Saturday, March 21, 2009

Local And Sustainable Food In The North Loop Neighborhood

Local D'lish sells local food from local farmers, plus some stuff that is not local but raised with "fair trade" and "sustainable" practices. ("Local" is defined to include, for example, farmers in Wisconsin)

Today was Winter Farmers Market, which featured many of the producers whose items are sold in the store. I could have stayed there all day and delighted in free samples...

The store is located at 208 North 1st Street, which is in North Loop. I hear North Loop is part of North Minneapolis but "doesn't like to admit it." That's what I hear.

The founder of Local D'lish is a resident of the Jordan Neighborhood, Ann Yin, who credits her daughter, CC, and husband, Yulin, with giving her lots of support. Here's some details, told through pictures, top to bottom. 

First, the woman in the first picture is cooking a Danish pastry called "aebleskiver," shown in the next photo. Aebleskiver is kind of like a doughnut with pieces of apple inside, served with maple syrup, pepper jam, or whatever you like with your aebleskiver. (Local D'lish recently sponsored a "aebleskiver show down." I guess the woman pictured above was the sole survivor?) The pastry was very good and, surprisingly, not at all greasy.  

Aebleskiver is shaped like a ball, and skill is required to make the batter form the correct shape while cooking. I asked if it's traditional to use a knitting needle for that purpose--like I saw the aebleskiver-maker doing--and she informed me this was, in fact, the preferred method. Either a knitting needle or a crochet hook, she said. 

Next, the owner of "Chin Dian" Cafe was at the market, selling "ginger syrup," which she invented. She gave me a sample on a small pancake. It was great, and (I thought) more invigorating than maple syrup. Wouldn't you rather put something on your morning pancakes that says "WAKEY WAKEY!!!!!!" 

"Chin Dian" refers to the fact the cafe serves food that is a fusion of Indian and Chinese.

In looking up information about the cafe, I ended up discovering "Chindia" is a label used to refer to the combined economic power of China and India. Fascinating. 

The next photo shows the owner of Local D'Lish (Check out their website at, be sure you spell it D-L-I-S-H.)  The last photo shows olive oil, labeled by year, just like wine vintages. There were many other great products at the store, like homemade soap, and a farmer who would fill up a crate for you with a variety of products, all from his farm--but I couldn't stay to photograph all of it. 

Besides...anybody who has read to this point will want to discover all the delights of Local D'Lish for themselves. 

The "Fashion And Design District" Of The North Loop Neighborhood

Photos By John Hoff 

Today I saw what appears to be the up-and-coming "Fashion and Design District" of the North Loop neighborhood, where I went to a farmer's market and browsed a "man-sessories" store with Megan Goodmundson of the Jordan Neighborhood. 

What amazing potential is apparent in this charming area of old industrial buildings! 

(Do not click "Read More")  

Don Allen Of IBNN "Calls Out" North Side Marketing Task Force

ADDENDUM: February 6, 2011. This blog post was written before I and many others in North Minneapolis discovered what a disreputable con man character Don Allen is. I would advise anybody: Do not trust Don Allen. Seek further information about Don Allen from various online sources before having any contact with him.

Last week, when I was covering that really fun "Credentials Committee" meeting in the 5th Ward, I ran into Don Allen of the "IBNN" blog and discussion turned to the North Side Marketing Task Force...

Some questions were "what the heck are they doing, lately?" and "who is the chair of the organization, these days?" (It was Jerry Moore at one point)

In the course of that conversation, Don Allen gave this blog some praise, more than I think I deserve. You see, I told Allen that--it seemed to me--in the last month my blog was doing more to market and publicize North Minneapolis than, gee, the entire North Side Marketing Task Force, combined.

I was willing to say this mostly because NSMTF seemed to have done exactly NOTHING in the last month, and--with the release of the movie trailer for "The Adventures of Johnny Northside"--I could make the argument that this blog and the unrelated-but-closely-affiliated documentary movie effort had done A LOT.

In the past month, that is. I restricted my comment to the past month.

But Allen was willing to take things even further. Allen said this blog had done more to market North Minneapolis in the past YEAR than the North Side Marketing Task Force. I should point out that my "marketing" of North Minneapolis is an application of a theory I call "Market and Romanticize The Struggle."

Well, it appears Don Allen hasn't let go of his questions about what's up with the NSMTF. He recently fired off an email to, among others, Mike Kestner. (Mike may or may not be the chair, it's hard to tell...even when you ask Mike)

Here's what Don Allen wrote:

There seems to be questions about the effectiveness of the NMTF that I would like to cover in a upcoming story next week. It has been almost 2 years and the Task Force has not addressed community issues, involved themselves in positioning for stimulus dollars to assist businesses in North Minneapolis, nor tried to collaborate with organizations like the West Broadway Business Area Coalition.

Being the former vice-chair of the organization, I've has a chance to evaluate the effectiveness of the group from a "hands-off" point of view. With the lack of community engagement, this organization looks like they are on the verge of folding. This City of Minneapolis and Charitable Organizations are aware of the task force and the troubles with Mr. Moore as it pertains to the JACC controversy, yet no official statement has been put out to the media or community stakeholders that would separate you from this ugly corrupt mess.

In the NMTF original mission, it states that the NMTF would help to bring a better perception of North Minneapolis through tools of marketing, community journalism and community engagement. If that is not your current mission, then as I predicted in 2008, the task force will become another "passive" agency that benefit no-one on the North side. I am prepared to bring V-Media Development Corporation - a Minnesota non-profit that addresses disparities in marketing, advertising and public relations with a pro-active-aggressive advocacy arm to assist with building capacity for communities like north Minneapolis to the forefront and show the task force what a "marketing non-profit" does.

I have sent a request for application to again become a part of the task force and gotten no reply. If the application process set up by Mr. Moore is in place, the community members with true responsibility will never have the opportunity to actively engage the task force or north Minneapolis.

This is a request for an update on the NMTF, its current mission and when you plan to at least have a website, news blog and real community sponsorship.

(End of Don Allen's email)

At today's North Minneapolis Housing Fair, I ran into Mike Kestner--who appeared, at least at that moment--to be staffing the NSMTF table single-handed--and I asked, you know, who is the chair, these days, of the NSMTF?

Kestner told me "We're working on that."

Working on who is the CHAIR? I asked.

Kestner said he understood I'd like information, but, well...they're working on it.

About a year ago I tried to become a member of this task force. I didn't make it. Since then, I know at least two prominent individuals have thrown up their hands and quit the task force. It is, however, not accurate to say the task force lacks a website. The task force has a handful of websites, none of which appear to be updated with any great frequency. (In fact, one of the websites is filled with stuff from 2007, including announcement of an "upcoming" meeting which was "upcoming" before Obama was the Democratic nominee for president)

The actual "marketing" of North Minneapolis has therefore fallen to the press, bloggers, and the energetic, creative and cohesive NOMI group. The North Side Marketing Task Force has promised much yet only produced rudimentary websites, seldom updated, and some kind of cryptic leaf logo.

