Monday, May 10, 2010

JNS Calls for Compostable Cheetos Wrappers!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

In anticipation of another round of trees in the Hawthorne EcoVillage Tree Nursery, I went and cleaned almost forty of the pots where the trees will go. This blog has repeatedly called for police tape to be made from biodegradable corn starch polymer. We've also celebrated the fact that cups, plates, and utensils at EcoVillage gatherings are made from compostable materials.

But the mulch and moist dirt that accumulated over the winter and spring in the tree nursery pots seems to be the natural habitat for earthworms, beetles, and 99-cent Cheetos wrappers. So, why can't we make those biodegradable as well? It's not like those things have much of a shelf life. Think of how much cleaner our neighborhood would be if the Cheetos wrappers just kind of...went away. And if we can get THAT changed, then next up: Honey Buns.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

JNS Pdf Support Site is Full!

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the Workfarce Blog.

In the midst of working on a new blog post, I ran across a frustrating phenomenon. the Johnny Northside pdf support site is full! No more data can currently be uploaded. Seeing as how Google (which operates blogspot and the pdf site) prides itself on the amount of data storage space available, maxing this out is no small feat. This is also the second time the Johnny Northside blog has maxed out its available space.

The pdf files in this case are essential to the blog post, so that post will have to wait until this is resolved. In all likelihood we will have to buy more space, so this is also an opportune time to remind readers that this blog is a volunteer effort and any donations through paypal or clicking on the ads to generate revenue are welcome in order to offset such costs.

But frankly, we're rather proud of the fact that the amount of information we strive to make available to our readers rises to the point where GOOGLE has issues handling it all.

(Do not click "

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Better City Websites Will Help ID Slumlords

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman. "Head on a pole" photo by John Hoff.

Yesterday a terrific meeting was held with many Minneapolis government and community workers around how to combat predatory investors, or slumlords, in light of the foreclosure crisis. A national group, Policy Link, put together a report of various city's strategies called "When Investors Buy Up the Neighborhood: Preventing Investor Ownership from Causing Neighborhood Decline."

There were so many excellent ideas discussed in the meeting and detailed in the report, but for now I will focus on just one. And that is...

...getting the city of Minneapolis' website to have the ability to use an owner's name as a search criteria.

The Johnny Northside blog has identified this as a necessary tool for quite some time. It was first brought up in a post about the Devil (Evannor Haymon) moving in to a property at 3007 3rd St N. We didn't find this out until seven months later because neighbors don't have the same kind of tools to search PUBLIC DATA as city employees do. Then, as neighbors encountered massive slumlord after massive slumlord in NoMi, we wondered just how big of a problem each of them was.

How many properties does Bashir Moghul really own? Or Mahmood Khan? Or any other slumlord? If a new problem property arises on someone's block, how do we know if that landlord/owner has similar problem properties in other neighborhoods? And if we can find a concentration of one owner's problem properties in, let's say, Hawthorne and Folwell, but not so much in Willard-Hay or Jordan, then we know which neighborhoods need to work together to resolve things.

Right now, our residents who experience the effects of slumlords and problem properties are at a disadvantage because we cannot easily search and understand the scope of a problem. In the case of Pamiko, for instance, roughly sixty properties have been identified as belonging to Paul Koenig or one of his LLC's. But we had heard rumors that by the time his misdoings were exposed on this blog, there had already been at least one wave of Pamiko foreclosures. The full scope of Koenig's damage to Minneapolis (primarily the Hawthorne, Jordan, Near North, and Willard-Hay neighborhoods) is still unknown.

It should be noted that we can call city employees and ask for this information. But our good partners at the city are already swamped and overburdened. It wouldn't be easy for them to respond to casual questions of this nature on a regular basis - especially if we're just not sure and we're essentially going fishing for information. Getting a response in this case could take days or even weeks. But searching on the city's website from the comfort of our own home takes seconds.

The need to be able to search the city's website using property owners' names as search criteria has also been formally supported by the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council. This is an option that other cities have on their websites. Locally, the Douglas County, WI website has such an ability. One thing that is tremendously useful there is that website lists properties currently AND previously owned by the owner. The drawback of that website, however, is that the search results do not come up in a separate live link that could be shared with others (like, oh, on a blog).

Even city officials at the Policy Link workshop recognized the need to do better. Henry Reimer, the Director of Inspection Services for the city of Minneapolis, said, "We have an obsolete property information data system." While Minneapolis' website has a good framework, the previous sale date and price are often incomplete or inaccurate as well.

Another person said he wished we could bring back...

(childhood photo of me, my twin bro, and mom. Unsure who took this photo.)

...the stocks as a way to publicly shame slumlords and throw tomatoes at them. "That's what Johnny Northside is for," I quickly responded. "We're the public stocks of the digital age." But there is at least one city that does exactly what we've done on Johnny Northside, ON THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE!

Allentown, PA lists a "Landlord Hall of Shame." Right on their website, officially endorsed by the city. God love 'em! Currently featured are Adam and Ira Thor, and the site shows detailed photos of how ugly and slummy the Thors' properties are. Not only that, but they publish pictures of the Thors' OWN HOUSES! The Brothers Thor (which would be a great name for a power rock band, I think) are also called out: “The conditions of these properties are particularly galling when you stack them up against the conditions of the homes where they reside.” Right. On. The Official. City. Website.

But having the owner's name as a searchable criteria won't go far enough. For instance, one slumlord, Phil Kliendl, is known to use different German numbers as LLC's for each individual property. At least with Kliendl, he uses the same mailing address in Burnsville for all the LLC's. Some landlords have as many as eighty properties, with a different LLC for each one, and the mailing address of the LLC is the subject property. We need to require that landlords who do this also list a principal of the LLC and a way to contact them other than a PO Box. The LLC principal should also be plugged into the same search criteria as an owner's name.

