Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Big Bang that Started Pamiko's Downfall

1211 Knox Ave N

2402 4th St S

2616 Cedar Ave
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, although the photos first appeared on the Johnny Northside blog.  The three properties above were owned by Pamiko at the time of the photographs, and had been part of a lawsuit involving various partners who made up the numerous Dream Home LLCs.

POST IN PROGRESS - more hyperlinks to add back stories will be added later.

Physicists widely point to "The Big Bang" as a likely starting point for our universe, and although they can surmise the origins of the universe, there are two questions such a theory leaves unanswered:  1) Why did matter exist in the first place? and 2) What CAUSED the Big Bang?  We can measure up to the first few nanoseconds, but still are unable to fill in the gaps these conundrums leave us.

Likewise, NoMi blogs (more famously on Johnny Northside) have chronicled the downfall of Paul Koenig, Michelle Koenig, and their various LLC's - Pamiko, MCK Investments, and Marklee Construction.  However, we never really answered the questions of why Koenig was allowed to acquire so many properties in the first place (technically in the second place, since he screwed over north Minneapolis first with the Dream Homes and then through Pamiko).  Nor have we understood what was the spark that set off the 80-foreclosure powder keg.

Well, after finding a confession of judgment on the Dream Homes lawsuit (a previous JNS post chronicled much of that suit, but had not come across its conclusion), I now have a theory about what started Pamiko's foreclosures over a year ago.  Bear in mind, this is only a theory, and there may be equally valid theories out there - although I sincerely doubt "Intelligent Design" is one of them.

First, a brief history...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Jordan Board Members

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the JACC Flash NoMi blog.

Earlier in the week, I wrote a post about the somewhat scary fact that Farview Park has a board showing 24 L3SO's in the area.  Around that time, the Jordan Area Community Council held its annual dinner and elected new board members.  I announced those changes on my Twitter feed, and since the aforementioned story was at the "top of the fold" on my blog, it became the place where an anonymous commenter began asking some good questions about the JACC elections.

Well, in the interests of what I call "threadiquette," or keeping things on topic so that in the months or years ahead they can be found more easily, I'm switching those questions and comments to a post dedicated specifically to the JACC annual dinner and board elections.

The first question and answer, as well as a comment that was made (but not published under that thread) appear after the jump...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Danna D III Principals Plead Guilty to Mortgage Fraud!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.  Editorial note:  the photos were taken almost a year ago and it is unknown if the property is in identical, better, or worse condition at this time.

Julia Rozhansky and Zack Dyab, two of the principals in the Danna D III corporation and American Choice Lending, pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in federal court this week.  Danna D was a series of LLC's (roman numerals I - VI were also used for properties at various locations, although most NoMi houses were under the III entity), and Rozhansky and Dyab had planned to buy "hundreds of rental properties in north Minneapolis," according to an MPR report that broke the story of their criminal activities.  Through wire fraud and mortgage fraud, they stiffed investors of over $2.5 million and caused more than two dozen foreclosures in north Minneapolis alone.

This is a pattern we've unfortunately seen all too often; predatory investors coming in and buying properties on the cheap, using fraudulent means to qualify, not pulling proper permits, doing substandard (if any) maintenance, and ultimately losing scores of homes to foreclosure when the house of cards collapses under its own weight of malfeasance.  At least we're seeing some of these crooks finally get jail time, but the impact on our community will likely outlast their prison terms.

And when fraud is committed at one of these properties, it's not just a one-time occurrence.  The neglect of a property often makes it unappealing to anyone but the next predatory investor.  Or the first fraudster wants to sell at an over-inflated price, and the only ones qualifying for something at that level are the ones committing the next round of slumlording mortgage fraud.  That is exactly what happened with one of the properties listed in the indictment (the plea agreement isn't available online yet, but I will publish it once it is, and the sentencing hasn't been scheduled).

1417 Logan Avenue North was owned first by Danna D III, and then...

Come on Now, HUD

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

A few weeks ago, I happened to notice the cute little house across the alley from me had been broken into.  2610 4th Street North is a property owned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  It's been vacant ever since I've been living in Hawthorne, and although it definitely needs rehab work, the place is a nice enough starter home and reasonably priced to boot.

But when I saw that the window on the front porch was broke open, I called Best Assets (the property management entity for HUD houses in Minneapolis), 311, and a few of the neighbors along the block to make sure they knew there was a house open to trespass and to watch out for people who might be breaking in.  Next door to this house is "Maples," a gorgeous home selling for a song.  I checked out that place too, and thankfully it was tight as a drum.

More than two weeks have passed without Best Assets doing a thing to remedy their property's condition, and now the city has boarded it up.  The irony here is that the deterioration HUD is allowing on one of their own houses makes it more and more likely that the city will come along and demolish this one.  And if they do, where will the money come from?  The federal government's Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Guess Which Park Has a Sex Offender Wall?

