From the daily archives: Friday, September 24, 2010

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today directed Ally Financial, Inc., formerly known as GMAC, to prove immediately that it is complying with state law or, if it cannot, to cease and desist from foreclosing on California homes.

“I’m taking this action to protect California homeowners facing the tragedy of foreclosure,” Brown said. “They are clearly in jeopardy since an Ally Financial official admitted his review of thousands of critical foreclosure documents was really a sham.”

“Prior to resuming foreclosures here, the company must prove that it’s following the letter of the law,” Brown added.

California law prohibits lenders from recording notices of default on mortgages made between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007, unless, subject to limited exceptions, the lender contacts or tries diligently to contact the borrower to determine eligibility for a loan modification. A notice of default must include a declaration of compliance with California law.

Recent reports indicated that the head of Ally Financial’s document processing team testified he routinely approved and signed foreclosure documents without confirming they were accurate and legally sufficient, as he was required to do. He approved foreclosure cases at such a rapid rate that he was known by consumer advocates as the “super robot signer.”

This admitted misconduct raises serious doubts about whether Ally Financial’s practices provide California borrowers facing foreclosure the protections guaranteed by law. Accordingly, Brown is demanding that Ally Financial, the fourth largest home loan institution in the country, demonstrate its compliance with California law or else halt all foreclosure operations in the state.

Ally Financial earlier this week suspended evictions of homeowners and foreclosure sales in 23 states that, unlike California, have a system that requires a court order for foreclosure. The company has, however, continued its foreclosure operations here and in other states.

In the first six months of 2010, Ally Financial originated $26 billion in home loans, with more than 24 percent of them made in California, and the company reported earnings of $769 million during that period from its large loan-servicing business. Ally Financial services loans on behalf of numerous other companies and investors.

Brown’s letter to Ally Financial is attached.

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As I was driving into Brawley on the morning of September 23, 2010 – a sea of blue uniforms and a backdrop of beautiful engines received us as we began to arrive this morning at 6:45 am.  Tones didn’t go off this morning.  Emergency calls didn’t come in.  And the heavens gave us enough sunshine to remind us that our desert southwest can spare beautiful weather from time to time.

In the years I have served as your Red Cross Lady with the trusted and true Team of fellow Red Crossers – I have learned that a firefighter always comes out of a response “a little” or “a lot of tired” as Captain Franks would say … and even so, once the shift, call or day was over – our fire guys would always be glad to go home to rest until the next shift … knowing even then that the next call could be just as demanding.

The trust you have placed in us to accompany you in these solemn occasions has been overwhelming.  We are humbled once again and we thank you.

Knowing Mark and Laurie for the past 17years – did not make this funeral detail any easier or any harder – because seeing any of our partner agencies lose one of their own becomes heartbreaking news for us as well … Mark lived his life fully – both at work and at play.  He adored his wife Laurie and his family and was so very proud of them.  Mark always said he would lay his life down for his buddies at the station – so it was no surprise when he decided to work the Arson – Bomb Unit.

I am providing you with the links to the photos and video tribute that Red Cross Volunteer Brad Mellon put together.  Please accept our humble attempt to honor Mark’s services that you arranged for him.  It is a small tribute albeit – but one we hope captures the spirit of the beautiful ceremony you held to honor his life.

To our Red Crossers – thank you for always fulfilling our Mission.  To our Fire Service Freinds and to all of the Marks – Leon Family, once again, please accept our deepest and most sincere condolences  – receive our heartfelt gratitude for the trust you place in your American Red Cross – and please remember, that we will always be there for you …


Sylvia Elia Preciado

Manager, Imperial Valley Service Center

American Red Cross

San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter

781 Broadway

El Centro, California  92243


I WOKE UP THIS MORNING KNOWING I COULDN’T EAT ANYTHING – I was on my way first thing to get some blood work done for my next doctor’s visit and they required fasting.
It wasn’t the absence of food that was so bad. It was the absence of coffee. Fasting included no coffee.
No coffee!
I’m always amazed how people can function without a cup of the delectable brew to get their day started. Sometimes it takes two or three cups to get moving.
My wife and I have taken to trying gourmet coffees, which even enhances the great pleasure of a Java treat in the a.m. We joined a coffee club which sends us a monthly supply of our favorite brews and an invitation to buy more exotic brands from far away places. I’m partial to Papau, New Guinea coffee.
But here I was in the morning with nothing to clear the cobwebs out of my brain. Talk about fasting!
It was get dressed fast. Get in the car fast. Get to the clinic fast. Get the bloodwork done fast. And head for the nearest coffee bar – fast.
With a vanilla cream and hazelnut combination firmly in hand, I was set to get the day started, even if it was two hours old.
Perhaps the medical clinics of the world will come up with a way to screen your blood with a coffee filter. That way I can still have a cup of Joe on my way to getting stabbed with a needle.
Well, until then, I will just have to suffer through the early morning hours on bloodwork day.
I’ll  look at it as a vacation from caffeine.
ANYBODY BESIDES ME NOTICE how NBC news keeps trying to push a racial issue on the President of the United States?
They keep dragging it out in front of the national TV audience  on a regular basis, even though there is no issue.
The President himself says there is no issue, but Brian Williams keeps trying to drag him into one. Perhaps someone should inform him that his brand of thinking is no longer in vogue.
Perhaps he could take a clue from the man he keeps trying to drag down by upgrading his thinking to a level above guttural name dropping.
I suppose on a slow news day you have to have something to put on the air. But NBC has gone too far with  this nonsense. Get back to telling us about something important, Mr. Williams. You’re hung up on old hatreds.
I WAS GONE FOR A WEEK TAKING CARE OF some personal business, but couldn’t help noticing the high salaries the City Managers of Imperial Valley make. That was reported in the Imperial Valley Press.
I have often wondered why city managers make such high amounts of money. In one case almost as much as the governor of the state.
In some cases they got the job because of their “Old Boy” connections. Or because they were from the city that hired them. Familiarity brings high salaries among the “In Group.”
With a recession still on, even though the federal government says its over, why are these people immune from salary cuts or wage limitations?
You mean they couldn’t get along on a mere $75,000 a year?
The city of Bell, California, was featured nationally because of the excesses taken by its City Manager and a greedy City Council, which paid itself over $100,000 per year per member. The city Manager was drawing over $750,000 per year.
The L.A. County Attorney had the Bell City Manager arrested to the cheers of local taxpayers.
In Imperial Valley you have unemployment which reached  30 percent over the summer.
The city managers don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. Maybe they could make a  more visible effort to solve some of the difficulties for people in the cities they are managing.
It’s time they be held more accountable to the bodies that appointed them in the first place and justify such huge sums of money. If cities want to save a lot of dough in a hurry, this might be a good place to start.
Or perhaps the job could become an elected one instead of an appointed one. Then they would have to be a lot more responsive to the public than they are now.
If you make big public  bucks, you should answer for them.

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