average citizens regard the proposal, it is only a "little bit controversial."

Samuels said the proposal was "a departure from the norm, but the norm has been pretty unsuccessful." He mentioned how recent changes in state law make an overhaul legally necessary. While Samuels spoke, Council President Barb Johnson went over to Council Member Gary Schiff and there was an intense whispering session.

After Samuels, Council Member Gordon spoke. It was clear Gordon was leading the charge AGAINST the proposal, but knew in his heart he didn't have the votes. His strategy was to pass as many amendments as possible. Gordon said he appreciated the effort that went into the proposal and mentioned all the meetings and the public hearing. Click here for coverage of one colorful meeting, described as a "near riot." 

Though Gordon did like some things about the proposal--specifically mentioning he thought it was a good thing the chief of police has to give a written reason for any "no discipline" decision--Gordon had three proposed amendments.

The first attempted amendment was to change the number of panelists from 4 to 5.

In the midst of this discussion Level Three Sex Offender Peter Rickmyer, wearing his self-designed Hennepin County quasi-uniform, walked around council chambers passing out papers. He slid one of the papers next to me. It was a copy of Gordon's proposed amendment. What a helpful sex offender. What is he, the city council's intern or something?

Samuels spoke against the proposed amendment, which I and the rest of the guests in the city council chambers was reading fresh off Spanky's fingers. Samuels thought the change would overtax the panelists and cause split decisions. He didn't think sending split decisions to the police chief was a good idea.

Schiff spoke in favor of the amendment, saying it gets to the core of civilian review and allows a clear expression of the value of civilian oversight. Council Member Hodges, who spoke on the Public Safety Committee about how she can't get what she wants with this proposal (but if she tries some time, she just might find....she can get what she needs) supported the motion because she sees the Chief of Police as a de facto member of the panel and this "evens out" the process.

The amendment came up for a vote and narrowly failed, 6 to 7.

"Nothing To Be Lost Or Gained Except Repetition"

Gordon's next motion related to the "fire wall" of information which protects information about complainants. Gordon's motion didn't actually call for any changes. Gordon said "this is assuredly what would happen anyway" but was putting forth wording to "increase trust."

One council member--it may have been Samuels--said there was "nothing to be lost or gained except repetition." Spanky Pete once again passed out a copy of the amendment, which he obtained from a corner of the council dais where, I think, the city council clerk was sitting. Somebody who was closer to that end of the room told me the clerk was saying something like, "No, really, you don't have to do that" and Spanky just played it off, reaching up and taking the papers, passing them around like it was his little job.

The amendment passed 13 to zero.

Gordon wins one! I wrote in my notes.

I'll Have The Honey Roasted "Shall"

Gordon's final amendment and the debate over the amendment was a bloody mess. And as Spanky Pete passed out copies of the amendment, a little surprise was included: Spanky's own letter about the issues, passed out to everybody in council chambers along with a copy of Gordon's third proposed amendment. The letter was a disjointed exercise in confusing specificity, the product of sexually deviant madness.

"With all due respect to John Willard Hoff..." the letter said at one point, not bothering to mention what opinion of this blog was being contrasted against Rickmyer's opinion nor, for that matter, how Rickmyer had obtained access to the internet to read anything on this blog.

I told myself to put Spanky's crap aside and focus on the debate, but how do you ignore the lurid spectacle of a child molesting sex offender cantering around city council chambers like a circus pony, acting as a self-appointed council gopher, passing out papers about the motion of the floor and distributing his own weird little letter?

Gordon's proposed amendment gave citizens the option of designating whether they wanted civilians or police to review their complaint. Council Member Samuels said this was the amendment he was the most concerned about, because if you give somebody the option of who reviews their case they will all pick the civilians. So a couple people would do all the cases. This, Samuels said, is an unfunded mandate and an exercise in frustration.

Samuels said Velma Korbell of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights has a history of dealing with "the tough questions" and has "good outcomes." She is not a "fantasy queen."

Even Council Member Hodges said this isn't supportable in the budget and she couldn't support it. At times it wasn't clear in the debate if a civilian designating who they wanted to review their complaint could actually result in a bona fide choice, or was the whole point just to make the record about who the civilian wanted, even though (like Hodges herself) they can't always get what they want?

