Sunday, October 31, 2010

Slumlord Interests Ousted From JACC Board, And Much More In A North Minneapolis "Tale Of Two Cities"

Contributed photo, xoxo, blog post by John Hoff

In the last 10 weeks, this blog has been less active than any time in its history due to employment obligations which took me across the country to Columbia, South Carolina for a long period of intense training. While I often had free time, I seldom had convenient internet access, plus other obligations (like being an outstanding designated driver to my hard-partying buddies) kept me pretty tied up.

Now, with my fingers comfortably back at the keyboard, and hot content ready to roll in the usual prolific Johnny Northside style, I thought it would be fun to review some of the amazing changes which have taken place during the last ten weeks. It's incredible how quickly our neighborhood changes, evolves, and revitalizes even in a relatively short span of time. Being out of the loop for ten weeks and then trying to catch up gives me a whole new appreciation for just how quickly our neighborhood is changing.

* First, and most recently, three nights ago the Jordan Neighborhood had its annual meeting and (for the second year in a row) managed to elect a slate of candidates to its board without any of the drama which, once upon a time, was synonymous with Jordan Neighborhood politics. In fact, the only drama was something positive: bylaws were changed so that mere property ownership in the neighborhood isn't enough to qualify individuals for board membership, not anymore. What this means, effectively, is shameless slumlords like Keith Reitman will no longer have such a powerful role in Jordan politics.

Best of all, the bylaw change took place right in front of Keith Reitman, but other than barking briefly and in a paranoid manner over whether somebody was "whispering" to the chair of the meeting--saying something, whining something about open meeting laws, blah blah blah, as though open meeting laws ever regulated whispering--Keith David Reitman was powerless to stop the change in the bylaws. As of that moment...

...Rietman no longer has a vote in JACC business. Though this seems like a relatively minor change, progress in our neighborhood is a moving mosaic made up of such minor changes. In my absence, other bloggers kept the neighborhood informed of important developments, such as these:

* Jimmy Carter's visit to the Eco Village, reported in detail by Jeff Skrenes on the Hawthorne Voices blog.

* 1564 Hillside Ave. N. was demolished, reported in detail by Hillside Chronicles.

* Decent people in the Jordan Neighborhood have grown increasingly upset with Steve Meldahl, who has been dubbed "Slumeldahl" by NoMi Passenger. WARNING: Slumeldahl has NOT been approved by the FDA for neighborhood usage, and has been known to have serious side effects, such as urban blight and low curb appeal. The fiery "Irving Inquisition" blog has been on top of Meldahl.

* Thug-on-thug homicidal violence. Yawn. What else is new? There are two different worlds in North Minneapolis, and one of those worlds is actually very safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. And then there are thuggish idiots who kill each other with whatever weapon is available, including a speeding vehicle. Outside observers should not be misled by colorful mainstream media reports of such criminal violence: the "revitalizer" lifestyle is gaining ground in North Minneapolis, and the "thug lifestyle" is retreating. It's my hypothesis that North Minneapolis thugs are killing each other over increasingly smaller territory, and increasingly more limited areas of influence. North Minneapolis is truly a tale of two cities.

* The "Tripping Cows" mural was painted over at the Kemps Dairy facility.

* NoMi resident Brian Reichow married the girl of his dreams. Brian, sorry I missed your wedding. I did get text updates through the whole wedding and reception and almost felt like I was present.

* The "thug memorial riot" took place. Some folks just can't behave themselves, even while mourning their dead. This is another good argument in favor of not allowing "thug shooting memorials" to remain on trees, fences, etc. Did I mention "a tale of two cities?" Yes, I certainly did.

* I was re-elected to the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Board, even while not there to speak in my own favor at the annual meeting. Thank you, friends and neighbors.

* Jerome Kingrussell, the notorious "Imposter Foster" from the Larry Maxwell mortgage fraud trial, was arrested and held without bail.

* Principals of Dana D III pled guilty to mortgage fraud.

All these amazing events happened in A MERE TEN WEEKS, and I've actually left a lot of important stuff out. So what will the next ten weeks bring? What will the next year, the next five years, the next ten years bring to North Minneapolis?

These ten weeks have hammered home two lessons for me:

1. Though I intend to play a large and highly-active role in the positive changes taking place in our neighborhood, change will take place no matter what. Even if this blog grew silent, even if work forced me to leave the neighborhood or the COUNTRY for months at a time, Urban Utopia is headed toward NoMi.

