Longmont foreclosures skyrocket, McCoy parties in Vail

Another bad week for foreclosures in Longmont (getting tired of saying that), with 14 new foreclosures reported, an average of 2 per day! What made this week odd was that Ward 1, which has the most and usually gets the most new foreclosures, actually had the fewest new foreclosures (3). Even odder was Ward 3, which has the fewest but had the largest increase this week, which was 5. A large number all by itself. Ward 2 sat right in the middle with 4. (You math geniuses will notice that doesn’t add up to 14, 2 had Longmont addresses but weren’t in the city limits.

So, lets look at Ward 3, the northwesternmost ward in the city. The councilmember representing that ward is Sean McCoy. You may have noticed he wasn’t at the recent City Council meeting. While normally that would be a welcomed respite for the senses, turns out he wasn’t there because he was at the Colorado Municipal League (CML) Conference in Vail, Colorado. I heard Mayor Roger Lange attended this as well, but I also know he spent a late night at the City Council meeting Tuesday, as did I.

Here’s what you may not have heard about that CML “conference”, courtesy of joint investigation between the Denver Post and 9News: (read the whole article at the link below, I’ll just paste a few relevant sentences)

Official Colorado confab puts scrutiny of work into play
At a time of layoffs, furloughs and budget cuts in Colorado municipal governments, about 600 officials from towns large and small have convened at a Vail resort for three days of taxpayer-funded networking and seminars interspersed with parties and golf.

“It’s a little extravagant, don’t you think?” asked Ed Bagwell, director of the public-services division for Teamsters Local 17 in Denver. “We’ve heard complaints from our members. Why are they spending this much in a down economy?”

…But a reporter, producer and photographer from 9News who visited the conference Thursday found plenty of municipal officials who had decided to forgo the panel on “Maintaining Your Infrastructure in a Tight Economy” and instead hang out in the halls and lobby.

Unaware she was speaking to a reporter and being taped, Glendale City Council member LuVerne Davenport said the city brought six people to the conference so they could rotate through the panels and no one would have to go to all of them.

So what do they do when they are not in the seminars? “We goof off,” Davenport said.
Municipalities paid about $190,000 in registration fees and for meals.
Central City Mayor Ron Slinger said he planned to attend every session — and still make a 4 p.m. tee time.
“I look forward to Breckenridge next year,” Slinger said. “It’s even better.”
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While you vomit over that, and wonder how Mr. McCoy spent his time there, here is this weeks map and numbers. Afterwards, a relevant article about housing and unemployment.


View Longmont Foreclosures in a larger map

KEY
Blue= 4/11/09 16 new entries (41 total)
Red= 4/18/09 20 new entries (55 total)
Green= 4/25/09 8 new entries (47 total)
Yellow= 5/2/09 9 new entries (48 total)
Purple-5/9/09 13 new entries (62 total)
Magenta-5/16/09 9 new entries (56 total)
Blue(pin)-5/23/09 16 new entries (52 total)
Red(pin)-5/30/09 15 new entries (62 total)
Green(pin)-6/6/09 9 new entries (63 total)
Yellow(pin)-6/13/09 9 new entries (57 total)
Purple(pin)-6/20/09 14 new entries (62 total)

Breakdown by Ward since I started keeping track (4/11/09)
Ward 1=63 (Councilmember: Brian Hansen, most foreclosures-least responsive)
Ward 2=52 (Councilmember: Karen Benker, up for re-election Nov ’09)
Ward 3=36 (Councilmember: Sean McCoy, rumored Mayoral candidate Nov ’09)
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Keeping the above info in mind, there was an article on US News & World Report by Rick Newman entitled Why the Economic Recovery Won’t Feel Like One. Again, here are some excerpts from it: (emphasis added)

Everybody’s tired of doomsayers pointing out how much worse the economy could get, so let’s just focus on two factors: housing and jobs. Most people agree that plunging home values need to stabilize before there’s any kind of economic recovery. And jobs have to return. Until they do, mortgage and other loan defaults will continue to rise as millions of unemployed borrowers come up short paying their bills. Consumers who are still employed but are worried about their jobs will continue to hoard money, depressing the market for homes, cars, and many other products.

Home prices have fallen about 30 percent nationwide since they peaked in 2006. Isn’t that enough? Surely they have to stop falling soon, right? Maybe not. The Federal Reserve has projected a total home price decline of somewhere between 41 and 48 percent, with a bottom in 2010.

Housing matters for several reasons. When the economy is healthy, housing and everything associated with it accounts for about 20 percent of economic activity. If the housing market is in the dumps, odds are that the economy will be, too.

