Finance Debt – Sznurki Sun, 07 Nov 2021 00:43:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Finance Debt – Sznurki 32 32 Sewage, lies and bad debts: How a Tuscaloosa fraudster tricked one of Alabama’s largest credit unions Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:03 +0000

Danny Ray Butler, a high school dropout and used car salesman in Tuscaloosa, had plans.

In the unincorporated community of Fosters, Alaska, Butler has built a $ 7 million grocery store, gas station and private sewage treatment plant that connects to the two projects.

The high-flying businessman also had a stake in a 60-acre pecan orchard; a sod farm; a $ 4.3 million 108-acre wetland property with a pavilion, living room, cabin and garage; a luxury skybox at Bryant-Denny Stadium; high-end boats and cars; and Gulf Shores seafood restaurant, Tacky Jacks.

But his business empire began to crumble in February 2012 when it was discovered that the deals that had catapulted him into wealth, many of which involved loans from Alabama One Credit Union, were based on lies.

Alabama One is now suing state officials and regulators for conspiring against the credit union, prompting to take a closer look at past credit union practices and Butler’s failed businesses.

According to the indictment, Butler submitted a small business loan to the federal government in June 2010 that overstated the cost of his groceries by $ 2 million. Four months later, Butler showed the government fake checks totaling $ 629,000 that purported to show investments in the project.

Meanwhile, Butler hatched a massive check-kiting plot at Alabama One Credit Union and West Alabama Bank and Trust, according to the indictment. As part of the scheme, Butlers and others deposited checks totaling $ 45 million at two institutions, and it cost the credit union about $ 1.2 million.

In September 2014, Butler pleaded guilty to wire fraud and bank fraud and was sentenced to three years in prison. The properties he amassed at the height of his frenzy of fraud are sold, have been sold, or are still bankrupt.

One of the most problematic pieces of Butler’s real estate portfolio is its sewage treatment plant. Tuscaloosa County probate records show that the credit union gave Butler $ 3.5 million to buy and build the property in 2008, and gradually increased the loan to $ 7 million three years later.

The plant was built to treat wastewater from 5,000 customers. But Butler testified in May that the industrial-scale plant, the one he borrowed $ 7 million to build, only had 70 customers.

Bankruptcy trustee Peter Colmer said crews were repairing the plant. Since February, three Tuscaloosa County public schools connected to the plant have had to discharge raw sewage at a high cost on a daily basis due to the plant shutdown. Several messages left for the Tuscaloosa County school system were not returned.

Alabama One on Tuesday bought the 108-acre property from Butler through an auction for $ 1.26 million. That’s about $ 3 million less than the mortgage the credit union had on the site.

Paige Howard, Butler’s fiancée who has a power of attorney in his financial affairs, says he is “not an angel” but that he is not guilty of the most important crimes. She claims that Butler’s signature was forged on several loan documents.

Danny Ray Butler

“He’s not a micromanager, he’s a horse dealer,” she said. “He knows how to find a good deal, bring people together, walk away and say ‘good luck, do it. “”

Butler’s criminal defense attorney declined to comment, saying Butler had not allowed him to speak on the case.

The legal fallout from Butler’s crimes continues.

In June, the Alabama One Credit Union filed a lawsuit against a state senator, a senior governor’s official, local lawyers and others.

He alleged that Gov. Robert Bentley’s office and other state officials attempted to force the credit union to settle several lawsuits for tens of millions of dollars.

Earlier this year, state regulators ordered the CEO of the credit union and other senior executives to resign, only to reinstate them months later. And, several members and employees of credit unions also sued Alabama One, citing fraud related to Butler’s schemes.

Lawyer Judge D. “Jay” Smyth of Tuscaloosa law firm Lewis Smyth Winter Ford is representing seven clients in lawsuits against the credit union. Two of the cases were settled earlier this year with confidential agreements.

