Tonight, at Mayor Emily Larson’s request, the Duluth City Council will vote on whether to amend the city charter to proactively remove the word “chief” from two city positions: chief administrative officer and chief financial officer. She is also exploring changing the title of Police Chief and Fire Chief as well.
Emily was quoted as saying “We are dropping the name ‘chief’ with intention and with purpose so we have more inclusive leadership, and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive and intentional marginalization.” Emily wants the title change to “more accurately reflect the city we are and the city we are becoming.”
The problem is there are many Duluthians that do not like Duluth as it is now or the direction it is heading.
Why is the City Council being asked to spend time considering and voting on an issue that is so innocuous when Duluth is facing massive budget issues, devastating infrastructure problems, and horrifying homeless and drug-use problems?
Unless, of course, dropping “chief” from their titles means these city positions will also receive a salary reduction along with the reduced prestige. Looking at the city’s 2020 budget, it’s interesting to see that the Chief Administrator Office, which has had 3 full-time employees both last year and this year added over $90,700 to their payroll budget between 2019 and 2020. Three full-time employees combined receive $310,400 in wages plus another $135,200 in benefits. In fact, the Executive Department of the City of Duluth added only 1 new full-time employee between 2019 and 2020, but their budget ballooned from $993,600 to $1,232,600. An increase of $239,000 with just one employee added?
But we digress.
Whether the Mayor’s call for the title change is virtue-signaling, pandering, or an edible-influenced brain fart, it has bewildered folks all the way to the national news. Perhaps, Emily has aspirations beyond little ol’ Duluth and these type of issues are her launchpad to attract enough extremist attention to shoot her into the national scene. Or maybe she’s just a bit overwhelmed with the current state of the city and this is a classic procrastination technique to put off doing the hard work. Kind of like when your whole house needs a deep-clean, but you decide to organize the junk drawer.
It took less than a day for her announcement to garner national attention, but what caught our attention was yet another very Trump-Esque tweet calling accusing gentleman from California of race-baiting for thinking her idea was “dumb”. This tweet following one from about a month ago that called out a local business group offering to help the Mayor creatively solve the budget crisis, where she responded with a bunch of sarcastically placed quotation marks and the assumption that the group is an old boys club wanting to mansplain how to do her job.
An article by John Marshall on Veterans United for Freedom making the rounds on social media this weekend stated, “I suspect that they assume that the word chief means something derogatory towards Native Americans, or, Indians as my wife says. She can get away with saying Indian because her mother is a band member of the Chippewa Nation and she’s about 20%. I suppose that “chief” can be a negative thing but ONLY in a context that it “may” be used. If I were to respond to a Native American, that I have no relationship with, as “Chief,” that could be construed as derogatory, inflammatory, disrespectful… Otherwise – “Chiefs” have been the leaders of many great Indian nations in America. In fact -Benjamin Franklin was so highly impressed by the Iroquois Nation, and their chiefs, that he even modeled or influenced some of their ways of governance into our American Constitution.”
The origin of the word chief is Middle English, coming from Old French, based on the Latin word caput, and predates the 1800s. Merriam Webster lists the word as both a noun and adjective – with definitions like “a leader or ruler of a people or clan”, “the person with the highest rank in an organization”, or “most important”.
A quick Google search for “the word ‘chief’ and marginalization” in the context Emily is promoting brings up ONLY news stories about her removing the word “chief” from the city charter.
Duluth doesn’t need to make up more problems when they already have so many. It’s embarrassing to have Duluth thrust into the national spotlight for a reason like this, and a shame that our city council is trapped on board Emily’s crazy train having to make decisions like this when there is so much more important work they should be doing.
Rumor has it at least one City Councilor, perhaps more will be voting “No” to the proposed change this evening. Those that do vote “No” will need the support of like-minded Duluthians that want to the city stop slip-sliding into insanity. Extremists cannot hog the mic any longer. Make sure city councilors that share your views tonight also receive your support online and off.