Thursday, May 14, 2009

Memory Lapses, Email Malfunctions, Long Painful Pauses...The Testimony Of E.B. Brown

Photo By John Hoff, Jan. 14, 2009 

Judge Porter was correct when he predicted a hearing would take longer than two days in the dispute over "Who Is The True JACC" organization, but it's dismaying to realize exactly how correct he is. Proceedings will start again Monday, and show no sign of wrapping up soon.

In court yesterday, the alleged "coup" was dissected in excruciating detail, producing a kind of "fool's gold" of insight. You sit, you listen, you think "ah ha!" as the alleged takeover plot is revealed...and then you realize, "So what?"

So Ben Myers and his crowd thought the "Jordan Advantage" buyer incentive program was a plot to turn North Minneapolis into a "white, middle class neighborhood." AH HA!!!!

Oh, wait. Well, a lot of people kind of figured the Ben Myers crowd thought that way, anyway, judging by the way homeowner incentive programs could get no traction during the reign of "Benjalina." (Ben Myers, Jerry Moore) So when you hear somebody like Steve Jackson open his mouth and say it, it's like--AH HA!

Yeah. Well, so what? We knew that. Here it is, confirmed under oath, but those who were in the know already knew.......

It might be best to backtrack to the testimony of E.B. Brown. I left a lot of that off in an earlier post, in favor of getting breaking testimony material out on the internet. But let's return to the.....................

..........testimony of E.B. Brown.

See, I was just giving you a long, painful pause to help you warm up.

E. B. Brown said she'd been involved with JACC since 2007. At this point--doing that nervous grinding thing with her jaw, pulsing, pulsing--Jill Clark went through a bunch of questions about the nominations committee, and how the particular candidates got on the final ballot. Notably, the theory behind the lawsuit is that the board elections themselves were LEGITIMATE. In fact, word is E.B. Brown may have circulated some kind of written communication right after board elections, saying how pleased she was, how everything went.............fine.

Despite this shared theory about the board elections being legitimate, plaintiff attorney Jill Clark went into endless dissection of how the ballot came to be what it was...what was up with would-be candidates who couldn't make it to the ballot, because, oh gee, they never came up with the proper paperwork to prove their qualifications and the nominations committee--under the leadership of Kip Browne--wasn't letting slop get through this time.

A document which contained "the formal slate" was offered as Plaintiff Exhibit 2. Defense had many more exhibits in evidence, it seemed. At one point I heard talk of a defense exhibit numbered 152. It wasn't exactly the Larry Maxwell trial, but there was a lot of paperwork. Oh, plus Jerry Moore's name came up. Plus Pete the Pedophile was sitting in the room, at least until he was removed by his probation officer.

Yeah, forget what I said. It was A LOT like the Maxwell trial, right down to desperately sincere people taking the stand and talking about "the community."

E.B. Brown talked about "the scroll." Supposedly, Kip Brown came to a meeting with "a large scroll" and said, verily, this was the list of nominated people. E.B. Brown thought "this did not comport with the bylaws." Of course, under careful cross-examination by David Schooler, one stops hearing about bylaws and starts to hear words like "proper" or talk about the way things had been done in the past.

Ultimately, the inch-deep "bylaw talk" seems to melt away and the reality rises very near the surface: the result must be improper, because I didn't like the result, and it wasn't the way I wanted it to go. Anybody who holds a different view must be WRONG, because something like incentives to bring in home buyers...well, that's just wrong. That will ruin "the community." Can't the other side see how WRONG they are? How dare they get a MAJORITY together? They must have cheated somehow. It can't be there are more people who think THEIR WAY than MY WAY. My whole social circle--including, apparently, the guy in the lavender pimp suit--thinks MY WAY.

What names, asked Jill Clark, did Kip Browne get on the slate?

Vladamir Monroe. Robert Hodson. Tyrone Jaramillo.

Poor Tyrone. People stumbled over his name throughout the whole proceeding. The "ll" is pronounced like a "y," is that so hard?

Jill Clark kept coming back to that ballot, and the folks who didn't make the ballot. Was it not "well known" whether somebody was a resident? A business owner?

The unspoken subtext is, however, "well known" to whom? Is one "social circle" more legitimate than the other? If the person is "well known" to Steve Jackson, does that mean Kip Browne should accept it without question?

