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     Am I a Slumlord?

Statement by William McGaughey
Owner and Manager of Durham House Apartments
1708 Glenwood Avenue North, Minneapolis
April 1, 1995

     PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

I have owned and managed a 9-unit apartment building at 1708 Glenwood Avenue in Minneapolis since August 1993. I renamed the building “Durham House Apartments”. Durham is my mother’s maiden name. This apartment building could be considered low-income housing. The five efficiency apartment have rented for $300 per month. Since I have owned the building, all but one of the tenants have been African-Americans. The building is located in a neighborhood that has been plagued by gang violence, drug dealing, burglary, prostitution, and other criminal activities. I myself live in a house next door to the apartment building, located at 1702 Glenwood.

The City of Minneapolis, Harrison Neighborhood Association, and others evidently consider me to be a “slumlord” who deserves to be harassed by the community/ city and perhaps be put out of business. The Executive Board of Harrison Neighborhood Association wrote a letter to Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes; on February 13, 1995, asking that the city close the building down. I understand that the Minneapolis Police Department wrote a similar letter. On February 10, an inspector from the Minneapolis department of Health condemned the building an ordered all tenants to leave by February 28. On March 13, a Housing inspector did a “rental license” inspection and subsequently issued orders that will cost me tens of thousands of dollars. It appears that tenants will not be allowed back into the building until both sets of inspectors are satisfied.

I believe that this treatment is the result of collusion between various persons or groups including, perhaps, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis Police Department, Minneapolis City Council President Cherryhomes, Minneapolis Health Department, and Minneapolis Housing Department. Its exact nature is kept hidden from me. Not having the full picture, I, nevertheless, want to take this opportunity to defend myself against accusations that I am a “slumlord” or irresponsible owner of rental property.

As I understand the stereotype, a “slumlord” is one who owns rental property and milks it for maximum financial gain, while neglecting needed maintenance work and ignoring legitimate community concerns. By a more recent definition, he is one who profits by renting to drug dealers and other criminal elements. Stereotypically, this person might also be a middle-aged white man who drives a fancy car. I plead guilty to fitting the last description. Indeed, I am a somewhat overweight, middle-aged white man and I drive a shiny 1977 Mark V Lincoln Continental which I bought two years ago from my aunt in Indiana for $2,500. I plead innocent, however, to other aspects of the stereotype which imply irresponsibility as a rental property owner.

Let us deal, in turn, with my record in these three areas:

(1) my involvement (or lack of it) in community affairs,
(2) my willingness or unwillingness to make needed repairs or maintenance improvements to the property, and
(3) my alleged tolerance of criminal or problems tenants.

      MY INVOLVEMENT IN COMMUNITY AFFAIRS

I am a U.S. citizen and regular voter. I regularly attend my precinct caucus. I am a founding member of an organization concerned with employment. I am coauthor of a book on this subject with a former U.S. Senator; and am the author of one of the first books written about the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was an international human rights observer at a hotly contested, potentially violent union election near Mexico city in 1991. I recently represented a non-governmental organization at the World Summit for Social Development sponsored by the United Nations. I am a state board member of the World Federalist Association.

At the local level, I pay real-estate taxes on the apartment building amounting to approximately 7% of its fair-market value each year. This compares with a statewide average of 3.4% for rental property and 1.62% for homesteaded property. (Star Tribune, March 25, 1995, p.4. Homes section) So, I think I am entitled to some public services for this money, if not to sympathy and respect for being a citizen of our fair city.

With respect to neighborhood groups, let me explain my relationship with the following organizations: Harrison Neighborhood Association, Mid Glenwood Block Club, Harrison CA.R.E.. Committee, Glenwood Landlords’ Group, Harrison Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), Nidra King Center.

Harrison Neighborhood Association: I was a member of HNA’s Housing committee in 1991-92 and participated in several neighborhood events. In August, 1993 - two weeks after I bought the apartment building at 1708 Glenwood - I was invited to attend a meeting of its Crime and Safety Committee, presumably, as a new owner, to learn techniques to combat crime in rental properties. Instead, I found myself under personal attack from committee members. Council Member Cherryhomes demanded that I evict everyone from the building and threatened to take away my rental license. In the end, we reached a compromise by which I would evict only those tenants with an arrest record. Feeling burned by this experience, I declined to make further appearances before the committee. I did, however, write two or three letters in which I described steps I was taking to clean up drug activity in the building.

