Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kip Browne's Speech At Pohlad Foundation Volunteer Appreciation Event...

JACC Chairman Kip Browne didn't even ask me to put up this video. I simply found it while looking for another clip on YouTube. It's a speech Browne gave at a Pohlad Foundation event, talking about the revitalization of our neighborhood.

Go Kip. If anybody believes in revitalization, it is Kip. I just spent the last three evenings with him engaged in "midnight gardening" with, good heavens, HALOGEN LIGHTS. The lovely plants came from the Pohlad Foundation and made their way to many individuals in the Jordan Neighborhood.

(Do not click "Read More")

Hawkman Exclusive! Wafana's Goes Back On The Market And The Neighborhood Is Watching!

Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, on a mission.

Moments ago, I received a facebook message from a good NoMi resident who was wondering about buying a building to start up a new restaurant. These kinds of emails are always exciting, but this one was especially so, because...

The property in question was none other than the infamous Wafana's. This (in)convenience store was the source of 1,376 police responses to this address, 129 police reports filed, and 160 arrests for criminal activity (including citations). Of those calls, 99.7 percent occurred during the business hours of 8 am to 10 pm. Fifty-four percent were 911 calls, which means the other 46 percent were proactive stops; 84 percent were narcotics calls; two calls reported a shooting, three calls reported robbery, two calls reported a stabbing, and 15 calls reported fighting and assault.

Did I mention that all these calls happened between January 1, 2005, and February 19, 2006? Police had to respond to very serious criminal activity at this site an average of three times PER DAY. This place was a NIGHTMARE, and it made the lives of our good neighbors a living hell. We are so grateful to everyone in the city who worked with us to shut it down.

Two years ago, it was purchased by some businessmen who wanted to open a meat market, "but no deli or convenience store." We told them to come before various committees in Hawthorne, and warned them that the neighbors would be extraordinarily skeptical. At each subsequent meeting, their proposed plan got worse - from a stand-alone meat market to a meat market/deli, but no convenience store, then a deli/convenience store but no tobacco products would be sold, and finally a run-of-the-mill convenience store, and the owners claimed they would not be able to afford a security guard.

Needless to say, their proposal was, well, shot down by the neighborhood, and here's why: If the buyer of our dreams miraculously shows up one day and promises to utterly transform the property, we COULD grant the variance. But then if the business fails--or if he simply decides to sell because it makes sense--then we could very easily see history repeat itself. There would be nothing in the zoning that would keep another problem property from opening up.

So here is a stern warning to any prospective buyer: This property is zoned R2-B. The only thing you can do with it is to use it as a residential one- or two-unit property. Its commercial zoning variance has expired and the neighborhood has no intention of granting an exception.

There is good news, however. I called the number listed above and talked to someone at MFIA properties. He is fully aware of the zoning variance issue, and made it clear that they are disclosing that up front to any prospective buyer. I told him a bit about the history of Wafana's and that the neighborhood likely will not approve of a zoning variance here.

I asked some very pointed questions, and they were all answered to my satisfaction. It appears that we have listing agents who really know their stuff, and that's a relief. The way he was talking, if any prospective buyer comes forward saying, "Woe is me! I didn't KNOW about the zoning variance!" the neighborhood should not believe it for a second. We were in agreement that it would be best if the city or a neighborhood development partner could acquire this site.

Hopefully, that is exactly what will happen, and in this particular case, I don't think any residents would shed a tear at its demolition. But in case another buyer comes along, remember: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Johnny Northside Dot Com Blog Named To Metro Top 100...

Contributed Photo, xoxo
The new issue of Metro Magazine which just hit the racks names this blog to its yearly Top 100, click here for the article. The image above shows a "photo shoot" in the first week of September, where myself and Ed Kohler of The Deets Dot Com had our pictures taken for the article. Ed was also named to the Top 100. Probably the most important thing about the article is "call 311 and join your neighborhood association" if you want to make things better.

Here's a link to information about the Top 100 party, click here. I hope to see many of you there, and I figure there will be enough food and drinks to make it worth the 40 bucks.