Megan Goodmundson--who wasn't even present in court--must have felt her ears burning, somewhere, as her name came up again and again, always behind the scenes at key moments. Goodmundson's job, said E.B. Brown, was to find out if people were interested in serving on the board, then get documents to oversee their eligibility. Goodmundson--the inveterate volunteer for everything, judging from the testimony--was described as overseeing this procedure.

Was there ever a vote, asked Jill Clark, to give Goodmundson "sole authority" to decide who would be on the slate? In the peanut gallery, members of the New Majority--and there were many of them, there on the "groom side," while the "bride side" was looking really thin--shook their heads in disgust. Megan wasn't the one with the authority. Megan was running around doing the necessary busywork that needed to be done. Ultimately, the nominations chair Kip Browne was in charge.

Yet time and time again, Goodmundson's name came up (except when plaintiff Steve Jackson kept calling her "Goodman" by mistake) and all her hours, days, weeks, months, years of volunteer work were made to look like a nefarious plot to seize power...while Goodmundson doesn't even have a board position.

Jill Clark asked about additions and removals on the ballot. E.B. Brown's answers were slow, halting...sometimes the answers didn't seem completely responsive. And this was when her own attorney was asking the questions. Commentary out in the hall went along these lines: did Jill Clark prep the witness? Or did E.B. Brown get thrown up on the stand, cold, unprepared? Her halting answers were painful to watch, like seeing an engine run without oil.

Brown began to tell the story of the chaotic board meeting of January 14, when the "New Majority" voted in their own agenda and, ultimately, their own officers. An agenda was introduced as evidence: Plaintiff Exhibit 4. I sat there and thought how history was not only being written before my eyes, it was being carefully archived.

Brown said there had been little regard for the agenda which had been approved by the executive board. There was, E.B. Brown said, a guest who had been invited to filibuster and run the time down--

Oh, wait....SPEAK. She actually said there had been a guest invited to SPEAK about his program for young people in the community, but he hadn't been allowed to speak. E.B. Brown said she had asked a board member to be a sergeant-at-arms, because of the chaos and disorder. (That would be Steve Jackson) Brown had to call for a closed, executive session, she said.

There was, she said, continual insistence to use the agenda which had "not been approved." By "approved" she clearly meant approved by her crowd, the Ben Myers/Jerry Moore/Steve Jackson crowd. Time and time again, E.B. Brown was trying to invoke something that wasn't in the bylaws, wasn't in Robert's Rules: there are the people running things, and it's US, and nobody should interfere with that. Robert's Rules makes it clear agenda items--or even a whole agenda--can be altered. E.B. Brown rules say that when her crowd shows up with the agenda, that's the way it is.

In the executive session, said Brown, there were comments about how there needed to be some action taken in regard to Jerry Moore. Brown said the "Moore thing" was just part of the "chaos." Kip Browne was the one pushing to get rid of Jerry Moore.

(Jerry Moore, sitting next to me in court, touched my arm and said something like, "Get this part!" So I took notes. Why not? But you have to wonder what would happen if I touched Jerry Moore's arm like he touched mine. Would he lash out violently as though I had just grabbed his ass?)

"What did you envision as far as process?" asked Jill Clark. Brown said there was a need to talk about how to properly proceed as far as employee terminations. There would be a personnel committee. But, said Brown, "we did not get to that juncture." The board meeting was--and this is Brown's term--"commandeered" by board members who "supported Kip Browne's agenda."

(Yes, the fact leaders on both sides of the JACC factions are named "Brown/Browne" is a point of constant confusion, leading Porter to use the term "Myers Board" for the Old Majority, and "McCandless Board" for the New Majority)

Kip Browne's "New Majority" faction wanted to remove Jerry Moore RIGHT THEN AND THERE, said E.B. Brown. Brown said she'd not had a chance to read Moore's contract. At this point, defense attorney Schooler objected, saying it's never been demonstrated such a contract even EXISTS. Brown said she had a document by email from Moore's attorney, which would be, presumably, public figure Ben Myers. There was worry, Brown said, about terminating Jerry Moore in the wrong way and there being consequences for that.

According to E.B. Brown, during the closed session Anne McCandless said, "We're not going to be blackmailed by Jerry Moore." There was a vote in the closed session, Brown said, and the result was "let's get rid of Jerry Moore."

