Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hawkman's Different Angle on the BJ's Proposal

Commentary post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo by Johnny Northside

After reading a previous post about potential development at the BJ's site and the developer's requests for multiple variances, I have my own reaction to the proposal. Those reactions wouldn't fit well under a comment section, so they get their own blog post.

I should note that my personal position as a resident of north Minneapolis is different than what has been articulated. For instance...

...I don't consider BJ's to be a "problem property" or "problem business" in the way that such places have been defined on this blog. They operate legally, with the proper licenses, and whatever happens there stays there. I haven't seen illegal activities coming and going from the place. (Unlike Absolute Tire across the street, where residents have reported drug dealing taking place among the patrons on site.) It's kind of like our own version of Las Vegas. A cheaper, far less glamorous Las Vegas.

My only issue with BJ's is that I do not want a strip club to be located in a gateway to north Minneapolis. I don't care if it's a "gentleman's club" or some supposedly higher class of strippers and clientele, this corner is the wrong place for such a business precisely because of the impression it leaves on people passing by.

Also, I really, REALLY want to see a Surdyk's-style liquor store and a French Meadows-style restaurant/bakery on the site. I absolutely love those two places and would be proud to claim them as part of my community - especially Surdyk's, one of the few places that carries bison grass vodka.


I added the "-style" suffix because at this time I don't believe either Surdyk's or French Meadows has committed to relocating or expanding to this site. Those are only two POSSIBLE tenants (or styles of tenants) that have been bandied about.

The current proposal asks for far too much in the way of variances and exceptions from the West Broadway Alive plan. Page six of the staff report states that the "building on this block face, at 201 West Broadway, is a single story office building. Allowing this pattern to continue would create a development pattern that is not consistent with the policy for this area."

Given Master Construction's ties to 201 West Broadway and the proposal in question, giving them leeway to construct a one-story building on the first new construction after the implementation of a comprehensive plan would smack of insider baseball politics. And there definitely needs to be more curb appeal for the side of the building facing West Broadway.

Regarding the request for a one-story variance, the staff report goes on to state: "Furthermore, the proposed single-story building results in an underutilization of the site....Underdeveloped sites are detrimental to the long-term vitality of West Broadway. Low intensity commercial developments spread the commercial district and increase the distance between commercial establishments. This makes the commercial district less attractive because it is not as convenient to come to the district and pick up goods and services from multiple businesses. For this reason, mechanisms should be put in place to deter new low intensity development, and particularly single story commercial developments." (emphasis mine)

One of the reasons the proposal has requested such a variance was because of their claim to need more parking spaces than the bare minimum. While they are significantly below the maximum number of parking spaces allowed, the staff report makes it clear that they have the option of reducing some parking to create a two-story structure that complies with the West Broadway Alive plan.

While we ought to vigorously defend the WBA Plan, I do think there is room for some degree of flexibility here. However, I agree with the staff report that this is a new construction proposal, so the requested variances are entirely of the making of Land Ho - not based on pre-existing conditions. And although I would not want to corner a developer into a plan with little chance of success, I'm not yet convinced that their proposed differences from the Plan are necessary.

There is a very real danger in deviating too far from the original plan. The sentiment for allowing variances at this site appears to stem largely from the hope that we can transform BJ's into something as cool as a French Meadows/Surdyk's combination. But now that the world's largest YWCA isn't coming to Broadway, we need proposals for what to do along Broadway and Aldrich. Who knows what the current or eventual owners will propose for that vacant lot now? What if it's a one-story fried food shack/payday loan/stolen cell phone/used furniture/dice-throwing strip mall, modeled to be consistent with both Hawthorn Crossings and the exceptions granted to Land Ho?

The criteria that the city uses to grant or deny such variance requests can rarely (if ever) take into account that some people like one business but not another. They can, and often must, consider similar variances granted elsewhere. Olympic Cafe's expanded hours is a very recent example of exactly that. If we weaken the West Broadway Alive plan right out of the gates, the whole thing risks being shot to sunshine.

The Land Ho proposal also has major shortfalls in the area of landscaping. I'd go into more detail about that, but this post is already dry enough. Still that's just one more area where this could use more improvement.

The other potentially significant concern with the proposal as I read it is the emphasis of "North Loop" over "Near North" or north Minneapolis as the community identifier. North Loop references outnumber north Minneapolis references at a rate of 11 to 1.

The North Loop neighborhood is just as far away from the site as the St. Anthony East neighborhood. Why not call the project the St. Anthony East gateway while we're at it?

For those readers whose sensibilities are so offended by the presence of BJ's that you want just about ANYTHING different at the site, I submit that the designation of the proposal as the "North Loop Gateway" should be downright offensive. We in north Minneapolis have endured the blight of BJ's for DECADES. And now, just as something truly exciting comes along, something that will quite literally change the face of our community, the project is named after a neighborhood several blocks away. NOT ACCEPTABLE. Even "Ya Baby" is better than this.

If "North Loop Gateway" appears only on some site plans that hardly anybody will read five years from now, then this is really a non-issue. But if the design of the building (and any signage) points people away from north Minneapolis and towards other neighborhoods, that's when we need to stand up and demand that our community receive our share of the benefits such an exciting development will bring.

I want to see BJ's replaced with the proposed businesses, and I hope Land Ho and Master Construction continue with their plan. However, based on the proposal put forward, and my understanding of it, I cannot support it at this time. We deserve better in NoMi.

"Social Disorganization And Level Three Sex Offenders," An Academic Analysis Of Sick, Sick Puppies...

Stock photo by John Hoff, blog post by John Hoff
and a contributor

A few weeks ago, a university student sent me a file of a PowerPoint presentation he'd done about "Social Disorganization and Level Three Sex Offenders." To view and/or download the very informative and well-done PowerPoint presentation, click here for the Johnny Northside support site.

The student was kind enough to write me a summary of his research. His "summary" references the work being done on this blog and then dives into the Level Three sex offender issue. There are a lot of great points to the report, but to summarize: these sick deviants are clustering in North Minneapolis because organized neighborhoods with more political capital manage to keep them out, and their clustering in a "socially disorganized" neighborhood makes it more likely they will reoffend.

Of course, "reoffend" means to harm individuals in our neighborhood, most likely women and children.

Here is a written summary by the author, as follows...

Social Disorganization and Level III Sex Offenders

Picking up on a personal and professional research topic of interest, I ran across this fantastic forum of community expression. In the time it took for me to take a trip (let’s call it a US Gov’t-paid work-study) to Iraq, Johnny Northside and cohorts have built the media wing of North Minneapolis, as evidenced by RT Ryback’s emphatic recent gesture to the Hawthorne Hawkman.