Thanks to readers and contributors for helping make this possible. By the way, this blog also made the state's top 100 blogs, click here.

(Do not click "Read More")

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natalie Johnson Lee Gets Called Out

Guest post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman, also known as The Mortgage Geek

In a recent Minneapolis Mirror interview, Natalie Johnson-Lee was asked about whether TJ Waconia was the major culprit in the foreclosure crisis in her ward. Even this question was uninformed, since the majority of TJ Waconia properties at issue were in Barb Johnson’s ward.

Like any good candidate should, Natalie used this opportunity to try and find something—anything!—to use against her opponent, and brought up the fact that Minneapolis proposed an anti-predatory lending ordinance at the city level many years ago. Her claim was that she and Don Zimmerman were the only councilmembers to vote in favor of this ordinance and that somehow if we’d passed it, we would have averted or at least somewhat lessened the crisis we now find ourselves in.

As a community organizer and self-proclaimed mortgage geek, I decided to see if her claims held any water. What I found was…

…they did not. I will explain why, but a fair warning is due: this is going to get rather technical. And now for a trip down the rabbit hole…

Around the time that this and other city ordinances were proposed, ACORN and other organizations like the Center for Responsible Lending were attempting to curb predatory lending at the state level. (Remember, this was back when ACORN could actually get things done.) That road was often difficult, since the mortgage boom was what got us out of the post-9/11 mini-recession and legislators didn’t want to hear that it was perhaps fundamentally flawed. So the organizations opted for an approach similar to the anti-tobacco movement: ban things at the local level and use that as an impetus for statewide change.

There is one problem with this idea that was not fully apparent until a recent Supreme Court ruling. Big banks like Wells Fargo, US Bank, Bank of America, etc. wound up not being governed by state law and only the federal government can really tell them what to do. Other smaller institutions like mortgage brokers and community banks are governed by state law. Nothing already written in law clearly made lenders at any level required to follow city ordinances of this nature. So many companies could have simply said, “These rules do not apply to us. We’re not going to follow them and/or we’re going to dispute them in court.”

(For the record, I worked for US Bank at the time many local ordinances popped up. We did create disclosure forms that told borrowers to avoid predatory loans and also stated what each city defined as predatory so that someone could compare their loan to those standards. I’m proud that US Bank chose to follow local laws AND lend responsibly. Many others did not.)

RT Rybak got the support of ACORN locally by promising to get a local ordinance passed. Then upon taking on the issue, realized that this was not a practical approach. This was the right decision, but where he failed was that he did not become a champion for a statewide law. ACORN and Rybak then had a major falling-out and their relationship became antagonistic for a while.

Fast-forward to today: What’s happening in cities that did pass ordinances? What’s happening in north Minneapolis? And would an anti-predatory lending ordinance have made a significant difference in Minneapolis or the 5th Ward?

The National League of Cities compiled this report about the major metropolitan areas that passed such ordinances. I found the whole thing fascinating, but that’s because I’m a mortgage geek and policy wonk. So I’ll sum it up for the other 99.99% of JNS readers. Chicago and Washington DC still have their laws in effect. Philadelphia's law was preempted by state law shortly after it was passed. Oakland and Los Angeles have had their laws stalled in court contests. Even if the laws are upheld, the lending they were intended to stop is over and done with. This map will show that Chicago is obviously not some sort of foreclosure-free economic utopia. Neither is DC (see page 5 of this link). Frankly, their issues are virtually identical to north Minneapolis in that low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are disproportionately affected by the consequences of predatory lending.

The connection between north Minneapolis and the foreclosure crisis at large is obvious to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock. Actually, that may not be entirely accurate. Chances are that the rock you were living under had a fraudulent mortgage attached to it thanks to Larry Maxwell, Marlon Pratt, or TJ Waconia, and now thanks to their misdeeds you no longer have a place to live.

