Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood: Jerry Moore Takes The Stand, Takes The Fifth, And Then Takes Off (Part Two)

Photo By John Hoff, January 14, 2009

Perched delicately on the stand, like a pet cockatoo amid filthy, crap-stained papers, former JACC Executive Director Jerry Moore proceeded to criticize the Neighborhood Revitalization Program for its wicked desire to, well....revitalize neighborhoods, I guess.

Moore said JACC had been "heavily dependent" on NRP funding, but Moore wanted to transition into having more "private donors" because he thought such dependance on NRP was "dangerous" and put the organization "under the barrel," by which he presumably meant "under the gun."

(Regular readers, feel free to insert in-jokey remarks about "The Queen's English")

Moore said "policy makers will try to push the organization in a particular direction" so, for this reason, seeking private donors seemed the better option. Moore talked about some of the tensions in the neighborhood, saying...

"Many of the residents are afraid of our young people."

It wasn't clear what Moore meant by "our." Clearly, he couldn't have meant ALL young people in North Minneapolis. He certainly didn't mean my high-achieving math geek son coming over for visitation every other weekend, extended periods in the summer, and certain holidays. He probably doesn't mean the three young children of Hawthorne Neighborhood Chair Peter Teachout who endured the terror of their father's truck being torched by CRACKHEADS in the dead of the night on the Fourth of July. I should probably mention the Teachout family has one more child on the way. I doubt if he means the children of Don Samuels, the children of Anderson and Lisa Mitchell. 

In any case, there was the sweeping, all-encompassing phrase: "our" young people.

Because of the fear of "our young people," Moore said the neighborhood looked at programs like the "juvenile detention alternative."

There were, however, problems with JACC. The organization was on some kind of "probation" with the McKnight Foundation. There was an issue about the turnover of the Executive Directors. Under the leadership of Jerry Moore and the Ben Myers faction, JACC wanted to emphasize their "youth programs" instead of "the NRP stuff."

"Neighborhood groups can be self-destructive," Moore pontificated. "Dollars are used to control individuals." Asked what that means specifically, Moore referred to the City of Minneapolis gaining control of neighborhoods through NRP funds.

"NRP is trying to exclude people of color," Jerry declared.

Somewhere near this point came the noon break, and the defendants took lunch at a nearby cafe. Council Member Don Samuels joined the group, and was given a seat of honor at the head of the table. Not ordering anything to eat himself, Samuels accepted some leftovers from another person's plate.

"It takes a village to feed Don Samuels," quipped Megan Goodmundson.

This is something I've noticed about the intensely-bonded individuals who are part of the "pro-city" point of view in the tightly-knit neighborhood associations, the people working every day to bring about revitalization instead of urban decay. They will literally give you the food off their plate.

Back in court after lunch, Plaintiff Attorney Jill Clark cackled and then asked David Schooler, "What's your new secret papers, Mr. Schooler?" in a tone that might suggest they were BUDDIES. Kelly Browne sat and read "Bridge of Courage" about political oppression in Guatemala, though she apparently knew in her heart she needed to read the manual to her new washer and dryer, sitting in her purse, unread.

With Jerry back on the stand, sipping water with the lingering lips one might take to a glass of Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Jerry Moore said there had been discussions in 2008 about declining to take "CPED" funds from the City of Minneapolis. The reason was the "organization leaders" (by which Jerry apparently meant the Ben Myers faction, at that time in the majority) saw CPED as having too many stipulations on the dollars.

"When did the 2008 CPED contract expire?" Clark asked.

"The last day of December, 2008," Moore answered.

"By mid-January, 2009, was there a new CPED agreement?" Clark asked.

"No," answered Moore.

Clark let the answer linger in the air, as though she had just gotten somewhere important. Oh, yes, the takeover by the Kip Brown faction in January, 2009 was ALL TOO CONVENIENTLY TIMED, now wasn't it?

Yeah, kind of like fighting the hijackers in the cockpit before they could fly that sucker into the White House.

Moore spoke about the numerous grievances filed by Dan Rother and Dennis Wagner. Wagner had about 30 grievances, Moore said. One of the grievances concerned Moore's eligibility to be the Executive Director, and the eligibility of board members. There were requests for ledgers to show expenditures check-by-check, line-by-line.

Addressing the finances in a way he apparently never did while Executive Director, Moore testified there had been discussions with the Ackerberg Group about JACC's "inability" to pay rent at the "JACC House" on 2009 James Ave. N. The idea was raised of moving out of 2009 James Ave. N. Moore said he didn't see the point of having so much space.

"Did you neglect to submit expense reimbursements to NRP?" Clark asked.

No, Moore said, he did not. He talked about the responsibilities of the accountant, clearly shifting the responsibility to her, then caveated by saying there were "a few months where the accountant had a death in the family" and "things fell behind." Seemingly defending the accountant, Moore managed to shift virtually all the blame to her and the dying family member, all the while using SUCH a sympathetic tone.

"Did you learn of conduct by Anne McCandless around the Otto Bremer funds?" asked Clark.