This is fantastic, as the blog routinely hits on some of the exact issues I have worked on promoting through academic research. I had to offer what I had done to JNS- so here it is. Much of the content of this blog hits on EXACTLY what academic research indicates is needed in building a stronger and more effective community, and I think the similarities will be obvious.

Where I am coming from: I am a geographer, (if you quiz me on capitals, I will refer you to Google) interested in people and how they act (or are forced to act) across space. I realize this makes me sound like a Trekkie or worse, but I hope the point is clear, things happen for reasons, and one of the most important reasons can be called ‘place.’ Place is determined by the physical and social characteristics of an area, but also its connections and interactions with other ‘places.’ Studying sex offenders presents a great opportunity to understand a community and a region. Unfortunately, looking at this topic shows that ‘Minnesota Nice,’ good judgment and common sense are completely absent in how we (as a state) deal with the most notorious of offenders.

I focused my research on what is called social disorganization theory, because it seems to explain, fairly neatly and understandably, why some neighborhoods struggle more than others, and why social issues seem to become exponentially challenging to address. The findings are unfortunate, to say the least. The term slum-lord could not be more accurate in cynically describing the connections between communities that have a sex offender problem, and those in the suburbs that think they have a problem. As a suburb and exurb dweller, I have (without really being aware of it) enjoyed the benefits of not having to deal with concentrated levels of rehabilitating (theoretically) sex offenders in the communities I have been a part of. Sex offenders don’t just come from the city, they come from across the state and, through push and pull factors, are ending up concentrated in Minneapolis.

Conservative-minded folk will sometimes complain about ‘social engineering,’ however, the current status of offender community rehabilitation is similar to the law of the jungle, resulting in the bastard-child inverse of social engineering- a sort of runaway free-market of social irresponsibility. Sex offender corrections is left largely up to the county-based community corrections structure (there are 3 systems across the state, but I won’t bore with the details). Suffice it to say sex offender management has been de-regulated (not that it ever was ‘regulated’ by any state or federal body). This works out great for the 99% of MN ‘hoods that can deal with offenders one at a time, in rare doses and with their full attention/resources, but… this is not working for the 1% of ‘hoods that are being deluged and blasted daily by not only sex offender management issues, but a wider array of socio-economic and structural challenges (that’s you, NoMi).

While the suburban and rural leaders are perpetuating an urban offender dumping ground by their failure to accept responsibility for a proportional share of the states offenders (granted- I may be suggesting level III sex offenders don’t deserve a full set of civil rights…), the more liberal-bent practitioners of mental health and sex offender treatment have been aligning with the often manipulative offenders. Working in the MN sex industry (by that I mean the MN Sex Offender Program), and in other research settings, I have come across behavioral and mental health practitioners who are convinced beyond a doubt that the average person is just a ‘bad choice’ away from being labeled (and draconically stigmatized) as a sex offender- a deviant. I seem to disagree with that point when dealing with those who have been clinically diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders; not to further push the offenders into a caste of untouchables, but… umm… That is what the majority of average citizens seem to think, and I don’t blame them- I have the impulse to think that way too, I can be honest. How does that saying go? In America, we judge you not on what your father did, but what you do…

Be it suburban politicians or sex offender practitioners, no one is being completely honest with the issue. Politicians will ride the magic carpet of fear mongering and popular over-dramatization of offenders (not every offender is as lost as Pete Rickmeyer), while totally ignoring what is occurring because of their actions and inactions. The practitioners don’t always seem to appreciate the other variables at play in a community setting, or realize that the majority of the populace really detests offenders, for no real reason than the abhorrent nature of their crime. And the great unwashed don’t want to fund a utopian treatment mechanism for them while, for example, working mothers struggle to meet their health-care needs, or the Vikings continues on without a new stadium. Just saying, the majority of folks don’t really want to invest heavily in people who have committed what our society sees as, the most despicable acts possible- potentially worse than what even BP is capable of.

The research I did persuaded me that the social disorganization approach is the best shot at explaining the problem and putting forth what can be done. What needs to happen is a complete systematic overhaul that takes a responsible state-wide approach to sex offender management. However, since I am a realist, what the research suggests for North Minneapolis is this- do what the suburbs do and freak out when an offender gets dropped into your locale. Go to the meetings, talk to your neighbors, be ‘that guy/girl’ and rally against the slumlord or property owner that refuses to fix their broken windows. Get the neighbors to join you as an ‘able guardian’ of the neighborhood. I am not advocating vigilantism, just stern looks and an example to follow. Do what JNS does; recruit your able friends and colleagues into ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’ in the neighborhood. Those are the things that can help to mediate treatment of your neighborhood as a doormat. The police have the formal control over the neighborhoods (at times it seems- based on KSTP, of course), but the real key is in the ‘informal control’ that residents need to pursue to take back their community which may allow the political process to mature. Community Corrections doesn’t hold offender notification meetings in NoMi often because they say no one shows. The ball is in the resident’s hands, the alternative is the status quo worsening.

While some of the takes on offenders that are propagated on this site are somewhat alarmist and born of frustration, no doubt- they are little more than accurate reflections of what everyone across the state is thinking. If the community is to prosper, there is no sense in not competing in the jungle-esque mess our failed sex offender management system has created. There is a lot of untapped talent and perspective in NoMi that might be able to apply their creative energies to getting support for political change. Until then, Organize! We in the suburbs are and it has been working nicely.

The slideshow is a shotgun approach to this topic and some of the research completed. I will attempt to answer any questions the audience may have, via email or comments. Thanks for allowing me to share and rant. I realize as an outsider I have limitations on my perspective- take it for what it is worth.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thank You, Mike Dog Azz, For A Pair Of Perfectly Good Shoes! (Summer Visitation, 2010)

Contributed photo, above, bottom photos and blog post by John Hoff

The problem with going on a super-successful "shoe patrol" is, afterward, you have to figure out how to dispose of all those shoes. My environmental radicalism is no secret--heck, I wrote two "cult classic" books on the subject of dumpster diving--so I'm not going to throw away shoes which still have some life left, even if the foot ware has a dubious history which involves being a piece of "shoefiti" on a powerline.

Of the 7 or 8 pairs of shoes taken off power lines in a recent shoe patrol mission, about 5 of those pairs were in fairly decent shape, including a relatively new pair of white canvas shoes emblazoned with the name "Mike Dog Azz." These shoes made their way out to the ultra-rural boonies where my numerous blood relatives reside, and what do you know? Some of the shoes... pretty well!

A few of the shoes were so badly worn they were fit for nothing but keeping the Franklin stove blazing on some cold future night, but even in those cases the SHOE LACES were still good. Why waste a perfectly good shoelace? You might have to run out and buy one if you don't save one aside.

