Sun Post Local News for Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope and Robbinsdale Minnesota Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:30:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Extra patrols on Halloween following possible drive-by Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:17:47 +0000 Police urge residents with information to call department

At approximately 11 p.m. Oct. 30, Robbinsdale police officers responded to a “shots fired” call near the intersection of 38th Avenue North and Halifax Avenue North, according to a crime alert released Oct. 31.

Officers determined that three shots were fired into a residence on the 4400 block of 38th Avenue North, resulting in no injuries.

A light-colored, older model four-door sedan was seen leaving the area at a high rate of speed, according to a department crime alert.

The department is asking for residents with any information on the incident to call 763-531-1220.

Robbinsdale Police Chief Jim Franzen said the department’s investigators were working on the case, but so far didn’t have many leads.

“It’s pretty sketchy right now,” he said.

The department is working under the assumption that the incident is an attempted drive-by shooting and that the house may have been specifically targeted.

“We don’t think it was just a random deal,” Franzen said, adding that it was too soon to tell if the incident was gang-related.

Going back to January of 2013, Franzen said his department has handled a smattering of minor calls to the residence, including an animal complaint and a check on the welfare of a resident.

“We don’t have anything of significance,” he said of his department’s records of the home.

The home itself is a rental property and therefore the prior calls may have been for different tenants, Franzen added.

Extra patrols are scheduled to be in the area the night of Oct. 31, Halloween night, due to the extra foot traffic from trick-or-treaters and their parents.

Franzen said the department released the crime alert to make sure parents were aware of the incident.

“We wanted to get it out there because it’s a more serious incident and because of Halloween,” he said, adding that the incident doesn’t mean the area is unsafe.


Contact Joe Bowen at

]]> 0
Under new management Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:46:00 +0000 Birdtown Cafe sold, will re-open as The Chestnut Cafe

One of West Broadway’s breakfast hot spots will be getting a new look under new management.

The Birdtown Cafe was sold to chef Jonathan Kruse Oct. 31 and will be rechristened as The Chestnut Cafe.

“It’s still going to be a neighborhood cafe,” Kruse said shortly after the sale was finalized.

The new restaurant will feature similar decor with the “same comfortable feel” as the current iteration, Kruse added.

The Birdtown Cafe was largely a breakfast and lunch joint, and that will initially remained unchanged. Kruse plans to add a dinner menu to the repertoire, eventually.

The food itself will feature “technique-based home cooking” with small amounts of Italian and French influence.

“It’ll be like if your grandmother is an awesome cook,” Kruse said.

Kruse himself said he worked in several Minnesota eateries in several different roles.

“Everything under the sun from cooking to managing to front of the house,” he said.

His most recent job was general manager for Clocktower Liquors in New Brighton.

When asked about why he wanted to get back into cooking, Kruse said, “It is my base skill set. I’ve been doing it since I’ve been 17. It’s more dynamic, more fun. I like it. Once it gets in your blood you can’t get rid of it.”

As owner of the new restaurant, Kruse will have a hand in most of the goings-on, but will focus on cooking and creating a menu.

Brad Eagles, who owned the Birdtown Cafe, said he was selling it to pursue other business interests.


Contact Joe Bowen at

]]> 0
Golden Valley moratorium may include existing subdivision proposals Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:00:17 +0000 Golden Valley’s hottest topic, a single family residential subdivision moratorium, has proven to be controversial, misunderstood and confusing for council members, staff, developers and residents alike.

On Sept. 16, Golden Valley City Council made the decision to enforce a moratorium on all new subdivision and Planned Unit Development applications with a single family residential element. The decision was not made unanimously with Councilmember Steve Schmidgall and Andy Snope being strongly opposed to the impact halting city development could create.

There was some question as to whether the applications submitted prior to the meeting could be included as well. According to Allen Barnard, the city attorney, the moratorium could not legally be extended to submitted applications.

Planning Manager Jason Zimmerman informed the council that once an application is processed with the city, a 60- or 120-day time frame begins. At the end of that time frame, the council must either vote on the proposal or extend the application process.

If the application deadline runs out and no action is formally taken by the council, the proposal is automatically approved as stated in the city code.

According to Zimmerman and Barnard, the council could not stop that “clock” even if it included existing applications in the moratorium. Instead, the council would be ridding itself the control to see and tweak those proposals. Left unseen, the proposals would automatically be approved.

Following the Sept. 16 meeting, few residents sought additional legal opinions of their own.

