The sweat circles under Sgt. Lyall Delaney's arms are growing. It's a warm April day and Delaney is drinking a cup of hot coffee, trying to talk himself out of hot water.
As a union man, Delaney is used to confronting controversy. During his 12 years on the Minneapolis Police Federation board, he's developed a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator who doesn't mince words, an aggressive advocate who is unafraid to lock horns with the administration.
But lately the spotlight has been uncomfortably on him. Delaney, 46, is up for re-election to the police union board this week. He's also the subject of a whisper campaign in police locker rooms across Minneapolis.
"The big question is 'Is Lyall double-dipping?'" says John Delmonico, the police union president, who thinks that the answer is "no."
As treasurer of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the powerful police union, Delaney gets paid a sergeant's salary to work full time ($82,958 last year).
But he also gets paid as a lobbyist for a second group, the Police Officers Alliance of Minnesota. Delaney is the Alliance president, and hauls in $12,000 a year for lobbying, plus a $4,800 car allowance.
For the last three years, Delaney's time-clock records show him working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on police union time. There are by policy no clock-ins or clock-outs for the Alliance.
This has led some cops to conclude that Delaney is getting paid twice for the same hours of work. That accusation makes Delaney cringe.
"Look," he says, voice tightening. "I work 60 hours a week. I work over 40 hours a week for the Federation. I work 10 to 15 hours a week for the Alliance."
Adding to the controversy is the fact that many cops weren't even aware of the Alliance or its work until the recent allegations.
"The majority of members didn't know that it existed until six months ago," says Sgt. Jesse Garcia III, whose job, as public information officer, is to know what's going on in the Minneapolis Police Department. "It's just unsure what the role of [the Alliance] is, and how their officers are elected."
The Federation board created the Alliance back in 2002 because they were dissatisfied with their affiliation with the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the largest police lobbying group in the state.
"Our legislative issues didn't fit their agenda," says Sgt. Jeff Jindra, who is also on the union board. "We needed a group to have concerns like the metro cops."
The Alliance is made up of Minneapolis cops, Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies, and the Fraternal Order of Police.
When the Federation board voted to split from the statewide group and form a new one, it didn't ask the members to vote. They didn't hold elections, either—instead, the Federation board appointed its own members.
Now, three Federation board members are on the Alliance board: Delaney, Sgt. Wally Krueger, and Sgt. Bruce Jensen.
But Delaney is the most controversial of the three, because he is the only one who gets paid a significant amount for Alliance work. In 2008, the Alliance decided not to renew the contract of its lobbyist. Instead, it hired Delaney for the job.
In Delaney's defense, Delmonico points out that the Alliance represents Minneapolis cops on statewide issues. The Alliance lobbied for the law that allows cops to pull people over for not wearing a seatbelt, for example. The Alliance also worked on raising the reimbursement officers get for buying their own bullet-proof vests.
"How do just the Minneapolis cops go to the legislature on issues that affect other officers statewide?" Delmonico says. "How ridiculous would we look if we, the Minneapolis cops, say we want bigger reimbursements?"
Still, Delmonico conceded that there is a lot of crossover in Delaney's duties as both a local and statewide lobbyist for cops. "The majority of the issues are the same."
The Alliance also raises money through questionable practices. The group contracts with Midwest Publishing, Inc., a Phoenix-based fundraiser with a call center in St. Paul that solicits donations not only for cops, but also for charities across the country. According to court documents, Midwest has a history of keeping track of who donates, then hitting up the generous again on behalf of unrelated groups.
More than half of Midwest's callers are on probation or parole, according to court documents. In 2008, the Iowa Attorney General's Office sued the company for deceptive trade practices and consumer fraud. The case settled, with Midwest paying $30,000.
From 2004 to 2008, Midwest raised just over $1 million for the Alliance. But the bulk of the money lined the pocket of the call center, not cops. Midwest keeps 85 percent of the take, says Sgt. Wally Krueger, the Alliance treasurer.
All this has created a backlash within the MPD. On April 6, Sgt. Bill Chaplin, a 43-year veteran of the force, sent out an e-mail explaining how both boards are paid. "In the past weeks I have received several questions in regards to how the Federation gets its time and how much the board is paid," Chaplin wrote.
A few days later, the police department was papered with flyers attacking Delaney and others for how much money they make for union duties and side jobs.
Delaney responded with a letter sent directly to the union members' homes.
"A few misinformed individuals, whose motivations I believe are suspect, began spreading the rumor that I abused my Federation position for financial gain through the Police Officers' Alliance of Minnesota (POAM)," Delaney wrote. "I am personally and deeply hurt by these false allegations."
Ballots for the union board have gone out, and everyone is holding their breath to see if Delaney will survive. The votes will be counted April 29.
Delaney faces a stiff challenge in Sgt. Tim Hoeppner, 49, a popular cop unafraid to speak his mind. Win or lose, Hoeppner says, he'll be pushing for reform.
"Some of these decisions that the board has made are our decisions to make," Hoeppner says. "We should really get to vote on these things."
Though Delaney staunchly defends his work, he is willing to concede that his critics are right on one point: "Clearly, I dropped the ball on the communication part of it."