Wisconsin childhood trauma data explodes myth of ‘not in my small town’

Boom and bust In its heyday in the last century, Rock County was the epitome of heartland prosperity. Apart from farming, the county had its share of foundries and factories — and above all, the GM assembly lines that built Chevys by the millions. Like much of the American manufacturing economy, employment at GM in Janesville peaked in the 1970s, when the automaker employed 7,100 in middle-class jobs with enviable benefits. A halo of local supplier industries orbited around GM. Then came downsizings. When it closed its gates nine years ago, GM employed 1,200 in Janesville — not counting the supplier businesses it took down with it. Janesville’s oldest major employer was going through the same downward spiral. George Parker began making luxury fountain pens in 1888, and shipped them around the world. Parker Pen once employed more than 1,000 workers. But by the time it closed in 2009, headcount was down to 150. Sold and resold, Parker Pen still exists as a brand headquartered in France. RICK WOOD/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL In its economic heyday, Rock County in southern Wisconsin was the epitome of Heartland prosperity, but has seen its income plunge in recent decades. The General Motors autoworks in Janesville employed 7,100 in the seventies but only 1,200 by the time it closed in 2008. A few farm fields to the south, through the Rock River valley, the factory town of Beloit rode the same boom and bust. In the last century it was home to Beloit Corp., once the world’s largest manufacturer of the machinery that mass produces publishing-grade paper. It belonged to the pulp and paper ecosystem that powered much of Wisconsin in the last century. As recently as the 1990s, Beloit Corp. employed 2,000 — but it shrunk and then declared bankruptcy in 1999, leaving behind a cavernous industrial skeleton on the banks of the river. A few employers have moved into the county, including a new warehouse for a retail Continue Reading

Metro Toledo housing inventory shrinking

Share Tweet Share Email Comments Print Traditionally, May is one of the best months for real estate agents. Winter’s chill is gone, replaced by sweet spring air. Flowers are in bloom, grass is green again, and a new crop of buyers emerge to start the hunt for new houses. However, the last few years house hunting has gotten harder and taken longer for many buyers. Housing inventory in metro Toledo has been shrinking the last three years, and prospects for a reversal, short of a local economic disaster, are not good. The numbers are clear-cut: In May, 2015, a total of 3,186 single-family homes were listed for sale in Lucas and northern Wood County. A year later, the May listings were at 2,958, and last May they fell to 2,566 listings. That represents a 20 percent drop year-over-year in the last three years. “It makes for an interesting time,” Doug Kwiatkowski, the new president of the Toledo Regional Association of Realtors and a real estate agent with Re/Max Preferred Associates of Toledo, said. “We really have to hustle. We’re scouring every day trying to find new product for clients.” It isn’t that there aren’t sellers. Every month new homes do come on the market. But like inventory, the new listings have been dwindling month-over-month. In May, 2015 there were 922 new listings, which decreased 11 percent in May, 2016, then decreased 8.5 percent in May, 2017. In May, 2015 homes spent an average of 106 days on the market before selling, and that is now at 94 days as of May, 2017. While it is getting harder for buyers to find something they like, for sellers these are halcyon days. The median sales price in metro Toledo has gone from $116,200 in May, 2015 to $129,000 as of last May. The average price, which was $133,207 three years ago, hit $150,000 last May. Also, real estate agents report many homes are receiving multiple offers and deal sweeteners, like all-cash bids and offers that exceed the Continue Reading

