Tuesday, March 27, 2012

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Soldon M. Armstrong, Suspect In North Minneapolis Cabbie Robbery, Has Juvie Robbery Record...

Stock photo, blog post by John Hoff

The Star Tribune didn't print the name of the 18-year-old suspect arrested in the robbery of North Minneapolis cab driver (and this after another driver was recently MURDERED) but CBS Minnesota did, go figure. The suspect is Soldon McKinley Armstrong, age 18.

According to the Hennepin County jailhouse bookings for Sunday, March 25, available online...

...Soldon McKinley Armstrong was booked at 10:35 PM and is charged with aggravated robbery and first degree aggravated robbery, which is a felony. His birthday is 4/29/1993 making him 18 years old, but he'll be 19 in another month. According to the jailhouse roster, this alleged scumbag lives at 3934 Fremont Ave. N., which is a rental property owned by Investors Capital Llc but the taxpayer is the Federal National Mortage Association.

In spite of his (relatively) tender years, Armstrong has a record of being a robber, starting when he was 16 years old and was "adjudicated delinquent" for a robbery and put on probation. A less serious "transfer movable property without consent" led to a guilty plea around the same time. This damning juvie record has not yet been reported by other media.

Interestingly, there is another "Soldon Armstrong" who is 36 years old and, on March 10, 2012 was booked into the Cook County, Illinois jail on an unknown charge. This individual may be a relative.

Thank you, Star Tribune and CBS Minnesota, for letting me copy off your homework.

Background Info On Samuel Johosephat Taylor, Accused Of Murdering A Cab Driver In North Minneapolis...

Stock photo and blog post by John Hoff

For once, the Star Tribune dug up somebody's criminal background and published it along with breaking news of their arrest. (Click here for article)

Now this blogger needn't rise up early to unearth relevant facts for publication, along with my usual snide remarks directed at "dead tree media."

Even so, after the Star Tribune's excellent story about young Mr. Taylor it was easy to pick up their paper trail and dig up MORE interesting info, including the fact Taylor seems to have enjoyed a very nice living situation in Robbinsdale.

According to the Hennepin County Jail roster...

...Taylor lists his home address at 4070 Shoreline Drive, Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Zillow, a reputable source of online real estate information, lists the value of the house as $297,200. The house has "huge rooms" with "lots of updates" like new countertops and backsplash, refinished hardwood floors, new carpet throughout and fresh paint.

Oh, yes, also fireplace, detached garage and forced air. Even if the house were a rental, its rental income is estamated at $1,897 a month.

So what is going on, here? Is this a case of a nice family with one sonny boy who happens to be "bad seed"? Or can even the most thuggy of families enjoy relatively nice housing in this market? Then again...I can't be 100 percent sure the jail roster info is correct. Sometimes I find addresses on the roster that don't seem to REALLY EXIST.

By the way, in regard to Taylor's interesting middle name of "Johosephat," it appears to be a variation of "Jehoshaphat," the name of the a King of Judah mentioned in the Bible whose moniker lives on as the "relatively mild oath" of "Jumping Jehoshaphat." The name of this Biblical king is used to avoid taking the name of Jesus Christ in vain. Profanity lite, if you will, but hardly anybody talks like that anymore except cartoon character Yosemite Sam. The colorful phrase was first recorded in 1866 in the novel "The Headless Horseman" by Thomas Reid, though it was originally "by the shaking, jumping ghost of Jehosephat." This phrase seems to have lived on as "Jumping Jehosephat."

Considering Mr. Taylor likes to "jump" people, like cab drivers, his name seems appropriate. (There should be an "allegedly" in that last sentence, somewhere)

Taylor remains in jail on one million dollars bail.

JUMPING JEHOSHAPHET!!! That's a lot of money!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Attorney Jill Clark Freaks Out, Johnny Northside Answers (Wait, Did I Say "Freaks Out"? That Was Supposed To Be "Speaks Out." Then Again, Maybe I Got It Right The First Time...)

Random image from a shared computer, blog post by John Hoff

Attorney Jill Clark, (not pictured above) renowned in the Hennepin County legal community for filing truly loony lawsuits, has started a blog in the wake of a lawyer disciplinary lawsuit filed against her. "Jill Clark Speaks Out Dot Nutty Clark Bar Dot Com" or something like that.

