Daily Archives: April 4, 2017

Katie Porter, California mortgage settlement monitor and Sen.Warren protégé, running for Congress

The coming battle for control of Congress in 2018 has a new combatant, one that would bring significant experience in the mortgage space to the House of Representatives.

Katie Porter, who served as California’s independent monitor in the nationwide $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement from 2012 to 2014 and boasts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. as a mentor, announced that she is running for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2018.

Porter is challenging Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., who currently holds the seat for the Orange County’s 45th district.

Porter, who is currently a professor of law at the University of California-Irvine, attended Harvard Law School, studying under Warren before Warren ran for Senate.

Read on.

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Government orders Wells Fargo to reinstate whistleblower

The federal government has ordered Wells Fargo to reinstate a former bank manager who lost his job after reporting suspected fraudulent behavior at the bank.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on Monday that the bank must rehire the employee, as well as pay back wages, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees totaling $5.4 million.

OSHA concluded that the manager was “abruptly” forced to leave a Los Angeles branch of the bank in 2010, after he told superiors he suspected two of his subordinates of bank, mail and wire fraud. The manager also called the bank’s ethics hot line. OSHA determined his whistleblowing was “at least a contributing factor in his termination.” The manager was not named.

Read on.

Corporate monopoly’s role in the decline of black business

At the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., a hallway of glass display cases features more than a century of black entrepreneurial triumphs. In one is a World War II–era mini parachute manufactured by the black-owned Pacific Parachute Company, home to one of the nation’s first racially integrated production plants. Another displays a giant time clock from the R. H. Boyd Publishing Company, among the earliest firms to print materials for black churches and schools. Although small, the exhibit recalls a now largely forgotten legacy: by serving their communities when others wouldn’t, black-owned independent businesses provided avenues of upward mobility for generations of black Americans and supplied critical leadership and financial support for the civil rights movement.

This tradition continues today. Last June, Black Enterprise magazine marked the forty-fourth anniversary of the BE 100s, the magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top 100 black-owned businesses. At the top of the list stood World Wide Technology, which, since its founding in 1990, has grown into a global firm with more than $7 billion in revenue and 3,000 employees. Then came companies like Radio One, whose fifty-five radio stations fan out among sixteen national markets. The combined revenues of the BE 100s, which also includes Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, now totals more than $24 billion, a ninefold increase since 1973, adjusting for inflation.

A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals that these pioneering companies are the exception to a far more alarming trend. The last thirty years also have brought the wholesale collapse of black-owned independent businesses and financial institutions that once anchored black communities across the country. In 1985, sixty black-owned banks were providing financial services to their communities; today, just twenty-three remain. In eleven states that headquartered black-owned banks in 1994, not a single one is still in business. Of the fifty black-owned insurance companies that operated during the 1980s, today just two remain.

Over the same period, tens of thousands of black-owned retail establishments and local service companies also have disappeared, having gone out of business or been acquired by larger companies. Reflecting these developments, working-age black Americans have become far less likely to be their own boss than in the 1990s. The per capita number of black employers, for example, declined by some 12 percent just between 1997 and 2014.

Read on.

How a Cruel Foreclosure By BofA Drove a Couple to the Brink of Death

 

A married couple resorted to self-harm after being physically and psychologically terrorized by Bank of America over their house—until a judge fined the bank $46 million.

“Franz Kafka lives… he works at Bank of America.”

Judge Christopher Klein’s words kick off an incredible ruling in a federal bankruptcy court in California last week, condemning Bank of America for a long nightmare of a foreclosure against a couple named Erik and Renee Sundquist. Klein ordered BofA to pay a whopping $46 million in damages, with the bulk of the money going to consumer attorney organizations and public law schools, in hopes of ensuring these abuses never happen again—or at least making them less likely.

The ruling offers numerous lessons in the aftermath of a foreclosure crisis that destroyed millions of lives. First of all, the judge specifically cited top executives as responsible, not lower-level employees. Second, the sheer size of the fine—for just one foreclosure—is a commentary on the failure of America’s regulatory and law enforcement system to protect homeowners, despite the financial industry’s massive legal exposure.

Read on.