News

Jazz Hall of Fame director faces lawsuit over breach of contract with Omaley B

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This Op-Ed is broken into four sections: Background, Omaley B’s lawsuit against Jason McIntosh, a timeline of events leading to the lawsuit, and Editor’s Opinion.  

  • Jason McIntosh is accused of mismanaging the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
  • Music Artist Omaley B is suing Jason McIntosh for breach of contract.
  • It is the editor’s opinion that impactful and sustainable investments in the black community can’t be maintained without input and oversight from the black community.

Published 05/27/2019 

*This article has been edited for more accuracy. 05/29/2019

Op-Ed and Analysis | By Casey McLerran

TULSA, Okla. — Jason McIntosh has had many financial scandals since taking on the role as CEO of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2007, seemingly facing no oversight, accountability, or repercussion.  

Background

Former board member Sharon Moore sheds a partial light on the lack of oversight in this 2018 report from Fox 23 News, who has been investigating for years the questionable practices of CEO Jason McIntosh. 

The report details that the Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame was no longer classified as a 501c3 with the IRS as of February 2018 due to not filling the necessary paperwork.

Moore, who claims to have left the board eight years ago, purportedly said that the others on the board did not want to be associated with the endemic poor financial practices and record keeping, plaguing the Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame under the leadership of McIntosh. 

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A google search of McIntosh is enough to illustrate the span and variety of his financial woes as CEO of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame. 

In 2019, this trend of reckless leadership seemingly continues to hurt the very artists and culture that this institution is supposed to promote, commemorate and uphold.

On a deeper level, this very situation is a systematic negative feedback loop when it comes to qualifying investment; or divestment — in black communities on a city, state, or federal level.  

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As plans are being unveiled to make necessary improvements to the Historic Greenwood District, much-needed improvements to the spaces and connective infrastructure for his are required. 

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame was recognized by the Oklahoma state legislature in 1988 when it was housed in the Greenwood Cultural Center as one of the organizations meant to play a vital role in the North Tulsa Renaissance, a previous effort to restore the social, cultural and economic health to the historically black community. 

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The move to the Union Depot building was an investment in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame by Tulsa County Industrial Authority. 

The organization, that partnered with the Greenwood Cultural Center to educate and promote Oklahoma’s black music traditions, was moved off of Greenwood and given a 99-year lease for 1$ a year at the Art Deco styled-building (the Jazz Depot), located on 1st and Cincinnati.

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It was purchased from the Williams Corporation by the city and renovated into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame with a $4 million allotment from the Vision 2025 funds, a friendly and agreeable investment by the Tulsa County Industrial Authority.

The $1, a year lease of a remodeled and historic building, was meant to promote the past, present and future of black musical traditions, which also serves as a more accurate physical representation of the footprint of Greenwood pre-urban renewal. Sadly, its unacceptably-held, current leadership tarnishes that gesture. 

While we watch our city government, as well as local and national philanthropist in the late hour, buy large scale investments attached to organizational overhaul, our black institutions — built by our Tulsa black community leaders — must examine the trajectory of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame. 

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Importantly, as a concept and in actuality, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame was successfully brought to fruition by our black community leaders and representatives.

The institution was an integral part of popular downtown festivals in the ’90s and worked closely with the Greenwood Cultural Center to provide a more vibrant sense of community for all Tulsans.

The gesture of the Union Depot building investment has yet to net positive results for the city as a whole.

It was created on a model of success and given the financial freedom of a historical and prominent downtown building for 1$ a year, leaving operating costs and community programming as its only expense. 

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Even more troubling is the fact that as an institution, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame was created by Tulsa’s black community to enrich their past, present, and future within Tulsa and America. 

Now it is, unfortunately, and to all appearances, an organization that projects the appearance of giving reverence to black culture, all while McIntosh is ineffectual CEO at best and destructive at worst for the institution. 

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The investment by the city and the physical move away from Greenwood District created leverage for an organizational change, which left the institution of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame vulnerable to mismanagement of funds and reputation. 

The physical distance from the black community and frustrating management practices that caused the board members to resign has allowed repeated unchecked cracks to chip away at the integrity of what was meant to be just one symbol of reparations of the past injustices done to Tulsa’s black community. 

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Omaley B’s Lawsuit Against Jason MacIntosh

Performing artist Bertrick Bailey, also known as Omaley B, is currently pursuing litigation against Jason McIntosh for failing to fulfill his contractual obligations. 

