Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Presentation of Future School Headquarters Building

The September 27 community forum, Dessert with Don, featured a powerpoint presentation of the anticipated construction specifics of the new Minneapolis Public School Educational Services Center, although I think we will mostly hear it referred to as the district headquarters.  This building will be constructed at 1250 West Broadway, which is currently the site of Broadway Community School, between Fremont and Girard.

Lynn Littlejohn of Mortenson Construction gives the presentation and construction specifics.  The building will be a state of the art, 175,000 square foot multi-level building.  They will be seeking LEED Silver certification.  It will play host to a number of uses including the district headquarters, the professional development location for MPS faculty, Adult Basic Ed, a Welcome Center and it will be open for various community events and functions.  There is also a pdf with project information located here.

Ms. Littlejohn also entertained questions, which centered around minority contracting goals and parking issues. For the record, Lynn gives the minority contracting goals in this video above, but in the discussion that took place off camera, a concerned citizen urged Mortenson to stretch those goals and aim for higher percentages of minority contracting.  City councilman Don Samuels urged them as well, asking them to make this project the highest percentages of a major construction project in the city ever to be built.  Lynn agreed and vowed to take the feedback to the development team and urge them to stretch those goals as far as they can, and make the goals in writing now be their base minimum.

Another question entertained pertained to parking.  The project designs as they are right now include a large number of surface parking spaces, approximately 550 spaces and a recent Minnpost article suggests that number is overzealous and unsustainable.  For anyone interested, I have posted video, click here, of the parking discussion in which Mark Bollinger of MPS very successfully communicates how this building will have a constant flow of people coming and going at all hours of the day and evening.  They have analyzed estimates of maximum visitors they might host for various functions.  They anticipate alternative transportation methods to be encouraged and adopted by the staff, however that is hard to estimate at this time.  They have tried to walk the fine line of having enough parking available and not having to flood the surrounding neighborhoods with cars on the streets. Additionally, they state that some of the parking surface area will be permeable, to reduce water run-off, to help them attain their green goals.

For those of us living in this community it is an exciting development to see this coming to our main corridor, West Broadway, and the renaissance is being pieced together before our very eyes.  Thank you MPS for choosing NoMi as your future home.

(Do Not Click "Read More")

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Massive Police Response to Thug Memorial Riot

Contributed Cell Phone Image, Cub Foods, 9-26-10

The early evening of Sunday, September 26 brought a massive police presence to West Broadway, eerily similar to a Sunday afternoon exactly one year ago.

I received the contributed photo above on my cell phone, from a friend who went to Cub Foods to grab some groceries for her family.  Knowing me all to well, she figured I'd know what was going on, or would at least get to the bottom of it shortly. Sure enough, she was right. The photo now makes sense after learning about the Haywood Eaton Memorial Riot, written about in the previous post. 

This is what we counter-affectionately refer to as "thugs being thuggy".  Or, to break that down for you further, the people causing this sort of problem around the northside city country would be fine to live around and have as community members.  It's their choice of thuggy behavior that makes life so difficult. Really difficult.  Just ask Haywood Eaton.

In honor of Haywood Eaton, go out and make some 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 revitalization calls.  Perhaps it could even save a life.


(Do Not Click "Read More")

Haywood Eaton Memorial Attendees Incite Riot on West Broadway

Crowd gathered at scene of homicide 9-27-09
Officers push back the crowd and expand the crime tape perimeter
Crime Lab van arrives on the scene, yellow tape as far as the eyes can see
Expanded perimeter in place, Officers guard the scene and scan the crowd for disturbances

Haywood Eaton was gunned down in broad daylight on West Broadway last September.  This September, one year later, there was a gathering in his honor. Here's the summary from the Fourth Precinct highlights, which many revitalizers counter-affectionately refer to as the low lights.

