I hereby announce my resignation from the LHENA Board of Directors, effective eight months ago, in order to spend more time with my cronies. My only regret is that I didn’t resign when they threatened my family. That was just me being stubborn.
Though my approval ratings remain at record high levels, I must depart from elected office. However, it is my intention to remain an active Pillar of the Neighborhood. Additionally, I will be keeping my @lhena.gov email address, so please continue to send me your constituent hate mail.
The writing was on the wall during my very first meeting last May, when a board member accused me of “publishing the home address of a single mom”—a reference to a post I’d written about permit violations at multiple properties owned by HGTV icon Nicole Curtis. To this person I say: your effort to paint me as a sex criminal has failed. Even your friends think you’re the worst.
Then there was the months-long battle to force me to remove an online archive of neighborhood newspapers. To those who led the effort to eliminate easy access to the local history they claim to care about: it is my hope that you will never live down how dumb that made you seem.
To LHENA President Leslie Foreman: I still can’t believe all those times you sneaked me onto the agenda without any prior discussion or notice—and never by name—so that other members of Team Tuthill could unleash surprise mid-meeting attacks. Good luck to you in 2017.
In closing, allow me to quote the inspiring words of the JetBlue flight attendant who famously resigned by grabbing a beer and sliding down the plane’s inflatable escape chute:
OK, I’ve had it. To the passenger who called me a motherf—er, f— you! Those of you who have shown dignity and respect these last 20 years, thanks for a great ride, but I’ve been in this business for 28 years and I’ve had it. That’s it. I’m done, motherf—er.
I don’t know how things are in other places, but the neighborhood association here in the Wedge is a magnet for the unhinged; people who see vast conspiracies and corporate villains behind every Healy mansion. I’m not saying this describes the attitude of all participants, or even most. It’s just far higher than what you see in the general population. I had assumed a city department called “Neighborhood and Community Relations” would also be familiar with this dynamic, and be careful not to encourage residents with overactive imaginations. I was wrong.
Last November, I was told by LHENA’s President, Leslie Foreman, that NCR objected to a line from my Twitter bio. It was hard to believe a city department was policing my tweets. It was mostly hilarious and a little bit sad, but could it really be true?
WHO IS NCR TO TELL ME I CAN’T BE THE OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED TWITTER ACCOUNT OF LOWRY HILL EAST!!!?
In December, I contacted NCR to ask about the Twitter bio complaint. NCR denied raising the issue with LHENA. The NCR staffer assigned to LHENA went even further, telling me, “I do not look at your Twitter feed.” I didn’t know who to believe. It was an impenetrable riddle: this is far too dumb for anyone to lie about, yet they can’t both be telling the truth.
This discrepancy is what prompted my data request for NCR emails. If my innocuous Twitter bio had become an issue, there must be some wild NCR conversations happening about me. So I was not at all surprised to find a large number of silly complaints in the emails I requested. But it was surprising to find that NCR was encouraging and validating neighborhood crackpots, disparaging me, and suggesting that I might be using my Board position to make money or otherwise improperly benefit myself. At no point did this NCR staff person ask me any of the speculative questions she was asking others about me.
This conversation from last May about whether I should be expelled from LHENA—including the brainstorming in search of a justification—happened on the day after I became a board member (NCR was nudging LHENA in the direction of censure. What had I done? Who knows!).
You know that thing that happens on Twitter where a person who doesn’t follow you will browse (or hate-read) your timeline, they accidentally ‘like’ an old tweet, then immediately unlike—but you get email notifications so you still know that it happened? NCR does that. Policing my tweets at 10 pm on Super Bowl Sunday; NCR works hard to keep neighborhoods safe. And I haven’t tweeted a single dangerous thing from the @johneapolis account in many, many months. So that’s really digging deep into the archive for material.
Doesn’t look at my feed.
Two weeks ago, I raised my concerns about NCR to various city officials. I have asked NCR Director David Rubedor for an acknowledgment that what happened was wrong, and an assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. He has been dismissive, accusing me of taking things out of context, and saying the person he supervises acted in an appropriately “neutral” manner.
Last week, it was reported at a LHENA Board meeting that my complaint has displeased the NCR staffer responsible, and she might choose not to work with LHENA in the future. LHENA voted to support her, without any discussion of the details, or a defense of what she’d done. I took that personally—as an interference with what I see partly as an essential defense of myself and my family. In this environment, in this context, with these people, it’s not a joke to have a city department fanning the flames.
So I felt compelled, one last time, to say I disagree. LHENA and NCR might support this stuff. But I can’t anymore, so I’m done.
The Minneapolis Neighborhood and Community Relations department is spreading rumors about my potential “conflict of interest.” This is based on all the pretend dollars I have extracted from my social media empire while serving on a neighborhood board (it may sound like a fishy arrangement, but I assure you there is no “there” there). I have contacted NCR Director David Rubedor, asking him to instruct the person he supervises to stop the rumor mongering. He has declined my request.
Rather than get mad, let’s hold a pledge drive and grab as much fake cash as possible before the federal indictment comes down. I won’t be providing you with the actual means to send me actual money. This is only about creating the appearance of corruption. There is no gofundme, no bank account, no mailing address. Just this pledge form. Send it to your craziest uncle on Facebook. Then tell him to send it to NCR, because they’re the only ones who will humor this nonsense.
Red squiggly boxes indicate inappropriate tweeting.
In my role as a person with a Twitter account and a seat on a neighborhood association board, I sometimes hear curious things about myself. One of these things involved the Neighborhood and Community Relations department, which oversees and assists Minneapolis neighborhood organizations. This prompted me to do a public records request. Many of the emails obtained in that records request are posted here.
Last May, NCR’s Michelle Chavez had some questions about me. Instead of asking me these questions, she used them to provoke an emotionally disturbed neighborhood resident into wild speculation. Chavez’s words:
…what does he gain from “At Wedge Live?” Is this a conflict of interest? Does he think that he can use his board position to drive more people to his twitter feed?… Does he get paid for his writing about neighborhoods?
Over the course of her conversation with the resident, Chavez used the following words and phrases to describe me: “tear the neighborhood apart” … “creates false pictures” … “biased” … “does [Wedge LIVE] need to go away?” Obviously, you’re allowed to think I’m bad news, but a city employee should use another platform to express those opinions (Twitter maybe?) rather than spreading official-seeming rumors using her dot gov email address.
For the next several months, the concerned resident remained in frequent contact with NCR. He submitted a large number of .pdf printouts and screenshots documenting my twitter activity. In August, the resident sent Chavez a deeply researched conspiracy theory, in which he concludes that I am likely a professional propagandist on par with the oil company scientists he saw in a movie. In another email forwarded to NCR, the resident speculates that I work for the Urban Land Institute.
The world is a canvas to the imagination.
Now, I’d prefer NCR back off my tweets, stop trashing me to neighborhood residents, etc. But if we’re going down this road, let’s apply some equal scrutiny. I often see a particular neighborhood board member using Facebook to compare city actions to Hitler/genocide/ISIS. That’s over the top, worthy of ridicule, and offensive to many–but it never dawned on me that I should lodge a complaint with the city over it. It would be a shame if I’m getting special attention because I’ve occasionally pointed out some ways that NCR might do a better job.
Finally, I need to answer NCR’s original question and put all the rumors to rest: No Michelle, I don’t get paid for any of this. What do I have to gain? Just the undying hatred of neighborhood lunatics–the same crowd of people you’re encouraging.