Three easy options present themselves:

# Disband and get out of the way of NOMI.

# Start paying people like Don Allen and myself to blog about North Minneapolis, rather than counting on bloggers to continue what are, in effect, unsubsidized volunteer efforts which require a great deal of time, effort, and sometimes expenses. (Well, I shouldn't say my efforts are COMPLETELY unsubsidized. Pete's Hardwood Floors recently promised me an X-large t-shirt, and one for Connie Nompelis, too, in "Size Dental Floss.")

# Remain perpetually dormant and hope nobody notices once this blog post and Don Allen's upcoming article have fallen in the Google rankings.

North Minneapolis Housing Fair

Photos By John Hoff, Connie's
hotness by God Himself

The North Minneapolis Housing Fair happened today at North High, and appeared to be a success. I was only there briefly, but I managed to facilitate some introductions, plus I made off with fridge magnets and a t-shirt from the Northside Marketing Task Force.

(Yes, THEY STILL EXIST!!!! Rumors of extinction, terminal illness and/or cryogenic preservation are greatly exaggerated. More on that in a moment)

Above are pictures of City Council Member Don Samuels, JACC Chair Kip Browne, and real estate agent Connie Nompelis, who gave a talk

Foreclosures!!!! Yeah, that's it. 

(Do not click "Read More")

Don Samuels (Almost) Upstaged By His Daughter At Campaign Kick Off Event

City Councilman Don Samuels had a successful and well-attended political campaign event. Two different attendees sent me pictures and firsthand accounts. Here is what I was told...

Despite the cold and rain, northsiders and folks from all over the metro came together at a large beautiful home across from North Commons Park to enjoy good food, good company and the good efforts of Don (and Sondra!) Samuels. The huge house quickly filled up, elbow to elbow, with a who's who that included city council members, county commissioners, state elected officials as well as the REAL power people - the neighborhood people of the northside that make the wheels turn.

Everyone had a great time, everyone stayed way longer than they thought they would because it was so nice to run into other neighbors from close and from across the ward who they that hadn't seen since we all went into hibernation back in November.

At the height of the party everyone gathered to listen to the man of the night, Council Member Don Samuels. But we were actually charmed and all fell in love with little 8-year-old Amani, who delivered a little speech she wrote to introduce her dad. Don clearly had some competition to NOT be upstaged by this future community leader.

Don did a great job of verbalizing what we all know in our hearts --that North Minneapolis will be the poster child of Urban Revitalization and the American Dream will be a fulfilled promise for all its residents--regardless of background, age, race, class and status. Everyone.

A nice way to spend the first evening of Spring: talking about renewal, growth, life, and regeneration.

Thanks to my source for that firsthand account. Here is more info.

I am told Don Samuels specifically mentioned "the 900 block of West Broadway" and the drug dealing in that area. These things, Don said, would be going away as Broadway continues to be revitalized.

It was good to hear this specific mention of the 900 block of West Broadway--where there is an open air drug market at and near the Hawthorn (sic) Crossings Strip Mall. This morning I had to run a gauntlet of drug dealers to pick up a chocolate shake for my kid, so I'll continue to bang the drum about the ongoing problems at this location, and the lack of a meaningful security by Hawthorn (sic) Crossings management.

In the meantime, word on the street says Don Samuels' challenger, Kenya McKnight, had a campaign event today, at 10 a.m., at Farview Park.

Johnny Northside NEWS FLASH: Farview Park is NOT PART OF WARD FIVE, KENYA.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The "Lost Victorian" At 3216 3rd Ave. S.

Photos By Connie Nompelis

There was an alarming and sudden demolition of an old Victorian house in South Minneapolis, and though it may be a case of "mission creep" for this North Minneapolis blog to report on the matter, I am concerned that what happens in South may not remain in South, but could become a pattern in North.

Connie Nompelis (pronounced NO-bliss) forwarded me these pictures, and a firsthand account from a neighbor, David Piehl, as follows:

Imagine my surprise, yesterday evening, when I drove down 3rd Avenue and found 3216 to be completely gone...

...except the front porch base, a hole in the ground, and a backhoe near the alley.

This property is not on the most recently published 249 list at all, and certainly had not been approved for demolition by CPED or CANDO. Nobody in the neighborhood, as far as I can tell, received ANY notice of a potential demolition for this property. The house itself was attractive on the exterior with the exception of some bad updates on the rear that have been there (for longer than 16 years).

I've since learned that GMHC at some point purchased the house, and according to city records applied for a demolition permit on March 12, 2009. GMHC did not make any notification to the neighborhood at all.

In the 1990s, the neighborhood group asked GMHC to develop certain lots, and the block clubs as well as the housing committee had input not only into site selection, but also design of the new construction from a list of options provided by GMHC. I am appalled that GMHC circumvented the neighborhood altogether, particularly since they are relying on OUR tax dollars to do so!

Central Neighborhood's resident-approved plans call for renovation of older homes and NO demolition unless absolutely necessary. So, while a burned-out home on the 3100 block of Columbus Ave. languishes, 3216 3rd falls to teh backhoe with no notification whatsoever. This demolition flies in the face of the city's efforts to drastically reduce demolitions, demolishing only where necessary...not just because it is cheaper to demolish than fix the existing construction.

This has to stop. So far the private market has been addressing most of the foreclosed homes in Central; GMHC should only be called in to deal with properties that the private market leaves behind, thereby spending scarce tax revenue only where most needed.

Please support a moratorium on GMHC demolition permits until notification processes and standards can be worked out. As far as the vacant lot that was created, I hope we do not have to endure the construction of another GMHC "Milk Carton." The privately developed new construction on this same block (2nd Ave. side) is the model that should be followed, whether or not it is privately developed.

Yesterday, 3216 3rd Ave. S. was hauled to a landfill. By the looks of what was left in the hole, not even the hot water registers were salvaged.

(JNS says: clearly, no attempt to salvage bricks, either)

Remember that the greenest housing is what's already here. The demolition of 3216 is a slap in the face to the block club, the neighborhood group, the city, preservationists, and the green movement. Please address this with all due expediency.

(Piehl's communication was sent to the following city officials: Elizabeth A. Glidden, Council Member Gary Schiff, Robert Lilligren, and Lisa Goodman)

Doing Laundry With The Drug Dealers At Hawthorn (Sic) Crossings Strip Mall

Last night, I got my laundry half-finished at the apartment of the neighborhood housing director, Jeff Skrenes, and so I had to haul back a big rubberized canvas bag of stuff that was clean-but-wet. I thought, well, I'll just go to Spin Cycle at Hawthorn (Sic) Crossings strip mall. My plan was that I'd go early in the morning, before the drug dealers awoke from their long slumber, visions of crack fairies dancing in their heads...

I figured if I got to the strip mall first thing in the morning, I wouldn't have to rub elbows with the thugs. Well, no such luck. The thugs have their own form of a work ethic, and they were actually out in force.

