Letters for January 6, 2011

Letter of the week

Talking foreclosure blues

Re “Default!” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Feature, December 16):

Thanks to Rachel Leibrock for reporting on her trials dealing with mortgage restructuring. She is not alone by any means.

I have encountered the identical situation. I cosigned my daughter’s mortgage on her home in Baltimore. Her situation changed, and in August of 2009 she applied for mortgage restructuring under the [Making Home Affordable Program]. The story has evolved the same way Rachel’s has.

Contacting congressional representatives has led nowhere and I am finally seeking legal assistance. Had I known 18 months ago we would encounter this behavior, I could have refinanced my home to assist her. But now, since her loan (on which I am a co-signer) is in arrears, my credit is such that the bank will not allow me to do that, even to help her avoid foreclosure. Of course, they insist it is more expensive for them to foreclose rather than restructure the loan. It is a good thing I am not a conspiracy theorist, otherwise I would think the banks and mortgage lenders are doing this intentionally, trying to drive people to the brink of frustration so they give up and the banks can steal their homes more readily.

The disturbing thing is that one finds reports of this behavior all over the news, but I do not find any indication that anyone is doing anything to stop these practices. Why not?

It brings to mind the line in Woody Guthrie’s song “Pretty Boy Floyd”: “Some will rob you with a six gun / and some with a fountain pen.” The banks are doing it with a fountain pen. I begin to understand the roots of revolution.

Bill Wagman

Jerry won’t save us

Re “Dear Jerry” (SN&R Feature, December 30):

Oh, please. Having read this feature, I opine that most input printed was from individuals on the government payroll, active or as pensioners.

As a homegrown Sacramentan, I lament the political agenda that Jerry’s “progressive judges” (citing Tom Hayden) caused our state Supreme Court, and which was subsequently overturned by our populace. While the “clean slate” notion that Kevin Johnson mentions is far from so, I would challenge any of us to be cautious of the “Daddy will save us” mentality. I offer that we are perhaps moving away, long term, from representative government regionally and nationally.

E. Richardson

No-win situation

Re “Default!” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Feature, December 16):

These bogus, fraudulent bank and government loan programs are designed to string you along, confuse you with false hope and get as much money out of you as they can, while they can, knowing all along that the ultimate result will still be default and foreclosure. If these were “legitimate” programs, they would have a simple, streamlined process—just like when you first bought your home, where everything can be approved and final paperwork is ready to be signed and closed on within days, not weeks and months.

I went through the foreclosure process myself a couple of years ago. When I saw I was going to run into difficulty in keeping my home and the bank wasn’t going to work with me on it, I immediately stopped sending any payments and stopped paying any property taxes as well. I let the foreclosure process run its course for as long as I could, and I stayed in my home for a full year—saving the money. When it was finally time for the bank to take over, I was contacted by the bank’s broker agent to do a “cash for keys” arrangement, where if I agreed to move out within a certain time instead of forcibly evicted after a sheriff’s sale (and leave the home in good condition), they would cut me a check for $1,500 for relocation assistance.

I know it sucks, but it is not in their interest to help you. For sanity’s sake, I would just try to move on and put this nightmare experience behind you. Trust me, as soon as you resolve this with yourself, stop sending them money and start planning for a future in a new pressure-free living situation, you will feel a tremendous weight lifted from your shoulders and all for the better! Just let it go and forget about it, because they’re not going to let you win.

Cliff Ford

The shark usually eats you

Re “Default!” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Feature, December 16):

Rachel Leibrock’s coming out about her family’s personal experience in the mortgage crisis is a stunning, frightful commentary on the failures of the market (Republican tool) and the government (Democratic tool) to solve the problems that both helped to create. What we have here seems to be a contest to see who can hold their breath the longest underwater. But when a swimmer is pulled under by a shark, don’t we all expect the lifeguard to pull her out, rather than to clumsily hold her under so the shark gets another bite?

Morgan Staines

Caveat emptor?

