Austin Briefs
Students in Chicago will have 12 new schools to choose from come next fall. The Chicago Board of Education has approved eight high schools and four elementary schools, which will open for the 2009 school year.

Five schools proposed to open in 2010 are scheduled for a vote at the Nov. 19 Chicago Board of Education meeting. The approved schools are:

High Schools

Alcott High School for the Humanities, location yet to be determined

William B. Ogden High School, location yet to be determined

Urban Prep Academy for Young Men, East Garfield Park campus

Career Academy for Advanced Technology, location yet to be determined

Chicago Talent Development High School, location yet to be determined

The EPIC Academy, South Chicago Community, location yet to be determined

Noble Street Charter School, Bulls campus, location yet to be determined

Noble Street Charter School, Muchin campus, location yet to be determined

Elementary Schools

Garfield Park Preparatory Academy, East Garfield Park, location yet to be determined

South Loop of South Shore, location yet to be determined

Noble Street Charter School Bain-NUSH campus, location yet to be determined

Chicago International Charter School, Altgeld Gardens campus, Riverdale, 13300 S. Langley

Politicians take aim at Obama’s, Emanuel’s old jobs

Like a row of dominos, Illinois politicians are quickly falling into new positions as the result of Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency.

Obama made his first major appointment last Thursday when U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel accepted the position of White House chief of staff. That move will vacate the North Side seat he was reelected to last Tuesday. At least two candidates have thrown their hats into the special election ring.

Illinois State Rep. John Fritchey confirmed that he has taken steps to run for the open seat, saying that under normal circumstances the congressional seat would not interest him, but he sees this opportunity as special.

The Chicago Democrat cited his 12 years in the Illinois legislature as giving him the experience necessary to represent the 5th district.

Emanuel’s Republican opponent in last week’s election, Tom Hanson of Northfield, has said he plans to run in the special election to replace the future White House staffer.

As for Obama’s U.S. senate seat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich will choose his successor. Officials expressing interest in being appointed include U.S. congressmen Danny Davis and Jesse Jackson Jr.

Mortgage scam warning

A mystery man takes out hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage loans from area banks, but when he misses payments and the banks foreclose, he’s nowhere to be found. Maybe he never existed.

The mystery man was a straw buyer. The name on the deed changes, but the site that greets neighbors on the block never does-a boarded up vacant property.

In a 2008 FBI report on mortgage fraud, the bureau mapped one of the likely fraud schemes. It begins with a homeowner having a house falsely appraised. A $20,000 house is appraised for $80,000, for instance. The owner then sells to a straw buyer, who gets a loan of 80 percent of the home’s false value-$64,000-to buy the home. At the end of the deal, the seller and straw buyer have $44,000 to split. And the bank is left with a $64,000 mortgage on a $20,000 home.

The 2008 report also shows suspicious activity reported by financial institutions is on the rise. There were 11,000 reports filed in 2007, and the Chicago FBI has received more reports from banks about possible fraud, officials have said.

Some forms of fraud are against homeowners rather than lenders, say housing experts. These “rescue scams” are perpetrated on people falling behind on their mortgage payments. In one scam, a seemingly sympathetic figure offers to pay the homeowner’s mortgage in return for the deed, promising to let the homeowner buy the house back when their finances improve.

The scammer then rents the house to the original homeowner. When the homeowner attempts to buy it back, he is charged the original value of the house. The homeowner’s equity-the down payment plus any amount they’ve paid off on the principle-is lost.

In another scam, the con artist offers to help a troubled homeowner negotiate lower payments with their lender for a fee. A recent consumer alert from the Illinois attorney general noted scam artists charge up to $5,000 to help get homeowners out of trouble, but rarely produce results.

Medill News Service