By Doug Porter
The Los Angeles Times is out with a story this morning about how John G. Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo Bank made more than any banker in America last year — $22.87 million.
Some people might say he’s earned it lately, as Wells Fargo Bank has seen a rough month in the public relations realm.
First this story surfaces about Larry Delassus, a retired and disabled man from Hermosa Beach. He dropped dead from a heart attack in court as his attorney argued for Wells Fargo to stop foreclosure of his home. A typo giving the wrong address led the bank to erroneously demand that Delassus shell out $13,361.90 in late property taxes Wells Fargo said it had paid on his behalf in order to keep his mortgage afloat.
From LA Weekly:
In a series of painfully tragic events, Wells Fargo relied on its typographical error to double Delassus’ mortgage — from $1,237.69 to $2,429.13 — as its way of recouping the $13,361.90 in taxes Delassus didn’t owe. Delassus, a retiree living on a $1,655 check, couldn’t meet the mysteriously increased mortgage. He stopped paying, and soon was far behind on his mortgage.
Delassus and his attorney did not discover until May 2010 that a mis-entered number had dragged Delassus into this spiral. As court documents obtained by L.A. Weekly show, after admitting its error, Wells Fargo foreclosed on Delassus anyway and sold his condo.
Yesterday the Wells Fargo CEO was confronted by Betty Badro, an angry homeowner facing immediate foreclosure, as he attempted to give the keynote speech to the American Banker Retail Lending Conference at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort. The luxurious Carlsbad resort is the same location used by the infamous Koch Brothers for their secret reception and biannual fundraiser for conservative causes back in June.
The SD Free Press’s exclusive coverage of the Carlsbad confrontation has gone viral on the internet. Of course, there’s not a peep in the local daily newspaper.
The LA Times story did mention yesterday’s confrontation, along with the bank’s response:
Several dozen protesters interrupted a Stumpf speech to a bankers’ conference in San Diego County on Thursday, saying Wells Fargoshould do more to prevent foreclosures, given its hefty profits. “Why are you selling my house?” one woman shouted before the group was escorted out.
Carlos Marroquin of Occupy Fights Foreclosures, one of the organizers, said he couldn’t believe how much Stumpf was making.”It is insane,” Marroquin said. “The only ones who have not benefited from this crisis are the homeowners.”
Wells Fargo issued a statement saying it supports free speech but was “very disappointed” by the disruption of the conference. “This type of behavior damages efforts for productive dialogue and opportunities to work together to reach solutions,” the bank said.
Actually, for Betty Badro, the single mom who led the confrontation, it was a very productive dialogue. After months of begging and pleading for Wells Fargo to listen to her case, she received notice late yesterday that her foreclosure, scheduled for this morning, had been indefinitely postponed.
City Council to Filner: You’re on Your Own
The ongoing saga of San Diego’s relationship with the downtown/hospitality cabal took yet another turn yesterday, as City Council President Todd Gloria signed off on an agreement with the Tourism Marketing District (TMD) dropping the city government as a defendant in the tourism agency’s court action.
Earlier this week the Council agreed to provide an unspecified amount of funding allowing Mayor Filner to hire his own attorney. A hearing on the suit, which seeks to force the Mayor to sign off on funding for the TMD, was postponed earlier this month, after Filner complained of a conflict of interest on the matter with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
Filner has demanded that the TMD return to the bargaining table to renegotiate a 39 year agreement struck under former Mayor Jerry Sander’s auspices last year. The tourism group refused an offer to release this year’s funding while negotiations took place.
At the core of the conflict is the legality of a fee or, as I like to call it, a-tax-that’s-not-a-tax, approved by hoteliers that would fund tourism marketing. Hospitality execs used a workaround to avoid the State’s Constitutional requirement that new taxes be submitted to a public vote. Instead, hotel owners were allowed to vote using a weighted system that allowed the proposal to be approved even though a majority of hospitality operations voted against it.