Mid Glenwood Block Club: I am unsure what this is. My impression is that it is a group of property owners formed to fight crime that began in September 1993, when I knocked on the doors of all the homes in my block and invited people to a meeting to discuss gang violence in the neighborhood. We held two meetings, exchanged names and addresses, and sent a petition requesting increased police protection to the mayor. I believe that Harrison Neighborhood Association took over this group after my involvement with it ended.

Harrison Neighborhood C.A.R.E. Committee: This is a monthly meeting of Minneapolis police officers and community activists, overlapping HNA’s Crime and Safety committee. I stumbled upon this group by accident when I came to visit my brother at Queen Care Center one evening. I found that my apartment building was being discussed as a “problem property” and I was being personally denounced. My role in this group has been to defend myself at several meetings and to write a lengthy memo pointing out statements in the official minutes which I knew to be false.

Glenwood Landlord’s Group: A group of owners or managers of rental property on Glenwood Avenue was formed a little more than a year ago to exchange information and otherwise improve our performance as building managers. I attended a number of meetings and initially thought membership in this group would be helpful. I had the misfortune, however, to miss one month’s meeting; and, when I returned, I found that I had been a principal topic of conversation at that particular meeting. The tone of the group ceased to be for landlords to give mutual aid and support. Instead, like most other groups associated with Harrison Neighborhood Association, its mission became to identify “problem properties” and enlist the “good” property owners in a campaign to “reform” or, if that failed, to denounce and run the “bad” property owners out of town. In the new mode, I found myself the target of special meetings, demands and deadlines, and, finally, a request for city inspectors to shut me down.

Harrison Neighborhood Revitalization Program: I attended the organizing session for this program and was elected to the committee. After attending several meetings, I resigned when it became clear that attendance at several lengthy meetings per month plus subcommittee work was expected of responsible committee members.

Nidra King Center: This organization, intended to be a community center for neighborhood children aged 6 to 13, occupied the main part of the house in which I live from March 1993 to January 1995. I accepted it as a tenant despite uncertain funding, charged a modest rent, and refrained from evicting the group when it had fallen seriously behind in rent payments. I served for a time on its board of directors. My relations with the Center took a turn for the worse when its director, Bobbi Coleman, pressed me about selling the apartment building to the Nidra King Center and, especially, when I was married in January 1995. I was willing to sell the building but not on the terms that were offered - no money down, a below-market price, and undisclosed sources of financing, combined with suggestions that the property was worth very little money because of crime and my own political vulnerability. The Center moved out at the end of January, still owing a large sum of money in back rent.

The problem I have with these community groups, besides the hostility they have shown me, is that attendance at their meetings takes up a significant amount of time. Since I work full time, have other personal obligations, and need much of my remaining time to manage and maintain the apartment building, I simply cannot afford to belong to some of these groups. Yet, people on city or community-group payrolls, whose job consists of organizing and attending such meetings, equate my reluctance to attend meetings with lack of community responsibility or an uncooperative attitude as a landlord.

If these people cared so much about solving crime problems in the neighborhood, one would think that someone would have thought to call me on the telephone or write me a letter pointing out particular problems with my building, In the year preceding the condemnation, it happened only twice. Once, a property manager called to complain about people loitering in front of my building; but I was unable to obtain further information that would help me to take action. In another case, another property manager did give me specific information. I did act promptly. I evicted, first, the tenant who was the focus of the complaint, and then two others. But those are the exception. None of my other accusers in the neighborhood has done anything to help me identify crime problems affecting my property. I did not even meet the two “Community Police” officers assigned to our area until after the building was condemned.

 

     MAINTENANCE REPAIRS AND IMPROVEMENTS

When I bought the apartment building in August 1993, it seemed that many needed repairs had been deferred. The carpeting was completely ripped and torn, especially on the stairways. A tenant successfully sued the previous owner for a back injury supposedly received while falling on the stairs. Only two of nine tenants were paying rent; some were withholding rent payments as a protest against management’s failure to maintain the building properly. In 18 months, I have spent at least $20,000 on maintenance repairs and improvements. The Housing inspector’s report, issued on March 15, 1995, will require an additional sum of this much or more to comply with the orders.

