Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lennie Chism Makes His Case To Save Former Uncle Bill's Store...

Photo By John Hoff

Last night at Northpoint, the Willard Homewood Organization (WHO) met with a handful of items on the agenda, including one particularly pressing issue: Lennie Chism's big dream of turning the old Uncle Bill's store into some kind of organic deli greenhouse entreprenuership, thingie.

Lennie recently bought the building for $3,000. Considering the state of the structure, somebody should have PAID LENNIE to take that old derelict off their hands. At the very least, it might be argued Lennie paid $2,999 too much, since it appears the seller was quite willing to unload this turkey at a nominal sum. In any case...

...tonight Lennie made his case in front of the WHO, which is chaired by Al McFarlane. Members of the community, including myself, had an opportunity to ask questions after Lennie's presentation.

So Lennie said some stuff about plans to put an "entrepreneurship program" at the site, and claimed the store would sell no tobacco products when it was up and running. He said a bunch of things about hope, about vision, about a community believing in itself. He said things that would sound pretty good if it wasn't all coming from Lennie Chism, who (the record will reflect) can't even deal with the blight at his building at 1901 Glenwood Ave. N.

McFarlane opened the floor to questions and comments. I got a crack at Lennie and asked him (as I'd asked hours earlier on the sidewalk in front of 1901 Glenwood) how he was going to pull off a project this massive and challenging, when he couldn't even prevent foreclosure at 1901 Glenwood Ave., his corporate headquarters where he still (miraculously) resides, post-foreclosure.

(I have an unconfirmed claim that Lennie managed to purchase the building after foreclosure. This claim is not only unconfirmed but appears to contradict what is being said by Lennie, that he has "possession" of the building and confirming the foreclosure, and that he has a "good relationship" with his bank. All the same, for the record, this unverified claim is "out there" like reports of alien abduction are "out there.")

In response to my question, Lennie said a bunch of stuff about how he has a "network of great people" who will assist him, and (like he had grandly compared himself to Louis Pasteur earlier in the afternoon) alluded to Henry Ford not giving up when people said things couldn't be done. Lennie said he doesn't "do brick and mortar," so he will get somebody to help with THAT. He also doesn't "do housing"...or "do food." For that kind of stuff, he would look to somebody else, as well.

"So what DO you do?" I asked, but the Chair cut off THAT line of questioning.

A mix of supporters and detractors spoke. The crowd appeared evenly divided between a loud, demonstrative "pro-Lennie" faction and a tight-lipped group of "anti-Uncle Bill's" residents who were opposed to Lennie's (mad, doomed) scheme. One woman got up and spoke of bullet holes in her house because of all the problems associated with the old Uncle Bill's. She demanded to know the name of the vendor Lennie was planning to use for this organic food store plan. Lennie refused to disclose the name of the vendor but assured the woman she'd be "extremely pleased."

And, I might add, you can take the word of Lennie Chism to the bank, and the bank will let you stay in your building after foreclosure.

Al "I Am The Community" Flowers rose to speak, urging people to believe in Lennie and not be negative. He then proceeded to criticize this blog (without naming the blog) for coverage of the Annshalike Hamilton murder, still unsolved, specifically for writing "stuff about her family."

City Council Member Don Samuels spoke last, pointing out it was the community which initiated the closure of Uncle Bill's with a loud, overwhelming voice. Getting the place re-zoned and re-opened was, he said, "so unlikely." He didn't see Lennie's plan as workable and pointed out Lennie had "such a small investment of risk." (By which Samuels appeared to mean the mere $3k Lennie had put into acquiring the building)

Lennie rose to speak and rebut Samuels' points before the Council Member was finished, and Chairman McFarlane told Lennie to allow Samuels to finish. Samuels finished in grand style, saying, "there's nothing about your past relationship with the city that gives me confidence" and Samuels pointed out Lennie had been unable to deal with the problem of blight at his own building at 1901 Glenwood Ave. N. This produced a visceral response from some in the audience, who said talking about Lennie's (crappy) building at 1901 Glenwood was a "personal attack."

Chair McFarlane took a suggestion to refer this matter to committee and then he only had to face the minor problem of there being no committees. Committees were in the process of being formed, to put things too simply. (I've heard some scattered accounts about how the old Economic Development Committee split off from WHO and became its own group, and how committees were eliminated at WHO, but I am still trying to obtain a detailed account of what, exactly, has taken place)

McFarlane then proceeded to pick who would be on the committee, based on the raised hands of volunteers. Apparently five people were picked (still need to confirm this) and included Jackie Cherryhomes and Kenya McKnight. It was my perception that the committee was stacked with "pro-Lennie" forces, with the exception of Cherryhomes.

