Monday, August 07, 2006

Notes from the Zimmermann Trial--Day 4

Notes from the Zimmermann trial

Another cautionary note from the author, Liz McLemore: despite the length and detail of these notes, I’m certain that I’ve missed portions of the testimony. I’d advise anyone interested in details to consult the tapes and transcripts once they’re released. These are notes, not transcripts.

Once again, I’ve inserted my comments within square brackets [ ] throughout the text.

Day 4: Thursday, August 3, 2006

The trial resumed at around 9:50 today; Carlson mounted the witness stand and took his oath; the defense attorney began cross-examination. Scott directed the jury’s attention back to the events of 2004: in June Carlson’s company closed on the property at 2401 Chicago Avenue South. A few days before that closing a fire started in the nursing home; Carlson was present at the time, and the sprinklers went off. The closing included more than $100,000 set aside for fire damage [it sounded like $180,000 was set aside in escrow]. Carlson sued for damage due to the fire and won a settlement ($180,000-$200,000) to cover the clean-up costs, mostly due to mold.

The defense presented Exhibit 36, a letter from Carlson’s brother, Donald Carlson, to Hennepin County; it was an application for property tax credit due to the fire (disaster credit), dated December 2, 2004. In response to questioning Carlson said his original plan was not to tear down the nursing home; by May of 2004 [before the fire], however, he had decided to do so. [The defense appeared to be suggesting that Carlson filed for a tax credit due to fire damage, when in fact he had already planned to tear it down before the fire.]


On May 3, 2005, Carlson went to the FBI for the first time (with a man named Esplund who worked for him) to provide information about his dealings with “certain Middle Eastern family members”—among them the Sabris. Carlson’s information was historical, not just recent: he had dealt with the Sabris, their friends and customers, the Wazwaz [sp?] family, and other families of Arabic descent when he had a mortgage business. Some of these (such as Wazwaz) were convicted of crimes. Carlson said he knew 80% of the Arabs in Minneapolis; he had provided many of them with loans. Some of them were involved in the mortgage business; Carlson said he couldn’t recall if they required fees of buyers, or if they increased the appraisal of the homes. He mentioned a former partner [Byab?] and Azzam Sabri, who, as an owner of the Village Market, was doing a cash business (Carlson believed Sabri was not paying taxes).

Azzam told Carlson he could get anything done in downtown Minneapolis. He was involved in opening the East bank and involving Arabs in that business. Carlson told the FBI about people Sabri said he “owned” or could pay off. He didn’t initially tell them about the money Zimmermann had requested for the redistricting. Carlson said he believed Minneapolis was corrupt and he was tired of the corruption of the Arab community. At first, he did not offer to help the FBI that day.

On May 3rd and 4th, Carlson made a number of phone calls to Lilligren to set an appointment. Scott asked Carlson if the latter was “going in” with the idea of setting up Lilligren. Carlson said “absolutely not.”

On the 18th of May, during his second meeting with the FBI, he mentioned the redistricting money and Zimmermann; the idea was that in lieu of a $300 contribution, he could help Zimmermann in other ways. He told the FBI Zimmermann had mentioned the redistricting bill for $100,000 and said he thought the lawyers would settle for $40,000. He did not tell them that Zimmermann said he was in a hurry for the money. The defense attorney asked Carlson if Zimmermann had said he needed the money in a hurry when they met at Franklin and Portland; Carlson said no.

The discussion then turned to their May 20th, 2005 meeting. Carlson said while he was at the event [this sounded like the Shriners event], he spoke to Lilligren about the homicides and drug activity near the Village Market and said he needed Lilligren’s help. Carlson said he went outside to smoke, and that’s when he and Zimmermann engaged in conversation. He told Zimmermann about the violence and asked for his help with the zoning permit, just as he had done with Lilligren. The defense suggested that Zimmermann had simply agreed to help Carlson, just as Lilligren had done; in response, Carlson said that Lilligren had never asked him for any money. In response to questioning, he said Zimmermann had said he needed cash “in a hurry.” Carlson said he did not report that in his meeting with the FBI.

The defense attorney, Scott, shifted his line of questioning to the conversation about redistricting that took place at the Black Forest Inn on June 6, 2005. This was the first conversation the two had had after the Shriners Club meeting; it was Carlson who raised the issue of the redistricting suit at the Black Forest. The defense then (re)played a portion of Exhibit 16, an audiotape of the conversation between Zimmermann and Carlson at the Black Forest Inn.

Portions of first audiotape (replayed by the defense): Black Forest Inn (June 6, 2005)

Carlson asks Zimmermann to come out for the vote on the zoning. Zimmermann then asks, “where are we on that?” Carlson says something about Lilligren being a “pain in the ass,” and Zimmermann replies, “he usually is.” Carlson then discusses the neighborhood problems and says people at a church in the area are writing letters [presumably in support of Carlson’s rezoning application]. Zimmermann says something about four or five jerks on the neighborhood association [Midtown Phillips]. Carlson then says something about getting Zimmermann some money, and Zimmermann mentions that Carlson should send him an email and he’ll try to talk to a couple of people. Carlson then asks Zimmermann, “What can I do to help you?” and Zimmermann replies “money, money, money.” Carlson asks if he still “has that legal bill.” Zimmermann says yes and says they “wouldn’t mind if I gave them…$4,000 or $5000.” Carlson says he’ll take care of that.

