Don't miss the show, you'll get a chance to see the TOP DOG Jim Swartwood the editor of the Watchdog dish out a dose of something somebody somewhere doesn't want others to hear!< Wow! did that make sense.. You betcha, watch the show and see for yourself!
Monday, October 30, 2006
Don't miss the show, you'll get a chance to see the TOP DOG Jim Swartwood the editor of the Watchdog dish out a dose of something somebody somewhere doesn't want others to hear!< Wow! did that make sense.. You betcha, watch the show and see for yourself!
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION?
Sunday, October 29, 2006
115. Dawkins, Martin and Koehnen and others from the City were directly involved in
the intentional and malicious, discriminatory condemnation of Brisson’s property located at 297
Burgess Street. Although numerous properties in the City had serious Code violations that
Defendants ignored, Defendants selectively targeted Brisson as part of their discriminatory
policy, custom and practice.
116. Plaintiff Brisson owned his duplex located at 297 Burgess Street and lived in the
upper floor unit of this home. He had purchased the duplex on a contract for deed. Brisson
desired to rent the lower unit to help pay the contract.
117. Brisson’s prospective tenant was disabled, receiving Social Security Disability
payments and was eligible to receive Section 8 housing assistance from the PI-IA.
118. As part of the prospective tenant’s application to rent from Brisson and receive
33.public assistance, housing inspectors from PHA completed a Section 8 inspection of Brisson’s
duplex on April 3,2003. The inspectors determined that four items needed correction and
attention and Brisson immediately made the repairs. i
119. On April 14,2003, PHA inspectors reinspected Brisson’s duplex and issued
approval to Brisson under Section 8. The disabled tenant immediately moved in.
120. Thereafter, Dawkins, Martin and Koehnen began harassing Brisson with claimed
housing code vioIations and criminal housing citations related to his duplex. Brisson was in the
process of renovating his duplex which included repairing certain portions of the roof that had
been damaged by squirrels. As part of the renovation, debris collected on the ground. In the
summer of 2003, Defendant Martin issued Brisson two criminal citations for claimed roof, paint
and trash code violations.
121. Brisson had been a victim of identity theft and an unauthorized person ran up
electric bills in his name with the utility company. As a result, the electricity to Brisson’s
upstairs unit was suspended. However, the power was still connected and available in the lower
unit that Brisson’s disabled tenant occupied.
122. When Dawkins and Martin learned of the electricity suspension, Martin and
Dawkins prepared a written Notice of Condemnation and Order to Vacate dated July 15,2003, of
Brisson’s entire duplex, claiming the home as “Unfit For Human Habitation” and forwarded the
Notice and Order to Brisson through the mail.
3 4.123. The written Notice stated that the condemnation was based upon a “principal
violation” of “Lack of Electricity” in the home and that this condition constituted a “material
endangerment”. This ,was false as there was electricity to the lower unit.
124. In the July 15,2003, Notice of Condemnation, Martin and Dawkins .also cited
eleven items that they stated were code violations on the exterior of Brisson’s home. They
falsely stated in their written order that the windows and screens were missing, defective or in a
state of disrepair. The windows and screens were on the home and were in fine shape except that
Brisson still needed to add window casing trim to the newly installed windows. Martin and
Dawkins also falsely stated that there were missing or defective handrails and guardrails. In fact,
only one handrail/gardrail was temporarily detached to allow building materials to be brought
into the home for improvements.
125. As a result of the wrongful condemnation of both the upper and lower units of
Brisson’s duplex, Brisson and his disabled tenant were forced from their homes.
126. Brisson filed a legislative appeal of this Condemnation Order with the City. The
City legislative hearing officer, and later the City Council, denied his appeal.
127. On August 7,2003, Martin again inspected Brisson’s home. On August 12; 2003,
Dawkins and Martin prepared and issued a Revised Notice of Condemnation that again listed the
“Lack of Electricity” and eleven other violations listed on the July 15,2003, Notice of
Condemnation. Again, Dawkins and Martin forwarded this written Notice and Order to Brisson
3 5.by mail.
128. Martin and Dawkins also listed on the Revised Notice twelve additional interior
code violations claimed to have been discovered during Martin’s interior inspection on August 7,
2003. The Revised Notice included a total of 24 items and stated that due to the amount of
violations, Code Enforcement required a Code Compliance Certificate before the condemnation
129. Many of the items listed by Martin and Dawkins as violations on the August 12,
2003, Revised Notice of Condemnation were false. They falsely’listed the lack of electricity to
the building when in fact only the upstairs unit was disconnected. Martin and Dawkins falsely
stated that the home was “Lacking deadbolt door locks” on entry doors. Every entry door did
have deadbolt locks at the time of Martin’s inspection and at ah times before and after that. The
only exception was that a deadbolt lock on one door had been knocked loose from the door after
being hit with building materials: the new replacement deadbolt lock for that door was located
right next to the door ready to be put back into place. Inspector Martin observed all this.
