Friday, February 28, 2014

Apparently, Slumlord Paul Bertelson Preferred To "Pull A Curtain Rather Than Pull A Permit" At 2818 Colfax Ave. N. Duplex Death Trap For Five Children...

Contributed photo, blog post by John Hoff

It was slumlord Keith Rietman who taught me the motto "I'd rather pull a curtain than pull a permit," but it turns out Rietman can't hold a candle to Paul Bertelson, the master of magical repairs and renovations which manifest without the costly burden of official paper...

As this blog documented yesterday, Bertelson purchased 2818 Colfax Ave. N. in 2009 for a mere $10,500. At the time of the purchase, according to old real estate data that an oh-so-anonymous reader kindly provided to JNS blog, the house had "possible freeze damage and mold." The heating system was also "forced air" which was fueled by "natural gas."

On February 14, 2014, when a fire claimed the life of five children in the second and third story apartment, baseboard electrical heating was being used. Unknown if it was used throughout the house or ONLY on the second and third stories, but it seems unlikely it was some kind of half-and-half hybrid of forced air downstairs and baseboard electrical upstairs. Most likely baseboard heating was being used through the whole house.

In fact, this blog has photos purportedly of the actual baseboard heaters which were provided by a reader claiming to be a former tenant of Bertelson in the fatal upstairs unit. One of those photos is at the top, and here's the other.

OK, so any water damage and mold damage required repair, right? Wouldn't that require a permit? Certainly putting in baseboard electrical heaters requires a permit, doesn't it?

OK, but check out the complete record of City Of Minneaplolis permits pulled during ownership by Paul Bertelson.

2010 Non-Renewable

2818 Colfax Ave N

1084176BOTC01/13Done1200.00Mission Inn Minnesota Inc.N/AN/A$70.38

1028378BSU04/23DoneNitti Roll Off ServiceN/A06/07/2011$71.80

The permit at the top is for window installation; three windows in three pre-existing frame openings. The second permit was for a dumpster out in the street. You would think that while inspecting this home as a rental somebody would have NOTICED the baseboard heaters had magically appeared without a permit being pulled slumlords routinely get away with this kind of thing without fine, penalty or prosecution.

(ADDENDUM, MARCH 4: Electrical permits are issued by the State of Minnesota, not the City of Minneapolis. JNS blog is still trying to determine whether any notation would appear on the city's website for a state permit and installation of baseboard heaters) 

Worst of all, the father of the deceased children Mr. Troy Lewis claims those baseboard heaters weren't working and that's why he used the space heater. Well, geez, what if those heaters weren't hooked up properly? Did an electrical inspector ever even LOOK at them? Wasn't that kind of inspection REQUIRED? Or did that happen during the RENTAL inspection?

So consider...

Inspection of baseboard heater installation is required by city and/or state ordinance. The ordinance is intended to protect people from burning up in fires caused by (for example) badly installed, improperly wired baseboard electrical heaters. The five children who died, the two who were injured, and Troy Lewis himself who was reportedly injured while trying to rescue his children were in the class of people intended to be protected by the ordinance and the injuries and deaths were (quite arguably) probably caused by violation of the ordinance.

You know what I call that? I call it "negligence per se" if all these facts hold together the way these facts appear right now.

But Bertelson isn't the only villain here. The previous owner of 2818 Colfax Ave. N. was Gregge Johnson, yet another notorious slumlord. Though the property was sold in 2009, no permit had been pulled since 2005 when Johnson pulled a permit to replace the stoop. 

Now riddle me this: What does a permit to repair a stoop, a permit to install windows, and a permit for a roll off dumpster all have in common?

I hope that wasn't too hard. I hope most of my readers knew the answer right away: all these activities are visible on the OUTSIDE of the property. Slumlords who would rather "pull a curtain than pull a permit" can't hide OUTSIDE repairs/renovations from city inspectors who might be driving around, so slumlords routinely pull permits for OUTSIDE repairs/renovations while "pulling curtains" for inside activities.

And they get away with it. Year after year, decade after decade, slumlords get away with this kind of thing. Gregge Johnson lost rental licenses but who ended up owning at least one of his buildings? Paul Bertelson, another slumlord. One might ask what was the POINT of taking Johnson's rental licenses if the buildings themselves just ended up in the hands of other slumlords? Indeed, just based on casualty figures, it would appear Gregge Johnson was BETTER than Paul Bertelson.

Five dead children should be a wake-up call to public officials about the negligent habits of slumlords but this blog fears nothing meaningful will come from those deaths. The slumlords, who "would rather pull a curtain that pull a permit," will keep right on slumming. It was almost exactly one year ago when this blog wrote about a fire in a hovel owned by slumlord Mahmoud Khan and asked the following:


But now I'm convinced children will die and NOBODY will lose a rental license.

