Minneapolis City Council votes 5-4 against rent stabilization while bills authors absent for Eid

Minneapolis City Council votes 5-4 against rent stabilization while bills authors absent for Eid

Minneapolis City Council votes 5-4 against rent stabilization while bills authors absent for Eid

The Minneapolis City Council voted 5-4 on a rent stabilization policy on Wednesday while three Muslim council members, including the policies authors, were absent due to Eid al-Adha

Wednesday’s vote determined whether or not the policy would be sent to committee, where public hearings and testimony would have been heard.

The bill’s authors, Council Members Aisha Chugtai and Jamal Osman, were noticeably gone from the meeting to celebrate Eid with their families, as well as Council Member Jeremiah Ellison.

Council Member Andrew Johnson abstained from the vote.

The three council members who missed the vote issued a statement expressing their frustration with the decision not to move the meeting.

“This morning, the City Council considered the Introduction & Referral of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Introduction & Referral is a technical step of the policymaking process – it sends an Ordinance to the relevant Committee for discussion, amendments, and a public hearing. This action failed by a 6-4 vote of the Council, effectively killing any possibility of advancing rent stabilization this year. It also killed the possibility of holding a public hearing on this important issue, which has been under consideration at City Hall since late 2019, was approved by voters in 2021, and was recommended by a Council-created Work Group of experts. Due to the August 25th deadline to get Rent Stabilization on the ballot, there is now no pathway to achieve this timeline this year. Just last month a majority of the Council voted in favor of drafting this policy.

“Today is Eid al-Adha, one of the most important holidays for Muslims around the world. As the 3 Muslim members of the Minneapolis City Council, we were observing Eid with our families and community when we learned of this news. It is a common practice for Council leadership to reschedule meetings that conflict with major holidays.

“City Council meetings are typically held on Thursdays. When the Council’s calendar for this year was voted on in September 2022, this week’s meeting was set for this Wednesday in an effort to accommodate Eid for the City’s Muslim Councilmembers and staff. The precise date of Eid al-Adha is determined by the lunar calendar; early last week, Eid al-Adha was confirmed to be observed Wednesday, June 28, the same day of the Council meeting. Unfortunately, Council leadership decided against using their authority to reschedule this meeting.

“We will share next steps in the coming days. “

Council Members Jeremiah Ellison, Jamal Osman and Aisha Chughtai

After the vote, Council Member Chavez said he was “shocked” the vote moved forward despite his missing Muslim colleagues.

“There are three Muslim council members celebrating Eid with their families. Our Muslim staff and our Muslim council members were not consulted with about our meeting being moved from Thursday to Wednesday,” Chavez said. “Two of the authors [of the policy] are Muslim council members who are celebrating Eid with their families and because this meeting was moved, now our community members don’t have the opportunity to even have a discussion about rent stabilization for the city of Minneapolis.

“And this is a notice of introduction being referred to committees, not even the policy being voted on. But because the council meeting was moved from Thursday to Wednesday without Muslim council members being consulted with, or Muslim staff, we aren’t able to discuss rent stabilization for the rest of the year. That is just shocking to me.

“And I hope [Council President Andrea Jenkins] that you can fix this for us, and I hope that we can stand for your leadership because this is just wrong and it’s frustrating and it makes me angry. Because three Muslim council members can’t be here, voting for a policy they support … because they’re with their families celebrating Eid. That’s just wrong and I couldn’t stand here and I’m shocked that this even happened to begin with.”

In response, City Council Vice President Linea Palmisano confirmed with the clerk that the council’s calendar was voted on twice during 2022 and Thursday was specifically designated for the Muslim holiday of Eid.

City Clerk Casey Carl then spoke, saying, “To the extent that the clerk’s office manages [the calendar], we have always relied upon those council members who represent those traditions of faith to tell us when and if there are changes since we don’t track that after the council adopts the calendar. So to the extent that the clerk’s office failed to check back and recognize that the holiday was actually identified for today versus tomorrow, when it was originally adopted as a part of the adopted calendar, I can apologize but that has not been our practice to expect clerks to check back on those holidays.”

Carl added that the holiday “got missed” and that by the time he was aware of the scheduling conflict, there wasn’t enough time to comply with the state’s law requiring a minimum of three days to change a meeting time.

Palmisano then said, “While I do regret this wasn’t brought to our attention until well beyond our ability to change that, three days’ notice is all it would have taken, and our colleagues that are authors here sent out this calendar of approvals of what that timeline would be.”

Prior to the vote, advocates of the bill with Home to Stay Minneapolis gathered outside of the city council to express their support of the bill.

“We are here once again to stand up and tell our city council that we need stable homes for us and all of Minneapolis,” a member of Home to Stay Minneapolis said during a protest outside of the city council prior to the vote, adding that, “We know this conversation is ultimately about real people.”