130. In the August 12,2003, Revised Notice of Condemnation, Martin and Dawkins
also falsely stated that the windows and screens were missing, defective or in a state of disrepair.
This continued to be false as the windows were new and screens were fine. Brisson was going to
be adding window casing trim to the newly installed windows once a different inspector had
approved the installation of the windows. Martin and Dawkins also falsely stated that the front
36.storm doors were in disrepair. Brisson had replaced all three screen and storm doors, including
the fkont storm door.
131. Some of the violations that Martin and Dawkins listed in the August 12,2003,
Revised Notice were duplicates of other violations listed in the same written Notice. of
Condemnation, but listed as separate numbers, and said Defendants maliciously duplicated these
items in their effort to inflate the number of claimed violations so Defendants could wrongfully
demand a full “code compliance” on Brisson’s duplex.
132. Because of the condemnation by said Defendants of Brisson’s home and his
rental unit, Brisson was not allowed to live in his own home and his disabled tenant had to leave
his home following the July 15,2003, condemnation and order to vacate. B&son lived out of his
truck following the July 2003, condemnation and order to vacate.
133. After the July 2003, Notice of Condemnation, Brisson called Dawkins to tell
him that B&son’s home should not have been condemned. Brisson informed Dawkins
that the lower unit did have electricity and explained the false items listed in the Notice. Brisson
asked Dawkins to come out to look at Brisson’s home to see for himself. Dawkins refused.
B&son attempted many times to talk to Dawkins by phone but Dawkins would not take
134. Through Martin’s and Dawkins’ illegal condemnation of Brisson’s entire home,
they were able to deny Brisson the rental income he needed from his tenant.to pay contract for
3 7.deed payments and repairs and to maintain his investment in his property.
135. After Brisson received the August 12,2003, Notice of Condemnation he filed
another legislative appeal with,the City. On.August 26,2003, Brisson attended the legislative
i appeal hearing. B&son informed the hearing officer that his home had passed -a PHA Section 8
inspection just months before the harassment inspections by Martin and Dawkins, and Brisson
described to the hearing officer the true condition of his duplex. The hearing offrcer issued a
decision in Brisson’s favor and reversed the condemnation on his duplex. One of the City’s
inspectors present at the hearing stated that Brisson really did not need a “code compliance” on
136. On September 2,2003, the Council upheld the hearing officer’s decision
and the Condemnation was officially removed fkom Brisson’s home. On September 22,2003,
Brisson received a letter by mail from Dawkins stating that the condemnation was lifted because
the City had determined that the conditions causing the condemnation and Order to Vacate, had
137. After the condemnation was lifted, Brisson and his tenant were able to occupy
their homes at 297 Burgess Street for ahnost one month.
138. On October 3,2003, a search warrant was requested by law enforcement
authorities seeking to find a “meth” lab on the premises of B&son’s home. The search warrant
was not executed until six days later on October 9,2003, when a law enforcement raid was made
3 8.of Brisson’s home.
139. Early in the morning of October 9,2003, law enforcement officers, without
announcing their presence or authority in violation of the express terms of the search warrant,
suddenly broke down Brisson’s door with a battering ram and immediately shot Brisson and his
dogs with a tire extinguisher. Brisson,had been asleep immediately before the raid. Brisson was
informed by law enforcement offricers that he was being arrested for two outstanding housing
court warrants that had been issued by Martin in June and July 2003. B&son was arrested and
held in jail for a day and a half, and then released from custody. He was not charged with any
crime related to the warrant.
140. Upon Brisson’s release from custody and return to his home, he discovered that
on October 9,2003, the day law enforcement officers had raided and destroyed his home, City
inspectors had inspected his upstairs unit. Brisson discovered that the law enforcement officers
had broken his entry door and had also tom out all of Brisson’s smoke detectors in his upstairs
unit; the detectors were still there, but were hanging by their wires from the ceiling. The offricers
had also punched large holes in Brisson’s walls, damaged the unit’s plumbing, damaged
Brisson’s furniture and thrown furniture all around the unit, and caused other damage to the unit.
141. At no time was Brisson involved with illegal drug manufacturing that would
give the government any reason to suspect him and provide probable cause to obtain a search
warrant to raid Brisson’s home. Brisson was not arrested for illegal drugs, nor charged for drug
39.possession or illegal drug manufacturing.
