tv America Tonight Al Jazeera February 6, 2015 12:30am-1:01am EST
>> a mad junk yard dog. >> are little pieces of god's green acre here. >> that green acheser here in the valley of western pennsylvania. in the lake night teen 50's the local steel mill was taken over by a company contracted to build nuclearle bos. >> it was a nice town, and then this industry came in. >> welcome to florida, 2015 i thought that we lived in a country where your property couldn't be seized for private gain. >> this may be legal, my question to you is it moral his response? there is no question of morality in business. >> and good evening i'm joey chen, if there's one thing you out to be able to count on it is the place you call home. tonight we look at two communities are that trust was betrayed, first, florida
which was hit hard by hurricanes and by the collapse of the real estate market. developers went bankrupt homeowners went into foreclosure and then something else happened, a law intended to protect investors became an avenue for some to steal homes. forcing condoner whose had done absolutely nothing wrong, right into the streets. our investigation from america tonight. >> i thought that we lived in a country where your property couldn't be seized for private gain. and this blows me away. >> that this is possible. >> in the united states. i -- it blows me away. >> in the 2006, amanda gonzales bought what she shout was her slice of the american dream. a two bedroom condominium near orlando. >> i never miss add payment, never intended to. >> her mortgage, condo fees
taxes, all paid on time, all up to date. this just seemed surreal. >> so she was shocked when she received word two years ago that the complex was being terminated congress verted into rental apartments forcing her to sell it for far less than she paid for. lawyers in miami the very same people who sold it to her. >> i'd love a deal like that. sign me up. >> these two lawyers sold you the conned doe, and now they are turning around and telling you you can to longer own the condominium. >> at the price they set. >> they set. this is a forced sale. >> could you have held out could you have refused to sell. >> no. >> why not. >> they told me that the army the nation was done, and
recorded as of may of 2014. they told me they owned the unit since then. >> even so you did not sign a piece of paper. >> i signed nothing. >> force sales welcome to florida 2015. >> this all started because of a law designed to make it easier for developers to buy out and rebuild hurricane damaged condominiums and condos in disrepair. but the law is now being used by wealthy property companies to force owners to sell their homes. the companies are able to snap up the units no matter how much homeowners paid for them. the property wind fall for them, a disaster for homeowners. >> in the boom and bust, gonzales figures the value of her condo would bounce back eventually. >> never thought this was possible.
>> instead gonzales has to walk away, she says her credit is ruins. they are trying to fight the condo termination. at the very least, get some of their money back. >> . >> she, shirley. >> hi. >> 85-year-old shirley love grin is one of them. she also bought her condo from rest wick partners. >> . >> ba a great slew you have. >> she paid $217,000 almost all of it in the cash. >> the pond. >> that's why i picked this piece of property. >> now she says she sold the unit, she gets $46,500, the equity she has built up over a lifetime nearly $200,000, gone. >> where would you go.
>> no place, i'd have to go in a tent or something, i don't know. >> did it ever ooccur to you that this could happen to you. >> no. never. >> i thought when you own something, you own it. >> since the law was passed state record show 217 condo complexes have been terminated. effecting close to 20,000 condo units. >> where do you want to go to dine tonight. >> joe cunningham is a retired cop, a decorated street nan war veteran, his wife linda is a retired schoolteacher. snowbirding in florida where their retirement dream. here at lands burg village near tampa. >> we really loved the idea of having a condo. because we didn't have to worry about taking care of things, on the outside. >> we thought that we would spent part of the year up north, where our children live, and the cold months we would be in florida. >> tell me about the documents.
