Friday, July 31, 2009

Free Speech Friday, And A Photo That Is "One For The Ages"

Photo By John Hoff, hookers by tree

A few days ago, Dennis "DW" Wagner and Deb Wagner planted flowers where Logan Ave. N. meets 27th, where there is a great view of the Jordan Pond. As I snapped a picture of "Double Dee Double U" planting flowers with hookers visible in the background, I said to myself, "Now there's a picture for the ages, when the history of NoMi is written about how we completely turned this place around."

I thought it was a fine image for the "free speech thread." If you have something to say, feel free to add comments below.

Oh, in case you're playing Where's Waldo, the two (alleged) hookers and their (suspected) pimp are at the base of the middle tree.

(Do not click "Read More")

Friedman's Is Getting A Facelift On West Broadway...

Photo by John Hoff

Yet more renovation is happening on West Broadway. Friedman's at 400 West Broadway is getting all spiffed up. The renovation ball is really rolling along NoMi's main commercial corridor. It was only a short while ago I was writing about some improvements nearby at the obscure Asian grocery where I found fresh durian fruit.

It seems like once the renovation ball starts rolling, it gains mass...kind of like when you mow your lawn, and then you hear your neighbor fire up HIS lawn mower!

What a shame SOME West Broadway businessmen don't follow the trend and spiff up the exterior of their buildings. You know who you are, click here.

(Do not click "Read More")

Images From Yesterday's Bike Rodeo And Barbeque, Sponsored By MPD "Helmet Heroes"

Photos By John Hoff

Officer Mark Klukow, winner of the One Man Minneapolis pageant, and his partner, Mike Kirchen, yesterday sponsored a cook-out and bike rodeo in the Hawthorne Neighborhood, just off 3rd Ave. N. near the highway.

Klukow writes about the event on his blog, click here, and includes some pictures. Here are a few more images. At the top...

The rodeo in full swing. In the second photo, Laura Martin of "500 Under 5" gives out a book at the event. Numerous books were distributed during the rodeo. In the second photo, Officer Kirchen poses with Michelle and Sara, two nurses from U of M Fairview. Klukow says they are sticklers for making sure a helmet sits on a kid's head just as it should.

In the second-to-last photo, Officer Kirchen poses with one of the kids who won a bike (on the right) and another kid who just wanted to be in the picture. In the last photo, Officer Klukow catches a football.

At one point, I asked if Klukow would pose with a kid eating a doughnut and playfully "wrestle for the doughnut" for the picture. Klukow informed me he doesn't eat doughnuts in uniform--it's a personal rule of his--and rarely eats them at all, actually. He's very much into personal fitness. You wouldn't want to be at the front of a foot chase with Klukow behind you.

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Morgan Ave. Whores Have GOT TO GO!!!

Photos By John Hoff

The latest word on the whore house at 2700 Morgan Ave. N. (and readers who follow my Twitter posts already know this) is that an eviction order came down TODAY and inspections will reportedly be there Monday. I hope they have police back up.

Meanwhile, five shots were fired...

...late last night at Logan and 27th, just a block away. No injuries, unknown whether there were any arrests. Tension hangs in the air as thugs and prostitutes are being displaced. I hear word of an apparent confrontation between a pimp and a public official, but still trying to get the details.

The photo above shows a resident of the Jordan Pond area--dressed quite comfortably. obviously--posing in front of possessions which have been "hitting the curb" from the whore house.

Nothing there worth dumpster my authoritative opinion.

More Drama-O-Rama With Northside Marketing Task Force... image

The drama surrounding Northside Marketing Task Force is not nearly as much fun as, for example, JACC drama or whore house drama or even a lowly crack house drama. But sometimes there's nothing else playing on the Johnny Northside blog channel, and you readers will just have to make do with dramas that are not as, well, dramatic.

So it is today...

Shirlynn LaChapelle fired off a letter to Susan Bendickson and Georgianna Yantos--cc'ed to Jerry Moore and Mike Kestner--proposing a "high noon" Friday meeting to take place today for a "hopeful resolution of this serious matter." (Oh, gee, that was today. I wonder if a meeting took place?)

LaChapelle styles herself as one of three "legal board members," the other of which would be, according to the letter, Moore and Kestner.

Here is the letter, dated July 23, 2009, as follows except boldface substituted for underlining:

Susan and Georgianna,

The Northside Marketing Task Force ("NMTF") was created and established with the intent to be an inclusive community effort, with the community-elected Board of Directors working off of standard, established and legal board procedures regarding elections, terms, bylaws, appointed responsibilities, finances, meeting notices, and minutes.

Since the beginning of this year, votes and decisions pertaining to and affecting the NMTF have been taken without quorum, without proper advance notification of date/time/location, without agendas being discussed and approved by the full NMTF executive committee, without meeting minutes distributed, and with persons voting whose terms have expired.