In a related matter, the TMD took great pains yesterday to trumpet notices issued to employees warning them of impending layoffs. No mention was made of utilizing the nearly $2 million TMD has stashed away for emergency funding.
Even More Right Wing Cable News Shows…
San Diegans not content with Doug Manchester’s propaganda outlet over at UT-TV or Faux News will have still another option soon.
San Diego based Herring Broadcasting, principally known for its “Wealth TV” cable outlet, announced this week it will be launching the One America News Network on July 4th.
The Washington Times, a conservative daily operated by the Unification Church, will partner up with Herring, providing reporters and a DC-based production studio. Some shows will also be produced in San Diego.
When asked if there is room for another player in the conservative news market, producer and host Jenn Barlow replied, “Absolutely.”
Barlow said the high ratings for Fox News means there is room for another conservative channel, but how to appeal to conservatives?
“It’s about diversity,” said Barlow. “We aim to bring that diversity together.”
Barlow said while Fox News is home to many traditional Republican voices, One America will feature the Tea Party and other perspectives within the party.
She said several big cable providers and cable viewers are knocking on their door and predicts One America will be in 10 million to 20 million homes across America when it launches.
Fox News recently saw their worst ratings reports in over a decade, according to a recent report in Politico.
The Sun Will Always Be Shining in San Diego, Says Donna Fry
Mayor Bob Filner held a press conference regarding his campaign promise to make government more open and yesterday. He and former Councilwoman Donna Frye unveiled a new section of the city website, putting in one place information on the pensions being paid, all lawsuits involving City Hall, union agreements, campaign finance disclosures, lists of gifts to elected officials, construction contracts and public notices. Filner praised the project, saying what San Diego has is one of the most transparent city sites in the state, if not the nation.
Over at Voice of San Diego, Frye talked with Andrew Keatts about a funding proposal to the Knight News Challenge, a contest of ideas underwritten by the Knight Foundation, that would create a publicly accessible web presence allowing community planning groups to share meeting announcements, agendas, minutes and supporting materials online.
Developed jointly with Ben Katz, CEO of local software development company JSX Inc. and Joe Lacava, chairman of the city’s Community Planner’s Committee, this system seeks to improve the way citizens and governments interact.
“It’s Sunshine Week every week in the city of San Diego,” said Frye “The bottom line is the public has a right to know what the government’s doing—and they have a right to know why we’re doing it.”
Asked about attempts by failed Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio to portray her work with the city as ‘double-dipping’, Frye responded “Who?” She then repeated that word. Here’s a quick video, from NBC San Diego:
Frye is being paid $48 an hour as a consultant (no benefits) and draws a $31,000 annual pension from the City stemming from her time on the City Council.
The San Diego Hospice Story Just Gets Sadder
KPBS is up with a report indicating that as many as half the patients at the now bankrupt San Diego Hospice were not eligible for Medicare benefits the organization billed to federal government. The Hospice cared for nearly 1,000 patients daily, discharging more than half of them in the several months after learning that an audit was underway.
William Parker, San Diego Hospice Chief Operating Officer, testified in a deposition earlier this week that while some of the discharged patients went to other hospices, most “were ineligible for service.”
The government, which pays for most hospice care, is looking into whether all San Diego hospice patients met the Medicare definition of terminal – having six months or less to live.
Parker’s testimony about ineligible patients, given under oath as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, give insight into how much money Medicare could demand in repayment. Most of San Diego’s $83 million budget comes from Medicare dollars. Depending on the number of years the audit examined, the amount could easily be in the tens of millions – more if the federal government seeks “treble damages,” allowing it to collect triple the amount owed.
On This Day: 1916 – President Woodrow Wilson sent 12,000 troops, under General Pershing, over the border of Mexico to pursue bandit Pancho Villa. The mission failed. 1945 – “Billboard” magazine began listing a top albums chart. The first #1 was “The Nat King Cole Trio.” 1991– Four Los Angeles police officers were indicted in the beating of Rodney King.
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