Notes from the Zimmermann trial
The usual 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 6: Monday, August 7, 2006
I arrived at the courtroom 15 minutes late today; as it turned out, I couldn’t have missed a more important 15 minutes of testimony. [sorry, folks, it was a Monday…] Tom Taylor was the seventh witness for the defense (at 9:30am).
Apparently Taylor, one of the plaintiffs for FREE, testified that Zimmermann had attempted to give him a check in the summer of 2005 for the redistricting suit [I’m assuming it was for $5000—the amount of money Carlson had given to Zimmermann].
[The information in the paragraph above was taken from conversations I had that morning with Randy Furst of the Strib and Brandt Williams of MPR. I also spoke briefly with Zimmermann.]
Eighth witness for the defense: Annie Young
Annie Young began her testimony by explaining that she has served as an at-large Commissioner elected to the
The defense attorney asked Young if she had been active in political affairs; Young said she was a former Democrat, now a member of the Green Party. She served as a paid staffer for Jesse Jackson, was elected to the Green Party’s coordinating committee, and more. Scott asked Young if Zimmermann was also involved in politics; she said yes, adding that they had both been members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), involved in the NSP protest, etc.—they had been “in the trenches” together for many years. Young said Zimmermann was “instrumental” in raising her 34 year-old son, mentoring him in crafts and other skills; her son is now a solar installer.
Scott asked Young “as part of politics, do you have to raise money?” and Young replied, “that’s what campaigning is all about, that’s what non-profits are about.” She said Zimmermann was instrumental in raising money for Nader; Zimmermann, she said, was always the one who “passed the hat,” the one who raised money. She said he raised money for her personally so she could survive for five months one time when she had surgery.
Scott then asked Young if she was present at Zimmermann’s birthday party the previous summer. She said no, that she had arrived late. He asked her if she was a plaintiff in the redistricting lawsuit, and she replied no; she said she had had problems with the lawsuit “because of this reason”—she explained that she didn’t know where the money [to pay for the lawsuit] would come from. Young said she and Zimmermann had a discussion about it last summer.
At this point the prosecution objected to Young’s comment, saying it was hearsay. The objection was sustained by the judge.
In response to questions from Scott, Young explained that she had never seen the money [for the redistricting lawsuit] herself.
There was no cross-examination by the prosecution.
Ninth witness for the defense: Michael Cavlan
[Judge Montgomery had some trouble pronouncing Cavlan’s name; Cavlan corrected her.]
Cavlan explained that he works as a nurse at
When asked if he was present at the fundraiser in June, Cavlan said he was, and that it was a lot of fun. Scott asked him about Zimmermann’s comment, “money, money, money,” and Cavlan laughed, saying they had even used the expression during Zimmermann’s campaign. He explained that Zimmermann stood up and addressed the crowd at the June 6th fundraiser; someone had asked what they could do and, typical of Zimmermann, held his hand out for campaign donations.
Scott asked Cavlan about the redistricting; he replied, “you mean the gerrymandering?” He said he was aware of it and was familiar with FREE. The defense attorney then asked Cavlan if he and Zimmermann had had a conversation about redistricting. He said yes, adding they had talked somewhat about FREE, too. Scott asked him if the conversation about redistricting had taken place in the summer of 2005, and Cavlan said it had. Scott asked if Cavlan knew about fundraising, and he said yes. [I think the prosecution again objected to Cavlan’s arguments as “hearsay”; I believe Judge Montgomery sustained this objection, too.]
Docherty had no questions for Cavlan.
Tenth witness for the defense: Gregory Russell Swedlund
Swedlund explained that he has worked at Clausen’s Service at 1st and Franklin for almost 15 years. He said he knew Zimmermann from
Scott asked if Zimmermann had ever brought his own car to him, and Swedlund said half a dozen times, adding that Zimmermann “never asked for a ‘deal.’”
Docherty then asked Swedlund, “you weren’t at the Baja on June 14th?” Swedlund said no. The prosecuting attorney then asked, “or at the condo meeting?” Swedlund said no. “At Franklin Avenue Station?” Swedlund again said no. “Not at [Zimmermann’s] on August 31st?” Swedlund repeated no. “So you had no firsthand knowledge of the meetings that are relevant to this case?” The defense objected; Judge Montgomery sustained the objection. Docherty then asked, “So you were not at any of the meetings I brought up?” Swedlund replied that he was not.
Eleventh witness for the defense: Todd Christian Johnson
In response to the defense’s questions, Johnson explained that he is a restaurant owner in
When asked if he had had any dealings with the city, Johnson explained that dealing with the city was lots of work the first time, but the process is clear: he said the city “breaks it down,” but it is important to notify your Council Member of your intentions.
Johnson said he worked with Zimmermann on a parking variance for the Bad Waitress: he said the city was requiring him to have 27 spots, which he claimed was “ridiculous.” He and Zimmermann worked with the city to get the amount reduced to a “rational” number—from 27 to 4. (He explained that they got bike racks to count as parking stalls.) He said Zimmermann dealt with him fairly, adding that Zimmermann is a “super nice guy.” He added that “this whole thing is ridiculous,” to which the prosecution objected. Judge Montgomery sustained the objection.
There was no cross-examination from the prosecution.
The court recessed at around 10:15.