The Housing Preservation Project, CURA, and other neighborhood groups have studied what has happened with foreclosures in north Minneapolis and the problem is at least halfway a rental property issue. Depending on the geographic boundaries and when the loans were originated, between 50-70% of north Minneapolis foreclosures in this crisis were on non-owner-occupied properties. Last year, Hawthorne examined the boarded/vacant list (many of those properties were foreclosed, but not all) and found that 67% of those properties were non-homesteaded duplexes. A full study of public records of mortgage delinquencies in north Minneapolis right now has not been undertaken. However, a cursory examination indicates that roughly half of all delinquencies right now are on rental properties.

The anti-predatory lending ordinance was geared primarily at owner-occupants, although to be fair, very few people had a thorough understanding of how rental properties could be affected by the lax lending standards seen earlier this decade. Since similar ordinances have either never proven useful or were not implemented due to state law or contested lawsuits, it is doubtful that we would have seen a meaningful result from such action in Minneapolis. There may have been actions at the city council level that could have mitigated this crisis, but the local anti-predatory lending ordinance was not among them. Going after TJ Waconia and other fraudsters was absolutely the right move to make once that problem was clear.

The Minneapolis Mirror tossed a slow pitch to Natalie Johnson-Lee in hopes that she would hit it out of the park. However neither of them fully understand the game that they are playing.

Volunteers Swarm NoMi! (pictorial, part 2 of 2)

Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Whenever we experience tragic events, they always seem to overshadow the little day-to-day things that go on in our community and in our lives that make things better. It's been a tough weekend for a lot of people and there's no way around that. But our neighborhood benefited from the hard work of as many as 200 or more volunteers from the Target Corporation and the Pohlad Family of Companies. I don't want to forget that either. So what follows are a few other shots of the Cottage Park cluster work...

Volunteers seemed especially excited to get rid of chain link fences, which can be unsightly and not conducive to a sense of community.

The biggest task seemed to be construction of a retaining wall, as seen below.

I also met Chad Schwitters of Urban Homeworks and his cute-as-a-button daughter. She was eagerly searching for earthworms, then putting them in this jar that had been dug up:

(Nerdy Hawkman “Lord of the Rings” parody alert) The volunteer crew also unearthed this rather disturbing artifact:

NoMi legend has it that when the drilling for geothermal power in the EcoVillage is complete, the Chosen One will hurl this sculpture into the molten core of the earth. Once destroyed, the power of Slummy the Squirrel will be vanquished forever and NoMi will begin a decades-long reign of eco-friendly prosperity and housing code compliance.

But good fortune was already smiling on us. Jay Clark of CURA was dropping off kids from the Farview soccer team. Fresh off a 1-0 victory, they stopped by for lunch and we got to bask in the glory of our star athletes once again.

A special thanks goes out to everyone who works to make NoMi a better place.

Anyone With Information On The Haywood Eaton Murder Is Asked To Call Minneapolis Police At 612-692-8477

Photos By John Hoff

The headline is a Johnny Northside Dot Com public service announcement.

(Do not click "Read More")

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Images, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Annual Dinner And Meeting...

Photos by John Hoff and Contributed Photos, xoxo

Here, belatedly, are some images from the recent Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Annual Meeting and Dinner, which included delicious food from Bangkok Market and great performances by some thespians from the Lundstrom Center for the Performing Arts.

The first step was getting registered to vote in the neighborhood election, which is much different than regular voter registration. Instead of precincts, we have quadrants, and...

The voting process is relatively informal.

Food at the dinner was provided by Bangkok Market, just like it was the year before. When something works so well, why go changing it?

One notable moment in this year's meeting was the election of Mohammed Agoubi to the board as a business rep. Agoubi is the branch manager for US Bank in the Hawthorn Crossings strip mall.

And, actually, I made a point of talking to Agoubi about how crime-ridden that mall is, and how it really needs to be cleaned up. Hopefully, Agoubi will bring some much-needed progress to this issue which, in the past couple days, has become as pressing as it's ever been.

Agoubi is in the middle, another US Bank employee is on the left, and of course Hawthorne's Housing Director, Jeff Skrenes, is on the right.

