ADDENDUM: February 6, 2011. This blog post was written before I and many others in North Minneapolis discovered what a disreputable con man character Don Allen is. I would advise anybody: Do not trust Don Allen. Seek further information about Don Allen from various online sources before having any contact with him.
Mike tells me that, currently, the task force has no chair. (I kept ASKING about this) There will be a meeting in the near future to pick a chair. In regard to the supposedly "missing" records, Mike says...
...he is in possession of the records, and there was nothing nefarious about their movement.
An Offer I Can't Refuse?
Mike is proposing a "sit down" with me and IBNN blogger Don Allen to talk about the future of North Side Marketing. This should be fun. When I applied to be on the Marketing Task Force--persuaded by Lisa Mitchell to go there and try--one source tells me Mike (and Jerry Moore) used phrases to describe me like "nuts" and "loose cannon."
"I SWEAR TO GOD," says this source.
But I'll sit down and talk with anybody and--as I hope I've made clear many times--this blogger for hire. Viva la sacre, viva la guerre, viva la sacre mercenaire. I'd be very happy to find a way to get subsidized to write even more stories about North Minneapolis while applying my theory of "market and romanticize the struggle."
Was The Housing Fair Adequately Publicized?
Don Allen is, meanwhile, airing more grievances about the North Side Marketing Task Force in regard to whether the recent Housing Fair was adequately marketed. This is what he said to Mike at 11:13 a.m. today:
Dear Mr. Kestner,
I am actually shocked that Ms. Debbie Nelson from North Housing & Home Improvement Fair told me that the NMTF was responsible for marketing and advertising this event. There was no effort put into placing a 100 percent reach and frequency program that would of (sic) cost the task force virtually NOTHING!
How can the citizens of North Minneapolis allow this to continue. Please call me. How does something like this NOT get on WCCO, B96, KMOJ, WLTE, City Pages, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, One Nation News, LaVoz, Somali News, Asian American Press, La Depernza, etc?
(End of Don Allen email)
Why Should A Marketing Task Force Be Afraid Of PUBLICITY?
It's a truism in marketing that all publicity is good publicity, though I think that's a truism that isn't true, unless you're Lindsay Lohan. But my main beef with the task force has been a lack of TRANSPARENCY. And here's my proof, Exhibits A Through C.
First of all, when I interviewed for the task force I was told NO, THE CAMERA CREW FROM 612 AUTHENTIC COULD NOT RECORD THE INTERVIEW. They were actually told to leave the room.
Well, great. Maybe the Task Force COULD HAVE BEEN in the Johnny Northside movie, but you can't really edit footage THAT DOESN'T EXIST. You don't see somebody like Connie Nompelis (No-bliss) from NOMI acting that way, but then again...cameras love Connie. Every day, in every way, NOMI is proving itself more cohesive and more effective than NMTF when it comes to North Minneapolis marketing.
(Connie was reportedly involved in the early formation of NOMI but I am unsure if she currently has a title with that group...I'm sure Connie won't be shy about telling me, though)
But back to my discussion of non-transparency on the task force, which was pretty apparent during my interview. I was asked--rather pointedly, by Mike--about whether I could KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT about stuff that happens on the task force. Oh, yeah, no sense publicizing (stomp stomp) anything having to do with the organization in charge of publicity! (stomp stomp)
The cherry on the sundae of NMTF media-blackout was when I asked Mike--at the recent Housing Fair--who was the chair of the task force and was told "We're working on that" and not given more information or explanation.
Why would such a lack of transparency be necessary or desirable?
To be fair, Mike DID give me a nice t-shirt with the NMTF logo--some kind of freaking leaf pattern, god knows what THAT is supposed to mean unless it involves scoring weed in Farview Park--and the motto "Creating Value Through Diversity."
First of all, "value through diversity" is not even original--you can find many examples of that slogan in use, all over the internet--second of all, the slogan is much more appropriately used in those other contexts, like a seminar on "Islamic Microfinance" than to be used to market--good god--A NEIGHBORHOOD.
The words "Creating Value Through Diversity" are words you would use to tell people not to have hate in their hearts, and try to love their fellow human beings. Fine sentiments...but this has little or nothing to do with convincing people to buy houses and become part of the fabric of a neighborhood WITH VERY SERIOUS IMAGE PROBLEMS TO OVERCOME LIKE, OH GEE, CHILDREN BEING HIT BY RANDOM BULLETS.
NOMI managed to straddle the razor-thin lines of political correctness versus effective neighborhood marketing MUCH MORE CLEVERLY with their simple "Get To NOMI" slogan, which encompasses both checking out great housing deals and having love for your fellow human beings.
Score: NOMI, 1. North Side Marketing Task Force, 0. But who was handing out the free shirts at the Housing Fair?
NOMI, you better keep up or NSMTF will EAT YOUR LUNCH.
Rumor, Scuttlebutt And Dark Innuendo
Meanwhile, here is some more information I picked up, here and there.
# I'm being told a substantial amount of money was paid to The Carney Group (click here) for a North Side Marketing Task Force Website, but the final website (reportedly) was never approved. I'm trying to get more info on this, because clearly there IS some kind of a Carney-group produced website, click here, but it appears to be rudimentary and incomplete, waiting for more content to be poured in.
# I'm told if one more person quits the task force, there won't be enough remaining to make a quorum.
(ADDENDUM, March 25: This information may not be true. Subsequently, I found some board members may have been added, or the bylaws may provide more latitude than my source supposed)
# The North Side Marketing Task Force is now trying to figure out how to form a partnership with the University of Minnesota and also harness the energy of "citizen journalists."
My main fear--and I've expressed it to Mike--is that a blog is kind of like a diary. It starts with energy, hopes, dreams, promise...then you go two weeks without writing and say, oh, geez, it's such a lot of WORK. So thinking a bunch of regular citizens will all become bloggers and promote North Minneapolis is...hmm, what's the word I'm searching for?
Madness. If you count up all the blogs in the world, the vast majority are in a state of semi-dormancy.
Kind of like...THE NORTH SIDE MARKETING TASK FORCE ITSELF.
(OK, now I see the logic...)
Where Do We Go From Here?
For the $10,000 paid to create a Northside Marketing Task Force website--that's what I'm hearing was paid so far--this blog could have written HUNDREDS of stories about North Minneapolis--gone to dozens of restaurants, taken hundreds of pictures, toured homes, recorded oral history. And--to keep everybody happy--I could have focused on THAT kind of stuff and kept out of, oh gee, neighborhood politics and scandal. (It would have been a big sacrifice on my part. That's why I NEED TO GET PAID)
Oh, that reminds me. I heard something interesting about Kenya McKnight and the Queen of England. See my next blog post.