The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller monthly index of home values is out today. (See FAQ here).
The index compares recent sale prices with the price the last time the home sold. The Minneapolis area is one of 20 metropolitan areas measured.
You can probably guess the national picture. Home prices are falling and the Sun Belt is a particularly bad place to own property, unless your goal is a 25% reduction in value.
For March in Minneapolis, the index dropped from 146.03 in February to 142.24. That's a slower decline than the previous few months, but still among the biggest drops since the housing mess began. What does that mean in terms of value? The March figures show housing values about what they were in June 2003. Since February's values were close to August 2003, we've taken two steps (months) backward.
You can fire up your Excel spreadsheet and play with the numbers here.
So where are we in terms of home prices nationally. "It's about 2002-2003," said the man who created the index. In the Upper Midwest -- Detroit -- it's about 2000. That should come as good news to the people in Detroit, where the news suggests it's closer to 1929.
The index shows housing prices in the U.S. have been falling since the fall of 2006.
Making a point by making your life worse never made much sense to me. In 1967, the residents of of the nation's inner cities made their unhappiness known by burning down their neighborhoods. Point made, but when all was said in done, they ended up living in bombed-out neighborhoods.
President Lyndon Johnson created a commission to study the violence and it concluded that "our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white--separate and unequal."
Violence cannot build a better society. Disruption and disorder nourish repression, not justice. They strike at the freedom of every citizen. The community cannot--it will not--tolerate coercion and mob rule.
Violence and destruction must be ended--in the streets of the ghetto1 and in the lives of people.
Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.
What white Americans have never fully understood--but what the Negro can never forget--is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain, and white society condones it.
Now, fast-forward 41 years. America's cities are still burning themselves, only now it's called a "Stop Snitchin'" campaign.
A cover article in Broadcasting & Cable this week profiles the difficulty for reporters trying to investigate crime stories, focusing specifically on a typical situation in Kansas City.
... says the code of silence surrounding violent crime, the product of a grass-roots campaign called "Stop Snitching," has a chokehold on Kansas City. At various times while he's been interviewing witnesses, someone will walk by, repeatedly muttering "click-clock, click-clock"--simulating the sound of a gun cocking and firing. As one might expect, the witnesses promptly clam up.
So goes investigative reporting in Kansas City and several other markets in America, as the Stop Snitching movement gains momentum and leaves residents scared to death of anyone with a badge--or a microphone or notepad. "To this day, the question remains: How could two people get gunned down in front of so many people, and two years later, no one's been charged?" Nigrelli wonders. "The answer is, no one will talk. 'No Snitch' is loud and powerful here."
Highly regarded crime reporter Carolyn Lowe at WCCO found Stop Snitching to be alive and well in the Twin Cities, when she did a story on it last year.
"It's a message that really leads us down a path of destruction. It's a path that leads us to more bloodshed," said St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington in the story. Harrington said he intended to start an anti-Stop Snitchin' campaign.
One is already underway in Minneapolis, sort of. MPR's Jess Mador September story on the killing of a young girl, found the group Mad Dads at least trying to talk some sense into the community.
"I suggest that you get out and when you see something in your neighborhood that is not right that you say something about it," said Smith. "Stop having that 'stop snitching' attitude and start organizing, mobilizing and reaching out to some of these hard to reach kids and making a difference in their lives."
In many cases, the Stop Snitchin' campaign is stoked by rap artists. Hip Hop News today, for example, has the story of one such link.
Unlike the neighborhood burning of the '60s, the Stop Snitchin' campaign has no chance of at least getting attention to the perceived societal ills. It's more likely to spawn a shrug of the shoulders and a "if you don't care enough, why should I?" attitude.(4 Comments)
While patrolling for information on suburban home construction practices, I discovered the coming end to a suburban icon -- the high ceiling.
