Blog wars, talking babies, and the Minneapolis Public Schools


The ongoing feud between Northside bloggers John Hoff (aka Johnny Northside) and Donald Allen, who runs Independent Business News Network, another blog, continues this week. Hoff questioned the Minneapolis Public Schools contracting Allen $15,000 for video and production work. Hoff embedded a captured video from Allen’s YouTube account, claiming it was outrageous that Allen should get money from MPS. 

Allen blasted back on his own blog. The two bloggers, who, according to Allen, were once friends, have been at odds for years over various issues pertaining to North Minneapolis politics. 

“It is outrageous to me as a homeowner and taxpayer that Don Allen should receive even a dollar from the Minneapolis school system, let alone a substantial sum like $15,000. The quality and editorial judgment of his ‘video production’ speaks for itself from these examples,” wrote Hoff on his blog

Stan Alleyne, Communications Director from the Minneapolis Pubic Schools, said that the $15,000 contract was taken on as a way to draw students back into the district.  Many kids have gone to charter schools, private schools, and suburban schools, and Allen put together a proposal several months ago involving video production, print ads and radio PSAs with the theme of diversity and the strength of the district. 


Story behind the story: Suing the press?
by Sheila Regan

Shortly after I contacted the Minneapolis Public Schools to inquire about the contract, Jeremy Iggers, the Executive Director of the TC Media Alliance, answered a phone call from Donald Allen at the TC Daily Planet office. Allen asked for me to call him back, and talking about going down to the police station and adding me to his harassment complaint, presumably if I wrote something unfavorable. 

When I asked Allen about this in two subsequent telephone calls, he said that he was concerned that Hoff is interfering with his economic situation.  “I don’t mind someone telling the truth,” Allen said, “but if you are going to be in pocket of Johnny like everybody else, that’s another matter.” He said that he had filed “a harrassment order” at Hennepin County on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Hoff is being sued by Jerry Moore, former Executive Director of JACC saying Hoff’s words have cost him his job. 

“The district is moving forward,” Alleyne said.  “We’re trying to boost enrollment and retain families.”  Part of the contract also entails spotlighting accomplishments of employees and graduates of Minneapolis public schools. 

“I was impressed with the proposal,” Alleyne said.  Though he said he was aware that there were critics of Don Allen, he said he based his decision to contract Allen on the strength of his proposal.

The proposal sent to TC Daily Planet from Minneapolis Pubic Schools lists Allen as the Producer Director for several TV and internet commercials as well as several print ads.  Allen said MPS has requested a few extra print ads which he says he will be providing for free. 

“The campaign, Bring them Back is focused and geared toward families with school age children who might have children attending schools outside of the Minneapolis Public School system or enrolled in Charter Schools,” the proposal states.  “This campaign will focus on the commitment that the Minneapolis Public Schools has to educate all children in an effort to show successful measurable outcomes by attending the Minneapolis Public Schools.” 

In his blog, John Hoff posted a video that Allen had uploaded onto YouTube.  The video has since been taken down from YouTube, but Hoff has a video of the original on his blog.  The video is satirical, showing a Caucasian baby as a male narrator, talking in a baby voice, describes how soon the North Side of Minneapolis will change demographics toward rich white people moving in from the suburbs. 

Allen said it was unfair of Hoff to post the YouTube video, which he said doesn’t represent his professional work but rather was just for fun.  Allen said he plans on producing a professional quality product for the Minneapolis Public Schools.  He said he approached MPS with an idea, for which they gave him the opportunity.

The battle of the blogs has raged on, with posts by Ed Kohler on The Deets, and heated discussion on E-Democracy