Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bike Lanes on the Lowry Bridge

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, images from the Lowry Avenue Bridge website.

One of the bright spots (of which there are many) on the redesigned Lowry Avenue is the ample space provided for bike lanes.  Last week some cyclists and I had a very wonkish discussion about how those lanes would be incorporated into the shiny new Lowry Bridge.  If you'll notice from the design specs above, there don't seem to be any marked bike lanes.  If the bridge is built exactly like this, I see three possible prospects, all of them unappealing in their own right:  bicyclists will have to share the road with high-speed traffic, bikers will share the walkways with pedestrian traffic, or bikers will be required to get off of their bikes and walk with pedestrians if they're not willing to brave traffic conditions.

In an email exchange with some cycling activists and staff from County Commissioner Mark Stenglein's office, it's unclear how bicycling will be supported on the bridge.  A biker claims there will be no marked lanes while a staffer says there will be two 11-foot lanes of traffic and two 4-foot marked bike lanes in each direction.  For the record, the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan, passed in 2001, calls for the entirety of Lowry Avenue to have bike lanes.  Readers of both this blog and the Irving Inquisition will know how much I want to see the Lowry Bridge adhere to master plans.

With the formal public comment period over and done, and construction underway, changing the actual width of the bridge is out of the question.  But if the lane configuration needs to be tweaked, perhaps that can be done.  For instance, I'm told that...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Broadway Pizza Doesn't Deliver on Broadway

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

This weekend at a social gathering at a friend's place just off of Broadway Avenue, folks were getting pretty hungry.  My salsa had already been devoured, and that just wasn't cutting it.  So we pulled out a phone book (sorry, Ed Kohler) and called a few local places.  We settled on Broadway Pizza, but encountered a significant barrier.  They don't deliver on Broadway.  The address on the box above, right under the part that says "delivery," is only two miles away from where we were, and the Robbinsdale location is right on County Rd. 81.  Two miles in the other direction is the Broadway Pizza on the river in Hawthorne.

Look, I get it.  It's not easy to convince every business to do deliveries in NoMi.  But Olympic Cafe delivers, and so do other places in our neighborhood.  Broadway Pizza proudly states that they got their start in north Minneapolis.  Their website goes on to say that when they had to move because of I-94 construction, they stayed in the community.  I'm thrilled about that, and this neighborhood institution should be applauded for that commitment.  Back before Donny Dirk's or Good Sports opened up, Broadway Pizza was the only sit-down restaurant in our neighborhood.  John Hoff, other neighborhood revitalizers, and I would frequently hold informal "policy booth" sessions there to discuss neighborhood concerns.

But that's precisely why in my opinion the bar is set higher for Broadway Pizza.  They have at least a dozen metro area locations, and they got their start right here in NoMi.  Boasting of a community connection should cut both ways, and I think we should see more on their end.  Furthermore, their restaurant on the Mississippi River has one of the best views of downtown Minneapolis - a view so amazing that nearby residents pay $350,000 for condominiums with the same view.  Yet Broadway doesn't even have a patio or outdoor dining area.

Broadway Pizza ought to know that neighborhood residents are dissatisfied with this lack of service.  So I'm asking readers, the next time you want pizza or other food delivered, or this summer before enjoying what will certainly be a breathtaking view of downtown at Psycho Suzi's, take two minutes and call Broadway Pizza (612-529-4475) first.  Let them know that your dollars are being spent elsewhere because of what they aren't offering for NoMi.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Hawkman's Famous Lychee Mint Salsa

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

I've brought my lychee mint salsa to a variety of social events in NoMi, from fundraisers for Don Samuels to art parties for Ken Farkash, and often just regular evenings where friends meet up.  Every time I bring this dish over, I leave with an empty container.  Friends have bugged me incessantly for the recipe - which I don't really have handy because I am not that structured of a chef.  The base recipe was something I found in my favorite cookbook, "Miami Spice," and I've added to it.

