Florida has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country. So why is more than $300 million that could help homeowners sitting unused?
Florida was awarded those millions in February as part of the $25 billion national settlement between five of country's biggest banks and forty-nine states and the District of Columbia. The settlement resolved allegations of wrongful foreclosures and other mortgage servicing abuses, and required banks to offer some homeowners the opportunity to modify their loans or refinance, or, in some cases pay homeowners directly for wrongful foreclosure.
The banks also had to pay $2.5 billion directly to state governments. Florida's sum was the largest, after California, in part a measure of how deeply the mortgage crisis affected the sunshine state.
Yet Florida is one of just a few states where the Attorney General has not announced plans for a significant portion of the money. We've contacted every state to find out what they were doing with that money. Of the $2.5 billion going to states, just over a billion dollars has been pledged for housing-related programs, while a roughly equal amount has been diverted to plug budget holes or fund programs unrelated to the foreclosure crisis. $378 million is still to be determined, and almost all of that is Florida's.
Florida's funds are caught between the Attorney General, Republican Pam Bondi, and the Republican state legislature. Bondi has pledged to make the money available to homeowners; earlier this year, she called for suggestions from the public. Some state lawmakers, however, insist that it needs to go through the regular appropriations process u2014 where it could potentially be siphoned off into other programs. And that wouldn't happen until March, when the legislative session begins.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a reporter on Monday that forcing the NYPD to submit to oversight from an inspector general would destroy the city of New York:
Appointing an inspector general to oversee the NYPD is a recipe for disaster, Mayor Bloomberg warned yesterday.
“I think if you want to bring crime back, let’s go politicize control of the Police Department,” the mayor said, responding to a reporter’s question about a new City Council bill requiring an IG for cops getting a hearing tomorrow.
“The last thing we need is some politician or judge getting involved with setting policy, because you won’t be safe anymore. But today, you are. Think about that when you write your story,” Bloomberg added.
Who the hell is safe in NYC? It sure wasn't this teenager who was forced to submit to the NYPD's version of 'Stop and Frisk':
A new report before the "official" report on poverty in the U.S. is released gives a heads-up on what we can expect to be revealed. Yes, poverty is on track to reach levels not since before Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty" in 1964.
Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy spells out in this report exactly what's pushing the poverty rate ever higher; globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionization.
The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965.
[...] Millions could fall through the cracks as government aid from unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps diminishes.
"The issues aren't just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy," said Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.
He pointed to the recent recession but also longer-term changes in the economy such as globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionization that have pushed median household income lower. Even after strong economic growth in the 1990s, poverty never fell below a 1973 low of 11.1 percent. That low point came after President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty, launched in 1964, that created Medicaid, Medicare and other social welfare programs.
One item not mentioned as an issue in the economy is the absolute greed of the wealthy corporations and CEOs. Take for example the Caterpillar Corporation seeking steep concessions from its workers even when business is booming.
Then there are the corporate raiders whose greed, and cruelty, know no bounds. Take Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, for example:
I don't think it's my imagination that the wealthier these greedy corporations become, the deeper into poverty the rest of us fall.
Edward Meagher joined the United States Air Force in 1966. He volunteered to go to Vietnam and spent well over 2.5 years overseas.
Today, Edward has the privilege of working with veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan:
President Obama's message has been very clear. You stood up for us; we will stand tall for you. He's ended the war with honor, and he's brought them home, and he's doing the same thing in Afghanistan. He understands at a real gut level what these folks have been through.
President Obama has taken a wide view of taking care of veterans who have come back from their service. He's really addressing all their issues: the medical issues, the transition issues, educational benefits, jobs. They have to have access to jobs. They have to have job training. He's put real programs in place -- programs that work.
Network Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell kicked off the nine-state “Nuns on the Bus” tour at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa. She spoke on the pressing need for solidarity in our society and the harm the House Republican budget would bring the vulnerable families.
In a spirited retort to the Vatican, a group of Roman Catholic nuns is planning a bus trip across nine states this month, stopping at homeless shelters, food pantries, schools and health care facilities run by nuns to highlight their work with the nation’s poor and disenfranchised.
The bus tour is a response to a blistering critique of American nuns released in April by the Vatican’s doctrinal office, which included the accusation that the nuns are outspoken on issues of social justice, but silent on other issues the church considers crucial: abortion and gay marriage.
The sisters plan to use the tour also to protest cuts in programs for the poor and working families in the federal budget that was passed by the House of Representatives and proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who cited his Catholic faith to justify the cuts.
“We’re doing this because these are life issues,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a liberal social justice lobby in Washington. “And by lifting up the work of Catholic sisters, we will demonstrate the very programs and services that will be decimated by the House budget.”
The bus tour is to begin on June 18 in Iowa and end on July 2 in Virginia. The dates overlap with the “Fortnight for Freedom,” events announced by Catholic bishops to rally opposition to what they see as the Obama administration’s violations of religious freedom. The bishops object in particular to a mandate in the health care overhaul to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to offer their employees coverage for birth control in their insurance plans.
Sister Simone, a lawyer who ran a legal clinic for the poor in Oakland, Calif., for 18 years, is not completely on board with the bishops’ religious liberty campaign. She said that financing for Catholic social services had increased significantly in the three years since President Obama took office: “We’re celebrating the religious freedom we have.”
She recently spent time with the Iraqi Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, and said: “If you want to talk about religious liberty, look at them. Their mother house was in Mosul until it got bombed.”
But the nuns do find common cause with the bishops on the budget cuts, and their bus tour will publicize letters the bishops recently sent protesting the budget. The nuns are inviting bishops whose dioceses they will pass through to join them. The tour will stop at local Congressional offices and lobby along the way.
Network, where Sister Simone and two other nuns serve on a staff of nine, was singled out in the Vatican’s recent critique of the nuns. The critique focused on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group for leaders of about 80 percent of women’s orders.
Network is not formally affiliated with the Leadership Conference. But Sister Simone and other nuns angered some bishops by lobbying to help pass the Obama administration’s health care overhaul. The Vatican document criticized nuns for challenging bishops, “who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.”
The tour, “Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness,” includes stops in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The bus, with a sound system, signs and a podium, will seat only 12, and Sister Simone said she had had to turn away many would-be riders.
A rotating group will be on board, including Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Daughters of Charity and the Sisters of Social Service, Sister Simone’s order. They plan to sleep at mother houses of the religious orders