Saturday, May 16, 2009

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood Turns Into A Drinking Game As Anne McCandless Takes The Stand, Accusations Of "Gentrification" Aired... Photo

"Every time (Plaintiff Attorney) Jill Clark or a witness on the stand says 'Johnny Northside,' I'm going to buy you a drink," Kip Browne told me, as "Old Majority" Chair E.B. Brown left the stand and Anne McCandless strode up to testify, her body language saying, "Here we go again. Testifying in court. Whatever."

Anne McCandless, a former police officer, has been on the stand innumerable times. And it shows. But in regard to the really important stuff: A FREE DRINK EVERY TIME SOMEBODY SAYS MY NICKNAME IN COURT? How could I refuse a deal like that?

It shouldn't have been Anne on the stand at all, however. According to an eyewitness in the court, Jill Clark turned around and had an "oh, (expletive)" look on her face as she saw no plaintiff witnesses available to take the stand. No Jerry Moore. No Ben Myers. No Steve Jackson. So Clark ended up putting Anne McCandless on the stand, though Steve Jackson entered the room--fashionably late--at about 9:45 a.m.

One eyewitness claimed to have heard Clark's assistant (described as a "beta male") talking loudly on a cell phone in the hall, saying words to the effect, "We have no witnesses. We are in deep (expletive). Get your (mild expletive) down to the courthouse NOW" or words to that effect.

You'd think if you were suing somebody, it would be important to be in court for it. But this is how the "Old Majority" does stuff. So it was "New Majority" Secretary Anne McCandless who took the stand. She didn't have a trace of nervousness and, indeed, was even polite and respectful to Jill Clark. Hey, it wasn't like Jill Clark was defending an ACCUSED MURDERER. Unlike, well...

Sorry. My long-lost twin brother Ben Myers, attorney and notable public figure, is a source of pain and shame within the family. I have to say "parody alert" at this moment, because Ben's sense of humor was surgically removed along with his overactive pituitary gland.

Within the first few minutes of testimony by JACC "New Majority" Secretary Anne McCandless, Kip owed me a drink. Trying to support her client Ben Myers' invocation of Fifth Amendment rights, Jill Clark was interested in the unsuccessful attempts by Anne McCandless to get a criminal investigation going over the theft/removal/wormhole in space/time issues associated with the missing JACC records and office equipment. She asked about the police report of the theft hitting the internet, asked if McCandless had forwarded a copy of the report to "Johnny Northside."

"He LEARNED of it," McCandless answered, and I couldn't stop myself from grinning.

Clark inquired about efforts by McCandless to contact the FBI. Not quite able to keep a sense of resignation and disappointment out of her voice, McCandless said she'd talked to Jim Moore at the FBI (no relation to Jerry Moore) and found out the FBI considers the removal of JACC equipment and records to be a "civil matter." McCandless also stated "part of the reason" for a forensic audit was to determine if there could be criminal charges against Jerry Moore.

When Anne gave this answer, the nervous twitchy thing Clark frequently does with her lips had a triumphant aspect, like a squirrel dragging off a big hunk of stale pizza.

Clark asked about what "board training" McCandless had received, and McCandless answered it was on-the-job training.

Yeah. Kind of like Pearl Harbor was on-the-job training. McCandless went into detail about those frantic moments when she had to change the JACC locks AND try to get funds frozen that were in the checking accounts, all during a period of time when Jerry Moore had cut off the phones at the office. It had taken a while to get the funds frozen. Wasn't the freezing of the funds an "emergency" that particular day? Clark asked.

"So was changing the locks," McCandless answered. While who-knows-who ran around with the JACC checkbook, McCandless was trying to physically secure the JACC headquarters. She couldn't be everywhere or do everything, she said. There wasn't time.

McCandless spoke of getting advice from Bob Miller about how to proceed with the "telephonic meeting" held right after January 14, because Miller was "a good source of advice." In one of her few really effective moments, Clark presented McCandless with an email which was sent around to a number of "New Majority" members, but not "Old Majority" members.

Of course, the "Old Majority" has used the same tricks, as evidenced by...

...the "usual suspects" email. They're just not AS GOOD at the same tricks. Who the heck sends an email plotting against political enemies but then forgets at least one of them is on the "cc" line? Yeah, uh, that would be the OLD MAJORITY.

Testimony turned to the fact hard-working super-volunteer Megan Goodmundson was running some kind of JACC listserv. Jill made it sound all-so-nefarious. Yeah, here's Megan--a young woman in her 30s, pretty good with computers--and she ends up running a listserv, paid with nothing but a "thank you." Clearly an evil plot to support...

And here was the word. The forbidden word came from Jill's nervous, twitchy lips:


Jill Clark asked if the "Advantage" program supports (the g-word) by giving people incentives to buy houses. McCandless didn't think that was the case. She didn't think getting people to buy vacant, boarded up houses was a case of supporting "gentrification" at all.

Clark turned to a new line of coke...QUESTIONING. I totally meant to write the word "questioning." Jill Clark doesn't have any addiction problems with anything other than alcohol, from which she has recovered. And good for her! But she really should work harder on that whole "serenity to accept the things I cannot change" stuff.

Where was I? Oh, yes, waiting to hear my name said aloud so I could WIN ANOTHER DRINK. Later that night, Kip Brown arranged for me to try a big shot of BLACK VODKA, and it was really good, but it was somebody else's booze and I was left to think...did Kip just pay off the bet or not? Leave it to a lawyer to make a simple drinking game complicated.

Not as complicated as Jill Clark could probably make it, though. God, no.

Anyway...Clark asked about December of 2008, and wasn't JACC trying to find a way to reduce the back rent or find another office? Yes, McCandless said, there had been talk of that.