According to the credit union’s lawsuit against state officials, both lawsuits were settled “with zero dollars paid by Alabama One to the plaintiffs.”

Smyth issued an aggressive statement Tuesday saying “Alabama One executives are running around like chickens with their heads cut off.”

“It’s clear that a new day is coming, and it probably won’t include them,” Smyth said. “As for us, we will continue to do our job for those members of credit unions who have lost substantial amounts due to mismanagement, fraud and intentional wrongdoing. We are not intimidated and we are not going to leave until this situation is corrected.


One of the settled lawsuits, filed by Jerry Griffin and his wife, involved fraud and conspiracy on behalf of Alabama One Credit Union.

In 2004, the couple had about $ 2 million in assets with the credit union.

Griffin knew Butler because Butler’s parking lot was right next to his dry cleaning business. They became friends and shared a skybox together at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Lawsuit alleges Tammy Ewing, the credit union’s director of business loans, asked Griffin five years ago if he could give Butler a business loan because the credit union didn’t have the right provide business loans. According to the complaint, the credit union’s “excessive loan / debtor relationship” with Butler prohibited her from lending him money.

Griffin agreed, took out a $ 450,000 loan from the credit union using the $ 900,000 deposit he had parked at the credit union, gave the money to Butler, and the loan was repaid. in full, according to the lawsuit.

Ewing, the loan manager, approached Griffin, the owner of the dry cleaner, again in the fall of 2010 to take out another loan of $ 450,000 from the credit union and give the money to Butler, the company said. pursuit. Griffin agreed, but this time the loan was unpaid, according to the lawsuit.

This led to Ewing advising Griffin to take a 50 percent stake in the Butler grocery store. Ewing said if Griffin did not take a share of Butler’s business, Griffin would have “nothing to show” for the loan Griffin took from the credit union to give Butler, according to the lawsuit. Griffin agreed, and his decision led to a series of proposals that escalated with Butler and the credit union requiring more cash and mortgaged property to secure.

The other settled lawsuit, filed by Samuel Colburn and his wife Tammie, alleged that Butler told them five years ago that he got a loan from the credit union on a home equity line of credit. of their property in Fosters without their permission.

In August 2012, the couple requested an advance on their line of credit to pay for their sons’ school fees and they discovered that $ 22,500 had been remitted to Butler in November 2010, according to the lawsuit. Ewing, the credit union’s director of business loans, told them not to worry because Butler was “good at the loan.”

The credit union’s lawsuit against state officials says Smyth’s lawsuits were “nothing more than an old-fashioned ‘heist’.

Smyth is also defending former credit union compliance officer Lorraine Baird in a breach of contract lawsuit. Filed by Alabama One, the lawsuit claims Baird discussed confidential information she learned at the credit union “at least five or six times” with Griffin and his attorneys, among other allegations. A counter-suit filed by Baird against the credit union was dismissed.

In a November 2013 affidavit, Baird said she complained to the management of the credit union that the institution “significantly exceeded” the amount of money it was allowed to lend to Butler. Baird also said Butler was committing check fraud as well as straw purchases and straw loans using collateral from other members of the credit union, according to the affidavit.

Senior executives told Baird that she was creating “problems” for the credit union and that she should become “less interested” in doing her job.

A spokesperson for Alabama One Credit Union said in a statement that “Ms Baird’s unsubstantiated allegations escalated after her resignation from the credit union, which came after it was revealed that she had failed. not disclosed a personal conflict of interest involving a member of Alabama One “.

Alabama One Credit Union CEO John Dee Carruth made the following statement Monday to

“Butler’s credit union loans have been properly underwritten, approved and reviewed for years by independent third party underwriters and appraisers. Indeed, the loans performed well for years, until regulators determined that the overall loan limits contained conflicting interpretations of those limits at the time the loans were made. Alabama One has cooperated with regulators and satisfactorily resolved their findings regarding these loans, while remaining financially strong and well capitalized to date.

