Archive for January 2009
Just a quick update on this for now: This week, the rogue board that I’ve referred to in previous posts filed a lawsuit and restraining order against the Jordan Area Community Council’s (JACC) newly-elected leaders and some city officials who have officially recognized the incoming group. I’ll write more about this soon.
A link to the story I wrote for the The Bridge newspaper on the Workhaus Collective play, “Planting Shelly Anne.”
The story reads: Two years ago, local playwright Jeannine Coulombe set out to write about the Dutch Tulip Bubble of 1637, the year the price of the then-rare flowers skyrocketed and then crashed.
Instead, she wound up penning Planting Shelly Anne, a play about a day in the life of a woman struggling to find balance amid everyday pressures.
Check out this blog to read about a court summons that recently arrived for Jerry Moore, the former executive director of the Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) regarding a legal complaint that alleges he benefited from a mortgage fraud scheme (The State vs. Larry Maxwell). Moore was fired from JACC this month after throwing punches at neighbors. (See my earlier posts.)
Here’s the story I wrote for the Spokesman-Recorder on the conflict in Minneapolis’ Jordan neighborhood (and pasted below) that was published today. Watch for “part two.”
Power struggle rocks Jordan neighborhood
by Anna Pratt
Originally posted 1/28/2009
Newly elected JACC leaders push on despite bitter rivalry with ‘alternate board’
At a January 17 press conference, Minneapolis’ Jordan Area Community Council’s (JACC) newly elected leaders tried to clarify recent events.
For starters, JACC’s former executive director, Jerry Moore, was fired by the new board after he got into a fistfight with neighbors.
No one was seriously injured, though a majority of board members agreed it was grounds for immediate dismissal. According to one bystander who didn’t want to be named, it was the mention of suspicious JACC expenditures that set him off.
Secondly, an alternate board set up shop at Jordan New Life Church, claiming that JACC headquarters had to be relocated. While its players claim to be the “real” JACC, the body isn’t eligible for funds from the city, according to some city officials.
Meanwhile, the alternate board is operating with Jerry Moore as its leader, according to its memos.
Around the same time, the JACC office at 2009 James Ave. N. was looted, with computers, financial records and other equipment walking off. It’s currently under investigation by police. Moore ordered that the office’s utilities be shut off, after being fired by the new board, sources say.
Despite the challenges, Jordan resident Vladimir Monroe, who was elected to the board on January 12, said the board’s turnover is a good example of the democratic process at work. In the past, the executive committee wrongly held closed-door meetings; general membership meetings were cancelled, thereby leaving the community out. Requests for information were ignored. Additionally, 70 percent of the neighborhood’s funding from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program dwindled.
Fortunately, “Citizens have recourse,” Monroe said. “We have the ability to elect new individuals to serve. That’s the greatest thing about being a citizen in this country, that we can remove people from office.” Going forward, he hopes JACC will be able to focus on what matters most to Jordan, such as addressing the home foreclosure crisis, youth violence and a community/police rift, among other issues.
Old board versus new board
Benjamin Myers, the former vice chair, is claiming to be the legal vice chair of the alternate board, but he wasn’t re-elected. He contended via e-mail that Michael K. Browne and his fellow executive committee members didn’t follow the
JACC bylaws: “This is all unfortunate because while this is a voluntary position, such positions serve a community that truly needs clear leadership…“[T]hose like-minded individuals committing the illegal acts they have committed show that they are not true leaders. Leaders are those that follow the rules and engage in righteous behavior, not behind closed doors and covert illegal tactics,” Myers said. However, it’s unclear why Myers and other skeptics didn’t go through the regular grievance process to raise the issue.
At the press conference, rivals passed out a flier that characterized the recent elections as a takeover “which can only be described as mutiny, “even though the board members were selected through a public process and a majority of old and new members voted for the new executive committee. Additionally, the incoming group has been recognized by NRP and City Council President Barb Johnson and Council Member Don Samuels.
The flier states that E.B. Brown is the legal board chair, even though she peaceably handed over the reins to Michael K. Browne at the January 14 meeting. Furthermore, E.B. Brown passed on Michael K. Browne’s offer to be vice chair during the same board meeting.
It goes on to say that Myers is the legal vice chair, despite the fact that he wasn’t reelected. Robert Scott is “still Treasurer,” even though he publicly resigned from the board on January 14.
Of the current JACC officers, it reads, “Though this selective group left the meeting this past Wednesday feeling they had successfully taken over this organization, they need to think again! The Executive Committee that was legally voted into office for a term of one year is not stepping down nor will [it] allow any harm to come to this organization or the neighborhood.”
