Friday, December 11, 2009

CORRECTED: Detroit house auction flops for urban wasteland

Sun Oct 25, 2:52 PM

(Corrects to show properties for sale were about the area of Central Park, while total vacant land is nearly the size of Boston)

By Kevin Krolicki

DETROIT (Reuters) - In a crowded ballroom next to a bankrupt casino, what remains of the Detroit property market was being picked over by speculators and mostly discarded.

After five hours of calling out a drumbeat of "no bid" for properties listed in an auction book as thick as a city phone directory, the energy of the county auctioneer began to flag.

"OK," he said. "We only have 300 more pages to go."

There was tired laughter from investors ready to roll the dice on a city that has become a symbol of the collapse of the U.S. auto industry, pressures on the industrial middle-class and intractable problems for the urban poor.

On the auction block in Detroit: almost 9,000 homes and lots in various states of abandonment and decay from the tidy owner-occupied to the burned-out shell claimed by squatters.

Taken together, the properties seized by tax collectors for arrears and put up for sale last week represented an area the size of New York's Central Park. Total vacant land in Detroit now occupies an area almost the size of Boston, according to a Detroit Free Press estimate.

The tax foreclosure auction by Wayne County authorities also stood as one of the most ambitious one-stop attempts to sell off urban property since the real-estate market collapse.

Despite a minimum bid of $500, less than a fifth of the Detroit land was sold after four days.

The county had no estimate of how much was raised by the auction, a second attempt to sell property that had failed to find buyers for the full amount of back taxes in September.

The unsold parcels add to an expanding ghost town within the once-vibrant town known worldwide as the Motor City.

Critics say the poor showing at the auction underscores the limits of using a market-based system to clean up property tax problems. They say the system has enriched a few but failed to deliver a way for Detroit to staunch its dwindling population and could worsen the vacancy crisis.

One proposed alternative would have officials take control of the tax foreclosure process through a land bank program of the kind being used to revitalize the nearby city of Flint.

The stakes in the debate are rising.

The number of Detroit properties in tax foreclosure has more than tripled since 2007 and seems certain to rise further. The lots for sale last week represented arrears from only 2006, well before the worst of the downturn for U.S. automakers.

"We have to keep in mind that GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy this year," said Terrance Keith, chief deputy treasurer of Wayne County. "Some people are going to be totally tapped out next year."

Detroit, already stuck with a $300 million budget deficit, is responsible in the meantime for cutting the weeds and responding to fire calls for thousands more abandoned lots.

'WHY AM I COMPETING AGAINST A BANK?'

Many potential homeowners that Detroit desperately needs said they felt penalized by the auction process.

They mostly found themselves outbid by deeper-pocketed investors from California and New York who were in a race to claim the auction book's relatively few livable properties.

Dozens of potential bidders, mostly local residents, were turned away on the first day of the auction by deputies after they failed to meet the morning deadline for registration.

Ross Wallace, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, turned in his check for $500 and waited on the auction floor in full dress uniform for a chance to buy a Detroit house on the cheap.

Wallace, 27, said he did not want to leave his fiancee and two children with a mortgage before shipping out to Iraq later this year.

"I still have student loans and I'm trying to be responsible. I don't want to leave debt," he said.

Wallace waited for the auction to roll around to Detroit's Boston-Edison district, a once stately area that was home to boxing legend Joe Louis and Motown founder Berry Gordy.

But he was quickly outbid. An unidentified investor at the front of the room who had scooped up several dozen properties took the home Wallace wanted for about $15,000.

"Why am I competing against a bank?" he said later. "It would be common sense to have a separate process for people who want to move back to the city or it's going to stay empty."

Nearby, a Dutch-born local woman, Riet Schumack, 54, knitted patiently through the auction for a chance to bid on a lot in Brightmoor, one of the most blighted neighborhoods.

Schumack, who runs a community garden near her home that employs 14 neighborhood children, said she had been battling through a maze of bureaucracy for years to try to buy an abandoned lot nearby to expand and plant fruit trees.

She learned the lot had been taken back from its previous owner -- an absentee investor with more than 100 abandoned lots in Brightmoor -- only because of her constant calls to city and county officials, she said.

When officials told her she would have to wait for a fourth day to bid on the property, Schumack broke down into tears.

"Anybody with a job is not able to sit here for days. So you are left with the sharks," she said.

Opinions were divided on whether the investors buying lots and homes by the dozen were a sign of better times ahead.

"They weren't here two years ago. So why are they here now? Unless, as speculators, they believe this is the bottom," said Keith of the Wayne County treasurer's office.

Bill Frank, a Detroit realtor trying to buy a small house for a just-married friend, found himself repeatedly outbid.

"Speculators are often not good for a city and, from my experience, they are going to lose a fortune," he said. "But there are no easy answers. It's a declining city."

(Editing by Peter Bohan and John O'Callaghan)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

LIMON,CO(IFS)- The Documentary Channel for the past several nights have been reviewing the Congressional Investigation of the Branch Davidian Massacre. Minute after minute, you find the ATF Directors, along with Janet Reno saying one thing, and the video evidence shows something else completely different. These people then lied to Congress under oath, and what we find, nothing was done to these agents.