Before the jury returned to the courtroom, the prosecution raised the issue of Rule 403 with the judge. If I understood the objection correctly, Docherty was arguing that Scott needed to limit the number of witnesses who were not present at any of the meetings involved in this case, saying some of their testimony was “irrelevant” or “repetitive.”
[Here’s what the Legal Information Institute at
“Rule 403. Exclusion of Relevant Evidence on Grounds of Prejudice, Confusion, or Waste of Time
Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.”]
Scott argued that the government is the “creator” of counts 1-3, saying the prosecution supplied the witnesses and the script. The issue was whether money was being delivered in return for official acts. He said there were two primary questions that must be asked: (1) Does the defendant normally ask for money? (2) Since the government provided the means and the opportunity, was the defendant predisposed? Scott argued that the evidence he was presenting spoke to predisposition. He said the defense’s argument was that Zimmermann didn’t ask the government’s client for anything until the latter raised the issue—so essentially Zimmermann was entrapped. He said he had 12-13 witnesses whose testimony would address that issue—that Zimmermann was not predisposed to provide anything in return, including in count 4.
The judge said something to Scott about the point at which this was cumulative. She mentioned that Scott had provided 11 defense witnesses so far, with 5 lined up to discuss constituent issues. The defense attorney said he had planned to call 7 more. Judge Montgomery asked him to limit his witnesses to an additional 3. [I hope I have my numbers right here…]
[Let me stress once again that I’m not a lawyer: I’ve tried to capture the discussion, but since I’m not well versed in the law, I may have missed crucial elements of this exchange. Please consult a transcript of the trial for full and accurate details.]
Before the jury entered the courtroom, Zimmermann turned to the prosecutor and Agent Kukura and asked them, “Truth getting a little scary?” Kukura shot back, “I’ve been asking for the truth since September 8th. I’m still waiting.”
The jury re-entered the courtroom at around 10:40 and the trial resumed.
Twelfth witness for the defense: Tom Reynolds
Reynolds is the Executive Director of the Whittier Community Development Corporation, which does business and community development. They are located at 2845 Harriet. As part of his job, Reynolds explained that he interacts with city government and is involved in microlending (the company serves businesses of 1-95 people and nonprofits).
As part of his job he has dealt with city Council Members, including Zimmermann. Scott asked Reynolds if some Council Members are more powerful than others, and he replied that those who sit on committees which deal regularly with the public (Community Development, Planning, Ways and Means) are probably the most powerful. He explained that Zimmermann was not one of the powerful—in part because he belonged to a minor party, the Green Party, and because of his “minor” duties. He added that Zimmermann was one of the better Council Members because of his “open door” policy; he said Zimmermann would “bend over backwards to help you.”
Reynolds said he had two projects that required him to work with Zimmermann: a conditional use permit for which they were required to do a complete site plan; and some dealings with Regulatory Services (their rainwater disconnect didn’t comply with city regulations). Scott asked if Zimmermann helped him work his way through the bureaucracy, and he said yes, adding that Zimmermann was always willing to talk, but unfortunately that was all he could do—lobby. In response to Scott’s questions, Reynolds testified that Zimmermann never required money of him, not even for his campaign.
The prosecuting attorney then asked Reynolds if he thought Zoning and Planning was a powerful committee and if he knew Zimmermann had been on that committee in 2005. Reynolds said he thought it was a powerful committee [I didn’t note whether he said he knew Zimmermann was on it].
Thirteenth witness for the defense: Linda North
North explained that she is currently retired, but had owned Log Cabin Flowers for 27 years (she sold the business December 23rd, 2005). She said
Docherty presented no questions to the witness.
Judge Montgomery asked North if she had cut flowers all over her house. North replied that for six months after she sold the business, she didn’t have any at all in the house. She laughed and said she did now.
Fourteenth witness for the defense: Susan Hunter Weir
Weir explained that she is Chair of a preservation group for Soldiers and
In response to Scott’s questions, Weir explained that she had worked with Zimmermann in his Ward as well as doing “logistical stuff” with him on the Park Board, getting speakers for events, etc.—and Zimmermann had helped plant trees on Arbor Day. She said Zimmermann used to stop by the cemetery and sit awhile. She also said she had dealt with Natalie Collins, Zimmermann’s aide.
Scott asked Weir if Zimmermann had ever asked her to help him, to provide cash or anything else. She said no. She said Zimmermann was an easy guy to deal with and has served as an intermediary in negotiations with the city.
The prosecution asked no questions of this witness.
Fifteenth witness for the defense: Patsy Lou Marsh
Marsh has been employed by the city since 1998 as a civil service employee. She is currently an administrative assistant but was a policy aide for two years (an appointed position that Marsh described as a “promotion”). She explained that administrative assistants often stay in their city jobs for years, but policy aides come and go with Council Members. Marsh has worked for Cherryholmes as a policy aide, serving as an administrative assistant for the clerk’s office, Schiff’s office, and Niziolek’s office before she worked for Zimmermann (from July 2003 to December 2005). Currently she works for Don Samuels. [At this point, Marsh volunteered something about the redistricting changes affecting the 3rd and 5th Wards.]
Scott asked Marsh what general duties she performed for Zimmermann. She said she was responsible for all scheduling, all constituent service calls (“triage”), explaining that she answered volumes of calls, especially from March to November, about things like problem properties, drug houses, people with water turned off. She said she’d sometimes do the research and handle the call on her own authority if possible. She said the 6th. Ward was an impacted Ward with a high concentration of poverty.
