Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Tubby Smith opinion intertwines with Minneapolis cops off duty behavior

The Sunday Star Tribune had a front page fold story which talked about cops and their off duty behavior.  Minneapolis Police is launching an investigation into alleged misconduct.  The article goes on to say there may be "questions about how closely the department monitors the widespread practice of off duty work and whether those jobs conflict" with rules and policies. But who monitor's the supposed watchers, the Minneapolis police administration?

Supposedly, the public, right?  The public was able to find out until 2008, public data, as to how much public employees got who did activity with a private business because of their public position.  But that all changed in 2008 when the Department of Administration did an opinion known as the "Tubby Smith" opinion.

The opinion basically says any kind of recompense or pay that public employees get from private parties who are in a relationship with a private party because of their public job is not public. For decades until 2008 the data was public.

In real terms, what does this mean.  It means a cop who works for someone and who wears the city uniform the amount he makes is not public.  The Director of a division of state agency who oversees an industry, but who on the side consults with the same industry, may be known to his bosses, but the public does not know what goodies or pay the person may get.  I could go on and on.

A coalition of bi-partisan legislators tried to overturn the Department of Administration opinion, but the legislation never came for a vote on the floor because of heavy pressure by law enforcement unions.  It just sat on the floor til adjournment.

So what do we have in Minnesota highlighted by the Star Tribune story today.  We have people who get paid by private interests who have a relationship for recompense or pay because they are a public employee or position they hold in government and may be in collision and competition with the public interest. This is troubling.  With recompense or pay being public data gives the public the ability to gauge what the tenor and depth of the relationship may be.

If the Minneapolis Police cannot do oversight over their off duty officers, the public needs to have the ability to do so with public data that should be available.  That can start with making "remuneration" data public again.

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