43rd & Upton Development Inspires Folk Song

Linden Hills has a folk song! Inspired by true events, with references to the small area plan and envelopes full of cash and “compromising” photographs of a councilwoman. It’s everything you’d expect from Linden Hills. I have done my best to transcribe the lyrics below.

City Hall by Bob Frey

Well friends I got some news to tell
Everybody gather round
And lately there’s been funny things been happenin in our town
Well they’re cutting deals, and greasing wheels
Shutting shades and closing doors
It seems the people’s voice don’t mean too much
down in city hall no more
Nah, the people’s voice don’t mean too much
down in city hall no more

See we signed the big petition
And we showed up every time
At the city council meetings
And waited patiently in line
Yeah to state our opposition
To the latest building plan
But in the end we probably shoulda known
That we never stood a chance.
Yeah in the end we probably shoulda known
That we never stood a chance.

I guess we won a couple victories
You see we blocked that there [???]
And we listened to the council
And made a smart neighborhood plan
But it didn’t amount to nothing
And now that building’s gonna rise
Only thing it will be good for 
Block the sunshine from our eyes
The only thing it will be good for 
Block the sunshine from our eyes

So if you want to build a building 
And make it higher than the code
And the neighborhood’s against you
And you wonder where to go
Well I’m here to tell you, builder man
that them plans don’t have to stall
Just put some money in an envelope
and head down to city hall
You just stick that money in an envelope
and take it down to city hall

City hall, that aint how it’s supposed to be
Nah city hall, but that’s how it feels to me
And in the corridors of city hall,
I guess that’s how it’s always been
Yeah the common people always lose
And the money always wins
Yeah the common people always lose
And the money always wins

Well some see the times are getting tough in this economy
Well that’s true for some, but not for all
You know it ain’t too hard to see
But in this land of opportunity,
There’s always something to be found
Just start following your councilman
And keep your nose close to the ground
Yeah just start following your councilwoman
And keep your nose close to the ground

And maybe you’ll get pictures
Of the compromising kind
Or certain information 
That you weren’t supposed to find
So turn the tables and play the game
All for one and none for all
Make a fortune in an instant
Just head on down to city hall
Just put that there in an envelope
And take it down to city hall

City hall, that ain’t how it’s supposed to be
Nah city hall, but that’s how it feels to me
And in the corridors of power
I guess that’s how it’s always done
Yeah the common people always lose
And the money always wins
Hey hey, the common people always lose
And the money always wins

But yeah we tried our best to do our best
But in the end we took a fall
Now the money talks and they’re selling blocks
On down at city hall
Yeah the money talks and they’re selling blocks
Right on down at city hall

.@imboande the common folk can’t write a protest song without you fact checking it.

— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) December 19, 2015

Wedge LIVE! Mailbag

About a week ago, a person (whose identity I am withholding) sent me a series of emails. I was surprised to see that these emails were CC’d to various neighborhood and City officials, including Robert Thompson of the Neighborhood and Community Relations department (NCR).

I’m withholding the content of this person’s emails pending NCR’s investigation of my Tweets. In consultation with Yahoo! Answers I’ve decided my reply to those emails can be published without placing me in legal jeopardy.

Subject: Re: Public Tweet
From: John Edwards
Date: 2/5/2015 7:40 PM
To: ████ 

CC: LHENA President, LHENA Z&P Chair, “Bender, Lisa”, “Thompson, Robert”, mark.dayton@state.mn.us 

Dear ████ (and esteemed guests), 

I have copied Governor Mark Dayton so he can join the conversation. I hope you don’t mind. 

First of all, thanks for repeatedly emailing me Twitter Is Public as a PDF attachment. After a virus-scan and careful reading of that article, I have decided my Tweets will remain public, though I do appreciate the instructions for how to make them private. 

I have examined the 12-page PDF of my social media history that you helpfully attached to your email. Other than a link to a Facebook discussion on MRRDC, I see no reference to you. Keep in mind that Facebook, like Twitter, is public (for further reading on this topic, see my recent Tweet: Your Wacky Facebook Comments Are Public.pdf). 

You have now sent me four emails in 24 hours regarding this nonsense; that’s too many. You should know that since you’ve begun CC’ing multiple City officials, these emails are subject to public request under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. This means it’s possible that someone will publish them to Twitter (which is public by the way) and make you look silly. 

One last thing: I am willfully misinterpreting your reference to parking-related homicides as a threat on my life, and I will now be CC’ing Chief Harteau on all future emails. 

-John Edwards

Minutes later I received a reply informing me that “Your interpretation my email is your right.” Chilling. There were no further emails or PDF attachments.

The Weird ’90s

This is part of an ongoing series on Wedge history, culled from the archives of the Wedge newspaper. We wish we could direct you to a gofundme page devoted to saving the historic Wedge newspaper, but it’s too late. It died in 2013–nobody vigiled.

Early 90s LHENA was Bizzaro World.