Some of the major maintenance projects include the following:

1. The water heater went out in September 1993. It was replaced with a new heater which, together with installation charges, cost approximately $2,600.

2. The back door had to be replaced at the same time. Cost including installation was about $800.

3. Two toilets were placed in the fall of 1993 for about $400.

4. Painting five units and the walls of the hallway and stairs in 1993 cost about $900.

5. It cost about $400 to paint window and roof trim on the exterior of the building, and another $400 to replace torn screens, as ordered by the building inspector in 1993.

6. The cost of repairing broken windows in 1993 was $390.

7. Work on repairing and changing locks in 1993 cost $350.

8. Repair for the washer and drier in 1993 cost $150.

9. Materials, including tools, to support the above activities in 1993 were approximately $1,400.

10. Labor to recarpet the stairs and halls in 1994, using discarded carpeting from Pilot city, was $400.

11. Work to repair damage to bathroom walls in all units, damage to cabinets and closets in Unit No. 1, and install a new sink in Unit No. 1 in 1994 cost $950.

12. Work to install bars in windows in lower units, replace several locks, install outdoors lighting, repair two fans, put tar around the roof, and service the furnace cost $750 in 1994.

13. A new stove, including installation, in apartment No. 3 cost about $250 in 1994.

14. I paid an electrical contractors $1,200 and a plumbing contractor $1,800 to inspect the building for code compliance and make the necessary repairs in 1994.

15. Work to repair damaged ceiling and repaint walls in apartment No. 4 cost $250.

16. To increase building security, I ordered an intercom system to buzz individual apartment units and hired a tenant to install the system in the spring of 1994. Total cost of labor and materials was approximately $2,500.

17. A new mailbox in the front hallway was installed in 1994 at a cost of $600.

18. I hired a tenant to install a new metal front door, remove the downstairs front windows and replace by solid paneling, and build a canopy over the front door. The total cost was approximately $1,200.

19. To comply with the inspector’s orders, we replaced inoperative upstairs windows with a single combination window from Menards, which, including installation, cost approximately $450 in 1994. It cost an additional $150 to repair this window two months later when it was broken.

20. To comply with inspector’s orders, we installed a rock garden in the front of the building on Glenwood Avenue to supply needed ground over. I did much of the work myself. (Late one afternoon, while I was pounding a spike into the railroad ties, a gunman who stood on the sidewalk 20 feet away from me fired several shots at a car speeding down Glenwood Avenue. He ran out of bullets and I resumed work.) The total cost of materials was approximately $300.

21. Entry doors to apartment units were kicked in or damaged by gun fire about five times during 1994. It cost about $900 to order and install new doors and locks and repair the broken jambs. In addition, three more doors were kicked in on March 1, 1995, the day when inspector Stolow and the police evicted remaining tenants.

22. Broken windows, not counting the one mentioned in #19, cost about $200 to fix in 1994.

23. Plumbing repairs in 1994 cost about $500.

24. Additional work to change or repair locks cost $300.

25. Work to repair laundry room equipment in 1994 cost $250.

26. I had inserts of glass or plexiglass made for all windows that were missing double panes. The cost of materials was $800. I did all the installation work myself.

27. To comply with inspection orders, I replaced more broken screens in 1994. Materials cost about $200. I built most of these screens myself.

28. Materials and tools cost about $$1,000 in 1994.

29. Plunketts Pest Control service has continuously sprayed the building for cockroaches since October 1993 for an annual cost of approximately $250.

The above items cover most of the major maintenance expenditures in the 18 months since I bought the building - hardly a picture of “slumlord” neglect. I have had to respond to frequent acts of vandalism - one or two incidents a week - often followed promptly by orders from the Housing inspector to repair visible damage. Locks have been jammed, windows broken, screens ripped, and doors kicked in, more times than I can remember. All this keeps me hopping. It prevents me from spending time on more promising, long-range projects.

Now the Housing inspector, John Davies, has issued a new set of orders, which may result in revocation of my rental license if I do not complete them by May 15.