“We regret that Butler misled Alabama One, but we are confident that the Fosters water treatment plant remains viable and will continue to play a crucial role in the future development of this region.”

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Why did the lawyers for “Walter Mitty” turn to crime? Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:03 +0000

The case of lawyers Keith Flynn and Lyndsey Clarke has left a lot of people scratching their heads.

The couple were jailed on Monday for a series of elaborate frauds in which they stole nearly € 400,000 from banks and credit unions to be cut down thanks to the vigilance of a Bank of Ireland official.

“What are the chances that two Walter Mitties like them will meet?” A woman asked as she reflected on the fact that Flynn, from a respectable middle-class family in Ballintemple, in the south of the city, and Clarke, a former local candidate for Fine Gael, have come together. turned to a life of crime.

The couple’s theft was reported by Alan Boland of the Financial Crime Unit of the Bank of Ireland.

Boland spotted a common misspelling of six accounts belonging to six different people. So he checked the IP data and listened to the recordings of the six bank calls. He noticed a similarity and realized that the bank was losing € 32,000 due to bad debts on loans, so he alerted Gardaí.

Detective Garda Alan McCarthy told the Cork Circuit Criminal Court that the couple created 80 fake accounts using 60 fake identities in order to defraud the three banks and 12 credit unions for sums, typically € 10,000 to € 12,000 , for a total of € 394,804.

Detective Garda McCarthy said the couple, who met eight years ago when Clarke went to work for Flynn at his law firm, applied for loans using fake driver’s licenses obtained online, from fake bank statements, fake pay slips and even paid homeless people for their PPS numbers to use in the scam.

Gardaí raided a luxury apartment Flynn was renting at Sunday’s Well in Cork in July 2018 and recovered laptops, wigs used as disguises when the duo visited banks and ATMs, 21 fake Irish driving license, 19 fake bank cards and 16 credit union pounds.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said it was a very elaborate and organized crime when he jailed Flynn for four years and Clarke for two years, the difference in terms being due to his “personal circumstances”.


Although neither Flynn nor Clarke have had previous convictions, someone familiar with Flynn said she was not surprised to see him breaking the law, given a certain arrogance, evident even in high school in Canada. Rochestown College, Cork.

“He always had that arrogance about him, thought he was smarter than everyone else – I saw someone say all he wanted to do was never work and live a life of luxury , and it was perfect. “

They said Flynn’s parents “paid for him to take a cooking class at Ballymaloe and work as a chef for a while” before earning a law degree from the University of London.

Flynn established Keith Flynn & Company Solicitors in 2006 with offices on George’s Quay in Cork and Capel Street in Dublin. However, he seems to have made little impression on the legal scene in either city.

poet’s daughter

Clarke is the daughter of Cork songwriter and poet Mary Buckley Clarke, who died last April.

Clarke attended St Aloysius School in Cork City, but some comments posted on Facebook after the trial suggested she was a quiet girl with some of her classmates saying they barely remembered her. she. Someone who knew her when she joined the Fine Gael painted a similar picture.

“Fine Gael was looking to bring in a woman to run with Joe O’Callaghan in the northwestern part of Cork in 2014 to make sure there was a gender balance and Lyndsey was living on Blarney Street at the time. with her mother, she was therefore approached and she accepted the invitation to run.

“She only got 239 votes, which wasn’t great. She was naive to be honest because she thought she could get in and because she was a lawyer she would sweep everything in front of her – that was her attitude. This is not to be negative about her, she was a kind girl but naive and vulnerable.

The suggestion that Clarke was vulnerable is echoed by Flynn’s acquaintance. “I don’t know anything about Lyndsey, but watching them walk out of court when they were charged and she was smiling, I would say she was completely under his spell.”

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2020: The year of unfavorable mortgage credit? Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:02 +0000

“The key is the strength of the relationships between lenders, specialty distributors, advisors and consumers.

In recent months much needed attention has been drawn to adverse credit and its relationship to the mortgage market.