I learned of Jill's blog from a reader who took the time to post a comment in a blog discussion about Jill's latest legal lunacy.

Many of Clark's lawsuits concern North Minneapolis issues, such as her utter defeat in the "true JACC" lawsuit in the Jordan Neighborhood, or suing Fifth Ward Council Member Don Samuels on behalf of "Mayor of Crazy Town" Al Flowers, another predictable defeat, or taking up the cause of slimy Level Three Sex Offender Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer. Clark seems to pride herself on jousting with the "powers that be."

Uh huh. Like a neighborhood board run by unpaid volunteers qualifies as "the powers that be."

The details of the lawyer discipline suit against Jill Clark are fuzzy. (See image) Furthermore, that lack of clarity isn't helped much by her blog which promises much, adopts a shrill conspiratorial tone about the "powers that be" who want to punish her for being a "lone soldier" in the cause of justice, a "strong oak" standing in a harsh wind, (I'm not making this crap up!) but Clark's blog actually delivers little in the way of facts.

For example...

...the very first blog posting of February 26, 2012 promises that Jill Clark will file an answer to the charges filed by the Director of the Lawyers Office For Professional Responsibility. She says the blog "will include copies of important documents and evidence." Clark even names March 2 as the date her answer will be filed.

Well, here it is the very Ides of March and yet there are no documents on the blog, just broad hints but little in the way of specifics about why Clark is facing discipline.

Meanwhile, trying to get a step ahead of those who would hold her to account for herself, in one blog posting after another Clark desperately tries to wrap herself in the red-white-and-blue mantle of "judicial reformer."

Uh huh. Yeah, like her client "Spanky Pete" is an "advocate for children." (Imitating Pete's voice: "These poor little North Minneapolis children are getting PTSD and somebody should be appointed to study it!" Slobber, slobber, rubby rub rub)

I hope to Almighty God the Lawyers Board takes decisive action and saves the public from this notorious legal loon whose numerous craptastic lawsuits have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years and--so it is reported--have actually impacted the availability for "Directors and Operators" insurance for neighborhood boards in the wake of the JACC fiasco.

Few lawyers--even criminal defense lawyers--can be considered a menace to decent society. But Clark is the exception. When Clark files a case, judges recuse themselves like toppling bowling pins.

But, my word, if Clark is disciplined, what will become of her clients? Does Clark have malpractice insurance? Is getting yourself suspended or disbarred in the middle of your client's lawsuit grounds for legal malpractice? What if no other lawyer will touch the case with a ten foot nutty Clark bar?

Of course, even if Clark lost her license, that wouldn't be the end of Clark. I would expect her to start filing "pro se" lawsuits on her own behalf, like her unsavory client Peter "Spanky Pete" Rickmyer.

We wait. We watch. We salivate for information about Clark's fate. But very little of that information comes from where one might expect: Clark's blog which promises to "speak out" on the matter. Her blog is more of a public "freak out," lots of noise and emotion but it's hard to tell why she's havign a public fit. Delerium tremens?

COUNTER ARGUMENT: In the spirit of fairness, I will now say something postive about Clark's blog:

It isn't full of cringe-worthy spelling errors and typos like, for example, Don Allen of IBNN or the "brothers as dads" blog purportedly authored by the Yzaguirre brothers, two no accounts convicted of drug running.

The only mistake Clark consistently makes is using single quote marks where double quote marks belong.

Hennepin County Jailhouse Roster, November 14, 2011 To March 14, 2012...

Stock photo either by myself or a contributor, blog post by John Hoff

Due to spending months stationed in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, where internet access was limited, I haven't done the ol' jailhouse roster posting in quite a while. Many incarcerated fish have escaped from my net since their names only remain in the system for a few days after their release. So, if their unpleasant visit was brief, then they eluded my "capture" of the roster information.

However, the fact I can't do a perfect job at this task has never been an excuse for not doing it at all. I certainly hope my little Googlebots didn't starve because I wasn't feeding them. Today I hope to make it up to the 'bots, a little bit.

