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Morning Shorts

Thursday, Sep 30, 2010

* Home prices to take hit next year in many markets

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday ticked up in July from June. But the gain is merely temporary, analysts say. They see home values taking a dive in many major markets well into next year.

That’s because the peak home-buying season is now ending after a dismal summer. The hardest-hit markets, already battered by foreclosures, are bracing for a bigger wave of homes sold at foreclosure or through short sales. A short sale is when a lender lets a homeowner sell for less than the mortgage is worth.

Add high unemployment and reluctant buyers, and the outlook in many areas is bleak. Nationally, home values are projected to fall 2.2 percent in the second half of the year, according to analysts surveyed by MacroMarkets LLC. And Moody’s Analytics predicts the Case-Shiller index will drop 8 percent within a year.

* Index Shows Increase in Housing Prices

* Mortgage companies may be contributing to delinquencies in foreclosure rates

Despite the passage last year of the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, foreclosure filings in Chicago’s six-county region rose 38 percent from the first half of 2009 to the first half of 2010, according to data from the Woodstock Institute, which tracks foreclosure activity in the region.

The program, part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan to address the housing crisis and restore economic stability, helps struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by reducing their monthly mortgage payments.

Among other criteria, eligible candidates must have a monthly mortgage payment greater than 31 percent of their gross monthly income and have suffered a loss of income that prevents them from making payments.

But Katie Buitrago, policy communications associate for the institute, said actual delinquency is not a requirement.

* Marin: Feel Safer? Thanks to Cook County government, you’re not

* Chicago’s uninsured ahead of national average

There were more than 550,000 uninsured people — or 19.7 percent of the population — in the city of Chicago last year, according to the bureau’s American Community Survey. In Illinois, nearly 1.7 million people, or 13 percent of the state’s population, did not have insurance.

Nationally, there were 50.7 million uninsured residents, or 16.7 percent of the population, according to the data.

* Joliet Census data shows bump in population, steady poverty levels

Despite a 24 percent spike in the number of people below the poverty level statewide over the past 10 years, Joliet’s numbers remained steady over the years between 10 and 13 percent. In 2009, the number of people in poverty was 11 percent.

However, Joliet’s median household income did dip slightly from $61,061 in 2008 to $53,687 in 2009, likely due to an increase in unemployment.

* Median household income in Peoria County drops 7.8 percent

* State’s Attorney calls for probe into delinquent tax sale auctions in Madison County

Mudge’s request follows by two days the publication of a News-Democrat investigation, which showed that Bathon took in about $140,000 in campaign donations from investors who bought delinquent property tax debts.

Those investors were routinely allowed to buy property owners’ tax debts at an 18 percent penalty rate — the maximum allowed under state law. The investors took in up to $200,000 apiece in penalties for some years.

“State law affords county treasurers wide latitude on how to conduct these sales,” Mudge wrote. “However, I believe an independent review is in order in light of the recent concerns expressed about these former practices.”

Mudge, a Democrat, added: “Everyone should be careful not to politicize this exercise during a campaign season. These authorities are aware of the situation, and I am confident that they will conduct a fair, independent and proper review.”

* Investigation: Tax auctions look ‘like government-sponsored loan-sharking’

* Tax buyers, politicians benefit from tax sales

* Madison County Republicans call for investigation

* Madison County Democrats fire back on tax sale

* News-Democrat: What’s really up for auction?

* LORIMOR: Timing is right to push for southern Illinois MSA

Despite it being one of the larger communities south of Springfield, Carbondale and its surrounding area is not within one of those designated areas. That’s not uncommon, but most of the land within Illinois’ borders east of Interstate 55 and south of Interstate 72 is also outside of an MSA. That means communities such as Charleston-Mattoon, Effingham, Mount Vernon, Marion and, of course, Carbondale can be easily overlooked in government reports.

Seems like quite a blind spot, especially when talking about a region that relies heavily on government programs to get by.

* Unemployment Figures Improve in Some Counties

Franklin County dropped 1.4%, but is still ranked 3rd highest statewide.

Hardin County remained the same at 12.3 unemployed. Perry County dropped from 12.5% to 11.8% And Saline County is out of double digits now at 9.9% from last year’s 11.2%.

* Cook County Property Tax Bills Out Late This Year

Different officials are blaming each other for why the bills are going out late. But regardless of who’s to blame, Blue Island Mayor Don Peloquin says his city will be hurt by the late payments.

* Conrad Black asks judge to toss conviction

* Judge Posner: Conrad Black’s crimes ‘old-fashioned fraud’

* Demonstrators call for jobs program funding

* Some progress on Metra watchdog

Metra officials said they also want an independent watchdog but prefer someone picked by the Regional Transportation Authority, which has oversight of the three transit agencies in the region. Another option is an IG named by the people who appoint the Metra board of directors, who include the Chicago mayor, the chairman of the DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will County Boards, and Cook County Board members.

* 2011 CTA budget to avoid fee hikes, service cuts

Once again the CTA, which faces almost $7 billion in unfunded capital needs, will reluctantly use capital funds meant for improvements to help balance the day-to-day 2011 operating budget and avoid reducing services again, according to the proposed budget released Wednesday.

* CTA bus driver OT soars since layoffs

* Lehner: A Metra rider’s lament

* Pedestrians face local fines for ignoring train signals, crossing tracks

* Milbank: The power of Jarrett

Certainly, Jarrett fills an important role for Obama: She has deep and personal ties to the president, as well as undivided loyalties, and can talk honestly to him on a first-name basis. But current and former White House officials I spoke with raised questions about Jarrett’s effectiveness and judgment.

* Daley on Olympics: “It’s all about money”

* Southtown Star: Commissioners now free to just tweet it. But why?

* Aurora seeks to slash payroll costs

With a projected $18 million deficit looming for 2011, the city has once again offered its employees the chance to voluntarily leave city service, with incentives.

For those who stay, the city is requiring each employee to give up 10 percent of their salary. That money can come from wages or benefits. Chief Management Officer Carie Anne Ergo said that however it’s done, the city is seeking a total of $8.4 million in savings.

That amount, Ergo said, would minimize upcoming layoffs, but not prevent them.

* Mt. Prospect offers buyouts to avoid layoffs

* Carol Stream mayor defends red-light cameras

* Orland Square Mall tax objection could take more than 18 months to resolve

* I-Team Report: Cicero’s Super Car

* Tazewell County adjusts health plans

* Veterans Home receives second round of funding for construction projects

* Champaign schools budget shows deficit

* Grafton City Council to vote for annexation

* Vote fraud, tax trial resumes for former East St. Louis councilman

Prosecutors allege that Collins lived at 4382 Redfield in Swansea but voted from 22 Loisel Drive in East St. Louis in an election in which a federal candidate was on the ballot. Collins is accused of using the Loisel address to get work in and around East St. Louis and to be the Democratic committeeman in Precinct 26.

* Judge allows former ESL councilman limited mobility until sentencing

* Fairview Heights Mayor says council has formed voting blocs that harm city

* Tea Party to host rally Saturday in O’Fallon

* New Mayor in West Frankfort

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        

  1. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 3:10 pm:

    Poor Barton. He got up at 5 in the morning to put all this together and nobody shows him love.

  2. - Barton Lorimor - Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 3:19 pm:

    Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen through this gig, Rich :)

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