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

After a meeting tonight, I was leaving Farview Park when I noticed a few kids gathered around a poster, studying it rather carefully.  A staff person was encouraging them to take a good look and remember the faces.  I went to take a look myself, and saw that this was a list of TWENTY-FOUR LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDERS living in close enough proximity to a park that someone in charge needed to put this poster up.

I asked if any other parks in Minneapolis had to do this, and if so, to the same degree, and the staff person was not aware of another such poster at any park in the city.  When we got on the topic of the high concentration of L3SO's in NoMi and how there is a state law forbidding it, but yet it remains unenforced, he said I must have been about the fourth or fifth person to bring that topic up while looking at this poster.

I've stayed away from the L3SO issue because I tend to think the hyperbole and rhetoric don't quite match the true level of risk posed.  That being said, the research done on JNS about this has convinced me that the imbalanced concentration here is a significant issue that needs to be addressed.

And it bears repeating:  Our park has a poster with TWENTY-FOUR L3SO'S that our kids have to be on the lookout for.  Recognize a few of them?  We've got Edgar Earl Lenear and Peter Rickmyer for starters.


High Winds Take Down Tree on 30th Ave

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

This was not a small tree either.  The winds last night were even shaking the concrete block house I live in.

Buying Into NoMi Presents Initial Difficulties

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Some time ago, I made a pledge to become perhaps what could be described as a one-man north Minneapolis chamber of commerce.  I wanted a project, and thought that spending an entire year buying as much as possible within or connected to NoMi would allow me to do that and find creative ways to support my community.

I decided to start the day after the last Polars' football game of the season, which was Thursday of last week.  So until 10/21/11, I'll be blogging about this effort on a regular basis.  The first two challenges are shown above, and let me emphasize that they are COMPLETELY SEPARATE from each other.  Either that, or I'm going to show some kids the Pixar movie Ratatouille right before Halloween and then I'll have the perfect way to just scare the snot out of the little buggers.  Take your pick.

Ok, what's REALLY going on in these two pictures above...

Friday, October 22, 2010

"School is in Session. We Hope You're Taking Notes. There WILL be a Test!"

Post, videos, and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Over 250 northside residents and North High supporters gathered for a community forum on Monday, October 18.  We told the Minneapolis Public School board and superintendent exactly what the community thought of their proposal to close down North High School.  Board members Madden, Williams, Lee, Stewart, Davis, and Flanagan were in attendance, as well as state Representatives Mullery and Champion, state Senator Higgins, and a representative from Congressman Ellison's office.

Superintendent Johnson began with a series of slides that gave an empirical account of North's decline while conveniently managing not to take any School Board responsibility for such events.  The slides began...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giving Away Hula Hoops at the Habitat Closing Ceremony

Post, photos, and video by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

First off, I have to admit a bit of irony here on NXNS.  I set out to blog about the North High Polars football games basically to tell a feel-good story about the youth in our community, and to give myself something to blog about on a regular basis that wasn't controversial.  I specifically said that I did NOT want to get steeped in school/education politics.  And yet, if I had not started down that road, then when the proposal to close North High came about, I certainly would have approached that issue with less vigor.

And now my last seven posts in a row have focused on North High in one way or another.  Their final football game is tonight, and I may or may not get to that depending on how an evening meeting goes.  I still have a write-up of Monday's community forum to finish as well.

So here's a break from the North High posts.  At the closing ceremony for Habitat week in the Hawthorne EcoVillage, I gave away ten hula hoops to kids in the neighborhood.  I'm looking for ways to make more hoops and get them donated to schools or parks in the area.  Thing is, the supplies, especially the tape, are not cheap.  And making them can be fairly labor-intensive.  If anyone has ideas or wants to help, please contact me.

MPS Reasons for Closing North High

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from Minnesota Public Radio.

At Monday evening's community forum about the future of North High, the Minneapolis Public School board passed out a sheet that outlined their reasoning (or lack thereof) for proposing the closure of North High School.  That document can be found here.  However, in the interest of placing this document in a forum where people can comment openly or anonymously on the validity of the proposal and how it will impact our children and our community, I am re-posting it on North by Northside.

I do encourage everyone who comments here to forward their comments to Ms. Johnson and all school board members (and before the election, also to the candidates).

Here, without any further editorial commentary on my part, is the document in question:

Frequently Asked Questions | North High School
Updated October 18, 2010
Why is North being recommended to phase out?

Many factors led to the recommendation, but the bottom line is this:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Congressman Keith Ellison on North High School

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the Keith Ellison Wikipedia page.

Over 250 people gathered at the North High School auditorium tonight to voice their support for keeping the high school open.  Minneapolis superintendent Bernadeia Johnson and six school board members were on hand to (hopefully) listen.  More posts are sure to follow, but here are Congressman Ellison's words regarding North High:

October 18, 2010

Dear Students, Community Members and Supporters of North High School,

As a long time resident of North Minneapolis, and someone deply concerned about the viability and growth of this neighborhood and all neighborhoods that make up North Minneapolis, my position is that North High School should remain open until we have had a true community wide dialogue regarding education, housing and public investment with a clear commitment to the near north section of Minneapolis.

