Saturday, May 16, 2009

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood: Talk Of "Gentrication" Plots, "Pro-Community" Versus "Pro-City" Factions... Photo

Testifying in court a few days ago, "Old Majority" Sergeant-At-Arms Steve Jackson revealed that he originally joined JACC because he literally showed up at the wrong meeting...

Once again dredging up and dissecting an election that even "Old Majority" Chair E.B. Brown apparently said was valid, Jackson provided one of the most enlightening moments of the hearing as he explained his political analysis of factions within JACC, which I have characterized as "Old Majority" (Myers/Moore/Jackson faction) and "New Majority" (Kip Browne, Anne McCandless faction) for purposes of handy labels.

In the view of Jackson, there are two groups: a "pro-city" group and a "pro-community" group. Jackson believes with all his heart there is a plot afoot to gentrify North Minneapolis, grab up the affordable, roomy, antique homes with spacious shaded yards right near planned transportation and economic development--and turn North Minneapolis into a "white, middle class" community.

Jackson, who said he was an employee of the Boys and Girls Club...

...said being "pro-community" in North Minneapolis means caring for poor, primarily black individuals who may not have internet access, people he calls "the voiceless." But being "pro-city" means being in favor of the wicked plot to gentrify North Minneapolis.

This testimony caused a great deal of brow-furrowing and head-tilting among members of the "New Majority" seated in the spectator section. Indeed, as they were walking away from that court room, animated and full of words, nothing was so intently hashed over as the "pro-city" versus "pro-community" testimony, the idea put forth that only by being "anti-city" could one be "pro-community."

Why, Jackson wondered aloud, did the City of Minneapolis have to take over the JACC organization to push their plots? Couldn't they just create their own organization, if that's what they wanted? Jackson said he'd like to see new elections, to see JACC as it currently exists dissolved.

When, asked Clark, did the attacks on Jerry Moore begin?

Almost immediately after he was hired, said Jackson. There was a group--Anne McCandless, Dennis Wagner, Megan Goodmundson, Dan Rother--all attacking Jerry Moore.

And why was that? asked Clark.

Because, answered Jackson, Jerry was not a "yes man." Jerry was speaking for residents who don't have email, "the 'voiceless' people, I call 'em." Dan Rother made something like 30 to 35 grievances against Jerry Moore. Dealing with those grievances took a lot of Jerry Moore's time.

Some of the complaints, Jackson said, were the same exact complaint just worded in a different way. The complaints took "the Queen's English" and twisted it.

As Jackson said "Queen's English," it was the Queen of England was visible in the room for a second, openly pulling the political strings. Pompous English music filled my thoughts for a moment. Oh, the Queeeeeeeeeeeeen. Pip pip. Tally ho. Spot o' tea fo' you, mum?

"When did you learn the Anne McCandless board paid Rother's legal fees?" asked Jill Clark.

"Yesterday," answered Jackson, in a tone of frustrated resignation.

On the bright side, though....he still has a really nice Blackberry device.

What, asked Jill Clark, is best for the (JACC) corporation, in your view?

It is best, answered Jackson, for "the vestiges to be dissolved," for there to be "new elections, new people at the table" and an organization that is not "pro-city." Jackson talked of his attempts to bring about a "restorative healing circle with "facilitators."

Yeah, "facilitators." I can't help but picture talkative individuals from within tight "Old Majority" social circles, fantastically-dressed blabbermouths who speak of their "wisdom" and "history" in the community, and then pocket a fat check for filling the air with words, the end result being that we should all feel good about the way things have been for a long time; with aimless groups of young men standing on corners, drinking out of bottles, with social disorder spilling noisily out of yards and into the streets. Pity them. Give them tolerance, for they are "oppressed" and "voiceless."

What the "Old Majority" calls "gentrification" others call basic standards of civilized behavior in an urban environment, something that has been severely lacking in parts of North Minneapolis since, geez, about the 1960's...

But it's making a comeback. Oh, god, is it ever.

Steve Jackson called attorney Kip Browne's faction a "bunch of thugs" who took over the organization.