“I love the Jazz Hall Of Fame. It’s beautiful what it does for the black community. I did not want to get into litigation with the Jazz Hall — just Jason McIntosh.” 

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As an R&B/Pop/Soul performer, and event coordinator with deep roots in the Greenwood area, Omaley B is precisely the type of citizen that philanthropist and investors in the arts sector, as relates to the black community and their culture, is supposed to empower.

Unfortunately, Omaley B’s encounters with the CEO seem to be that McIntosh is a force of inertia, negatively affecting Omaley B’s creative and community endeavors. 

That’s to say that McIntosh’s practices are seemingly stymying the growth for black entrepreneurship in the local entertainment business for black artists.  

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Timeline of Events

Omaley B signed a contract with the Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame Venue in the first week of January 2019. Upon signing the contract, Omaley immediately began selling tickets for his Friday, February 8, 2019 performance. 

Shortly after, McIntosh informed Omaley B that there was an issue with the date scheduled. 

Omaley B agreed to accommodate the change of date at the last minute for McIntosh but asked for compensation in the amount $3,800, as well as, two subsequent dates.

McIntosh agreed and signed the contract, detailing the change of the original event date as well as the stated compensation for the change. 

Although the contract detailed that payment was to be received upon the signing of the new contract, the first payment of $1900 was paid until February 7, 2019, a few days before the first performance. 

Before the late payment was made, Omaley B confronted McIntosh about his contractual obligations. As a result, McIntosh purportedly threatened to cancel the event and delay payment for the remainder of the year. 

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The remaining $1,900 and confirmation on the third date at the venue promised in the contract has yet to be fulfilled by McIntosh. 

Omaley B feels as though McIntosh is enabled to take advantage of artists and the community through his position.

“Is it because I’m black, do you think I don’t have the funds to defend myself legally…I do have the money. I do have the knowledge. I do have the resources,” Omaley B said in frustration.

 

Editor’s Opinion and Analysis

In reality, it is not personal racism that allows McIntosh to feel empowered in his mediocrity and subsequent oppression of the very people his position and the institution he heads is supposed to empower.

It is the systemic indifference to a man’s faults and failures whether intentional or accidental, that we call ‘white privilege.’

It is the institutionalized-mindset that investment in the black community coming from outside of the black community is only given with oversight from outside of the black community that insulates McIntosh from repercussion.

Real investment in the black community creates impactful and lasting improvements for all citizens.

In such a simple way, imposing outside leadership on to a community because you hold the bank is a model designed to fail long term.

Impactful and sustainable investments in the black community can’t be maintained without input and oversight from the black community in the form of meaningful and authoritative leadership. 

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Bertrick ‘OmaleyB’ Bailey’s current litigation illustrates a design flaw in what is effectively the scale model for what we are are about to undergo in the Historic Greenwood District, and I will take this opportunity to ask our community leaders to troubleshoot this issue now while we have time to build a solution into our future plans.

We uphold an idea that an institution built by the black community, which thrived under black leadership, would cease to exist if we don’t protect the cyclic structure of privilege and oppression when we protect or excuse the malpractices of white leadership leveraged in by way of substantial investment.

We silently agree that we cannot be accountable for the amounts of money needed for the projects we know are valuable to our community when we allow stipulations of long-term outside leadership to be attached to those funds. 

We devalue the work and passion of community members like Omaley B when we allow the leadership of our institutions to be handed over in exchange for financial investments as well as remove the possibility for qualified and passionate citizens like Omaley B to take ownership of the leadership roles in their communities.


19756604_1475447629181272_7992725025925219413_nCasey McLerran is the Literary Editor at the Black Wall Street Times. She is a Sooner State transplant from Forest Hills, NY. McLerran arrived in Oklahoma at the age of three shortly after gentrification displaced her and her family out of their home in New York. At first glance, many think they have McLerran figured out. To be frank, she’s a biracial American young woman that unapologetically embraces her half-African identity — a feminist-womanist she is. Her pen operates as her voice as well as her sword. Her accolades include the 2018 Rural Oklahoma Poetry Museum’s Oklahoma Poem Award, a business management degree, and her three beautiful children. Her objective with the Black Wall Street Times is to elevate and amplify the literary art of modern black American culture, pay tribute to African-American literary trailblazers, all while simultaneously linking and introducing children to the world of colorful American writers.

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