Yes, Moore said, McCandless (dared to demand) a copy of the report, and she communicated that "funds were being misspent." Moore said McCandless should call HIM with her concerns, but he "never got a call from McCandless." This testimony produced muted laughter from McCandless. The contempt in that room for Jerry Moore hung thick on the "groom's side" of the court room.

"Who solicited $400 from NRP to reprint the elections slate?" asked Clark.

That would be Kip Browne, Moore answered.

"What was the relationship between Robert Miller and Anne McCandless in the Fall of 2008?"

Over heresay objections by Schooler--overruled--Moore said McCandless threw a fundraising party for Miller's (abortive) Mayoral campaign against R.T. Rybak. The relationship between Miller and McCandless was apparently cohesive, from Moore's point of view. Anne McCandless would talk to Bob Miller and soon would come a letter, a phone call. Miller sent a letter "chastizing" the board for a decision they made about Moore's employment.

Clark asked about working to clarify the tax status of the JACC-owned "probation house." Moore said he had "several discussions" about that topic and he was "hopeful" that eventually JACC could get the taxes waived. Because of his meeting with "Mr. Cosgrove," Moore said there was "a plan in place" to work with the City Assessor on the tax issue.

"What was JACC's position in regard to the Minneapolis Advantage Program?" Clark asked, referencing a program which provides down payment assistance to home buyers, with the idea of turning empty, dangerous, boarded-up houses into vital, safe, healthy homes. Moore didn't agree with the program because good credit ("A credit") was needed to quality. So the proposal didn't pass the Executive Board. It was bounced back to committee.

"Some" thought this program was "a repopulation or regentrification tool," Moore said, and that "JACC wanted a tool to touch more than just a certain population." Jerry found the Minneapolis Advantage program "inequitable."

Skipping around in her questions quite a bit, Clark returned to the subject of Dan Rother's inquiries and grievances. Moore said he was doing "extra work" because of Rother, and Rother would call "early in the morning, and late at night." Jerry felt like he was Rother's "personal secretary" or something. Jerry went so far as to research IRS guidelines about "harassment of a non-profit." In between unlimited HBO at the JACC office, lunch at the Monte Carlo, and plenty of pizza, Moore mulled over the situation with Rother and thought how it seemed like "a ploy to make sure no work could get done."

"How did people conduct themselves at meetings?" Clark asked.

Shouting, Moore answered. Yelling. He'd never been on a board like this. People were told to "shut up and sit down" and claimed "I was threatened by people." On the other hand, Moore said, there were times people were "cool and calm."

Claiming he was "fearful" of Dan Rother--a gregarious gay man who got fixated on the notion that he was, oh gee, entitled to look at the JACC books, being on the BOARD OF DIRECTORS and all--Jerry sought a harassment/restraining order against Mr. Rother after an incident of "standing, gesturing, pointing" which made Jerry Moore feel "fearful." Rother had been "all up in my space" and "dipping into my private life." Rother had been trying to contact Jerry by phone, and Jerry pointed out "I was doing other work outside my job," including the Northside Marketing Task Force.

(Moore has reportedly been removed as the chair of the Task Force)

MOORE said that ROTHER said that MOORE said Stu Ackerberg's group was "a bunch of faggots," which Moore denied saying. The sense of this controversy having some aspects of a playground dispute certainly lingered in the air near THAT moment. In the hearing over the restraining order, Moore claimed the judge thought Rother was "pushing it" and blaming Jerry for stuff going on with JACC. Moore said the judge spoke to Rother and warned him. All these things Jerry said in a somewhat forceful tone, making his point. The point about how the restraining order was, ultimately, not granted....that part Jerry kind of mumbled, like an afterthought.

This part he said forcefully:

THE BOARD MEMBERS ARE FIGUREHEADS AND HAVE TITLES BUT THE GRUNT WORK GETS PASSED TO THE STAFF.

TO BE CONTINUED....This coverage is only possible by donations, see PayPal button, and sorry to be a bother but...bloggers can't live on air and water like a spider fern.

6 comments:

Kevin said...

I must admit, I do agree with Jerry on the NRP funding thing. Neighborhood organizations have been way too dependent on NRP funding for too long. They are going to have a very rude awakening when these funds go away it's back to raising money by writing grants. I can guarantee you the days of $70,000 ED salaries will come to a screeching halt real quick.

Am I afraid of our young people? Hell yes!! At least the majority of the ones I see roaming our streets. A few examples of what some of our finest have been up to lately:

ASLT4

21XX Aldrich Av N Wednesday 05-13-09 17:07 hrs 09-141610

AP1/Grandberry, Takely-BF 27 yrs., AP2/BF-17 yrs., and AP3/Richardson, Danielle-BF 20 yrs. were all yelling/screaming at Officers when they were handcuffing S1/BF – 14 yrs. who is a cousin of V1/BM-24 yrs. S1 broke off both side mirrors and damaging side of V1’s vehicle because she claims he stole her X-Box. AP3 refused to allow Officers to handcuff her. AP3 scratched the face of an Officer and tore his shirt.


