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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rosario: A voiceless American demands to be heard

Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Blogger Bob said...

Forgotten and fed up
Rosario: A voiceless American demands to be heard
Ruben Rosario
Article Last Updated: 08/14/2008 07:33:32 AM CDT

A stranger sent me an e-mail this week. I get quite a few. This one struck a chord. I strongly suspect it might do the same for others.

Her name is Allison Evenson. To some, she's a nobody. She's not a celebrity. She's not wealthy or influential. She's not an officeholder or a political candidate. She's not an Olympian or a famous athlete, not someone plugging herself or someone who makes the news by taking a life or breaking a law.

She's a household name only where it truly counts — in her family's home. She is a 24-year-old from Hastings. She works part time nights as a supermarket cashier. She's a wife and doting mother of two immensely cute, well-behaved, tow-headed daughters — Kadee, 5, and Maggie, 18 months. I know this because I spent time with them.

As Allison describes herself in the e-mail: "I have no credentials for others to listen to me. Just my own voice, which wants to be heard. I am a person too just like the millionaires."

Yes, she is. She has a tale to tell, warts and all.

Allison and Tom Evenson are a young, two-income, lower-middle-class American household whose gas was cut off Friday for four days.

It wasn't because they didn't want to pay. The Evensons, like many of us, are a hard-working, paycheck-to-paycheck family. They are now, like a growing number of us, a paycheck-to-increasingly-mounting-unpaid-bills family. This is the hard knock facing many American families once accustomed to a more comfortable way of life.

The shutoff was a humiliating shock to Allison's self-worth, pride and sense of responsibility, traits her parents instilled in her while she was growing up in a partially working-poor family.

"I felt shame and guilt,'' she says. "I felt like I let my family down. I felt horrible as a mother, as a wife that is in charge of the money."

Allison Evenson is part of America's "forgotten class,'' as she aptly describes it.

She and her husband, until recently, made too much money to receive substantial government assistance. Yet they can barely pay for the essentials in this sagging economy.

Tom is a member of the Teamsters union who landed a truck delivery job a few years ago with a general salary of more than $42,000, with health insurance. Allison rightly wonders what it would be like if her husband's union wasn't there in these times of hardship.


Allison contributed first by working as a rental-leasing agent at an Eagan apartment complex where they lived. She also applied for courses in pursuit of an accounting degree with an Iowa-based online community college.

She landed a job as a bank teller in Hastings after the couple secured what now seems like a too-high Dakota County Assistance subsidized mortgage loan of almost $190,000. The interest rate was slightly under 6 percent.
They bought into the American Dream, whether they could afford it or not.

But Tom Evenson's shift grew longer, although the extra pay didn't keep pace with the rise in food, utility and gas prices. He could no longer get home to take over child-rearing duties in time for his wife's 4 to 7 p.m. shift.

Though she liked her job, Allison acknowledged she felt pressure from her employer to push new mortgages or credit cards onto working-class families. She knew that like her family, they would be strapped to meet the payments.

"I really felt uncomfortable about that,'' she told me. "We had quotas.''

She became a stay-at-home parent — perhaps the most important duty — after relatives could no longer care for the couple's daughters.

Bills soon mounted. Then the family's gas was shut off. Allison locked herself in a room and cried after she realized the shutoff meant she couldn't bathe herself or her daughters with warm water many of us take for granted.

Her in-laws paid the $400 gas bill. They have also significantly contributed in keeping up with three months' worth of $1,250 mortgage payments.

Absent that help, Allison thinks her family would join the ranks of American families losing their homes to foreclosure. Up to 2.5 million U.S. homes could be hit with foreclosure this year, according to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

"I look at my situation and, oh, my gosh, I think about that other person in my similar situation who doesn't have an in-law or other support," Allison said.

She's tuned to the political rhetoric of the day. She buys little of it. She's not perfect — she endured poverty, as well as an eating disorder that almost cost her her life in high school. She suffers from depression and the stigma that still accompanies an affliction that should be looked upon much like a broken leg — in need of compassion as well as healing.


She is willing to risk ridicule and scorn to be heard. She speaks for many.

The following is an excerpt from her daily journal this week. What she has to say, in my eyes, is more important than the words of ideologically bent blowhards on the airwaves pushing an agenda or a product, much like snake-oil salesmen of old or predatory lenders of these times.

Allison does not blame her plight on foreign terrorists or illegal immigrants. She dismissed fear-mongering as a divisive smokescreen.

"Money has divided us as a country. Politics are there, but they are just a distraction to it,'' she wrote this week in her notebook. She reads this as Kadee shows me an impressive drawing of a cat she made for me.

"We all have our vices, our past, our weaknesses," Allison Evenson reads.

"Look at the way our democracy is. Al Franken. Norm Coleman. One against one. The ads I see today justify my point. They advertise the worst in the other in hopes, in order for themselves to feel better, seem better, in the public eye. But from what I have seen ... neither is better. Neither is good in their intentions.

"Nobody is perfect," she reads to me. "Yet this is where we are as a country, not believing the good in one another. We need to come together, to stop being divided."

Yes, Allison, there is not only a Santa Claus, but you also are not a nobody. You speak for many.

