Monday, May 24, 2010

Emergency Community Meeting on Gun Violence!


Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, contributed stock photo

There have been a spate of shootings around 26th to 31st Avenues North, and Thomas and Upton Avenues. Two have happened over the weekend, and several more occurred in broad daylight over the past month. Tomorrow night, concerned NoMi citizens are gathering at St. Anne's Senior Housing at 2300 West Broadway to discuss strategies in response.

City leaders, representatives from the 4th Precinct, and many who are willing and able to stand up for our neighborhoods will be in attendance, and we hope to see you there. Neighbors rightly consider this an emergency situation and we both want and need to get a handle on this outbreak of violence before the summer months pick up.

Come and join us at St. Anne's on Tuesday night, 6 p.m.

(Do not click "read more.")





3116 6th St N Meets the Backhoe of Doom!




Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Video by Your Eyedea. First photo above by HH, second by YE.

Oh how time flies in the EcoVillage. It seems like just yesterday that we were calling 911 on suspected copper thieves. And although that actually WAS yesterday, the turnaround from when such scrappers would have certainly been illegal has been nothing short of astounding. If we rooted out the negative elements in record time, then I have no doubt about how bright the future of the EcoVillage will be.

3116-3118 6th St N is also likely one of the last demolitions in the EcoVillage, with 409 31st Ave N being the other.

On top of your standard demolition fare, we also saw...

...the handy tools of a local metal scrapper. I'm a bit confused though: what's the STICK for? Will that accomplish something that the axe or its handle won't? I also saw the man behind the carriage as I was on my way to my Wells Fargo meeting. I would have called 911 on the guy, but he was operating in plain view of the demolition crew. Let them sort it out, I thought. And at least more things in the EcoVillage are being recycled.

Above photo by Your Eyedea.

From here on out, we've got demolition photos that may be more interesting simply in terms of slight artistic differences between the Hawthorne Hawkman and Your Eyedea:


Above photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, remaining photos by Your Eyedea.








Bye bye, 3116 6th St N!

Illegal Car Repairs Suspected at a Bashir Moghul Property



Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I generally don't like to call 311 on vehicles with tire problems. I figure if someone can't get their car on a jack or towed, they've got enough to deal with. And sooner or later the cars typically DO get fixed. But there are times when I just can't sit idly by. This is especially true when cars are sitting on a jack for days on end.

We've got kids running around and here we have a truck that's been in this condition throughout the weekend. That's a tragedy just waiting to happen. But that's not the only thing happening here...

...There have been a series of auto repairs happening on or around this spot. It's not clear whether those repairs are permitted, so that got reported too. The repairs, whether legal or not, are believed to be associated with 318 27th Ave N, a property currently owned by none other than Bashir Moghul.

And then, on the corner of 26th and 3rd, I saw this:




This vehicle has been without a tire for a while too. Time to call that in as well. Seriously people, someone's going to get hurt.

Wells Fargo Code Violations Contact


Post and stock photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I was at a meeting today with some higher-ups at Wells Fargo, discussing ways that they can work together with the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition to help combat the foreclosure crisis. Since the discussion is ongoing, details of that meeting aren't ready for broad discussion here or elsewhere.

However, they did give one bit of very useful information to us regarding contact information for any properties they own that have code violations. So if you see a vacant property, check both the city website and the county website (if the info is different, the county website is usually more accurate). If the owner shows up as Wells Fargo, send an email to codeviolations@wellsfargo.com. They try to respond within 48 hours.

(Do not click "read more," but do also contact 311 as well regarding such violations.)

Oh How I Love So Low!


Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

As I prepared to blog the night away, I knew I needed to grab something to eat to keep me full. I went over to So Low, and once again I was not disappointed. The place had the air conditioning on at full tilt, for one thing, making me almost forget it's 94 degrees out there. They sell ice cream drumsticks for a buck as well. And Bill Withers is on maximum rotation. And the staff, mostly people who appear to be in their 20s or younger, are always extraordinarily polite. They'll even take your bags out to the car if you have a full load.

One of the last times I was there, I picked up a rack of goat ribs for $10 and a duck for $12. Let's take a look at today's bounty...

...First up is the mango juice, which I bought as a backup drink since I was trying grass jelly juice for the first time. The grass jelly juice was...drinkable, I guess. That is, if you like the idea of tamarindo-flavored cough syrup that also has gelatinous chunks throughout. It's a good thing I bought the mango juice, is what I'm saying. I didn't make it through the whole can of grass jelly juice, but at least I tried something new.

