This email arrived 10 days ago.
“Hey Joe, it’s hard to believe that there are only 60 days between now and November 8th. With so much on the line in the midterms, I can’t stop thinking about everything we need to do to get our candidates across the finish line.
Our congressional-endorsed champions are fighting to restore the Iran Deal and protect the civil and human rights of Iranians everywhere. Our state and local endorsed candidates stand up for NIAC Action values, such as diplomacy, peace and inclusive communities at all levels of office. … Our Joe endorsement candidates need your help. Will you pledge a donation of $10 or more so we can help our endorsed candidates get elected and continue to fight for peace and diplomacy in elected office?”
“Thank you, Joe.
Senior Political Adviser, NIAC Action.”
Well, not every day, but it seems like a day doesn’t go by that I don’t get a similar request from Jalali. The other day, I got a nice reminder about Grandparents Day. This has been going on for some time. At first, I didn’t pay any attention because I assumed that he was not our Mitra Jalali. There was to be another one. Our Mitra Jalali represents the Fourth Ward on the St. Paul City Council.
But I checked further. She is. Yes, our Mitra Jalali appears to be an employee of the NIAC, the National Iranian American Council, a 501(c)(4) organization based in Washington, DC, dedicated to “electing candidates who reflect our values through diversity activities aimed at. influence the outcome of the next election.”
I called Jalali, to no avail. You’d think someone who writes to me so often would be willing to talk to me, if he didn’t ask me personally for money.
Under the city charter, council members are “part-time” and are therefore allowed to have outside jobs. Working for a 501 (c) (4) is not necessarily problematic, but these types of nonprofits are allowed to engage in issue advocacy, including churches. Because Acting NIAC promotes political candidates, Jalali would have to recuse herself from voting on issues where her job/PAC is funding candidates or issues related to NIAC. So far, there has been no evidence that Jalali’s NIAC duties overlap with her city council responsibilities.
Now, I would imagine that the Iranian Americans are concerned about all Americans, safe streets, good schools, jobs, getting a handle on inflation. Closer to home, right here in St. Paul, we don’t just have safe streets, we have streets that are not even passable due to the poor condition.
A theme seems to run through NIAC emails and they are not safe streets. It’s all about what’s best for NIAC. For example, in the latest post, we understand that NIAC management recognizes the NIAC Workers Union and that through the union they envision a bright future for the organization.
There is nothing to suggest that Jalali’s work for NIAC in any way distracted her from her responsibilities to the taxpayers of Hamline-Midway, Merriam Park, St. Anthony Park and parts of MacGroveland and Como. Like NIAC, a great future is envisioned for Ward 4, and all wards for that matter.
Well, except for the crime. That we will have to get used to it.
Three NIAC emails came in while writing this column.
Joe Soucheray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Soucheray’s “Garage Logic” podcast can be heard at garagelogic.com.