Week of 12/14/12
Process Servers Say Foreclosure Crisis Puts Them in Greater Danger
(AOL.com, December 12, 2012)
Process server Michael Root says that he knows how angry foreclosure notices can make homeowners -- because one property owner almost killed him and members of his family.
As it turned out, Root wasn't even bringing a foreclosure notice when, he said, he was attacked in June by a homeowner in Wingdale, N.Y.; it was a notice about a credit card bill. But according to Root, the man didn't know that and he'd already been served notice of foreclosure on his home by another process server that day.
The man became so enraged at another legal notice, Root said, that he jumped on a nearby backhoe and drove it into Root's car. "He raised the bucket and pushed it through the back window and almost cut my kid's head off," added Root, who said that he happened to have his wife and daughter with him that day. (Root is pictured above, on the job.) ...
Indeed, borrowers are more likely to push back now, suggests research by Michael J. Seiler, chairman of Real Estate and Economic Development at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He co-authored two studies that explore borrower sentiment in the wake of the housing collapse and they found that Wall Street bailouts, lenders' unwillingness to modify distressed loans, and overall mistrust stemming from the financial crisis have made borrowers more resistant to foreclosure. Seiler said that he could "definitely understand why" that might have an impact on process servers.
"As the economy continues to tank, unemployment remains high and the housing market fails to recover, homeowners' patience will continue to wane," said Seiler. "Mortgage default is a major psychological event for a homeowner." (More)
Va. GOP Cliffhanger: Still Bound by Norquist No-tax Pledge?
(Hispanic Business/The Daily Press, December 13, 2012)
As the nation careens toward the fiscal cliff and negotiations between Congress and the White House seem to be moving at a snail's pace, many Republican lawmakers find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
If a deal isn't reached by the end of the month, the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush will expire, and the sequestration process kicks in.
Sequestration is a set of more than $1 trillion in arbitrary federal spending cuts over 10 years -- including nearly $500 billion in defense spending -- put in place as a result of last year's deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling and an attempt to rein in a roughly $1.2 trillion budget deficit and more than $16 trillion in federal debt. ...
For those who have signed on with Norquist, agreeing to either proposal would break the pledge.
That could cause electoral problems down the road, especially in primaries where outcomes are "even more vulnerable to the influence of party bases," said Old Dominion University political science professor Jesse Richman.
For two local Republican members of Congress -- Reps. Rob Wittman of Westmoreland and Scott Rigell of Virginia Beach -- voting for revenue increases is less of a problem. (More)
After 9 months of decreases, local foreclosures spike
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 13, 2012)
Foreclosure activity in Hampton Roads accelerated in November for the first time since January, according to a report to be released today.
Lenders issued 806 foreclosure-related notices in the area last month, up 53 percent from the 527 issued in October and 27 percent from the 635 reported in November 2011, according to RealtyTrac, a foreclosure monitoring service in Irvine, Calif.
Previous monthly reports from RealtyTrac showed decreases in the number of foreclosures in Hampton Roads year-over-year going back to January.
In 2011, July was the only month that saw a year-over-year increase in foreclosures over 2010.
Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics and director of the Economic Forecasting Project at Old Dominion University, said there appear to be peculiarities in this month's set of data. For example, four cities - Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach - had much higher rates of foreclosure notices than others in the region.
It's hard to say why November saw a spike in notices, he said, without knowing more about which banks hold the mortgages.
"It is possible that the banks have expedited these notices," Agarwal said. "Or they were waiting. We had some legal roadblocks on these things, so maybe the banks have decided that foreclosure notices are the way to go." (More)
Jury awards Norva Plastics more than $3.75 million in eminent domain trial
(Inside Business, December 9, 2012)
Norva Plastics Inc. will get about $1.5 million more than the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority was willing to pay in court.
A five-member jury of land owners awarded Howard Everton $3,756,250 in just compensation of the eminent domain trial against the NRHA at Norfolk Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Norva Plastics, an international plastics fabricator and supplier of industrial plastics, and Central Radio Co., which supplies communication systems, were two of four properties condemned by the NRHA through eminent domain to make room for the expansion of University Village, a mixed use development near the Old Dominion University.
Combined, the businesses have been in Norfolk 140 years.