At the recent press conference, Michael K. Browne disputed the alternate board’s allegations, saying that the elections were fair and valid. Board elections were originally to be held in October, “but they were postponed because significant issues were raised,” Browne said.
On January 14, the JACC approved a motion to remove the current executive committee members and to replace them. “It was the board’s prerogative to elect a new executive committee,” Browne said. Additionally, “We checked with the NRP and the City. They said that the bylaws dictate a process.” A November vote regarding the makeup of the executive committee, which the E.B. Brown flier defends, was done improperly, Browne said.
Back then, the executive committee members voted to extend the committee terms. In essence: “They voted to extend their own terms,” straying from protocols, Browne explained. “We applied all of the eligibility requirements to everyone.”
The way things were done on the nominating committee were fair, Browne said, adding, “There were no shortcuts.” Everything that happened is accounted for in the meeting minutes.
Despite the heated back-and-forth, Browne, who led the meeting, said, “We invite those who disagree with us to stick with us and to continue disagreeing with us,” to ensure all voices are heard, he remarked. “Livability is the immediate issue. We will need to organize and hold community forums to develop a strategic plan that is driven by the needs in the community.”
Browned continued by says that JACC’s new leadership “will be guided by principles of accountability and integrity… We can’t do it alone. We need each other. To make the North Side stronger, we need to have respect for each other, even when we disagree with each other.” JACC will move forward “with a spirit of unity and common purpose.”
‘Fair and valid’ elections
NRP director Robert Miller backed Browne up, saying, “The concept of a second board is ludicrous,” adding, “A few people are saying they don’t like what’s happening in the elections and afterward. Ben Myers didn’t get re-elected…yet he’s claiming to have this role. We were careful in the processes used to elect people. I have seen nothing worthy of saying no to and not be recognized. It’s a transition of power.
“The group [that’s complaining about the elections] isn’t admitting [that] it’s for their own personal agenda. It’s a frustration for us and is dysfunction on the part of just a few people… It should be simple, but you have to have people agreeing that the democratic process is OK.
“We’ll work with the group as constituted,” Miller continued. “Hopefully, the board members will withstand the conflict over the next few months.”
Additionally, JACC hasn’t invested the required amount in housing. “We’ll work with them to fulfill that. It might influence how much they’re able to spend on public safety and youth programs. They spent a lot on salaries. There are consequences of that.”
NRP could potentially stop funding JACC as a result of board decisions up until now. “Most [of the old board members] haven’t monitored the funds,” Miller said. A lot of money has been spent on administrative costs.
“That means there won’t be much left for that for the future,” Miller said. Money for programming is still available. At this point, “There are so many unanswered questions, so we can’t say exactly what we would do. Clearly the new board is not responsible and they’d be the ones hammered. The board has done things to secure assets.”
My recent story in The Bridge newspaper shows how a plan for a Bluff Street Park on Minneapolis’ West Bank is taking shape.
It reads, “A proposal to restore and clean up the West Bank’s Bluff Street Park was well-received by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (Park Board) planning committee during its Dec. 3 meeting, but how and when the now-vacant area might become a park is still up in the air.”
Here’s a KFAI piece I did re: the government’s call for help from the public in determining where to make budget cuts. The state, city of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Public Schools are all soliciting feedback from people. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will be holding a couple community meetings next month on the subject.
My piece includes interviews with Minneapolis City Council member Robert Lilligren and Dane Smith, the president of Growth and Justice, a local think-tank that works on economic issues. Both agree that it’s a good idea to have your say, especially in such trying times.
JACC saga continues: Even though the Jordan Area Community Council’s (JACC) executive director Jerry Moore was immediately terminated last week after he got into a physical fight with neighbors, today he successfully ordered that the organization’s phone and internet services be shut off, according to a source who didn’t want to be named. Also acting in that unofficial capacity, he put in a request for the office’s gas and electrical services to be disconnected (someone was able to intervene before the call was acted on).
This follows the theft of computers and records from the JACC office, as well as the setup of a rogue board/office. See this earlier post on the Jordan neighborhood group’s problems.
At Minneapolis’ Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) Saturday press conference to clarify recent board events, including new leadership — a separate piece of propaganda circulated from rivals, characterizing last week’s election of a replacement executive committee as a takeover by mutiny — even though a majority of old and new board members voted them in during a Jan. 14 meeting.
Additionally, the new board and committee has been officially recognized by the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), which certifies neighborhood associations, and City Council president Barb Johnson and Councilman Don Samuels.