There were plenty of other excellent ideas tossed around, and I'm sure those will appear on this blog in the near future. For now, having this issue brought forward on such a prominent level is progress!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Legal Funeral For "Old Majority" In The Jordan Neighborhood--The Fat Lady Didn't Sing, But It's Still Over

Stock photo and blog post by John Hoff

Cinco De Mayo was even happier than usual in the Jordan Neighborhood, as word came of the long-awaited resolution of the "Old Majority" vs. "New Majority" lawsuit, in which some ousted members of JACC ("Old Majority") brought an ill-conceived lawsuit to court following their un-election in board elections and much-deserved replacement by the pro-city, pro-revitalization, anti-thug hugging "New Majority" faction, at that time led by Kip Browne and Ann McCandless.

(As of today, the Jordan Neighborhood is arguably in the "New And Improved New Majority" phase, due to having board elections yet again)

Johnny Northside Dot Com has reported on this Jordan neighborhood controversy more than any other media entity, from the ouster of the old JACC officers, to the shocking theft of equipment and records, to day-by-day accounts of the court proceedings, (including Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer being removed from the court room) to the Old Majority beating a humiliating retreat and not even showing up at their own legal funeral.

Now, at long last, cruel fate comes down like the dark, crusty blade of an executioner's axe. Cue the music. It's time to hear the fat lady singing the strains of O! Fortuna!

Here's a link to the PDF of the Judge's order, click here.

Read 'em and weep.

I talked to one of the movers and shakers in Jordan who gave me some commentary on the order, as follows...

First of all, this is a medical textbook case of "I told you so." From Day One, the leaders of the New Majority faction--folks like Kip Browne and Anne McCandless--were saying "You don't get to just run to court." This lawsuit was ill-conceived, badly revised, and ill-executed. It was the legal equivalent of running with scissors. Well, looks like somebody tripped, fell, and stabbed oneself.

In this case, the order keeps referencing the "derivative claims" issue which means, basically, "Which entity has the right to bring the claim?" Looks like it sure wasn't the Old Majority!Ouch. Dead in the water on the issue of STANDING? Somebody didn't do enough legal homework. Doing a lawsuit when you don't have STANDING is like trying to drive a car without CAR KEYS. I guess it happens from time to time...mostly to drunk people. At least such a put-it-down-it's-lame lawsuit made everything relatively easy for the judge and, let's face it, after sitting through all those days of testimony in a lawsuit which turned out to be PRETTY MUCH STUPID AND POINTLESS, Judge Porter deserved a break.

In court rulings, judges tend to dispose of claims by the easiest route, just like you might take your trash to your back alley by the shortest, easiest route and not go all the way around the block. So if there is a question of lack of jurisdiction (like "Spanky" Pete Rickmyer's so-called lawsuit against me, which he has not yet managed to serve) or a question of standing or the statute of limitations or any other easy way to dispose of the case, a court will tend to dispose of the case that way. Here, "derivative claims" presented an easy route to junk something which was clearly junk. The "Old Majority" should have tried to work things through with the board, not just dashed to court with a lawsuit. JACC should have been given an opportunity to figure out how to resolve their own issues. Oh, and the plaintiffs had their opportunity to participate by running for election. They chose not to.

At least they have a better idea when they will win an ELECTION versus a LAWSUIT.

As the court put it so well--I'm paraphrasing, here--the subjective perception of futility is NOT the legal standard for bypassing one's duty to try to resolve stuff outside the courts, through the administrative systems which are already in place.

Oh! The legal batter hits the lawsuit ball and it's's's gone, it's out of the park, and the New Majority is triumphantly running the bases. Picture them running the bases and scoring at home plate: Kip Browne, Anne McCandless, Tyrone Jaramillo, the whole cast and crew of the New Majority.

TAKE A BOW, New Majority, TAKE A BOW.

As for the Old Majority...

Too bad, so sad, and when will Ben Myers be removing the stuff on his website where he calls himself the JACC Vice Chair? I checked a few minutes ago. That junk is still there. Is Ben going to correct his website before somebody files a complaint with the Minnesota State Lawyers Responsibility Board? I kind of doubt it.

Oh, by the way, this court order would tend to show that when the Johnny Northside blog reported on the stunning lack of merit in the Old Majority's legal case, that reporting was (how shall I put it?) closer to CRYSTAL PURE OBJECTIVITY than the Old Majority had the self-knowledge to candidly admit. The court order talks about UNCLEAN HANDS. Who has those unclean hands? Well, exactly who you'd expect.

How did the hands get dirty? Well, for starters, from PUNCHING A BOARD MEMBER.

Shame, shame, shame.

Despite the ease of the legal ruling, (direct and derivative claims) the order contains EXTENSIVE findings of fact. And guess what? If there's an appeal, all the findings of fact are what the plaintiff is stuck with. You can't dispute on appeal what's been found to be fact in the ruling of the lower court.

An appeal? Ha. Good luck with that.

All in all, Cinco De Mayo was a perfect day for this ruling to hit the streets, because win or lose it was TIME TO DRINK LIKE A FISH.

I propose a toast! To a new day in North Minneapolis, led by a New Majority.

(Blogging from Athens, Georgia, named after Athena, Goddess of Wisdom)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Get your Get to NoMi T-Shirts!

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from

All sorts of Get to NoMi apparel is available! Just click on this link!

Pamiko-Induced Foreclosure Crisis Gets Even Bigger

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I've been stopping at the Hennepin County Government Center on occasion when I've had other business to do downtown recently. In what little spare time I've got, I researched more about various slumlords and the mortgages behind them. I found out something new on the property above, 3053 15th Ave S.

On 5/23/05, a $575,000 mortgage to Marklee Construction, a company known to be operated by Paul Koenig, was filed against this property by US Federal Credit Union. But the dollar amount wasn't the only thing that was strange about the loan. There was also...

...a satisfaction of the mortgage filed on 2/23/06. US Federal Credit Union signed off on the satisfaction, but it was a senior mortgage loan officer, Pete Olson, who did the deed. Fellow mortgage geeks will recognize how rare it is for a mortgage originator to be involved in signing satisfactions in any way whatsoever.

