A Civil Action


Mayor R.T. Rybak has chosen Michael Jordan to lead the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. No word yet on whether Mars Blackmon will take over public works.

Actually, though this Michael Jordan is not the most recognizable athlete on Planet Earth, he should be somewhat familiar to local news junkies of a certain vintage. Jordan previously served as the spokesflack for the St. Paul Police Department and was once commissioner for the state's Department of Public Safety. Jordan is replacing interim civil rights director Michael K. Browne, who was filling in after Jayne Khalifa, a Rybak appointee, was named deputy city coordinator last year.

"Raised in Minneapolis, Mr. Jordan has a law degree from the University of St. Thomas Law School, a Masters degree in Management from Stanford University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota," according to the press release from hizzoner's office.

Jordan will need all of that experience, background and more if he is to take over what many have long contended is the city's most troubled department. Cases filed with the civil rights department have been known to take years before an outcome is determined, and even then the findings don't often go in favor of complainants. Mostly, though, the department has been tarnished by years of infighting, nepotism and general mismanagement.

Jordan no doubt is one tough customer, and likely won't let such games continue on his watch. Then again, the problems in the office are, to many, intractable. At the very least, Jordan will have his work cut out for him, and he'll have to be as much like Mike as possible to right things.

Rybak's nomination will have to undergo a public hearing before the City Council's Health, Energy and Environment Committee, then will go before the full council for approval. Getting enough votes on the council to approve Jordan is pretty much a, uh, slam dunk.