>> now investors from atlanta and new york have joined forces and own most of the units control most of the votes. >> i called this my condo research file. >> and the cunninghams and their neighbors have been told a co do termination is coming. >> try to inform myself about the law and what we can do, if they do start a term face process if there's a vote for termination, and is able to proceed, that we will be offered fair market value for our unit. and that we will have to accept it. >> you have have to accept it. >> have to. >> basically. >> be forced out. >> according to this law, we would have to sell and we would have to leave our unit. >> you don't want to sell. >> we don't want to sell. >> and you are fine with our mortgage. >> we are not behind. >> completely clean. >> paid up. >> under the state law, the a
bulk buyer owns 80% of the units they can force a termination, the co do termination goes through often less 10% of the owners object. if a balm buyer earned over 90%, there's nothing absolutely nothing an individual owner can do so this law gives this investor the possibility, and the right, under certain conditions to basically force you out. >> that's correct. >> and not make you whole in terms of what you invest. >> no. >> the original development went into foreclosure eventually a huge block of units wound up in the hands of a con sore shum including the carrol group. >> yes, i'd like to speak to mr. pat carol please we reached out to them, they declined. they have boasted on their
website of continuing it's buying spree the florida. >> the amendment. >> not far from the cunninghams stephanie has been trying to rally florida conned doe owners to fight the state's termination laws. >> they are the ones that bought us. >> she is also fighting a legal battle of her own to stay in her condo. >> there's no agencies in the state of florida that are regulating what these bulk buyers are doing. they are literally coming inning here, doing whatever they feel that they can do and getting away with it there's nobody helping us. >> in a statement, the manhattan based owner of most of the units says it is a failed condominium complex, in danger of falling into irreparable neglect. >> this has never been a failed community, we are 100% occupied. >> what will happen to you if they force you to take what they are offered. >> i will have to file
bankruptcy. unfortunately, which is something that i never imagined. >> she say add force sale will leave her $100,000 in debt what do they say when you challenge them. >> sorry. the law allows us to do so. >> and then we have the issue of nobody is stopping them. we anted wanted to meet up with press pit partners. they have turned their lives upside down. >> we have been emailing them, calling them, they haven't responded we know where their offices are so we will see if they will talk to us. >> initially they declined to speak with me, later, they called me, they told me everything they have done is 100% legal, all the risks spelled out in the fine print as a closing documents.
>> this may be legal, my question to you is it moral? his response, there is no question of morality in business. and they are terminated the complex, because they have the legal right to do so. >> what would you say to those two miami lawyers who sold you this condo. >> i wonder how they sleep at night. knows they have done this to as many people as there were living there. >> are you going to go down to the fitness center today. >> we have worked all our lives we have been very responsibility, yet somebody can come in and take our home away i didn't fight in vietnam so somebody can take my property away. >> could you stay in florida. >> no, we would be out. >> just walk away with nothing. >> america tonight here this is such a remarkable story when this law was passed
didn't anybody see trouble coming. >> then governor jeb bush vetoed it twice, talks about unintended consequences and this was exactly what governor bush was talking about. the law was finally signed by his successor, and legislatures know that thises going on, they have been talking about it, nobody has done anything to stop it. and there is no oversite. >> you know, in a sense this does remind me a little bit of eminent domain, but in that case they have the right to take property, cruise property from individuals for the greater good of the community. is that the motivation here? >> make no mistake, these emanates are coming in and buying up these complexes are very wealthy problem owning companies. they expect that they will be able to make money renting these units and when the market returns, perhaps they will make money again by turning them back into condos. this is a profit making enterprise, it has nothing to do with community good. >> so imagine that i am somebody thinking of buying a
condo is there anywayky protect myself? make sure the place i am buying into. >> no. these records here, these are the property ownership for one complex, madison oaks in order for us to figure out what the bulk buyer owned, and what percentage they were at, this is what we had to do, pull every single property record. >> these are hundreds of pages. >> hundreds. so if you are someone who is looking at a continue doe, and thinking looks great, you don't know what the situation is in since monos you may not everybody know at that time. you can't predict for that seller will have financial problems. go into foreclosure, if a bulk buyer will come in the, as long as that law is on the books in florida, then you can't know what will happen. >> america tonight, sheila mcvicker, thank you very much.
>> ahead here, another community, betrayed and the unlikely champion fighting back. >> how describe yourself? >> a mad junk yard dog. >> and western pennsylvania community that found itself stuck with the legacy of nuclear waste. >> they call it black energy, a hack attack, what does it mean now syrian province the find out at aljazeera.com/america tonight.
there's a toxic leg cig of the cold war still buries beneath two dozen communities. the last of several hundred sights. one of them lives in the western pennsylvania, right outside pittsburgh, where an unlikely champion stands determined to dig down to the very bottom of the issue, no matter how long
it takes the truth is a broken record. it may sometimes stand alone but it all the stands. and here i am, still. >> how describe yourself. >> a mad junk yard dog. defending our little piece of god's green acre here. >> that green acre is here in the kissky valley of western pennsylvania. and patty has been defending it for 27 years. if the late 1950's the local steel mill was taken over by a country contracted to build nuclear bombs she grew up in the house across the street. >> i grew up on apollo, and once upon a time, there was actually 101 stores, had two movie theaters, and it was a nice town. but then this industrial came in, and we didn't know, people didn't know. >> people did not know.