The defense then turned back to Carlson on the witness stand and asked him if that sounded like the same sense of urgency that Zimmermann had expressed before. Carlson replied no.

In response to questioning, Carlson admitted that prior to meeting Zimmermann on June 6th, the Planning Commission had already recommended denial of Carlson’s rezoning. [If my notes are correct, Carlson called the FBI on May 27th and conveyed this information.] The defense then referred to June 13th as a “big day” for Carlson: it was the day he presented his case to the Zoning and Planning Committee. Defense Exhibit 5 is presented to the jury: it is the invitation to the Black Forest fundraiser for Zimmermann (sent to Carlson). The defense points out the words “fundraiser” and “4th Annual 60th Birthday Fundraiser,” and something about “no admission but will accept donations.” Carlson said he knew the event was a birthday party but not that it was a fundraiser.

Scott then asked Carlson if he had donated to Zimmermann previously. Carlson said he didn’t think so, but it was possible. He said if he had given money to Zimmermann over the summer, he would have had to tell the FBI about it. Scott said, “didn’t you leave $20?” [at the Black Forest fundraiser] and Carlson said no, adding that he had offered to donate $5000 instead.

The defense asked Carlson about events leading up to the fundraiser on June 6th, asking if he had sent Zimmermann an invitation to a June 2nd “tournament” for the Somalis. Carlson was shown a document; he responded by saying he had never seen the document before, adding that the handwriting on the document was not his.

At this point, the court recessed for 20 minutes to “resolve an issue.”

When the judge and jury returned, Judge Montgomery said that one or more of the jury members may have discussed the case with court security. She reminded them of their responsibilities, and the cross-examination of Carlson resumed.

The defense attorney turned his questioning to the June 13th Zoning and Planning meeting where Carlson’s case for rezoning was heard. Azzam Sabri attended the meeting, as did someone named “Tim” (who spoke to the group; Carlson apparently was irate about his testimony); a woman named “Connie” who had worked for Coleman’s staff; and Shirley Heyer. Shirley was apparently contentious at the meeting, arguing that there was already too much retail in the area. Carlson told Shirley that Azzam Sabri was not part of his business. [It wasn’t clear to me that Carlson was present at this meeting, but I’m assuming he was.]

Questioning turned now to Zimmermann’s comment to Carlson at the Baja that Carlson needed Lilligren on his side. Defense Exhibit 4 is presented, an email from Carlson sent to Lilligren on June 16th, 2005. The first paragraph suggested that Carlson was contacting Lilligren at the latter’s request; the second paragraph complained about Lilligren’s comment that he needed approval from others in the neighborhood before they could meet.

At a neighborhood meeting at Me Gusta, Carlson said he had tried to convince Shirley Heyer to support his project; he offered to contribute to the start of a Weed and Seed [crime prevention] program, saying he’d donate as much as $20,000/month. After the meeting on the 28th, however, Lilligren would not return Carlson’s phone calls.

Another meeting took place a few days later, at the Wolves Den coffee shop: Lilligren, Dave Esklund [sp?], and two women from Phillips attended, in addition to Carlson. Carlson repeated his offer for the Weed and Seed program, asking if Lilligren could help with zoning. Scott asked Carlson if he told Lilligren that day that the Sabris claimed they “owned” Lilligren; Carlson said no, but indicated that Dave Esklund had said it in Carlson’s presence. Lilligren denied that the Sabris “owned” him. After this, however, Carlson said Lilligren would not return his phone calls. The defense asked Carlson if his partner [Esklund] might have insulted Lilligren. The prosecution objected to this line of reasoning; the defense then asked Carlson if the comment was said in a humorous or light-hearted way, and Carlson said no.

The defense returned to Carlson’s comment at the Baja, “before I forget, Dean, this is for that attorney thing….” Scott asked if Carlson was prepped by the FBI to use wider terms rather than calling it the redistricting lawsuit. Carlson said no. The defense then asked him if he was “ad libbing” his comments. Carlson suggested he was told what to say, but had some leeway about how he said it.

In the meeting at the Baja, Scott said it was Zimmermann who brought up the issue of moving the Somali market to Sherman property on the west bank. Scott said, “So when you said at the end of July, ‘I’ve got a new idea for you,’ that was really Dean Zimmermann’s idea?” Carlson concurred; Scott followed up, saying, “so you brought it to the FBI and they decided that would be the thing to discuss, because the rezoning issue was closed?” Carlson said he didn’t know the exact reason. Carlson told Zimmermann the project would be good for the community, that Zimmermann would be a hero, he’d get votes, and it would be a win for everybody. Carlson’s part was to help with the financing—no long-term benefit to him, but if the Somalis moved out of the Village Market, he’d be able to market his condos. Carlson said he never seriously spoke of buying the property himself: he wanted ownership to belong to the Somalis. [The defense attorney was wording his questions carefully here: he’d begin his questions, then say “strike that,” and rephrase them.]

