Saturday, May 16, 2009

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood: Desperate Delay Tactics, Robert Hodson's Sharp Mouth Versus Jill Clark's Twitchy FACE... Photo

Testimony last week in the "True JACC" lawsuit (Old versus New Majority) ended with the testimony of treasurer Robert Hodson, who wouldn't give Plaintiff Attorney Jill Clark an inch. Clark's feeble attempts to (apparently) prove some kind of financial impropriety only managed to do the opposite...

Hodson painted a picture of a JACC organization desperately trying to pay debts left unpaid, accumulated and piled up under Jerry Moore and the "Old Majority." The "New Majority" has been trying to keep the lights on and do the right thing, financially, despite not being in possession of financial records which were whisked away in the dark and dead of night, after two different elections under the rule of law drastically changed neighborhood leadership.

Hodson's appearance on the stand started with drama: Jill Clark, lacking any plaintiff witnesses except Steve Jackson (who had already been used up on the stand, and was now sitting in the "bride side" spectator section) was apparently grasping at straws to pull off some kind of delay, and she appeared to look at the "New Majority" crowd on the "groom side" and calculate who, exactly, wasn't there.

And, at that moment, Treasurer Robert Hodson wasn't there.


"I need Robert Hodson!" Clark announced. WHERE was Hodson? She needed him. SHE HAD TOLD DEFENSE ATTORNEY SCHOOLER THAT SHE NEEDED HODSON, SO WHERE WAS HE?

Schooler replied there were a whole bunch of folks on Jill's witness list who were present, and all prepared to testify. He gestured toward the New Majority. Who, he asked, was ready to take the stand.

Hands shot up, volunteering for the mission.


No, I'm not kidding. Those New Majority folks, they're like the minutemen in the American Revolution. Lives, fortunes, sacred honor...they are ready to lay it down in a moment at the Battle of Lexington and Cord.

"Put me on the stand, Jill Clark," their facial expressions said. "Do your worst."

No, Clark said, she needed ROBERT HODSON. Oh, gee, no Hodson was present so might have to wrap up for the day, la dee da--!

Schooler responded to this, calling Jill out on her "delay tactic" being pulled because her own witness was not present, acting like, oh gee, she needs HODSON but where is--?

At that very moment (like deux ex machina in a badly-written play) Robert Hodson appeared, actually producing muted cheers.

"There is a God," I muttered, "And he looks like Robert Hodson."

My line was immediately grabbed and passed around like a pack of cigarettes in a muddy platoon, though (for the record) it was MY LINE, and least when it started out.

Hodson walked to the other side of the railing and waited for the lawyers to quit arguing so he could stride up, sit down and testify. He seemed to be almost PAWING THE GROUND like a championship horse, so eager was he to get on the stand.

I thought it was a good time for some freelance "witness prepping," so I leaned over the railing and whispered:

"You're a pawn. You're a meat puppet."

"Oh, yes," Hodson replied. If being a pawn of the "Pro-City" and "New Majority" JACC faction means cleaning up the neighborhood and making it livable, then put him on that chessboard and send him up against Queen Clark. His flinty eyes flashed with delight. This was HIS SPECIAL MOMENT ALL ALONE WITH JILL CLARK.

Hodson took the stand with his arm thrown back grandly, like Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. His voice dripped a variety of emotions, all in the salty spectrum: Contempt. Loathing. Disdain. His answers were logical and precise. Jill couldn't box him in anywhere. She appeared to be trying to prove impropriety but only managed to prove propriety:

With missing, purloined financial records, JACC couldn't segregate accounts. They were forced to pay things like back rent arrears and just hope for the best, because if the lights went out or they got evicted from their headquarters, well...wasn't keeping the organization ALIVE the primary consideration? Particularly at this at the moment when the Jordan Neighborhood is (arguably) in a state of crisis due to vacant, boarded houses?

Under the circumstances, they acted like fiduciaries. They kept the lights on, while Jerry Moore was literally trying to turn the lights off, plus the gas; a situation which could have caused frozen pipes to explode right through walls.

AND SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL, Jerry Moore walked into court at 3:40 PM, while Hodson was on the stand, salt-sicles forming on Hodson's mouth in pissy back-and-forths with Jill Clark. How does Jerry manage to do that? He doesn't testify, and yet he manages to make an appearance in court. I give much of the credit for Jerry's nimble nature to his Blackberry communication device.

