Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Meat Raffle" At The Nomad World Pub (A Recession-Proof New Year's Eve)

Photo By John Hoff

In the West Bank area of Minneapolis, signs of the economic recession are apparent even in the bars frequented by college students. At the Nomad World Pub, 501 Cedar Ave. S., the New Year's Event was advertised as "recession proof," with no cover charge to hear the bands, plus an opportunity to win the "meat raffle."

As raffle numbers were called, the crowd chanted "Meat, meat!" If you closed your eyes, you could imagine yourself in a post-apocalyptic world.

Of course, it was that way when you opened your eyes, too.

(Do not click "

Images From The Rybak/Kaplan New Year's Eve Shindig

Photos By John Hoff

Here are images from the "Rybak/Kaplan Shindig," which featured a constellation of DFL political heavyweights and took place at the luxurious home of fundraiser (and political kingmakers) Sam and Sylvia Kaplan. 

From top to bottom: Dolls in the likenesses of Sam and Sylvia Kaplan. City Councilman Don Samuels to the right of some cool artwork in the Kaplan house. No sign of Don's opponent, JACC Executive Director Jerry Moore. 

Possible and Presumed Senator-Elect Al Franken, with Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes. 

The wine flowed like, well, wine. Next, they say it isn't a party until something gets broken. These two china figurines were apparently sacrificed to the saying, knocked over in the coatroom because, as one of the coat room helpers put it, "There were just too many people packed in here, and some guy bumped them."

In an urn by the front door, actual swords co-exist with a pink Care Bear umbrella. Can peace between Israel and Hamas be far off? 

Last, numerous ice globes with lit candles inside stole the show before guests even got inside the Kaplan house. Somebody spent A LOT of time making those. But the effect of the ice globes was magical. 

(Do not click "

JOHNNY NORTHSIDE BREAKING NEWS: Mayor Rybak Announces Political Plans (Sort Of)

Photo By John Hoff

At a New Year's Eve bash thrown by prominent local fundraisers Sam and Sylvia Kaplan, Mayor Rybak gave a short speech about the ups and downs of being mayor, announcing he would clarify his political plans in the next couple months, but those plans would definitely include "staying in Minnesota."

Rybak's words appeared calculated to end speculation he would accept some post in the Obama administration. Instead, it appears the mayor is either contemplating another term or looking to run for governor. Rybak spoke of how wonderful it would be to serve as mayor while Obama serves as president.

The Mayor gave special mention to his wife, and called her his "muse" and said she told him what was right and wrong. In a side conversation later in the night, Rybak agreed something had to be done about the unwanted dumping of phone books in Minneapolis neighborhoods, and pointed out his wife agrees strongly.

In a speech welcoming guests, Sam Kaplan acknowledged there were also a few Republicans in the crowd, and pointed out the mayor's ability to cross party lines for the greater good of the city, and thanked his Republican guests for being "gracious" amid so much Democratic Party enthusiasm. Kaplan is widely-regarded as a political "king maker" in the Twin Cities, with incredible fundraising power. 

The bash at Kaplan's luxuriously-appointed townhouse featured a constellation of DFL political heavyweights, and one heavyweight-in-waiting, Al Franken. Franken joked, "The third year of the Senate election is going to be the best ever!" 

Many who attended the party showed up through a Facebook invitation from Rybak. Though many suits were in evidence in the crowd, casual dress was common enough. 

(Do not click "Read More")

Monday, December 29, 2008

Words From Annshalike's Photo Bucket: "Dis Is Mii Husband" and "In The Event Of My Demise" (ANOTHER JOHNNY NORTHSIDE EXCLUSIVE)

Images From The Photobucket
Account of "Annshalike"

The person named "Annshalike" with a photo bucket account, strongly believed to be one and the same as Annshalike Hamilton, though this is not confirmed...

...may have left chilling clues.

Photo bucket accounts can store all kinds of images, not just photos taken by the user. There are two images in the whole account which are not personal photos, but commercially-produced images. One is of particular note, but won't allow itself to be reproduced for this blog. It can still be viewed at the Photo Bucket Account. This image appears to be a gladiator helmet (though it is hard to tell) which serves as the backdrop to lyrics by Tupac Shakur, as follows:

In The Event Of My Demise/Dedicated To Those Curious

In the event of my Demise/
when my heart can beat no more/
I Hope I Die For A Principal/
or A Belief that I had Lived 4/
I will die Before My Time/
Because I feel the shadow's Depth/
so much I wanted to accomplish/
before I reached my Death/

I have to come 2 grips with the
and wiped the last tear from My eyes/
I Love All who were Positive/
In the event of my Demise

There is also an image of a note asking "Will you go out with me." Typical teenage stuff.

Then there is an image of somebody labeled "Mii Husband," see above. The image appears to be of a young black man in his twenties. He is wearing a cap, so it is impossible to tell how he styles his hair. ("Snoop/Freaky" reportedly wears corn rows)

In the same Photo Bucket account, the image is set against a romantic backdrop, including a red "kiss mark" and set to a short musical score, possibly "Pimp Bonez" by Chali G, a minor hip hop artist who--though minor--has already indulged in one name change. Click here to see what the person called "Annshalike" did with the image.

The image is adorned with words: "Dis is mii husband hands off" and "I love him so much" and "He means the world to me" and "I love you."

Who is this guy, apparently in his 20s, whose image is in the Photo Bucket account of a 15-year-old minor and bears those words? Is this Snoop/Freaky?

Blogosphere And Mainstream Media, Working Together

It should be noted one reason this blog info is "exclusive" is this: mainstream media takes great care to nail down and confirm facts before reporting these facts. For example, information reached me that the Star Tribune found Annshalike's Photo Bucket account, but the Star Tribune won't use pictures without the permission of the photographer. And I say it falls under the "fair comment and criticism" exception to copyright and proper credit has been given for that purpose.