142. On Qctober 14,2003, Brisson once again received from Dawkins through the
mail a written Notice of Condemnation of his home. Five code deficiencies were listed as the
’ basis for condemnation; each of the five were directly and maliciously caused by law
enforcement offricers during their raid. The Notice stated that Brisson’s building could not be
occupied and that the building must be vacated by October 9,2003, the day of the raid.
143. Brisson once again filed a legislative appeal. This time, his appeal was denied.
Brisson then appealed to the Council. Although Brisson had pointed out to the legislative
hearing bffrcer, and did so again to the Council, that the damagelisted in the October 14,2003,
Notice was a result of law enforcement conduct and that the damage listed related only to the
upstairs unit, not the Section 8 approved rental unit on the main floor, the Council denied his
appeal and the condemnation of the entire duplex was affirmed.
144. As a direct result of the discriminatory policy, custom and practice by Dawkins,
Martin and Koehnen and others directed at Brisson and his tenant, Brisson lost rental income
from his tenant and then was unable to afford to pay for the full “code compliance” Defendants
wrongfully demanded in order to again occupy and rent his duplex home. Brisson eventuahy had
to sell his duplex home as he could not make the payments on the contract for deed or pay for
other expenses on the duplex without rental income. Brisson also lost thousands of do&us
expended by him in remodeling and repairing his home in order to meet the demands of
40.Defendants, and he lost his business expectancy, including profits. Brisson also incurred
increased living costs due to loss of his duplex home, as well as attorney’s fees, as a direct result
of said Defendants’ discriminatory policy, custom and practice.
145. During the time period of Defendants’ wrongful conduct directed against Brisson
and his tenant, Brisson made significant efforts to meet Defendants’ demands and expended his
own funds and borrowed funds for demanded repairs and to make payments to Brisson’s tenant
to help him with housing expenses.
146. Although numerous other properties in the City had serious code violations, which
Defendants’ ignored, Defendants selectively targeted Brisson and his protected class tenant as
part of their discriminatory policy, custom and practice.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Reprinted from the Pioneer Press-
Alice in no man's land
West St. Paul officials have taken unusual steps to rid the city of a nuisance: They seek a one-year order barring a resident from her home, which police say is used as a flophouse.
BY BRIAN BONNER
CRAIG BORCK, Pioneer Press
Alice Krengel stands in the spot where she sleeps on a mat on the floor in the Dorothy Day Center. Despite owning her own home in West St. Paul, Alice Krengel is homeless. Years of alchoholism and problem police calls to her house have exhausted the city's patience.
More photosAlice Krengel, West St. Paul's No. 1 public nuisance, is living on the streets again â€” for the third time in six years.
The city says Krengel has been using her home for years as a flophouse for criminals, drunks and drug users. Police went to her house 41 times this year alone. Deciding enough was enough, the city forced Krengel out on Aug. 7 and boarded up the home.
Her status as a homeless woman who owns her own home makes her an anomaly. But her alcoholism, which she admits, and possible mental illness, which she disputes, make her more typical of Minnesota's chronic homeless.
City officials are fed up after having spent hundreds of hours and thousands of taxpayer dollars responding to problems at 823 Allen Ave. Her neighbors and relatives are just as exasperated.
City Attorney Kori Land went to court last Tuesday to ask that Krengel be barred from her own home for a year for habitually violating the state's public nuisance law.
Krengel, 55, has been on the streets almost three months, after a temporary court order in the city's favor. She is guilty of trespassing if she sets foot on her property without police escort or permission.
District Judge Leslie Metzen is expected to rule on the proposed one-year expulsion in November. The judge will decide how much nuisance a city is forced to tolerate from one household and how far officials can go in separating someone from his or her property.
"This is the first time I've heard of somebody who is homeless and has a house," said Laura Kadwell, the state's director for ending long-term homelessness. "It sounds to me like somebody should be advocating for her and looking at mental health and chemical dependency issues."
Land said the city has simply run out of options. "The city's resources have been expended over the last six years to the point of exhaustion," she said.
Land said officials would rather take the responsibility for ensuring the security of Krengel's vacant house than continually respond to problems when she and her guests stay there.
The city's goal in removing Krengel from her house, Land said, is to "break the cycle" and force her to disassociate from troubling acquaintances who use her and her house, with or without her permission.
The one-year ban is an unusual remedy, Land said, but justified by Krengel's inability to control what happens on her property.