When Carlson met Zimmermann to tour Chicago Commons, he turned over the four envelopes (Exhibits 34-37), which were closed with money inside, and gave them to Zimmermann. Scott asked if he spread them out a little so the camera could capture a clearer view, and Carlson said no. Carlson said he had made a reference to the names of “cousins,” but didn’t discuss the names. Scott then asked Carlson if he had handed over an envelope of $300 with his name, his wife’s, or his brother’s, to which Carlson answered no. Carlson said he didn’t notice whether Zimmermann had looked closely at the names on the envelopes.

Now the questioning turned to the Roof Depot site, when Zimmermann said that’s all he had left (other properties had been dismissed as too expensive or not having enough parking). Before he gave Zimmermann the envelopes, he said, “oh, by the way, before I forget…” August 31st was the next time Carlson handed Zimmermann money: the purpose of this meeting was to discuss Somali excitement over the mall (there was one envelope containing $1000, with no names on the outside of the envelope). Before Carlson handed Zimmermann the envelope, he said “But you know what I’m saying, so restructure it right when you meet with them and campaign. Now the primary is coming up soon…” and Zimmermann replied yeah. Carlson said he’d been explaining to the Somalis the need to get people like Zimmermann elected. Carlson said something like “I did not get…all the names…” adding “we’ve got something for you, you can fill in the name” and then turned over to Zimmermann the envelope containing the cash. In response to questioning, Carlson said he never gave Zimmermann a name to fill in and did not tell Zimmermann how much money was in the envelope.

The defense ended its cross-examination of Carlson, and Docherty wrapped up with a few more questions before Carlson left the witness stand.

Docherty asked Carlson about the fire and the money that was escrowed at closing, saying there was no insurance policy on the nursing home. He asked Carlson if the fire had hurt or helped him financially and schedule-wise, and Carlson said it had hurt on both counts. Financially, he said, he couldn’t get a “clean certification” after the fire because of mold problems (the sprinklers had gone off in the June heat, so mold followed quickly). Carlson explained that he had bought all the contents of the nursing home, intending to donate the hospital beds, equipment, etc. However, after the fire the nursing home became a crime scene for three weeks while the cause of the fire was investigated; at the end of the three weeks, Carlson’s company had to hire someone to do mold abatement. He added that mold abatement wasn’t cheap. October 4th was the excavation date, but he was forced to start later than he had expected (once the frost came, they had to heat the area before they could continue to excavate). Carlson said, “the fire was a bad thing for us.”

Docherty then clarified a time line, asking Carlson when the groundbreaking at Portland and Franklin took place (May 3, 2005); the Shriners event took place on May 20, 2005. In response to the prosecution’s questions, Carlson said there was no exchange of cash at the groundbreaking, but it was the first time the two subjects [the issue of cash in exchange for favors?] were tied together. Carlson said it was difficult to talk because of the band at the Shriners event, so he had stepped outside to have a cigarette.

The prosecution then referred to the Zoning and Planning meeting which supposedly took place on June 13, 2005, after the Black Forest meeting with Zimmermann. The prosecution referred to Exhibit 8, a CPED tracking sheet that showed June 13th as the Planning Commission meeting date, not the Zoning and Planning meeting. [I think the point the prosecution was making was that Carlson’s application had not yet been denied by Planning when he met Zimmermann at the Black Forest. Note also that the defense attorney had his dates wrong—see defense attorney’s apology below.] The prosecution pointed out that Carlson did not appear before the Planning Commission.

In response to questioning, Carlson pointed out that he never gave money for the Weed and Seed program, never gave cash to Lilligren, and was never approached by Lilligren to donate to his campaign in the name of “straw” contributors.

The prosecution then went back to the defense attorney’s points about the meeting at Chicago Commons, asking Carlson again about the four campaign envelopes Zimmermann had handed him. The date was August 3rd, and the meeting was around 1:00. On August 15th, 2005, at the light rail station, Carlson returned the envelopes to Zimmermann, this time with phony campaign contributors’ names written on the outside; the envelopes contained a total of $1200 in cash. At the time, Carlson made some joke about “cousins.” In response to questioning, Carlson explained that on June 14th, he had told Zimmermann that his family consisted of himself, his wife, his brother, and his mother [no mention of cousins]. During a phone call preceding the August 15th meeting, Carlson had also made reference to his family, saying “oh, by the way, I went to my family and got those campaign donations.” During the August 31st meeting when Carlson handed Zimmermann an envelope full of cash at Zimmermann’s home, Carlson told Zimmermann he could put the names on the envelope later. He said, “that’s for getting us the zoning over there,” and Zimmermann replied “alright.”

At this point, the defense attorney apologized for getting dates wrong [in his earlier cross-examination of Carlson]. The defense posed a few more questions to Carlson.

The defense established that June 13th was indeed the date of the Planning Commission meeting, not the Zoning and Planning committee. Scott then asked Carlson who had hired the crew that was cleaning up the nursing home when the fire inspector showed up (this was on June 10th, after the closing). Carlson said it could have been the former owners or the insurance company—he didn’t know. He also pointed out that the closing was originally scheduled for June 8th, but it got “moved up”—for reasons unrelated to the fire.