A good time was had by all, and Al Flowers managed to get through a crowded room of people without accusing anybody of stepping on his precious widdle toes-ies.

ADDENDUM: The particular question being referred to committee was whether to support Lennie. Also, a woman representing NRRC and another woman representing Northpoint stood and spoke favorably about Chism's plan.


Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. There are no lawsuits pending from this gathering at this point in time? The police weren't called (and then named as defendants in a lawsuit)?

Johnny, you must have fallen asleep and missed SOMETHING.....

Johnny Northside said...

Lennie sent me the following email:


In an open market society, better known as capitalism, one does not need to be an expert in all areas. One just needs to recognize those deficiencies,
and then hire them.

If you are suggesting that I do not posses the expertise to obtain any hire the expertise to bring this project to completion is beyond pale. i.e. Henry Ford would not qualify to run or build the Ford company if had to
possess all those skills within himself; however he hired all those that did have those expertise. George Washington Carver, a brilliant Black
scientist, educated in Iowa, was hired to develop paint for the Ford Motor Company.

John, there are substantial financial and expertise commitments to bring this project to completion.

Lennie Chism

Executive Director/Founder


1901 Glenwood Ave North

Minneapolis, MN 55405


To which JNS responds:

Lennie, I prefer to have this discussion out here in the open instead of by email.

Your tendency to bring up the great men of history (all men, so far) and compare yourself to them is fairly consistent, and a sign of your overinflated ego.

I wish I could say, "I knew Henry Ford, Henry Ford was a friend of mine, and you're no Henry Ford" but I know him no better than you, Lennie, except I'm smart enough to know Ford was an avowed anti-Semite and I'm better off avoiding Ford as an example...a fact you are apparently ignorant of, Lennie.

Lennie, what are you going to use to "hire" this expertise? You didn't have enough jack to save your own building. OR DID YOU? Somebody is telling me you bought that building back and you now own it.

True or NOT?


Lennie, when it comes right down to it you don't have much of anything except your own considerable overestimation of your abilities plus a building that somebody managed to dump on you for much less than the price of a new car.

Anonymous said...

It would be so nice if this open dialogue was about the issues and not how you personally feel about Lennie and 1901. If that were the case this blog just may make some sense and a difference.

Anonymous said...

Lennie wrote -

"John, there are substantial financial and expertise commitments to bring this project to completion."

Lennie, the easiest way to sway dissenting opinion on this matter MIGHT BE to disclose the "substantial financial and expertise commitments" you've lined-up to bring this project to fruition.

Just a thought...

dennis m plante

Johnny Northside said...

Lennie doesn't have the resources to pull off this Uncle Bill's plan, as evidenced by what's going on at 1901 Glenwood. He's a self-aggrandizing blowhard and, the record will reflect, a mere heckler from the sidelines instead of a real player.

That *is* the issue. Lennie isn't up to the task.

Jordan neighbor said...

@ Anon 1235pm:

The issues ARE Lennie and his trackrecord at 1901... that is PART of the issues!!!!

Lennie is making himself somewhat of a public figure, even before now, he inserts himself into public dialogue and gets involved in gov't (city and state **MNDOT -cough cough** issues... he is making himself part of the issues.

His track record, the way he has maintained his finances, the physical appearance of his building, his inability to make it succeed, his possible non-compliance with state or IRS codes regarding his non-profit, the other characters he associates himself with - these are all part of the issues.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:35 said -

"It would be so nice if this open dialogue was about the issues and not how you personally feel about Lennie and 1901. If that were the case this blog just may make some sense and a difference."

What exactly ARE the issues that supersede concerns regarding the business viability (based on the past business track record of the principles involved) of the proposed development?

dennis m plante

Anonymous said...

Maybe the political clout that Lennie keeps referring to is his buddy Al "First I sued the City, now I want to screw the City" Flowers??

MikeT said...

Three Questions;

1) What was the question/issue being referred to committee?

2) Why do I get the sinking feeling this is going to be one of those things where community money is going to be involved? Something about how this is being rolled out, along with the players involved, doesn't smell right. Are we about to see Son Of Karamu West? What is NRRC's involvement?

