Letters to the Editor 

Tattling on titles

Re: Your article on the Nuisance Abatement Program ("Nobody home," Metro Times, Jan. 7), the situation in Detroit is certainly as you describe it. In fact, it cost me $3 in money order (no cash, no check, no credit card accepted) just to get in and help a client settle a commercial tax issue that was almost 10 years old and had reached a total of $50,000.

I am not a lawyer, but I am a licensed title examiner, recently retired from the business. People buying houses that were acquired through tax title foreclosure are unlikely to find a title company to insure their title to that property.

The main sticking point is the notification process. The state Supreme Court has upheld, in the past, the notion that to take someone’s property from them for an amount far below the actual value of the property, i.e. tax sale, requires a superior effort to notify them of the pending loss of their property. This was upheld time and again under the old tax forfeiture procedures. Under the new law passed a few years ago, the process was accelerated so that only 2 years pass from the date of delinquency to foreclosure of the tax forfeiture. The problem is that the notification process has not been improved and no one has yet sued to recover their property. Most title insurance underwriters will not allow their agents to even issue commitments.

Even if they foreclose on a timely basis, I don’t know any title company that will insure a tax title without a complete investigation and a quiet title action in Circuit Court. Even at that, the risk to the title companies is perceived to be so great, because the previous owner could prevail in a court action, even though the law says he can never recover the property —Gary Krueger, Marine City, garytherev@yahoo.com.


Blank slate

Re: The proposal for a new convention center ("Conventional Wisdom," Metro Times, Jan. 14), fill in the blank. If only Detroit had a ______________, we would become a world-class city. The latest answer for that blank is a new convention center. But, as we all know, Detroit leaders have proclaimed many other big-ticket projects would also fix the city, and lead it to world-class status.

Go back 30 years, and the RenCen was supposed to be the catalyst to Detroit’s comeback. So was the ill-conceived People Mover. Obviously, the RenCen provided no renaissance, and the People Mover moved a lot less people than expected.

Not only big projects, but Detroit leaders have also centered comebacks on single events, like the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl will not fix the city. A new convention center will not fix the city. Building a bunch of new hotels rooms for a once-in-a-generation event like the Super Bowl is ludicrous. So you have full hotel rooms for one week. Who will fill those rooms for the next 20 years?

The same logic applies to a new convention center. The Detroit Auto Show is the one annual event that would fill a larger convention center. What then would fill it the rest of the year? Simply having a spacious convention center is not enough to draw conventions to Detroit from other cities. —Kurt Kelly, West Palm Beach, Fla., kkellybass@yahoo.com


Hit the road

Re: Your recent News Hit on cyclist safety ("Two-wheeled road hogs," Metro Times, Jan 14), not only does Detroit lead the way in pedestrian and bicycle accidents, it’s the fattest city in the fattest country in the world. These facts are connected. Infrastructure and culture that accommodate only cars and discourage human-powered travel are a main cause of physical inactivity and have contributed substantially to the epidemic of obesity. Obesity now approaches smoking as a major public health threat, and it’s built into the roads of Wayne County and the minds of people like director of Wayne County roads Patrick Hogan. Fixing the roads will cost money. Changing a mind may not be easy, but replacing a brain-dead bureaucrat is — Wayne County needs a new director of roads now! —Jim Crissman, Director at Large, League of Michigan Bicyclists, jcrissman@charter.net

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