ROBPER

21XX Lyndale Av N Wednesday 05-13-09 18:14 hrs 09-141696

V1/Asian male-43 yrs. was robbed of wallet, Id, SS card, $100 by AP1/Rodgers, Derrick – BM 18 yrs. V1 was pushed to ground.



ROBPER

21 Av N & Lyndale Av N Friday 05-15-09 18:55 hrs 09-144250

AP1/BM-13 yrs. with 7 other BM suspects robbed V1/BM-49 yrs. of his liquor purchases. Officers located AP1 at a gas station. He did not have any alcohol on him but was ID’d by V1.



PC Assault 4

21/Aldrich 17:07 hrs 09-141610

Squad was flagged down on Damage to MV at 21XX Aldrich. Officers were met by numerous uncooperative people after they detained Damage to MV suspect. Officers requested more squads to assist. In the end a 27 y/o female was arrested for Aslt 4 after she grabbed an Officer’s shirt/struck him in the face causing a minor scratch. A 20 y/o female and a 17 y/o female were also cited and released for obstruct.



PC Robbery of Person

21XX Lyndale 18:15 hrs 09-141696

Victim was doing work in rear of above address and pushed down by 2 suspects. Suspects then took his wallet and fled on foot. Victim chased after them unsuccessfully. Squad arrived and got a suspect description. They stopped 2 suspects in the 2200 block of Lyndale 15 minutes after the robbery. Victim positively ID’d 1 of the suspects. An 18 y/o male was booked HCJ.


PC Robbery of Person

21 & Lyndale Av N 18:55 hrs 09-144250

A 49 y/o male walked NB on Lyndale with his new liquor purchase. He was surrounded by a group of B/M’s, when AP1 pushed him to the ground. Another B/M grabbed his liquor/victim ran back to liquor store/called 911. Squad arrived and AP1 was pointed out after he was observed walking SB on Lyndale/into Citgo parking lot. AP1 taken into custody and booked at JDC.

Anonymous said...

It's very apparent to me that the one issue that seems to be neglected over and over throughout this whole ugly mess is that JACC IS a neighborhood organization. And as such, it's direction if you will, (at least according to its' by-laws) SHOULD HAVE BEEN governed in a democratic manner.

I don't believe for one minute that any of the "old majority" believed they were ever able to put-forth a position that was representative of what the majority of residents in Jordan. And lest we forget-they are the ones that decide what JAC's mission was and should have been.

Instead, there was a need for secrecy and a multitude of closed meetings, otherwise the direction in which JACC had been taken (I prefer to use the term hijacked) would NEVER have been allowed.

The bottom-line is that this very small group of people took control of a neighborhood organization and took it in a direction which TOTALLY disregarded the wishes of the majority of citizens participating in the process had desired.

Yet, they still believe they had a right to do so. THAT is really what should be on trial here.....

dennis plante

Anonymous said...

I think I know what Jerry meant when he said he was "under the barrel." After all, you have to make hay while the iron is hot.


KCz

The Mortgage Geek said...

I'm going to get mortgage geeky, but hopefully not overly technical here.

The provision in the Minneapolis Advantage guidelines regarding mortgages reads as follows: "Borrowers must qualify for and receive a traditional (prime or A-rated) fixed-rate first mortgage loan or be purchasing the property using cash."

I have to say I DON'T see a problem with this in terms of favoring one demographic over another. NOT ONE. After all, some people (i.e. "not Ben and Jerry") may have noticed that we've had a bit of a hiccup in north Minneapolis when it comes to subprime mortgages. And over the past several years, numerous studies have been done by ACORN, the Center for Responsible Lending, even Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and THE FEDERAL RESERVE. These studies clearly indicate that African Americans were TARGETED for sub-prime loans when they QUALIFIED for a better product.

Seems to me that this clause should look pretty darn good for people of color.

I'm not blind to the reality that low/moderate-income people may have a harder time getting "A credit" qualifications. But there are loan programs out there that are more flexible as a result (like US Bank's American Dream and Wells Fargo's CHAMP) and there are numerous counseling services (ACORN Housing, NHS, NRRC) that will help you get to the point where you'll qualify.

Bottom line: when someone is giving out MONEY on a LOAN, there must be some way to determine credit-worthiness. People of color should not be excluded or targeted with worse products based on their color, but neither should they get a free pass because of it.

Which is my long-winded way of calling B.S. on Jerry Moore's testimony.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ KCz

Anonymous said...

So, this was the mandate of the "old majority" board at JACC??? The buyers' advantage program unfairly discrimminated against neighborhood residents? What color exactly are the sunglasses that Jerry & Ben see the world through?

It would just seem to me that when you run for and somehow are elected (or god forbid hired by your friends) to a position of authority for ANY neighborhood organization, that it should NOT be construed as a license to go off on a tangent and implement a half-baked idea you may have regarding a social experiment.

I would absolutely love to have a qualified analyst evaluate these guys so we could all accurately understand the movtivation for each of them in what they have done. Clearly the motivation was somewhat different for all of them.

There's an old saying. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a duck....

I for one, am glad that the citizens of Jordan have finally been able to pull the plug on this "mad high-school chemistry experiment gone very, very bad" that was perpetrated on the neighborhood by a very small group of megalomaniacs.