So Wells Fargo, which does a bit of business here in Minnesota, insists its foreclosure process is so bulletproof it isn’t going along with this moratorium business. Well, it may now have some ‘splainin’ to do. In sworn statements, Wells Fargo employees admit that they “robo-signed” hundreds of foreclosure documents without checking them for accuracy. Chris Serres’ Strib story says: “Wells Fargo’s procedures have come under closer scrutiny in recent weeks. Some consumer attorneys who represent people who have lost their houses argue that the bank’s employees made some of the same missteps as its rivals by carelessly rushing foreclosures without verifying the accuracy of the documents. Linda Tirelli, a consumer bankruptcy attorney in Connecticut and New York, calls the bank’s statement that its affidavits are accurate ‘absolutely outrageous.’ “
The Financial Times story says: “Xee Moua said she signed as many as 500 foreclosure-related papers a day on behalf of the bank. Ms Moua said the only information she had verified was whether her name and title appeared correctly. Asked whether she checked the accuracy of the principal and interest that Wells Fargo claimed the borrower owed — an important step in banks’ legal actions to foreclose — Ms Moua replied: ‘I do not.’ Ms Moua nevertheless signed affidavits, reviewed by the Financial Times, that said she had ‘personal knowledge of the facts regarding the sums of money which are due and owing to Wells Fargo.’ These affidavits were used in lawsuits brought by Wells Fargo to repossess homes.” I can understand how a moratorium on foreclosures slows the real estate industry’s process of touching bottom and bouncing up, but good god, what happened to due diligence?
An AP story on the “robo-signing” says: “In an effort to rush through thousands of home foreclosures since 2007, financial institutions and their mortgage servicing departments hired hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and people who had worked on assembly lines and installed them in ‘foreclosure expert’ jobs with no formal training, a Florida lawyer says. In depositions released Tuesday, many of those workers testified that they barely knew what a mortgage was. Some couldn’t define the word ‘affidavit.’ Others didn’t know what a complaint was, or even what was meant by personal property.”
By the looks of the re-inspection report, it may be just as well that Kim Huoy Chor Asian Cuisine in St. Paul has been shut down by a 7-0 vote of the City Council. The PiPress’s Dave Orrick reports: “Days after Vuthy Taing, the owner, publicly pledged his University Avenue eatery was sparkling clean after two years of failing inspections, city inspectors found numerous problems remained, from food being left out for hours to ‘dozens of dead roaches in an unused hallway in the basement,’ according to an inspection report … attorneys and inspectors reported that two years of violations at Kim Huoy Chor amounted to the worst chronic violation in the history of city food inspections. At least two patrons reported being sickened after eating at the restaurant at 1664 W. University Ave.” Any time you get to “worst … in history,” it’s time to drop the curtain.
MPR’s Poligraph, its ad-veracity checking service, declares new TV spots by Tim Walz and Randy Demmer, attacking each other down in the 1st District, are both … false. On Walz’ shot at Demmer, for supposedly proposing a privatization of Social Security, Catharine Richert writes: “While Demmer previously said he’d support allowing people control [of] their Social Security contributions investments, he’s backed off that position; PoliGraph could find no evidence that he’s recently campaigned on the idea. More importantly, the Walz ad claims that Demmer has a plan to privatize Social Security. In fact, Demmer doesn’t have a plan one way or another on the issue, saying only that it needs reform.” Demmer, meanwhile, is claiming Walz shipped $1.5 billion worth of jobs overseas (via the stimulus package). On that, Richert says, “the ad neglects that new wind projects in the U.S. — financed by foreign companies or by American companies — create jobs locally, a point that the Department of Energy has gone to great length to point out. It’s hard to pin down precisely how many jobs local wind projects have created, but the American Wind Energy Association estimates that stimulus money helped create or save upwards of 40,000 jobs in 2009.” Other than that, good going, guys.
Jeremy Herb, in the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics” blog, notes that Norm Coleman’s American Action Network is targeting Walz, along with 21 other Democrats, with a nice pool of cash: “Coleman’s group, ‘action tank’ American Action Network, is reportedly making a $19 million ad buy to target House races in 22 districts across the country, including against 1st District Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, Politico [first] reported. … The American Action Network, which Coleman serves as CEO, is one of several outside conservative groups planning to spend $50 million against Democrats in the House this election. Coleman’s organization is operating under a new campaign-finance landscape created this year after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which granted corporations and unions the ability to spend an unlimited amount of money supporting and opposing candidates.”
Michele Bachmann’s stunning fund-raising success has many believing that Republicans are overwhelming Democrats in the campaign cash game. Chris Cillizza reports that that isn’t true. But the game changer for the GOP is the Citizens United ruling. An AP story explains: “Under rules liberalized by both the Supreme Court and a federal appellate court, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations. American Crossroads is registered with the Federal Election Commission and as such must reveal its donors, but Crossroads GPS is registered only as a nonprofit with the IRS and doesn’t have to disclose its sources of money. The fundraising figures, made available to The Associated Press, place the two Crossroads groups on track to meet their goal of $52 million by Election Day, and put them on virtually the same financial footing as the National Republican Senatorial Committee.” The opaque nature of the money coming into these organizations is not an accident: “Legislation to require groups that air political ads to divulge their donors passed the House this year but has stalled in the Senate. Another vote to break the Senate stalemate could come in the next few weeks. While Crossroads GPS donors are secret, American Crossroads filings with the Internal Revenue Service and with the FEC show that the group initially built itself with large contributions. Companies controlled by major Republican donor Harold Simmons have donated $2 million. Simmons bankrolled ads in 2008 linking then-candidate Obama to William Ayers, a Vietnam-era militant who helped found the violent Weather Underground. Other million-dollar donors include Bradley Wayne Hughes, founder and chairman of Public Storage; former Univision president Jerry Perenchio; and Trevor Rees-Jones, founder of Chief Oil and Gas.” Oh, stop your mewling. These guys are no different than you and me. The Supreme Court said so.
After his, uh, “I’m broke, I need a public defender gambit,” Denny Hecker’s (latest) secret benefactor has been ordered to appear in court on Monday … and be ready to cut another check. Writes David Phelps in the Strib: “In court papers, Davis said the unidentified individual is required to attend the hearing and should be ‘prepared to testify as to the ultimate source of said funds and his or her ability to reimburse the public for funds already expended’ on behalf of Hecker through the federal public defender program.”
No information yet on the motivations for the teenage murder-suicide in Lakeland Tuesday night. The PiPress’s Elizabeth Mohr does one of those reaction-of-friends stories, saying, “No one answered the door at Campbell’s home Wednesday, and a call to the home was not returned. A phone number for Grijalva’s parents could not be found.” KSTP’s Tim Sherno gets a couple of articulate friends of the deceased commenting in his piece.
Who isn’t a fan of Cossetta’s? The landmark Italian chow palace is going to dramatically refurbish itself. Matt Smith in City Pages writes: “The market will be expanded to include all of the current restaurant, which will house a meat market and new bakery. The restaurant will be relocated in the new building, which will also contain a pastry shop and gelateria. (The expansion will take place toward the current parking lot, and another parking area will be built on Smith Avenue.) Cossetta’s is also planning a new, although small, wine shop, Vanyo says.” Prices, they promise, will stay the same.
You did see the latest Brett Favre groin shot? WCCO caught it at a Vikings practice Wednesday in Eden Prairie, and it is SFW.