Missing Equipment, Unauthorized Checks

The situation in the Jordan neighborhood continues to be challenging.  As discussed in the Board Meeting 1/14/09 post, the board voted to re-do the election of officers, and a new slate was elected that night:

Michael K. Browne, Chair

John (“P.J.”) Hubbard, Vice Chair

Robert Hodson, Treasurer

Anne McCandless, Secretary

The first action of the new executive board was to carry out the motion the board approved at the meeting on the 14th: to terminate Jerry Moore’s employment as executive director for the neighborhood.  The full board voted to do this: 9 votes in favor, 5 opposed and 2 abstentions, nearly a 2:1 margin.  A termination letter was given to Mr. Moore early the following morning, the 15th.

Sometime between the end of the board meeting on the 14th and 9:30 a.m. on the 15th, people who had keys to the Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) offices entered those offices and removed two laptop computers, the checkbook and other records.  It appears that this was done by either Mr. Moore and/or some of the board members who voted against firing him.

In the two days that followed, communications from Mr. Ben Myers, a board director who was not re-elected but remains on the board as an ex-officio member because he was chair last year, and Ms. E.B. Brown, who was board chair from November through the first part of the January board meeting, indicated that they had the equipment and had moved to Jordan New Life Church (JNLC).  They put out letters indicating that they were the “legal” board and had moved the offices to JNLC.  They had phone service cut off to the official JACC location at 2009 James Avenue N and attempted to cut off the electricity and gas (which would have caused extensive damage to the building JACC rents from burst pipes had they succeeded).

The letters also stated that Mr. Moore was still the JACC executive director.  This is a really interesting point.  The board voted by an overwhelming majority to terminate Mr. Moore’s employment, but this small group of 4-5 board members chose to ignore the vote of the majority and make its own decision.  The vote was taken while Ms. EB Brown was still board chair, and she permitted Mr. Ben Myers to vote even though he has been Mr. Moore’s attorney in the past and appears to be representing him in this incident (clearly a conflice of interest).  Even more difficult to understand is this:  On the day of the board meeting, Ms. Brown contacted a city official to determine if JACC was protected by its Directors and Officers Insurance against Mr. Moore’s actions Monday night.  I understand that she was told JACC was not protected because Mr. Moore’s actions were criminal in nature.  Despite this, Ms. Brown voted to retain Mr. Moore as an employee and was part of the group that proclaimed he was still the executive director.  One might ask why she and three other elected board members would vote to retain someone who has created a major liability risk to the organization.

As part of their communications to the community, this small group of board members has claimed that in removing the computers, checkbook and records,  they were trying to exercise their fiduciary duty and protect the organization’s assets.  In attempting to retain Mr. Moore, one can certainly question that statement.  But there is more…

On Friday, January 16, the new board secretary, Ms. McCandless, went to Franklin Bank with a board resolution giving the new names that were to replace those on the signature card.  The bank was informed that JACC was in transition to a new executive committee.  The bank supplied the required signature forms to Ms. McCandless and agreed to freeze the bank account until the forms were returned.  At that time, the bank stated that there had been no checks drawn against the account since January 9th.

Later that afternoon, the bank vice president called Ms. McCandless.  He had been visited by Mr. Myers and Mr. Moore.  He told Ms. McCandless he would not keep the account frozen but would permit the former signers, including Mr. Myers and Mr. Moore, to continue to sign checks.  Not only that, but he allowed them to add another name to the signers list.  That day, checks for more than $2,000 were written against the JACC bank account, one of them to Mr. Moore for more than $1,500.

Despite providing the bank with minutes, signed resolutions, a copy of the letters from the city council and NRP recognizing the new JACC executive committee and board, it took a conversation with the bank’s attorney to finally get the vice president of the bank to freeze the account until the new signatures could be provided.  Meanwhile, another $2,000+ of JACC’s money is gone.

Watch for future posts on what is uncovered as the new board executive committee begins to review the records it has access to and the bank statements for the past seven months.  The board members were denied access to financial details past the end of last fiscal year on 5/31/08.  This should prove to be very interesting.  As I learn the details, I’ll keep posting.

4 Responses

  1. While working for a large PNP in Alaska, I had the distinct misfortune of experiencing a very similar set of circumstances. Being a part of a a corp. that was set-up with the express intent of benefiting the constituents it served.

    In not quite as quick (or painfully apparent) manner, the constituents came to the realization that the existing board (and ED) were not in-step with the constituents it was intended to serve and over time this fact became apparent to everyone (especially the majority of the constituents).

    All of the same characteristic traits were there: out-of-control spending on frivolish items (I’ll stop short of implying there was a misuse of funds), indifference to the constituents those in-power were elected (or hired) to serve, and a the adoption of a down-right antagonistic/defensive temperament towards the constituency.

    Well, the old parable of the “tortise and the hare” (aka good vs. evil) kicked-in and the slow-moving turtle put in-play a plan to regain order & control over the situation in a somewhat more dramatic fashion than was recently evidenced in the JACC “fiasco”.

    Shortly after the transition occurred there was indeed much talk regarding the pursuit and possible prosecution of those that had nearly run the cherished PNP into the ground. Yet, the old sage that had led the “uprising” instead chose to council everyone as to the reason they had all put so much energy into their efforts to regain control on their cherished PNP. And his council was proven to be wise. Those involved rededicated themselves to recreating their PNP into their visions and dreams. And they were successful in their efforts over time. And this simple fact proved that therir efforts and actions were indeed true and correct. More so than any lawsuit, could have done.

    The morale of the story is that JACC is now a stronger organization than it has ever has been PRECISELY because the lessons of the recent past ARE clear in your minds and your best course of justice are to keep those recently learned lessons firmly planted in your minds and to guard against like scoundrels in the future.

    At the end of the day, if you stay the course, people like Myers and Moore will be seen for what they did not accomplish (if not their outright abuses) while governing JACC. Move-on and accomplish what caused you all to work so hard to accomplish yet another miracle in Jordan. I know many of you and you ARE up for the task.

  2. How or when can we get the financial data for 5/31/08 up to now? What does the accountant have to say about this mess, do you know if anyone has contacted her? Please let us know what we can do to help.

  3. My understanding is that Shannon Hartfiel was added. Shannon was the board secretary but resigned and then was prevailed upon by EB Brown to stay in the position until after the January 12 board elections after which the board would elect a new secretary, hopefully from the newly elected board members since none of the incumbents were willing to take it on.

  4. Thanks for the info, can you tell us who the added signature is on the bank account? ( or WAS )

    I find it very interesting that approximately 3 years ago, when the board treasurer went to NRP for some guidence on a fiscal matter – that board member was ultimatly suspended and “run off” the board by the same people who are now claiming to have “fiduciary responsibility” as their number one goal. I guess what goes around, comes back around to bite you in the….. foot!

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