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Issue of the Week: Foreclosure Mediation

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

Dec. 18, 2008
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The number of home foreclosures has risen exponentially nationwide, and Wisconsin is no exception to the rule. With rising unemployment and perhaps the worst of the mortgage default crisis still to come, many Wisconsin families may soon face the prospect of losing their homes to foreclosure. In this no-win situation, homeowners lose the money they have already paid on a home, and the bank or lending institution is left holding a home which they must unload, often at reduced cost, further eroding real estate values. State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) is set to introduce the Mortgage Mediation Act, which would allow homeowners to sit down with lenders and renegotiate the terms of the mortgage, either in terms of interest rate or length of time to pay off the debt. Taylor hopes that the plan, if enacted, would keep more families in their homes, preserve neighborhood stability and reduce taxpayer costs by keeping more cases out of the court system.

Jerk of the Week: Alderman Bob Donovan

Alderman Terry Witkowski recently introduced a Common Council resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass enabling legislation that would allow local units of government— both cities and counties—to impose a tax on the sale of cigarettes. Other forward-looking cities like Chicago and New York impose a local cigarette tax because it provides revenue separate from the property tax, and discourages young people from smoking. (Actually the city of Chicago and Cook County impose separate taxes on cigarettes.)

Witkowski’s resolution was simply to ask the Legislature to provide this power to local units of government to utilize if they choose. But Alderman Bob Donovan, a smoker, again voted for what he believes is good for himself, rather than what is good for the people of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. Donovan—along with former Jerk of the Week Alderman Jim Bohl— torpedoed the measure in committee, and now Milwaukeeans will have fewer options to raise necessary revenue when they need it.

Hero and Scholar of the Week: Robert Kraig

The Wall Street Journal recently listed five books on presidential rhetoric that the incoming Obama administration should be reading. Topping that list is Woodrow Wilson and the Lost World of the Oratorical Statesman, written by Milwaukee activist and scholar Robert Kraig.

He has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric/ Communications Arts from UW-Madison and is currently the program director for Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Kraig was formerly the Wisconsin state political director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and, nationally, is a leading expert on health care reform.

Blog of the Week:Ed Garvey, for GarveyBlog www.fightingbob.com

Some Tour!

The JS headline: “Bush’s Iraq-Afghan farewell tour marred by dissent.” I guess so. The ultimate insult [in Iraq]: throwing a shoe at someone. In this case, the thrower hollered: “A farewell kiss, you dog.” That accompanied the first shoe. The second, “This is for the widows, orphans and those you killed.”

One cable guy referred to this as Bush’s “victory lap.” Some victory. Nearly six years of war and occupation later, the president of the United States must sneak into town unannounced. Recall the prediction that we would be welcomed as “liberators”? A slight miscalculation. Now 4.5 million Iraqis are homeless, as many as 1 million killed, the rebuilding a shambles. Seen any polls lately?

Was the real reason for the tour to avoid a decision on the auto bailout?

Quote of the Week

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog.” —Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, while throwing the first of two shoes at President George Bush during a weekend press conference in Baghdad

Photo of the Week
A Bus Runs Through It, by Tracy Apps

"Taken from the train tracks going over Second Street in Milwaukee's ever-changing Third Ward, while on a photo-walk with the 'Cream City: Milwaukee' Flickr group."

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