I read a discarded newspaper--the story of two North Minneapolis minors who beat a woman to death, and her 10-year-old son--while, outside in the parking lot, drug business was brisk.

At one point, one of the dealers came inside and sat in the corner. A woman who was sweeping the floor at the laundromat came up to him and told him, politely, he'd have to take his business outside. He stood up with a surly look, but walked outside, silently.

Gee, I wish my friend Jeff had a better clothes dryer.

There's a story behind my big rubberized canvas bag, which is so convenient for laundry and--just as importantly--conveys a certain sense of self-worth that you just don't get from hauling your laundry around in a black plastic garbage bag. Every time I see somebody hauling their clothes around in a garbage bag I think, "Does this person have no sense of self-esteem?"

Anyway, here's the story of where I got the bag.

I was working for an owner of "affordable apartments mogul" in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and one day he told me to clean out a storage locker which had been abandoned for, lo, many years. I took the contents of the locker--well, the stuff I didn't want for myself--to the Association For Retarded Citizens thrift store, per my usual practice.

But I kept that big rubberized canvas bag, which originally held ice skates and hockey equipment. The name of the hockey player is actually written inside, in Sharpie marker.

Well, a day or two after we cleaned out the storage locker, somehow the owner of the junk got word and was REALLY UPSET.
He ended up going to the ARC thrift store and, I hear, buying back his own skates, venting his rage on the handicapped. (Which was a lot better than being told his stuff was in a landfill, I think. Waste not, want not)

But I still have the rubberized canvas bag. The owner of the apartment building told me, heck no, I didn't need to give back the bag to that (expletive). Just keep it. So I've had the bag since, like, about 2003.

In the back of my mind, though, I'm always expecting some angry "Fighting Sioux" hockey player to come charging up to me at a laundromat, yelling, "HEY!!! THAT'S MY SKATE BAG!!!!!!"

This minor worry was not on my mind today, however, as I did laundry within sight of drug deals in the parking lot of the Hawthorn (Sic) Crossings strip mall.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Hawthorne Annex" Features Broadway Pizza, Luxury Condos

If you're totally into neighborhood politics and culture, then you develop a certain feeling for what is the "norm" of your neighborhood, versus what is an anomaly. For example: Homewood mansion district? Within the Willard Hay neighborhood, this is an anomaly.

Well, the Hawthorne Neighborhood has its own anomaly. On the other side of the highway, there is a section of the neighborhood which has, among other things,... condos with riverfront views. These condos are just a short distance--walking distance, really--from the popular Broadway Pizza restaurant.

This section of the neighborhood--our housing director, Jeff Skrenes, once dubbed it the "Hawthorne Annex"--is cut off from the rest of Hawthorne by the highway. Though the Mississippi is OFFICIALLY one of the boundaries of our neighborhood, for all practical purposes Interstate 94 is really the boundary. But then there's the "Hawthorne Annex," sitting between I-94 and the river.

Pictured above are the luxury condos of the Hawthorne Neighborhood, with riverfront views.

Ah, now that's North Minneapolis living!

Misery Was A Pit Bull At 416 31st Ave. N.

"Patty Cake" told me some history about a month ago, which I'm just now getting around to writing up. I should emphasize THIS IS NOT HOW THINGS ARE NOW in the Eco Village area. We've cleaned that mess up. A couple weeks ago, a crime statistics map was generated showing NO CRIME in that area. But a few years ago...

...pit bulls were being raised for dog fights at 416 31st Ave. N. This was before 416 31st Ave. N. was owned by Ade and Nimmy Esuoso, who are the current owners. (They were the ones who got ripped off when tenants left, taking plumbing and aluminum window frames, documented on this blog shortly after it happened)

Patty Cake tells me nobody who owns that house has actually lived there in recent memory, it has been a rental for a long time, housing various forms of misery. Some years ago the renters were raising pit bulls and training the dogs for illegal dog fights. One pit bull was made to run, endlessly, on a tread mill. The renters at the house would parade their pit bulls around, with big chains on the dogs' necks, and barbell weights hanging off the chains. They would parade the miserable dogs around the neighborhood like that, proudly.

The old Polish woman, who lived right next door, would yell at the residents of "416" over their inhumane treatment of the dogs. "Patty Cake" wouldn't yell. She would call various authorities in charge of dealing with animal cruelty. She would call them over and over, she would call the office of her city council person and the office of the former mayor. "Patty Cake" would make these calls constantly, but never seemed to get anywhere, though periodically authorities would come by and make half-assed attempts at investigation.

Patty Cake remembers how there was one dog with many wounds, trying to get out of the heat, and it somehow got over the fence and laid on the roof of Dylan's dog house. (The Polish woman had a dog at that time named "Dylan." Now her dogs are "Sparky" and "Miko.")

The injuries on the dog looked like "raw meat," according to Patty Cake, and hoards of black flies would eat off the open wounds. Patty made her "good citizen" calls over and over, including calling a lobbyist who was considered the "go to guy" for pit bull investigations.

But Patty Cake didn't get anywhere, and the canine misery continued.

It ended, however. It ended, but not in the way anybody expected. There was a police raid for drugs, and police shot two of the dogs. After the raid, trucks were lined up on the street and they removed one dog after another from the property. One of the dogs they killed was not a pit bull, but a brown dog. The Polish Woman would often throw wieners to this brown dog, and because of this one of the guys at the house would complain it must be the Polish Woman calling the authorities all the time. But the guy's mother would tell him to shut up, the Polish Woman was merely feeding the dog.

And, in fact, it was "Patty Cake" making all the calls, not the Polish Woman. The Polish Woman would just yell about the mistreatment of the dogs.

After the raid, the tenants moved out. Patty believes the basement was where the pit bull fights were staged, the back yard was where the dogs were exercised. When I had a chance to tour 416 31st Ave. N., because it was on the market (still is, apparently) Patty asked me if I saw any "dried pools of blood" in the basement.

Of course, there was another interesting incident connected with this property. A kid was shot through both legs over a drug debt, as he tried to run away. The Polish Woman saw the shooting, and the Polish Woman's even-more-elderly mother was out in the yard. The Polish Woman shouted--in Polish, of course--for her mother to get down.

Both of the men who were involved in the shooting were apprehended. The Polish Woman said she would not be a witness--she was far too fearful of retribution--but both the shooters confessed because they were told there WAS a witness, so the Polish Woman was able to do her duty without actually having to risk her life.

According to Patty Cake--who heard it directly from the Polish Woman--"they shot him good, blood was really spurting."

This is how things used to be in the Eco Village. This is not how it is anymore. And when the drug-dealing residents of 3020 6th St. N. get evicted in the relatively-near future, we will be even further along in our revitalization progress.

JACC Chair Kip Browne Gives A Home Tour

Kip Browne has a wonderful, nicely-decorated house just two doors down from City Council Member Don Samuels, where Kip lives with his lovely new wife Kelly.