    ALLEGED TOLERANCE OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY

When I took over the apartment building in August 1993, there was a major center of drug (cocaine) activity in apartment No. 1. Other tenants also used drugs. I held a meeting with all residents within a week of assuming ownership. In later meetings, we discussed and adopted a set of house rules. I also developed a lease agreement and had all tenants sign it in 1993. I attended a seminar for landlords sponsored by the city and applied screening techniques taught there to tenant applications. Nevertheless, my record of screening tenants has been disappointing.


The following table gives a summary of occupancy in each unit of the building since I became owner in August 1993:


Unit 1 Jimmy L. | Michael W. | Danny B. | Marsuline H. and Nina R.

Unit 2 vacant | Lewis W. | Wilbur R.

Unit 3 vacant | Robert L. | Nickita G. | Robyn F.

Unit 4 Danny B. | Willie B. | Brian B. | Mary R. | Dena C.

Unit 5 vacant | Debbie A. | Larry H. | Maya A.

Unit 6 Michelle F.

Unit 7 Charlene W. | Latrena G.

Unit 8 Derrick R.

Unit 9 Robbie C. | Sheila M.

The first position on each line indicates the occupant of the unit in August 1993; or, if then vacant, it is so indicated.
These were tenants for the entire period: Michelle F. and Derrick R.

Other tenants in good standing on February 28, 1995, when inspector Larry Stolow evicted them, were the following: Robyn F., Maya A., Sheila M., and Dena C. (then my mother-in-law).

These tenants left without being evicted: Robbie C., Danny B. (twice), Debbie A.

These tenants I evicted: Jimmy L., Michael W., Marsuline H. and Nina R., Lewis W., Wilbur R., Robert L., Nikita G., Brian B., Mary R., Larry H., Charlene W., and Latrena G.

Two tenants were evicted at the end of September 1993 as a result of my agreement with the community group in August: Jimmy L., and Charlene W. Jimmy L., was an obvious drug dealer and user. Charlene W. probably also used drugs. In addition, the girl friends of Derrick R., Teresa T., was asked to leave at that time. In her case, it was card to enforce. She was pregnant with R.’s child and I let her stay with him during the pregnancy. The baby was born in the spring of 1994 but died three months later. T. went through a period of being physically violent, but succeeded in having the police arrest and jail her boy friend, R., for several weeks. In the end, I banned her from the building; and, with R.’s cooperation, the ban eventually stuck.

The other ten cases represent people whom I admitted as tenants and later had to evict. They should be the principal focus of suspicion that I “tolerated” criminal or problem tenants. Of these, six were admitted in 1993 when I was inexperienced in screening tenants. Another evicted tenant took over an apartment unit from his brother. The remaining three were admitted in 1994.

Let me review their situations:

Michael W.: I accepted him as a tenant in October 1993 despite a record of previous drug history because of his argument that he was medically unable to take drugs, a conversation with Carl Eller (the former Viking) about his involvement in a treatment program, and his helpfulness in policing the hallways. Soon there were rumors that W. himself was selling drugs. I hesitated to evict him partly because he had sustained a wound in his arm in the course of an incident which, he said, involved keeping drug dealers out of the building. I personally hid out in the building to gather evidence about W. When I had clear evidence of drug activity in his unit, I asked W. to leave, and he was out by January 1994.

Marsuline H. and Nina R.: Admitted as tenants in October 1994, I evicted them two months later, mainly for nonpayment of rent. They may also have been casual drug users.

Lewis W.: His police record included an arrest and imprisonment eight years earlier but a tenant in my other building (309 Knox) knew and recommended him. I admitted W. as a tenant in September 1993. In April 1994, someone shot six bullet holes through his door. Thinking that he might be involved in gang activity, I asked him to leave. He was out by the end of April 1994.

Wilbur R.: He was the adoptive father of two tenants, Nikita G. and Latrena G., when he took over W.’s apartment in late May 1994. He was also my principal maintenance man for much of 1994 and a personal friend. Unknown to me, he became a cocaine user. He went into treatment in October 1994. I held the apartment for him upon his return a month later. By January, it became clear that he was not adhering to his recovery plan and was allowing others to live in his apartment. I asked him to leave and he was out by February 1995.

Robert L.: He was a diabetic man in his 60s who convinced me that he could not tolerate drugs without serious medical complications. After i admitted him as a tenant in September 1993, I kept noticing that the lights of his apartment unit were on all night long. He was also hanging out with Jimmy L. After several warnings, I finally asked him to leave. He was out by mid October 1993.