CORRECTION, DECEMBER 30: I am told by a reliable source the Star Tribune DID NOT find Annshalike's Photo Bucket, rather they found her social networking site. The basic fact remains: the Star Tribune won't use pictures without permission of the photographer. And I say the public needs the info.

What it comes down to, however, is the fact a blog is able to "truck and trade" in a quality of information lower than that of the mainstream media, but still useful. Indeed, the information becomes useful to the mainstream media, who may not publish it but might use it to track down information they CAN publish.

We're all part of the same information ecosystem. And that's a beautiful thing. But I say this in the midst of a terrible tragedy, so I can't really be all peppy like Sponge Bob Square Pants. Hug your kids closer tonight and keep them off the streets.

Important Clues In Annshalike's "Photo Bucket" Account? (EXCLUSIVE JOHNNY NORTHSIDE INFO)

Images From Photobucket Account
Of "Annshalike"

Assuming the online person "Annshalike" is the same as "Anshalike Hamilton," an assumption of which I am only 85 to 90 percent certain at best, then:

Annashalike Hamilton was, like many American teenagers, quite internet savvy. Setting up a "Photo Bucket" account requires a minor degree of technical skill, and though Anshalike's account was not very large, it contains some useful information...

In the account, Annshalike placed photos of herself to be shared with the whole online world, including pensive self-portraits, pictures of family--especially siblings--and a number of baby pictures. The babies appear to be relatives. Annshalike was clearly fond of babies.

The last two images in the account are of intense interest. These may be images of the individual known as "Freaky" or "Snoop," who may be the father of her baby and may be the guy who murdered her, if the suspicions of the family are correct.

More on that in the next blog post.


Photobucket Photos, See End Of Post For
Further Explanation, Click For Link

So now all the media have the story of the murder victim at 2222 4th St. N., and they are all over it, but for several days the comments on this blog were the only information available which provided victim information and a motive...indeed, this blog is STILL ahead of the story because...

...the media are not yet reporting the likely identity of the murderer, as offered up by posters to this blog: a guy known as "Snoop" or "Freaky" who was in his 20s, who was apparently the father of Annshalike's baby.

According to info released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Annshalike Shanta Hamilton died of multiple blunt force injuries. In addition, her baby, Annshalike NMN Hamilton was stillborn and cause of death is "fetal demise secondary to maternal death due to multiple blunt force injuries." (The name of the baby was apparently designated by the HCME, per whatever policies decide such things. In my opinion...and it's just my opinion...the ultimate decision about the baby's name rests with the family)

Police went out of their way to say the victim died of blunt force injuries, not gunshot wounds. And, yes, a commenter on this blog did say a "friend" of Annshalike witnessed her being shot. That is apparently false information which for one reason or another, the poster may have sincerely believed to be true. Even the poster was reporting is as secondhand info, however.

I was at the 4 PM press conference today, held at the garage at 2222 4th St. N., but I arrived a bit late due to my van being stolen by a thug. More on that later. But it was cool, because an officer from the 4th Precinct actually gave me a ride, and he'd heard about my blog.

"You're Johnny Northside?" he said. (How cool was THAT?! Well, not cool enough to get my van stolen.)

Now that the victim's identity has been released officially, I am going to go ahead and publish, exclusively to Johnny Northside blog readers, some information I have been sitting upon.

Annshalike's Life And Death

This info came to me over the comments function, with a request not to post, but it also said the poster would have "no qualms" about this information being posted in "somewhat edited form" once the identity of the victim was made official.

So here it is in "somewhat edited form," which I take to mean using English major magic on grammar, spelling, etc. However, not much of proofreading was necessary. This poster is actually pretty skilled as a writer.

The poster calls himself "Mark" and says, "I'm a close friend of the family" and that "Anshalike's mother is like my adopted mom." (Mark consistently spells "Annshalike" with one "n," when the official information uses two. Mark notes, also, that he is aware of the identities of the other anonymous posters. Because the story told by the other two posters is "confusing," Mark states he would like to "shed some light as to the goings-on."

He says Annshalike's nickname was "Lili" and she was a bright, straight-A student (apparently at Patrick Henry High School) "from a white mother and black father." He continues, "Last school year her grades started slipping, then over summer vacation she lived with her dad, a dad that never kept tabs on her or cared what she seems over the summer she met this man who, according to Lili's own words, goes by "Freaky" and "Snoop" and is in his mid-20s.

"When school rolled around she came home to her mom's pregnant. Her mom (and all of us!) were upset. The decision was made by both Anshalike and mom they would keep the child, both believing abortions wrong in a world where (...) young people are already being killed.

"The other problem was she wouldn't tell anyone the father's real name. Then Annshalike started disappearing from the house, sometimes for days. She was truant from school enough where her mom contacted MPD and asked for help finding the father and trying to arrest him on statutory rape and get him off the streets. Rumor claims he is a crack dealer as well."

(Johnny Northside notes: Yeah, rumor posted in the comment threads of this blog is that he used to deal right out of that garage at 2222 4th St. N., but that's the same commentor who said Annshalike was "shot," so...well, who knows? There are consistent reports of drug dealing in that alley)

The Dreaded Knock At The Door

Mark notes the family hoped trying to get Snoop arrested would prevent Anshalike's "sporadic runaways to him." Mark says, "I just want to note...she never had substance abuse problems and I am fairly sure she was not on crack. In the beginning of November she disappeared again, this time longer than normal. Her mom contacted national and local missing child programs. When Thanksgiving came and went without even a phone call, we all thougth the worse, but nobody wanted to voice concerns out loud.

"On Wednesday, the 17th of December the police came to her mom's to get info regarding the frozen body. The family was not allowed to identify the body, a vague reason given that the body would be definitely unidentifiable, so DNA was taken from the mother and father."

