I have been shamelessly teasing a must-see video on Twitter. But there’s a good reason: before we get to the video (do not skip ahead to the video), this story needs unpacking. It would be irresponsible to release this video without context.
First, do the right thing–do the prudent thing–and read this very long blog post describing the multi-year controversy and legal battle involving an old house, a group of zany preservationists called the Healy Project and reality TV star Nicole Curtis.
Then, you’ll want to watch this very long YouTube featuring some of our favorite characters from Linden Hills as they engage in a multi-year legal battle to save a barbecue restaurant and parking lot. Do those things right now!
(waiting for you to come back…)
In the time since that blog post and video were published, local anti-apartment extremists have gotten bolder. They’re using tactics that go beyond lawsuits, and beyond baseless accusations of corruption during their testimony at city hall. Last year, I spoke with a neighbor who saw three people do this bit of vandalism at 2008 Bryant.
Get your message out by stapling campaign finance reports to every available surface.
I’m pretty sure the people responsible are connected with the Healy Project. Why do I think this? Because they painted “This Place Mattered” on a bed sheet and made a sign that said “Bendrification”–these are phrases closely associated with the Healy Project. “Bendrification” is a combination of the name Lisa Bender, who is a city council member, and the word “gentrification.” Using this word pretty much saves you from having to make an actual argument. In the last few weeks “Save Brenda’s House” has become the next big, crazy house story. It’s part of a long tradition of Facebook fan pages devoted to dumpy old houses. Evidence that the house is a cherished landmark includes the fact that the Facebook page was created days before a Zoning and Planning Committee hearing to decide the house’s fate.
(I should briefly mention that Brenda Ueland is a deceased local author who was a pretty big deal in her day, but obviously not as famous and important as the house she lived in. Also, it’s weird how much she looked and dressed like Beetlejuice.)
The organization whose name is associated with the fundraising page is the Healy Project. Constance Pepin is listed as the contact person for both “Save Brenda’s House” on Facebook and the Healy Project’s fundraising page on Chuffed.com.
Save Brenda’s House: part of a long tradition of fan pages devoted to houses.
Because there’s a lot going on during caucus season, this story has fallen through the cracks. UNTIL NOW!
About-to-be-released video obtained by Wedge LIVE shows radical House Lives Matter activists engaged in what can only be described as “injurious” activity. I’m referring to Constance Pepin and her presumed getaway driver Anders Christensen–recognized by many as the public face of the Healy Project.
In the video, recorded just outside Brenda’s house, Ms. Pepin is seen leaning down next to a car as she lets the air out of the right-front tire. The car’s owner exits the house and asks Pepin, “Why are you letting the air out of my tires.” Ms. Pepin stands up and says, “Because you’re here illegally.” My sources tell me the car’s owner was legally at the house to remove appliances, an activity that doesn’t require special permission from the city.
Pepin walks halfway down the driveway before turning around, raising her phone, and recording video of the person who is recording her, in a classic move that says I’m not the criminal here, you are!
As this all unfolds, Anders Christensen watches by the car from a distance. It should be noted that Anders Christensen is a bad friend who failed to shout any kind of warning to Ms. Pepin that the owner of the car was approaching her from behind.
John Quincy disappears during Ward 11 candidate forum.
There was a city council candidate forum down in Ward 11 last night. This is one of a handful of pivotal and competitive council races in Minneapolis this year (1, 3, 5, 7 and 11 – and if you think Barb can be beat, add Ward 4 to that list).
Ward 11 doesn’t get a lot of attention and neither does their current council member, John Quincy. He’s affable. He’s inoffensive. He blends in. He finds the safe place to be. He’s not the first person who comes to mind when you think of The Council Members Roadblocking My Favorite Big Idea. But you won’t find him far behind, following the lead of the ones who are.
At the forum, Quincy made a case based on his status and committee assignments, which he attributed to “experience.” How has he used that acquired power to lead on important issues? I didn’t hear much of that.
Quincy has two opponents: Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder. In a three person field you might look around and wonder, which one of these people is the crackpot? Not in Ward 11! Not this year!
