Tuesday, February 23, 2010

City Pages Makes Paul "Pamiko-Gate" Koenig A Slumlord "Supastah"

City Pages cover image, blog post by John Hoff

As this blog promised on February 11, the sinking of the property pirate vessel Paul Koenig has begun. A front page City Pages story hit the internet this afternoon, click here, and will soon be spreading the flesh of dead trees all over news stands. This will be the "cover debut" for Andy Mannix, a top notch reporter who worked for the Minnesota Daily at the same time I did. If this guy doesn't get a Pulitzer before he dies, it will most likely be from catching a bullet in the too-close-pursuit of a story about some armed conflict in a dusty foreign land. Mark my words, Mannix is bound for great things in the world of journalism...

A Star Tribune story is expected soon. Major local television stations would be well-advised to plan accordingly and--as they so often do--go chase some images and sound bites about "Pamiko-gate" in the wake of more detailed print media coverage. That's not a criticism of television stations, except maybe KSTP. Not everybody can read the whole story on a hunk of dead tree. Some people need the 30-second version.

But imagine how Paul Koenig must feel right now, somewhere in his Afton mansion with FOUR WASHING MACHINES IN THE BASEMENT. Today, Jordan Neighborhood super citizen Megan Goodmundson exchanged text messages with Paul Koenig--as she put it--"ala Remaro." (Click here for an explanation of that phrase)

Here's how the conversation went...

Megan: You're a star on citypages.com. Congrats! Baby Jesus would be proud.

Paul Koenig: Who is this?

Megan: I'm a pissed off northsider. Sitting here with johnny northside. Reading. Laughing.

Paul Koenig: Ah another man behind the curtain. Interesting how n. Mpls problem issues have increased since my departure. Obviouly (sic) I was doing something right at the time

Megan: DREAM ON DREAM HOMES! Wait til the attack dogs from the Star Trib that we sic'd on you draw blood this weekend. Baby Jesus knows the truth.

(No reply)


Geektopia said...

This weekend?

The Strib has the article on its site right now.


Head on a PIKE!

Johnny Northside said...

HEAD ON A PIKE, baby, head on a PIKE.

At the time that article was published, the most current info we had was the article would hit this weekend. In fact, both articles hit the same day...City pages got to the internet just several hours before Strib. Looks like both articles will hit the news stand on the same day.

And that calls for a special song.

It's Paul Koenig Day/
Super Paul Koenig Day/
Happy Paul Koenig Day/
Tell the kids of Rosie Lee/
Mop up sewage merrily/
Watch this corporation fail/
Hey, where's that Pamiko rail?
Get the feathers and the tar/
Koenig is a superstah!

Kevin said...

I thought the City Pages article was definitely the best of the two. IMO the Star Tribune came across as just another "bad landlord - same old problems" piece. How many times have we seen this before? City Pages did a lot more in pointing out the financial s of the Koenig mess.

Now I did find this comment in the ST article interesting:

"Atchison, the inspection manager, said checking every landlord's track record before issuing a license would bottle up the system and punish the "90 percent of landlords" who don't cause problems. "I don't think that's a reasonable expectation," she said."

Does our inspections manager have a clue as to what's happening in the North neighborhoods? 90% of our landlords are just fine? Maybe she needs to spend a little time driving around our neighborhoods?

And how would checking on every landlords track record before issuing a rental license punish the supposed 90% who are just fine? Once again, does she have a clue as to what we go through when a rental license is issued to a problem landlord? It can take years to get that license revoked and in the meantime the police just keep responding to police call after police call. What's the current cost of a police call? Many years ago it was somewhere in the $200 range? Does anyone have a current figure?

Ranty said...

IMO the neighborhood groups are a great un-tapped resource for the city. Folks who are "on the ground" have a much clearer picture of what's going on with various properties and owners, as this blog has illustrated again and again.

MeganG. said...

Just to explain the Baby Jesus references... for those that might not have followed the Pamiko-gate story here on the blog from the beginning, The Koenig's were/are actually bloggers themselves. They had a publicly viewable blog about their family life, their extensive travels, their racehorses, life in their luxurious house in Afton, MN, church and school etc. It is/was quite extensive. It's now private only.

Almost each post had references to their evangelical Christian "lifestyle". They often thanked God for their blessings, wrote about praying or the kids praying, sometimes spontaneously without prompting from the parents, etc. They wrote about Sunday School and church life.

This is all fine and dandy and admirable for people who live the life they profess to live. But when you are simultaneously exposing impoverished families to raw sewage, taking their rent money without paying the mortgage, robbing from the property values of the homeowners around the slummy rentals... and taking what appears to be every cent of cash flow and pouring it into gambling on racehorses... I'm sorry, but I just don't think that is the Christian life that Jesus would have wanted his followers to live... it's pure hypocrisy and evil is what I see it as.

So, I took my own civil liberties to call Paul and Michelle Koenig out on their hypocritical Christian values. It's disgusting to me. And whatever your religion is - they all have some kind of boomerang karmic consequences on judgement day.

Good Riddance Koenigs.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

I feel like a proud parent when his children ask, "Daddy, which one of us do you love more?" I have to say, "I love you both the same."

The two articles are really complimentary. CP lays the groundwork for how and why Koenig has caused huge problems for us, and the Strib goes into great detail about one person's tribulations and problems inherent in the system. Really, I couldn't ask for a better way to present the issue as it crosses over into mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

I really agree with Ranty. Neighborhood really stand on the front line on a lot of these problem property issues.

