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Minneapolis' Hodges attended Los Angeles fundraiser four days after police shooting of Justine Damond

Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Mayor Betsy Hodges and then-acting Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo speaking at a July 26 press conference.

Four days after the police shooting of Justine Damond, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges traveled to Los Angeles for a campaign fundraiser at the Wilshire Country Club featuring “kombucha tasting with Garrison Keillor” and “artisan crafted hotdish,” among other menu items.

According to the invitation, the fundraiser was co-hosted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Hollywood agent David Stone, who works for William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

The event came as Hodges was dealing with the crisis that began late in the evening of July 15, when Damond was shot after calling 911 about a possible assault in the alley behind her southwest Minneapolis home. Officer Mohamed Noor shot Damond from inside his squad car after she approached the car.

In the wake of the shooting, then-Police Chief Janeé Harteau was criticized for not returning quickly enough from vacation in Colorado, leaving her deputy, Medaria Arradondo, to lead the department’s response. Harteau made her first public statement on July 20 and was asked by Hodges to resign on July 21. (Arradondo has since been nominated for the permanent job of chief and was appointed by a unanimous City Council vote last week.)

The Hodges fundraiser was scheduled for the evening of July 19 and was coordinated by the Hodges campaign. Suggested contributions were $100, $250, $500 and $1,000 and RSVPs were directed to Madeline Coles at the campaign office. The legal contribution limit in the mayor’s race is $1,000 per person. According to her pre-primary campaign finance report, Hodges raised $10,900 from people who listed California addresses around the time of the July 19 fundraiser. Stone contributed $1,000.

“Lefse and kale wraps, kombucha tasting with Garrison Keillor and an artisan-crafted hotdish featuring organic, locally sourced tofu are just a few things that could bring people from Minneapolis and Los Angeles together,” the invitation reads. “Are there more? You betcha. Both cities are filled with creative, progressive people who make their communities better and more inclusive for everyone. We have a lot in common.”

Wednesday afternoon, Hodges confirmed her attendance in a post on her Facebook page and blasted unnamed opponents for “shopping” the story to news outlets. “I traveled overnight to Los Angeles for an event held on July 19. During the 27 total hours that I was traveling, I spent most my time dealing with the aftermath of the terrible shooting of Justine Damond, just as I had almost every moment since the shooting happened,” Hodges wrote. “I had been ready and willing to cancel my flight, and only that morning made the decision that my physical presence in Minneapolis was not required for his brief period.

“I did exactly the same work I would have done had I stayed in Minneapolis. And during those 27 hours, I also spent a few hours at a campaign event,” she wrote.

Council Member Linea Palmisano, whose Ward 13 was the site of the Damond shooting, said she was told by Hodges and her staff as early as Sunday, July 16, that the mayor would not be available Wednesday but did not give a reason for her absence.

One of the opponents referenced in Hodges' statement was Council Member Jacob Frey. In response to the fundraiser, Frey said in a statement: "The mayor heads the police department. Flying to Los Angeles to campaign at the Wilshire Country Club in the middle of a crisis shows the mayor's priorities are completely misplaced."

Tom Hoch, another mayoral challenger noted that Harteau's delay in returning to the state was a factor in her dismissal. "To say the mayor should have prioritized her in-person response to this tragedy, rather than attending a Hollywood fundraiser, doesn't put it strongly enough. It's just horrific judgement and the height of hypocrisy."

Hodges has also delayed delivering her full budget to the City Council by the charter-imposed Aug. 15 deadline. Instead, Hodges submitted a letter making her request for a maximum property tax levy increase of 5.5 percent and said she will give her budget address on Sept. 12. She cited two recent crises for the delay: the death of Damond and the August 2 natural gas explosion at Minnehaha Academy that killed two staff members.

Hodges also defended that decision in her Facebook post Wednesday: “My opponents are also shopping the idea that the few hours that I spent at one fundraiser in July wipe off the ledger the more than 200 hours I spent over three weeks responding to two major public-safety crises — the fatal shooting of Justine Damond and the fatal explosion at Minnehaha Academy — and successfully bringing on a new police chief in the process,” Hodges wrote. “Leading our city during those terrible events, plus bringing on the new chief, consumed nearly all of my time for weeks, and took away nearly all of the time I had planned to finalize my proposal for the City’s 2018 budget.”

“Yet my opponents are peddling the notion that if, in the middle of these crises, I had put the few hours I spent at the July fundraiser toward the budget, that would have been enough for me to deliver my full 2018 budget and speech on August 15,” she wrote. "This notion is also ridiculous: if only the men running for mayor had the slightest understanding of how Minneapolis’ $1.4 billion budget actually works, they’d know that it takes weeks to write it, not a few hours.”