Norva Plastics, located at 3911 Killam Ave., has one building on the property totaling 34,689 square-feet, which was first built in 1955, added onto in 1964 and remodeled in 2002. NRHA assessed the property, zoned light industrial, at $2.08 million when it first condemned the property. (More)
KEEPING IT HERE Local Loyalty May Rely on Competitive Pricing
(Inside Business, December 10, 2012)
A vibrant local economy can stimulate communities and insulate a region from national trends - a concept that's for long proven positive within Hampton Roads. But the area economy's robustness has tapered some since 2006, said James Koch, Board of Visitors professor of economics at Old Dominion University. Higher unemployment, slow economic growth and uncertainty about the future have yielded caution regarding spending and hiring, he said. Within a competitive global economy, what's to keep budget-oriented Virginians doing business close to home?
Sustaining a local economy "is a two-way street," stated Jack Hornbeck, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. As consumers aim to save, businesses have to profit to thrive. Those that prosper can then add value to their communities, re-circulating wealth via employment, purchasing, philanthropy, tax base contribution and more, and delivering the kind of attention that cultivates reciprocal relationships.
While Koch joins others in encouraging people to "look local first," businesses "have to perform," to earn the loyalty, and "to compete effectively" with outsiders, he noted.
Retailers of everything from package goods to electronics, automobiles and more can play a vital role in keeping dollars circulating here in the local economy, as can other businesses and those on whom they all rely. Competitive pricing will be the key for many. (More)
A good year that may lead to another
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, December 11, 2012)
Christmas presents have collected under Norfolk's tree all year. They're the kind that keep on giving, too, with payoffs possible well into the future.
Two big items top that list: Light rail celebrated its first year in August and continues to exceed ridership expectations. Virginia Beach voters voiced a loud "yes, please!" to their city pursuing a rail extension. And, starting today, passenger rail returns to the southside for the first time in 35 years.
Norfolk's interim development director, Chuck Rigney, said the city's work toward building more ways to move goods and people changed the dynamic of economic growth here. Companies seeking new venues based on criteria like transportation and workforce narrow their choices on the Internet. Without mass transit, Norfolk wouldn't make the first cut, he said. ...
James V. Koch, an economics professor at Old Dominion University, wants the city to pay more attention to the long term.
Light rail and passenger rail brought more transportation options, he said, but Norfolk remains in dire need of road improvements. And companies looking to relocate or hire need skilled, educated workers. That means Norfolk must do more to improve its primary schools.
Koch also voiced the same concern many in Norfolk's government and economic development structure have been worried about: diversifying the city's economy. "I think the prospective declines in defense have made us more sensitive to needs for diversity," he said. "It's too bad it has taken sequestration to get us to think that." (More)
Wilder's wonderful act
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 11, 2012)
Thank you for printing the picture of Old Dominion University football coach Bobby Wilder clapping his team off the field after Saturday's loss to Georgia Southern.
We stayed in our seats for a while after the game ended, soaking in the bittersweet last moments of the 2012 football season. We watched the Georgia Southern team celebrate with their fans as the ODU team walked down to shake hands with the ROTC members who have manned the north end zone all year.
As the Monarchs headed slowly back into their locker room, heads down, Wilder clapped as they walked by. It was heartening to see in person, and I am glad the moment was captured for other fans.
Congratulations to the players and the coaches on a thrilling 11-2 season. ODU has a lot to be proud of.
Ginger Graham White,Norfolk (More)
Show Me the Money
(The New York Times, December 11, 2012)
The annual IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, held last week in Midtown Manhattan, is the kind of meeting where football games are routinely described as "product," television networks are "distribution channels," and rooting for State U. is an example of "brand loyalty." The university presidents, conference commissioners, athletic directors and corporate marketers who attend spend very little time mouthing the usual pieties about how the "student-athlete" comes first. Rather, they gather each year to talk bluntly about making money.
Did you know, for instance, that college football was the top-rated program on four of the five Saturday nights that it aired in 2012? That consumers spent more than $4.5 billion on college sports merchandise in 2011? That more than 20 million college sports fans earn $100,000 a year? That is the sort of thing you learn at the conference (which IMG, a giant sports marketing firm, co-runs with Sports Business Journal.)
Take, for instance, the new college football playoff system that will begin in 2014. You might have thought that the big issue is that only four schools will get to participate - so there is still going to be a lot of dissension over who gets in and who doesn't.