Nikita G.: I evicted her primarily for nonpayment of rent in May 1994. Another factor was a boyfriends who acted like a hoodlum, threatening me. I do not think that she used drugs.

Brian B.: This was a difficult case. He took over Unit No. 4 from his brother, Willie, who had helped me to identify other crux users in the building and who had also installed the intercom system. Willie said he was going on vacation for three weeks. He never returned. Instead brother Brian stayed in Willie’s apartment. Soon it became evident that several other young men were also living in the apartment unit. There were reports of marijuana use and possible gang activity. When someone fired a shot in the apartment in August 1994, I asked Brian to leave. He was out by September.

Mary R.: This may have been a case of faulty judgment. At the time I admitted her as a tenant in October 1994 she was the mother of another tenant, Latrena G., and the ex-wife of Wilbur R. There were reports of problems with her teenage son, Sean, and with her son-in-law, Hassan. I accepted her as a tenant primarily because she appeared to have a strong family sense and had been my ally in previous confrontations with drug users. She also volunteered to help keep the hallways clean. I had a long talk with her prior to admitting her as a tenant in which I said I was taking a chance and would hold her accountable for trouble involving her family members. I also had talks with Sean and Hassan. About a month later, Ed Eubanks, manager of Plaza Apartments, came up to me outside the apartment building and reported that he thought there were drug problems involving Mary R.’s apartment unit. I confronted her and asked for an explanation. When she refused to discuss the charges, we had some heated discussions that led to my asking her to vacate the apartment. She refused to leave voluntarily so I UD’d her (filed for an Unlawful Detainer in court). She was gone by December 1994.

Larry H.: He seemed like a clean-cut, soft-spoken young man. His criminal check turned up nothing. A tenant vouched for him that he never used drugs. Shortly after I accepted him in September 1993, I learned that he was a major drug dealer. I asked him to leave. He agreed and was gone within a month.

Latrena G.: She was still a teenager when I admitted her as a tenant in September 1993. She had no criminal record. As a tenant, she had several problems. She was a messy housekeeper. (I think the cockroach problem got started in her apartment unit.) Her boyfriend was rumored to be involved with drugs. She also did not get along with certain other tenants. On the plus side, she vendor-paid the rent each month. I finally asked her to leave at the end of December because of housekeeper problems and the fact that others not admitted as tenants seemed to be hanging out or living in her apartment unit. I had previously evicted her mother and step father; she was the final link in the chain to rid the building of unsavory persons who were “visiting” members of this particular family. Lacking clear evidence of wrongdoing, I simply refused to renew her monthly lease. When she remained in the building on February 1, I promptly filed for a UD in Housing Court. The hearing was set for February 14, 1995.

However, inspector Stolow struck on February 10th.

With respect to tolerating criminal activity, I would argue that, while I made some mistakes in admitting tenants, I did promptly evict them as soon as I had reason to believe that they might be involved in drugs or other unlawful or intolerable activities. On the other hand, I have refused to accept a “throw out the baby with the bath water” approach to managing the building. I have refused to evict good tenants along with bad ones, which I consider to be unethical, despite pressure from the city to do so. As their next-door neighbor, I may have gotten too close to the tenants to feel comfortable with treating them that way.

I know that I made some mistakes in admitting people as tenants. I did, for instance, allow some unsubstantiated personal recommendations and my own hopefulness to override the hard evidence of prior police arrests. I also had the naive dream of creating an oasis of family life in my corner of the urban world. I was not a good businessman. I was investing my life as much as my money.

It might have worked but it didn’t. The city and the neighborhood group have shut me down. My personal misfortune may mean a financial gain for someone else. It may mean revenge for certain community activists with a vision of personal power to compensate for their otherwise insignificant lives.

But I am not a slumlord. Ido care about my neighborhood. I care about the larger world. I have spent my personal funds, the savings from investments and a lifetime of work, in creating a suitable place for people to live in this area of Minneapolis. I do also attempt to live up to my civic obligation not to tolerate criminal activity in or near my building. I have exercised my ultimate tool of managerial authority - the power to evict tenants - twelve times in the past year and a half. The problem tenants were all on their way out when the community and the city shut me down.

