Saturday, July 03, 2010

Foreclosures and Sheriff's Sales hit record high in Waukesha...

The Waukesha Freeman is a mess. It wasn't always a bad paper. But the last 20 years have been a long slide--from mediocrity, into banality and now unvarnished stupidity.

Home delivery in the afternoon has given way to mailed editions, arriving midday and later to those who want the bargain rate. It's available earlier for half-a-buck in a few newsboxes and on the grocery/pharmacy shelves. Conley Newspapers also publishes the West Bend News. They try to finesse that into economizing on the newshole. Thus, a feature called something like neighboring community news, gets Waukesha readers hot items about the West Bend municipal budget. Few in Waukesha give a rip about how a community fifty miles away spends tax dollars. I'm pretty sure they feed Waukesha "news" to the West Benders to save money in both directions.

Inexperienced reporting staff. Scant indication that anyone in the newsroom has even a shred of institutional memory. Total inattention to simple copy editing. The editorial/opinion page is an abattoir.

How do they stay in business? Simple answer: agate type, the tiny typeface used for classified advertising. As Dave Wagner, former Freeman Editorial Page Editor/News Editor, used to say: "There's gold in that agate type".



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This week the Freeman appeared to hit a record. Nine full pages of advertising, but none of it commercial stuff. All Foreclosures, classified under the heading "Legal Notices". Actually, there was a total of twelve pages of legal notices. Replevin, requests for bids, probate of estates, small claims by hospitals and credit card companies took up three of the 12 pages.

I focused only on the foreclosures and sheriff's sales. It is hard to look at. Behind all the legal lingo, of course, is a mountain of hurt. You find the names of people you know. You gasp at how deep in the hole some are. This week three of the actions involved amounts above a million dollars

This is a look at nine consecutive columns, detailing 17 foreclosures. I didn't cherrypick high numbers; these are just as they were printed, consecutively, over the nine columns. Here are the foreclosure amounts.

$145,618 Mukwonago
$270,410 Big Bend
$ 80,023 Waukesha
$321,928 Waukesha
$278,937 Brookfield
$303,365 Sussex
$168,233 New Berlin
$196,419 North Prairie
$274,633 Delafield
$395,929 Elm Grove
$341,171 Dousman
$144,190 Meno Falls
$586,774 Meno Falls
$201,710 Muskego
$182,068 Wales
$417,852 Lannon
$229,132 Brookfield

Real estate agents try to persuade the hopeful, the gullible, the uninformed that the market is headed back up, that this is the time to get a bargain and ride it up, as real estate recovers, returns to previous valuations.

This much economic slaughter ought to give pause. I'll wager that none of these properties will draw auction bids even remotely close to what the banksters are trying to recover. If the auctions follow recent precedent, most will get no bids.

The only thing headed up is Freeman revenue. There's gold in that agate type.

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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.