Mark says more at this point. I will not disclose it at this time. The reason for non-disclosure is so the information will not make its way to the suspect, Snoop or Freaky.

Mark does add the family needs to "properly mourn" and the family needs "justice." Some degree of speculation is added by Mark about the awful things that happen in prison to child killers.

Best to not include those graphic thoughts.

If anybody knows the real name of Freaky/Snoop, his rap sheet, address, where he took my stolen van...OK, that speculation was way off, I'll admit...but, in any case, if anybody has info please publish it in the comment threads.

In regard to the photos: these are from the online Photobucket account of "Annshalike," which appears to be the same person as the victim. Indeed, the name "Annshalike" is unique in the world. There was only one person with this name, until the Hennepin County Medical examiner designated "Annshalike" as the name for the baby. And then there were two people with that name, but neither one, you might say, "in this world."

In any case...I am using the photos because these are complimentary likinesses which will make people care about the victim, and because the point of "Photobucket" is to simply dump photos on the world to share the photos. This is a reasonable use of the photos, sympathic and helpful to the victim, who remains the (apparent) owner of the photos.


Photo By John Hoff

Here is the latest info on the body found at 2222 4th St. North.

I can now confirm local television station MyFox reporter Tom Lyden has managed to interview the mother of the person believed to be the murder victim. (ADDENDUM: Subsquently, it was learned the mother was unwilling and/or unable to do an interview with Fox, but Fox had an exclusive interview with the brother)

The victim is oh-so-strongly believed to be a young woman, a minor, and a former straight-A student until she fell in with the wrong sort of guy. However,her identity has not yet been confirmed. Much of this delay with identification took place because of the holiday and the usual amount of time it takes with a body that is decomposed.

MyFox is in the always-awkward position of trying to inform the public without jeopardizing the investigation because obviously any information aired in the media will get to the suspect.

One law enforcement official, speaking to me anonymously, told me he'd be "very surprised" if the murder victim was not the person whose identity is suspected but "stranger things have happened." The official also took issue with rumors the victim had been shot and believes those rumors, posted on a comment thread, to not be true. This much the law enforcement official can say with certainty: it is not a stranger preying on females. However, the suspect has not been...and these are the words of the police official...."brought in." Until the identity of the victim is confirmed, they can't arrest him.

Of course...and I'm just adding my own commentary here...there are some fairly-persistent reports of statutory rape, so I'm wondering why the guy was never brought in on THAT? (I wish I had a picture of this creep)

I'm also told by a source that Mahmood Khan has 25 to 30 properties in addition to the hellhole at 2222 4th St. N, but there is some uncertainty because the properties are listed under Mahmood Khan, Mahmood K. Khan, and Mahmood Kamal Khan. Are these all the same guy? Unknown. I have a list of properties provided by a source but it may take me a while to slash through all this info and get some stuff posted.

Tune in to MyFox for the story. I'm confident in saying MyFox wouldn't even have the story without my tips, but I'll say this: it's a beautiful thing when the blogosphere and the mainstream media cooperate for the greater good. This whole matter is, however, very tragic and from the sound of things...some no-account petty thug who goes by "Snoop" or "Freaky" is in need of a speed date with the Goddess of Justice.

(Do not click "Read More")

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tracking Down The OTHER Crappy Properties Of Mahmood Khan, Apparent Owner Of 2222 4th St. N., Where A Woman's Body Was Found

Photo By John Hoff

An intrepid comment poster tracked down some information on Mahmood Khan and submitted it via a comment thread...

He did it by finding Khan's phone number on a city document, then searching the number on Craigslist under rental properties. That turned up a Craig's List ad:

Links to ads on "CL" go dead in a month or so, therefore I'm going to extract the info and make it available on this blog:

$950 / 3 br-- 34xx Emerson, 17xx Oliver and a few single homes (32xx Bryant, and 20xx Russel)

Ad was posted on December 6, 2008, 8:09 CST. It reads as follows.

In North Minneapolis. Single Family Homes and Duplexes. 3, 4 and 5 bedrooms. AVAILABLE NOW!!! Rents range from $950 to $1250. Some with FULL basements and attics and also some include single and double car garages, WALK IN CLOSETS.

16xx 22nd Ave., 16xx 27th Ave., 32xx Bryant, 34xx Emerson, 17xx Oliver, 20xx Russel, 20xx 21st Ave. and 16xx Sheridan. Utilities to be paid by the tenant that is water, gas and electric. Please call.


(Here, Khan, let me proofread this for you, free of charge. There should be a hyphen in "walk-in." Two L's in "Russell." That mistake happened twice, so it was not just a typo. That sentence which begins with "Utilities to be paid..." is just bad, mangled English)

OK, LISTEN UP JOHNNY NORTHSIDE READERS. And keep in mind this is my own little private predator drone mission, here, and not something officially-sponsored by anybody.

I want the addresses of Khan's properties. I want to dig up info about the situation with all these other properties because, good lord, I've seen how he keeps 2222 4th St. N., and it's an indignity to our neighborhood.

Anybody got an idea how to get a quick handle on getting those other addresses, other than a burdensome process of trial and error with the city's property information website? Because, oh gee, I can't search the website by name of owner to find the properties of a notorious slumlord where a body turned up. The city doesn't TRUST US to use that information wisely, though city officials reportedly have access to the information themselves. I want to turn up the addresses, but I don't want to check, for example, every possible address on the 3400 block of Russell.

Also, and I will reiterate this: I'm open to hearing Khan's side of the story. Khan can contact me, if he likes. Also, when the owner of 2222 4th St. N. discovered the body (presumably it was indeed Khan, if one makes the dangerous assumption the city's records are up-to-date) he did the right thing by calling 911.

