Monday, June 14, 2010

Is the City of Minneapolis Contributing to Litter at Vacant Houses?

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Regular JNS readers will know that litter at vacant houses is kind of a pet peeve of mine. It's wasteful, it contributes to blight, it can be like a neon sign to copper thieves, drug users and sellers, prostitutes, johns, etc. that a place is not being watched. It's also inherently unfair to whomever has paid for the service.

Usually, my ire has been directed at phone books, or in one case, the New York Times. But on my way to work this morning, I noticed...

...USI Wireless doorhangers throughout the neighborhood. I'm not against flyering. Heck, I've got to do some of that to get people signed up for another CEE Energy Services workshop on June 29 at Farview Park (shameless plug). But just about every vacant house I drove past had at least one, sometimes two USI Wireless doorhangers. WHY?!

And what's especially disconcerting is that this is the city's own wireless program being promoted here. I'm sure that the fliers were left by some contractor several steps removed from direct city services. But still, the city ought to be more vigilant about their own contribution to litter at vacant properties.

I don't have time to make repeated rounds to vacant houses and pick these things up myself, so please, JNS readers, call USI Wireless at 952-253-3262 AND your city councilperson if you see these fliers at vacant properties in your neighborhood.

(second of two quick-hit JNS posts done over a lunch break.)


Orville said...


At least you are serving a green initiative when you use dead tree technology to spread leaflets. I hate to rag on the City, but what they're doing here isn't doing NoMi any favors.

The Hawthorne Sentinal said...

I actually called 311 and asked if it was ok to remove phonebooks and other literature from a vacant house and they said "why would you want to do that". So I think you should just mind your own business and stop removing items from private property.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

I called 311 and asked if it was ok to call 311 to ask about removing phone books and other literature from a vacant house and they said "why would you want to do that." So I think Hawthorne Sentinal (sic) should mind his own business.

The Hawthorne Sentinal said...

Hey Hawkman why the angst against a reader who would try and verify whether your activities are endorsed by the city? If this blog is about truth then it seems that commenter was just reporting their experience with 311 on the issue.

Anonymous said...

"Is the City of Minneapolis Contributing to Litter at Vacant Houses?"

No they are not.
USI Wireless is a private company that has a contract with the city.
The City if Minneapolis has nothing to do with the distribution of these flyers.
"USI Wireless is a private company that will own, build and manage the wireless network..."

See the City's website:

Johnny Northside said...

The contribution may be indirect, but the City of Minneapolis can't entirely wash its hands of this activity. When/if the contract with the city is renewed, I hope it has a NO LEAFLETING provision. Especially a NO LEAFLETTING VACANT HOUSES, FOR GOD'S SAKE provision.

And just because I don't care for this kind of leafletting, I will go out of my way to say this: when I've used the USI Wireless signal on friends' computers, I find the signal (as my son would say) "laggy."

Just try watching a YouTube video. It's a pain. You just give up, because the signal lags too much to watch streaming video. And don't blame the computer because the same computer acts differently with a different wireless signal. Maybe a video demonstration posted to YouTube is needed to fully document this phenomenon.

Just saying.

Hans said...

Hawthorne Sentinel: (what are you watching out for exactly?)

I'm getting really sick of this "mind your own business" crap.

The vacant house across the street is MY OWN BUSINESS. And the vacant houses on Hawkman's street are his own business too.

I'm gonna go remove some trash from MY NEIGHBORHOOD right now just to spite you. Yeah that trash is on private property and I don't care.

Just because someone is on the payroll of the city does not mean all of their activities must be "endorsed by the city." Your logic is nonexistent.

In response to the "lagginess" John talks about... I've heard that a USI wireless modem is required for optimal service. (Meaning you would need a separate wireless router in your house to serve your wireless devices.) It is possible to connect directly to the USI telephone pole device with a laptop's built in wifi card but the signal isn't so great (so I hear). I wish Qwest would upgrade service in Nomi so I'm not forced to use Comcast for internet. DSL (at ANY speed) is NOT available at my address.

Anonymous said...


Just because someone is on the payroll of the city does not mean all of their activities must be "endorsed by the city." Your logic is nonexistent.

I would think that as an employee of a non-profit serving the city you would be very concerned that your activities are in line with that of the city.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

For the sake of clarification, I'm not "on the payroll of the city." I'm employed by the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, which is a separately incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit entity and not a governmental organization.

The funny thing is that the only people who seem to have any objection to my picking up litter from vacant properties are anonymous posters on this and other blogs. Hawthorne residents who are willing to identify themselves have all been openly supportive or have taken no stance.

Hans said...

I was trying to make the point that an employer cannot (or at least in my opinion should not) hold a person accountable for what they do while 'off the clock' as private citizens.

You contend that Hawkman should "mind his own business"... as though there is some kind of conflict of interest here, as though the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council would prefer that private citizens ignore litter on the porches of their neighboring houses. Removing litter from vacant properties is in the best interest of the community.

Whether this practice is "endorsed by the city" is irrelevant.

If Hawkman were doing something that isn't in the best interest of the community then I could see a reason to complain... it's a good thing there are people out there like Hawthorne SentinAl to protect us from evil doers! (sarcasm font)

la_vie_en_rose said...

The problem is that there are quickly becoming more cases where what you say or do when off the clock (especially when pertaining to your business or boss) affects the future of your job. Complain about your boss on Twitter, Facebook, or Livejournal? Admit to something immoral? You may find yourself out of work as quite a number of people have. It doesn't matter if you consider your time off as private. That's the reality of this tech-driven era.