The key to lychee mint salsa is the combination of the spicy and the sweet.  Hot peppers slam into the taste buds and almost knock you off of your feet.  But before the heat builds up too much, the coolness of the mint and the sweetness of the lychee fruit kick in.  That's got to trigger some serious endorphins in the brain because almost nobody can stop eating this stuff.  It's like there's a party in your mouth and everyone's invited.  Instead of bottling this and selling it, I'm providing the recipe here.  Bear in mind though, that I have a higher tolerance for hot and spicy foods than most people do.  The Hawkman's lychee mint salsa recipe contains...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Recycling Problems

Property across alley from me

A Bashir Moghul property around the corner.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

My first post of any substance on NXNS revolved around John Hoff finally convincing me to begin recycling, and since then I've been watching a few Hawthorne dynamics out of the corner of my eye.  One issue that I keep on seeing is nearby landlord-owned multi-family housing with the maximum number of recycling bins out back.  This is great in theory, except that often the bins are never used.  I can tell you with a relative degree of certainty that the bins pictured above have never moved from their respective spots.  That got me wondering how many other landlords were doing the same thing.  I have made a few passes through the alleys near my place and found properties owned by Robert Serr that have the same thing going on.

Just so everyone is aware, garbage isn't even collected from where these bins are placed.  There is no alley at the property and bins are out front.

Wot's this then gents?  More bins stored nowhere near the garbage/recycling pickup!
Once is an annoyance, twice is a coincidence, and three (technically four) times on three consecutive blocks starts to look like a pattern to me.  Which begs a series of questions...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rachel's Club 46

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

A fellow Hawthornite wanted to touch base with me this week and discuss neighborhood issues over a burger and beverages somewhere around town.  I wanted to try out a place I'd never patronized before, so we settled on Rachel's on 46th and Lyndale.  Like Good Sports or Donny Dirk's, Rachel's operated under different names and different ownership and was a problem spot for the neighborhood.  In talking to a few patrons, the buzz is that although there are occasional issues that may rise up with any pub, the new owners are doing a pretty good job.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that the bartender area is HUGE.  We're talking Death Star "Look at the size of that thing" big.  The bar itself would be rather spacious if the center island were cut in half.  Instead, the bar extends almost to the edges of the entire dining area, leaving little room for pool tables and sit-down space.  As I was pointing this out to my friend, I looked over at the video games and dart board.  "They're too crammed together.  Who can play a decent game of darts when anyone at the video games is going to be in their way?"  Seconds later, a few diners went over and started playing one of the arcade games, and there was literally no room for darts at that point.

If the bartender center island were cut in half, the place could give the game area a little more room, and maybe even add a pool table.  More on the pool table later; my food had arrived...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

And the Minnwest v. Koenig Verdict IS...

Post and stock photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

The Minnwest v. Paul Koenig, Aaron & Mary Durkop, Komo Group LLC, and Kaizen Property Solutions LLC is over.  Judge Susan Burke granted the Minnwest Bank request for summary judgment, and Minnwest is now the owner of the six properties at issue in this case.  There was a court hearing scheduled for Monday March 21, 2011, but that apparently has been canceled.  I showed the final documents to a real estate attorney, who confirmed they contain the final ruling, unless of course Koenig or any other defendant wishes to appeal.

In the last post regarding this trial, I mentioned that I was missing some previous documents, such as Paul Koenig's affidavit and the Defendants' Memorandum in opposition to summary judgment.  The defendants do make some interesting, although ultimately fruitless, claims.  Such as...

Don Allen,, and the Way Back Machine

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image is a screen shot from searching posts on the Way Back Machine website, and has been edited only to crop off unrelated images/data.

For people following the Jerry Moore v. John Hoff court case, one of the dramatic twists was that Don Allen was once a co-defendant with Hoff, and then he later settled with Moore and took the stand against his former collaborator.  I was curious about what Don Allen had written on this topic, and I also remember repeated posts on his former blog about calling for various people to either be fired or step down from their positions.  The Way Back Machine isn't comprehensive, so not much from those posts are available.  But on the new site Allen has made similar attempts at various people within the Minneapolis Civil Rights department.

Reconciling these two opposing views (calls for people to be fired vs. celebrating the current Moore/Hoff verdict of interference with a contract; switching positions within the same trial) demonstrates an impressive capacity for doublethink.  How does Don Allen manage this?  The answer may be below, but first, the post written about Jerry Moore...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bring Back the Dollar House Program

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the My Enterprises blog.  Note:  I do not endorse anything on the linked blog; I am only citing the source of the image.