Assault4/ Police/Emergency Personnel  / Riot
10XX Broadway Ave W       Sunday          9/26/10                1653 hrs                             10-296059
Officers responded to a disturbance at this location.  Officers attempted to speak to a party who was running a “memorial” with approx. 100 people in attendance.   While getting out of the squad car, AP2/female, 46 yrs, kicked the door back at officer, pinning his legs between the squad door & the squad frame.  Officer made contact with AP2 & a fight ensued.  During the fight, AP2 attempted to grab the officer’s gun numerous times.  AP2 was taken into custody.  The group began inciting a riot & officers advised the group numerous times on the PA system that they were engaging in unlawful assembly & if they didn’t leave, they’d be arrested.  Someone threw a rock at the squad, breaking the window & door frame.   A total of 6 people were either booked in HCJ or tagged for their participation.  AP5/female, 19 yrs, was booked in HCJ for PC RIOT due to her involvement in the unlawful assembly which resulted in an intentional act of violence towards officers & damage to city property.   Officers received medical attention.  

Let us all look forward to the day when our community is not burdened with the violence towards each other, nor towards the police that serve and protect us.  Let's wish for the day when homicide memorials have no reason to take place and our police are not endangered by rioting thug memorializers who try to steal their guns straight off their hips. 

God Bless the 4th Precinct. GBT4P.  
(Do Not Click "Read More")

Saturday, September 25, 2010

So-Low African Snail Culinary Experiment Goes So, So Wrong...

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

North Minneapolis is home to numerous ethnic groups and, therefore, numerous ethnic food stores. And, while the jaw-droppingly affordable store known as So-Low isn't an ethnic food store, per se, they do have an incredible selection of ethnic food items. Anybody who reads this blog for very long knows I can't resist any kind of strange food, and I will go out of my way to try things I haven't tried before. So it was I got my hands on some African snails from So-Low. This happened a few months ago, but I am going through some of my old pictures and, well, I found the snail images like a pocket of suppressed memory. The horror, the horror...

My girlfriend Megan Goodmundson was a good sport about cooking the slimy beasties, after trying to marinate them. I tried to find some good and SIMPLE recipes on the internet, but I didn't have much luck. Most of the recipes I found involved putting the snails in a pressure cooker, which we didn't have available, as well as crazy talk about soaking the snails in alum. (Whatever THAT might be!)

Well, we figured we could just skewer the snails and throw them on a grill.

Wrong. So wrong.

I am not sure what shoe leather tastes like, but I am confident those grilled snails tasted pretty close.

This goes to show not every exotic food experiment goes right, not even with a cook as good as Megan Goodmundson.

But without a periodic spectacular failure, success wouldn't be as sweet.

If It Looks Like An Inconvenience Store, And SMELLS Like An Inconvenience Store (E & L Food Market, 1122 Lowry Avenue North)

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

If anything good has ever come out of E & L Food Market, 1122 Lowry Ave. N., I'd sure love to see documented proof. As far as I can tell, this is a classic "inconvenience store," and the only reason it's not on everybody's radar is simply because it's too far from any homes which might be menaced by the...

...constant dubious "hanging around" outside.

This small, nasty store is apparently affiliated with somebody named Adil Albosaad, who is listed as a contact for the store in an online resource. His name also comes up with the spectacular crappy inconvenience store known as "Star Foods" at 818 Lowry Ave. N., which was the subject of a written agreement with the City of Minneapolis, click here to read the agreement. I think it would be a good thing for decent citizens in NoMi to check, now and then, to see if agreements like this are being enforced.

In the meantime, if something walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is best to call it a duck.

E & L Foods at 1122 Lowry Ave. N. is an inconvenience store. So is Star Foods.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Congratulations to Peter Teachout - U.S. Army Officer Candidate

Photo by Me

Word comes via Facebook that award winning north Minneapolis good citizen Peter Teachout has graduated from U.S. Army Basic Training Boot Camp and is headed on to Officer Candidate School (OCS).

I know Johnny Northside himself would want to shout "Congratulations!" and "Thank you for your service" to Peter and his family, but it will have to be a message delivered through me, for now.

JNS regulars should be well familiar with Peter and the whole Teachout family. Their trials and victories have been well documented here, most notably a flaming truck, a new baby, an army swearing in ceremony and a tear-jerking city council ceremony with an official "thank you" and "good luck" from several city council members and the Mayor.