I should add some kind of disclaimer, here. Yeah, what was all that disclaimer stuff? Innocent until proven guilty, etcetera...yeah, just go back to other jailhouse roster postings and I'm sure there's some disclaimer...somewhere...

Anyway, without further ado and from the other side of the planet, where my night is your day, I give you...

The Hennepin County Jailhouse roster...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mug Shot For Robert "Big Joe" Gustafson, Mythical Northside Figure Who Terrorized Criminals...

Minnesota DOC mug shot, therefore public domain, blog post by John Hoff

Robert "Big Joe" Gustafson never did me any harm or caused me a moment's worry. I never got into my car late at night and thought, "What if Big Joe tries to carjack me?" I never saw drug dealers on Penn Ave. N. and thought, "Those must be Big Joe's boys."

Indeed, it appears Big Joe was that highly-evolved form of so-called criminal, one who specializes in preying upon other criminals...kind of like "Omar" in the HBO television series "The Wire." Indeed, when some of us Northsiders read about the arrest and trial of Robert "Big Joe" Gustafson, our first reaction was...

Oh no. Now there's nobody to take away dope and money from drug dealers except the police, and the police are hampered by LAWS! WHAT ON EARTH WILL WE DO WITHOUT "BIG JOE?"

(Not that any of us EVEN KNEW WHO THIS GUY WAS until the articles started about his trial)

All the same, the justice system has found that "Big Joe" broke, like, a whole bunch of laws in the course of his personally profitable crusade against crime. And now this controversial, complicated guy sits in prison...where his mug shot recently became available online.

It is the practice of this blog that when North Minneapolis criminals go to prison, and their mug shots come available, those mug shots are published here. This one I publish with far more reluctance than usual.

Nothing personal, Big Joe. Your resemblance to a Middle Ages saint or an Old Testament profit is eerie and I wanted to share that with my readers.

Submitted For Your Consideration: "Crap Hole" At 1900 and 1904 Lowry Ave. N.

Photos contributed by an anonymous reader, blog post by John Hoff

After my public gloating session about Freidman's Shoe Store finally fixing their windows in response to public pressure, I asked readers to help me select the next target for constructive public shaming.

Though I have not yet chosen which eyesore I will target until doomsday if necessary, there is a lot of value in a highly-public discussion about who is the most deserving. Posted above are photos of what one anonymous JNS blog reader describes as the "crap hole" at 1900 and 1904 West Broadway.

Here's what my anonymous contributor tells me:
"I bet there is a terrible rotten mess inside that junk hole. It looks like it's right across the street from the gas station. (JNS says: he means the station with the messed up awning not fixed more than a year after the tornado, while the gas station is obviously pulling in money every day) Maybe a double whammie should be done to this junk hole and to the gas station at the same time. The side view shows an entrance to the corner part of the building. I think there may be someone still living in part of the building." (JNS says: Correction: it is "almost"a year, not "more than a year)
While I was busy today, shopping for a hot pink camel hair shawl, one of my regular readers and contributors gave me information about the lot in question, as follows:
I went into the Hennepin County tax records and found that there is no listing for 1900 and 1904 Lowry Avenue North. So, I checked further and found out that the entire lot is listed under the address of 3203 Logan Avenue North. I don't know why the building has 1900 and 1904 posted on the front of the building facing Lowry Avenue. However, which is the front? The part of the building facing Lowry or the part of the building facing Logan?

According to the tax records, it is all one building with the address of 3203 Logan Avenue North. The owner is Donna Rudebush at 3203 Logan Avenue North. The property is listed as "residential, homestead." That building is not listed as a business building.
And so 1900 and 1904 Lowry Ave. N. which is REALLY 3203 Logan Avenune North takes an early lead in this little contest, but can it sustain the momentum? Stay tuned!

(Do Not Click "Read More")

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pastor Darryl Spence of First Community Baptist Church Gives Instruction On The Proper Way To Conduct A Drug Related Slaying...

Stock photo, graffiti at Hard Times Cafe, blog post by John Hoff

I don't know if Trent Crumble resided in North Minneapolis.