What more could I have done? Well, obviously, I could have taken the political games more seriously. I could have attended more of those dreadful meetings organized by “community” groups and the police. As a small-time, part-time landlord, it would have been hard for me to keep up the pace of the well-rested bureaucrats networking with each other on committees. I could have done it but didn’t. My failure to scratch the right political backs has opened me up now to be rolled by the representatives of city government - eager, as always, to make this an even better neighborhood where honest, hard-working people can prosper.

 

    WHO ORDERED THE INSPECTIONS STRIKE? A SPECULATION.

That person was certainly Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes who represented my ward on the Council. But Ms. Cherryhomes discloses nothing. Behind the wall of bureaucratic secrecy, I could only guess what processes took place and who was involved.

I called the Minneapolis city attorney’s office to ask about the source of the inspections complaint. What information was I legally entitled to receive? The attorney told me that I had a right to know the general type of complainant but not the person’s specific identity. I then asked inspector Larry Stolow what type of person or organization had made the complaint, he said it was departmental policy not to divulge that type of information. When I mentioned my conversation with the city attorney’s office, his response was to propose that I sue the city. I then called Stolow’s supervisor, David Nordmeyer, who told me that the complainant was neither a tenant nor a neighborhood resident. Beyond that, he refused to comment.

There was actually not one but two inspection strikes. The first, directed by the Health Inspector Larry Stolow, concerned alleged roach infestation in the apartment building. It took place on February 10, 1995. giving tenants until February 29th to move. The second, directed by Housing inspector John Davies, was my official rental-license inspection. It took place on March 14, 2005, after the building was empty.

This one-two punch illustrates how scheming bureaucrats work. The building’s condemnation in February meant that I would not be receiving rent until the condemnation was lifted. The rental-license inspection in March set a high price tag on lifting the condemnation. I would have to satisfy this inspector’s work orders before the condemnation would be lifted and I could again receive rents. Obviously, this was a process designed to inflict maximum financial pain on me as the property owner. If I did not have “deep pockets” (measured in credit), I could not comply with the city’s orders. I would then have to walk away from my investment or perhaps sell it to someone at a deep discount. Jackie Cherryhomes was well known for using the city’s powers in this way.

With respect to cockroach infestation, there was a problem even though my building had been under the continuous care of Plunkett’s Pest Control, Inc., a licensed pest-control firm, since October 2003. The technician and I had discussed treating the entire building - as opposed to the customary treatment of three units each month - after a particular tenant known to maintain unsanitary conditions in her apartment unit had been evicted. Another problem is that a relative of that tenant, who had been evicted elsewhere, moved in without authorization in December. We supposed that their luggage had contained cockroaches.

This relative, a sister of two tenants, who was the mother of three young children, applied for housing with me but I denied the application. Her name was Helen Denise Hughes. This woman and her children then moved to another place about eight blocks north. While she was responding to the call of an ice-cream truck in May 2005, she was suddenly struck by gun fire on the street. She died immediately.

This incident became emblematic of the violence then sweeping north Minneapolis. A large photograph on the front page of the Star Tribune showed Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton hugging the mother of Helen Hughes. (Ironically, the city was then trying to force me out of business because six months early I had not evicted the same woman, Mary R., fast enough.)

Jackie Cherryhomes also got into the act. She was photographed on a bulldozer that was demolishing the apartment building where the woman had most recently lived before her death. Tee shirts were printed announcing that “I survived 1040 Morgan”, which was the address of Helen’s last home. The irony was lost on all that the street violence took place a block and a half from the police precinct station. None but a few malicious landlords suggested that this building also be torn down.

But I digress. Who, if anyone, was behind Cherryhomes’ two-pronged inspections strike on my nine-unit apartment building at 1708 Glenwood Avenue?

We know that the neighborhood group, Harrison Neighborhood Association, was intimately involved. This organization sent a letter to Cherryhomes, signed by its president and head of its Crime & Safety committee, suggesting that the apartment building had a “flop house atmosphere” featuring “the use and dealing of drugs and prostitution” that “has been perpetrated onto our community, increasing crime, making our streets unsafe, inciting fear among residents and impacting the livelihood of other rental property and businesses.” The letter was dated February 13, 1995. I requested a meeting with the board to discuss these allegations but my request was refused. Instead I would be lynched, so to speak, at a neighborhood rally scheduled for April 1, 1995.