Most economists predict that the unemployment rate will keep rising through 2009 and into 2010, topping out somewhere between 10 and 12 percent. It will be genuine good news once the unemployment rate starts to fall, but we’ll still be trudging through a few years of scarce jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, for instance, predicts that the unemployment rate will drift down slowly and won’t return to “normal” levels of 5 percent or less until 2016.
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Glad I could make your day. I was asked in the radio interview with Amy Oliver why I’m mapping these, why I’m talking about it. Just read the above articles, look at the map and numbers, watch our city council in action (both 1 and 2 word versions applicable) and see what they talk about (chickens, prairie dogs, suing neighbor cities, hiring consultants, overpaying staff heads and attorneys, no mosquito spraying) while Rome is burning around them.

But what a grand time in Vail, eh?

As Longmont’s foreclosures increase, the city’s future gets bleaker

I admit it. I missed a week of posting foreclosures because I was studying other communities and the situation they are in. Okay, I was mostly on the beach in Hawaii, but still I saw how mangled government can make a mess of things. As bad as I think we have things here, and they are on the road to terrible, it almost feels like a third-world country (Mexico comes to mind) at times in that state. What’s so misleading is its natural beauty, what’s so tragic is what is being done to it. It’s a microcosm of what could become of this country (and is in the process of happening in California and some other states) and a lesson our city council should take note of.

While I was away I saw how bad our budget shortfall has become, numbers thrown at council that they scoffed at months ago but now have come to fruition. It’s similar to what’s occurring everywhere, again especially California and Hawaii, that’s being met with higher taxes (or requests/demands for them) and fees. Again, Longmont could learn something from this: We survive on new business and development, a place like Hawaii survives on tourism dollars. How did Hawaii deal with the problem? It raised the tax on hotel rates – end result, the emptiest I’ve seen it over there. How does Longmont deal with its problem? It makes it clear they are anti-growth and development (or their version of smart growth, which is no-growth in reality) with the comments from certain councilmembers. End result, well, just check how those building permits and property tax collections are going.

But lets get to those foreclosures, shall we?

View Longmont Foreclosures in a larger map

KEY
Blue= 4/11/09 16 new entries (41 total)
Red= 4/18/09 20 new entries (55 total)
Green= 4/25/09 8 new entries (47 total)
Yellow= 5/2/09 9 new entries (48 total)
Purple-5/9/09 13 new entries (62 total)
Magenta-5/16/09 9 new entries (56 total)
Blue(pin)-5/23/09 16 new entries (52 total)
Red(pin)-5/30/09 15 new entries (62 total)
Green(pin)-6/6/09 9 new entries (63 total)

24 new foreclosures in the last 2 weeks (avg 1.7 per day) and a new high of 63 total foreclosures! This bodes very poorly for Longmont’s future and recovery, if one is coming. I don’t know what the city’s unemployment situation is, but if its foreclosure rate is any indication, it’s probably worse than the national picture of nearly 10%. Collecting tax revenues (those things that keep the city financially afloat) from declining home values and assessments, lost jobs, and abandoned foreclosed homes is a tough thing. Try as some on council might to blame everything wrong on previous administations gets more and more ridiculous the longer they are in office, and the worse things get.

Keep all of this in mind as you hear (again) more about chickens this week, and how this council will deal with the major setback handed down to them by the courts over the annexations that are now “null and void” (which sounds like a good theme/title for the majority on this council). Will they keep throwing thousands (more like over $100,000) at Firestone with this ongoing loser of a lawsuit? We shall soon see.

Breakdown by Ward since I started keeping track (4/11/09)
Ward 1=57 (Councilmember: Brian Hansen, most foreclosures-least responsive)
Ward 2=46 (Councilmember: Karen Benker, up for re-election Nov ’09)
Ward 3=30 (Councilmember: Sean McCoy, rumored Mayoral candidate Nov ’09)

Longmont foreclosures – a terrible week

New foreclosure reports jumped this week to 16 new entries, more than 2 per day! And the Classified section, which is the D section, had so many notices it had to continue at the end of the C section. Once again, there were many more than 16 new foreclosures, but the others were mostly in Boulder.

View Longmont Foreclosures in a larger map

KEY
Blue= 4/11/09 16 new entries (41 total)
Red= 4/18/09 20 new entries (55 total)
Green= 4/25/09 8 new entries (47 total)
Yellow= 5/2/09 9 new entries (48 total)
Purple-5/9/09 13 new entries (62 total)
Magenta-5/16/09 9 new entries (56 total)
Blue(pin)-5/23/09 16 new entries (52 total)
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The new numbers by Ward broke down fairly proportional to the overall numbers: Ward 1=7, Ward 2=5, Ward 3=4. Here are the overall numbers by Ward.

