You might think that only in spy novels does the villian negotiate to your face while having his henchman sneak up on you and stab you in the back. But you would be wrong. This is what banks are still allowed to do in California: negotiate with you about loan modification terms, all the while pursuing foreclosure proceedings and often serving foreclosure papers while "negotiations" are still in process.
You might think (if you're a Republican) that only the government could be so screwed up as to not have a point person handling a foreclose case. But again, you would be wrong. Banksters have become experts at obfuscation, bureaucracy, "losing" documents and making life utterly miserable for anyone trying to talk to someone about a loan modification.
This could change. Kamala Harris, California's Attorney General, introduced A Homeowner's Bill of Rights, a legislative package that would, along with other things, redress the two problems noted above: making foreclosure illegal while loan modification negotiations are underway, and insisting that a single point of contact be established between a forecloser and a foreclosee (it would also making robosigning foreclosure documents come with a $10,000 fine per incident).
There's only one thing stopping the passage of these common-sense proposals: corrupt legislators (and Republicans, but I state the obvious). Republicans cannot prevent these measures from becoming law -- they hold far less than a majority in either house of the California Legislature. But in conjunction with DINOs -- Democratic Legislators who serve at the beck and call of banks and insurance companies rather than their own constituents -- they can. These same DINOs who have been major players in defeating bills such as health insurance regulation and single payer health care are now are doing their best to do the same with the Homeowner's Bill of Rights.
You can read in this diary from a couple of weeks ago how the Legislative leadership in Sacramento did an end-run around some of these DINO's. They stripped the committees that usually deal with banking issues of their authority over these bills and handed them over to a special, joint committee of the Legislature.
Today, that joint committee is meeting for the first time. The committee members are
I assume that in order to pass anything out of this committee, we must have the votes of all four Democrats. I am fairly confident that Evans and Feuer will be supportive; I don't know about Calderon (who, thank FSM, replaced DINO Senator Vargas, Chairman of the Banking Committee) or Eng.
So you know the drill. If you live in California and believe that
BANKS GOT BAILED OUT WHILE WE GOT SOLD OUT.
call these legislators' offices. Tell them you support a strong homeowner's bill of rights; not a weak, watered-down version that the banks are likely to push for. Let them know someone cares about these bills, as there hasn't been much in the papers the last several days leading up to this hearing.
No, it's not going to solve the entire housing crisis / foreclosure fraud debacle, but these bills will help the plenty of people who will likely be foreclosed on in the future; perhaps saving their houses with loan modifications instead of having them stolen from them via backstabbing, obfuscation and chicanery.
Below is the agenda for the meeting, sent to me by a wonderful staffer in Senator Leno's office (Senator Leno is one of the sponsors of pieces of the legislation). No time is specified for the meeting, and the staffer I spoke to did not know when the meeting would occur either. It's a long hearing -- the time allotted is four hours! However, from the same staffer, I have this:
We're hearing that the hearing will begin after Budget Subcommittee 4 adjourns -- likely between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. today.If you're really a wonk you can find a link to listen to the hearing (at the bottom of the page -- Conference Committee on SB 900 & AB 278).
Senate President Darryl Steinberg had this to say upon the formation of the Joint Committee:
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON SB 900 AND AB 278
CALIFORNIA'S FORECLOSURE CRISIS (OVERVIEW, PART 1)
MAY 10, 2012
UPON ADJOURNMENT OF SENATE BUDGET & FISCAL REVIEW SUBCOMMITTEE 4
I. WELCOME & OPENING REMARKS
Conference Committee Chairs and Members
II. FORECLOSURE CRISIS IN CALIFORNIA, THE NATIONAL MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT, AND THE HOMEOWNER BILL OF RIGHTS (45 mins + 45 mins Q&A)
The Honorable Kamala D. Harris, California Attorney General
Ben Diehl, Supervising Deputy Attorney General
Amy Teng, Deputy Attorney General
III. IMPACT OF FORECLOSURES IN THE COMMUNITY
HOMEOWNERS/ HOUSING ADVOCATES/COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS
(50 mins + 40 mins Q&A)
Celeste Singh, homeowner
Ethan Hoff, homeowner
Marco Ponce, homeowner
Lisa Sitkin, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates
Janet Murguía, National Council of La Raza
IV. ECONOMIC/ACADEMIC PERSPECTIVE
(30 mins + 30 mins Q&A)
Kurt Eggert, Professor of Law, Chapman University School Of Law
Atif Mian, Associate Professor, Haas School of Business and Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
Nicholas Campins, Deputy Attorney General
V. PUBLIC COMMENT
As we have worked through these issues over the last several weeks in meetings with stakeholders and legislators, it has become clear that we are close to having a package of bills that will provide meaningful protections to homeowners struggling through the foreclosure crisis... The Attorney General, the sponsor of these measures, as well as the authors and the legislative leaders all agree that key pieces of this package should be resolved as expeditiously as possible in a Conference Committee. The bills relating to due process protections for borrowers and prohibitions on dual tracking homeowners in foreclosure and loan modifications processes will be heard in a Conference that will complete its work within the next few weeks.House Speaker John Perez said
Since the foreclosure crisis hit, the California Legislature has taken several steps to ease the impact on families, including borrower protection and foreclosure delay legislation, and providing foreclosure assistance to constituents... Following the powerful foreclosure settlement negotiated by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, we now have a narrow window of opportunity to make several major advances, and a two-house conference committee will provide the most comprehensive and timely mechanism to seize the opportunity before us to aid Californians who despite the settlement and previous actions are still underwater or facing foreclosure."If you think the banks need to be reined in, do a good deed and make yourself fee good by telling your legislators to kick a few banksters' asses. Maybe you can't participate in a bank occupation or an auction shutdown, but you can make your voice heard nonetheless.
Call Now! Before You Put it Off.
Senator Noreen Evans (D) (916-651-4002)
Senator Ron Calderon (D) (916-651-4030)
Senator Sam Blakeslee (R) (916 651-4015)