The R.T. shuffle, continued

Rybak promotes civil rights director

In May 2004, Mayor R.T. Rybak appointed Jayne Khalifa to head the troubled Department of Civil Rights in Minneapolis. At the time, some wondered about Khalifa's community bona fides, since she was coming from a stint as director of St. Paul's Penumbra Theatre.

Two years on, it's not clear if Khalifa really cured a chronically ill civil rights department--complaints about the department's lack of effectiveness can still be heard far beyond the walls of City Hall. But Khalifa apparently impressed her boss; on Monday, he promoted her to Deputy City Coordinator.

The move is just the latest in a series of Rybak staff shufflings the first six months into his second term. As reported earlier in Blotter, department heads and mayoral aides have come and gone with regularity recently.

Khalifa is filling a vacant position, notes Rybak spokesman Jeremy Hanson, one most recently held by Natalie Ellertson. She left at the beginning of the year when John Moir, the city coodinator during Rybak's frst term, was replaced by Steve Bosacker.

"Jayne Khalifa's work as civil rights director has proven that she is a leader who isn't afraid of change, and who gets things done," Rybak said in a press release, noting that "we're lucky to have had her leadership in the civil rights department." "I'm especially excited about the leadership she will bring to our coordinated effort to revitalize the neighborhoods of north Minneapolis."

At the same time, Michael Browne will be taking over Khalifa's civil rights post, at least on an interim basis for now. Browne, who has been a Hennepin County public defender and lives in North Minneapolis, according to the press release, joined the civil rights department this past September.

He immediately made his impact felt, issuing a report that skewered the city's Civilian Review Authority, the board that investigates complaints of police misconduct.

What--if anything--Browne will bring as director of civil rights is not immediately clear, though the release from Rybak's office notes that Browne was already running most of the day-to-day affairs of the department.

"Michael Browne possesses a stellar combination of solid management experience and intense legal expertise," Rybak "said." "I have complete confidence that Michael will guide our Civil Rights Department, and those who rely on it, through this transition."