Clearly, some cynical individuals would have thought, "Oh, good lord, a body in my garage! This is nothing but trouble for a slumlord such as I! Gotta think, gotta think...OK, I've got it. Plastic tarp. One of my houses with a bathtub. Lots and lots of battery acid...."

The owner of 2222 4th St. N. DIDN'T DO THAT.

He called the police, as per his civic duty. And though I might be inclined to be harshly critical of the condition of his property, my criticisms will only go so far before I have to throw in a caveat: when he called the police, the owner of 2222 4th St. N. did the right thing, and there were indeed other options.

The Orchid Master Of The Hawthorne Neighborhood

Photos Contributed By Kevin Kuschel

I serve with Kevin Kuschel on the Hawthorne Housing Committee, and I often exchange emails with him about neighborhood crime issues, but I didn't know about his secret life until just today...

Kevin raises species orchids. "Species" orchids are the type of orchid found in the wild, versus hybrids, which are man-made crosses commonly grown in gardens or sold in stores.

Kevin says many of the orchids he grows are disappearing as their native habitats are being destroyed. He asked me to include the names because, as he puts it, "Names are important to we orchid folk."

From top to bottom:

1.) Podangis dactyloceras. Found in various parts of Africa. Flowers are about 3/8 of an inch across.

2.) Cleisostoma sagittiforme. From India, Southern China, and Thailand. The flowers are 1/4 of an inch.

3.) Dendrobium harveyanum. A rare species from China, Burma, Vietnam and Thailand.

4.) Pleurothallis picta. Individual flowers are 1/4 of an inch long. These are from Cuba as well as South and Central America.

5.) Habenaria radiata. From Japan. Sometimes called the "Egret flower." Easy to see why.

6.) Porrovallia Phil Jesup. A hybrid of two species from the Cloud Forests of South & Central America.

(Question from Johnny Northside: so this is a natural hybrid one might find in the wild? Or not?)

7.) Maxillaria pachyphylla. Found in Bolivia and Brazil.

8.) Haraella retrocalla. Half inch flowers smell like Lemon Pledge. From Taiwan.

I might add, here...just because this is the kind of thing I would add...our neighborhood has many lovely old houses with big yards...perfect for greenhouses, perfect for gardens. There is a lot of gardening in our community, which I've written about before, including "the Polish lady's" rather notable efforts. (Click here)

If you dream of owning your own house, with gardening space and/or room to add a greenhouse, now is the time to buy, buy, buy in North Minneapolis.

The Hawthorne's Neighborhood's "Scarlet Letter" Issues

Image From This Website, click here

Real Estate agent Jeanie Hoholik recently wrote a blog entry, click here, about an interesting irony in the Hawthorne neighborhood. Our neighborhood was...

...named after Nathanial Hawthorne, an American writer whose magnum opus was "The Scarlet Letter." Even folks who have never read the book usually know this much: the main character, Hester Prynne, lived in a Puritan colony of New England. Her husband was away, and Hester committed adultery; the proof of which was the fact she had a child by the affair, a little girl.

English Comp 101, Here In Hawthorne

To punish Hester, and make an example of her, the colony decreed she would have to wear a scarlet letter "A" (for adultery) on her chest. Hester accepted her punishment and dared to live her life openly, actually ADORNING the letter.

Now here comes the strange coincidences, which even Jeanie didn't notice.

In the book, arguably, the colony NEEDED Hester Prynne to play the role of open and notorious sinner, somebody citizens could point their fingers at while concealing their own dark secrets. Indeed, it turns out the person responsible for Hester's pregnancy was the colony's young preacher!

Well, consider this: one can make a case the rest of Minneapolis "needs" parts of North Minneapolis to have crime, to have a bad reputation, to be the "designated red light district." (Ah, red! Like the scarlet letter!)

Indeed, in one of my earliest blog posts, click here, I wrote about one North Minneapolis resident who claimed public officials had been complicit, for many years, in making North Minneapolis an unofficial "designated red light district."

This relationship is oddly like that of Hester and the preacher. Who put Hester in this position in the first place? Why, it was the person in authority in the colony, the preacher! Who put North Minneapolis (specifically Hawthorne, and Jordan) in this tough position? Arguably, it couldn't happen without some level of complicit neglect by the authorities.

La Zona De Tolerencia?

For example, we have a problem with drug dealing right out in the street. Not EVERYWHERE, just certain tough areas. So how is it we don't get the resources to STAMP IT OUT? Somewhere, somebody in power is quietly saying, "If people can't buy their drugs in North Minneapolis, well, where will the drug dealing go?"

But who comes along and scores dope out of car windows? Are all those cars from North Minneapolis? Doubt it. Who cruises for prostitutes on Lyndale Ave. N? Just cars from North Minneapolis? Again...doubt it.

Riddle me this: how is it SOUTH MINNEPOLIS gets the prostitution stings, while NORTH MINNEAPOLIS gets the actual prostitutes? Do we have a de facto "Zona De Tolerencia" like cities in Mexico?

And yet...statistics show crime in our neighborhood is DROPPING. We are turning the place around. If public officials were complicit years ago, decades ago, that doesn't appear to be the case anymore. The foreclosure crisis has been, oddly, an opportunity to get rid of decrepit buildings and bring an influx of people buying houses to make quality homes, not run-down rentals.

And yet we continue to wear the "scarlet letter," in this case a big "C" for "Crime." When something good happens in North Minneapolis, we don't get the credit. The recent "lutefisk snub" in the City Pages is a minor example, click here, but it's typical of the overall pattern.

A Body Found At 2222 4th St. N.

I believe in the next few days, information will be released about the dead woman found at 2222 4th St. N. From what I'm hearing behind-the-scenes, this will be a terrible story. And it will make our neighborhood look bad.