Urban Utopia in North Minneapolis is unstoppable.

2. During times when this blog is unable to play a very active roll, other committed bloggers take up the slack and use grassroots media to move the revitalizer agenda forward.

Because of this--once again--Urban Utopia is unstoppable.

To all the readers who have been so loyal to this blog: I am sorry that I was gone for so long, but it was necessary so I could pay my child support and the taxes on my house. (My goodness, what will the hateful haters have to hatefully hate about in light of THIS development?) I also wish to give a special thank you to neighborhood "super citizen" Megan Goodmundson, who virtually kept my blog on life support in my absence.

But now I am finally heading back home, and tonight I am...

Blogging From Joplin, Missouri

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recycling and Reusing the House of Fraud

The real chronicle of the demolition of 1564 Hillside, a.k.a. "The House of Fraud," is taking place here.

But while celebrating this small and huge victory in person, I was able to take this informative video of the contractor telling us what sort of tedious efforts will be taken to recycle and reuse a large majority of the material from demolished houses.

For readers that aren't already familiar with 1564 Hillside, a.k.a. "The House of Fraud", here's a quick summary. This house was used in an elaborate criminal ring of mortgage and real estate fraud combined with devastating cases of identity theft. Just search 1564 Hillside in the search bar of this blog and grab a refill on your beverage of choice and read away.

It's likely that the "House of Fraud" will live on forever! In your driveway. In your garden bed. In your new stainless steel refrigerator.... in the steel bars that will lock away mortgage fraud and identity theft criminals...

(Do Not Click "Read More")

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5th Ward Councilman Don Samuels Weekly Address - Lead Poisoning Prevention

5th Ward City Councilman Don Samuels continues his new venture of giving a weekly video update of a current topic from his office.  This week's installment features news on lead poisoning prevention initiatives that the city is undertaking.

The 5th Ward office can be reached at 612-673-2205 and by email at <>.

(Do Not Click "Read More")

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just Like That, Criminal History Info On Maurice Meeks, Homicide Victim......

Stock photo and blog post by John Hoff

Just minutes after throwing the question out to the universe, the criminal history of Maurice Meeks made its way to me. Meeks was killed in a bizarre car-versus-porch incident, click here for more info.

Hawthorne Hawkman blogged about the criminal history of the alleged killer, but my question in a previous blog post was "what about the criminal history (if any) of the victim?"

Often, (but certainly not always) when murders take place in North Minneapolis, both the victims and the killers have rough records and long histories of mutual association. Maurice Meeks was no exception to this common pattern...

Without further ado, here is the history of no-account Maurice "Mo" Meeks, dead in an incident which was bizarre but, in its own way, hardly surprising:

MEEKS, MAURICE 04/25/1975 05/11/1993 Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Downtown Crim/Traf Mandatory Closed 2ND DEG MURDER-UNINTENTIONAL 2ND DEG MURDER 25-T0-03-001688 R 998072 R 998072 R 998072 MEEKS, MAURICE 04/21/1975 03/10/2003 Goodhue Moving - Misdemeanor Converted Closed SPEED 83/55 VIOLATE INSTRCTNL PERMIT DRIVER SM AMT MARIJUANA 25-T8-03-001857 R 098762 R 098762 R 098762 R 098763 R 098763 R 098763 MEEKS, MAURICE 04/21/1975 03/14/2003 Goodhue Driving Intoxicated Converted Closed 4TH DEGREE DWI 4TH DEG REFUSAL TO TEST PERMIT VIOLATION STOP SIGN VIOLATION SEATBELT NO PROOF OF INSURANCE 25-T9-04-000968 R 104661 MEEKS, MAURICE 04/21/1975 02/09/2004 Goodhue Moving - Misdemeanor Converted Closed DAR 25-K3-04-000335 MEEKS, MAURICE NMN 04/21/1975 03/08/2004 Goodhue 5th Degree Assault -K Converted Closed TERRORISTIC THREATS ASLT-5TH DEGREE ASLT-5TH/FEAR BODILY HARM ASLT-5TH/FEAR BODILY HARM CRIM DMG-4TH DEGREE 27-CR-04-079021 MEEKS, MAURICE 04/ 25/1975 12/01/2004 Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Southdale Crim/Traf Mandatory Closed 2ND DEG DWI -REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO TEST 3RD DEG DWI -ALCOHOL DRIVE AFTER REVOCATION POSSESS SMALL AMT MARIJUANA-MV OBSTRUCT LEGAL PROCESS OR ARREST 27-CR-07-022697 MEEKS, MAURICE 04/25/1975 04/10/2007 Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Downtown Crim/Traf Mandatory Under Court Jurisdiction Drugs - 5th Degree - Possess Schedule 1,2,3,4 - Not Small Amount

What more can be said? Another textbook example of "He who lives by the sword, by that same sword he shall surely die."