Crumble, 24, died in a drug related shooting in St. Paul at the hands of a dirt bag named Joshua Michael Bystrom, a resident of St. Paul.

But Crumble had some kind of connection to North Minneapolis through his family's church, First Community Baptist...

When Crumble's killer was sentenced this Monday, Pastor Darryl Spence of First Community Baptist said the four year sentence was too light, and believed race was a factor in the sentencing. (Click here for the article)

And then--while the Pioneer Press reporter was taking notes, or possibly even recording the conversation, Pastor Spence must have grown enamored with the melodious sound of his own voice, because Spence proceeded to put his foot into his mouth in a truly epic fashion.

Spence said that "in our community" people don't shoot one another in the back. Oh, no. Rather if you're going to take somebody's life, you "look him in the eye."

Wow. Sounds like there must be some pretty exciting Sunday sermons at THAT church. But I must take issue with the Reverend in two...no, make that three...different ways.

First, what do you mean by "in our community"? Is that a geographic community like North Minneapolis? Or are you talking about race and socio economics?

Second, do you really think it's theologically wise to be giving lessons like this? I am not familiar with any particular scripture (and, yes, I've studied scripture in quite some detail) stating or even implying that God is somehow more pleased, or less displeased, if murderers look their victims in the eye. God had plenty of opportunity to discuss this matter with Cain in the Garden of Eden, and yet I see no record of it.

Third...and I'm rapidly realizing I disagree with you FOUR different ways, Reverend...I don't think your statement about the "community" (however you define it) is even TRUE.

Bystrom is hardly unique in the fact Bystrom didn't look his victim (Crumble) in the eye. This happens all the time.

Besides, shouldn't Bystrom get spiritual credit for the fact the "victim" was packing heat, as well? Isn't there an "except if he's packing heat and pointing the gun at your friend" exception to your rule of "eye looking before murder?"

Fourth and last, let us examine the circumstances, here. Crumble was involved in a drug deal where parties on both sides were armed. This wasn't a courtly gentleman's duel in the 19th Century.

That's why Bystrom can't even plead "defense of another's life" for shooting Crumble, because this happened in the course of a DRUG DEAL. But the plain and simple fact is Bystrom got the jump on Crumble, so Bystrom does four years while Crumble is in the grave.

And yet here's the Reverend trying to "Monday morning quarterback" the gun battle and say Bystrom should be penalized for, (seriously!) not looking his victim in the eye.

Writing from AFGHANISTAN where I sit six inches away from my SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE, I would like to point out that no serious teacher of firearm skills tells students it is, in any way, essential to "look your victim in the eye." No, the most important thing is to be the one left alive. Yes, dirt bag drug dealer Joshua Bystrom deserves scorn and criticism for a number of things, but "not looking his victim in the eye" isn't one of them.

Really, Reverend, I think you're playing that whole "preacher from the streets" thing a little over-the-top and you've blundered yourself into territory where it's obvious you really don't know what you're talking about.

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Criminal Record Of Jason Youngmark, 33, Latest North Minneapolis "Shooting Victim With A Shaky Past"

Stock photo, blog post by John Hoff

Since Matt McKinney of the Star Tribune apparently doesn't perceive it as HIS journalistic duty to fully inform the public, I am taking the task on myself from the other side of the planet. (Click here for McKinney's article)

Jason Youngmark, 33, the latest victim of North Minneapolis gun violence, had a clean record from 2001 (driving with no insurance) up until 2010, when he was charged with something exceedingly minor--parking in an alley between 2 and 6 AM. As McKinney noted in his article, the young man did hae some "struggles" early in life.

Like, um, COCAINE....

Here are the full details, minus that whole "oh, he was the best guy in the whole world" stuff that mainstream print journalists still instinctively revert to, like this was the late 1800s or something and the truth about murder victims wasn't just a few keystrokes away in online court records.


03/19/1978 07/05/1996
Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Downtown Crim/Traf Mandatory

In the case above, the case was "continued for drug diversion." Jason didn't always show up when he was supposed to...there was a warrant issued at one point. In 1999, Jason finished his probation March 31, 1999. There was a $1,000 fine but it appears to have been stayed.

