September 2008 Archives

Thursday, September 25, 2008. Texas: Three politicians from Dallas-Fort Worth among the rare Texas legislators who did not receive big contributions from homebuilders: PEGASUS NEWS - [TRCC]Reps. Dan Barrett and Lon Burnam of Fort Worth, and Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway of Dallas, we salute you: You were among the mere six politicians in Texas who did NOT accept huge campaign contributions from the homebuilder industry, according to a report from watchdog group Texans For Public Justice. The rest accepted large amounts of cash, especially Gov. Rick Perry, who received $649,218, and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who got $537,882.

Thursday, September 25, 2008. National Interest: Lawmakers: Wall Street rescue accord reached-Dodd, Frank: Agreement in principle, expect passage of bill within days MSNBC NEWS: WASHINGTON - Key Republicans and Democrats reported agreement Thursday on an outline for a historic $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, but there was still resistance from rank-and-file House Republicans despite warnings of an impending panic.
Thursday, September 25, 2008. Kansas: Wheeling, dealing Zwego has a long rap sheet: By PAUL WENSKE-The Kansas City Star
Editor's note: This story first appeared April 8, 2007 in The Star. Ray Zwego evoked the image of a savvy real estate investment guru.A born salesman, Zwego ran his North Mission Investments from an office in a squat, grayish-brick building at 1547 Burlington St. in North Kansas City. Today he’s awaiting trial on mortgage fraud charges. He declined an interview. Great comments and updates ["I'm happy to report that Mr. Zwego (according to tonight's news report) has been sentenced to 13 years in prison and ordered to pay more than 6 million dollars. As one of his victims, I would like to know where he will serve his time so I can send him a card congratulating him on his new residence. Afterall, he finally made it to the "big house" and I hope he enjoys his stay."]

Thursday, September 25, 2008. Florida: Bankruptcy court agrees to financial agreement for WCI: Naples News-{more bailouts for the rich] A new $150 million financing agreement has been approved in the Delaware bankruptcy court for troubled builder WCI Communities Inc. The court authorized the Bonita Springs-based luxury builder to enter into a new debtor-in-possession financing agreement and has given the company final authority to use its cash on hand as it works through it Chapter 11 case. [As of Sept. 30, WCI had about $68 million in cash on hand.]

Thursday, September 25, 2008. Minnesota: New "Independent" Insurance Study On Minnesota No Fault Should Be Closely Reviewed: InjuryBoard.com-According to the American Arbitration Association in Minnesota there were 4986 No fault arbitration filings in 2006 and 4870 in 2007. Of those filing the claimant won everything requested 11% of the time in 2006 and 9% of the time in 2007. The average claim was 6547.00 in 2006 and 7224.48 in 2007. The average award was 4634.00 in 2006 and 5311.66 in 2007. Seems to me these numbers better reflect what is going on vs. a small subset that may have come from companies that regularly delay, deny and defend every claim.

Thursday, September 25, 2008. CA: Courts-Permits Dismissal After Claim Is Ordered to Arbitration: By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer-A plaintiff may avoid court-ordered contractual arbitration by dismissing the action before arbitration begins, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday. Div. Two, in a 2-1 decision, granted a writ of mandate allowing a suit by Cardiff Equities, Inc. to go forward against real estate developer Robert W. O’Neel III. Cardiff, which is based in Los Angeles, had agreed in June 2005 to invest $1.4 million in an O’Neel development in Myrtle Beach, S.C. O’Neel separately agreed to repay the full investment, plus an agreed return, on or before July 31, 2006.
Thursday, September 25, 2008. Florida: Officials Say Seffner Man Is Part Of Scheme: TAMPA Tribune - A Seffner man was arrested Wednesday in connection with a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme that victimized dozens of people since 2004, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said. Michael Thomas Fetterhoff, 37, of 205 Kingsway Road, was charged with grand theft of more than $100,000.