Here are the US Bank guys with one of the actors from the talent show, dressed up as "Raymond In Space."

In these two photos, below, the business reps in Hawthorne vote, and Agoubi gets elected.

Here are some pictures of the talent show I mentioned earlier. I mostly have photos of "set changes" because I was shooting video the rest of the time. One of the videos is already posted, click here, and I really will get the others posted at some point. The actor/singers were terrific and put a positive spin on the whole annual meeting.

Here's another picture of the board election. I am in the middle, in a purple shirt from Northside Art FLOW. I won a 1-year seat on the board, promising to "ask the tough questions" when, for example, wannabe slumlords come to our board and try to pass themselves off as respectable members of the community.

Here is a photo of the actual voting, below.

Here, members of the League of Women Voters count the ballots and ensure the election went fairly.

Treasurer Brian Cheese (left) and Executive Director Laban Ohito (right) stand near a list of candidate names. The board meeting featured some tough questions about where Hawthorne will get money to keep the neighborhood office running as some official funding sources dry up.

Below is a photo of outgoing board chair Peter Teachout. Peter recently converted his house in the Eco Village into a high-quality rental for a three-generation Hmong family, and got himself a bigger house in the McKinley neighborhood, actually living right near the chair of THAT neighborhood.

During his term of service as chair of our neighborhood association, Peter helped guide Hawthorne through big challenges, and paid the price for fighting hookers and drug dealers who set up shop right across from his house, where he lived with his wife and small children. Now the drug and hooker house is vacant and on its way to being demolished, eventually, and the Eco Village is racking up incredibly low crime stats, including two months with no reported crime at all.

In this photo, Peter jokes that with four children (so far) he is "creating his own neighborhood." Peter's shirt features a British bulldog and the words "because he can."

This final photo shows some of the talent show performers taking a bow. In a sense, they are taking a bow for the whole neighborhood and its achievements in the past year.

Looking at all the events and progress which have taken place in the past year, it makes your head spin. This blog can't keep up with, for example, the demolitions of crappy buildings which really, truly needed to go. The crime stats have plummeted, despite periodic setbacks.

We have come far, but we have far to go. And THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

With The Special Powers Of My Johnny Northside Hat, I Am Invulnerable In The Blogosphere...

Contributed Photo

One of my friends in NoMi presented me with this hat at a recent neighborhood dinner party. When I say "dinner party" I mean, well, pretty much every weekend somebody in the neighborhood is having a party or bonfire or barbeque, and everybody in a rather large social circle of decent, active citizens just shows up there. Then we sit around and talk about the politics of revitalization.

As this blog continues to gain more readers--currently an average of 400 a day--I'm always being asked, "Do you have a business card?"

Yeah, I should get some of those. But will boring business cards have magic powers to make me invulnerable in the blogosphere, like my hat? I kinda doubt it.

(Do not click "Read More")

Uncle Lennie Demo Gets Romantic Soundtrack On YouTube...

A resident of NoMi, relatively new to YouTube but obviously learning rapidly, took some footage of the "Uncle Lennie" demolition and set it the very lovely "Canon In D" classic music piece.

For the record, the original soundtrack was...

..."Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, but YouTube doesn't allow free use of that copyright music. Which is too bad, because the backhoe butt waggles were so perfectly choreographed with the hose work.

Sigh. Life ain't perfect, but when history gets written there are often a lot of typos and compromises. Enjoy the video. I know I do.

Uncle Lennie's Last Wall Comes Down!

Guest post and video by the Hawthorne Hawkman

In between Hawthorne-related activities last Friday, I went back to Uncle Lennie's to capture the demolition in various stages. Preserved here for historical significance and cathartic release is the last wall of the old Uncle Bill's store as it is torn down.

(Do not click "read more," but do celebrate a better NoMi.)