Many specialist lenders and construction companies are leading the way both in terms of the education process and through innovative and highly competitive product lines.

There is no hiding the fact, or should there be, that loan demands are changing and many large lenders are struggling (or unwilling in some cases) to do so. adapt. The last thing we want to do is go back to some archaic and risky lending practices of yesteryear, but the point is that increasing levels of credit problems are emerging. In the vast majority of cases, these remain minor, but that does not prevent concerns about credit history and the future ability of consumers to secure a mortgage.

As such, we, as an industry, must rise to the occasion and meet the needs of these borrowers responsibly. The key is the strength of the links between lenders, specialist distributors, advisors and consumers. Despite much progress, there will always be difficult questions to ask of the lenders in the middleman community in this area, and rightly so. A recent study by Smart Money People suggested that brokers are the least satisfied with the way lenders deal with adverse credit and commercial buy cases. Based on broker feedback in its Mortgage Lender Benchmark, broker satisfaction with mortgage lenders’ handling of adverse credit events is 74.6%, rising to 77.1% for commercial cases. purchase-lease. The average satisfaction for all types of mortgage files is 81.1%.

When it came to adverse credit events, brokers were particularly dissatisfied with the timeliness of processing requests through to offer. The average adverse credit lender received a rating of 59% for speed, which is 15% below the average in all cases (74%). Broker satisfaction with the ease of determining the maximum loan amount was cited as another major weakness and stands at 76%, which is 7% below the average (83%). Meanwhile, the ease of determining product eligibility has proven to be the key point for brokers leaving feedback to commercial rental lenders.

This data is based on additional research from Pepper Money which suggests that the majority of people who have experienced credit problems in the past three years fear being denied a mortgage. Its survey found that 69% of those looking for a mortgage or new mortgage in the next 12 months fear their application will be refused due to their credit history.

We have spoken to many clients who, due to their credit history, felt they could not get a mortgage or re-mortgage from their current lender. On this basis, we are forming even stronger alliances with various lenders to help get this message across and ensure that our brokers have the knowledge and access to the types of deals that can help these borrowers achieve their aspirations for debt. property. In fact, we have just announced a referral agreement with Habito which will allow owners with a poor credit history to access the services of Impact’s specialized brokers free of charge. The deal will see Impact offer advice to these clients while waiving our standard fees.

It is these types of new approaches that will allow brokers to help more people with the right solutions (even by referral) and help their clients put their past credit problems behind them. Hopefully 2020 is the year the unfavorable mortgage market starts to grab the headlines for all the right reasons.

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Trivia: 2020 tough for Vikes, but there is hope Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:02 +0000

Here’s a less-than-funny statistic: Since Mike Zimmer became head coach in 2014, the Vikings have flipped between qualifying for the playoffs and having a season record around .500 every two years. This time was the last, as the Vikes finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.

As disappointing as it may be, it’s worth remembering that this team started the season losing five of their first six games and looked poised for a high draft pick. Things turned around a bit and the Vikings had a decent run, but it wasn’t enough to clinch a playoff berth.

Fans are quick to blame QB Kirk Cousins ​​- and when you make that much money for throwing a soccer ball, I get it. That said, after the 1-5 start, where he was admittedly terrible, he had a reasonably strong season.

After throwing 10 interceptions in those first six games, he only threw three in the next 10 games, and one of them bounced off the receiver, so it’s hard to blame him. He was eighth in the league in passing yards and yards per game, ninth in completion percentage and sixth in passing touchdowns. His passer rating throughout the season was also the eighth best in the league.

Yes, some of his stats came in during lost games, especially early in games, but I think it’s pretty damn difficult to pin the issues of the season on Cousins.

Receiver Adam Thielen has had a decent year, unsurprisingly, but rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson wasted no time in becoming a league star.