Re “College Inc.” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, December 16):

I appreciate some of what you wrote, and you bring up some valid points about the way some colleges are doing business. However, as an admissions adviser at MTI College, I would like to invite you to look at the brighter side of the for-profit college sector. These are the colleges that strive to do right by their students, as opposed to preying on their hopes and dreams.

MTI College was founded in Sacramento 45 years ago by my grandparents, long before private vocational education was big business. We have always stood by our mission to provide students with the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to pursue successful careers. Still, while we have a very high success rate, I’m sure any good reporter could find dissatisfied former students. What role does the student play in the accountability for their future?

Your article told the story of Ms. Burris, who completed a paralegal program and found it was not accepted by employers because it was not approved by the [American Bar Association]. Why was she not responsible for doing some research of her own before making a large financial and time commitment? It would not have taken her long to discover the importance of ABA approval for such a program. Too often, our society places blame in the wrong places.

Attending college is an arduous endeavor. In cases where a student is unsuccessful, can we consider the possibility that it is not the college’s fault? Yes, there are many examples of colleges doing wrong by those they serve, but the vast majority of for-profit colleges want to see their students succeed.

As my grandfather said many years ago, “Focus on the students being successful and we will prosper.” This is a message that my father, MTI’s current president, follows today.

Thousands of MTI graduates are working and leading successful lives; is this not a testament to the value of our presence in the community and being an alternative to the traditional educational offerings? Your article lumped all of the for-profit colleges as being a bunch of bad apples scamming the public; you missed the other side of the story.

Michael Zimmerman
admissions director
MTI College

Sustainable education, sustainable poop

Re “College Inc.” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, December 16) and “Poop happens” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, December 16):

Racking up five-figure debts for blue- and pink-collar jobs means high schools aren’t working. They aren’t teaching youth relevant job skills, let alone to think critically enough to analyze sales cons and educational investment choices.

But white-collar youth also make bad investment decisions, like five-figure [student loan] debts for majors that are popular among fast-food staff. Solutions? Think outside the box: www.work4sustenance.blogspot.com.

And as for putting our poop in our water, there is a sensible solution: We need to convert to composting privies! The technology is defined and ready to be specified in standard building codes. The product of well-composted poop is, well, compost. It’s conveniently located and ready to be applied to urban farms, to then grow healthy organic produce. That’s the straight poop. Check out www.humanurehandbook.com.

Muriel Strand

Bring the Rev. Billy to Sac!

Re “Rev. Billy’s a better interview” (SN&R Letters, December 16):

Why doesn’t SN&R bring Reverend Billy (Bill Talen) and his “Church of Life After Shopping” from New York to Sacramento?

This past Black Friday, Reverend Billy, whose public heckling with his “choir” is apparently tolerated by many other New York businesses, was arrested for protesting in front of JPMorgan Chase bank for their sponsoring of mountaintop removal mining. Whether one agrees with Reverend Billy or not on the issues, he does make us ask, for the sake of our constitutional First Amendment: Why is it that a public street in front of a major corporate bank is being treated the same as invasion of private property in regards to otherwise peaceful protesters?

Perhaps Reverend Billy could inspire others to question major corporations’ policies toward such issues as the environment or unionized labor, as well as to help inform consumers in making a decision of whether they want to continue supporting these corporations or not.

Michelle Kunert

Compliance needn’t be too difficult

Re “‘You cannot win’” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Frontlines, December 9):

Shame on attorney George Louie for targeting small businesses with threats of ADA lawsuits, apparently seeking fees and not compliance.

But shame, too, on the businesses whom, 30 years after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, still do not make an effort to comply. One-fifth of Americans are people with disabilities—not only are these people entitled to access a public business, but it makes business sense to have your business open to everyone.

Every business in this state should hire a certified access specialist, available at the Department of General Services website. Not only will he or she tell you the basics to make the business in compliance with the law, but a business with a CAS certification receives special legal protections. For more information, we have produced an informational pamphlet, available at www.caoc.org (go to “Issues, ADA Issues”).

Nancy Peverini
senior legislative counsel
Consumer Attorneys of California