Monday, May 25, 2009

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

Stock Photo By John Hoff, Jordan Neighborhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry said he didn't know.

Schooler asked about Jerry's application for unemployment compensation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wasn't. Browne's. Place.

I thought about how there was...

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

Wasn't. Browne's. Place.

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

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

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

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

Incredibly, Moore wore WHITE PANTS the next day.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score one for Moore, I thought. FOR NOW.

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

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

"What does that mean?" Moore asked.

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

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

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

Moore confirmed that was pretty much the case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schooler asked about Moore writing a check after being terminated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Melony says hi," I said to Jerry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Go ahead!" Moore snapped.

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

Gone. Moore was gone.

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

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

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

The short answer: NO WAY.

A $20,000 Conversation On Lyndale Ave. North...

Photos By John Hoff

A couple days ago I was calling 311 on vacant houses with weedy lawns--calling in so many you'd think I was getting a COMMISSION or something--when I came upon a house on Lyndale Ave. N. with owner contact information prominently posted.

I won't call the Minneapolis 311 system when I can reach an owner THIS easily. Posting this kind of information is a way of saying, "We give a rip. Please, call US first." I just assume the other owners of vacant properties don't give a rip, since they don't post any information. 

(Personally, I think posting owner contact info should be a REQUIREMENT for owners of vacant houses but, hey, I'm an idea-a-minute kind of guy, just like my son the robot enthusiast)

So I called the number. Left a message. How unsatisfying. Get me a live human being. I called the OTHER posted number, and reached a friendly, chatty woman. I informed her the lawn was weedy (in excess of 8 inches) plus crack heads had started to strip off the siding...

My smoking hot Realtor Juley Viger used to say metal thieves were desperately trying to feed their families. I'd reply their families were hungry, sure...because their breadwinner was ADDICTED TO CRACK. I think we ultimately had to agree to disagree, but who's the one left in North Minneapolis actually DEALING with metal thieves? Well, that would be me, while Juley's living large in South Minneapolis.

(Suggested branding effort for South Minneapolis: This Place Is SoMi)


The chatty lady was dismayed to learn siding was being stolen, and informed me copper thieves had already made off with the pipes. She thanked me for calling her instead of the city, and promised to get somebody out first thing Tuesday after the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

"Just because I'm curious," I said. "What is the list price of this one?"

She informed me it was $49,000. I laughed out loud. And then I apologized and said, you know, the going price around here for a decent little house missing its plumbing is holding pretty solid around $17,500 to $18,000.

She explained to me the house had Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and this was part of the reason the price was listed so high, because somebody was trying to avoid writing off a loss. However, she said, if the house was starting to lose pieces of its siding, then condemnation might be looming in the near future. Maybe she could fire off an email. Maybe she could see about lowering the price...

"COULD YOU?!" I said, hardly able to believe how well this conversation was going. "I mean, really, $18,000 is where the price should be."

The woman on the phone thought $29,000 was a better price. She'd see about lowering it to $29,000. I swore up and down I'd try to keep an eye on the place, so there would be something left to sell. Thank you, ma'am. We're trying so hard to turn this neighborhood around. THANK YOU.

And she was all, like, no...thank YOU.

As I hit the power button on my cell phone, I realized this little conversation had caused a fluctuation in the local real estate market to the tune of $20,000.

"Old Style" Versus "New Style" Boards On Vacant North Minneapolis Properties...

Photos By John Hoff

My arcane obsession with vacant, foreclosed properties knows few limits. Everything fascinates me: from the "official" paperwork tacked to the doors, to trends in lawn mowing--or crying lack of--to subtle variations on the gray boards covering doors and windows.

Or, as the city puts it, "apertures."

How much per board, per aperture? Despite reading this blog, there might be things you DON'T want to know.

Some people like trains. They watch the cars and get all excited over a rare example of some kind of locomotive. Some people collect coins.

But I like houses. I like vacant houses, but I like 'em more at the moment they begin to fill with people, and I like 'em best when they are filled with home owners who eat Thanksgiving turkey and bring home cutie pie babies from the hospital. Or, you know, they can eat tofu and bring home a cat. Whatever. The point is to go from neighborhoods filled with emptiness to neighborhoods...filled with fullness. 

Anyway, long ago I noticed there is an uncommon variation of board...

...which I call the "trim board," because it has kind of a decorative frame around it. I get the sense these are an old, somewhat inefficient form of board which didn't catch on. Certainly, the new boards being slapped up don't have trim, so I assume trim boards are an older variant.

Interestingly, the garage at Connie Nompelis' $7,900 house has BOTH VARIATIONS OF BOARD on the rear portion. (See photos, above) 

"My word," I gasped, when I saw this. "I'VE FOUND THE MISSING LINK!!!!"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Incredible But True: Kenya McKnight Is Still Running Against Don Samuels...

You wouldn't know it from her campaign website--which still makes reference to the "upcoming" 5th Ward DFL Convention, which happened FOREVER AGO--but Kenya McKnight is still running against veteran Council Member Don Samuels.

Come to think of it, you wouldn't know from...

...her Facebook campaign page, either, which hasn't been updated in a while.

Really, you have to wonder how somebody who can't run a free Facebook page somehow expects to help run a major metropolitan area, but reality has never been (reportedly) Kenya's strong point. (Queen of England...cough cough...secretly controlling elections...cough)

Anyway, here's the proof that reports of Kenya getting a sudden case of common sense are GREATLY exaggerated: McKnight and Samuels made a dual appearance a couple weeks ago at the Harrison Neighborhood Annual Meeting. Kenya came along with Jerry Moore, former JACC director, who appears to be her campaign manager in all but public admission.

Kenya made a speech saying she's "disappointed" in the way the North Side has been run for the past few years. Kenya McKnight finds the leadership "inadequate" and says things are not done right. It's time for a change, blah blah blah.

Kenya closed with her really odd, silly line which she tries to pass off as a catchy campaign slogan. Why Kenya McKnight? Why not?

Here's some free advice, Kenya. There's a difference between a campaign slogan versus some kind of daily affirmation you do in front of the mirror to make yourself get up in the morning. All of us can look in a mirror and tell ourselves we're good enough, smart enough, and dog-gone-it, we deserve to hold high office. And you might convince that person in the mirror.

But the problem is you have to convince EVERYBODY ELSE, and it's NOT WORKING.

Conventional wisdom is that unless Don Samuels gets arrested for a sex crime, he's going to win this election rather easily.

And, believe it or not, the Don Samuels people are HOLDING BACK because they FEEL SORRY for Kenya, who is just a pawn of the Jerry Moore/Al McFarlane/Ben Myers crowd.

Nothing But A Dumpster Remains At The Site Of An Arson...

Photo By John Hoff

Some months ago, I reported on an arson that happened on Emerson Ave. N., on the JORDAN side of Emerson, which forms the boundary between two neighborhoods. The suspect in the arson was 10 years old, and it was his mother's house. Here is a URL for part of that story, though it is not live so copy and paste.

For months, the scorched hulk of that building stood, and nothing seemed to change. Then I went by a few days ago...and there was nothing at the site but a big red dumpster full of debri.

Another house bites the dust...with a little help from a child playing with fire.

