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POLITICS, The Great Minnesota Governor's Race 2010

Minneapolis Widows Appeal to DFLers

The Minneapolis Police Relief Association Political Fund has been sending out letters asking DFLers to “oppose the nomination of Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak as the DFL candidate for Governor.” The letter is signed by five widows of Minneapolis firefighters and police officers who were killed in the line of duty. The reason these women are hoping Rybak will not be nominated is that:

“Several years ago R. T. Rybak and the City of Minneapolis brought a lawsuit saying that they no longer wanted to abide by the agreement to pay pensioners and widows. On January 1, 2010 this lawsuit resulted in pensions being reduced by 12%…On the same day our pension was cut, health care costs for some went up 16%. This has had a dramatic impact on our lives.”

What the letter doesn’t say is why the lawsuit was filed in the first place. The lawsuit claimed that pensions had been miscalculated according to the terms of the agreement cited by the widows, and property taxpayers in the City of Minneapolis had been overcharged in order to meet the pension payments. In October 2009 the Star Tribune reported:

“The dispute about how to calculate pensions for the closed funds is long-running. The city sued in 1995, and reached a settlement with the pension funds about how to calculate salary for purposes of figuring pensions. But the state auditor’s office flagged the two funds in 2004. It said that they were improperly calculating the salary on which pensions are figured, not following the settlement agreement with the city or legal requirements.”

Although Hennepin County District Judge Janet Poston “denied the city’s attempt to recoup its overpayments from pensioners,” [she] ordered the now-closed pension funds to reduce their claim on the city’s 2010 property tax levy finding that “past overcharges to the city amounted to $49.6 million for police pensions and $19.1 million for firefighters, dating to 2003. She found that future overpayments would have amounted to $62.4 million for police pensions and $24.4 million for fire pensions.” (Steve Brandt, Star Tribune, November 20, 2009)

An Appeal filed by the Minneapolis Police Relief Association, et al on November 30, 2009 was dismissed on January 20, 2010.

The widows’ letter states, “Elderly people in their 70s, 80s and 90s on fixed incomes now face terrible choices…” In today’s economy, this is indisputable. In a budget proposal dated February 2009, Rybak (who believes “People who worked hard for this city, and their families, deserve what they have been promised”) stated “The widow who pays property taxes should have the same protection as the widow who receives a pension check.” Judge Poston apparently agreed.

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See: MPR NewsQ, Revised City Budget 2009 – Mayor R. T. Rybak, 2010 City of Minneapolis Budget and “Groups Queried in Anti-Rybak LetterStar Tribune, January 2, 2009)

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