Sunday, May 31, 2009

Baby Avery's Mommies' House On Beautiful Jordan Pond, In NoMi....

Photos By John Hoff

Baby Avery is the daughter of Jacqui and Alexis, and is surely one of the most fortunate babies in the world, because she has the love of TWO mommies. To have the pure, gentle love of ONE mother is to have the love of a goddess, so imagine having TWO mothers.

The mommies live on the Jordan Pond, where they snapped up a bargain on a house and then poured in very large amount of money to renovate the home....

Some of the renovation included replacing 35 windows approximately, and redoing the fireplace in slate. The old fireplace is still there, reportedly, beneath the modern slate. A piece of art created by one of the mommies hangs over the is very feminine and kind of reminds me of bubbles.

The home could be featured, quite easily, in one of those "beautiful house" magazines ...everything is perfect, comfortable, lush...and then in the midst of this perfection is even MORE perfection: Baby Avery's toys, Baby Avery's stuff and supplies, pictures of Baby Avery, and Baby Avery Herself toddling in the middle of the beautiful house.

All is not peaceful or perfect for the mommies, however. They are part of the "Pro City" movement fighting to turn the area around, and bad stuff has happened in the past. There was the time a guy running from the police leaped into their fenced yard, while one of the mommies stood there, child in her arms, feeling rage and terror. Fortunately, she had their Great Dane guard dog with her at the time, an enormous canine with baleful eyes that seem to say, "Am I going to have to get into it with you, or can you just figure out how large I am?" 

Recently, there has been quite a bit of prostitution in the neighborhood.

However, officials like Council Member Don Samuels are working to make the area better, and there are small improvements almost daily. By the time Baby Avery is a teenager, she may very well live in urban utopia, thanks to the hard work of many people in the neighborhood, including her two mommies.

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood: Rank Odor Of Megalomania Wafts Through Courtroom As Ben Myers Takes The Stand...(Contains Parody) photo

So I'd better get this blog post done about Ben Myers' testimony, before old information begins to smell like rotten fish heads. However, it's pretty hard to write about Ben Myers under oath and NOT have it smell like something rotten...

Ben--who has been sporting something of a Mr. Clean haircut, lately, apparently the one and only way he can be "Mr. Clean"--took the stand and was immediately asked about an alleged "turf war" between JACC and (major city entity and funder) CPED.

Well, Ben said in response to the question--acting all coy, acting like he wasn't willing to use the phrase "turf war" but, oh gee, here was his ATTORNEY using the phrase--you couldn't call it a "turf war," exactly, but there was a period of time when no matter what JACC did, it was NEVER ENOUGH to please CPED.

Myers said CPED's loyalty was not to "the good of the (JACC) organization," but to a small group of Jordan residents: Megan Goodmundson, "the Wagners," and Anne McCandless. Poor Jerry Moore--he of the $60k salary with no college degree--was always being asked about "mundane and irrelevant" issues by "people like (Anne) McCandless."

According to Myers, he tried to get between Moore and "people like McCandless" to "handle that stuff." Myers was forced to deal with "a big volume of emails." Myers claimed he dealt with that kind of stuff "all day and got very little work done."

Myers had plans to get funding for the JACC organization, though, oh yes, he did. Myers floated a plan to "remit traffic stop proceeds" back to the neighborhood where the stop occurred. However, according to Myers, the 4th Precinct was "not receptive" to the idea and Council Member Don Samuels found out the money went to the "general fund," so neighborhoods getting a slice--it just wasn't happening. This was, however, one of "a number of ideas to sustain the organization," including seeking out private funders.

Jill Clark asked why it was necessary for JACC to seek additional private funds. Ben said he didn't want to "put all the eggs in one basket," relying so heavily on the city (which wanted revitalization, not a stagnant crime-ridden neighborhood) (well, Myers didn't say THAT part) so it was best to seek additional funding from other sources.

At that moment, in the court room, P.J. Hubbard sat and listened to the testimony, and used the time in court to multi-task. A pile of bills sat to his right, along with a booklet of Liberty Bell "Forever" stamps. Hubbard wrote out one check after another, stuffing the checks in the envelopes. I was tempted to call over Jerry Moore--often seat just several feet away--and say, "Yo, Jerry, CHECK THIS OUT. Watch what Hubbard is doing. THIS IS HOW YOU PAY BILLS ON TIME."

Ben Myers was asked about the January 14, 2009 meeting at which Jerry Moore was removed from his position as Executive Director of JACC. Myers said he had "no notice prior to the meeting there would be an amendment to the agenda to take up the termination of Jerry Moore." Here, one sees the cracks in Ben's armor and the Kool Aid cult fuel flowing through the machine:

In Ben's world, members of a committee can't amend an agenda. No, not after the (sort of) duly elected executive officers of the neighborhood organization have decided what is on the night's agenda, and it doesn't include firing poor Jerry.

Oh, sure, minor stuff can be amended. Sure. MINOR STUFF. But not something important. What's "important?" Whatever Ben says, though sometimes he will say it through figurehead E.B. Brown.

Plaintiff Attorney Jill Clark asked why the Moore contract didn't go through Bob Miller of NRP? Myers said Miller had "no jurisdiction or standing to object to the contract."

Ben was asked about Dan Rother, and Rother's numerous grievances, his constant requests for financial information. Ben said, "Mr. Rother is special...definitely special."

Well, I thought, Ben is actually telling the truth. Rother is indeed special. He's devoted, he's brave, he gives a damn about his neighborhood, and his partner loves him. Special, indeed. God bless Dan Rother.

Ben said Rother was "concerned" with organization finances. Myers claimed he "gave Rother stuff" but the requests for info became "hostile." Myers said there was a "volume of questions, complaints, animosity." Nothing could satisfy Rother. The hostility became "abusive," Ben claimed. Ben considered the organization "harassed" by Dan Rother's oh-so-unreasonable requests to look at the books while JACC was paying Jerry "Magna Cum Nothing" Moore $60K a year.

In 2008, Kip Browne became the Chair of the Nominations Committee. Myers said he wanted to put Browne in that position so Browne would "do something positive" instead of "complaining and moaning." But, Myers said, Browne used the committee chairmanship for "self gratification."

Sitting and listening to this, I seethed. I wanted to stand up and say, "Ben, we shared the same small bedroom in mom's double wide trailer, so don't think I don't know all about your--"

Never mind.

Myers--who apparently uses Jerry Moore as something of a benchmark--said Kip Browne "didn't do his job" on the Nominations Committee. Then--in a moment which caused confused looks to travel throughout the spectator section--Ben began to assert with a straight face that, typically, in the JACC organization it is the old board members who elect executive officers, which remain when the new board members come aboard.

I leaned over and whispered to P.J. Hubbard, "Wait a minute. Isn't that BACKWARDS?" Hubbard rolled his eyes, nodded, and paid his gas bill.

Myers was asked about his own term in office on the board. Unexpectedly, under questioning from HIS OWN ATTORNEY, Myers stumbled and froze up. He said during the last two years he's been "in a haze" from dealing with all the grievances and, gee, he couldn't remember his own term in office. Just a moment. Let him think...

Questioning came around to the voice vote at the annual JACC meeting in October, 2008. This was the vote which delayed JACC elections. Myers--who clearly lives in his own alternate reality--says the concern about delaying elections involved Browne not "doing a good job" and so elections should be postponed. There was concern about the "poor product" of Mr. Browne with the board elections. Myers said "We went ahead with officer elections to comply with the bylaws."

Asked next about physical "fracas" involving Jerry Moore on the night of elections, Myers said he missed the fracas because his vehicle slid on ice and hit a concrete barrier, with the car facing (ass) backwards into oncoming traffic.

Did you tell your mother about this accident? Jill Clark asked. The mother you share with blogger Johnny Northside?

Ben was forced to admit that--heartless and self-involved prick that he is--he never told our mother, and she'd probably have to find out secondhand after his testimony on the stand.

Myers said he communicated with Moore that night, telling Moore to go directly to the Myers home. That would be the Myers home where Ben Myers has let the taxes go for quite a while, now, unless he paid the taxes recently, who knows? Anyway, Moore went to the Myers home, and the police came there, too. Moore was not arrested.