"My hope is that she will get help in that year," Land said. "Believe me, I am looking for any creative solution I can find. The city wants to get to the heart of the problem so it doesn't continue a year from now."
SEES HERSELF AS A VICTIM
Krengel showed up for Tuesday's court hearing wearing dark blue shorts and a blue tie-dye T-shirt. She carried her ever-present drink tumbler that she regularly refills with Diet Pepsi.
When she's sober, Krengel can be well-spoken and outgoing. When she's drunk, she is known to be foul-mouthed and capable of violent outbursts.
In January 2003, Krengel pleaded guilty to hitting a tenant over the head with a frying pan, an assault she still denies.
While West St. Paul is in the heart of the metropolitan area, the St. Paul suburb of 20,000 residents has intimate features of small-town life. Officials have come to know Krengel well.
As a rookie police officer in 1988, part of Police Chief Bud Shaver's orientation tour included a stop at Krengel's house. Eighteen years later, veterans still tell rookies "they'll meet Alice quite frequently during their shifts," Shaver said.
Outside of her official duties, Land has had pleasant conversations with Krengel at St. Matthew's Catholic Church on St. Paul's West Side, where the attorney has served meals to the homeless.
"Actually, I feel bad for Alice," Land said.
But Krengel sees none of the concern and compassion.
She sees herself as the victim of a conspiracy between city officials and Metzen, the judge. She said police are picking on her while ignoring more serious crimes taking place in the neighborhood.
Their goal, she said, is to seize her two-story, four-bedroom house and subdivide her large lot for a new house and extra tax revenue. The officials are seeking to accomplish their mission, Krengel said, by keeping her out of her home long enough for her to fall behind on bills.
"I would rather have had 30 days in jail instead of this," Krengel said. "It's inhumane. We don't treat dogs like this."
Krengel's lawyer, Julia Althoff, is asking Metzen to let Krengel return home.
SIMILAR ORDERS TWICE BEFORE
lthoff said conditions at the house have improved since Krengel entered into an agreement with the city on Aug. 22, 2005, to stay sober, not permit alcohol in the house and allow police officers inside for random inspections.
"She said it would get better, and it got better," Althoff said.
Krengel, acknowledging that she has trouble controlling who comes and goes from her house, said she sought restraining orders to prevent four men from coming onto her property.
But West St. Paul officials told Metzen that Krengel has repeatedly violated terms of the August 2005 agreement.
In the last six years, police have documented 180 trips to Krengel's house. Responding officers have measured blood-alcohol levels of 0.30 percent or higher in men at the home. Officers have gotten infested with fleas while inspecting the home.
Neighbors living on each side of Krengel's home told Metzen they are relieved to have her gone.
Tim Stiles started keeping a written log in recent years but didn't call police about minor incidents, such as public urination and loud arguments. "It was a revolving door as far as tenants," Stiles said.
Another neighbor, Mike Frame, said the men who hung out at Krengel's house were mainly concerned with "drinking, arguing and partying."
The city has gotten court orders to kick Krengel out of her house twice before, in 2000 and 2003. Inspectors both times declared the home unfit for human habitation, mainly because of unsanitary conditions. Krengel said they caught her both times on bad housekeeping days.
She was out of her house for about a year the first time and re-entered after a childhood acquaintance who owns a small construction company fixed the problems. She was out for about three months the second time.
Also in 2000, Dakota County social workers found her to be an unfit mother and removed the youngest two of her three children, sons who are now 20 and 15. Her oldest child, a daughter now 31, left home in 1993 at age 18. The subject of her children brings Krengel to tears.
Krengel traces her problems to early childhood and blames her adoptive parents for favoring her three adopted sisters. She said she is an outcast from her family, which includes an elderly mother in Eagan.
'OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY'
Two of Krengel's relatives are not necessarily opposed to what West St. Paul is doing, as long as the judge or someone else orders her to submit to inpatient chemical-dependency treatment and undergo a mental health evaluation.
Krengel's younger sister, Diane Krengel Reinhardt, 53, of Langdon, N.D., and Krengel's daughter, Angela Hall, of Burnsville, came to Tuesday's court hearing.
"I don't think kicking her out for a year is going to solve anything unless she has six months of inpatient treatment followed by six months in the halfway house," Hall said. "Her reality is different from normal reality."
"By taking her out of the house, we're not tackling the issue," Krengel Reinhardt said. "We need to get her into a safe environment."
Hall said she never had a mother-daughter relationship with Krengel. At age 12, Hall started calling her Alice, rather than mom. Once she moved out, she "pretty much never looked back," Hall said.