At some point, there was a welcome break in the proceedings, but there was no break for the attorneys. Schooler and Clark were talking out in the hallway, and suddenly it became an argument. Schooler said "the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow me to cross examine your witnesses." Clark kept wanting Schooler to "stipulate" to something. Schooler told Clark to "take it up with the court."

After lunch--and there are so many delightful places to get lunch in the extensive Minneapolis skybridge system, which hooks conveniently to the Government Center--Anne McCandless sat in court, working on some sewing project. She later told me it was a wall hanging for the St. Joe's Children's Home at 46th and Chicago. The wall hanging looked like a quilt, and featured a "fresh produce" motif.

A question from Jill Clark about whether E.B. Brown had handed over any paperwork to Kip Brown. Clearly, this was an important point because--to those of us who were at the meeting--Brown's act of handing over voting tally sheets to Kip Browne appeared like a concession that she'd been voted out as chair. In fact, I recall Brown making a little speech, very much like a concession speech. But, E.B. Brown said (in response to a question from Clark) she didn't hand over every piece of paperwork she had to Kip Brown.

Clark didn't seem aware of what an odd image this conjures up: the new chair takes over, under controversy, and the old chair calls upon men moving file cabinets to immediately hand over all paperwork, right at that moment. Of course, the fact years of paperwork was being--quite probably--moved and removed at that very moment or hours afterward does add an interesting and complex layer of irony. In any case, let the record be clear: E.B. Brown only admits to handing over some paperwork like voting tally sheets. She didn't give ALL the paperwork to Kip Brown. I didn't hear any questions about her short, eloquent concession speech.

It happened, though. I was there. I heard it.

So then came the cross-examination by Schooler. Brown--who was clearly overdoing her role as a witness, but not very skilled at it--said it wasn't a fair statement she was critical of Kip Browne. At moments like this you sit there and think, "She's suing him but she's not CRITICAL of him? Okaaaaaaaaay."

Brown was critical of the fact "neighbors" couldn't write their own names on the official ballot. Persons she was concerned about weren't on the ballot. Who would that be? Linda Baker. Tamara Hardy. And Germel I-don't-recall-at-the-moment. These were names lacking from the ballot which should have been there, in the view of E.B. Brown.

Now came the best part of the testimony--not enough to sit and wait all day in court to hear, but still pretty good, and like I say, "Johnny Northside endures the court room tedium so you won't have to."

Apparently, there had been fireworks between Kip Browne and Jerry Moore. Jerry Moore had reportedly told Browne, "You like to kiss white people's asses" and also "F*** Anne McCandless."

Schooler put emails right in front of E.B. Brown, emails directed to her, and she talked about how her email didn't always work. Or internet. I heard both terms. Email. Internet. Didn't always work. Sure, here were the emails but had she SEEN them? No, she had not. Brown's internet access faded in and out the way MEMORY has a tendency to fade in and out by the mysterious power of being put under oath and required to testify in court.

Judge Porter lounged in his chair. If, in the future, cars drive themselves...this is how drivers will sit in their cars, early in the morning, becoming one with their seat.

Schooler tried to ask Brown about the restraining order that Jerry Moore tried to bring--unsuccessfully--against Dan Rother, a board member.

"I don't remember when I had that information," E.B. Brown said. There was something very prideful about her, as though she was quite aware of her limitations--a tendency to freeze up when confronted with words and phrases like "vetted" and "sustained" and "email string"--and yet we should all sit there, amazed and admiring, at how well she is working within her rather obvious intellectual limitations.

At one point, when told to read an email string, E.B. Brown said, "You want me to read the string or the content?"

"Now you see why we couldn't stand dealing with her," somebody hissed to me.

There was talk of what is a "timely" document request. It was established that Dan Rother didn't get records he was asking about until after the grievance filed by Rother was sustained.

"Is it possible," asked Schooler, "that Moore was trying to get Rother off the board because he was a pain-in-the-you-know-what?" Schooler's question suggested Moore was pushing to make Rother's term a one-year term, not a two year term. At times, E.B. Brown seemed to freeze up. At one point, she actually lowered her head and did not speak. One OH SO ANONYMOUS MEMBER of the New Majority grabbed my notebook and wrote, "It is sad to get the 'other side' of the story when you are in the middle of a hearing.'"