A strange plot twist: The flier that was passed out by some vocal critics of the leadership is signed by JACC board member EB Brown and it refers to her as the “legal JACC board chair” even though she peaceably conceded her seat only days before to Michael K. Browne. Furthermore, EB Brown turned down Michael K. Browne’s nomination to be vice chair. The flier also states that Robert Scott “is still Treasurer,” despite the fact that he publicly resigned during the Jan. 14 meeting. The flier goes so far as to accuse the City Council president, who has recognized the new executive committee and board members, as simply being out of the loop on recent events. “It is obvious that she has been misled…” it reads. (It doesn’t contain a response from Johnson, who was present at the press conference.)
Meanwhile, a rogue board/office has set up shop at Jordan New Life Church, claiming the JACC headquarters had to be temporarily relocated. (This ties in to the above flier.) Coincidentally, right around that time, computers and records disappeared from the JACC office at 2009 James Ave. N. (The break-in is under investigation by police, according to JACC representatives.) In a piece of correspondence to the city, the rogue board/office named Jerry Moore as its executive director, who was fired last week after he tried to rough up some residents.
The flier quixotically reads, “Though this selective group left the meeting this past Wednesday feeling they had successfully taken over this organization; THEY NEED TO THINK AGAIN! The Executive Committee that was legally voted into office for a term of one year is not stepping down nor will allow any harm to come to this organization or the neighborhood.”
At the press conference, newly-elected JACC board chair Michael K. Browne disputed the above allegations, saying that the elections were valid. Board elections were originally to be held in October, “but they were postponed because significant issues were raised.” Following the board election, “It was the board’s prerogative to elect a new executive committee.” Additionally, “We checked with the NRP and city. They said that the bylaws dictate a process.” A November vote regarding the makeup of the executive committee, which the EB Brown flier defends, was done improperly, he said. Back then, the executive committee members voted to extend the committee terms. In essence, “They voted to extend their own terms,” straying from protocols. If anyone has questions about what has transpired recently, board actions have been accounted for in the meeting minutes. As for committee/board candidates, “We applied all of the eligibility requirements to everyone.”
The way things were done on the nominating committee were fair, he said, adding, “There were no shortcuts.” JACC’s newly-installed leadership “will be guided by principles of accountability and integrity, making sure all voices will be heard and the most pressing issues heard … We can’t do it alone. We need each other. To make the North Side stronger, we need to have respect for each other, even when we disagree with each other.” JACC will move forward “with a spirit of unity and common purpose.”
City officials backed him up: NRP representative Stacy Sorenson said in a letter to JACC that she had consulted with the City Attorney on the matter, relating that the new board had the responsibility to elect its officers. Based on this legwork, “the NRP will recognize the JACC board with its full complement of members as elected on January 12 and with the officers elected on January 14.” In a separate memo, she elaborated: “In my view, the elections were run exceptionally well and in accordance with JACC bylaws … After ballots were cast, I counted the ballots along with Bob Cooper and Jay Clark. We were observed by two individuals, one being the chair of the Nominating Committee. Results of the vote were not close.”
Here’s a recent story I wrote for The Bridge newspaper about revolving home loan programs that help Minneapolis residents maintain their homes.
It begins: Since buying her 1918 Southeast Como bungalow in 1991, Wendy Menken had wanted to add on a second story. “I wanted bedrooms on the second floor, and a work space,” said Menken, who showed off the near-completed dream during the 2007 Minneapolis/St. Paul Home Tour.
Just a quick synopsis, for now: This afternoon, Jordan neighborhood leaders held a press conference to clarify confusion related to recent events on the Jordan Area Community Council (JACC), including the firing of JACC executive director Jerry Moore after he punched several neighbors, sudden disappearance of JACC computers and records and the establishment of a rogue board/office at Jordan New Life Church, chronicled here: 1, 2, 3, and 4.
JACC matters are always action-packed and the press conference was no exception: For starters, the police intervened when tensions between activist Al Flowers and other attendees escalated. (He was detained outside the office.)
While the newly-elected board members and leaders tried to introduce themselves and explain the elections process, some testy audience members didn’t buy it. Rather, they called the recent public elections process that made it so, a coup.
Interestingly, sources say these protests didn’t arise in the days leading up to the elections. Notwithstanding, Minneapolis’ Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) has officially recognized the new leadership. So has City Council president Barb Johnson and Councilman Don Samuels.
Despite the heated back-and-forth, JACC chair Michael K. Browne, who led the meeting, was optimistic about future cooperation between factions. He said it was encouraging to have both sides in the same room, together. Going forward, “We invite those who disagree with us to stick with us and to continue disagreeing with us,” to ensure all voices are heard, he remarked.
I’ll write more soon ….