Photos By John Hoff
The "New Majority" was firmly in command of the Jordan Neighborhood tonight, pulling off a board meeting that passed major livability initiatives without encountering any protests, disruptions, or new frivolous lawsuits. Though the meeting went forward smoothly, tension hung in the air every time...
...the office door opened. Who could it be, now? Would the door admit Al Flowers shouting at the top of his lungs, or a legal process server, or some other unsavory surprise? Yet nothing like that happened. I've seen more exciting meetings in--(I hate to say it)--the Hawthorne Neighborhood. Two video cameras were there, however, just in case things got exciting.
Here are things I saw as the highlights of the meeting. Your milage may vary.
First, when the agenda was approved somebody made a note of saying it was the "proposed" agenda. One could hear echos of recent board battles in that phrase, "proposed agenda."
Second, in what was probably the most emotional points of the meeting, Secretary Anne McCandless talked about a longtime Jordan resident who died of breast cancer--a woman who was a long time Jordan resident and an aide to Diane Hofestede. In her last few weeks on this earth, the woman had heard about the elections in Jordan, and the need for "new JACC" to deal with missing money. The woman asked that memorials in her name go to JACC, and so far a check for $120 had been received.
Though no mention of this was made at the meeting, individuals and entities wishing to help the Jordan neighborhood succeed and pull itself up under its new board can apparently send donations to the Jordan Area Community Council, 2009 James Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55411.
Moving on to the treasurer's report, this report was certainly a practice in the art of understatement, both expressively and financially. There are no "general ledgers" so trying to put a statement together "has been a struggle" according to Treasurer R. Hodson. At one point, with copies of the statement being passed to the spectators, Secretary Anne McCandless had to ask for copies back so the board would have enough, saying, "One of the things were are missing is our copy machine."
McCandless also added that it took "seven trips, but who is counting" until Franklin Bank coughed up financial statements needed by JACC to figure out its financial situation. In the last month, the board has canceled a mobile phone contract, cable television at the JACC office (this elicited disbelieving, bitter laughter) and the fax machine phone line, since the fax machine is missing, anyway.
Hodson said some bills had not been paid in months, and he was hoping to get a better picture as more information came available, but added, "Even a better picture is not going to be good."There was, he said, "Not enough to make it through this year" and suggested JACC must "aggressively seek funding."
One board member asked about whether there would be "litigation against unauthorized withdrawals" and was told by the chair such questions would be more appropriate in a future closed session, if that had to happen. It was noted that, in the past, only one signature was required on a check. Now two will be required "so this doesn't happen in the future."
Around this time, an older man in the audience asked why there were two video cameras going.
"Evidence," somebody replied, casually.
A call was put out for individuals to be on the Finance Committee, with the treasurer saying there needs to be involvement by board members, not finances "hidden behind a shroud" as had been the situation in the past.
An update on court action took place: the Temporary Restraining Order was not granted, but now comes a hearing on whether to grant an actual restraining order. Anne McCandless said, "We're now on attorney number 7. Soon the attorneys will outnumber the residents."
Luckily, JACC has something called "D&O" insurance, which stands for "Directors and Organizations." This is a policy through NRP which covers all of the neighborhoods of Minneapolis in case their neighborhood boards get, well, sued over something. However, there is the minor matter of a $5k deductible. It's still an open question who will pay the deductible. JACC? NRP? Will Al Flowers be asked to chip in a buck, which would be one third of his recent judgment? (OK, I threw that last part in there for fun)
On the bright side, outside agencies and "anonymous foundations" are offering to help, and asking for JACC to state its priorities so forms of assistance can be shaped to meet the neighborhood's needs. One of these entities has offered to provide an independent auditor to perform a forensic audit.
There was a motion made and seconded to accept this offer. The "ayes" were, I thought, like sailors shouting "aye, aye," with feeling.
McCandless suggested getting the "Jordan Livability Forum Planning Committee" going again, and spoke of the good old days when the basement of the Jordan New Life Church would be filled with individuals wanting to talk about the struggle to change Jordan for the better. She mentioned, with obvious bitterness, how former Executive Director Jerry Moore had messed up that momentum by, for example, constantly changing the meeting location for the Livability Forums. One night, McCandless said, she and others drove to three or four locations...only to find out Jerry Moore had cancelled the event.
In any case...McCandless saw the Livability Forum as a necessary precursor to finding involved residents who would ultimately serve on the Crime and Safety Committee.
Much happened at this meeting in the form of motions from the Housing Committee, including the approval of programs to improve the exteriors of homes and attract new residents with incentives. This will be discussed in a subsequent blog post, hopefully tomorrow.
("Jordan Advantage." You read it here, first)
In the meantime, in summary: there is no need for me to keep saying "Give Jordan a chance." Jordan is taking its own destiny by the reigns, and Jordan is going somewhere good under Kip Browne and the "New Majority."