Marsh said Zimmermann’s schedule ran about 5 weeks in advance, so his calendar was quite busy. She explained that although she gets paid for 40 hours per week, she works 55-60 hours: she said she can’t keep up but works extra hours so she doesn’t get too far behind. Zimmermann’s office, she said, had a staff of two: Marsh and Natalie Collins. She explained that Collins was the “number two” person as it related to scheduling and phones; Collins handled problem properties and policy work (changes to ordinances); long-term, long-range stuff, including zoning issues (Marsh explained that she’d often “get the ball rolling” and hand the cases off to Collins). She said her own job was basically limited to day hours, but Collins and Zimmermann often attended evening meetings.
Marsh said she couldn’t speak for all Council Members—some are busier than others, some have fewer issues and easier schedules—but those in the impacted wards could easily work “24/7.” She explained that it was not uncommon for Zimmermann to begin work at 7:30am and work until 7 or 8pm. Even his dentist’s appointments had to be worked into the schedule, in addition to time allotted for travel—his schedule was quite tight, she said.
When Scott asked her about “regulars” who called the office, Marsh laughed. She said most of those were either community activists or those with mental health issues. She explained that she “had to give [Zimmermann] credit”: he gave time to everyone, even though as a Council Member he “only had so much time.” But if their office got a phone call, she said Zimmermann would meet with folks other Council Members would never meet with. She said Zimmermann told her it was his job.
Marsh explained that she kept her own community activist work separate from city hall, just as she did with politics. When asked if she got involved in campaigns, she said she couldn’t—the city did not allow campaign business to be conducted from the office.
Marsh acknowledged that she knew Carlson, but didn’t know him until he started calling Zimmermann’s office—“relentlessly.” She added that she didn’t like him, that he was rude and at one point had insinuated she wasn’t giving Zimmermann his messages. She said he called “4, 5, 6 times” in the morning and afternoon—so much that she stopped putting a record of his calls in the call log, describing him as “obnoxious” and “a pest.” Scott asked if Carlson had received different treatment than others—the prosecution objected to this wording, so Scott asked whether Carlson was ever in the office. Marsh said she couldn’t remember. He then asked her if she was under orders to drop everything when Carlson called; Marsh said no, adding that Zimmermann would roll his eyes. Scott asked if she was under orders to treat Carlson specially, and she said no, that Zimmermann treated everybody the same.
Docherty had no questions for Marsh.
The jury took a 5 minute recess so the judge and attorneys could consult. The jury returned and 11:30 and the trial resumed.
Sixteenth witness for the defense: Gary Dean Zimmermann (defendant)
In response to Scott’s questions, Zimmermann explained that he was born on June 6, 1942 in Carrington, North Dakota [I think he said something about it being home of Jimmy Dean sausage here, but I’m not certain]. He explained that Carrington is located on the east side of the
In 1965 he got a job teaching; his wife at the time was in school, so he took more classes himself. He became active in the civil rights movement, was a peace activist as early as junior high; he said he was raised in the Christian church and was president of a state youth organization. He said he took the Christian tenets seriously; when he saw a Newsweek article on the Freedom Riders, he went to
Scott asked Zimmermann if he was about 21-23 at that time, and he said 21. Zimmermann said he was involved in the 1964 Freedom Summer, and had gone to
Zimmermann said he taught for a couple of years in
Zimmermann explained that he was an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War. When he wasn’t teaching classes during those years he was at demonstrations against the war, teach-ins, etc. During this time he built life-long acquaintances and friendships. He expanded his efforts to other areas of activism; around this time there was a dawning awareness of environmentalism, and they were discussing those issues even in the 1960s. He was involved in organizing organic farms (no herbicides, he explained—they were working on getting DDT banned, too).
Scott asked Zimmermann if he was teaching full-time during this period; he said no, that ended in ’71. He was active in the co-op movement and helped organize North Country, Seward, the Wedge—he said he “had a finger” in 90% of the co-ops organized in the
Zimmermann said he stayed active in the anti-war movement, including the protests with Honeywell and the cluster bombs (he explained that these were bombs filled with ball-bearings--designed to kill people, not take out tanks). He said that at Honeywell he was arrested with the police chief’s wife one time.
In response to questioning, Zimmermann said he wasn’t always in
His father was widowed and getting old, so he moved back home and worked in the garage with his dad, who was around 76 or 77 years old at this time. It was auto mechanic work, fixing combines, tractors, etc.—the kind of place where you’d take stuff nobody could figure out, but they’d be able to.
Around this time he was elected to the Foster City Soil and Conservation District Board. It was his first elected office, and he said there was lots of power there [he was being sarcastic]. He learned what “point source pollution” was while he worked there, though, and other terminology; he learned about groundwater pollution because they had to monitor it. Zimmermann said he was “controversial” there because he wasn’t a farmer himself. He was there for three years, then moved back to
When he first arrived back here, he stayed temporarily in a basement with a friend, eventually working with Northern Sun Alliance and environmental groups. He formed Heartland Data Co-op (desktop computers were becoming popular; they maintained mailing lists for progressive organizations and would sell the lists to other organizations for fundraising). He did this for a couple of years; other groups had more technology and were better financed, so they went out of business—he lost his job in late Fall. It was a snowy winter, so he made a living by pulling snow off roofs; he’d leave a card and a flier and in the Spring people would call him for rototilling, cleaning out their garages, etc. He eventually became a “handyperson.”
