Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Calling Out Ron Edwards

Edwards is on the right-hand side.
Post and photo after the jump by the Hawthorne Hawkman. First three images from the Johnny Northside blog. Fourth image from

Let's get one thing out of the way first: I generally do not like personal tit-for-tat arguments via blogging. This is why I try to keep my blog focused on issues instead of personalities. But every once in a while, something so boneheaded, so egregious comes along that it just cannot be left uncontested.

That's precisely what happened today, when I picked up the Star Tribune article about the near-riot at the Haywood Eaton vigil. (Links go to JNS, since the Strib links often go dead after a while. The Strib article is reprinted in the comment section there.) In that article, Minneapolis activist Ron Edwards is quoted as saying...

Streetside Memorial for Christopher de Ronde

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Shortly after the tragic murder of Christopher de Ronde, Minneapolis' 34th homicide victim of 2010, a makeshift memorial was erected at the corner of 30th and Colfax.  We were battered by rains, and the site was looking pretty shabby, when I drove past and saw Mad Dads holding their own vigil and talking with passersby.  The next day the memorial was gone, although it was unclear who removed it.

Not long after that, the items photographed above appeared at the site.  Not much seems to be known or at least publicly broadcast about Christopher de Ronde.  Although the only news site that allows comments on this article is the City Pages blog, where someone identified only as "T.O." claims that de Ronde had no criminal record.  In the Star Tribune article, a relative said he was "a little wild at times.  He was always up to something."  His obituary can be found here.

Even with this little information, the memorial seems to tell us at least a few details about de Ronde or his loved ones.  The most revealing aspects are shown in what ISN'T there, such as...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Polars Rebound, Dominate Teddies 30-6

Roosevelt RB Pruitt almost always made the first tackler bounce right off.

The Polars' swarming D moved Roosevelt backwards.

Epps running for a first down.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Before we get started on the actual game, a commentary on football team names is in order.  Roosevelt High School's team name is the Teddies, presumably after former US President Theodore Roosevelt.  This fellow was unarguably the most badass President in American history - possibly the most badass person to ever have lived or been created  (not even Chuck Norris or Darth Vader come close).  Among other things, he was a deputy sheriff, an explorer, a big game hunter, a police commissioner, the assistant Secretary of the Navy, and a war hero.  And yet he never lost the soft spot in his heart for unadulterated violence. 

He carried a pistol with him at all times in the White House, even though he could probably just stare at enemies' bullets through his monocle and they would stop out of pure fear.  He even survived an assassination attempt and continued to deliver a campaign speech with the bleeding wound still undressed.  Did I mention he had asthma growing up?  Teddy Roosevelt beat up asthma too.  Furthermore, he was a pretty darn good President to boot.  Now I had asthma as a kid, and managed to beat it as well.  However, I lose points in comparison with Roosevelt because I've stayed home from work when my back was sore and also when I had pinkeye.

And we're going to name a football team--FOOTBALL, a rather violent sport itself--after this dude by calling it the TEDDIES?  That's just insulting the man's legacy.  I should point out that naming the school after a president and then adding "ies" to the first name to create a team nickname can be problematic.  Grant High School Ulyssesies gets tricky, although the Van Buren Martinis could work as a softball team sponsored by a bar.  Hayes High Rutherford...well, I give up.

As far as the game goes, the scoring started after...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Google is My Friend in Searching for Slumlord Data

Post and photo of a Bashir Moghul vacant lot by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I'm going for a Guinness World Record here.  Can I make someone fall asleep using fewer words in one sentence than ever before?  Here goes: In a Google search for a certain slumlord, a rather interesting spreadsheet with housing data came my way.

No, wait!  This really IS important for NoMi and even for all of Minneapolis.   Don't lose consciousness just yet, please.  The document in question is the 2009 Board of Appeal and Equalization list of applications for reductions in assessed property values.  Look, I'm sorry.  No matter how I try and present this stuff, it just comes off as verbal Ambien.  So let's jump right to the juicy stuff, shall we?

