Friday, July 29, 2011

Ponzi Schemes and a Notorious Slumlord Intersect at Problem Property

Post, photo, and image by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

When a few concerned NoMi residents got together this week to pick up trash and note potential problem properties along 4th St N, one place that stuck out was 2520 4th St N.  According to the city's website, this house is owned by a mysterious-sounding entity called Entrust Midwest LLC.  Now why is it, I thought, that this name rings a bell for me?  What's significant about Entrust Midwest?  So of course I Googled "Entrust Midwest LLC," but before I could even finish typing, this autopopulated:

"Entrust Midwest lawsuit" is the second item that comes up automatically.
Now, before we start to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes, I'm giving you all a fair warning.  When we start to scratch the surface of such topics, we generally have the same experience as watching a plumber work on your house, or going on a third date with someone who has unresolved daddy issues.  Finding out unwanted, unpleasant information is pretty much a given.  So don't say I didn't warn you about Entrust Midwest, which has been caught up in the infamous...

Picking Up Trash and Watching 4th Street

Post and second photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.  First photo contributed anonymously.

Earlier this week, two neighbors and I took time out of our day to pick up trash along 4th Street North from 26th Street down to 24th.  We brought along 3 heavy-duty garbage bags usually reserved for Clean Sweep events.  Two of the three bags started to rip from the collective weight of liquor bottles we picked up.  This, unfortunately, is not an exaggeration.  But a funny thing happens when you walk around picking up garbage.  You have a convenient excuse to spend a fair amount of time watching a block and gathering details.  Heck, some of the people hanging out on the streets just assume that if we're picking up garbage we must be with Sentence to Serve or some such agency.  Since the only conceivable reason to pick up litter is getting caught breaking the law, then maybe, in the eyes of the thugs, we're all right.

In the top photo, we see a crowd gathered at 326 25th Ave N, which seems to bolster the claim by Michael Bell that people at that address are part of the problem too.  That contributed photo, however, was not taken during the time of the garbage pick-up.  I just like the juxtaposition of the squad car in the rearview mirror.

What we did see was a slew of problem properties, owned by some familiar faces - starting with...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wakeboarding Championships In Hawthorne, and We Read About Them in the Paper the Next Day

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, stock photo from the localyte blog.

Yesterday in the Star Tribune, there was an inspiring story of a wakeboarding contestant who has also battled cancer.  Apparently the national wakeboarding championships were held right here on Hawthorne's side of the Mississippi River.  Who knew about this?  I can't think of a good reason why a competition of a national caliber would not be highly publicized in the community where it was being held.  Whether it's the fault of the World Wakeboard Association, the West Broadway Coalition, Councilmember Hofstede the Park Board, or County Commissioner Stenglein, or even my own organization, someone clearly dropped the ball on this.

And such a lack of publicity around River events happening in NoMi (and especially Hawthorne) is not new.  Last year the Aquatennial had events along the River on the same day and at the same times as the FLOW Northside Arts Crawl.  There was no synergy or connection between events, and some local business owners didn't even know that either one was happening.

We still need easier bike access to the River, and I'm glad new signs are popping up around NoMi.  But access to the Mississippi and making the River a community connection goes beyond infrastructure.   There is a definite lack of communication around high-profile events that happen in our community.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bike Signs Pop Up All Over NoMi!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

I first ran across these nifty new bike trail signs along the River, and was too jaded at the time to think that they were placed on the residential side of Hawthorne as well.  But I drove around and saw these signs on 26th Ave and Lowry.  Showing bikers (and people in their cars) just how close downtown, our parks, and eventually Northeast really are via bike will hopefully do wonders for getting folks out of their cars and onto bicycles.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Historypin Puts Neighborhood History in the Palm of Your Hand

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, videos from the Historypin Youtube channel. may just be the web- and smartphone-based feature I've been searching my whole life for.  (I realize smartphones have not existed for the entirety of my life.  Don't ruin my moment.)  A few months ago, I explored the idea of making community history more accessible through QR codes.  For website or text information, that could still work.  But let's say you're walking down the street and you think to yourself, "I wonder what this place looked like fifty years ago?"  Imagine being able to hold your phone up like you were taking a picture of a historic building, and then being able to see a decades-old image of that location right next to what it looks like in the present day.

That, in essence, is what Historypin does.  You can upload photos to it, and overlay those pictures onto Google Street, and then go to the place where the photos are pinned to.  The Historypin application is available for free download on Android phones.  I picture this program as an ideal supplement to neighborhood historic walking tours.  So naturally I tried this out on...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pamiko's Legal Struggles Continue

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, "Pamiko Rail" photo from the Hillside Chronicles blog.

