Good news for people who like good news

Good news for people who like good news April 9, 2013

• “One man’s fight against foreclosures in Carpentersville

Tom Roeser is on a one-man mission to save Carpentersville, Ill., from falling into the fate of so many post-industrial Midwestern towns, where neighborhoods have become littered with vacant, foreclosed homes.

Over the past several years, the 60-year-old president and co-owner of the town’s largest employer, a maker of switches and communications gear called Otto Engineering, has bought 193 foreclosed homes, completely rehabilitated them and is either selling or renting them at a discount to local residents.

• Harris County, Texas, realizes it’s better — smarter, cheaper, more just and more humane — to help the mentally ill get treatment than to put them in jail.

• “Feds Shut Down Telemarketing Scam Aimed at Elderly

• Occupy Wall Street’s Rolling Jubilee has now raised “enough money to abolish $11,226,570 of personal debt.”

• “UAE Launches 100 Megawatt Solar Energy Plant, Largest in Mideast

• “Wind power is poised to kick nuclear’s ass

• The Overdraft Protection Act has 42 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s bill would prevent overdraft “protection” fees from snowballing in a cascade of legalized theft that currently transfers more than $30 billion each year from workers to banks. This is money — the equivalent to the annual income of more than half a million American households — simply taken from people’s bank accounts and kept by banks. Banks, of course, would like to continue taking this money from people. And Congress, of course, would like to continue allowing banks to do so — which is why Govtrack only gives this bill a 1-percent chance of being enacted. But still, it’s a start.

• Murmurings of conservative support for fully funding public defenders.

• Rabbi Jason Klein has been elected to lead the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. He becomes the first openly gay man to lead a national rabbinic association in the U.S.

Maryland has repealed the death penalty, becoming the sixth state to do so in the last six years.

• Southern Baptists in Texas and Mississippi are beginning to act against predatory lending.

Students at Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, Georgia, are pushing for an integrated prom.

Since this is 2013, I suppose I should explain that “integrated” here doesn’t refer to some high-tech initiative to integrate social media into the students’ prom experience or to some new “wholistic” approach to decorating the school gym for a big spring dance. “Integrated” there means the same thing it meant back in the mid 20th Century — racially integrated, as opposed to racially segregated.

And even though it is 2013, Wilcox County High School has never had a racially integrated prom. The Constitution may have forced Rochelle, Georgia, to integrate its public schools, but the good white Christian people of Georgia still cling vehemently to their right to bar non-white students from attending prom (and homecoming) — a tradition of racial discrimination enforced by the local police.

But as effed-up as the alleged adults apparently are in Rochelle, the kids are alright. This year, for the first time, they opted to elect only one “homecoming court” — with a white student chosen as “king” and a black student chosen as “queen.” And the kids, correctly, think it’s pretty dumb that the adults won’t allow the homecoming king and queen to attend the same dance:

So the girls are taking matters into their own hands.

“If we don’t change it nobody else will,” said Keela.

They’re part of a group of students organizing a prom for everyone to attend, called the “Integrated Prom.”



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  • Lori

    I saw it. It’s makes a good point (of which I was aware) about how the segregation started. That’s not a justification for why it has continued until 2013. See my earlier comment about the school’s failure to counter act the private, segregated “proms” by resuming having an official school prom.

    It’s not as if school officials didn’t know about the segregated private parties. When a school system allows that kind of situation to continue (until 2013 for crap’s sake, and possibly beyond since the situation is not yet actually resolved) I don’t see any reason to give it the benefit of the doubt when it comes to excellence in instruction on the history of Civil Rights.

  • stardreamer42

    He coulda been a contendah

  • stardreamer42

    What finally pushed me into going credit union was the following sequence of events:

    1) My bank (a regional institution with which I’d been very happy) got bought out by a larger bank.

    2) I started seeing all kinds of new and different fees. I swear, every time I looked at my bank statement there were fees I’d never seen before. They charged me a fee for DEPOSITING CASH TO MY ACCOUNT, forghodsake!

    3) They allowed two debit-card transactions to go thru which should have declined, for the express purpose of hitting me with usurious overdraft fees. Then they told me “Oh, that’s how debit cards work.” NO, IT’S NOT. On a debit-card transaction, if there are insufficient funds in the account to cover the amount, it is supposed to DECLINE.

    So… fees for things that shouldn’t generate fees (taking cash is the foundation of what a bank DOES, forghodsake!), usurious fees fraudulently generated, and then lying to me about it.

