By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Against this backdrop, Fletcher strolled casually through his downtown St. Paul offices, leading the way to a sequestered conference room.
AFTER ROOTING THROUGH A MINI-FRIDGE, Fletcher takes a seat at the end of long conference table and cracks open his generic-brand diet cola. "You mentioned the issues of promotions," he says, setting down his soda and reaching into a folder. Watching Fletcher sift through paperwork, you half-expect the words "I've got an extensive file on you" to follow. Not today. "We heard complaints back then, during my first term," he continues. "But we resolved that in 2000 by having this agreement."
He produces a contract his department hashed out with the Teamsters, who represent his employees. "The rating process is an oral interview, which counts as 75 percent of the score, and seniority now takes 25 percent. The panel consists of two from management and two from union. So now I think that we have in place an objective process."
He's perfectly calm, almost affable, in his explanations. It's not until the Metro Gang Strike Force comes up that a hint of frustration reveals itself in his face. He's clearly upset by the bad press his most beloved enterprise has received lately.
"Someone should probably report on the fact that for the 12 years it's been around, the Strike Force has arrested 700 gangsters and their associates every year," he says, an edge creeping into his voice. "They've recovered hundreds and hundreds of guns off the street. I mean, they're good cops. They should have had more administrative help, and that's the bottom line. That's the one lesson here: There was sloppy bookkeeping."
An hour into the interview, it's time for a bathroom break. Entering the immaculate restroom, Fletcher opts for the stall, leaving open the solitary urinal. Freed from interview formalities, small talk ensues. Toilets are flushed.
"You're not from the part of Iowa where that tornado tore through a Boy Scout camp, are you?" Fletcher asks, over the sound of water from the faucet washing over his hands.
The answer is no, fortunately not...but how did he know this reporter is from Iowa?
"Oh," he says nonchalantly as he yanks a paper towel from the dispenser, "I think I read that somewhere."