Agree or disagree? E-mail or call me with your thoughts. They may be published this weekend, if you have the conviction to publicly identify yourself and where you live, like Allison and Tom Evenson.

Rubén Rosario can be reached at or 651-228-5454.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's lucky she doesn't live in St. Paul. The Lantry inspectors would be on her doorstep in a heartbeat to throw them in the street and declare the place vacant and now needing a $50,000.00 code compliance.....making it unsalable under "DEMO DAN's" recent ordinance they pased. While I feel sorry for Allison, she has no idea what hard times really are.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

REAL hardships over looked

Thursday, August 14, 2008 9:01 AM
From: "Bob Johnson"

I found your story- "Rosario: A voiceless American demands to be heard" interesting.

Why don't you write a REAL story of plight?

This woman thinks she has problems. If she lived in Saint Paul the city would have condemned her home for lack of utilities and thrown all of them out on the streets.
Saint Paul Minnesota's Premier Electronic Town Hall Meeting

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

I seen your post at Bob..Thanks

Bob Johnson
Saint Paul, MN
This family is darn lucky they aren't having hard times in the City of Saint Paul. If a home owners water or electric gets cut off in Saint Paul, X-Cel notifies the city and the city condemns your house and puts your family on the street.

There is a Round Table Discussion on Housing in Saint Paul at the A Democracy Blog.

The guest are City Council President Kathy Lantry, Mitch Berg of 1280 AM Patriot Radio and Bill Cullen of Cullen Homes.

Please join us!


Bob Johnson
Host of
A Democracy Town Hall Meeting

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is a daily story all over the country. This puts the face on foreclosers, but many of see those faces all of the time. They are lucky to have inlaws that are helping them. Many do not have that. For most people, the power bill is the last thing that they let go. By then they are in forecloser and well into the redemption period.

The City doesn't have the staff to be out there condemning every property the minute the power goes off. In fact I don't think they get the notice from Xcel until it has been off for thirty days. I have wroked with families that have had their power shut off, 3-4 times and have never seen anyone from the City.

What ought to be the issue in these cases is how in the heck can we come up with a way to help these people refinance these things to keep them in the house. They just flat out can't cover that mortgage payment.


Chuck Repke

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The future for society doesn't look like it going to get any better either, according to the news on Tuesday night the cost of heating a home is expected to go up by approximately 35% or more this upcoming winter season. With figures like that a person can just about predict how that will affect condemnation and vacant homes along with the foreclosures in the spring when residents are no longer protected from having the utilities shut off which in return sends the housing code team out to amke the situation even more devastating for the family. The outlooks not a pretty picture for many but truely a sad one.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had one in the neighborhood two weeks ago where the eviction notice from the Ramsey County Sherrif was posted on the front door and taped next to it was a note from the evicted homeowners and an envelope with the keys to the house... they were sorry that they left some stuff behind...

It breaks your heart.

And, this was one where the owners had put the place on the market attempting to at least break even when they left and not have had the house go back to the bank. They had tried to do everything the right way and there they were being evicted for not paying the mortgage (the power was still on).


Chuck Repke

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck, code has the time to condem homes with utility shut off. They have been doing it for sometime now.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck said: “I have worked with families that have had their power shut off, 3-4 times and have never seen anyone from the City.”

Who the phuck are you kidding. A neighbor had his power turned off and three days later St. Paul Fire inspectors were at their door and they were told to leave because they did not have power.

Chuck you are full of Bull Poop and your buddy Thune would have received an extension or a waiver.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry 6:56 just because every once and awhile something happens, doesn't mean it happens all of the time. I am working with one family on the east side that has had their power turned off at least 3 times and has never had orders on the house.

I can't help it that its true.


Chuck Repke

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am working with one family on the east side that has had their power turned off at least 3 times and has never had orders on the house."

Try telling them to pay their fucking bills, asshole.

This is the story of a gal who cannot manage to make payments on her $190k house, which she and her hubby got because the county subsidized the mortage they couldn't afford right from the get go.

Her husband is a union boob that makes $42k a year driving a truck around, but they still got their gas turned the fucking bill!

Read the comments, she goes from whining to utter idiocy...this was my favorite quote from Allison:

"Try thinking this The Government is the parents and we are the children"


Repke, tell your daughter to STFU and get a job, will you?

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck why don't you offer her a place to stay.....WAIT! You have a shithole of a rental and I wouldn't ever let that scumbag Bucky live there.

Forget it.....Get a job!Be lucky your not in St.Paul----Paint your house also Geesh!


10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chuck,

Call Bob Kessler and he will tell you that once the power is turned off the city is notified. DSI send out Fire to inspect the property.

If the home is occupied, they are ordered out. Ask Dave to pull this up through council research if you don't believe me. Bob Kessler used to do research for the city council and he will bend your ear on the subject.

There is a business on Prior, a welding company who could not afford to pay the electric bill due to the high property taxes he had to pay. Fire was out the next day after the Power Company notified the city.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The round table is over. Comments are open to the public now. scroll down the front page to the topic.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DNC builds secret jail for their convention in Denver

1:33 PM  

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