Some features of the house include Kip's basement "man cave" where he keeps weight-lifting equipment and Star Wars collectibles. Jeff Skrenes was over the same night and his jealousy over Kip's tricked-out "geek-o-topia" hung heavy in the air like the stench of Jabba the Hut's breath. Another room was dedicated to Kip's guitars, with lots of art hanging on the walls.

I noticed a framed...

...NOMI picture near the kitchen, and snapped a picture of Kip with a wine glass in his hand, as though giving a toast to NOMI and all their great work.

On the deck was a gazebo-like structure, but it was square, not round like most gazebos. Kip joked that it was called a "Gazz-ah-boe."

Kip has a dog that understands German when Kip says stuff like "Platzen sie!" ("Sit.") Browne had an academic fellowship in Germany, and he enthusiastically adopted many aspects of the German lifestyle. After drinking quite a bit of Jose Cuervo and toasting to I-don't-remember-what, we had potatoes and bratwurst. Kip hauled out some hot German mustard in a metallic tube, but it wasn't as hot as the warning--written in German on the label--seemed to imply. It was still pretty good, and complimented the brats. Kelly ate half her chicken cordon bleu and generously gave me the unfinished half. Waste not, want not. My kind of woman.

I think Kip said he paid $64,000 for the house back in 1999, but a lot of alcohol was consumed last night...I couldn't swear to it. As nice as Kip's neighborhood is, there is still a vacant house right across the street. Houses capable of being transformed into what Kip and Kelly posses can probably be snapped up for around $25,000 in this crazy North Minneapolis housing market.

Kip and Kelly have a great life going in North Minneapolis. There are plenty of houses for sale in the Jordan Neighborhood for anybody who wants to live the same great life. Sometimes, it seems, what I call the "Hawthorne Lifestyle" can also be the "Jordan Lifestyle."

Stinky "Durian Fruit" Food Adventure In North Minneapolis ("Smell bad," he said. "But eat good!")

One great thing about my neighborhood has to be all the ethnic food stores, some featuring incredibly exotic and obscure stuff. Since coming here, I've been able to experience culinary adventures I had only previously read about, and within a frugal budget. 

This is the "Hawthorne Lifestyle." Great home ownership and great food is way cheap, plus we're all part of something fun, eco-sustainable, and very meaningful as we transform our neighborhood into urban utopia.

Just the other day I was taking a bike ride on Broadway, heading for the trails along the Mississippi River, when I went past a little hole-in-the-wall Asian store near the 4th Street Bar and Grill....

Inside was an odd assortment of stuff--lots of utensils for sale, Chinese cookbooks printed in the 1980s, decorative items like grinning monkey heads carved from coconuts. The food items in the store were...odd. Some of the items appeared to have been there for quite a long time. There was a fridge stuffed with what appeared to be fire sprinkler components.

But right away I spied a durian fruit. Oh-my-word. I hardly ever see these things for sale anywhere, and when I do, the price is usually way out of my range. I asked how much for the durian fruit. (Another odd aspect of the store was NOTHING had a price tag I could find) They were only $1.59 a pound.

"These are stinky, right?" I asked the store owner. "I've read about these."

"Smell bad," he said. "But eat good!" He suggested I should pry it open with a screw driver at the split. The fruits are about the size of big coconuts, and the husk is hard and pointy, actually painful to hold. I've read there are places in Singapore--like train platforms--where it's actually ILLEGAL to eat durian fruit because of their odor. (But people do it anyway. "Smell bad, but eat good!")

The other clerk told me to try the durian fruit with some ice cream, and I would like it.

I ended up stuffing the durian fruit in my backpack and carrying it to the 5th Ward DFL Credentials Committee meeting, then later that night I had it over at Kip Browne's house while shooting vodka and tequila. My friend Megan Goodmundson dubbed it the "horny fruit."

This morning I went to Cub Foods to get some ice cream; vanilla, of course, no intense flavors to distract from the pure durian fruit experience. I managed to pry the durian open with a combination of a big kitchen knife and my bare hands. Inside, I found a hard fibrous interior which held soft, custard-like inner pulp. The inner pulp was shaped like a chicken drum stick, and hid big brown inedible seeds.

The smell is not nearly as offensive as the hype had led me to believe, but maybe frozen durian doesn't smell nearly as bad as fresh durian. The stench is a sort of a fruity putridness, but it also has a kind of "harsh plant sap" smell, sort of chemical-like, but natural rather than manmade.

I thought I could detect two separate and distinct layers of stench, the fruity part and the chemical stench part. Also, the smell has a tendency to LINGER, whether it's in your kitchen or your fridge.

Like Limburger cheese, durian tastes better than it smells. In fact, it tastes is like the most delicate fruity custard, but with a strong, musky ambiance.

One must slice into the fibrous part of the pulp, and pull it away to reveal the soft and pudding-like drumstick-shaped portions of the durian fruit. One large durian yielded a heaping bowl full of the "custardy" portion of the fruit. And, yes, it was a lot better with ice cream than just by itself.

Don Samuels, Kenya McKnight Campaigns Jockey For Delegates At 5th Ward Credentials Committee

Rumor had it there might be some fireworks at the 5th Ward DFL Credentials Committee, as the campaigns of City Council Member Don Samuels and challenger Kenya McKnight jockey for delegates, with both sides issuing challenges and McKnight alleging intrigue over 8 delegates, which some are now calling "The Kenya 8."

While the Credentials Committee was not nearly as much fun as a JACC meeting, I was not disappointed. Here is my firsthand account...

The meeting took place at Heritage Park, a development located at the former site of high rise, low-income housing which was demolished. I'm told there were lawsuits filed over the demolition of the high rises, the loss of the housing. Another story for another day; in any case, the meeting took place in the community room of the rental office.

The meeting started out, as nearly all North Minneapolis meetings do, with the moving and setting up of chairs. Kip Browne, the new chairman of the Jordan Area Community Council, and Jerry Moore, the former executive director of that organization, put seats in place like they were student government buddies or something. After a while, somebody brought refreshments; bottled water and sandwiches from Subway. No airs being put on, here.

I was able to gather the names of some of the characters in this little drama, both before and after the meeting.

# Jerry Moore, co-chair of the committee, lives at Heritage Park, former executive director of JACC. He is apparently affiliated with the campaign of Kenya McKnight, but critics say Jerry is putting on a pretense of "non-affiliation" and "objectivity."

# Jackie Cherryhomes, co-chair of the committee, former member of the City Council, a resident of the Homewood area of Willard-Hay. She is openly affiliated with the campaign of Don Samuels.

# Brian Bushay. He was not present at this meeting, but he was in charge of running the recent 5th Ward Caucus, collecting information from the "conveners" about who showed up, who became a delegate and an alternate. Kanya McKnight claims she gave documents about 8 absentees to Bushay, but Bushay apparently states he didn't get any such documents. He is married to State Senator Linda Higgins.

# Helen Williams, currently campaigning for Kenya McKnight, but during the last campaign she was affiliated with Don Samuels. Williams does funerals for impoverished people who die in North Minneapolis violence, including the recent funeral for Annshalike Hamilton.