(Do not click "Read More")

Formal Notice: The Neighbors Are Watching...

Photo By John Hoff

I saw this handmade sign on the garage of a vacant house in the Jordan Neighborhood and I thought, geez, what a great idea! Where can a bunch of signs be made like that, and distributed to the vigilant neighbors keeping an eye on vacant, bank-owned foreclosed properties?

Of course, another sign I'd like to have would say DO NOT LEAVE PHONE BOOKS!

(Do Not Click "Read More")

"No Ground Cover" Merits A 311 Report (Who Knew?)

Photo By John Hoff

Through constant contact with the 311 system, I keep learning new tricks. Of course, the first thing I want to do when I learn a new trick is to pass it on to EVERYBODY...

Some days ago, I was calling in a weedy, overgrown BACK yard. Of course, the front yard was mostly bare, exposed dirt, so I wasn't complaining about 12-inch dandelions on THAT score. No, I was just calling in the BACK yard.

The 311 operator asked me some specifics about the yard because--as it turned out--there was an open report for "no ground cover" on the front yard.

My ears got all pointy at that moment. Be still, my foolish heart, a new category of violation that can be called in on vacant, bank owned properties? 

Sigh. Contentment. 

The 311 system is like a complex, beautiful lover...just when things start to get into a routine, there's a delightful new twist to spice up EVERYTHING. Am I not the happiest "Pro-City" resident to ever LIVE and LOVE MINNEAPOLIS?

Yeah, I get excited about geeky municipal things.

311 Working Overtime On Overgrown Yards At Vacant North Minneapolis Houses...

Photo By John Hoff

Calling 311 to report overgrown lawns at vacant houses is like eating potato chips. You can't stop at JUST ONE. A few days ago, I was walking to the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council offices, and all along my route I called in one in-excess-of-8-inches weedy address after another. It took me...

...about four times as long as it should have to get to my destination, because 311 can't write a report THAT fast. I think I called in about two dozen yards...and that was just walking from Point A To Point B, and then back along a different I could find more weedy yards.

While I was at it, I called in some graffiti, some brush piles, and (my arcane favorite) a couple houses without visible house numbers. (That's a violation, you know) 

Frankly, if any of the houses looked OCCUPIED, I would have turned a blind eye, at least when the yard is merely 8 inches. But since vacant properties are mostly bank-owned foreclosures, heck, who cares? Call 'em all in. It's not like they've posted contact information on the exterior, at least 95 percent of the time. If they did, I'd consider calling that number instead of 311, but most of the time they don't. 

I'm not sure what my all-time record is for 311 reports in a day, but I racked up plenty that day. Recently, a high-ranking public official told me the INITIAL grass complaint call is the most important, because that call triggers a sort of official watchfulness over the house as far as keeping the lawn mowed. This public official has ALSO been turning the phone lines red hot, calling in one overgrown vacant lawn after another.

My feeling is this summer is very important to the future of NoMi, that potential home buyers are descending on our neighborhood in the lovely summer, looking for bargains, looking for the place where they will bring future babies--future residents of NoMi--across the threshold of their doors. Therefore, anything watchful neighbors can do to "spiff up" helps make a good impression including--if it comes down to it--cutting the lawns ourselves.

I have a great lawnmower on loan at the moment. And there's this one house....grrrrrrr.

I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it really hard. And, under the Minneapolis City Government "adopt vacant properties" mandate, it is apparently perfectly OK to cut that grass rather than see our city spend a small fortune to have it done by professionals.

Johnny Northside Tire Casualty Count Stands At 10...

Photo By John Hoff

So a couple weeks ago, all four of my car tires got "poked."

I won't say they were "slashed." They were merely "poked" in a pathetic and weak-wristed kind of way.

This has happened before and, I strongly suspect, it will happen again. If you call 911, 311, blog about crime in the neighborhood, sit on neighborhood committees, pal around with the police, if you do everything possible to clear the criminal underbrush so decent people want to buy up vacant houses and live in this neighborhood, even if they're not into the same level of adventurous activism, well...

If you do THAT kind of stuff, sooner or later some of your positive energy blows back as negative energy. Poked tires are very minor compared to the stupid doomsday predictions I had to endure when I first started blogging about the colorful battle for neighborhood revitalization in NoMi.

Where are the doomsday critics NOW? This blogger is still alive. So let's examine the score, shall we?

Regular readers know I wrote before about the time four of my tires were slashed, and I carefully drove to Highland Auto Tire (just a few blocks away) on flat, wobbly rubber.

Then there was the time I was off truckin', and...

...I had two tires "poked," one passenger window busted.

Now all four of my tires were "poked." Again. Thank goodness my friend Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Housing Director, lent me a tire iron--turns out I didn't have one in this vehicle--and the good guys at Highland Auto Tire loaned me another jack, because I really NEEDED two jacks.

(Unlike the Jordan Neighborhood. Get it? Two jacks? JACCs? Never mind...)

In this incident, the car was also "keyed." What's so FUNNY about that is the car's paint job is SPRAY PAINT. The paint was worn off down to the metal, so I touched it up with paint that was pretty close, but not EXACT. And yet the side of my car with the spray paint paint job was KEYED.

How STUPID is that? Like, oh gee, do you think I don't have ANOTHER can of spray paint or even the leftovers from the original paint job?


Two things to address: PROGRESS and FEELINGS.

As far as progress, the stuff with the slashed tires is minor compared to all the things I've managed to do in the neighborhood, whether by blogging or shoes-on-the-sidewalk stuff. I consider slashed tires merely my "cost of doing business," like when a restaurant has to buy toilet paper. Sooner or later, you have to deal with some....


Second, how does this make me feel? Let us sit around, then, and talk about my sensitive, delicate, precious (expletive) FEELINGS. Here is how I feel:

Jealous. I am jealous of Peter Teachout and his eternal glory, because his truck was torched on the Fourth of July last year, and yet he's all, like, "I'm not selling my house. I'm not leaving. I'm going to turn this neighborhood around" and his statement is, like, in the Adventures Of Johnny Northside movie project. 

(See bottom of my blog roll for clips and more info)

So my score: Ten tires. One window. One paint job.

Peter's score: ONE TORCHED TRUCK. By my reckoning, Peter is still ahead.

But, hey, is this the cost of blogging about neighborhood revitalization?

Cheap at twice the price.

HOWEVER, and please take note of this: I did not make a police report. The car is a loaner from a friend or relative, who didn't want their name on an official report associated with me and my activist efforts. (Though it's apparently fine for me to blog about it. Strange. What can I say? I have strange friends and/or relatives)

I am obedient to the law, but I have blood oath loyalty to my friends and/or relatives. So I just had to endure the incident rather than waste the time of a police officer, taking down a report on a minor crime that will never be solved. It's on this blog. There is a record of it. It's public enough.

Incidents like this are what make me realize crime stats don't tell the whole story. There are many incidents which, for one reason or another, go unreported. There are undoubtedly people who are wounded with bullets and drag themselves home, where friends perform surgery with whatever is handy. At some level, I almost have to admire that. When thugs are virtually extinct in NoMi (North Minneapolis) will we get nostalgic for them?