The No.22 pick in the 2020 Draft finished the year with 88 catches, 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns, and is easily on the shortlist for Rookie of the Year honors. He will likely finish second in this vote, which is disappointing.

Most notably, he now holds the NFL record for yards received in a season by a rookie (during the Super Bowl era). He also broke many rookie records for Randy Moss’ team in the process. When you consider that he barely played the first two games, his season is incredibly impressive.

The other bona fide star dressed in purple and gold is running back Dalvin Cook, who has been solid for years (when in good health) but has taken him to a new level in 2020.

He was second in the league in rushing yards, rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns.

He was also the second-highest voter in the NFC Pro Bowl, behind Russell Wilson.

There were a few other offensive strengths within the squad – Irv Smith Jr. taking off, Ezra Cleveland and Riley Reiff were semi-solid on the offensive line, Chad Beebe’s winning play was fun to watch.

The team is averaging just under 27 points per game (430 out of 16 games), which is in the first half of the league.

By statistics, the Vikings had the fourth best offense in the league, so what’s the problem?

The problem with this team – and I can’t believe I’m saying this about a team led by Mike Zimmer – is defense.

When you’ve got the fourth-ranked offense in the league and you’re not making the playoffs, the problem is pretty clear.

We knew things would be different when the team parted ways with several defensive stalwarts – Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Trae Waynes and a few others – but I didn’t think their departures were a bad thing in and of itself. I still don’t, actually.

But then the team lost Danielle Hunter for the season before the start of the season. Then, newly signed defensive lineman Michael Pierce has stepped down this season due to COVID-19 issues. Then the Vikings lost linebacker Anthony Barr for the year in Game 2. Eric Kendricks missed last month. Cornerbacks have fallen like flies this year.

I don’t really want to apologize for the team – no group of professional athletes should ever give up 52 points in a game like the Vikes versus the Saints – but when Safeties are the only group to avoid big injuries, this puts the team at an understandable disadvantage.

The offense was ranked fourth overall this year. The defense ranked 27th. This is the problem.

Maybe I shouldn’t blame the defense so much. After all, special teams were also quite difficult to watch in 2020.

It was really every aspect of special teams, but of course the main focus of the special teams woes was kicker Dan Bailey.

When the Vikings signed him in 2018, he was the second most accurate kicker in NFL history. In fact, in the first 11 games of the season, he made 12 of 14 field goal attempts and 26 of 27 extra points. Those numbers have come down a bit since then, and they certainly weren’t helped by the fact that he missed three field goals and one more point against Tampa Bay.

Thanks to the last month, I really have no idea how I’m supposed to feel about Bailey continuing to play for the team, but I think he’s more capable of a change than someone like Blair Walsh. things.

Speaking of Blair Walsh, what about the Vikings and kickers? I’m not the type to believe in curses or otherworldly things, but it’s just weird.

So, with such a tough 2020 officially on the books, what are the prospects for 2021? In my opinion, this is rather positive.

I have to assume that all of the defensive players I mentioned will be back and healthy in 2021, with the possible exception of Barr, who has a opt-out option in his contract.

The offense has made serious progress this year, and defensive anchors who have run out of time this season and provided a major defensive presence in previous seasons should theoretically be healthy and ready to go in the fall.

Yes, the Packers will probably still be good next year, and the Bears are generally just competitive enough to keep things interesting, but I think the Vikings are just shy to be complete enough for a decent playoff run.

Draft a few linemen, fix the special teams issues, and get everyone healthy, and they’re a pretty good team.

Despite a difficult 2020, I have a pretty good feeling about the Vikings in 2021.

Yet I have the impression that I have already said it.

You can reach Dan Determan at 218-855-5879 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

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Stagnant water can become dangerous in buildings locked by coronavirus- Marketplace Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:02 +0000

With the closure of restaurants, stadiums and schools, there is currently a lot of idling water in plumbing systems. Scientists say this is not a healthy situation. Standing water can build up heavy metals and harmful bacteria, such as those that sometimes cause Legionnaires’ disease.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued guidelines on how closed facilities can protect their water systems – every time people return.