An insider told me that behind this diatribe was personal animosity toward me by the Harrison Neighborhood Association staff person, Marcia Glancy. Ms. Glancy, he said, was determined to run me out of business. I was told that Ms. Glancy, who was no fan of white males, hoped to advance her career by taking my scalp. Who knows, it might even have propelled her to a seat on the Minneapolis City Council. Instead, her application for a permanent position as executive director of Harrison Neighborhood Association was rejected when my case did not turn out as planned.

I do know that I had a rather acrimonious conversation with Ms. Glancy and others at a February 7th meeting of the Glenwood Landlord’s Group, which had developed a plan of action to punish me in the month when I did not attend the meeting. While I was explaining the steps I had already taken to evict several tenants, Glancy interrupted me with the remark, “I don’t care about that. I’m more interested that it won’t happen again. “ (No shred of evidence had been presented of drug dealing or any other wrongdoing at my building.) Glancy then demanded that I turn over management of my building immediately to someone else. I refused to comply. I basically told Ms. Glancy this was none of her business. I owned the building, not her. I did not then realize that she and some of the other committee members had personal agendas that would soon be carried out at my expense.

For example, a property manager named Karen Helmerichs, who managed the large apartment building across the street from mine, located at 1707 Glenwood Avenue. Ms. Helmerichs was insistent that my management of the building was totally negligent and that criminals housed in my building were coming across the street to terrorize her tenants. She advanced this argument both that the Glenwood Landlord’s Group and at the neighborhood rally held on April 1st.

The other shoe fell later that month when the owner of the apartment building at 1707 Glenwood, Jerry Finkelstein, who was Helmerich’s boss, called me to make a cash offer of $50,000 to buy my building. I pointed out that I had already started to do work on the building. That’s OK, Mr. Finkelstein assured me, he would also reimburse me for that expense if I kept all the receipts. At another neighborhood meeting, Finkelstein slipped me a piece of paper with a smiling face while everyone else was denouncing me. But I did not think he was my friend. I did not sell the building to him or to anyone else. My credit-card capacity allowed me to withstand the financial hit without outside assistance.

I also heard that Marcy Glancy was trying to arrange a deal with another property owner named Randy Radunz. This man had once asked me if I was interested in selling my building. I was not. But Glancy had been talking with Radunz about a possible partnership to purchase my building - at a deep discount, of course - when I would soon be forced to sell it. Glancy herself did not have the money, but she had a friend who might possibly go into partnership with Radunz. At any rate, rumor has it that Marcia Glancy was arranging various deals. An irony here is that Randunz - if this is the same Randy Radunz I knew - is currently serving a prison sentence for having, perhaps accidentally, strangled a young woman who had overdosed at a cocaine party on his farm in Wisconsin.I know the young woman's father.

Quite another explanation comes by way of Wilbur R., an ex-tenant and friend, who had driven with my first tenant, Bobbi Coleman, to Illinois. Bobbi wanted Wilbur to do some work for her. On this trip, according to Wilbur, Bobbi Coleman told him how she had engineered my downfall. She had done this through another woman, perhaps named Barbara, who was a board member of the Nidra King Center and a close friend of Jackie Cherryhomes. The motive, once again, was to purchase my apartment building at a low price. Bobbi herself had sent me a letter proposing to buy the building, which stressed how crime-ridden it has become under my management and how I could do a service to myself and the neighborhood by selling the apartment building to her organization, no money down. After a police officer who was friendly to Bobbi saw how many cockroaches were in the apartment, the police might also have become involved in this plan.

It is unclear to me, of course, whether this friend of Bobbi Coleman or the Harrison Neighborhood Association might have had the greater influence with City Council President Cherryhomes who could actually order the inspections strike. Bobbi Coleman had also broached the subject of marriage with me. When I instead married someone else in January 1995, this might have been an additional factor in her possible scheming to acquire my property at a low price. Who knows?

I should mention that I filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis, naming the city, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Cherryhomes, Stolow, Davies, and others as defendants. It seemed that condemning a building for cockroach infestation when the issue was crime and safety was a clear abuse of process. On the other hand, the initial proceedings did not go well and I was informed that my case was problematic. Since it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to pursue the case, I decided to quit. That decision gained me the resources to continue the fight in a different way.

 

 

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