This has resulted in chaos and disrespect for due process, and an illegal current NMTF board making illegal decisions on behalf of this registered community non-profit.

All assets of the NMTF, which include marketing materials produced by the Carney Group and Amalgam, (website, case statement, public relations pieces, etc.) under contract with the NMTF, should be reviewed and discussed with all NMTF Board of Directors before they are released for public viewing and consumption.

The domain names, email addresses, and access codes releated to,, and are all the property of the NMTF, and are subject to full board approval as to who administers them and how they are distributed to the public.

The names Northside Marketing Task Force and NMTF are also subject to full board approval before they are used or distributed in any public manner.

It has come to my attention that the two of you, along with former board member Jim Wentzell, have decided that Board process need not be followed, and have begun to promote an unauthorized NMTF Annual Meeting, posted the unapproved website to the public, and have attempted to illegally access NMTF funds held by our fiscal agent Northway Community Trust.

This letter shall serve as a Cease and Desist requesting all Northside Marketing Task Force decisions and activities, until a proper NMTF Board of Directors meeting takes place, which would include me and the other remaining legal board members, Mr. Jerry Moore and Mr. Mike Kestner.

I am proposing that this meeting take place Friday, July 31, at 12:00pm (noon) at a location to be determined. This will allow time for the NMTF Board of Directors to gather all documents and be prepared for discussion and hopeful resolution of this matter.

In the meantime, please remove the current posted website at and, and postpone all NMTF communications until further notice and agreement of the full NMTF Board of Directors.

I would appreciate a rapid response to this request. Thank you in advance.

Shirlynn LaChapelle,
Northside Marketing Task Force

cc: Jerry Moore
Mike Kestner

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Peek At The North Branch Library Renovation...

Photos By John Hoff

During last weekend's Art FLOW, I had a chance to check out the renovation-in-progress of the North Branch Library Building, located near the intersection of West Broadway and Emerson Ave. N.

The life and achievements of an amazing woman named Gratia Countryman are inseparable from the library building itself, and so the newly renovated building will be known as "Gratia's Annex." To read all about Gratia Countryman, go to her Wikipedia page, click here.

During Art FLOW, the building was open and...

Some promotional flyers were passed out which were quite informative. Later, I tried to find the material in the flyers online, so I could create a link from this blog post. Apparently, though, that material is not online. Since it's very informative, public spirited and (most importantly) was being freely and publicly distributed, I'm going to just slap the material online so anybody seeking info about the North Branch Library renovation will be able to find it.

Here goes.


By bringing the North Branch Library Building 'back to life,' Emerge Community Development will provide career development (jobs) and technology learning (training) services to residents along the West Broadway corridor in North Minneapolis--an area of our city greatly in need of economic revitalization. In so doing, Emerge will honor the legacy of one of our city's most distinguished public servants--Gratia Countryman, the pioneering director of the Minneapolis public library system from 1904 to 1936.

Thus the Campaign for Gratia's Annex seeks $4.25 million in gifts and subscriptions to preserve a cherished landmark--one on the National Register of Historic Places and one that served as a symbol of learning for residents throughout the area.


Open to the public in 1894, the North Branch Library was the first community library in Minneapolis and one of the first open-shelf libraries in the nation. Situated in the heart of North Minneapolis near the West Broadway and Emerson Avenue intersection, the North Branch Library was a true cornerstone of a once prosperous North Minneapolis community.

Gratia Alta Countryman led the Minneapolis Public Library system from 1904 to 1936 and was known nationally for her pioneering efforts in making the library more accessible and user-friendly to all the city's residents, regardless of age or economic position. During her distinguished 32 years of service, Ms. Countryman provided foreign language materials for immigrants and Braille books for the blind, she launched new branch libraries throughout the city and she set up over 300 other "distributing agencies" including classrooms, factories, businesses, residences for women, orphanages, jails and other institutions.

Under Ms. Countryman's leadership, the North Branch Library flourished, establishing the state's first bookmobile and becoming in her words "a wide-awake institution for the dissemination of ideas."

Endowed by local philanthropists, the North Branch Library predated subsequent Carnegie Foundation supported Minneapolis community libraries by 17 years. The building was designed by Frederick Corser, a renowned Minnesota architect, and constructed as a petite red brick castle in the medieval revival style, complete with turrets and gargoyles. The North Branch Library served as a community melting pot and beacon of hope for 81 years, offering the heritage of the past and the promise of the future.

Then, in 1975, with the building of the "New" North Branch Library near Lowry Avenue, the original North Branch Library closed is doors and was subsequently nominated as a historic building to the National Register.

