Minneapolis council member responds to reports she missed meetings

Alondra Cano
Alondra Cano recently elected to the Minneapolis City Council representing Ward 9, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 at MPR studios in St. Paul.
Jennifer Simonson for MPR News 2013

The Minneapolis council member who reportedly has the poorest meeting attendance record of all members said her absence isn't a gauge of her effectiveness.

Alondra Cano also said the Star Tribune's story last week reporting that she missed "eight of 11 council committee or full council meetings" is one-sided because it doesn't take into account other meetings she attends, like those in the community.

"In general, you have to weigh the overall product of the office," she said.

Cano is the chair of the public safety committee and hasn't been present as the committee grappled with a spate of high-profile issues over the past month.

The Star Tribune reported that during that time, the council has confronted "major public safety controversies in Minneapolis, including marijuana stings that disproportionately targeted black men, questions about the police role in encouraging paramedics to sedate people with ketamine and the police-involved killing of a man in north Minneapolis."

Cano said she had to take an unplanned family trip during the fatal police shooting of Thurman Blevins.

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"There are just things that happen that you don't have control over, but that doesn't mean I was absent," Cano said.

She was "present" and engaged via email and text messages, she said.

"The information has to be a little more holistic to reflect what's really happening here," Cano said.

But the Star Tribune report found Cano's attendance has been shaky since the start of the new term in January, reporting she missed 29 percent of the meetings she was supposed to attend — the most of any council member.

Cano countered that she hasn't "missed any singular, important vote." She said she has a reputation for going to night meetings in the community. Cano said her office is responsive to phone calls from constituents and publishes a newsletter every two weeks.