Myers spoke of the "removal of officers" at the January 14 meeting, how it was "contrary to the bylaws." Myers said it was "eerie" to see Browne, an attorney, "pushing this violation of the bylaws."

You want to talk "eerie," Brother Ben, there's plenty of water from Lake Eerie in that cult Kool Aid you and your clique has been drinking. You sued somebody for filing a complaint with the State Bar Association. You claim to be the Vice Chair of the neighborhood association while you don't pay the taxes on your house. You take the Fifth Amendment when somebody asks you where the JACC office equipment is. EERIE? Take a look in the mirror, you cross-eyed freak.

Jill Clark introduced Exhibit 27 which--from the context--seemed to be the "Old Majority" agenda introduced at the meeting of January 14, 2008, the one the "New Majority" rejected in favor of their own agenda. The moment was anti-climactic. Jill Clark then turned over Ben Myers to the loving embrace of Defense Attorney David Schooler's cross examination, which bears more resemblance to a crucifix than a cross, and I say that as a compliment.

If Schooler were a boxer, his style would be to dance around if the other boxer is weak, put on a show for the crowd because, after all, they're paying money to watch a fight. This is the style he used with dear, sweet, sorely deceived E.B. Brown. But with Ben Myers--a much stronger opponent--Schooler comes boiling out of his corner of the ring and tries to land a hay maker.

Schooler handed Myers a thick bound document, and referred Myers to the bottom of page 78. The weighty document was Ben Myers' deposition. That would be the deposition where Myers said he didn't know what Jerry Moore's contact said, and how he thought the contract was at the "JACC house." (JACC headquarters)

Myers was forced to answer that he'd never produced the contract for the JACC board. That would be the contract for the executive director. The most major expense for the JACC organization. Never. Gave. It. To. The. Board.

"If we comb the minutes," Schooler asked. "Will we find reference to board approval of Mr. Moore's contract?"

Myers' answer was a ride on a slip-n-slide. Much can be avoided by complaints about the inadequacy of the JACC minutes. Does anybody in the Jordan Neighborhood have a LAPTOP? The Hawthorne Housing Committee does things a different way.

I'm just sayin'.

"By what authority did you sign Moore's contract?" Schooler asked. Demanded.

By his authority as board chair, Myers answered. But Myers asserted he thought there was indeed board approval for Myers to negotiate the contract, and he claims he had authorization from the board to sign the contract.

But is it in the MINUTES? Schooler pressed.

Myers couldn't say it was. He had to agree it SHOULD be.

As to the fight, Schooler asked, "Wouldn't it be grounds for termination to PUNCH somebody?" Myers--who picked up a thing or two in law school--said when he's asked a question like that, "My mind doesn't go to a place of answering yes or no, but a place of asking questions. Was it a case of self-defense?

I think it may be necessary to say at this point the next sentence is NOT parody: Myers said "knowing Mr. Wagner's history" that Myers can't say punching Wagner is an "inappropriate response."

Yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking last night as I sat around drinking and eating buffalo steak with Mr. Wagner in the yard of a neighbor near the Jordan Pond. I thought, "How much I'd like to just haul off right now and PUNCH THIS GUY." Don't turn your back on Denny Wagner. He's a total BACK PATTER.

Schooler pointed out that, during the termination vote, Myers didn't "call time out" and go fetch the contract.

"The full board voted on the side of Moore's termination, didn't they?"

Myers had to concede that point. Damn majority rule.

Referring to Exhibit 16, Schooler asked, "What provision of this contract would save Moore's job?"

Myers held the document up close to his face and spent a while looking...and finally came up with, oh gee, the term of the contract, the 3 year period.

"Did you raise THAT issue at the meeting?" Schooler asked.

Myers said the board majority just REMOVED Moore.

Don't pull your hand away from the nail while I'm putting it in, said Schooler. YOU NEVER CITED THAT PROVISION, DID YOU?

Myers answered that he cited the ENTIRE AGREEMENT. That would be the entire agreement the board had NEVER SEEN and, indeed, some doubted its EXISTENCE. Some still doubt its existence, considering Exhibit 16 to be an ex post facto creation of Myers, et al. There's no proof of that. There's little proof against that, either, as far as I can see except, oh gee, the word of Ben Myers and Jerry Moore.

"You never brought the contract forward from then until the present?" Schooler pressed.

"It wouldn't have mattered," Ben said, and his tone grew whiny. "They didn't care."

"You NEVER EVER ONCE handed the contract to the Jordan Area Community Council board from January 14 to the present?" Schooler pressed.

Myers remained silent, eyes downcast.

How tragic it is when lawyers eat their own. Ben was pretty much Schooler's lunch at that point, or something worse than lunch, something so much lower and more foul.

Pour Ben in a bucket and call him shark chum.

"Let's move on," Judge Porter said, drawing the curtain on THAT sad little episode.

More to follow in the next few days...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: The Johnny Northside School Of "Aggressively Good Citizenship" Produces Two Felony Convinctions In St. Paul...

Mug Shots, Therefore In The Public Domain

A recent article in the Minnesota Daily, click here, told the story of a pirate DVD ring busted in St. Paul, in a dingy strip mall parking lot where one can shop at the Salvation Army and then purchase, among other things, cans of ant larvae at the nearby Asian food market.

Don't knock it until you try it. I tell ya, I've never had an insect-based food that wasn't delicious or, at least, tolerable.

In any case, DVDs of pirated movies were sold from plastic bins on the hood of an SUV, brazenly. The story is told by reporter...

...Andy Mannix, who was the same reporter who co-autored a MinnPost article--click here--about how the foreclosure crisis is actually HELPING REVITALIZATION in NoMi. That article spun out all sorts of interesting consequences, including Insight News launching harsh criticism at Council Member Don Samuels and Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes for, oh gee, pointing out the obvious:

The high rate of vacant houses is the best chance North Minneapolis has had in decades to move out the no-account thugs and move in better quality people. Those are my words, not theirs.

Blame me.

And while we're on the subject of blaming me...

I recently fired off this letter, below, to the Minnesota Daily with my point of view on the DVD pirate ring article.

And do I have a point of view?

Oh, yes, I was pretty close to the center of things and I have a point of view.

Here's the letter:
The article about the Pirates of St. Paul was well-written and informative, but a key piece of information was left out: this bust for DVD piracy happened because an active and involved citizen repeatedly contacted the Motion Picture Association to get an investigation launched.

Let me make it clear that I spoke to the reporter who wrote this article--a real top notch journalist, definitely going places--and more or less tipped him off to this story. Though I was initially reluctant to have my name be part of the story, because of worries about retaliation by the felons involved in this piracy ring--I ultimately told the reporter that I preferred to have my name published, along with the name of my blog, Johnny Northside Dot Com.

I believe in "aggressively good citizenship" and I promote it on my activist blog about North Minneapolis revitalization. While making trips every other week to visit my 11-year-old son, I often came upon the brazen video pirates at that dreary strip mall in St. Paul, selling their wares on the hood of a vehicle. So I began making small buys and contacting authorities, noting license plates and stuff like that. The process of getting an MPA investigation and then a police investigation was arduous. I practically lobbied this raid into existence through constant contact with the MPA.

Yes, I was the guy who bought and turned over the 007 "Quantum of Solace" DVD while the movie was still in theaters. (The DVD is mentioned in the article) I say these things because I don't think citizens should live their life in vague fear of unknown retaliation for cooperating with the police, and I also don't think articles in the mass media should give the impression (even by inference) that police are able to do everything on their own, without help and cooperation from citizens.

Maybe the reporter was being helpful and protecting me on his own initiative, or maybe space considerations were an issue. No matter. I'm writing this letter to say I WAS THE ONE WHO GOT THOSE NO-ACCOUNT THUGS BUSTED FOR DVD PIRACY, AND I'D DO IT AGAIN.
This might be a good time to point out the activist efforts of this blog are made possible, partly, through reader donations. Note PayPal button. Thanks.

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Murder Trial Of Edgar Barrientos, Ben Myers For The Defense... Photo, "Tears Of Blood"

Some days ago, while observing the "True JACC" court room drama to determine the destiny and control of the Jordan Neighborhood association, I ducked into the murder trial of Edgar Barrientos. Ben Myers--who against all common sense still proclaims himself the Vice Chair of the Jordan Neighborhood, rather like the Reverend Jim Jones proclaimed himself somewhere up there with the Son Of God--was one of the defense attorneys.