There was discussion about the back taxes owed on a JACC's property, the "probation house." There were $2500 worth of back taxes, and the county was demanding payment. Clark asked about whether Jerry Moore was "negotiating" the issue of the taxes. McCandless testified she wasn't aware of Moore participating in any kind of "negotiations" over the back taxes. From the point-of-view of McCandless, Jerry was just letting stuff slide.

On cross-examination, Defense Attorney David Schooler asked about JACC finances being in "disarray" under Moore's leadership, and how Ben Myers wouldn't allow access to the financial records. Dennis Wagner, Dottie Titus had filed lawsuits, trying to see financial records. McCandless talked about how Ben Myers had "ignored the attorney general."

There was a long list of things not paid. Months of rent. Even when rent was paid, it was "sporadic." As of January 14, 2009, rent was roughly $5k in arrears. Utilities were not paid; the gas was $600 in arrears. Incredibly, Jerry Moore actually PAID utililities for the purpose of TRYING TO TURN THEM OFF.

"Why did Jerry Moore try to turn off the electricity to the house in January?" asked Schooler.

"I don't know why Jerry does what he does," McCandless answered.

There was some "Blackberry talk," but (regrettably) it had nothing to do with buying blackberry-flavored booze for Johnny Northside. Suffice to say the Blackberry purchased by Jerry had not yet been returned. A little while later, Steve Jackson walked past and Kelly Browne couldn't stop herself from saying, "Nice Blackberry."

At 10 minutes to 10, City Councilman Don Samuels entered the room, shook hands roundly. McCandless, on the stand, gave Samuels a tight little smile of gratitude and appreciation. She wasn't up there alone. She had back up from supporters in high places.

McCandless testified about unauthorized checks; one Jerry Moore wrote to himself for $1200, another to a "Toi Miller" for $648 bearing what McCandless identified as the signature of Ben Myers.

Schooler brought forth Defense Exhibit 152H, bank records from Franklin Bank.

McCandless spoke of "obstacles" erected by the Myers faction: a "cease and desist" letter. Letters circulated saying the JACC office had moved. "New Majority" members were forced to make it clear that, yes, JACC mail was to be delivered to 2009 James Ave. N. Somebody contacted the Secretary of State to change the address on a document related to the JACC non-profit, the gas bill address got changed, there were NO FINANCIAL RECORDS, no current records of any kind, COMPUTERS were missing.

The situation the "New Majority" found itself facing had the kind of desperate, make-do quality of air crash survivors, of individuals in a lifeboat. And yet the "New Majority" officers had soldiered on. One of the first things they did was not for themselves, but for the community: they authorized the Jordan Advantage Program, which encouraged people to buy vacant, foreclosed homes.

Schooler said he hated to belabor the obvious (but he's an attorney, after all) and so he asked whether boarded up, empty houses were a problem in the Jordan Neighborhood. Yes, they were. Right about then (it was 11:45 a.m.) a guy dressed in an outrageous lavender "pimp" costume came and took a seat on the plaintiff's side of the room, fedora in hand.

As if the plaintiffs weren't in deep enough doo-doo already, this was just what they needed: a guy in a ridiculous costume showing up to "represent" and make a public gesture of support. Kelly Browne had to suppress a laugh. The eyes of Anne McCandless, up on the stand, took note of the pimp and his position in the room, but then returned to facing David Schooler.

Schooler asked about the Jordan Advantage Program, and why Jerry Moore opposed it. McCandless said Moore wanted the money to go to individuals who had subprime mortgages, not to create incentives for new buyers.

McCandless closed with testimony about Jerry Moore's use of JACC finances, including money NOT spent for food at block club functions, despite guidelines (all of this is, you know, ALLEGED) and misuse of a grant from General Mills. Allegedly.

Particularly irritating expenses: Debit charges to "The Monte Carlo Club" and a place called Rick's Cafe in the Camden neighborhood. Several charges to gas stations. Charges to Paradise Pizza.

Yeah. All that stuff.

Schooler brought up the emails, and members of the Old Majority not being cc'ed.

"Do things just seem to run better when Ben Myers' and his people aren't around?" he asked, or words to that effect.

Objection. Argumentative. Sustained.

As Anne McCandless left the stand and rejoined the "New Majority" gathered in the spectator section, she was met with support and congratulations for an excellent job on the stand. Jill Clark had been trying to prove plotting and impropriety by the "New Majority." But Clark had only proved decent people were plotting to make their troubled neighborhood better, to get control over a grassroots organization (or, arguably, neighborhood government) being run by dirty birds eager to feather their own nests.

In the desperate days after getting control of JACC, the New Majority had been like sailors bailing water in a vessel shot full of holes, dangerously near sinking. Leadership on this vessel, however, wasn't handed down from on high. It came through a democratic election. The Old Majority had nearly sunk the ship. The New Majority had forced their removal. The Old Majority were not "locked in the brig," however.

They are just wandering around, their sanity in doubt, shouting how they're really the ones in charge by divine right, by authority, by "the Queen's English." (No, seriously, Steve Jackson testified about the "Queen's English.")

This "sea change" in Jordan Neighborhood leadership and direction happened at the very moment Anne McCandless led the "stand up voice vote" on January 14 and announced (though E.B. Brown mysterious couldn't remember that dramatic moment) "This is the new agenda."

Notably, when the New Majority took the stand months later to testify in defense of those actions, once again it was Anne McCandless leading the charge.

Yes, sometimes people prickle under the forceful ex-cop personality of Anne McCandless.

But in the great scheme of things, JACC needs McCandless, and under pressure, McCandless comes through and delivers.

In this case, her testimony delivered me a drink. Let's hope this case drags on for WEEKS!

1 comment:

Jordan Neighbor said...

Oh God, I think I need a drink just reading about all this craziness.