Monday, July 11, 2011

322 25th Ave N - Epicenter of a "Decency Dead Zone"

Post and photo of the intersection of 25th Ave N and 4th St N by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

The 300 block of 25th Avenue North has seen its share of consistent problems, largely coming from the property at 322 25th Avenue North.  (Full disclosure:  an adjacent property is owned by my landlord.  He claims - and the accounts of several neighbors appear to validate the claims - that recent problems are not tied to his rental property on the corner.)  Over the past week, one neighbor told me of a person getting shot in the leg at that property.  Another neighbor had a person collapse from a gunshot wound to the arm and upper torso - ON THEIR FRONT PORCH.  And the photo above was taken earlier this evening when police were called because a fight apparently broke out among the 20-30 (alleged) drug-dealing thugs that are constantly hanging out at the property.

Frankly, things are so bad over there that it's a miracle no one has been killed yet.  Wait, no.  It's not a miracle.  A shot spotter on the 2400 block of 4th St N recorded the shot that killed Timothy Wayne Wilson, but he died across the street from this house.  (Wilson, by the way, had a record as long as your arm, and was a chip off the old block.  His father was also a career lowlife criminal.)  The homicide occurred when Robert Serr still owned the duplex, but it has now been sold to...

...Kausiliya Sarjoo and Michael J Bell of Minneapolis.  The Facebook links are believed to be those of the two owners, based on the fact that the first name is quite unique, both state they live in Minneapolis, and Sarjoo does list Bell as a friend.  If anything else came up on Google, I'd have used that instead of their Facebook accounts.  But Sarjoo is practically off the grid and Michael Bell is too common of a name.  The other problem in identifying these two is that both the city's and county's property information page for 322 25th Ave N allows Sarjoo and Bell to claim the address as their mailing address even though the duplex is not homesteaded and the two almost certainly don't live there.

Sarjoo's Facebook account is set privately enough that I cannot even send a message, but Bell's allows that much.  So the following message has been sent to him:
Mr. Bell,

I am a neighborhood resident who lives near a property at 322 25th Avenue North in Minneapolis.  City records indicate that you and a Ms. Kausiliya Sarjoo are the owners of this duplex.  Over the past several months, an alarming amount of suspected illegal activity has been witnessed by people in the community, and much of that activity appears to come from the property you own.

Over the past week, neighbors have reported two shootings, with one person fleeing the scene and collapsing on an innocent bystander's front porch.  Tonight squad cars were again called to the intersection, blocking it off due to what neighbors described as a street fight.  Residents also report consistent activity of over twenty or thirty people at the property at all hours of the day and night.

Mr. Bell, this type of illegal and traumatizing activity simply will not be tolerated in our neighborhood.  I am inviting you and Ms. Sarjoo to a meeting to discuss how we as a community can work together to bring it to a swift end.  I am also extending a courtesy by informing you that I will not wait for a response before blogging about this on my personal blog, www.northbynorthside.com.  The crimes happening at 322 25th Avenue North are too serious and too consistent for this to be handled privately.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience so that we can work together to resolve this very serious matter.

Jeff Skrenes
I'm hoping for a positive response, but as anyone who deals with problem properties knows, the odds aren't great.  Regardless, the drug dealing, violence, and shootings at 322 25th Avenue North are going to stop one way or another.

34 comments:

  1. I will be checking with the 4th Precinct regarding the specific crime reports for the incidents described above.

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  2. THANK YOU JEFF! I can tell you right now that they had better create some 360 degree change at this property because I am fed up with how trashy that block has become and am ready to devote my time and energies to laser focus on that block. And when I focus on something like that, I am can be pretty relentless. It would be better for them if they just cleaned up their act themselves. If not, they're in for a world of headache.

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  3. 180 degree change, in the opposite direction.

    360 would be full circle going in the same current direction.

    But we get it.

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  4. Thanks Jeff- the violence at this address is one of the major reasons I no longer live in Minneapolis.