Thursday, September 25, 2008. National Interest: Reckless CEO pay won't be tolerated: Pittsburgh Tribune-Just think, there's a part of the Wall Street bailout everybody could understand. If it gets enacted. Which isn't a total cinch. That's the part that would limit the pay of CEOs (chief executive officers) at companies that need taxpayers to help empty the water buckets. If We the People must save Wall Street from itself, then the top guys in the lifeboat can't expect to go first-class on salaries, bonuses, and perks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008. Nevada: I-Team: Search Warrants Served in Political Corruption Probe: [Channel 8 Vegas] FBI agents, backed up by Metro Detectives, served search warrants all over the valley looking for evidence of political corruption. The I-Team has learned the investigation is focused on alleged corruption among local homeowner associations and contractors.
Thursday, September 25, 2008. National Interest: As Homes Are Lost, Fears That Votes Will Be, Too : [NY Times]-More than a million people have lost their homes through foreclosure in the last two years, and many of them are still registered to vote at the address of the home they lost. Now election officials and voting rights groups are struggling to prevent thousands of them from losing their vote when they go to the polls in November.

Thursday, September 25, 2008. National Interest: UPDATE 2-Beazer settles with SEC, will not pay fine: Beazer, which had been under investigation for more than a year for its mortgage units' questionable mortgage practices and for accounting irregularities, agreed to a cease and desist order requiring future compliance with certain provisions of federal securities laws and regularities. But under the deal, the Atlanta-based company did not admit or deny any wrongdoing and will not pay a monetary penalty.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. TX: A loud moment of silence by Bob Perry. Rep. Dan Flynn, a member of the Sunset Commission that will help decide if the agency survives, wondered why, if TRCC was fair and unbiased, was there such a disconnect between consumers and the agency?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Mortgage Fraud Blog: Miller case UPDATE: Sentencing Continued For Kansas Man Involved in $25M Fraud Lanny Ross, Leawood, Kansas, was set for sentencing on September 8, 2008. As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Ross plead guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy for his role in a $25 million mortgage fraud scheme, although some of his codefendants are proceeding to trial. Ross filed an unopposed motion to continuing his sentencing hearing for three months requesting that his sentence take place after the trial of his codefendants. The Court granted his motion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Common Dreams: A Fox to Protect the Henhouse? More on the bailout if you can stand another article on it!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Bay Area Houston Blog: TRCC UPDATE: Scroll down to Sep 23rd entries on builder Bob Perry, and the Sunset Commission hearings Blog of former HADD director, and homeowner-advocate, John Cobarruvias.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. CA: Visalia woman retakes home--Foreclosed upon and locked out, senior citizen fights back.: VISALIA [Fresno BEE]-- Floy Mae Bryant, 84, returned Tuesday to the home she lost in foreclosure, but this time she had a lawyer and a locksmith in tow. Swenk [the woman's lawyer]said the home was sold out from under Bryant to Fannie Mae in April, and in May the locks were changed by a real estate agent before Bryant had fully moved out. That's illegal, Swenk said. No proper legal paperwork was obtained to require her to move, she said. {my notes: Predatory loan and the poor woman had lost two sons five months apart this last year. I will update if I see more]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Public Citizen: Tell Congress to Put YOUR Interests First in a Financial Bailout Today, Congress and lobbyists are listening to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke tell them that they must devise a $700 billion bailout plan immediately. Two kinds of people are represented in that room: Wall Street speculators whose greed-driven schemes have jeopardized the economic stability of our nation, and public officials who should have done something to prevent this economic situation. Americans will be on the outside.

Public Citizen says enough! We're launching a campaign, along with Consumer Watchdog, to put consumers first in any financial bailout plan. We're mobilizing millions of Americans, and we need your support to make our voices heard in the halls of power!

Please sign our petition, and encourage your friends and colleagues to join the fight!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Today's Financial News (TFN); Nat'l interest: Mortgage crisis: No pity for the stupid Interfering with the market’s cleansing process means keeping paper values high. But that means unaffordable real estate and long-term increases in the cost of living. ... There is no constitutional right to make a mint on plopping a McMansion on a potato field.

