Which is a good feeling. I ask you, dear reader, would you want a Level Three sex offender to have "personal jurisdiction" over YOU? What do legal phrases like "cross examine" mean in the mind of a sex offender sicko chomo? You have to wonder.
So let's talk a bit about the idea of "dodging service." First of all, it's perfectly legal...
...to dodge service. Yes, even when the service is from sheriff's deputies. I'm not giving ya'll legal advice or anything like that, but I studied up on the topic once upon a time and--the day after I escaped--a friend of mine checked with a licensed attorney. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT LEGAL SERVICE. You can leave town, or sit in your attic quiet as a mouse while people pound on your door, or find a way to slip out of City Council chambers through the city council offices. (Though that's a neat and rare trick, I'd have to say, and I'll admit reveling in it, just a bit)
Thugs already know this. People who live outside the law instinctively dodge service or, for that matter, warrants. Decent people, in contrast, don't usually have to think in terms of dodging legal matters. But in a neighborhood where frivolous, politically-oriented lawsuits are a routine part of "bare knuckle Northside politics," it would behoove decent folks to contemplate the notion of dodging service which--I have to point out--is GOOD CLEAN FUN, just like dumpster diving.
So there I was at the reappointment hearing for Chief Dolan, the room filled to standing-room-only with interested citizens of Minneapolis and at least one (Tom Cleland) who is not a resident of Minneapolis, but came to speak anyway about the appointment of our Chief. Whatever. There were clearly more pro-Dolan people in the room, judging by the WE WANT DOLAN stickers on numerous lapels and the fact the anti-Dolan faction is trying to claim it was "about even." No, it wasn't. There were more Dolan people there, including a number of uniformed police officers who did not speak but were sitting close to Chief Dolan.
(For the record, I helped distribute but was not involved in the creation of the stickers, so it would be erroneous for anybody--on Flikr.com, for example, click here--to say these were "John Hoff's" signs) However, the anti-Dolan crowd was more vocal and more of them went to the podium to speak, so all-in-all the speakers were about 50/50 pro- versus anti-Dolan.
Just before the hearing, Peter Rickmyer a.k.a. Peter Richard Stephenson a.ka. Pete The Pedophile skulked through council chambers, boldly walking up to the dias and leaving papers in the place where Third Ward City Council Member Diane Hofstede sits. I hope Hofstede has plenty of hand sanitizer back in council chambers. If I were an aid to Hofstede, I'd be sure to keep hand sanitizer stocked, or it might mean my job, click here for more info.
Anyway, earlier in the meeting, I had spoken to Deborah Allen, who was mad at Dolan for--get this!--firing the officer who shot Fong Lee. I guess, for a police chief, there's just no way to please all the critics...most of which thought firing the officer was a good idea, but wanted it to happen much earlier. Due to Deborah Allen's rather unique stance on why Dolan shouldn't be re-appointed, Jeff Skrenes dubbed her "the duck billed platypus of the anti-Dolan camp." Like, yeah, she's anti-Dolan but she just doesn't FIT with the regular anti-Dolan critters.
Well, anyway, at a point before the meeting started I saw ol' Pete the Pedophile chatting up Deborah Allen. And, I should mention, I KNOW THIS WOMAN. I talked to her myself before the meeting, and I once wrote an article about the business she used to run, Gopher Cleaners and Launderers. (The article can no longer by found on the Minnesota Daily server, but its footprints exist on the internet, click here) At the time I wrote the article, Allen felt she was being "forced out of business" by her landlord, and I felt her story was highly relevant to the U of M campus because the laundromat was very popular with college students.
So, when Spanky Pete got done talking to Allen--when there was a pause in the conversation, anyway--I walked up to Allen and said, "Hey, Deborah. Look, I know we're on different sides of this Dolan thing but I just thought you'd like to know--"
(At this point I could see Pete mentally bracing, waiting for what he knew was coming next)
"This guy you're talking to is Peter Richard Stephanson, a registered Level Three sex offender and a pedophile."
"Thanks, John," Pete said, reddening, and walking away.
Apparently, this was the most clever thing Pete could come up with, "Thanks, John." Yeah, a real zinger. Meanwhile, Deborah Allen said nothing, but her face wore a look of shock; the same look MOST people's faces wear when they discover they've been chit-chatting with a dangerous, perverted, deviant social pariah.
Pete didn't try to stick around to try gaining back any social ground with Deborah. When you're in polite company, and your Level Three status is mentioned...hey, the jig is up. Best to give up all pretense and just walk away, head hanging down, like a dog caught eating from the cat dish.
Well, sitting through the hearing I was already mentally calculating that I should give my testimony and leave because, I figured, Spanky Pete was off talking to the process servers, saying, "John Hoff is in City Council Chambers right now." But the reappointment of Dolan meant so much to my neighborhood, I was willing to risk getting served. I sat in a seat near the speaker podium, visible in the camera angle. As the hearings were broadcast and recorded I held up a "We Want Dolan" sign.
After one of the speakers objected to my sign, and the Chair of the meeting (Don Samuels) said the signs were "my right," I held up TWO signs. And so I sat, holding my signs, visible to the whole public-access-watching world.
At some point--right before I started holding up my signs--notorious loon and mayoral candidate (of Crazy Town) Al Flowers came up to me, leaned down and whispered, "John, there's a sheriff's deputy outside who wants to see you."