Yet it was our neighborhood which sounded the alarm on this vacant, decrepit house and garage long ago. Formal complaints were submitted by the Hawthorne Neighborhood council and two residents who lived nearby. If our neighborhood had its way, owner Mahmood Khan wouldn't have been given break after break on this property. The evidence shows Khan comes along about once a month to check on it.

Some (expletive) progress, Mr. Khan. YOU SUCK!!!!!!

Maybe Khan comes by when he has paint cans he needs to store on the front porch.

The Hawthorne Neighborhood has struggled. Hawthorne has tried. And we've made amazing progress, especially in the Eco Village area.

But we're not getting far enough, fast enough. And, to make matters worse, there are dozens of properties just as bad as this pile of crap at 2222 4th St. N. (There are also some run-down properties which are quality buildings, of historical significance, which should be saved)

Change Is The Only Constant

There was a time, in the 1970s, when the words "Hennepin Avenue" conjured up images of drug deals, and teenage hookers. There was a time when the words "Lake Street" had the same impact, before the amazing revitalization of that area.

There will come a time when North Minneapolis experiences the same revitalization, and memories of the day we wore a "scarlet letter" will fade. I'm working for that day. I'm in the ironic position of writing the truth, and not sugar-coating it, and sometimes the truth is ugly and, quite arguably, bad PR.

Let Us Redouble Our Efforts To Create Urban Utopia

We must continue to work even harder to call 911, to call 311, to establish effective lines of communication, to document our struggle, to tell our stories and inspire others to come and participate, to pick up the litter, to adopt the houses, to save those vacant properties worth saving and tear down those not worth saving. Clearly, some weeks it will feel like three steps forward, two steps back.

And I think this week is going to be a week like that. We're about to get punched in the face.

But we're going to get up from the ground, and we're going to punch back.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2222 4th St. N Body Found, More Info

Photo By John Hoff

So I've been in contact with somebody who is giving me information which I believe to be good info, but I'm not able to share it quite yet. I'm working to get more and to determine what I can share, because I do not post blog comments when people say "Don't post this."

This much I will say:

1.) The authorities have been doing a fine job and there is a rational reason for the delay, something which didn't occur to me but which makes perfect sense. I should have been watching more "CSI."

2.) Information will indeed come from the authorities in the near future.

3.) If the victim is who the authorities strongly suspect, this story may get very big in the media. Yes, it's ugly. It's really ugly. Wear mental seat belts, because when the news comes out, it will be shocking and horrific.

Do not click "Read More"

Friday, December 26, 2008

More Dreary Images, 2222 4th St. N., Where A Woman's Body Was Found

Photos By John Hoff

No, I don't really have more info. I just have some images. But check out...

...that couch, missing its cushions. When I look at it hard, I begin to see all kinds of things. But these things may be imaginary. I think I see blood. In fact, I think I see blood in an "arterial spray pattern" on the left side, but that's only visible when the photo is MUCH LARGER than seen above. But what appears to be droplets of blood can be seen on the top of the cushion closest to the viewer, to the left.

But, well...I didn't go to CSI school, so I am, in fact, clueless and I have to draw my limited insights from (good grief) butchering chickens. So that may not be blood at all. It's pretty light. It could be Kool-Aid, I suppose. Um...the authorities should be telling us. They should be releasing information.

The other pictures show...the missing electrical meter and some sad, downtrodden little decoration over the door. Oh, dark little figures driving mysterious shadowy carriage horses, broken in half so the horses run free. Cheerful.

Mahmood, honey, I love it!!!! Let's BUY this place and leave it sit like this forever and ever! Why, we can store our paint can collection in the porch!

ANYBODY WHO HAS INFO ABOUT THE BODY AT 2222 4th STREET NORTH: Contact Guy Still At Fox News 952-946-5767

Photo By John Hoff

I was contacted by Guy Still of Fox News, who went through some trouble to obtain my email address.

Mr. Still is trying to dig up information about the body found at 2222 4th St. N. and states he is not getting anywhere with the authorities, and he believes there is some kind of notable story, here. I agree. It has been, what? Ten days? That's a very long time to delay releasing information, even taking into account Christmas and thawing time.

Guy Still can be contacted at Guy.Still@FOXTV.COM. His phone number is 952-944-9999.

When the media are determined to find you, best to approach the media before they approach you, so you have a greater degree of control.

ADDENDUM: Blog headline revised to include Guy's direct number, instead of the impossible-to-navigate Fox TV voice mail system. Punch in Guy's last name and you don't get Guy, oh no, you get some woman named Rumplestilkskin or something like that. GET IT TOGETHER, FOX!!!!

(Do not click "Read More")

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Still Waiting For Info About The Body At 2222 4th St. N.

Photos By John Hoff

Maybe the powers-that-be are waiting until after Christmas to announce whatever sure-to-be-macabre findings they have, but in the meantime...

...residents of North Minneapolis, particularly the Hawthorne neighborhood, are waiting to hear the autopsy results and identity of the dead female, age unknown, found in the crappy little "carriage house" garage behind 2222 4th St. N.

Maybe this story has fallen off the mental radar screen for most of the Twin Cities, but for those who live near the scene the incident is still very much a concern, particularly if there is a murder suspect who needs to be apprehended. Folks speculated the dead individual may have been a transient, which seemed like a plausible enough theory.

Unfortunately, all we have to go on at this point are old media reports and a few ghastly rumors published to the comment threads of an earlier blog post here at Johnny Northside, as the Minneapolis Crime blog recently noted.

Well, the comment thread of this blog post is open, pending only approval of me, the blogmeister. If you have info you want to share--dark confessions burdening your soul, etcetera--feel free to spill. Gee, I'd sure like to know what other ugly, run-down properties might be owned by Mr. Khan.