3) If The Bean Scene, with parking on a busy street, Café Tatta Bunna located on a busy corner, and Lucille's featuring the best fried chicken in the state and a late-night drive-thru couldn't make it over there, how is this place going to make it? There simply isn't enough pedestrian traffic to make it sustainable.

I'd be also more than happy to sit down and give you a brief history of W.H.O., too, Johnny. It makes the HBO series "Deadwood" seem like a sitcom.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:35 wrote -

"It would be so nice if this open dialogue was about the issues and not how you personally feel about Lennie and 1901. If that were the case this blog just may make some sense and a difference."

Still waiting for any type of quantifiable answer as to what the "real issues" are.

Are the "real issues" related to what's in the best interests of the community in which the proposed business would be developed? Or, are the "real issues" related to a larger social issue that deifies business logic and common sense?

Inquiring minds want to know..

dennis m plante

Johnny Northside said...

To Mike T,

I don't have time to sit down with you, but send me a long email missive and if I have questions I'll ask you, OK?

Meanwhile, I have another source who said he could help me with the inside scoop about WHO.

I'll go back and add an addendum about the issue being referred to committee, but it was basically whether or not to give formal support to Lennie Chism. As for NRRC, a woman from NRRC got up and spoke--first saying NRRC wasn't dead--and articulated support for Chism, if that helps you.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the wise choice would have been to put a "buy option" on the property for $3k prior to approaching the community for support, instead of buying the property out-right, prior to fully developing a business plan and the necessary community support?

Anonymous said...

Did i read that Lennie was still in his building for months after foreclosure? Purchased Uncle Bills for $3,000? Has MTCT to bring an entrepreneur program? Had a room of supporter last night? Has a contract with MN DOT for business development?
Well Johnny, it appears Lennie is doing a pretty good.

Is this personal for you Johnny?

Johnny Northside said...

But consider what could have happened at that point: Lennie may have been told, "If the right developer buys the place, community support might be possible. But that right developer is clearly not YOU, Lennie."

Of course, it depends how you define community support. The community appears sharply divided over this. However, the actual powers that be (city council, city inspections) are the ones who will decide, and it's clear Lennie Chism has no creditability as far as they are concerned.

So it's like the outcome has already been determined, and the pro-Lennie supporters are just wasting their breath.

Johnny Northside said...

I was trying to respond to Anonymous at 1:39, not the one at 1:52.

To the anonymous at 1:52, I guess managing to stay in a foreclosed building is a scrappy, survival-oriented form of "success." For the record, Lennie didn't have a room full of supporters. The sentiment in the room was sharply divided.

Like I told Lennie, "I never said you weren't a GOOD bullshitter."

Lennie is indeed a character. That doesn't mean he could succeed in this endeavor. I am strongly considering starting a "wrecking ball pool" to guess the date, hour and minute that Uncle Bill's goes down.

Anonymous said...

One thing for sure - you never saw Lennie owing Uncle Bills, finding supporters that sent Don Samuels out the room with damn near boos

Lennie is in your head 24 7 now.

Anonymous said...

Why do people ask for support from a neighborhood organization and then became surprised when someone questions their skills and abilities??? If Mr. Chism had the ability to do this project, ie, meaning the CAPITAL, then he wouldn't need to look to the neighborhood for this sort of support. Instead, he would just do it, and the residents would support this buiness if they like it, and we would be impressed. He would build reputation in the community as a mover-and-shaker, and when he said he could pull something like this off, we could believe him. It's called CREDIBILITY. You get it from doing stuff RIGHT. By the way, all the talk of 1901 really has me wonder what Mr. Chism's private residents look like. I hope it is in better condition than 1901.

Anonymous at July 17, 2009 12:35 PM, if you didn't think this blog made a difference, then why are you reading it? One could argue that is has already made a difference with you since you read it a commented, and in doing so you have taken a defensive approach to the issue.

Finally, I love campaign years. There is always somebody self-reporting that they represent the community, who seem to forget that the people currently representing the City are from the community. Please, oh please, Al Flower and Kenya McKnight, when you read this, do those of us of color in the community from the northside a favor and take Poly-Sci 101 before taking public office. Please. Seriously. PLEASE.

Don Allen said...

To all the people that have sat on their asses and just complained...

"Shame on you!"

No Jobs in the community = Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians and Somali's selling drugs.

No Economic Development in the community = Blights and boarded up buildings.

