Monday, December 29, 2014

Countdown to 2017

This New Year's Eve let's skip the countdown to 2015. Nicole is "counting the days" to Election Day 2017. Now's the time to begin stockpiling campaign contributions (up to a max of $300).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Wedgie Awards

The Wedgie Awards were a real thing. We're bringing them back.
At tonight's LHENA holiday party we'll be handing out trophies to some of the neighborhood's wackiest characters to honor their amazing performances in 2014. We're revealing the names of Wedgie recipients in advance on the blog, but don't tell the winners. And you should still come to the holiday party. I don't want to be the only transient turd in the punch bowl. That can get unbearably awkward.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Great "Party Room" Rebellion of 2014

This movie is not about LHENA's
disastrous relationship with Basim Sabri.
As the year comes to a close, let's give a second viewing to a story that fell through the cracks.

The Channel 79 production of the September 30, 2014 Z&P Committee hearing only has 90-some views (it was a limited release). Still, it made an impression. Imagine it as a movie where a swarthily corrupt developer (a composite character loosely based on Michael Lander and Basim Sabri; played by Alfred Molina) proposes to construct rental housing at 2320 Colfax with few amenities. After a bunch of underwhelming speeches, it climaxes with William Wells (played by Sally Field) concealing MRRDC inside his burqa, and fleeing to the southern Wedge, where they find luxurious refuge and ample parking (in the party room at Flux). Here's the script.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Resignation Letter

Dear Task Force Leader/Board Member Bill,

After careful consideration and in consultation with loved ones, I’m formally resigning my position on the LHENAHDTF, effective noon tomorrow. For some of my colleagues this will come as a shock. For others, it will occur to them in three months, "Hey, whatever happened to that one guy?"

Real Stories of the LHENA Task Force: Vol. 3

This is not a picture of the LHENA development task force.

This month's Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association Housing & Development Task Force (LHENAHDTF) was sparsely attended. Were these the death-throes of a LHENA sub-committee? Either way, this is likely our last Task Force Report (more on that in a future post).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Violence Against Houses

It can be hard for carpetbaggers to understand the special relationship between the Wedge's long-time residents and certain neighborhood buildings. It's a forbidden love; the house belongs to someone other than the love-struck neighbor, and a deep affection only materializes when the owner finds another suitor. To help me understand this dynamic, I spend an absurd amount of time poring over old newspaper articles. As an example of my ignorance, when I came upon the headline, RAPE IN THE WEDGE, I just assumed it wasn't a weirdly offensive metaphor for perceived crimes against houses (sorry, I gave away the surprise ending).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Unpermitted Rehab

EDIT #2: To delve further into the drama of 2320 Colfax, see our timeline.

EDIT: Some background for those who aren't closely following Wedge neighborhood drama. Last week, Nicole Curtis had a Facebook freakout, distributed to her 500,000 fans, over the removal of siding on a house located at 2316 Colfax (in preparation for demolition). Nicole is an HGTV personality who remodels homes all over Minneapolis. She's also the celebrity friend of the Wedge's collection of anti-density activists (MRRDC, Healy Project, Team Tuthill, etc). She's been especially critical of a plan to demolish the houses at 2316 and 2320 Colfax to make way for an apartment building. If you have a house vigil, she'll bring a camera crew. She says things like, "Uptown needs another apartment building like a hole in the head." 

Everyone and their mother was having Fred Sanford-style heart attacks last week over the Wedge's most notorious homeowner, Mike Crow, doing work (let's call it "de-hab") on 2316 Colfax without a weekend permit. It got me thinking that I could make a name for myself, and graduate from fake journalist to nosy neighbor, by taking down a permit scofflaw.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Basketball NIMBYs

Just under the feather boas, Mueller Park's dark underbelly.

The 1974 plans for Lowry Hill East Park (as Mueller Park was originally known) put the basketball court on the western side, along Colfax Avenue. Two hoops were available for full-court play until they were demolished as part of a park renovation that began on May 4th, 1998. The newly renovated Mueller Park opened later that summer with one half-court hoop, located on the Bryant Avenue side of the park. Considering the events of the intervening years, those of us who live in the neighborhood today are lucky to have any basketball court at all.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

This Survey Is No Joke

I made fun of this survey a while back. But in retrospect, I really dropped the ball. This is no joke. LHENA is about to decide how to spend money based on the results. There's going to be a community vote at the October 15th board meeting. It's hard to say if the voting will include options for "Improving Housing Stock" that go beyond the two choices in the image below. My hope is that they don't spend all the money on a brand new historic district and some historic walking shoes. Let's withhold the "sudden windfall" until LHENA can figure out how to assess neighborhood priorities without rigging a survey.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

In Conservation District News...

UPDATE: Alex has since written an actual blog post on the topic.

Pissed-off Twitter Correspondent, Alex Cecchini, has our report...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Real Stories of the LHENA Task Force: Vol. 2

This is not a picture of the LHENA task force.

October is Superfluous Acronym Month (SAM). See if you can spot the impenetrable acronyms that we've needlessly inserted into this month’s Task Force report.

Like last time, nothing of substance was accomplished at the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association Housing & Development Task Force (LHENAHDTF). That's not to say there wasn't common ground; we agreed that good things were good, and also, that bad things were bad. We haven't yet gone on any armed raids to bust up illegal attic conversions. But there were plenty of interesting things to report on.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Wedge Week In Review: 2320 Colfax Done?