JNS blog has a question for Paul Bertelson, who loves to wrap his wolfish slumlord activities in the fluffy white lambskin of Christiany do-gooderism, for you, Mr. Bertelson, I have the following pointed question:



Anonymous said...

So, If Bertelson owns all these properties under a secular "non-profit", what type of income is reported to the IRS for Mission Inn Minnesota Inc.?

Since he has no permits (thus no expenses), the profits must be HUGE!

You can't have it both ways Paul!

Anonymous said...

Here is the guy responsible for Mission Inns Maintenance - Greg Henly 763.232.7242 Somebody should ask him about the permits?

(from the website)

Anonymous said...

There were three permits issued for work at 2818 Colfax during the period of ownership by Mission Inn Minnesota Inc according to the Minneapolis Property info website.

The two in your post and one from 2013. Source of info:

2013 Non-Renewable
2818 Colfax Ave N

Permit: 3087314

Type: BIRE

Issued: 10/01

Status: Done

Value: 1500.00

Applicant: Findell Cement, Inc

Renewal: N/A

Cleared: 01/28/2014

Fees: $79.25


This permit authorizes the installation of windows AT 2ND FLOOR OF DUPLEX
__1__ window(s) in existing rough opening(s);
____ window(s) in existing frame opening(s);
____ window(s) in modified existing rough opening(s);
____ window(s) in new rough opening(s).

1. For one- or two-family dwellings, windows installed under this permit shall meet the requirements of the current Minnesota State Residential Code.
2. For buildings with three or more dwelling units, windows installed under this permit shall meet the requirements of the current Minnesota State Building Code, International Building Code Section 1026.
3. Emergency escape and rescue windows are normally required in sleeping rooms. The requirements for these windows are complex. If you did not have a plan review performed by the city and have not spoken with a qualified person regarding these requirements, it is recommended that you do so before purchasing or installing emergency escape and rescue windows. All replacement windows installed in a rental property or licensed facility (state or locally licensed) must meet the requirements of the most current Minnesota State Building Code, excluding IRC Section R310.1.5.
4. Windows shall meet the energy requirements of the Minnesota State Building Code.
5. Safety glazing shall be required in hazardous locations designated in the Minnesota State Building Code.
6. Carbon monoxide detectors shall be installed according to Minnesota State Statute 299F.50.
7. Smoke detectors shall be installed according to the Minnesota State Building Code.
8. Fall protection shall be provided according to MN Rule 1300.2300.


Inspection Dates: 1/28/2014

Inspection Type: FINAL

Result: DONE

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Paul's other business catch the criminal records?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The city of Minneapolis is a group of incompetent "feel gooders". They are all lip service for the cameras and news print. The only way more children's lives will be saved in North is when this absurd level of slumlordingship and concentration of desperate poor renters end.

Anonymous said...

He does this at the expense of these little sweetheart's. The gloves are off. Karma is, and, will continue to pay dividends ..patience is a necessity with these type's. The other things unravel.

Johnny Northside! said...

A comment about Paul Bertelson and a website will be published later, some time after the weekend, after I have a chance to follow up and look over that lead.

Anonymous said...

There was another window replacement permit in 2013. One window replaced. Not that that really affects the point of the post but telling you anyway.

Anonymous said...


4630 3rd Ave S
Mpls, MN 55419

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering what kind of representation the Mission Inn Minnesota "company" made at the funeral of those 5 children?

I mean isn't care for the poor part of their business model?

Anonymous said...

You would think that terrible fire on Lake Street above the bar would have woke the city up. Awful.

MCullen NE

Gordon said...

The city does not do electrical permits. These are done through the state, so there would be no record on the city's website.

Anonymous said...

You all look so idiotic and are self righteous without any proof of wrongdoing. This is libelous and the landlord should probably sue you. Of course permits were acquired, how would the city approve the property as a rental unit without inspecting it. You know not all kinds of permits are listed on the city website. Check it out and stop jumping to conclusions that defame the wrong people. A rapist and convicted felon gets your backing and relief funds while innocent people get slandered? Shame on all of you

Anonymous said...

Electrical permits are NOT issued by the city of Mpls. They are issued by the state of Minesota. Not sure what you have against electric baseboard heat, it is used all the time to supplement gas forced air heat where it is difficult to install ductwork.

Anonymous said...

The Citie of Mpls repealed the electrical ordinance and fired all the electrical inspectors. This is old news. Permits and inspections come from the state of Minn. Electric baseboard heat has a built in overheat cutout one of the safest forms of heat. No flame no carbonmonoxide. You can contact the electrical inspector for the city of Mpls through the dept. of labor and industry.

Anonymous said...

None of his TISH requirements were ever signed off on! How did the City miss this and not start fining him????

Johnny Northside! said...