The early 90s was a weird time in Wedge history. LHENA had one board member named “Bizzaro” and another named Basim Sabri (if you’ve ever wondered why LHENA has Texas-style voter ID requirements, it all dates back to the Sabri-era). Weirdest of all: LHENA’s board voted out their new president, in a secret ballot, for what seems like manufactured nonsense.

We begin in February 1994, with an item about former board member Steven Prince. It concerns his dispute with LHENA President Brian Nelson over Prince’s refusal to hand over the results of a housing survey (this catches my eye because Steven Prince–who some in the Wedge call the Prince of Downzoning*–commented recently about the attention I was calling to a 2007 LHENA survey).

Mr. Prince, release the surveys!

Then, in March 1994, the headline: LHENA Board Ousts President (in other words, Mr. Nelson got downzoned). You’ll never guess who made the motion to depose Nelson; it was my good friend, the 1994 version of board member Bill. Also on the board at that time: Meg Tuthill and Leslie Foreman (our current President). Talk about neighborhood stability. If you go to a LHENA meeting today, in 2014, you can reach out and touch some of the same people (please be gentle).

On the surface, this was about Nelson involving LHENA in allegedly unauthorized discussions with other neighborhoods about applying for a $10,000 grant (the he said, she said is available here, here, and here). But there’s more.
After the vote against Nelson, the staff of the Wedge newspaper resigns en masse (read their letters here and here). 
From editor Katy Reckdahl:

“I’ve heard that the paper is too zippy, too hip hop, shouldn’t cover rock & roll. I thought we were trying to capture some of the artsiness, some of the neighborliness, something to appeal to everyone–even the long-ignored renters that occupy 85 percent of the Wedge’s housing units, most of them between the ages of 25 and 34.

“This month, I sat through an agonizing LHENA meeting as the board voted Brian Nelson out of the board presidency. But the personal attacks that came before that vote were something I have not witnessed since the Anita Hill hearings…”

Fortunately, Reckdahl resigned in time to give the new editor a chance to apologize to Steven Prince (Prince of Downzoning, Keeper of the Surveys, Lord of the Wedge) in the next edition.

Reckdahl’s March 1994 resignation.

Steven Prince gets an apology in April 1994.

The resignation letter from Wedge writer Barbara Knox references the “ugly–and very public–attack last fall” against Reckdahl by the LHENA board. So, further down the rabbit hole we go, back to late 1993: it’s election season and Lisa McDonald–a former Wedge editor, and then-current LHENA board member–is running for City Council (she would go on to a narrow victory).

In October 1993 the Wedge ran a full page ad for McDonald’s opponent. Tuthill and friends freaked out. Meg and Dennis Tuthill co-authored a letter calling for Wedge editor Reckdahl’s resignation. A “representative from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office” was summoned to a board meeting. The editor of the Southwest Journal felt compelled to write a letter defending Reckdahl; she makes the point that the Southwest Journal ran basically the same ad in their paper. And just when you thought the plot couldn’t get any thicker: soon-to-be Council Member Lisa McDonald is forced to produce Kinko’s receipts to answer questions about whether she used her prior role as Wedge editor for politics.

I have no grand conclusions about any of this, other than to say, this is one very weird piece of Wedge history. Also, don’t mess with friends of Meg. And one more thing: Meg is totally pulling Bill’s strings in this episode, right?


  • Oct 1993: Wedge editor Katy Reckdahl allows a full page ad to be placed for candidate running against Team Tuthill’s choice for City Council, Lisa McDonald.
  • Nov 1993: Controversy over the ad. Meg and Dennis Tuthill call for Reckdahl’s resignation. Editor of Southwest Journal writes letter in defense of Reckdahl.
  • Dec 1993: LHENA President Brian Nelson writes a can’t we all just get along editorial, defending Reckdahl.
  • Jan/Feb 1994: President Nelson calls out Steven Prince for withholding results of a LHENA survey.
  • Feb 1994: Nelson voted out by LHENA board.
  • March 1994: Entire staff of Wedge newspaper resigns. Letters here and here.
  • April 1994: Prince gets an apology from the new editor of the Wedge. Meg Tuthill’s you can’t believe everything you read letter is published in the Wedge.

*Editors Note: The author of this post is the only one who refers to Mr. Prince that way. Our apologies to Mr. Prince for not getting the facts correct.

If You Thought House Vigils Were Good…

This is the true story of LHENA’s 1977 protest against an adult bookstore at Lyndale and Lake. Michael Lander is lucky these people aren’t bringing bags of “stuff” to his neighbors. Not that I’m equating Michael Lander with pornography (though his new development is an obscenity, as well as an affront to family values and porch culture).

What is a “double brother-in-law”?

Should have used a naughty bachelorette party cake.

The cake!

This is not about pornography; it’s about economic justice.

Full story here (from the August 1977 issue of the Wedge).

UPDATE: Santa Claus Picks a Side

We have an update to yesterday’s post about homeowner-renter conflict. In the December 1972 issue of the Wedge newspaper, Santa came out against apartment dwellers. When I get to the January 1973 issue, I’ll let you know if Christmas was cancelled due to renters.
Renters make Santa sad.