Before Peter shipped off to boot camp neighbors bid him farewell at a cook-out send off, where the night was capped with one last Shoe Patrol*, removing dangling shoes from overhead power lines.  The photo above displays the evening's catch with Peter on the left, an honorary northsider, Johnny Northside himself, Peter's son Peter in the red and John's son Alex on the right. (*Note, one last show patrol doesn't mean they will never venture out on that mission, but the handy dandy white truck that was so useful was traded in for a minivan for the army family)

And this blog post dedicated to the Teachouts wouldn't be complete without some love to Joyanne, Peter's wife, who is holding down the family of four children back home in NoMi, enduring the separation and taking on the role of Army soldier's wife. Joy, thank you for the sacrifices you and your family are making. You are loved.

Peter, good luck in OCS, we are thinking of you and your family. We know the separation is hard and boot camp is no picnic - but THANK YOU!  You'll make a fine Army Officer.
(Do Not Click "Read More")

Thursday, September 23, 2010

From Soccer Mom SUVs To The Streets Of North Minneapolis...

Photos and blog post by John Hoff

About a month ago, I purchased "new to me" tires at Rusty's Tire, 2401 West Broadway. The tires cost 30-something dollars each, which included the installation. Where, I wondered, does Rusty's get such affordable tires?

One of the guys at the shop told me how the owner goes to...

...scrapyards and finds the vehicles with decent tires, which he purchases and resells at the shops. But scrapyards are probably not the only source of re-salable tires. A friend of mine related what she was told about the source of Rusty's wares: out in the affluent suburbs, "soccer mom" car owners purchase new tires yearly. But their old tires are still relatively decent, suitable for resale in our happy (rapidly revitalizing!) hood. Thus the tires make their way down the socio-economic food chain. Everybody wins, including the earth, since re-using tires is better for the environment than creating new tires. (Though riding a bike and using mass transit is, of course, even better)

I must say that, for a long time, I hesitated to do business with Rusty's. It was only due to the repeated enthusiastic recommendations of my friends (click for only one example, already published on this blog) that I ventured into their humble shop on West Broadway. Now I'm a fan of Rusty's and I will be buying all my "next to new" tires there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Senator Linda Higgins - State Laws Regarding Sex Offender Placement

At the August 30th 'Dessert with Don" community forum the featured topic was sex offenders in North Minneapolis.  In this video our state Senator Linda Higgins speaks a bit about the state law that references the mitigation of concentration of sex offenders in one area. 

As most Johnny Northside readers already know, the state law is too vague and not defined or clear enough to help the northside communities that have become a dumping ground for the bottom of the barrel sex offenders that can't find housing anywhere else.

There is a movement in North Minneapolis to lobby the state legislators and department heads from various angles to get some action taken to rewrite the books to help impacted communities and distribute the burden of housing sex offenders.

Additionally, not on video, Senator Higgins was asked about the State of Minnesota's law regarding publishing, or rather NOT publishing the exact address of sex offenders residence.  Her answer was that years ago the legislators decided that since there was some previous instances of angered mobs attacking sex offenders, or possibly attacking the wrong person due to misinformation, the state decided to NOT publish the exact addresses but only name the block on which they live.

She said she does not see this law changing in Minnesota, despite over half of the 50 states in the country choosing to give the exact address.  Higgins said that it's likely that everyone on the block in which a sex offender lives, knows exactly what house is occupied by the sex offender.  Perhaps the state legislator should consider that choosing to NOT publish the exact address is exactly what leads to misinformation and cases of mistaken identity.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein at Lowry Avenue Harvest Festival

Today was the 2nd Annual Lowry Avenue Harvest Festival at the up-and-coming intersection of Penn and Lowry.  The day turned out to be beautiful and perfect for a high turnout.  Hennepin Commissioner Mark Stenglein was one of several V.I.P.s greeting the festival participants and thanking the community.  Here, he is giving an exclusive greeting to the Johnny Northside audience.  Look for more write-ups and photo journals on numerous NoMi blogs and publications soon!

By the way, Mark Stenglein is up for re-election this November and although his challenger may have an uphill battle in my eyes, Commissioner Stenglein expressed his thoughts that he never under estimates his opponents and he is working hard to earn each and every vote so he can return to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners this November. 
(Do Not Click "Read More")

Thursday, September 16, 2010

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: "Imposter Foster" Jerome Kingrussell Held Without Bail On Identity Theft Charges...