I hope we have the opportunity to find out. I BELIEVE we will have the opportunity to find out. Because I'm not breaking off, I'm not backing down, I've put down roots and I'm staying. FOREVER.

ADDENDUM: Forgot to count a broken window from the time my van was stolen. So TWO broken windows.

The Pinnacle Of The Farview Park Historic District...

Photo By John Hoff

Of all the historic houses surrounding Farview Park--including the one purchased by Realtor Connie Nompelis in a case of "grand theft house" at $7,900--this distinctive green mansion on Lyndale Ave. N. tends to leave the strongest impression.

However--and I've heard this from more than one source--apparently the house was ready to be demolished at one point, and neighborhood people had to step in and rally for its preservation. However, I've never gotten the detailed story. I heard something about the house being sold for a dollar. Not sure if that is true or a very localized urban legend.

So this is the deal. Johnny Northside can't write everything. So here's a picture of the house, here are open comment threads, and anybody who has the story is free to enlighten us. Let's see if this works.

(Do not click "Read More")

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Off Come The Boards At Connie's $7,900 House!

Photos By John Hoff

Realtor Connie Nompelis (No-buhl-iss, it's Greek) has been making improvements at her "Hawthorne Princess" house, which is a Queen Anne style home, only smaller, with gorgeous hardwood floors and woodwork inside. The floors are not in bad shape thanks to the wonderous preservative power of ratty, crappy carpeting.

Appearances are important, so people who live in the area or browse nearby for similar home bargains will see how things are rapidly changing and improving. Therefore, Connie put out some flowers, top picture. (This image would be the first photo I took with the new digital camera given to me by Melony Michaels in support of the neighborhood revitalization mission of this blog)

Each time I visit the property to check its security or perform some minor task on a labor exchange basis, I make a point of...

...untangling the decorative banners.

In his master work "The Art of War," Sun Tsu said that when your enemy's banners are in disarray, that is the moment to strike. Something like that.

So I always straighten out Connie's banners to broadcast a subtle message: All is order here, all is strong here, all is watched and cared for here. Take your crime and your disorder elsewhere.

Obviously, I am not the only person watching the property. A posse of neighbors checks several times a day, when in the area, and the Hawthorne Housing Director lives right across the alley. When people move into our neighborhood, they do not have to be alone and frightened. Through the neighborhood association and active, involved residents, social networks are formed for the common good. Work, keys, home made pastries are exchanged. Socially, our neighborhood is very much like a small rural town, except for that whole dying of boredom part.

Neighbors Endure A Frustrating Waiting Game At The Crack House...

Photo By John Hoff, top, Peter Teachout, Jr., bottom

Hawthorne Board Chairman Peter Teachout--who lives with his three children and wife (due to give birth any minute) across from 3020 6th St. N., a notorious crack house, had expected evictions to occur at the crack house yesterday. However, no evictions occurred and what appear to be blatant drug sales continue to be brisk...

The house was condemned on April 19, 2009, for lack of utilities. But Peter figures the utilities came back on, somehow.

So Peter and his family remain in a frustrated waiting game.

Yesterday, I went over to Peter's house to borrow a power drill and special bit, to remove boards from the "Hawthorne Princess" property of Realtor Connie Nompelis. (Coming in next post, and her name is pronounced No-buhl-iss, it's Greek)

"Have faith," I told Peter, who seldom misses a day in church. "It's the Friday right before a three day weekend. I bet the police are short-staffed from folks taking vacations and, hey, they're busy arresting drug dealers. The wheels of eviction grind slowly, but they are indeed grinding. Fire off your emails, if you must, but have faith in your public officials."

I showed Peter the spiffy new digital camera given to me by Melony Michaels, the wife of John Foster, who was the identity theft victim in the Larry Maxwell mortgage fraud trial. Peter's two oldest children were fascinated by the camera. I handed it over to them to snap some pictures on their own. The photo of Chairman Teachout's truck was taken by Teachout's oldest son, Peter Junior, who is either 6 or 7 years old. (I need to check) In the background is the small gray house I used to own, but sold to the City of Minneapolis for development.

That truck is parked in the very spot where Peter's OTHER truck was torched last Fourth of July, and some crack head pounded on their front door and shouted, "Hey, your TRUCK IS ON FIRE!"

We've endured much in the Eco Village area, but now crime has been reduced to NEAR ZERO, at least as far as arrests and REPORTED crime.

The unknown rate of unknown, unreported crime will ALSO drop down near zero once 3020 6th St. N. is evacuated. We fully expect the army of no-account crack heads will regroup at 3007 3rd St. N., where couches from 3020 6th St. were hauled just a few days ago. But neighbors are "heading them off at the pass."

Inch by bloody inch, we turn our neighborhood around COMPLETELY, thanks to faith, hard work, and comprehensive auto insurance.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Pro City" JACC Members Wear Their Label With Pride...

Photo By John Hoff

After the "Old Majority" threw some labels around in court the other day ("Pro-City" and "Pro-Community") the members of the "Pro City New Majority" have (as I predicted in an editorial) taken the label and gleefully adopted it.

In fact, today in court New Majority Board Member P.J. Hubbard was seen sporting a Minneapolis "city seal" button, which he proudly displayed. There are apparently quite a few of these nice metal buttons kicking around in the Jordan Neighborhood, but probably "Pro-City" apparel statements will not be limited to one particular button. If there is one thing that will last from this controversy, it may very well be THOSE LABELS of "Pro City" and "Pro Community." 

(Do not click "Read More")

"True JACC" Lawsuit: "Hypothetical" Negotiation Over Missing JACC Equipment, Records...

Photo By John Hoff 

Though I was not present in the courtroom for an interesting verbal exchange about missing JACC equipment and records, I learned of it. The conversation happened in the course of a motion hearing, in which the never-say-die subject of the purloined JACC property came up YET AGAIN, and Defense Attorney David Schooler--trying so hard to get JACC's stuff back, never mind getting anybody prosecuted--told Plaintiff Attorney Jill Clark that, maybe, HYPOTHETICALLY, the "Old Majority" faction might...

...possibly "know somebody who knows somebody" who can say where the stuff might be, and make arrangements to have it returned?

Schooler added he might be willing to (oh gee) not raise counter claims, civil claims. He could talk to his clients (most of which are on the "New Majority" board) to pass a board resolution promising not to pursue legal action.

Jill Clark said something like, well, she'd bring what Schooler said to her clients.

One really has to wonder how long this elaborate game of pretend will go on. Yes, Virginia, there are JACC records but they are not in the hands of JACC.

"True JACC" Lawsuit In The Jordan Neighborhood Grinds To A Halt, Myers At Murder Trial, Deep Stinky Doo Doo Forecast For Jerry Moore...

City Council Member Don Samuels, Photo By John Hoff

Expectations of a hearing "finale" fizzled today in the "True JACC" lawsuit over leadership of the Jordan Neighborhood Association, as Ben Myers didn't take the stand due to his participation in a murder trial, with the defense having the right to put "New Majority" Chair Kip Browne on the stand AFTER Ben Myers.