The court recessed for lunch until 1:30.
When the jury returned, Zimmermann again took the witness stand in his own defense.
In response to questions from Scott, Zimmermann explained that in the early ‘80s he embarked on a long-term relationship with Lynne Mayo. They never married; he corrected himself and said they never had a wedding but did have a marriage. They bought a home in east Phillips and moved there in December 1984: his wife was doing home daycare in their neighborhood. They made a choice to live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city: he liked it, and had friends in the area (all over south
Scott presented Government Exhibit 5 to the jury; it is a photo showing the house at 2420 17th [??] Avenue South. He and Mayo had two sons, Klaus (now 23) and Scogin [I think Zimmermann initially misspelled his name] who is now 21. The defense asked Zimmermann to explain how he arrived at the names of his children; Zimmermann said Scogin was his maternal grandmother’s maiden name, and being of German heritage, he had always liked the name Klaus.
Zimmermann worked as a handyperson during this time; Mayo did daycare until their kids went to school (at the Quaker school). Mayo eventually taught at the school; the kids stayed close for years, and Zimmermann said he referred to all of them as “diaper buddies.” Mayo also had a toy lending library that she ran out of the house: it was a poor neighborhood, and the kids in the area didn’t have much. She would have them “check out” toys as a way to build some structure into their lives that they weren’t getting at home; she was also trying to teach responsibility.
They bought a home on
His relationship with Mayo “deteriorated” and he moved into the duplex across the alley while he continued to work on the triplex; then he moved into the triplex and rented out the duplex. Both names [his and Mayo’s] were on the title to the first house: in 1999 or so they formally divided up their property (he got the triplex, she got the duplex and the “big house”—he said he wanted Mayo to have zero mortgage, with the idea that she could pass the houses on to the kids). He lived at 2416 17th. Avenue South.
Zimmermann served on the neighborhood board, started two community gardens on the block, and stayed active. In 1993 he ran for Park Board for district 3 (there were a total of 9 seats and 3 at-large seats), which is located in the middle-east section of the city (Phillips, Powderhorn, Longfellow, Seward, West Bank). He was endorsed by the DFL and got the paper’s endorsement (not lately, though, he added). Park Board Commissioners are paid about $800 per month, which he said doesn’t quite cover their time missed at work or the extra money for meals out, etc. He said there was lots of work involved--“hands on” work, constituent work, meeting with people at the parks to discuss issues.
Scott asked Zimmermann what the “recreation” in Park and Recreation meant and what they had jurisdiction over. Zimmermann explained that they were responsible for all the city lakes, riverfront, boulevard trees, water quality (clean lakes and rivers); they also operate six golf courses, baseball and softball fields, 58 recreation centers around the city, after-school programs for kids, men’s basketball groups, climbing structures for toddlers. They also built wetlands—he explained that leaves and stuff that would otherwise go to the lakes could be intercepted in ponds and wetlands before it went to the lakes, and the Park Board built a number of them.
Zimmermann said the Park Board met Wednesday nights, the first three of the month; they’d sit in a semi-circle, and if they needed to meet on the fourth Wednesday, they’d do so. They were responsible for a $32 million budget; Zimmermann served two terms on the Park Board, for eight years.
Scott then asked him about his bid for City Council: Niland, the incumbent, was retiring, so the seat was open, and Zimmermann had a successful first bid for Council. Scott asked him if he had run as a DFLer, and he said yes, but then said he had their “endorsement”—then he changed that and said “nope, that was the second Park Board run”—in 2001, he said, he had only the Green Party endorsement. Zimmermann said there were seven people in the City Council race for that Ward; after the primary there were only two; he said he came in first by a large margin. Scott asked him if the Council was a partisan office, and he said Park Board, no. The City Council “technically” wasn’t, either, but you could put three words on the ballot. Those words could be about your philosophy, such as “no new taxes”: he chose to put Green Party on his. (DFL, he explained, counted as three words.) Zimmermann said his opponent in that race was a DFLer.
Zimmermann explained that he took office in January 2002 and held it until December 31, 2005. Scott asked him if the job was full-time, and Zimmermann said 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. In 2002 he said he earned $65,000, explaining that it was the best job he’d ever had in terms of salary. He added that “activists don’t earn much.” There were two people on his staff: Laurie Kolmar [sp?] was initially his associate; his policy-aide was Natalie Collins. During the campaign, Collins had wanted to work for Zimmermann, but he told her that Annie Young really needed her help more than he did. After the campaign he interviewed 10 people for the policy-aide job; Collins was the “last one standing.”
Scott asked Zimmermann what his duties were as Council Member. He said they wrote all ordinances, created policy, wrote rules and stuff, did constituent service—they were the link between residents of the Ward and city government, the “link up” with people in the bureaucracy. He said there were several committees, and that Council was on a two-week cycle, with Council meeting on the last Friday of that two-week cycle. He said the most powerful committees were Ways and Means (budget) and Community Development. He said there were six Council Members on Ways and Means and six on Community Development; the seventh was the Council President. Zimmermann was on Community Development.
