By Doug Porter
It’s the time of year again when the the Golden State’s Chamber of Commerce issues it’s hit list of “job killer” bills being considered in Sacramento. This year there are 17 or so items on the preliminary list; more are expected to be added as the session goes on.
Included in the “Increased Unnecessary Litigation Costs” section is AB244, introduced by Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D- Stockton). The measure would clarify protections in the California Housing Bill of Rights, specifying that widows and other surviving family members are covered in their dealings with mortgage servicers.
Presently these homeowners can find themselves caught in a “Catch 22” if they seek a loan modification. Servicers inform them that they can’t be considered for a modification until they assume the mortgage. But, they won’t let them assume the mortgage unless they demonstrate that they can afford it. As a result, mortgage payments are missed, fees rack up, and foreclosure can be the unnecessary outcome.
McClatchy news published a story last week about Laura Biggs of Rialto, California, who was saved from foreclosure and eviction through the efforts of a pro bono attorney who discovered her deceased husband had insurance in place to pay off most of his loan if he died.
Biggs was the subject of a story by McClatchy in December 2013 that documented how she was about to lose her home days before Christmas. Bank of America’s bill collector was telling her the home was not her husband’s primary residence. It couldn’t be: He was dead. Mitchell did reside on the premises – in an urn.
The McClatchy report helped stall the foreclosure. In the months that followed, Bank of America’s subsidiary offered Biggs a mortgage modification that added more than $30,000 in miscellaneous fees and legal fees and charges to the loan. That would have sucked out the equity she’d built up in the home. Her pro bono lawyer demanded a list of specifics on the fees.
Biggs is one of the lucky ones. She’s now suing, alleging Bank of America, its mortgage servicer and the insurer acted together and maliciously to ignore the insurance policy designed to keep her in the home. The lawyers don’t think her case is isolated.
Meanwhile, the Cal Chamber has issued form letters and other materials to its membership, claiming AB 244 “jeopardizes access to credit for home mortgages, increasing the challenge to attract business to California because of high housing prices, by extending the homeowner’s bill of rights to others…”
The Chamber’s website boasts that 25 of the 27 “job killer” bills introduced in the California legislature were defeated in 2014.
Vaccination Bill Stalls Following Threats
The sad tale of SB277, a bill introduced by State Senator Dr. Richard Pan eliminating the personal exemption for unvaccinated children wishing to attend public schools continues. The Senate Education Committee has delayed a vote on the measure.
Proponents of the bill spoke for about seven minutes, according to The Sacramento Bee, while opposed parents spent more than two hours arguing against it. “I think maybe some of the senators were taken aback by the ferocity of passion that they saw there, and that might have been impactful,” State Senator Ben Allen, a co-author of SB277, told the Bee.
The issue of mandatory vaccinations is contentious in California, where, according to the Contra Costa Times, more than 13,000 kindergartners are unvaccinated for personal or religious reasons. Perhaps hoping to sway public opinion, Pan and Allen penned an op-ed in The Fresno Bee titled “SB 277 protects children from horrific diseases.”
Meanwhile, Pan is speaking with various stakeholders to try to find a path forward for the legislation. If he is unable to craft a compromise in one week’s time, his bill will likely die in committee—a fate similar bills in Oregon and Washington suffered after facing similar opposition.
Opponents of the bill were more than fierce. Additional security was assigned to Sen. Pan following a barrage of unsettling messages left with his office and posted in social media.
From the Sacramento Bee:
“They’re basically trying to silence us,” Pan said. “It’s disturbing.”
The messages range from images depicting Pan as a Nazi to posts on his Facebook page calling for him to be “eradicated” or hung by a noose. Pan said his staff has forwarded all of the threats to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office, as is procedure, which has assessed them and responded as needed. Additional guards attended a community forum last month, for example, after bill opponents discussed throwing things at Pan.
SB 277 will have to make it through 4 committees, the full senate and then the Assembly.
Understanding ‘One San Diego’
One San Diego, for those of you who haven’t heard, is the local nonprofit whose title also appears on various press releases from Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office announcing official actions to be taken by the city government.
It’s confusing. Technically the mayor has nothing to do with the non-profit. A KUSI story described his wife as the “honorary chair” as she presented a check to a community project. And its board is packed with his political allies. And its actions mirror policy imperatives of the administration.
Some months back Liam Dillon at Voice of San Diego did a basic “what the heck is this?” story. Many more details are to be found there.
You might describe One San Diego a local example of what the Washington Post recently called a GONGO (government-operated nongovernmental organization). The Post article described how many authoritarian regimes are using these type groups to create the illusion of a democratic process.
I certainly don’t think the Faulconer administration is or wants to be an authoritarian regime. But I do think there’s an illusion in the making here.
The sweet part of this deal is that having a nonprofit–which doesn’t have to disclose donor information–allows companies (Bank of America, Cox, Sempra Energy, Wells Fargo, etc) to make donations to various approved projects without the appearance of a quid pro quo.
Former mayor Bob Filner wasn’t so subtle when he solicited funding from a local developer who’d transgressed city zoning rules, and he got sued.
So let’s add GONGO to our local political vocabulary. I’m sure there will be more to this story in the future…
The reviews are in on my satirical essay published this weekend about the ongoing attempts by a certain nonprofit news agency to throw stuff at Attorney Cory Briggs to see what sticks.
“Keep your day job, if you have one” — Uncle Tom
“…a propaganda outlet for the hard Left.” –Maria Q
“…this piece is just strange, maybe even slanderous.” — Joe from AZ
“Ha!” –Regnad Kcin
On This Day: 1914 – Ludlow massacre: Colorado state militia, using machine guns and fire, kill about 20 people—including 11 children—at a tent city set up by striking coal miners. 1962 – The New Orleans Citizens’ Council offered a free one-way ride for blacks to move to northern states. 2010 – The BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion, and subsequent 87-day-long oil leak, was the country’s worst maritime petroleum spill in history.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.