Off Beat

Brew Ha Ha

On December 18, 1996, Minneapolis blocked off McNair Avenue where it intersects with Broadway and Penn avenues in north Minneapolis, thus impeding access to Broadway Liquors. The city closed the street at the request of former city council president Jackie Cherryhomes, ostensibly because of too much fast traffic on McNair, but against the advice of the city's own transportation division. "It is my understanding that there was a very vocal, but very small cadre of people who got the ear of Jackie Cherryhomes," recalls Bill Rose, who owns the store and runs it with his son Dean. The Roses sued.

Last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to overturn a Hennepin County District Court judge's ruling in favor of Broadway Liquors. Attorneys' fees for the lower court ruling and two appeals have already topped $58,000, plus interest. The case will now return to district court for a determination of damages, a sum that Daniel Rosen, the attorney for Broadway Liquors, says is likely to be hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

The Roses maintain that the city could've settled the whole dispute years ago without paying them a dime. When the prospect of closing the street first surfaced, they offered to pay for speed bumps on McNair Avenue and elsewhere in the neighborhood. The offer was rejected.

Then, in 2000, Cherryhomes scuttled a proposed settlement. According to the Roses, both sides were set to sign off on a deal that would've kept McNair Avenue closed, but created additional public parking along Penn Avenue. But, they say, when the Roses insisted that they be able to put up a sign advertising Broadway Liquors in the new lot, Cherryhomes sabotaged the deal. (Cherryhomes won't talk about the case. "I'm not going to comment on any of that," she says. "I'm not in office anymore.")

Bill Rose says the city attorney's office recently expressed hope that his family would be reasonable in the damages it's seeking. "We've gone through this suffering for all these years and they want me to be reasonable?" Rose scoffs. "I will be as reasonable as the city was, which means I want their fucking blood." --By Paul Demko


Art History, Credit History, You're History

When Kim Gillespie moved from Seattle to Minneapolis this spring, she needed a job--quick. As a painter with an art degree, she was happy to land work at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts gift shop for $8 an hour.

But in August, on her second day of work, Gillespie was asked by Deb Duffy, human resources director for the MIA, to sign waivers letting MIA look into Gillespie's work record, criminal record, and credit history.

"I started to fill this out and I thought it was insane," Gillespie says. The soft-spoken 38-year-old warned Duffy that she had defaulted on some student loans. Within a month, Gillespie was canned over her credit rating: "I was told some people feel that people in debt are more likely to steal."

Duffy referred CP's calls to a communications director, who said the MIA does employee credit checks after hiring an applicant and "depending on the nature of the job." Steve Lapinsky, who handles discrimination cases for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, concedes there may be some jobs where a credit check is warranted, but that Gillespie's case "may be one of those unfair things that isn't illegal."

Gillespie says she probably can't afford to pursue legal recourse. For the moment, she's waiting tables at a restaurant downtown. "I feel indignant about being fired and judged," she says. "I mean, I go through this, and they are not even paying a living wage." -- G.R. Anderson Jr.