Innovative and Creative Ways to Acquire Property

Andy Ellis, a retired Minneapolis housing inspector and member of MPRAC, considers this the "smoking gun". While working for Minneapolis inspections, he came across a memo of which this is the cover sheet. The second page of the sheet contained notes from a meeting at which city bureaucrats brainstormed ways that the city could take property away from city residents without paying for it.

While we do not have a copy of this sheet, his recollection is that some of the ways included: use of the Tenant Remedies act, overwhelming property owners with inspections work orders, the state Nuisance law, revocation of rental license, tax forfeiture, condemnation for health reasons, etc.

We do have the distribution list for this memo distributed in 1991. They include the following city officials: Bob Dronen, Lorrie Louder, Mike Schwab, Dick Graves, Linda Larsen, Jim Moore, Jim Gabler, John Wenker, James Wright, Tom Thorstenson, Bob Moffitt, John Begquist, John Laux, Dave Dobrotka, Larry Wilkens, Dave Nordmeyer, Bill Korn, Tom Dickinson, Floyd Olson, Jim Moore (City Attorney's office), Les Karjala, Bob Alfton, Mitch Rothman, Jerry Thelen, Kent Robbins, Jan DelClazo, Lucy Gerold, Duke Addicks, Betsy Sohn, Jim Holmes, Blaine Harstad, Andy Kozak, Chris Nelson, Jim Casserly, Kellie Jones, Rip Rapson, Jim Campbell, Phil Eckhert.

Did this set the housing agenda for the era of Sharon Sayles Belton, Jackie Cherryhomes, and Joe Biernat?

Earl Craig(an African American man perhaps best known for running against Hubert Humphrey for the 1970 DFL nomination for U.S. Senate) and Jay Jensen were, respectively, the heads of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and the Minneapolis Community Development Agency (MCDA) in 1991.

Ellis' penciled notes on the second sheet, written after he had looked at an internal document, indicate some ways or conditions that can help the city take property:

Bogus complaints

Service charges - rubbish collection

Complanant's name protection

Interpretation of the code

Not licensed or registered

Failure to pay by M.C.D.A.

Tax assessors check list

Repair costs estimation

Mandatory code compliance

Police action & drug raids

Tax reclassification

Nuisance condition authorizations

ROCCI program

Lead abatement process

Insulation program

Board & condemn


Reinspection fee charge

Clean up around rubbish carts

Water bill estimates

Board of Appeals charges

Court separation of defendant's ?

Licensing of rental property

Razing of buildings

Failure to train and supervise

Issuance of unlawful orders

Neighborhood inspectors

Complaint taking process

Unlawful detainer processing costs

Condemnation process

Failure to follow procedures named

Failure to enforce all of the housing code

Failure to notify property owner of potential dange to a boarded building

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This memo may reflect the acquisition activities of City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes in 2001, shortly before she left office. It is a copy of page 189 of her "WARD 5 - Constituent Call Report" for the period between January 1, 2001 and April 1, 2001. The messages are from Earl Pettiford of the MCDA, a Cherryhomes confidant. The messages read:

"Just wanted to give you a head up that I am not getting a lot of "response" from Pastor Steve Lomen on the two properties you had us pick up from Hennepin County to convey to Redeemer Lutheran. We've got the properties, we're stuck here "holding" them and my phone calls (about getting a closing set up) do not seem to be getting Pastor Lomen's attention. These should have been closed some time ago. I'm going to give h im one more try and see if I can get him to call me back. If I'm not successful, then I may need your assistance in getting his attention."

"Have had NO success in bringing Pastor Lommen to the table on this. Right now it looks like the neighborhood is probably going to approve for PPL to do a rehab and market the property for sale to a homeowner, which could possibly be someone who comes thru Redeemer, but the bottom line is that we went out on a limb to pick this property up and but for Harrison and PPL, we'd still be out on the limb. Pastor Loman essentially left us high and dry on this one. My recommendation for future "requests" from Pastor Lommen for us to acquire property for them on their behalf on a pass thru arrangement should be approached with extreme caution."

Pastor Steve Lomen was then the minister at Redeemer Lutheran Church, located at 1800 Glenwood Avenue in Minneapolis, in Harrison neighborhood, just west of downtown. Partnering with a suburban Lutheran church, Redeemer Lutheran was then engaged in a project for a $2 million structure to be built on the corner of Glenwood and Logan Avenues, which would house both Milda's Restaurant (after it was forced to move from its former location at Glenwood and Morgan) and, upstairs, some rental units that the church would control. Pastor Lomen was actively engaged in that effort. The reference to PPL is to Project for Pride in Living, a housing nonprofit begun by Catholic priest Joe Selvaggio and later headed by Steve Cramer, a former Minneapolis city council member.

It is unclear what Earl Pettiford of the MCDA meant by "requests from Pastor Lommen for us to acquire property for them on their behalf on a pass thru arrangement", except that this seems to be tax-forfeited properties owned by Hennepin County that Jackie Cherryhomes could acquire from the county and give to Lomen's organization at minimal or no cost. Steve Lomen is no longer pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church. But the internal memo does document that City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes was in the property acquisition business doing favors for a community leader who had done or could do favors for her.

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