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Posts about Property problems

Got hail damage? BBB has tips for you

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: May 12, 2011 - 9:54 AM


Star Tribune photo by David Joles

Star Tribune photo by David Joles


If you were one of those homeowners who watched with dismay as chunks of ice crashed onto your roof during Tuesday’s storm, the Better Business Bureau has some advice about filing insurance claims and avoiding the unscrupulous contractors who always pop up after storms:

  • Call your insurance company right away if you think you have a hail damage claim.
  • Take photos or video of any suspected damage to your home or car.
  • Make minor repairs to prevent further damage, such as putting a tarp over a leaking roof, but don’t make any permanent repairs until your insurance company approves them.

Click here for the full list of tips. And make sure you let Whistleblower know if you see something we need to investigate.



The next step for Grain Belt Beer sign

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: May 10, 2011 - 9:33 AM



The owner of the Grain Belt Beer sign had to turn down a $10,000 anti-graffiti grant, but he’s upbeat that the downtown Minneapolis billboard will reclaim its glory.

On April 17, Whistleblower reported how Winthrop Eastman, whose family trust owns the sign, was irked that the city was saddling him with graffiti removal fees when that money could be used to restore the sign. Last week, Eastman said he turned down a city grant to graffiti-proof the billboard for lack of matching funds.

“The good news is that the Preservation Alliance is moving very aggressively toward restoration funding of the sign,” Eastman said Friday.

He might reapply for the anti-graffiti grant to reimburse the preservation group for making the billboard hostile to taggers.

Weekend Whistleblower: A big graffiti target, tax debtors, database under fire

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: April 18, 2011 - 9:55 AM



My Sunday column described the frustration of the owner of the iconic Grain Belt Beer sign, where graffiti taggers have taken over the back of the giant bottle-cap. Winthrop Eastman doesn't want to keep paying for city-ordered graffiti removal when that money could go to restore the sign and illuminate it once again. Also Sunday, Hard Data columnist Jane Friedmann reported the latest roster of sales tax scofflaws who have had their licenses revoked by the state Department of Revenue. The On Your Side column described the fight over the new product recall database, It appears some in Congress object to the public getting access to unconfirmed reports of product defects. That's a dynamic that's quite familiar to us where at Whistleblower, where we frequently use this blog to air consumer complaints that we haven't verified. Unlike, we typically remove identifying information about the company and people involved, and we offer a disclaimer. But the debate over the Consumer Product Safety Commission certainly makes me wonder whether our policy should change.

Weekend Whistleblower: troubled landlords, vacuum's health pitch unplugged

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: April 11, 2011 - 9:59 AM

Adrienne Lund is part of the new staff managing Spiros Zorbalas's buildings. (photo by Kyndell Harkness)

Adrienne Lund is part of the new staff managing Spiros Zorbalas's buildings. (photo by Kyndell Harkness)


My Sunday Whistleblower column described the city of Minneapolis's effort to revoke three rental licenses from landlord Spiros Zorbalas, whose properties house an estimated 2,000 people. It's part of a larger crackdown that includes publicizing the names of landlords banned from the business in MInneapolis for five years. That's the subject of Jane Friedmann's Hard Data column. The On Your Side column focused on the Oreck Corp.'s short-lived advertising ptich that its Halo vacuum and Proshield Plus portable air cleaner actually prevented the flu and other germ-related illnesses - the Federal Trade Commission put the kibosh on that claim.  

Shaky Edina co-op gets new owner

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: April 5, 2011 - 9:19 AM



The beleaguered residents of the Gramercy Club of Edina are finally emerging from three years of costly legal limbo.
In 2008, Whistleblower described how a bank had sued each co-op owner individually, even though they had made their mortgage payments, as part of its effort to repossess the property. The litigation and subsequent failures of both the development company and the foreclosing bank left the owners of 36 units wondering what would happen to them and 90 unsold units.

Following a legal settlement, a private-equity firm bought the unsold units in March, my colleague Jennifer Bjorhus reported Friday. By next fall, co-op members — most of whom are senior citizens — will become condo owners when the transition to new ownership is complete, said resident Jim Campbell.

“It’s the happy ending we were hoping for as far as we can tell,” Campbell said.


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