When I reflect over the last half decade, I do not recall forthright conversations about the future of North High School.  What has taken place though is...

Save North High, PEJAM Plan Next Steps with Community

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Quick editorial note:  I apologize for the lack of photos indicating the broad community support.  I got into participation and note-taking and completely forgot about my camera.

On Saturday, October 16, Mel Reeves, Pastor Brian Herron, and representatives of PEJAM, Friends of North High, and the North High Alumni Association led a community forum on what can be done to keep this community asset open.  Herron opened with a stirring invocation, and Reeves spoke about how school board members removed everything that made North High attractive.  The removal of the "home zone" and feeder schools was especially damning.

Reeves and Herron rightly pointed out that this is not just about current or future students, but the community as a whole.  Nobody is going to make a significant investment in a community without a school - not potential homeowners, nor businesses or employers.  But the level of commitment goes both ways.  "It's asinine to save a school if you're not going to support it," Reeves said.  This means that the community has to work together on solutions, AND parents have to be committed to sending their children to the school.

Marcus Owens, a '99 graduate and member of the Friends of North High said that the school board's only plan was to close North High, and that they were not prepared for the 100-150 people that filled the last board meeting beyond capacity.  We need to build on that momentum by bringing even more community support.  But such support alone won't be sufficient without a plan, which is why PEJAM proposed...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

North vs. South (Part 2 of catching up on Polars' Football)

Honoring the Polars' seniors and those close to them.
Ballard was running like a man possessed.
David Hall (#11) is about to teach South some manners
The Tigers' QB, Soly Senaphanh, had moves of his own.
Ballard's intensity increased as the game wore on.
The Polars were swiping at the ball all game long, causing fumble after fumble.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

The Minneapolis South Tigers opened the game with a call rarely seen to start things off - a successful onsides kick.  Several plays after a long run by South's nimble quarterback, the Polars forced a fumble and recovered - the first of five times they would do so in the contest.

Running back Morocco Ballard was a man on a mission, twice running for gains of over ten yards on North's opening possession.  He finished off the drive with a dazzling 20-yard sprint into the end zone, putting the Polars on the scoreboard first, 6-0.

Following that drive...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Catching Up on Polars' Football (Part 1 of 2)

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.  Editorial note:  this game took place on Saturday, October 9.  I apologize for the delay in writing the summary.

With recent events surrounding the possibility of North High closing, my posts of the Polars' football season took a backseat.  And admittedly, their game from two weeks ago was a tough one to watch, much less chronicle.  Prior to the game, I took a look at the St. Paul Johnson Governors' schedule.  They'd lost their first two games, but then won the next three in a rather convincing fashion by a combined score of 106-20.  Which team would the Polars face, the dominant one or the team that lost their opening games?

If you've seen the scores at all, you know we were fairly well steamrolled, 48-14.  If it's any consolation, the Governors won their next game 38-16, meaning that they have won five in a row by a combined score of 192-50, or an average of 37-10.  What isn't comforting, though, is that we were dominated by a team that was wearing these:
Image from
No, wait, this is what they were actually wearing, which is not too far off:

The only consolation in losing to a team that is dressed like the Cat in the Hat during breast cancer awareness month is that pretty much everyone else they've played has been creamed too.  And quite honestly, the only criticism one can make against the Governors is their odd choice of legwear.  Beyond that, the game pretty much went their way, beginning with...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scores of Supporters Rally for North High

I couldn't help but notice the juxtaposition here:  We're rallying to save North High underneath the Minneapolis Public Schools banner:  "Expect Great Things."

Where will this child go to high school?

This young woman was very well-spoken.  Her story will be told later in the post.

Due to a prior commitment, I could not stay for the meeting itself.  But there was an overflow crowd.
Post, photos, and videos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

The Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools announced her recommendation to close down North High School due to its low enrollment numbers, and that recommendation was brought before the school board today.  As expected, scores of north Minneapolis residents, North High students and alumni, and other supporters rallied in front of the school board to call for the school to be saved.

Earlier in the day, North High was the focus of an hour-long discussion on Minnesota Public Radio.  In that session, a north Minneapolis resident called up and said he looked at North High's average test scores and decided that there was no way he would send his child to this school.  The sad part is that he lives only a few blocks from the school itself.  This scenario was exactly what I had pondered when I wondered if North can be saved.  And the comment would lead one to believe that the school has little to offer to honors or other exceptional students, and that children who attend there may be unprepared for a job or continuing education.

Let me tell you right now, from speaking with children and parents at the rally, this is not the case.  Kids are graduating prepared for a university education.  Kids are taking honors courses and they don't have to be bused elsewhere for that.  It's happening right here in our community and we need to keep it that way.

The rally got started with the chant...