The Usual Suspects

Federal mediation goes forward, critics say city stacked deck

As Moss has in the past, these men would all no doubt argue that it is exactly because of their experience with the city that they have a rightful place in mediation. While that may be true, there is at least the appearance of conflicting interests. "That is always possible when you have many folks come into play during mediation," says Daryl Borgquist, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice community relations division, adding that "there isn't a set of guidelines" that the department has for such cases. "Some people wear various hats in virtually any large or small city."

"Say what you have to say, man," Hightower responds when confronted with the same question. "I have no response."

MPD spokesman Ron Reier acknowledges that the department and the city have close ties to some of the new community representatives: "Absolutely, the list goes on and on of people we've worked with in the past." But he doesn't believe anyone on the committee will automatically side with police when negotiations get sticky. "Anytime you've got 25 people in a group, it's easy to start having problems with who's there."

Despite misgivings over the protracted struggle, Ron Edwards says that it was simply time to get the ball rolling again. But, he adds, "I hold no delusions of grandeur. I just think in terms of small steps. I don't want to come away bitter."

Clark is less sanguine, and, earlier this month, guaranteed that she won't be asked back to the mediation process by filing a federal class-action lawsuit against the city over police practices. "I don't want to criticize anyone by name, but all indications are people are involved now because the city wants them there," the attorney says. "Mediation is supposed to be voluntary. But the corruption is so deep in this town, it cannot be resolved by a voluntary process."

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