NEWS DAY | Homes at risk in Minnesota / Dragons, dinosaurs and Quist / Students vs. superintendent candidate

Minnesotans losing homes A record 92,500 Minnesota homes are either in foreclosure or in danger of foreclosure, reports the Star Tribune. Altogether, that’s just over ten percent of the 900,000 home loan mortages in the state.  Some 62,000 mortgage holders were behind don their mortgages during the third quarter.

“They’re terrible numbers and they just keep getting worse,” said Scott Anderson, a senior economist for Wells Fargo. …
Of concern to the state’s housing experts is the shift from the bulk of troubled loans being the subprime variety to being prime loans — a sign the rising unemployment is crimping the ability of some homeowners to keep current on their loans.

Minnesota is not alone – national figures show increasing rates of delinquency and foreclosure. According to a November 19 report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, national figures show almost ten percent of mortgages in delinquency and an additional four-and-a-half percent already in foreclosure, for a “combined percentage of loans in foreclosure or at least one payment past due was 14.41 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the highest ever recorded in the MBA delinquency survey.” The increases in delinquencies and foreclosures are now being driven by unemployment and by defaults on prime mortgages:

“Prime fixed-rate loans continue to represent the largest share of foreclosures started and the biggest driver of the increase in foreclosures.  33 percent of foreclosures started in the third quarter were on prime fixed-rate and loans and those loans were 44 percent of the quarterly increase in foreclosures.  The foreclosure numbers for prime fixed-rate loans will get worse because those loans represented 54 percent of the quarterly increase in loans 90 days or more past due but not yet in foreclosure.

Quiat on the right: Dragons and dinosaurs and Darwin Allen Quist announced this week that he will run against Congressmember Tim Walz in Minnesota’s First District. He served in the Minnesota legislature in the 1980s and wrested the Republican gubernatorial nomination away from incumbent Republican Arne Carlson in the convention, only to lose to Carlson by a resounding 2-1 margin in the primary. His right-wing credentials, as described in the Star Tribune:

His targets include the House health care bill and the $787 billion stimulus package, but also Darwin and global warming. He once proclaimed that “a genetic predisposition” led men to be heads of households.

Quist and his wife are also closely associated with EdWatch, formerly the Maple River Education Coalition. EdWatch lists Quist as the editor of its curriculum, which includes units demonstrating that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time and attacks on Darwin, post-modernism, integrated math, and judicial activism. A few quotes give the flavor of Quist’s curriculum:

On Darwin and natural law:

Postmodern ideology is closely tied to Darwinian evolution. Darwinism, consistently applied, allows for no real morality, no genuine right and wrong, no Natural Law….
The content of Natural Law and of the Ten Commandments (revealed law) is essentially the same, but Natural Law operates by reason based on principles contained in the genetic code of all persons, whereas revealed law is known by written records including the Bible. In part because of the intersection of Natural Law and natural rights, natural law is a prominent component of the United States Declaration of Independence.

On dinosaurs and humans:

The history of dinosaurs is one area where such correction is badly needed. Modern history books, as well as science books, typically say that dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. These same books commonly say that human beings go back a mere 200,000 years (although they may speak of “pre-humans” going back two million years)….
Substantial evidence is emerging which suggests that peoples and dinosaurs actually lived at the same time….

What about written descriptions of dinosaurs? Several ancient historians, including Josephus and Herodotus, wrote about flying reptiles. In addition, ancient literature is filled with references to dragons. (The term “dinosaur” wasn’t coined until 1841; before that time dinosaurs were called “dragons.”) The best ancient written description of a dinosaur, however, is recorded in the book of Job, chapter 40.

On judges and the judicial system:

g) How do postmodernists interpret the U. S. Constitution? How does such an interpretation relate to judicial activism versus judicial restraint? (Answer: Postmodern judges are activist judges who have little regard for the Constitution because they see it as being a construct, not as being a genuine guideline for good government. As a consequence they have no hesitation about issuing rulings that actually are contrary to the Constitution, even though they have taken an oath to uphold it.)

Politics in Minnesota notes that Quist’s candidacy may keep more moderate Republicans out of the race:

The current buzz in GOP circles is that with Quist in the race, other possible contenders for the GOP endorsement won’t challenge Quist because Quist has been blessed by U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R MN6).  As one prominent Republican told me, “Bachmann is the 800-pound gorilla in GOP politics.”

PIM also reports that Quist’s wife, Julie Quist, who is Bachmann’s state director, said Bachmann was not making an endorsement in the First.

Superintendent candidate: Race has no role in achievement gap Deb Henton, the third finalist to be interviewed for SPPS superintendent, raised some eyebrows with her assertion that poverty has something to do with the achievement gap, but that “I do not think that race has a role in the achievement gap.”

As she met with the public and the board of education Thursday evening, students protested outside, citing actions taken during her tenure at Harding High School (2000-2005). The TC Daily Planet reported:

The protest was organized by Cheng Mee, a senior at Harding High School, where Henton served as principal from 2001 to 2005. Mee said many of the Hmong parents did not like Henton because of some things that happened while they had children at the school. “Henton was not supportive of minorities,” Mee said. Most of the protesting students were from Harding, but some were from Como Park and Central high schools. Two teachers and a counselor from Central stood off to the side. They said they were there to support their students.

Across the river, Steve Brandt reports on strong emotions at a Minneapolis City Council budget meeting. Mayor R.T. Rybak’s budget proposes a 11.3 percent tax increase, which would mean 6.6 percent for the average homeowner. Some homeowners showed up to protest that any increase in taxes would be too much, and to say that their taxes have already increased. Tax opponents were outnumbered by people urging that city spending be maintained, citing the needs ranging from police and fire response times to affordable housing to keeping an arts and culture worker on staff.

Brandt notes that this year’s budget process offers more opportunity for citizen input at an earlier stage:

Those who spoke up have an advantage they’ve lacked in previous years — the council is listening to them before its budget committee makes recommendations on the mayor’s budget instead of just before the council adopts it. It is scheduled to hear once more from the public on Dec. 7 at 6:05 p.m. in room 317 City Hall just before voting on the budget.

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