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Issue of the Week: Home Buying Blues

Plus Winners and Jerks of the Week

Jul. 9, 2008
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The state Supreme Court decided last week that “a person selling a home can look the buyer in the eye, lie about the condi tion of the home and escape legal conse quences,” according to Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in a scathing dissent that’s well worth a read. In essence, the split court said that home buyers cannot sue for fraud—and win punitive damages—if they find defects in their home that the seller should have warned them about.

Bamboozled home buyers can still sue on other grounds, but those cases are subject to statutes of limitations. Find the defect after the ticking clock has struck, and you’re stuck with the bills for major repairs.

The decision is so bad for consumers that even the usually conservative Wisconsin Realtors Association opposes it. In its decision, the four conservative justices decided that the law which governs commercial real estate transactions—where buyers and sellers are more savvy and also use attorneys—now governs residential home sales, which tend to be much more informal and rely on the honesty and trustworthiness of the seller.

“No legislature enacted a law compelling this conclusion,” Bradley wrote. “The majority is applying its own judge-made doctrine.”

Sounds like judicial activism to us. But since the decision was made by the conservative wing of the state Supreme Court, it won’t be labeled as such. It’ll be called “pro business.” But it’s really “pro-fraud.”

Event of the Week:
Wildlife Baby Shower at the Wisconsin Humane Society

The storms took a toll on our area’s wildlife, and the Wisconsin Humane Society is asking for donations to help rehabilitate orphaned baby wild animals.

Watch baby animals being fed and enjoy some refreshments at the Wildlife Baby Shower. Gift cards for food and wildlife supplies, cash donations, animal food and other items are gladly accepted. The details: 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave., on Friday, July 11, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, July 12, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, go to www.wihumane.org.

(To find more cool things to do this week, go to www.expressmilwaukee.com.)

Heroes of the Week:
Peace Action-Wisconsin, Vets for Peace and allies

These peace activists demanded that the Army and Summerfest remove the Virtual Army Experience—and won, when the Humvee and human targets were replaced with a saner exhibit. The backlash from right-wing radio just confirms that they were right to call attention to the Army’s new recruiting scheme and promo tion of vio lence at a family festival.

Jerk of the Week:
WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes

Sykes is either the hypocrite of the week or just fundamentally stupid. The reactionary host was outraged that comedian Bill Maher—who often pokes fun at religion—was coming to town to appear in front of an audience of adults.

But Sykes had no problem with an Army-sponsored virtual killing “experience” at Summerfest, which sought to attract kids as young as 13 to shoot human-shaped targets. When the Army and Summerfest decided to pull the game, Sykes accused them of not supporting the troops.

Can You Help?
The Unity Caucus—leaders such as Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines and Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway who represent the area of the city rocked by violence this past weekend—is asking for help. If you have information about the recent shootings, make an anonymous tip by calling 800-78-CRIME.

Blog of the Week
Keith Schmitz at Folkbum’s Rambles and Rants

Jim Webb’s Economic Stimulus Package Think of it. It isn’t often that a freshman senator such as Jim Webb (D-Va.), in the world’s most deliberative (translate “sludgy”) body, gets to pass a major piece of legislation such as the Iraq Veterans’ GI Bill. He had to bulldoze it past the opposition of President Bush and presidential wannabe John McCain. Webb proves that persistence can win out over flashiness.

As for “Roadmap to Ruin” Ryan, he voted against the funding. Meanwhile, Charlie Sykes maintains that letting 13-year-olds enter the virtual world of Iraq at the Big Gig is his way of supporting our troops.

(To read more local blogs, go to blognetwork.expressmilwaukee.com.)

“I teased some of my colleagues and said we can celebrate the Constitution on July 4th and maybe when we come back you’ll decide not to tear it up.” —Sen. Russ Feingold on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which he blocked until after the July 4 holiday

On the Move by Dhiraj Madura


"I love seeing old buildings being saved rather than razed for some McCondo.  I really miss the old architecture of Milwaukee, and I am always saddened when the buildings I grew up with are razed."

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