Category: Breaking News Written by Britney Spear
It seems that nowadays, more and more people are probing behind the computer screen to find love. Judging the recent popularity of MTV’s show ‘Catfish’ coupled with the entire fiasco that surrounds college football player Manti Te’o, that fact is become increasingly apparent.
Recent events might have you eager to know the truth, and the real motivation behind one masquerading on the internet for romance. It is possible that even in the midst of a lie, a person’s emotional connection with someone can be completely authentic?
If you ask the hoaxer behind the latest scandal, he would answer with an unwavering ‘yes’. 22-year-old Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who carried on a fabricated relationship with the Notre Dame linebacker via internet, has finally decided to come forward and tell his side of the story.
Tuiasosopo spoke with Phil McGraw in a television interview on Thursday to reveal that he fell in love with the Notre Dame linebacker while interacting with him anonymously over the internet and by phone. He claims that Teo knew nothing of the hoax. Perhaps the most shocking part of Tuiasosopo’s confession, something even Dr. Phil has trouble believing, is his suggestion that he spoke with Teo while using his actual speaking voice. That’s right, no female actor, according to the prankster.
As shocking as it seems, Tuiasosopo is not alone in his internet impersonating. ‘Catfish’ shows viewers that the issue is much more common than one might imagine. People all across the world are being duped by would be lovers they believed were ‘someone else’.
Tuiasosopo’s interview answers some of our most pressing questions as viewers. Yet even Part 2 of Dr. Phil’s interview, which premieres on Friday, might never truly help us understand the reasoning behind it all.
We live in a world saturated with technology, and even the most intimate aspects of life, have fallen victim to the internet. Apparently, for some, love is just another link in that chain.
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @missbritneysp
Last Updated on Friday, 01 February 2013 08:23
Category: Breaking News Written by Britney Spear
Adding insult to injury, Chicago is again thrust in the national spotlight for less than stellar reasons.
This time, it is the shooting death of 15-year old Hadiya Pendleton. The teen was shot to death on Tuesday while standing outside under a bus shelter after taking final exams. Her death took place in a neighborhood just a few miles away from the home where the Obamas lived before moving into the White House.
The only thing more shockingly coincidental than where Pendleton died is that just a few weeks ago, the King College Prep majorette traveled to DC to perform at the Presidential Inauguration. Her death is the latest in a series of unspeakable tragedies to befall the Chicago community. Citizens all over are expressing extreme outrage over what has come to be yet another link in the chain of senseless murders.
Will the recent act of violence gain the attention of the White House? A petition has been posted on its website, ‘We the People’, urging President Obama and his family to attend Pendleton’s funeral in their hometown. The First Family has expressed its condolences to the family of the victim. No comment has yet been made with regard to the petition.
Pendleton’s story casts a different light on the common perspective that Chicago’s gun violence is merely typical of urban centers. The simple dismissal of such shootings as fallout from gang activity isn’t an excuse when it comes to Pendleton. She attended a school known in the area for its prestige. Friends and family of the student were initially outraged when misreports of the incident blamed her possible gang affiliation. Such stories have been retracted following the discovery that ironically, the teen victim had starred in a PSA against such violence.
The fact is, Pendleton was innocent. Just as innocent as those 20 six-year olds that were senselessly gunned down while sitting in their first-grade classrooms. But, does the rest of the world agree? Will a similar story with a different face gain the same attention?
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @missbritneysp
Last Updated on Friday, 01 February 2013 08:16
Category: Breaking News Written by Mike McCann
Tayshaun Prince isn’t the guy you pick first when you play pickup. His game isn’t flashy. He can’t jump through the roof or shoot the lights out. He is the last link to the last championship the Detroit Pistons won. And now, in a move that will likely help the Pistons moving forward, he is gone.
Yesterday, the Pistons shipped Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis in a three-team deal that brings Toronto point guard Jose Calderon to Detroit. I think the move makes the Pistons a better team. It gives Brandon Knight an opportunity to play off the ball, where he’s probably more comfortable, with Kyle Singler likely shifting to the small forward position. Overall it’s a trade that probably needed to happen. The Pistons need to move forward, and Prince was not in the plans. But make no mistake about it: Tayshaun surpassed every expectation imaginable.