Young Edgar Barrientos is on trial for...

...bad marksmanship, actually, which SHOULD be a criminal offense, but it's tragically all-too-common among the gangster set; far too fixated on the romance of holding, posing with, stroking, fondling a sexy weapon rather than the dull utilitarian purpose of the weapon itself.

Barrientos is accused of shooting a young man named Jesse Michelson, but the record appears to show it wasn't even Michelson that Barrientos was trying to hit. No, rather Barrientos was a terrible shot and Michelson had worse-than-terrible luck. Allegedly. All allegedly. Just go throughout the text below and sprinkle in "allegedly" where it needs to go. Thanks.

So there was my twin-brother-in-Parody-World, public figure Ben Myers, sitting at the defense table with accused murderer Edgar Barrientos, like they were BUDDIES or something.

I say! Ben has been running the neighborhood association, (into the ground) defending a murder defendant in a colorful case, getting himself quoted in the big daily paper about the fate of the Big Stop there any doubt my evil twin brother Ben Myers is a PUBLIC FIGURE?

What twists and turns of human chaos: because Edgar Barrientos launched a few badly-aimed bullets several months ago, and ends up on trial for his freedom, testimony in another trial is delayed; a trial about the fate of a neighborhood association virtually LOOTED by Ben Myers and Jerry Moore.

Can anybody see, predict, know the random and fractalizing consequences of each tiny deliberate act? Obviously not, but there are some easy rules to avoid this kind of negative chaos: don't drive around in a car shooting at other human beings, thinking you're a bad ass, thinking you're ALL THAT.

Barrientos was looking clean and spiffy in a starched shirt, a conservative haircut. He sat calmly, without a great deal of physical agitation, but two deputies were nearby, never taking their eyes off him. At moments like this I think, "How would a person run, escape, dodge, make their way out of this massive government building and to freedom?" The best I've come up with: STAIRWELLS are very important. You can't stand around waiting for an elevator. You need to run down a stairwell, and you need to run like hell.

One side of the room was almost empty, the other side packed with friends and relatives of the victim, sitting behind the prosecutor like her biggest fans. Among the spectators was a young woman, tall and willowy, not unattractive but with a hard, hard facial expression. Her age was hard to determine (as young as 15, as old as 21) and she had numerous homemade tattoos on her right leg, all names, like everybody-signs-the-birthday-card. Here's a pen. OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU STABBING THE PEN INTO YOUR LEG?

Periodically, the young woman of indeterminate age would cradle a baby, other times she would hand the baby off to a woman who may have been her own mother, possibly the grandmother of the baby, but always the baby was cared for, fed. I never saw anybody cross with the baby, nobody less than gentle. Some of these folks were rough-looking people, but they loved their children, as decent people should. They should have never been here in court at a murder trial. The victim in this shooting did nothing wrong. He was playing football at a cousin's birthday party.

Ben Myers was asked a question by the judge and answered, "Your honor, we take no position at this time" in response to some kind of issue about adding the words "drive by shooting, murder committed in the course of..."

It was mentioned the defense had agreed not to refer to the defendant "by his first name only" during closing arguments. Yeah, like that would have worked. Nobody is going to convict a guy named EDGAR. Behind sweet, oh-so-innocent Edgar sat a woman who appeared to be either a mother or a sister. It was hard to tell. Sometimes my gut said "mother" and sometimes it was "sister."

I sat there thinking "Mother? Sister? Mother? Sister?" rather like that classic scene in the movie "Chinatown" with Jack Nicholson, click here and go to 2 minutes, 14 seconds.

The woman of indeterminate relationship sat directly behind Barrientos, wearing a sort of tightly knit fishnet blouse with shimmery highlights. I think she was trying to look conservative in the courtroom, but had some limited wardrobe choices. She had a new, complimentary hairdo: a lush cascade of brunette, with carefully applied dark blond highlights. It seemed to match her shirt. She'd taken care in her grooming and outfit, and yet the overall impact was...not what pleases judges in court. Not careful, prudent, conservative, socially-contributing. Just a bit on the trashy side.

Though she usually kept her gaze fixed on Barrientos, I never saw him turn once to acknowledge her. Self-centered little prick. Like he's the only one in the world with FEELINGS.

The defense attorney who wasn't Ben--looking like an alter boy, all grown up, every brunette hair in place--rose to say he had an "unusual request" which was "hard to ask," but he wanted to ask for the rules about children in the gallery, specifically in regard to the baby, "if it begins to cry."

Yes, "it."

Like the sweet little baby was an annoying, yappy puppy.

The judge--who said she has three children herself--said the baby is a "close family member" to the victim. Furthermore, in the last few days, though the child was often present in the court room, "I've heard nary a peep from the child." Her Honor agreed, however, that if the child cries in "more than a low murmur" that somebody must take the child outside.

In the hallway, I spoke long enough to some of the victim's family members to merely obtain the name of the defendant, a handle to figure out much of the case. I mentioned that I was only in court because Ben Myers is involved in another lawsuit, and the suit in question was about the neighborhood association.

A young woman--possibly 15, with a sort of an "A plus student from a tough background" personality, jumped into the spokesperson role, and said of Ben Myers, "Everything he says is just STUPID."

I had to bite my tongue to avoid answering, "Well, you are biased. That's not entirely true. There are times, for example, when he's quoting ME."

The jury came in, and for the benefit of the historical record I took note of their composition, which was 8 white females, 4 white males, 1 Asian male, one male who may have been Latino or white, hard to tell. They looked like this:

# The Total Hottie. A brunette in her early 20s, with a white scarf looped through her belt, trailing at her hip, pirate wench style. She wore a black dressy suit with a HOT PINK top. A lip curling look on her face during jury instructions seemed to say, "Oh, it's all so much to understand!" but could I forgive her flaws?

A thousand times I could forgive those flaws.

# The Grandmother. She sat next to the total hottie, keeping a gentle and helpful eye on her. In her early 60s, spectacles, actually sitting with her hands primly folded in her lap as though she'd been taught to sit like that, long ago, taught these things along with cleaning one's plate, laying the knife and fork just so in the middle of the plate in the shape of a cross. She wore a blue, long-sleeved shirt that covered her ample, matriarchal body like a tent, a white collar emerging at the top.

Voted most likely to invite all her fellow jurors to Thanksgiving dinner.

# The Freshman. A young man, possibly still in his late teens, certainly no older than early to mid-20s. He has reddish hair, a thin face and build. His face is not animated. He sits dutifully, as one would sit through classes not particularly enjoyed, but necessary. He's going to send Edgar to hell in a hand basket. You watch.

# Mr. Mustache. A white mustached man, white hair, wearing a blue jacket even though the room isn't THAT cold. He has a pen handy in his pocket. Something about him says "take charge personality," like a manager or foreman.

# White female hottie number 2. There was something familiar about her face and eyeglasses and then I realized...Oh. My. Word. If my friend Connie Nompelis had a sister ten years younger, this could be her. Same face, same hair, same glasses. Blonde, thin, very attentive. If she has the same attitudes as Connie, she'll put that little (expletive) Edgar away for life, and not lose a moment's sleep, though she'll really need a CIGARETTE after.

# The Hot Housewife. Mid-30s, white (all 8 females on the jury are white) with a long, lush auburn ponytail, understated gold hoop earings. Not Sarah Palin hot, but...pretty hot for (I suspect) a soccer mom.

# The Working Woman. Female, possibly mid-30s, jean jacket, straight blonde hair, not particularly dolled up. She looks tired. And, at times, another look flickers across her face: resentment.

# The Gray Man. A white male in his mid-50s, maybe, with gray hair, a gray shirt, striking patrician facial features. It is a character-filled face, like that of early American presidents. He looks like somebody who would be talkative, tell funny stories over beer, beer, hey, how about another beer?

Most likely to compare the defendant to no-accounts thugs from his own high school days. Sigh? Where are they now? Mostly dead or in prison.

# Mr. Blinky. An Asian male in his early 30s, he blinks constantly in a nervous way, chews gum.

# Mr. Five O'Clock Shadow. A white male, lanky, early 50s. He wears a grim expression. You would, too, if you were about to send a man to prison for a long, long time.

