Local landlord sues MHNA

Jason Klohs is suing the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association over spending practices.

by Lolla Mohammed Nur

After six weeks of waiting for Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association to respond to a data practices request, property owner Jason Klohs has sued MHNA for violation of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The data practices request, submitted in early October, sought data relating to MHNAâÄôs expenditures under a contract with the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. âÄúWe want to see how theyâÄôve been handling their money,âÄù Klohs said. âÄúWe believe theyâÄôre operating incorrectly and possibly against the law.âÄù KlohsâÄô attorney, Ryan Ahlberg, said evidence shows MHNA was spending NRP money on employee salaries. âÄúThe state law that authorizes the NRP is specific about what NRP money can be spent on, and paying for the salaries of neighborhood organizers is not one of those things,âÄù Ahlberg said. Because MHNA is a nonprofit organization under contract with a government entity like the NRP, it would have to release information such as e-mails and written documents that fall under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Klohs said heâÄôs willing to drop the lawsuit if MHNA releases all pertinent data. The lawsuit comes after Klohs and the MHNA failed to reach a settlement at a mediation session in October, conducted after KlohsâÄô attorney filed a formal grievance against MHNAâÄôs bylaws. The bylaws restrict MHNA membership to residents, which Klohs said prevents him and other absentee landlords from having their voices heard. âÄúThis would go away if we could be part of the neighborhood,âÄù he said. âÄúThey could make a simple rule change and this would go away.âÄù MHNA President Arvonne Fraser, who was served the lawsuit papers Thursday night, declined to comment because she didnâÄôt know what the situation was, she said. But she said MHNA âÄúsent [Klohs] to NRP because itâÄôs public information thatâÄôs available.âÄù Fraser also acknowledged that part of the issue is previous disagreements with Klohs over MHNAâÄôs bylaws. âÄúYou have to be a resident of the neighborhood because itâÄôs a neighborhood association,âÄù Fraser said. âÄúItâÄôs like in elections,âÄù she said. âÄúIf youâÄôre going to vote in an election in the United States, you vote where you live.âÄù Fraser also suggested that the only way to settle the issue is if landlords live in the neighborhood. She said she doesnâÄôt know what MHNAâÄôs next steps will be besides working on getting an attorney Monday. MHNA Executive Director Melissa Bean and Ward 3 Councilwoman Diane Hofstede declined to comment on the issue.