When the council became aware of this, few of its members wished to hear the additional information. While it was not a desire shared by all, the motion carried and the item was placed on the agenda once again.

On Oct. 21, the council revisited the moratorium and its conditions, heard testimony from several attorneys and took action based on the new findings.

Opposing viewpoints

Barnard reiterated his interpretation of the law as previously shared with the council.

According to him, under state laws, Golden Valley has the authority to enact a temporary ordinance that “regulates, restricts or prohibits any use, development or subdivision within the city for up to one year.”

That moratorium allows the city the ability to deny new subdivision and Planned Unit Development applications with a single family residential element for the duration of the moratorium.

Barnard said state statute limits the moratorium from placing any delay on a subdivision that has already received preliminary approval. In addition, he said adding a moratorium does not stop the 60- or 120-day clock on applications filed before the moratorium was put into affect.

Linda Fisher, an attorney representing resident Mark Dietz, who wishes to halt all subdivisions, was in attendance Oct. 21.

Fisher’s interpretation of state law differed.

According to Fisher, the council did have the authority to include existing applications under the moratorium when first voted on. She does, however, agree the moratorium could not be applied to existing applications that already received preliminary approval.

If including existing subdivision applications is still a desire of the council, Fisher believes it would require an amendment to the ordinance.

While it is not necessary to include existing applications, it has been done by other council’s in the past, according to Fisher.

She said the council could legally address each existing subdivision application one by one and deny them.

Barnard chimed in to remind the council and inform Fisher that Golden Valley’s city code varies from other communities. Golden Valley’s city code states that denial can only be given if an application does not meet all predetermined conditions.

Mayor Shep Harris said in order to provide an impartial decision for any one subdivision application, a public hearing should be held. He believed deciding to deny each proposal before a public hearing could be held would be putting the cart before the horse.

Attorney Paula Callies was hired to represent three parties with pending subdivision applications: Peter Knaeble, Drew Dornbusch and Peter Jarvis.

Her interpretation of state laws is in agreement with that of Barnard’s. According to Callies, the moratorium cannot be applied to pending applications due to the continuing clock.

She believes making that change would be a poor decision for the city.

Mark Thieroff, an attorney hired by the Lecy Group, touched on a different aspect of the moratorium.

His client has been working with staff for months revising a plan to redevelop his property. He has completed the application for preliminary approval of the Planned Unit Developmet but the application is pending.

Thieroff believes existing Planned Unit Developments should not be included under the moratorium.

According to him, the city only has two pending Planned Unit Development proposals and both have caused no turmoil amongst residents or council members.

Dornbusch, although having a vested interest in the decision, is also an attorney and advised the council to be cautious of who it listens to. As an attorney, Dornbusch points out that no matter what his personal opinions are it is his job to twist the law in any way possible in favor of his client.

For that reason, he says the only attorney the council should be listening to is Barnard.

After hearing from each attorney, the council began its vote.

Where the council stands

Snope believed the city attorney to be the only attorney to hede advice from. He wished to keep the moratorium as it was originally voted on.

“I fear if we do not follow our attorney’s advice we’re looking for trouble,” he said.

Snope anticipated possible lawsuits if the ordinance was changed. To avoid such consequences, he voted against the change.

Councilmember Joanie Clausen continued to voice her struggle with the legalities of the moratorium details.

While she desired a change in the moratorium, she was concerned the application clocks would expire and result in automatic approval if left alone.

Harris was concerned either way the vote went. If the moratorium was changed, the city could be sued by developers. If the moratorium stayed as is, the city could be sued by neighbors.

After more than two hours of discussion, Harris made a motion to include the phrase “or existing” back into the ordinance that would only apply to subdivisions that had not yet received preliminary approval.

The newly proposed moratorium would apply to new and existing subdivision applications that have not already received preliminary approval and have a single family residential element to them. New Planned Unit Development applications with a single family residential element would also not be accepted.

Existing Planned Unit Developments would move forward through the planning process as well as subdivisions that received preliminary approval.

Clausen seconded the motion.

Councilmember Larry Fonnest voted in favor of the motion on the table with the knowledge that he will leave his options open moving forward to the final vote.

Schmidgall, with minimal comments throughout the discussion, voted against the change.

The motion passed, 3-2.

Staff will present the revised ordinance at an upcoming meeting for approval or denial.

Contact Gina Purcell at

]]> 0
Cooper High School gets a ‘Benz’ Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:18 +0000 Thai exchange student hopes to take up skiing, practice English

When the school year started on Sept. 2, most students found new teachers, new friends, and new classes mixed in with the familiar faces and places of their schools.