Ever since alluding to the Dollar House program in a recent Paul Koenig post, various friends and neighbors have been telling me stories about people they know across the city of Minneapolis who have one of the actual dollar houses.  I'm told that most or perhaps all of those homes are still standing, still occupied by the owners who bought through the program, and have been a springboard for other revitalization in their neighborhoods.  For anyone unfamiliar with this initiative, it essentially boiled down to the city buying houses, selling them for a dollar "as is" to new homeowners who would then use their own funds or a mortgage to fix up the property.

I'd like more history on the Dollar House program, and the history could be either anecdotal from people who actually used it or wonkish and empirical so we can see how the public portion of the funding was structured.  Of course, some items would have to be reworked to fit today's housing market, but those would be minor considerations if the program was fundamentally sound and successful.

If we brought the Dollar House program back tomorrow, what would it look like?  Let's walk through a purely hypothetical example here.  (Be forewarned, the numbers I'm going to use are both purely made up and also based on my knowledge and experience.  Numbers that I'm completely guessing on will be highlighted in green.)  We start with a vacant house that is on the market for $15,000, and would be bought by the city and demolished if not for this tremendously successful, yet currently hypothetical, program.  The cost to demolish is roughly...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

619 26th Ave N Prepped for Demolition

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

619 26th Avenue North, a property that has long been a focal point of illicit activity is now in preparation for demolition.  Many Hawthorne residents along 26th couldn't be happier.  The former owner of this property allowed his tenants to close off the front porch "for privacy reasons," which, when put through the Babel fish translator from bullshit to English equates, "So Keith Richards, Charlie Sheen, and the Colombian revolutionary army could do constant drug deals and no one would notice."  This place was bad news, one of the last open-air drug dealing spots in the neighborhood, and there was much rejoicing when it was finally shut down.

The Hawthorne Neighborhood Council has supported the city's acquisition and demolition of 619 and 621 26th.  What to the naked eye looks like a small yard off to the side of 619 is actually a third parcel, 617 26th Ave N.  Hawthorne then recommends that the three parcels be combined and split in half to make two buildable lots.

I support the neighborhood's decision, but how 619 arrived at the point of demolition is a frustrating and all-too-common tale...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Will Brad Childress Use Moore v. Hoff Ruling?

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from

I'm obviously no legal expert, but I've been struggling to understand the difference between what John Hoff did in regards to Jerry Moore when compared to how sports fans across the country express dissatisfaction with coaches or teams.  It seems that one statement from JNS may have had an impact on the jury, in which John Hoff takes credit for getting Jerry Moore fired (whether Hoff actually had that impact or whether the decision to terminate Moore's contract was made without influence from the Johnny Northside blog has not been established).  Moore's lawyer Jill Clark said that indicated a step beyond "speech" and crossed over into "action."

Well, and other similar sites all lobbied openly for the Vikings to terminate Brad Childress' contract.  And then when that did happen, site operators took credit for their supposed accomplishment. says, "We did it!  We have officially (unofficially) accomplished our goal of being the FIRST site to use social media to have a professional head coach fired."  Uh oh, seems like speech and action to me.

On the various anti-Childress sites, what we see appears to be quite similar to the Moore/Hoff standoff.  People discussed facts (The Vikings were losing games, the Randy Moss debacle was mishandled) and opinions (whole sites dedicated to expressing dissatisfaction with or personal dislike of a public figure) with the goal of getting Brad Childress fired.  Chilly had a pretty hefty contract, so if the jury's ruling in the Moore/Hoff case is not overturned on appeal, then sports fans who lobby for the firing of a coach better be prepared to cover millions in lost pay, future earnings, or emotional damages.

If, from a legal perspective, I'm way off base here, please educate me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Wild Card, Switzerland, and The Adversaries (NoMi Blogosphere, part 2)

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the No Land Grab blog.

After yesterday's post, we're left to cover The Wild Card, the Switzerland blogs, and The Adversaries.  First up, I'm designating none other than Ed Kohler as "The Wild Card."  Ed's blog, The Deets, covers a multitude of issues at a level of wonkish detail that often surpasses even my capabilities. Interestingly enough, as I was researching when various folks started blogging about north Minneapolis issues, it appears this post from The Deets about shot spotter info was among the first blog posts to be written about this neighborhood.  (or at least from people who are still blogging today)

Ed's topics on The Deets can vary wildly from one post to the next - from rating toilet paper at various hotels to debunking smear campaigns by Republicans.  Lately he's figured out a novel way to marry those two topics by exposing Don "The Republican" Allen for downright making up a story about what has become known as "Poopgate."