On the stand, Hodson went through documents offered by Jill, discussed how monies had been spent. Jill tried to create a contradiction: hadn't Hodson, et al, been critical of Jerry Moore for buying so many Cub gift cards to give away? And yet they (the "New Majority") had, themselves, spent a bunch of money on food at a cancer screening event.

Well, Hodson answered, that's what that particular grant had been for: to have the cancer screening event, and the food was part of the event. So there was no contradiction, as far as he could see. I noticed Jill Clark didn't ask Hodson any questions about meals at "the Monte Carlo."

At some point, Hodson's icy answers hit a temperature point somewhere near absolute zero, and the judge halted proceedings, went back into chambers to talk to both attorneys. Apparently, the judge was not pleased with Hodson's tone, and assumed Hodson had enough self-control to dial it back a few notches, and Judge Porter wanted the tone dialed back. Hodson, to his credit, made his tongue a little less sharp, after that, but at times you could still hear the whiplash meeting flesh:

* Sssssssssssnap! *

Is it any wonder Jill Clark's face does that twitchy thing, if she spends her life in court going up against sharp mouths like Robert Hodson's? Out in the spectator section, a discussion was taking place about the precise word you'd use to describe Hodson's manner.

"Argumentative?" was suggested.

No, that's not right, because Jill would be objecting to an argumentative response.

"Sarcastic," then?

No, not that either. If Hodson was sarcastic, he'd be saying the opposite of what he means, and he's clearly not doing that.

We finally had to compromise on "pissy" and "snotty," but neither of those words were exactly right, either, for the subtle way Hodson took everything Jill dished out, and threw it right back in her face. You know the way Hannibal "Silence Of The Lambs" Lecter can look right into your soul and lecture you about your father issues and your cheap shoes? It was like that. It was like Hodson was the one questioning JILL CLARK.

In fact, often enough Jill Clark would ask Hodson a question, and Hodson would fire back, "Define (whatever)?"

Jill appeared glad enough to finish with Hodson, though interestingly there wasn't enough time left in the afternoon to get Jerry Moore on the stand, after the time she spent questioning Hodson. Coincidence or conspiracy?

Under redirect by Defense Attorney David Schooler, Hodson talked about the vetting of candidates for the board, and spoke of his own experiences: despite being the domestic partner of a board member, Hodson was still required to provide documentation of his eligibility. Under Kip Browne's leadership on the Nominations Committee--when Jerry Moore wasn't actively undermining it--there was no such thing as "Oh, yeah, we all know that guy." EVERYBODY HAD TO GO THROUGH THE STEPS OF PROVING THEIR ELIGIBILITY.

Yes, even a board member's life partner, living under the same roof, presumably sleeping in the same bed. Under Kip Browne's leadership, the Rule of Law was in effect in the Jordan Neighborhood when it came to candidates for the Executive Board, not the nebulous and murky understandings associated with who-knows-who, who is part of the ruling clique, who is "cool" with the leadership.

And Hodson's testimony--though it mostly centered around financial documents--helped back up the larger contention by the New Majority: JACC was in good, competent hands.

Thank God. FINALLY.

Out in the hallway, Defense Attorney David Schooler could be overheard talking to some of the JACC members, saying Anne McCandless had "pounded a stake" into the heart of Jill Clark's case, and Hodson had done a fine job outlining the "financials."

Yes, Hodson's tongue had been "sharp," but everybody knew about that issue coming in. Hodson wasn't putting on an act on the stand. He is who he is, and if Hodson loathes you, you will hear it in his voice.

It appeared at that moment only one thing remainded for the "New Majority" in "New JACC City" to win in a legal slam-dunk: Get JACC Chairman Kip Browne on the stand. Let the judge and the public see the highly-competent young attorney and home owner now leading the neighborhood association, trying to dig out from under the pile of organizational rubble created by Jerry Moore and Ben Myers, trying to make North Minneapolis into an urban utopia or, at a bare minimum, SAFE AND LIVABLE.

The hearing over "Who Is The True JACC?" continues on Monday. Whether I am there or not, I have my informational tentacles extended, and coverage will continue of this pivotal moment in the history of North Minneapolis, a "sea change" in neighborhood leadership.

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