Jackie Cherryhomes in the community = "That's a whole other story!"

Homewood Confidential said...

John, like many of us, is merely being a pragmatist.

Mr. Chism's reputation will matter a great deal if/when he goes before the City Council to attempt the rezoning necessary to open a commercial enterprise at that location. You can call it a personal attack, but it DOES MATTER in the grand scheme of things. Plus, Minneapolis just doesn't do spot zoning changes.

Furthermore, according to Don Samuels, 75% of the neighbors within a certain distance of Uncle Bill's would have to support the zoning change. There is virtually no chance of that happening, for the very reason that if commercial zoning were approved and the project failed, there would be nothing to stop another developer from coming in and placing a convenience store there, thereby reopening Pandora's Box. Besides, there are large commercially-zoned properties all around Plymouth and Penn, and they even have the necessary room for the off-street parking required by city codes, which Uncle Bill's does not. The city simply does not approve 100% parking variances.

Next is the matter of the insane cost of the structural repairs necessary - $350,000 merely to preserve what's there now. Actually spiffing the place up is over and above that, people. Be practical.

The Willard-Homewood community screamed for years to get Uncle Bill's shut down. Dozens of block clubs sprung into existence solely in reaction to the threat this crime center represented. As Michelle Lewis mentioned, during the first three years of living on the same block as Uncle Bill's, she was in fear just walking to or from the bus stop, and had bullets come through her front window. Last night's show of force by Lennie Chism supporters is more indicative of this matter being announced as a surprise agenda item less than 36 hours before the meeting. That much is highly suspect.

As Don Samuels recounted last night, even convenience stores on the Northside that were operated by church pastors were sources of drug activity and police calls, so the whole notion that the right management could do a better job than Bill Sanigular or Ali Hassan Meshjell is a specious claim at best.

Would I love to have tons of convenience businesses in my neighborhood? Absolutely. Offhand, I'd love to have a shoe repair shop, a florist, an ice cream stand, a convenience store with GOOD produce, sit-down restaurants, and a tailor, though I'm perfectly willing to continue making the trek up to 44th & Penn to patronize Mighty Stitch, or the one in Bryn Mawr.

But does the community have the critical mass necessary to support these enterprises? I don't think we're there yet. A lot is riding on what the economy does this year and the repopulation of all the vacant/foreclosed homes. Plus, the Harrison neighborhood seems to be much farther along in the process of establishing an organic food store/co-op at Penn and Glenwood. We really ought to be supporting that nascent endeavor rather than this proposal, which is in entirely the wrong place.

Johnny Northside said...

You write well!!!

Now write me something else, hint hint.

Anonymous said...

It appears Lennie has already been successful with the first hurdle. He secured the build, a great deal too. Now if the Don Samuels, who states he wants community involvement is about anything more than seeing Black men working as re-entry level jobs, cannot find a way to make this happen, shame on Don. It appears Johnny you want to see a failure - sounding like Rush Limbaugh, oh wait you green party like in North Dakota loser who got kicked off the city council John Hoff.

Shame on you Johnny "North Dakota Loser" Hoff

Johnny Northside said...

Yeah, I'll be starting the pool pretty soon to pick the day and hour that building bites the dust.

Anonymous said...

It seems Kenya McKnight was appointed to the committee by her friend Al MacFarland, to investigate whether to support his other friend, Lennie Chism in a dubious business venture in the Willard Homewood neighborhood. Aside from the obvious questionable appointment, a quick DEX search reveals that Ms. McKnight lives at 1230 Morgan Ave N., OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF WILLARD HOMEWOOD. Likewise Mr. Flowers lives outside the neighborhood, too. As, I bet, do most of the "supporters" of Lennie who showed up last night. Was a sign-in sheet created? I'd also be very curious who else is on the committee.

Johnny Northside said...

That's Al McFarlane, note spelling, but, yeah, interesting what you're saying about Kenya McKnight's address.

Anonymous said...

Where does "The Heckler" live??

Any one know? Post here.

How about Johnny No Sense? said...

These are the adventures of Johnny Northside?

After reading this crap for the better part of a few days, I now understand why so many folks are stirred up in anger over your blog. This will be my first and last post.

These ARE personal attacks and half-informed judgements, no matter how you look at this blog. It's all here, in past posts, for as long as this blog goes back. This is not responsible reporting or ethical's blogging with redneck righteousness, daily axe-grinding and twisted logic.