But little quirky things like this wouldn't merit a blog post all by their lonesome. On 11/5/08, US Federal Credit Union filed an intent to foreclose on 3053 15th Ave S AGAINST PAMIKO, not Marklee Construction.

But wait, there's more! The original mortgage to Marklee Construction included a total of ten OTHER properties as collateral. The first seven are currently owned by private individuals, so it's possible that Koenig sold them properly. Those seven properties are:

1418 11th Ave N
625 Newton Ave N
1032 Knox Ave N
1034 Knox Ave N
3434 6th St N
2822 Colfax Ave N
1317 Knox Ave N

There were three properties besides 3053 15th Ave S that are currently listed on the Hennepin County website as owned by US Federal Credit Union. I believe it is reasonable to assume that US Federal foreclosed upon these properties while Koenig or one of his LLC's was the owner.

2200 Irving Ave N, which is boarded and vacant.
3128 5th Ave S
2324 Queen Ave N

None of these properties is on the Unabridged Pamiko list.

The more one digs into the Pamiko problem, the worse it appears. When will charges be filed against Koenig? That seems inevitable at this point.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Susan Newell Sentencing: Many Minor Children, A Cry of Anguish, Filled Up Seats...

Contributed photo, blog post by John Hoff

I received some bits and pieces of information from the Susan Newell sentencing. Newell was involved in mortgage fraud, some of which happened in North Minneapolis. The sentencing has already been reported elsewhere, click here.

Newell's first trial resulted in a mistrial, so Hennepin County Prosecutor Brad Johnson got in there and took care of business, bringing home the long-awaited conviction. Johnson is currently running for Anoka County Attorney, click here.

According to what I was told about the sentencing by an observer, sheriff's deputies were there and keeping people out because it was...

...already full inside. The people inside appeared to be mostly Newell family and supporters, some of which apparently came from her church. There was an odd air of confidence in these spectators, and some loose talk about how maybe the sentence wouldn't be too bad at all. Why, maybe she'd even get probation and no prison time at all! But, instead, Newell got three years. She will likely serve two years in prison, and then parole for a year after.

It was about 3:45 p.m. when the court room emptied and there was much crying and hugging in the hallway. An individual who appeared to be a defense attorney spoke to an individual presumed to be a family member, saying something like, "The letter you wrote helped, really."

Suddenly there was a cry from an anguished voice--it came from either inside the courtroom, or the elevator on the other side of the court room. A male voice said, "I CAN'T DO THIS ON MY OWN!" The tone was a tone of despair. Who emitted the cry is unknown, but one would assume it was a close family member.

The prosecutor in this case asked for 122 months, which is a bit more than ten years. What the government had asked for was "a guidelines sentence for a severity level 9 offense," which would have been consistent with other mortgage fraud cases in Hennepin County, like Larry Maxwell, click here. Instead, the government got a guideline sentence for a Level 6, lower than what the government asked for.

Newell is currently 40 years old and will go away until she is 42, then on parole until 43. If she reoffends before the Year of Our Lord 2020, it's on His Honor Judge Tom Sipkins. Hennepin County asked for more. Let these words endure until at least 2020, if somebody has need to quote them. (It should be noted the judge was Sipkins, but the courtroom was that of Judge Janish, pronounced Yan-ish)

This case was reportedly one of Judge Sipkins' first criminal cases, and in this instance the defendant was a mother with 10 children (you read that right) at least five of which are under 18. The children were in the court room during the trial, almost every day according to one source.

(For the record--and most of my friends are likely to disagree--I do not find this manipulative practice of using children as a legal "human shield" to be at all objectionable. It is my position that nothing should be thicker than family blood. Simultaneously, I believe Newell should have gone away for 10 years and, for the record, I'm sure all that mortgage fraud money bought many unearned goodies for that extremely large brood of offspring. I hope there's enough fraudulent money squirreled away somewhere to pay for a vasectomy)

Newell's husband is a fire fighter in Minneapolis. One way to look at Newell's sentence is like this: she will miss a total of ten years of her children's lives.

In an incredibly odd footnote of arcane trivia: Susan Newell shares her name with that of the last woman hanged in Scotland, click here.

(Blogging from near Disney World, Florida)

Celebrating New Homeowners in NoMi!

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman unless noted otherwise.

NoMi Realtor extraordinaire Connie Nompelis organized a happy hour at Good Sports Bar and Grill this weekend to welcome new NoMi homeowners, (renters were welcome too!) and it was a resounding success. I arrived early, as the first order of business was to set up the Dinosaur. Or, as Bryan Thao Worra has coined it, the DiNoMisaur. We can even take it one step further and give it a second name depending on the neighborhood it's in. Since Good Sports is in my neck of the woods, on Sunday this was the DiNoMisaurus Hawthoraptor.

But the DiNoMisaur wasn't the only thing I was asked to help out with. I also brought along...


Astute JNS readers will recognize this rope as belonging to the post that tells the story about a swinger's bed. It turns out that we were able to hang signs inside and on the dinosaur without this rope. My repeated assurances that I washed the rope after each use strangely did nothing to encourage people to employ it for this event.

The owners of Good Sports know I can cook, and consider me one of their top food critics. So they brought out an item that wasn't even on the menu; the Rueben. Let me tell you something folks. This sandwich is phenomenal, and what you see below is only half. Pretty much everything at Good Sports is top notch, but I can't think of a single thing you could add or take away from this sandwich to make it any better. Five stars. It should be on the menu within the week, so make sure to look for it the next time you stop by.

Things got hopping pretty quickly, and a good mix of new residents (some of whom haven't even closed on their homes yet!) from a variety of neighborhoods, longer-term residents, and even some dedicated activists showed up. I even met people from Hawthorne that I hadn't known before. Like so many NoMi parties, there was a common refrain of, "Oh yeah! We're already facebook friends! It's so nice to meet you in person!"

I also got the occasional shout-out when I would tell people that I was the Hawthorne Hawkman on Johnny Northside. It's so nice to have an alter ego but NOT a secret identity.

After a while, a bunch of us went outside for impromptu pictures with the DiNoMisaur. First up is its creator, artist Ken Farkash.