Paul Koenig and his Pamiko Properties LLC are apparently still wrangling out differences with the powers that be in court.  I was given information that Pamiko and the State of Minnesota and Hennepin County still have issues to settle in Minnesota tax court.  Thanks to the government shutdown, the tax court website is not in operation and I can't even access the registrar of actions.  But the case number for Pamiko Properties LLC v. Hennepin County is 27–CV–09–13258.  From the rudimentary information passed my way, it appears as if Koenig is challenging the amount he owes on property taxes.  But the case summary does state that...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mobile Camera Placed at 25th Ave N and 4th St N

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

A common refrain among residents living in or near a problematic area is often, "If everyone knows drug dealing happens there, then why don't they just park a squad car on the corner all day long?"  Over the past two weeks, the MPD has done almost exactly that.  This blogger and other neighbors have seen multiple squad cars from the Minneapolis Police Department and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department camped out on 25th and 4th.  The cameras appear to be pointed directly at the 300 block of 25th Ave N, and are doing a great job of keeping at least that area relatively quiet.

I got out and did a quick drive around the area at about midnight tonight, and there were maybe two houses where people were hanging out.  One was 2416 4th St N, mentioned in the comment thread of the previous blog post on this topic.  The numbers of people weren't alarming and nothing obviously wrong was happening, so no 911 calls were logged.

4th St is quieting down, at least for the time being.  Let's hope it stays that way.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Feats (and Feasts) of Strength with the Ghost Pepper

I have come to dub this the Demonwing.

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos of Jeff Skrenes/Hawkman contributed.

We all have our little quirks.  For instance, Ed Kohler over at the Deets has his obsession with the presentation of hotel toilet paper at various locales.  In a way that's more connected than one might initially think, my fixation happens to be with the hottest pepper on the planet, the ghost pepper.  (Although I've heard that the Trinidad scorpion pepper is both hotter and has a more badass name, I've yet to encounter one available for consumption.)

In the top photo, fellow former NoMi resident, poet, and blogger Bryan Thao Worra and I shared several orders of ghost pepper wings at the Lowry Cafe as part of his going away party.  For the first time, I actually SENT THE WINGS BACK because even though they were spiced with these peppers, they simply weren't hot enough for a Laotian, a Latino dude, and a white boy with taste buds of steel.  That may not have been the wisest move, because later...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Major Taylor Club Hosts Biking in NoMi

Post, photos, and images by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Last Saturday, the Major Taylor Bicycling Club and Bike Walk Move put on a cycling event in NoMi for people of all ages and skill levels.  The event started at 8 a.m. and I got there right on time because they offered a free tune-up.  The clouds seemed ready to drop buckets of rain on us, and I'm sure that dampened attendance somewhat.  If it rained, I had a plan:  I would get wet before I got home and dried off.

Since I arrived even before the folks doing the tune-ups, I was treated to a history lesson on Major Taylor, who was...

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...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2222 4th St N Set for Demolition...For Good This Time Again Eventually

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from the city of Minneapolis.

The property at 2222 4th St N seemingly just won't go down, but the city council approved its demolition yet again on July 1st.  I posed the question to a few residents, "Why in the world is Mahmood Khan fighting so hard to keep this property up?"  After all, it's not that great and he has reportedly used materials and supplies from other units instead of putting in new or even gently used items - that includes used carpeting.  Maybe the carpet in the photo above is from the Neapolitan house at 2906 Emerson.  The prevailing opinion is that Khan's hope is to win this fight so that this case/house can be used as a precedent to allow similarly low standards at Khan's properties throughout NoMi.  If that's the case, then 2222 4th St N marks the front line in the battle against slumlord ownership.

More to follow.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Potential L3SO Reforms Likely Tabled for 2011 (Thanks, Government Shutdown)

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from the Johnny Northside blog.

Today on Johnny Northside, the lead post is of a sex offender who removed his monitoring device and is a wanted fugitive.  Four months ago, the Minnesota Auditor's department released a report about how flawed our sex offender treatment program is.  As part of that report, a sex offender task force was recommended.  (or click here for the bill, which is now languishing in the Senate)  Thanks to our government shutdown, this bill probably won't be considered in a special session, meaning that we'll have to pressure our legislators to bring it forward again next year.

The sex offender task force would examine a multitude of issues, and the legislation leaves an opening to add more items for review.  But one issue NOT mentioned in the proposal is...

Friday, July 1, 2011

How Successful Was the Healthy Corner Store Program?

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

In my posts about the at least temporary demise of the Northside Food Market and all the problems they brought to the neighborhood, I expressed skepticism of the Healthy Corner Store Program.  I worried that it was nothing more than a farce (and one we taxpayers pay for, no less) that would allow problem businesses to temporarily endear themselves to the city without bringing about actual change.  So I resolved to visit each of the five north Minneapolis stores listed as participating.  The program was slated to run through June 30, 2011, so visiting on the last day or two of the initiative would presumably give me a sense of who followed this through all the way to the end.

My first stop was at the Glenwood Market at 1501 Glenwood Ave N, where I found...