Meanwhile, information surfaced (without any great effort, really) to impeach the testimony of Jerry Moore in regard to his participation in the fraudulent mortgage deal at 1564 Hillside Ave. N. (More on that momentarily)

It was a tedious, drawn out morning and early afternoon for the "New Majority" loyalists, with "Old Majority" chair figurehead E.B. Browne showing up in court briefly, as well. Really, the best part was lunch, where City Council Member Don Samuels described (in response to an on-the-record query from this blogger) what evidence he had that Jerry Moore is a lying liar lie-bag of big fat lies under oath. (My phrase, obviously)

Keeping in mind that, only the other day, former JACC Executive Director Jerry Moore took the stand and testified he'd NEVER been involved in a real estate deal involving 1564 Hillside (at issue in the Larry Maxwell mortgage fraud conviction) had never received a check for $5,000 (despite evidence of a cancelled check made out to J.L. Moore Consulting) and knew Keith Reitman only as a JACC board member and HAD NOT done any dirty deal with Reitman involving 1564 Hillside Ave. N., not for work involving "windows" and not for anything else.

So Moore testified. Under oath.

Who will step forward in this dark moment to restore my newly-ripped faith in truth and cosmic justice? Well, as it turns out...

City Council Member Don Samuels was hanging around the trial again, and had lunch with the "New Majority" defendants. Samuels spoke of a conversation he had some time back with Jerry Moore and Ben Myers. It would appear that many months ago Don Samuels had his hands on the criminal complaint from the Larry Maxwell trial. Looking through the complaint--which was provided to him merely to provide info on LARRY MAXWELL, not Jerry Moore--Don Samuels saw the information about involvement by J.L. Moore Consulting and this info just, like, JUMPED OUT AT HIM.

Samuels, who was in that habit at that time of meeting monthly with then-Executive Director Jerry Moore, as well as Ben Myers, asked Moore what was up with that deal? In fact, Samuels had a copy of the complaint with him, highlighted where it mentioned Jerry Moore. Samuels was somewhat chastising of Moore, pointing out JACC is supposed to be RESPONSIBLE for housing issues, yet here was Moore apparently involved in this deal which was now at the center of a major criminal indictment over mortgage fraud, and appeared to be a case of "exploiting housing stock."

According to Samuels, Jerry Moore ADMITTED INVOLVEMENT IN THE DEAL (contrary to his testimony under oath) but said he did nothing wrong.

"Did you do this deal with (Keith) Reitman?" Samuels asked.

Jerry Moore not only admitted doing the deal with 1564 Hillside Ave. N., according to Samuels, but said he'd done "several of these" with Keith Reitman. Moore said he "prepared the house for sale."

A short time after this conversation, according to Samuels, Ben Myers sent Samuels an email "challenging" Samuels, asking why Samuels had brought up the deal at 1564 Hillside Ave. N. and "implying it wasn't fair."

Samuels stated to me he found the deal problematic "at several levels." First, there was the transaction itself. (Fraudulent) Next, there was the fact Jerry was doing a deal with Keith Reitman AT ALL, since Reitman is his boss by virtue of sitting on the JACC Baord. And yet here was Jerry and Reitman, ignoring the fiduciary responsibilities they both had to the JACC organization, off doing a dirty deal by themselves. Clearly, closely intertwined relationships are difficult to avoid in the grassroots levels of neighborhood government, where people babysit each other's houses and children, loan their neighbors slash fellow board members lawn mowers on a long-term basis, etc., but the real problem was THE FACT THE DEAL WAS FRAUDULENT AND STUNK TO HIGH HEAVEN AND THE AUTHORITIES WERE ALL OVER IT.

If this isn't evidence enough that Jerry Moore was LYING HIS (EXPLETIVE) OFF ON THE STAND about his involvement with 1564, I also heard of a long, tearful, dead-of-night conversation Jerry Moore had with a person in the Hawthorne Neighborhood, upset over the impact the dirty deal at 1564 was having on their "relationship," which had once been close. (Almost everybody, including myself, will admit to being "initially impressed" with Jerry Moore)

"If you want to make it right," said the person on the other end of the late night phone call with Jerry. "Then you need to GIVE BACK THE MONEY FROM THE DEAL."

The silence which met this remark was so deafening, there was a fear the line had gone dead.

But then there was Jerry blubbering on the other end, blubbering in grief over this assertion he should give back the money.

"Buh huh huh huh. Buh huh huh huh...."

Talk Of A "Conspiracy" In The Marlon Pratt Mortgage Fraud Trial, Larry Reed For The Defense...

Stock Photo By John Hoff

An inveterate courthouse observer was in attendance, today, at a hearing for Marlon Pratt, who is in waaaaay over his head in the Universal Mortgage fraud mess.

Larry Reed was there representing Pratt as his attorney. Reed was also the attorney for Larry "Maximum" Maxwell, convicted on 18 felonies related to mortgage fraud. Pratt was allegedly part of the different, separate "Universal Mortgage" fraud ring led by Donald Walthall, and I observed Pratt in in the court frequently during the Maxwell trail, watching his attorney in action. (You'd think Pratt would have copped a plea deal by now, considering how badly things went for Maxwell, but don't we ALL live on hope?)

According to my source, he walked in today just as...

the judge, The Honorable Steve Lange, was responding to an argument by Defense Counsel Larry Reed. The judge was reportedly speaking to Reed in a stern tone, "ripping Reed apart" according to my source, and being much more harsh with Reed than Judge Chu had been during the Maxwell trial. (And she was pretty harsh at the point she was declaring Reed in contempt, though her tone never went beyond "firm admonishment."

The judge in this case-- seemed "offended" according to my source, and the words which had offended the judge could be inferred from the judge's response. The word "conspiracy" was used. Apparently, Larry Reed had argued about there being a "conspiracy" against his client.

At some point, Larry Reed was forced to backpedal, and state he was, after all, only stating what his CLIENT felt. My source described Reed as "reeling" from the tongue lashing by Judge Lange.

Apparently, Judge Lange is retired and has his own arbitration practice, but comes out for really big and complex cases. Word is he has property in Arizona and splits his time between Arizona and Minnesota. He has a stellar reputation as a judge.

EDITORIAL REMARK DIRECTED AT MARLON PRATT: See my previous editorial on this subject. Can you not extrapolate and infer the way things will go for you, just based on how today's hearing went?

Beg for mercy from the prosecutor and cop some kind of plea. You will inevitably do several years in jail, but you will do LESS if you make the smart moves now. Don't make me blog about this months later and call you a dumb a**.

"Stay Of Execution" For 422 30th Ave. N.?

Photo By John Hoff

Some days ago, Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes and Realtor, historical preservationist, and all around social butterfly Connie Nompelis (No-buhl-iss, it's Greek) took at look at 422 30th Ave. N. The property in question--a historic brick house, possibly from the 1880s--could get demolished as part of development, but lately there has been some minor (albeit energetic) movement of neighborhood activists to save the structure, which appears to be not as messed up as previously thought.

The guy on the right is...

...a visionary would-be home buyer, who was just kind of checking things out that day with Connie, Jeff and I. He has looked into the various NoMi neighborhoods with their buffet of real estate bargains, and he's decided some neighborhoods are really turning around, really have a lot of action happening toward revitalization, and he wants to be a part of these things. Meeting this guy, getting to know him, eating pastry with him, walking around in an unkempt lawn with him, and other HIGHLY classified details all started out with a post to the comments section of this blog.