I know that without working together, no matter how difficult it may be at times, we have made a big difference in our neck of the woods.

It might take time, but it absolutely works.

Anonymous said...

Also the strib article points to some of the flaws in the current city system that are either enabling or at least not allowing the issues to be addresses.

Hawkman is right, they are complimentary articles, well, to each other at least, NOT to Paul and Michelle Koenig, hehe.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for homeowners in NoMi but, the question is not for those who are non owner occupants.
I keep reading homeowners frustrations over their property values being hurt, etc.
I am wanting to know which of these viewpoints you have when it comes to the value of your property.
1) When property values are low, so are the taxes. Thats always good.
2) When values are high or rising, the taxes usually go up within a year or two as well. Thats bad BUT,
3) When values hit record highs, people cash in on the market and sell, walking away with good money. Thats great.
4) I don't know anything about slumlords or even rental properties but, if Koenig has brought values down and taxes are at record lows, isn't that a positive for other owners nearby?

My question is not specifically about Koenig's activities. It is aimed at a homeowners' mindset about the aftermath and the effect it has on the value of your property.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 433am -

the decrease in values caused by the foreclosure crisis, mostly by people like Larry "Maximum" Maxwell, Tynessia Snoddy, Thomas Balko, Jon Helgason, Susan Newell, Lamont "Litterbug" Nelson, and many MORE, even some we can't name their names, the drop has been so drastic that many homeowners are underwater in the mortgage. And the decrease in property taxes might be slight but it does not match the market value drop.

Additionally when values go up and taxes follow the upward climb, there is a maximum increase per year that the city/county can increase, so most homeowners would rather see their values go up and have a slight increase in their taxes than remain in a deficit.

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 4:33:

As a homeowner, I want my property to retain it's value and gradually increase. The problem with the current situation of very low property values is that my house is now valued at less than the balance on my mortgage (and I purchased my house several years before the peak in the housing bubble). That means a lot of different things to me.

First it means that if I hit hard economic circumstances, I can't sell the house, pay off the bank and move on. The only thing that will help me in that regard is foreclosure, so I can't be poor with a good credit rating, I will be poor with a hosed up credit rating. In addition, I can't get home equity loans to fix up my house if it needs it, and there are other affects it has on my ability to get and use credit.

Second, the primary reason housing prices are really, really low in Nomi is that much of the housing stock has been used and abused for a long time here, and it finally hit the economic radar. I won't belabor the reasons because it's been covered in the media. My house on a quiet street is and has been maintained well. But, the fact that other, poorly maintained houses are in close proximity means that there is a high likelihood that one or more will be considered a "comparable" property in an appraisal, just because it has 2 bedrooms and a single bath, without any consideration for my new roof, new furnace, new air conditioner, and new kitchen.

Plus, unlike other cities, Minneapolis doesn't do individual inspections of the interior of houses to determine housing values. They just go by sale prices in the neighborhoods. So, if a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with no a/c, a 1950s era furnace, leaking roof, broken windows, no copper, trashed by squatters house sells for 30k, that will affect my "assessed value", which also has an effect on what an appraiser will decide my home is worth. I say apples and oranges. MPLS and Hennepin County say too bad, so sad.

In addition, Nomi was, and remains, a hot-bed of rental ownership because property is cheap to acquire, maintenance standards are lax (sorry inspections department, I call 'em like I see 'em), and the community is historically accepting of antisocial activity. Higher housing prices make the area less desireable to such investors. A lot of what is documented on JNS is the rub that is being created by people moving into the area who are not as accepting of this status quo.

I've heard the statistic tossed around for years that when a community has more than about 25% or 30% rental property, the community becomes destabilized. Improving home ownership will not only fuel a recovery of housing prices, but it also will create safer, more stable neighborhoods and reduce crime.

It's not just about the economics. The economics of a neighborhood are one significant indicator of a neighborhood's overall health.

On the issue of property taxes, don't expect me to explain how the county figures such things, but in the time I have owned my house, it has been valued for as little as $84k and as high as $127k. At all times, the amount of property tax I have paid has remained consistent, within about $100 or so.

Johnny Northside said...

Oh, yeah, when property values go down so do the taxes?

The taxes don't go down NEARLY as steeply as the value of the property. Sure, some folks may be able to gain something off devaluation of their homes, but it's not as advantageous, in the long run, as having your home value INCREASE.

Also, you are faced with the fact you live with the problem which caused your value to go down in the first place. So how do you put a price on THAT?


Anonymous said...

To the guy who thinks it's "good" for my property value to drop and my taxes too..

REALLY?? I have a mortgage that is four times my current market value, which means there's no way I can move except foreclosure. Not what I had in mind when I pulled together all my resources just after college to buy a house before the prices skyrocketed. What is for others a smart investment has been for me a tar pit.
It's a nice tar pit, with great neighbors, and I've created a beautiful yard that is my favorite place to be, but a financial tar pit just the same.
Oh, and my taxes? There's a limit on how much they can drop in a year too, and so far mine have only dropped by $150 a year.
And who loses when property taxes fall? Everyone! Schools get less money. Police and Fire services get less money. Minneapolis Parks get less money. Bad for everyone.

If you think dropping home values are good, I'd be happy to exchange my underwater mortgage for a more stable one, you're more than welcome to take on my tar pit!