# Kip Browne, chair of the "New Majority" JACC organization, affiliated with the campaign of Don Samuels. Kip Browne seems to be chasing Jerry Moore from one organization to another.

# Vladimir Monroe, up-and-coming North Minneapolis political activist, working for the Samuels campaign.

# Mike Fedor, affiliated with the Kenya McKnight campaign.

There are some other minor players; we'll get to them by-and-by. The meeting began when co-chair Jerry Moore, lacking a gavel, rapped on the table with his knuckles and called for order. I followed as best I could but, of course, nobody had bothered to distribute extra agendas to members of the audience. Jerry had everybody, including those of us in the audience, introduce themselves. He emphasized this was a public meeting. The undertone was unmistakeable: grassroots media is watching everything, folks. You'll be reading about this on the internet, tomorrow.

The discussion quickly turned to "known challenges," and how these challenges were delivered. Jerry Moore said somebody (Vladamir Monroe) had put a document on his front door, instead of handing it to him, and said, "When you hand deliver, you usually hand it to somebody."

Despite this little show of sparks, whatever issue was at hand was quickly resolved; Jackie Cherryhomes made a motion saying that "the credentials committee resolved those issues on March 9, and those people have been appropriately placed in the Fourth Ward."

The really FUN challenges involved a challenge to Vladimir Monroe brought by Ben Meyers (yes, of "Old Majority" JACC fame, while Monroe is part of the "New Majority") as well as a challenge to Laurel Moore brought by Vladamir Monroe. Who is Laurel Moore? Jerry's MOTHER. This was indeed an up-close-and-personal, in-your-face moment in 5th Ward politics.

Kip Browne moved to reject the challenge brought by Ben Myers against Monroe, because there was no indication it was delivered to the state DFL, per the proper procedure, and also Browne wanted to know why a copy of the challenge was not delivered to the March 7 meeting. (This last question was directed, pointedly, to Jerry)

During this whole discussion, I couldn't help but notice Jerry Moore's legs were churning nervously, like he was RIDING A BIKE or something.

Kip Browne's choice to reject the challenge on purely PROCEDURAL grounds was lawyerly and tactical: the motion, if successful, would put Ben Myers--a licensed attorney--in the position of having his challenge rejected because of sloppy inattention to legal technicalities. Browne indicated that he had ANOTHER motion at the ready, if the first one failed--probably the fact Monroe could produce adequate and overwhelming evidence of residency, up to and including his state-issued identification. (One source told me Myers has been "obsessed" for quite a while with proving that Monroe doesn't really live where Monroe does, in fact, live)

The question was called. Moore wanted a show of hands, not a voice vote. The way it shook out was 8 in favor of Kip's motion, 4 opposed, and one abstaining. (That was Makeda Zulu-Gillespie, who indicated she didn't know enough about the controversy to vote either way)

The votes appeared to break down among McKnight versus Samuels supporters, with the "groom's side" sitting on one side of the table, and the "bride's side" sitting on the other, mostly.

Next up was the issue of Jerry Moore's mother.

At this point, Jackie Cherryhomes took over the meeting, because Jerry Moore was in the position of being a witness. Moore said this was his mother's address, and she lives there as a renter, living in Unit No. 2, not Unit No. 1. Vladamir Monroe asserted there was no record of her living there, and also discrepancies in the absentee letter. Monroe said he used a reverse telephone directory, apparently White Pages Dot Com, and couldn't locate evidence that Laurel Moore lived at that address.

Kip Browne began to cross-examine Moore, asking if Moore had brought any evidence with him, today, of his mother's residency? Moore tried to revert to his role of Chair and dodge the question by Browne. Browne reminded Moore he was not the chair at this point--Cherryhomes was the chair--and Moore was a witness in regard to his mother's residency. Browne pressed his question: KNOWING HIS MOTHER'S RESIDENCY WAS BEING CHALLENGED, had Moore brought any evidence of--

"NO!!!" Moore said, interrupting the question.

A motion was brought forth to reject the challenge to Jerry's mother. The motion passed. Moore abstained. And then Moore had to physically get up and walk away, into the kitchen. I wondered if there was going to be another altercation involving Jerry Moore.

As Moore walked away, Jackie Cherryhomes asked in a chipper voice whether Moore would like her to go ahead and deal with the challenge to Mr. Cook? Moore said, yeah, go ahead.

The situation with Elliot Cook was, arguably, more interesting than Jerry's mother. The place where Cook claims to reside is a vacant house, according to Monroe. There is no indication ANY person legally resides there, Monroe said.

At this point, Jackie Cherryhomes gave over the chairmanship to Jerry Moore, because she had additional evidence in regard to Mr. Cook. Despite the fact the house is apparently vacant, there is evidence of a person who DOES live there, a woman who told Mrs. Cherryhomes that sometimes mail comes for Mr. Cook, but she doesn't know him, and he certainly doesn't live there.

In regard to Cook, he had a "gold card" at the caucus but according to Cherryhomes Cook never signed in. There was no absentee letter, no evidence he was on a "green sheet," but there is other evidence to consider: the face there is a statement from a resident who DOES live at the address (albeit a vacant house) who says she gets mail for Mr. Cook, sometimes, but COOK DOESN'T LIVE THERE.

The McKnight crowd was deaf to this evidence about Cook. Maybe the woman at the house wasn't representing, accurately, who SHE was.

Jerry Moore spoke up and tried to compare the situation with Elliot Cook to that of Constance Nompelis. (Moore had reportedly called the phone number of Constance Nompelis more than once, seeking to prove her existence or non-existence. Compare and contrast with REALLY GREAT PICTURES OF CONNIE NOMPELIS recently published on this blog. Does Connie exist? Oh, yeah, Connie exists)

In any case, Moore pointed out Connie was somebody who had JUST RECENTLY purchased a house, and so it was tough to find a record of her.

Kip Browne objected at that point to Connie's name being brought up. There was, Browne said, no challenge to Nompelis, so her name should not be dragged into this kind of a proceeding.

Browne also made the record in regard to another objection: there are two separate processes going on for challenges. The challenges for Samuels are taking place through THIS body (the credentials committee) and the challenges for McKnight are going through a different process. Browne objects to this, for the record.

Meanwhile, at or near this point in the meeting, I was calling the phone number of Mr. Elliot Cook. The number had been said aloud at a public meeting. Well, I wanted to know what the deal was. I got an answering machine, "This is Elliot, leave a message."

Mike Fedor spoke up, emphasizing the SERIOUSNESS of the challenges of Ms. McKnight, which were challenges to the intergrity of Mr. Bushay, who allegedly received the 8 absentee letters.

Jackie Cherryhomes spoke up, saying this matter is not something either Moore or herself should be involved with, given their relationships to the candidates. (She said this in a very offhand way, I thought, considering how Moore was apparently still trying to keep up the story of being "objective" and not affiliated with any campaign) Cherryhomes said, "We are one community, and it's not about one convention, it's not about one race." She was happy to have somebody else sorting through the mess with the McKnight challenges, considering how close and "in the family" this was.