Possible break-in attempt in the Eco-Village

Photos and blog post by Hans

While working in the yard today around 4 o'clock I heard "something" from the back of my lot. I have heard lots of "somethings" since moving into the Eco-Village a few months ago and each time I let my curiosity get the better of me and go take a look. Usually it turns out to be a neighbor working in their yard or construction noise from various projects in the neighborhood.

I didn't think much of this particular "something" considering that it was the middle of the day, but nonetheless I walked to the back of my lot to take a look. In a nearby yard I saw a man standing on a ladder next to a house doing "something" and I assumed he was a contractor of some sort, but then...

...he hopped over the fence into a vacant lot next door, then ran to the driveway and out of sight. "Now why would a contractor hop a fence and run away?" I asked myself... something just didn't seem right. I got on my bike and headed out to get a closer look, and nearly bumped into the man in question... this time he was on a bike carrying some sort of backpack or luggage.

A few seconds later I arrived at the house as I was dialing 911. Sure enough the window near the ladder was broken... so either this guy was running off to the hardware store for some replacement glass (sarcasm font) or he was thinking about going inside.

I still don't know what prompted the man to leave the scene. I would like to think he saw or heard me and realized this wasn't the place for easy crimes... but he might have just left for an easier "job" or he might have been casing the place while daylight worked to his advantage. I later saw him biking into an alley nearby and called 911 again to report his current location.

I have to admit I've gotten pretty relaxed living in the relatively crime free Eco-Village, but let this be a warning that past experience is not an accurate predictor of future events. Even though we might be through the hardest part of revitalizing this small section of NoMi there is still work to be done and we must all remain vigilant even after great success.

Let this also be a warning to would be criminals: NOT IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD!

I (and many others) will not hesitate to investigate "something" that seems out of the ordinary...

Broken glass at the base of the ladder.
Editorial note: I have intentionally left out the address of this location.

One Last Successful Shoe Patrol Mission! (Summer Visitation, 2010)

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

For weeks, Peter Teachout was saying to me, "We've got make ONE LAST SHOE PATROL. WE'VE JUST GOTTA!"

Peter is going off to military training, but the elite "shoe patrol unit" has been near and dear to his heart ever since Peter single-handedly organized our volunteer efforts to go around and take shoes off power lines, standing on the roof of his truck and using two long boards like chopsticks to gingerly untangle laces then--at a key moment when the laces are untangled--boost one of the shoes over the line, so they both fall down.

So I was all, like, yeah, let's do that...

So it was the night of Peter's big going-away-but-hopefully-coming-back party, when a bunch of us went shoe-patrolling. All sorts of different people were involved at different points: Jordan Super Citizen Megan Goodmundson, Megan's brother Alex who was visiting from out of state, my own son Alex, Peter's son "little Peter," and even Jeff Skrenes (the Hawthorne Hawkman) joined us for a while. We managed to take down eight pairs of shoes, but there's always "the one that got away" which is the one you really remember.

Actually, it wasn't just ONE but two pairs on a power line near the Emerson Avenue Market, in a "decency dead zone" where loitering and drug dealing appears to happen all the time, but nobody is right there constantly calling it in. A domestic disturbance started to spill out on the lawn in front of us and, really, it was time to go.

Readers might be wondering where did all those captured shoes end up? Well, that's another tale for another blog post. But I should go out of my way to give special mention to my son, Alex, who put himself in the spotter position and was unwavering in his task of watching for shoes out the window of Peter's truck, then drawing the shoes to our attention. These were shoes we would have missed.

The only downside of the evening came on Penn Ave. N., when we drove by a hooker who was really strutting her stuff. (This particular hooker has been known to flash her breasts at cars, including--at least once--a car with a small child) I leaned out the truck window with a video camera and used a few choice words on this hooker as we sped past, forgetting for a moment that Peter is, um, RELIGIOUS and this was stuff I really shouldn't say in front of Peter's kid, even though (I would like to point out) the word "WHORE" is definitely in the Bible, see the Book of Revelations.

But I apologized, and Peter forgave me.

Hurry back, Peter, and be safe in your travels.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Abel Hardware - Another Undiscovered Gem!

Post and Photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I've driven past what I generally consider "the other hardware store" in NoMi quite often but never had a chance to go in until today. Despite the fact that Abel is literally a block or so away (just north of 26th Ave on 2nd St), I've always gone to North End Hardware or a box store.

Well, today I had two rather specific yet random hardware store purchases to make, and was in the area before their 4:30 p.m. closing time. Based on their hours, it seems as if Abel caters to an industrial class, contractors, or others who'd come in for supplies as part of their workday.

So when I walked in the door, looking for my odds and ends, I said...

..."I'm looking for a specific kind of tape, but I'm not sure what it's called."

The lady brought me over to where the various kinds of tape were located, and I have never in my life seen such a variety of duct tape all in one place. Still, this wasn't what I wanted, and our conversation continued.

"This tape is used by musicians to sometimes hold down cables, and actors to mark a spot where they should stand. But it's meant to be able to be pulled off without taking paint with it."

"Oh, like this?" she asked, holding up a roll of blue painter's tape.

"No, I've worked on political conventions and used that stuff before. It won't pull paint off, but it's not sturdy enough for what I'm using it for."

"Okay, and what are you using it for?"

"Making hula hoops."

"Hula hoops..."

"Right, so duct tape and electrical tape are too slippery, and painter's tape and masking tape won't hold together long."

"You make your own hula hoops?" she asked, recovering from the curveball I'd just thrown her.

"Yeah, but these ones are for kids in Tanzania."

"Well, this is all the tape that we have."

"In that case, do you happen to have some industrial-strength Dran-o, because I've got one hell of a clog in my bathtub."

She found that in short order and I was (partly) all set. Look, anyone who can handle a conversation THAT surreal can surely help people with their more common, everyday hardware store needs. So the next time you're in Hawthorne, check out Abel Hardware!

Report On Northside Revitalization Hits Hot Button Issues Like "Lower Expectations Of Decorum" In North Minneapolis Neighborhoods...

Stock photo and blog post by John Hoff

A couple days ago, I heard of a "focus group report" on Northside revitalization which had been circulating behind the scenes. Yesterday, somebody kicked a copy my way and I promptly posted it on the New And Improved Johnny Northside PDF support site, click here for a copy.

The report identifies progress which is happening, and also issues standing in the way of revitalization, including my personal favorite "lower expectations of decorum," such as loud thuggy people having domestic disturbances right on their front lawn.

To this I say: we all help set the standards of decorum, here, and those standards can be achieved through dialing 911, dialing 311, picking up litter, participating in community meetings. We must be future-oriented on behalf of our children and create the world TODAY which they will inhabit TOMORROW, which means addressing these breaches in decorum when they happen instead of bemoaning the fact they are happening at all. Yes, bad decorum happens TODAY and that is annoying. But let us make sure TOMORROW is better for our children.