Krengel never married, Hall said, and the three siblings each have different fathers. After her two brothers were removed, Hall said Krengel â€” who's always had trouble getting and keeping jobs â€” lost her welfare checks and turned to boarders as a source of income.
"I don't know what went wrong. It's pretty bad when your mom's at the bottom of society. It hurts," Hall said. "She has given up a lot for alcohol. She gave up her children for alcohol. She's given up herself as a person for alcohol."
Shortly after the hearing, Krengel expressed anguish over the fate of her beloved cats, which she has been unable to locate for many days. "This is probably tearing me apart more than any other factor â€¦," she wrote in a fax to the Pioneer Press.
The sentiment doesn't surprise her sister. "She cares more about her cats than her kids," Krengel Reinhardt said.
Contrary to her sister's claims of growing up in an abusive family, Krengel Reinhardt said "we all were treated extremely well by our family, including Alice, who was spoiled rotten." Their father, who died in 1995, paid off Krengel's mortgage in 1991.
Krengel Reinhardt said her older sister showed early promise, but also the same traits that seem to have blossomed into mental illness: an inability to comprehend the consequences of her actions and denial of reality.
"Nothing has ever been her fault her whole life," Krengel Reinhardt said. "That goes back to baseball games" when she refused to acknowledge being out on a play.
At Krengel's best, she was physically attractive and "a brilliant, top-notch, straight-A student without opening a book," Krengel Reinhardt said. The sister traced the start of Krengel's descent into drinking to her college days in Bozeman, Mont.
After the court hearing, Krengel Reinhardt offered to take her sister back to North Dakota with her. But Krengel spurned the invitation.
While Krengel admits that her neighborhood is not the best place for her, with the temptations of Marty's Bar and 40 Acres Liquor Store less than a block away, she won't consider selling the house where she's lived since 1987. It's worth an estimated $183,000.
"I'll die fighting for what I believe in most," Krengel said. "That is my house."
Posted by Anonymous to ademocracy at 10/22/2006 11:01:20 AM
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Reprinted from the Pioneer Press
Rowdy kids are too much for area
Fights, misbehavior make Neighborhood House a 'hot spot'
BY LAURA YUEN
If you build it, they will come — and they might come talking trash.
Few could have seen that cause-and-effect relationship after the gleaming new Neighborhood House facility opened in January on St. Paul's West Side.
In recent months, some parents and community leaders say they've been troubled by large groups of young people engaging in fights or intimidating behavior outside of the Paula and Sheila Wellstone Center for Community Building, a $25 million hub for Neighborhood House and city recreation programs.
"Neighborhood House saved my life, and it kills me that friends and neighbors have said, 'I wouldn't send my kids there,' " said Don Luna, a board member of the organization and police community liaison who grew up with Neighborhood House. "(Some teens) are fighting, mouthing off, standing in the middle of the streets and challenging police."
The facility became a "hot spot" for concern on summer evenings, but increased staffing and monitoring of the groups have helped quiet things down, said Bob Trammell, St. Paul's director of recreation services. The city operates two gyms through the El Rio Vista Recreation Center, which is in the same building.
In August, police made 27 visits to 179 E. Robie St., mostly in response to disturbance reports. In the past year, other calls involved suspected marijuana possession, graffiti and theft. This summer, parks and recreation officials temporarily banned seven teens from returning.
"Those type of behaviors could have happened at any of our 41 recreation centers," Trammel said. "It's more of an intimidation factor than anything else. Our challenge is to get the kids more actively involved in the activities."
Officials with Neighborhood House, the city and several other community agencies have discussed issues of safety, especially as they have related to troubling incidents in the neighborhood and throughout the city, said its president, Dan Hoxworth. He said his organization is taking the concerns seriously.
Some of those incidents had no connection to the young people who congregate outside Neighborhood House, but they added to a general uneasiness in the area. For example, one adult student in the agency's English-language learning program was assaulted after class about a month ago while waiting for a bus about a block away.
Community leaders agree that the problems associated with the youths might be an offshoot of the facility's success.
The number of young people who have registered in Neighborhood House programs has doubled since last year. More than 150 kids come to the facility each night — "a pretty phenomenal response" to the new building, Hoxworth said.
"We weren't prepared to handle the kind of numbers, or the personalities, of some of the kids," Luna said.
Although some longtime residents perceive the problems to be driven by people coming from outside the neighborhood, 75 percent to 80 percent of the youth participants are from the West Side, Hoxworth said.
A larger presence of African-American kids could have contributed to some clashes with Latino and Asian-American kids, officials said.
"I don't know if I could say these were racially motivated behaviors, but I can't say they weren't," Trammell said. "They are behaviors we experience regardless of race."
