Friday, September 30, 2011

This has to be good, right?

California exits foreclosure talks

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris vows to launch own probe of mortgage lenders.

By Alejandro Lazo and Nathaniel Popper, Los Angeles Times

7:04 PM PDT, September 30, 2011

Reporting from Los Angeles and New York

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is bowing out of nationwide talks aimed at settling charges that banks wrongfully foreclosed on homeowners, vowing that her office would launch a more rigorous investigation.

The decision Friday is a major setback to negotiations that had been backed by the White House and dozens of national officials. The 50-state coalition, of which Harris had been a lead member before Friday, has come under fire for potentially letting off banks that include Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. too easily.

Harris said the nation's five largest mortgage servicers were not offering California homeowners relief commensurate to what people in the state had suffered. She also objected to the banks' demands that they be granted broad release from further investigations into Wall Street's role in the mortgage meltdown.

"I have decided that we have to go our own course and take an independent path, and that decision is because we need to bring relief to Californians that is equal to the pain California experienced," Harris said in an interview with The Times on Friday. "What is being negotiated now is insufficient."

Industry experts said the removal of California from the discussions could spell the end of an11-month effort by the 50-state coalition to strike a deal with the banks. At one point, the coalition held out the hope of returning as much as $25 billion to homeowners nationwide. A person familiar with the ongoing talks said the banks would continue to negotiate with the remaining states, and a meeting among the remaining parties is set for next week.

Iowa Atty. Gen. Tom Miller, who has been leading the negotiations, vowed to press on.

"California has been an important part of our team and has made a significant contribution to this case," Miller said in a statement. "However, the multistate effort is pressing forward, and we fully expect to reach a settlement with the banks."

New York, Delaware, Nevada, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Minnesota have already signaled that they were unhappy with the proposed deal being discussed because of legal release from liability being offered to the banks. New York and Delaware have been cooperating in their own probes separate from the coalition.

"This whole concept of a settlement on foreclosure abuse is probably dead," said Christopher Whalen, founder of Institutional Risk Analytics. "Nobody in their right mind is going to opt into a settlement right now."

Harris' rejection of the broader settlement talks undermines efforts by the Obama administration, which has been pushing for a fast resolution to the so-called robo-signing scandal that erupted last year.

For California homeowners, it means the likely end to any hope of relatively quick relief stemming from revelations last year that banks improperly foreclosed on troubled borrowers. Key reforms to mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices advocated by the attorneys general may also be delayed, although Harris called on the banks to adopt such measure independently Friday.

But several groups working to help homeowners in California cheered Harris' move, saying that a full investigation is more important than a quick solution.

"She stayed at the table on the settlement as long as was reasonable," said Brian Heller de Leon, an organizer for PICO California. "It became clear that there was no longer a reasonable path for California to stay in these negotiations."

Harris has faced increasing pressure in recent weeks to reject a deal that was considered too weak for homeowners, particularly as the foreclosure crisis in the Golden State appeared to be worsening. Among the states with the highest foreclosure rates, California led the pack last month in new foreclosure proceedings with an increase of 55% over July, according to RealtyTrac of Irvine.

Frank De Caro, 71, who said his Thousand Oaks home was scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction Tuesday, said he supported the move by Harris to pull out of the talks, given the reported concessions being made to the nation's large banks.

"We need her to stand for the principles she was elected on, to really stand up to what is the biggest problem facing California, which is really a Democratic, liberal state and perhaps the last bastion of progressive thought," De Caro said. "Stand up for what you were elected to do — go down swinging please."

Harris' decision will create further uncertainty and legal liability for the large banks involved in the discussions — BofA, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc. — which have been struggling in recent months because of questions about their legal liability from the mortgage crisis and exposure to the weakening economy.

"It's bad news for the banks — it's in their best interest to reach a resolution," said Ray Brescia, a visiting professor at Yale Law School who has followed the mortgage crisis.

Wells Fargo and Citigroup declined to comment. BofA, Chase and Ally did not respond to requests for comment.

The banks could still choose to settle with the remaining states. However, Brescia said the banks would have little motivation to do so without California and New York on board.

"From the banks' perspective, they need to have all the attorneys general in the room for this to work at all," Brescia said.

The decision to bow out from the talks came one week after Harris met face to face with banking representatives in Washington. At that meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to speak, the main subject of contention was the banks' request to be broadly released from potential future legal claims, particularly those surrounding potential misconduct in the packaging and selling of mortgage-backed securities.

In a letter sent Friday to Miller and to U.S. Associate Atty. Gen. Thomas Perrelli, Harris referred to the latest proposed settlement, which has not been released publicly, as "inadequate for California homeowners" because, "In return for this broad release of claims, the relief contemplated would allow too few California homeowners to stay in their homes."

In her letter and in her interview with The Times, Harris said she planned to continue to investigate the mortgage practices that contributed to California's housing crisis through the 25-person Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. The group has a mandate to look at all levels of mortgage fraud.

In rejecting the 50-state talks, California widens the rift among law enforcement officials nationwide over the best way to pursue banks for their mortgage misdeeds. New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, who was originally part of the 50-state negotiations, has launched a wide-ranging investigation into Wall Street's role in the mortgage meltdown, focusing on the institutions' efforts to bundle low-quality mortgages into sophisticated bonds.

Harris met with Schneiderman in July and at that point told The Times that she was considering joining his investigation, but she said Friday that California would go its own way.

"California will definitely walk its own path, and to the extent that New York or any other state wants our assistance, of course we are happy to give it," she said. "We do realize that we are the biggest state in the country and we are happy to help the smaller states."

A spokesman for Schneiderman said he would work with California.