(Do not click "Read More")

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Diane Hofstede Armed With A Sword! Hydrogen Bombs! Tabasco Shots! It's A Party At The Peter Teachout Residence!

Photos and blog post by John Hoff

A couple days after Peter Teachout was recognized in City Council chambers for all the good he did in the EcoVillage, all the courage shown by Peter and his family, there was a small party at Peter's house to mark Peter's enlistment in the United States Army. Very soon, Peter will be leaving for Fort Benning, Georgia.

Some notable people showed up at Peter's party, including City Council Member Diane Hofstede, who looked over Peter's collection of swords. In the top photo, Diane Hofstede poses with a replica sword based on the weapon known as "Sting" in Lord of the Rings. In the photo below, Peter explains how he managed to decapitate a skulking rat which got into some kind of wooden storage box.

(No, I'm not kidding--Peter killed a rat with a sword by slicing off its head. This is not a squeamish man)

Some of the highlights of the party are documented in the photos which follow...

I brought over a box of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) or, at least, a whole bunch of the STUFF from inside numerous MREs. I had the stuff in a big ol' box--like a lot of odds and ends fall into my eager, scavenging hands--and I thought it made a nice party theme. I figured I could amuse folks by taking straight shots of tabasco sauce, but it turns out the Teachout kids are actually rather found of spicy food. They were putting drops of tabasco on their food and showing off how they didn't even need to take a drink of water afterward, especially "little Peter" who appears to have quite a taste and tolerance for the hot stuff.

The guys making the Johnny Northside movie showed up to document Peter's party. One day that movie will finally be completed. I can hardly wait.
Jordan resident Megan Goodmundson was at the party, showing almost everybody the check she got off Ben Myers to pay legal fees in his failed and (let's just be frank, here) stupid and ill-advised defamation lawsuit. And, no, I'm not writing in the parody font, here, so when I say "stupid and ill-advised" I actually mean it.
Peter showing off some of the swag he's already received from Uncle Sam.
A couple soldiers once explained to me how to make a hydrogen-based "MRE bomb" with the heating packets inside the Meals Ready To Eat. At the party, we tried four different times to make an MRE bomb, using a giant sparkler to set off the last one. We produced one slightly satisfying result, but didn't get the super Hindenberg-like explosion that we were hoping for.

The Teachout kids try out a hula hoop which "Hawthorne Hawkman" Jeff Skrenes brought to the party. Both the kids were good, but Little Peter really had a knack for it.
I should have gotten a picture of the cake at the BEGINNING of the party, but I was too busy trying to make an MRE heating packet explode. In any case, a good time was had by all. God speed Peter, and come back safe to us.

Frivolous Litigant Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer Seeks "End Run" Around Judge's Order, Files Complaint With Minneapolis Department Of Civil Rights

Image courtesy of Hillside Chronicles blog,
blog post by John Hoff

Notorious Level Three sex offender Peter Rickmyer, a.k.a. Peter Richard Stephanson, a.k.a. "Spanky Pete" was recently declared a frivolous litigant by Hennepin County District court, meaning Rickmyer is no longer allowed to file lawsuits on his own, pro se. All his lawsuits have to be filed by a real lawyer and approved by the court system, due to Spanky Pete's well-documented history of filing baseless complaints for the purpose of harassment.

Notwithstanding this judge's order, in recent days Peter has sought to perform an "end run" and file yet another complaint against the Jordan Area Community Council, (JACC) now once again under the fire-tested leadership of Michael "Kip" Browne.

According to sources within the Jordan Neighborhood, Peter filed...

...a complaint with the City of Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights and--incredibly--the Department "accepted" the complaint and has asked JACC to respond to Peter's allegations. The allegations can certainly be described as, um, INTERESTING.

Rickmyer alleges he was "treated differently based on his sexual orientation and disability." However, the complaint does not reference, specifically, any orientation or disability EXCEPT the fact Rickmyer is a Level Three sex offender.

Rack our brains as we might here at Johnny Northside Dot Com, we can't recall a single instance where pedophilia was classified as "sexual orientation" for civil rights purposes nor, for that matter, is it a disability classification. In fact, the very notion of pedophilia being a "protected class" like race and physical disability is patently offensive.

Rickmyer's complaint goes on to allege that he tried to file a restraining order which, Rickmyer admits, was dismissed and thrown out by the court. But WHY was it thrown out by the court? According to Rickmyer (who is sadly cracked in the noggin and it's a spectacle, really, from which one wishes to look away but simply CAN'T because he's all the time filing these damn complaints) JACC has "infiltrated" the Hennepin County judicial system, local government agencies such as CPED, and the police.

Furthermore, Rickmyer alleges, JACC has "influenced independent bloggers" (my neck hairs are tingling) to disseminate fraudulent information in regard to his sex offender status.

JACC has until July 5 to respond to the complaint. Thus this tiny volunteer neighborhood organization--already harassed by Rickmyer's previous frivolous crap--must deal, yet again, with Spanky Pete's madness. And where, in all of this, are Spanky Pete's keepers from the Minnesota Department of Corrections? Weren't they supposed to be keeping Spanky Pete in line, having him work and/or seek some kind of gainful employment?

On the bright side...maybe this will be the stupid move which finally puts Spanky Pete back behind bars for good. Spanky Pete's latest filing appears to be an attempted "end run" around the judge's strictly worded order to STOP FILING FRIVOLOUS LEGAL COMPLAINTS.

The question then becomes: did Spanky get all the way around the end of the order by going to the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department instead of directly to court? Or is this type of complaint actually covered by the order and Spanky Pete is in defiance of the judge?

Sigh. Stay tuned. The tale of Spanky Pete never seems to end. And, let us keep in mind, Spanky Pete is just ONE of the numerous Level Three sex offenders dumped in our North Minneapolis neighborhood, despite a statute which is supposed to limit this kind of undesirable Level Three sex offender concentration.

BJ's Strip Club On West Broadway May Soon GO AWAY FOREVER (And Good Riddance)

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

Word comes that BJ's strip club--which squats in all its sad, neon squalor at the intersection of Washington Avenue and West Broadway--may soon GO AWAY FOREVER. There is a proposal before the City Council to replace BJ's with a French Meadow bakery and a "Surdyk's style" liquor store.

I assume "Surdyk's style" means the store would sell high-end gourmet products such as assorted cheeses, not just liquor.

For a copy of all the details of the proposal, click here.

It should be noted that even though Northside neighbors are nearly giddy about the possibility of the nasty strip club going away (there are persistent rumors of a stripper with an old bullet wound in her rear end, and the fact their marque sign persistently says NO COVER reveals far too much about the quality of the establishment) there are already doubts and objections about the plans, most of which center on the fact the proposed building is NOT two stories high.