Rattiyaporn “Benz” Chokkoon, a Thai exchange student studying at Cooper High School (Sun Post staff photo by Joe Bowen)

Rattiyaporn “Benz” Chokkoon, a Thai exchange student studying at Cooper High School (Sun Post staff photo by Joe Bowen)

For Rattiyaporn “Benz” Chokkoon, a Thai exchange student studying at Cooper High School, just about everything has been a new experience.

“This is my first month here, so everything is brand new for me,” she said in a Caribou Coffee near her new school.

Prompted by her exchange program coordinator, Benz – nicknamed after Mercedes-Benz cars, she explains – will try out for Cooper’s ski team.

She said she has never seen snow before.

“I just want to try the thing that I never do in Thailand,” she said.

During school, Benz takes classes in Spanish, Chemistry, Pre-Calculus and Orchestra, among others. Her course load is similar to what she would otherwise study in Thailand, but with less of an emphasis on math and science classes. She is a senior at Cooper.

Benz has made friends with fellow exchange students from Germany and Korea, she said, and several American students who help her with her colloquial English skills.

“I have a lot of friends. They’re so nice. They help me with all the things that I don’t know,” she said. “Sometimes I use the wrong word.”

Benz decided to become an exchange student because some of her friends in Thailand had done so, and she chose to study in the United States to practice her English, among other things.

“I want to have new friends … not just in my country,” she said.

While she’s away from home, Benz said she’ll miss her friends, her parents and authentic Thai food.

Benz is an exchange student through AFS-USA, formerly known as the American Field Service. It sends roughly 700 American students abroad annually and brings around 2,300 foreign students from 50 countries to the United States to spend a school year living with an American host family and attending an American high school.

Benz explained that she had to fill out lots of forms to be an exchange student, took an English test and passed an interview.

In the Twin Cities metro, the organization is currently hosting about 63 students this year. It works with any local high school willing to accept a foreign exchange student.

Benz said there are eight other exchange students at Cooper from various programs. Other area exchange student programs are run through organizations such as Youth for Understanding and various Rotary clubs.

All hosted students with AFS come with their own spending money and health insurance.

The organization has an international network of over 40,000 volunteers who work to support our exchange students, host families and host schools.


Contact Joe Bowen at

]]> 0
Artful Aging Project at Covenant Village Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:14 +0000 Covenant Village of Golden Valley, a faith-based nonprofit retirement community, will host the first of several artist sampler sessions 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, at Covenant, 5800 St. Croix Ave. N.

Nothando Zulu will show individuals how to reflect on their life stories and lessons using words and song.

Zulu is the president and director of Black Storytellers Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining the tradition of oral storytelling.

The Artist Sampler Session is part of Covenant’s Artful Aging Project which received an $800 “Small Sparks Grant” through the Golden Valley Community Foundation earlier this year.

The project promotes lifelong learning and introduces visual arts, creative movement, storytelling and theater to the senior community.

Upcoming activities include Mosaic Life, Theater Sampler and Talking Suitcases.

Classes are free of charge and open to the public.

Registration is recommended as space is limited.

To register: 763-732-1525.


]]> 0
Updated: Federal labor board alleges unfair labor practices at North Memorial Fri, 31 Oct 2014 03:10:32 +0000 Accuses management of retaliation following summer demonstration

This article was edited at 10:59 a.m. Oct. 31 to include a statement from North Memorial.

The National Labor Relations Board has alleged that North Memorial Healthcare retaliated against some of its unionized employees and engaged in other unfair labor practices after a demonstration outside the hospital’s Robbinsdale campus last summer.

The board is an independent federal agency that investigates potential violations of the National Labor Relations act and, where necessary, facilitates settlements or decides cases when no settlement can be reached.

The board’s Oct. 27 complaint against the hospital alleges that hospital management fired one union employee and made others work un-agreed-upon weekend shifts after they participated in a June 24 demonstration about decreases in nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, which union members believe will lead to lower quality care and a higher mortality rate for patients.