An Exciting Career Learning and Technology Center

In honor of Gratia Countryman's pioneering work, Emerge Community Development is launching a $4.25 million capital campaign to create Gratia's Annex, a state-of-the-art career learning and technology center that makes career development and technology resources increasingly accessible to North Minneapolis residents in need. This exciting development brings a historic and dormant 3-floor, 13,585 square foot building back to life, helps North Minneapolis residents cross the digital divide and inspires a new generation of Northsiders to pursue careers and discover computer technology.

Uniquely designed spaces that enhance learning and community building including...

FIRST FLOOR includes state-of-the-art technology center with three classroom/learning labs equipped with state-of-the-art multi-media technologies and open access computer kiosks for walk-in visitors.

SECOND FLOOR includes an elegant common space for community gatherings and programming and two multi-use conference rooms with built-in teleconferencing capabilities.

THIRD FLOOR includes office space for a single co-anchor tenant or multiple tenants that provide complementary services to the visiting public.

Programming that promotes skill development in the new digital age

Anchored by the Emerge Community Development's City Skills Training Program which will offer site-based customer career training, Gratia's Annex will engage in numerous partnerships to promote skill building and career development including:

# Software training and certification programs including accredited technology courses in partnership with local universities and technical colleges.

# A wide variety of community technology workshops and trainings facilitated by Emerge and partners such as: certified trainings in Microsoft and other software uses, introductory courses in basic computer fundamentals, progressive courses in programming languages and operating systems.

# School partnerships for day-time educational uses.

# Corporate and service organization partnerships to create a strong volunteer presence.

# Individualized career development and job placement services provided by Emerge.

(End of flyer)

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Details Of Sunday Night's "Shoot Out At Oliver Ave. N." photo

Here are some more details of Sunday night's apparent 4-way shooting at 17th Ave. N. and Oliver Ave. N.

The four parties allegedly involved were Damario Donta Williams, birthday 3/24/89. Raymond Jordan Jackson, birthday 1/15/89. Chase Daymone Dent-Wells, birthday 9/26/88. And Brian Funtanous Mack, birthday 10/03/85. In addition, there were...

...eight witnesses listed on the police report, one of which was a juvenile.

The location of the shooting--17th Ave. N. and Oliver Ave. N.--is rather notable, since Ward 5 City Council Candidate Natalie Johnson Lee lives right there, according to her candidate filing, click here.

I guess Lee isn't as involved in keeping her street free of gang activity as, for example, Don Samuels. Click here for an interesting incident related to THAT.

I also have the police records for the four individuals involved, which are rather extensive. I'll start with Brian Mack, since his is the most impressive.

Brian Mack:

No drivers license, 3/24/04, and 12/23/04
Narcotics charge, 5/6/05
Driving after suspension, 4/13/06,8/10/07, 9/14/07, 3/19/09
No insurance, 10/11/08
Weapons charges, 7/3/06, and 6/21/08

Raymond Jackson:

Weapons charge, 6/12/08
Driving after suspension, 4/28/09

Chase Dent-Wells:

Narcotics charge, 7/12/09

Demario Williams:

Driving after suspension, 7/8/07
Fleeing on Foot, 4/20/09
Second Degree Assault (involves a weapon) 6/14/09

The Mpls Mirror reports rumors that two pastor's sons were involved in the shootout. This is still unconfirmed.

Which Of These Park Board Candidates Embraces The Modern Wonder Of Email?

Top, official photo of Jon Olson on Park Board website, bottom, photo by John Hoff

There's an interesting little "bottom of the ballot" race shaping up for Park Board between Jon Olson and Michael Guest. The area one of these candidates will represent includes most (but not all) of North Minneapolis. (NoMi)

Here's an interesting little factoid which says a lot about the candidates. Jon Olson is the only Park Commissioner who (as of today) doesn't have an email address listed on the Park Board web page, click here. Word on the street is that Jon Olson is something of a Luddite when it comes to using email and the internet.

As for Michael Guest...well, I can personally confirm the man has email and uses it.

I am hoping one of these two candidates will write to me and say something about the shamefully inadequate amenities at Glengale Park, click here, which were pointed out to me by Kip Browne, the Chairman of JACC. One of them can just, you know, send me an email.

(Do not click "Read More")

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Inside The Spiffy New Capri Theatre On West Broadway...Such A Contrast With SOME Buildings On West Broadway!

Photos By John Hoff

I missed the grand opening of the Capri Theatre on West Broadway some months back, but other media had it covered, of course. Last weekend's Art FLOW event was the first opportunity I had to go inside the refurnished, revamped, restored and REALLY NICE Capri Theatre. This is the building where Prince played in 1979 and, soon after, put the Minneapolis music scene on the radar of the world. It could happen again, right here in NoMi.