But no, that wasn't it at all. The college sports executives were perfectly sanguine about the likelihood of controversy; it would help drive ratings. The real issue is how to divvy up the $470 million that ESPN has agreed to pay annually for the right to televise the playoffs. "The smaller schools all want a bigger piece of the pie," said Wood Selig, the athletic director at Old Dominion University. Good luck with that, Wood. (More)
It was a season for ODU fans to savor
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 8, 2012)
It was a difficult way for Old Dominion to end its football season. The Monarchs led Saturday's Football Championship Subdivision playoff game against Georgia Southern, 35-21, after three quarters, and then were outscored 28-0 in the final period.
ODU appeared to be in control, but had a fumble, an interception, missed tackles and so many missed opportunities in that monumental fourth quarter meltdown.
Georgia Southern won, 49-35, denying ODU revenge for last season's 55-48 playoff loss at Statesboro, Ga.
But as memories of the collapse fade, and ODU followers put things in perspective, this was a season for Monarch fans to savor.
ODU was playing just its fourth season of football, and had the Monarchs been eligible for the Colonial Athletic Association title, they would have won. That's a major accomplishment for such a young program.
ODU won 11 of 13 games and at 7-1, had the best record in the CAA. There were victories at James Madison, Richmond and Towson, and home victories against William and Mary, Delaware and New Hampshire.
ODU led the nation in scoring and total offense and had a quarterback in Taylor Heinicke who rewrote the NCAA record book as a sophomore.
Because ODU is moving up to Conference USA and the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Monarchs were ineligible for the CAA title. Yet they made the FCS playoffs and advanced to the third round, to the Elite Eight. They were ranked as high as third in the national polls.
"We didn't want it to end like this," said senior linebacker Craig Wilkins, a four-year starter and four-year captain.
"But four years ago, if you'd told us it would end like this, a lot of people would have not believed it. We were in the Elite Eight, in the playoffs. When we first got here expectations weren't very high.
"Losing is a big disappointment to us right now. But it just shows far we came in just four years." (More)
ODU group collects leftover concessions for homeless
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 9, 2012)
In India, Saivijay Arra saw homeless families on the streets every day.
When he came to America, where he is working toward a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Old Dominion University, he was surprised by what he saw.
"I never thought the U.S. had homeless people," Arra said. "It's a rich country."
Arra wanted to help in India, but he didn't know where to start. An estimated 80 million people live in homelessness there.
At ODU, the group Global Student Friendship gave him a chance to lend a hand closer to campus.
After football and basketball games, concerts and other campus events, the student group's volunteers gather leftover concession stand food to donate to Union Mission Ministries in Norfolk as part of the Food for the Homeless program. More than 15,000 meals have been donated since Global Student Friendship partnered with ODU's food service provider, Aramark, and the school's Center for Service and Civic Engagement in January 2011.
Kurnia Foe, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, founded the student group in 2005 to help bridge the gap between local and international students. When the university reached out to students to help with leftover food donations, Foe jumped at the opportunity. He saw it as a chance to not only aid the community, but also broaden international students' perspectives of America.
"It's providing them a way of serving in the U.S. and inspiring them to bring about change when they go back home," said Foe, who is from Indonesia. (More)
Seas rising faster, state action needed, experts say
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 9, 2012)
Virginia needs to begin addressing rising sea levels now because the waters are coming up faster and faster - at higher rates than many experts realized just a few years ago.
That's the message of a study, still in the works, that the General Assembly requested last winter to better understand the growing problem of coastal flooding.
The risks of rising seas, and the flooding they help cause, are not new but are "more evident and increasing," said Carl Hershner, a Virginia Institute of Marine Science professor and co-author of the study.
"That makes the need for effective planning and action more pressing now than it has ever been," Hershner said.
Planning and building projects such as sea walls can take decades, he said. "We are sort of running out of time." ...
Assuming a rise of 3.7 feet by 2100 - a number that appears low now - Old Dominion University researchers said in a 2009 report: "From north to south, vast areas of Mathews, Gloucester and York counties, most of Poquoson, and much of the cities of Hampton, Norfolk, Chesapeake and the Virginia Beach oceanfront will be underwater unless protected by dikes and levees."
Dire predictions are not new. Some scientists two years ago predicted a local sea-level increase of up to 7 feet by 2100. Now, however, the projected increase "is getting more firm at the upper end," Hershner said.
Three studies in the past five months - by VIMS, Old Dominion and the U.S. Geological Survey - found sea levels rising at increasing rates along much of the Atlantic coast. (More)