Yes, my anonymous source. Protected by Minnesota's shield law. My "twin brother" Ben Myers can go holler to mommy, but there's a reason he was dumped off in that Texas orphanage. (Parody alert, like it isn't obvious)

Schooler casually boxed in E.B. Brown with his questions, got Brown to admit "it would be improper to break the bylaws for personal gain."

In the questions and answers, the intrigue over the JACC ballot was revealed: there had been a series of emails with Kip Browne saying names should be added to the ballot: Robert Hodson. Vladimir Monroe. Tyrone Jaramillo. There was concern by Kip Browne of things not coming before the Nominations Committee which SHOULD come before the Nominations Committee. Jerry Moore was--so it seemed from Schooler's question--trying to submit a list of candidates for the ballot before the Nominations Committee had seen the final slate of candidates.

Oh, wait. I guess that's not really enough to call it "intrigue." No, it was just Jerry being Jerry, and Kip Browne calling Jerry on it in mid-manipulation.

Schooler lounged back in his seat. He is a lanky man, with faint eyebrows and a ruddy face. He looks like he should be participating in the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. He looks like the real father of Prince Harry. We all knew it wasn't Prince Charles, American attorney named David Schooler? Who knew?

Schooler--whose hair is as perfect as that of Senator Edwards--asked E.B. Brown if there was a reason Bob Cooper was present at the board election. Hadn't questions been raised about the election? Brown said Cooper was there merely out of "personal interest."

Schooler began to confront E.B. Brown with the frustrating math of democracy: sometimes you get outvoted, even if you think your side is more legitimate.

"You voted against postponing the election but the vote went the other way?" Schooler asked. Brown couldn't point to anything in the bylaws to prevent postponing an election. E.B. Browne testified the votes were counted by Jay Clark, (no relation to Jill, apparently) and by Linda Higgins, the state senator. Had E.B Brown ever made formal objection to the counting of the votes? She had not. Schooler put the vote tally sheet in front of her. Any reason to believe it is inaccurate? He had to ask a couple different ways, but finally there it was.

This is the final vote. Your side loses.

There was talk of the "New Majority" (which Steve Jackson labels "Pro-City") bringing forth an "unauthorized agenda." But, at this point, Pete the Pedophile appeared again. It was 4:10 PM. A member of the New Majority immediately went in the hall to call Pete's probation officer. As established in a previous blog post, this didn't produce a payoff until the following day, when Will McDonald appeared--like Ahab looking for his white whale--and directed Peter's sorry child-molesting ass to make itself scarce.

Distraction. Where was I?

E.B. Brown was forced to admit that if a vote took place to follow the new agenda, that it would be consistent with Robert's Rules. But she (claimed she) didn't remember any vote being taken. It was painful to sit there and watch this woman--who reportedly is religious, who hates to lie--bearing false witness or, in the alternative, having some kind of profound mental malfunction--saying she didn't remember the moment when the Kip Browne faction stood up to vote, and Anne McCandless announced, "This is the new agenda."

TO BE CONTINUED--time to eat brats and drink wine with my NoMi friends.


Anonymous said...

McKnight got Pimped, EB gets Pimped who is next on B&J's PIMP the POOR list?

As my dearly departed mother use to say "The Truth She Hurts"

Jordan Neighbor said...

More please.

Anonymous said...

I am feeling like an addict waiting for my next Johnny fix. It reminds me of the time I waited and waited for the final Soprano's season. I'm like a Housewife of Minneapolis, waiting for my stories. Thank you. You delivered.

Anonymous said...

I think you talked to Bob Miller, not Bob Cooper...

Anonymous said...

"BenJerlina" is truly a show to watch... You've got my 'ratings share' on this one...

Johnny Northside said...

I made the Bob Miller correction, or rather removed those sentences. Thanks for the feedback.

In regard to the soap opera, ratings, etc: this blog hopes to get a PayPal button in the near future to support the dissemination of this information, which appears to be assisting, to some degree, with our neighborhood revitalization efforts.

I am not the one who GENERATES this information. It comes from all of you. I just add a little bit of snark, a little bit of analysis.

I hope to find a way to support these volunteer efforts, or at least not lose substantial amounts of money on these efforts, so these efforts can keep going.

Anonymous said...

Your report is thorough, factual with added humor. Thanks for all of your time!