Hodges said it was like somebody on a desert island being told, "Assume a can opener."

Gordon argued failure to address budget issues forces the city council to make different decisions about what is right and wrong. Gordon wanted money in the budget designated for the police to go, instead, to civil rights. His speech was impassioned but was all a show. With the wording in his amendment reading "shall," it's an unfunded mandate and the votes aren't out there.

Council Member Schiff proposed amending the amendment, changing "shall" to "may." According to my recollection of the meeting, Gordon didn't want his amendment's wording changed from shall to may, forcing a vote that went 9 to 4 on the wording of the amendment. But first the debate on "may" versus "shall" went on forever. Samuels said expectations could be raised among people making complaints. It was almost like false advertising, like the guy on West Broadway who hung up a "GOING OUT FOR BUSINESS" sign for over a year.

He was going out FOR business, you see, not going out OF business.

One council member (who can't get what he or she wants) who compared the proposed wording to being in a restaurant and there's an item on the menu but, oh, turns out they don't have any today.

Council Member Hodges said the debate over the budget needs to be started in Ways and Means.

Addressing the idea of artificially raised expectations, Gordon said people making a complaint could be told they could EXPRESS a preference but it's not PROMISED. And hey, Gordon said, maybe we'll find out the system is really working and citizens are even confident in the POLICE investigating.

It wasn't clear if he was being sarcastic. This is why we need people to say "sarcasm font" before using sarcasm. If Gordon was using it. It's not clear. I have to assume he wasn't (Gordon didn't say "sarcasm font") but his words sure had the pungent aroma of sarcasm.

With the wording of the motion now changed from "shall" to "may" by a vote of 9 to 4, the amendment passed by a vote of 8 to 5. I didn't catch precisely what happened, but I assume that after fighting against having his motion amended, Gordon ultimately voted for his amended motion to assure its passage. Gordon is a master of pushing the idealistic while pragmatically settling for the most he can get, and for years he was the only reason I didn't leave the Green Party as it increasingly bore the face of crazies like Dave Bicking and Farheen Hakeem.

Heh Heh, He Said "Go Out On A Limb"

Gordon had won 2 out of 3 amendments, and for that reason I will serenade him with this embedded YouTube copy of "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" by 1970s music legend Meatloaf.

But now it was time for the vote on the main overhaul proposal. Gordon spoke against the main motion despite his efforts to fix it, producing a visceral response from Councilman Samuels.

"I'm going to go out on a limb here..." Samuels began.

Some of the crazies in the back of the room emitted forced chuckles, and one of them repeated, "Go out on a limb."

This proposal, Samuels said, was thought up by the communities most impacted. It is not an attempt to "give the police a piece of our minds." By this phrase, Samuels appeared to be alluding to the fact that anti-police crazies come out of the woodwork for these debates, trying to put forth that they represent the mainstream when, in fact, they are frothing at the mouth anti-police loons whose dire predictions of riots in the streets can be safely ignored.

While the crazies emitted more affected giggles, Samuels said this proposal will create "real dialogue."

Schiff spoke and said he feared we are "abandoning our core principals" and would have preferred if Gordon's first amendment had passed.

Council Member Lilligren spoke and said all the auditing in the world makes no difference if one of the parties doesn't want to be part of the conversation.

Council Member Colvin Roy asked why are we paying out huge settlements?

(Johnny Northside answers, "Because things go wrong in major metropolitan areas and all big cities pay out settlements. Don't like it? Pay the lawyers to fight, and then you can complain about how much you pay the lawyers. Better yet, invest in more technology like cameras so there isn't a 'he said, she said' debate about whether it was really necessary to shoot the charging pit bull.")

Colvin Roy thought the proposal would change the quality of the conversation and lead to differences in the way police treat people. Nothing was said about the way people treat the police, whether this would lead to less spitting in the course of an arrest, less profane tirades while being cuffed, less incidents of somebody like Malo Gomez simply opening fire on a squad car.

But, I say, dare to dream.