Right now, West Broadway is a study in contrasts. There are buildings undergoing intensive renovation and then there are, well, buildings like the ones that belong to slumlord Keith Reitman, click here.

It's obvious which way the trend is heading, but some people are slowing down the trend.

(Do not click "Read More")

Yellowbook Tries To Make Amends In Hawthorne Neighborhood For Unwanted Phone Book Dumping...

Down With Yellowbook

Stock Photo By John Hoff

I previously reported how Hawthorne's Housing Director Jeff Skrenes ("The Hawthorne Hawkman," pictured above) confronted some phone book dumpers from Yellowbook who were dumping evidence of wanton, wasteful tree murder on the steps of vacant houses. (Click here for that story)

Well, now Yellowbook is trying to make amends...

After talking to Jeff Skrenes on the phone, Yellowbook sent out a truck and picked up 121 phonebooks from vacant houses. In addition, they took note of 64 Dex phone books sitting at the vacant houses, but didn't pick them up. According to Skrenes, "They are not allowed to remove the Dex (phonebooks) but informed us they believe the same delivery people worked for Dex when they were dropped off and THEY NO LONGER WORK FOR YELLOWBOOK." (Caps not in original)

This represents progress by Yellowbook. Clearly, the word is going forth that NORTH MINNEAPOLIS IS NOT HAPPY ABOUT ALL THE PHONE BOOKS DUMPED AT VACANT HOUSES.

However, our neighborhood leadership should not have to be tied up with this issue. The phone book companies need to STOP DROPPING OFF UNSOLICITED PHONE BOOKS, not making amends afterward.

Merwins Does The Right Thing, Fixes "Butt Fence" Situation...

Photo By Todd Heintz, posted to Facebook album

Tonight I plan to buy booze at Merwins Liquor and have a "buttfence bonfire" of celebration, because Merwins has done the right thing. They have replaced the notorious "butt fence" or "butt wall" with an attractive and secure feature which does not yet have a clever name, but give it time, give it time. No doubt the expense to Merwins was considerable, but this represents a great improvement to the neighborhood and addresses a problem which has dragged down revitalization for years.

The photo above was taken by Todd Heintz, added to his Facebook album called "Mobile Uploads," and forwarded by a link from a reader...and loyal PayPal contributor. 

It should be pointed out there are already reports of "Butt Fencians" congregating near Walgreens on West Broadway, some bringing their own buckets for sitting. However, the march of massive revitalization is inevitable. If a butt fence emerges elsewhere, it's just more material to blog about, another victory to achieve. The good people are winning in NoMi, and this neighborhood is getting better every day.

(Do not click "Read More")

Monday, July 27, 2009

North Minneapolis (Alleged) Drug Dealers, Caught On Film...

Contributed Photos

I've said for a while that if citizens will send me pictures of (alleged) drug deals in North Minneapolis, I will print those photos without hesitation. Recently, somebody answered my offer...

The photos came from a private citizen, however, I'm told the photos may have some "official" origins.

Well, what do I care? Here I am printing the pictures. Send me more.

Oh, and send me some photos of (alleged) hookers, too. Thank you.

New NoMi Homeowner Reception At Victory 44 Restaurant (BRING BACK THE CALAMARI!!!!)

Photos By John Hoff

John Riedlinger, pictured above, is closing on a house TODAY. But he can take $13,000 and just leave that money at home, not bringing it to today's closing, because his Realtor, Connie Nompelis, (pictured on the bottom, to the right) helped to line Riedlinger up with $13k from the Pohlad Foundation ($8k) and Willard Hay. ($5K) 

John's new home is on Russell Ave. N. in Homewood. He is divorced and has two dogs...

So it won't exactly be "divorced Daddyville," which is my way of describing single fathers getting great home deals in NoMi, as I did, but Riedlinger says he is "daddy" to the two dogs.

In the next photo, Alan Johnson and Rachel Gall, who purchased a house on Thomas Ave. N. in the Cleveland Neighborhood. They managed to get $10,000 in free money from the Minneapolis Advantage program, and then patiently jumped through numerous hoops to put together a 203K FHA rehab. This will mean a new roof, new electricity, new bathroom. Some of the hoops involved "proving their contractor is good."

Their loan officer in this deal was Nicole Doran, who is reportedly becoming quite the 203K FHA rehab expert! Here's her Facebook contact info, click here.

Riedlinger, Johnson and Gall recently gathered at a "new NoMi homeowner reception" at the Victory 44 restaurant. State Senator Linda Higgins was there to great these new constituents. It was a lovely, perfect event...except that Victory 44 had taken the calamari off the menu because it reportedly "took up too much room in the fryer."

So everybody took a pile of chairs and set them on fire in protest, because this is NORTHSIDE, baby, and that's how we roll.