# Hottie Number 3. Shoulder length, slightly wavy blonde hair, black blouse. What's the deal with this jury? Did the lawyers use the drivers license PHOTOS instead of REGISTRATIONS? This is the hottest jury I've ever seen!

# The Working Man. A young male, possibly Latino but he could be white, late 20s, small in stature, casually dressed in blue collar plaid.

# The Bundle of Energy. A white female in her 30s, with an oft-changing facial expression, she seems not quite happy with the role of always being forced to listen, not talk or ask questions. She has short brunette hair, which seems to crackle with frizzy energy. Though she seems white, she may be one of those folks who can lay claim to some Native American background. I see opinons, questions about this case locked up in her, wanting to get loose.

# The Nun. A white female in a dark suit, with a dark hair covering like a nun or certain conservative Christian religious sects, black glasses. She looks like an extra in the movie "Doubt."

I sat through some of the final arguments. It was a lot of stuff about a car driving around and people aboard up to no good, about people with nicknames like Smoky and Scrappy.

My impression was the case required a meticulous piecing-together. Johnny Cocharan might be able to create reasonable doubt out of thin air. But take it from his twin brother: Ben Myers is no Johnny Cocharan. I'm the one in the family named after Johnny Cocharan.

Ben was named after...well, Benzadrine. That's really all I want to say about THAT. Honor thy father and mother, even if mom was doing A LOT OF DRUGS when she found out she was pregnant with Ben, too.

In any case...

Odds of Edgar Barrientos walking from these charges: 1 in 14.


1 in a BILLION.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Litter Patrol Gets Exciting Near The Jordan Pond...

Photo By Megan Goodmundson

In the heart of the Jordan Neighborhood is a lovely, peaceful body of water called the Jordan Pond, and some very "Pro City" neighbors try to keep things nailed down tight so the "pond scum" won't take over the pond...

Part of keeping on top of things involves constantly picking up litter. Well, about a week ago, litter patrol got a bit exciting. Jordan Neighborhood "super volunteer" Megan Goodmundson sent me this photo.

Trouble Hasn't Left 3020 6th Street North, Yet...

Photo By Jeff Skrenes

A citizen of NoMi who used to almost hide in her house, but now has the confidence to go around PATROLLING and calling in trouble, gave me some information a few minutes ago about 3020 6th St. N...

The house is boarded, but the front porch is NOT. And now what looks to be attempts to pull off drug dealing has been witnessed from this primo porch location.

When it comes to 3020 6th St. N., it's like a McDonalds. Months, years after a McDonalds closes, people hungry for burgers are going to be driving into the parking lot, saying, "Gee, didn't there used to be a restaurant here?" So it is with 3020 6th St. N. It's a primo location, and even boarded up, it's STILL a primo location. Especially with the porch accessible like that.

Minutes ago, an individual fitting the description of "The Sentry" (notoriously in the middle of everything at 3020) was seen leaving the porch area, and walking up to another boarded building at 407 30th Ave. N.

One citizen has apparently already called 311. I'll be emailing 311 when my STUPID U OF M EMAIL ACCOUNT WORKS AGAIN.

More Trouble At 2207 6th Street North...

Contributed Stock Photo, 2207 6th St. N.
I received this firsthand account on Friday, May 22, but I was (as I say around here) "backblogged."

It appears there was yet another arrest associated with the house-from-hell at 2207 Sixth Street North, the bane of the block...

Here is a firsthand account from "Restrepia Geek."

(I received word) the cops were after someone across the street from my house. There were a couple of squads, several officers and a dog looking through the yards on the other side of the street. By the time I got to the window, an officer was stuffing a kid in his squad.

About the same time, "grandma" from 2207 came walking down the street and strated talking to a couple of the officers. As it turns out, it looks like the kid they were stuffing in the car was that freaking son of hers--the one recently on probation from the raid at 2207 some time ago.

The police also found his bag of drugs somewhere in the alley between 6th and Lyndale. Good work police dog!

We think this whole thing started somewhere on Lyndale Ave. N. since none of us had called 911.

From another source, it is said this kid goes by the name "Tez" or his street name "Little Blood."

The weekend is off to a good start if we don't get windows broken in retaliation.

(JNS says: for the record, I didn't get reports of broken windows last weekend. But it is Friday, and THIS weekend is still young)

Readers, please keep forwarding these firsthand accounts.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Knowing my unrelenting dislike of unwanted phone book dumping in North Minneapolis, Jordan neighborhood "super volunteer" Megan Goodmundson forwarded a website address for a petition to stop phone book dumping. Check out

(Super blogger Ed Kohler of The Deets prefers the term "phone book spam.")

In the photos above, top to bottom, a phone book in the yard of the "Hawthorne Princess" owned by Realtor Connie Nompelis. (No-buhl-iss, it's Greek) This one is trying hard to become a tree again through oneness with the earth. Second, a "phone book flower" which somebody delivered to the front door of the office of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Association.

(Don't look at me, when would I find the time for THAT?)

Last, phone books heading from front steps to curbside recycling, without ever being removed from their bags.

HEY YELLOW PAGES AND DEX: Have you heard of amazing new plastic bags made from corn starch polymer? Breaks down in water and sunlight? (Click here) It's the least you could do while (expletive)ing up Mother Earth, you mother(expletives)!!!!!!!!

(Do not click "Read More," of course if you did it's not like any trees would be wasted)
Click keys, save trees.

Musical Afternoon At Garden Of Gethsemane Church, Jordan Neighborhood...

Stock Photo By John Hoff

I was specially asked to publish the following info...

Please join us in Cottage Park this Saturday, May 30th from 1 to 5 PM for a musical afternoon with the congregation of the Garden of Gethsemane Church. They have invited several other choirs to join their own and make a joyful noise together. For those of you who haven't seen Jordan's beautiful, award-winning church, please join us for hotdogs and music in the park.

The folks from PCYC will be on hand with information for their summer youth program in Cottage Park. JACC will be having a book sale of cook books and garden books (might be a couple of mysteries in there, too). We will also be taking garden tool donations for Sister Jean's children's garden.

The weatherman says it is going to be a nice day, so come out and join your neighbors for a fun afternoon. Cottage Park is located just north of Broadway on James Ave. It can also be easily reached by going south on James from 26th St N.

PICTURES: Party In NoMi To Help People In India...

Photos By John Hoff

Here are some images from that fundraiser for WWW.HAPPIERPLANET.ORG, held in NoMi to raise money for impoverished people in India. From top to bottom...

City Councilman Don Samuels, slammed as being "Pro-City" during the "True JACC" lawsuit over control of the Jordan neighborhood council, deliberately wears a shirt he considers "Pro-City."

In the next photo, some guys from an organization called "Turning Point" helped with the fundraiser.

Third...well, what can I say? He looked young, but Megan Goodmundson told me his ID checked out. Turned out this little guy didn't even want a drink, he just wanted to get registered to vote.

Fourth, Kingfisher brand beer, which looks English but it's from India. No crappy thug brew "Steel Reserve" at this party! Other guests had wine.

Fifth, Megan Goodmundson mysteriously ended up in charge of the money bucket. This photo was the last we saw of it, before it pretty much all got diverted to buying votes for Mark Klukow's "man pageant." (See post before the previous one) Last, the butterfly release by the kid in the "Cat In The Hat" costume.

Party In NoMi To Help People In India...

Photo By John Hoff

Several days ago I was at a fundraiser in NoMi held to raise money for impoverished people in India. I showed up because some of my friends were going, and once I was there--well, it started with me unwrapping a tray of cookies, and then one thing led to another--and I ended up pouring beverages, collecting money, running to Micky's Liquor to buy cups. The Jordan Neighborhood "super volunteer" Megan Goodmundson worked even harder, and Hawthorne's Housing Director Jeff Skrenes put in some time, too. We just gravitated to the work needing to be done, like we always do.

The highlight of the evening was a "butterfly release" by a child dressed like "The Cat In The Hat." I remember one great line from the party organizer: India makes North Minneapolis look like Minnetonka.

Admittedly, part of me was thinking, "Why would I want to take energy and funds from North Minneapolis and give it to INDIA or, for that matter, ANYWHERE?"

However, as is so often the case with NoMi social events, much networking and politicking was accomplished. I met Officer Mark Klukow and...