    My credit union charges no fees. Period. When I’ve had a question or an issue (which is always going to happen at some point when you’re changing accounts), they were more interested in fixing it than in telling me why they couldn’t. And what really sold me on this credit union as opposed to the other ones I investigated — they have access to a nationwide ATM network (AllPoint) with machines in easily-located places like Target, Walgreen’s, and CVS, and I can withdraw money at any of them without incurring a fee. So my ATM access is actually better with the credit union (especially while traveling) than it was with my bank, where I had to use the machine at a bank branch in order not to get hit with about $5 in fees.

    I think the only thing keeping a lot of the banks going at this point is that yes, it is a pain to switch financial institutions, and many people are just going on inertia.

  • Lori

    I was thinking more of the fact that the school says black people and white people are equal and but what it does is tacitly support behavior that says that they are not. In cases where the words and the deeds don’t match kids tend to learn the lesson of the deeds.

  • Ursula L

    My suspicion? A lot of the mental health experts who work for the prison will wind up transferring into these mental health facilities and we’re going to see the costs see-saw.

    The key difference is between prison being a residential institution, while community mental health services are supports for people living in the community.

    So, if you could get people into community mental health services, the vast majority of people are, theoretically, provided with services like counseling, medication, check-ins, etc. Comparitively few would be in hospitalized, and most of those would be short-term, for evaluation, medication adjustment, crisis management, etc.

    You’d also see staffing being shifted from higher paid prison guards to lower paid orderlies, personal care aides, etc. Also families being pressured to provided care for free, rather than having the same services provided by a professional. Which, while saving government money also means badly paid jobs replacing well-paid jobs, and more pressure and stress for unpaid caretakers within families, a cost that is real even if it doesn’t measure directly in dollars.

  • *Facepalms* Braining fail! I was completely forgetting the people who wouldn’t be remanded into therapy through the justice system (i.e., judged incompetent to stand trial). I didn’t even think about the people who wouldn’t be there long-term. Of course they’re going to benefit far more from this arrangement.

  • ohiolibrarian

    seeming disdain or indifference for the poor.”?

  • Heh, yeah. Like Dave Hagstrom of Billings Montana, advising his constituents to accept the assertion that people don’t need to live as long or as comfortably as they do today, that they should be willing to work two or even three jobs and still not be living comfortably, and that domestic problems of all kinds (health, abuse, family) should be the responsibility of the people suffering them and no one else’s.

    Fuck, but I’d like to hurt that man very badly, and I am not going to apologize for hating him that much.

  • P J Evans

    I already had a credit-union account, so when I got tired of fees for this and that, it wasn’t hard to close the bank account down and move the money. I’d already figured out that the only way some of the too-big-to-fail banks are still in business is that they make money on their fees and the interest they charge on credit cards and loans.

  • Baby_Raptor


    I grew up in Montgomery county, fairly close to Harris. It’s nice to see them being called out for doing something good for once. That doesn’t happen too often with dear old Texas.

  • Persia

    They may have learned it from interacting with and liking their classmates, though.

  • Lori

    Sure, but that’s no credit to the school’s Civil Right’s curriculum.

  • Persia

    Fair enough, but you said ‘they learned that at school’ – I just figured they learned from one another rather than through curriculum.

  • Lori

    Yeah. I should have said “from the school” instead of “at school”.

  • Ross Thompson

    I’ve heard it said that there would need to be a Chernobyl-level accident every two weeks for nuclear power to cause as many cancers as coal power does. Any chance that someone can figure out if that’s accurate?

  • CeeQ

    We own a small business in Carpentersville and I can attest that the area has been hit pretty hard. Our business is in the health care industry and we’ve done our best to hang on during the recession and help people get the care they need, even as we try to help them financially by providing affordable care. I am beyond pleased to see someone with the means actually putting it back into the community. THANK YOU Mr. Roeser. And yes, East Dundee needs help too! We have first hand experience of how banks and land lords would sooner see you closed down than lift a finger to help your business – it’s nice to finally see someone put their money where their mouth is =)

    I drive by Otto sometimes on the weekends when we run errands – maybe I’ll get the nerve up to stop by some day and thank Mr. Roeser in person. =D

  • So, casual Googling gets me estimates of cancer deaths caused by Chernobyl ranging from 4,000 to 27,000, and estimates of total cancer deaths of 7.6M/year. 25 Chernobyl events events per year would be 100k-675k deaths, which is between 1% and 9% of total cancer deaths.

    So this question is roughly equivalent to “does coal power cause between 1% and 9% of total cancer deaths?”

    Casual Googling didn’t get me an answer to that question, nor to similar questions about tobacco use, sunlight, or other non-coal-related cancer causes, so that’s where I stopped.

  • fredgiblet

    I’m not complaining, just noting that this is likely less a move of conscience and more a move of pragmatism. But hey, if it gets the job done that’s fine.