Besides The Deets, we have what I would call the "Switzerland" blogs.  These blogs are...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Brief History of the NoMi Blogosphere (part 1)

 Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from The Bad Penny Blog.

Several years ago, I was back in my grandparents' home town of Tapiola, Michigan and I met up with an old friend of mine at the Sportsmen's Club (It's a bar next to, and largely run by, the volunteer fireman's department, which is adjacent to the little league baseball diamond...let's just say things are different in rural Upper Michigan).  This friend's brother had just lost his eyesight in a tragic accident, so naturally the first topic of our conversation was his well-being.  My friend was surprisingly cheerful as he said, "We do all of the same things we used to do together.  We go to basketball games, we do archery, we go downhill skiing, we even eat spaghetti!"

Upon seeing my surprise that such a mundane task would be included in a list of accomplishments by a person with no sight, he said, "Well YOU try eating spaghetti with your eyes shut, and tell me how that works out for ya!"

Earlier, a commenter on The Deets said it was too hard to keep all the bloggers in NoMi straight, so a post that does so seemed appropriate.  Telling the story of the NoMi blogosphere will be like my friend's vignette; sometimes poignant, sometimes irreverent, and often more than a little messy.  I'm going to divide our bloggers into several categories:  "The Big Three," "Role Players," "Switzerland," "The Wild Card," and "The Adversaries."

While there were almost certainly bloggers of some kind before him, the tactic really took off when John Hoff came into the neighborhood under the name "Johnny Northside."  John got his start in an online tit-for-tat about mortgage fraud involving...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Minneapolis Could Take Some Cues from Charleston, South Carolina

Smart Growth by Joseph Riley (Mayor - Charleston, SC) from Wildcat Student TV on Vimeo.
Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, video and screen shot from source linked above.

Not too long ago, I added links on the left side of my blog in order to allow readers to see what other cities across the country are doing to revitalize their neighborhoods.  While I don't know if that feature has been used very often, the search for other best practices did spark one neighbor to send me the link above.  Be warned, the video is almost seventy-five minutes long, although the mayor of Charleston is engaging enough of a speaker to make it pretty entertaining.

Mayor Joseph Riley is a better speaker than I am a writer, especially when it comes to his own town.  But in case NXNS readers would rather spend just a few minutes reading a summary, that's after the jump...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sidewalk Signs Point to Farview

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Yesterday as I was walking over to the Bangkok Market for a serving of their delicious, healthy, and reasonably priced Laab duck, I saw this spray-painted sign directing people to Farview Park. The lack of a banner and the plain black font are a little too bare bones for my taste, but this is a good start.

Hawthorne members have spent considerable time planning ways to draw traffic from Lowry through the EcoVillage and to one of the great city amenities of Farview Park. Doing so is more than just a feel-good gesture; the family who moved into the LEED-certified house in the EcoVillage found out about the area by biking through the neighborhood.

I hope to see more items like this along Lowry, but this is a good start.
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Koenig "Ignores Some of the Most Basic Principles of Mortgage Priority," Appears Set to Lose Case

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from Johnny Northside originally appeared on Paul Koenig's blog, used under First Amendment criticism and commentary.

Before we begin, let me get one thing out of the way.  I don't have all the documents or information I need in order to write what I would consider a complete blog post.  But since it's going to be a few days before I have time to get downtown again for what may be the last round of Pamiko court documents, I'm writing with what I've got.  In a way, this is oddly appropriate.  I'm somewhat of a completist, and when I first discovered a $2.5 million-dollar foreclosure, I wanted to do more research and get the whole picture before writing anything.

Instead, my friend, neighbor, and fellow blogger John Hoff told me about "All the President's Men," in which reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal knew they had a lead on something, but didn't know how big it was going to be.  "Just write what you've got, and people will start contributing more information, and the rest of the story will happen," was essentially what John advised.  And now look where we are, with Paul Koenig and his various LLC's being perhaps the most extensively covered topic in the NoMi blogosphere.

So we press on, knowing the picture is not yet complete, telling the story with what we've got, confident that the rest of the information will indeed follow.  We start with the Affidavit of Minnwest President William Swanstrom, which states...