Instead of propping up builders, maybe it’s time to level the unsold developments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Power Line: Ancient History, Apparently National Association of Home Builders among industry groups that oppose tighter regulation of industry as condition of bailout bill. Want tax payers to cough up $700 billion with no strings attached.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Rutherford Institute: Rule by Thieves Congress is in a blind rush to consider and most likely approve George Bush’s $700 billion proposal to bail out Wall Street. The real issue is where were our representatives when Wall Street moguls were in effect stealing the country blind? The answer is simple: many in Congress were doing the same thing, in one fashion or another. Indeed, having the present Congress investigate the Wall Street fiasco is like having a fox investigate a murder in the chicken coop.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Idaho: UPDATE: Actor Tom Hanks loses again in Idaho court in house dispute A Blaine County judge has rejected Tom Hanks' appeal of a previous decision that denied the actor's request for a second arbitration over what the movie star says was $2.5 million in faulty workmanship on his sprawling compound north of Ketchum...Case (against Storey Construction) now moves to the Idaho Supreme Court
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. CNN Money: MORE: Beazer Homes settles with SEC in probe of mortgage origination business, admits no wrongdoing Beazer consented to cease and desist order...will pay no fines or penalties. ... The company and subsidiary, Beazer Mortgage Corp., remain under investigations by state and federal agencies concerning its mortgage business.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Dallas Morning News: Controversial Texas construction commission need not be dismantled, lawmakers say Staffers to the Sunset Commission, which periodically evaluates state agencies, told lawmakers the construction agency "does more harm than good" for homeowners stuck with shoddy workmanship and should be disbanded. But members of the Sunset Commission, composed of eight key lawmakers and two public representatives, said they wanted to try to fix the agency...The lack of oversight has made the state "a magnet for unscrupulous players," he said. "The result is homeowners, even whole neighborhoods, have suffered millions of dollars in damages with no recourse."
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Times Leader (PA): Assessment court appeals onerous Summary/Opinion: Arbitration is not cheaper. “Court representatives say the arbitration/master system was initiated so property owners don’t have to wait years for judgments.” In order to appeal a property tax, the property owner must first go to arbitration. The cost for the arbitration panel of three attorneys is $125 per arbitrator. The payments to the arbitrators for the estimated 2,000 potential cases would cost $750,000. The county would only receive about $300,000 in revenue from the filing fees to offset that expense. Who wins? The arbitrators, providing they wish to work for $125 per case.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Seattle Weekly: UPDATE on WA Building Industry Association violation of campaign laws: Trading One Potential Disaster for Another "The Legislature needs to fix this problem," said Ostrom. "It should never be legal to spend money skimmed from a government program on attack ads in the first place."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. My San Antonio: UPDATE on the TRCC, Fox Guarding the Henhouse: "Panel ponders future of builder mediation" The construction commission, created in 2003 with homebuilders' support, lacks authority to force builders to fix defective houses. The staff report said that only 12 percent of the commission's cases have resulted in satisfactory repair or compensation to homeowners.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. My San Antonio: Group: 3 judges in DeLay case tainted by PAC Three Republican appellate justices who have opened the door to the possible dismissal of criminal charges against Tom DeLay share political donors with a committee formed by the former U.S. House GOP leader, a government watchdog group said Tuesday. (More on Homebuilder Bob Perry's donations.)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Mortgage News Daily: MORE: Interest Group and State Regulators Express Opinions on Bailout The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) also expressed their support and offered help in crafting the final bailout package. (Haven't we had enough of the fox guarding the henhouse?! --Ed.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Builder Online: UPDATE: Former KB Home Chairman and CEO Bruce Karatz Pays $7.2 Million To Settle Stock Backdating Case The Securities and Exchange Commission last week settled civil fraud charges against Bruce E. Karatz, the former chairman and CEO of Los Angeles homebuilder KB Home, Inc., for his participation in a multi-year scheme to backdate stock options to himself and other KB Home officers and employees...Karatz agreed to settle the Commission's charges without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint. Under the settlement, Karatz will pay $6,714,819.27 in disgorgement and interest and a civil penalty of $480,000; and bars him from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years. (Another example of settling without admitting wrong-doing. --Ed.)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Huffington Post: The Twilight of the Utility Bill? This year the Sierra Club was part of a coalition seeking to have the Council increase the efficiency standards for buildings by 30 percent. The builders -- who don't, after all, pay your utility bill -- were strongly opposed...So while the reactionary elements that dominate the building industry are still fighting to keep our buildings leaky, expensive, and polluting, the path to the future is pretty clear -- higher performance, lower carbon, and eventually -- no utility bill.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Las Vegas Sun; National interest: Nonunion laborers sue builder in wage dispute The union claims the practice of underpaying workers is systemic in the homebuilding industry nationwide.