"Thanks, Al," I said, because I can be just as clever, you see, as Spanky Pete.
My friend Megan Goodmundson went out in the hallway to confirm the sheriff's deputy was there to serve me. (There was only one deputy, at first, but reportedly there were two during the course of the long hearing) Megan informed the deputy that I, John Hoff, wasn't going to come out of the council chambers. The deputy shrugged and said fine, he could wait. He was "getting paid by the hour" and could "wait all day" because he didn't want to "disrupt the proceedings."
I could see Al Flowers watching me, intently. Outside of council chambers, the lady from the Minneapolis Mirror had a video camera all set up. She was apparently so intent on capturing video of Johnny Northside getting served she was forsaking all the juicy Dolan hearing testimony, just waiting for that "money shot" of Johnny Northside being spanked with legal paper by Pete the Pedophile. Meanwhile, Pete himself was in chambers...watching. I was pretty much surrounded.
However, there are two doors which lead out of the council chambers. One, I knew, went through the city council offices. The trick, I thought, was to get through one of those doors instead of the main door.
I got up from my seat and spoke to a high-ranking public official who shall remain nameless but let's just say...it's not this guy's fault. I am capable of being cunning and coldly calculating when necessary. I used these skills for "social engineering." I explained to the (innocent, somewhat distracted) high-ranking official how I was on a tight schedule and--right after the council meeting--I really needed to have a word with some (any, really) of the council members from North Minneapolis about this emerging issue of Level Three sex offenders concentrated in North Minneapolis...though a state statute says that's not supposed to happen, click here.
Furthermore, I wanted to avoid the crowd and--if I might--just slip into the chambers for a MOMENT, because, really, that's all it would take? Just a moment of their time, in private?
And my request worked. The high-ranking official was agreeable, subject to one caveat: the council members would have to be willing to talk to me. No promises, you understand. (Me, nodding agreeably) He or she offered to slip me into the city council offices when the hearing was done and things were breaking up, so I might get a brief moment of "face time" with some or maybe even all of the North Minneapolis council members.
I said, hey, I owe you. Big time.
When the hearing started to break up, I was whisked into council chambers. While the high-ranking public official checked into the schedules of my elected officials, I scoped out the location of the side door. There. There it was. I wanted to dash through it immediately but, well, that would be rude. The high-ranking official came back with an apologetic look on his/her face: there just wasn't time for a meeting right now. Everything was so tightly scheduled.
Oh, I said, that was alright. Thank you, really, for trying. Could I just exit through this side door, here? Yes, of course, that would be fine.
I walked out the door and went quickly to the staircase, wishing I'd left my heavy backpack with Megan Goodmundson. I ran down three flights of grand Italian marble, quickly but prudently, no bannister-sliding, and at the ground floor I dashed past Poseidon, the Father of Waters, who looked right through me and said nothing.
Out in the street, which way to go? I thought about going around the building to the light rail stop, but quickly realized I needed to put distance between myself and the building. So I ran to the next light rail stop down the line, boarded the train, and went to Target Field. At that point, I started Tweeting stuff...like, "Where is Dog The Bounty Hunter when Spanky Pete really needs him?" And, of course, I started Tweeting lyrics from "fugitive songs" to Megan.
Gimme some water/
I shot a man on the Mexican border/
Cool, cool water...
Meanwhile, Megan Goodmundson told me the Johnny haters were all confused, wondering, "Where did he go? How did he just...disappear? There's Megan, so where is John?" Megan drove to the light rail station at Target Field to pick me up. I told her by text message, "Don't bring any heat with you ha ha."
One mysterious aspect of the whole adventure--and I keep turning it over in my head--is why Al Flowers warned me. Without the early alert from Flowers, I would have certainly been served. I have two theories on the matter, and I'm not sure which one is true.
1.) Al Flowers just wanted to watch the show, and he was trying to hurry it along so he could see me get served.
2.) It would be contrary to Al's principals to be aware of somebody pursued by the police, and not tip that person off if he possibly could. Also--say whatever critical things you like about Al Flowers, lord knows I do--the man is a parent and therefore the natural enemy of child molesters. So, for a bit, the usual political lines dissolved and Al Flowers was, for rare solar eclipse of a moment, my ally.
Um...I actually lean toward the first theory, though. With an impatient, child-like personality, Al Flowers wanted to watch a spectacle. Inadvertently, he tipped me off and kept that very spectacle from happening. Thanks, Al. (Sarcasm font) But I'm keeping an open mind to the first possibility.
That night, I made a point of sleeping at a friend's house. But, well, you can't hide out forever. So I thought it would be fun to start Tweeting my locations, seeing if it might attract the attention of process servers for the purpose of more edge-of-my-seat amusement and (I hoped) frustration for Spanky Pete if I should prevail.
Right when I started Tweeting my locations--determined to play this game for maximum fun--some chomo-loving snitch told Twitter I had (heaven forbid!) Tweeted somebody's address on Twitter. The irony! Right when I was going to start Tweeting my locations to help Pete a little bit, some pedophile-ally complained to Twitter and got my account temporarily suspended.
Oh, well. It would appear if I remove the "offending posts" the account will be re-instated.
And the game will begin again.
(Blogging from an eatery with wireless internet access, where I just finished some delightful broiled shrimp and peas)
(Find me if you can, Spanky Pete. I will be constantly giving you clues until you do!)