The topic of discussion this particular day...can 422 30th Ave. N. be saved, or are we doomed to see another historic house meet the jagged, toothy scoop of the Backhoe Of Doom? Fortunately, the latest word is there will be no "domicide" of 422 30th Ave. N. in the near future, but its ultimate fate still remains uncertain.

"True JACC" Lawsuit Finale Expected Today: Ben Myers, Kip Browne To Take The Stand

Public Figure Ben Myers At A Public Meeting

It is expected (and fervently hoped) today will be the final day of testimony in the "True JACC" lawsuit over which faction of board members is the legitimate assembly of executive officers leading the Jordan Area Community Council.

"Old Majority" leader Ben Myers (attorney, public figure, master mixer of deadly cult Kool Aid) is expected to take the stand early in the morning. "New Majority" leader Kip Browne (attorney and, it appears, also a public figure, not overly fond of poison Kool Aid, more of a green tea ginger ale guy) will be on the stand in the afternoon, if all goes as planned.

This blogger is not aware of any rebuttal witnesses, though I'm not privy to the strategy of either side. However, it was my perception Defense Attorney David Schooler was incensed over Jerry Moore's repeated denials that he knew anything at all about a deal involving J.L. Moore consulting (his consulting entity) and 1564 HIllside Ave. N. even when presented with a copy of the check for $5,000 and an invoice from J.L. Consulting for "windows."

If there are to be any surprises in this case--which already has more twists and turns than a stolen vehicle barreling through the streets of North Minneapolis--expect it to come in the form of a rebuttal witness. I would not bet money this thing will wrap up today and, geez, Monday is a holiday.

(Do not click "More," And Don't Hire Moore To Run Your Organization, Neither)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ah, Morning...Before The Crackheads Are Awake!

Photo By John Hoff

Over these many months, I've learned a number of tricks to help me get by in a neighborhood which is revitalizin', changin' dramatically...but still has its rough spots. Of course, I have my "crappy clothing" disguise so I don't look like I have money when I walk around...calling 311, calling 911, picking up litter, or just going about my business. I also have a habit of hiding my identification and credit card in my SOCK, and I've been known to carry a "decoy wallet" and just a house key, instead of all my keys. But one of the best tricks I've learned.... to get "walking around" tasks accomplished early in the morning, when decent people wake with the dawn but crackheads and no-accounts are still asleep and probably will be until noon. Recently, I walked all the way from the middle of Hawthorne to the middle of Jordan to pick up a lawn mower, then all the way back pushing that mower like Weird Al in his funny parody song, "White and Nerdy." 

I saw children waiting for school buses. Nearby, I saw a hooker out early in the morning on Morgan Ave. N., near a salmon-colored house known in that part of the neighborhood as "the whorehouse." But as I pushed that lawnmower all the way back to the middle of Hawthorne, I felt safe in the "dawn's early light."

When my son is over for visitation, we sometimes spend time at the University of Minnesota. Morning light hits my eyes, I check the clock even before the alarm rings, and I wake my son.

"Get up!" I say. "Let's catch the bus before the crackheads wake up!"

Early in the morning is the only time I will ride the No. 22 bus with my 11-year-old son. I've seen the (how shall I put it?) "social dynamics" on the bus blow up before, as somebody wants to get off between stops and GOES OFF on the bus driver, then somebody else (usually a senior citizen) needs to speak up, then somebody else (like me) needs to tell Miss Thing not to go off on the senior citizen, and then phones of passengers come out in preparation to call 911 as MISS THING flips out.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: stupid posters of a child clutching a teddy bear are what citizens of Minneapolis/St. Paul have instead of actual order and decency aboard public transit.

So, yeah. I like mornings. But constantly I work to "push the peace of the dawn" all the way into the middle of the day, whether that be by blogging, by committee membership, by dialing 311 or 911. I figure I'm not the only one decent citizen in North Minneapolis who uses this little trick of getting tasks accomplished early in the morning. But I'm not sure if I've seen anybody write about it on the internet before, so here you go.

Sorry, faithful readers, not a lot of content got up today. Changing four deflated tires. Long story, but not a very exciting one.

Just, you know, THE USUAL.

Drama-O-Rama At Northside Marketing Task Force Remains "JNS Blog Classified"

Photo By John Hoff

So a while ago I made mention of "drama-o-rama" at the Northside Marketing Task Force and I said I'd have the details up later. However....well, here's what happened...

I had the details, fair and square, firsthand written accounts which included (oh yes) the phrase "disgruntled boy king." And I was planning to spill all that, lavishly, like champagne gets spilled on New Year's Eve. I had the information (as I say) "out in the open" and "fair and square."

HOWEVER!!! This blog is responsive to community leaders, especially the ones who are maybe, possibly, could be trying to figure out how the JNS blog might fit into some kind of official Northside Marketing plan. Regular readers know my philosophy about that: Market and Romanticize The Struggle. I already do it every day, virtually for free.

ANYHOW, when no less than FIVE community leaders are asking me to please NOT spill the sorry details, because "the blog story will be bigger than the incident itself," then what can I do? I depend on these same folks to keep feeding me info. I can't burn all of them over some minor he said/she said incident which, really, wasn't ALL THAT. (But still colorful and interesting enough that it deserves to be told at some point)

I take comfort in the fact I might find a way to spill it later, once matters are resolved. And I tell myself that I'm going to get stuff up on the blog EVEN FASTER, before I get the almost-frantic phone calls and emails pleading "Please just sit on it for now, Johnny Northside."

Whatever. Information WANTS to be free, to flow and eddy and swirl and carve rough rocks into jewels. Ya'll need to learn how to relax and let the truth hang out like gray chest hairs.

I'm very interested to learn when we'll all stop TALKING about marketing North Minneapolis and actually MARKET. In the meantime, I'll be writing about the $7,900 house of Connie Nompelis, the community garden on 6th St. N., the neighbor dropping off home-prepared foods in spontaneous acts of love, and so forth. Just let me know when somebody in charge gives the official go ahead and says it's time to start MARKETING.

Attitude. Sorry. But it's not my nature to sit on information. Now I'll have to go dig up something extra juicy just to achieve balance in The Force.

(Oh, in regard to the photo illustrating this post: goat cheese, 99 cents. Hand-sized wheels of brie, a buck ninety-nine. This amazing store doesn't do a lot to MARKET themselves, and it's a shame. This store at Emerson Ave. N. and Lowry Ave. N. is one of the "treasures of NoMi." Stop by, you will be pleased. Tell 'em Johnny Northside sent you) 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time To Put "Dana D Roman Numeral Three" On The Public Radar: This Is What Slumlording Looks Like...

Stock Photo By John Hoff

A person described as a "concerned NoMi resident" passed a bunch of stuff my way about a slumlord empire called "Dana D (Roman Numeral) Three" properties, and I'm more than happy to be a conduit for information. I can't take credit for this, except in my conduit-y way.

Here's is the slummy fun ride, as follows...

