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Here Comes the Judge: NAACP unprepared for October 17 Court Hearing   |   Open Letter to the Minneapolis NAACP branch executive committee   |   Email to Brett Buckner, Mpls NAACP branch president   |   NAACP gag order   |   NAACP "withdraws" from the Hollman Housing Lawsuit

Here Comes the Judge: NAACP unprepared for October 17 Court Hearing
Support from the NAACP could save the City millions at plaintiffs' expense
Will NAACP officers try to sell out Hollman plaintiffs?
by Doug Mann

After dumping a housing committee chair without good cause, blocking the formation of a housing committee, and refusing to call a special branch meeting regarding the Hollman Consent Decree (the settlement of a housing discrimination lawsuit), the Minneapolis NAACP branch executive committee is sending its lawyer to Federal Court empty-handed. A special branch meeting on October 8 made recommendations that must be considered by the executive committee and then revisited by the general membership. But the clock has already run out.

The 1995 Hollman Consent Decree called for the demolition and replacement of 770 dwelling units in four public housing projects on Near North Side. The replacement units were supposed to be dispersed, mostly in low poverty areas. The project was supposed to be done within 7 years. The deadline was extended until November 1, 2004.  The City of Minneapolis, which has over a 100 units left to build, wants more time. And that's not all.
The NAACP's counsel recommended support for the City on a couple other issues: 1) Amending the decree to change the location of some of the Hollman replacement housing. 2) The dispute between the City and HUD about the City cashing in unused mobility certificates to fund housing construction. A special meeting of the NAACP branch (October 8, 2003) recommended no support for the City on these issues.

The City chose locations for some Hollman replacement housing in areas with fairly high concentrations of poverty, and in census tracts that have been classified as "impacted" since the 2000 census. The City had picked almost-impacted census tracks, with NAACP and Legal Aid approval, in order to save money. The proposed new sites are probably located in what are now almost-impacted census tracts as a cost containment measure.  Why should the plaintiffs agree to that?  Wasn't the idea to disperse most of the Hollman replacement units into low poverty neighborhoods (with higher property values)?  Support from Legal Aid and the NAACP on this issue is worth millions, maybe 10s of millions of dollars to the City.

The NAACP's lawyer also asked for authorization to support the City in its dispute with HUD (federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) over cashing in unused mobility certificates to pay for housing construction.  What's in the fine print of the City's motions? Thomas White, the NAACP's counsel of record asked the NAACP to support the City's motions sight unseen. A concern voiced by some NAACP members is that shifting the blame for funding snafus from the City to HUD might get the City off the hook for building some of the replacement housing, if the Judge rules against the City.

The special NAACP branch meeting of October 8 also unanimously approved a motion to instruct the NAACP's counsel of record "to ask the Court to continue supervision over the City of Minneapolis in the matter of Hollman vs. Martinez until the City's obligations are fulfilled and all work competed." In a letter dated August 22, 2003 Legal Aid attorney Timothy Thompson had proposed, in hypothetical terms, asking the judge to assess stiff monetary penalties against the City for further delays in getting the Hollman replacement done.

The problem for the NAACP lawyer is that the NAACP has not gone through the process required by the NAACP constitution and bylaws to consider his recommendations and those which issued from the October 8 branch meeting. Local officers refused to send out notice for that meeting and boycotted it.  The NAACP's lawyer doesn't the option of doing nothing. The Court hearing is scheduled for 10:00 AM, Friday, October 17, 2003 at the new Federal Court Building just north of City Hall in Minneapolis. Judge Rosenbaum is the presiding judge.