Laura Yuen can be reached at email@example.com or 651-228-5498.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I have been reading a number of news articles and blogs on the subject and no one has really touched on the fact that these selective enforcements are actually a blatant violation of constitutional rights.
Minneapolis brags of it's enforcement of the North End, it's fines for violations and administrative fees. This IS SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT. SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT is a constitutional violation.These stupid politicians think that the "poor do not vote and will not complain".I think the former Mayor Randy Kelly can attest to the fact that if you piss off enough people, poor or not they will put you back on the street where you belong.
St. Paul has been selectively enforcing it's codes for the last four years and now they are suddenly concerned about the number of vacant building.When Andy Dawkins took over code enforcement there were about 250 vacant buildings, and when he left there were almost 700 vacant buildings. This was his goal- so whats so surprising? (I remember people telling the City Counsel four years ago that these illegal code enforcement tactics were going to create vacant homes and blight. But, the arrogant idiots failed to listen!!! There assault on the poor is unconscionable. It is the City's intent to bypass civil and constitutional rights by using code enforcement, which is cheaper than arresting and convicting criminals. However, the criminals are still around. Did you ever see a house rape, steal, or shoot someone? Their plan seems to of back fired because the crime is still there, only now there are more vacant homes creating blight in neighborhoods and coupled with a swing in the economy that has created a spike in foreclosures, the problem is going to be even worse. The existing number of vacant properties in St. Paul has nothing to do with foreclosures, for the most part it stems from the illegal code enforcement on the part of former Mayor Kelly and Andy Dawkins.
Actually any real good attorney could prove the law unconstitutional. The courts won't allow this to happen.They will dismiss a case before allowing the law to be struck down. Where a statue imposes criminal penalties, it must meet due process standards of definiteness under both the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution. The void for vagueness doctrine requires that a legislative enactment define a criminal offense with sufficient definiteness and certainty that an ordinary person can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Vague laws must be struck down.
We, as citizens deserve to be treated fairly and equally by government and that is not happening here. Our complaints are falling on deaf ears. THE SOLUTION: VOTE THE COUNSEL, AND MAYOR OUT OF OFFICE and demand fairness.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I find it disturbing that so many of these properties are rental housing.
I am reading a City Counsel Research Report titled "Mortgage Foreclosure & Vacant Building Trends. I will be providing a link to the report soon.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
This time, I am leaving it up to the readers of Ademocracy to list their suggestions right here where they would like the paper delivered.
Delivery begins next week.
Please do not post addresses of City Officials.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
PAYNE AVENUE GETS A GATHERING SPOT
WOMAN INVESTS TIME, MONEY TO CREATE COMMUNITY CENTER THAT WELCOMES ALL
SEBASTIAN LUPAK, Pioneer Press
"We're very proud here, very proud," says Kristin "Murph" Dawkins, speaking, as she often does, in the first-person plural. "We are East Siders. There is a strong sense that this community is going through tough times, but that we still want to be here."
St. Paul's East Side has seen its share of tough times in the past 20 years, taking major economic hits from the closings of such institutions as the Hamm's/Stroh's brewery and the Whirlpool plant, as well as cutbacks at a longtime 3M facility. Adding to community frustration over the years were persistent problems with drug use, prostitution and absentee landlords.
But in recent years, the neighborhood has been fighting back. Now Dawkins, a 51-year-old community activist who has lived on the East Side for about 10 years, wants to "recapture a long-term sense of building something with our own hands, as did the first immigrants in the 1800s."
That's why she bought a run-down, onetime saloon at 858 Payne Ave. in July and is working to convert it into a combination coffee shop, restaurant and community center.
She used her life savings, paying $120,000 for the building and spending somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000 to fix it up. She's also set aside $50,000 for start-up costs.
"I am a frugal person," Dawkins says. "I saved so much now, and given the economic times, the best investment seemed to be in real estate."
A GATHERING PLACE
She sees her investment generating wealth for the whole community: "With this coffee shop I will not be competing with -- but helping to support -- other merchants from the East Side."
The food, for example, will come from the Eastside Thai Restaurant across the street and a nearby Mexican bakery. Dawkins also wants to use the upstairs kitchen for the community, where local gardeners can bring in their produce and prepare it the way they want.
She insists that Payne Avenue needs "its own coffee place," rather than a chain operation. "If you go with these big commercial chains, money leaves the neighborhood," she says.
"But I am re-spending it in the local food stores or the hardware store up the street. It begins to recycle. Every dollar spent in my shop will be spent over and over on the East Side, multiplying the economic impact for the local community, instead of going into the corporate world."