Colvin Roy didn't think there were any words that can make untrusting people extend trust. Ultimately, only results matter.

Council President Barb Johnson spoke, pointing out there are 400,000 calls to 911 each year. Police respond in a way that is remarkable. Every year, consistently, there are a mere 100 complaints filed. Which is remarkable.

"We will have critics of this process, always," Barb Johnson said, and never once used the word "crazies." She pointed out all departments suffer from this budget constraints, not just the Civil Rights Department.

The proposal, with Gordon's two amendments, as amended further by Schiff's "may" versus "shall" wording, passed 8 to 5.

The Opposite Of Pretty

The saga of the police review overhaul, reported in Crazies On Parade Part One and Two, was over.

Council Chambers became noisy with people clearing out. In the hallway, Channel 5 reporter Kate Renner did a live broadcast reporting the results of the vote. Spanky Pete casually walked behind her during the live broadcast. In the "B Roll" footage, you can see Spanky sitting next to activist Chuck Turchick. More on Turchick in a moment.

Later, I saw Pete talking to activist Dave Bicking in the hallway. It appeared to be a polite conversation. I wondered what the substance was of the conversation, and my mind came up with two possibilities.

Hey, Dave Bicking says, Pete I know you mean well but, um, gee, how can I put doesn't help when you align yourself with our efforts. No, actually, how can I put this? It hurts.

Pete thinks about that for a moment and responds, creepily, Where does it hurt?

Second possibility: Pete asks Dave, or Dave asks Pete, Hey, have you heard anything from Jill Clark? Do you have any idea where she is? 

Later, on the Mpls Mirror (oh, gee, there's another of Jill Clark's clients who would probably like to know what's up with Jill) Terry Yzaguirre dipped her pen in jealous poison and wrote, I was amused watching KSTP reporter Kate Renner run around like a chicken with her head cut off getting ready to do her live report on the events as she batted her eyelashes for the news cameras while reading off her notes. 

Clearly, Terry Yzaguirre has a problem with Kate Renner because Renner is pretty while Yzaguirre is, how shall I phrase it? The opposite of pretty.

I was there and never saw Renner run around nervously. Readers can look at Renner's stand up report for themselves and see Renner wasn't "batting her eyelashes." Renner was completely professional and, I might add, my heart sank a bit as I realized not even a blogger pulling out his laptop in city council chambers was going to beat Renner in breaking the story.

Saving Chuck Turchick For Dessert

Yeah, I know, I promised to write about the incredible back story of Chuck Turchick's, one of the rabid anti-police crazies who has been a fixture at these meetings surrounding the CRA proposal. But blogs live on fresh content, so it's time to hit "publish."

The amazing story of Chuck Turchick is "in the pipeline" and there will be a special surprise in regard to where I will be when the story gets published. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

It was council member Lisa goodman who just got married.

Council member Samuels is the one who compared the preference to a item that was on the menu, but the restaurant washout of that item.

Johnny Northside! said...

I will check into those facts and see if a correction is in order. Also, I think the "item on a restaurant menu" comparison could have been used by more than one council member, but I will do some checking.

Johnny Northside! said...

OK, I think you are correct about Goodman.

In regard to the restaurant comparison, I will go back and say "one council member," since my recollection on that matter depends on my notes, and my notes aren't giving me the info I need to clarify.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for part two...

Anonymous said...

You wrote, "me, Rickmyer and the crazies will sit here for hours if necessary." John, John, John. Your *are* the crazy. How could you not have noticed? (Oh, and I don't mind that you never publish my comments. We have such fun sitting around and reading your nonsense that it is more fun making up the response than seeing it in print!)

Anonymous said...

There's always a backstory to these guys...obsessed sex offender, litigious ex-candidates for council, and now a fossil-activist from the draft card days? You can't make this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Tell us more Johnny.

Johnny Northside! said...

Channel 5, ARG!!!!

First they're all, like, "share this video" and they provide an embed code. But some weeks later after I embed the video, what happens? Bad gateway response.

See if I ever share another one of your videos, Channel 5.

Anonymous said...

Shit Johnny what did you expect?

They got your clicks and now they gave you teh bone.