CUYAHOGA COUNTY TREASURER JIM ROKAKIS ON FORECLOSURES AND HOME DEMOLITION

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sun, 09/30/2007 - 13:44.

As a resident of NEO and of the USA you need to read Mr. Rokakis.  I picked this up via Brewed Fresh Daily who got it from Roldo

Where do we go from here? 

Down.

We are accelerating to the bottom with a little “collateral damage” to our community along the way. 

 

However we must recognize that we’ll have to demolish more than vacant houses here in NEO to get back on our feet.  We’ll need to demolish the management in our community, in our State, and in our Nation that  facilitated us down this tragic path.  Read that part in Mr. Rokakis's story about home rule - back in 2002 when the banking community lobbied in Columbus.

Our government is in bed with the businesses which are raping the communities.

 

Demolishing the houses may need to be done but  isn’t the solution.   And when the banks own the homes, why are the taxpayers spending our money to tear them down?  We need a class action - the various cities facing this problem as plaintiffs - suit against the banks to recover the cost of removing the homes which the foreclosing banks own. 

Instead, we spend more tax money to get the banks off their greedy, awkward hook. 

Mr. Rokakis, can't the County (your office would seem to have legal standing to sue due to the damage in tax base and expenses)  take the banks to task and recover at minimum the cost of demolition and re-landscaping to make the community  physically/visually attractive?

( categories: )

Slam

It's easy to slam Slavic Village and Brooklyn Centre when you live in Rocky River.  Mr. Rokakis will win my respect and support when he moves back to the city.  I believe he will make a run for commissioner.  I wonder how Marie Kitteridge and other Slavic Village residents feel about his characterization of their neighborhood?  Ghost town?  READ to the end of the article:

Unfortunately, none of these bills addresses the costs to cities associated with maintaining, policing and, in the most dire case, demolishing neighborhoods such as Slavic Village. One bill introduced in Congress would allocate $100 million over the next three years to help with demolition costs -- a number that met with peals of laughter at a conference on vacant properties that I attended in Pittsburgh last week. "Add a zero," one participant suggested.

 

Cities aren't asking for a bailout; they're asking for emergency funds to address the huge costs they've incurred because a private-sector industry was out of control. Congress needs to help the cities that helped make this country great -- cities like Detroit and Cleveland. And they need to do it for Cookie Thomas and Joe Krasucki.

"Demolishing neighborhoods such as Slavic Village."  I didn't write this.  Who came up with this solution?  It's like, let's rationalize plowing a highway through a "poor" neighborhood--a la the "Opportunity Corridor."  Let's call a highway a "parkway." Let's use OUR tax dollars to do it.  Use u.s. and discard U.S.   It's the american way.

Frankly, the tone of this article is paternalistic and demeaning.  Begging for money in Washington.  And before Tim gets to me for my slam, I will say that I might oversimplify things.  Yet, I wonder--doesn't a county treasurer bear some of the responsibility for the financial state of the county? 

And why does our local paper basically condone bungling like this?

Rosemary Palmer

 I feel strongly that

fuck you

Show you really care

Jim, move back to the city and roll up your sleeves.   

Why pick a city issue and spin it?

Foreclosures are affecting everyone--suburbs, included.  Don't ask for more federal money to "solve" the problem, by bulldozing the city and blacklisting certain neighborhoods.  Hold the banks accountable for the condition of the buildings and fine them, to restore the buildings.  There is a racket going on. Let's pillage the city....

The city is clearing its

fuck you

 "I will say that I might

 

"I will say that I might oversimplify things." 

 

Yes and you also simultaneously distort things, which is very annoying.  

“doesn't a county treasurer bear some of the responsibility for the financial state of the county?”
 
He is responsible to mange the county funds, he is clear that he is not happy about all the bad paper written. 
 

In summery; he said people that are willing to buy a home are not necessarily ready and able.  That creative financing does not change that and his call is to detail that, so that people responsible the FTC are aware of it.  He is doing more than his job, actually he is clear , correct and concise on the matter.  

 

 

And again, where do you live?

So easy to analyze a situation from a distance, n'est pas?  We aren't lab rats here in the city for speculative urban planning students...my guess, since you are Irish (right?)  Rocky River, no make that North Olmsted, no make that Fairview Park.....MAYBE, if you do live in the city, at the very edge of West Park.