First, there was an MPR article on this situation several months ago. Here's the link to it:

They also had a map of Danna D III properties. Here's that map:

Armed with this information, (the concerned NoMi citizen) looked up property tax information at the Hennepin County website:

And I looked up property information at the city of Minneapolis website:

I searched property-by-property from the info on the map. I don't know how Brandt Williams (of MPR) got his info. All properties are owned by Danna D III properties and list Julia A Rozhansky, 612-250-7400 as a contact person (when such a contact person is listed) Two other constants: every delinquent property tax bill listed in the MPR article of 3/2/09 was brought
current. And none of the TISH items that they actually complied with were done before the deadline.

4653 Bryant Ave N
As of the 3/2/09 article, owed $5,146.76 in back taxes
As of 5/20/09 had not paid 5/15 taxes of $1,639.13 plus a late fee of $65.57
provisional rental license through 8/31/09
TISH done 4/27/08, 16 items, 15 unresolved

3710 Girard Ave N
3/2/09 - owed $2,655.22 in back taxes
5/20/09 - $908.25 + $36.33
provisional rental through 8/31/09
TISH - 5/1/08 deadline
8 items, 7 unresolved
$1,301.50 in special assessments in 2009 (removal of rubbish, continued
fines for unpaid assessment)

3456 Penn Ave N
3/2/09 - $3,970.82 in back taxes
5/20/09 - $905.90 + $36.24
provisional rental through 8/31/09
TISH deadline 4/23/08
14 items, 0 resolved

3530 Logan Ave N
delinquent on '08 taxes $2,019.60
5/20 - $901.08 + $36.04
provisional rental license through 8/31/09, in review 1/30/09
TISH done on 11/27/07, no deadline listed (why???)
15 items, 0 resolved

3251 N 6th St
3/2/09 - $3,919.14
5/20 - $1,608.48 + $64.34
provisional rental license through 8/31/09, in review 2/20/09
TISH deadline 5/1/08
19 items, 0 resolved
$175 special assessment for rubbish removal

3126 Thomas Ave N
3/2/09 - $4,193.64
5/20/09 - $1,740.56 + $69.62
provisional rental license through 8/31/09
TISH deadline 5/1/08
43 items, 4 resolved

3026 Thomas Ave N
3/2/09 - $2,267.32
5/20/09 - $1,132.14 + $45.29
provisional 8/31/09
TISH deadline 5/1/08
16 items, 0 resolved

2935 Queen Ave N
3/2/09 - $2,508.66
5/20/09 - $1,027.43 + $41.10
provisional 8/31/09
TISH deadline 4/15/08
12 items, 1 resolved
$175 special assessment - rubbish removal

2648 Russell Ave N
3/2/09 - $2,879.78
5/20/09 - $1,003.19 + $40.13
provisional 8/31/09
TISH deadline 5/1/08
31 items, 1 resolved
'09 special assessment $134 cut grass

2700 Morgan Ave N
3/2/09 - $1,454.12
5/20/09 - $1,071.64 + $42.87
provisional 8/31/09
TISH deadline 5/1/08
7 items, 0 resolved

2818 Aldrich Ave N
3/2/09 - $2346.26
5/20/09 - $876.33 + $35.05
provisional 8/31/09
TISH - not signed by buyer, no deadline
2 items, 0 resolved

2321 4th St N
3/2/09 - $3,630.88
5/20/09 - $1,341.78 + $53.67
open/approved license 8/31/09
TISH - 5/1/08 deadline
24 items, 0 resolved

2031 James Ave N
3/2/09 - $2,671.92
5/20/09 - $1,587.69 + $63.51
3/13/09 license in review
TISH - 5/11/08 deadline
33 items, 7 resolved

1514 Thomas Ave N
3/2/09 - $2,250.34
5/20/09 - $891.96 + $35.68
3/4/09 VBR registration
TISH - 5/1/08 deadline
16 items, 0 resolved
$6,665 in '09 special assessments

1723 Girard Ave N
3/2/09 - $2,272.00
5/20/09 - $933.77 + $37.35
provisional 8/31/09
TISH - 3/31/08 deadline
15 items, 1 resolved
'09 $200 citation/special assessment

1301 16th Ave N
3/2/09 - $2,530.66
5/20/09 - $492.85 + $19.71
approved license 8/31/09
TISH - 5/2/05 deadline
7 items, 0 resolved

1418 Logan Ave N
5/20 - $724.42 + $28.98
undetermined amount in prior years taxes due (will find out tomorrow) no license
TISH 6/23/08 deadline
12 items, 3 resolved

1112 18th Ave N
5/20/09 - $456.38 + $18.26
undetermined amount in prior taxes
no TISH issued/available online
'09 special assessments - $350 rubbish removal, $758 boarding (likely a
$6,000 VBR fee coming up, but not showing online yet)

2659 Queen Ave N
5/20 - $1,812.14 + $72.49
undetermined amount in prior taxes
condemned, code compliance required in place of TISH
'09 special assessment $308 (likely another $6,000 VBR fee not showing yet)

2941 Fremont Ave N
5/20 - $1,782.61 + $71.30
undetermined amount in prior taxes
open rental 8/31/09
TISH 5/1/08 deadline
21 items, 6 resolved
'09 special assessment $134 vegetation removal

3530 Morgan Ave N
3/2/09 - $1,861.08
5/20 - $1,406.12 + $56.24
provisional 8/31/09
TISH - 5/1/08 deadline
12 items, 0 resolved

3953 Dupont Ave N
5/20/09 - $2,207.38 + $88.30
undetermined amount in prior taxes
provisional 8/31/09
no TISH online
'09 special assessment $325 rubbish removal

JNS Blog says: Wow, that's quite an impressive little empire. I have faith city officials are either all over it or soon will be.

My question is CAN THEY BE SUED?

JNS EDITORIAL: Some Labels Being Thrown Around: Pro-City, Pro-Community, Poverty Pimps...

Stock Photo By John Hoff

You really don't know how somebody else views the world unless you ask 'em. Even then, you may not get a straight answer. But sometimes you do, and it makes your head spin to take on, for a moment, somebody else's view of the world and incorporate it into your own understanding, even if it doesn't become your own view of the world.

One of the most interesting things to come out of the "True JACC" hearing has been an explanation--best articulated by Steve Jackson of the "Old Majority"--how his faction/clique views the world. In the view of Steve Jackson, there are two opposing camps: Pro-City versus Pro-Community.

The Pro-City faction, in Jackson's view, wants... "gentrify" North Minneapolis, which would inevitably mean forcing out poor black people, to be replaced with more affluent non-black people. (So Jackson believes) There is, Steve will tell you, a conspiracy afoot, and powerful players in the city government are in on it. Those who oppose the gentrification conspiracy are the "Pro-Community" viewpoint. Steve includes himself in that worldview, and claims to speak for "the voiceless" who "maybe don't even HAVE internet."

It's very convenient to speak for the "voiceless." Being voiceless, they can't tell you you're representing them VERY BADLY. One can't help but be reminded of President Nixon's "silent majority."

It's notable that, in Jackson's view of the world, you can't be both "Pro-City" and "Pro-Community." Steve says some people "straddle the fence," but ultimately you can't be both. In such a worldview, the development plans of the city are either actively harmful or merely neutral. The police are a hostile occupation force sent to oppress "the community." Knowing "the community" is small compared to the rest of the city, it seems inevitable that a "siege mentality" would set in, in which every incursion must be vigorously fought "by any means necessary."