To be sure, Dawkins is taking a financial risk, given recent business failures on the street: a couple of restaurants, including one serving Cajun and New Orleans-style food, as well as a bingo parlor.
"A number of people think that I am crazy," Dawkins says. "I don't feel too worried. ... The Cajun restaurant that closed was not marketing to the people who live here but, rather, trying to attract people from other communities to come here. At the bingo hole, the prices were a little higher than people who live here could really afford."
Dawkins, on the other hand, aims to please the local folks with choices and prices: "Lots of people have already told me what kind of soup they like, and what kind of sandwiches they like, and whether they prefer mustard or mayonnaise."
THE U AND I CAFE
There is still a lot to be done, but Dawkins wants to open before the end of the year. And again she's turning to the community, employing several homeless people from the area for renovation work.
"They are going through a little bit of the tough times," she says. "Now they are learning new skills, taking pride in their work, becoming more responsible."
Dawkins also wants the place to function as an East Side museum, reflecting the history of the Swedish, Irish, Polish and Italian immigrants' struggle.
"Neighbors have been bringing 100-year-old artifacts," she said. "There are old books, photos, old kitchen equipment, laundry baskets, serving spoons and basins."
As early as 1890, the building was listed in the city directory as a saloon owned by Magnus Lindgren. In 1903, the Hamm's Brewery used it as an outlet for its beers, and during Prohibition, it became one of the area's many speakeasies, Dawkins says.
Since the early 1970s, the place had been exclusively residential -- until last year, when it was closed down by police because the last tenants "had a bit of a drug problem," Dawkins said. When she learned that the owner was ready to sell the building, she jumped at the opportunity.
Dawkins has had a bit of a problem naming the place, with many of the old-timers joining the debate. The issue was settled, however, when workers rehabbing the building discovered the original wood siding and a painted-on advertisement reading, "The U and I Cafe -- Famous for Italian Food."
"It didn't take half a second for me to say, 'That's the name!' " she says. "And, of course, I will serve Italian soups and sandwiches."
A FITTING NICKNAME
Dawkins' nickname, "Murph," seems apt for someone who hasn't been afraid to challenge the status quo by asking a lot of questions. The nickname comes from her childhood -- and her favorite nursery rhyme: "Who put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder? Nobody knows; ask louder, louder, louder. ..."
And she has -- pushing for such community projects as a monument in Railroad Island that honors police officers or two ongoing projects: a bike path connecting the East Side with downtown, and efforts to develop the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary on Lower Phalen Creek.
"She has been successful in all she has been doing so far, so I wouldn't want to bet against her this time," said her brother, Andy Dawkins, a former state legislator from St. Paul who now directs the city's code enforcement efforts.
"She has a business plan, stays in touch with community's development, realizes that it needs a bit of Hispanic touch, African-American touch, Hmong touch. She will make this place a stop-off for lots of people."
Andy Dawkins added, "She believes in making the world a better place and believes that people can control their destiny and that the world belongs to the active."
Her busy pace proves the point. By day, she is the vice president for international programs at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a nonprofit organization. After hours, she serves as president of the District 5 Payne-Phalen Planning Council and treasurer of the Friends of Swede Hollow. She also sits on the executive committee of the East Side Neighborhood Development Co.
And then there's the community center.
"It's great to have someone fixing it up and turning it into a business," said Mark Kowalczuk, president of the Payne-Arcade Business Association. "Dawkins is a very motivated, good-hearted person, and she is prepared enough to pull it off successfully."
Greg Copeland, an East Side activist who also chairs the city's Republican Party Committee, says he supports many of her efforts but has had a run-in or two over the years.
One involved her support for a bingo parlor on Payne. Copeland says he opposed risking planning council funds on the short-lived venture. "I am glad that this time she's investing her own money in serving coffee and not risking public funds on gambling."
They also disagreed over a controversial hire to run the council, Robert Greenberg, a political activist who once threw a cream pie in the face of a state senator inside the Capitol. Dawkins backed the hire; Copeland did not.
"We can disagree, but throwing pies is not the way to do politics," he said.
Curt Milburn, project director of the Phalen Corridor redevelopment initiative, agrees that Dawkins has incredible energy: "I appreciate how much she does for the community. She does not always support all redevelopment ideas, but I praise her willingness to engage in dialogue."
YOURS, MINE, EVERYBODY'S
At 858 Payne Ave., a.k.a. Murph's Place, Dawkins envisions several community attractions above the cafe -- children's arts programs, Internet access, a library and a piano -- and two apartments for rent.