Next up, I posed with Emily, a new Hawthorne resident, as we imitated the dinosaur's hands. This picture was taken, I believe by one of the Levey brothers, owners of Good Sports.

Finally, we decided to put baby Alex, another new NoMi resident, in one of the hands. These pictures are just so cute that they put those Anne Geddes abominations to shame. Frankly, I always found those pictures to be rather disturbing for some reason anyway.

And then it was time to go back inside for more happy hour specials (for this event only!) and plenty of great socializing with the wonderful NoMi folk. Thanks Connie for putting this together, thanks to Good Sports for hosting, and thanks to all the people who make our community so much fun!

A History of the Lutheran Church in Liberia

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Yesterday my church, River of Life Lutheran, celebrated 150 years of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Part of that celebration was a reading of the history of the Lutheran church since it was established in Liberia. River of Life is a mixed congregation of Scandinavians and Liberians. The history was written by and sent to us from church representatives in Monrovia, Liberia.

As I was hearing this, I was struck by the connections that we make in our church every Sunday. Through our worship together, River of Life members share a historic and cultural connection with people literally on the other side of the world. That shared connection goes back 150 years, and ultimately back millennia.

And what the Monrovian church sent us said...

...A History of the Lutheran Church in Liberia

This summary is condensed from a longer history of the LCL (Lutheran Church in Liberia) provided from Monrovia for this 150th anniversary.

The Lutheran Church in Liberia was established on April 28, 1860 in Millsburg, on the banks of the St. Paul River, by the American Lutheran missionary Rev. Morris Officer. Rev. Officer was assisted by Mr. Henry Heigerd who was later ordained and left in charge of the Mission Station.

The Lutheran Church went through three stages of growth and development in Liberia. From 1860 to 1947 it was called the American Lutheran Mission in Liberia (ALML) and all the affairs, major decisions, and funding were directed by American missionaries. In 1947, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Liberia (ELCL) was born. The ELCL and ALML existed side by side but the leaders of the ALML were in control of major decisions including finances and assignment of personnel.

The constitution provided that when the president of the ELCL was a missionary, the vice president must be a national and vice versa. Yet it was a period when both missionaries and nationals began to share positions and power. The third stage of growth was the birth of the national church which occurred on January 6, 1965 when the ALML and the ELCL were dissolved and the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL) was established. Rev. Roland J. Payne was the first president (later changed to Bishop) of the LCL.

The actual numerical growth of the LCL started during the leadership of Bishop Payne. The Lay Training Center was established and the two literacy centers were also established, developed, and expanded. The project "Operation Ten Pastors" was launched that saw the training of more national pastors to cope with the numerical growth.

Partnership was established between the LCL and Church of Sweden, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Germany, Danish Evangelical Mission, and Lutheran World Federation. Payne also led the LCL to become a member of the World Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches, and the Liberian Council of Churches. The LCL is now engaging in cross-border ministry by mentoring the new Lutheran Church in Guinea.

In 1960 when the LCL was celebrating its centennial, the membership was 5,180. After 25 years, the membership increased to 25,000 in 1985. But today the LCL has a membership of 71,196 spread in 14 of the 15 counties of Liberia, divided into nine Episcopal jurisdictions called districts. The districts have 48 parishes, 150 congregations, and 300 preaching points in Montserrado, Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Sinoe, Maryland, and Grand Kru.

Hospitals and Schools

The first ever hospital and medical school in Liberia was built by the American Lutheran Mission in Liberia in Harrisburg, Montserrado County in 1920; the Phebe Hospital and Medical School. Over the years, the school trained nurses and male medical assistants. Currently the LCL has seven health facilities, including two hospitals: Phebe and Curran in Suakoko, bong County and in Zorzor, Lofa County. There are also five clinics/health centers: in Lofa, Bong, Nimba, River Gee, and Grand Kru counties, serving the rural people of our country in promoting the GoL-PRS.

The LCL has been outstanding in providing quality education to the people of Liberia since 1860. Millsburg was the springboard for education as the missionaries moved deep into the interior of Liberia along the St. Paul River into the northwest and central Liberia. Every station was established with a school and dispensary even before a chapel was built. The Emma V. Day Girls School in Millsburg and David A. Day Boys School were merged to form the Lutheran Training Institute (LTI).

Prior to the war, LTI in Salayea was one of the best high schools in Liberia. It has the best and well-equipped science laboratory that offered the best science courses in Liberia. Presently, the LCL School System operates 35 schools including seven senior high schools, nine junior high schools, and 21 elementary schools across the country.

LCL has four training centers: the Lay Leaders and Ministers Training Center and the Language, Literacy, Literature, and Bible Translation Center in Totota, Bong County; the Urban Ministry and Minstry to the Handicapped and Disabled in Monrovia; and the Vocational Training Center catering to former combatants and young people affected by the civil war in LTI, Salayea, Lofa County.

LCL also runs five diaconal programs/projects. They are: HIV/AIDS Program, Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program, Christian Education Department, Educational Supervisory System, and Department for Mission and Evangelism. The LCL HIV/AIDS and Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Programs are the best known throughout Liberia today.

Since Rev. Morris Officer was sent to Liberia by the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor body of the ELCA, the ELCA was the first and longest-standing partner church of the LCL. The ELCA and her predecessor bodies helped build all the major institutions of the LCL that are mentioned above, developed the human resources of the LCL, and the ELCA continues to grant financial and personnel support to the various ministries of the LCL. It is very fitting that we gather ELCA members from the US and Liberia to join in this celebration of 150 years together!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Minnwest Bank is Being Watched...

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Two mortgage-geeky things happened today. First, I received the postcard above from John as he was on the road. The caption reads "Tennessee Mortgage Lifters," and I for one don't get the joke or point. But it's the first time I've seen mortgages referenced on a postcard.

John noticed the same thing and had to send this one my way. He also pointed out, "Don't get used to it, I save my postcards for the chicks."

The other mortgage item relates to Minnwest Bank, the lender behind most of Paul Koenig's (pronounced Kay-neg) Pamiko loans. It turns out that Minnwest...