Seeking Answers About Maurice Meeks, Homicide Victim...

Stock photo and blog post by John Hoff

Maurice Meeks is dead, killed in a bizarre car-versus-front-porch incident in North Minneapolis. His alleged killer has a long and notable criminal record as documented by Hawthorne Hawkman, click here.

However, to date nobody has written about the record (if any) of Maurice "Mo" Meeks, who was hanging around with a notorious no-account on the night he was killed, which already says plenty.

I attempted to look into Meeks' record...

...but the website where I check into criminal records is down today. Darn. And right when I had a little bit of time and a little bit of internet access, which gave me an opportunity to tackle this particular task.

I will certainly get around to digging up information about Maurice "Mo" Meeks later, but for now I just want to ask the question out loud: what kind of record did the victim have?

You see, I think North Minneapolis is a very safe place: safe for decent citizens who keep their noses clean and don't hang around with notorious criminal no-accounts. The record (if any) of Maurice "Mo" Meeks would help me support that hypothesis or, in the alternative, help disprove it. Which is it? Does anybody know?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Contrasting Information in the NRRC Staff and Property Story

Contributed Photo of Johnny Northside playing the "telephone" game
About a month ago, Johnny Northside Dot Com reported that there was a story circulating within the northside movers and shakers scene that mirrored an "Old Majority JACC" (click here for an explanation of what THAT refers to) style move in which computers and files had been not-so-legally removed from the NRRC (Northside Residents Redevelopment Council) offices. 

Today, an opposing version of the story emerged from a source close to NRRC.  So in true Johnny Northside fashion of publishing all sides of a story here is the alternate version:

NRRC has been forced to lay off all the staff members (my commentary: presumably due to lack of funds although the source did not state this reason).  The board member volunteers have been trying to keep the organization going, but have had some challenges (my commentary: understandably so, going from full and part time staff to no staff and volunteers who likely have their own full time jobs is a major challenge).  The volunteer board members have been going through paperwork that is, in some cases, decades old and no longer needed.  This is where the shredded documents rumor comes from; documents were shredded because they were old and no longer needed, not because someone did something nefarious.

One computer that was rarely used was sent off to be donated, by some misunderstanding by the last staff member on the last day of employment.  This decision was quickly reversed by the board members and the computer was returned the next day.  NRRC had a policy to store electronic documents on a web-based server and not on a hard drive, so the computer should not have had any documents on it anyways. ~NRRC volunteer

As always, anyone with additional details, information or commentary should feel free to use the comment section.  You know, it's completely anonymous.

(Do Not Click "Read More")

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NoMi Newlyweds: Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Brian Reichow - Part One - The Ceremony

The love story of NoMi revitalizer, Brian Reichow, and his sweetie, Chriss Garlick, has a new chapter to share. The couple tied the knot this past weekend, actually on 10-10-10. Their engagement celebrations have been shared a couple of times here on JNS (click here and also here) and so it's only fitting to share their wedding, reception and next day after party here on JNS, too, rather than my own blog which tends to be a bit of a social event photo journal.  Here's the photo journal here after the jump....

The Groom and parents wait for the ceremony to begin
The flowers were stunning, of course
Brian and his daughter Ariel, a Junior Bridesmaid, walk the aisle
Waiting for his Bride
The Flower Girl heads down the aisle
She dropped autumn leaves from her basket
Here comes the Bride, with her Daddy, - LOVE!
Bride and Groom arrive together at the altar
A Wedding Prayer -  Bride: "Dear Lord, please help him to put the seat down" Groom: "Dear Father, please let her believe me when I say I didn't hear her hollering because the plaster walls are too thick"  - Just Kidding!
Mothers of Bride and Groom light the two candles symbolizing their individual children
The couple use their symbolic candles to light their Unity Candle
Jr Bridesmaid Ariel was the only attendant I had a clear shots of, she was lovely.
A last blessing before the declaration of Husband and Wife
The Pastor: "Introducing Mr and Mrs Brian Reichow" - I love the smiles!
"You may now kiss the Bride"
Stay tuned for photo journal of the reception party!