Next up, canned mangosteens. Do you know how hard it is to find mangosteens? So Low has them on a regular basis. These were the highest-priced item, ringing in at a whopping $2.49.

For a mere 99 cents, I picked up a frozen pizza that was impressively good, and in case that won't be filling enough for all the night's festivities, another buck got me some rather delicious pasta.

The grand total, including the ice cream drummy not shown: $7.14. So when you see tonight's series of posts, you can thank not only the Hawthorne Hawkman and the Johnny Northside blog, but also So Low!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

When Investors Buy Up the Neighborhood - A Policy Link Discussion


Post and photo of a Danna D III Hawthorne property by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Earlier this month, people from all across Minneapolis who work on housing issues got together at the McKnight Foundation to discuss the PolicyLink report "When Investors Buy Up the Neighborhood." On JNS, we covered one potential solution discussed, namely the need to be able to search city websites using the name of a property owner.

The report itself is about 45 pages and for wonks like myself it remains an engaging read. But today I want to focus on the small group discussions where we hashed out some ideas for how to help turn things around. One of the first issues that was raised was...

...the need to change the Non-homestead tax back to the rates used ten years ago or more. These changes made the difference in cost for homesteaded and non-homesteaded property taxes almost minimal. The intention was to drive down costs to landlords so that they could then offer cheaper rent to their tenants. One of the unintended side effects was to facilitate a financial model in which houses that would otherwise have remained owner-occupied were now run by landlords.

Many housing experts present felt that the lower-income renters were not seeing the trickle-down benefits of such a move, and communities like north Minneapolis or east Saint Paul were encountering landlords who were buying up dozens of properties with ease.

We recognized that having a simplistic "pass/fail" system for our landlords and investors results in scenarios where too many people get a D-. And we discussed ways to create incentives that would spur better landlord behavior. Some ideas included:

- a mandatory landlord training class (this by itself, I think, would not be very effective. Combine it with other efforts, and perhaps we could see some results.)

- Increase rental licensing fees significantly, but then create incentives that reduce them over time. For instance, double the fee, but make the second half of it due after a year. If the landlord completes training and has no code violations or other problems (or at least limited and minor issues) with the property, then the fee could be waived or reduced.

- set limits on how many LLC's one person can have as property owning entities within the city. One city employee mentioned a person who has over 80 individual LLC's for the properties he owns.

- While we're on the topic of needing better city databases and websites, we should also try and incorporate apps from iPhones, Droids, Blackberries, and other smart phones into how we track problem properties and share data. (I'm the wrong person to expand more on this, although I love the idea. I had my Blackberry for a year and a half before figuring out that the plus and minus buttons on the side were there to zoom the camera back and forth. My twin brother, on the other hand, has custom-installed several different operating systems on his cell phone simultaneously. Ask him.)

- In Collier County, Florida, housing violations are emailed out, resulting in quicker response times from property owners.

- Atlanta trains its residents to do certain kinds of inspections.

- Minneapolis has an Early Warning System to try and predict when properties will be in need of attention. That data should be expanded and at least the public data contained therein should be available and searchable to the general public.

- And of course, my personal favorite still remains good old Allentown, Pennsylvania, which publishes a landlord hall of shame on their own website.

Have at it, JNS readers. What policies would you like to see in place as a way to prevent slumlords and other unscrupulous investors from buying up the neighborhood?

Another Close Call with Contractors


Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Today was a busy day in NoMi. Earlier in the weekend, I welcomed some new neighbors to the area, and today another owner-occupant a block or so away had an open house. This is on top of having met several OTHER new Hawthornites at the NoMi reception put on by Connie Nompelis.

While I was on my way to the open house, I got a call from someone in the EcoVillage. She told me that she was seeing...

...potentially unauthorized work happening at 3116-3118 6th St N (pictured above). This is a house that has been slated for demolition in order to make way for the higher-density housing that will be built along Lowry in the coming years.

Something seemed off to this resident, though, and she wondered if she should call 911. I double-checked the ownership, and yes indeed, the city of Minneapolis owns the building. "The city owns the place, there's work happening on a Sunday, and someone who lives nearby and knows the area doesn't feel right...call it in. I'm on my way over," I said.