Classic image, Sword of Democles
Blog post by John Hoff
Jerome Kingrussell is a name that came up frequently during the notorious and high-profile trial of Larry "Maximum" Maxwell, a mortgage fraud case which swirled around 1564 Hillside Ave. N., a building which was sold by North Minneapolis slumlord Keith Reitman to a man named Jon Foster. The problem with the deal was Foster was an imposter; Foster's identity had been stolen and petty criminal Jerome Kingrussell was put forward to play the part of Jon Foster in the criminal scheme.

Part of this story is extremely interesting to folks in the Jordan neighborhood, in that former JACC executive director Jerry Moore received $5,000 off the fraudulent deal, click here for City Pages story.

But back to the subject of career criminal and crackhead Jerome Kingrussell...

Kingrussell was given a plea bargain in the Larry Maxwell fraud case, a textbook example of trading up the little fish for the big fish. The victims of identity theft were, of course, galled by the arrangment. In fact, Jon Foster's wife Melony Michaels pointed out Kingrussell has more charges against him "than he is old." (Click here for article)

It was, however, widely assumed Kingrussell would screw up again, and the massive amount of time hanging over his head would all come crashing down.

Now it appears the prophesy has come to pass. Kingrussell has been arrested, and is being held without bail. The Hennepin County jail roster lists the following:

HWB BY DC 10/6/2010..08:30 DOWNTOWN Address

10/6/2010..08:30 DOWNTOWN Address



It would appear Kingrussell is scheduled for a court hearing on October 6. I wonder what the little fish has to offer in trade THIS time?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Street Food Trailers in NoMi - Amos and Amos Bar-B-Que

The street food scene in Minneapolis has been pretty non-existent until this year. A few movers and shakers in the foodie world began rattling the cages at City Hall, making the argument that if Minneapolis wants to compete as a well-rounded cosmopolitan city, we must have a street food scene.  Foodie writers have been documenting the emerging scene and of course the obligatory foodie reviews are abundant.  There's even a new video tour and a whole event dedicated to street food.  Yes, the Minneapolis Street Food scene is an entire industry in and of itself.  (I make this point to emphasize the loss of potential economic development I am about to share)

Since I don't live under a rock, and was slightly familiar with the buzz around the emerging street food scene, I found it interesting and exciting that through my travels in and out of the neighborhood via Penn Avenue over the past few weeks, I routinely see this food trailer on the northwest corner of Penn and Golden Valley Road (GVR).

Finally, one day I was passing by at supper time and had a few minutes to spare, so I decided to finally stop. I did approach the trailer and had full intentions of making a purchase, however I was greeted by, well, by not being greeted at all, and when I finally did get acknowledged, let's just say it was with less than a friendly service attitude. That's putting it nicely.

I didn't get any details about what they were selling or what the prices were, or what their regular schedule would be at the corner of Penn & GVR.  I was told if I wanted that info I could return later that evening when the owner, Amos, would be there.  I thought to myself "Really? If I want to know what's on the menu and how much it is I should come back when the owner is there?" 

I found it extremely odd that the worker inside the trailer felt uncomfortable telling me what was on the menu and how much it was selling for.  I could totally understand that she may not know what kind of regular schedule they would keep.

So, I got the hint that she wasn't interested in my money and I decided I wasn't interested enough to try and seek out Amos, the owner. Anybody out there tried them yet?

(Do Not Click "Read More")

How Sex Offenders End Up In Your Community - Hennepin County Corrections

Hennepin County Corrections Supervisor Russ Stricker speaks about how sex offenders are ending up in North Minneapolis. Most of his talk is some of the snoozy, red tape bureaucratic details that basically boil down to a summary of "a sex offender ends up in your community because he asked to live there, because he found a landlord willing to rent to him".

Around minute 3:15 Russ begins to speak about how sex offenders submit for approval where it is they want to live. Then, the intense supervised release agent (ISR agent) checks out the residence for approval. It sounds to me like it's up to the sex offender to find residence on his own and it also sounds like there is very little grounds for denying and very little occurrence that residences are denied by the corrections department. Furthermore, it sounds like when a denial is made, mostly for the lack of a support system in the area the offender is requesting to live, the corrections department is not always confident that the denial will stick instead of being reversed by some appeal process.