So there is Steve's world view: Pro-City versus Pro-Community.

From where I am standing, however, there are also two camps: those who are in favor of revitalization, and those who want to keep things the way (too often) things have been in the past. The past includes daily horrors such as open air drug dealing, a 15-year-old pregnant girl turning up murdered in at a vacant, neglected property, social disorder spilling out into the streets while decent people try to get some sleep and (most insidious of all) the mainstream media putting North Minneapolis into a convenient little niche, (the urban dystopia niche), without revealing the good, the struggle for the better, the COMPLEXITY of our situation and how rapidly things are changing. The media show up when somebody gets shot. Period. Minor caveats not worth noting.

The horrible past in North Minneapolis is, too often, our present moment as well...but by daily gritty idealistic struggle we move toward a revitalized, utopian future and now is the time to buy in while prices on GLORIOUS OLD MANSIONS are dirt cheap, join your neighborhood association, and reap the long-term rewards of your faith and vision.

Notably, I have never heard a label for this "pro-revitalization" camp to which I have become loyal.

We don't call ourselves "The Revitalizers." I've heard the phrases "neighborhood association people" and "active citizens" thrown around a few times, but not often enough that I consider it a label. We don't call ourselves "gentrifiers" because there is no intention to exclude or evict anybody, except CRIMINALS WHO ARE COMMITTED TO THE CRIMINAL LIFESTYLE, and excluding criminals isn't "gentrification," that is mere social order and safety. There are VERY AFFLUENT PEOPLE OF COLOR in North Minneapolis, including folks I consider my close friends, folks who oppose the "Old Majority" world view. In the view of the "Old Majority," the revitalization and development which some of us fight for every day is a racist, yuppie plot to level North Minneapolis and put in the world's largest TCBY yogurt.

(Well, OK, also a Gap store. And an Applebee's. Can't forget Applebee's)

Consider how tough and unenviable is the position of affluent black and bi-racial citizens in North Minneapolis.

If Jerry Moore wants to hurt my feelings (I am a white person) he will say there goes Johnny Northside, "the hater of black people," precisely as he did in court only yesterday. He will accuse me, subtly or overtly, of being a low-down, dirty racist.

But if Jerry Moore wants to go after my good friend Kip Browne, Chair of the "New Majority" JACC board, (a man of color) then Jerry Moore must say something worse. He must accuse Kip Browne of being a traitor, a backstabber, somebody who "kisses ass." To be a traitor or an ass kisser is arguably much worse than being a hater, because it requires more will, more calculation. And few play this self-benefitting race-baiting game so well as Jerry Moore...until recently, when his little universe began to crumble and now he can't even manage to draw unemployment, because he has been ousted by Kip Browne's highly-diverse "New Majority."

Yet for merely being in the revitalization camp, some people of color like Council Member Don Samuels and JACC Chair Kip Browne have been called horrible racist names by people who purport to be "Pro-Community." Testimony in the "true JACC" court hearing has aired allegations that Kip Browne--a brilliant attorney and a man of color--was told "You like to kiss white people's asses" by Jerry Moore, who is nothing if not a master of playing complex games of divisive racial politics to con out a fat paycheck.

But we've left aside the discussion of what is the "pro-revitalization" camp called, what is the official label? Apparently, we never thought to give ourselves a formal, commonly-used label. But a label has been assigned to us by the Old Majority:


It makes sense to me that I am "Pro-City." For an urban environment to succeed, there must be safety and order. Uncivilized behavior that might be winked at out in the unpopulated sticks (where I grew up) can't be tolerated in a densely-populated city. When I give myself to the good of my city through volunteer efforts, the reward comes in due time, manyfold. The very sight of the Minneapolis skyline fills me with civic pride. Yes, I am Pro-City. Is that the WORST label that can be thrown at me? I take that label and I WEAR IT.

In world history, there is a long tradition of taking the name your opposition has given you and proudly adopting it as your own. During the American Revolution, the British sang a mocking little tune called "Yankee Doodle" about the provincial American "dandy" who "stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni."

The American revolutionaries took the mocking "Yankee Doodle" label and made it their identity. In sexual politics, the label "queer" has seen a similar transformation of meaning. This kind of thing happens often, it happens all over the world. You take the label your opposition throws at you and you say, "Is that the WORST you can come up with? I take it as a compliment."

Despite the fact the Pro-City faction never took the time to come up with a self-identifying label, there is a label I hear thrown around quite often in (mostly verbal) discourse about North Minneapolis civic issues:


This label is in common usage all over the English-speaking world (even Haiti!) and is not unique to social discourse in North Minneapolis. (Don Allen of the IBNN blog uses this phrase A LOT)

(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)

A poverty pimp might be somebody who purports to be helping "the youth" through various social programs, while drawing an overly-large salary, eating pizza and watching unlimited HBO at the JACC office. You look in the dictionary and, well, THAT would be a poverty pimp. From a certain point of view, therefore, the divisions in North Minneapolis might be seen this way: Pro-City versus Poverty Pimps.

It is dangerous, however, to assume any particular side has cornered the market on truth or righteousness. This is why I continue to think Old Majority members would be most effective by taking seats at the table and articulating their positions--though they might be outvoted time and time again--in hopes of creating the kind of "moderating tendency" that happens when people instinctively alter their views (just a bit) to make others happy, so everybody can get along and feel like they have "won."

And, really, nothing would be so "Pro-City" and at the same time "Pro-Community" than to say, really, CAN WE ALL TRY TO GET ALONG?

For the record, I was overly critical of Jill Clark's "key lime pie" jacket in one of my previous blog posts. Kelly Browne (who is something of a feminist, it seems, and certainly committed to truth and justice) forced me to see the error of my ways. My dislike of Jill Clark's world view manifested in my description of the jacket which, really, is not an unattractive garment at all.

Accordingly, I will add an addendum to one of my previous posts retracting my harsh critique of the jacket. (The spastic face twitching thing, however, still weirds me out)

At some level, I certainly hope the Honorable Judge Porter drop kicks the "Old Majority" lawsuit into the deep, dark hole which will soon appear where 1564 Hillside Ave. N. once stood, and yet at some level I must hope we can all somehow sit in a circle eating "the bread pudding pastry of peace" and asking the pressing question:


JACC Livability Forum Reconstituted Under Kip Browne's "New Majority" Leadership...

Photo By John Hoff

Info comes by listserv that the JACC "livability forum" is being revived, after a long dormancy under the ineffective "Old Majority" leadership which brought JACC to the edge of total collapse and financial ruin in the name of being "pro-community" and therefore "anti-revitalization." 

Here is the word that I heard, word for word:

For the first time in several years, JACC is holding a community/livability forum on May 21st at St. Anne's Senior Residence at 2323 26th Avenue N from 6 to 8 p.m.

This is an opportunity to come together, meet your neighbors and to discuss and contribute to plans for Jordan. All are welcome! Bring the kids. Get involved. Be part of the solution!