Jeffrey Grabelsky, director of the Construction Industry Program at Cornell University, said some in the industry have been skirting regulations and the lawsuit could “shine a light of public scrutiny” on the issue.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Welt Online: MORE on Beazer's settlement w/SEC; (oops, they did't even have to pay a fine according to this article!) Beazer Homes Announces SEC Settlement: "Under the settlement, the Company consented, without admitting or denying any wrongdoing, to a cease and desist order requiring future compliance with certain provisions of the federal securities laws and regulations. The settlement does not require the Company to pay a monetary penalty..."
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. US; Biz Journal: Beazer Homes settles SEC investigation (Another big co settles w/govt without admitting wrong doing. In other words, a cost of doing business as usual.) "Builder's executives fraudulently managed its earnings results from 2000 to 2007 by "smoothing Beazer's earnings.""
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Bloomberg: Bringing Down Wall Street as Ratings Let Loose Subprime Scourge Frank Raiter says his former employer, Standard & Poor's, placed a ``For Sale'' sign on its reputation on March 20, 2001. That day, a member of an S&P executive committee ordered him, the company's top mortgage official, to grade a real estate investment he'd never reviewed...``I refused to go along with some of this stuff, and how they got around it, I don't know,'' says Raiter, 61, a former S&P managing director whose business unit rated 85 percent of all residential mortgage deals at the time. ``They thought they had discovered a machine for making money that would spread the risks so far that nobody would ever get hurt.'' (File under Smoking Gun, or Whistleblowers? --Ed.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. CNN Money: 'Grave threats' Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who formerly belonged to the Libertarian Party, charged that the bailout plan amounted to price fixing, which he said was a major cause of the depression. He argued trying to lift the value of mortgage-backed securities and keeping home prices from falling further only will cause deeper economic problems long term.

