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Jamie Ware <jamiemw06@gmaiI.com>
FNA - Clearing the Air, Moving Forward
m e s s a g e
A . J o rd a n
R u s h ie
< jr u s h ie @
r u s h i e l a w . c o m > Sat, Aug 8, 2015 at 10:49 PM
I had a productive conversation with Jill
email, and sent on a Saturday night.
aflemoon. I apologize for what is probably going to be a long
After chatting with
this afternoon, I figure it's time to clear the air. I know, there are lawyers involved kinda
sorta, but take it from me, lawyer communications are stupid...
Background of the FNA Business Committee
The Board has tumed over fairly regularly, and NKCDC has kind of sort of taken control of FABA, which has
collapsed for the third time now. In that context, we decided to form a Fishtown "Business Committee", and the
Board conlinmed Tim Fest as the chair.
Fishtown Business isn't meant to be FABA 2.0, but instead serve as a FABA liaison, and help address the needs
of businesses in the area. I think this is important absent a Fishtown business organization.
In that context, and I'm not sure if you guys knows this, but PTSSD gives money to private businesses. Some of
the interesting ones include Starboard Side (great bar), Greensgrow, The Spirit, and Joe Hand Boxing (who also
files tons of PayPerView lawsuits). Screenshots from the PTSSD website are attached, confirming this.
One of the things I had contemplated through Business Committee was helping local small Fishtown businesses
apply to PTSSD for grants, because PTSSD leaves a lot of money on the table each year, and it would be great
to see it go into neighborhood improvement projeots.
The Salon Blush PTSSD Grant Application
Alanna Ralph from Salon Blush had approached me about trying to get a grant to fix her sidewalk, get security
cameras, lighting, and fix the facade. She had approached NKCDC and other organizations about this in the past,
said PTSSD was her last resort. I figured we'd give it a try, and she would be a good test case. Worst thing they
could say is "no". I copied
the email to PTSSD at "email@example.com."
Her request made sense to me because I live at Boston and Memphis, and mv office is on York Street. I know the
area better than anyone. Jovan's is going out of business, Key is struggling, and there's no lighting due to the
bowling alley. At the same time, 2424 Studios, Mugshot Diner, Coffee House 2, Planet Fitness, and the new pizza
place were apparently able to get grants (don't know from who), but it's created a situation where the east side of
York Street is struggling, while closer to Aramingo it's booming. Alanna told me she had gone everywhere else,
this was her last resort, everyone else gets money, etc. Plus, when I look out mv window, it's sort of an eyesore
next to all those big new houses.
Is Salon Blush a private client of mine? Kinda sorta. lt's pro bono representation. When I started mv law practice,
it was important for me to provide iegai services to neighbors and help them out with stuff. Not that it matters, but
we've never been anything more than just fn'ends and business owners. Alanna has never paid me for
representation, and certainly did not nav me to help her tw and get a PTSSD grant.
Was her PTSSD application relayed to the Board? Not clearly enough. That's my fault, and it was a mistake. ln
hindsight, l would have had Alanna come in and put on a presentation, similar to what we did like with By My
Side. The Board tums over so much, and so many emails are circulated, that sometimes I forget what was said
and to whom. Also keep in mind that up until recently, the FNA was basically run out of everyone's basement, and
most of what we did was written on the back of a napkin and decided over a beer. These are growing pains as we
become a sophisticated 501 (c)(3). These are uncharted waters as we grow, and we've never been in a position to
help people get money until very recently.
Most importantly... did anything illegal or unethical occur? Absolutely not,
I tried to help a small business owner get a grant that other businesses in the area are getting, which wouid also
benefit York Street as a whole. My communication with the Board should have been better. I still think it's a good
idea for the FNA to try and work with local businesses to get PTSSD grants. In hindsight, I would have discussed
it with both Neil and the Board first.
Office Space and the Mailbox
The FNA was renting office space from me for $300 a month. In context, board meetings were traditionally held at
someone's house before moving to 2424. This was problematic due to Board turnover, resulting in the meetings
being held somewhere different each month, and no one knowing where stuff was stored. (How many times have
we had the issue "Who has the tents? Where is the stemo? Who's got the clicker?") We had been holding the
Board meetings at mv office, which alleviated that problem. There was another problem, too - no one felt like
going down to the Frankford Ave post office, so our mail would go unanswered for, welt, awhile.
