JACC Elections 2008/2009

The Jordan neighborhood is sure getting a lot of attention lately!  Talks of chaos, confusion, conflict. I’ve been involved in a lot of the activities and have attended most of the meetings.  Let me recap it for you here in a series of posts that show how we got from October to this week.  Jordan’s neighborhood organization is called the Jordan Area Community Council (JACC for short).

Jordan’s annual meeting is always held in October, and an election is held to fill open board seats on its Board of Directors.  The bylaws state quite clearly:

c.    DIRECTORS TENURE IN OFFICE Directors shall serve a period of two years and will be elected at the General Membership meeting in October.

The terms of three board members expired in October:  Ben Myers, Lynda Baker and Dokor Devjongsa.  Other board members had resigned or been removed for missing too many meetings, so there were six seats open on this fifteen-member board.  Interestingly, the October board meeting was cancelled by Mr. Myers and Executive Director Jerry Moore, so the annual election on October 23 was the big meeting of the month.

Each year, a Nominating Committee is established to manage the process.  From the JACC bylaws:

b.    NOMINATIONS
The Nominating Committee will be made up of at least three members of the Board of Directors and may include non board members of JACC.  The members and chair of the Nominating Committee will be chosen by the Board of Directors and shall convene each year after the August Board of Directors meeting in order to research and recommend, at the October Board of Directors meeting, a slate of candidates for election to the Board.  The nominating process shall be defined as any member in good standing submitting a name in writing to the Nominating Committee.  The consent of each candidate must be obtained before his/her name is placed in nomination.  Nominations will be accepted at the JACC office until one week before the annual business meeting.  Nominations will then be closed to allow for the publication of the ballot.  The Nominating Committee shall notify the membership by mail at least five days before the annual business meeting of the candidates for office.  The Nominating Committee may choose to recommend a particular candidate indicated on the ballot with an asterisk by his/her name.

The JACC board did not establish a Nominating Committee in August but waited until September.  Mr. Michael Browne, board member, offered to chair the committee, and he was joined by Shannon Hartfiel, board secretary, and Bob Scott, board treasurer.  In the past, community residents have also been on the committee, but the board decided this was not going to happen this year.  Instead, they asked Jay Clark of the U of MN’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), to be an impartial witness to the procedures in order to provide “transparency.”  How having someone outside the community provides more transparency than allowing residents to participate is something I, personally, do not understand although I know Jay and certainly trust him.

The Nominating Committee process did not go smoothly, from what I heard from various sources.  Mr. Scott and Ms. Hartfiel often did not show up for meetings, leaving the committee without a quorum.  The Committee received nominations from some candidates but heard there were others that went to the Executive Director Jerry Moore.  Despite repeated requests from Mr. Browne to Mr. Moore, these nominations were not provided to the Nominating Committee so they could verify a candidate’s eligibility.  Ultimately, Mr. Moore chose to publish a “ballot” on the JACC e-mail list of the candidates he chose to put on the ballot.  It was not complete, and the candidates had not been verified as to their eligibility.

At the October annual meeting, residents questioned the way the nominating process was handled and voted to postpone the election until the process could be corrected with all candidates being put on the ballot after their eligibility was verified.  In Jordan, you must be a resident, a property owner, or be employed by a business located in Jordan in order to be a member of JACC, and only members are eligible to serve on the board.  The vote included a deadline: the election must take place no later than January 2009.

At the November board meeting, a number of interesting things happened.  First, a board member moved to extend the terms of the three board members whose terms had expired in October.  This was clearly in violation of the JACC bylaws, a fact brought to the attention of the board by other board members.  The board chose to ignore that, and the majority voted to approve the extension of terms.  It should be noted that the JACC bylaws state:

a.    OPERATIONS The Board is responsible for overall policy and direction of the Council, and delegates responsibility for day-to-day operations to the Council Administration Officer and Committees. The Board shall have up to fifteen (15) and not fewer than five (5) members.  The Board receives no compensation other than reasonable expenses.

According to the bylaws, JACC had six open seats in November, leaving nine board members, more than enough to meet the requirements above.

The second thing that happened was the election of officers, traditionally held the month after the annual elections.  Some board members questioned this, asking if it wasn’t better to wait until the new board members were elected so that they could have a say in the selection of the officers, as they always have in the past (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007).  However, a majority of the board voted to go ahead.  The process of electing officers was unlike any I’ve seen before.  Rather than taking each position (chair, vice chair, treasurer and secretary) one at a time, accepting nominations, voting and then taking nominations for the next, Mr. Myers chose to take nominations for all four positions first.  This meant that people were nominated for only one position.  In a normal process, one might, for example be nominated for chair and, if not elected, be subsequently nominated for another position.  Not under Mr. Myers’ leadership.  All nominations were taken first, and then the votes held.  Those members whose terms had expired were among those who voted, and in some cases, their votes determined who was elected.  The new officers were Ms. EB Brown, chair; Mr. Ben Myers, vice chair; Mr. Bob Scott, treasurer.  No one would agree to be secretary.  There has been a problem with the secretary position for most of 2008.  No minutes have been approved since the May 2008 minutes, so there is no legal record of any board decisions since last spring.  [In December, Ms. Hartfiel agreed to stay on as secretary until the new board was elected in January with an understanding that a new secretary would be elected at that time.]

The next thing that happened was the re-establishment of the Nominating Committee.  Mr. Michael Browne offered the again chair the committee.  Mr. Bob Scott offered to serve on the committee again.  And the newly elected chair, EB Browne, offered to serve.  This time, the board decided to add two residents to the committee.  Ms. Megan Goodmundson volunteered, having served on the Nominating Committee several times in the past.  I also volunteered to serve on the committee.  Mr.  Bob Cooper, of the city’s Development Finance Division, agreed to be an advisor/observer, and the board agreed to ask Mr. Jay Clark of CURA to also act as an advisor/observer.

See the next article on the Nominating Committee activities.

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