"Most illiquid assets are illiquid because they're not worth anything," he said. "All the blame is put on the fact that there is a downturn in housing. That means they were overpriced. All our efforts right now is to keep those (house) prices up, but the prices should come down. That's what the market is saying."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Victoria Advocate: Ron Paul: Bailout will make things worse Similar acts from the past six months have steadied the markets for a few weeks but then another crisis builds.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. SmallGovTimes.com: Government says you owe Wall Street $3,278 Corporate Welfare update: Bailout will cost roughly $3,278 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Congress.Org: Contact your Congressman or Woman See upper right corner; you can find your elected officials by your zip code.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. NAHB website: Home Builders whine for govt bailout to keep housing/finance bubble afloat Home buyers were told to take personal responsibility while big industries that created the bubble now cry for a govt bailout for themselves. Building industry press release: "The nation’s home builders today called on Congress to move promptly to enact the emergency financial rescue plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson...(NAHB pres. Sandy Dunn) urging the 235,000 members of the (builders') association to immediately contact their congressional delegations and ask them to adopt the plan now." HOMEOWNERS: Your calls and emails/letters are needed to outnumber the builders who will be urging congressment to allow a corporate bailout at our expense. Please contact your congressman or woman TODAY. This bill could be passed this week. Americans overwhelmingly oppose it but unless they tell congress, their numbers won't be counted: Contact your congressman or woman: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/ See "find your officials" upper right corner. Headline on this site today is also about the bailout.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. OpEd News: The Elephants Among Us Chickens Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson pooh-poohs inclusion homeowners in his bailout scheme. Said struggling homeowners needed to take responsibility for their obligations...unlike financial institutions, their executives and CEOs, or the shareholders who gorged on their malfeasance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008. Patrick.net: Housing Crash and Bailout news of the day Links to ask your congressmen to say 'no' to bailing out industries that caused the problem, and more.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008. ABA Journal: Bush Bailout Plan Would Protect Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson from Lawsuits "A recipe for disaster."
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. WA: UPDATE: Attorney general files two suits against builders Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties and Building Industry Association of Washington's Member Services Corporation (BIAW) violated campaign finance laws: McKenna will seek civil penalties and reimbursement of the investigation and trial costs against the two groups, who are both subsidiaries of the BIAW. The groups each have a month to respond, and the judges in charge of the case will report their findings on December 19, 2008, over a month after the election.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. TX: TRCC Update: Homeowners' faith in commission crumbling "It's crumbling around us. A brand new home under warranty and we can do nothing about it," ...Eighty-eight percent of homeowners who go through the TRCC process see no resolution to their problem
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. NATIONAL INTEREST: Gilbert v. Robert Angel Builder, Inc; Construction Arbitration Services’ Arbitrator Allegedly Destroys Evidence, Faces Motion for Contempt By Matt Melamed and Paul Bland. Among consumer advocates, advocates for home buyers and home owners, and lawyers who represent consumers, Construction Arbitration Services ("CAS") is notorious for being cozy with the home construction industry and for often ruling for builders and against home buyers and home owners. In a recent case in Louisiana, though, court filings suggest that CAS has clearly crossed the line into inappropriate behavior. According to court documents, the arbitrator provided by CAS, Ben DeVries, destroyed all evidence submitted during an arbitration hearing within days of issuing the arbitration award. Worse, the pleadings in the case set out that DeVries destroyed the evidence AFTER the plaintiffs had told him in writing that they planned to appeal the award and AFTER DeVries had promised to safeguard the evidence. CAS and DeVries now face a motion for contempt in the 26th Judicial District Court, Bosser County, Louisiana – a motion supported by an affidavit in which opposing counsel, the builder’s attorney, states that he also heard DeVries promise to safeguard the evidence. In response, CAS has graciously offered . . . a free arbitration proceeding.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: BMA = fair? Certainly not for the Gilberts… Yet another example of why private arbitration is such a darling to the big business industry, and such a menace to…well, everyone else.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: Contact your Elected Officials, both local and federal We've often posted articles that call for citizens to contact their elected officials. This handy link from usa.gov lets you do just that. No more excuses!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: Senators Express Concerns, Frustration on Bailout Plan At least part of the problem was credibility. Several lawmakers expressed frustration with Mr. Paulson, who sought extraordinary powers over the government-sponsored enterprises two months ago but argued he would never need to use them. The government eventually employed them to seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this month.

"How many times can the administration be wrong and still instill confidence?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. TX: MORE on abolishment of the TRCC; Builders association issues press release to try and save their builder protection agency Texas Association of Builders releases their spin, to try and save agency that state comptroller called a builder protection agency, and that the state's sunset commission recommended be abolished as it does consumers no good. TRCC is fox in the henhouse; cannot or will not hold bad builders accountable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. AL; Nat'l interest: UPDATE: Misplaced Mortgage Files on the Rise Summary: Dream Builder’s Home Services dumped boxes of mortgage documents with personal info on them in an alley, exposing their customers to identity theft. State banking dept had revoked their mortgage broker license for, among other violations, “failing to maintain the required records.” State banking dept also said they can't take action against company now, and added incidents like this are becoming more common. A couple of months ago HADD posted news about a builder in TX who left boxes of similarly sensitive documents in an open garage until residents investigated.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. FL: Florida Voters Weary of Foreclosures Here, many homeowners find themselves under water, as the term goes, owing more on their mortgage than their house is now worth.

Speculative buying, speculative building, and speculative lending created the perfect storm for the boom, and now the perfect storm for the bust.