Scott then asked Carlson whose idea it was to tie the money to the redistricting; Carlson said the idea originally came from Zimmermann, not from the FBI. [This is a critical point, and I hope my notes here are correct.]

The court recessed for lunch until 1:20.


Ninth witness for the prosecution: Jerald Dastych

Dastych explained that he is a computer analyst for Wells Fargo and served as treasurer for Zimmermann’s re-election campaign in 2005. It was his first time to volunteer as treasurer for a campaign.

In response to Docherty’s questions, Dastych explained that he filed three campaign finance reports to Hennepin County; one at the end of January, one before the primary, and one before the election. He also explained that campaign finance laws limit individual contributions to $100 during non-election years, and $300 during election years. The campaign is required to report each contributor’s name, address, phone number, and employer. The majority of contributions, he said, come in the form of checks, not cash. Dastych said checks are much easier to deal with; when a donor gives cash, the campaign has to track down the pertinent information. Contributions over $100 must be itemized on the reports. Checks for the Zimmermann campaign were mailed to a post office box.

The prosecution then presented Exhibit 34, a campaign envelope containing the name Abdul Warsame. Docherty asked if he recognized the exhibit as a campaign envelope; Dastych said he did [he was not referring to the name or information at that time].

Docherty asked Dastych if there was any set method of dealing with money given directly to the candidate, and he said no. Exhibits 43, 44, and 45 were presented to the jury; they were campaign reports filed on September 6, 2005; November 1, 2005; and January 31st, 2006. The jury is shown schedule A of the September 6th report, and Dastych is asked to check the four names on Government Exhibits 34-37 [the four envelopes containing made-up Somali names] against the names on the campaign report.

(The names were Abdul Warsame; Salab Ali; Mohammed Mohammed; and Ahmed Al-Kasim.) Dastych confirmed that these names were not present on the report, nor were the envelopes containing these names ever turned over to Dastych. Zimmermann never asked him about these envelopes.

The prosecution then asked Dastych about campaign protocol; Dastych explained that if he received incomplete contribution information, he’d follow up and try to complete it. He acknowledged that he had never been asked to see if the four people whose names appeared on Exhibits 34-37 had contributed, nor had he seen the envelopes before the FBI showed them to him.

Exhibit 46, Dastych’s spreadsheet of contributions, is presented; it contains a complete record of campaign contributions, even those below $100 (Dastych explained that he tracked these contributions in order to maintain an accurate accounting of the total donations from any one person). Dastych checked the four names against those on his spreadsheet; the names were not recorded on the spreadsheet. Moreover, no $5000 contributions were recorded in June, nor was a $1000 contribution recorded in July.

The defense began its questioning of Dastych, asking him how he used the spreadsheets. Dastych said they were useful in compiling the County’s reports and so the campaign could send thank-you notes to contributors. They were also used to identify potential future donors. Government Exhibit 46, one of Dastych’s spreadsheets, was shown to the jury; it contained donations totaling $17,000. Dastych said it was up to date when the FBI first seized it. He also said Defense Exhibit 37 (the end of the year report) was also up to date, showing a balance of $23,060. Dastych said Zimmermann was not “in the loop” on these reports; instead, other people helped Dastych with the details. In response to questioning, Dastych explained that the campaign was “in the black” in the summer and fall of 2005; he said Zimmermann put some expenses on his credit card sometimes when the campaign coffers appeared to be short.

Tenth witness for the prosecution: Natalie Collins

Collins explained that she currently works as a Council assistant to the Minneapolis City Council; she was a Council Aide for Zimmermann’s office in 2005. Her responsibilities as aide included reviewing committee agendas; helping draft motions, resolutions, and ordinances; answering constituent calls—basically policy work and attending meetings on his behalf. In response to subpoena, she collected documents about Chicago Commons.

Government Exhibit 47 is presented; it is an email dated June 16th, 2005, containing notes written by both Collins and Zimmermann. Zimmermann’s notes say “on for rezone July 17-move to June.” Collins’s notes were made during a conversation with Lonnie Nichols (Zimmermann had asked her to research the issue). In response to Zimmermann’s request, Collins gave him her notes and printed sections of the city zoning codes for him (on OR2 and C2 zoning). Government Exhibit 48 contains the materials Collins printed, as well as several notes handwritten by both Collins and Zimmermann. The note at the top of Exhibit 48 says “Michael Orange.” Collins said she didn’t remember doing any other research on this issue.

Scott began his cross-examination of Collins.

Scott also referred to Exhibits 47 and 48, both from Zimmermann’s office filed in a folder labeled “Gary Carlson.” Collins said she gave the FBI the folder last Fall, around October 26, 2005. She worked for Zimmermann from January 2002 until the end of 2005. In Fall 2001, Collins worked for the campaign of a friend of Zimmermann’s [Annie Young]. Zimmermann’s office included one other staff person, Patti Marsh, a Council associate. (Council associates are distinct from aides: the latter are policy positions. Collins explained that she would make lists of questions Zimmermann should ask during committee meetings, etc.) Collins said Zimmermann’s schedule was hectic and long (Marsh blocked off a couple of hours/day in the office, but he was usually out in the ward). She explained that Zimmermann as Council member was expected to attend everybody’s wedding and funeral. She attended neighborhood meetings as Zimmermann’s proxy.