...exchanged viewpoints with him. He asked me how things were going in the Fourth Precinct, and I told him fine, great, the only complaint I might have is the police don't always realize who the neighborhood association people are who've been trying so hard to change things. Klukow mentioned how one of the problems involves trying to distinguish the true movers and shakers from "posers" who inhabit the neighborhood.

"Jerry Moore," I muttered. "Say no more."

Ultimately, the organizers were just trying to get five dollar donations and they threw a great party where a lot of useful social networking took place. I came away thinking there was no harm and much good in caring about India--a place where our North Minneapolis problems pale by comparison.

In the meantime, let me add this: Micky's liquor (just down the block from this party) sells single cigarillos and five cent cups. Micky's Liquor should be embarrassed, just like Merwin's Liquor should be embarrassed over their "butt fence" where chronic inebriates hang out.

However, I have yet to find anything to complain about at Broadway Liquor Outlet.

Officer Mark Klukow In "Man Pageant"

Photo By Megan Goodmundson

Among the NoMi movers and shakers, there is an intense group of, er, PEOPLE who are fans of Officer Mark Klukow, a rising young star in the MPD. Up in NoMi, since DECENT PEOPLE depend so heavily on cops to sweep up thugs, there tends to be groups of, er, PEOPLE (women, cough cough) who have sort of a (how to put it?) COP THING.

And Officer Mark Klukow is pretty much the embodiment of that NoMi social trend.

Yes, Klukow is married, but so is Brad Pitt. And you're still allowed to be a fan of Brad Pitt, right?

Maybe Brad Pitt is a bad example, though, because most of the heavy-duty Klukow fans I know prefer Klukow to Pitt, hands down.

Klukow (on the left) has been known to go door-knocking just to meet people in the neighborhoods, and get to know his territory better. He's very dedicated.

Anyway, I pretty much got CONVINCED that I need to promote Officer Mark Klukow in this, er, Man Pageant Thing.

So here are some links. First, to become Klukow's Facebook fan, go here. (You will need a Facebook profile)

To vote for Klukow, go here.

Apparently, while this contest is going on, votes can be cast daily.

(Do not click "Read More")

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood: Ben Myers Takes The Stand, Takes The Fifth, And Then Takes Off (Part One Of Three)

I'm Not Ben Myers But I Play Him In The Blogosphere

A much longer post is coming with descriptions of today's and yesterday's court proceedings in the "True JACC" lawsuit over which faction is the real heir to control of the Jordan Area Community Council. However, here is the short version.

First of all, I didn't have a good picture of Ben Myers, so (since I'm his twin brother, after all, and please see Hustler Magazine vs. Jerry Falwell for why I'm allowed to say such things about public figure Ben Myers) it seemed like a good idea to just pose for a picture myself and then substitute it for Ben's image. I mean, being twins Ben and I do stuff like this all the time. Ask Ben about the time I took the Minnesota bar exam on his behalf.

Anyway, Ben was on the stand yesterday and today. Kip Browne was on the stand, too, but his questioning didn't take long, and it was right to the point. Ben didn't get so lucky. Judge Porter himself began to ask questions and it went on for half an hour. The questions didn't look good for Ben. It was a lot of stuff about why Ben thought he had any authority, based on this-or-that twisted interpretation of the bylaws.

In contrast, while Kip Browne was up on the stand the judge started an off-the-record conversation about amusing French wines, and mentioned how Kip could come back and try some lovely cabernet sauvignon in chambers. And then there was talk of how an end table was needed to hold the glasses, so could the judge borrow Jill Clark's paralegal for a while? (That's the guy I've dubbed "the beltless Beta male" for his habit of showing up in court without a belt, and then hitching up on his pants like Gomer Pyle. The name seems to have caught on, like my nicknames often do)

Yeah, it was fairly obvious which way the judge was leaning. There was talk of getting in some briefs, closing the evidence record on Monday morning, and having a ruling out by the Fourth of July.

(Do Not Click "Read More")

Jug Liquor Is Going Right In The Dumpster, It Appears...

Photo By John Hoff

In the last couple days, large construction dumpsters have been placed near the former Jug Liquor Store. I assume the entire store is going RIGHT IN THE DUMPSTER.

Gee, I sure hope somebody salvages the sign. It would look great on a garage wall or something.

Dibs. Dibs if it's in the dumpster.

This is yet another example of NoMi changing for the better, and yet I have yet to notice any sea change in public perception. My non-NoMi friends still talk about North Minneapolis like they're talking about AFGHANISTAN in terms of supposed physical danger. And yet tonight I rode my bike all over the place, I walked around...nothing bad happened.

And that's really true MOST nights. Things are already pretty good, but things are getting better and the end of this sad little liquor store is one of those moments of betterment.

(Do not click "Read More")

New Member Of The Teachout Family...

Stock Photo By John Hoff

I have confirmed in a brief phone conversation that JoyAnne Teachout had a healthy baby. The child, a boy, is named Jack Tristan Kyle Teachout. He weighs 6 pounds, approximately (I forget how many ounces Peter told me) and he is 20 inches.

Unknown if JoyAnne had the baby yesterday or today, but going into labor on the day 3020 6th St. N. was FINALLY boarded is symbolic enough. 

Anybody who has more details, such as the ounces, the hospital, the reason the Hawthorne Chair would name his child after the Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) just feel free to post those details here. 

(Do not click "Read More")

JNS BLOG EDITORIAL: Let Us All "Spiff Up" NoMi As Home Buyers Descend, Looking For Bargains...

Photo By John Hoff

In my previous post I mentioned helping one of my friends start to clear a "witchy thicket" at the edge of her property. You know, there aren't a lot of things George W. Bush and I agree with, but I'll give this much to the man:

He loves cutting down brush on his farm in Texas. And I love yard work just as much as George Bush. Yup, Bush and I could sit down and have a drink together over THAT. 

And then I'd inform him this country will still be recovering from his disastrous administration when my 11-year-old son is collecting Social Security, and if he'd kindly turn his back for a moment, I'd show him a new way to recycle a beverage bottle.


The reason I'm going out of my way to mention this minor morning of yard work (besides the fact I don't want to waste a good picture of it) is because right now home buyers are descending on North Minneapolis, looking for bargains, gathering impressions of the neighborhood...

Knowing this, wouldn't it be a good time to trim a tree? Cut a lawn? Clear brush? Do a little painting?

If we all take just a few extra hours "spiffing up," it might make the difference between a nice family buying that vacant house in the middle of the block...or that house sitting empty another year, or some slumlord turning it into The Rental From Hell.

Edgy Green Freegan Movement Takes Root In NoMi...

Photos By John Hoff

For political, social, moral and environmental reasons, "freegans" like to avoid paying for food whenever possible. Many freegans are vegetarian or "vegan," but some freegans (such as myself) think it's "morally pure" to eat meat as long as you yourself didn't buy it, such as pork chops that get pulled out of a store fridge and put in a nice clean cardboard box and gently, lovingly placed in a dumpster two hours before they actually expire. THAT kind of meat.

(For the record, I eat morally impure meat as well, but I consider it an ongoing spiritual failure which accumulates what may be described, in a vague non-Hindu way, as "bad karma.")

In any case, due to the outrageous waste habits of our society (yes, even during a so-called recession) all kinds of valuable stuff just gets thrown away. Because of how much is wasted, dumpster diving is not the desperate, filthy little world most Americans assume it to be at first glance. On the contrary, it is the doorway to a lifestyle of "shabby chic" luxury, with very little impact on the earth.

Read my two books on the subject of dumpster diving to learn more: The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving and Dumpster Diving: The Advanced Course, both by John HOFFMAN. (Note pen name)

But don't run right out and buy those books. Geez, that's what LIBRARIES are for.

Anyway, as the author of two seminal books on dumpster diving, (I was a famous cult author in my late 20s) I lay claim to being one of the "intellectual grand daddies of the freegan movement." My book, The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving, is cited by most freegans as central to their outlook and lifestyle. Years before I met Connie Nompelis--Realtor and historic house preservationist--she had read both my books. Somehow we both ended up in NoMi where, from time to time, we take off in her vehicles and go dumpster diving together.

I won't say where. Maybe Wisconsin, maybe Canada, who knows?

Some of my freegan friends like...