One row of model homes’ builders have all gone out of business. Houses sit half-built, and in Miami there is five years worth of condos on the market right now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. Common Dreams: Critics See Bailout as Massive Blank Check U.S. activist networks have shifted into high gear to protest the secretive 700-billion-dollar plan to bail out Wall Street, which they say is unfair to average citizens and a giveaway to banks. (Common Dreams' Sep 23rd issue has several articles on the bailout, economy, etc. --Ed.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. TX: TRCC UPDATE: Consumer groups blast Texas homebuilders agency The Texas Residential Construction Commission should be abolished because it is ineffective and shields homebuilders from liability for shoddy work, activists said Tuesday, echoing a recent state report...consumer groups have argued the agency did more to protect builders than consumers and limited homeowners' legal recourse in disputes. ... The Sunset Review Commission, which reviews state agency performance and makes recommendations to lawmakers, said in its report that the agency's dispute resolution process is lengthy and difficult and frustrates homeowners. Despite recent attempts to strengthen the process with new penalties, the TRCC "still has no real power to require builders to make needed repairs," the report said. ... The Sunset Commission still must vote on the report and recommendations to lawmakers.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. NC: Charlotte home builder files for Chapter 7 Charlotte home builder Classic Southern Homes Inc. has filed for Chapter 7 liquidation, according to a company filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court here.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: Frank and Fannie (Summary: Author compares 2003 news article to today's financial meltdown. National Association of Home builders one of the groups that opposed regulating Fannie and Freddie while there was still time to avert disaster. Some democrats, (the wool pulled over their eyes by the "affordable housing" propaganda), went along with it. Denied there was any impending problem with the way things were going.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: McCain and the Fannie and Freddie Lobbyists Lobbying was one of the main causes of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crisis, for which taxpayers are now assuming trillions of dollars of risky loans. ... (McCain's) own campaign manager not only lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he lobbied against government regulation of those two companies.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. DE: UPDATE: Home builder to reimburse Del. buyers Ryan Homes will be forced to pay nearly $500,000 in reimbursement fees to homeowners living within the company's Townsend, Del., housing community, state Attorney General Beau Biden has announced...At issue is an annual fee of $800 charged to the homeowners for membership to the development golf course. Ryan Homes stated at the time of purchase that the customers were exempt from the annual fee. However, customers were charged the fee once they purchased their home.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: Banks, builders, belly up to the govt trough at our expense Community and regional banks hoping to get part of U.S. government's proposed $700 billion bailout...Lennar Corp.'s chief executive has also asked for government help. (Whatever happened to "Personal Responsibility," and "Keep govt out of our business and let capitalism work?" Taxpayers made to share corporate risk taking but not their profits. --Ed.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. MI: Legacy Homes shuts down after 30 years The shuttering of the company, 1971 East Beltline Ave. NE, leaves some homeowners facing liens on their property by unpaid subcontractors...The closure also means home warranties will not be honored by Legacy. (Article goes on to say Legacy believes the subs will honor the warranty. From what we've seen, it's doubtful they will, especially if they have not been paid! --Ed.)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. TX: Background for ongoing TRCC news: Who is Running the TRCC -- An Insider's Guide to Understanding How the Foxes are Guarding the Henhouse TRCC set up to resolve builder complaints made up of mostly building industry insiders.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. TX: TRCC UPDATE: Home owners ask builders to accept responsibility Short, not that informative, but talks briefly about the group "Home Owners of Texas" (HOT) and their efforts to hold builders accountable. Article does not discuss the shortcomings of the TRCC which has let down homeowners.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. TX: UPDATE: Part 2 on abolishing the TRCC Someone is trying to put lipstick on the TRCC pig. Listen to the hearing: http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: Paulson & Bernanke: The New American Fascists (Sept 23rd entry; you may have to scroll down to the headline if you view this later than the 23rd.) Bailout bill's key point: Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. ... And here we have Paulson and Bernanke squealing that Congress has to grant them virtually unlimited powers to borrow and spend taxpayer funds immediately or a financial Apocalypse is at hand. Nice, but where have they been for the last year? Bleating at every opportunity how "sound" the U.S. banking system is. ... The toothless mainstream media stood idly by for the past year like a drooling village idiot mesmerized by the brightly colored tinfoil Paulson and Bernanke waved in their faces. Now they cravenly report the "emergency" without a shred of skepticism
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. WA: Condo Conversions Crumbling Apartment complexes converted to condominiums during boom; sewage leaks, rotting walls, and more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. UT: Home builder going to jail for fraud Cobalt Homes, Brian Brady, is in the Salt Lake County Jail serving a 90 day sentence for defrauding homeowners and subcontractors...People who bought the homes suddenly found themselves with numerous liens placed by subcontractors Brady had not paid...Court documents say Brady used money that should have paid subcontractors to pay for elective surgery for his wife, his daughters wedding expenses, new trucks for his sons, dinners and other personal expenses. Brady’s office manager, Melissa Lynnea Brunner, also pleaded guilty...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. AZ: Local builder Pathway files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Unpaid subcontractors (could mean liens for homeowners). Bankruptcy filings included (Michael) Teufel-led Pathway Developments Inc., Pathway Holdings LLC, Pathway Sabino LLC and Raven Springs LLC as well as a filing by Teufel himself...Home-buyers have alleged that Pathway failed to start or complete their homes, leaving them with hefty construction loans to pay off and nothing to show for it. Some investors and lenders accused Teufel of stealing funds from partnerships or transferring assets to avoid repayment.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: First fear, then loathing, toward Wall Street Crisis sparks anger over executive salaries, lax regulation