Volunteers Swarm NoMi! (pictorial, part 1 of 2)

Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

On a sunny Saturday morning, while resting after a successful annual dinner, the Hawthorne Hawkman received an urgent call on his legally obtained Blackberry. A bunch of people in red shirts had surrounded two houses in the Hawthorne neighborhood. But this was actually a good thing, because…

The volunteers were from the Target Corporation, under their Hearts and Hammers program. Hearts and Hammers does light exterior work such as painting and some landscaping. They focus on seniors and low-income individuals who otherwise might not be able to afford this necessary work.

Last year, they completed 17 projects in St. Paul’s West 7th neighborhood, and coordinated over 1,200 volunteers. The two houses in Hawthorne had a total of 60-70 volunteers working on them. If you want to see if Hearts and Hammers can help you or someone you know, call 952-922-2451.

Once I was out and about, I checked my trustworthy Blackberry and confirmed that today was also the day that the Pohlad Family Foundation was doing work at the Cottage Park Cluster. I hurried over there to get some photographs of that as well. Orange was the color of the day here.

More pictures to follow...

Fifth Ward Candidate Kenya McKnight Sidles Up To Television Camera At Yesterday's Crime Scene (Plus, JNS Blog Asks Her About "Queen Of England")

Yesterday, while providing grassroots media coverage of the murder of Haywood Eaton near (the notorious) Hawthorn Crossings Strip Mall, I ran into a television crew from WCCO and chatted, briefly and off-camera, with the camera man.

At that moment, who should come sidling up but Fifth Ward Candidate Kenya McKnight?

Kenya was obviously trying to finagle some face time with the camera and... fact, verbally admitted that when an offhand remark was made, like, "Oh, look, here's Kenya. She's running for city council and trying to get in front of the camera."

So there was Kenya, and while the warmth left the body of Haywood Eaton on the sidewalk Kenya discussed her qualifications for Fifth Ward City Council member. Kenya said she knew "the language" of the streets and jobless youth, because of where and how she grew up.

With politician and public figure Kenya McKnight actually talking to me instead of trying to hide behind James Everett to avoid having her picture taken (like the camera would steal her soul) I thought it was a perfect opportunity to ask what I feel is the most pertinent and pressing Kenya McKnight question in the Fifth Ward race.

"So Kenya," I asked her. "I'm told you believe the Queen of England has some kind of influence over US electoral politics? Such as presidential elections? Is that true?" (Click here for an article I wrote after these reported beliefs of Kenya McKnight first came to my attention)

Kenya responded by giving me that blank, angry look--the same serious, unpleasant, pissed-off expression that Kenya sees fit to put on her campaign flyers--and answered, "Have you STUDIED the Queen of England?"

At that point, it seemed like the lights were on and somebody was indeed home...but the person home behind the pulled-down blinds just happened to be a nutty conspiracy theorist. I read Kenya's tone to say something like this: "You are the stupid one, Johnny Northside, because you don't know what I know about the Queen of England."

What can you do at a moment like that? I figured the best course of action was to BACK AWAY SLOWLY from the nesting grounds of the loon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Images, One Dead Near Hawthorn Crossings Strip Mall...

Photos By John Hoff, Megan Goodmundson, or Alex Hoff

I figured it would be an education in "crime does not pay" for my 12-year-old son to see a crime scene during today's every-other-weekend visitation. How often does my kid witness something like this in his suburb?

Besides, Alex noticed some interesting details and took a couple good pictures. This next photo...

...shows the police talking to a woman who was apparently a relative of the murder victim, Haywood Eaton. The photographer made a deliberate effort to obscure the woman's face with the tree branches. The next photo, which I took, shows the woman in the back of a squad car.

The last photo shows police conferring about the crime scene. Several hours later, there was nothing to mark the short, tragic life of Haywood Eaton except some flowers and two Mylar balloons at the spot where he laid dead on the sidewalk, and a trash can full to overflowing with crime scene tape.

Don't be surprised if there is soon a JNS editorial about how problems at Hawthorn Crossings strip mall have gone on for too long, in plain sight, despite being repeatedly brought to the attention of public officials and how, clearly, this is a wake up call to finally clean up this blighted high-crime area of open air drug dealing.

Murder Victim Haywood Eaton Was Previously In Crime Highlights...