The Pistons selected Prince in the 2002 NBA Draft. His rookie season was quite pedestrian, until he came alive in the playoffs and sparked a Pistons’ comeback, after trailing Orlando three games to one in the opening round. But he made his mark in Detroit sports history in 2004, with one of the more iconic plays this city has seen in a long time.
His block in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals, a game that Rasheed Wallace guaranteed victory in, saved the game and perhaps the series. The Pistons were up two when Reggie Miller cruised to the rim for an easy lay-up, with about twenty seconds left, which would have tied the game. And then Tayshaun appeared, seemingly coming from French Lick, to block his shot and stun the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd. Rip got the ball, was fouled, made some free throws; the Pistons won the game, the conference finals, and then the title.
A lot of criticism has made its way to Tayshaun’s corner over the years. “He’s too slow…He’s too old…He’s slowing us down.” You hear it on sports radio, you hear it on television, and you hear it from passionate Pistons’ fans who feel that way. There may have been bits of truth there. He doesn’t move as swiftly as he once did, and he definitely is not getting any younger. But look at the first round picks in the five-year period surrounding Prince’s draft, from 2000 to 2004. In 2000, the Pistons selected Mateen Cleaves. Nice player, great college career, but now he covers the team. In ‘01, they drafted Rodney White…he was never relevant in the NBA, and has played in Europe since 2005. The Pistons grabbed Tayshaun in ‘02, and Darko in ‘03. In ’04 they didn’t even have a first round pick; Boston had the pick stemming from the Rasheed Wallace trade.
Up until yesterday, of all the first round picks from the 2000-2004 NBA Drafts, only seven players were still on the roster of the team that drafted them: Andres Biedrins (Golden State), Dwayne Wade (Miami), Josh Smith (Atlanta), Luol Deng (Chicago via trade), Nick Collison.(Seattle/Oklahoma City), Tony Parker (San Antonio), and Prince. Now that list has six. But that’s not a bad place to find your name. In an industry where loyalty is not very common, it’s nice to know that the Pistons found a character guy like Prince, who just came to work every day and played. It’s rare to do, for that long, with one team.
Tayshaun’s probably not going to the Hall of Fame. His number likely won’t hang from the Palace rafters. But his resume speaks for itself. He didn’t miss a game from 2003-2009. He was a second team All-NBA defender four times. He won a gold medal with the “Redeem Team” in 2008, joining Grant Hill and Joe Caldwell as the only two Americans to win gold while playing for the Pistons. And he won an NBA Championship, with a starring role. The Pistons could have done a lot worse than Tayshaun Prince. He may never have been picked first, but he could play for my team any day.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 11:05
Category: Breaking News Written by Catherine E. Shoichet and Ted Rowlands, CNN
Chicago (CNN) -- A teen who performed at events around President Barack Obama's inauguration was shot to death in Chicago this week, and now her story has become part of the debate in Washington over gun violence nationwide.
The shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton came up in a U.S. Senate hearing and a White House press briefing Wednesday.
"She was an honor student and a majorette," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. Performing at inaugural events last week "was the highlight of her young, 15-year-old life," he said.
Speaking at Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Durbin mentioned Pendleton's death as he argued that more must be done to stop gun crimes.
"Yesterday, in a rainstorm after school, she raced to a shelter. A gunman came in and shot her dead," he said. "Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she's gone."
The park shelter where she was shot is just a mile from Obama's home in Chicago.
White House spokesman Jay Carney described her death as a "terrible tragedy."
"The president has more than once, when he talks about gun violence in America, referred not just to the horror of Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech or Oak Creek, but to shootings on the corner in Chicago or other parts of the country," Carney told reporters. "And this is just another example of the problem we need to deal with."
2013 has gotten off to a deadly start in Chicago -- Pendleton was the year's 42nd murder victim. No arrests have been made in the case, police said Wednesday.
In 2012, 506 people were slain in the city.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel described Pendleton as "what's best in our city, a child going to school who takes a final exam, who had just been to the inaugural."
"We have a responsibility to see a stop to this," he said. "And all of us are responsible."
Pendleton was shot just blocks away from her high school on the south side of Chicago, CNN affiliate WGN reported.
Police told CNN affiliates that the teenager had no gang affiliation and likely was not the intended target.