Enough is enough: tenants join landlord in Bay Area exodus

By Louis Hansen | [email protected] | Bay Area News Group PUBLISHED: February 23, 2018 at 6:00 am | UPDATED: February 23, 2018 at 6:06 am SAN JOSE – Tony Hicks moved to San Jose in 1981, but he’s had enough. Hicks told his 11 tenants he would soon place the three homes he owns on the market. He expected disappointment. Instead, most wanted to move with him to Colorado. “It didn’t take them long,” Hicks said. “I was surprised.” Rising prices, high taxes and his suspicion that the next big earthquake is just a few tremors away convinced the retired engineer to put his South San Jose properties up for sale. The groundswell to leave Silicon Valley — the place of fortunes, world-changing tech and $2,500 a-month-garage apartments — has been building. For at least the last nine months, the San Francisco metro area has led the nation in the number of residents moving out, according to a survey by online brokerage Redfin. San Jose real estate agent Sandy Jamison has seen many long-time residents and natives leave the state recently. The lack of available housing, leading to some of the priciest real estate in the country, is driving many from the region, she said. Jamison has even drawn up a marketing flyer for the top five reasons people leave the Bay Area: high taxes, cost of living, quality of life from traffic to homelessness, politics and high housing prices. For many long-time residents, she said, “they feel like they don’t belong here any more.” Hicks and his friends share the sentiment. “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” said Dan Harvey, 60, a retiree in one of Hicks’ rentals who is concerned about the traffic he fights on his Harley Davidson and the high cost of living. “A fresh start.”The landlord and tenants came together through Hick’s rental ads on Craigslist and in the newspaper over the last two decades. Continue Reading

‘I Sold My Brother’s House’: The Perils of Hiring a Real Estate Agent You Know

Things can get messy when you mix business and family, so you can imagine my hesitation when my older brother asked me to sell his house. Daniel Bortz, provided by Published 5:30 am, Monday, January 22, 2018 Photo: Westend61/Getty Images Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: Westend61/Getty Images 'I Sold My Brother's House': The Perils of Hiring a Real Estate Agent You Know 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Things can get awfully messy when you mix business and family, so you can imagine my hesitation when my older brother asked me to sell his house. At that time, in 2014, I had only been working as a real estate agent for a year. Although I'd helped clients buy homes, my brother's listing would be my first experience selling a house ... and my first crack at a big commission. (Gulp.) Just about everyone knows a real estate agent or two, so it makes sense that many turn to that friend-of-a-friend or cousin the day they decide to buy or sell a home. Yet here's the reality: This choice is fraught with risks—both to your relationship and to a successful real estate deal. In case you're thinking of hiring a real estate agent in your social circle, here are some of the challenges you can expect, based on my own experiences. Lesson No. 1: Don't hire an agent you know unless he knows your neighborhood, too When my brother had purchased a three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom townhouse near Baltimore in 2010, it was the perfect starter home. But after living there for four years, he was ready to move to a larger place. Home & Real Estate Channel Now Playing: Now Playing Lisbon’s tourism appeal is forcing local residents out Euronews_News The 'Donald Trump of China' Has Made More Money Than Any Other Continue Reading

Far fewer Americans are paying for flood insurance in coastal areas where storms pose serious threat

Amanda Spartz nearly did not renew her home’s flood insurance policy after her first year in Florida. Two hurricanes came close to the Fort Lauderdale suburbs last year, but they didn’t hit and her home isn’t in a high-risk flood zone. She figured she could put the $450 annual premium, due next week, to another use. Then Harvey hit Houston, its historic rains causing massive floods even in low-risk neighborhoods. Spartz, a business analyst, paid the bill this week. If Spartz had dropped her policy, she would not have been alone. Far fewer Americans compared with five years ago are paying for flood insurance in coastal areas of the United States where hurricanes, storms and tidal surges pose a serious threat, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. The center for the problem is South Florida, where Spartz lives. The top U.S. official overseeing the National Flood Insurance Program told AP that he wants to double the number of Americans who buy flood insurance. “I was talking to my husband and I said that if something like Harvey happens here, I don’t want to be on the hook,” said Spartz, who relocated from Cincinnati. “It isn’t a lot of money to save yourself the heartache if it does happen.” What’s driving the drop in policies? Congress approved a price hike, making premiums more expensive, and maps of some high-risk areas were redrawn. Banks became lax at enforcing the requirement that any home with a federally insured mortgage in a high-risk area be covered. Memories of New Orleans underwater in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina have faded. Without flood insurance, storm victims would have to draw on savings or go into debt — or perhaps be forced to sell. The number of policies in force today has fallen in 43 of the 50 states since 2012, dropping from almost 5.5 million to just under 5 million, a decrease of 10 percent, AP’s analysis found. In low-lying Continue Reading

It may finally be the end of the trail for Bronx horse owner whose property has been sold in foreclosure