Collins explained that Marsh kept Zimmermann’s schedule (Collins said although she was Zimmermann’s aide, she was not involved in his first campaign). Scott asked if Zimmermann would say that “Natalie told [him] what to think and Patti [told him] where to go,” and she said yes. She said it wasn’t unusual for her to hear her own questions read by Zimmermann at meetings: she explained that Zimmermann was not a detail-oriented person. She said the sixth ward wasn’t a well-to-do ward, but was marked by poverty and there was lots going on—there were many immigrants and it was an urban environment. Most of the calls to the office were about crime, parking, and traffic issues (the zoning code sets requirements for minimal amounts of parking—Collins explained that some people think these are too much for an urban environment).

Collins said people feel issues on their block are the most important thing; Zimmermann’s office tried to deal with them, whether they were likable people or not. Scott asked her if anything about Carlson or his issues seemed extra-urgent or more important than anything else, and she said no.

The defense pointed out Collins’s notes at the bottom of one of the emails (Exhibit 47 or 48). Collins had noted “Lonnie” [for Lonnie Nichols, a city planner], and the words “now they want to use ground floor (previously designated office) as retail.” Zimmermann’s notes on the same email printout said CUP [conditional use permit]—no retail on Elliott; Shirley Heyer [chair of Midtown Phillips]; Steve Poor [Zoning?] and Michael Orange [another planner]. When Collins got the assignment to research the issue, she put her notes there, then Zimmermann added his. The exhibit dealing with zoning ordinances contains the words “Michael Orange” at the top; Collins confirmed those were written by Zimmermann.

Collins said the Village Market generated lots of calls about parking and litter to Zimmermann’s office. She said her job was to steer people through the system.

Collins was asked if Zimmermann was a popular guy in the ward, and she said yes. Scott then asked, “Were there times you couldn’t get stuff done because people were walking up to him in the ward?” Collins said yes, adding that it was true all over the city, not just in the ward.

The prosecuting attorney then took his turn, asking Collins if Chicago Commons was in the ward. Collins said no. He then asked her if Carlson was a constituent. She said no, adding that it wasn’t uncommon for Council Members to be somewhat aware of and involved in things on the boundary of their ward.

Court recessed until 2:30.

Docherty then discussed Government Exhibit 68, as part of an agreement between lawyers. This Exhibit said something about Minneapolis receiving more than $10,000 in federal assistance in 2005. [I’m assuming this is why the Zimmermann case is being prosecuted by federal attorneys.]


Eleventh witness for the prosecution: Robert Lilligren

In response to questioning, Lilligren explained that he was the Ward 6 City Council Member and had served on the City Council for 4 years and 9 months. He is currently in his second term in office, and was Zimmermann’s opponent in the election last Fall. On a map he pointed out that his ward is part of the “collar” neighborhoods in south Minneapolis, extending south of downtown to Lake Street. He currently sits on the Executive Committee; Community Development; Health, Energy, and the Environment; and Committee of the Whole. When he represented the 8th Ward he sat on Zoning and Planning (Schiff was chair) and several others.

In response to Docherty’s questions, Lilligren explained that he was familiar with Chicago Commons. Before redistricting it was in Ward 8 [Lilligren’s Ward]; now it’s located in the 9th Ward. Before Chicago Commons was built the site had to be rezoned; he was supportive of that rezoning (it combined residential and commercial, was mid-density, etc.). From early 2005 until May, Carlson sought to rezone it to R2 with a pedestrian overlay: Lilligren was not supportive of this rezoning, saying he thought the original zoning of OR2 had gone through the city process of oversight and was correct.

Lilligren explained that he too had received constituent complaints about the Village Market, though he didn’t consider it a “problem property” (this term means something specific in city vocabulary—it basically means a property that isn’t kept up). Lilligren acknowledged the property had some “livability issues.”

He said he was also aware of tenant/landlord issues at Karmel Plaza: some of his constituents alleged the shop owners there were overcharged for rent, that the management/owners were collecting additional fees, etc., and that there were threats of punitive measures. Docherty asked Lilligren what actions the city could take in such cases, and he said very few in such a commercial area (it was basically a tenant rights issue); Lilligren acknowledged he was frustrated by the situation. He said there were things Council Members could do to mediate, but he said the property wasn’t in his Ward.

The questioning then turned to Carlson. Lilligren said Carlson had asked to meet with him generally, but he couldn’t remember Carlson saying he wanted to address the zoning issue specifically. Lilligren said he couldn’t recall the exact date, but said he thought July 14, 2005 was about right for the Zoning and Planning meeting date. Government Exhibit 61 is presented; it contains the actions of that meeting; it is a document prepared by city clerks. In advance of this meeting, Docherty asked, did Zimmermann ask Lilligren to second any motions, including one to move the item back to committee? Lilligren said no. Docherty asked if he recalled Zimmermann even being present, and Lilligren said he didn’t recall. Lilligren acknowledged that he had met with neighbors concerned about Chicago Commons (they were most concerned about additional retail in the area); Lilligren had heard that some were concerned about commercial traffic affecting the quality of life—concerns raised by the Village Market.