"There has to be an end to it. It's just too much. The children cannot go to school. They're in fear," Bonita O'Bannion, who lives in the area where the shooting occurred, told CNN affiliate WBBM.
Carney said the president and first lady's thoughts and prayers are with Pendleton's family.
"And as the president said, we will never be able to eradicate every act of evil in this country," Carney said, "but if we can save even one child's life, we have an obligation to try when it comes to the scourge of gun violence."
CNN's Ted Rowlands reported from Chicago. CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet wrote the story in Atlanta. CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report from Washington.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 11:03
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
DETROIT (WWJ) - Seven people in Detroit have died so far this year in fire-related incidents.
Dan McNamara, President of the Detroit Firefighters Association, says they’re seeing increased response times and a higher number of fire-related casualties and injuries, but nobody in the city’s administration is doing anything about it — and that’s why the union is suing the city for negligence.
“The city of Detroit has been fighting the union in court. We’re saying that the city is obligated to provide proper fire response and fire services, and they are negligent in meeting the charter obligations,” he said.
City officials say despite their tighter budget, the fire department is using its resources in the smartest and most efficient manner possible – but McNamara isn’t so sure about that.
“We have a total of 52 fire companies, and that means the engines, ladder trucks, etcetera. Of those, we may only have in the low 40′s operational. That is very deficient in our ability to provide proper response to incidents, whether its auto accidents or dwelling fires or whatever,” he said.
McNamara said the latest fire-related death in the city was on Tuesday, when 6-year-old Michael Chavez and his 4-year-old brother, Julio, were trapped after a fire broke out in their home where they had been left alone by their mother.
Firefighters pulled the children from the second floor of the burning house and rushed them to a local hospital instead of waiting for paramedics to arrive. Michael Chavez was pronounced dead upon arrival, while his brother was in critical condition. A cause of the fire has not yet been determined and police are continuing to question the boy’s mother.
“We are seeing evidence of higher response rates, which means if we don’t get there in a certain amount of time, we’re not going to have that opportunity to protect the dwelling or save lives,” McNamara said.”It’s an incredible increase of fires that we’re not getting to, which has resulted in some catastrophic property loss and injuries to civilians.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 08:48
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
STERLING HEIGHTS (WWJ) - Are you searching for a job? Over 80 companies will be looking to hire new employees at a career fair on Thursday, Jan. 31 at the Best Western Hotel in Sterling Heights.
Presented by Job Fair Giant, Thursday’s event has two sessions: from 9 a.m. until 12:00 p.m, and from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Over 80 companies will be on hand, looking to interview people for nearly 1,000 job openings. Hiring companies include the Harvard Drug Group, Delphi, Quicken Loans, OnStar, Firestone, Art Van Furniture, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Fraza Forklifts and Speedway.
Job candidates are encouraged to dress appropriately and bring their resumes, portfolios and other relevant information.
The Best Western hotel is located at 34911 Van Dyke Avenue. For more information, visit www.jobfairgiant.com.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 08:42
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
Less than a month after Governor Rick Snyder and Dave Bing commended Detroit city council members for approving restructuring contracts and ousting the city’s controversial head lawyer, the City/State relationship is soured again.Snyder quickly pulled that state’s 30-year lease offer for Belle Isle after city council members voted 6-3 to table a decision on the deal, a setback that could have delayed a vote for weeks.Immediately after the council made their decision, Snyder wrote Bing to tell him that the deal was off.“I am extremely disappointed with today’s decision by City Council to table the vote on the Belle Isle lease deal with the State,” Bing said in a statement on Tuesday, confirming that the governor “has now withdrawn the proposed Belle Isle lease agreement” from consideration.”
Bing said the plan would have relieved the city of its fiscal duty to maintain the park, which has seen shoddy upkeep in as the city’s funds dwindle.
The offer would have given the state control of the island park while the city worked to stabilize its own dismal finances according to Bing.
Under the agreement, Belle Isle would have been run as a state park under the management of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and motorists would have to pay an annual $11 fee to enter the island.
“I believe the majority of Detroiters supported this lease agreement,” Bing said. “City Council’s actions today will force us to look at making additional cutbacks that may negatively impact the City’s other parks.”
The city has cut Belle Isle’s upkeep budget by 76 percent over the past six years according to the city’s general services department. Running Belle Isle at a bare minimum still costs almost $6 million a year.
