Harteau settlement approved, gag order removed

MINNEAPOLIS - The Minneapolis City Council has unanimously approved a settlement with former Police Chief Janee Harteau, and they've also removed a nondisparagement clause that was drawing scrutiny.

Harteau resigned under pressure from Mayor Betsy Hodges in July, after the Minneapolis police shooting of Justine Damond.

Under the proposed settlement, Harteau was to receive nearly $183,000 and 12 months of health benefits. But the deal also included a nondisparagement clause keeping her from saying anything negative about Hodges or other city officials, and vice versa.

The Minneapolis City Council took up Harteau's settlement on Wednesday, approving it unanimously, while stripping it of the nondisparagement clause. They also unanimously passed a resolution prohibiting such clauses for public employees in the future.

"I feel strongly that transparency is essential in this contract and it’s essential in all areas of city governance," said Councilmember Jacob Frey at the meeting on Wednesday. "And quite frankly, if we’re placing a gag order on the chief to prevent her from saying anything bad about the mayor or the city, none of us should be OK with that."

Frey called it a matter of public trust.

"While gag orders are routinely used in private contracts, those contracts are by definition private," he said. "Public contracts are entirely different and everyone from the EEOC to OSHA has said that gag orders should not be placed in public contracts."

Harteau had previously told KARE 11's Jana Shortal that she did not ask for the clause.

She provided KARE 11 with a statement after the council's Wednesday decision, saying, "I am pleased that others won't have to be forced to make choices that impact their freedom of speech and the ability to speak truthfully."

© 2017 KARE-TV


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