Minneapolis City Attorney Looks Other Way As Mayor and Council President Break Rule on Rehiring Her 

Susan Segal, Minneapolis City Attorney

Is new Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey already cutting ethical corners just a month or so into his new job? The curious case involving the reupping of City Attorney Susan Segal can’t help but make you wonder. Not only about the ethics of the city’s legal eagle who so desperately wants to keep the plumb job she’s held down for years but those of the new mayor she so much wants to serve.

It may be a small item in the Star Tribune, but the incident raises bigger concerns over the new administration’s evident willingness to bend the rules.

The five-member Minneapolis Executive Committee violated city rules when it approved Mayor Jacob Frey’s nomination of City Attorney Susan Segal with only two votes last week.

The committee now plans to redo its vote on Segal’s nomination next week.

Dave Bicking, citizen watchdog

Funny thing but City Attorney Segal apparently failed to at least publicly inform the city’s two top elected officials that their recommendation to rehire her broke the rules. They were busted by a citizen watchdog present for the council committee meeting in which Frey and City Council President Lisa Bender provided the only two votes to retain Segal.

On Wednesday, Dave Bicking — a resident and police accountability activist who had attended the meeting to oppose Segal’s reappointment — pointed out to Frey that a nomination needs at least three votes to pass the committee. Frey and City Council President Lisa Bender voted in favor of Segal. Council Members Cam Gordon and Andrew Johnson abstained; Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins was not present.

“They’re obviously trying to speed this up before opposition builds,” Bicking said in an interview. “Ironically, the city attorney has failed to provide accurate and timely information to the executive committee regarding her own reappointment.”

It’s not the first time Segal and Frey have come under scrutiny for their actions as city officials. They were both among the politically connected elites caught up in the US Bank Stadium suite ticket scandal, along with Segal’s husband Minnesota Commissioner of Management and Budget Myron Frans and other Dayton administration cronies.

Then-Mayor R.T. Rybak originally nominated Segal for city attorney in 2008. In renominating her last week, Frey offered a resounding endorsement.

Yet Segal also has her critics, who have accused her of delivering faulty legal opinions and prosecuting political activists. Of three city leadership positions voted on at the executive committee meeting, Segal’s was the only one to fail to receive unanimous support.

Frey and Bender plan a redo vote to cover their tracks at an emergency meeting at which Segal will likely receive committee approval next Monday. But their willingness to skirt the rules with the tacit support of Segal from the start of the new administration means Dave Bicking and other citizen watchdogs will have their hands full.