Browne spoke up, reiterating his objections to two separate processes, and (showing evidence of 3 to 4 years of law training teaching him how to argue "on point" instead of in the sloppy, metaphor-heavy manner of laypeople) pointing out this committee had just dealt with a challenge to Jerry Moore's MOTHER, which could hardly be more "in the family," so if that challenge could be resolved here, so could the McKnight challenges.

(Of course, I thought to myself, here on the committee the count breaks down 8-4-1 in favor of Samuels)

At this point, Makeda Zulu-Gillespie spoke up and made an impassioned mini-speech. Makeda reportedly works for the U of M with their much-anticipated UROC project, the one that drags on forever and WHEN are we going to see some results at the former Penn Plymouth Shopping Center? THAT project.

Makeda first outlined the fact she didn't really know much about what was going on, here--not saying this as an apology or a caveat, but trotting out her ignorance with some degree of pride, as though this gave her statement more creditability, somehow--and then said it was "disrespectful" to bring up somebody's mother. She said the "undertone here is getting on my nerves," as though her nervous inability to tolerate substantive political debate was a valid reason for individuals to refrain from such debate. In summary, she reiterated once again that she knows NOTHING about what is going on, really.

After this speech, a few of the McKnight supporters nodded, one saying, "THAT'S right."

The fun part of the meeting was now over. The issue was dealt with of who would staff the table at the convention. At the end of the meeting, Jerry Moore opened up the meeting to questions and comments from the guests. I took the opportunity to ask Mike Fedor about the precise nature of the "serious" challenges by McKnight.

Fedor said this was essentially a "he said, she said" situation. Letters can be delivered to the precinct caucus by those who can't attend but wish to be considered. Ms. McKnight (contends that she) gave 8 letters to Bushay, but the letters never got there.

I followed up, asking how the letters were delivered? Were they mailed? Sent as an attachment to an email? Hand delivered?

Fedor said the letters were hand delivered.

I tried to clarify if that meant ACTUALLY PLACED IN THE HANDS OF MR. BUSHAY. (After all, the chair himself had debated, early in the meeting, the meaning of "hand delivered.")

At or near this point, Jackie Cherryhomes jumped in and cut off the questions. Well, at least MY questions.

One of the other audience members--an old woman in a wheelchair--was apparently one of the 8 names in those letters. She had the exact same question I did about what was up with those 8 names. Her question didn't get anywhere, either.

Don Allen of IBNN asked a question about "what is the process to be a committee chair?" Don's public feud with Jerry Moore is fairly well-known. It was clear the question was aimed squarely at Jerry Moore. The answer, whatever it was, wasn't as exciting as the question.

All in all, it was a pretty hot and uncomfortable night for Jerry Moore. But it was over, and the meeting concluded as it began, with the ritual putting away of chairs.

Out in the parking lot, I tried to follow up with my question to Mike Fedor. I related something I'd been told by one of my sources about the character of Mr. Bushay: that Bushay is so honest, so committed to the integrity of public process that "he'd declare a pack of gum to Customs, he'd declare a ripped-in-half dollar bill to the IRS." If Bushay had been given 8 letters in the proper way, he'd have done what he was supposed to do. Any comment?

Fedor had nothing to say to this. He shrugged, elaborately.

Later in the night I sought additional sources of information. I was told the 8 letters were (allegedly) ORIGINALS, and NO COPIES WERE (allegedly) MADE. And then these oh-so-original and uncopied letters just DISAPPEARED OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH after supposedly being handed to Mr. Bushay.

"He said, she said" indeed. Much depends on the creditability and motivations of the "he" and the "she."

Below this blog post you will find an open and anonymous forum. Feel free to spill your guts.

Urban Homeworks "Gremlins" Finally Spotted At 2118 Bryant Ave. N.

For a long time, I wasn't able to spot the "gremlins" who were working on 2118 Bryant Ave. N., but recently my schedule changed and I was able to go by during the day. Finally, I saw the workers and their vehicle with an "Urban Homeworks" logo.

Every weekday, it seems, the house at 2118 Bryant changes for the better. Recently, the workmen...

...started putting up all the siding. The guy on the ladder in this picture, above, could probably look over his shoulder to his right and see the constant drug dealing which takes place around Hawthorn Crossings strip mall, just a short distance away.

One thing that I can't figure out, though: where are the high schoolers? A prominent sign at the house talks about "learning a trade" and "staying in school." However, the two guys I've seen working on the siding both appear to be young professionals in their early 30s.

2125 Lyndale Ave. N. Is Going Down

The small, ugly house at 2125 Lyndale Ave. N. will soon be demolished, according to some workmen who were digging nearby to cut off the utilities. I toured this house when it was on the market, and I can say firsthand it was the scene of constant squatter activity. It's location so near to the Merwin Liquor store made it highly convenient for those involved in chronic-inebriate lifestyle choices. The house sits on an...

...irregular lot, and the property appears accessible only through the alley. I think it's the kind of house even "obsessed rehabber" like Connie Nompelis would have difficulty loving. Its demolition will (arguably) represent no great loss, and creates "breathing room" for our neighborhood to revitalize itself.

All the same, the little house has been there for 100 years, and it will feel odd to pass by and see nothing but space.

A Historical Pic Of The Old Hawthorne School

Somebody sent me this picture of the old Hawthorne School. The way I was told the story, the Hawthorne Neighborhood was NOT named after Nathaniel Hawthorne. Rather the neighborhood was named after THE SCHOOL. The school was named after Nathaniel Hawthorne.

If anybody knows more, they can comment. In any case, it's a cool old picture. 

(Do not click "

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

South Minneapolis Gets Prostitution Stings, North Minneapolis Just Gets Prostitution

So I was on the Minneapolis City Attorney's website tonight, looking for opportunities to submit neighborhood impact statements, and I thought it was about time to get around to writing a blog post that I've contemplated writing for about a year, now.

Here's the deal. South Minneapolis gets all the police resources for prostitution stings. What does North Minneapolis get? Well, we get the actual prostitutes themselves instead of any sting operations.

Yes, whores can parade up and down Lyndale Ave. N, but will we ever get a (expletive) sting operation up here to thin out the herd?

Not likely. In fact, check out...

...this data, which I pulled off the city attorney website by searching under "livability crimes" and then narrowing it down to just "prostitution." Check out the addresses where these (alleged) crimes took place. THERE IS EXACTLY *ONE* INSTANCE OF A PROSTITUTION ARREST IN NORTH MINNEAPOLIS? How the heck did THAT happen? If I had to guess, I'd think it was some kind of accident.

Meanwhile, our City Councilperson Diane Hofstede has a proposal to ban indoor couches on lawns.