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  5. Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not isolated to that area. When this particular site is no longer profitable to poverty pimps such as Serr, Sarjoo, or Bell at 322 25th Ave North; these creeps will move down the block or around the corner to another neighborhood where greedy landlords will again look the other way.

    This activity is exactly why the City of Minneapolis needs to enforce the State Nuisance Behavior Laws which hold the landlords responsible for activities taking place at their profitable rental businesses. It calls for remedies ranging from fines, license revocation, receivership, and even incarceration for allowing this type of activities to impact the community.

    The overburdened police have embraced a reactionary policy focused on responding to the violent symptoms of this lax oversight and have lowered expectations for civil behavior enforcement.

    It is unbelievable that the City Council does not recognize this pattern of activity and take steps to improve the quality of life in North Minneapolis.

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  6. Dear Mr Skrenes,

    We've received your note and thanks for writing. However due to the pompus nature of your note and your airing of dirty laundry on your blog we feel that we have nothing to discuss. You may feel free to contact the Minneapolis Police anytime you feel that illegal activity is occurring there or anywhere else in the city. Thanks for keeping an eye on the neighborhood.

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  7. As transparent as projection is, it's one king-hell bastard of a defense mechanism isn't it Mr. Bell?

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  8. Before I get too "pompous" in nature, allow me to point out that there is no way to ascertain whether the anonymous commenter at 10:29 a.m. is indeed Mr. Bell, Ms. Sarjoo, or anyone speaking on their behalf or on the behalf of someone managing 322 25th Ave N.

    But I'm going to give the commenter the benefit of the doubt. When residents in my neighborhood see rampant drug dealing or other crime, and when such behavior is directly associated with a specific property, that "dirty laundry" gets aired here and elsewhere. Slumlords who can't deal with that shouldn't be in our neighborhood or shouldn't allow their properties and their tenants' behavior to deteriorate to such a level.

    And just because I put such stories out there doesn't exclude us from talking or working together to resolve any problems. Just ask a closer neighbor, Sherman and Associates. After seeing drug dealing in my alley, I called them, called the 4th Precinct, called 911, talked to the city council person, AND blogged about it. Those tenants are gone, thanks in large part to both the Minneapolis Police Department and a swift response from the management company.

    When I criticized Paul Bertelson's management of his rental properties, we went out for coffee afterward.

    Mr. Bell and Ms. Sarjoo, people are getting shot at your property. While the homicide happened presumably before you owned the house, the pattern of behavior has been consistent. Good, law-abiding neighbors are rightfully afraid of that block. The recent shootings can't be downplayed either. In my book, those aren't assaults, they are (thankfully) failed homicides. The pattern of violent crime associated with that area is a contributing factor to why a long-time activist moved away.

    So if either of you care about this neighborhood and its inhabitants, if you even care about the property you own, then you don't get to act indignant when you get called out on the carpet for what you are allowing to continue. You can and should expect community outrage. When you need to clean up the human mess at your property before someone gets killed (again) then don't expect the upstanding neighbors around you to tiptoe up to you and ask pretty please.

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  9. Just an FYI. A property owner is responsible for the property. The police and community are responsible for the conduct of whomever lives at the property. Because of groups like legal aid Minnesota landlords have very little in the way of latitude to evict tenants who are paying rent. Therefore if you do not like the conduct of "your neighbors", please contact the police at 911 and they will come and address the situation.

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  10. Wrong Anon 10:02,

    According to Minnesota State Law, landlords are responsible for all activity taking place on those properties that "in one way or another, affects the right of an individual to enjoy the use of a specified property."

    Landlords do not have a God given right to profit at the expense of the rest of the community.

    Think about that the next time you choose a tenant because the worm is turning and a bad choice is going to cost you some $$$$.