With one media source reporting Haywood Eaton as the murder victim at today's shooting near Hawthorn Crossings Strip Mall, a quick Google search reveals Mr. Eaton was recently mentioned on the 4th Precinct crime highlights, as follows:


26XX Knox Av N Saturday 07-04-09 01:30 hrs 09-204814

AP1/Eaton, Haywood J. /BM 18 yrs. and AP2/ Robinson, Jonte G. /BM-18 yrs. stopped on a TLE where a SMITH & WESSON .357 Cal. 7-shot revolver w/6” BBL USA was found in the center console.

This might be a good time to mention how grateful I am that Margaret at the Minneapolis Crime Blog puts up the weekly highlights, making the data accessible through Google searches.

(Do not click "Read More")

Images, At Least One Dead Near The Notorious Hawthorn Crossings Strip Mall...

Images of today's shooting near the (Notorious) Hawthorne Crossings Strip Mall were taken by myself, Megan Goodmundson, and my 12-year-old son, Alex, all working with the same camera. The photo above shows a crime scene van at the scene. Vast quantities of crime scene tape were used to block off the area. It's times like this I'd like to bring up the need to manufacture this stuff from biodegradable corn starch polymer.

In the next photo...

Bystanders gather near the shooting victim on the sidewalk. The victim--a black male, muscular, age unknown but my estimate ranging from late teens to early 30s--would be to the left of the crowd, behind the shrub, laying on the sidewalk, covered by a gray blanket.

In the next photo...

An individual believed to be a homicide detective.

In this photo above, a police officer carefully combs the grass near Burger King for clues. Two officers were seen to do this, for many minutes.

More photos to follow, hopefully.

At Least One Shot Dead Near Hawthorn Crossings Strip Mall...

Photo By John Hoff OR Alex Hoff, photographer can't be determined

A black male in his late teens was laying dead on the sidewalk directly in front of Hawthorn Crossings strip mall, a location notorious for constant drug dealing in the parking lot, frequently the subject of this blog in prior posts, click here and also here for examples. Two young black females were seen kneeling by the body, tenderly touching his face. The rest of the man's body was covered by a heavy gray blanket. Later, one of the women was seen to be placed in a squad car at the scene after talking with police.

A green Tahoe-like vehicle was seen stopped at the drive through window of the nearby Burger King, with a pair of sandal-like shoes several feet from the vehicle. Police appeared to mark the shoes as evidence and mark other items near the shoes, possibly blood or shell casings. Rumors and even eyewitness accounts were circulated freely among the large crowd gathered at the scene. WORD ON THE STREET ABOUT HOW THE INCIDENT WENT DOWN was as follows...

People had been arguing and a fight broke out. The argument was apparently somewhat mobile. One individual claimed it started near the former location of the "butt fence" at Merwin's Liquor. The individual who was later shot was reportedly getting beat up as part of the arguing and fight. The shooter was there at the fight, but left.

A short while later, the shooter came back and appeared from near the rear of Burger King on West Broadway. He had a t-shirt pulled up over his face. Shots were fired. The individual seen dead on the sidewalk was not shot where he lay, but apparently shot near the green Tahoe-like vehicle and ran or staggered to an area directly in front of the Hawthorn Crossings strip mall sign, on the sidewalk near shrubbery, which would be the intersection of W. Broadway and Bryant Ave. N.

A police officer at the scene was observed pleading with the crowd for somebody to come forward if they had information. Nobody was seen to come forward, though there was clearly at least one woman in the crowd who had been giving an eyewitness account to a bystander only moments before. Later, an employee from the strip mall who claimed to have witnessed the events from a distance said the shooter had long ago been taken into custody and was in a squad car near the body.

A persistent rumor circulated that in addition to the dead man on the sidewalk, that a female--possibly his girlfriend--had been shot and injured. An even more troubling rumor circulated that a 2-year-old child was dead in the shooting. If so, the child's body was nowhere to be seen but the rumor caused what can only be described as fury and near-panic among some members of the crowd. I saw the rumor arrive via cellphone to one of the bystanders in the crowd.