Russ Stricker speaks about landlords who are willing to rent to sex offenders. To me this seems to be the key factor in determining where sex offenders will ultimately reside. I think that speaks volumes about the broken "sex offender placement" function (if there is such a thing) of the corrections system when we have absentee landlords who are a bigger factor in shaping this crucial component than the highly educated and regulated systems of the state and county corrections departments.

(And now for my editorial rant)
I don't think anyone can argue that the concentration of sex offenders in a small area of Minneapolis contributes to the dysfunction of that community, which in turn contributes to undesirable livability factors that keep decent families away which in turn contributes to (or enables) more dysfunction like violent crime, drugs, gangs, prostitution, blight, low property values, low civic engagement, poor schools, stressed and overworked public services like emergency responders which in turn contributes more to the unattractive livability conditions which in turn make it easier for absentee landlords to buy cheap, run down houses and rent to criminals and sex offenders.

It's all a vicious cycle that needs to be chipped away from all angles.

Why are we, voters and legislators and community leaders, letting slumlords dictate where sex offenders will live? Why are we letting them contribute to the burdens that our community carries on behalf of the rest of the county or metro area. What if sex offenders were returned to the zip code in which they committed their crime? Perhaps not the exact sex offender for sake of distance from victims, but what if Zip Code A traded their sex offender with Zip Code B, that way both zip codes keep the same number of sex offenders they were "assigned by destiny"?
(end rant, for now)

Russ was part of the panel of people asked to speak about the topic of sex offenders in north Minneapolis at the August 30 Dessert with Don community forum, sponsored by 5th Ward Councilman Don Samuels each month on the last Monday at 6pm, held at the UROC on Plymouth Ave, right next to the 4th precinct police station. Call the 5th Ward office at 612-673-2205 if you'd like more info about future forums or to recommend a topic for Dessert with Don.

(Do Not Click "Read More")

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sex Offenders Concentrated in North Minneapolis - And Residents Are UPSET!

For the past few months, the concentration of sex offenders in North Minneapolis has been a spotlighted hot button issue throughout the community, especially here on Johnny Northside Dot Com.

Recently, Councilman Don Samuels used his monthly community forum, Dessert with Don, to bring the discussion of sex offenders and their residential concentration to the forefront.  In my opinion no breakthroughs and solutions were achieved at this community forum, however just taking the steps to talk about and examine the problem is a good first step.  It's not enough though, and constituents of North Minneapolis must continue to push the agenda of sex offender concentration reform to the front of the line with our elected  and public officials, especially the state legislators, since it seems that is where reform must happen first.

Here is one North Minneapolis neighbor and community activist who did a little number crunching on his own.  It's residents like this that will pound the table and create the change we need to see in regards to this topic.  Let this video be a little motivation to everyone out there in NoMi-land to take up the cause, contact your state and local leaders and demand that laws be written and strengthened to protect the most vulnerable communities from bearing the unhealthy burden of housing the most dangerous and most undesirable in such lopsided ways.

Dessert with Don is held each month, on the last Monday of the month, at 6:00pm at UROC on Plymouth Ave. The 5th Ward office can be reached at 612-673-2205 if you'd like to recommend a certain issue to be highlighted at Dessert with Don.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Troy Parker Sign...

Contributed photo, xoxo, blog post by John Hoff

Hint, hint. The primary was, like, um, AUGUST TENTH.

Linda Higgins won; Troy Parker lost; and here are vote totals, for the record:

Linda 3617 votes 68.69%
Troy 1415 votes 26.87%

Troy would do well to take his signs down and leave a good impression for the next time he runs, which history suggests he certainly will, since he's also lost to Council Member Barb Johnson and, with one more election, will achieve the not-so-coveted status of "perennial also ran."

(Do not click "Read More," but do pick up your toys when political playtime is over)

Slumlord Bashir Moghul Described As "Neighbor From Hell" In Inver Grove Heights...