The West Broadway Alive! plan (note objectionable mid-point punctuation, I've gone on about this issue recently, click here) specifies that new buildings on West Broadway should be... least two stories. And the proposed development is NOT two stories.

My guest contributors are free to take another position on the matter, but for myself my position is clear: anything to get rid of BJ's strip club. This establishment lends a tawdry, vice-ridden, depressing air to an area which is the gateway to North Minneapolis. Honestly, if somebody wanted to bulldoze BJ's and put in a small trailer house selling tacos, I would get behind that idea. ANYTHING TO GET RID OF BJ's.

Naturally, there will be other positions articulated about this important matter of development--and I'm happy to sponsor that vital discussion on this blog--but I don't see my position shifting on this matter one little bit:

Two stories is a fine goal, but there are times one needs to compromise for the greater good. Getting rid of this slummy, low-end strip club is precisely that kind of moment.

Water Clogged Streets In North Minneapolis--An Examination Of The Underlying Reasons

Contributed photo, blog post by John Hoff

I won't use the word "flooding" to describe what happened, a couple days ago, to a number of city streets in North Minneapolis. After you've seen the effects of real flooding it's hard to use the word "flooding" to describe what are merely water-clogged streets.

But however you describe it, there was a soggy mess Friday night in North Minneapolis, and elsewhere. Some of the water on West Broadway was so high cars stalled in it. It's a handy rule of thumb you should never go in water higher than your car's tail pipe, or your car will stall out from its own unvented exhaust. The problem is, of course, knowing how deep the water might be BEFORE you drive into it.

I do have two editorial notes to add about WHY this water mess took place...

First of all, many of the storm gutters were clogged with crap, and did not drain effectively. Leaves and sticks could have and should have been cleared by the city sooner, I'll admit, but it's hard to blame the city for all those (expletive) Flaming Hot Cheeto bags casually tossed into the streets by the perpetual litterbug thugs who pretty much live on the corner all day, eating junk food, and engaging in their independent recreational pharmaceutical sales to passing cars. Even the crews of kids in yellow shirts who go around picking up the litter can barely keep up with the waste stream. This stuff clogs up the storm drains.

And, honestly, what was the last time you heard of ANYBODY getting cited for littering ANYWHERE in this city? (I can actually think of one exception, click here, but I mean BESIDES Lamont "Litterbug" Nelson)

If the city needs revenue to pay city workers to unclog the storm drains, I would suggest CITING THE LITTERBUGS. And if the litterbugs can't be caught in the act, well, let's just assume they are the same no-accounts who walk down the middle of the avenues of our fair city as though the avenues were one big sidewalk. Litterbugs walk down the middle of the avenue, and avenue walkers drop their litter everywhere.

So if cops can't cite the litterbugs in the act, heck, just cite the "avenue walkers." (It's hard to call them "jaywalkers," since what they do isn't really jaywalking, and everybody knows a "street walker" is something else to be found on Penn Avenue North. So I propose the term "avenue walkers" and if somebody has a better term, feel free to suggest it)

Secondly, you have to wonder when Frito Lay and other companies are going to start using biodegradable corn starch polymer plastics for their packaging instead of the crap they're using now.

It's easy for me to vent at no-accounts who walk right in the way of automobiles and drop their Cheeto bags everywhere. It's much more difficult to hold big, rich, powerful corporations accountable for all their plastic packaging which is polluting the earth and--examine the evidence--clogging storm drains.

So, anyway, um...

There was some minor street flooding in North Minneapolis, and elsewhere in the city.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nice Rides Bikes In North Loop!

Stock photo by John Hoff, Nice Rides bikes on West Bank,
blog post by John Hoff

There has been a lot of public discussion lately--some of it right here on this blog--about how Nice Ride doesn't have any bike racks in North Minneapolis. But tonight (almost by accident) I found out this statement is not ENTIRELY true.

There is a Nice Rides rack in North Loop. And North Loop is considered by some to be--ever so technically--part of North Minneapolis.

However... terms of its issues, demographics and development, North Loop has aligned itself with Downtown for (so I am told) the last few decades. But North Loop is still attached to North Minneapolis, has "north" in the name, and in so many ways seems spiritually "part of" North Minneapolis.

I do not write this for the purpose of taking the wind out of the sails of the "Let's get a Nice Rides bike rack in North Minneapolis" movement but, rather, I think it is best to have all the complex and nuanced facts on the table for a meaningful discourse and discussion.

Certainly, while North Minneapolis advocates push for Nice Ride racks to be installed in North Minneapolis, the fact at least one rack exists in North Loop will NOT miss being mentioned.

800 West Broadway Hits The Skids As Great Neighborhoods! Development Corp Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy...

Photos and blog post by John Hoff

It was with a great sense of hope that, on December 16, 2008, Johnny Northside Dot Com reported plans for the world's largest YWCA to be located at 800 West Broadway, click here.

Now a number of media sources are reporting on the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the Great Neighborhoods! Development Corp, click here for an example of the coverage. At least one internet media source reported the building in question was slated to be a "YMCA" instead of a "YWCA." Naturally, this small indignity must be acknowledged on Johnny Northside with the predictable musical link, click here.

Now that the bankruptcy is public, let me say for the first time publicly that, in the privacy of my own mind and heart, I have always strongly objected to...

...that exclamation mark in the middle of the name of the Great Neighborhoods! Corporation. I can't even tell you how much I loathe this kind of highly experimental and dubious punctuation. If there's any silver lining in this dark cloud, it is surely that: I won't have to endure this hyperbolic mid-point punctuation as part of a successful completed project. In fact, while making this blog post I discovered you can't even use an exclamation mark in a meta-tag.

Another good reason NOT to do that.

On a more dreary note...

The alley next to the building--between 800 West Broadway and the Burger King at 818 West Broadway--has turned into some kind of hang-out for no-account metal scavengers, who for the last few days have been found there early in the morning stripping wire and crushing aluminum cans which they haul around in nasty, decrepit baby buggies.

Calls have been made to the police, and also to the offices of two City Council members asking for cleanup in the alley. Clearly, the alley hasn't been cleaned in a while: note the discarded tire with ivy growing out of it.

It is discouraging to hear of the death of the Great Neighborhoods(...) dream, however, one hears rumors of other positive plans at the site which are just as good, just as visionary. Unfortunately, there's nothing this blog can get on the record and out in the open to be able to say, "Something good will happen in this building, you just wait and see."

Instead, attention is turned to one of the most difficult and discouraging Northside neighborhood revitalization tasks: making sure no-accounts don't hang around, doing their no-account stuff, and dragging down our neighborhood by their mere presence and the litter they leave behind.

Dumpster Diving Mulch For NoMi Revitalization!