So which water systems are at risk?

“All of them,” said Caitlin Proctor, a microbiologist at Purdue University. “Any building that has used less water than normal will experience some kind of deterioration in water quality. “

Proctor co-wrote a report raising concerns about the build-up of lead and copper. But she’s particularly concerned about certain types of bacteria – with fancy scientific names.

“These include Legionella pneumophila, Mycobacterium avium,” she said.

One way to kill bad bugs is “shock disinfection”. That’s when an engineer floods the pipes with a cargo of bleach before people start using the water again. But it can cost tens of thousands of dollars per building. Proctor said there is a cheaper alternative.

“The best way to prevent these kinds of problems is to keep the water moving,” she said.

After people are gone, keep faucets – and other plumbing fixtures – on. Simple enough for a freestanding office building, but what if you run, say, a huge college campus with the length of a marathon of water pipes and north of 100 buildings? Can you really keep all those toilets flush?

“In fact, we are,” said Gary Rudolph, senior director of utilities at the University of Central Florida. Usually, the campus plumbing services 40,000 students. But now things are pretty calm, Rudolph said. In the absence of students, leaving the water running is a full-time job. Maintenance crews visit each building every two weeks.

They “make sure all urinals are emptied, toilets are emptied [and] the taps are on, ”Rudolph said. It is essential work that costs $ 1,300 per day in labor. But Rudolph said the empty school uses water at two-thirds of its normal rate. “If there are showers in the building, we manage them. “

Although resources are exhausted, he hopes this will save the university from having to pay for shock disinfection down the line.

“And when people come back to campus, it will just be normal,” Rudolph said. “You’ve just come home, take a shower, drink some water. Do what you normally do when they were here before.

We still do not know when the students will be back to do the rinsing.

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PACE might be ‘bad for homeowners’, but what does it mean for Visalia? Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:01 +0000

to play

Clean energy rated by property died in Visalia.

With this, the number of future solar customers throughout the city.

After six years, city council members sent the program commonly known as PACE in a 4-1 vote following a heated indoor-only council meeting on Monday.

As a result, local Visalia homeowners and contractors are left with one less financing option for energy efficient upgrades and essential home improvements.

The decision comes as a turnaround: the city council of Visalia previously voted to support the program in 2017.

Following: Visalia City Council votes to keep PACE

What is PACE?

PACE is a program that funds the upfront costs of energy and water saving measures on homes and allows homeowners to pay off the loan over time as an item on their property tax bill – similar to general obligations.

Councilor Brian Poochigian spearheaded the council’s decision to reconsider the program after he said several voters approached him, believing the city had approved the loan.

“I don’t think we should approve one private loan over another,” Poochigian said, reflecting the majority view of the board members. “I am happy that Visalia is no longer involved in loan processing.”

He dismissed concerns from solar companies, which rely on the program to help secure funding from residents.

Following: Clean energy programs could bring an economic boom

“Most of the (PACE supporters) were from Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles,” the city councilor said. “We are looking for what is best for the Visalians.”

PACE has been an option for Californians since 2008, although cities must vote to join the program.

The program was designed as an option for homeowners who did not have the significant upfront costs associated with energy upgrades, such as replacing solar power and air conditioners.

Since the loan was borrowed against home equity, an individual’s credit and income played a minimal role in loan eligibility, although this has changed with recent state legislation introduced. to strengthen consumer protection.

Advantages and disadvantages

Critics of PACE, however, characterize the program as a “predatory lending program” activated by the local government.

Proponents counter that PACE loans make clean energy affordable for many, improve local air quality, and boost the economy.

“As a business owner, I can say that a significant number of projects and a significant number of jobs would be affected if PACE were canceled,” said Ben Siebert, owner of Planet Solar, a Clovis-based solar entrepreneur. .