(Do not click "Read More")

To NoMi Is To Love Me...Neighborhood Promotion Ideas Are Being Kicked Around!

Photos By John Hoff 

Some weeks ago, there was some brief, intense discussion among movers and shakers in the Hawthorne Neighborhood about promotional possibilities involving the old railroad bridge near Broadway Pizza.

I see this bridge as a de facto "gateway to NoMi" and I thought how it might be painted up with the phrase (very much in common currency right now) "Get To NoMi" or possibly "To NoMi Is To Love Me."

I'm told one of the "elder statesmen" in the neighborhood said various ideas had been kicking around for many years, ideas about painting something on the old railroad bridge. Well, I thought time to kick the ideas around a little harder. 

Geez, at the very least the bridge could be painted the original green color instead of left to rust.

(Do not click "Read More")

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

Photo By John Hoff, Dan Rother and Vladimir Monroe

After calling members of the JACC Board mere "figureheads" while staff members such as himself did all the "grunt work," former JACC Executive Director Jerry Moore dug himself in deeper by claiming he tried to contact Kip Browne in October of 2008 in association with the JACC nominations committee, but said Browne didn't return his phone calls.

"That's a lie!" Kelly Browne whispered.

Browne, Jerry reiterated on the stand, NEVER called him back about matters with the Nominations Committee.

"He's lying," Kelly whispered. "And we have the emails to back it up."

Contempt for Jerry Moore hung thick in the room, like urine smell in a parking garage. Jerry Moore said he "disagreed" as to whether some appointees had 1 year or two year terms. (Later, Moore didn't seem able to point to where, precisely, in the JACC bylaws such an animal as a "one year term" existed.

In yet another example of blowing up a petty slight--the kind of petty slights you can reasonably expect when you won't share financial records with members of the Board of Directors, when you have inadequate formal education for the job, but you're raking in $60K a year--Jerry Moore said Browne had "chastized" him in front of "guests," talking about his "performance evaluation," which "I did not find hilarious or entertaining."

Moore denied he ever said...

"(Expletive) Anne McCandless, and also denied he ever told Kip Browne he likes to "kiss white people's asses." No, instead (Moore claimed) he merely told Browne he should be doing more for "the community" instead of "kissing ass."

Jill Clark asked about the "second iteration" of the Nominations Committee. Moore said he was told to "stay away" and he did.

Asked about the "fracas" or "fistfight" or "altercation," Jerry Moore gave his side of the story and it was, well, a rather odd account, to say the least.

Jerry said Mrs. Champion spoke to him that night. (JNS says: her relationship to State Senator Bobby Joe Champion is unknown, but she is NOT his wife) Champion told Moore "this gentleman said you're stealing from the organization." (By which she meant Dennis Wagner had said that of Jerry) At that moment, Wagner walked over grinning "I guess a sadistic way," Moore said.

"Did you ask him?" said Wagner, twice.

Engaging in his usual "charm offensive" tactic, which he has been known to use over and over, Moore suggested everybody could "sit down together" and chat about this some time. At that point, Moore claims Wagner hit him in the back, and it hurt.

However, since it was ONLY A FLESH WOUND, brave and gritty Jerry Moore tried to turn to talk to Champion again, apparently wanting to clear his name before he died of injuries from the SARCASTIC BACK SLAP. At this point, Wagner allegedly hit Moore's back AGAIN.

On the stand, Moore said he thinks "no means no" in the case of his back being touched by a man, so Moore had to "defend himself" from Wagner. At that moment, director P.J. Hubbarb "came across the room" and tried to hit Moore, according to Moore, and did manage to hit Moore "on the shoulder." At this point, Director Vladimir Monroe (pictured above, right) allegedly got Moore in a "full nelson" head lock, no doubt holding Moore still so Dennis Wagner could approach and touch Moore's back again and again...and "Miss Champion grabbed me."

(One member of JACC says Mrs. Champion was actually friendly to Moore, and grabbed him to "protect him." It is indeed a confusing event, and everybody appears to have their own version of events)

At this point, Moore said, some "church staff" pulled Moore upstairs. The "church staff" was identified to me as Deroyce Turner, a guy who bears a striking resemblance to deceased comedian Bernie Mac.

Moore also mentioned Megan Goodmundson's alleged role in the melee. Moore said Megan "came over" and she was "screaming and hollering" but Moore "moved her out of his way" because "there was Hubbard swinging in front of me."

Listening to this gallant, self-serving version of events, Megan Goodmundson laughed out loud. It was not a forced laugh conjured up to intrude on proceedings. It sounded like a genuine laugh which she couldn't keep from escaping her lips. On the stand, Jerry Moore frowned. After he had RISKED HIS SAFETY for Megan, to be mocked, to be laughed at like this. Et tu, Goodmundson?

Turning to the subject of Moore's employment termination, Jerry Moore claimed he wasn't notified of any cancellation of his employment...not after the tumultuous meeting of January 14, 2009, no notification from then until the end of January. Nope. Nothing like that.

Jerry Moore was asked about the Housing Recovery Act. Moore said many millions of dollars were getting set to flow into North Minneapolis neighborhoods, some $68 million dollars.

Imagine how many lunches THAT would buy at the Monte Carlo, I thought.

"Had the issue of money to developers, contractors, real estate agents been an issue (in the neighborhood)?" asked Jill Clark.

Jerry responded that JACC wanted to make sure it was the "people in the community" who got the money. One can't help but think this is another one of those overly-broad phrases when it comes from the lips of Jerry Moore, a phrase like "our youth."

Now it was Defense Attorney David Schooler's turn to ask the questions. JACC Director Dan Rother sat in the front row, at times leaning forward intently. (Rother is pictured above, left) Many have credited Rother's relentless, even obsessive mission to get access to JACC financial records as being the catalyst which brought everybody to this point. One normally doesn't think of "vindicated" as a facial expression, but that's what Dan Rother's face said at that moment.

Before all the lawyers got involved, before the mess ended up in court and was dragged through the internet, Rother had seen the writing on the wall, and had been like Paul Revere riding and shouting, "To arms! To arms! MALFEASANCE! MISMANAGEMENT! TO ARMS!"

As he often does, Rother was wearing a knee length black garb, kind of like the Sultan of Brunei might wear around the palace when he doesn't want to be His Highness, he just wants to kick around. I call it Rother's "Matrix Casual" outfit.

Rother's expression was far away. All those months, all those phone calls, all those emails, the frustration of having to be accused of "harassment" in a court of law, while merely trying to get financial records to do one's fiduciary duty...

Victory. At last. And this was Rother's victory banquet. The main course, of course, was Jerry Moore with an apple in his mouth, his backside exposed to whoever wanted to come along and pat it sadistically, or put a big steaming hunk of Jerry Moore on their figurative plate.

But no way could victory be sweet at such a moment as this. Back in the Jordan Neighborhood, everybody who cared about "the community" was still fighting to deal with vacant houses, with social disorder, with all the awful manifestations of the foreclosure crisis made worse by the long leadership vacuum which had existed under the Myers/Moore faction.

So this was nowhere near the end. This was the beginning, and Rother was still a JACC Director, doing his best to help the neighborhood through its many problems. But, oh yes, for a moment...

One might savor the smell of grilled flesh.