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

No doubt about it, the lifestyle of NoMi "revitalizers" is a frugal, green, and creative way of life. We do stuff like...

Dumpster dive garden mulch!

Yes, indeed, these bags of perfectly good garden mulch were...

...just thrown out as garbage at a garden supply store in an affluent southern suburb, I won't say which one. Each of the bags had a hole in it, but not a hole big enough to spill all the contents. In one instance, a MUSHROOM was growing out of a hole, and in another instance, some kind of green clover was growing out of a hole because, apparently, the bags had been sitting around with holes for quite a while. Most of the bags were high-quality cypress mulch, but there were also a couple bags of cow manure. (Heck of a thing, when you have to dumpster dive for manure)

The bags were set out BESIDE the dumpster, not INSIDE the dumpster, but it was still a case of dumpster diving. There were so many bags, it took two trips to get all the mulch.

The bags ended up back in NoMi where they will become part of our never-ending revitalization effort. Every day--seriously, EVERY DAY--frugal, green, artistic NoMi dwellers engage in these types of recyle, reuse, and RECOVERY efforts. But on this particular day I just happened to take a picture so guess what? It goes up on the blog.

(PARODY POST) My Twin Brother Ben Myers Finally "Settles Up" With Defendant Megan Goodmundson...

Blog post and photo by John Hoff

(Portions of this paragraph below are parody)

My twin brother Ben Myers--who was separated at birth, but just kept coming back no matter how many times our Big Mama Sweetums would dump him off at the orphanage in Texas--recently "settled up" with Jordan residents Megan Goodmundson, Anne McCandless, and Denny Wagner for attorney fees in his failed and (let's just be frank, here) stupid and ill-conceived defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit (like so many others) came out of bare-knuckle Jordan Neighborhood politics and was filed by attorney Kristi McNeilly, quite a piece of work herself.

(Portion below is not parody)

At least one complaint is pending with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility over the failed lawsuit. The Office recently wrote to Megan Goodmundson to explain their delay in moving forward on the complaint against Benjamin Myers and Kristi McNeilly, saying as follows:

June 8, 2010


Re: Complaint against Kristi McNeilly and Benjamin Myers
Minnesota Attorneys.
Our Case Nos. 27037 and 27026

Dear Ms. Goodmundson,

The above matter has been pending in this Office since August 2008. We are writing at this time to explain our delay in concluding this matter.

Following our receipt of your complaint...

...we received additional, unrelated complaints against Ms. McNeilly and Mr. Myers. Because it is the policy of this Office to, whenever feasible, resolve all complaints against an individual lawyer at the same time and as part of the same disposition, we have deferred final resolution of your complaint until we can complete investigation of the other complaints against Ms. McNeilly and Mr. Myers and can determine appropriate disposition for all the complaints. Please be assured that we are working as expeditiously as possible to complete our investigation and to conclude this matter.

(The letter goes on to thank Ms. Goodmundson--who has been waiting nearly two years for her complaint to be resolved--for her patience)

In the meantime, the three defendants in Ben's defamation lawsuit finally got some of their money back, each receiving a check for a whopping $545. According to Goodmundson, each defendant actually spent something like $2200 to defend themselves in the lawsuit. More money was spent just to collect money from Ben Myers, but this was a case of "it's the principal of the thing."

Here's how the money breaks down, according to a June 16 document from attorney Ferdinand Peters.

Total amount received (from Ben Myers) $3,000.
Less attorney fees (for Ferdinand Peters) $1,200.
Additional costs--court reporter fee, garnishment fee, motion for attorney fees--$165.
Total due to cluents: $1,635.
Distribution to each client: $545.

(Portions of the post below are parody)

The photo above shows Megan Goodmundson holding her check for $545 which--I would like to point out--she promptly loaned me so I could fix my piece-of-crap vehicle with the bizarre left-handed ignition. Hey, it's not like my brother Ben Myers would ever loan me the money. Not with a check I could actually take to the bank, anyway.

So, folks might be wondering where, exactly, Ben scraped up that $3,000? Well, here's what happened. The mother I share with Ben Myers had a neighbor in the trailer court who shared many things with "Big Mama Sweetums," including an abject addiction to Nyquil mixed with Night Train and the occasional gardening tool. After a bad fall on the front steps late one Friday night, the neighbor wasn't able to hobble around so good anymore, but somehow Big Mama Sweetums managed to finagle a caretaker position from the state, and got paid good money to do the kind of stuff she was already doing for free: play endless games of gin rummy with the neighbor, and drive her around to the store.

Despite Mama Sweetums' tender albeit completely unskilled and at times inebriated caretaker efforts, the neighbor continued to go downhill. And then one day they just found her dead under the trailer house with a whole bunch of other creepy stuff like used needles, dead cat skeletons and a rusty firearm the police had been seeking since, oh my word, the late 1970s. Truthfully, she'd probably been dead a few months longer than the state checks had been arriving, but nobody seemed to make a big deal about it and, somehow, Mama Sweetums ended up owning the trailer through a purported will written on looseleaf notebook paper. Quite a document it was, too, like "here's a list of things I want you to buy at the store" and then, in a sentence scrunched in just above the signature, in slightly dubious handwriting, "Oh, also, this is my final will and testament and I will (Big Mama Sweetums) my trailer house and all the stuff inside, including the contents of the liquor cabinet."

But it worked, and you can't argue with success, but too bad that lawyerly success gene wasn't passed on to Ben.

So--to nobody's surprise, really--Mama Sweetums rented out the second trailer and became a minor slumlord. But this was right around the time Ben was needing $3,000 to pay off his ill-conceived lawsuit. As usual, he asked Mama Sweetums for the money and, as usual, she threatened him with a restraining order.

However, Ben knows all the hiding places in Mama's trailer or--if he doesn't quite know ALL of them--it isn't a very big trailer, so given an hour or two of opportunity to ransack while Mama Sweetums was hanging out at the Holy Roller pot luck dinner, Ben found $2,855.81 worth of squirreled away slumlord proceeds, plus half a dozen jars of coins which Mama had "inherited" from her dead neighbor and was dying to spend on pull tabs and bingo. Oh, Mama was furious when she found Ben's handwritten IOU duct taped to the gas stove. But what was she going to do? Call the police? It's not like Ben wouldn't file a defamation lawsuit against his own mother and, really, what PROOF was there of the money being in the house or even being stolen since Ben left her an IOU and it's his word against hers?

(Then again--and it's kind of a conspiracy theory, I know--part of me thinks Mama loaned that money to Ben willingly but just told me a different story because I've told her SO MANY TIMES not to be loaning her hard-earned money to my worthless fraternal twin half-brother. Who ransacks a trailer but then leaves an IOU? I'm sorry, Mom, but aspects of your story don't exactly hold together)

On a final editorial note...