Bashir Moghul.  Quite a few Moghuls, actually.  Danna D III.  Property owners we haven't covered on NoMi blogs yet, such as My Truong, Steven Meldahl, and Patrick C. Burns come up quite a bit here too.  It's not known if any of those last four are problematic landlords, but in my experience, very few people or businesses seem to manage that many properties well.

Furthermore, until regular citizens are able to search property records with the name of the owner as a search criteria, lists like this may be the best way to determine something close to the full list of properties owned by a particular person.  Why?  Well, I'm glad you asked. It's because...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vacant Houses Can't Opt Out of Phone Books

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Earlier this morning, a Minneapolis resident posted a phone book opt-out link on the Minneapolis Issues Forum.  This link allows you to opt out of receiving three phone books:  Dex, Supermedia, and Yellowbook.  I opted out and it took me roughly five minutes.  Ed Kohler of The Deets has made phone books somewhat of a personal crusade.  And we're  not the only ones who have an issue with the phone book litter problem.

Opting out of phone books does indeed help reduce waste, but we're still left with the problem of inattentive delivery people who consistently leave these piles of garbage at clearly vacant properties.  If the city of Minneapolis would enforce the littering penalties (look at the bottom of page six of the link) and start charging the phone book companies $80 per book left at a vacant unit, then maybe I wouldn't need to spend my free time picking them up myself.  Since I have a working Blackberry, an internet connection, and a couch with all four legs firmly in place, I have no need for these wastes of paper.  If that ever changes, well, I can just go to the nearest vacant house and likely find several books that will suit my needs.

Harvest Festival and Home Tour Showcase NoMi!

Post, photos, and videos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Topping last year's Lowry Avenue dedication in the surprisingly cold weather would be difficult, but thanks to DOCS Gym, this year's Harvest Festival did just that.  Another blog and a slideshow post have already covered this event quite well, so let's go (more or less) straight to the

right after a word from a local business...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jug Liquor Demolition in Progress

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Last summer, the owner of the Slice of Chicago restaurant at 1600 W Broadway came forward with a proposal to turn the mutated phone booth of a building at the corner of Broadway and Washington into yet another fried food takeout joint.  I never set foot in the place when Jug Liquor was still open for business, although during my brief stay at "Upper Drug-o-topia," the professional drunkards downstairs frequented Jug to buy their 24-packs of Milwaukee's Best (which, for the record is NOT Milwaukee's best).

On top of simply not needing another fried food and styrofoam-producing shack along Broadway, there's another reason to be relieved that this particular proposal never had more substance than the cheap "Natural Ice" beers that were sold at Jug.  The owner of Slice of Chicago at 1600 West Broadway entered into a voluntary agreement to withdraw his food manufacturer/business license "in lieu of an adverse hearing."  Apparently there were both major health/safety violations there as well as continuous drug dealing on the premises.  Good for Jordan that the place was shut down, and good for Hawthorne that the same stuff didn't pop up here.

While the Jug Liquor site has no demolition order on it, I find it hard to imagine anything else happening with this property, and have reason to believe the owner is razing the structure on his own volition.  Maybe in the near future, we can get something like a Nice Ride bike rack on a key intersection.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Polars Outmatched by Athleticism of Lakers, QB Scott

Corey Smith picks off Southwest, scoring a defensive touchdown.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Early on in the Minneapolis Southwest Lakers 37-21 victory, it was clear this was a new kind of challenge for the Polars.  First, running back Morocco Ballard, injured in last week's match, was on the sidelines and not suited up.  He would be missed.  More importantly however, Lakers' QB Ayrton Scott was a dominating force.  The senior was poised in the pocket, could run when the play broke down, and frequently lowered his shoulder to break tackles when most quarterbacks would slide to avoid contact.  He passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 105 more.

More impressive than his statistics, however, was the fact that...

Friday, September 17, 2010

KSTP: The Headless Chicken of Local News

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

UPDATE:  As referenced in the comments section below, it appears KSTP has now changed the video slightly.  This is a positive development and shows at least some commitment to accuracy.  Given KSTP's history of poor reporting in NoMi however, the original text of my article below will remain as is.

