Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Bullets In The Stucco" (A North Minneapolis Tale) photo

I had something to do with "Texas Jim" writing this story of scary gunfire in North Minneapolis, so I'm posting a couple sample paragraphs with a link to the source...

Here is how the writing of the story went down, kind of.

First of all, "Texas Jim" is the unfailingly loyal friend of Thomas Balko of T.J. Waconia and--as regular readers of this blog know---I met Jim in the fiery chat threads of Behind The Mortgage Dot Com. That was actually the first place I used the handle "Johnny Northside."

Jim and I started out very unfriendly but then warmed up to each other in an "agree to disagree" kind of way. I find myself forced to acknowledge some of the points Jim makes, without coming all the way over to his point of view.

For example, YES the prosecution of T.J. Waconia was political as all-get-out. But (I assert) they were still guilty as all-get-out. YES they were not the only ones engaged in questionable and illegal practices and many "little fish" who did a lot of the same stuff are getting away. Maybe even some "big fish" are getting away.

HOWEVER, (I assert) this is not a reason to let T.J. Waconia go free, only an argument that prosecutors should dig much deeper into all the mortgage fraud on the North Side, and let the chips fall where they may.

And, of course, I've raised my idea of "let the punishment fit the crime" and suggested Thomas Balko and Jon Helgason should serve their prison sentences in North Minneapolis instead of Yankton, South Dakota...using their considerable (albeit flawed) skill to improve our neighborhood instead of engaging in illegal activity.

I want to point out that, at one time, Jim helped to manage property for the folks involved in T.J. Waconia. However, there is no indication Jim did anything illegal and, in the course of seminars where Jim teaches about real estate, he reportedly uses what happened with T.J. Waconia as a sort of cautionary tale.

In the course of our discussions, Jim kept telling me how crazy I was to buy property on the North Side with the intention of making my home there. In an email Jim told me about the time he was repairing a house and somebody, like, SHOT AT HIM. I said to him, Jim...Jim, old buddy, old pal, you need to write that story about the "bullets in the stucco" and send it to me for my blog, because it's a cool story.

Jim, who is very unhappy with me about any number of things, recently reminded me in an email that I asked him to write up and submit his "bullets in the stucco" story to the opinion page editor at the Minnesota Daily, not for my blog. Duly and publicly noted.

Instead of writing it for my blog, (or submitting it to the Minnesota Daily) Jim wrote it for a real estate blog to which he contributes regularly. In his last two examples of writing--this one included--one sees Jim is mad at Minneapolis (no doubt for prosecuting his friend) and he is going out of his way to throw bad publicity in the general direction of Minneapolis.

See, for example, this other article questioning the sense of suing lenders for "predatory lending."

Lately, (much to my mild regret) Jim is mad at me because--with overly-enthusiastic journalistic and blogger cynicism--I questioned the reality of the girlfriend he mentioned to me more than once.

Sigh. I'm hoping to patch things up with Jim and do lunch with him if he ever finds his way to Minneapolis. History shows I'll sit down and have an informative chat with anybody, including the devil.

In the meantime--not as a peace offering but purely because of my involvement in the story and its substantive content, I present to you (drum roll) a sample of the story of the "bullets in the stucco."

Bullets in the stucco, by Jim Watkins

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed small chunks of stucco were falling about 10 to 12 feet away from where I was on the ladder.

Completely unaware of what was going on I leaned back and glanced down at the material that had fallen to the ground and back up to the area it came from. I didn’t see anything out [of] the ordinary and continued on with the painting...

For the rest of the story, use the link.

I've heard a rumor of a house on my northern perimeter which may have a few bullet holes in it. If any North Side readers want to send me images of their own bullet holes, I will do my best to get that stuff on this blog.

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