Were NoMi Taxable Property Values Assessed Differently?

A lovely NoMi home

Today I received an email shared on our neighborhood listserv that references a possible difference in the way NoMi area homes were assessed versus the way other areas of the city were assessed.

Apparently the U of M Law Clinic is looking for homeowners to evaluate this discrepancy further. Here's the email that was shared:


Through a friend my partner and I were contacted by the U of M Law Clinic regarding an issue with overpayment on our property taxes. Please take a minute to read - this could change the way our taxable property values are assessed in the future. They are looking for a few more representatives from neighborhoods in Near North to be plaintiffs in this case.

I don't know all of the details but apparently property owners in North Minneapolis have been paying more property taxes because the assessed values of their homes were not properly calculated using the foreclosures and the short sales in their area, which would have brought the taxable value down. However, in other Minneapolis neighborhoods, the taxes were calculated differently.

They are looking for people who have owned their home since at least 2007 and are still living in the home as homeowners.. .they also have to be US citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Michael Gavigan at the U of M Law Clinic. His email is gavi0088@umn. edu and the phone number at the Law Clinic is 612-625-5515.

Thanks,  (names & address withheld)

I have noticed this issue getting attention elsewhere on the nets, specifically in this post over on The Deets blog.  

So, have at it, comment away on your opinions and predictions.  Tell your taxable assessed value story, contact the U of M Law Clinic and come back here to fill us in.  Or not. I've always heard that the tax assessors are pretty reasonable to deal with, am I hearing right? I'm particularly interested in hearing a theory on how NoMi values were differently calculated.  Please do share.
(Do Not Click "Read More")

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kemps UFOs and Cows Painted Over!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Am I the only one who is disappointed here? John has long railed against the Kemps' UFO/Cow panorama as a symbol of "urban dystopia." Me, I grew up on a farm and I love science fiction. I rather LIKED the Kemps building. (Full disclosure: Kemps bought the milk from my family farm until the cows were sold several years ago.)

And now the palette is clean, leaving us to imagine what might be painted in its place.

A Long-Standing JNS Theory is Put to the Test

I was given Polish sausage as a thank you while planting at the EcoVillage LEED house several weeks ago.

At the MetLife award presentation, I tried holding it wrapped up like a baby in a blanket...that didn't work.
Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, contributed photos.

Well, it's been a while since I hopped over to JNS to do a post.  For anyone who wasn't aware, I've got my own blog that I've been working on.  But every so often, there will come a time when a post deserves to be put up over here instead of on my site.  Today we have not one, but two such instances.

We have tested this theory numerous times with various NoMi activists.  City dignitaries have tried it out.  And no matter who tests it and under what circumstances, it holds as true today as when it was first posited.  That theory of course, is:  There is no family-friendly way to pose with a Polish sausage.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

5th Ward Councilman Don Samuels Weekly Address - Dangerous Dog Ordinances

Something new started by the Minneapolis 5th Ward Council office is a weekly video address from Councilman Don Samuels.  This video update format is a popular social media trend for politicians, like Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whom some of us Jordan neighbors follow closely with much admiration.  (side tangent: if you haven't seen the documentary "Street Fight", do it! It's fascinating)

So I figured if Mayor Booker does it, we should do it, too.  I sent the suggestion in to the 5th Ward office and voila! The awesome staff there is using this medium to get news out to constituents.  But it is up to us to share it and get the word out.  So please, send the youtube video link around to your neighbors, your friends and family in the 5th ward, your block club and neighborhood listserv. Heck, this week's video even applies to the whole city, so send it far and wide.

Councilman Don Samuels and I have done this type of thing in the recent past. Like when we visited different spots on West Broadway to show some of the recent development projects*Note to self* Hmmm.... time for a West Broadway update. The 5th Ward staff is helping him make these videos, so I'll have to find some other reason to stalk him around with my camera (inside joke, well, maybe more like half inside, half outside joke).

So keep an eye on Don Samuels' facebook page, or just stay tuned to Johnny Northside, and we'll bring more weekly video addresses to you here.  Knowing Councilman Samuels, I'm sure he'd be interested to get your questions or topic suggestions emailed to him at

(Do Not Click "Read More")