Numerous police were at the scene as well as a crime scene van and an area of a couple blocks was roped off with plastic crime scene tape, which kept expanding, the crowd always urged to move back. The tape actually expanded over the vehicle I arrived in, and permission had to be obtained from police brass to move the vehicle.

Adding a new and disturbing layer to the grim scene, Fifth Ward City Council candidate Kenya McKnight arrived and appeared to be mining the crowd for names to add to some kind of list, and trying to wheedle an interview with a camera crew from WCCO.

ADDENDUM: Other media are reporting the dead man was 18, therefore my estimate of the victim being in his 20s has been corrected in this post. Other media reporting a juvenile taken to North Memorial with non-life threatening injuries. The fact rumors were circulating in the crowd about a baby being killed remains true, in that these rumors were indeed circulating in the crowd. Here is a link to the Star Tribune story.

ADDENDUM NUMBER 2: Star Tribune now reporting the individual hurt was a "teenager," so hopefully this is the case and the rumors about a baby were some form of misinformation and hysteria.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Deplorable Litter At The Lyndale Ave. N. Salvation Army...

A neighbor in Hawthorne made some calls to the Salvation Army about the deplorable litter situation at their Lyndale Ave. N. location. When the neighbor didn't get a satisfactory response from the Salvation Army, video got posted to YouTube and then I was told to "put it on the blog."

(I love the way Johnny Northside Dot Com is always referred to as "the blog," as though there is only ONE BLOG)

And yes, I was TOLD not ASKED to "put it on the blog." I notice how there is often an unspoken assumption I will always just go ahead and blog about a neighborhood issue when asked to do so, no matter how much heat I'll end up taking for it, personally.

In this case, possibly HEAT FROM GOD)

But can I say the assumption is INACCURATE? No, actually, I can't.

So here you go, neighbor. Here's the video on "the blog."

Oh, plus the customary editorial comment: the Salvation Army needs to CLEAN UP ITS PROPERTY on Lyndale Ave. N. And, hey, it's not like they don't have many, many low-paid employees who can take care of the litter.

If the liquor store across the street can take care of THEIR property and put all kinds of money into an improved fence, then the Salvation Army can certainly maintain their relatively small patch of lawn.

(Do not click "Read More")

Uncle Bill's Building Was "Dry Rotted" And Came Apart Like Gingerbread...

Here is yet more video of the old Uncle Bill's store falling apart like a house made of gingerbread, as insubstantial as the dream of a so-called entrepreneur who really doesn't have the jack to back up his long-winded b.s.

Note the way the bricks turn to dust at the slightest touch of the backhoe and the conversation with one of the workmen at the scene, who says the building is dry rotted.

(Do not click "Read More")

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's the Demolition Shuffle!

By the time the Hawkman got to the scene, the backhoe of doom was already gone.

Slummy the Squirrel loses ANOTHER place to hide his nuts for the winter.
Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Whereas you look left, and they fall right, it's the demolition shuffle. While I was getting video footage of Uncle Lennie's coming down...

3035 6th St N in the EcoVillage was demolished. This was the house of mold, and it will soon be home to a LEED Gold certified new home. I look forward to the day when we're building (and preserving!) instead of demolishing, and calling THAT revitalization. But for now, there are good demolitions, and two of them happened AT THE SAME TIME. We just can't keep up with the revitalization in NoMi.

NoMi Hmong Press Their Request For Hmong Police Officer On Day Shift...

Photo By John Hoff

With organizing assistance from Jay Clark of CURA at the U of M, last night Hmong children passed out cards at the Hawthorne Annual Meeting and Dinner for Hawthorne residents and businesspeople to sign. The cards basically ask Mayor Rybak for a Hmong officer on the 4th Precinct day shift.

Housing Director Jeff Skrenes recently summed up the problem this way...

IF YOUR HAND IS ON A HOT STOVE, but you have no nerves in your hand, you won't know your tissue is being burned and injured. So it is with some of the Hmong in North Minneapolis, who feel cut off from using services like 911 and 311 due to language and cultural barriers.