they didn't know. they were clue less. >> is communities like this. >> back in the day, the work of the valley was to support america patriotic and unquestioning. >> as part of that age, she grew up to serve her country join the navy, trust her government. but by the time she came back 20 years later, some here has begun to worry about the health risks of having a nuclear plant and it's waste so close by. >> her faulk asked her to check it out. >> i am a die hard for our country. and i equated our government as our country. you couldn't tell me anything about there could be been wrong decisions. >> you thought the government would do the right thing. >> i thought the government would do the right thing, i thought all they would have to do is be shown there is
something here, if it existed. >> so i said okay, i will look into it. >> and she did. digging up 3 million documents mostly on her own, documents that chronicle illnesses cancer, deaths amino has had two brain tumors and uterine cancer herself. that all fuels the fuels the anxiety and anger that the community brings down to the twisted thistle. i am tired of hearing about six kids. >> we have had our share, and then some. question can't endo what's been done. >> that's true. >> trying to make it right amino has led a search for answers. >> neither the government nor the company that ran the site until 1967, ever acknowledges any illness was caused by bomb making or by the nuclear waste dumped in pits across the neighboring 44-acre property.
enthough they contain uranium, and plutonium. the same material used in the bombs drops in her row shim ma. >> a new age has been born. >> and people were in spitting distance from living there. there was a dairy farm that abutted it that everybody got their milk from, this has been very scary. +st worsening cares in i do. i love this area, i love these people. there is our country. this is our home. >> all these ones that have had the tabs on these are significant events talks about burials. >> after years of documents health problems it took another 14 years to force the current owner of the site to pay $.2 million in settlement money.
to about 200 residents. we asked but b, manyw wouldn't talk to america tonight about why. patty though says the answer is obvious. >> oh my goodness, yes, i mean look, a reasonable person, could stand in the town and see where the plant that wasn't even designed to be a nuclear plant, it's not rocket science. >> but compensation money didn't solve the underlying problems. amino kept pushing. first so that neighbors would quit playing and walks their dogs and even hunting on land that may conceal tons of nuclear waste. 's a mine below, this is a threat for national security you don't need a dirty bomb. it reese a mine. it has methane in it. and it if it exploded.
>> you could have a coal mine fire. >> and nuclear material. >> they have to get it out and make us whole again. >> her ultimate goal is to get it dug up and removed although determining exactly how much there is remain as challenge the records associated with the place, and the materials into the frenches, was -- i didn't say it was poor, but it isn't well documented. >> mike is the project manager for the army core of engineering, the latest federal agency to manage the sites. the bomb making started under the new defunct aatomic commission, but in the decades since, what to do about the waste, has become a hot potato. >> we tried to get answers from the nuclear commission, and the epa, and the doe, and thennsa, and the whole alphabet soup of state and federal agencies that have
been involved, more than 50 years ago, not a single bun would go on come camera to explain why dumping was allowed. and why after three decades it is still there. >> i frankly don't believe that anybody did anything wrong, but the regulations were as they were and the temp was placed there, to the best of our meteorologist, under the rules of the aatomic energy commission. so was eight good idea? i can't say it wasn't there. the first attempt started in the fall of 2011, but halted after just a few weeks. the core says workers uncovered unexpected complex materials at the sight. >> let me start over again thank you for coming we have a good crowd. >> now the consider says it is ready to try again. but the clean up will cost
over $400 million nearly ten times the previous estimate. >> this is once again looks like ground hog day, we have been having these meetings for 20 years the former mayor of the town next to the dump joined over neighbors determined to get the clean up finishes etch if they don't live to see it themselves. >> right now, i am going through chemotherapy and i don't want to do that all over again. because chemotherapy sucked. the fear is that the government will let this become a ghost town, rather than deal with it. lock the gates, and lead the waste buried here. >> frozen, in time. >> at this point the core of engineers expected the cleanup to start in 2017, and take another ten years to complete. >> we can sure as held move forward with something good. >> think they will get it done.
>> i believe they have to have incentive. what is incentive. >> incentive is a mad junk yard dog. >> that's patty, still fighting, we did hear from the epa it's spoke woman said that the agency tests show no significant contamination. as to why it has taken so long, she said she still couldn't answer that's america tonight, tell us what you think, at aljazeera.com/america tonight, talk to us on twitter or facebook, come back, we will have more of america tonight tomorrow. >> it is a fill-court press on vladimir putin for peace in ukraine, the russian president shows no sign of backing down
and civilians are in the line of fire. we are on the ground inside a town under siege. america's new cuba policy may do what the embargo could never achieve - transform castro's communism and create a middle class. we go to the streets of havana for a look. >> you can see them showcasing what they have. that's emblem attic of a change of what is happening in cuba, in which some cubans are getting richer. i'm ali velshi, and this is "real money". the fighting is heating up in ukraine, so are the diplomatic efforts to stop it. amid the violence world leaders flocked to sheldon keefekievto show support for the government and show a push to end the conflict.