I got there only moments before a squad arrived. I explained the situation, and the officers went inside, only to verify that these people indeed had the scavenger/scrapper rights for any materials of value. But the police said that the resident and I absolutely did the right thing in calling it in. One of these times, we'll catch some of these crooks in the act.

So to anyone thinking about moving in to the house being built at 400 31st Ave N, or one of the upcoming Habitat for Humanity homes, or any other house in or around the EcoVillage, this is the kind of community you're coming into. One that watches, and calls, and does so because we care about the people and the homes around us.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dex DOESN'T Know - 25 Phone Books Found at Vacant Properties!



Post and Photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

First, I was critically injured in a phone book mishap right at the steps of the Hawthorne office. After that, John did a post asking RT Rybak to make phone book littering a priority, and included a story about how I chased down some delivery people and actually threw the phone books BACK in their vehicle.

I recovered, and came back stronger than ever, and even emerged victorious against the Dumpinator 3000 yet again.

So when I woke up one morning to find a plastic bag of THREE DIFFERENT Dex phone books, my first thought was...

...I bet once again that vacant houses have these on their stoop too. Surprisingly, there were only twenty-five phone books at vacant properties, but the only part of the neighborhood that appeared to have received phone books was from Lyndale to 3rd and Broadway to Lowry.

Come on now, it's really not that hard to figure out which houses are vacant and clearly don't need phone books. A few examples:






I also stopped by two rather infamous vacant houses that had phone books at them. First up, 2222 4th St N, a house owned by Mahmood Khan. In an odd twist reminiscent of the numbers on my favorite show, "Lost," the 22nd phone book I picked up was at 2222 4th St N. I did NOT plan it that way either.

This was the property where the body of Annshalike Hamilton was found. The building was ordered to be demolished, Khan entered into a restoration agreement, failed to abide by its terms, and is now suing the city of Minneapolis in an attempt to stave off demolition. The buzz in the neighborhood is that he's subpoenaed so many of the city inspectors that scheduled house inspections and other duties are being interfered with. To Dex's credit, the property looks like it could be occupied.



This one, not so much. 409 31st Ave N was owned by Vicki Cox-Maxwell, wife of convicted mortgage fraud felon Larry Maxwell. Shortly before I started working as the Housing Director for Hawthorne, someone was killed on or near the steps of the place. It then went vacant, although various makeshift memorials were left there - often including the odd combination of teddy bears and liquor bottles.

Once vacant, it was a common target for squatters and prostitutes. I lost count of how many times I called it in to 311 as open to trespass. Then when the Feds started to investigate Maxwell, a lien was placed on the property to prevent him from selling assets - as if this house were an asset. THEN, Vicki went to California to declare bankruptcy, delaying the sale of this house even longer. Finally, with the help of Mark Ireland and the Housing Preservation Project, we were able to acquire this property for the purpose of demolition.



On other comment threads of JNS posts, people have suggested we have a phone book bonfire. That could be fun, but I'd really prefer gathering phone books from vacant houses and dropping them back off at the headquarters of Dex, Yellow Pages, etc. Dex will be getting a visit from me on Monday morning for just that. If anyone wants to come along and record video of what happens, contact me.

Another friend of mine suggested that we have a central drop-off location for phone books - either ones left at vacant houses or just unwanted in general. I love the idea, but I have no garage. Is there anyone out there who'd be willing to offer up their garage as storage space to do this?

Regardless, the bright side here is that we got to Dex before they hit much of the neighborhood. Let's make sure that they and other phone book companies hear us loud and clear: NO PHONE BOOK LITTERING IN NOMI!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Progress On The $7,900 House--The Chicken Blood Is Gone From The Vinyl Siding!


















First photo by Brian Finstad with a cell phone, second photo and blog post by John Hoff






It's just a minor flaw in Connie's famous 'n' fabulous $7,900 house, click here to read more, but among a certain crowd of high profile movers and shakers in NoMi, the "chicken blood stain" has taken on a kind of legendary status. The mysterious stain--very clearly some kind of blood, smeared on the vinyl near the door in a seemingly deliberate fashion--was presumably blood from (we figured) some kind of blessing ritual.

Connie once told me, off-handedly, she was going to get rid of the vinyl siding one day and go with classic clapboard siding. Telling me that once was, as it turned out, one too many times. While doing some "pro bono yard work" for Connie I took some...