There are reports of Hmong who have been terrorized by thugs and drug dealers, and sipmly endured for months or years because of the cultural and language barriers. This needs to stop. We need to find a way to bridge the gulf for these Hmong.

Uncle Lennie's Video Montage!

Guest post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

The Hawthorne Hawkman swooped by Uncle Lennie's throughout the day to get video footage of its timely demise. While the demolition took most of the day, it was captured in a montage... 

Since I'm new to the blog, embedding video from youtube is a skill I have yet to master. So I will be posting links to the youtube videos instead of uploading or embedding them.

First, Here is a link to the demolition in its early stages. It's almost as if the structure WANTS to come down. The backhoe is tearing through this like a hot knife through butter, like a machete through Wonder Bread, like a lawn mower through - well, you get the picture.

In this video, we see the backhoe about to pick up the infamous mattress.

Being a pastor's kid, I watched how easily the walls came down, and I thought of the story of Jericho. Except this time, the neighbors spent six years (or more) circling the property, and instead of blowing on a ram's horn they called 911 incessantly. Today rang the clarion call of revitalization, and the Uncle Lennie's couldn't stand in the way.

Chimney. Down. Faster than I could turn my camera on.

More unstoppable progress...

Stay tuned for the final video of the last wall coming down!

Not Even the Backhoe Wants to Touch the Mattress!

Guest post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

While watching the demolition of "Uncle Lennie's" today, I happened to notice a few mattresses sitting off to the side. Knowing the kind of characters that would reside in this building, the mattresses were NOT a pretty sight. When the backhoe found YET ANOTHER one...

it picked up the mattress by the very edge, almost like a parent holding a dirty diaper. Yet another reason to be glad this place is gone.

JNS VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Backhoe Takes Down Uncle Bill's Store...

The long-awaited demolition of the old Uncle Bill's Store, a.k.a. "Uncle Lennie's," is in progress as I type these words and load up this video. The building did not put up a fight, and appeared to fall apart from the slightest touch of the backhoe. A workman at the sight said the building was dry rotted all the way through, and that's why it was coming apart so easily.

Here is exclusive video of the first tender, loving, nibble-like kisses of backhoe versus Uncle Bill's.

(Do not click "Read More")

Rumor Has It Suspect Pointed Gun At Officer, Fled...

At about 11:15 last night, driving around after the highly-successful Hawthorne Neighborhood Council annual meeting and dinner (did I mention I was re-elected to the board?) intense police activity was noticable on the south side of W. Broadway, around Golden Valley Road, Irving, James, Girard.

Police had an area of many square blocks blockaded with squad cars, and...

...a police helicopter hovered above. On West Broadway, two young male suspects were briefly detained and released. In one area, police appeared to hover intensely over computers on the hood of a squad car, and that particular location seemed to be a kind of command post for the incident, whatever the incident was.

A resident on Hillside Ave. N. took this amatuer video of a police helicopter hovering low. One source says the "official rumor" is that a suspect pointed a gun at an officer, then fled. The officer was not injured. Word is police went door-to-door searching for the suspect. This is all unconfirmed.

If anybody has information on the incident, please feel free to post it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Talent Show At The Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Annual Meeting...

This year's Hawthorne Neighborhood Council annual dinner and board election featured a talent show by the Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts.

I managed to videotape all the talent show segments and I'll be putting the video on this blog for the proud teachers, parents and others who helped make the event such a success.

(Do not click "Read More")

Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Annual Meeting, Elections...

Contributed Photo, xoxo

The Hawthorne Neighborhood Association had its annual meeting and board of directors election tonight at Farview Park.

The meeting--which was carefully planned to avoid unnecessary expenses in these tight economic times--featured food from Bangkok Market and a lively talent show by Lundstrom Center For The Arts.

Board elections went relatively smoothly, and included...

...yours truly, Johnny Northside, getting re-elected to the board of directors for a one-year term, hooray.

Many more details and VIDEO OF THE TALENT SHOW will follow in the next few days.