Jerry, Ben, Al, Reverend, Lennie, etc, etc.... Do you ever stop to think that you are mostly obsessed with what's wrong with people (mostly black), and not about who's working hard to make things better? I don't mean the few people that you promote over and over. I'm talking about the VERY MANY people who show up everyday to try and make a positive difference.

The fact that you don't know who the women from Northpoint and NRRC are, speaks loudly about your lack of knowledge about who's who and who's doing what. Instead of relying on your same 'sources' over and again, why don't you make a few calls and knock on a few doors by YOURSELF, and put into practice real journalism.

I'm amazed that anyone references or links to this at all. It seems to start with your aggressive and disgruntled opinions. Then, you have the same 6 or 7 people supporting your points of view like clockwork. You post, they agree. You bash, they bash too. You say we outta run 'em out of the Northside, they scheme with you. You tell us how great you are, they kiss your a** some more. Pathetic. Real independent thinkers, your regulars are.

North Minneapolis is a very big place. Go ahead, live a miserable life thinking you can change everyone and everything in it to your satisfaction. Do you ever wonder if the great majority of residents who've been here for years really want yet another negative voice? Do you even know how to focus and WORK with others on solutions rather than fixate on problems?

Figure it out, guy. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Having lived here with extended family all my life and having known many good neighbors, I can say with great conviction that you are not the Johnny I hope the Northside is to be mentioned alongside.

Johnny Northside said...

If you would like to provide the names of the two women who spoke on behalf of Northpoint and NRRC, feel free to do so.

Since the first thing the one woman said is that NRRC is not (contrary to popular belief) dead...well, that's an admission right there of how obscure NRRC has become. Pardon me that I don't know her name off the top of my head. How fortunate we have an open forum for this kind of info, which you criticized me for not providing but then it appears like maybe you don't really have it either.

The Mortgage Geek said...

Sherrie Pugh is the Executive Director at NRRC. Since I arrived late, I can't say if she was the ONLY person who spoke on behalf of NRRC, but she did make the comment about NRRC not being dead.

Johnny Northside said...

Thanks for the info, Mortgage Geek.

Anonymous said...

Seems as if the old mules are circling the wagons. It was apparent from Samuel's weak statements he has not a plan for curing the problems of North Minneapolis.

Lennie was correct in stating something to the effect - "You can't burn it, knock it down, board it up, or send enough to jail - you got to learn to engage the community by empowering community ownership.

Cherryhomes never had a plan for the lots on plymouth and penn. She was took broke to pull off the deal. Neither has the Don in the years he has been elected. Oh, those days are numbered it appears cause Lennie is talking jobs - Samuel opposes jobs... hum

Thus, a great idea comes along. Shot the messenger - as Lennie stated, he would be happy to be part of progress to produce jobs and a better Northside. Wait, did he say a place to eat outside on a nice day was part of his plan?

Oh John, what do you do for a living - or is that why you live in North Minneapolis cause you to broke to live in other parts of the city.

By the way, did anyone ever ask Lennie, since yall have stated he is broke, how Springboard came up the $3000?

Oh, wait, maybe it is an investment in his community?

John, have you invested in the community? By the way, do u even have a job?

Oh, your mouth is the investment.

Johnny Northside said...

There was a food cooperative on the West Bank near U of M and, good god, they couldn't keep THAT location open. How is "Uncle Lennie's" going to stay open? By constant and massive public subsidy?

If Lennie's plan was so freaking good, somebody would come along and offer him a quick profit for the building and do it themselves--somebody with the JACK to pull it off, that person not being LENNIE.

However, I will say this much: THANK YOU LENNIE CHISM FOR THE GREAT NORTH MINNEAPOLIS SOAP OPERA. You are god's gift to bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Northside said...

Oh, cripes.

The link above goes to the Minneapolis property website and shows Lennie is involved with a property on Emerson Ave. N. where there has been a lack of utilities since 4/20/09.

I assume that's an investment property?

Anonymous said...

Don Allen Said -

To all the people that have sat on their asses and just complained...

"Shame on you!"

No Jobs in the community = Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians and Somali's selling drugs.

No Economic Development in the community = Blights and boarded up buildings.

Jackie Cherryhomes in the community = "That's a whole other story!"

Don, you're an intelligent guy. I cannot believe you'd expect everyone to rubber-stamp a development project such as this, without the appropriate information related to the project being provided to them.

dennis m plante

The Mortgage Geek said...