Minnwest has been ordered, among other things, to analyze the value of its collateral (such as foreclosed Pamiko properties) and to not extend further credit to "adversely classified borrowers." One thing that is missing is any way to force Minnwest to be part of cleaning up the colossal damages done to NoMi as a result of their loans to Koenig. Admittedly, I would not expect the FDIC to impose such a burden. But our State Commerce Department should press for this.

For the sake of Minnwest employees and shareholders, I do hope they emerge from this as a solvent and profitable financial institution. But the heat on Koenig should only intensify.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Uncooperative Crime Victims From Recent Police Highlights...

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

Following up on my repeated mentions of the "uncooperative victims problem" in North Minneapolis, and how authorities need to use new tactics to break through this "do not snitch thug code," super citizen Megan Goodmundson of the Jordan Neighborhood sifted through some of the recent "police highlights" for the Fourth Precinct, and found numerous examples of the problem...

Check out these reports and judge for yourself whether uncooperative victims are just as big a problem in North Minneapolis as criminals.

ASSAULT3-Significant Bodily Harm
18th Ave N & Newton Ave N Tuesday 4/20/10 1600 hrs 10-109576
V1/BM, 31 yrs, flagged down officer & advised that he was punched in the jaw by S1/BM, 19 yrs. The right side of V1’s jaw was swollen, & possibly broken. V1 declined further suspect info & does not wish to cooperate in the prosecution of this case. V1 transported to the hospital by his brother.

ASSAULT3/Significant Bodily Harm
Broadway Ave W & Emerson Ave N Sunday 4/25/10 1435 hrs 10-114879
Officers were flagged down to check an assault victim. V1/BM, 29 yrs, had an apparent broken arm & stated unknown S1/BM, 20-40 yrs, & S2/BF, 20-40 yrs arrived in an SUV & assaulted him. V1 was unresponsive to questions & said “I don’t want no police.” V1 was transported via ambulance to the hospital. No further info. Suspects GOA.

(JNS says: Wow! Check out the one below. Two female thugs attacking a guy and gal because they "snitched" and even their small children are involved in the attack? Whoa)

21ST Ave N & Broadway Ave W Monday 4/26/10 2030 hrs 10-116323
V1/BF, 25 yrs, was in a vehicle with her boyfriend, V2/BM, 21 yrs, when they were approached by females & children in another vehicle. S1/BF, 30-35 yrs, ran up to V2 & yelled at him. V1 recognized the females as relatives of a male she recently ID’d as being involved in a robbery of person near her house. S1 hit V2 in the face & then V1 got out of the vehicle & they began fighting. S1 told the victims they were going to be killed for putting her brother in jail. V1 fled, & S2/BF, 20-22 yrs, followed in her vehicle, stopping to swing a bat at V1, hitting her 3 times. The children in suspect’s vehicle also attacked V1. V1 was able to get away when V2 picked her up in his vehicle. V1 refused medical. Suspects GOA.

WEAP/Carry a Weapon w/out a Permit
29XX Oliver Ave N Saturday 4/24/10 2153 hrs 10-113114
Officers were dispatched to a possible Narcotics sale. Officers approached a vehicle w/the engine running & immediately noticed the barrel of a handgun protruding from underneath the front passenger seat. AP1/BM, 17 yrs, was removed from the vehicle at gunpoint & placed in handcuffs. AP1 stated he was waiting in the car for his cousin & that the vehicle belonged to someone else. AP1 would not provide further info & was booked at JDC for being Under 18 with a pistol.

(The next ones from previous week's highlights)

ASSAULT 2/w a Dangerous Weapon
33XX Oliver Ave N Wednesday 4/14/10 0228 hrs 10-102334
V1/BM, 23 yrs, had been kidnapped & carjacked in a different city & transported to Mpls. V1 was able to break out of the trunk & get away from armed suspects as they shot at him. V1 was transported to the hospital for minor injuries (no gunshots). V1 does not know S1/BM, 20-24 or S2/BM, 20-24 yrs, but S2 held a black & silver semi-automatic on him during the kidnapping process. V1 was vague & somewhat uncooperative with officers.

ASSAULT2/w a Dangerous Weapon
42nd Ave N & Lyndale Ave N Monday 4/19/10 1230 hrs 10-108259
V1/BF, 27 yrs, was approached by S1 & S2, both black females, no further information. V1 got into a fist fight with S1 after an argument. S2 pulled V1 off S1 & S1 pulled out a knife, stabbing V1 in the right forearm. V1 phoned her boyfriend who transported her to the hospital. V1 was very uncooperative with officers & would not provide any information. Suspects GOA.

ASSAULT2/with a Dangerous Weapon
44th Ave N & Fremont Ave N Sunday 4/11/10 2045 hrs 10-099889
V1/BM, 28 yrs, was in Webber Park for a picnic when he heard a shot from off in the distance & was struck in the abdomen. V1 drove himself to the hospital. No suspect information. Friends & family who were at the picnic, gathered in front of the hospital but began leaving as officers asked questions. V1 was not cooperative with information. V1’s injury is non-life threatening.

This are fairly typical events, unfortunately. And they will continue to be typical until the authorities grasp this pattern and find effective new tactics to break through this resistance.

Yet Another Level Three Sex Offender Dumped In North Minneapolis...

State mug shots are in the public domain, blog post by John Hoff

A citizen of the Hawthorne Neighborhood forwarded me some information from the Department of Corrections about yet another Level Three sex offender being dumped in North Minneapolis.

Out in places like Chaska, they call a community meeting and everybody is up in arms...then the offender goes somewhere else, probably North Minneapolis.

But here in North Minneapolis, we just get an email and--if we're lucky--a few fliers on the door. This situation will not cease until somebody sues the Department of Corrections and seeks the protection of the law for our North Minneapolis neighborhoods. There is a statute which says sex offenders are not supposed to be "concentrated" in neighborhoods, but obviously that statute isn't worth the paper it is written upon until somebody takes it to court and demands its application.