In fact, both challengers come off as thoughtful and accomplished. Mauter is a former chemical engineer turned executive director of the Twin Cities Women’s Choir. Schroeder, as part of his experience working for non-profits, led the successful fight to end the death penalty in Illinois.
I appreciated that, without any prompting, both Mauter and Schroeder acknowledged zoning as a factor in housing affordability; that seems like a low bar (and it is) but it shows an openness to new ideas and a willingness to tackle a politically tough issue. Mauter even gave the Wedge a shoutout, saying it was a good thing they turned the former lumberyard adjacent to the Midtown Greenway into apartments (I’m easily impressed).
People might have a hard time remembering who their current council member is, but don’t forget the Ward 11 city council race this year. There are real choices here. Give these candidates a closer look ahead of next Tuesday’s caucuses.
Peter Bajurny (left) is the man at the center of Post-It-Gate
A coalition of 18 Minneapolis neighborhood organizations has been privately working for months to pressure the City Council and other officials to delete a public comment they disagree with from a draft community engagement report published by the city. This is according to a leaked email provided by a person close to one of the neighborhood organizations involved.
A single sentence critical of neighborhood organizations was included in a draft report put together by the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development. The author of the comment, which said “Abolish City recognition of neighborhood organizations,” has come forward to reveal that his critical feedback was originally submitted on a post-it note.
A draft of the Phase 2 Engagement Report, which compiled all feedback into a 22-page pdf, was released on January 6th. You’ll notice the comment from the post-it note was one of many items included in a long list of themes. (You’ll also notice the very next comment is pretty complimentary of neighborhood groups.)
One of the “Engagement Goals” put forth in the document is that the public should feel “their input has been thoughtfully considered and sees their contributions reflected in the plan.” I’ve been in contact with the author of the controversial comment, Peter Bajurny, and he says he feels especially gratified to see his input thoughtfully considered and reflected in the plan.
Who are the villains trying to deny Bajurny his moment in the sun? A group of 18 Minneapolis neighborhood organizations having a collective freak-out over a post-it note. They’re upset about the inclusion of public feedback in a document intended as an accurate summary of public feedback.
An employee writing on behalf of a group of downtown neighborhood associations sent an 1100-word email to a wider group of Minneapolis neighborhood organizations, detailing months of ongoing effort to have the dissenting comment deleted from the draft report. The group hopes to eventually have a total of 40 organizations sign on to the effort to delete the comment.
The email calls the post-it note a “very big deal” and “not valid statistically.” It also includes the detail that neighborhood organizations are seeking an investigation: “We are also asking Councilmembers to find out how the comment got there.”
The email’s author recounts one particularly dramatic scene where “CPED staff Beth Elliott and NCR staff Christina Kendrick defended for 75 minutes” the inclusion of the sticky-note comment.
This story has all the makings of a big, dumb Minneapolis neighborhood scandal:
The director of the city’s NCR Department, David Rubedor, running scared from neighborhood organizations, feebly explaining the comment as a “computer glitch.” (You’ll remember, I tracked down the actual post-it to its actual author. His name is Peter Bajurny. Mr. Bajurny is not a computer glitch.)
A whistle-blower. Neighborhood groups were tipped off to the offending comment “by a member of an ‘internal work group'” which had discussions about the “appropriateness” of including a public comment in a report summarizing public comment.
The author of the leaked email claims Council Members Jacob Frey and John Quincy have committed in writing to have the comment removed from the final version of the report (update: Frey says this claim isn’t true). That would be a shame because, whether or not you agree with the feedback written on the post-it note, it accurately represents a viewpoint I hear expressed by many: Minneapolis neighborhood associations are highly political, sometimes vicious organizations, that tend to prioritize the concerns of property owners over the interests of diverse neighborhoods, despite being publicly funded. You should either want to reform what currently exists, or end the system entirely and start over with something better. Neither of those ideas is unworthy of discussion.