Supporters of the lease offer said that the millions the city spends annually on Belle Isle could go to other city parks that sorely need maintenance.
But city council president Charles Pugh, who wavered on his opinion of the deal, said he isn’t disappointed that the deal is off.
“I was never fully comfortable with the belle isle lease anyway,” He said after he voted to stall the decision. “It’s one of those things where you pull the trigger on the deal and then something better comes up a year or two later and you’re like dang what have we done?”
Pugh said he wanted to brainstorm other possibilities to gain revenue to keep the island under city control and ownership. “We never really looked at the fact that we have a port authority with its own bonding capacity. We just applied for a national historic designation for Belle Isle we don’t know what kind of grant opportunities that exist because of that.”
Pugh suggested that Bing was not a “focused mayor” and not determined to find a solution for the Belle Isle expenditures in-house.
“I feel like we have not had a full commitment from the mayors office to make sure our jewel really is a jewel,” he said.
But the withdrawal of the offer shows frustration on Snyder’s part. A spokesperson for the governor said the deal was off because the DNR needed to know by the end of January whether it needed to budget for Belle Isle in the 2013 fiscal year.
A soured relationship between the city and the state could also fast track an emergency manager to take over the city’s finances and siphon much control from elected officials. Detroit is currently under state financial review to determine whether the governor should appoint an emergency manager to the city.
Because the Belle Isle Lease was part of a consent agreement between the city and the state it is unclear if the cancellation of the offer will put the city’s finances over the edge into emergency management.
Pugh said he hoped Snyder would not hold a grudge because of the council’s decision to postpone a vote on the deal.
“I hope that Governor Snyder would not go away angry from this seeming rejection of the Belle Isle lease and then not want to partner with us. I would love the state to be a partner with Belle Isle but not with the state running it.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 09:40
Category: Breaking News Written by Joy Resmovits, thehuffingtonpost
WASHINGTON -- The standards-based education reform movement calls school change "the civil rights issue of our time." But about 220 mostly African American community organizers, parents and students from 21 cities from New York to Oakland, Calif., converged on Washington Tuesday to tell U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan he's getting it backwards on school closures.
Members of the group, a patchwork of community organizations called the Journey for Justice Movement, have filed several Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, claiming that school districts that shut schools are hurting minority students. While most school closures are decided locally, the Education Department's School Improvement Grant gives underperforming school districts money for shakeups or turnarounds, including closures.
The meeting became heated at times. "The voices of the people directly impacted can no longer be ignored," said Jitu Brown, an organizer from the South Side of Chicago. "This type of mediocrity is only accepted because of the race of the students who are being served." He called school closures "a violation of our human rights," since many communities are left without neighborhood schools after districts shut them down.
"We are not Astroturf groups," Brown continued. "We are not people who are paid by private interests to appear."
Helen Moore, an organizer from Detroit, said the current reform movement is tantamount to racism. "We are now reverting back to slavery," she said. "All the things that are happening are by design, by design, by design. They don't want our children to have an education, but we'll fight to the death."
Members of the Obama administration, including Duncan and Obama education advisor Roberto Rodriguez, were in attendance. The Obama administration has been repeatedly admonished for ignoring racial issues. Duncan opened the meeting by saying his job was to listen. "As populations go down, a lot of changes have to be made," Duncan said. He called for a recognition of common goals and intentions. But due to his schedule, he left the meeting after 45 minutes, leading to a quick "Where is Duncan? Where is Duncan?" chant.
Over the last few years, cities have used closing schools as a strategy to raise student performance or to save money. Philadelphia, New York and Chicago are among cities considering even larger waves of closures. Philadelphia, for example, is slated to close 37 schools by June. But organizer Brown argued that shutting schools hurts communities and poses major safety threats to kids who have to travel further to go to school.
The Office of Civil Rights, responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, is investigating school closings in cities that include Detroit and Philadelphia. From Oct. 21, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2013, the Office of Civil Rights has investigated 27 school closings, finding insufficient evidence of civil rights violations in every case. Currently, the office has 33 open cases involving 29 school districts in 22 states, officials said. Tuesday's meeting had no bearing on the investigation procedure.
