Another subtitle: “Student falls from climbing wall at school during gym class, school refuses to pay for surgeries.”
That’s pretty much the gist of my situation. I was trying to move to a new location from Minneapolis, MN area to northern Wisconsin. The county I was moving to had told me that I could build on some property I was buying. Then once I bought it and started clearing land, told me that “no, it’s wetlands” – with no water on it and wouldn’t let me build.
This started my own personal Katrina. I had to move 5 times in 1 1/2 years – much of the time spent living in a camper.
I found a rental house to live in, which we lost to higher-paying renters. At this point, I still had my credit cards.
My daughter was in Superior Middle School, Superior, WI for her 7th grade year. The following spring she was put on the climbing wall in gym class with no safety gear. No parental permission was obtained for her to be on this climbing wall. She fell, breaking a bone in her leg and requiring two surgeries. The school and the insurance company fought responsibility for these costs for three years. During that period of time, my credit took a nose dive as the hospitals and the doctors reported the unpaid bills to the credit agencies. I was not of a mind to pay them, because I could see that if I did, I wouldn’t ever win a case against them.
In the fall of 2005, I handled what I thought was the last of the parental fee payments that I owed the state of Minnesota for my having dared give birth to a son with disabilities.
This was a fee that was increased exponentially by Jesse Ventura when he was pretending to govern the state of Minnesota. Life with him as governor increased costs to the general public in hundreds of ways. It became impossible for a family like mine to afford myriad excursions such as state parks, etc., because he eliminated huge chunks of state funding and greatly increased the entrance and parking fees. Something that cost $2 per person increased to $8.
Since Ventura’s regime had increased my parental fee from $150 to $1,050 per year,I had been behind on my payment and paperwork. In the fall of 2005, I had some extra money and paid up. I talked to someone on the phone who said since my son was turning 18 the following February, I wouldn’t owe much more, so she gave me an estimate of what that would be ~ $400. I paid everything.
A year and a half later, I got a bill for $179,000 from that same state department. This happened right about the time my father died. Needless to say, I was so flabbergasted by the bill that I just set it aside. I needed to deal with the loss of my father.
Before I left to go cross-county to my father’s funeral, I paid down both of my credit cards so that I would have plenty of room to use them on the trip to Tennessee. On that trip, I was trying to pay a bill over the phone, I discovered that my credit available on both those cards had been reduced to 0, leaving the balance owed right up to the max. This was as a result of the unpaid medical bills having been reported to credit agencies.
The state kept sending me those bills. I sent letters to them recounting the story of how I had paid the bills. In January of 2010, the state of Minnesota seized 100% of the available cash I had in two separate bank accounts. One of those accounts was an account I had set up for my disabled son’s trust fund so that I could keep those funds separate from my own cash and not co-mingle funds. I had put $25,000 of his money in there to pay for work on my property as I was planning on building a guest cottage at my house for him to come visit. I have had no bank account since then, as I am too afraid of having my money seized by the state of Minnesota.
It is probable that the seizure of this money was due to the fact that my ex-husband refused to pay his parental fee for our son’s care in the state of Minnesota.
I tried finding a lawyer that would help me get this issue settled, and not one of the numerous attorneys I called would touch it.
I’d like to have these issues settled, but can’t find an attorney to help. When I was accused by the county where my son lived of mismanagement of David’s funds because the state had seized them, I couldn’t find an attorney who would represent me. I was forced to drive four hours and stay in a motel so I could appear in court without an attorney present. They kept saying “This is not a criminal matter,” but everyone knows that only the attorneys that work in a particular county really know how things go, and how to handle the judges and their prejudices. I was treated like a criminal. I’m afraid that this will be used against me in the future.
I feel that since I live in a different state, I really need an attorney in Minnesota to help me get all these loose ends tied up. I’ve been unemployed for 2 yeas, a teacher replaced by a computer and substitute teacher. I really don’t know which issue to handle first. I have a potential door opening for me in that my husband just passed away and I have found an attorney that seems like she will be open to helping with other issues besides his estate.
I’d like to be able to have a bank account without the fear that the state of Minnesota will seize my last cent and leave me unable to pay any bills, eat, clothe and house myself.
I know that other levies – for unpaid taxes, for example – can only take up to 25%, but this seizure was 100%. They’ve seized about $25,000, and I don’t agree thtt I owe ANYthing. What I have actually agreed to pay (since I took the settlement money from the insurance company) is not much. Maybe $1000, although I’ll never agree that it should not be the school’s responsibility for that debt.
This is my story. My son, David, deserves his money back.]]>
The action was organized by Strike Debt, a group of occupiers who are organizing a campaign that specifically targets debt and its impact on the 99%. This was their inaugural action; a symbolic first step to building a union of debtors and mounting an out-right debt refusal movement.
After a meeting about the group’s #S17 plan, we gathered in a half circle a few yards from the water and lay down banners that declared “SILENCE = DEBT” and featured images of the word DEBT alight in a blaze.
People came up and told their debt stories and then using an empty coffee can (in the style of the draft burnings during the Vietnam War), they burned their statements and collections notices. It was a symbolic act, but also strangely powerful. Students told stories of taking out loans in pursuit of a degree and a job, only to find themselves in a dead-end and underwater. A young woman told about having to choose between going to the doctor and being financially stable and taking on thousands of dollars of debt after getting sick. Some had mortgages that were underwater, some burned credit card bills.
The power of this action didn’t come from the burning itself, but from the telling of those stories. Society tells us that debt is shameful and that defaulting on credit is a moral outrage. This unspoken cultural rule is an important part of the mechanisms that keep us all indebted. It was truly inspiring to watch people confront this stigma head-on, and release that cultural shame. It made me wish I had brought a credit bill to burn.
After the stories were told and statements were burned in the coffee can, we walked as a group out to the water’s edge, on a makeshift beach on the western side of the park. We pseudo-ceremoniously dumped the ashes of our debt into the East River, narrowly avoiding a “Big Lebowski” moment when the wind blew some of the ashes back onto the beach. Then we did what occupy does best: we built community.
We continued sharing our stories and contacts with one another and talked about how to create a viable movement against debt. Oh, and we also ate cake.
Here a short video from the event:
Four and a half years later Wells Fargo was beating down my door to buy a home since my debt/income ratio was now under control. But please know that I have been recently denied for a credit increase on my credit card because of the bankruptcy.
File bankruptcy now to clear your conscious and to stop those monsters from calling you and telling you how immoral your behavior is for not paying your debt. The banks sell your debt to these vultures and you file to make them go away.
Save your future income and your family all this pain and file bankruptcy now.
– Matt –]]>