WHERE YOU LIVE NOT CRITICAL TO SINCERE CONCERN

I don't believe that one must live next to a vacant home in Cleveland or NEO in order to discuss the demolition issue.  It is an issue facing everyone where persons of lower income are losing their homes.  It is an issue in every area where the housing stock on the lowest end of the cost spectrum is being razed – thus pushing persons with restricted financial means physically out of that area, town, city, county or state.   Even if/when new housing is built in the same area the persons who lost their old homes won't be able to purchase the newer more expensive housing.

 

There was a flood in New Orleans, and the poorest people lived at the lowest topographical elevations.  They were driven out and are still gone from New Orleans.

 

Here in Cleveland the same thing is happening.  The homowners in the City are emptying out – not  by topographic elevation,  but by income strata. 

 

Maybe that’s the plan…

We?

"We"  "OUR"   To quote you Jeff--" We are accelerating to the bottom with a little “collateral damage” to our community along the way. " 

I am not attacking you or old what's his name.  But, how would you like to be considered "collateral damage?"  Think about it.  I don't feel like I live in a hell-hole, but I sure do get fed your perception and more from people who don't live here.  Stop it.  Stop it now.  I am trying to sell my neighborhood.  BTW, elsewhere I wrote about the sinkhole in my front yard.  I called City of Cleveland streets on a Sunday night.  A truck came out at 11 p.m. last night to check the condition.  Today, they started working on it.  Not so bad, for a hell-hole.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE - CYNICAL

 I use the term "collateral damage" with complete cynicism.  That's the term our federal government uses when we “accidentally” kill a wedding party of 58 in Afghanistan.  We don’t say “58 civilians were killed in a tragic error”, we say there was “collateral damage”.

I spend my spare time   photographically recording the atrocious collapse of the old Cleveland and East Cleveland neighborhoods, and   trying to put my finger on why it has been happening here in Cleveland for decades and why our local governments stand by inept and ineffectual.

The County, Case, and The Cleveland Foundation are partners in investing a million dollars for “iconic” wind turbines “about three miles out in Lake Erie” while people are so poor IN Cleveland that they break into vacant houses to pull out the cast iron sewer pipe for a few cents in scrap. 

Clearly this is not a welfare problem - people DO want to work -we all know it is miserable WORK to strip plumbing from a house.

 There’s a disconnect here…

 

And it’s getting worse, not better.

Well guess somebody violated

Well guess somebody violated some privacy policy?

 

The question is was it all a trap?  

 

Better get my family name out of your head or the gates of hell may open up on you. 

 

does not matter, the privacy policy was breached and the path documented. (DO NOTICE)

 

do not disclaim that your personal information is kept in confidence if it is not. 

 

if you have my name, then did you check the phone book?  you checked the realestate DB got all my family, even a cousin, funny.  Did you google my name, it is bedouin! 

 

My father is bedouin and my mother celtic,  be careful  ! 

Privacy policy?

  All I had to do was google Oengus.  No one ratted on you.  Geez.  Real world.  And here I thought we were friends.  Settle down.  I have worse genes than you do.

And Jeff--I know that you mean for your posts to be interpreted with irony, but it helps to know where a writer is coming from.  Everyone knows that I live in the city--maybe not as entrenched as Norm, but entrenched nonetheless.  I am not going anywhere.  I want to see the glass half-full.

Good I like my anonymity, I

Fuck you

undeserving deadbeats

You wrote:

"In summery (sic); he said people that are willing to buy a home are not necessarily ready and able.  That creative financing does not change that ..."

This is so annoying and so untrue.

The cause of massive foreclosures in our city is nOt the result of irresponsible poor people taking out loans larger than they could afford. It is the result of the banking industry writing loans with terms that used to be illegal, highly punitive terms which send the home owners into foreclosure. The banks have used the people as cash cows and what should be a deterrent to such wild (and unethical) banking practise - empty homes with costly maintenance - is now being dealt with by public funds. The banks are not being held accountable.

This idea of demonizing poor people has become more widespread and is particularly discouraging given the fact that wealth in this country is at  a discrepancy not seen since before the Depression. I live among poor people and I myself earn at the poverty level. My fellow poor neighbors are largely responsible and hard working. You try beating your head against a wall, trying to "get ahead" in todays times and see where it leaves you.

The banks are laughing all the way to......their own front doors.

make a buck

We have been/and continue to be used.  And anyone sitting in their suburban homes should not fool themselves into thinking that "WE" deserve what "WE" get.  The Plain Dealer ran two stories of desperation yesterday--why did the city story get the first page?  There is more than an undercurrent of bigotry and class prejudice in this style of reporting.  I have to ask--where do the Plain Dealer writers live?
 I echo Lobelia's sentiments--the majority of people, my neighbors, are just trying to have a LIFE.  My father lived through the Depression and described the contrast described by Lobelia--the have's and have nots.  We are creating this divide.  