He didn't say it very loudly. I wasn't sure what he'd said, so I walked over to Kip Browne, attorney-at-law, who has gone to all kinds of, like, international law seminars in freaking GERMANY and done civil rights litigation, like, I asked Kip, "Did Jackson actually say 'a bunch of thugs?'"

And Kip confirmed that was indeed the utterance. Consternating, it was.

Jackson testified he believes the City of Minneapolis is "trying to make North Minneapolis a white community." He thinks the Jordan Advantage program is part of a plot to make that happen. Jackson views the Jordan Advantage program as "pro-city."

"What else is Pro-City?" Jill Clark asked.

The city wanting to tear down boarded housing with no waiting period, no permission from the neighborhoods, Jackson answered.

Defense Attorney David Schooler cross-examined Jackson, asking about votes, and whether Jackson had voted on January 14. Jackson answered he had not voted, he had abstained from the proceedings, which he viewed as illegal. Schooler put the vote tally sheet in front of Jackson, showing he had not abstained. He had voted "No." He had been outvoted, right?

Jackson gave Schooler a look that could peel paint off the walls, caught in this blatant contradiction.

Schooler asked whether Megan Goodmundson, Kip Browne, Anne McCandless lived in the Jordan Neigborhood? Weren't they members of the community and entitled to their own political view of what should happen in the neighborhood?

Jackson appeared unwilling to concede so much as the fact Kip Browne lives in Jordan, where Kip's fridge is stocked with delicious Canada Dry green tea ginger ale, you really should try it! (Pointless plug but what can I say? I got the Google ads, site meter and PayPal button going in the last few days, and now I'm just looking for opportunities wherever I can to sell pizza-slice shaped portions of my soul)

Schooler confronted Jackson, asking why only FOUR defendants were named when, gee, how was the vote breaking down? More than FOUR. Jackson's group can't even get a QUORUM together. Schooler asked if the Jordan Advantage program violates the JACC bylaws, somehow.

"It doesn't violate the bylaws," Jackson said. "But it doesn't sit well with me."

Well there you go. Instead of the rule of law, we substitute your precious subjective feelings about being picked upon and oppressed and the heartbreak of being outvoted. And then Jackson has the nerve to call Kip Browne a thug.

Jackson--who a few moments ago had criticized those who twist "the Queen's English," described himself as being like "a deer in the headlights" over the ouster of JACC officers happening right in front of him. Schooler said that, in his mind, a deer in the headlights is a confused animal that isn't sure what to do. Was Jackson CONFUSED that night?

No, Jackson said, he wasn't CONFUSED. He was SHOCKED.

Right about then, E.B. Brown and her husband stood up to leave, and there was Jackson still up on the stand...getting carved up into neatly-bundled packets of witness venison by David Schooler.

"Were other complaints made about Jerry Moore besides 'the fracas?'" Schooler wanted to know, alluding to the not-quite-a-fistfight that happened the night of JACC board elections, when anti-Jerry forces swept in by a landslide.

Yes, Jackson admitted, but the Moore incident struck him as a "set up." The "Pro City" forces were out to get Jerry Moore, looking to create an incident. But the neighborhood, the community which should be contrasted with the gentrification-plotting city, THE COMMUNITY needed Jerry Moore.

One of the New Majority scribbled a note and passed it to me.

"We needed Jerry like we needed another boarded home on our block," said the note.

Later that day, Jackson reportedly tried to walk up to Kip Browne and speak to Browne. Brown reminded Jackson he was represented by council. All communications needed to take place through the attorneys, unless Jackson wanted to WAIVE his right to counsel. Did Jackson wish to do that?

"It ain't like that," Jackson said. He waved his hand. "Never mind. It's not that important." (Or words to that effect)

Oh, yes, here we go again. That substitution of murky subjective feelings for the rule of law. Sure, Jackson is suing Kip Browne, but can't Kip be "cool" for a moment? Can't Kip set aside his legal license plus the fact attorney Jill Clark has a reputation for going after EVERY LITTLE FREAKING THING and just, you know, KEEP IT REAL?