To tix these problems, we decided to move FNA into mv office suite formally. 1 offered to donate the space for
free, but Kate (president at the time), thought it was better that the transaction be at an arm's length. We agreed
that $300 a month was fair, and it cut down our expense of having the PO Box. Me, Isaac, and Shaun were also
able to get the mail regularly. FNA got access to my space at any time, which also included use of the printers,
scanners, phone, mv staff, utilities, internet, my private conference room, and the shared conference room on the
second floor. It also made the CCO much easier to run, since we had a "home base" during the event. This was
voted on bv the board and approved, and that's reflected in the minutes. it really was an excellent arrangement,
and l'm not sure l agree with the move to Girard Ave. Although l'm stiit a bit upset, the FNA is stitl welcome to use
mv of19ce space free of charge. (it was just redone, too).
Jordan Steps Down
lt's been a long year for me. l divorced my wife of 12 years. Leo and I split up. which is also like a divorce, except
far more dramatic. lt's basically been two divorces in two years, rebuilding both mv personal and professional life
from the ground up.
in terms of running the FNA, it was dramatic right out of the gate. As soon as I became President, there was the
whole "Northern Liberties 2.0" crisis. Following that, there was a schism between the CCO and Board about
where funds from our events should go, and I was caught in the middle of it - mostly favoring giving the
Committees more latitude to allocate funds. After the cco, apparently someone left a giant bag of ice in my
office, which leaked through the tloors and damaged the tenant below me. I had to pay for this out of pocket, and
mv landlord was upset about it. Right after the cco, we held the election forum which was a bear to put on, and
then promptly criticized. Keep in mind (like Jill and Neil), l haven't gotten to actually enjoy an FNA event in about
three years because l'm always volunteering at them. Further, l also had concerns about running Sawyer's
Campaign and getting the FNA linked with him. He's one of my best friends, but can also be divisive. I don't think
it's a good idea for Sawyer's campaign manager to also be President of the FNA.
The practical issue is I no longer had time for Zoning Committee (the thing I actually like) and Crosstown Coalition
(the other thing I actually like). l'm getting hundreds of emails a day while trying to put my law practice back
together, adjust to single life in mv 30s, and run a political campaign at the same time. it was a beast, plus I had
federal jury trials scheduled during the summer. I'd stopped going to Crossfrt (no time) and even started smoking
on and off due to all the stress - something I haven't done since college. I had said on many occasions that l was
thinking of stepping down, and Jill even chided me for it.
ln May or June this year, Shaun Christopher approached me about AIanna's PTSSD grant, which was prompted
by Nei|'s email. Shaun and I had drinks at Fishtown Tavern. I explained to him what happened, and thatDFTS
I was 0044
completely burned out from the FNA right now. I told him if it was going to create issues, I simply don't care and
|'m burned out. Everything I do upsets someone somewhere, and this is yet another silly distraction. I asked
Shaun to take over the organization the reasons above, and explained that rd be happy simply to go back to
Zoning Committee and Crosstown Coalition. Maybe after Sawyer's election in November, rd come back to the
Board in an At Large capacity. l also offered to donate mv office space to FNA, because it's extremely practical
and I don't actually need $300 a month. Shaun asked if I wanted to be Zoning Chair when Karp steps down, to
which I told him I absolutely did not - too many conflicts of interest, and way too much work. l'm happy being a
lowly Zoning Committee member and delegate to Crosstown Coalition. Shaun mentioned that he wanted to get
new oitice space, and I explained to him that's not mv decision to make, but FNA is welcome to stay in my digs
This seems to be the natural progression of FNA presidents. You find the thing you like and eventually focus on
that, instead of trying to run the organization. For Ji!! it's coo, for Neii it's RCF, for me it's Zoning and Crosstown
That's where we left it.
A Meeting in Secret? Kicked out of the FNA? What the...?
I decided to take a breather from the FNA for a few weeks, to get ready for my vacation (renting my house out
while the Pope is in town), finish mv office space, etc.
A couple weeks ago I showed up to Zoning Committee to screen a project for a private client, and to screen other
projects because that is something I actually enjoy doing. Karp informed me that apparently l'd been kicked off
the Zoning Committee, and the organization as a whole (which ts completely illegal).