OK, that previous sentence was a joke, but I'm making my point, here, and I'm not the only one saying this though (once again) I'm pushed up toward the front of the crowd. BRING BACK THE CALAMARI! It was the best thing on the menu. Get a bigger fry basket or something, GEEZ!!!

What are you THINKING, Victory 44? Did you ask your CUSTOMERS, first?

Help me out, here. I want to like your restaurant and say nice things about it, and gather there with my friends for events which revolve around neighborhood revitalization. Help ME to help YOU.


Artists Of Northside Art FLOW...

Photos By John Hoff

What would an Art FLOW be without artists? Though I mostly concentrated on food and free alcoholic beverages, I had a chance to meet four artists at this weekend's Northiside Art FLOW, and see art from many others.

In the top photo, Hmong artist Yer Yang displays...

...a traditional form of Hmong embroidery called a "story cloth." In the second photo, Rakhi Singh Bisen stands in front of some of her drawings, which were on display inside The Bean Scene. In the bottom photo, music and spoken-word artist Tish Jones, click here for her MySpace.

Though I didn't snap a picture, I also met Steve Claypatch of Ascension Art. One thing he does is to put cremated pet remains inside glass paperweights, as a kind of memorial. The ashes are known as "cremains."


Even During Northside Art FLOW, No Letting Up On The 311...

Photo By John Hoff

During Northside Art FLOW, I was in front of 2101 West Broadway, a building which has some history with "Holding Forth The Word" Ministries, which is reportedly one of two North Minneapolis churches hit especially hard by the foreclosure crisis, click here for an article on the Jordan Livability Blog about THAT.

So there I was in front of that building casually snapping a picture of Jules Inda, the wife of Northside marketing guru Pat Carney, when I noticed, hey, that grass behind Jules is long. Long enough for me to call 311.

But, of course, you can't call 311 on a Saturday though, really, I think you SHOULD be able to call 311 on Saturday, Sunday, and possibly even three eleven in the morning just to, you know, talk about what's bothering you. I've even suggested hooking 311 up to Twitter and text messaging. But we're not there YET.

So I waited until today, Monday, and then I sent an email to 311 about the long grass, with a picture attached. Over there at 311 FOB (Forward Operations Base) they're going to be all, like, WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT GRASS?!

The way I see it, crime is down 40 percent in North Minneapolis despite gang member idiots shooting at each other in a recent isolated incident, and so we should all JUST KEEP DOING WHATEVER WE'RE DOING AND NOT LET UP BECAUSE IT'S WORKING. In fact, maybe we should DO WHATEVER WE'RE DOING TWICE AS HARD.

And what I make scores of 311 reports and, from time to time, some 911 calls.

So I'll keep doing THAT, and (of course) blogging.

(Do not click "Read More")

Did You Have Your Portrait Taken During Northside Art FLOW? Find It With This Link!

Photos By Pat Carney

Pat Carney is a great photographer, as evidenced by the enormous size of his camera (Exhibit A) and the fact he can take a picture which makes me look halfway good, and not so much like a geeky dork. (Exhibit B, second photo)

During the recent Northside Art FLOW, Carney snapped numerous professional portraits in front of Broadway Liquor Outlet during the beer tasting event, known as BLO FLOW. If you had your picture taken by Pat Carney, use this link (click here) to find it. 

In the top picture, Dean Rose of BLO poses with me, our shirts making the phrase "BLO FLOW." My shirt is a classic from last year's FLO.

Recycle, reduce and re-use.

(Do not click "Read More")

Who Is WHO? A Very Anonymous Contemporary History Of The Willard Homewood Organization...

Photo By John Hoff

For a couple months, I kept hearing bits and pieces about interesting political schisms in the Willard Homewood neighborhood which swirl around WHO, the Willard Homewood Organization.

I kept asking people who were apparently "in the know" to write down the facts for me, as they understood the (rather convoluted) facts to be, so a public discussion could take place and (hopefully) even more facts could come to light, as well as other points of view about the issues.

Recently, a very anonymous source put together a very anonymous history for me, which I am printing in its entirety.

Here it is, word-for-word...


W.H.O. as we know it today re-formed following a large meeting of neighbors and block club leaders at the Theodore Wirth Chalet in December 2006. At that meeting and others held openly and regularly, they established several standing committees, including one to specifically address the issue of Uncle Bill's, the convenience store that had become the epicenter of crime in the neighborhood.

One committee worked to establish bylaws and legally reconstitute the non-profit status that would allow WHO to once again be eligible to pursue grants as well as be the official funnel for NRP dollars, rather than the often-maligned NRRC, which many Willard-Homewood residents to this day do not feel represents their interests. One member of that committee, an attorney, secured pro bono representation and assistance from one of the largest law firms in Minneapolis to achieve these goals.