In the meantime, this particular offender is...

Antar Abdulahi Ali, a man who raped a 14-year-old girl after using a ruse of offering assistance, then used physical force resulting in injuries to "gain compliance." The victim was a complete stranger to Ali.

Ali lives on the 2200 block of 6th Ave. N. If I find out the exact address, I will publish it, just like more than half the states of the United States publish the specific addresses of Level Three sex offenders, and Minnesota should join that list.

Police Action On Washington Ave. N. Today...

Photo by Jeff Skrenes, blog post by John Hoff

I have a report from Jeff Skrenes ("The Hawthorne Hawkman") of some major police action on Washington Ave. N., just north of 26th Ave. N. There are only police cars present--including cops on motorcycles--and no ambulances. It looks like some kind of raid or bust, not an accident.

Jeff took the picture above a short while ago, apparently with a zoom setting shot through a chain link fence. A couple of suspects are visible seated on the ground, and the on the right is wearing what appears to be a red stocking cap. (I tell you, so often when somebody is spotted openly dealing on a street corner in North Minneapolis, there is a red hat or a red garment involved. I'm just saying)

So far, we have no further information about this police incident, but God Bless The Fourth Precinct.

(Blogging from Erwin, Tennessee)

(Do not click "Read More")

Thursday, April 29, 2010

EcoVillage Foundation Set!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

This is likely a sign of what 2010 will be like for the Hawthorne EcoVillage. Progress is already happening at 400 31st Ave N at such a rapid click that I can barely keep track of it. Only a few days ago, we broke ground, and construction has already started.

I'd wax eloquently about this, but I have an important meeting to get to.

(Do not click "read more," but do enjoy the photos and celebrate progress!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Toasting Success on West Broadway!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

This morning marked a significant gathering of partners along West Broadway. Much of the work, spurred by Ackerberg Group offshoot Catalyst Community Partners, has already been profiled here on Johnny Northside.

However, one thing many partners realized was that there are many people and institutions working on revitalizing West Broadway, but we don't meet and coordinate our efforts often enough. CM Don Samuels chaired this get-together, and we commemorated it with a toast to the many success stories of West Broadway. We didn't use REAL stuff, like we've done in the EcoVillage or at Harvest Days, but the toast was special nonetheless.

Among the things we celebrated were...

...Minneapolis Public Schools' decision to move their headquarters to NoMi, the ongoing renovation of the Delisi's building at Penn and Broadway, new businesses like Good Sports Bar & Grill, and the phenomenal work of Catalyst - including the building at 1200 West Broadway.

On top of Samuels' presence and that of an aide (we'll miss you Jose!), representatives from CM Johnson's office, CPED, the Pohlad Foundation, Catalyst, Hennepin County, the West Broadway Business Coalition, and many other partners were in attendance. And even though we met on a weekday morning, several area residents came as well.

One other item worthy of note: this blog has already documented the success rate of Catalyst hiring local and minority workers on their projects. But Mike Christenson of CPED noted that on the 300 residential rehabs done by city development partners such as GMHC, PPL, PRG, or Urban Homeworks, 70% of the contractors used have been Northside contractors. Our partners have been intentional about doing their work in a way that maximizes benefits for our community.

But this wasn't just a self-congratulatory meeting. We also wanted to discuss barriers and roadblocks so that we can begin to work around them. One issue that thankfully came up was...

...Hawthorne Crossings. Presumably they meant Hawthorn (sic) Crossings, and hopefully an influx of financial assistance will correct the spelling. But that's not all we plan on doing. All signs point to some serious measures to address the safety issues along that block. Given how far we've come and how quickly, it's truly encouraging to think of what can happen in this area as well.

One of the residents also brought up the need for transportation improvements along the corridor. Hopefully, that will include a light rail stop at Penn and Broadway, but what can be done until then? This wasn't QUITE along the lines of the topics we had gathered to discuss, but public transit in NoMi could stand to be improved and her point shouldn't be lost in the shuffle.

All in all though, I left the meeting thinking of what Don said during his campaign, that in four years, we won't BELIEVE the kinds of amazing changes that will have come to West Broadway! A HUGE thank you goes out to all our partners who are working to make this happen!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Camera Loves Spanky Pete, But The Love Just Goes One Way...

Mugshot, therefore in the public domain, blog post by John Hoff

I just got word that Peter "Pete The Pedophile" Rickmyer has a BRAND SPANKING NEW photo on his Level Three sex offender profile, which the DOC maintains to warn and inform the public and which, for all practical and legal purposes, makes "Spanky Pete" a public figure. And an all-too-interesting one at that!

Here's the photo for readers to enjoy.

God, those eyes. Like a puppy that didn't get its shots, and played a little too much in the woods with raccoons.

Of course, this photo doesn't do justice to Pete's "Mr. Clean" appearance which he was sporting in court quite recently, click here for more details, but I figure DOC will eventually get around to updating the photo. They seem to be paying attention to Spanky Pete more than their other Level Three sex offenders, thanks to all the attention Spanky brought on himself and, actually, brought on all the Level Three sex offenders concentrated in North Minneapolis.

All the same...

This photo doesn't help our neighborhood so much as it shows the limitations of the DOC's clunky website. These Level Three sex offenders change their looks in a calculated way, and it seems like DOC doesn't even pretend to try to keep up. Some of these guys need a lot more than two photos, but I've never seen a profile with more than two. And, like I've pointed out to DOC a couple of times, there is at least one slightly blurry photo, which is Michael Robert Logeais.

What does DOC say when they slap up a photo like that? "Good enough for government work?" "Good enough for North Minneapolis?"

(Blogging from near Jefferson City, Tennessee)

Would-Be Squatter Turned Away In Jordan Neighborhood...

Photo by Michael Spivak, blog post by John Hoff

Michael Spivak, a soon-to-be attorney who lives in the Jordan Neighborhood, emailed me about a week ago in regard to a rather notable conversation he had in front of his house. The view from Mike's front porch is pictured above.

Here's what happened, in Mike's own words...