Not being a represented party in this matter, I had a brief opportunity to speak to Jackson. He spoke of feeling excluded. I ended up talking to Jackson about "Pete the Pedophile," and asking why I had seen Jackson chatting with Peter in the court room.

"When you talk to Peter the Pedophile," I said. "It's like, for a moment, you're part of his little social circle. People see you talking to him, accepting him."

Jackson said he knew what Peter was. He didn't need to be told Peter is a child molester. He knew that.

I said the only thing somebody like Peter needed to hear was, "You're a Level 3 Sex Offender. Why the hell are you even speaking to me?"

On my own initiative, I made a point of offering Jackson one of the bread pudding "muffinoid" objects made by Realtor Connie Nompelis (she refuses to characterize the pastries as muffins, though they are in muffin papers, and our whole relationship has pretty much broken down over this point) and Jackson seemed ready to take one of the Pastries Of Peace.

Then Kelly Browne made a point of saying something about how one of the muffins was left over from Clean Sweep, raising the fact none of the "Old Majority" were seen picking up garbage in the streets, something expected of the "true believers" who keep the neighborhood going, a gritty ritual as serious as the Mayans offering up human hearts. So much for world peace through muffins. Muffinoids. Whatever.

All the same, one gets the feeling...Jackson isn't as twisted as my half-brother Ben Myers, quasi-famous public figure and attorney-at-law, so clever an attorney that he's blazing a pioneering legal trail around RULE 21, and that ain't easy, baby.

(Yes, Ben and I are twins, but we are also half-brothers. It's quite understandable as long as you didn't skip 8th Grade health class. To make matters more confusing, I was a PLANNED child, and Ben Myers was NOT)

(Do I really need to say "parody alert?" It gets tedious, Ben)

After court--after Kip Brown had been forced to spend TWO DAYS waiting around to testify, and then never took the stand, because Jill Clark does stuff like that--there was endless discussion about the "Pro-City" versus "Pro-Community" analysis.

The "New Majority" didn't seem to mind the "Pro-City" label at all. In fact, there was even talk of making buttons saying "Pro-City." But after a full day in court, there was no rest for the weary. Back in the Jordan Neighborhood, there was exactly enough time to slam down some freshly-warmed frozen pepperoni pizza, gulp a few cans of green tea ginger ale, and then the members of the New Majority attended a board meeting that went until 9 p.m.

Near the top of the prioritites: hiring somebody to do a Jerry-more-like job. The board members were adamant about one criteria:

This person needed to have, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree.


Anonymous said...

"Couldn't they just create their own organization, if that's what they wanted?"

note to Steve: couldn't the OLD majority just create their own organization, if that's what they wanted?

The Mortgage Geek said...

You know, I remember having conversations with some of these "pro-community" folks about downpayment assistance programs and gentrification. (count me squarely in the camp of believing you can have it both ways; good financial products allow people of many income levels to be part of stabilizing communities)

My point to them, however, was that you simply cannot create a mortgage product and say it's only for blacks. Or whites, Latinos, women, etc. That's discrimination and it's illegal. So the real trick was to get the word out to people about the products available (or the ones in the process of being created) and then work to get those folks qualified.

There's a word for that kind of outreach. Hmmm...what could it be? I've got it! MARKETING!!!

Now, if only there was some kind of "pro-community" entity doing some marketing. Kind of like a task force or something....okay, you know what? Just go ahead and put me down in the "pro-city" column.

Anonymous said...

We are so busted. Yes, it's true, white people have meetings, disguised as "Karaoke Night" to discuss how to take over the North Side by buying up distressed property. Our cruel plot has been exposed! Drat! Retreat to the Surdyk's Cheese Shop everybody, we need to regroup!

White person said...

So I suppose if Jerry Moore ever DOES get arrested for any of this fraud, swindling the JACC money, stealing equipment or heck even driving without a license...

at that point he will start to call himself a political prisoner??? And then can we make T-shirts with his image? And can white people deify him?