Meetings of the main WHO body (generally known as Block Club Leader meetings, though they were open to the general public) and its component committees took place regularly and both meeting minutes and agendas were circulated promptly.

A web site was established. A blog. A listserv. An archive of agendas and minutes. A newsletter. New block clubs sprang up across the neighborhood. Plans for new economic development along the west end of Plymouth Avenue were hatched. Things were happening. Then, WHO activism, including the submission of more than 80 Community Impact Statements, directly led to the shuttering and condemnation of Uncle Bill's in May 2007.

Enter Al McFarlane

Al McFarlane believes that Black control over the governance and the NRP process is critical to adequately serving the needs of the neighborhood. In his writings in Insight News, he has said that "even liberal whites perceive Black advancement, unbridled and self-directed, as a certain threat to cultural and political hegemony."

Not surprisingly, it did not take long for Al McFarlane to notice the resuscitation of the organization, led by a white couple, and throughout 2007 he ratcheted up his involvement in meetings. In February 2007, he published an article in his mouthpiece "Insight News" that essentially accused George and Bev Roberts of restricting "who can be at the table." Methodically, Mr. McFarlane created and engendered racial distrust and hostility through his words and actions via Insight News, his ongoing regular "Conversations" events, at the WHO meetings themselves, and in person with neighborhood residents.

It got so bad so quickly that distrustful black residents began to suspect unannounced meetings were taking place and, if they observed even a small table of people set up inside Homewood Studios (a common location for committee meetings, at Plymouth & Russell), they would enter and accuse the Roberts of such things. It was about this time that the sobriquet "White Homeowners Organization" began to circulate.

George and Bev Roberts are the most unassuming and friendly folks you can imagine, and have 40+ years of community involvement to their credit. George was a teacher at North High.

At WHO meetings, McFarlane used any number of techniques to systemically slow down and eventually mire the entire organization in procedural and parliamentary quicksand. Once-energized committee members slowly but surely walked away from their participation, discouraged by what was taking place. Approval of the completed bylaws
never happened, and eventually the pro bono law firm severed ties, too.

I'm told that there were even threats made against George and Bev Roberts (by whom, I do not know), and they walked away, too, though both have remained involved with the one remaining WHO standing committee (Economic Development), which has continued as an unaffiliated, disembodied entity with regular meetings, and whose primary achievement is the well-known "Artists' Core" homeowner initiative.

The Shift

Into the leadership vacuum stepped Al McFarlane, Beverly Propes and Reverend Randy Staten. Al controls the agenda, and "parliamentarian" Randy Staten controls the procedural matters, effectively controlling the meetings.

Following this change, meeting attendance dropped off substantially. By summer 2008, meetings often consisted of just a handful of people, and sometimes even just McFarlane and Propes. Timely announcement of meetings became a thing of the past, as did advance circulation of agendas and prompt delivery of minutes. No longer were these documents properly archived on the WHO web site, and often the meetings board at NorthPoint identified the wrong room where the WHO meeting would actually be held.

The "new" McFarlane-controlled WHO took two more years to bring bylaws to a vote, involving now-ousted JACC executive director Jerry Moore as an adviser in their development. Nobody seems to know how much, if any, of the wonderful pro bono work that the "old" WHO secured was actually retained -- only the small cadre of McFarlane insiders do, apparently. But Moore's involvement has certainly led many residents to distrust everything that he has touched.

In those two years, no committees were created, nor did any meet. At a glance, nothing of any real substance occurred beyond the highly suspect bylaw development.

Now out of nowhere comes Lennie Chism's proposal to open a co-op grocery in the former Uncle Bill's building. Is it really any surprise that McFarlane is supporting this, regardless of merit, common sense or Chism's sullied reputation, when we know that his M.O. is that the Black community must pull itself up by its own bootstraps, and by his own writings that anything whites do is solely to maintain the existing white power structure?

(End of History) 

JNS says: Well, that's fascinating. Of course, the way I heard it verbally, the split by the WHO Economic Development committee was described as something along the lines of a separatist movement, and I've also heard that power and cohesion by this stand-alone committee continues to aggregate, to the point the Economic Development Committee is virtually a rival neighborhood association able to compete toe-to-toe with the McFarlane-controlled WHO machine.

But much of this Willard Homewood stuff is unfamiliar to me, and so I depend on those who have a viewpoint and facts to share these matters in comments.

Images From Northside Art FLOW...

Photos By John Hoff

Here are some images from the recent Northside Art FLOW, which is sponsored and produced by the PEACE Foundation. In the top photo, Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes demonstrates what happens when you get a lot of free beer at the Broadway Liquor Outlet beer tasting, and then you're left on your own, wandering over to the KMOJ booth. 

For the record, I've taken much more embarrassing pictures, click here. Also click here. Oh, and here.