I just had an interesting interaction with someone. My dog Bear started to bark so I thought maybe Mail Guy (tm) was here. He likes Bear so when he comes by, I let Bear go out to say hi. Nope, no mail.

There was an African American woman, mid to late 20's, standing on the walk up to my front porch.

"Sorry," she informed me. "From the outside, the house looked abandoned. I was just looking for a place to stay."

She then left and drove off in her Cadillac, light brown on bottom, tan on top, license roughly CGB 555 (or 559 or something similar).

Johnny Northside says: Mike, it is actually lovely. Instead of an empty house, your house is occupied and in great shape. Our neighborhood is no longer a place where squatters have easy pickings. We're watching, we're calling, and we're revitalizing. I do hope the woman finds a decent and legal place to live, though.

This story is a reminder to all of us: if you see folks in a house who appear to be squatting, get in touch with the authorities. Over and over again, if necessary. And don't think squatters may not be bright enough to have some faked up piece of paper purporting to be a lease. But you can't exactly fake a rental license.

(Blogging from near Jefferson City, Tennessee)

River of Life Lutheran to Celebrate 150 Years of the Lutheran Church in Liberia!

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos from the River of Life Lutheran Church website.

My church, River of Life Lutheran at 22nd and Fremont, will be celebrating 150 years of the Lutheran church in Liberia. On Saturday May 1 at 4:00, there will be a screening of the movie "Pray the Devil Back to Hell." Special music begins on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m., followed by a worship service at ten. A meal and fellowship will follow the worship service, and let me tell you, the folks at my church can COOK!

This is an honor for River of Life to be selected as the host of such a tremendous event. Liberians from around the metro and even the Midwest are expected to attend the celebration. We hope to see you there!

(Do not click "Read More," but do join us on Sunday!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mis-"Khan"-duct Won't Be Tolerated by McKinley Neighbors!

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo by Megan Goodmundson.

The McKinley neighborhood invited both the owner of the Northside Food Market and Mahmood Khan to their Crime and Safety meeting on April 26th. Having blogged once on one issue and extensively on Khan, I decided to attend. Surprisingly, Khan showed up, although the owner of the Northside Food Market stayed away.

One editorial note: The dialogue taking place was rather intense at times, so I opted not to take photos. I worried that doing so might have caused Khan or his tenants (yes, he brought his tenants along, more on that later) to leave entirely.

Once introductions were made, Khan took the floor and said...

...that he had "good tenants who pay rent on time." But, oh gee, he sure doesn't want any problems with the neighborhoods. So if the NEIGHBORHOOD wants his tenants gone, then he would evict them (or not renew their month-to-month lease).

This was certainly an interesting ploy. What Khan seemed to be attempting to do was to put the McKinley neighborhood in the position of being the force behind eviction of a supposedly good tenant. And the only qualifier for "good tenants" used initially was whether the rent was paid on time.

A little back story is in order as well. The property in question, 3238 Bryant Ave N, has been owned by Khan for quite some time. The current occupants have only been in the house since about October of last year, or roughly six months. The previous tenants, who lived there while Khan was the owner, reportedly had an actual "open/closed" store sign in the window for when they were or were not selling drugs. Those occupants are long gone, but the activity that at least LOOKS like drug dealing continued.

So on April 15, the Violent Offender Task Force (VOTF) executed a search warrant at 3238 Bryant Ave N. For the record, this is NOT a small thing. It takes a court order to get this and significant activity needs to be observed within ten days of the action being taken. A SWAT team or something close to it with bullet-proof gear goes in, and there has to be something major to call in a raid like that.

Then the tenants - a man and a woman - spoke, and the woman was in tears about the experience. Whether one is guilty or not, I'm sure that being the subject of such a raid is a truly terrifying experience. She also said that their dog was shot during the raid. The tenants claimed that the warrant did not result in the police finding anything, although what may have come of it is not yet public information.

The man urged people not to judge him yet, and said that he has his peddler's license and makes his money selling "towels, socks, body oil, and CD's." He said that now that he had his license, there was nothing anyone could do about it because he was legitimate. He later said that he sold CD's to his friends, and "you know how it is." The way he described at least the sale of CD's was very similar to language used by the near-incessant stream of bootleggers at the Hawthorn (sic) Crossings strip mall. Just sayin'.

A lot of back-and-forth went on between residents, the tenants, and Khan, and it boiled down to this: Residents see a constant flow of traffic in front of the house. People stop by for 3-5 minutes, often one person stays in the car, and then they're gone. Other times, the cars that stop in front of the house will have other vehicles pull up next to them and then drive off. The tenants claimed that these people were just relatives and weren't doing anything wrong. And the ones that weren't relatives were buying the towels, socks, body oil, or CD's. You know how it is.

(For the record, even though I did not believe much of what the tenants had to say, I still found it preferable that they were in the same room talking with other residents and trying to work things out.)

Then Khan was asked about his screening process. He said he does a background check, and when questioned as to where he gets his background information, he said "a website." Well that's certainly a relief! Glad you're using the INTERNET, can't go wrong THERE! When pushed, he claimed it was a county website that lists criminal activity, and when he needs, he asks the police department for help. Immediately, the police contact at the meeting countered that he has not called her office.

Khan said he'd been in the property management business for 23 years, and that he does all his own background checks. He would not say how many properties he owned in Minneapolis or in general, although he was asked this question several times. In a public hearing, he admitted to having "30 or 40, I don't know exactly," in Minneapolis alone. When residents pointed out that doing background checks on all tenants could almost be a full-time job in and of itself (not to mention checking up on tenants, maintaining properties, collecting rent, and doing all the other things a landlord does), Khan said that his wife sometimes helps with those extensive computer searches.

Khan made no mention to the McKinley group about his other job as a flight attendant, by the way. A thorough account of how Khan handles himself in meetings can be found here.

The McKinley neighborhood sent two letters to Khan at 2972 Old Highway 8, Roseville MN, although he claimed never to have received them. Those letters detailed problems at Khan's McKinley properties and invited him to be part of a solution. Khan instead requested that people call him at 612-998-2500. He was pressed about whether he would respond to other written communication and said that he really preferred being called instead.

