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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

Open Letter to the Minneapolis NAACP branch executive committee
Re: Hollman Consent Decree, October 17, 2003 Court Hearing
From: Doug Mann
Date: October 14, 2003
I urge the Minneapolis NAACP branch executive committee to instruct its counsel of record in the matter of Hollman v. Martinez, Thomas White, to request a continuance to allow the branch to consider recommendations from a special branch membership meeting held on October 8, 2003.

At the special branch meeting on October 9, 2003 (for electing delegates to the state NAACP conference) 30 branch members, including president Buckner and several members of the executive committee, received unapproved minutes of the October 8, 2003 special branch meeting and hard copies of an October 8 Email that I send to the NAACP branch and 4 branch officers.

The branch has not completed the decision-making process mandated by the constitution and bylaws of the NAACP, which should be done in 3 steps:

1) The branch Housing and / or Legal Redress committee should offer recommendations to executive committee. Both of these committees were dissolved in recent years and not reconstituted. However, there was a special branch meeting on October 8, 2003 that did the work that would ordinarily be done by a housing / legal redress committee meeting.

2) The executive committee should consider and decide whether to accept, reject or modify recommendations of the special branch meeting of October 8, 2003. The branch executive committee had an opportunity to do that at its meeting of October 13, 2003.

3) The constitution and bylaws of the NAACP require the executive committee "To decide matters of Branch policy subject to endorsement by the Branch and in accordance with National policy" (Article IV, section 2, paragraph f). In other words, the bylaws require the executive committee to submit its decision in this matter for consideration and ratification by the branch membership. That has yet to be done.

The NAACP's counsel recommended support for the City on two 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. Given the history of delays related to events under the City's control, it is clear that another deadline without penalties for missing it is not going to motivate the City to get the work done on time. Therefore I recommend that the NAACP propose monetary penalties for delays beyond the current November 1, 2004 deadline.

-Doug Mann