(and this part is no longer in parody font, I'm dead serious, here)

How can citizens of Minnesota be expected to wait TWO YEARS for lawyer discipline to be resolved and/or dished out? And in the meantime the lawyer is doing his/her thing, possibly creating yet more problems and entanglements for other defendants or the lawyer's own clients? This maddening issue with Ben Myers and Kristi McNeilly is ripe for resolution and I want to advocate strongly for it to be (finally, at long last) appropriately resolved.

NoMi Needs Nice Rides!

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Not too long ago, Nice Ride Minnesota began a new bicycle-sharing program in Minneapolis. Almost immediately after the program was rolled out, people realized that there were no stations in NoMi - nothing north of Highway 55.

Having north Minneapolis miss out on such an exciting new amenity generated quite a few comments on the Minneapolis Issues Forum and Nice Ride's own Facebook page. The response from Nice Ride was that, basically, there were quite a few neighborhoods that don't have a kiosk, and they had to place stations close enough to each other to make the program work with the limited funds they have to start.

That seemed to make a lot of sense to me. I was okay with their response and strategy, I really was. That is, until...

...last night. While some friends and I were at Good Sports after helping trees find happy new owners, a woman came by riding one of the bikes from a Nice Ride kiosk.

First off, here's basically how the program works: You pay a subscription fee ($60 for a year makes the most sense) and then you pay additional fees depending on how long you have the bike away from the kiosk. Since the first half hour is free, Nice Ride claims that the kiosks are set up to be close enough to each other that riders can get from one kiosk to another without paying fees.

(Also, FYI - a $250 security deposit charge is placed on whatever card is used to check the bike out. So don't use your debit card unless you can afford to wait over a week for your bank to reverse the charge.)

So here we have a young woman who got on a Nice Ride bike, took it to a neighborhood that supposedly was too far away to merit a station, stayed for a few hours, and was brave enough to sing karaoke, give Mike Levey a hug, and then bike back home in the dark. This tells me that there's a market for Nice Ride kiosks in my neighborhood.

When Minneapolis was voted the #1 bicycling city in America, I posited that NoMi was missing out on some of the bicycling benefits that the rest of the city has. My thoughts at that time were largely directed at seemingly trivial aspects of biking. But this is much larger of an issue.

We're probably going to have bike lanes along Emerson and Fremont
. With more and more people using bikes to get around, we should be looking into a bike shop as well. Bicycling is an increasingly important aspect of our city's infrastructure, and north Minneapolis deserves to reap the benefits of such amenities just like any other neighborhood.

EcoVillage Tree Nursery Open to All of NoMi!

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Several weeks ago, the EcoVillage Tree Nursery received a new supply of trees, and I received a fresh supply of Polish sausage for my efforts. The sausage didn't last long at all, but many trees are still there. Pictured above are the first two non-Hawthornites to pick up their trees this summer.

Initially, the trees were reserved for Hawthorne residents only. The reason being that Hawthorne residents and members have been the ones working on the EcoVillage, and some neighborhood funding has been used for this project. So our neighbors should get some benefit from that.

There are still quite a few nice trees left though, and if you want one, here's how it works...

...First, in order to qualify, you must be a property owner who lives in north Minneapolis. If demand is high, preference will be given to owner-occupants, but for now any property owner is eligible. Second, and this is important: even though the trees are free, DO NOT JUST GO AND PICK ONE UP. The city of Minneapolis wants to track where these trees go, and if they survive at similar rates to other parts of the city.

So if you want a tree, please call the Hawthorne office at 612-529-6033 or email me at to set up a time for a pick-up. The nursery is not secured, so we're going on the honor system here. We'll need to get the address where the tree will be planted, as well as contact information.

Also, as you can see from the photo above, you'll need either a pickup truck or a van/SUV with a window that can be opened. Or a wheelbarrow. I've seen people cart their trees away in those too. But trees are available to any NoMi resident! Come and get 'em!

Tangent #1: about a half an hour after these great people picked up their trees (they got two because they took a maple off of our hands that had been languishing in the Tree Nursery for two summers now), I met a friend at Good Sports Bar & Grill. She's not from NoMi and this was her first time at Good Sports. I explained to her the dynamic of the place; how I always seem to run into at least two other people who know me. And just as I'm saying this, who walks in? And CM Hofstede was there too.

Tangent #2: The Hawthorne Neighborhood Council is in the process of getting more consistently updated content on its own blog, website, Facebook page, and a listserv. As a result, more of my blog posts regarding meetings attended or other activities done in my capacity as Housing Director will begin to appear on the Hawthorne Voices blog. Although the tree nursery activities were done as Housing Director, this post appears on JNS as a continuation of a previous item. However, on Monday, a Hawthorne Voices post will be written detailing which trees are still in the tree nursery and available for pickup.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Who Was Todd A. Copeland?

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Earlier this week, I was driving through Hawthorne, when I saw yet another makeshift memorial. This one was for a Todd A. Copeland, a name that was not familiar to me.

But what initially made me pull over to look for more details was...

...the location. The memorial is located just north of 29th Ave N and 4th St N, off of Farview Park. I've been traveling a bit, for my grandmother's funeral and my younger brother's high school graduation, so I thought I might have missed the news of a recent homicide near the park and the EcoVillage.

Still, I've done various Google searches and can't seem to find anything. I've asked around and nobody seems to know who this guy was. Whether he died as a victim of a crime or not, it's clear his loss is mourned. So I want to know: who was this guy?

My position on the makeshift memorials remains the same, however. If they are put up at all, then after a period of time (maybe a week, certainly not much longer), they ought to come down - UNLESS the owner of the property gives their consent. In this case, the memorial sits in front of a vacant house, meaning its unlikely that the owner consents or will maintain it - evidenced by the broken bottles at the foot of the tree.

Furthermore, if Copeland was not the victim of a homicide, then that is yet another reason the makeshift memorial ought to come down quickly. I'm surely not the only one who drove past and made that assumption. We've got enough problems with the perception of north Minneapolis violent crime. We certainly don't need things like this adding to a negative image of our community.

So who was Todd Copeland?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mike Christianson of CPED Makes Sure All The City Council Exits Are Clearly Marked...

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

Ever since the day when I achieved a small degree of notoriety for dodging legal service from Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer (who was subsequently declared a frivolous litigant, which pretty much vindicates my service-dodging, although there's nothing illegal about dodging service, incredible as it may sound) I've heard quite a few jokes about that incident.

Recently, while attending Peter Teachout's "hero knighting ceremony" at City Council chambers, I heard yet another one of these jokes from Mike Christianson of CPED.

"Hey, Johnny," he said....

"...We're keeping the chamber doors open for you, in case you have to make a quick escape."