Ruby Ridge is another hot point of contention, as we see that certain people are above the law.

For 51 days, the ATF and the FBI held these people hostage, and then lied to Congress. I just want to let everyone know that I too, remember these Americans, these little children and old people that Janet Reno had gunned down, mutilated and burnt in the name of justice. I remember that one male report, who would come to the microphone and TV camera, and report that - there was no food for the children, or the next time, the kids were being molested, or the very next time, the kids were being held as hostages, etc. I wonder how his career is during these days. America will never forget Janet Reno and her friends that kill children, mothers and old people. I know she will live a long fruitful life. After all one day she will meet each and everyone of those victims again. And at that time, there are no laws, police and anything thing else that will save her from the raft of hell.

God Bless you Janet Reno - you Child killer!!

Branch Davidian Victims

Died February 28, 1993 in initial BATF assault on Mount Carmel
Winston Blake 28 British
Peter Gent 24 Australian
Peter Hipsman 28 American
Perry Jones 64 American
Michael Schroeder 29 American
Jaydean Wendell 34 Hawaiian American

Died April 19, 1993
burnt or shot to death during FBI assault

Katherine Andrade 24 American
Chanel Andrade 1 American
Jennifer Andrade 19 American
George Bennett 35 British
Susan Benta 31 British
Mary Jean Borst 49 American
Pablo Cohen 38 Israeli
Abedowalo Davies 30 British
Shari Doyle 18 American
Beverly Elliot 30 British
Yvette Fagan 32 British
Doris Fagan 51 British
Lisa Marie Farris 24 American
Raymond Friesen 76 Canadian
Sandra Hardial 27 British
Zilla Henry 55 British
Vanessa Henry 19 British
Phillip Henry 22 British
Paulina Henry 24 British
Stephen Henry 26 British
Diana Henry 28 British
Novellette Hipsman 36 Canadian
Floyd Houtman 61 American
Sherri Jewell 43 Asian American
David M. Jones 38 American
David Koresh 33 American
Rachel Koresh 24 American
Cyrus Koresh 8 American
Star Koresh 6 American
Bobbie Lane Koresh 2 American
Jeffery Little 32 American
Nicole Gent Little
and unborn child 24 Australian
Dayland Gent 3 American
Page Gent 1 American
Livingston Malcolm 26 British
Diane Martin 41 British
Wayne Martin, Sr. 42 American
Lisa Martin 13 American
Sheila Martin, Jr. 15 American
Anita Martin 18 American
Wayne Martin, Jr. 20 American
Julliete Martinez 30 Mexican American
Crystal Martinez 3 Mexican American
Isaiah Martinez 4 Mexican American
Joseph Martinez 8 Mexican American
Abigail Martinez 11 Mexican American
Audrey Martinez 13 Mexican American
John-Mark McBean 27 British
Bernadette Monbelly 31 British
Rosemary Morrison 29 British
Melissa Morrison 6 British
Sonia Murray 29 American
Theresa Nobrega 48 British
James Riddle 32 American
Rebecca Saipaia 24 Asian British
Steve Schneider 43 American
Judy Schneider 41 American
Mayanah Schneider 2 American
Clifford Sellors 33 British
Scott Kojiro Sonobe 35 Asian American
Floracita Sonobe 34 Philipino
Gregory Summers 28 American
Aisha Gyrfas Summers
and unborn child 17 Australian
Startle Summers 1 American
Lorraine Sylvia 40 American
Rachel Sylvia 12 American
Hollywood Sylvia 1 American
Michelle Jones Thibodeau 18 American
Serenity Jones 4 American
Chica Jones 2 American
Little One Jones 2 American
Neal Vaega 38 Asian New Zealander
Margarida Vaega 47 Asian New Zealander
Mark H. Wendell 40 Asian American

Imprisoned
Renos Avraam 31 British 40 years
Brad Branch 35 American 40 years
Jaime Castillo 24 American 40 years
Graeme Craddock 31 Australian 20 years
Livingstone Fagan 35 British 40 years
Paul Fatta 35 American 15 years
Ruth Riddle 31 Canadian 5 years
Kathryn Schroeder 35 American 3 years
Kevin Whitecliff 33 American 40 years

Friday, December 04, 2009

LIMON (IFS) - Well what does one expect from a country that joined Hitler, and believed he was right. It's not hard to believe that a person can be convicted on all counts of very bad police investigations and mishandling of this case. It is sad for the victim, but even worst for justice. A very weak case, very bad ruling by the Judges, and contaminated evidence by the police. The justice in Italy convicted Ms. Knox on personal effects, like her life style, condoms, she smoked weed, her sex life, etc. This would not have been an issue in any country. The Justice system in Italy is very corrupt and double faced. They changed the course of the trial from many angles, and never proved anything -- to just get a conviction. They had it in for Ms. Knox from the beginning. She was never going to get a fair trial. When you are threaten by the police that keep you in jail and beat you up, heck I would say anything to keep them off me. None of this had nothing to do with the case. I totally endorse the boycotting of all Italian products, but justice must be done. Justice was not served at all.