I’ve got my brackets filled in. Here’s my Final Four: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, BP, UnitedHealth.
I’ve got BofA edging out BP in the final, but this is a really strong tournament field with lots of great contenders, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of March Madness, it’s that anything can happen.
No, I’m not talking about the NCAA basketball tournament. I’m talking about Consumerist’s annual March Madness contest for Worst Company in America.
For the sixth year in a row, we asked Consumerist readers to send us their nominations for our Worst Company In America tournament.
And this year’s response was the greatest by far.
The 32 companies listed in the above bracket are the result of thousands of nominations. Once again, the two most represented fields are telecom — including reigning champ Comcast — and banking/credit, each taking up six slots.
Earlier from Consumerist: “Clergy Perform Exorcism on Chase Bank”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
This next story is from Loren Berlin, writing for The New York Times, so hurry up and read it before their new online subscription charges or fees or whatever kick in: “At More Mobile-Home Parks, a Greater Sense of Security.”
“It scares the daylights out of me that some big corporation is going to come in and raise the rent until I can’t pay for it anymore,” [Alice Sadoski] said as she folded a just-completed blue plaid coverup. “I’m on a very limited income, and I don’t know where else I would go.” It is not the mobile home that Mrs. Sadoski rents; she and her husband bought the trailer, vintage 1962, for $29,900. But, like 25 percent of the roughly 18 million Americans living in one of the nation’s 50,000 mobile-home parks, she rents the underlying land, and is thus as vulnerable as any tenant to rent increases or even eviction, if a landlord sells to a developer with other plans for the property. Many of these residences, also called manufactured homes, are fairly large, and to move them might cost several thousand dollars.
To avoid these risks, Mrs. Sadoski and her neighbors set out in 2009 to create a cooperative and purchase the park’s land themselves. After a rival buyer bowed out, and after a price drop by the park owner, the residents are now nearing success. They have secured a mortgage, and are scheduled to close the deal in May.
Such purchases are not new. In a few states where property values have historically been high, like California and Florida, mobile-home residents began to form for-profit cooperatives in the 1960s. In New Hampshire in the mid-’80s, a nonprofit model emerged that aims to keep shares inexpensive enough so every resident can join and to reinvest any profits in the property. That model soon spread to Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.But now the movement is expanding. …
Berlin offers a bit more big-picture background, including some quotes from Paul Bradley of ROC-USA, but most of the story is stories — the stories of people like Alice Sadoski and Pat Scheidegger who have gone from fear, insecurity and dependence to confidence, security and pride. Good stories.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
For St. Patrick’s Day, a story of Irish immigrants from just up the road in Malvern, Pa., at a place called “Duffy’s Cut.”
In June, 1832, a group of 57 Irish immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry arrived in Philadelphia. They were brought to Chester County by a fellow Irishman named Philip Duffy as laborers for the construction of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, Pennsylvania’s pioneering railroad. Within six weeks, all were dead of cholera and possibly violence, and were buried anonymously in a ditch outside of Malvern.
This is a fascinating story and the research at Duffy’s Cut is teaching us a lot about local history — about industrial growth, economics, immigration, ethnic tensions and violence and the way all those things came together here in Chester County in the early 19th Century.
Oh, and it’s also a ghost story.
(With it’s combination of forensic research and paranormal “research,” this story is tailor-made to blow up all over cable television. It seems like every third-tier cable channel has at least two shows apiece about criminal forensics labs and ghost hunters, so it’s kind of surprising that SyFy and the History Channel, the Travel Channel, Tru TV and Animal Planet haven’t yet all descended on Immaculata College. So far it’s just been the Smithsonian Channel.)