Despite the problems with these groups, they are politically powerful enough to have recently extracted $9.1 million in funding from the city council during the height of caucus season. Neighborhood groups shouldn’t be given the additional power to delete public feedback from a city report because they don’t like what it says. If these groups are to receive millions from the city, they should at least be subject to all the scrutiny, criticism and reform that you can fit on a post-it.
Full text of the email sent to a number of Minneapolis neighborhood associations on behalf of a group of downtown neighborhood associations.
Here is where we are at.
We continue to pursue the Removal of ‘Abolish City Recognition of Neighborhood Organizations’ from the Phase II Civic Engagement Report for the Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan 2040. Some at the City believe it is not that big of a thing. We believe it is. We believe that to allow this sub theme under the Theme of Governance in a published City document is a very big deal. Especially when there was only one such comment out of 1,100. It is not valid statistically to elevate one comment to such a level. We are beginning now to reach out to Councilmembers to keep the comment in raw data and remove it from the Document. We are also asking Councilmembers to find out how the comment got there. It was not due to a ‘computer glitch’. There were internal workgroups synthesizing the comments and developing this report. We heard about this in early December from a member of an internal workgroup.
DMNA and CLPC on behalf of the DT Neighborhood Groups brought this item to the January NCEC meeting. We discovered this bullet point from a draft document sent to us out of concern by a member of an ‘internal work group’. There had been discussions by this internal workgroup member since early December – before it was a published draft – on the appropriateness to have this comment in this City draft document – with CPED and NCR staff. At the January NCEC meeting, no one on the Commission was aware of the inclusion of this bullet point in the report. The Commission moved to discuss this at their February meeting and bring City Planning/NCR staff in to explain how and why this occurred. During the Commission meeting, DMNA President Joe Taburino pulls up the City’s website and we find out the this Draft Document is already posted on the City’s website. Director David Rubedor was at this meeting.
The day after the NCEC meeting, even with all the expressed concerns and challenge to validity of this comment, the Draft Document gets sent out to thousands via Gov Delivery.
The Downtown Neighborhood Groups then developed the Resolution and began to circulate it to other neighborhoods they knew and/or worked with.
CM Lisa Goodman’s Policy Aide Patrick Sadler was requested by CLPC to find out how this Bullet Point got into the document. He talked to Director Rubedor who stated that it was a computer glitch, that CPED staff did not catch it, and that it would be taken care of.
The Resolution was presented at the February NCEC Meeting in advance of the discussion with City Planning & NCEC staff. Several neighborhoods and MCTC were present. We find out at the meeting, even though there were concerns expressed in January and even tho NCEC/NCR was to be working with CPED on this community engagement piece, the Draft document in debate had been finalized. CPED staff Beth Elliott and NCR staff Christina Kendrick defended for 75 minutes the inclusion of this statement to ‘Abolish city recognition of neighborhood organizations’ in the document. Beth Elliott stated that she could not remove language from a finalized document. Director David Rubedor was not present. The new Deputy Director was.
Thank you to Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association, Citizens for a Loring Park, Jordan Area Community Council, Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association, East Phillips improvement Coalition, Waite Park, and Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association for attending the February NCEC Meeting.
The NCEC Commission moved the Resolution for further discussion to their Committee of the Whole meeting, to the March NRP Policy Board meeting, and to a vote at their March meeting.
We plan to be present at the NRP Policy Board meeting. Once a meeting is set up, we will notify everyone.
Then, last week we discovered that CPED is taking the Comp Plan work to date to City Planning /City Council for Interim Approval. We expect that this Civic Engagement report will at that time, be ‘Received and Filed’ with the Bullet point in it.
So, now we are moving to discuss this with Councilmembers and to get this Bullet Point removed from the published city document.
See conversation with CM Jacob Frey below.
DJ Heinle, is a Charter Commissioner and has been active with the North Loop Neighborhood. North Loop Neighborhood is a participant of the Downtown Neighborhood Group which authored the Resolution. The Minneapolis Charter is about the Governance of the City. Charter Commissioner DJ Heinle offered a Resolution to ‘Establish a workgroup to look at the role of neighborhood organizations in the City of Minneapolis.’ This motion passed 7-3. The process and composition of the Workgroup has not yet been established, but as an Official Work group of the Charter Commission, all meetings will be published on the Charter Website and open to the Public. There will be transparency. You can sign up for Charter Commission notices via Gov Delivery.