I'd love to be able to search the Minneapolis property records using his name as a search term, but of course the website is clunky and you can't search that least, regular citizens can't. One hears rumors city officials have more search options, but aren't sharing those privileges with us, the unwashed masses.

Sigh. We wait. A frozen body turns up days ago, and still we wait to find out if the cause of death was cold-blooded murder or just...the cold.

2207 4th Street North (New Info About This Ongoing, Frustrating Situation)

Photo By John Hoff

Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes dug up some new info about 2207 4th St. N., and it is quite frustrating to learn...

Here is Jeff's info, verbatim:

Many of us were working under the assumption the owner--Jose Hugo Contreras Vazquez--was a recent owner and had just purchased this property. Well, I checked county records and it turns out he bought the place in September, 2004 for $149,000. And it is on the CARE Committee list of problem properties already. Here is what care has to say about it, verbatim:

2207 4th St. N. (11/20/07) PPU. Building condemned with 26 open orders (7/3/07 due date) Moving forward to demo. Condemned board flag 7/6/07 & vacant building registration 7/6/07.

2/20/08 No change in status.

3/18/08 "director's order" to demolish is being considered, a new vacant building registry fee of $6,000 to be assessed in July 2008.

5/20/08 No change. 6/18/08 No change.

7/15/08 open violation grass/weeds.

8/20/08 multiple violations issued on property, due 11/08.

9/17/08 No change. 11/19/08 recent inspection, multiple housing violations. PPU will monitor. 12/17/08 No change.

Jeff continues:

So what, really, are we looking at, here? Mr. Contreras has been the owner of a property for the past 4 years and 3 months. The property has had problem property designation for the past 13 months. Usually in order for that to happen, it has to be boarded/vacant for the past 15 months. Residents living in the area may be able to give a more accurate history.

If that wasn't bad enough, once it went to a problem property status things have deteriorated continuously, starting with 26 open orders, then he can't even mow the grass, then "multiple violations" in inspections done in August and November, and culminating in the vacant house party a few weeks ago. (Click here)

I was thinking we'd invite a new owner to these meetings and set him straight. But with this history, I'm more in favor of just pushing him out and encouraging the city to go ahead with a demolition.

Google Maps: This Is Not My North Minneapolis Neighborhood

Google Maps Image Forwarded
By "Way Cool 311 Jim" of Chicago

I really can't be too critical of Google Maps, because at least my neighborhood is included in their street-level images. I understand some obscure places on the planet don't have street-level images on Google Maps at all, and rumor has it the entire state of North Dakota just wasn't included until somebody in East Grand Forks, Minnesota pointed out the error years later. However...

My Hawthorne neighborhood in North Minneapolis has been changing so fast many Google Maps images are, in effect, a walk down memory lane. Boarded buildings have been demolished, or occupied, or are under renovation. Street corners where groups of aimless young men up-to-no-good would just hang around are now...less welcoming, and less occupied. This is especially true in the Eco-Village area, which has seen major demolition activity.

Earlier today, I was having a discussion with "Way Cool 311 Jim" in Chicago, and I was discussing a matter on Bryant Avenue North. At some point Jim referred to Google Maps, but when I looked at Google maps I realized...Bryant has changed. For example, the house in the foreground is no longer boarded and vacant. That house is now full of renters, who reportedly are decent enough and trouble nobody. A lot of other stuff about the street had changed, too.

So I'm making this heartfelt statement to the internet ether, hoping it gets picked up by those in a position to do something: Google, please re-photograph and re-map my Hawthorne neighborhood.

City Pages Gives Hawthorne Neighborhood Hurtful "Lutefisk Snub"

Photo By John Hoff, available on

As if crackheads stealing aluminum siding and copper pipes wasn't bad enough, now THIS!!!! A recent article in the City Pages weekly newspaper, click here, went into great detail about Olsen Fish Company producing lutefisk for lovers of lye-and-cod-based fish delicacies the world over, hooray, but somehow neglected to mention...

...that Olsen Fish Company is in the Hawthorne Neighborhood of North Minneapolis.

You know, my neighborhood doesn't always get good publicity, but I don't whine about it. I expect journalists to tell the truth, and if a negative event truthfully happened in the Hawthorne neighborhood, then it is informative and accurate and probably fair to mention the name of the neighborhood. Sure.

But how is it when something GOOD happens like (in this case) "the world's largest chunk of phlegm" our neighborhood doesn't get named?

This hurts, City Pages. This really hurts.

I'll be firing off an emailed letter-to-the-editor, but in case it isn't published...well, there, I've said my piece.


MORE DETAILS: Hennepin County Sheriff Raids 2223 Bryant Ave. N. Photo

Ho, ho, ho. It's a Johnny Northside Dot Com Christmas. My readers have been very, very good so here's a special bloggy present for you.

There have been more developments with the surprising sheriff's department raid at 2223 Bryant Ave. N, which this blog previously reported, click here.

The raid is "surprising" because the house...

...reportedly wasn't much of a problem as far as drug trafficking though apparently this house has been a problem "off and on." In fact, in addition to "2207" being a cursed number in Hawthorne, pink houses are also considered "unlucky" and tend to be problem houses, or so one long-time resident claims. Crappy-looking venetian blinds are often a clue, and this house had THAT. (Still does, as a matter of fact)

The address, now revealed to be 2223 Bryant Ave. N., is a rental with an absentee landlord who lives out-of-state. Word on the street is somebody got the contact info for the landlord and called him today, Christmas Day, to let him know what was up with his unsavory tenants. The police raid was news to him. He promised to look into the matter. We shall see. A letter from the neighborhood association will likely go out, judging by past practice.