In the next photo, I was in the parking lot of Cub Foods, listening to the talent show and trying to get the photograph of lunatic fringe candidate James Everett, when I was struck by... close the Minneapolis skyline was, just towering over Cub Foods, mere minutes away. And at that moment I thought, "For this reason alone, revitalization is inevitable, simply because North Minneapolis is so near to downtown. Forget the drop in crime, the upcoming article in Lavender magazine declaring this place a hot, trendy 'gayborhood.' LOOK at that skyline! Look at how NEAR it is!"

In the next photo, Officer Mark Klukow (on the right) who recently won the One Man Minneapolis "man pageant" loyally sticks with his wingman, whose bike tire has gone flat from running over a nail or something.

In the next photo, Council Member Don Samuels gives his daughter, Amani, a horsey-back ride in the parking lot of Cub Foods, during the talent show. In the last photo, one of the "four angry political midgets" who is running against Don Samuels for leadership of the Fifth Ward, Roger Smithrud. Say what you like about Smithrud, at least he has the grace to pose for a photo even when told the photographer supports another candidate. Compare and contrast with fringe Mayoral candidate James Everett, click here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fringe Mayoral Candidate James Everett Doesn't Want A Blogger To Take His Picture...

On Saturday I was at the North Minneapolis Art FLOW with a bunch of good friends, taking in the talent show organized and hosted by the PEACE Foundation in the parking lot of Cub Foods, and who should I run into but James Everett? Everett is running for Mayor.

He previously ran for governor. He really doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hades of winning against R.T. Rybak for mayor, but maybe Everett just wants to get more votes than Al Flowers, who once came in THIRD in a two-way race, click here.

Everett is what political scientists call a "perennial also-ran."

So there I was with my camera, and I thought, "I need a good stock photo of James Everett, in the unlikely event he does anything newsworthy in the election..."

So I approached Everett and introduced myself and asked if he wouldn't mind smiling for a photo. To my annoyance (but not my shock) Everett wanted me to "sit down" with him and "chat" and find out where I was "coming from" before he would simply smile in a cooperative way for a photo.

So I was all, like, "Mr. Everett. You're running for mayor. Obviously people will take your picture. I just want a photo and I'm giving you a chance to let it be a complimentary likeness instead of an image of you with your hand up in front of your face."

Every time I'd raise my camera, he'd throw a hand up in front of his face. I finally said, "Look, we're in a public place. You can't stop me from taking your picture. So it can be you smiling or you with a hand in front of your face. Your choice."

The top photo shows an example of how James Everett makes poor choices. Oh, the bottom photo I just happened to snap while driving out of the parking lot. I love telephoto and Macs. Sure, I've said harsh things about Macs in the past, but they are so great for working with digital photos, like blowing them up ten times their original size.

Oh, one more thing: Everett claimed to be following issues in the Jordan Neighborhood, but claimed he had "no idea" office equipment and records were missing as part of the controversy. Hadn't heard of it. IT WAS NEWS TO HIM! I found myself wondering, "How can somebody claim to know ANYTHING about the JACC controversy and not be aware of controversy with missing records and equipment?"

One of life's little mysteries, I guess. Like who has the Blackberry issued to former JACC director Jerry Moore before he got fired.

(Parody content ahead)

Everett is running on the Social Entrepreneurship Party. I've heard of this party before. My little buddy Chipper The Entrepreneurial Squirrel (click here) tells me he was invited to join, but decided not to get his good name messed up in what smelled like "some kind of nutty scheme."  

Police K9 Apprehends Suspect After Police Chase...

Photo By John Hoff

Last night, around 10 PM, I witnessed part of a police chase involving an apparent stolen vehicle, a red 4-door sports car. The chase--which seemed to stay below 50 mph at the point I was watching--proceeded westbound on 22nd Ave. N. and ended when the suspect bailed near 22nd and Irving Ave. N. 

It appeared more than half a dozen police vehicles were involved.

According to a non-police source, who heard it reliably at a meeting of neighborhood leaders in the Jordan Neighborhood...

...the suspect tried to hide under a porch but was found by a K9 unit which "took a bite out of crime."

God bless the 4th Precinct.

"What I Did This Summer In North Minneapolis (NoMi)" by Alex Hoff, Age 12...

Photos By John Hoff

OK, admittedly my son didn't write an essay with a title like that. And I'm not sure if the "What I Did This Summer" assignment is still a staple of primary education, a surefire way for a new teacher to assess student writing skills at the beginning of a school year.

Readers have been very tolerant of the way my 12-year-old son, Alex, kept popping up in numerous posts for five weeks but, hey, everybody knows the blog is dedicated to my child.