Am I Right? said...

John, would you say the same thing if Don Samuels' campaign workers left re-election brochures at vacant houses? Would you tell us to call our city council members and complain? I seriously doubt you would even raise the issue in this blog. And I would bet the family farm that you would defend Samuels for this transgression, and demean the person who complained.

Johnny Northside said...
The contribution may be indirect, but the City of Minneapolis can't entirely wash its hands of this activity.

Anonymous said...

What I find funny, and I don't know how you are compensated is that you have a "limit" of 40 hours. In the real world, we have no 40 hour week, we do our job to the extent that it is done and we are paid x per bi-weekly period IE a salary. So in theory if I work for Acme Developmental Council and am paid $60k per year salary, all my work to this end is really my job. There is no 40 hour week except for hourly paid employees and hard core union employees and we've seen where that gets them.

Anonymous said...

Boathead for the defense."Am i right?" likes to speculate that Mr. Northside would'nt handle Don Samuels utilizing the same business method and being called on it.Assumation tribulation "Am i right'?Speculation without equal space for admiration?All naysayers can smooch my firm but adequate peach shaded Behind.These local Activists are doing more and care more about North Minneapolis than the collective bunch of you pessimistic puke clowns.Am i Right? does not want affirmaion on their personal correctness.They want to slow progress at any cost because of their dubious ulterior motives.Boathead rests.

Trudrud said...

Regarding the USI wi-fi. I have it, and I watch youtube, netflix and hulu without a hitch. The speed depends on a couple of things. First, which data package you purchase makes a difference. For about $30 a month you can get their fastest package, which is what I have and dearly love. Second, proximity to the hot spots matters as well. I have one right across the street from me on a light pole, so my signal strength is always at full bars on the display. The router is needed for fast work, though you can still tap into the network if you're outside of your house without the router using just a wi-fi card in a laptop, but it is quite a bit slower. I love the service I'm getting, and in fact stream from a computer to my television so I can use it instead of cable for my TV and news watching. It saves a ton of money over what I could be spending.

Lastly, regarding the Don Samuels comment, where did that come from? I've happened to cross paths with a few folks in various meetings who seem to be out looking for ways to put the man down. Regardless of how you feel about him and the position he holds, some of this is just petty and when I have to sit and listen to somebody sneaking in little barbs about him or his wife's Peace foundation, it reminds me of why I'm glad he's our councilman instead of the sneaky, conniving, sore losers who go so far out of their way to try to sabotage things instead of getting with the program and working with the people we've got representing us.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Why hasn't my comment been posted yet? What was wrong with it? I was simply stating a fact. I see others approved, and I know mine was before them, so what's the hold up?

Nate Streeter said...

Hello neighbors,

I am the owner of Paperboy Printing & Distribution, the company that distributed the flyers for USI Wireless.

First, I want to apologize for those homes you saw that were delivered to that were obviously empty. This is unacceptable.

I would love to get the addresses so I can follow up with the staff that made those mistakes.

Because of this vacant house litter issue, we are revisiting this with our whole staff to prevent this from happening in the future. The recent housing crisis has created a new climate that requires special attention.

Our whole distribution process is built on integrity. We use GPS tracking to account for every street delivered. And the policy is for flyers to be “on the door—not on the ground”. That is why we use the special rubber bands and methods that we do. It doesn’t do any good for our advertisers (or us) if flyers are blowing around.

My wife and I live in North Minneapolis as well (both of us grew up her), and care deeply for the area.

Don’t hesitate to contact me.


Nate Streeter
Paperboy Printing & Distribution
612 702 1710

Johnny Northside! said...

You rock, Nate. I'll be sure to bring your communication to Jeff's attention.

Hans said...

Just yesterday I had a USI wireless flyer attached to my front door.

The abandoned houses across the street did NOT have flyers at their doors.

At least one person doing the distributing was smart enough to not waste their time with the abandoned houses on my block.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Nate Streeter,

The address in question here was 2648 Emerson Ave N, and many of the fliers I noticed were along Emerson. Thank you for your response, and I really do appreciate the shared concern.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Oh, and I second Hans' statement. I've seen subsequent rounds of flyering that have avoided vacant houses.

Johnny Northside said...

To Trudrud: proximity to a hot spot matters. You bet. And that's my problem. There are too many places like that where it matters way too much, and there is a weak "laggy" signal.

NoMi Neighbor said...

Nate, thanks so much for commenting, and for your attention to the issue.

You are officially awesome to me now.

Am I Right? said...

Boathead for the defense said....
Michael, I have no idea what you are trying to say here. Please repost in normal English. Or let JNS speak for himself.

Trudrud: My comments really had nothing to do with Don Samuels personally. My point was that since John Hoff is such a big supporter of Councilmember Samuels, that I doubted he would make a big issue if Don's campaign materials were left at vacant houses. I was simply using the Councilmember as an example. I could have also used the Mayor.
I believe Don Samuels is an honest, compassionate, and sincere member of the city council. If you thought I was attempting to tarnish his reputation, I apologize.

Anonymous said...

Why do we have trolls commenting about the speed of internet in Minneapolis. This is a discussion about leaving flyers at vacant homes. Please keep the conversation relavent to the topic or I will have to make a report to the moderator. This would never happen on the E-Democracy list.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Anon 12:28, where have you been? A lot of discussions on here go off-topic, and it's not always a troll doing so.

John and Jeff are already moderators, so if they didn't want the discussion, they wouldn't post the comments, I'm sure.