Florida Scofflaws: We Were Taken Advantage of by Elitist New York Paper

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First the banks took advantage of the sweet and unsuspecting nature of Alex Pemberton and Susan Reboyras by allowing them to sign up for a mortgage they couldn't afford. Then, after they decided under the advice of a lawyer, to whom they paid $1,500, to stop paying said mortgage and live rent-free until the bank foreclosed on their home, the Times took advantage of them by writing about it.

It's not that the Times got any of the facts wrong, per se, it was just that once they saw it all spelled out in black-and-white like that, they kind of sounded like deadbeats. "If I didn't know it was me,'' Pemberton told the St. Petersburg Times, "I would have been the one digging out the pitchforks and torches and knocking on my door.'' Adding insult to injury was the sneering way the New York paper referenced their hobbies.


[T]he part that caused particular outrage among readers said foreclosure had allowed Pemberton and Reboyras to "go to Outback occasionally for steak. Take their gas-guzzling airboat out for the weekend. Visit the Hard Rock Casino.'' That part bothered Pemberton, too. He says he and Reboyras have been out on their old yellow airboat exactly twice in the past 21/2 years. Acquired from his father's airboat business on the Withlacoochee River, it's been for sale for years. And Pemberton says he mentioned Outback and Hard Rock — where he sometimes plays the penny slots — only when the reporter pressed him for examples of what they might do for entertainment.

Now Pemberton is kicking himself, of course. If only he had said "taking in free performances of Shakespeare in the park," or even better, "tweeting." That would never have made it into the Times.

How dare they quit paying their mortgage? Hey, that's us! [Tampa Bay]