In fact, the WHOLE POINT of moving to North Minneapolis was to live near my son in a place where I could afford to be a home owner, after a messy divorce that, well, certainly wasn't as bad as SOME divorces. I've always made it clear my ex-wife is not just a GOOD mother to my child, but an EXCELLENT mother.

But it's very interesting, sometimes, to see the reaction of a child raised in a prosperous, BORING suburb to life in North Minneapolis. His response to the ice cream man?

"Why would you... ice cream from a VAN driving around in the STREET?" His reaction to a loud, colorful argument in the street? Barricade the door and hide inside.

But those five weeks were transformative for Alex. He met a United States Senator and listened in as the leaders of the neighborhood discussed, vented, plotted and planned to turn dystopia into utopia, absolutely assured of success as an inevitable tidal wave of revitalization moves us forward. Alex watched a dramatic police raid, a bridge demolition, and even a former crack house burning. Even in a mere five weeks, the neighborhood changed dramatically, so imagine what changes will happen between now and June of 2010, when Alex will return for another long visit? (Of course, he constantly makes SHORT visits, so it's not like he's really GOING AWAY, though at the end of five weeks it can almost FEEL that way)

Alex became a different kid at the end of those five weeks, and not just because I didn't bother getting him a haircut. The place we call "NoMi" became his home as much as the suburb where he resides. NoMi became an inextricable part of his identity. In fact, Alex paid this place what is, for him, the ultimate compliment: maybe North Minneapolis would be a good place to build his factory, the one where he will manufacture robots and become a zillionaire.

And, of course, he learned to love the ice cream man with obsessive devotion, and he began to realize colorful arguments out in the street were merely a kind of "bonus drama." Enjoy it while it lasts, I'd tell him. The neighborhood is changing, every moment, and we're the ones helping to change it. Someday we'll grow nostalgic and miss this crap.


I want to thank all the people in my life who welcomed Alex into their homes, people whose connection to me (and therefore to Alex) is love for our neighborhood. In the spirit of my friends and neighbors, I offer up this essay of what my child from the suburbs MIGHT write, if he were given such a writing assignment.

What I Did This Summer In North Minneapolis (NoMi)

By Alex Hoff

My dad lives in North Minneapolis so he can visit me all the time. Usually, I see my dad every other weekend and some holidays like Christmas. But in the summer, I'm supposed to see him for five weeks.

But I've never seen him for the whole five weeks before. One time I stayed for two weeks with some of my dad's family out in the country on a gravel road, where they don't believe in television or video games and they read Little House On The Prairie books for ideas about fun stuff to do. I'd rather stay with my dad, who loves computers almost as much as I do. My dad is a blogger. He writes about trying to make his neighborhood better. But I'm lucky the neighborhood wasn't always so good, because my dad got a house for not a lot of money before lots more people started to believe in the neighborhood and tell all their friends. 

So now my dad has a nice home near me instead of hundreds of miles away, so it's easy for him to see me. North Minneapolis doesn't seem so near sometimes but it's a lot closer than North Dakota or Seattle, where I was born.

My dad and his friends call North Minneapolis "NoMi" and they work together to make their neighborhood better, like by getting rid of crime and planting flowers.

On the first day of our five weeks, we rode the light rail from Mall of America all the way to the end, then walked to Pizza Luce to have a brownie sundae. The street signs near Pizza Luce say "North" on them, but you have to go a little further to be in North Minneapolis. If you go to the new baseball stadium, you're in NoMi.

On the first day, my dad took me to a trial for a guy who cheated people out of a big bunch of money, by lying about stuff with mortgages, which is what people pay to get a house if they can't pay the money all at once. My dad said people like this hurt North Minneapolis, and this is one reason there are so many empty, boarded-up houses, but police detectives are solving the crimes and arresting the criminals. 

My dad's friends in NoMi don't live in boarded up houses. Their houses are nice like the houses in my city, only older. Their houses are about a hundred years old. Their yards are big, which is good if you want a dog. 

In NoMi, a lot of my dad's friends have big dogs. I played with these dogs a bunch.

Some of the coolest things I did were these. Saw a bridge blow up. Saw a house burn that people used for selling drugs. Saw police raid a house. The last one was the best! The police threw a flash grenade in the front door and I was so close I could feel it in my chest! BOOM! I saw lots of cool police action. Once we saw somebody arrested when we were just trying to buy a chocolate shake! I even helped my dad interview some police for my dad's blog.

Plus I learned how to use a lawn mower. I saw a lot of movies with my dad. My dad got sued but he said not to worry about it and actually thought it was kind of funny. I went to the beach near NoMi. I helped collect bugs near Jordan Pond. At the end of visitation I had a brownie sundae, just like at the beginning, and everybody was sorry to see me go.

I had a lot of fun but next summer in NoMi I want more rockets.