  • ‘Cause wind power is government-subsidized and nuclear isn’t coal. If you find the results of the present Enopoletus Harding Scale not worth reading, don’t read them. I might try adding brief commentary to my opinions on Fred’s “Good News” next time.

  • Could you describe your South Carolinian experience?

  • I’d meant to check out Rolling Jubilee–thanks for the reminder. Just cancelled out $2000 of medical debt!

  • Lori

    I lived there for about 10n years during and after college. Most of the people I went to college with there were from SC, had never lived in any other state and were products of the state’s public schools (IOW, pretty typical for a state university).

    I had a couple of classes there which covered the Civil Rights movement (post Civil War US history and Constitutional law). For the most part my classmates demonstrated a reasonable grasp of the facts. Certainly within the bonds of what one would expect of college students who weren’t majoring in a related field.

    Some of them talked about it how learning about the Civil Rights movement made it clear to them why racial discrimination is wrong. Other knew the same facts, but basically took the Noe-Confederate position that the movement was the federal government imposing unfair regulation on the states and trying to use the law to change community standards and blah, blah, blah. Some of them pretty clearly picked that crap up at home, but I can recall a couple who clearly learned it from their history teacher.

    Did you see the video of the guy as CPAC a few weeks ago who was talking about how slave holders should have been compensated for years of providing AAs with food, clothing and shelter? I had a couple of classmates who basically had been taught history in a South Carolina public school by That Guy.

  • I can’t quite get from those sources to that conclusion myself. That said, I have no objection to the conclusion, nor any preferred alternative number.

    I’m also really surprised that environmental pollutants
    aren’t listed on the Cancer Research UK link as a major contributor
    except incidentally as they apply to particular professions.

  • Ross Thompson

    Wow, thanks for that, guys.

  • Thank you for your response. As for your question, yes. I view That Guy as misguided on that subject- though slaveholders provided slaves with (seen) food and shelter, they also denied them of (unseen) opportunity.

  • EllieMurasaki

    though slaveholders provided slaves with (seen) food and shelter
    In the narrowest technical sense.

  • It’s really hard to say, especially since I don’t live with them now and don’t hear what they say on a day-to-day basis. I simply don’t have the same ability to observe now as I did then — but then I didn’t have the same measure of distance to observe from, either. Not sure whether those things cancel out.

    I do remember my Mom complaining worriedly to me on the phone how Dad seemed to support GWB blindly and unthinkingly, whereas she found that Bush II just infuriated her. And I don’t recall the TV constantly being tuned to all-day news channels when I was growing up. (Then again, I don’t think we subscribed to as robust a cable package then, or that channels like – what is it? MSNBC Money? – existed through the 80s.) And if we argued less over immigration policy injustice and health insurance while I was growing up, I was also blissfully unaware of a lot of the surrounding politics of the day.

    I definitely think it’s likely that whatever restraint they felt obligated to when I was growing up, they do not feel obligated to it now that I’m all grown up. The responsibility of raising me and shaping my formative mind is over with now. And my responsibility to do what they say and submit to punishment if I misbehave is also over with. We’ve all relaxed around each other a lot, as you might expect – with both good and bad results.

  • I’m kind of ashamed to say that my husband and I stayed with Wells Fargo as long as we did mainly because all the horrible things they were doing weren’t affecting us; which is to say, it was easy to ignore WF’s sins or stay unaware because we weren’t the recipients of the abuse. The occasional overdrafts due to some sloppiness in household accounting, they pulled money over from savings to cover the difference, so we only got one “overdraft protection fee”. Which we’d grumble about a little, maybe, especially if we noticed it the payment that overdrafted us came on the same day as a paycheck direct deposit but the withdrawal happened to be processed before the deposit. But we didn’t do more than grumble.

    Which is to say, we really were due a privilege check for a very long time. That we had a savings account to draw from, and that we were never were in danger of not being able to pay all our bills? That an overdraft protection fee of $25 was worth a grumble but didn’t actually bite into our budget significantly? That’s some serious privilege right there.

    No, what finally got us to switch was when they started the “We’re sick of you not paying us monthly fees!” fees the other year. Our checking accounts were several-times-over grandfathered-in free checking accounts — or, at least, free so long as you kept a certain high minimum in related savings accounts — and towards the end of 2011 they finally said, “That’s enough of that. Have a monthly fee now!” At which point we closed the accounts down and moved our household’s money over to the local credit union our friends had been recommending for years.

    That it took getting hit with $5/month to get us away from a bank with whom we’d stayed despite growing reports of the crappy things they were doing to others, especially in the credit and housing sectors… I look back at that, and yeah, I’m a little ashamed.