One urban cowboy may be nearing the end of his happy trails in the Bronx. Buster Marengo’s stable, just off Pelham Parkway South, stands in the shadow of several development projects that have changed the face of what was once a quiet corner of the east Bronx — where bridle paths once skirted the roadways. Marengo, often adorned in spurs and a wide-brimmed hat, has been fighting foreclosure proceedings that stem from thousands of dollars he owes in back taxes. By early next month, this iconoclastic equestrian may be forced to vacate his beloved plot, which he has owned since 1996. “It should be very obvious why there is so much aggression towards me,” Marengo said as he stroked the mane of his steed, Bronco, the din of heavy equipment echoing from the Hutch Metro Center construction site behind him. In March, acting Supreme Court Justice Stanley Green lifted a stay against the foreclosure of Marengo’s property, granted last November, and approved the auction of the property to developer Louis Zazzarino for $451,000 that was held the same day. When he goes, it will clear the final impediment to the area’s complete redevelopment. It should be very obvious why there is so much aggression towards me. To the east of the 5,000-square-foot plot where the 60-year-old cares for Bronco, the city is building a massive 911 call center that towers over the property. Developer Mark Stagg bought the 13,000-square-foot lot to the west of the stable last month, paying $3.3 million for the site where Pelham Parkway Towers, a controversial housing project, was planned but never materialized. Stagg, who did not return calls for comment, has built a reputation in other parts of the borough for developing homeless shelters against the wishes of residents, according to Father Richard Gorman, the chairman of Bronx Community Board 12. “He doesn’t build with the interest of the community at heart,” Gorman Continue Reading

Real estate: What’s hot, what’s not in Indianapolis area

Scott and Jackie Thompson found out first-hand how quickly the real estate market in Central Indiana is moving when they placed their Carmel home on the market last year."It was crazy," Scott said. "We got an offer within hours after the sign was in the front yard."The Thompsons listed their 3,200-square-foot Carmel home on Sept. 9 and had an offer — which they eventually accepted — the same day.But because of a growing demand for homes, they couldn't find an existing house to purchase in Carmel. They decided to build with Pulte Homes in the Viking Meadows neighborhood along the Monon Trail in Westfield."Although we liked Carmel a lot, it was a lot more difficult to find a home there," Scott Thompson, 35, said. "We knew the schools were excellent in Westfield, and we figured that would be a good place to go."The housing market is on the rebound. Homes are selling particularly fast in up-and-coming areas, especially in Hamilton, Hendricks and Johnson counties, and in select Marion County neighborhoods, leading to a thin supply. Marion County as a whole lags, however, especially in long-struggling areas such as the Eastside and Westside, and properties listed for less than $100,000. Multifamily housing: New attitudes have fed Indianapolis area's apartment boomHistorically low interest rates, job growth and a loosening of lending standards spurred 18 percent annual sales increases for existing homes in each of the past two years for a 13-county metro area surrounding Indianapolis. According to the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors, last year saw the most homes sold in that region since 2008, when the economy was slipping into recession.But analysts say the housing market's comeback — coupled with an unusually snowy and frigid winter — has eaten up the area's supply of homes for sale. Home buyers, especially those in the hottest areas on the market, are discovering they suddenly have limited choices.Real-estate agents hope Continue Reading

County at crossroads in Three Little Bakers golf course lawsuit and development effort