The protest goal is a moratorium on school closures, phaseouts and turnarounds. Brown has met with Duncan and other Education officials before, and said he wants to take his case to Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama. Duncan's spokesman, Daren Briscoe, said the Education Department doesn't have the power to impose a moratorium. The department controls less than 10 percent of the nation's public school dollars, and most school closures are locally decided, he said.
Schools are closed for reasons ranging from cost to underuse. Brown argued that if Duncan suspended the School Improvement Grant program, he could stop some closures and turnarounds, while "changing the tone" surrounding closings. (School closures, though, are seldom done through School Improvement Grants.)
A Pew Foundation report on school closures found that "academic studies suggest that student achievement often falls during the final months of a closing school’s existence." And a recent audit of Washington's closures found that a recent wave cost $8 million more than originally projected.
But still, school districts are pressing forward with closure plans. Chicago is expected to decide on the number of schools it will close soon. Aquila Griffin, 17, spoke at the Tuesday event, saying she recently left a Chicago high school that was being "phased out." As the school lost students in its last days, it shed teachers, computers and classes that made it stand out, Griffin said.
"Now students are walking into the back of the school building like sharecroppers from the 1930s," Griffin said. She invoked the Martin Luther King Jr. maxim on judging people not on the color of their skin, but on the merits of their character. "My judgment of the [Department of Education] is, how do you plan to correct the wrong you let happen in the first place?" She received a standing ovation.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 08:56
Category: Breaking News Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
(CBS/AP) HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Kimberly McCarthy, a Texas woman convicted in the 1997 gruesome murder of her 71-year-old neighbor, was scheduled to be executed Tuesday night. The execution would have made her the first female inmate in three years to be put to death in the U.S.
McCarthy, 51, was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of retired college psychology professor Dorothy Booth. Authorities said it was among three slayings linked to McCarthy, a former nursing home therapist who was addicted to crack cocaine.
McCarthy will be the 13th woman executed in the U.S. and the fourth in Texas, the nation's busiest death penalty state, since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. Within that same time period, more than 1,300 male inmates have been executed nationwide.
Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics compiled from 1980 through 2008 show that women make up about 10 percent of homicide offenders nationwide. According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, 3,146 people were on the nation's death rows as of Oct. 1, 2012, and only 63 - 2 percent - were women.
In a final legal effort to spare her life, McCarthy's lawyers asked Gov. Rick Perry on Monday to use his executive authority to issue a 30-day reprieve. They also appealed to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to withdraw or modify the execution date, citing his support that Texas adopt a law allowing death-row inmates to appeal on racial grounds. McCarthy is black, while all but one of her 12 Dallas County jurors were white.
State District Judge Larry Mitchell issued a reprieve for 51-year-old Kimberly McCarthy less than five hours before she could have been taken to the death chamber for the 1997 slaying of a neighbor.
Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Shelly Yeatts says McCarthy's execution date now is April 3.
McCarthy's lawyers contend the jury that convicted her of murder was improperly selected on the basis of race. McCarthy is black. Her jury was made up of 11 whites and one black person.
Her lead attorney, Doug Parks, said drug use was McCarthy's downfall.
"I think when she's off dope she's probably a pretty good person," he said. "I believe now, as I did then, that in the penitentiary, Kim would be absolutely no danger to anyone."
Investigators said McCarthy called Booth to borrow a cup of sugar. When she came to pick it up, McCarthy attacked Booth with a butcher knife at her home in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas. Prosecutors said McCarthy forced the woman's hand to a chopping block so she could cut off her finger to remove her wedding ring.
Blood DNA evidence also tied McCarthy to the December 1988 slayings of 81-year-old Maggie Harding and 85-year-old Jettie Lucas. Harding was stabbed and beaten with a meat tenderizer, while Lucas was beaten with both sides of a claw hammer and stabbed.
McCarthy, who denied any involvement in the attacks, was indicted but not tried for those slayings.
"She took the most defenseless, the most helpless people, people that trusted her, that she chose to attack," Davis said.
McCarthy is a former wife of Aaron Michaels, founder of the New Black Panther Party, and he testified on her behalf. They had separated before Booth's slaying.
McCarthy is among 10 women on death row in Texas, but the only one with an execution date.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 15:57
Category: Breaking News Written by Ashley Woods and Kate Abbey-Lambertz, huffingtonpost
DETROIT -- The lens that magnified Detroit's critical tax crisis has sharpened its focus.