...yellow spraypaint and spritzed it on the blood stain after trying to scrub it off didn't work. Really, I figured it was just like the "vigilante graffiti abatement" I sometimes perform, though heaven knows I can't even compete in the same league with Ed Kohler who runs the popular blog The Deets.

When Connie saw my handywork, she was all, like, AAAAHHHHHHHHH! And I was all, like, Wah? Wah? WHAT'S THE PROBLEM with what I did?

Thank god she got over it. But now Brian and his partner Raymel are spiffing up Connie's house, the house formerly known as the Hawthorne Princess. Word reached me recently that Brian and Raymel found some kind of agent which got off the spray paint and the mystery blood underneath. Like the saga of the Atlas Pillar, click here, it's yet another small milestone at the $7,900 house.

Do bargains like this still exist in North Minneapolis? You bet. But there's only one Hawthorne Princess with a mysterious ritualistic blood stain.


2402 4th Avenue South got Pami-KO'd


Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

When I was in college, one history professor who taught a class on eastern European and central Asian history was particularly troublesome for me. I remember probing for clues about the final exam and asking, "What particular topics should we know well in preparation for the final?" He responded dryly: "Well, everything." And he wasn't joking. I didn't do too well on that final, busting my tail for a B-minus and considering myself lucky.

But I think of that professor's attitude in relation to the housing mess that Paul Koenig (pronounced Kay-neg) has inflicted upon north Minneapolis. Koenig should be in jail or at least face civil charges so steep that they'll bankrupt him. If neither of those things happen, then we on JNS are dedicated to examining every last detail of his cluster bomb of foreclosures so that this does not happen again by Koenig or anyone else. What's most important in that regard? Well, everything.

So when I have the chance I've been stopping by the Hennepin County Government Center to research Koenig/Pamiko/Marklee properties. Eventually I'll do a comprehensive post of what I've found, but as I come across particularly interesting histories that are extensive enough to merit their own post, those will be published. One such scenario presented itself at...

...2402 4th Avenue South. This is a multi-unit structure that has been part of a Koenig mess since at least 2004.

On July 23, 2002, David Kohlenberger, the other half of the Dream Homes Development LLC and DPK Properties LLC (David, Paul, Kohlenberger/Koenig. These guys are real creative with their LLC names) purchased it with a $465,200 mortgage from American Summit Mortgage Corp. I thought for sure American Summit would have imploded, but I guess not.

On July 21, 2004, Kohlenberger/Dream Homes Development LLC took out a mortgage from Guyer's Superior Walls in the amount of $147,393.84. Koenig and his buddy must not have made a single payment, at least initially, because on October 20, 2004, GSW filed an intent to foreclose.

On December 15 2004, A $75,000 lien was filed against the property by Morrison, Fenske, and Sund. Eighteen parcels were listed, but only legal descriptions were given. This was likely a part of the court case regarding fraudulently inflated incomes of many DHD/DPK properties.

On February 16 2005, MERS (trust me, you don't want me to try and explain what MERS is right now) filed an intent to foreclose on the property, listing David Kohlenberger as the owner.

Despite the ever-changing list of owner entities (Kohlenberger to DHD to DPK), I did not see a formal transfer of ownership until February 17 2005, when DPK filed a quitclaim transferring ownership to Marklee Construction, another known Koenig LLC. On March 1 2005, there was a Sheriff's levy filed against this property. I had never seen such a document before, and neither had the helpful employees at the desks. But as far as I can tell, this essentially says, "Gee whiz, there seems to be a lot of fishy title transfers happening here at the same time as a court case that alleges fraud. So how's about we just tell you all to keep DPK LLC as the owner for now?"

On April 12 2005, Franklin Bank did a $750,000 loan to Marklee Construction for the following properties, including 2402 4th Ave S:

3434 6th Street N
1418 11th Avenue North
1612 25th Avenue North
2101 Bryant Avenue North
2714 Bryant Avenue North
2722 Bryant Avenue North
2938 Bryant Avenue North
2616 Cedar Avenue South
2822 Colfax Avenue North
611 Edmund Avenue, St. Paul
3009 Emerson Avenue North
4858 Emerson Avenue North
2003 James Avenue North
1028 Knox Avenue North
1030 Knox Avenue North
1032 Knox Avenue North
1034 Knox Avenue North
1317 Knox Avenue North
2407 Lyndale Avenue North
3008 Lyndale Avenue North
1012 Morgan Avenue North
1312 Morgan Avenue North
625 Newton Avenue North
2324 Queen Avenue North
1717 Thomas Avenue North

On June 8 2005, the Franklin Bank mortgage was recorded as satisfied, although it is unclear if that referred to the $750,000 as a whole or simply the portion that applied to 2402 4th Avenue S.