...Karl Noyes have been hanging around, lately, scoping out the situation in NoMi, contemplating the possibility of buying property and moving here. Karl Noyes helps me with technical junk on this website--like putting in the PayPal button--and he used to be my editor at the Minnesota Daily. Karl converts diesel vehicles to run on used cooking oil. He's very cool.

In North Minneapolis, I've had discussions with virtually all my friends about freeganism, even if it's something as simple as picking up a roasted marshmallow Peep which has fallen on the grass, and saying, "This would have been discarded. That makes it Freegan food, so I will eat it. It's a political and spiritual thing with me. I am a freegan."

Of course, freeganism isn't merely about food choices. All kinds of lifestyle choices are associated with freeganism, most of which involve NOT PAYING MONEY FOR STUFF.

Freeganism is constantly part of my life and, actually, this is one of the reasons I came hunting for a house in North Minneapolis: so I could dig in, get stability, do more writing, and keep developing the loosey-goosey tenants of freeganism, among other things I enjoy writing about.

But that's a different tale for a different day. The point is I haven't written a whole lot about freeganism on this blog because it's not very North Minneapolis related, except among me and some of my closest friends who happen to be from or around North Minneapolis. And even constant dumpster diving doesn't mean one self-identifies as a freegan. I'm not sure if Connie would call herself a freegan. And it's not important enough to ask. Freegan is as freegan DIVES.

But then two things happened recently and I said to myself, "This is something you need to write about more often. Not later, but NOW."

First, Connie and I made a huge score on Arizona iced tea. That night we had a discussion about starting a "freegan food bank" to attract graduate students to North Minneapolis, students that might buy homes, have families, and fill NoMi with their environmental edgy coolness. (And it wasn't like Connie said, "Oh, yeah, let's do that" because THAT is a lot of work, after all, but rather we just kicked around the idea)

Some days after the "Arizona tea score" with Connie I gave most of the tea to to Karl Noyes, because I had way too much of it and it was going to make me gain weight, and I also gave Karl a bunch of canned food somebody just boxed up and left in an alley after a vacant, foreclosed house had been "trashed out." And I thought to myself, "Geez, I just gave Karl all this dumpster dived and foreclosed food. Isn't that the freegan food bank vision I talked about with Connie?"

On that same successful dive which turned up all the Arizona tea, Connie managed to score three rose bushes, which she planted in front of her house in (wait for it...wait for it...) NORTH MINNEAPOLIS.

A few days ago I was doing some yard work over there--cutting out some brush I nicknamed "The Witchy Thicket" and, like most of my nicknames, it stuck--and I noticed Connie had planted the dumpster dived rose bushes in front of her house.

So I snapped a picture.

And as I contemplated those rose bushes planted in front of Connie's house, I realized I could actually get on my blog and say, with a straight face, the freegan movement is taking root in NoMi.

Volunteer Lawn Mowing Under The "Adopt Vacant Houses" Mandate...

Photo By John Hoff

As June rapidly approaches, and empty, foreclosed properties are becoming havens for tall grass prairie all over North Minneapolis, this might be a good time to bring up the city's "adopt vacant houses" mandate...

There was a flurry of publicity more than a year ago when public officials in Minneapolis announced in the media how it was PERFECTLY FINE to enter the yards of vacant houses for purposes of mowing grass and picking up litter. (They could have made a point of mentioning wet, rotten, dumped off phone books from companies like Dex, but oh well)

In fact, if you call the city's 311 service and get put on hold, often you will hear an announcement reminding callers to "adopt" vacant houses and, of course, call 911 if you see somebody breaking inside.

However, memory of the "adopt houses mandate" seems to have faded from public memory, judging by the litter I've been picking up and the overgrown weeds I'm seeing everywhere. On Memorial Day, I mowed two yards at vacant houses: one on Bryant Ave. N., one on Aldrich. I only mowed the front because, well, I just wanted to "spiff up" the houses, not deprive the city of an opportunity to slap charges on some absentee owner, probably a bank. (Especially when I'd already called in the houses to 311 personally)

I believe "spiffing up" these vacant properties is very important right now, as would-be home buyers are house shopping in this lovely summer season, gathering impressions of neighborhoods. I've set a reasonable volunteer standard at TWO FRONT LAWNS, which is less than an hour's work, and it's good exercise.

If somebody has taken charge of more than two lawns under the adopt houses mandate, and started mowing two lawns regularly, I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Woman Who Came Up With The "Get To NoMi" Artwork...

Photo By John Hoff

So a few days ago I was at a Memorial Day barbeque, and one of the guests at the party was Desi Fernandez, (on the right) who came up with the "Get To NoMi" artwork for North Minneapolis. I snapped a great pic of Desi with her girlfriend. 

A number of NoMi movers and shakers have Desi's "Get To NoMi" image displayed prominently in their houses, which is great...but I think we need many more NoMi images. Who better to create the pictures than Desi?

(Do not click "Read More")

Micky's Liquor Should Be Ashamed Of Itself...

Photos By John Hoff

So a few days ago, I was at NoMi party at 14th and Emerson Ave. N., to raise money for impoverished people in India, when I had to make a trip on foot to Micky's Liquor to buy some cups for the wine all the partygoers were drinking, while Skyping to India and talking about various socially-responsible issues...

I asked Micky's if they sold plastic cups, and I was asked, "How many?"

That's when I found out they will sell single cups for five cents apiece. How convenient for the chronic inebriate market to have access to five cent liquor cups.

In the top picture, Jules Inda (the lovely spouse of Pat Carney, North Minneapolis marketing guru) poses like Vanna White with the cups I obtained that night. Really, the best thing I did all night at that party, was to buy out Micky's stock of plastic cups for the evening. Anyway...I'm going to say what needs to be said, because if I'll go after Merwin's and their "butt fence" I'm sure not going to hold back from critiquing Micky's Liquor about their "Five Cent Chronic Inebriate Cups."

Plus they have a pay phone in their parking lot, which consists almost entirely of concrete. And let's not forget the old ass sign form the 1970's. Do I have to be the one to say publicly what everybody else is thinking? Micky's should be ashamed of itself, squeezing out nickels from chronic inebriates and leaving our neighborhood to pay the price.


Driving Around, Meeting Fun New People...THEN BLOGGING WHILE DRUNK!!!!

Photo By John Hoff

On Friday night, a friend and I were MERELY DRIVING FROM POINT A TO POINT B, and along the way we happened to encounter...oh, how shall I put it? This woman who was STREET WALKING. Yeah, she was walking on the street. That's fair and accurate.

So we pulled up and....I mean, like, my friend is driving and she's female and I'm in the passenger side, but shall I put it? THIS WOMAN comes walking up toward the window...

And you gotta wonder....for what purpose? Because our relationship (such as it is) needs some spicing up?

Not that I'm accusing this woman of being A HOOKER!!!! Oh, heavens no.

So she's all, like, "What's up?"

And I'm all, like, reaching over with my camera, and I'm like, "Here's what's up (expletive)!"

And so we made off with her picture. FOR FREE, NO CHARGE.

A few moments later, a big rig (without the trailer) was driving toward this young woman, and my friend said, "Oh, you watch, that trucker is going to pick her up." We made a U-turn and, sure enough, my friend was right. The young lady of the evening--for it was indeed evening--was up on the running board, talking to the driver, but when she saw us approach she jumped off right away and went in the other direction.

So we had a good time following the truck for several blocks and calling 911, until the truck circled all the way back and drove right into a nest of squad cars which had a male detained, arms spread on the hood of the squad car.

Good times.

We made our way back to my friend's house, happy with the results of our spontaneous activist effort. Of course, I knew the cherry on the ice cream sundae would be to put the dear young woman's picture ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

(Excuse me. Blogging while drunk...Kip Browne gave me some I-don't-know-what out of a Browne paper sack and I'm wondering what the heck it is, but I'm sure it's about 180 proof. Kip made good on his drinking game bet, after Jill Clark said the name "Johnny Northside" in court twice this morning)

3020 6th St. N. Crack House Goes Down, More Details And Photos...

Photos By John Hoff

Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes sent me more pictures and details about the long-awaited eviction and boarding at 3020 6th St. N., the infamous drug house in the heart of the Hawthorne Eco Village cluster project.

Here is Jeff's firsthand account, just as he emailed it. Well, except for some more paragraph breaks of course.

I mean, jeez!

But here it is in Jeff's own words...