Lilligren explained that the eastern boundary of the Chicago Commons was Elliott [a residential street]. Docherty asked if there was a full Council meeting on July 22, 2005, and he said that would be about right. Docherty showed him Exhibit 8, a CPED tracking sheet for zoning. He then asked Lilligren if Zimmermann had asked him to second a motion on Chicago Commons, and Lilligren said no. Docherty asked what parliamentary move it would take to get the item off the consent group; Lilligren explained that a Council Member would ask to pull it for discussion or postpone it or send it back to committee. He said he couldn’t recall whether Zimmermann had done any of that. Government Exhibit 62 is then presented; it is the clerks’ office record of the July 22nd. City Council meeting.

Scott then began his cross-examination of Lilligren, confirming that Lilligren was the current Council Member representing the 6th Ward and had formerly represented the 8th Ward. Exhibit 1 is shown; it is a map of Ward 6 after the redistricting. Scott pointed out that the area crosshatched was the portion removed during redistricting [I think he pointed out Zimmermann’s house, which became part of the 9th Ward after redistricting]. Scott showed the area where Lilligren currently lives, which was added to the 6th Ward. He then asked Lilligren what he had planned to do about his living area. Lilligren explained that he had had no plans to move [after redistricting]. He then asked Lilligren if Zimmermann had planned to move into the 6th Ward or stay in the 9th and run. Lilligren said that was Zimmermann’s choice [to move].

Scott pointed out that Zimmermann had tried to get Lilligren to sign onto the redistricting lawsuit, since the latter’s home had been redistricted out of the Ward he represented. He said Lilligren attended a fundraiser at Baba Lou’s [sp?], but did not contribute. Zimmermann moved to 2200 Clinton and became Lilligren’s opponent in the 2005 election. Scott asked if it was a close election, with Lilligren winning by less than 50 votes. Lilligren said it was about two percent. Scott asked if the two men were rivals, and Lilligren said not really, that they tended to work together on constituent or policy issues. When asked if he knew Zimmermann before their Council work together, Lilligren said he knew of Zimmermann but couldn’t remember if he actually knew him. He said Zimmermann was very active in neighborhood issues.

Scott then pointed out Chicago Commons on the map, saying it was in the 8th Ward but across the street from the 6th. Scott also mentioned other landmarks in the area, including the Sears Building, which was slowly being redeveloped. He asked if Lilligren had lots of constituents who took up part of his day, then asked if that was why Lilligren looked quizzically when he asked him to remember something. Lilligren said yes. He asked if Lilligren had looked at plans for Chicago Commons, and he said yes. He said Lilligren had met Carlson, and Lilligren said it wasn’t clear whether Carlson was working with Azzam Sabri or not. Scott asked if there were “frictions” between Carlson and the Planning department, and Lilligren said yes.

Scott then presented an email dated Friday, September 17th, 2004; it was an email to city staff about the project. Carlson seemed to expect to build immediately; Lilligren said he told Carlson not to plan to put a shovel in the ground before 2005. The email was from Lilligren to city staff, saying that if they needed to put the brakes on Carlson, Lilligren would back them up. Scott also showed contact sheets from Ward 8 to remind Lilligren of his contact with Carlson; on Sept. 22, Carlson had called and said “they” had shut him down. Lilligren said his staff continued to deal with Carlson.

Scott showed a sign-in sheet dated February 3, 2005 that indicated Tiffany Green had attended a meeting to discuss Chicago Commons [Green was Lilligren’s aide]; this meeting was between Carlson and city stakeholders. Lilligren said he was monitoring Chicago Commons as the project went along. He was made aware of Carlson’s rezoning petition because the site was in his Ward. Lilligren explained that he “respected the process” of the first zoning plan. Carlson wanted his support and the support of the neighborhood.

Scott asked if Lilligren was “lobbied” by Carlson at the May 20th, 2005 meeting of African and Somali businesspeople at the Shriners; Lilligren said he didn’t remember. Defense Exhibit 2 was presented, an email exchange Lilligren initiated with a neighborhood person (Shirley Heyer), including Zimmermann on the correspondence. The email included the following list of issues:

  1. Crime—he [Carlson] is interested in providing funding for policy buy-back time;
  2. Parking/traffic
  3. Rezoning

Heyer apparently wrote back saying “by the way, A. Sabri is one of his financial backers”; she also said other people should be invited as well as the neighborhood and explained that she opposed the zoning application.

Lilligren wrote back in May 2005 and said he heard Carlson had enough signatures on a petition and was asking for a meeting; he said the Sabri connection was unclear.

The meeting [with the neighborhood and Lilligren] took place in June 2005. Defense Exhibit 4 dated June 18, 2005 is presented; it is an email from Carlson to Lilligren saying something like “in the spirit of cooperation and at Lilligren’s request,” he was trying to set up a meeting with Heyer; he also said Lilligren’s secretary had said he needed approval from other people before setting up the meeting. Lilligren said he was confused by the latter part.

The meeting with Heyer took place at Me Gusta around June 28th. Carlson argued that Azzam Sabri was not part of his business, but he didn’t really change anyone’s minds. He did mention money for additional security in the form of a Weed and Seed program.