On June 17 2005 the sheriff's levy was discharged.

On November 11 2005, Chicago Title Insurance Company filed a release of the $75,000 mortgage from Morrison, Fenske, and Sund to DPK LLC. The lawyers must not have been too happy about that, because on December 28 2005 they filed a request to be included as lien holders in any foreclosure proceedings.

On February 8 2006, Guyer Superior Walls' intent to foreclose was discharged.

Now if you're still reading and you're not confused YET, this should help get you there. A court order from a filing made by MERS says essentially this: "Hey, remember, ah, 'member how last year, we foreclosed on David Kohlenberger? Remember that? Well, none of those crazy title transfers really matter. We kind of, you know, still OWN this property. And we want it back."

So then Pamiko Properties LLC picked up the property from MERS and New Falls Corporation (the entity MERS was representing) on a quitclaim deed for $450,000. This happened on February 26 2006, and on March 3, a mortgage from US Federal Credit Union was taken out against the property in the amount of $602,250.

Then on September 19 2008, Aspen Funding LLC placed this property in a bundle of properties with their $500,000 loan that they made to Pamiko. And Pamiko must have really needed that half-mil because on November 5 2008 US Federal Credit Union filed an intent to foreclose.

The sheriff's sale occurred on February 6 2009, but Aspen must have missed SOMETHING, because they modified the loan on May 20 2009. They were also late to the game, filing their own intent to foreclose on October 26 2009. Sorry guys, Pamiko's all out of money.

On February 4 2010, a court order mandated the ownership of this property be transferred to US Federal Credit Union.

From the documents available, it's not entirely clear what happened to the money that was paid out on loan transactions that were later reversed. It's not known at this time if Guyer's Superior Walls or Morrison, Fenske, and Sund were paid for their interest in the property. And why did Pamiko pick up the property for $450,000 and then a week later get a loan for $150,000 more?

What is clear is that this blog will not rest until Paul Koenig is held accountable for the extensive, almost incomprehensible harm he has inflicted upon north Minneapolis.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Court Declares Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer A Frivolous Litigant, Says Johnny Northside Blog Never Properly Served...

Contributed photo, blog post by John Hoff

In the photo above, Johnny Northside says "buh bye" to Level Three sex offender Peter Rickmyer's long career as a frivolous litigant, while standing on the oh-so-public sidewalk in front of Pete's house. Really, I think it's the perfect spot for a some kind of demonstration against the concentration of Level Three sex offenders in North Minneapolis, contrary to a state statute.

In any case...

Word reaches me at my "NoMi warrior spiritual retreat" in the north woods of Minnesota that Peter Rickmyer's lawsuit against me, my blog, JACC, the Minneapolis Police Department, and assorted other citizens was resolved today in an admirably quick court order. This lawsuit was the subject of a front page story in the City Pages, click here.

The "Hillside Chronicles" blog managed to get word up on the internet first about the resolution of Pete's worthless legal paper, though the information has been circulating today on the JACC listserv.

The so-called lawsuit (expressed in a 90-plus page garbled "midnight manifesto" which, inter alia, failed to state a claim) was tossed out of court, and Peter Rickmyer has been declared a...

...frivolous litigant. Pete is no longer allowed to file anything with the courts UNLESS an attorney licensed in Minnesota files the lawsuit, and the chief judge signs off on accepting the lawsuit. Otherwise the clerk of court is ordered not to accept any more legal paper from Peter Rickmyer.

Finally.

It seems that Peter Rickmyer's recent and rather expensive attempt to serve me and my blog "by publication" was just a waste of money but, hey, the guy appears to live off welfare so it's a case of "your tax dollars at work." After I've spent months of effort dodging service, (which is perfectly legal) it appears the game has ended and "Spanky Pete" lost. Now I can walk right into the law library on the 24th Floor of the County Building (where Pete hangs out all day) and not risk getting served.