Some city leaders really need to straighten out their "livability" priorities. Check out the police action in East Minneapolis and South Minneapolis and then compare with the reality we experience in North Minneapolis. (And when I say "North Minneapolis" I obviously don't mean HOMEWOOD, just for the record)

Court Case Offense Date Defendant Name Precinct Incident Address Case Type Status Warrant Court Date

27CR06083930 10/3/2006 Early, Paulette Latrice 3rd 25th St E Prostitution Open Yes 4/22/2008
27CR07045123 5/16/2007 Graham, Shannon Dawn 3rd Clinton Ave S Prostitution Open Yes 5/14/2008
27CR07102768 7/26/2007 Early, Paulette Latrice 3rd 37th St E Prostitution Open No 9/14/2007
27CR07106035 6/11/2007 Cottier, Stacie Lynn 3rd 33rd St E Prostitution Open No 8/27/2007
27CR07106043 6/14/2007 Pierce, Cindy Sue 3rd 37th St E Prostitution Warrant-bench Yes 8/4/2008
27CR07106187 5/2/2007 Abrahamson, Nathan Allen 3rd 13th Ave S Prostitution Open No 11/20/2007
27CR07106248 6/21/2007 Docter, Bryce Arthur 5th 19th St E Prostitution Open No 8/31/2007
27CR07106313 8/13/2007 Robinson, Tangela Devell 3rd 22nd St E Prostitution Open No 8/30/2007
27CR07106324 5/2/2007 Avila, Luis Mario Cuzco 3rd 13th Ave S Prostitution Open Yes 10/18/2007
27CR07106625 5/2/2007 Alvarado, Miguel 3rd 13th Ave S Prostitution Open No 9/11/2007
27CR07106832 5/2/2007 Christensen, Clinton John 3rd 13th Ave S Prostitution Open No 11/7/2007
27CR07106886 6/28/2007 Nygard, Shannon Marie 3rd 32nd St E Prostitution Open No 3/7/2008
27CR07106940 6/28/2007 Turvey, Kelly Marie 3rd 31st St E Prostitution Open No 11/6/2007
27CR07106941 6/18/2007 Kainulainen, Mari Nimi 3rd 31st St E Prostitution Open No 10/2/2007
27CR07106943 6/14/2007 Martz, Melissa Lynn 3rd 24th St E Prostitution Closed No 10/4/2007
27CR07106963 6/14/2007 Hall, Janet Elizabeth 3rd 16th Ave S Prostitution Open No 10/9/2007
27CR07106964 6/14/2007 Williams, Denise Mervine 3rd 17th Ave S Prostitution Open No 10/2/2007
27CR07106968 6/14/2007 Isaac, Julia Grace 3rd 24th St E Prostitution Open No 10/3/2007
27CR07116396 7/18/2007 Duffy, Deontay Tramel 3rd 32nd St E Prostitution Open No 11/8/2007
27CR07119400 8/22/2007 Lawson, Vickie Kay Prostitution Open Yes 3/31/2009
27CR07119401 7/19/2007 Jimenez-Martinez, Jose Luis 3rd 13 Av S Prostitution Open No 11/27/2007
27CR07122658 6/21/2007 Lynch, Jeannine Danielle 3rd Psf Ave S Prostitution Closed Yes 4/29/2008
27CR07126257 8/29/2007 Eckdahl, Diana Sue 5th 5410 Penn Ave S Prostitution Closed No 10/27/2008
27CR07129469 12/18/2007 Worley, Zenda Louy 3rd 32nd St E Prostitution Open No 3/13/2008
27CR07130714 12/26/2007 Hart, Stephanie Marie 3rd 5th Ave S Prostitution Closed No 3/18/2008
27CR07130728 12/26/2007 Megenuph, Kris Lynn 3rd 31st St E Prostitution Closed No 1/25/2008
27CR07131107 12/4/2007 Graham, Shannon Dawn 3rd 3rd Ave S Prostitution Open Yes 2/12/2008
27CR0814377 1/25/2008 Anthony, Shawnna Ranee 5th Franklin Ave W Prostitution Open Yes 4/9/2009
27CR0814386 5/16/2007 Hart, Stephanie Marie 3rd Lake St E Prostitution Open Yes 3/19/2009
27CR0814725 3/24/2008 Taber, Dawn Marie 1st 4 13rd Av S Prostitution Closed No 4/17/2008
27CR0815308 3/25/2008 Mancera-Recendis, Carlos Alberto 3rd Clinton Ave S Prostitution Closed No 8/26/2008
27CR0815727 3/30/2008 Peplinski, Cassandra Rose 3rd 10th Ave S Prostitution Closed No 4/17/2008
27CR0816682 4/2/2008 Fisherman, Krista Marie 3rd 2nd Ave S Prostitution Closed Yes 6/3/2008
27CR0816696 4/2/2008 Blunt, Brittney Lyn 3rd 3rd Ave S Prostitution Open No 4/18/2008
27CR0822912 5/7/2008 Defoe, Nancy Marie 3rd 2601 16th Ave S Prostitution Closed No 5/14/2008
27CR0822913 5/8/2008 Graham, Shannon Dawn 3rd 3rd Ave S Prostitution Open No 3/31/2009
27CR0822915 5/4/2008 Harris, Jerry Nmn 3rd 5th Ave S Prostitution Open No 8/21/2008
27CR0822925 5/7/2008 Lee, Vernon Gregory 3rd 5th Ave S Prostitution Closed No 6/23/2008
27CR0822932 5/7/2008 Zuluaga-Perez, Salvador Nmn 3rd 5th Ave S Prostitution Open No 6/11/2008
27CR0823404 5/12/2008 Hunt, Brittney Marie 3rd 32nd St E Prostitution Open No 5/13/2008
27CR0824751 5/14/2008 Roche, Constance Marie 5th 1st Ave S Prostitution Closed No 5/22/2008
27CR0825537 5/21/2008 Stewart, Kimberly Dawn 3rd 5th Ave S Prostitution Closed No 6/6/2008
27CR0835591 7/16/2008 Walker, Little Doris 3rd 31st St E Prostitution Open No 10/28/2008
27CR0837449 7/16/2008 Kier, Tresa Lynn 3rd 15th Ave S Prostitution Open No 8/19/2008
27CR0838392 7/31/2008 Widstrom, Karen Eve 3rd 201 Lake St E Prostitution Closed No 10/21/2008
27CR0838394 7/31/2008 Buenano, Maria Rosario 3rd 3rd Ave S Prostitution Closed No 8/27/2008
27CR083966 11/20/2007 Graham, Shannon Dawn 3rd 3rd Ave S Prostitution Open Yes 3/31/2009
27CR0840578 5/20/2008 Simpson, Elise Nmn 29th St E Prostitution Open No 5/26/2009
27CR084124 1/22/2008 Isaac, Julia Grace 3rd Bloomington Ave S Prostitution Open No 2/20/2008
27CR0842279 8/20/2008 Brown, Jaquila Lashey 3rd 32nd St E Prostitution Open No 10/30/2008
27CR0844877 7/10/2008 Daly, Jacqueline Ann 3rd 31st St E Prostitution Open No 9/30/2008
27CR0847472 7/2/2008 Abdelwahab, Alice Margret 3rd 28th St E Prostitution Open No 12/2/2008
27CR0857513 1/9/2008 Williams, Leatrice Nmn 3rd 15th Av S Prostitution Open No 4/2/2009
27CR08603 1/2/2008 Armstrong, Judy Vone 3rd 4th Ave S Prostitution Closed No 2/12/2008
27CR086160 2/5/2008 Mefford, Denise Suzanne 2nd 1404 26th Ave Ne Prostitution Warrant-bench Yes 5/8/2008
27CR086825 2/6/2008 Adams, Louise Nmn 3rd 24th St E Prostitution Open No 2/11/2008
27CR087145 11/7/2007 Peet, Angela Nina-Marie 3rd 5750 33rd Ave S Prostitution Open Yes 10/28/2008
27CR087733 1/4/2008 Davis, Cynthia 3rd 3rd Ave S Prostitution Open No 3/7/2008
27CR087776 1/19/2008 Jackson, Violet Grace 3rd 31st St E Prostitution Closed Yes 7/14/2008
27CR087801 12/18/2007 Warner, Ronda Rose 3rd 4th Ave S Prostitution Open No 3/11/2008
27CR0910151 8/21/2008 Enriquez-Sanchez, Jose Alain 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0910152 8/21/2008 Chimborazo Chimborazo, Jose Antonio 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0910153 8/21/2008 Pomoquiza-Chimborazo, Pablo Alejandro 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0910155 8/21/2008 Kron, James Robert 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0910156 8/21/2008 Shaw, Jefferson Joe 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 4/1/2009
27CR0911097 8/21/2008 Huerta-Rodriquez, Salvador 3012 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0911100 8/21/2008 Orellana Orellana, Pablo Fabian 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0911111 8/21/2008 Irvin, Andre Maurice 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0911112 8/21/2008 Schmidt, Cory Lee 13rd Av S Prostitution Open No 3/25/2009
27CR0912849 3/12/2009 Collins, Tammy Terrell 4th 26th Av N Prostitution Open No 3/17/2009
27CR091289 3/26/2008 Whipple, Juliean Lea 3rd 16th Ave S Prostitution Open No 1/30/2009