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. Nat'l interest: Tending the Boulevards of Broken Dreams City tries to maintain abandoned properties needing to be mowed and boarded up
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. Patrick.net: Housing Crash News Collection of daily articles on housing crash, bailout, etc. This is simply a way to get more of these articles on HADD Headline News. Site is always very current.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. US: O'REILLY: Next president must fix our corrupt financial system Capitalism is the best economic system on earth because it allows people to work hard and reach their potential. But like everything else, capitalism can be perverted. Bad guys can game the system...Poor leaders like Cox and Frank are just a small part of a corrupt system that is now harming honest Americans.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008. Florida: Advocates urge relief for loan fraud victims in Florida-A campaign is under way to provide badly needed money to people cheated by rogue mortgage brokers. Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who authored anti-mortgage fraud legislation that passed a year ago, questioned why builders and stock brokers have recovery funds, but not people selling home loans.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. California: National Home Builders Suit to Block Air Pollution Rule Dismissed SO MUCH FOR THE "GREEN BUILDING FARCE"! It is bad enough that the majority of children here suffer from Asthma and spend half their school year indoors due to poor air quality. (Media-Newswire.com) - Fresno, CA -- A federal judge has dismissed a suit by the National Association of Home Builders ( NAHB ) that sought to invalidate a landmark regulation in the San Joaquin Valley to reduce air pollution from new development projects. The court rejected NAHB's basis for the suit, that the Clean Air Act preempted the regulation, known as the Indirect Source Rule ( ISR ).
Tuesday, September 23, 2008. TX: Home owners ask builders to accept responsibility : A group of homeowners are demanding accountability for Texas homeowners. Home Owners of Texas (HOT) said they are stuck with their poorly built homes and have had to pay for repairs out of their own pockets.

Monday, September 22, 2008. TX: BACKGROUND; on TRCC Builder protection agency “hits home” in Williamson County
Monday, September 22, 2008. TX: REMINDER: Hearing to abolish builder Bob Perry's homebuilding Commission, the TRCC Tuesday Sept 23 and Sept 24th at 9:00am Room E1.030, Capitol Extension – House Appropriations Committee Room. The agenda can be found at http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/81streports/agendas/sept_23.pdf Commission found TRCC "fundamentally flawed."
Monday, September 22, 2008. TX: REMINDER: Comments on Abolishing the Builders' Commission (TRCC) You can find all the comments submitted at http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/81streports/trcc/responses/chart.htm

Monday, September 22, 2008. GA: Home builders at the end of the line Several metro Atlanta builders filed for bankruptcy: Homes by Ken Butera, Quantum Homes, Creative Homes, Copacali Homes and affiliates...
Monday, September 22, 2008. American Bar Association Journal: MORE: How a Bankruptcy Court Overrode Restitution in a Criminal Case The plight of Mark Poveromo illustrates how bankruptcy law and criminal law can conflict, sometimes to the victim’s detriment...Poveromo paid nearly $40,000 to an Illinois contractor to construct a building for his pet food business, but the work was never done, the story says. He filed a criminal complaint, resulting in a larceny conviction for the builder, Mark R. Koch, and an order to pay restitution and attorney fees.