And I will probably do just that. I think I will also send an email to his parole officer in the next few minutes. Now that Pete's lawsuit has been declared frivolous, I think I will complain about him filing it against me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SOUND THE ALARM! MR. SLUMMY IS BACK TO WORK!








Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

As I was leaving town on Friday, I noticed a ladder up against the side of the house at 2515 3rd St N. I made a mental note to call 311 about it, but that slipped my mind until today. Clearly Mohammed Amro of Amro's Properties Inc., or as we call him on JNS, "Mr. Slummy," is back to work.

Back to work? How could THAT be? Last year, at a Heart of the City picnic, NoMi residents noted five bathtubs visible inside the property. After we called that in to 311 and CM Hofstede, we were told that a stop work order had been issued until Amro presents plans that are in compliance with the R2-B (two-unit residential) zoning requirements for the property.

But yet, when I called 311 TODAY...

...I was told that no such orders existed. According to this 311 operator, either the stop work order had never been issued, or the property owner met the criteria for being able to start work again.

If Amro does indeed have permission to do this work, then where are the plans? The first picture above shows roof work being done. The second shows ladders both on the exterior and in the interior of the property. The second-to-last shot shows a window that's been installed, and finally, he's cut open one of the bottom windows and once again left his property open to trespass.

A message was left with CM Hofstede's office today. Hawthorne neighbors expect to see either YET ANOTHER stop work order issued against Amro, or the plans that he presumably presented and the city presumably approved showing that this house will be a 2-unit structure.


Foreclosure Prevention Outreach: Not just for the Community, but WITH the Community


Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from www.hudsonriverhousing.org


Earlier today, I received an uplifting message from Dave Snyder of Jewish Community Action about the foreclosure prevention outreach being done by NCRC. That's the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition. Not only has NCRC been doing groundbreaking work on foreclosure prevention outreach, but the group (of which Hawthorne is a founding member) has also been lobbying Senators Klobuchar and Franken on the Consumer Financial Protection Agency bills going through Congress. We need to reach out to those at risk of losing their homes but also work with our elected officials to ensure that such a crisis never happens again.

Dave Snyder and Marcus Harcus have been doing a top-notch job of coordinating the outreach and lobbying, and today Dave told this story...

..."WE ARE STOPPING FORECLOSURES!

"Several months ago, when our volunteers knocked on Ms. Dorette B.’s door to talk with her about foreclosure prevention counseling, she told them that she had the situation firmly in hand, and didn’t need help. At the time, Dorette had negotiated a loan modification with GMAC to allow her and her daughter, who lives with autism, to stay in her home of 13 years. She called us back, however, when GMAC refused to make her modification permanent, citing a single missing signature on her application. With only a few days before her sheriff’s sale date, we connected Dorette to a counselor at Habitat for Humanity, and they were able to get her sale postponed until August 2, buying her some time to plan and negotiate further. Her case is still unresolved and JCA and other partners may still need to push for help for Dorette.

"But the point of this story is not that Dorette is getting help because of volunteer doorknockers like YOU. The point is that shortly after receiving assistance, Dorette was out with our team in north Minneapolis, wading through knee-deep snowbanks to knock on doors herself, to reach fellow residents who could use some help. The point is that the core leaders of our campaign—who have knocked on doors, traveled to Washington DC to represent us, and lobbied elected officials for fair lending reforms, are residents who have struggled against foreclosure themselves, and have decided to stand up for their neighbors.

"Since 2006, there have been more than 2,600 foreclosure sales in near North Minneapolis, out of 9,291 total households--a financial tsunami that wiped out millions of dollars of community wealth and uprooted thousands of families.

"In 2006-07, 49% of all home loans made to northside residents were subprime, higher-cost loans, compared to just 13.5% of Twin Cities loans overall. Subprime loans can easily cost you $50,000-$100,000 more for your home over the course of a 30 year mortgage than you would with a conventional, prime rate loan. That’s long-term, generational wealth that could have sent a kid to college or secured a small business on solid footing. Multiply that by 100, or 500, or 2,600, and then try to think of what impact that community wealth could have had for the Northside."

NCRC has two important dates coming up: On Tuesday, May 25, we will meet at the Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Ave N, at 6 p.m. to plan next steps and do foreclosure prevention outreach. And on Wednesday, June 9th at 5 p.m. we will hold an NCRC Community press event with John Taylor, President of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and local elected officials. If you can't make it to either event but still want to help, there are always opportunities. Contact Dave Snyder at david@jewishcommunityaction.org.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Gang Graffiti Reveals Dispute Over Cottage Park In Jordan Neighborhood...