If Paul Bertelson or somebody else sends me proof he had a permit from the State of Minnesota, I will be more than happy to shout it from the rooftops.

Johnny Northside! said...

I am also trying to determine whether any information should or would appear on the CITY website if a STATE permit was pulled for anything electrical. Anybody who has information, feel free to contribute. It is, however, a fact that electrical permits are issued by the STATE and not the CITY.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

I can tell you that from my experience working in Hawthorne, the numerous statements about electrical work being regulated at the state and not local level are correct.

Anonymous said...

So, are we to conclude that our City representatives don't have all the facts and are basing licensing decisions on incomplete information or just providing the public with only half the facts.

Why wouldn't ALL permits show on a City property information site? What possible purpose would there be to waist tax payer dollars on a maintaining a site if it only displays partial information?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of piece of shit slumlords. Jon Peterson and Anthony Weinstein are USING the city once again to clean up their HUGE trash pile at 3723 Girard Ave. N. Why pay to haul away trash when the city with do it for you for a cheap stipend?

Anonymous said...

I agree with March 3rd 5:04 P.M and will patiently wait for the other shoe to drop. I will get back to Full Force,,along with Lisa Lisa, I am Lost In Emotion from Head to Toe with different reasons.

Anonymous said...

Johnny, why don't you do your research before you publish? You can't get a rental license without a permit. You're making stuff up about the landlord and people eat it up to have somebody to blame. You're embarrassing yourself.

Gordon said...

Ah, Johnny, it doesn't work that way, or shouldn't. First, you write: "I apologize for writing that Bertelson did not have a permit. I don't know if he did or not."

Next, you, not anyone else, call the city to confirm that state permits do not appear in the city's database.

Finally, you research the state database and discover whether or not a permit was pulled.

"Whoops, folks, I was wrong to condemn the landlord when my own information was defective." Try it. It can be amazingly liberating!

Anonymous said...

Permit research:

Anonymous said...

Should you end up shouting from a rooftop, will you be disclosing the date, time and location? I don't think you would allow anyone you don't know to be watching in person so how about a live video feed?

Johnny Northside! said...

Dear commenter at 8:44 PM. I'm really not that hard to find but apparently we just don't run in the same social circles.

Johnny Northside! said...

Yeah, except for the part where I go on the state website and no permit for the installation of baseboard electrical heaters comes up THERE, either. But if Bertelson can pull that permit out of the ether and put it in front of this blogger, this blogger is waiting for God's Chosen Slumlord to perform that miracle.

Johnny Northside! said...


Are you REALLY going to assume that you can't get a rental permit in Minneapolis without every i being dotted and every t being crossed with the proper permits for everything in the house? What planet are you living on? Not the same planet as the rest of us, apparently.

Johnny Northside! said...

Yes, Hawkman, I'm also being told by one resident of North Minneapolis that their post-tornado electrical work DOES appear on the city's website with the permits, so there's that, but digging into the state website for electrical permits proved useful. See my subsequent blog post.

Anonymous said...

You DO NOT need a permit for the installation of baseboard heating if they plug into an standard outlet.
Many of them do just plug in, and can be purchased an any home improvement store.

It's more likely that Mr.Lewis overloaded an outlet or by plugging in his portable heater with an unapproved extension cord, causing an overload that caused the wires to heat up and catch fire.

But since the cause of the fire is undetermined, we can speculate all we want, but there is no proof as to who is to blame.
But my money is on the space heater, and that directs blame to Mr. Lewis.

My home has a modern, and 90% efficient furnace, but my bedroom get still gets cold in the winter and I use a small space heater. I've never had a problem.
So blaming the landlord because the tenant had a space heater is IMHO a bunch of bullshit.
Almost every home in Minneapolis has some type of code violation, or is not up to current code.
Can the owner of this blog, Johnny Northside, claim his home is 100% up to code? Mine isn't.

Johnny Northside said...

Baseboard heaters that plug into a wall outlet? Huh. I'll have to get me a look at one of those sometime. Never seen one like that before. And I don't see any plugs going to wall outlets off the pictures I have of the actual baseboard heaters which were provided to this blog, so there's THAT.

Anonymous said...

This article very clearly tries to lay blame on Paul Bertelson for the cause of this fire. Do you have any proof or evidence that states the landlord was in any way responsible for this fire? Didn't they say the cause was undetermined and not arson. Did they not say that the electric heater that the father had plugged into an possibly overloaded outlet was the cause of the fire?

Johnny Northside! said...

Please go read the many articles in the STrib, the recent lawsuit filing by a former tenant, and apply your common sense to what happened here. Furthermore, I don't think I have laid direct blame on the landlord, I think I have laid out the facts and conclusions can be drawn. It is not my habit to argue my articles all over again with individual anonymous commenters when there are many other articles to be written.