|Issue: #120||September 8, 2013|
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City Council Meeting Moved to Auditorium
Critical Decisions on Anti-Blight Program on Tuesday
So many people and so much media are expected for this Council meeting, that it has been moved to the Richmond Auditorium
Councilmembers Bates and Booze are presenting a motion to gut the City's program:
DIRECT the city manager to withdraw any offers made to servicers of mortgage loans to purchase such mortgages based on fair market value (letters dated July 31, 2013), and to amend the advisory services agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners, LLC to eliminate the option of utilizing eminent domain as an option to acquire mortgages .
Mayor McLauglin has an agenda item to check the status of the program, take some next steps, and confirm that any action on eminent domain will come back to the council
Please come at 4:30 if you can for the press conference
HEAR a report from staff on Richmond CARES - the Local Principal Reduction Program, and DIRECT staff to: (1) to work to set up a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) together with other interested municipalities, as a next step forward in the development of this program; (2) to confirm that no loans will be acquired by the City through eminent domain before coming back to the full City Council for a vote; and (3) to continue working with MRP to resolve any remaining legal issues.
Plan to stay the whole evening if you can. Food provided.
If you can't come, watch the meeting on KCRT Cable Channel 28Click here to download the agenda
Watch the News on Monday and Tuesday for New Developments
Issues in the Anti-Blight Program Controversy
"Power concedes nothing without a demand..."
Blaming the Victim:
In trying to fight blight in Richmond and help people stay in their homes, we have made the banks angry. So angry, in fact, that the banking establishment is trying to use all their substantial economic power to block Richmond by making it difficult for the city to sell bonds, threatening to redline our community as well as pushing expensive law suits. When faced with the exercise of raw power, however unjust, some people give up.
Others race to join the side of the powerful hoping for crumbs of power or payments to fall their way (think November 2014). Instead of blaming the banks for the chaos they created in the housing market, their method is to blame those who are willing to stand up for the right of people to stay in their homes, for any difficulties in making things right. "Oh some banks are threatening to withhold mortgage financing from Richmond. -Better give the banks what they want"
But as Fredrick Douglas so wisely said, " If there is no struggle, there is no progress." "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
Have we forgotten so quickly that it was the Banks that caused the economic bust; and it is the banks have been bailed out with taxpayer money?
Unfortunately, given their total self-interest, we should expect the opposition of the banks when we challenge their power. And we must be smart in how we fight back, pick our battles carefully, and mobilize support. The City is doing just that. The City is moving forward cautiously-taking the issues one at a time and dealing with any problems. The city has done nothing more than offer to negotiate a fair market price for mortgage notes. To create fear and doubt and get their way the Banks have responded with expensive mailings, a PR campaign, and multiple lawsuits. The massive immediate response is because they fear they might lose the precedent in court. They want to stamp out the challenge before it has a chance to grow.
It is the Banks, using the politicians who depend on corporate support to maintain their positions, that are piling on and polarizing the issue. Hysteria and "Yes-No" debates are what the banks want at this point rather than a community solving problems. It's time for people who call themselves Richmond leaders to step forward and help expose the banksters attacks on the city, not help the Banks by spreading their fear campaign.
Mortgage Notes versus Real Property
Banks and Realtors Create Confusion
The opponents of Richmond's actions to help people stay in their homes and stop growing blight in our neighborhoods purposely confuse very different objects-the
property or home itself and the>
mortgage note that uses the property as collateral.
Mortgage notes have their own market value and are frequently bought and sold by banks and other institutions. These mortgage transactions are NOT housing sales and therefore do not significantly affect the sales prices of homes in the neighborhood. They are NOT the Comparable Sales or "comps" that help determine the value of similar properties in the neighborhood. To repeat, sales, trading and bundling of these mortgage notes go on all the time (without our awareness or understanding) as a way for banks and other lending institutions to make considerable money.
Many factors determine the value of the mortgage note including both the value of the collateral property and how likely it is that the debtor will default and the home will foreclose. The further underwater a home is the more likely the debtor will default and therefore the lower is the market value of the mortgage note. The worse the mortgage terms are (eg balloon payments at the end) the more likely is default and the lower the mortgage value. Honest investors have already written down the value of these notes and taken their losses. Those who keep them on the books at their original full inflated value are carrying "toxic" investments and may be violating the law.
The city is offering to buy the mortgage notes of underwater homes at their market value--this is NOT "a taking." If the note holder thinks the city offer is too low then the holder can negotiate. If no agreement is reached and the city determines that there is a high likelihood that the owner will default on their mortgage and be foreclosed, thereby starting the downward spiral often resulting in neighborhood blight, it can take the property by eminent domain. A court will then decide on the fair market price and the city pays it.
This is an unusual use of "eminent domain." Usually this legal maneuver is used to force people out of their homes. In this case Richmond wants to use eminent domain if necessary as a tool to help people stay in their homes rather than using it to force them out.
Whose interest is at stake?