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  11. Good try Anony. Would the real Mr. Bell please stand up? Nobody would be that reckless concerning their license, lest the autumn bell ring. Ten bucks they're out by Oct.! Anony. is a desperate voice who knows that their influence is limited. To hedge my bet... How long do you think you can hang on in North Mr. Bell? Judging by your taste, you like it quick and easy. You have no respect for antiquity or culture. You take what you can grab quickly and easily. I would bet that the first person to write you a 20k check made out to "cash" you would bolt as quickly as you came in.

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  12. I ain't got no Bell to ring, girl you got to pull my string....any how, and any how will do, please explain to me "how" an individual jumps into the game with the intent of attempting to destroy neighborhoods like their predecessors did and do so without learning the ropes from the puppeteer that is controlling their precarious strings from above. I am guessing that what we have now is an individual that has had all, or many, licenses pulled and is currently under some kind of suspension or on a watch list and are funneling their money through people that are able to do it for them while receiving free hands on training in the "occupation". To all of the anonameasses, Madame Toussaudes' museum is known for its remarkable wax renditions that look amazingly real but obviously fake. To that advantage goes the inanimate life size figurines that you swear are"Staring you down".Let us celebrate the similarities and laugh and shake like the perfect shit-jello that is the fabric of the never ending gift of irony. Good Day. P.S. Happy Birthday, General Tzu.

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  13. A certain type of landlord (I generally don't like labels) has been using that excuse of not being responsible for tenants behavior for as long as I can remember. I believe they think if they just keep repeating it, eventually everyone will believe it. Sorry dudes ain't workin.

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  14. Ah yes, the tired argument that landlords aren't responsible for what actually happens at their properties. Even if it were legally true, I'd say that line of thinking is outdated and incomplete at best, and does nothing to offer solutions or accountability.

    This block has been the focus of the MPD as of late (thanks guys!) including near-constant patrols and a portable video camera system. Word is that a lot of other illegal behavior is coming from 2416 4th St N, a property owned by the infamous Wendy Sullivan.

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  15. This will be my one and only post to this blog. Any other comment that looks like it was written by Michael Bell was not, nor do I know who wrote them. Before you try and make me look like a bad land lord lets look at some facts. (I will take the high road and not use your landlords name on the internet with out his consent) You rent from Mr. K. Mr K. used to own 322 25th and lost it, he wants it back (his words not mine)I would call that a conflict of interest. Arrests were made at my property over the July 4th weekend. the people arrested were trespassing on my property, the arrested persons addresses were listed as the building next door. 326 25th Owned by Mr. K. Lets also make Note the Mr. K owns the building east of my building too. 315 25th, I am surrounded by him. Mr K. has my phone number as well as my property mangers contact info. I have talked to him a few times on the phone. (As a matter of fact he called me the first week I owned the building to tell me about the problems that He and former owner Robert Serr were having with both buildings.) The empty lots next to my building, torn down houses due to unpaid taxes by Mr. K. I have been nothing but polite to him on the phone, why you two are targeting me I'm unsure. Trying to pin the neighborhoods problems on me is just wrong.

    The large fight and gun shots were not at, or started at my property. They were on the corner closest to Mr. K’s building. (Go ahead and check the police record.) My property manger is in constant contact with Minneapolis Police Department, we did not get a report of any fight or gun shots, Because they did not happen at my property. Perhaps you should spend some time talking to your landlord about what he can do as well. You guys throwing all the blame on me, will not solve the problem When you show up to talk to the people outside and ask them where them problem is, why would they point to there own house? (which is owned by Mr. K) (continued)

