Jordan Area Community Council: Judge says new majority still in charge

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The lawsuits filed in the contest by the Jordan Area Community Council’s “old” board against the “new” board elected this winter are still technically in court, but one more ruling went against the “old” board plaintiffs on Friday, July 10. Judge Charles A. Porter, who had earlier denied the request for a temporary restraining order against the “new” board members, has now ruled against a temporary injunction. According to an attorney who has been involved in the case, “The decision means that the defendants have basically won the case, but it will continue because the plaintiffs don’t know when they have lost.”

Meanwhile, the “new” board members and executive officers continue carrying on with JACC programming and development, without the stolen equipment and records that have been missing since the neighborhood organization’s January elections.

Michael Browne, chair of JACC’s board, said that while things have been tough, the community has come together. “We have amazing support from the community,” Browne said. “People on the board have stepped up, taken up projects, and taken leadership roles. Committees are cycling through action items quite efficiently,” he said.

Two new board members, Yulin Yin and Debra Wagner, have been appointed by Browne, while four members of the “old” board — E.B. White, Robert Wilson, Steve Jackson, and Shannon Hartfiel — have been removed due to absences.

JACC is currently seeking an Administrative Development Consultant to take charge of daily operations, resource development, contract administration and community relations. Browne said that because the previous board had left JACC in a poor economic situation, the new board decided not to hire a new executive director. According to Browne, the previous board spent 90 percent of its budget on administrative costs, rather than programming, even though the city requires administrative costs to be no more than 20-30 percent in order to receive city funding.

“The previous folks spent a lot of administrative money,” Browne said. “They spent it into the future.” (See Anna Pratt’s article for an in-depth look at the events leading up to the former executive director’s firing and the consequent disarray that followed.) Currently JACC is working with three interns that they share with the Hawthorne Neighborhood Community Council (HNCC) to keep up with administrative and fundraising tasks. In addition, board members and community volunteers have helped out with tasks such as creating a newsletter for Jordan residents.

JACC board member Dan Rother said that the organization has been fortunate in receiving support from the Pohlad Foundation, which approached the board following the January elections. Rother said that the foundation indicated at that time that they’d be willing to work with JACC again, after pulling funding during the former organizational leadership. “The Pohlad Foundation has just been remarkable,” Rother said. “They’ve taken special interest in north Minneapolis.”

Marina Lyon, from Pohlad, said the Foundation’s relationship with JACC goes back a year and a half. They attended meetings with the previous JACC board, but at that time did not lend their financial support. Lyon said members of the foundation attended one “rancorous meeting” in the spring of 2008 where there was “a lot of shouting.” Lyon said that “it was troubling for us.”

Buying a home in the Jordan neighborhood

from JACC Web site

People willing to buy a vacant/foreclosed property in Jordan now have access to three sources of funds to help:

• Minneapolis Advantage Program – makes $10,000 available for down payment, closing costs or fix up costs. This is a 5-year loan with no repayment until the property is sold. If the purchaser keeps the home for 5 years, the loan is forgiven.

• Jordan Advantage Program – makes $5,000 available under terms similar to the Minneapolis Advantage Program. Also a 5-year loan with no repayment until the property is sold, this loan is also forgiven if the purchaser stays in the home for 5 years.

• Pohlad Foundation Loan – makes $8,000 available under terms similar to the Minneapolis and Jordan Advantage Programs. This is a 7-year loan, and the loan is forgiven if the purchaser lives at the property for 7 years.

More on Jordan home-buying programs here andhere.

After the change in JACC’s leadership, and after the organization’s records were stolen, the Pohlad Foundation gave JACC help with their accounting. “It seems more organized now,” Lyon said.

Pohlad has also donated funds to organizations that have partnered with JACC. For example, $10,000 was given to Tree Trust, a nonprofit that aims to build job skills through forestry and environmental programs. This grant was designated to fund a new community garden in cooperation with JACC. A crew from Tree Trust’s Young Adult Conservation Corps, which is a paid employment training program, will help get the site ready for planting, starting on July 7. On July 10, Jordan neighbors are invited to help install 200 plants in the community garden, located at the northeast corner of 26th Ave. N. and Knox Ave. N.

The Pohlad Foundation has also supported a summer program for youth that is a collaborative effort by JACC, Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC), and the Garden of Gethsemane Church. The camp, which began on June 17 and runs through August 14, offers activities, sports, and games to neighborhood children.

JACC’s newsletter points out that Jordan has begun its “Jordan Advantage” program which provides $5,000 on a down payment for the purchase of foreclosed house in the Jordan area for qualified participants. The JACC newsletter also notes that the Pohlad Foundation offers an $8,000 down payment loan for potential homebuyers interested in buying a foreclosed property in the Cottage Park area of Jordan. (See sidebar for more information.)

In May, JACC held a community health fair which focused on prostate cancer awareness. Dorothy Titus, a Jordan resident who maintains the Jordan Livability Blog wrote that 113 people attended the event.

Also in May, Jordan neighbors participated in a “clean sweep” picking up trash in the area. “We essentially filled two garbage trucks and collected 180 tires,” said Browne. “That was fun. I have to tell ya.”

Finally, JACC has several infrastructure developments in the works that it has been working on with its neighboring communities. For example, JACC has joined with the Cleveland, Folwell, Hawthorne and McKinley neighborhoods to develop Lowry Avenue, Jordan’s Northern border.

JACC also participated in a bikeway/greenway study along with Hawthorne neighborhood. Envisioned by Biko Associates, a consultant group, the plan would convert 26th Avenue into a bikeway facility running from Theodore Wirth to the Mississippi, according to Rother. (Final report attached.)

Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis theater artist and freelance writer. Email sheila@tcdailyplanet.net

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