He said although he was not a “numbers kind of guy,” he was put on four committees (Community Development, Zoning and Planning, Transportation and Public Works, and Public Safety) in return for not asking for a position as Chair. [He also said something about trading Samuels for Regulatory Services, but I’m afraid I didn’t capture that point.] He said he held no position as an officer, that he was one of seven “rookies.” There were two Greens, one Independent (which he explained was “code for Republican” in
Zimmermann explained that three or four times a year, Council had an “off week”—for example, over the 4th of July. Otherwise, he worked every week. Part of his job was to prepare for committees—staff helped—and to do constituent work. He would help constituents “frame their issue” to present on the proper committee. He said people from outside the Ward would sometimes approach other Council Members; for example, many African-Americans from outside her Ward approached Johnson-Lee, and people working on environmental issues might approach Zimmermann.
When asked about the make-up of the various Wards, Zimmermann said the most concentrated poverty in the city was in his Ward and Johnson-Lee’s. He described the make-up of his Ward as “a quarter Latin American, a quarter African American, a quarter Native American, a quarter Anglo, and a quarter Somali.” He said it was one of the most poverty-stricken and one of the most diverse. He said it got a lot of attention from the city, and there were lots of people there (people with special needs, group homes, halfway houses, people just getting out of prison went there—he explained that more poor people go to prison). He said he had heard there was drug-dealing in the neighborhoods—for example,
Zimmermann then explained that the neighborhoods were officially recognized by the city because of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP); he said NRP brought about $20 million to be used in the neighborhoods, so each neighborhood would make up a plan about how to spend the money. Phillips chose a Native American project.
“Theoretically,” he said, the money from NRP was to be used in the neighborhood. So Council Members needed to stay close to the neighborhoods in their Wards and attend meetings, including neighborhood committee meetings. He said it was political work, but there were also block club meetings, groundbreakings, lunches, dinners, speaking engagements at business associations (“nodes”), meetings where he’d be asked to answer questions. He said he didn’t do door-knocking and fundraising except in 2005.
During his term, the redistricting process took place (it was done every 10 years); the lines for the Wards could be moved, but the idea was that there should be the same number of people in each Ward. Public hearings were held; a map would be drawn up, they’d invite public comments, and then a new map would come out: this went on three or four times. He said the last time, a map came out without allowing public comment time; for the first time, this map showed lines that moved two Council Members out of their Wards: Lilligren and Zimmermann.
Zimmermann then explained that when “gerrymandering” is done, one trick is “packing”: taking everyone from a group, such as African Americans, and putting them into one area, thereby diminishing that groups’ impact (he said Johnson-Lee’s Ward went from 60% African American to 80%). Zimmermann explained that he was “gerrymandered” out and had to choose whether to run against Schiff [his residence was redistricted into Schiff’s Ward] or move somewhere else in the 6th Ward and run against Lilligren.
People began to come to him about redistricting and Leventhal agreed to take the case. Arrangements were made to start FREE (Friends for Redistricting Evenly and Equitably) and raise funds. He said they connected up with the Urban Coalition so they could get a tax deduction for donations through the Urban Coalition’s nonprofit status; he explained that this was a “fairly common” practice (the group served as FREE’s “fiscal agent”). Dayne Walling was the treasurer; the lawsuit took place in 2003 and went until 2005. He said the statute of limitations expired this past week on expenses.
In response to questioning, Zimmermann explained that the fundraising for the redistricting suit wasn’t the most important thing in his life: he said it occupied about 1% of his time. He said the plaintiffs might organize an event, and mailings went out to Green Party members. More money was raised at the beginning, when people were more enthusiastic.
When asked about his decision to move into the 6th Ward, Zimmermann explained that he decided to run against Lilligren and filed the day before the last day of eligibility or somewhere near it. He said he and Heiser found a place in the 6th Ward but had been looking for a long time. Zimmermann said they also looked in the 3rd Ward, but found a
The jury took a short recess so the judge could hear the defense’s motion to dismiss.
[I did not hear this discussion, so I’m afraid I can’t report on it. Since the trial continued, I’m assuming the judge did not accept the defense attorney’s argument.]
Once the jury returned, Zimmermann resumed the witness stand. Scott asked him if he was married now, and he said yes, to Jenny Heiser. He said May 30th was their anniversary, but he had a little trouble remembering how long they had been married. [I think the judge looked at the year and told him six. Everyone laughed.] Zimmermann said he and Heiser moved to the house on
Scott asked Zimmermann about the bills for the redistricting lawsuit, and Zimmermann said they didn’t change much but remained “about the same” for two years; he said bills were sent to Walling and Shoemaker. Zimmermann said he never saw a bill himself until this court case. In 2005, he said the only outstanding bill was for lawyers’ fees. Zimmermann decided not to fundraise for the lawsuit while he was campaigning. He said the bank account for FREE was closed in 2005, the nonprofit shut down; they closed that account, too, and gave Leventhal the money. (Zimmermann said the account was closed around the first part of May 2005, but he wasn’t involved in that closing.)
Scott then asked Zimmermann about PRG. Zimmermann said he was living on
Scott asked Zimmermann how the development process was accomplished. Zimmermann said they ended up going with PRG, and it took place over 4, 5, 6, or 7 years. He explained that PRG was developing elsewhere, too, not just in Powderhorn or Phillips. Zimmermann said he watched the development progress while he lived on the block and from City Hall, explaining that he’d ride his bike by the area. He said phase 1, Franklin Station, was 4 or 5 houses down from his home. He said PRG bought 2410 17th Avenue South even though it wasn’t in the immediate area they were building in [note: I’m hoping I got this right—I can’t tell from my notes whether 2410 was the property PRG bought to trade Mayo or whether it was actually Mayo’s property initially. I’d urge people to consult the transcripts for accurate details in this paragraph]. He said the property PRG bought was near Mayo’s “birdhouse,” which was once an old church, on the alley. The PRG lot was on the alley next to Mayo’s home. He said they probably wanted Mayo’s other property but Mayo likely wanted too much for it.