Before Poveromo filed the criminal complaint, Koch had filed for bankruptcy in St. Louis, halting monetary claims against him. Poveromo claims he never got notice of the bankruptcy filing because it was sent to his old office address.

Monday, September 22, 2008. NY: Web site IDs shady contractors The names of 24 Western New York-area contractors who have either faced legal action or been the subject of substantiated consumer complaints are listed at www.nyknowyourcontractor.com

Monday, September 22, 2008. NY: Know Your Contractor Attorney General of NY site to do at least some research on contractors before hiring.
Monday, September 22, 2008. AZ; NV; CA; Nat'l interest: A New Victim of the Housing Market Crisis: Unpaid Workers Who Built America's Homes Workers who built for the nation's largest corporate homebuilders will hold news conferences to announce a major action against wage fraud that was, and continues to be, systemic in the residential construction industry.
Monday, September 22, 2008. US: In the Midst of an Extreme Black Swan Too bad the reasonable people didn’t include Alan Greenspan, Bank CEOs, Mortgage companies, Rating Agencies, Homebuilders, Treasury Secretaries, Presidents, Regulators, or Congressmen. They not only didn’t see the fall coming, they spiked the punch bowl and encouraged the party to kick it up a notch.

Monday, September 22, 2008. US: Big Financiers Start Lobbying for Wider Aid Small banks pushing government to buy loans they made to home builders and commercial developers.
Monday, September 22, 2008. US: The confidence game goes bust, but look who is running the ecomony now -- the guys who ran up a $10 trillion debt Why is no one going to jail? Why hasn't anyone been impeached?
Monday, September 22, 2008. CT: MORE on homeowner who had to pay back criminal builder; Blog, can post reader comments The judge then ordered Poveromo to pay back the restitution Koch had given him, as well as attorney’s fees and costs. Poveromo, who recently agreed to a settlement that shortchanges him thousands of dollars, says it goes to show that “Crime does pay.” And it’s the perfect example, analysts say, of why Congress needs to revise the nation’s bankruptcy laws so that criminal restitutions can move forward during bankruptcies. “This is an outrageous decision,” said Anthony Sabino, a law professor at St. John’s University and a bankruptcy expert. “I think it’s a miscarriage of justice.”

Monday, September 22, 2008. OR; KWG.com: Renaissance Homes to declare bankruptcy Portland-based builder of luxury homes, expects to declare bankruptcy later this week, the owner told KGW.
Monday, September 22, 2008. Bloomberg: Freddie Subprime Spree May Add to Bailout Freddie Mac Chief Executive Officer Richard Syron stood before investors at New York's Palace Hotel in May last year lauding his company's ``cautious'' avoidance of the subprime-mortgage crisis.

What Syron, who was ousted last week, didn't say was that Freddie Mac had been gorging on subprime

Monday, September 22, 2008. WA: UPDATE: Attorney general McKenna sues builders groups over campaign violations McKenna filed a lawsuit against the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties and a second lawsuit against a subsidiary of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW).

The action comes just days after the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) agreed unanimously that the two groups failed to properly report their roles in directing political donations.

Monday, September 22, 2008. US: Congressional Leaders Stunned by Warnings Problem began with bad lending practices...cost to government (i.e. taxpayers!) of purchasing bad debt could run to $1 trillion. (When consumers get themselves into this bad of a financialo mess they're called "irresponsible." Where is the responsibility for companies that created this mess?)
Monday, September 22, 2008. US: This Bailout Won't be the Last Ron Paul RE: Govt Bailout: "[T]his whole idea of price fixing—that's what they are doing—has been trying to keep housing prices up and trying to stimulate home building."
Monday, September 22, 2008. US: Backlash over bailout, and more Headlines of the housing crash, economy, etc, from Patrick.net