Dakota County image used under Fair Comment and Criticism,blog post by John Hoff

Google is so amazing. Several weeks ago, some folks in Inver Grove Heights were getting mighty fed up with their neighbor, one Bashir Moghul who owns a property at 3950 65th St., click here for Dakota County tax information and a parcel map, so cool.

These neighbors decided to seek out information about Bashir Moghul and, naturally, the richest and most detailed source of info--including the only known picture of him online--turned out to be this very blog.

Here's what the nice neighbors in Inver Grove Heights have to say about Bashir...

"He is the neighbor from hell. The house is vacant. The city has spent our tax dollars fighting this guy. He owes back taxes. The city was cutting the grass, but I heard no more. We do not have any housing maintenance code in this city, so this guy gets away with murder. I am sure he has some great excuses to the county judges. It is a very long story with many unhappy neighbors. I sent your blog to our naïve city council and mayor."

JNS blog says: I find it hard to believe it could be true about no housing maintenance code in Inver Grove Heights, and also I have to wonder what the standard is for "neighbor from hell" in your fair city where (I hear tell) most property owners need to have 2.5 acres to erect a house, which makes it certain Inver Grove Heights will be an island of affluence for quite some time to come unless somebody manages to successfully dispute the CONSTITUTIONALITY of that ordinance. Upon such an artificial island of affluence, I assume the standard for "neighbor from hell" is quite low, like having an unbearably orange garage door. (I'm sure few regular readers realized I have strong opinions about zoning issues in Inver Grove Heights. Well, it turns out, I do)

However, clearly this blog has a beef with Bashir, so I'm happy to publicize this matter and promote discussion. Though Bashir has hired attorney Ferdinand Peters and there seem to be promises in the air of Bashir "cleaning up his act," clearly those promises will take a long time to fulfill because Bashir's act is such a mess. This is not the first time I've received word of Bashir's property holdings extending far beyond North Minneapolis; indeed these holdings are reported to extend into other states.

And, everywhere Moghul goes, he leaves slum in his footsteps.

New Public Art In NoMi (And It Doesn't Even Make You Cringe And Clutch Your Purse!)

Contributed photo, xoxo, blog post by John Hoff

A new mural is taking shape on the side of the 4th Street Saloon Building, and--unlike a lot of other public art in North Minneapolis--it doesn't appear to be a cringe-inducing chaotic celebration of "urban dystopianism" with an overriding anarchistic graffiti motif, such as the...

..."distorted faces" banners which were foisted upon West Broadway by Juxtaposition Arts or (worse case artistic scenario) the "tripping cows" mural on the side of the Kemps Ice Cream factory. No, indeed, this mural appears to be something nice, something North Minneapolis can point to with pride. Johnny Northside Dot Com is excited to see how the mural will continue to take shape in the coming days and weeks.

(PARODY POST) Black Sheep Of The Friedman Shoes Family Sets Up "Fetish Shoes" At 324 West Broadway...

Contributed photo, xoxo, blog post by John Hoff

(Parody content below)

It is with a truly prurient sense of EXXXCITEMENT that North Minneapolis welcomes the latest business addition to West Broadway: Fetish Shoes, which is tackily tacked onto the end of the "Fourth Street Saloon" building at 324 West Broadway, right across from Wendy's and Taco Bell, just one block over from the Friedman Shoe Store.

The owner of Fetish is reportedly the "kinky little sister" of the Friedman family, who went away to prison for a while due to Penn Ave. N. prostitution charges but she is now out on parole and trying to, er, "follow in the footsteps" of the Friedman family name by opening a speciality shoe store.

The question, of course, is when EXXXACTLY is the store open? The photo above was taken around noon on a Saturday, and the store was closed. Is it a situation of the store being... "by special appointment," kind of like the special appointments to be found (until recently) in the adult section of Craigslist ads?

Too bad, says Johnny Northside Dot Com, that B.J.'s strip club is closing soon, since the strippers could have supported a local business which appears to specialize in, among other things, skanky stilettos.

(Please note that was the parody voice saying "too bad...that B.J.'s strip club is closing soon.")

On another note...