Loveland Technologies, the firm that mapped the city of Detroit's foreclosure crisis in stunning detail as thousands of land parcels were auctioned off by Wayne County, introduced a sophisticated update to the Why Don't We Own This? website on Friday.
WDWOT 2.0 is the result of four months of development, design time, "soul-searching and talking," said Loveland's founder, Jerry Paffendorf.
The updated site features even more detailed property information, including land parcels owned by the city of Detroit, homes that are at risk for foreclosure and the tax status of properties.
Scroll down to see a slideshow of new features in WDWOT 2.0.
Detroiters can check the tax status of their property online, and those in trouble are automatically presented with options that can help them prevent foreclosure. The site has also been made more accessible from a mobile browser.
One of the biggest changes to WDWOT is a new premium section, which for a $25 annual fee offers select features like the ability to save maps and searches. Premium members can also make private comments only available to other premium members and access an alert system that notifies members when a property's status changes.
In what might be a nod to one of Paffendorf's first efforts in the city, the land ownership project Detroit Inches, premium members are assigned a "Pet Block" -- that is, a randomly selected 1/4 mile of Detroit.
"We match you with a part of the city that you might not know," Paffendorf said. Loveland employee Alex Alsup added, "It's a quick way to get beyond the overwhelming-ness of the full city map and get back to the local area."
These changes represent the evolution of WDWOT, which now counts four full-time employees. Paffendorf said that although they first built the site just to improve the process for people who wanted to buy property in the city's foreclosure auctions, the Loveland team has since expanded their outlook to take a broader view of property and ownership in the city -- "four-dimensionally," according to Paffendorf.
"The auction is happening every day," said Paffendorf. "It's just leading up to it right now."
It's leading up to what can only be described as a citywide financial disaster. The Loveland data indicate more than 59,000 properties in the city are delinquent on their taxes. The city is owed more than $440 million in back taxes and penalties, though it has acknowledged possible flaws in its records.
In 2007, Detroit had topped the nation in foreclosures, with nearly 5 percent of its homes in some stage of the process. Though 2012 saw a 26 percent decline in foreclosures across Metro Detroit, more than 75,000 foreclosure filings were still processed in the metropolitan area. According to RealtyTrac, one in every 391 housing units in Detroit received a foreclosure filing in December -- compared to one in every 436 units in Wayne County and one in every 810 housing units in the U.S. as a whole. And last year's foreclosure auction saw the sale of nearly 8,000 properties, some for as little as $500.
Alsup and Paffendorf said there are many possible uses for their improved site. Detroiters could visualize the privately created Detroit Future City framework, which provides a road map for city development over the next four decades, using WDWOT's data. Community organizations could build private maps to keep track of abandoned lots in their neighborhood. Organizations working on foreclosure prevention may find the data to be more proactive.
But not everyone sees the open access to information as a good thing. When WDWOT first made information from the massive county foreclosure auction readily available online, some wondered if the site would just help out-of-state speculators to buy up property on the cheap -- with no intention of ever improving it.
Ted Phillips, executive director of Detroit's United Community Housing Coalition, told the Detroit News that the new information available could make it easier for scam artists to target individuals who are facing foreclosure.
Alsup and Paffendorf acknowledge that the information could be used in ways that won't help the city. But they believe their site is still an improvement on the existing system because it democratizes access to information that had primarily been available only to government agencies and those with funds and connections. Their main vision for WDWOT, they said, is to give citizens agency and access to information, rather than to advance any particular goal or mission for the city.
"It's just a pair of glasses to look at this blurry world," Paffendorf said. "We have a digital tool that's super powerful, but it needs the street teams to do that work."
They also see a future for Loveland Technologies in expanding this project to other cities. They say it would be relatively easy for the firm, which has not made money on the site before the recent addition of the premium option, to implement similar data mapping elsewhere.
While the project reveals his San Francisco Bay-area roots in its assumption that there's an online solution for every problem -- even one as large as property ownership in Detroit -- Paffendorf said he thinks the genesis of WDWOT is quite specific to its location.
"It takes the scale and the kind of problems Detroit has to think about why you’d create this," said Alsup. "The questions are a lot more urgent [here]."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 11:22
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