On June 30, 2005, there was an afternoon meeting at the Wolves Den (1201 Franklin) between Heyer, Lilligren, Carlson, and one other person [couldn’t catch the name]. Carlson again offered to secure “buy back” policing through Weed and Seed; he explained he was trying to build “goodwill in the community.” Scott raised the issue of whether Sabri “owned” Lilligren; the latter said it was untrue. Scott asked if Carlson’s partner [who had initially uttered the comment, I believe] had insulted Lilligren, and he said no.

Lilligren explained that he “respected the process” but had made up his mind about Carlson’s rezoning application. Scott asked him if it would have done any good if Zimmermann had asked him to change his mind. Lilligren said Council Members tended to respect “aldermanic courtesy” (the expectation that the Council Member in the area knows the most).

Scott then pointed out that Lilligren himself had had to ask for a variance; Zimmermann was on the Zoning and Planning Committee, he said, and Zimmermann had voted in Lilligren’s favor. As a Zoning and Planning member, Scott suggested, it was normal for Zimmermann to deal with this stuff.

Twelfth witness for the prosecution: Gary Schiff

Schiff explained that he was a member of Council representing Ward 9, which included part of Phillips. He is currently in his 5th year on Council; he began as an activist but had never held public office previously. In 2005, he was chair of Zoning and Planning; he was also on the Transportation and Public Works and Community Development committees. As Zoning and Planning chair, he also sat on the Planning Commission (he still does).

Docherty presented Exhibit 53, a letter dated January 3, 2002 from the city attorney’s office to the mayor. The letter dealt with the city ethics code ordinance; Docherty pointed out page 5 of 11, zeroing in on paragraph C about “gifts and favors,” and invoking MN statute 471.895, which said employees were prohibited from accepting gifts from someone doing business with the city (exceptions include campaign donations, etc). This letter was circulated to all members of City Council. [Schiff indicated he had seen it.]

Schiff was then asked if he was on Zoning and Planning when Chicago Commons was first zoned and when the requests for rezoning were made; he said he was. Schiff explained that the item was grouped as part of the consent agenda, saying that the Chair [Schiff] would compile non-controversial items together to save time. At the beginning of each meeting, he would ask the public in attendance if they had objections to the items he had placed on consent. Council Members, he said, have input into what requires a public hearing and what becomes a consent or discussion item. He explained that getting something off the consent list doesn’t require a vote; colleagues can simply request discussion at the beginning of the meeting.

Exhibit 61 is presented; it is the Zoning and Planning consent agenda dated July 14th, 2005. Item 3 on page 2 is Carlson’s request; it is noted that the Planning Commission had approved the staff’s recommendation to deny rezoning. At the first few minutes of the meeting, Schiff had asked for approval of consent items, and no one objected—there was no request for discussion. Zimmermann wasn’t there at the beginning of the meeting, but came in late; he did not request re-opening the consent agenda. There was no discussion with Zimmermann of any motions, Schiff said. He also indicated that he had had only one conversation with Zimmermann about the issue, and that took place before the Planning Commission had voted on it (on July 14, 2005). Schiff estimated his whole conversation with Zimmermann lasted about one minute; Schiff explained that he didn’t see a need for rezoning, saying most of the new uses Carlson had listed could have been done under the existing zoning. Schiff had photocopied a relevant page from the city ordinances and given it to Zimmermann.

The full Council adopted the committee’s actions; Zimmermann never had any conversations about the issue with Schiff (other than the one mentioned above) and was never “lobbied” by Zimmermann.

Scott began his cross-examination of Schiff with the redistricting issue, saying Zimmermann’s house had been moved into the 9th Ward; if Zimmermann had not moved, he may have run against Schiff. Schiff said he was familiar with the redistricting lawsuit and was aware that Natalie Johnson-Lee and Zimmermann were plaintiffs (Schiff said he had voted against redistricting on Council). Schiff was also familiar with the fundraising arm of the redistricting lawsuit; he had attended one fundraiser and gave a donation to a nonprofit working with the group on the lawsuit; he did not give Zimmermann the money (he said it was in the form of a check). In response to questioning, he said that was not a personal gift that would fall under the ethics rules.

He said that Zimmermann had asked him to look at Carlson’s rezoning proposal since Schiff was the link between the Planning Committee and the Council. (This was before the July 14th, 2005 meeting.) He said staff members often talk directly to aides about such issues. Schiff had heard that the neighborhood association didn’t like the idea of the rezoning; he was still trying to understand the purpose of the request. He said he walked over photocopies of uses allowed under the old zoning (he took them to Zimmermann’s office).

Schiff was on the committee when the property was zoning OR2; he went back and reviewed old staff reports, etc. He said staff had instituted “tweaks and changes” that modified the original OR2 proposal to prohibit retail on Elliott, so he thought Carlson was trying to change that. He said it was unusual for a project under construction to seek rezoning; Schiff added that Carlson wasn’t getting along well with the city’s regulations. Nothing in Carlson’s application suggested a reason for rezoning to Schiff. On June 13th the neighborhood spoke against the application when Carlson said he wanted more retail and pitched the project as bringing jobs to the area.