(End of parody voice, here)

I have held off since May in my public criticism of Friedman's Shoes for having such an ugly, trashy exterior due to discolored Plexiglass windows festooned with well-aged stickers. For months, I have swallowed the bile of my public criticisms because of some back channel communications saying Friedman's was involved in making some kind of grant proposal which seemed to include fixing up the windows. Recently, the appearance of "Fetish Shoes" brought the old Friedman's issue to my mind again, and made me wonder, gee, what is going on with THAT? How long have I held off on THAT? Gmail search function says...oh, my word, since FREAKING MAY.

Time to fire off an inquiry. Time to get no reply.


With no answers to my back channel communication hitting my inbox, I fully intend to blast Friedman's with public criticisms quite often, making up for lost time. THE BUTT GLASS LOOKS HORRIBLE. WHY DOESN'T FRIEDMAN'S DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE BUTT GLASS?

You can expect this kind of thing from Slumlord Keith Reitman, but Friedman's is the kind of place which is supposed to have a good name on West Broadway.

What the hell, Friedman's, what the hell?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nice Ride Bike Sharing Kiosks Expanding into NoMi

Nice Ride Kiosk in North Loop. Photo by John Hoff
NoMi blog consumers will remember some lengthy discussions and some hurt feelings (rightfully so) that NoMi seemed to be completely forgotten about when the Nice Ride Bike Sharing Program opened shop.

Public officials and northside cycle enthusiasts even sat down with the Nice Ride proprietors and found a way to get a northside kiosk opened at UROC. There's even a video featuring one of the first rides from the UROC kiosk...

Now, Nomi folks can look forward to five new Nice Ride bike kiosks opening around the rest of the northside, although at this time, I don't believe the locations have been determined. It sounds like part of the funding will be used to engage the Northside community and determine the best locations for the future kiosks.

A city council vote that took place yesterday helped distribute some federal stimulus money to help fund the expansion of the bike sharing program. Another giant step forward in the revitalization of NoMi!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Harbinger Of Changes To Come? Water Shut Off At 2219 Bryant Ave. N.

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

The house at 2219 Bryant Ave. N., which is near my own house, has been vacant since I arrived a couple years ago. Nothing ever happens there except...

1.) Sometimes the yard needs mowing, but apparently one of the neighbors takes care of this task in a spirit of selfless service. Rarely does anybody need to call 311.

2.) The stupid phone book companies drop off stupid phone books, which is stupid but it gives me a great project to complete with my son during visitation, click here.

Week after week, month after month, and (apparently) year after year, nothing changed at the house. But then one day a few weeks ago, a water shut-off notice appeared. First of all...

...I am surprised to learn water was turned on at the house in the first place. Like, you mean this house has been vacant for a couple years, but somebody has been dutifully paying the water bill this whole time? Who? Why? Looking up the property on the city website reveals it is owned by a Conie Lawler, who doesn't appear to own anything else, certainly not some large slumlord empire.

Seeing the water shut-off notice makes me hope this property will move forward...that it may hit the market, and become occupied by a nice family who will make good neighbors. Or perhaps some slumlord will buy it, and I will make a point, constantly, of publicly shaming the slumlord in every small action taken toward the house. We shall see.

My neighborhood is in the midst of a great transition, which is composed of numerous small changes at thousands of individual properties. Neighbors notice these small changes; they talk and speculate. But what is currently happening to this house, to that house is a stream of information too microscopic for the mainstream media.

Yet when it comes to the network of blogs in North Minneapolis dedicated to revitalization, we watch, we call, WE CARE and we share information.

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Somebody At NRRC Reportedly Pulled An "Old Majority" Style Move: Computers Missing, Records Shredded...

Stock photo, missing computer in North Minneapolis, ho hum,blog post by John Hoff

In a development which sounds mysteriously similar to a controversy which happened in the Jordan Neighborhood, click here for one sample story, a reliable source reports secondhand information that computers are missing at the office of NRRC (Northside Residents Redevelopment Council) and office records have been shredded. This incident reportedly happened some time earlier this week. This information is unconfirmed but solid enough by blogosphere standards for publication with the aforementioned caveat included. Johnny Northside Dot Com seeks more information, photos, commentary from anybody in the know and has avoided the publication of any name(s) reportedly associated with this allege incident until and unless more information comes forward, either to this blog or via other media.