Before anybody comes along and says why JNS and his readers are taking such a hard look at Lennie Chism, I am going to pose this question:

What do you think the city of Minneapolis is going to do if Lennie as the owner is going to try and reverse the demolition process?

Johnny Northside said...

Hey, everybody, don't forget to go to the thread where you can win ETERNAL BLOG GLORY by predicting the day, hour and minute that "Uncle Lennie's" is demolished!

Anonymous said...

If it is such a good deal "Lennie" just do it, you got everything lined up, perhaps you picked the wrong spot, Its called free market, why didn't you think of the zoning ahead of time? Seems like the entire city is suppose to change direction just to please, Lennie, Al, and the other "COMPLAINERS"? Why are you asking for a "Special Dispensation?" "Jobs" Where is the business plan? Who is your banker? I read a lot of "BS" coming from peoples finger tips, We recently invested our own $ in a housing redevelopment, "Didn't ask Don" and didn't ask Lennie! We just did it. We will be hiring folks to do some of the work, and we have used goods and services. If you are so smart, you don't need a Don, just do it, or is it easier to sit back and complain complain about others? Where will Lennie and Al be when the shots start ringing out again? Probably the same place B&J and Jerry where when the were ringing out on 26th Ave. As my pappy used to say, talk is cheap takes $ to buy whiskey. If those folks think "Lennie's" idea is so hot, put your $350K on the table. If not you are wasting electrons. I would use my name but seems Frivolous Expensive Lawsuits are in fashion.

Anonymous said...

Mortgage Geek Said -

"Before anybody comes along and says why JNS and his readers are taking such a hard look at Lennie Chism, I am going to pose this question:

What do you think the city of Minneapolis is going to do if Lennie as the owner is going to try and reverse the demolition process?"

More to the point, why won't ANY of those criticial towards the overwhelming skepticism being voiced on this blog towards this unfounded project, provide ANYTHING of substance to substantiate the projects' worthiness?

ANYONE???? No, it's much easier to take unfounded pot-shots at the blog's founder, or the 5th ward Council Member, or the "redenecks" (as one critic so aptly put-it), then it is to have a reasonable and logical conversation about the pros and cons of the development project.

Shame on those that would insist on perpetuating the cycle of failure in NOMI by stooping to these tactics. If ANY of you actually had the best interests of NOMI or ANY of its' residents at heart, you'd insist that the necessary business data be presented for this project to move forward.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 6:53pm: appears obvious that it is quite evenly matched, if not in favor of a co-op/organic foods store, especially if you step away from your computer long enough to TALK to people in the community.

Do we really have to explain to you why such a store is needed, versus another empty lot?

Necessary business data? Do you always hound someone as soon as they announce their intentions as to whether they're worthy enough to seek development in North Minneapolis of all places, where development is scarce? Ever heard of patience? Do YOU make things happen in a day? Let the man put his plan together without harassment, and maybe you might be pleasantly surprised.

Yes, let's follow JNS sterling personal example and insist everyone have college degrees before they get good jobs, have impeccable past records before they choose to be involved in community affairs, and have only success, success and more success in their rear view mirror before they dare to pursue an American dream of owning a business.

And the critic you mentioned at least SPELLED redneck correctly. Not to mention being spot-on in their assessment of JNS pathology.

The cycle of failure in NOMI is perpetuated by the likes of you, who come up with silly monikers for distressed neighborhoods BEFORE you have something worthwhile to present to the larger metro area.

I'm rooting for Lennie to succeed, if for no other reason than it feels good to wish someone well, rather than predict failure for them.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is presenting this argument as "people who are for an organic food store" vs. people who are "against an organic food store" are willfully misrepresenting the issue.

The question is whether this location and this developer are appropriate for this project.

