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Recollection of the Bad Old Days in Minneapolis (ca. 1980)

by Jim Jacobsen

Bill:

I don't know that there was a housing and crime policy (in the city of Minneapolis during the early 1980s).

With housing - There was a dislike for property owners who didn't make political contributions - usually people buying distressed properties who were attempting to improve and make them work better and didn't have a budget for political contributions. And so they became disliked and were put on the dislike list.

On the other hand, if landlords contributed substantially, they were treated as human beings and given ordinary treatment.  I had a realtor - Bill Hood - tell me I should just give him $300 to give to (City Council Member Brian) Coyle. I didn't.  

I never had a problem with crime issues with the city but they sure wanted me to have problems.  The cops were sitting wherever I drove and stopped me to give tickets  I called a former chairman of Hennepin County Board whom I knew, went to lunch with him and then never had a ticket for several years.

Since I came back to Montana and got a license several years ago, I have never even been asked to see my license and have no tickets on my record.

(In Minneapolis) there was hookers - I was sure they were (police) decoys - walking by my house for a time, too.

Of course the housing business crosses over to crime as they work to give out citations on building issues.  Then the city attorney comes on real friendly and offers a $50 dollar fine in return for a guilty plea, thus accumulating a paper trail so that in time they can say, 'Oh, this guy is no stranger to the court'.

I don't know what else to say about it.  I don't have an insider's perspective.  My comment is just that of a citizen.

Jim

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On subject of housing and crime, I should tell of my experience with (owning property at) 2200 Pleasant Ave. (in Minneapolis):

I was told by my tenants across the street that occupants of 2200 were coming across and robbing their apartments, carrying off TVs, etc.

I talked to the owner, whom I knew. He said, "Well, why don't you buy that building then?"  We worked out a deal.  It was a nice building but had tenant abuse problems, addicts etc.

There was one major drug dealer living there His name was Jimmy L-. He had at least 10 people per hour coming in to buy drugs. There were all kinds of people, guys in neckties, etc.  Then there was some guys who weren't really tenants but lived there. They were the ones into burglary.

I gave notice (to vacate) to everyone in the building. L- moved right away as he didn't want anything to interfere with his drug business.  L- got an apartment in one of the buildings just east of Rudolph's Barbeque (at Franklin Avenue and Lyndale). In a few days I got a call from the caretaker there. He was so excited he couldn't talk right.  He was short of breath as he told me how people were lining up at L-'s door to get drugs.

The housing inspector, Alice Rudy,  was there at the building every morning in her orange cowboy boots.  She would usually be standing out at the curb talking with the main burglar guy. She never came and talked to me. I was there throwing out furniture, cleaning and so on. I had been to a public meeting with alderman Brian Coyle who was bragging how he could put inspectors on a building.

I got rid of the drug dealer and the burglars and got the building cleaned up, refinished, and rerented to decent people who had no criminal problems.  Inspector Rudy then gave me a citation for not having screens on all the windows. She said "Oh, there were screens on all the rooms, but this or that window didn't have screens - usually rooms with several windows. I got fined $50.

I had the building for ten years. It did all right - no crime problems. . .

Jim

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There's more:

There were two young guys and a girl who lived in the front room. They were involved with the burglaries but weren't going to move. I went up there with a framing hammer and a 32 (gun).  I began to tear out a partition to their room.  They called the cops who came right away and told me to get out. They said I had no business being there (even though I was the building owner).

The confrontation continued. The tenants had a pool cue and a damaged 2x4. They were going to run me out.  I reached back to get the 32. They got the message and left. I went to get a double dead bolt. I was putting it on when the cops came again. Oneof the guys asked if I would let them get their stuff out. I said, sure.  So the police officer left, saying he was wasting his time.

I had the framing hammer in my hand and wouldn't let the guys back up the stairs.  They thought I was going to hit them with the hammer.  Shortly they were moving.

Jim”

See also "The Politics of Housing in Minneapolis Prior to the 1990s" by Jim Jacobsen.

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