MPRAC History


left: Charlie Disney and Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton (June 2000) right: Charlie with Ward 2 candidates (2001) Note sign on the wall that called the shots that year.

This web site concerns a group of landlords in Minneapolis who brought change to Minneapolis city government. The group, Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee, was founded by Charlie Disney (of table tennis fame), Frank Trisko, Bob Anderson, Steve Meldahl and other Minneapolis property owners in 1994 in response to mounting pressure upon landlords by neighborhood groups and Minneapolis city officials. Its first move was to file a class-action lawsuit against the city in federal court. The suit was dismissed.

From a handful of landlords who met bimonthly in a rental office, the group grew rapidly in membership. Meetings, which were moved to community centers in south Minneapolis, were videotaped and shown weekly on the Minneapolis and regional cable-television stations. The program has evolved from landlord gripe sessions to a public-affairs show centered in housing and crime issues.

Most memorable have been the group's picketing events whose locations have ranged from City Hall to the northside police precinct station to the sites of city-owned buildings scheduled for demolition. An action in the Mayor's anteroom in April, 1998, forced city officials to be sensitive to the relocation needs of tenants when the city forced apartment buildings to close because of crime. "Crack tours" given by the group's leaders in the Phillips neighborhood have forced the city to devote more police resources to that crime-ridden area. More recently, the group gave the incoming mayor early warning of rising rental-property vacancies and forced the subsidized nonprofits to accept their fair share of troubled tenants.

The following describes sone of the more memorable events in the group's activist history:

MPRAC's early history - from gripe sessions begun in 1994 to turn-of-the-century protest demonstrations at City Hall (earlyhistory) 3260 words (1994-1999)

First fundraising letter to Minneapolis landlords - how Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee was organized (firstletter) 385 words (May 1995)

Landlords battling culpability proposal Minneapolis City Council's "conduct on premises" clause in rental-license ordinance (rentallicense) 882 words (May 1995)

Minneapolis landlords suing city, Inspections Department Announcement of the lawsuit that began the organization (lawsuit) 189 words (June 1995)

S.O.S. Minneapolis rental-property owners A letter inviting landlords to join our class-action lawsuit (membership) 345 words (June 1995)

Landlords Lament Angry Rental Property Owners Gird for Battle in Minneapolis (tevlin) 1329 words (June 1995)

Landlords support Police Federation proposal for gang unit Better to direct attention at criminals than at buildings (berryman) 248 words (July 1995)

The Slumlord Wars: fighting a war of spin with Minneapolis city officials (slumlordwars) 846 words (Aug. 1997)

Minneapolis Crack Tours - a landlord-led tour of a neighborhood in south Minneapolis where drug dealing takes place on the streets 1313 words plus 2 images (April 1998)

Poster offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Ann Prazniak's killer(s) (prazniak) 16 words plus 1 image (May 1998)

An interrogation at City Hall to exonerate a landlord accused of negligence in Prazniak's murder (bannerman) 750 words (April 1998)

How MPRAC shut down a meeting of the Minneapolis City Council (October 30, 1998) (citycouncil) 1544 words (Oct. 1998)

Star Tribune story on MPRAC's disruption of the Minneapolis City Council meeting (diazarticle) 556 words (Oct. 1998)

Landlords protest plans to demolish a house at 3325 2nd Avenue South (ogbulusfolly) 680 words (March 2000)

The mayor appears at MPRAC meeting in June 2000 (saylesbelton) 647 words (June 2000)

Charlie Disney for Mayor - a scurrilous leaflet prepared for the 2001 mayoral election campaign (disney4mayor) 18 words plus 1 image (June 2001)

Charlie Disney drops out of the mayoral race; Bill McGaughey's subsequent candidacies (politicalcampaigns) 2264 words (2001-2004)

A Campaign for President in Louisiana's 2004 Democratic Primary (louisiana1) 1168 words plus 1 image (March 2004)

Two occasions for singing (at a protest demonstration and at the close of a failed political campaign) (singing) 376 words (1999, 2001)

Meeting with the winner of the mayoral primary (and next mayor) on September 12, 2001. (newmayor) 389 words plus 1 image (Sept. 2001)

Election Blow-out: Property Rights Group Impact on the 2001 Minneapolis City Elections (blowout) 1103 words (Nov. 2001)

Disillusion with Rybak several months after his election as mayor (disillusion) 2791 words (Jan. 2002)

Rally to request Joe Biernat's resignation (Council member who was later sent to prison for taking gifts) (biernat) 447 words (July 2002)

Announcement for the June 2005 meeting Our guests: Barb Johnson and Dan Cohen (present and former City Council presidents) (meeting) 203 words (June 2005)

Letter to Jim McCauley and Eve White when MPRAC cable-television show went off the air (evewhite) 261 words (Jan. 2006)

Revive MPRAC? an email sent to former MPRAC members in late February 2006 (revivemprac) 492 words (Feb. 2006)

Invitation to organizational meeting of revived Property Rights group in June 2006 (newmprac) 509 words (June 2006)

MPRAC Sponsors an Open Discussion of Race with Chris Stewart, newly elected member of Minneapolis School Board (stewart) 1509 words (Dec. 2006)

Report on the August 2007 Monthly Meeting Landlord Jeffrey Fine discusses the new St. Louis Park (MN) ordinance to fight crime (aug2007meeting) 628 words (Aug. 2007)

The November 2007 Meeting of Metro Property Rights Action Committee Water management, convenience stores, and employee lawsuits are the topics (Nov2007) 1230 words (November 2007)

Report on the May 2008 Meeting About MPRAC, instant runoff voting, and The Real America (May2008) 857 words (May 2008)

The protest demonstration at Minneapolis city hall City Council subcommittee votes to revoke a rental license and demolish an apartment building (cityhall) 2299 words (August 2008)

Candidate Debates in the Summer of 2009 Landlords give free air time to candidates challenging incumbent city officials (summer2009) words (September 2009)

MPRAC candidates in the 2009 Minneapolis city elections Candidates help launch New Dignity Party (NDPcampaign) 548 words (December 2009)

Statement of Charlie Disney for 50th class reunion at Edina High School A career in table-tennis promotion and landlord politics (charliedisney) 802 words (September 2010)

The Life and Times of Frank Trisko This is the man who started Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee (franktrisko) 1088 words (November 2011)

A letter for former MPRAC members on the email list Memories of past glory in fighting Minneapolis city hall (lettertomembers) 2128 words (September 2015) Note: This is a good summary of the group's activitiesas remembered years later.

(from left to right: Charlie Disney at mike, MPRAC monthly meeting in 2002, Tiny Tim, Bill McGaughey)
Note: Singer Tiny Tim, whose marriage to "Miss Vicky" on the Tonight Show on December 17, 1969, was watched by millions of viewers, later married a woman from Minneapolis (Susan Gardner Khaury). He died in that city in November 1996, following cardiac arrest after a perfomance at the Women's Club. Tiny Tim was not a landlord and did not attend any MPRAC meeting. His picture is included here to suggest the spirit of those meetings. Unlike others concerned with presenting a staidly favorable image to the public, the landlords associated with MPRAC did not take themselves too seriously. Their monthly show, once described as "a cross between a public-policy discussion and the Jerry Springer show", was a raucous affair at which participants were encouraged to speak their minds freely.

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