Big Daddy

Ask Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,


Why does everyone NOW get excited about foreclosures? Where were these same people when unbelievable loans were made? My only wish is that most of the foreclosures are the Realtors, flippers, and speculators who drove the market sky-high with no financial support to back themselves.


—Jmrec100   

Dear Speculator Hater,

Many of us in and around the Capitol got used to the idea that the mortgage crisis was something happening out there. You know, to folks dumb enough to plunk down the price of an initiative campaign for a cardboard behemoth plopped in a barely drained rice field and sold by a company with a name like an evil robot (“Late payment does not compute! Centex destroy!” And in case you don’t think Centex sounds evil, let me point out it’s short for “Central Texas.”) You know, a crisis all right, but off in the distance, sort of like a somewhat less depressing version of Darfur. (Yes, I’d be going to hell right now if I weren’t already dead.)

But now this foreclosure fiasco has hit people close to us, ones we see every day. People with standing, good hair, capital of both the political and financial kind, and some of the nicest darn suits I’ve ever seen. And just like the last few months of watching the suburban real estate market doing the financial version of the last scene in “Poltergeist,” we can just sit here staring at our hands and know we should have seen it coming.

OK, actually pretty much everyone around here did see it coming. Heck, if you want to know the truth, I’m writing this on Monday. It’s still hours until the events I’m writing about actually happened. Do I have a crystal ball? Sure, right next to my hefty pile of Pets.com stock. You’re probably thinking a little Field Poll landed on my shoulder and told me, but I actually couldn’t hear that birdy over the din of everyone around me saying the same thing. Like most folks, I can see the future if it’s scheduled and pre-announced and I get a little reminder on my Blackberry.

Yep, the occupants are being evicted from a couple of gorgeous condos. High ceilings, huge windows, lots of period detail. Great downtown location. And if you don’t like the decor, the homeowners association will repaint and re-carpet for you. You won’t find that deal too many places. Unlike all those 7,000 square foot, two-bedroom, 12-bath houses with a “wow” atrium tucked away up past Folsom, there’s plenty of folks with six-figure bank accounts clamoring at this auction. So, people of the future, how are those leadership fights going?

To give Núñez and Perata some credit, it wasn’t their idea to have this vote in their last allotted year in office. Odd to say, but they fell into the trap of trying to do it right. A few boards and commissions later, they realized they were negotiating with people who just wanted a waiting game. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you realize not only that hindsight is blurry, but it’s got beer goggles for the path not taken.

Still, you’ve got to wonder how this prop would have done on, say, the November 2006, ballot — which would be screwy for the legislators themselves, but as of Wednesday morning that will look like a selling point. Or think how things might have turned out if leadership hadn’t carved out a few special exemptions for themselves — voters may agree with Barbie on the subject of math, but even they can figure out that the 18 is more than 12 (see: Perata, Ackerman).

It had to be galling to know that the Trojan horse was doing a victory lap around the Capitol all election day. The idea was that Prop. 93 comes with a nasty surprise, but I know what that horse is really full of. With Núñez and Perata, by now we know exactly what we’d get: a couple of slick operators who know how to raise money and probably try to cut too many deals, but who also understand and appreciate policy. With a budget crisis piling on top of a health care crisis on top of that little housing mishap you mentioned, we could do worse.

With their multimillion dollar investment, the opponents of Prop. 93 were hoping to buy a few carts full of government inaction. Here’s hoping that whatever new leaders take over don’t let them have it.  


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