We have the highlights from this week's failed 2320 Colfax appeal. 90 minutes have been boiled down to seven. Lisa Goodman plays the role of parking hero--and cuts through the bullshit on variances. But, truly there's no bigger Wedge Warrior than Janne Flisrand; despite a busy schedule, every time you turn on Channel 79, she's making the case for requiring less parking.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

7 Reasons to Join the LHENA Housing Task Force

It's nearly that time again. What time, you ask? Task force time. What task force? The LHENA Housing & Development Task Force (LHENAHDTF). Geez, it's almost like you haven't been paying attention.

The next meeting is October 7th, 6:30 p.m., Jefferson School (Media Center), 1200 W 26th Street.

Any old fool can show up, the first Tuesday of every month, and be on the task force. Even I'm on the task force. Our task? To provide LHENA with a future talking point that goes something like this: "Listen, Mr. Developer Guy and/or Corrupt Politician--our task force spent many grueling months/years/decades working on these development guidelines, and look at you, just trampling all over them."

At least, I think that's how it's supposed to work.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Latest on 2320 Colfax Appeal

Anonymous sources are confirming:
Opponents are showing up in force/e-mailing in force for tomorrow's hearing.  If you are able, please make your voice heard.  Please write these people --before 8am tomorrow morning:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

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).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Where Will They Park Their Zeppelins?

In 1976 LHENA got together with some architects and planners, and collaborated with them on something called the Wedge Design Framework Plan. This proposal includes one-way conversions for all north-south streets; it would have turned Aldrich, Colfax, and Emerson Avenues into cul-de-sacs at 29th street. It's also got diagonal parking (LHENA later disapproved this) and a rec center for cats (I don't know what became of this). Bonus points if you can find the zeppelin.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

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.

Friday, September 19, 2014

"What's With The Homeowners vs. Renters Stuff?"

Culturally-speaking, it's easy for me to identify with the homeowners in my neighborhood. People tell me I look like I have a mortgage; and I believe them, because neighborhood panhandlers won't leave me alone (please don't backtrack across 24th street after midnight to tell me your tale of woe--I'm still checking myself for bullet holes weeks later). Also, I've never felt the need to pee in board member Tim Dray's yard.

In other words, I get it. I'm a descendant of homeowners, after all. But I don't feel like that cultural understanding is going both ways. I worry that modest-living, yard-less, childless, dog-less renters are a thing certain people can't wrap their minds around--except as a poor life choice or a moral failing.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NCR Comes to LHENA

Robert Thompson and Michelle Chavez of Minneapolis' NCR came to speak with LHENA board members about the Community Participation Program before last night's board meeting. President Leslie Foreman graciously welcomed me to the discussion. They talked about what makes a neighborhood eligible for funding--you can't require membership dues, for example. They covered eligible/ineligible expenses--no food allowed. And so much more. This is the packet they handed out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Comparing LHENA to Lowry Hill East: Income & Education

Please see this post for context. Infographic below.

Comparing LHENA to Lowry Hill East: Housing

Please see this post for context. Infographic below.

Comparing LHENA to Lowry Hill East: Age & Race

I recently discovered that LHENA conducted a survey in 2007 that included demographic questions. That's kind of impressive. Way to go, LHENA of 2007.

Now, you might question why I've gone to all this trouble for a survey that got 21 responses. My answer: that's quadruple the turnout for your typical board meeting (and that's only if you include the Wedge LIVE! news team). Considering that this is the only known demographic information about people who give enough of a damn about LHENA to respond to a survey, we're going with the story. We stand behind our numbers! Unless of course you find a mistake.

You should also read this recent story in the Southwest Journal about the problem of unrepresentative neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis. NCR is doing a demographic survey of neighborhood boards. I'd be just as interested in a demographic survey of the people the neighborhood associations are actively engaging with. Again: lots of credit to the visionaries of LHENA 2007!

Sources: Lowry Hill East numbers are based on information available at this link. LHENA's 2007 survey is available here.

Infographic below.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Real Stories of the LHENA Development Task Force

This is not a picture of the LHENA Task Force.

Here are some tidbits from the recent meeting of the LHENA Housing and Development Task Force. I'm repeating them here because I have no respect for the First Rule of Wedge Club. Names have been redacted (except board member Bill, because he knew joining the LHENA Board would mean living in the spotlight). These are the kinds of arguments you might encounter while attending a meeting of your local neighborhood association. Proceed with caution.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

LHENA Development Task Force Notes

I think I compromised my journalistic integrity by joining this LHENA Development Task Force. But now I don't have to find an inside source for the meeting notes. My favorite part is the refreshingly honest comment at the end--submitted by email. This person has no need for the "affordability" cudgel. Is the rent too high? There's an open lot in north Minneapolis with your name on it.
Affordable housing? That has moved to a different part of the city. People are going to have to realize that if they can't afford a certain part of town, they need to look elsewhere.
The whole document is posted below.

Friday, August 29, 2014

11 Wedge Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following

A list of Lowry Hill East's most prominent twits.

@bad_wedgecoop posted three tweets on November 28th, 2009 and has been dormant ever since. Started by someone who claims to have been “kicked out of the Wedge for looking too poor.” The co-op. Not the neighborhood.