Photos and blog post by John Hoff

This weekend, I attended a party at Kip Browne's house with my son Alex, age 12, and somewhere between barbeque and toasting oversized marshmallows, Kip told me we were going on a "Kip and Johnny mission." And I was all, like, whatever. Will some of us not come back alive? Well, give me some gear and sign me up...

We walked to Cottage Park where Kip pointed out a spectacular granite table--complete with chess 'n' checker squares etched into the tabletop--which some no-account gang bangers had marred with graffiti. Like hunters who can tell what animals have passed by from the stinky spoor dropped behind, we could divine information from the graffiti: a gang which represents itself with a five-pointed star had claimed the turf as theirs. But then another gang which represents itself with a six-pointed star had crossed out the other graffiti, and marked the turf as theirs.

Kip Browne announced both gangs are wrong. The park belongs to the decent people, to the taxpayers, not to criminally inclined social misfits. The matter has, of course, been reported to 311 but it's possible folks in the neighborhood may just do something about it on their own, without waiting for permission.

JNS BLOG EDITORIAL: United States Supreme Court Says LOCK UP THE PEDOPHILE FREAKS ("Spanky" Pete Rickmyer Probably Shaking In His Shoes)

DOC mugshot, therefore in the public domain
blog post by John Hoff

It was with great excitement that I learned, today, of the Supreme Court's recent ruling saying that dangerous sexual deviants could be locked up indefinitely, click here and don't hold back with your wild cheers.

Right away my mental wheels started spinning and smoking, wondering...

...how this could be and would be applied in North Minneapolis, where Level Three sex offenders have been dumped in our neighborhood, concentrated despite a statute to the contrary. This is, of course, a ruling which applies to the FEDERAL government, but clearly states will have additional legal leeway where such leeway didn't exist before.

JNS blog calls for an urgent and expedited review of the status of all Level Three sex offenders in North Minneapolis--including those who have gone "off paper" and completely served their parole, such as Junaid Maalik. Clearly, the status of all Level Three sex offenders in the whole STATE should be reviewed, but undoubtedly the situation in North Minneapolis is the most urgent due to the "dumping" and "clustering" issues.

And who should be at the very tippy top of that list in need of urgent review? Well, probably the guy who has done more recently to worry, alarm, and frustrate decent people in North Minneapolis than any other Level Three sex offender, and who has single-handedly managed to squander tens of thousands of dollars worth of "billing hours" by skilled attorneys who have to answer his pro se, in forma pauperis gibberish in the court system.

Yes, I'm talking about none other than "Spanky" Pete Rickmyer.

Another Benefit Of Living In NoMi--Yard Work Done CHEAP!

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

So I was away trucking for, like, I think it was three weeks. It was an epic run, the first time we'd ever used "tandem trucks" to offload cargo so one driver could stay in Dixieland and keep driving. Needless to say, my lawn grew a bit while I was gone. The city told me to cut the lawn and the city was, of course, right. Like we used to say when I was in the army, "No excuse, drill sergeant."

When I got back, I was looking around for a lawnmower I could borrow when some dude drove by in a black pickup truck, with a lawnmower in back. I made a deal from an open car window, in the middle of the street. The dude named "Jose" agreed to...

...mow my lawn for a mere $25.

As much as I am working for change and revitalization in my neighborhood, there are times when I'm glad stuff isn't changing too fast. In my 12-year-old son's affluent suburb, I doubt very much if dudes named Jose go around in banged up pickup trucks, asking residents if they need yard work done. Or, for that matter, doing it so cheaply.

The photo above shows how well Jose did my lawn. And, yes, I totally put Jose's number in my speed dial.

The Kind of Community We Have in NoMi


Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman


Readers have probably noticed the lack of content on JNS over the past few days - perhaps the longest this blog has gone without a new blog post. John has been busy and last Wednesday my grandmother Edith Kallungi passed away. I have just returned back to town after being with my family for the last several days.

My grandmother was loved by many and will be missed by all who knew her. I'm sure I will be telling stories about her life and how she has been a part of mine for some time to come. At the funeral, the church was quite literally overflowing with friends and family who came to pay their respects and show their support. A bishop from Tanzania was in attendance, and grandma's family in Finland mourned with us too.