In some ways, this was anti-climactic. Sitting in front of "3020" watching and calling in to the cops, responding to Peter Teachout's truck being torched, there were a thousand other things that had more adrenaline than this moment.

But going up the steps and STANDING on the PORCH WHERE "THE SENTRY" STOOD...I felt like a conquistador. Even though the property belongs in name to Deutche Bank, yet in spirit it already belongs to the NEIGHBORHOOD.

We've stood our ground to a person who said that this block "would never change because it's the hood." And now we can walk onto the porch or in the yard, because it doesn't belong to him anymore. We can watch the junkies, dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and johns come by and we know that what they are looking for isn't here anymore. And is there any other haven of
criminal activity left in the EcoVillage? No.

This wasn't just a feeling of victory. This was CONQUEST.

And now I'd like to thank the academy for this prestigious honor, as well as the Minneapolis Police Department, the Northside Home Fund, PPL, CPED, the Minneapolis Problem Properties Unit and Inspections departments, Council Member Hofstede, and before I sound TOO "pro-city," most important are the fearless and tireless residents of Hawthorne who have worked so hard to make this day FINALLY happen.

JEFF SKRENES, Hawthorne Housing Director

Crack House At 3020 6th Street N. Finally Emptied, Chairman Peter Teachout's Wife Goes Into Labor...

See below for photo credits

Today was a memorable day in the Hawthorne Eco Village cluster project, as the infamous pill house/ crack house / whore house at 3020 6th St. N. was finally evacuated and boarded up. Within several hours, right across the street at the Teachout residence, JoyAnne Teachout (wife of Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Board Chair Peter Teachout) went into labor with her fourth child, known to be a boy.

This news was first broken by Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes on his Facebook profile. Jeff also said, "This is not just victory, this is conquest."

God Himself appears to bless our efforts as evidenced by this incredible not-quite-a-coincidence of a major end and a major beginning on the same day. Let us send thoughts and prayers to JoyAnne Teachout for a safe delivery of the youngest Teachout child, quite possibly any minute, now. 

PHOTO CREDITS: Top photo by Jeff Skrenes. Photos of the Teachout family were taken by the two oldest Teachout children, Peter and Rose. Note the serious expression on JoyAnne's face. While Peter works in the foreground, crackheads were openly doing business across the street.

But no more.

(Do not click "Read More")

Monday, May 25, 2009

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood: Jerry Moore Takes The Stand, Takes The Fifth, And Then Takes Off (Part Four Of Four)

Stock Photo By John Hoff, Jordan Neighborhood

Memorial Day is a ratings weekend here at the Johnny Northside blog, so...well, time to write about the "True JACC" court hearing and Jerry Moore getting grilled on the stand to roasty toasty perfection.

So Plaintiff Attorney Jill Clark finished her questions on a theme about money to developers, and Jerry's desire for "the community" to get the money.

(Just call him Jerry I-Am-The-Community Moore)

Now it was time for Defense Attorney David Schooler to get his hooks into Jerry on cross examination.

Schooler first asked Jerry Moore if he'd had conversations with Ben Myers about this case. Moore said he'd not had "regular" conversations with Ben incredible statement, in light of the circumstances. From the very first pitch, this was looking like the World Series of lies. Could there be, I wondered, any negative spiritual consequences for merely being in the SAME ROOM as such blatant bearing of false witness? Pray God doesn't get casual with His aim, I thought.

Schooler held up the alleged and purported "Jerry Moore employment contract" (copy) which turned up oh-so-recently.

"Why didn't you provide this contract to the board after your termination?" Schooler asked, but getting a straight answer out of Jerry is like wrestling a stripper in a tub full of Crisco, only not as fun.

Did this contract ever come to the full board? Schooler asked. Anything in the meeting minutes? WHERE WOULD WE FIND THESE MINUTES? (Clearly, an allusion to the missing records and computer equipment whisked away in the dead of night from the JACC office)

Jerry said he didn't know.

Schooler asked about Jerry's application for unemployment compensation.

"This contract was never introduced into evidence," Schooler said.

Through his questions, Schooler pointed out there was stuff in the (alleged and purported) employment contract about malfeasance, breach of duties, moral turpitude. Schooler pressed Moore  about the fisticuffs "fracas" on JACC's election night for the board of directors, and Jerry's ability to "retreat" from the confrontation instead of--oh, gee--punching board member P.J. Hubbard full in the face.

This might be a good point to talk about the legal "duty to retreat." This principal of law seems to come as quite a surprise to streetwise individuals who think they have a right to punch somebody over getting "dissed" or being "stepped to." Guess what your legal duty is? TO RETREAT. To not mix it up with bare knuckles. TO BEAT FEET.

Jerry Moore tried to make a claim his "back" had been "against the wall." I had to wonder how, in that case, Jordan resident Denny Wagner managed to pat Jerry on the back. Does Wagner have OCCULT POWERS TO REACH THROUGH SOLID MATTER?

Though Jerry tried slipping and sliding, it's pretty hard to find a defensible position in punching one of your board of directors members full in the face. HELLO moral turpitude.

Schooler then scored a few easy points by putting a document in front of Jerry Moore dated January 15, 2009. A letter, affidavit of service, notifying Moore he was fired. Schooler asked how could Moore claim he hadn't received notice until the end of January when this document existed? Moore tried to say something about the notice not being proper or adequate because the document "lacks explanation of misconduct."

In an exchange shortly after that, Moore clarified that he didn't tell Kip Browne that he--Kip Browne--likes to kiss the white man's ass. No, rather, Moore just told Browne he should do things for the community rather than "kissing ass."

Schooler said Browne was Moore's boss, and yet Moore had made this statement about Browne "kissing ass?" There was talk by Moore about Browne bringing up the "wrong issues" at a meeting and then--to my shock and appalled amazement--Moore said it "wasn't Browne's place" to bring up those issues at that particular meeting.

Wasn't. Browne's. Place.

I thought about how there was...

...chilled sauvignon blanc in my fridge right about now. I thought how I'd like to drink the entire bottle, and not bother with a glass, because you just have to wash the glass and so drinking from the bottle is more environmentalist...but mostly I just felt like drinking an entire bottle of something, then and there.

Wasn't. Browne's. Place.

I turned to Melony Michaels--the wife of identity theft victim John Foster, whose name was entangled with the fraudulent 1564 Hillside Ave. N. deal, with which J.L. Moore Consulting was (according to the criminal complaint) involved--and I asked for her assessment of Moore.

Melony Michaels (who reportedly has worked as a police psychic) wrote her assessment of Jerry Moore on a notecard and handed it to me.

All flash. No soul underneath. If he had bad teeth and clothes, you'd see the thug beneath the exterior, clear as day.

That was about where things left off until the next day of court, when the grilling continued. What a night it must have been for Moore, knowing he was going to wake up, go to court, and face that intense grilling again. Moore must have been rolling and dripping moisture like a rotisseirie chicken.

Incredibly, Moore wore WHITE PANTS the next day.

Call me a worrywart, but personally...I wouldn't have worn white pants on the stand during vigorous cross examination. Besides, isn't there some kind of rule about not wearing white outfits except between Memorial Day and Labor Day?

No, really, somebody informed me of this. And I'm all about community standards, here. Except I do think it's more environmentally friendly to drink wine directly from a bottle instead of using a glass. I'm determined to be a trend setter in this way, no matter how many bottles it may take for the trend to catch on.


Schooler proceeded to ask Moore what was JACC's mission? Moore said something about JACC being kind of like a chicken coop full of monetary metaphorical poultry, and himself being extremely FOXY.

Or not. Actually Jerry Moore said JACC's mission is to bring in resources for the Jordan neighborhood, and to be involved in public policy changes.

Schooler then asked about the "industrywide standard for administrative expenses versus program costs." Moore answered the "high end" is 20 percent. When asked about the exact numbers for JACC program costs, under his reign as Executive Director, Jerry Moore said "I don't have the exact numbers for program costs..."

Schooler began throwing around figures about how much money flows through JACC.

"If $230,000 a year went through there, $500,000 while you were Executive Director..."

"$400,000," Moore said, quickly.

Fair enough, Schooler said, let's use that figure. How much went to program costs?

Moore thought 50 or 60 percent, but he's not sure.

"So that would be 40 to 50 percent going to administrative costs?" Schooler asked.