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  16. Now that we have established the obvious bias and failure to fact check by the Hawkman, Lets look at the real problem. There are people most of which DO NOT live at 322 hanging out in the area. This has to stop, it is a lot easier said than done. We have been working with law enforcement to correct the problem. This is not an overnight fix, there is no magic wand to wave. We are doing our part. I would implore anyone who sees illegal activity to call the police. (seems like common sense.) As you pointed out there was a pattern long before I owned the property. We have taken steps to correct it. I have owed the property all of 6 months. If anyone has anything constructive to say I would be open to suggestions. Random bashing of a person you have never met or made any real effort to contact is going to do nothing to solve the problem. Yes your initial contact (through facebook no less, my contact info should have been a breeze for you to find) was condescending and set a negative tone. I'm sure you have talked to your landlord before the blog was posted, he should have told you he has my number and my property managers number, if you had anything other that libel in mind a simple phone call would done far more than this blog. Blogs such as these do little more than raise tensions between the community and those that they are aimed at. Perhaps you should do little journalistic investigating before Blogging as if you have facts. Not all land Lords are evil and trying to suck the life out of the community. I am simply a guy that bought a property. I'm trying to correct any problems it has. If you really want change offer some help, possibly some actual solutions, rather than trying to drag someones name through mud all for the sake of web hits.

    Again most of the people seen In the area DO NOT live at my building, and most of the problems are taking place in the street or on the side walk. Only 2 of my for apartments are even rented. This because screening process used by my property manger is far more strict than what is used by most. The people hanging around seem to know people in one of the 3 western most buildings on the block. (My building or the 2 buildings owned by Mr. K) I'm not sure why everyone thinks I can magically make these people who don't live at my building disappear. Once they are on the side walk or in the street they are not on my property, They are on public land and community should work together to clean that up. Other than for trespassing on my property has anyone been arrested on my property?NOPE. There needs to be some sort of legal basis for removing people from a public street and side walk. We have taken measures suggested by the Minneapolis police department, We are part of the Minneapolis Police no trespassing program. (Do any of the other buildings on the block participate in this program?(Not to my knowledge.) We have asked for an increased police presence on the block.(The added patrols in the area you mentioned are because we asked for it to be that way, did anyone else?) We have added automatic exterior lighting and set the hall way lights in the building to run 24/7. We are in constant contact with law enforcement, making the changes they suggest, taking real measures to try and make a change. Constructive suggestions are welcome. Threats, name calling and ignorant comments without basis are not.(continued 2)

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  17. This is from the city of Minneapolis on the subject of loitering, with my comments added after each bullet point.
    On Private Property
    -Document the times and areas when and where loitering is occurring. Also document descriptions and numbers of participants, and type of activities occurring.
    -Meet with owners/managers of residential rental property and tell them you are concerned with the loitering occurring on their property. This may be occurring because of the behavior of one or more of their tenants. A lease may be written that limits the number and times guests can visit and regulate the conduct of residents and guests. Managers/owners should follow up violations with written warnings and evictions. (Again if you were really were after change it should have been easy to contact my Managers, I will have them contact you to see if you have anything useful suggestions you can add to the matter. As far as written warnings and evictions we have Done and continue to do both as needed)
    -Property owners can participate in the Minneapolis Police No Trespassing Program. After owners authorize the police to act as their agent and post the official No Trespassing signs, Minneapolis Police can enforce trespassing on their property. (We got our end taken care of July 1st signs posted and trespass warrants signed, is anyone else on the block part of this program? NOPE)
    -Business owners can post their property No Trespassing during specific hours when the business is closed, e.g., "No Trespassing 10 p.m. to 7 a.m." (does not apply)
    -CPTED - Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Property can be made less amenable to trespassing by making physical changes to the property, such as fencing, lighting, posting signs, planting flowers/shrubs, trimming trees and bushes. Ask your Neighborhood Crime Prevention Specialist for additional CPTED information. (We have added lighting etc, not much more I can do I own about 4 feet of property on either side of the building and up to the sidewalk at which point they are on P ublic Property) (continued 3)

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  18. -On Public Property (Where most of the problems are actually taking place)
    Loitering by itself is not against the law. It is appropriate to call 911 if you believe the loiterers are violating laws such as consuming intoxicating beverages in public, loitering to solicit for prostitution, begging, disorderly conduct, and interfering with pedestrian or vehicular traffic. (if any of the listed laws are being violated I implore you to call the police, again common sense)
    -Talk to others who are affected by this behavior and urge them to report it.(a blog is not a report but a police call is) Be specific in describing the persons and what they are doing. Anyone who thinks that the behavior of these people in the area some how benefits me is delusional. I want it stopped just as bad if not more that you.