The day after the police raid, a black male in his mid- to late-30s was seen with a hammer, trying to repair the door frame, which was apparently damaged when police entered with their search warrant. the landlord was going to think that loose, nailed-back-together door frame was "normal wear and tear." Oh, gee, I guess the UPS guy bumped it and THE DOOR FRAME CAME COMPLETELY LOOSE, shrug, shrug, ingratiating smile.

On a tangential side note:

Did I ever tell you folks about the time I was an assistant landlord, and some college kids tried to conceal nail holes in a white plaster wall with TOOTHPASTE? I was all, like, "Huh, this wall smells MINTY FRESH."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS: Hennepin County Sheriff's Department Serves Search Warrant On The 2200 Block Of Bryant Ave. N. Photo, Album By The Band "Warrant"
(Sorry, I didn't have a good illustration)

At least four or five vehicles descended on a house on the 2200 block of Bryant Ave. N., on the odd side of the street. Most of the vehicles were unmarked cars. I heard there was at least one marked vehicle but didn't see it myself.

The specific house number will follow when I have it. It's dark and cold and I can't hang around for it just this minute. I'm operating under less-than-ideal blogging conditions, here, but I'm back from family and back in the game.

The warrant was served by Hennepin County police, most of which appeared to be undercover due to lack of uniforms and marked cars. Numerous brown paper bags were observed being brought out of the house and placed in the trunk of a vehicle, apparently evidence. One officer requested that I not photograph his vehicle or face, and I honored that request.

The officers would not say if the warrant was for drugs but did confirm, when asked, that they got what they "needed."

Note: This blog entry was updated with an illustration and musical links on Dec. 25.

(Do not click "Read More")

Monday, December 22, 2008

Family And Blizzard Photo

To my regular readers: I've been out of town, dealing with family stuff, and held up due to the blizzard. I had to shovel the walkways of a number of old and disabled folks in a small town, to help a friend. So I've been stuck. But I'll get back to Minneapolis and put up more content in the next couple days.

In the meantime, there is an incredible unconfirmed comment about 2222 4th St. N. I prefer to believe this is just rumor-mongering. All the same...check it out. Even as nothing more than a rumor, it is ugly and interesting.

(Do not click "Read More")

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

JoyAnne Teachout, Wife Of Hawthorne Chair, Expecting Fourth Child

Photo By John Hoff

Peter Teachout and his wife, JoyAnne, are taking seriously the mission to bring new residents to Hawthorne. They are expecting their fourth child! Congratulations, Peter and JoyAnne.
(Do not click "Read More")

Mysterious Death At 2222 4th St. N. (JOHNNY NORTHSIDE BLOG EXCLUSIVE DETAILS About The Miserable, Run-Down Property In Question)

Photos By John Hoff

For some reason, none of the media is willing to state the specific address of the run-down, decrepit dump of a property where a woman's body was found recently, click here for the story as told by WCCO.

I'm familiar with...

...the house in question. In fact, I once called 311 on the house for having no address number visible on the front exterior, and then a big green "2222" mysteriously appeared shortly after that on the board over the front door. Well, better than nothing, I guess.

Not A Gas Leak After All

Actually, Jeff and I drove past the crime scene while it was being processed. This was some time after the news crews had left, apparently, or before they all arrived. Even though both ends of the alley were blocked off, I didn't think much of it. I figured there was yet another gas leak from crackheads stealing copper pipes, because the fire department's procedure of blocking both ends of an alley looked similar to what I've seen before with these North Minneapolis gas leaks.

A house might explode. Shrug. Well, guess I can't cut through the alley.

The next day, I read about a woman's body being found in the garage, frozen. (So frozen one media outlet said she'd have to "thaw" before the autopsy took place) Some emails flew around the neighborhood. Michael Klick had heard gunshots on Sunday night during the snowstorm, and he couldn't help but think it might be connected to the woman's body being found in the garage.

"In Extreme Disrepair"

If the city's online property records are current--and you could break bones tripping over such a big "if"--the owner of the property is somebody named Mahmood Khan, whose address is listed at 2972 Old Highway 8 Roseville, MN 55113. So if the media are reporting the "owner" of the property came out to check the place, and found the body, then one assumes it was Mahmood Khan who found the body. (Unless the house has been sold to somebody else and the city's records just aren't up-to-date, which is common)

On September 25--the very day of the Hawthorne Annual Meeting--there was a meeting at City Hall regarding this property. (One supposes the meeting may have involved other properties, too) The meeting was held by the Nuisance Condition Process Review Panel. Board members, an assistant city attorney, and folks from inspections (including good ol' Wayne Murphy) were at the meeting, and so was Mahmood Khan, representing himself.

The board found as follows: 2222 4th St. N. is a two-family home in the Hawthorne neighborhood. The (garbled) story structure was built in 1900. Each unit has four rooms, including one bathroom and one bedroom. The building is 1,623 square feet. (...) (On all three floors)

The property is in extreme disrepair. There are 27 open housing orders on the property, most as a result of the Code Compliance Inspection conducted in April, 2008. The basement is moldy, there are holes in the walls, water damage shows on the ceilings throughout the house, kitchens and bathrooms have been trashed, the copper has been stripped and the roof is substandard.

The inspections department found the estimated cost to rehab the building is $129,843 to $234,372 based on the means square foot estimate. The assessed value of the property in 2007 was $147,000. The 2008 assessed value is $70,000. The Preservation and Design Team staff didn't find the property worth preserving.

The Hawthorne Area Community Council (the former name of HNC) and property owners within 350 feet of the property were mailed a request for a community impact statement. Three were received, all of which said the house had a negative impact on the neighborhood and should be demolished.

How We Got Into This Mess

Yong Yia Vue purchased the property on December 1, 2005. The property went into foreclosure and a sheriff's sale was conducted on June 20, 2006, with Deutsche Bank National Trust as Trustee for AMC Mortgage Services submitting the highest bid. The redemption period expired on December 20, 2007, and the property was put up for sale "as is."