I've often said that NoMi, and Hawthorne, are quite similar to the small, rural towns in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I grew up. People know each other, look out for each other, lend a hand when they can, and a shoulder to cry on when that's needed too. The flowers above are an example of just that, because...

...they were given by people in the Hawthorne neighborhood when the news was heard about my grandmother. Knowing that people around me here were so supportive even without ever having met my grandmother truly did make her loss easier to bear. So thank you all.

And now, I have two requests. My first is that JNS readers NOT submit one-line comments saying only that they are sorry for my loss or something to that effect. Those will be appreciated greatly but not published, as the point of this post is not to garner more comments of that nature.

My second request is that JNS readers DO share similar stories. When have you been in need and had friends and other community members come to support you? Stories like that are the ones that show the true character of the neighborhood we're proud to call home. And those stories are what would make an 83-year-old farm wife who lived her life in a town too small to have a post office say that she knows exactly what we mean when we describe our community.


Friday, May 14, 2010

The EcoVillage Tree Nursery is Full Again!





Post and photos/images by the Hawthorne Hawkman, except where noted otherwise. Photos with me in them taken by Jill Kiener.

Yesterday morning was one of those days where I found myself thanking my lucky stars for having maybe the coolest job in the whole world. The city of Minneapolis had a surplus of trees that, without a home, would be given back to Bachman's. Instead, I met with Jill Kiener, who works with us through the city of Minneapolis and the Northside Home Fund. Several Tree Trust workers dropped off trees, and we set most of them in pots for the tree nursery.

In the first picture above, I'm emptying bags of mulch. I took a quick break to pose for a photo with Valeria though. I have to admit, there are instances where windswept hair looks a lot better than this. Oh well, at least I had someone as beautiful as Valeria in the picture too.

But let's talk about those trees. If you want one, here's how you can get it...

...the best way is to email me at my work address, jskrenes@hawthorneneighborhoodcouncil.org. The trees will be available first to Hawthorne residents on a first-come, first-served basis until June 15th. Any trees still in the nursery on that date are fair game for residents throughout NoMi.

In order to get one, you must be a property owner. If demand is high, preference will be given to owner-occupants over investors/landlords. And the city wants to track where these trees wind up and be able to contact the owners of the trees at least yearly to see how well they're doing. So I will need a name, address, email, and phone number for people who want trees.

Also, some trees are already allocated for parts of the EcoVillage, so you MUST contact me to set up a time to pick out your tree. Tree Trust was kind enough to provide us with a descriptive summary of each kind of tree.

Here's what we have:

Five Burgundy Belle Maple trees




Four Regal Prince Oaks




Nine Greenspire Lindens




Fourteen Redmond Lindens




Six Kentucky Coffeetrees. The Kentucky Coffeetrees as they stand now make Charlie Brown's Christmas tree look almost majestic. But the images below will show you what this will look like once it's grown and in bloom.






Above image from www.colostate.edu.


Above image from www.biosurvey.ou.edu.

I predict that the next one is going to go very quickly: Three Canada red select cherry trees.




We have one Accolade Elm




We have two swamp white oak trees left. One of them brought to mind a Bob Dylan lyric from his song, "Hurricane." "Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head/Cops said 'Wait a minute boys, this one's not dead.'" If there's anyone out there who feels like giving a tree some tender loving care and saving it from becoming mulch or kindling, here's your chance.







By the way, these oak trees are from a year, maybe two years ago. We've since figured out that most people in NoMi want trees with a smaller radius of cover when they (the trees) mature. Oak trees can grow to cover much of someone's yard in shade, but the newer trees cover a much smaller area.





Finally, there are nine Fat Albert spruce trees. However, these ones are slated for the EcoVillage Demonstration Garden for the time being. If not all of them are used there, then they will be made available for others who want them.

And finally, after all that hard work of moving dozens of trees and laying out more mulch, Valeria came by with gifts of Polish sausage. This blog has a long-standing theory that we test from time to time: "There is no family-friendly way to pose for a picture with a Polish sausage." I thought that through some creative censorship, I'd found an exception to the rule. However, John overruled that, saying that there's no way to tell exactly what is in the bag. The theory to date remains undisputed.



If anyone wants one of the available trees shown above, contact me at jskrenes@hawthorneneighborhoodcouncil.org.