Sunday afternoon a new Cotty Lowry billboard went up “and by Monday morning it was pretty well destroyed; less than 12 hours,” he said.

The low-hanging billboard at Franklin and Hennepin has been a favorite of creative vandals who add their own touches to the advertisement for the longtime real estate guy, a part owner of the Minneapolis Keller Williams office. The billboard’s monthly cost — production, erection, rent — is more than $1,000.

Lowry was irritated about this week’s vandalism when I called him Wednesday.

“Spray painted. Gang graffiti. Pretty bad stuff. Basically destroyed. I may have to throw it away. I’m really disappointed,” said Lowry. “It’s … pure crap, vandalism. The building owner doesn’t like it. I’ve considered getting rid of the billboard.”

I’d install a camera to catch the vandals. But surely there must be some surface that could repel vandalism. “That’s a good question. I texted my designer to check to see if there is a better surface. It would cost me more, but a surface that can just be cleaned [may be worth it],” said Lowry.

Lowry longs for the days when the vandals were “totally artful, thoughtful, well done with a sense of humor. But this is really malicious. Go to and you can see some of the old graffiti and they’re fun. I even had a T-shirt made of one of the best.”

Campaign for better graffiti

Hennepin County commissioner candidate Chris Howard wants yard sign vandals to know he’s not impressed.

“A number of my campaign signs have gone missing and been modified by artists needing more lessons,” said Howard, a Bloomington commercial real estate broker of nearly 25 years.

“You can decide that for yourself,” Howard laughed when I tried to get him to expound on the shortcomings of the art. “Subject to interpretation,” said Howard, who complained of being “Cotty Lowryed.”

Howard is making his second run for the County Board. “I sort of oppose the way the whole board is run. They are kind of overpaid, $100 grand. It’s a part-time job,” said Howard, who is vexed about project cost overruns and favors term limits. Howard also objects to the criminal justice system becoming “a huge business enterprise at the expense of citizens. A mayor in this district was quoted in a respected local publication as basically saying crime was too low in our city because we didn’t get the expected income from citations and the auctioning of confiscated property, so we will need to raise taxes. UNBELIEVABLE,” Howard said via e-mail. “Old time politicians look at criminal prosecution as a profit generator when it often devastates the people caught up in it.”

A difficult goodbye

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” Larry Fitzgerald Sr., said of attending former Vikings coach Denny Green’s funeral.

“It was a magnificent service for such a great man; considering what he has meant to our state, the Minnesota Vikings, my family” said Big Fitz of the man who helped him turn his radio show into the National Programming Network.

Big Fitz said he attended the California church service with his son, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. Green hired Junior as a Vikings ball boy, and also drafted him into the NFL when he became coach of the Cardinals.

“The church was full. It was just a private service. It wasn’t for the public. It was simply for those who knew Denny through coaching in the NFL,” said Big Fitz.

Sammy’s celebrity corner

Sammy’s Avenue Eatery on Broadway is apparently a hot spot.

I met NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds there Tuesday for a spirited interview, which kept getting interrupted by people wanting to hug her.

At one point I noticed this guy who looked like former Judge John Stanoch’s younger brother. Turned out it was KARE 11’s Lou Raguse stopping in for a bite to eat with photographer Ben Garvin.

Then I saw attorney Steve Belton, president of the Minneapolis Urban League. I asked how his wife, former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, was and he befuddled me by saying something like Fine, when I see her.

That made me ask if they were divorced.

“No!” he said. “We’ve been married 35 years!”

He sounded proud of that milestone. Next time I see SSB, I’ll have to ask if he got the years right. Whatever the number, she deserves a medal.


C.J. can be reached at and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show” and “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.