    As my grandfather used to say Don't talk about it Be about it. I'm done talking here.

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  19. where are the other 3 parts?

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  20. Mr. Bell,

    First off, thank you for your responses. Although the dialogue is terse, it's better than no dialogue whatsoever. If you would like to discuss these things in private over a coffee or a beer, or if you'd like to come to community meetings about the area, that invitation is wide open. And no, my landlord did not offer your contact information. All I've got is your Facebook page, which I found through a Google search.

    Which brings me to my second point: apparently the initial anonymous comment was made by someone impersonating you. This is not the first time someone has made such attempts in the NoMi blogosphere. I'd recommend getting an Open ID, a Google account, or some other verifiable way to post as yourself if you do continue a public dialogue through this blog.

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  21. Second, I'll go ahead and publish the name of my landlord. Brian Kallioinen. I'll say that he hasn't had a stellar track record in terms of his tenants, and you can read an interview where I disagree with much of his philosophy. I generally don't publish much information here about him because we've got a case of blog trolls in NoMi. But I will be tracking down as much evidence as I can about where these problems are originating from.

    However, I have asked folks in the surrounding area where they see the biggest issues, and the response HAS been at 322 25th. A lot of the calls for service might be at the corner where people go to sell drugs, but people in my area are telling me it's coming and going from your property, Mr. Bell.

    I'm not going up to the dozens of thugs having their little gangster carnivals out there and asking them where they think the problems are. This is one of the few spots where even I don't feel safe walking or even sometimes driving through.

    You've given much that warrants a response, and I'll get to that as I'm able.

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  22. Duplicate comments have been removed at the request of the author. And if anyone wishes to contact me about this or any other concern, my email is jeff.exyooper@gmail.com and my cell number is 952-210-1086.

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  23. Mr. Bell really stated it well. Based on his comments, he seems to exemplify the engaged property owner that is addressing the issues at his property. Perhaps an apology is in order.

    I read so many North Minneapolis blogs that gripe and throw everybody under the bus without really working to effect change. Some people deserve the criticism, others don't. Regardless, as Mr. Bell so eloquently stated, these little blogs do little to help solve problems but rather only increase tensions between those targeted (rightly or not) and the community.

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  24. Since I do not live in the immediate area of this property, I can only comment on one aspect of the problems at this property - the number of people hanging out there and the number of people doing this is insane from what I've observed every time I've gone by the property.

    This does not happen by accident. Yes every now and then we hear stories of drug dealers taking over someones apartment, but the far more likely scenario is they know someone in the building. Someone in the building is allowing them to do it. It may be something as simple as a kid who's mixed up in the wrong crowd, but in any case they picked this building for a reason.

    For one thing, no one in the building is stopping them. Also from what I've observed, they aren't simply hanging out on the porch. They go in and out of the building. That means, chances are they're going to someones apartment. I've seen this happen more times than I can remember with properties right around me. Someone in that building is allowing them to hang there. Someone in that building started this whole mess and now they don't know how to stop it if they even want to.

    Mr. Bell, you have some housecleaning to do IMO. If you don't you have no chance in hell or renting your other units unless you want more of the same type of people. We will not tolerate that.

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  25. Mr. Putz. Yes, it's great that Mr. Bell is being proactive to mitigate the problem and I thank him for that. But, can you understand the frustration of those residents who homestead their properties and have to deal with this type of behavior ON A DAILY/ HOURLY BASIS? These little Northside blogs act as a sounding board for the community. And people around here are a bit jaded from speculators, flippers, land-lords, slum-lords, and anybody else who profits from the presence of thug behavior. The option other than discussion on blogs like these or being active in the community, is to call 911 and 311 on everything. Where does that get anyone? It's a full-time job around here to constantly call, and then in the end a land-lord loses a license, or another crappy tenant moves in.