PRG began to negotiate with Mayo to trade for the small lot. They demolished the house and left it as dirt; he said the area was crudely leveled, with no sod or retaining wall (he said both were on the agenda in the beginning). He said PRG had asked Zimmermann to help negotiate with Mayo (she was described as “challenging”). Mayo and PRG eventually worked out a swap: Zimmermann said he gave Mayo advice about what she should ask for. She lost her privacy fence and had to put money into the lot to make it look “decent.”
Zimmermann said he rode by the property on his bike each day as he went to work at City Hall; he said the lot PRG traded Mayo didn’t improve as the “fancy townhomes” were put in. In October 2004 PRG emailed Zimmermann; that email is shown as Exhibit 2. Zimmermann described the request for Certificates of Completion as a “courtesy,” adding that Council Members never had a duty to investigate the details of these Certificates: in fact, he said CPED used to bring a stack in for Council to sign, and no one ever looked them over before signing. (He said Barbara Johnson told him she didn’t sign if the city attorney’s signature was not on the documents; it sounded like Zimmermann eventually adopted the same practice.) Zimmermann explained that these Certificates were not a big deal; now they’re done by staff, not Council Members.
In response to Scott’s questions, Zimmermann explained that the dirt pile on Mayo’s lot was just sitting there, washing into the alley. In his email, he said the entrance to the alley “looked at little ratty,” suggesting that PRG had a responsibility to turn over the property to Mayo in good shape. He said the work could be finished later, after the arrangements were finalized, but he said the goal of putting in a retaining wall was so dirt wouldn’t wash out into the alley. He said by offering to help, he thought he was saving PRG a little money. After their response—that there wasn’t enough money in the budget for a retaining wall—Zimmermann asked them to drop off some left-over blocks if they had them, and he could build the wall himself. They never responded. Zimmermann said he saw Wetzel-Mastel later and she offered to give him the name of the company that PRG bought their blocks from. Zimmermann said he wasn’t prepared to buy them himself.
Jury recessed until about 3:30.
When the jury returned, Judge Montgomery explained that she had just returned from a speaking engagement where she had received “thunderous applause” [this judge seemed to have a wonderful sense of humor; she frequently made comments to put everyone at ease].
Zimmermann returned to the witness stand and Scott produced Government Exhibit 6 showing the property on Mayo’s block. Zimmermann explained that the railroad ties (shown in the photo) weren’t there in October 2004, and the property looked worse than it had before PRG purchased it. He said he had offered to help with the retaining wall—an offer he didn’t perceive as a demand in exchange for his services, but a request to help them “live up” to their obligation to Mayo to leave the land in a livable condition.
Scott’s questions then turned to Chicago Commons, at
After the FBI search, Zimmermann had Marsh do some research, and he discovered that Carlson had come in with Azzam Sabri in 2004 while they were making the Council “rounds.” Scott asked him if he remembered where or when he first saw Carlson, and Zimmermann said it wasn’t on the campaign. Zimmermann said he didn’t think Carlson was the kind of guy to lick stamps, so Zimmermann told him he could help by donating to the campaign. Zimmermann said that at that time he told Carlson about campaign limits; Carlson said he had already given, so Zimmermann told him about the redistricting lawsuit. Zimmermann said his memory might be incorrect, but he thought that was at his birthday fundraiser in June. [I think he said it was on the tape, but I’m not sure.]
In response to Scott’s questions, Zimmermann explained that he didn’t remember seeing Carlson at the groundbreaking [at
Zimmermann then explained that he wasn’t feeling well the day of the Shriners meeting [May 20th], but Heiser was urging him to attend. Someone called him at home and said there were no elected officials at the event, so Zimmermann said he got on his bike and went over there. He explained that he locked his bicycle to a handrail and went in; after a speech he noticed Lilligren sitting at a table, chatting with other people. Zimmermann said he didn’t remember talking to Carlson that day.
The defense then presented Exhibit 12 [?], a list of helpful city phone numbers with Zimmermann’s picture and Ward information on the back. Zimmermann’s home number was written at the top; the document was taken from Carlson. Scott asked Zimmermann if he had given the document to Carlson, and Zimmermann said he didn’t remember doing so, adding that he could easily have given it to someone else who then passed it on to Carlson (Zimmermann said he didn’t know why they would do that).
In Spring 2004, Carlson was “making the rounds” at the City Council with Azzam Sabri, owner of the Village Market; Azzam’s permits were mostly done by the time Zimmermann took office. Azzam had one set of plans signed by one person, another set by someone else. Zimmermann stopped by the market one day when it was under construction; he said it seemed like a great concept to him, to have an African market in the old Tasty Bread building (at 24th and Elliott or 10th). Zimmermann described the market, saying that when you walked in, it really looked like an African market; there were stalls with clothing, food, etc. He said there was a mosque in the building, and a café. In fact, he said it looked like something you might see in National Geographic: people were animated, and when they arrived, they were there for the entire day (hence the problems with parking). Zimmermann said the city assumes that parking is temporary--that people will do their shopping and leave. But the Somali mall is a social center, so it’s not just for shopping; as a result, the number of parking spots is really inadequate for this model (as Zimmermann put it, “success generates parking problems”).