No "Riff Raff" At Tooties On Lowry Ave. N.

Tooties is a low-key family restaurant with good, affordable food, nothing too flashy. The St. Patrick's Day special was corned beef and cabbage.

I was there yesterday with Connie Nompelis, (realtor, historical housing preservationist) Jeff Skrenes, (Hawthorne Housing Director) and Meagan Goodmundson (activist-at-large for the Jordan neighborhood and DFL) having one of our round robin discussions about neighborhood issues. I tried to order a mixed drink and found Tooties only has wine and beer. I was all, like, what's up with that? Only wine and beer?

Connie told me not selling hard liquor kept out "the riff raff."

Well, I certainly approve of that. So I had some red wine.

But then I slammed down the wine glass like a shot. Because I am, after all, part riff raff.

But Tooties is a nice little place. You could bring your little kids to Tooties, and feel very comfortable having dinner there.

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No Loitering At Hawthorn (Sic) Crossings Strip Mall? That's A Laugh!

Blame Brian Thao Worra and his Facebook discussion about overdosing on shamrock shakes. I got a powerful hankerin' for a shamrock shake, so I walked to McDonalds at Hawthorn (Sic) Crossings strip mall. If I wanted, I could have bought something green in the parking lot, as well.

The photo above shows...

...a NO LOITERING sign at Hawthorn (Sic) Crossings. This is, of course, a bitter joke. Very little BESIDES loitering seems to happen at Hawthorne (Sic) Crossings. Just a few blocks away, near 29th and Aldrich, two children were caught in gunfire, probably violence fueled by the drug trade. Meanwhile, this strip mall is a pus-filled reservoir of drug trade activity, taking place in plain sight. And the mall management appears to simply look the other way.

The shamrock shake was pretty good, though.

Hawthorne Neighborhood Crime Stats Triumph--Well, Sort Of

Pictured above is Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes, holding a map of the crime incidents in the Hawthorne Neighborhood. Why is Jeff smiling? He's smiling because...


The Eco Villlage--which is bordered by Lyndale Ave. N., Lowry Ave N., 4th Street N., then to Lyndale via 30th Ave. N.--used to be "ground zero" in the war against crime. In fact, Mayor Rybak himself used the phrase "ground zero" when dedicating the tree nursery in that area.

It's been apparent for a long time that crime in the Eco Village area had gone WAY DOWN, despite the orderly and well-regulated pill house and crack smoking lounge at 3020 6th St. N.

However, just how much crime had dropped took us as a bit of a surprise. A few days ago Jeff just about BOUNCED UP TO ME with the latest neighborhood crime map in hand. There had been NO CRIME IN THE ECO VILLAGE AREA. In fact, there were big swaths beyond the Eco Village with no crime, also.

This week, me and Neighborhood Chair Peter Teachout went driving all over Hawthorne, looking for crime we could call in to 911. We must have driven around for half an hour. We found nothing. NOTHING. This should have been like a triumphant tour but, well...I must confess, I was a bit bored.

And, besides, our victory tastes like ashes. There was the shooting at 29th and Aldrich Ave. N. in which two children were injured, merely standing a block away. Their bodies just happened to be where the bullets ended up. 

Just a week before, I had been driving around with Brian Reichow and I used Brian's phone to call the police on a group of minors out after curfew AT THAT VERY CORNER. But the minors who were hit in this incident were apparently doing exactly what they were supposed to do, waiting for a field trip. 

It's very difficult to revel in the triumph of a dry little map of crime stats when some children have been hit by a random bullet in the very heart of our neighborhood, which is Farview Park. 

Jeff's smile was genuine, but momentary. We have a long ways to go.

Stripping Hardwood Floors In North Minneapolis (PHOTOS)

Photos by John Hoff, top to bottom: 

Connie changing a sandpaper disc on the edger, Connie running the edger, cheap Chinese-made hammer suitable for pounding nails, but not for pulling them.

Connie with the bag of sawdust; so much sawdust the room must have been bigger after sanding. 

A "before and after" area of the floor. Thresholds always seem to be especially tough with staples and, sometimes, linoleum glue. 

Connie changing the roller on the "big boy" sander; the big sander is actually a lot less difficult to change than the little one. 

Next, look at Connie's arms. After Connie worked on the floors all day, Connie's roommate was jealous of Connie's toned arms. The next picture shows all the dust in Connie's hair, producing a momentary vision of young Connie as an old woman...who still looks good, by the way.

Incredibly, Connie did all this sanding in two-inch heels. Very seldom was so much honest work done in two-inch heels. 

Next, my hand holding the .22 caliber high-velocity round I found near the edge board in the closet. Also found: wheat pennies and marijuana seeds. 

Connie "settling up" at Pete's Hardwood Floors in St. Paul. As you can see, she washed her hair. 

The last picture shows the t-shirts sold at Pete's. I am looking forward to the free t-shirt I've been promised for submitting photos and a narrative! 

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