Council confirms McManus; Southwest votes split

New police chief should start in February

The Minneapolis City Council confirmed William McManus as the city's new police chief 9-4 Jan. 16 -- but with Southwest's Councilmembers split 3-3.

Councilmembers Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), Robert Lilligren (8th Ward) and Dan Niziolek voted no, while Dean Zimmermann (6th Ward), Scott Benson (11th Ward) and Barret Lane (13th Ward) supported McManus.

McManus is expected to assume the chief's job in February.

During the hour-plus Council debate, no one questioned McManus' credentials. Opposition came from those, such as Niziolek, chair of the Council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, who said they preferred hiring one of two top internal candidates, deputy chiefs Lucy Gerold or Sharon Lubinski.

Mayor R.T. Rybak nominated McManus, a former Washington, D.C. cop and Dayton, Ohio police chief, after using a citizens' committee to help screen candidates. McManus received broad community support, ranging from business leaders such as Downtown Council President and CEO Sam Grabarski to Police Department critics such as Communities United Against Police Brutality.

Rybak said McManus felt deeply about bridging communities but also is at his core a cop -- "and a tough cop who will not tolerate activity in our neighborhoods that is not what we want it to be."

Niziolek said Lubinski and Gerold had a proven track record of bringing a cultural change to the Department and called McManus' appointment "an opportunity lost."

Lilligren said the during the past 50 years of civil rights movements "one message that came through was that the straight white guy thing is not OK."

He then read from a city policy that stated Minneapolis should "'take affirmative action to ensure that women, persons of color, and persons with disabilities are adequately represented at all levels of city employment."

"I don’t think we are doing that by appointing Mr. McManus today and when we do have candidates internally who are equally qualified as their resumes go," Lilligren said.

Goodman and Lane were among the few not to give a speech during the Council debate. Goodman coauthored an op-ed piece with Niziolek in the Jan. 15 Star Tribune supporting either Lubinski or Gerold, to "break the glass ceiling."

Meanwhile, Zimmermann seconded McManus' nomination on the Council floor. His fellow Green Party member, Natalie Johnson Lee, nominated McManus.

Benson, who did not decide to support McManus until the day before the vote, said he believed Lubinski and Gerold were both qualified to lead the Department, and he was disappointed they would not get the opportunity. He also defended Rybak's selection process from critics, noting it had broad representation.

"I think Chief McManus is well qualified," he said. "I think Chief McManus will do a fine job of leading the Department in the future."