Zimmermann explained that John Bergin (owner of Bergin’s Nuts) was co-owner of the market, with Azzam Sabri; Sabri’s son, Omar (who was in his 20s), was doing some of the management. Bonnie (wife or daughter—Zimmermann wasn’t sure) was the main person dealing with city staff: she was polite and “normal.” Unlike Azzam or others, she wouldn’t get emotional or rub staff the wrong way.
Zimmermann said the mall had different merchants, but he didn’t know how many. He said some city staff weren’t aware of stalls that were penciled in on the site plan (Zimmermann added that he didn’t think anybody really believed there were only 38 stalls). Scott asked Zimmermann about the crime rate; he said there was some crime, but not “through the roof.” He mentioned the Skyline Market nearby and said there were African Americans hanging out there, not Somalis. He acknowledged there was a shooting at the Somali mall, but said it was likely due to clan rivalries from Somali (he likened those to a “Norwegians-hate-Swedes kind of thing”).
Zimmermann said they had looked at a place across the street from the Somali mall for parking, perhaps another 40 spaces. He also helped negotiate use of the Girls and Boys Club parking lot nearby. He said the Somali mall reminded him of his home town on a Saturday night: stores were open late, people were hanging out, folks “yapping”—but every day was like this at the market. He acknowledged how this situation could be irritating to folks who weren’t part of the community that frequented the market. He said his office received lots of calls, especially about parking on Elliott (he said most residential homes in the area had parking behind their houses, but not all). He said there were several “regulars” from the neighborhood that kept calling: he told them how to apply for a critical parking area permit. He said the problem was that people preferred to call rather than take some action (he compared the situation to parking around a high school or university).
Scott then asked Zimmermann about Chicago Commons. Zimmermann said Azzam Sabri had showed him the site and told him he had bought it; he didn’t really know “that Carlson guy” at the time. Zimmermann said he thought the redistricting lawsuit may have come up in conversation with Carlson before June 6th, but he wasn’t sure.
Scott asked him how many people were at the birthday party—40 or 50? Zimmermann said he had lots of friends there and had expanded his base. He said the slogan “money, money, money” was planned (Lauren Maker was supposed to yell out, “What can we do to help, Dean?”). Zimmermann said it was not a new slogan; he repeated it as he went around that night. Scott asked him how much money he had raised, and Zimmermann said $1000, adding that he’d be surprised if it was $2000.
The discussion then turned to the meeting with Carlson. Carlson had arrived late at the fundraiser, after the speech. Zimmermann said they were both at the bar at the same time (after Zimmermann had finished the “official stuff”). Carlson “buttonholed” Zimmermann, who was circulating among the crowd. Carlson made some comment like “got that zoning thing coming up,” and Zimmermann said “how we doing on that?” and Carlson explained his situation. Zimmermann said Carlson brought up the redistricting on June 6th, saying “that legal problem, that lawyer thing,” and Zimmermann asked, “the redistricting suit?” Zimmermann explained that they owed lots of money for the suit; Carlson asked how he could help, and Zimmermann told him to write a check. Zimmermann said he wasn’t in any hurry for the money—after all, he was campaigning. He then talked to Carlson about the campaign, saying he remembered that Carlson had already given the maximum amount. Zimmermann said he knew Carlson wanted him to do something, but said he didn’t associate that with money. Scott asked him if the issue of money had influenced Zimmermann’s decision to help Carlson, and Zimmermann said “of course not.” He said he told Carlson to send an email to Collins or Marsh and he’d look into the zoning issue. [Zimmermann said something about not remembering the exact details, saying he has trouble remembering a phone number when he calls the operator to get it.]
Scott brought up the issue of the June 14th meeting: Zimmermann said Carlson had called him saying the Planning Commission had denied his zoning request, and he wanted to arrange a meeting. They met for lunch at the Baja. Carlson gave him an envelope containing cash; Zimmermann said he was surprised and was not expecting it. He put the money in his pocket. He got an email out of his bag from Shirley Heyer: this email was part of the Planning Commission aftermath. The Planning meeting had not gone well, and apparently Azzam Sabri had spoken at the meeting. Zimmermann said he gave the email to Carlson.
At that point, Carlson explained that Azzam had nothing to do with the project; Zimmermann said he really didn’t accept that explanation. Heyer had written the email as chair of the neighborhood organization; she was not in favor of more development from Azzam in the neighborhood. Zimmermann said Heyer wasn’t against Sabri per se, but knew about the parking problems at the Village Market and believed Chicago Commons would exacerbate the situation.
For his part, Carlson wanted more retail, Zimmermann said. Zimmermann said he told him that day that he would have an uphill battle and that he needed to work with his Council Member and the neighborhood association. When questioned, Zimmermann explained that this was not unusual: the wishes and opinions of the neighborhood are considered as part of the process.