Do we really want to let OURSELVES (meaning all of Cuyahoga County) self-destruct?  How far are you going to run away?

Laura vs. Jim

Let me start by saying that I live four blocks from Laura, and have lived here since 1991. Before that I lived for eleven years on West 54th between Clark and Storer.  Homeowner at both addresses. Raised three kids to adulthood at these addresses (the oldest of them was six months old when we moved to West 54th).

I know Laura. She's a good neighbor and friend. I also know Jim Rokakis.  I consider him one of the very few people in local public office who's been willing to put his ass completely on the line to publicize and grapple with the absolute worst disaster to hit Cleveland neighborhoods (and some suburbs) in fifty years.  I'm sorry he and his wife decided to move out of the neighborhood, but so frigging what?

Predatory lenders and their agents now hold title to thousands and thousands of houses in Cleveland, with the number swelling on a weekly basis.  Many of these houses are beyond saving; the only way to make them habitable would be to rebuild (not renovate) them in place.  Brooklyn Centre has not borne the real brunt of this yet -- though we're well on our way -- but Slavic Village, Union Miles, Mt. Pleasant, Hough are in desperate straits.  Go take a look at the little streets between Broadway and East 49th: Barkwill, Frazee, Anson, Dolloff.  Tell me you don't think some demolitions -- as well as some rehabs -- are needed to keep those streets viable for the people who still live there.  Knock on some doors, ask the neighbors.

Or if you want to know how Marie Kittredge at Slavic Village Development feels about it, don't wonder... call her and ask.

Laura writes: "Don't ask for more federal money to 'solve' the problem, by bulldozing the city and blacklisting certain neighborhoods.  Hold the banks accountable for the condition of the buildings and fine them, to restore the buildings." 

Oh yes, so simple.  After the Federal Reserve and the Congress have unleashed hundreds of unregulated mortgage banks and their LLCs from all over the country to collaborate with thousands of crooked brokers, appraisers and "investors" to strip the value from thousands of Cleveland homes, not mention the homes of their neighbors (i.e. you and me), don't look to the Feds for help in cleaning up the damage.  Local authorities should just hold all those banks (and non-banks) in California, Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, Germany, etc. accountable and fine them to restore  the value they've destroyed.   That will work.  Just ask Judge Pianka.

Laura, those banks you're talking about own the houses.  If pushed, they can just tear them down themselves.  Or abandon them without clear title.  Or sell them off to the next round of flippers.  All of which they're doing right now.  The point about demanding some Federal reparations for local communities is to increase our ability to buy some control over these outcomes... mostly by demolishing what has been abandoned and is already beyond rehabilitation, which will cost many millions of dollars in itself.  (In Cleveland, a $7,500 demolition of a negative-worth house creates a $100 vacant lot.) 

We also need Federal re-regulation of mortgage lending, resources and legal mandates to substitute workouts for millions of future foreclosures, criminal prosecution of criminal behavior,  point-of-sale inspections on sheriff's sales, and lots of additional pressures of all kinds on lenders, packagers, securitizers, servicers, etc. to take their own losses and clean up their own damage.  And lots of consumer education.  All of which you'd find that Rokakis has been advocating, if you looked harder or just asked him.

Laura, there absolutely are some people in power in Cleveland who see this human and neighborhood disaster as an opportunity for "slum" clearance.  Some of them live in the suburbs (though not all, I promise you).  Rokakis is not one of them.  You're hanging this label on one of the few public figures who actually understands the dimensions of the foreclosure crisis, has played a big role in getting others see it, and has gotten his personal hands dirty for years trying to stave it off -- apparently just because you don't like his home address.

We have too many real enemies and too few real friends.  Please stop shooting at the friends.

Suburban vs. Urban

Thank you Bill.  I respect you, too, but this is an US versus THEM problem.  You can not call yourself us until you live here.  I want to see a real explanation of how these demolitions are going to solve the problem.  I am not shooting at Jim.  I want him to explain how they have thought this one out.  Until then, I would prefer to live without this type of  help from a friend.
And, I won't speak for Marie  Kittredge, if you don't speak for Jim Rokakis.