    I understand that we're beating up on Mr. Bell a little, but can you blame us? It's turned into such a common response for us because so often land-lords are invisible and never address the issues. I appreciate Mr. Bell for actually responding, defending himself, and explaining what he is doing. However, there needs to be more that happens or he WILL lose a license.

    Furthermore, what other issues would you like the community at large to address? How about just straight-up stripping the social safety-net even further,i.e., eliminating Section 8, and other welfare? How would land-lords around here make a profit then? I would like to see the percentage of land-lords who don't live in North and who vote Republican. They all get so wound-up about protecting their little "entrepreneurial activities", or whatever they call them. And then complain about taxes and welfare, but make a living off of government funds and subsidies. Maybe the teahadists are right? Let's just take away every form of welfare and then tax the hell out of the poor. That would go a long way to help start solve the problems in North.

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  26. Mr. Bell, I have yet to be contacted by a property manager for 322 25th Ave N. I do agree that a lot of the activity was happening at the corner of 25th and 4th. However, the question I've asked around the block is where that activity is coming from. Once again, the answer I received was that it was coming from your property. I had hoped to ask this question in person to representatives of the 4th Precinct or 3rd Ward at Hofstede's July CARE meeting, but that's been canceled.

    I am still committed to getting data on the various problem properties along this stretch and publishing it here.

    In terms of a conflict of interest, I am well aware that there's not much of a way around at least that perception. So my choice was either to not blog about the issue at all or disclose that potential conflict up front so that readers can make up their mind about the accuracy of what followed. I decided to go with the latter, and not for the sake of blog hits. I could publish other items or write in a different tone if that were my goal.

    Who is the property manager? What is their contact info in case neighbors have concerns?

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  27. LOL - Great wall of words Mr. Bell! Now Man up and take care of the problems.

    It would be great if you poverty pimps would spend as much time addressing your business as you do making excuses for this greedy profiteering. Why should other local residents babysit your investments? If you can't manage your investments properly get out of the business!

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  28. You're right Anony. 9:59

    It never fails to amaze me that although slum-lords take in boatloads of money because they are so brilliant, whenever issues are discovered they claim total ignorance of what is going on EVEN ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY.

    Invariably they get away with arguing total ignorance.

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  29. I would love to see a picture of what this Mr. Bell looks like.

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  30. Boatloads of money? What proof does anyone have that any given landlord is making a profit? The city charges a lot of money for a licence and a building that has only half of the unit rented cannot be making any money.
    If a landlord is not making a profit, then what is the major gripe everyone has once you take greed out of the equasion?

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  31. Anonymous 5:12-

    Waaa-Waaa-Waaa

    What kind of individual buys up dozens or hundreds of substandard rentals and continues to stack up special assessments for code violations? A foolish businessman who doesn't make any money or a greedy sociopath with no concern for his tenants or neighbors? HUD throws a hugely disproportionate amount of tax dollars through Section 8 programs. Any fool should be able to make a decent profit while providing excellent living accommodations. If these "landlords" can't tell the difference between thugs or gang-bangers and decent tenants they need to look for a different line of investment than the rental business.

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  32. Idiots like you that can't figure out how ekwasion is really spelt. I'll be back in character after my twelve day blotter binge subsides. I truly miss Dr. O'Leary and the damn cow that set Chicago on fire... should have waited 'til 2011..or was that his wife?. Damn squirrel.BonJour.

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  33. Just received notice that a car was stolen and recovered with its window broken out and a man sleeping in the back seat. The MPD noted this individual additionally had two felony warrents on him. His name is Elijah Milsay and his address is 324 25th Ave N. Is this by chance Mr. Bell's property?

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  34. @M. Clinton, yes that is Bell's property, which is for lack of a better word, managed by Hamline Property Management. And the felon in question is actually named Elijah Milsap.

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