On July 17, 2007, the property was condemned for being a boarded building and added to the City's Vacant Building Registration. The property has remained vacant and boarded since that time.

On April 1, 2008, a Code Compliance Inspection was ordered and paid for by Kyle White, the realtor attempting to sell the property. On June 25, 2008, the current owner, Mahmood Khan, purchased the property.

A Notice Of The Director's Order to Raze and Remove was mailed on July 23, 2008 to AMC Mortgage Services, Inc., Young Yia Vue, Kyle White, Vang Phay, Argent Mortgage Co. and Shapiro, Nordmeyer and Zielke.

On August 19, 2008, Mahmood Khan filed an appeal indicating "Code Compliance, will be brought up to code by licensed contractors."

On September 22, 2008 Mr. Khan sent the Department of Inspections an estimate to rehabilitate the property at a cost of $100,000 but was unable to meet with staff to discuss a restoration agreement detailng the proposed rehabilitation including timelines for completion.

Mr. Khan stated at the hearing that he plans to convert the building to a single family home with hope to provide housing to low-income families. Mr. Habib Moghul spoke on the owner's behalf and indicated he has seen the owner do good work in rehabbing other houses in the city.

(...) The city of Minneapolis found evidence, "including but not limited to neighborhood impact statements, clearly demonstrates that the values of neighborhood properties have diminished as a result of deterioration of the subject building" and also "rehabilitation is not justified when compared to the after rehab resale value of the building."

Recommendation to Raze upheld by the board.

Observations By "Boots On The Ground"

I was giving Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes a ride to pick up his newly-repaired vehicle, and I took a detour to 2222 4th St. N., now clear of police and gawkers...though plenty of ribbons of crime scene tape were left hanging all over.

I advocate making that stuff out of corn starch polymer. My little Green Party plug, here, for a small public policy tweak to help the environment.

The "garage" in question is small. It appears to be one of the many old "carriage houses" which dot the back yards of North Minneapolis. The garage had been newly re-boarded with an official, gray board. A couch was near the garage, with a blue crime scene latex glove on it. It seemed as though the couch may have been hauled out of the garage. The cushions of the couch were missing. If the body was on the couch, then I figure these cushions were taken along with the body for some kind of analysis...though Jeff speculated the corpse may have been frozen to the cushions.

Of course...we don't really know if the deceased person was on that couch or not. But what's up with that big missing chunk of hand rest?

The house is a monstrosity. You can't really call it a duplex, despite an odd, engraved metal sign declaring "THIS IS A DUPLEX." Jeff had never seen anything like that sign, and wondered what was the point. The house seemed to be a small gray stucco thing which had some kind of horrible addition added, then pranced around shrieking, "Look at me! I'm a duplex!"

I note the findings of the City of Minneapolis went out of its way to avoid use of the word "duplex." Some kind of legality is a-simmering, here, or was at one time.

Paint Cans In The Mail Slot

Properly acting under the City of Minneapolis' publicized mandate for responsible citizens to "adopt" vacant and neglected properties, I wanted to see if any letters were stuck in the mail slot, so I could shove that stuff further into the house to help thwart mail fraud. That was when me and Jeff found the front porch was full of paint cans...waist high, it appeared, piled up just beyond the mail slot in the front porch. Who knew how many, but probably a lot. Jeff said the place was being used as a "dumping ground."

I noticed some of the vinyl siding had been pried upon...just enough for somebody to find out it was vinyl, not aluminum. Windows were missing on the second story, allowing blowing snow to enter the house.

This house is a monstrosity. I would like to think something like this incident would change the mind of the owner about trying to rehab it, but it's pretty hard to transform the hardwired slumlord mindset: nothing a coat of paint won't fix.

The proceedings against this house should move from back burner to front burner. But I think most residents are just wondering: how did this woman die? And if it was foul play, who did it? And who was she? Those are answers we're still waiting for...while she, um, thaws.

Snowy Evidence Of Misery At 416 31st Ave. N.

Photos By John Hoff

There have been drug arrests at this house...a drive-by shooting. It has come near condemnation...very little of a happy nature seems to happen at 416 31st Ave. N. This week is no exception to the overall historical pattern...

Previously, the owner of the place--who reportedly burst into tears with building inspectors this year, after a bunch of tenants left along with copper pipes, aluminum window frames--poured a lot of work into fixing the place, and put in a new group of tenants. The new tenants had a lot of noisy little children who seemed to supervise themselves, mostly, but nobody in the neighborhood could say they caused any serious trouble, especially when compared to the worthless no account crack users who were there before.

But, suddenly, the house appears empty...except for the possibility of somebody squatting inside, a matter we're watching closely. "Owner boards" (which are not painted gray nor bearing placards, unlike "official boards") went up over the windows on the lower level, perhaps to prevent a repeat of the aluminum-frame looting incident.

Word is the mother of the renter family got sick, and left in an ambulance. Later, somebody who seemed to be a relative came to fetch at least two mattresses; possibly for the children. All this is unconfirmed, but the former tenants certainly appear to be gone in a hurry.

A bunch of possessions hit the curb: clothing transported in a big bed sheet bundle, mismatched shoes, a small television, a little freezer with the lid removed, possibly to make it easy to clear a doorway.

The Polish woman lives close to all of this sad drama, but word is her new privacy fence (constructed by volunteers from ReBuilding Together) has made her life more comfortable, by minimizing what used to be a spectacular view of the low-budget soap opera at 416 31st. Ave. N.

What will happen to 416 31st Ave. N? Will it get sold and fixed up? Will it be demolished?

We watch. We wait. We hold our breath. The mood seems to be...feeling bad for the folks who left, but not particularly sad to see them go.

ADDENDUM: Information comes from the Eco Village...word on the street is the woman had a heart attack and died.