Seven years ago, New Castle County government sued the owner of the former Three Little Bakers Country Club over its plans to build some 288 residences along its 18-hole golf course in Pike Creek, contending the density was too high.Now the Onix Group, which owns the 180-acre golf course property off Skyline Drive, is suggesting a deal to end the litigation: Reduce the number of homes built to 224 and provide a $1 million fund for residents to maintain land once used for fairways and putting greens.The county has already spent nearly $1 million in legal fees fighting to enforce deed restrictions that Onix will soon ask the County Council to amend. And some neighbors who live along the course that has been dormant since 2010 don't care to see development."I feel like we are going to be turned into Bear," said Ela Mandell, who for two decades has lived in the Plum Run community adjacent to the course, which was also known as Pike Creek Golf Club. Onix is expected to present its new development plans in a public forum this month. Its goal: Convince County Council members to ease rules that officials have argued allow only 60 residences to be built on the property. The deed restrictions require the landowner set aside enough space for an 18-hole, 130-acre golf course on the land.The new development concepts aim to keep that acreage open. The deed change would allow Onix to build more than 200 units of townhomes, twins, apartments and single-family houses on the 50 remaining acres of the property. STORY: Court: Former Three Little Bakers land to be open STORY: With land limited, builders target Delaware golf courses Councilman Timothy Sheldon, a proponent of the lawsuit to limit development, praised the new offer, but said accepting it would be "a hard pill to swallow.""I'm trying to listen," Sheldon said. "But it's hard after you have been in Continue Reading


With its barricaded streets, drunken revelers and exploding number of nightclubs, a swath of Chelsea is looking more like Mardis Gras than Manhattan. The number of clubs and lounges - bordered by W. 26th and W. 29th Sts. and Eighth to 12th Aves. - has nearly tripled since 2001. And the wild party scene is fueling a spike in crime, gridlock and noise complaints, a Daily News analysis has found. "There are too many clubs and some of them are allowing people 18 to 20 to come in," NYPD Capt. Stephen Hughes, commanding officer of the 10th Precinct, told The News. "That encourages underage drinking." NYPD brass met with club owners Friday, telling them to immediately adopt a zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking. Police also warned them that more undercover stings were on the way. The real problems, police say, began when promoters for the clubs Crobar and Spirit, which together can hold nearly 5,000 revelers, began advertising that anyone 18 or older could enter even if patrons must be 21 to drink. It was then that the number of assaults in and around the clubs increased significantly. Cops and some bouncers are now battling the drunken, often half-naked mayhem - and increasingly checking patrons' IDs. "They were really strict tonight," said Margarita Suarez, 26, of Hackensack, N.J. "Before that girl was killed, they barely asked for IDs." Suarez was referring to 18-year-old Jennifer Moore. A college-bound young woman from New Jersey, Moore sneaked into the Guest House on W. 27th St. and drank heavily with an underage pal before wandering outside early on July 25, police said. After getting separated from her friend, Moore was kidnapped, taken to a dive hotel in New Jersey, raped, killed and then tossed into a trash bin. The Guest House is one of 23 nightspots at the new epicenter of the city's clubland. Just five years ago, only eight clubs and bars were in west Chelsea. Since then, the partying capacity has grown tenfold, Continue Reading

Former House Speaker Jim Wright dies at age 92

Former House Speaker Jim Wright, the longtime Texas Democrat who became the first speaker in history to be driven out of office in midterm, has died. He was 92. Wright, who had been living in a nursing home in Fort Worth, died early Wednesday morning, according to the Harveson and Cole funeral home in Fort Worth. Funeral arrangements are pending. Wright represented a Fort Worth-area congressional district for 34 years, beginning with his election in 1954. He was the Democratic majority leader in the House for a decade, rising to the speakership in January 1987, to replace Tip O’Neill. Three House speakers had resigned in the nation’s history before Wright stepped down in 1989 — all the others served during the 19th century — but none before him had been under fire and facing judgment in the House for breaking its ethics rules. For nearly a year, the House Ethics Committee investigated Wright’s financial affairs at the prodding of a little-known Georgia congressman, Republican Newt Gingrich, who publicly branded Wright a “crook.” The bipartisan committee charged Wright with 69 violations of House rules on reporting of gifts, accepting gifts from people with an interest in legislation, and limits on outside income. The committee accused Wright of scheming to evade limits on outside earnings by self-publishing a book, “Reflections of a Public Man,” he then sold in bulk. He was also accused of improperly accepting $145,000 in gifts over 10 years from a Fort Worth developer. In response, Wright said he had not violated any House rules and vowed to fight the charges. His support among fellow Democrats quickly eroded. In a floor speech on April 30, 1989, that ended with the announcement of his resignation, Wright called for an end to “mindless cannibalism” and decried what he called “this manic idea of a frenzy of feeding on other people’s reputation.” His detractors Continue Reading