To say I was floored is an understatement. It was like someone punched me in the teeth.
Unbeknownst to me, apparently a secret meeting was held with the Committee Chairs and the Board. l've talked
eryone has a different takeaway. Apparently it was
implied that |'d somehow tried to do something shady or ittegal and then was told to step down, which simply
wasn't the case. Not one person I've spoken to actually understands what transpired with the PTSSD grant. Isaac
said he just "showed up to stuff' and doesn't even know what happened. There are no minutes of this secret
meeting or anything (that is why you don't hold secret meetings), just an email chain. l had no idea that this
meeting happened or what was said, but based on what 1've pieced together none of it was very good. Jamie
forwarded me the emails, and apparently I realty was "kicked out" of the FNA, the Zoning Committee, and
Crosstown Coalition. With absolutely no notice, and without ever explaining to anyone other than Shaun what
After I talked to people and explained what actually happened with the PTSSD grant, they told me that isn't how it
was explained to them.
In legal lingo, we cail that "false light".
ls Jordan Suing Everyone?
Here is where I was a week ago. l had just learned that there was a secret meeting held bv Shaun, Jamie and the
FNA, where false stuff was said about me, resulting in me being kicked out of both the FNA and Crosstown
Coalition. This had the very pradical effect of damaging my zoning practice, as apparently l was not even allowed
to screen mv private clients before the FNA. In addition, the folks at Crosstown Coalition are professional
colleagues, and I was even going to use Stephen
as an expert witness in
Stein v. NLNA. l'm a small
business owner in a small town, and mv reputation is everything. l have no idea what was said, and to whom.
So did 1 threaten Jamie with a lawsuit? Absoiuieiy.
But what transpired was no bueno. |'ve been sued for defamation myself a few times (l've won every case), and I
know what defamation looks like. I also know how serious and stressful lawsuits are, so I do not threaten them
lightly - this is actually the first time 1've ever threatened anyone with a lawsuit. But this conduct seriously
the line, and could have devastated mv law practice.
Under the circumstances, I bet you might do the same thing.
But... I'm Not Actually Suing Anybody, Even Though I Should
At the end of the day, 1 still think all of you people, like me, volunteer for the FNA because you want to make the
neighborhood better, and care about it. lt's a thankless job. l still love the organization, and we've accomplished a
hell of a lot this year. We migrated to Gmail, got our website functional, and Zoning Committee has excellent new
screening procedures (which l should follow more closely). We're cash positive. The CCO was the biggest it's
ever been, Meet the Neighbors worked out. lt's going to be warm this year for River City Festival and not fain, and
Jill might even be in Pennsylvania. We have, together, all made Fishtown the best place in Philadelphia to live,
and it's been through nothing short of blood, sweat, and tears.
I spoke with Jamie and Jill
the telephone and it's resolved as far as l'm concerned. l even signed a settlement
release and advised your lawyers that there is no litigation being contemplated against anyone, provided no one
tries to interfere with my membership on the Zoning Committee, Crosstown Coalition, volunteer activities, and my
ability to rejoin the board when I feel like it (I don't really feel like it right now, considering you guys tried to kick me
out of the entire FNA, which wasn't very nice).
Also, based on everyone |'ve talked to, and all the emails l've read, i don't blame Jamie for this. She's been thrust
into a very challenging position, and in some sense is a victim. I don't blame the current Board. Given what
Shaun's been through these last few months, I have no intention of giving him a hard time, either. Or anyone for
that matter. lt's a whole bunch of stupid right now, but also fixable if rational people put their heads together.
Bottom line - we all make mistakes. I've made my own. This was a mistake. But no one is getting sued for it.
Let's move on.
The good news is that there are a lot of taiented, dedicated people in the FNA. l'm writing this email on Saturday
night at 10:30pm because I care about my neighborhood and the organization deeply. I know you do, too. And I'm
not ready to watch this organization fall apart, and l suspect you people aren't either. We're ati too damn pretty to
let that happen under our watch. Accordingty, I suggest we hold a summit about how we can rebuild this thing and
move forward next month.
We ail want the same thing at the end of the day - to serve our neighborhood. We can, we will, and we're going to
emerge a stronger organization from this. Because together, as time as proven again and again, we are mighty.
A. Jordan Rushie, Esq.
2424 E York Street, Suite 316
Philadelphia, PA 19125