What needs to be done now:
If your neighborhood has not signed the Resolution yet, take it to your Board for approval, sign it and send me the date of your board approval and a copy of the signed Resolution. We will contine to update the Resolution as Boards approve it.
We presently have 18 Neighborhoods signed on. We would like a minimum of 40 neighborhoods signed by the March NCEC Meeting.
Contact your NCEC Commissioner about the NCEC Committee of the Whole meeting. Ask them to support the Resolution.
Attend the March 27 NCEC Meeting at 5:00 pm at the DT Library when the Resolution will be voted on.
Talk to your Councilmember!! They need to ensure that this bullet point is removed BEFORE this Civic Engagement Report is approved by City Council. So far we have a written commitment from CM Jacob Frey and CM John Quincy to pursue this on our behalf. We need the language removed. This is very important right now. Read the attached correspondance to this email.
Plan to Attend the April 1st Community Conndctions Conference. This is supposed to be ‘the time’ that Neighborhoods can give input to the Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan.
Know also that throughout this entire debate over the Civic Engagement Plan, the larger question is ‘Why have Neighborhoods who do and have done planning, not intimately involved with the 2040 Minneapolis Comp Plan development?’. NCR Neighborhood Specialists who have done neighborhood planning thruout 25 years of Neighborhood Revitalization are not involved and the NCR Staff assigned to the Minneapolis Comp Plan to represent all of us in this process is the NCR Access & Outreach Specialist for Senior Citizens.
Think about making these topics for discussion if you are planning any Mayoral or City Council Candidates Forums/Debates.
We will continue to keep you posted.
Jana Metge, CLPC Coordinator On behalf of the DT Neighborhood Group
Incumbent Kevin Reichused a photo of himself behind Alondra Cano in a campaign email intended to promote his commitment to “diversity.” This is a strange thing to do because Reich is out of focus in the background, and Cano wants nothing to do with his campaign.
@WedgeLIVE I was never asked by his campaign to approve this nor do I endorse him. Im disappointed his campaign used my image in this way
The poll, conducted in the Second Ward last week, was commissioned by Minneapolis DFL Chair Dan McConnell without consulting the central committee. The potential candidate who would run against Gordon is McConnell’s wife, Becky Boland, secretary of the Minneapolis DFL.
This is notable because the non-DFL Cam Gordon actually pushes for stuff that’s in the DFL platform, but actual DFLers Barb and Lisa Goodman roadblock. Also of concern is the fact that the DFL Chair is privately spending $2,000 on a poll to benefit his wife, while publicly saying the organization has barely enough money to pay for routine democracy, like caucuses and conventions.
There’s more certainty on Pierson’s website, where she says, “I support a $15 wage for full-time workers…” But then you come to the next paragraph, and she’s back to hedging, saying she’s “firmly committed to shaping this policy” to avoid “negative results.” If you happen to run into Pierson, you should ask her about the minimum wage.
…the dates for puppet-making workshops are Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays in April. The day of the convention is, in fact, the only Saturday before May Day that does not have a scheduled puppet workshop.
Ward 9 is expected to remain a hazardous area at least through April 4th. We see a high probability of “Open Letter” conditions on Facebook. We continue to recommend that civilian populations not get involved.
Looking ahead to March 8th, Lisa Bender will be hosting the Ward 10 Minneapolis Mayoral Forum. It might seem a little unusual for a city council member to host a mayoral forum, and to promote it with her campaign’s branding. Lisa Bender is an evil genius who’s gotten the candidates for mayor to appear with her, at her own event, giving the appearance they’re all endorsing her re-election (and they will surely regret it when Scott Fine gets his shit together).
Adam Faitek is mounting a late challenge to Linea Palmisano, a little more than a month away from the April 4th DFL caucuses. Faitek is positioning himself as the progressive alternative to Palmisano.