I see this as the freefall described by Jeff Buster.  Looking over the contracts for the Section 106 review coming up--everything is "Prove how you are helping the poor."  The money cycle is contingent on feeding off the poor.  How does a neighborhood become "rich" with that mentality?  Let me describe the cycle described to me by a local realtor, who also lives in the neighborhood--house goes into bank ownership due to foreclosure, city-awarded contractor boards up the house ($), city-awarded contractor lets some "friends" know about the board up so the house can be stripped ($), CDC labels house "condemned" ($), city-awarded contractor demolishes the house ($).  Instant blight!  The neighborhood qualifies for more federal money ($)!!!  Does that sound familiar to you?  Ask Rokakis, why does the county allow the scrap industry to drive this destruction?

On a related note--a suburban dad just bought one of the vacant houses nearby at sheriff sale for $27,000.  The house is worth $88,000, if you compare it with other house sales in the area.  It has fine bones and has not been stripped.  I knew the owner--an artist who flipped out and foreclosed, but took good care of the house while she owned it (actually she falls in the suburban brat category and I do, too, for that matter--disclosure : I grew up in West Park and Rocky River). It needs about $20,000 in repairs.  He was walking through the building with his college age son.  My 5 cent analysis.  He will remodel the house for his son, so his son will learn the value of hard work and ownership.  Fine.  If that happens.  If the "kid" doesn't decide to build a skate board park in his backyard and party hard, because anything goes in the city.  When I lived in Tremont for seven years before buying in Brooklyn Centre (because I could not afford to own in Tremont), I lived next to a house filled with the suburban brat/arrested development phenomenon and had to listen to "artistic" drumming at 2:00 a.m. in the morning. 

Yes Bill -SOME of the houses need to be torn down--there is one on my street--but as you know they are not tearing those down.  They are tearing houses down with out any proposed restoration plan.  They are tearing down without any notice or recourse and they are ignoring, the real priority in our city--our failing infrastructure.  There is no plan Bill--Yes, we need a plan and if Rokakis has one, let's see it.  (Then again, as Norm points out, maybe the plan is the problem).

I know what you are saying and you know what I am saying.  We all live here.

Thanks Rocky River

I was hoping to be proven wrong on this one.  The house across the street from me.   The suburban kids.  No, I have full-blown suburban brats.  The kind that wake you at 3:00 a.m. in the morning with drunken, slurring, car honking, yelling, puking off the front porch behavior.   Nice work.  The finest things that money can buy, produces these fine young cannibals.  Do you think the Plain Dealer will run a five-day series on these kids?

Pictures

  When I do get a digital camera--I will take pictures of the hopeful things I see in the city.  I could take lots of sad photos.  Like Stanford Rd., just down the street from Mr. E's on Pearl Rd., next to the new demo'ed empty lot on Pearl Rd.  How about the condition of the sidewalks outside these commercial buildings?  I believe Jim knows the owners well--Theos, Mr. E's.  We used to have a pleasant diner nearby--the Glenn.  So glad that we have a parking lot and a CVS, now.   Have you seen the lovely (ironic) in-fill housing on Stanford Rd?  Please take a look Bill.  There has been a lot of "selling out" in this neighborhood.  Those people don't live here anymore.

(BTW--I don't have to knock on a lot of doors for answers, since people are more than willing to share their stories with me at work, but since you suggested, I asked the neighbors on West 34th about the condition of the house torn down.  Go look.  There's a nice big hole.  They said the house was fine.  Nothing that couldn't be fixed. And nothing gets salvaged.  Not the oak floors, leaded glass, fireplaces. The neighbors don't get it.  Neither do I--Afterword, I spoke to the adjacent owner, as well, the house was not in foreclosure.  The elderly woman who lived in the house with multiple cats died and the house sat empty for years.  The house had asbestos siding.  It was not a "rehabitable" house by CDC standards, yet there is a beautifully rehabbed asbestos shingled house on West 35th and Mapledale.  The adjacent owner was concerned about a vacant house next door, because he has young kids and was concerned about their safety.  But, he also commented that the vacant lot does not give him confidence in his investment in the neighborhood.  And, he noted the demolition crew was sloppy and careless, and that there was almost no forewarning about the demolition.  He came home one day to find yellow tape attached to his house and the demo occurred the next day).

(Also, BTW--Bill, I am not the only one posing questions here about the Rokakis article.  Maybe I got a little personal, because life is personal and where you live does make a difference in understanding the problem, so you can solve it.  Read Jeff's original post.  He makes some fine suggestions. 

Laura - I'll loan you the camera - and (if you wish) help you po

My daughter's camera isn't always being used. 

Your views are so valuable. 

Let me know...

Just One Opinion On Politicians

“No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”

 P. J. O'Rourke

 

 

What to make of this?