Dawkins wants the building to be a nurturing place for activism, for neighbors to "come and think about the neighborhood's future -- how we can work together to live out our dreams."
And the Chicago native wants to reach out to everyone: the white working class, the Southeast Asian immigrants, the growing Hispanic population, as well as African-Americans who moved here from such places as Gary, Ind., or Memphis, Tenn.
"Very often, people introduce themselves (by) their job: 'Hi, I am so and so, and I am a doctor,' " Dawkins says. "But here, people will say: 'Hi, I am so and so, and I am from Railroad Island, or some other small neighborhood within the Payne Avenue district. Together, we are East Siders."
With Kristin Dawkins, it's always back to such first-person plural references.
She points to her Payne Avenue work-in-progress and says: "It isn't just mine -- it's everybody's."
Sebastian Lupak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-228-5452.
Saint Paul Pioneer Press
December 29, 2002
CITY INSPECTOR ABUSES REQUIRE FULL INVESTIGATION
In a troubling rebuke to the city of St. Paul, a Ramsey County judge has ruled that city inspectors used their enforcement powers in bad faith and issued discriminatory criminal citations to intimidate a state legislator who was promoting a bill they disliked. City leaders must respond forcefully to this politicized misuse of authority and the attitudes that produced it.
District Judge Edward Cleary on Monday dismissed seven misdemeanor citations against Rep. Phil Krinkie, R-Shoreview, and employees of his heating and air conditioning firm. Krinkie is an outspoken conservative often critical of government bureaucracy. He claims his nonunion shop has had more than its share of friction with city inspectors over the years.
Cleary found that the exceedingly rare criminal charges, in connection with building code violations, came just as Krinkie was working (unsuccessfully) to pass legislation that would have allowed private inspectors to compete with municipal inspectors.
The judge found in the evidence no plausible explanation for these circumstances except that Krinkie was the victim of "selective prosecution of a legislator for proposing unpopular legislation ... adverse to these city employees."
In September, this editorial board voiced concern about vague answers coming from inspections officials and the city attorney in this case, but expressed confidence that the city would eventually provide adequate explanations. It is disappointing and disturbing that such confidence proved misplaced.
The city will no doubt explore its options for appeal. Prosecutors may, and should, investigate whether any crimes have been committed by city employees in this matter. But what's most important is that city leaders fearlessly examine and where needed reform St. Paul's licensing and inspections operations. Something is terribly wrong for this dispute to reach such an embarrassing and troubling pass.
The court properly complained of the fact that the city has no written guidelines or policies setting forth criteria for issuing criminal citations in inspections matters. The absence of such guidelines invites both the appearance and the reality of arbitrary and selective enforcement actions.
But the problem goes deeper, as does the danger. Equality before the law is the bedrock principle of decent government; punitive or retaliatory prosecution (especially in an attempt to quash political speech and action) is the essence of injustice.
The broad discretionary powers of municipal licensing and inspections authorities, and their inevitably complex relationships with contractors and unions, make this fertile soil for abuses. City leaders must respond to this black eye by acting energetically to banish arrogance and self-seeking from its enforcement functions.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I recently had a strange experience traveling north on Davern approaching St.
Paul Ave., concerning road rage.
I was in a truck with 2 other guys and this van came around us at a high rate of speed. He was in opposing traffic and he pulled next to the van traveling in front of us and he was yelling obscenities at the driver of the other van. Then the Road
Rager pulls in front of the victim bringing him to a halt at the 4 way stop. We were directly behind the victim of the road rager.
This road rager gets out of his van he was a silver haired man,respectable looking, and he runs right over to the guy in the other van also a middle aged man and makes all kind of racial slurs about him driving like a %^$#& somalia. On and On.(both men were white)
Well one of the guys with me rolls down his window and yells get the F in out
of the way your blocking traffic. What the hell is wrong with you and this
and that then all of us started laughing at him and we joined in on giving
him some of the medicine he was dishing out. I know childish , but fun..
He looked like a dog with his tall between his legs crawling back to the van he
was using to Rage the neighborhood with.
After the guy leaves the victim couldn't thank us enough, he was really
I'm not messin with these 'Road Ragers' anymore I got one of these> Please click the title of this story for the link.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
You folks are not going to believe this. 14 E. Jessamine is still being assesed for property tax for the year 2006 & 2007 as if the house had never been demolished.
And last January it was written up by the city for having long grass. Figure that out, there was lots of snow on the ground. Did they shovel the snow off the grass and measure it? YEEEEKs!
Things are getting wackier and wackier! Beam me up Scotty!!!!
The grass is a joke. :-)