Funny. Very funny. I turned and snapped this picture of Mike so I'd remember him making that crack, but I was in motion (which is how I feel I need to be in council chambers) so the photo turned out blurry.

Yesterday's Hearing In The "Fatally Defective" Lawsuit Against CRA Chair Donald Bellfield...

Dave Bicking in the rear, middle, photo and
blog post by John Hoff

Today I received a thumbnail summary of yesterday's hearing in the Donald Bellfeild defamation lawsuit, discussed in this previous blog post, click here.

For copies of some of the actual documents, access through this other blog post, click here.

Bellfield is the chair of the Civilian Review Authority, which (to some degree) oversees cases of police discipline and is, therefore, a lightning rod for controversy by loud, angry folks who are "hating on" the police.

Now Bellfield has become frustratingly entangled in a lawsuit which can best be described as "bizarre." Bellfield is being sued for defamation in association with an email sent by his "significant other." (SO) The email was sent in the wake of a graffiti incident in their neighborhood. In the email, Bellfield's SO speculates the graffiti may be some form of retaliation related to Bellfield's work on the CRA.

The email was apparently sent to apologize to neighbors for the presence of the graffiti, to reassure them as to who it was PROBABLY directed at, and--it seems--perhaps to take responsibility for the cost of the cleanup.

Quite notably, Bellfield's SO never specifically named anybody she suspects perpetrated the graffiti, but attorney Jill Clark's clients--Dave Bicking and Michelle Gross--decided the email must be talking about THEM and, furthermore, they'd been (gasp!) DEFAMED!

Again, to emphasize this incredibly bizarre point: the defamation lawsuit concerns emails which NEVER ACTUALLY NAME THE FOLKS SUING FOR DEFAMATION.

In yesterday's hearing on a motion to dismiss, plaintiff attorney Jill Clark...

...reportedly made a verbal motion to amend the proposed amended complaint. What that means is...

1.) There's a complaint. That's the actual lawsuit which was filed.

2.) But the plaintiff attorney, Jill Clark, wants to AMEND that complaint. To amend the complaint, one needs permission from the court. That hasn't happened, yet.

3.) Nothwithstanding Point Number 2, in yesterday's hearing the plaintiff attorney wanted to VERBALLY AMEND the proposed amended complaint.

Commenting on this, an unnamed local attorney said, "This is what she (Jill Clark) does, she goes in and creates major cluster (plural expletive) and pulls you down a darked path where you really aren't going to resolve anything, because there's so much confusion." Compare the "amendments piled on amendments" with the situation described in the Motion for Attorney Fees filed by the JACC defendants, where plaintiffs were also represented by Jill Clark, click here for that document. Again, one sees the confusing pattern of "amendments piled on amendments."

In the case at hand, the verbal amendment involved conceding that Dave Bicking and Michelle Gross are public figures...a very significant admission, because the threshold to defame a public figure is much higher; actual malice must be involved.

How the plaintiffs--both admittedly public figures, as conceded by their attorney at yesterday's heairng--will ever meet that difficult threshold when the two plaintiffs AREN'T EVEN NAMED IN THE EMAILS IN QUESTION is a very pertinent question. And, this whole time, one can't help but be aware of the recent case of an attorney disciplined for filing a baseless defamation lawsuit, click here.

Defense attorney Ferdinand Peters--who has become quite a well-known figure in North Minneapolis legal matters--was given seven days by Judge John McShane to respond to this new layer of amendment-piled-on-amendment.

JNS blog has also been informed that defendant Donald Bellfield has prostate cancer, and that any "leave of absence" Bellfield took as CRA Chair was due to health matters, not some kind of evil conspiracy.

JNS blog carefully inquired about whether the prostate cancer was a publicly known matter and was informed that, yes, it was publicly known. So in the midst of his severe health problems, Bellfield is forced to deal with this additional burden.

It is my editorial position that Donald Bellfield would be serving the decent people of Minneapolis by refusing to settle this matter, and pursuing an ethics complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility over this cracked, crazy and (I would wager a number of drinks) ultimately ill-fated rag doll of a lawsuit.

(ADDENDUM: This blog post was revised to substitute the term "significant other" (SO) instead of the term "girlfriend," upon receiving additional information about the term used by Bellfield and his SO to describe the relationship.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Community Energy Services: A Bright Idea

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman. This post originally appeared on the Hawthorne Voices Blog, and is reprinted here at the request of CEE.

Earlier this year, the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council and Community Energy Services jointly sponsored two workshops to get residents energy-efficient and environmentally friendly home upgrades. The home visit and materials are valued at $400, and require a $20 co-pay. But the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council has offered to cover the co-pay for the first 150 residents who sign up. There's still plenty of space left for the materials and visits to be completely free to you!

Here's the catch: to qualify, you must be an owner-occupant of the Hawthorne neighborhood, and you must attend a CES workshop. The next workshop is set to take place on Tuesday, June 29th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. (they usually finish earlier) at Farview Park. If you are interested in attending, contact Kyle Boehm at 612-219-7334 or

Pictured above are some photos from the home visit done with Hawthorne board member and blogger John Hoff.

Do not click "read more," but do contact Kyle to sign up!

Crime Near Wally's Inconvenience Store Was On The Radar Long Before A Woman Was Shot In The Face...

Contributed photo, blog post by John Hoff

The blurry photo above--showing no-account thugs sitting around on a utility box--was taken last Thursday near Wally's Foods. This was the day before the shooting of an innocent passerby in the face, which has been extensively reported in the mainstream media, click here for Star Tribune article. (Star Tribune links have a tendency to go dead after a while, I don't like using them)

As the citizen who took the picture went by in her car, one of the thugs yelled, "Hey, she's taking pictures, what the (expletive)?" and pointed as the citizen's car whizzed by. The citizen was trying to document all the litter and the loitering in that spot. There were at least two dozen people hanging out, according to the creditable account of this citizen.

The citizen called 911 on all the loitering. The very next day, the shooting took place.

However, long before this...

...picture was taken, long before the shooting took place, Wally's was on the radar of neighborhood activists, one of which tediously collected 911 data and made it available far and wide; sending it to this blog, providing it to public officials, and distributing it on at least one listserv. A couple days ago, the same exact citizen took the same exact data and sent it around AGAIN in the wake of the shooting near Wally's...a classic case of "we told you so, but nobody seemed to listen."

The feeling of decent folks in the neighborhood is crystal clear: Wally's is a classic "inconvenience store," along the lines of Big Stop, Wafana's, and Uncle Bills. We've been saying for a long time something like this shooting would happen, and now something like this shooting has happened. The small block building has no redeeming features and would be better off as a grassy lot.

The editorial position of Johnny Northside blog can be summarized as follows:

Hey hey, ho ho, Wally's thug store's got to GO!