Ward 1=46 (Councilmember: Brian Hansen, resignation imminent?)
Ward 2=39 (Councilmember: Karen Benker, up for re-election Nov ’09)
Ward 3=27 (Councilmember: Sean McCoy, rumored Mayoral candidate Nov ’09)

Of note here is Ward 1’s Councilmember Brian Hansen. The most consistent complaint, even from people who say they backed and voted for him, is his complete lack of communicating with his constituents. They say he never returns calls, letters, or emails. When I write him and couple other members of council I don’t expect a response – which in itself is not acceptable, last time I checked I’m a taxpaying voter just like everyone else. But it must be reassuring to the people in his ward – the highest foreclosure ward in the city – that he’s less interested in you, and more interested in things like neighborhood gardens (can people still garden there while in foreclosure?) and starting business incubators (that already exist) on your tax dime.

The rumor going around town is that Mr. Hansen is on the verge of quitting his council seat. I don’t make this stuff up, it comes to me in various communications from several people “in the know”. The other rumor is that he’s going to hold off quitting until after the November election so as to keep his seat safe in case there’s a wholesale change to 3 seats that are up for grabs. If there’s a shred of truth to these rumors, here’s what it boils down to: For political purposes (saving a voting majority, or “bloc” on council), this council is in collusion to waste around $75,000 of city funds (the cost of a special election).

If Mr. Hansen really is thinking of devoting more time to his business (which reportedly includes harassing his neighbor Mountain View Welding, and questionable zoning use of his property), than he should announce his resignation now (effective in November), so candidates can have time to campaign for his vacant seat, voters can save time only having one election, and the taxpayers don’t get taken to the cleaners for the additional fees and postage.

But this council has shown a penchant for not taking good advice, I expect it to continue.

Longmont foreclosures – the hits keep on coming

The hits (to the local housing market) just keep coming. This week there were 9 new entries into the list of foreclosures, more than one every day. There were actually more new foreclosures, but they were in Boulder, Lafayette, and Louisville. In case you were wondering how they broke down by Ward, with an election coming up this November, here it is:

Ward 1=39 (Councilmember: Brian Hansen)
Ward 2=34 (Councilmember: Karen Benker, up for re-election Nov ’09)
Ward 3=23 (Councilmember: Sean McCoy)
(look below map for a note to city council)


View Longmont Foreclosures in a larger map

KEY
Blue= 4/11/09 16 new entries (41 total)
Red= 4/18/09 20 new entries (55 total)
Green= 4/25/09 8 new entries (47 total)
Yellow= 5/2/09 9 new entries (48 total)
Purple-5/9/09 13 new entries (62 total)
Magenta-5/16/09 9 new entries (56 total)
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This council has pretty much become a laughing stock due to the issues they spend a lot of time on, and the precious little they spend on important, grown-up things, like foreclosures.

Here’s a little note I sent them recently, didn’t expect a response from some of them, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was sent over the city’s server, so I know they all got it. So, if you are one of the ones struggling here in the city, know that your city leaders are fully aware of what’s going on, but find other things more pressing.
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Greetings,
I know some of you on council won’t read beyond the FROM: portion of this communication, and fewer will actually respond, but just want to make sure you’re on record of being aware of a couple of things.

Foreclosures: While more and more time is being wasted on affordable housing programs and getting more borderline borrowers in homes they can’t afford, I’ve gone through the effort of mapping out current foreclosures in Longmont – based on information in the Legal ads in the Times-Call (more on that paper later). I invite you to look at it in case you haven’t yet.

In case you were wondering how those broke down by wards, Ward 1=35, Ward 2= 30, and Ward 3=22 (now higher). On average, in the last 5 weeks, Longmont is adding 2 new foreclosures every day. So while you’re having fun with chickens, prairie dogs, cat leashes, cutting mosquito spraying, suing churches and neighboring cities, watching the mall go down the toilet, rewriting election code and tinkering with the budget on the fly, and considering adding more affordable housing – lots of your constituents probably aren’t paying a lot of attention to these often silly escapades of yours as they try to stay afloat financially. And many are failing.

Yet I hardly ever recall any of you who advocated for the above issues mentioning this issue proportionally to its importance. But how you went to bat for 50 chicken permits, bravo. No, I’m not about to become an advocate for victims of foreclosure. Many probably knew what they were signing, knew they couldn’t afford it, and by the looks of some of these records some hardly made any payments at all.

But what struck me was how absent this council has been on this. No excuses now. Many of your constituents are suffering and would be appalled (if they knew) at what you’re spending your time on.

Times-Call inquiry: By some comments on council, it appears there is some animosity with our local paper. I don’t work for them, they even call me the competition, so I’m not speaking on their behalf by any means. But I noticed this in the latest agenda: “Council member McCoy requested information regarding the amount of money the City spends annually with the Times Call…” I don’t expect an honest answer here, and people around the city are claiming there is a concerted effort against the paper by some in this city (and council), would this be another step in that direction?

If not, what is the reason for this inquiry? How much time did the City Clerks Office have to spend on the reply? Looked like a lot of information, I assume it was for a good reason?

Consider this my “Public Invited To Be Heard” (are all truly “invited”?) as I can’t attend tonight’s meeting.
Thanks, Chris