NRRC (pronounced like "NERK") is an umbrella-like neighborhood uber-organization which...

...a few years ago, had swallowed up some smaller neighborhood organizations and/or brought those organizations under its influence...specifically, Near North and Willard Hay. However, in recent years the organization had struggled to survive, as documented in this 2007 City Pages article, click here. It sure seems like there was a whole lot of money flowing through NRRC, and not much to show for it.

This recent incident, if true, may be the swan song of an organization which has existed in some form or another since 1968 but, in all likelihood, has been bypassed by more successful, well-managed, and forward-thinking forces of revitalization.

West Bank's Loss Of Bedlam Theater Could Be NoMi's Gain...

Photos and blog post by John Hoff

Bedlam Theater, which occupies a former restaurant building near the West Bank light rail transit station, will soon be displaced by a mosque. Click here to read the Star Tribune article, and my apologies in advance if the Star Tribune link goes dead--which is why I loathe using Star Tribune links if I can possibly avoid it.

But, to make a short STrib story even shorter: Bedlam is being kicked out of its current space by its landlord, Fine Associates, because expansion of a parking lot near Riverside Plaza is going to leave a mosque homeless, and the mosque needs the space occupied by Bedlam, which only has a month-to-month lease at the former restaurant. The property management company which is displacing the mosque to build a parking lot--and is, therefore, responsible for creating this double layer of suffering by both the homeless mosque and Bedlam Theater--is a name familiar to citizens of North Minneapolis: Sherman Associates, which also runs the notoriously drug infested Hawthorn (sic) Crossings strip mall.

(To be fair, there is some anecdotal evidence Hawthorn [sic] Crossings is improving, lately)

Some weeks ago, while passing through the West Bank, I had a casual sidewalk conversation with one of the many "Bedlamites" involved in Bedlam Theater, to pick up whatever loose talk I could about where Bedlam might relocate, and to point out how welcome Bedlam would be in North Minneapolis...

First, let me say that anybody who never visited Bedlam Theater in its soon-to-be-former location has missed a real treat. There is/was a delightful bar inside, as well as (oh my word) delicious and hearty Polish cuisine. I am told the Polish food is/was a result of somebody involved in Bedlam being very in touch with his Polish heritage. Bedlam utilizes a relatively small creative space, but they pull it off with panache, presenting a variety of artistic and socially-conscious theatrical productions. Don't be fooled by the name "Bedlam." These are nice folks who run a tight ship, and "bedlam" seems to refer only to the madness of their creative process.

But now Bedlam needs to relocate, and what a shame. Prior to Bedlam occupying the long-vacant restaurant space, the West Bank light rail transit station was SCARY AND ISOLATED, so much so I actually wrote an opinion piece about this issue in the Minnesota Daily, back in the days when I was caught up in "dead tree media." But once Bedlam moved into the space next to the transit station and--after a while, in the course of time--began to utilize their roof as bar space--the scary isolation of the transit station went away. Anybody on that light rail platform who emitted a loud scream would have been heard by numerous bar patrons hanging out on the roof, many if not most of them good citizens of the socially conscious variety, as evidenced by the fact that, well, they were hanging out at Bedlam Theater. God only knows how many crimes on that light rail platform never happened because of the mere civilizing presence of Bedlam Theater.

Note the second photo from the top. This is a view of the light rail platform taken from the roof of Bedlam Theater a couple of weeks ago.

Plus, how many thirsty and hungry light rail users found their way inside for food, drink, and the use of bathrooms which, um, eschewed gender specific labels?

Will the mosque make any use of that roof? Or let folks inside to use the restroom? Will the nearby transit station be as safe with Bedlam gone? I somehow doubt all three. But what can you do? It's all the fault of Sherman Associates. Boo. Hiss. Boo. Maybe a certain theater company should write a play about Sherman Associates. Just a thought. But now for the good news:

According to my "sidewalk informant," North Minneapolis is one of the locations being considered by Bedlam Theater.

This is exciting news. Frankly, I hope Bedlam Theater not only relocates to my neighborhood, but I hope they become vested property owners.

(Raising a glass from Dixieland, where work has taken me for the time being)

"To Bedlam in NoMi!"