"Atty. Gen. Schneiderman looks forward to his continued work with Atty. Gen. Harris and his other state and federal counterparts to ensure those responsible for the mortgage crisis are held accountable and homeowners who are suffering receive meaningful relief," said Danny Kanner, a spokesman for Schneiderman.

Schneiderman has been highly critical of the 50-state settlement and expressed concern that his counterparts in other states may let the banks off too lightly and provide release from liability from other efforts to bring them to account for their misdeeds. Schneiderman has also won support from attorneys general in Delaware, Nevada, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Minnesota, some of whom have launched their own investigations.

In April, federal banking regulators ordered the nation's biggest 14 banks to overhaul their procedures and compensate homeowners injured financially by wrongdoing or negligence, but those moves were immediately decried by consumer advocates as too weak.

Now even those efforts are likely to take a year or more to complete because of the complexity of the reforms needed, according to recent remarks by acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is this childish?

Then how come it brings me such stupid delight?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Promises of oppression -- er, I mean suppression

Tired and admittedly a bit curious and itching for a confrontation, I decided to answer the phone when BofA called this evening. The 7:30 p.m.-ish call, I mean, since there are several during any given evening.

The rep, a very nice woman who kept calling me Miss Christina because I don't think she could pronounce my last name (happens a lot), went through the spiel about phone numbers and how they're a debt collector, and how my Notice of Intent to Accelerate expired Aug. 17. Then she told me my total due, about $3,300, and asked if I were calling to make a payment.

"Nope," I replied simply.

She then asked how she could help me, to which I responded, "Well, I'm returning one of your 1,000 daily phone calls."

Let's give her lots and lots of credit. She didn't rise to the bait. Instead, she told me about their "Suppression of Calls" policy, whereby all collections calls will stop for a given period of time. In my case, it's 14 days.

Should start tomorrow.

I can't wait for the silence.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Please remove heads from asses. Thanks

Bank: Early payment foreclosure a mistake

Published: Aug. 23, 2011 at 3:05 PM
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Bank of America said it made a mistake in filing to foreclose on a retired Florida couple who made their mortgage payment a week early.
The bank said Monday James Bullington, 78, of New Port Richey, and his wife Sharon, 70, will be returned to their loan modification plan and foreclosure proceedings will be halted, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Tuesday.
The Bullingtons said they made their mortgage payment for January a week early, when it was still December. Officials told them the bank dropped the couple from their plan and filed for foreclosure because the payment was not made during the month in which it was due.
"We apologize to the Bullingtons for this error, and we hope to have a response for them shortly," Bank of America spokeswoman Christina Beyer Toth said.
James Bullington is bedridden with a terminal illness and Sharon serves as his sole caregiver, the couple said.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Let's see what happens

Two things.

The first, very minor but still worth mentioning, thing is that I've sent an equity payment off to BofA with the "Pay to the Order of" line addressed to Bank of Assholes. tee-hee. I can't be the only one, right? Let's see what happens.

Second, the deadline in the "Intent to Accelerate" notice is Monday. I can't say that I'm not afraid. I am. Very much. Because I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen. There's no way I can come up with the total amount due, so I've just been sending along pieces. I've been trying to let it all go ... so MUCH of my life these past few years has been consumed with an aching stomach full of worry. What's going to happen is going to happen.

At least that's what I keep trying to convince myself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Your future is calling

Have I mentioned yet how often BofA calls? Here is another thing I can document. Because it's part of my phone record, that fucking 800-669 message.

Do you know why I don't answer? Because what would be the point?

I have answered often in the past. The computer-generated message first tells me (doesn't ASK me, though it has called) to wait. Then I am asked to verify my account information.

Um. WTF are you to robodial me (sorry, but I guess automation is cheaper than wage-raping Third-World countries) and THEN demand *I* provide YOU with information?

Yeah. That would be why I don't answer your repeat phone harassment.

And I know I could block you.

But some part of me still believes in responsibility and accountability. This is MY house, I WILL pay for it.

Except ...

I won't be wage- or any other kind of raped without first scratching your balls off.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bunch of rambling shit

Friends have been telling me you're out there, and enjoying what I've had to write so far. But will you enjoy it when I tell you how close to the brink I am?

OK, OK. That is SO manipulative and unfair. But sometimes I just get So. Damn. Tired. of trying to play by all of the rules and still get (unpleasantly) fucked in the ass anyway.

I grew up in what's now considered The Ghetto of Seattle -- White Center. (When *I* was growing up, the ghetto was the CD ... the Central District. So see? Things DO get better!) Back to the point. I grew up poor, but was told all the time all I needed to do was get an education and I could escape. Make a better life for myself ...

And it was good, because for whatever reason, I was given the gift of intelligence. Curiosity. Creativity. And despite being the most stubborn person you would never hope to meet (till my daughter was born ... except you SO would want to meet this amazing human being), I still listened to and believed those people who said I actually would be somebody someday. And I pursued education to a perhaps obsessive degree. A master's degree in ... JOURNALISM??? WTF?

Wrap up, Christina. Wrap it up.

OK. Here I am. 40 years old. Supporting two children on my own (NOT my choice, judgmental fuckwads) as well as an unemployed-for-too-long sister who doesn't know how to say no when I ask her to do annoying things ... like wash my daughter's curtains. ALL of them. And our dad lives with us, too. He gives me what he can ... but with this mortgage, it's just not enough. My finding and scraping for whatever freelance stuff I can get also doesn't do it.

Aug. 22 is my deadline. BofA's Notice of Intent to Accelerate tells me this. I'm a month and a half behind in my payments. I have lived in and loved this house for 11 years, through a devastating breakup that contributed to this financial situation (YOU try buying out your soon-to-be ex when the real estate market is at its highest point), through losing my Dream Job ... through everything.






Try taking it away, BofA. I have a plan.

It involves my ass.

And it involves SuperGlue.