Some time ago, Johnny Northside called KSTP the slumlord of local media. He was too generous. At least a slumlord generally knows what they're doing. KSTP, on the other hand is clearly unaware of even the most basic facts, and continues to either neglect the positive developments in NoMi or lump them in with their next opportunity to cover blood and guts.

The most recent example of this happened today, when...

NXNS Exclusive: Homicide at 30th and Colfax

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

An apparent homicide was committed moments ago near the intersection of 30th and Colfax Avenues North.  Not much information is known at this time, other than that the victim is a white male.  He was shot while inside a vehicle, although it is unknown if he or the shooter, or someone else, was driving at the time.  He got out of the car, ran half a block, collapsed, and died.  The shoe in the middle of the road and what looks to be a car seat seem to be part of what happened as well.

JACC Makes NoMi Beautiful

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Approximately 175 volunteers from the Jordan neighborhood, the Pohlad Foundation, Catalyst, and many other partners are converging on the Glengale Park for a community beautification project today.  Volunteers will be landscaping, building retaining walls, and doing some painting at people's homes.

All of this started at the break of dawn, and dedicated residents and volunteers will be working in Jordan all day.  Other partners to be thanked include The Ackerberg Group, the city of Minneapolis, Glengale Park residents, Neighborhood Housing Services, the Northside Home Fund, RJM Construction (these are the experts who are directing the volunteers), Urban Homeworks, Minnesota Internship Center at Unity House, and NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association).

If you make it over there to do some work yourself, you just might get one of those snazzy yellow t-shirts too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Prelude to Buying Into NoMi

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

After announcing my intentions to spend a year buying as much as possible with a connection to NoMi, I've been informally watching some of my purchases.  I'm kind of hoping this also makes me more conscious of everyday spending, and it may change some basic habits for the better.  There have been times when I put my paycheck in the bank, stop at the gas station to fill up the tank, and get some guacamole and bean dip.  Then, by the time I get home, it (meaning my paycheck...and the gasoline...and since I'm being honest here, also the guacamole and bean dip) is just GONE, and I can't seem to figure out why.  That sort of thing should happen with less frequency if I'm tracking my spending rather closely.

So, with that in mind, let's examine some of the noteworthy purchases, focusing on what I did NOT buy in or connected to NoMi...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Larry Maxwell - Merchant of (Housing) Death

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from

Earlier this week, I came across a rather interesting document from several years back.  Oddly enough, my knowledge of Larry Maxwell's mortgage fraud predates my employment with Hawthorne.  Here was this guy who was representing BOTH the buyer and seller (which, although rare, is very legal) and managing to sell his properties within two weeks or less, and for top market value or even higher.  Much of this was happening while the mortgage industry as a whole was slowing down.  Either Maxwell had figured out something that nobody else had, or there was some kind of fraud happening.

Based on his "maximum" sentence, we all know what the answer to that question was.  Since I knew I'd be starting up at Hawthorne, I called up a Realtor with whom I worked, and asked him to compile a list of Maxwell deals from the MLS for me.  He put together a list of every transaction Maxwell worked on in the 55411 and 55412 zip codes from 2005 through part of 2007.  Another researcher did some additional work with the data.  When I was doing a bit of housecleaning and came across this document, I thought I'd see what these properties are like now.

There were a total of fifty-nine transactions, and out of those fifty-nine...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Six Turnovers Propel Polars to Victory

Ballard's teammates carry him for the post-game handshakes.
And the Polars recover.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Last week against the Patrick Henry Patriots, the Polars' defense played with heart, desire, and grit. This time, they played with confidence, and it showed. North high forced six turnovers and stopped Minneapolis Edison on fourth down four times, including twice sacking the punter.

North's offense showed improvement over last week as well, but still needs to be more disciplined. At least ten times they were called for delay of game, false start, or illegal procedure (improper motion or formation before the ball is snapped) penalties. And although they put together quite a few impressive drives, they scored only when they did not commit such penalties. If that doesn't change, they'll eventually come across an opponent that can take advantage.

For instance, on their first drive...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dream Homes Are Made of This

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Above photo originally appeared on Johnny Northside.