Even though Moore had just thrown out the figure of "50 or 60 percent" to program costs, he wasn't willing to concede the remaining 40 to 50 percent was administrative costs. It is said figures don't lie, but liars can figure. However, sometimes liars can't figure at all. Case in point.

Using Jerry's figure--as much as he could wrestle that greased up metaphorical stripper into submission--Schooler said, "That puts your administrative costs significantly over the industrywide average."

Moore went into an argument about how every neighborhood is different, has different needs.

"Would it surprise you," Schooler asked. "That the administrative costs under the Myers board were 91 percent?"

Moore argued 91 percent was just NRP funds, which were intended to cover stuff like administrative costs.

Score one for Moore, I thought. FOR NOW.

Schooler then got Moore to admit, on the stand, he doesn't have a four year college degree. There were exhalations from members of the New Majority, watching in the stands. For years they'd gone round and round about this issue and been unable to get satisfying answers. Now Moore casually admitted he was running a neighborhood organization with somewhere near a half million dollar budget, his resume slightly better than a fry cook. Moore did try to say something about his "experience with non-profits" being credited in the hiring process. I wondered if he meant the "shoe shack" which was supposedly raising money for youth.

In response to a question by Schooler, Moore admitted he was responsible for "paying the bills." Schooler asked if the Executive Director of JACC must "conduct himself in a manner befitting a neighborhood organization."

"What does that mean?" Moore asked.

"What does it mean TO YOU?" Schooler countered.

Schooler asked about not wasting funds. He asked about how there were several months where "pre-budgeted bills" were not paid to the gas company. Was any ARRANGEMENT made with the gas company? Moore had to admit none was made.

"So as far as the gas company knew, the bill was just late?" Schooler asked.

Moore confirmed that was pretty much the case.

"He never missed a paycheck, though," Anne McCandless hissed in my ear.

Schooler asked about Moore's expenditure of JACC monies to subscribe the JACC office to "premium movie channels including HBO and Starz." Moore contended there was some kind of "package deal," and he'd taken the cheapest package, and it was a really good package, but it was the cheapest at $99 a month than deals for phone and internet alone. Moore claimed his decision to subscribe the office to HBO and Starz saved $40 a month.

Schooler said something about how Moore didn't pay the GAS BILL monthly, but he always got the Blackberry bill paid, didn't he? Schooler asked where the Blackberry is NOW. Moore said he didn't know. It had been at the office, so it's probably with the "office stuff." Moore contended there were "two Blackberries," one of which was his own personal Blackberry and the other was "the one that's in the office all the time, the one that Ken Wilson had."

Schooler asked about money spent on meals. Blondie's in Brooklyn Park. Perkins in Eagan. The American Inn of Brooklyn Center. Moore said something about putting a guy up at the American Inn who had been involved in some kind of domestic incident, a man from the neighborhood.

Schooler was asking about funds when Moore made an incredible admission: he would spend the money, and then afterward segmented funds would be moved around to stay within program guidelines. Therefore, the guidelines weren't driving the spending. Rather, the spending just HAPPENED and then afterward there would be some hope of fitting things into the guidelines. New Majority people sitting in the spectator section swore Plaintiff Attorney Jill Clark looked ready to "tear out her hair" at that moment. I didn't witness it one way or another. I was watching Moore and astounded by this admission, which was right up there with Moore's assertion Kip Browne needed to "know his place."

Schooler pressed questions about Dennis Wagner asking for financial records in the Spring of 2008, and expressions of concern over STEALING OF FUNDS. Schooler asked about Board Member Dan Rother asking for financial records. Was Rother not ENTITLED to these records? The members of the "New Majority" sat in the spectator section and SEETHED. During a break shortly thereafter, Dan Rother ticked off on his fingers the months he'd asked for records.

April, May, June, July, August, September...

Anne McCandless asserted she'd asked for records back in 2007, suspicious after the first annual meeting about how things were being run.

On the stand, Jerry Moore looked right at an email and claimed he'd NEVER received the request for documents from Rother. Moore claimed he wasn't the one "handling" the request. The records finally came loose in December of 2008. At some point, CPED issued a warning to JACC about failing to abide with citizen participation processes. Rother and Wagner were continuously requesting info, but it took months and a grievance being filed to force the hand of JACC under the Ben Myers "Old Majority."

Moore tried to claim Dan Rother was harassing "outside of the employment relationship" and "going beyond his scope" as a board member and claimed Rother "didn't understand his role as a board member."

Schooler questioned Moore about the issue of Moore trying to say Rother had a 1 year term. Bob Cooper of CPED had essentially sided with Kip Browne on the issue of Rother's term, which was 2 years, not 1.

Schooler asked about Moore writing a check after being terminated.

"Did you think you were still an employee?" Schooler asked. Moore answered something about how the termination letter didn't have "the correct signatories." Moore said the JACC organization "still has some responsibilities to me as an individual" and he believes he is still an employee.

"Why did you apply for unemployment compensation, then?" Schooler asked.

Moore said it was because he hadn't received a paycheck.

Schooler veered near the issue of missing office equipment and records. Moore was willing to say, "I was directed and instructed to have the office moved to the church." (By which he apparently means the Jordan New Life Church)

"Mr. Moore, you're aware the JACC equipment came up missing..." Schooler began.

Jill Clark objected, citing Moore's Fifth Amendment privilege. While the point was argued, Moore sat on the stand silently, doing his "drinking water like it's spring's finest beaujolais" thing.

Schooler tried to ask if Moore was EVER aware of the location of the missing office equipment and records.

OBJECTION! Fifth Amendment privilege. Sip, quaff, sippy poo with a wide-eyed, oh-so-innocent and misunderstood look. Meanwhile, Jill Clark's ticky mouth was grinding like a wood chipper.

Schooler asked Moore about the deal at 1564 Hillside Ave. N. Moore denied any and all involvement. He would not admit to having ever seen the invoice for $5,000 or the cashed check for $5,000. John Foster? Never heard of him. Keith Reitman, the seller in the fraudulent deal?

Oh, yes, heard of him. Reitman's on the JACC board. But that's all Moore claimed to know. Nope, not involved with any shady real estate deal like THAT. Nope.

It was my distinct impression Defense Attorney David Schooler was incensed at what appeared to be blatant, bold-faced lies by Jerry Moore. There are a number of creditable witnesses--including City Council Member Don Samuels--who will tell you Jerry Moore has plainly admitted involvement with the 1564 Hillside matter.

Moore left the stand soon after that. I dashed into the hallway to call Melony Michaels--who couldn't attend court that day--that Moore had been questioned about the house in her husband's name, the one at the center of fraud by Larry Maxwell with Moore Consulting messed up in the mix. While I tried to depress the power button on my cell phone, Jerry Moore suddenly came into the hallway in those oh-so-white pants, several days before Memorial Day. My god.

"Melony says hi," I said to Jerry.

"Melony who?" he asked. (I had, the previous day, introduced Jerry to Melony, though he didn't reach over and shake hands. Instead he'd said, "Oh, I don't know..." and I said, "Oh, I think you do, Jerry.")

So when Jerry asked "Melony who?" while quickly walking to the elevators, I answered, "Melony Michaels. John Foster's wife. You were asked about him on the stand."

"Tell her hi," Jerry answered. "Tell her it's great to be black."

"Excuse me?" I responded, because this struck me as a bizarre response. For the sake of a clear record, Melony is white.

"It's great to be a black man in Minnesota!" Moore said, jamming his finger into the elevator button.

Ah, I thought, Moore is TALKING. Time to get something juicy out of Moore, and if the white pants suffer as a result, so be it.

"Jerry, if you want to talk, I'll go get my notebook," I offered.

"Go ahead!" Moore snapped.

I ran back into court to snatch up my notebook. But when I got back, Moore had disappeared like a puff of smoke. I made my way to the second floor of the county government building, hoping to catch him in the lobby area.

Gone. Moore was gone.

Bob Miller testified after that. The one thing I got from Miller's testimony was this:

The 91 percent figure for administrative expenses was not JUST for NRP funds. That was Miller's estimation of across-the-board administrative expenses.

At the end of Miller's testimony, Judge Porter asked if there were any comparable executive directors of neighborhood organizations, making something close to the money Moore was making.

The short answer: NO WAY.