Thursday, September 18, 2008

Michigan Rally at State Capital Demands Legislators Impose a Moratorium on Home Foreclosures

Rally demands legislators delay foreclosures

Protesters want to save homes of Mich. families

Matthew Miller
September 18, 2008
From Lansing State Journal

Hear Moratorium Now! Organizer Sandra Hines

The crowd in front of the Capitol at mid-day Wednesday was fired up, shouting, chanting, waving signs.

They were there for the most serious of reasons: to try to save their homes and those of their neighbors from foreclosure.

"When these people take our homes away, they rob us of our hard-earned wages," said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan African News Wire in Detroit, addressing the crowd of more than 100 from the Capitol steps.

"And when they lie to us and when they destroy our communities, we have absolutely no other choice but to fight back, and we are here today to fight back."

The demonstrators, most of them members of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions, were there to demand passage of Senate Bill 1306, a measure that would provide a two-year moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.

Introduced in May by state Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, it has yet to be taken up by the Senate Banking and Financial Services Committee.

Linette Crosby hopes it will be taken up soon. The St. Johns mint farm she owns with her brother has been foreclosed. She has until Nov. 1 before lenders start seizing their inventory of mint oils.

"If we can help and be a voice here in mid-Michigan to get at least some legislators to listen to the bill, that's something," she said. "Right now, it's just sitting on someone's desk."

Flaws in the plan?

State Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Services Committee, said, however, that Clarke had yet to present him with "any compelling evidence that there is support for these bills."

Richardville said he'd spoken with industry groups and others that might have a stake in the issue, "and caution flags are all over the place."

"The way this bill is written, what we would be doing is postponing the inevitable for some people and putting them in a worse situation than if the foreclosure had gone through," he said.

Murray Brown, director of development for the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association, said the organization opposes the measure.

"If we were to enact something like a foreclosure moratorium, it would really dry up the supply of mortgage funds," he said. "We now exist in a national if not worldwide mortgage market. ... And if we as a state were to do that, it would just make our mortgages not saleable."

But Clarke insisted that the bill wouldn't leave mortgage lenders twisting in the breeze.

Interim payments

"It's not a bailout to home-owners," he said. "It provides that a judge would supervise interim payments made by the borrower that must cover the taxes, must maintain the property."

"If the homeowner fails to make those payments, they'd go immediately into foreclosure."

"Most property owners right now can't sell their property to pay off their mortgage, and it's getting worse," he added. "If we don't address this immediately, the entire housing market in this state could crumble. It's an emergency situation, and it takes emergency action."

In August, Michigan had the fifth-highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one filing for every 332 households, according to data compiled by RealtyTrac, a Irvine, Calif., company.

During the second quarter of this year, the state had 32,868 foreclosure filings.

On Wednesday, the company listed 410 properties in foreclosure in Ingham County, 69 in Eaton County and 50 in Clinton County.

Foreclosure Rally at State Capitol

Channel 6 Report in Lansing
Sep 18, 2008 07:52 AM EDT

Some local advocates are looking to end to foreclosures in Michigan. The moratorium now coalition rallied outside the Capitol. They're pushing for immediate passage of senate bill 1306 which would stop foreclosures in the state for two years. Groups and individuals came from across Michigan to show their support for the event.

Jerry Goldberg, moratorium now organizer: "We feel this bill is a critical answer to provide emergency relief to the thousands of people throughout Michigan who are losing their homes every day due to foreclosure, due to the predatory lending."

The group also announced plans to take action nationally to demand a moratorium on foreclosures on all government backed loans. For more information, you can reach a member of the moratorium now coalition at 313-319-0870.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008 5:06PM

Lawsuit Filed Against Macomb GOP

Lansing (AP) -- The fight over whether a Republican county chairman ever said he planned to keep homeowners on foreclosure lists from voting took a new twist Tuesday, with Democrats filing a federal lawsuit to stop the alleged practice and the chairman threatening to sue for libel.

Macomb County Republican Party Chairman James Carabelli denied again Tuesday that he had told a writer for Web site that "we will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses,'' as the Web site reported last Wednesday.

He said he plans to ask in writing for a retraction and will file a libel lawsuit in Macomb County Circuit Court if he doesn't get one.

"This story is not true. The Michigan Messenger made it up,'' Carabelli said in a release. "Let me state, again and unequivocally, there is no such plan to use foreclosure lists to challenger voters, and I never said there was. This is a story line being pushed by one liberal blog, the (Barack) Obama campaign, and their friends and operatives on the left.''

The state GOP asked last week in a news release to print a retraction, but the reporter and Web site are standing by the story.

"The easiest thing to do when the facts don't meet your needs is to claim they're false,'' David Bennahum, president and CEO of The Center for Independent Media, a Washington-based group that runs and five other Web publications, said in response to the threat of a libel suit. "We have a fantastic record for accuracy.''

Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several Macomb County voters filed a lawsuit in federal court in Detroit on Tuesday asking for an injunction prohibiting the Macomb County GOP, the Michigan Republican Party, the Republican National Committee or anyone connected with them from challenging Michigan voters whose homes are on foreclosure lists.

Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer said during a conference call with reporters that the "lose your home, lose your vote'' strategy, even if the challenges are unsuccessful, "creates an atmosphere of intimidation that could drive voters from the polls'' because even people who aren't challenged may leave without voting because polling gets bogged down.

State Republican officials deny there's any plan to challenge voters on those grounds and say the tactic doesn't make sense because the lists don't give them information on where a voter lives.

"We can't be asked not to do something we're not going to do anyway,'' state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis said of the federal lawsuit. "It points out the desperation of the Obama campaign.''

The flap erupted a day before McCain and running mate Sarah Palin were to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday evening at Grand Rapids Community College, on the other side of the state. The pair last campaigned in Michigan - in Macomb County - earlier this month.

Macomb County has attracted a lot of attention from the candidates' campaigns and the media because the heavily populated area north of Detroit has long been a swing area in presidential elections. Both Obama and McCain have campaigned in the county, which could decide if the key battleground state of Michigan goes Republican or Democratic.

The controversy made its way to the national stage Tuesday when Obama was joined by running mate Joe Biden and a dozen other Democratic U.S. senators in calling on Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to ensure that voters facing foreclosure aren't harassed or intimidated at polling places.

Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin signed the letter the group sent to Mukasey.

State officials say homeowners with a foreclosed home can still live there unless they are evicted or the home is sold by the lender, giving them to right to vote where they always do.

Voters who move within 60 days of an election also can vote at their old polling place, according to the secretary of state's office.

If voters move and change their address 30 or more days before an election, they must vote in their new precinct. If they change their address within 30 days of an election, they must vote in the old precinct.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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