Carol Becker, an elected member of the city Board of Taxation and Equalization, has filed a legal challenge to compel Hodges to submit the full budget, arguing that the later release does not give residents proper time to respond before budget hearings begin. A judge has ordered Hodges to court Friday to show why she shouldn’t be compelled to meet the charter requirements.

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Comments (24)

trying to follow...

Is the article about LA, Diamond, or the budget?

The article starts with a point about Hodges skipping town in the middle of a crisis then veers off into another point that Hodges correctly defends, that a city budget could have been created in the three hours she was at the fundraiser. Is she unable to make calls once she is out of the city limits? Did she turn her phone off? Did she miss an important call? How would she have been of more help if she were physically in Minneapolis? I am unclear what she actually did wrong.

BTW, I have read this same article each time a president goes golfing or takes a vacation…

If that last sentence were true

You would have read this same article every Monday morning since January 20th.

Out of state

With so many candidates to choose from, it doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense to support one who raises money out of state.

Cities are an important locus of resistance

to the authoritarian aggression and destructive goals of the present administration. I may live in Minneapolis but I have a stake in the agendas of cities across the nation. For that reason it is in my interest to support progressive city governance elsewhere and if others wish to do the same here, I don’t find that objectionable. I’m not making a statement about Mayor Hodges (though I find the criticism of her travel in this case a bit weak) but simply about the notion that support from outside Minneapolis (or Minnesota) necessarily is tainted.

Rights

No one questions your right to paricipate in out of state elections. Rather, the questions is, should it be ignored?

Purposefully vague?

Hiram--

What are you trying to say here? Does it "necessarily make a lot of sense" then to deny support to one who raises money out of state?

Among the "so many candidates," do you have any idea if any, some, most *aren't* accepting out of state money? Or is it the visiting for the money that nettles?

What I am saying is that the

What I am saying is that the outcome of Minneapolis elections should be determined by people who live here and work here. I am not really interested in the opinion of Californians about what is right for people who live here. To be fair, I don't think the people of Los Angeles should have to concern themselves about my opinions about what goes on in LA about which I know virtually nothing.

Okay

In isolation, that response is very reasonable and appropriate.

I guess what I was wondering is how much of an issue is it for you in the context of your vote? Will you check the campaign finance reports as to the source of contributions and have what you find influence your vote?

I've read your comments on here often; you aren't naive about the way campaigns are funded. I would be very surprised if any of the candidates remaining as we get down toward election day don't receive a significant amount of money from out of state interests. For example, if a business PAC wants to contribute money to a candidate who opposes a $15 minimum wage and extended sick leave and health care benefits, is that dirty pool or proper advocacy on behalf of businesses that "work here"? I could make the same arguments on behalf of unions and social advocacy groups on issues such as sanctuary cities.

Like you, I appreciate a good retail politician who gets my vote on the basis of direct contact. But personally, I'm not sure how much the reception of out of state campaign funds would tarnish my view of a candidate--maybe as a tie-breaker of a really tough decision. It sounds as if you feel it should be a larger factor. If so, good luck with your research.

I guess what I was wondering

I guess what I was wondering is how much of an issue is it for you in the context of your vote?

As always, it makes me wonder what the folks in Los Angeles expect to get for their money. And if further amplifies my sense that the mayor is a weak incumbent, who seems to have alienated local voters, and finds it necessary to go to outsiders for help. It isn't a determinative factor but it's a relevant and material factor.

"I've read your comments on here often; you aren't naive about the way campaigns are funded."

Wow, and thank you. I didn't think anyone read my comments. I mostly think of this as talking to myself.. I really don't like the way campaigns are funded, but as a realist, I know compromises must be made. But I don't know if those compromises are as necessary on the local level. And on any level, it is certainly appropriate to question the sources and reasons by campaign funding. It's not really a question of dirty campaigning; there is nothing legally or morally wrong in accepting out of state funding or PAC funding, assuming the rules are followed. Nevertheless, it's perfectly ok for a voter to take such factors into account in their choice.

Respect

Hiram, I thought your original comment was quite on point. I thought the author missed an opportunity to comment on out-of-state funds.

As to the personal comment waged towards you, it is an example of why our country is fighting so much. If we could learn to stay on subject and talk to each other with respect instead of throwing barbs, the conversation would not get sidetracked and be much more meaningful. The people who bring a conversation to the personal level are in the wrong. Thank you for responding to the comment with respect.

Thanks. I was in no way

Thanks. I was in no way offended by the comment, and I don't think that at all the intent of the writer. For some reason, the entire world doesn't always agree with what I say or think. It's something I have gotten used to over the years.