About six years ago, Paul Koenig and David Kohlenberger concocted a plan to build hundreds of "Dream Homes" throughout the Twin Cities, but primarily in north Minneapolis. Approximately 80 such homes were built before a moratorium on new construction in north Minneapolis was put into place. For once, I can say, "Thank GOD they were committing fraud and lying to each other and their investors about the income streams associated with the properties." That helped put a stop to these housing atrocities.

As the Eurythmics song referenced in the tile says, "I've traveled the world and the seven seas." I've shoveled out homes that were filled with dirt in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. I've been in huts made entirely out of cow dung in Tanzania. Don't even get me started on El Salvador. And never ONCE have I been inside a dwelling as dreary as a Dream Home. Pictures are after the link, if you dare...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Paying Bashir's Property a Visit

From here, one can see both the building permit posted AND the alleged notice that no work is currently permitted, which according to neighbors was improperly removed.
Does it really take over three years to install sheetrock and insulation?
Photo by the Irving Inquisition.  Windows open to the elements abounded at this house.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, except where noted otherwise.

Here's a great example of how the NoMi Justice League works together.  Johnny Northside posted an item revealing a neglected Bashir Moghul property all the way out in Inver Grove Heights.  Then on Labor Day, the Hawthorne Hawkman sent Irving Inquisition a top-secret message, indecipherable without the proper cryptography equipment:  22-9-19-9-20 2-1-19-8-9-18-19 16-18-15-16-5-18-20-25.  The I.I. busted out his secret decoder ring and quickly understood the mission at hand.  We were off to see Bashir's Inver Grove Heights property for ourselves.

It was a perfect day for a slummy expedition.  We both had the day off, and the overcast skies were sure to add to the dreary mood - much like how one should only listen to The Cure or watch "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" when it's miserable outside.  So we expected to find a substandard property.  What we DIDN'T expect though, was...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Staunch Defense Carries Polars to 7-6 Win

The Patriots were stuffed in the backfield on their 2-point conversion attempt that ended the game.
Shelby Deloney (#3) celebrates his game-winning tackle.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Editorial note #1: One website and another source listed the start time for the game as 7:00 instead of 3:30. Those errors led me to arrive late and miss the first quarter.

Editorial note #2: This was my first attempt at covering a football game AND taking pictures. I found it rather difficult to keep track of which specific players made tackles, interceptions, etc. I could use some help with photography, and NXNS is now accepting applications for a sports field correspondent. This is not a paid position, but I will cover admission into the games.

Several key seniors from last year's deep playoff run had graduated, and the coaching staff went through its own turnover. Still, the North High Polars played with grit, and guts, and pure desire. That combination led to a stingy defense and an offense and special teams that still need work. But the defense covered other shortfalls and gave North High the opportunities they needed to win.

The first indication that this is a football team still working out some kinks was...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Year of Buying into NoMi

The Teachouts enjoying a meal at Good Sports Bar & Grill on Jim Wentzell Day
You can always find a hearty meal at the Bangkok Market in the EcoVillage.
Or a cup of coffee at 42nd Avenue Station

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos from

My post about needing a bike shop got me thinking about NoMi, and how my blogging might continue to make an impact. For the next few months, the North High Polars' football team will be prominently featured here, but what comes next?

I started to ponder where my money goes, and how I could best use what little I have to make an impact in my own neighborhood. What would happen if I spent an entire year buying things only in NoMi or from a business with a connection to north Minneapolis? For instance, organic foods are hard to find in NoMi, but Local D'Lish in downtown is owned by a Ann Loyd, a NoMi homeowner.

There would be exceptions, of course. I can't very well go on vacation and spend money back home. Then there are some things that I just can't find or connect to NoMi, like...

The 2.2 Million-Dollar Question: Does CeaseFire Work?

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from Part 4 in an ongoing series, click here, here, and here for the previous posts.

By now it's no secret that there is potentially $2.2 million in federal money just waiting to be used to implement the CeaseFire model here in Minneapolis. There's plenty to be skeptical about, both in terms of CeaseFire's methods in Chicago and who exactly would put them into practice here.

But the big question is simply whether or not the program actually works. To answer that, I looked at the final 80 or so pages of the 229-page report...