The Big Lies:
In repeated mailers, the banks through their PR firm and the WCC Realtors Association are claiming that this is a plan designed so that Wall Street can rip off Richmond residents. In fact it is Wall Street banks that are funding the opposition and threatening Richmond with suits.
The Realtors would have us believe that the $4500 the advisory firm, MRP, will make from each successful mortgage rewrite is sinister. In fact $4500 is a low fee when you compare it to a standard realtor's fee of 6%. On a $300,000 house sale, the realtors divide up $18,000.
So whose self-interest is involved here? While there are many realtors who work hard to fit people and property together, there are apparently many whose interest is keeping neighborhoods unstable and turning over so they can profit on the exchanges.
Use your computer to help
The big banks that got us into this economic crisis and were bailed out object to the City's plans and are pouring money in to circulate lies and fear and intimidate the city. Back the City's courageous stand. Sign the Move-On petition.
Get your questions answered. Check out
KQED Forum 8/8 with
- David Wert, public information officer for San Bernardino County
- Jeff Wright, independent real estate broker with Wright Realtors and former president of the West Contra Costa Association of Realtors in Richmond
- Robert Hockett, professor of law at Cornell University and one of the originators of the eminent domain plan
- Steven Gluckstern, chairman of Mortgage Resolution Partner
| In-depth article from:
Rev. Phil Lawson: Building the Beloved Community
Rev. Lawson has worked his entire life to ensure that there will be room enough in the beloved community so no one will be left outside to suffer and die in poverty on the streets, no one will be locked out by border walls, and no one will be denied entrance because of racial intolerance or homophobia.
At some point in the course of his lifelong work to build a truly inclusive community, Rev. Phil Lawson became a pastor for all the people. His ministry now extends far beyond the walls of the Methodist churches where he ministered to his congregations in Richmond, El Cerrito and Vallejo.
The walls of his church have expanded to include the homeless and hungry people cast out of American society, the refugees from war-torn lands in Central America, the same-sex couples he joined in marriage, the low-paid workers in Richmond struggling for living wages, the peace and justice activists who look to this soft-spoken man for leadership, and the Occupy activists seeking to build a nationwide movement for justice.
See full article by Terry Messman
And Wells Fargo is Suing Richmond?
Big Banks Face Suits in Mortgage Pact Abuses
New York's top prosecutor plans to sue two mortgage titans, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, over claims that they breached the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement intended to end foreclosure abuses.
On Monday, Eric T. Schneiderman, New York's attorney general and top prosecutor, said that the lenders violated the terms of the National Mortgage Settlement, a sweeping $26 billion pact brokered last year between five of the nation's biggest banks and 49 state attorneys general. The agreement came during a national outcry over potentially widespread foreclosure abuses like shoddy paperwork, erroneous fees and wrongful evictions.
Mr. Schneiderman says that Bank of America and Wells Fargo did not follow guidelines dictating how the banks field and process requests from homeowners trying to modify their mortgages.
Under the terms of the settlement, banks have to abide by 304 servicing standards, like notifying homeowners of missing documents within five days of receiving a loan modification and providing borrowers with a single point of contact.
"Wells Fargo and Bank of America have flagrantly violated those obligations, putting hundreds of homeowners across New York at greater risk of foreclosure," Mr. Schneiderman said. Since October 2012, Mr. Schneiderman's office has documented 210 separate violations involving Wells Fargo and 129 involving Bank of America.
"Former Wells Fargo Investment Banker and Co-Conspirators Charged with $11 Million Insider Trading Conspiracy
Investment Banker Received Kickbacks in Cash and Gold for Inside Information; Six Defendants Have Agreed to Plead Guilty
" Click here
Monday, September 16, 5:30pm
Sunday, September 15 10am --1pm
Richmond Advocacy Bike Ride
Details TBA see Rich City RIDES
Back By Popular Demand
Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. An 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality. Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don't want to pay taxes anymore. They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren't so sure. This land bears a startling resemblance to our land. For more info, www.cft.org. © 2012 California Federation of Teachers
|Tax the Rich: An animated fairy tale|
Stand Up Against the Banks and the Corporations Who Gang Up on Richmond
Some History and Understanding of the RPA
Long article with pictures
--have patience in downloading
Understanding Chevron Property Taxes
RPA asked Jeff Kilbreth to research and help us understand the situation with Chevron's property taxes since millions are at stake for the city budget and city services. Chevron regularly threatens the City and County with expensive legal action. Since the tax laws are deliberately murky and hard for most of us to understand, Chevron frequently gets its way behind closed doors.
Jeff made a presentation to us that made it clear that Chevron gets away with a lot in this process. You can see a revised version of his PowerPoints here
. There will be more revisions and graphics added later, so check back. In the fall Jeff will give some more presentations on this topic.
Jeff has just retired from a 30 year career in High Tech, mostly in the Silicon Valley enterprise software business. He has a Masters of Business Administration from Yale University and kind of likes accounting.
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RPA Activist Info
is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.
Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the author, unsigned text the views of the editor, Mike Parker, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to RPAactivist@gmail.com or call 510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.