Court recessed until 4:00.


Thirteenth witness for the prosecution: Lisa Goodman

Goodman represents the 7th Ward, which extends from downtown to the Kenwood area. She is now in her third term of office, ninth year. Goodman said she has known Zimmermann for about 16 years; they first met around 1990 when both worked on the Wellstone campaign. She considers Zimmermann a friend.

The prosecution brought up July 22, 2005, when Council discussed the rezoning application for Chicago Commons. Docherty asked whether Council Members readily second each others’ motions, even if they don’t want the motion to pass; Goodman said yes. She added that she always gets her motions passed and never has to ask for anyone to second them. Docherty asked her if Zimmermann ever directly asked her to second a motion, and she said no, saying it really wasn’t common to ask. She said Zimmermann never asked her about Chicago Commons.

Scott began his cross-examination by asking Goodman if she remembered the rezoning on the consent agenda. Goodman said no. She said she knew Zimmermann when he was on the Park Board and they both were active in the community. She said they ran across each other for 16 years; Zimmermann was elected as a Green Party member, whereas she was a Democrat. She said in 2005 there were two Green Party members on Council, with one Independent; the remaining 10 Council Members were Democrats, and there were no Republicans.

Goodman was asked to explain Zimmermann’s general philosophy; the prosecution objected to that line of questioning. Scott tried another tack, asking if Zimmermann was automatically anti-development. Goodman said no, adding that he had supported projects in his Ward and out. She said Zimmermann was not “knee jerk” pro or anti-development “as a matter of philosophy.” She explained that in Minneapolis, the Greens are at the center of politics—which, she said, put her to the right of the Greens. When asked if Zimmermann was a detail-oriented person like Schiff, Goodman said she couldn’t judge that.

The prosecution then asked Goodman if she was a member of Zoning and Planning in 2005, and she said yes.

Fourteenth witness for the prosecution: Danelle Sandell

Sandell deals with loss prevention at the City-County Credit Union. The FBI had asked her to look at ATM records for Zimmermann. She said only one ATM card had been issued to his account in 2005, and it was issued to Dean Zimmermann. Exhibit 50 [?] was presented; it contained records of city business, including monthly statements.

Neither attorney asked further questions.


Fifteenth witness for the prosecution: Jennifer Khan

Khan has been an FBI agent since November 2005; 4-5 years before that, she was a fraud investigator at an Indiana bank. She is familiar with the ATM records and the agent assigned to this case. Exhibit 51 was presented; it was a document she prepared, summarizing the previous documents [those in Exhibit 50? Not sure I’ve gotten the numbers right here]. Docherty called attention to the first page of Exhibit 50, which is an account statement of ATM usage. Page 1 of her summary shows records of Zimmermann’s ATM use from January to April 2005:

January 4 withdrawals $360 (total)

Feb 9 withdrawals $960

March 7 withdrawals $700

April 5 withdrawals $540

At around June 14th, 2005, she said, there was a change in his ATM usage:

May 7 withdrawals $760

June 3 withdrawals $300

June 11 1 withdrawal $100

July 1 withdrawal $40

August 1 withdrawal $100

September 4 withdrawals $400 (first withdrawal: Sept. 12)

Neither attorney had further questions.

Court recessed until 9:30 on Friday, August 4, 2006

Once the jury left the room, the two attorneys argued their case to the judge regarding 404B (involving the admissibility of additional evidence regarding the “straw man” candidate Zimmermann admitted his campaign had run in the primary).

The prosecution argued the issue was relevant to the question of intent, saying it formed a larger picture [the last few words are mine here]. Docherty argued that the issue was similar to the campaign contributions, the $400-$500 for young campaign workers (he argued there was no real intent to bring on these campaign workers—Zimmermann was trying to pad his own pocket). He seemed to argue for subpoenaing Robert Gorham, saying he was a Zimmermann campaign worker, and his candidacy was not the result of his own aspirations; instead, his actions were done to gain valuable political evidence on voter patterns, etc.

Judge Montgomery asked Docherty why testimony wasn’t cumulative. He said Gorham wasn’t identified as a Zimmermann campaign worker, even though everyone on the campaign was aware of his actions. He said the issue “fleshes out” the ties to the sham candidacy; he said it was part of an “operative technique,” improper if not illegal.

At this point, someone [Judge Montgomery or Scott] suggested the issue was collateral to the case. Docherty argued that it wasn’t; he said it was appropriate [I didn’t capture the reasoning here].

Judge Montgomery said it was not admissible to show character defect. Docherty argued it’s a modus operandi. He said it [the sham candidacy] allowed Zimmermann to gain something of value. [I think the judge suggested here that Lilligren would also have benefited from the information supplied by the primary.]

The defense argued that the charge was bribery—money for favors done, or accepting something of value in exchange for services rendered. He said the sham candidacy was an “unseemly act” but that it was not directly relevant to the charges. He said the prosecution hadn’t shown that Zimmermann had an intention to violate state campaign laws nor had they shown that it was wrongful. He said it was a legitimate campaign tactic and its introduction was designed to influence the passion and prejudice of the jury; it had nothing to do with the charge.

Judge Montgomery said she would rule on the issue the next day.

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