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Ex-Grand Forks council member ordered to pay $60,000 in damages after blog post leads to community leader's firing

MINNEAPOLIS -- A jury says a north Minneapolis blogger and erstwhile Grand Forks City Councilman must pay $60,000 in damages to a community leader who was fired from the University of Minnesota after a blog post.

The Hennepin County civil jury found that an "Adventures of Johnny Northside" blog post in June 2009 resulted in Jerry Moore's firing from the university.

The Star Tribune reports the seven-member jury determined that blogger John Hoff must pay Moore $35,000 in damages for loss of wages and an additional $25,000 for emotional distress.

Moore was hired at the University of Minnesota Urban Outreach and Outreach/Engagement Center. When Hoff found out, he wrote a post accusing Moore of involvement in a "high-profile fraudulent mortgage." Moore was not charged in the case.

Moore alleged the blog post was untrue and got him fired. Hoff contends the post is true.

Hoff's attorney said he would not comment until he spoke to his client.

Hoff made headlines in Grand Forks a decade ago as he ran for city council. He was elected the same summer Dr. Mike Brown defeated Mayor Pat Owens.

But within weeks of that June 2000 election, a member of his ward mounted a recall effort that had enough signatures by August to lead to a special election. In November that year, Lowell Stevens, who had lost by a few votes to Hoff in June, defeated him in the special election.

Hoff's abrasive, confrontational style, along with unusual activism, which included trying to organize UND students for impromptu news conferences on the street, contributed to his short tenure in office.

He attended UND's law school and moved to Minneapolis a few years ago.