A fistfight, shouting matches, and a possible theft of JACC records and office equipment mark the latest chapter in the Jordan Area Community Council’s struggles. On Saturday, January 17, two groups claimed to be the legitimate elected officers of JACC at a contentious press conference. Their claims stem from the January 14 vote of the current board for new officers, and the current board’s January 14 decision to fire executive director Jerry Moore.
Computers, financial information, and checkbooks were taken from JACC’s offices at some time on the night of January 14 or the morning of January 15. Police are investigating. Police are also investigating a physical fight after the January 12 meeting that, according to the police report, involved executive director Jerry Moore and John G. Hubbard.
The officers elected by the board on January 14, including chair Michael (Kip) Browne, are recognized by the City of Minneapolis (see attached PDF) and the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP). Other officers include P.J. Hubbard as Vice Chair, Robert Hudson as treasurer, and Ann McCandless as secretary. For the sake of clarity, the executive committee chaired by Michael Brown will be referred in this article as the 2009 executive committee. They have majority support of the board, as well as NRP and City Council recognition.
A second group, chaired by E.B. Brown, claims that it is the true executive committee. This group held office before the January 12 election of new board members and the January14 election of new board officers, and they will be referred to in this article as the 2008 executive committee. Ben Myers spoke for this group at the January 17 press conference, and E.B. Brown was not present.
In addition to electing new officers at the January 14 meeting, the board also fired JACC’s executive director Jerry Moore, according to statements Michael (Kip) Browne made at a press conference on Saturday, January 17. At that press conference, Browne said that it was possible that the JACC computer, checkbook, and other items now missing could have been taken during the board meeting itself.
Ben Myers, former chair of JACC, and current vice chair on the 2008 executive committee, said at the January 17 press conference that he knew who had possession of the missing items, but wouldn’t say where they were.
The 2008 executive committee claims that the Wednesday officer elections were a coup. In a written statement that was passed out at Saturday’s press conference, E.B. Brown wrote that a selective few board members have “chosen to ignore due process” and “are illegally representing themselves as the Executive Committee.”
Shannon Hartfiel, secretary of the 2008 executive committee, shouted at the Saturday press conference: “Why is there a division of people that live in one community? It is a sin! Enjoy your power of insanity!”
The Wednesday night officer elections followed a general election on Monday, January 12. At that general election, six new board members were elected: Dave Haddy, Todd Heintz, Robert Hodson, Vladimir Monroe, Ann McCandless, and Tyrone Jaramillo.
During the January 12 meeting, a community member, Catrice Champion, asked State Senator Linda Higgins, who attended the meeting, where all the money had gone for youth programs, according to Megan Goodmundson, another JACC member.
In response to Catrice Champion’s question, said Goodmundson, former board member Dan Wagner told Champion that she should be asking those questions of Jerry Moore, JACC’s executive director. Moore is a central figure in the current schism, and in controversies that stretch back more than a year and include lawsuits, heated arguments at meetings and accusations of financial improprieties.
After Monday’s meeting, Goodmundson said Catrice Champion did speak to Moore, and Wagner approached them and said “Jerry, you can show her where the money is. You have the documents,” and patted him sarcastically three times on the back.
Then, said Goodmundson, “Jerry swung at him.” Goodmundson said she rushed over, and Moore began pushing and swiping at her. Then, said Goodmundson, “A couple guys saw [Moore] turning his rage toward a woman.” She said board member P.J. Hubbard and another man rushed in. Then P.J. Hubbard and Moore got into a fistfight.
The police report for the incident names both Moore and Hubbard as victims of bodily harm.
Following the executive elections on Wednesday, the board voted to fire Jerry Moore. But the 2008 executive committee, as well as some other community members, question the validity of the executive officer elections.
Dokor Djvongsa, a former JACC board member and the law partner of Ben Myers, said at the Saturday press conference that the officer elections didn’t follow the JACC bylaws. She handed out a copy of the bylaws and circled language that stated that an officer can only be removed “with cause.”
Megan Goodmundson, also a past board member, said that the general elections were supposed to take place in October, but they got postponed. In November, the board voted to extend the terms of some of the officers whose board tenure had expired. That extension was considered “just cause” for those officers to be removed from their positions.
Michael K. Browne spoke at the Saturday press conference of consensus, but there seemed to be anything but consensus. Browne couldn’t even get through his opening statement without interruption. Al Flowers shouted from the audience: “I had four residents say you were illegal!” and “You don’t control this” and “I live in this neighborhood, I get to ask questions,” and “Black Power, Man! Black Power!” (Flowers was eventually escorted out by police).
Browne said that following the disappearance of computers, office equipment and organization records, the 2009 board changed the locks to the JACC building. Browne would not comment on who currently has control of the JACC bank account. Benjamin Myers said that Shannon Hartfiel, former chair Ben Smith, and Jerry Moore currently are the financial signers of the organization.
Board member Keith Rightman, said he feels he is in the middle group. He said that he liked E.B. Brown’s brief tenure as Chair. “She had a very pleasant, unique style,” he said. “The third side is the people who feel they are in the middle of a very polarized situation.”
Adam Smith, a three-year Jordan neighborhood resident Jordan, said “Why doesn’t everybody just come together and work it out?” At this point though, it hardly seems possible without some sort of outside mediation.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.