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Mayor Hodges, TV Host Get In Online Dispute Over Housing

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- An online war of words erupted this weekend between the Minneapolis mayor and a cable TV host.

Mayor Betsy Hodges is demanding that Nicole Curtis of HGTV apologize for what appeared on Facebook. The dispute involves the tear down of an old home in south Minneapolis that Curtis had tried to save.

After Curtis protested on Facebook, negative comments piled up, especially regarding one city council member. Mayor Hodges called those comments "appalling and disgusting."

But Curtis said there's only so much she can do about her Facebook fans -- and what they write.

What many people living along Colfax Avenue South saw as a dump, Curtis saw as an historic treasure that just needed some tender, loving care. It's why she recorded a video of the demolition of the Orth house last week, then took to her Facebook to let her 700,000-plus followers know she blames the Minneapolis City Council, specifically Lisa Bender, who oversees that area.

That's when her fans fired back at Bender, posting comments using hateful words that can't be on television.

A local man, John Edwards, who calls himself an amateur journalist and neighborhood blogger, compiled some of the worst comments in a post Mayor Hodges later shared. That came along with some pointed words for Curtis. It said, "To support this kind of hateful response is unconscionable."

"I think it makes the city look ridiculous," Brian Finstad said.

Finstad, who works for a local non-profit that helped Curtis try to save the home, said the mayor is attacking Curtis because she continues to question the political process behind the home's demolition.

"I think it's something she could have easily conveyed in a private message if she really wanted to convey that message," Finstad said.

Curtis said she's a homeowner in Bender's ward. She deleted her post, but she can't possibly monitor all of the comments on her page.

In a statement she said, "Typically, these pages are bombarded by spammers for work-at-home schemes and porn. Unfortunately, there is not any technology to filter criticism of Minneapolis politics."

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