The facts are:
a) Lennie Chism is incapable of owning a property and keep it from being an urban blight.

b) Once the zoning is changed, the building will forever, forever be doomed to be a grocery store. The fact that Lennie refuses to even acknowledge this concern of the people on the block as legitimate indicates his lack of fitness to develop a neighborhood project, and his utter contempt for the people who live in the immediate area.

b) There is a great co-op being planned IN THE CORRECT WAY just down the block on Glenwood that this project would compete with, but Lennie and his zombie-like "fans" display absolutely zero curiosity about this project, as they would if, in fact, bringing organic food to the northside was of even the slightest interest to any of them.

c) This site is entirely inappropriate for a grocery store--it is too small, it is on an isolated end of Plymouth, it has a long history of being a drug corner that has been fought over by gangs for generations, who will be right back tempting any new owners with kickbacks, it directly abuts residential homes, whose yards, even under the best circumstances, will again be filled with litter if this property is rezoned as commercial.

d) There are appropriate commercial lots on the corner of Plymouth and Penn. If Lennie were responsible and serious about the success of his project, he would have consulted with neighbors before acquiring this property and ramming this project down our throats.

e) Rezoning this property as commercial will have consequences that will far outlast any of us, and which Lennie cannot control. This question is bigger than Lennie . I would not support any commercial project at that corner.

f) I'm not sure Lennie even knows what a co-op is, what healthy food is, or what organic food is, and how any of these things differ from a convenience store, since during the meeting he was using all these terms interchangeably. When he's talking about having one vendor to supply all the food--that's a convenience store he's planning, even if he doesn't know it, or doesn't want to admit it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:49 wrote:

"The cycle of failure in NOMI is perpetuated by the likes of you, who come up with silly monikers for distressed neighborhoods BEFORE you have something worthwhile to present to the larger metro area.

I'm rooting for Lennie to succeed, if for no other reason than it feels good to wish someone well, rather than predict failure for them."

Wish him well? What about the other residents in the neighborhood that have been impacted by the activity on that street corner? Do you wish them well? Are you even remotely considering their well-being? I think not.

There's a motivation behind what you write, and it isn't related to the well-being of NOMI. It's related to the well-being of a select "few".

Let's digest for a moment, what makes this under-capitalized, management-expertise starved, half thought-out "business idea" even remotely possible. A guy bought a building slated for demolition for $3,000. That's it in a nutshell.

Because he now owns this building (that's slated for demolition) he believes that his "expertise" and his "vision" should sway public/government opinion.

Yet, when elements within the public voice concerns about the viability of the project, their skepticism is met with nothing of substance.

There's an elephant sitting squarely in the middle of this crowded room and everyone is refusing to talk about it. This has nothing to do with what is, or isn't in the best intterests of that particular community. And quite frankly, most of the same old "players" queing-up to take part in this little fiasco don't even reside there.

Anonymous said...

If Lennie were smart and if he actually is the owner of that building, he'd spend the time between now and when it's demolished to strip-out the salvageable items from the property to recoup his purchase cost.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:49 said -

"I'm rooting for Lennie to succeed, if for no other reason than it feels good to wish someone well, rather than predict failure for them."

If you truly want "to wish someone to succeed and it feels good to you to wish someone well, instead of predicting the failure for them", then wish the residents living in close proximity to that building well, as they've FINALLY freed themselves and their children of the evil influences its represented in the recent past. They are the REAL beneficiaries of the inevitable demolityion of that structure. Maybe, just maybe, some of the children living close to that building will now gone on to make something of their lives instead of getting caught-up in the "crap" associated with that structure.

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the moment at which Lennie learns that when the building gets demolished, he gets the bill. For a building that size, what do you think? $35K, $45K, more?

Oh boy.

JM Spotter said...

My bet is that JERRY L. MOORE posted the comment "How about Johnny No Sense?" on July 17, 2009 4:42 PM.

Axe grinding
Personal Attacks
A** kissing
Racial issues
Comments about journalism

Jerry, just us your name next time.

Anonymous said...

JM Spotter
Could you tell if it was posted on a JACC owned Computer or JACC owned Black Berry? Taking the neighborhood to the last penny!

Anonymous said...

JM Spotter and friends:

The Johnny No Sense post was written by a senior citizen and life long resident of North Minneapolis. This person has a distinguished history of organizing and funding youth sports activities, charitable social justice giving, and civic festivals and parades. A business owner who raised and schooled children on the Northside, this person was very involved in church community and neighborhood improvement.

We're talking 1950's, 60's and 70's here. While the kids grew up, this person insisted on staying here, even though health issues and general peace of mind might have been better served elsewhere.

I know this beecause we have been talking a lot recently about how people do not work very well together in this day as much as they did in that era. How a lot of people think the successes of the past, and how they were achieved are not relevant to the present.

I also know this because I lent this person my computer for a week to read what's being posted and discussed in the new age of information.

I think this post should be taken to heart, as it came from the heart of someone who devoted much of their life to the people and neighborhoods of North Minneapolis.