In today's edition, the San Jose Mercury News says the big homebuilders -- including a few that have created cities out of cornfields around here -- have given up on the design:
Major home builders including Pulte Homes, Toll Brothers and K. Hovnanian say more buyers are looking for the maximum number of rooms and square footage for their money, so they're opting to have a loft, bedroom or playroom built in the air space where the plans call for a double-height ceiling. "People don't want it anymore," says Ken Gancarczyk, head of builder services for KB Home. The big Los Angeles-based builder has stopped offering double-height great rooms in response to falling demand.
The article also introduces us to a new malady: "high ceiling fatigue."
Update 5:39 I alluded in a post yesterday to today's suburban home construction and how it can't stand up to a tornado. Suburban home construction isn't a matter of being shoddy, per se, but it is done more cheaply now than it was decades ago. Why? So we can afford them and so they can be built quickly. But the reason they go up so fast, is also the reason they come down so fast.
MPR's Tim Nelson takes a look at this question in a story that aired on All Things Considered tonight.(2 Comments)
The Salvation Army has posted some more photos of the damage from the tornado in Hugo on its Flickr photostream.
As we look at these and other images, it's impossible not to wonder what we would do if those were our homes? When you have to rebuild your lives, where do you even start?
The city of Hugo is looking for volunteers for a cleanup day on Saturday. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Washington County Service Center located off Highway 61, north of town. Bring work gloves.
Update 2:14 p.m.
Tom Weber passes these along:
Going to the basement isn't enough; that much we've learned after Sunday's tornadoes in Minnesota and, in particular, Iowa.
Consider this from an AP report just filed:
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Haylock said most of those killed in Parkersburg were in basements. All were adults, he said.
That prompted us to take another look at the tornado survival tips:
In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
On a related front: Check out this picture MPR's Tom Weber just sent down from Hugo.
.. and this actually is someone's basement...
I usually like to stop by the veterans' memorials near the Capitol on the day after Memorial Day. I stop to read all the names (yeah, every one) and see what people left behind.
As usual, the Vietnam memorial was filled with heart-tugging mementos that make me wonder about the story behind the object.
Who was Gary? And why a chocolate bar? (Update Weds 5/28 8:24 a.m. - See comments section)
This sketch was accompanied by an Army Ranger pin from Georgia, and a padlock. Why?
Tom is "greatly missed, forever loved" the label said...
A simple sticker next to a name...
In contrast to the day-after scene at the Vietnam memorial that says "we haven't forgotten...
The scene at the Korean War memorial seems to say, "we have..."
... with the exception of someone who knew Douglas Dustin, an 18 year old kid who died of his wounds in 1950.
Mr. Dustin's name appeared in the middle of the large block of granite. But whoever left the picture, put it on the top so it wouldn't cover anyone else's name.
Autism is once again at the center of a battle on when special needs kids should be allowed to try to fit in.
According to a CBS story, a Port St. Lucie, Fla., mother of a 5 year old boy with autism said "Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo had her son's classmates say what they didn't like about 5-year-old Alex. She says the teacher then had the students vote, and voted Alex, who is being evaluated for Asperger's syndrome -- an autism spectrum disorder -- out of the class by a 14-2 margin."
Said the Chicago Sun-Times, "After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Alex the teacher said they were going to take a vote, Barton said. They said he was 'disgusting' and 'annoying,' Barton said.
"He was incredibly upset," she said. "The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this."
The teacher's side of the story isn't out yet, because the school board asked her not to talk to the press, but she's been "reassigned."
This story, of course, follows closely on the heels of a situation in Bertha, Minn., where a Catholic church banned a teenager with autism, from attending services in the sanctuary.
This week's New York Magazine features a story on the "new autism activism."
These activists argue that autism is not an illness but an alternative way of being. The preferred terminology among disability activists is to speak of a "person with deafness" rather than a "deaf person," or a "person with dwarfism" rather than a dwarf. But Sinclair has said that "person-first" terminology denies the centrality of autism and has compared "person with autism" to describing a man as a "person with maleness."