One McKinley resident spoke up saying that Khan was not doing an acceptable job of screening tenants. Khan would bring in some tenants and they wouldn't work. The neighborhood would have to fight against drug and other illicit activities. Then after a hard battle, those tenants would go, and a new batch would come in, often just as bad as the last one. "We're sick of being your science experiment," the neighbor said.

Khan's response was, "I'm doing the best I can." To which he was told, "Well, you need to do better."

Suspected Arson in Northeast

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Contributed photos.

The Johnny Northside blog would love to cover all things "north" in Minneapolis. This includes the North Loop and Northeast. There's only so much time in the day, however. (But hey, if there are Nordeasters out there who want to be contributors to JNS, or JNES, just let us know.)

One concerned Northeast resident sent John and me some photos of a house after a recent house fire at 1705 2nd St NE. This person stated, "All signs point to the owners being culprits," but did not elaborate as to why that might be the case. We were asked to put photos and a request for information out there because no other media source has covered this fire.

In a rather Dickensian twist, even though I couldn't place the property at all, I know the area well because...

...first off, the contact person said that the house was right across the street from Sentyrz. This is the market where "Mr. Valeria" makes his artisan Polish sausage - the very sausage used to commemorate the rapidly-increasing successes in the Hawthorne EcoVillage. He's pictured here, proudly holding a newspaper ad bearing his likeness.

The house is also very close to Eastside Neighborhood Services, where half of each year's 3rd Ward CARE Committee meetings are held.

Anyone with information about the fire at 1705 2nd St NE is urged to first contact authorities, and then share what information you can on this blog.

BREAKING NEWS! EcoVillage Breaks Ground!

Post, photos, and video by the Hawthorne Hawkman

The first steps in new construction have started today in the Hawthorne EcoVillage!

If someone would have told me two years ago, in the midst of some of the toughest battles this neighborhood has seen, that this year we'd be building new houses in the EcoVillage, I'm not sure I'd have believed them. But here we are.

It's not just one house going up; we have new owners in the EcoVillage, another family will be arriving soon in a home featured on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Home Tour, and Habitat for Humanity will be building/renovating as many as ten homes in and around the EcoVillage. By the end of this year or early 2011, we'll likely have half a dozen or more new residents. We thank our dedicated partners in this project and the essential work from Hawthorne members!

(Do not click "Read More," but do celebrate NoMi successes like the Hawthorne EcoVillage!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mr. Slummy Owes Some Money

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman (with one exception noted below)

Earlier this week, Hawthorne residents had noticed renewed activity over at "Mr. Slummy's" properties - 2515 and 2519 3rd St N. At this point, there doesn't seem to be much happening at 2515 other than pushing some dirt around. Given some unresolved issues and a stop work order at the address, a 311 call was made nonetheless.

Coincidentally, at a recent social gathering among "NoMi Homies," we were theorizing where "Mr. Slummy" (real name: Mohammed Amro, doing business as Amro's Properties) got his money from. After all, the work he's done, while lacking permits and being out of zoning compliance, can't be free. So I went down to Hennepin County to do a little digging--not as much digging as shown above, but digging nonetheless.

Before we get to that, however, I realize that since winning the City Pages best local blog in 2010, we may have some new readers unfamiliar with this story. So to summarize...

...Hawthorne activists such as Dyna Sluyter were posting about Amro's half-demolition of 2515 3rd St N over Easter weekend in 2009. Connie Nompelis posted about this on her blog and she and other Hawthornites contacted me while I was on vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As soon as I got back, I confronted a person I believe was Mr. Amro although I didn't get his name. His work was shut down on Easter Monday, and John blogged about it here. The first picture above is from that day, and the second shot would later become a visual metaphor for Amro's precarious financial situation.

In an interesting historic twist, the first comment on that blog post was an anonymous person who coined the name "Hawthorne Hawkman." I liked the nickname so much I changed my Google profile from "The Mortgage Geek" to what you see now. In this way, Mr. Slummy and the Hawthorne Hawkman are forever intertwined.

A very extensive photo gallery of Mr. Slummy's work can be found on my personal Facebook page.

But even with an initial stop work order, Amro applied for permits and resumed his work. This work included adding six egress windows and building an addition so large that nobody really believed he would comply with the residential two-unit (R2-B) zoning for the area. Those suspicions were confirmed when, at a 2009 Heart of the City picnic, five bathtubs were seen inside the property (which was flagrantly open to trespass, making such observations rather convenient).

We got the property boarded up, though. (photo below taken by John Hoff)

Fast forward to the present day. Work has been largely stopped at 2515 3rd St N, although Amro's white pickup truck is often seen in front of 2519 3rd St N. He owns this property as well, and even though he stripped off the siding and put in ugly windows, it appears as if most everything he's done at 2519 has been up to code, with permits, and in compliance with zoning.

What he HASN'T done, however, is actually PAID some of the people who did the work. Siwek Lumber and Millwork filed a mechanic's lien against 2519 3rd St N in October of last year for the amount of $14,841.06 for unpaid work from 4/4/09 through 10/8/09. The lien is filed against the property and against Mohammed Amro as well as Amro's Properties Inc.

There is also a second lien filed by the same entity for the same reasons at 2515 3rd St N in the amount of $12,216.11. Interestingly, there is no mortgage filed against either property. Amro either purchased with cash, or in some under-the-table way in which the holder of the debt has not filed a lien against the properties. Clearly the work done at both places far exceeds $27,000. So the next question is this: did Mr. Slummy pay for that work out of pocket, or does he owe more money in ways that haven't surfaced yet?

And speaking of surfaces, there is still an unresolved issue. Amro did not remove the mounds of dirt he created when excavating. He merely pushed it around and leveled off both of his properties. The problem with that, as evidenced below, is that the house to the south has had their fence damaged. And every time it rains, dirt washes into their garden. Amro needs to remedy this issue before even more fees pile up.