03/19/1978 02/12/1999
Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Downtown Crim/Traf Mandatory

Funny, somehow this incident just before the end of his probation didn't seem to have had any real impact on Jason. He was convicted of "careless driving" but the other charges were dismissed. (Sniff sniff...does anybody else smell plea bargain?)

03/19/1978 02/23/1999
Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Southdale Crim/Traf Mandatory

Sentenced to 90 days, but 80 of it was stayed. He was convicted of the false identification but the driving after revocation was dismissed. (Can't you SMELL it? I'm SURE I smell it...the pungent smell of plea bargain)

27-CR-01-088293 1011340872 YOUNGMARK, JASON ADONIS
03/19/1978 10/24/2001
Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Downtown Crim/Traf Mandatory

Pleaded not guilty. Amended his plea. Convicted. Got THREE DAYS of "sentence to service" in lieu of time. Twelve days left on his sentence STAYED. Unsupervised probation. However, Jason kept his nose clean until 2010, when he had the very minor parking in an alley conviction...the same statute also covers being parked more than 6 hours on a highway, so it could have been THAT instead.

27-CR-10-52696 2100424874 YOUNGMARK, JASON ADONIS
03/19/1978 11/12/2010
Hennepin Criminal/Traffic/Petty Brookdale Crim/Traf Mandatory
Closed No parking in any alley, no parking between 2-6 AM and parked exceeding 6 hour limit upon highway or (...) (original online document truncated)

Given his shaky past, I'm left to wonder "was Jason keeping out of trouble, or was he back into something bad?" (Is the conviction about where and when he was ILLEGALLY PARKED any kind of clue?)

Though the late Mr. Youngblood is to be commended for (apparently) avoiding criminal charges in the State of Minnesota for almost a decade, near the end of his life, all the same his unfortunate death falls into the same old pattern of individuals whose criminal records reveal them to be no angles and then they somehow end up dead in North Minneapolis gun violence. Seriously, are we obligated by politeness to feign shock and surprise?

However, we should be able to depend on journalists like Matt McKinney to give us these facts instead of sugar coating reality. The Star Tribune fell short on this story.

Monday, March 12, 2012

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Friedman's Shoe Store Caves In To Bloggy Pressure Campaign, Installs New Windows...What Northside Eyesore Should Be Targeted NEXT?

Photo from North By Northside, blog post by John Hoff

After enduring a long dry spell of little computer access at a Combat Outpost in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, I now find myself at Bagram Air Force Base where things are a lot less muddy...where my life is rich with indoor plumbing, multiple entree choices and, best of all, a wireless internet signal.

Coming up for internet air today, I was overjoyed to discover...

...the North By Northside Blog is reporting that Friedman's Shoe Store is finally fixing their unsightly windows. Oh, sure, "good cop" Jeff Skrenes made some half-hearted remarks about how certain individuals (my ears are burning!) made too much of a big deal about the ass ugly windows. I'm paraphrasing here.

But between you, me, and the lamp posts bare of sign spam ripped down by both myself AND Mr. North By Northside, we all know it was public pressure and repeated shaming by this blog which finally got the windows fixed...just like, a couple years ago, the horrible "butt wall" situation was fixed at a certain Northside liquor store.

Now I firmly resolve to buy as many of my new shoes and (more importantly) my new BOOTS at Friedman's, for the rest of my life, and I urge other Northsiders to do the same. (Not that I buy THAT many new footwear items. I prefer to get my footwear from either the Salvation army or the REGULAR army) All the same.

Support Friedman's. I urge you.

Now then, the most important question at this point is...

WHO IS NEXT? What unsightly North Minneapolis neighborhood feature should this blog criticize again and again, repeatedly and colorfully, until it finally gets FIXED?

The rusty railroad bridge which forms the archway to our NoMi neighborhood?

The "ugly ass chocolate brown building" owned by slumlord Keith Reitman?

The "cyanotic sisters?" (Two blue wooden houses, side by side, owned and neglected by slumlord Keith Reitman)

Or something I haven't thought of or mentioned here?

I'm interested in discussion and ideas from readers about what the next target should be. If nobody contributes an idea, that's OK. I'll pick a target myself. But here's your chance to influence the decision.