Whatever

How is this relevant to anything, Peter? It would be interesting to do a larger analysis of fundraising generally speaking in the Mayor's race.

Out of state

The thing that bugs me the most about this isn't the timing, but the fact that she was fundraising in California at all. I get it for Federal races, where other states are impacted by your party having a majority, etc. But a mayoral race? ehhh.

I'm also not excited about Hodges criticizing her opponents for shopping the story. People can disagree about whether this is a big deal or not, but its certainly a story worth reporting.

If she has supporters elsewhere

I see nothing wrong with fundraising where ever you have supporters.

It's not like local money is exclusively local (i.e., doesn't winter in Florida or wherever) either.

As for worth reporting, I see "where is the budget" as a valid question. That she travelled some arbitrary number of days after a tragedy doesn't mean much unless there's an allegation that she missed something important, which seems to be absent here.

Nothing wrong

Its not so much a matter of it being wrong to collect out-of-state/out-of-city money. I just think its preferable that your campaign be funded by the people you are trying to represent. Substitute "Garrison Keilor's Hollywood friends" with the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson and it doesn't seem so benign. What's going on that you can't fundraise from people in your own jurisdiction.

As someone else pointed out, a better analysis would have been to look at the breakdown out out-of-state/city money for all the candidates, not just Hodges. I think voters should be entitled to know that information, and then make their own decisions about whether there is anything wrong with it.

Who Cares?

Hodges isn't my pick, but who cares? Did she make a mistake that harmed the city or something? Her detractors should explain why this is a problem, beyond the fact that we have an election coming up.

Optics

Ordinarily, this would not be a big deal. Her timing in making a fundraising trip out of state, and her dismissal of any concerns, just adds to the perception that she has no interest in controlling the Police Department.

Molehills and mountains

Yes, it's a little problematical—at least in theory—that a mayoral candidate is traveling to another state to raise money for a campaign. I'll be more critical as soon as the other candidates sign affidavits affirming that they've never done anything similar, and promising not to do anything similar during their own campaigns. Pardon me if I don't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

What Mayor Hodges has done is…um…standard behavior for politicians at every level in every state. Campaigns cost money, and you go where the money is to talk to the people who have it. If you're persuasive enough, they give some of their money to you to use on your campaign. Sure, it leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but it's pretty much standard procedure. At this point, I'm not going to base my vote for mayor on a candidate's fundraising techniques.

Blaming Others

What is it with blaming others for their mistakes? Instead of taking a stand and owning up to her choices in action, she puts blame everywhere else. Sounds like a very familiar M.O.
But she is going to get plastered at the ballot box anyway because her schtick is tiresome.

Plastered

I'd put my money on Hodges winning again. If this was the old system with a primary, she'd get plastered. But RCV and a number of serious candidates means that the opposition will be divided up. I see her winning with about 40 percent after the reallocation.

Petty

Meanwhile, Raymond Dehn is knocking on doors and taking names. You know... campaigning.

Personally I Could Care Less....

...where Mayor Hodges is fundraising for her re-election campaign.

I'm more concerned that nearly 6 weeks after this innocent woman was gunned down by a Minneapolis police officer, we still know less than we did before Mayor Hodges hit the runway for Los Angeles.

I understand the BCA is handling the investigation, but Mayor Hodges is the face and voice of Minneapolis. She needs to start applying a little pressure on behalf of her constituents who are seeking some answers.

Not too efficient a trip:

Not too efficient a trip: Betsy probably spent the better part of $1000 to reap that $10,000-plus in L. A.

And there is an important aspect to her absence: Our Minneapolis mayor is part of a weak-mayor system,which means, in effect, that aside from being the boss of the Police Chief and chatting with Council about other department heads, what a mayor does is replete with pure symbolism. That applies not just to the need for the mayor to be physically present in the city when tensions are high for what ever reason. She needs to be SEEN as present here, SEEN as being on top of the issues, caring for the city and its residents. Betsy Hodges regularly fails at that.

Symbolically, the mayor is supposed to set the path for budget priorities in Minneapolis. Betsy Hodges has dropped the ball on that one, too, with no non-laughable explanation given. She missed a symbolic deadline for submission of the budget, which disdains any of her citizens who actually go online and ferret out that long document and dig in for details that matter to them. Can't do that in the one 24-hour day (same time frame as her "brief" trip to L.A.!) she say she'll provide.

Betsy Hodges hides behind her smart phone or iPad, in social media. She's really not HERE. That was a major problem she had with Janee Harteau: she kept the Chief at a rather fierce distance.

I'll take the Dehn campaign--and probably governing--model anytime.

The budget setting isn't that tough

Take the last budget, add 8% to everything and present it.