Scott asked Zimmermann about the money, and Zimmermann said he understood that the money was to pay down the redistricting debt, from when Zimmermann had suggested $4,000-$5,000. Scott asked if that amount might be reasonable, since it was less than 10% of the debt: after all, although Carlson wasn’t a Rockefeller, he was quite rich and Zimmermann could assume he had a big house. Scott then asked if this was the same day Carlson told Zimmermann he had raised $28,000 for Norm Coleman, and Zimmermann said he thought so. Carlson, he said, kept repeating, “how can I help?” and Zimmermann had finally suggested he give money so young campaign volunteers had $100 a week. Zimmermann said he was just “brainstorming” at that point, since the Green Party was talking about setting up an internship program and allocating a stipend for each student. Zimmermann said volunteers would be paid through the Green Party, but it was a way Carlson could give more than $600 to help if he wished. Scott asked him if giving money but having it “pass through you” was not allowed in the campaign rules, and Zimmermann said “that’s what the FBI told me.” Zimmermann suggested he disagreed with what the FBI said, and he began to consult a document. Judge Montgomery asked him to limit himself to answering the questions and put away the document.
Scott turned his questioning to the empty lot near the Baja: there was a parking lot associated with the Baja, another lot, and some buildings. This area was subject to re-development; it was a great location because it was right on the light rail route. The area Zimmermann and Carlson looked at was owned by Sherman and Bartlett—each owned property at each end, but they weren’t exactly friends. It was clear to the casual observer that the Village Market was bursting its seams, and Zimmermann had heard that the tenants were unhappy with management. It was probable that a third market would relieve the pressure, and there was plenty of business to go around. The idea of locating across from
Scott goes over a timeline: on June 14th, Zimmermann had asked Carlson what he wanted [in terms of zoning]. On June 16th, Zimmermann got an email from Carlson but he said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what Carlson wanted: Zimmermann wasn’t sure whether zoning would really solve his problems. Scott then presented Government Exhibit 47, which contained a list of businesses Carlson said he wanted. There was handwriting on the upper half that Zimmermann identified as his; the handwriting on the bottom, he said, was Natalie Collins’s. Collins’s notes referred to “Lonnie,” and “C2 with ped. overlay,” etc. Zimmermann explained that he had spoken to Collins first, and may have written notes (such as CUP for shopping) when talking with Collins. Other notes were probably written when he spoke to Carlson (such as “on for July 14, move to June”). Zimmermann spoke to Schiff about this zoning issue to find out what was permitted and what was not. (Zimmermann referred to Schiff’s great memory for details, which Zimmermann said he didn’t share.) Schiff explained that Carlson could already get what he wanted with his current zoning (OR2), so he wasn’t sure why Carlson wanted C2. As it turned out, Carlson’s original request was for lots more retail than he had (so what he really wanted was to get back his original retail plan, but Zimmermann said he didn’t know that at the time). The restrictions were written in by Planning, so Schiff’s information was accurate, but Zimmermann said he didn’t have it straight at the time.
Zimmermann told Carlson what Schiff said, emphasizing the importance of working with his Council Member and the neighborhood. Scott asked Zimmermann, “Did you think the zoning change would accomplish what Carlson wanted?” and Zimmermann replied no. Zimmermann said he was confused: some things the developer could get “by right,” but Planning had set conditions on what he could do (the limit of two retail stores and the square foot limitation were conditions placed on the zoning classification by Planning). In response to Scott’s questions, Zimmermann said he didn’t believe he could get Carlson’s request through without the support of Lilligren and the neighborhood; he needed a good, clear argument. Zimmermann said he would have “looked like a fool” if he had gone in with the argument that Azzam and Carlson were no longer partners.
The jury was dismissed until 9:30 Tuesday, August 8, 2006.
Once the jury left the room the defense attorney, Scott, approached Judge Montgomery to argue that the case should be dismissed under Rule 29. Scott explained that he had two areas left to complete the record: first, he had presented testimony from Tom Taylor, Annie Young, and Michael Cavlan showing that the $5000 Zimmermann had received was for the redistricting lawsuit. He said he also had Mark O’Melia “on deck,” but as a result of the judge’s ruling [I’m assuming he’s referring to the limitation on the number of witnesses], O’Melia was not called. Scott explained that in the summer of 2005, Zimmermann had told all these people that he had money to donate to the redistricting suit. (He said Zimmermann told Taylor and O’Melia it was $5000.)
[I think at this point, the prosecuting attorney said the purpose of the $5000 and what was done with it was still hearsay, but I’m not sure.]
The second issue the defense wished to complete was the issue of constituent services. The judge thought 8 witnesses were too many on this issue (Reynolds, North, and Weir had already testified on the issue of constituent service); Scott said he would have called Mark Wellna regarding issues related to parking (Zimmermann had helped Wellna with a parking issue, assisting him in navigating the city system, and never asked for money). Sue Haas [sp?], of Open Eye Theater, would have testified that Zimmermann helped her work her way through the system and yet Zimmermann had never asked her for money. Richard Pruett of Aardvark Abatement would also have testified: Zimmermann had helped him, too, but had never asked for money in return. Steve Cramer of PPL had problems with parking issues and neighborhood opposition: Zimmermann had helped craft a compromise but never even intimated anything he wanted in return. Mike Hager, an attorney in the redistricting lawsuit with Leventhal, would also have been called. Hager represented a client with a nonconforming porch, and the city wanted it torn down. Zimmermann led the vote against him although Hager had argued in favor of this man. In this situation, Zimmermann had something at stake, but he clearly didn’t vote in ways that benefited himself.
The defense then said there was evidence for entrapment: he said the prosecution had not proven that his client was predisposed to accept money in exchange for favors. He said the witnesses would have made a difference. He said he had made his offer of proof, but he was not allowed to select among the witnesses at that point.
[The judge allowed the trial to continue.]