Members of the Minnesota Nurses’ Association solicited passing cars to honk their horns in support of a demonstration against lower nurse-to-patient ratios on June 24.. (Sun Post staff photo by Joe Bowen)

Members of the Minnesota Nurses’ Association solicited passing cars to honk their horns in support of a demonstration against lower nurse-to-patient ratios on June 24.. (Sun Post staff photo by Joe Bowen)

The complaint also alleges that hospital management barred Minnesota Nurses’ Association and Service Employees International Union member employees and non-employee representatives from discussing unions and union activities, made employees leave the hospital after they were noticed with union insignias on their clothing, and more, sometimes under the threat of arrest or litigation. One employee was also “repeatedly interrogated” about union activities by the hospital’s labor relations representative, the complaint alleges, and another was forced to remove a shirt with union information on it.

“I’m just appalled at the actions that happened because we were exercising our rights as a member of our union,” said Linda Hamilton, president of the nurses’ association, who characterized the demonstration along Bottineau Boulevard as “calm and non-threatening.”

“The reason we were picketing was to highlight reductions in staffing and patients there at North Memorial Hospital. Rather than listen…they (hospital management) chose to retaliate against people and make people shut up. They didn’t want to listen to the impacts on patients that their decisions were having,” said Jamie Gulley, president of the service employee union.

The hospital released a statement which reads, “The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has not made a ruling of any violations of the National Labor Relations Act by North Memorial Health Care. North Memorial categorically denies the allegations in the complaint filed by the NLRB’s General Counsel and look forward to defending our position before an administrative law judge.”

The board is seeking an order requiring the hospital to restore any leave used during the weekend shifts, rescind any discipline issued regarding the matter, and “to otherwise make those nurses whole for losses suffered by them as a result of (the hospital’s) unlawful conduct,” according to the complaint.

Both Hamilton and Gulley said they could not recall a similarly broad action by the board, which consolidated several grievances against the hospital into its complaint.

The board has called for a Jan. 7 hearing before an administrative law judge in Minneapolis.


Contact Joe Bowen at

]]> 0
Rosby, Peterson lift Park Center to third Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:25:01 +0000 Jill Rosby and Olivia Peterson each scored goals as the Park Center girls soccer team rebounded to take third-place at the Class A State Tournament on Thursday.

Rosby put the Pirates ahead of Hill-Murray on a goal at 12:53 in the first half with an assist from Danielle Schaub at St. Cloud State’s Selke Field. In the end, one was enough for the Green and Gold in a 2-0 victory over the Pioneers for their eleventh shutout of the season.

Pirates goalkeeper Emily Nelson earned the shutout and finished with nine saves. The Concordia-St. Paul recruit had all eleven of the Pirates’ shutouts this season.

Peterson gave the Pirates a more comfortable margin in the second half with a goal at the 46:21mark. Abby Arseneau assisted on the goal. The Pirates out-shot Hill-Murray 11-9 overall.

Park Center bounced back from their semifinal loss to eventual state champion Orono on Wednesday. Third place at state concluded an 18-4 season for the Pirates.


Contact Matthew Davis at

]]> 0
Beer bust for Whiz Bang ambassadors Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:07:50 +0000 Robbinsdale’s Whiz Bang Days Committee is hosting a fundraising beer bust 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Eagles Nest Lounge, 4106 Lakeland Ave. N., Robbinsdale.

The bust is designed to raise money for the festival’s ambassador program and will provide an opportunity for current and past ambassadors to visit with volunteers and supporters.

Info: 763-533-0800

]]> 0
Tim Wise ‘Beyond Diversity’ lecture Nov. 3 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:09:17 +0000 Tim Wise, author of “White Like Me,” will present “Beyond Diversity: Challenging Racism in an Age of Backlash,” noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, in CBT Grand Hall at North Hennepin Community College. The lecture will be free, and the 2-4 p.m. diversity training session will cost $15 per person.

Wise’s lecture critiques “diversity” efforts on campuses and in corporate America.

Info: (link shortened).

]]> 0
NHCC evening with Jon Vezner Nov. 6 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:06:42 +0000 North Hennepin Community College will be hosting an evening of music with Jon Vezner 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in its Center for Business and Technology Grand Hall to celebrate the contributions and impact of our alumni and recent retirees.

Vezner, a musician, singer and songwriter who was honored as NHCC’s 2012 Distinguished Alumnus, will share his music and stories with guests.

Vezner won a Grammy in 1990 for “Best Country Song” and “Song of the Year” from the Nashville Songwriters Association for a song he co-wrote with Don Henry – “Where’ve You Been?” – which was recorded by his wife, Kathy Mattea. Jon has also written music for Martina McBride, John Mellencamp, Faith Hill and Reba McEntire.

All are welcome. Hors d’oeuvres will be served and admission is free.

Visit for more information, or watch for Vezner’s story.

]]> 0