Good morning, Reformers.
When I first started writing about the workers’ compensation settlements to Minneapolis city employees, I would occasionally google an employee’s name to see what department they worked in.
Time after time, Google would show they were police officers who had made headlines for some sort of alleged misconduct.
I began to wonder just how prevalent that was, so I asked the city for information about these settlements.
A quick story about access to public information: Time after time, city officials told me if I wanted the information, I should dig through all the City Council agendas and figure it out.
Want to know how much the city paid in total? Figure it out.
Want to know how many police officers had gotten payouts? Figure it out.
Finally, I did.
I went through every City Council agenda since George Floyd was killed by police in May 2020 and looked up every workers’ comp settlement approved by the council. At first, the agenda specified they were police employees. Then that disappeared from the agendas.
With a little help from Google and a database of officer misconduct complaints, I counted 144 MPD officers who got six-figure payouts. All but five had misconduct complaints in their history, with very few sustained.
I added up the settlements, which now total over $22.2 million, with more coming.
Early on, attorney Ronald Meuser Jr. — whose law firm represents the vast majority of the officers — said the city could end up paying out $34 million in settlements. Looks like he’s right.
It took a long time to compile this information — which I would hope someone at the city is already compiling.
By contrast, when I asked the head of the Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association how many MPD officers have gotten disability pensions since Floyd’s killing, he sent a spreadsheet with every officer, by name, with the amount of their pensions — within days.
Thank you Doug Anderson! He does not play games or demur or hide information in his government office. He simply hands over what he’s legally obligated to.
That’s when we learned the state is paying more than $875,000 per month in disability pensions to 169 former Minneapolis officers who’ve left since Floyd’s kiling.
We previously reported that the state police and fire pension fund’s liability has increased by $70 million due to the surge in early retirements due to disabilities, the vast majority of them from post-traumatic stress.
So, today’s story counts another cost related to the police murder of George Floyd: $22.2 million in workers’ comp payouts for the city (taxpayers). And $70 million for the state — which employees and cities (taxpayers) pay. And rising.
Fateh ethics hearing
This morning, the Senate Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct Committee will take up complaints filed against Sen. Omar Fateh.
Lawmakers will review Fateh’s sponsorship of legislation to give a nonprofit a $500,000 grant after it endorsed him, potentially in violation of its nonprofit status, as first reported by the Reformer.
They will also look at Fateh’s ties to his brother-in-law, who volunteered on his campaign and was recently convicted of lying to a grand jury in a ballot fraud case.
We will cover the hearing.
Senate DFL wants action on gun control measures in special session
A group of DFL state senators on Tuesday called on their Republican colleagues to take action on long-stalled gun control legislation in a special session, Ricardo Lopez reports.
CenterPoint touts $1.3B gain from selling stake in company accused of price gouging
On top of soaring gas prices, Minnesotans who get their natural gas from CenterPoint Energy are on the hook for $466 million to cover five days of energy costs when prices surged during the 2021 winter storm that crippled Texas’ power grid, Max Nesterak reports.
Third Starbucks in Minnesota votes to unionize
A third Starbucks store in Minnesota is unionized after the National Labor Relations Board tallied workers’ votes on Monday with 12 voting in favor and five against, Nesterak reports.
Son of Black shooting victim urges Congress to act
The son of a Black woman shot and killed by a white supremacist begged members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to take action against such domestic terrorism, Ariana Figueroa reports.
Bonus checks now available
Front-line workers who didn’t have the option of working from home during the pandemic can now apply for checks of $750 to $1,500, depending on how many people apply.
You can apply here.
What’s for dessert
On a plane ride home from Texas, I watched “Licorice Pizza.”
Loved this corny, sweet, coming-of-age film.
The older I get, the more nostalgic I am about life in the 70s and 80s, and especially movies that feature that life, music, decor and clothing style.
So today I’m listening to this “Licorice Pizza” playlist.