Low-income residents with poor credit will be disproportionately affected by the removal of PACE, Siebert said.

Tim Ramage, a solar entrepreneur from Visalia, said his company operates an average of 600 solar systems and 300 rooftop installations in multiple states each month, of which about 10% are funded by PACE.

“For me, it’s all about consumer choice,” Ramage said. “I’m pretty sure we’re still in America and have the right to choose for ourselves what the best loan option is for our homes and our specific situation.”

The Tulare County Realtors Association has fiercely opposed PACE in Visalia, arguing that homes using the program are “un-sellable” due to “super-privileges” placed on properties as a result of PACE , which acts as a second mortgage.

Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Authority will not offer financing to homes with a PACE loan, further complicating sales, Realtors said.

“My real estate agents are guaranteed job security with (PACE) because they make buying and selling homes so difficult that they guarantee my real estate agent’s job forever,” said Brett Taylor , CEO of the Tulare County Real Estate Association. “We’re not saying here that (PACE) is good or bad for the industry. We’re saying here it’s bad for the owners.”

Taylor and other realtors offered a litany of anecdotes to board members, describing a number of scenarios where owners were misled by PACE directors and found themselves struggling with debts they could not afford to repay.

Supporters highlighted industry reforms and legislation that strengthened consumer protection under PACE from 2017.

“What (the critics) are describing is PACE of 2016 and before,” said Jeremy Hutman of Renew Financial, a PACE loan administrator. “They do not describe PACE as part of the new regulatory legislative scheme that has standardized consumer protection.”

‘A mixed bag’

Since PACE loans are pegged to borrowers’ property tax bills, county tax collectors are responsible for collecting payments. This makes the program unique among private loan programs.

“The idea for PACE is a good thing, but the idea and the implementation seem to be two different things – a little mixed up,” said Cass Cook, Auditor-Comptroller and Treasurer-Tax Collector of Tulare County. .

Staff at the county tax collector’s office report that they have received calls from PACE administrators claiming to be county or state officials.

“Which is interesting, because we are the county and they represented themselves as county employees,” Cook said.

Since PACE payments are assessed on property tax bills, Cook says homeowners who choose to make their payments early are often hit twice.

“For example, if they repay their loan in August, it will already show up in their tax bill which they will then pay in December,” he said, adding that PACE administrators are often late in repaying these payments. “People get angry and come to the tax collector, but our hands are tied and there is nothing we can do.”

Shortly before Monday’s board meeting, Cook said a man went to his office to complain about unknowingly buying a house with a $ 19,000 PACE loan – a loan he is now responsible.

“They came to us asking for help and there is nothing we can do for them,” he said. “Someone dropped the ball, and it was not disclosed by the title company … These are some of the challenges the tax collector’s office faces.”

Cook noted a 4% delinquency rate among PACE loans, similar to typical property tax delinquency across the county.

Currently, 528 homes in Visalia currently hold a PACE loan, Cook said.

Council crushes PACE

Board members relied on Cook’s testimony and comments from realtors in their near-unanimous decision to cancel the program at Visalia.

“It’s a difficult question but my position has never changed,” said Deputy Mayor Steve Nelsen. “I don’t think public government has to be in private industry or support private industry.”

“I object to the fact that we take our tax collector and make it a branch of private industry,” he added. “As an industry, (solar power) should be able to survive without the help of (Visalia).”

Nelsen highlighted a number of PACE alternatives, including “energy loans” offered by banks.

“It takes a bit of work to find it, but it’s doable,” Nelsen said.

Councilor Greg Collins was the sole supporter of PACE this time around.

“We represent the people of Visalia, but I see it a little differently,” he said. “We have people whose energy bills exceed their mortgage payments during the summer months. Maybe their air conditioner turns off, maybe they would like to save water or energy – this program offers that opportunity.

While future PACE loans are no longer available to VIsalians, current borrowers will not be affected by the vote.

“I would like to give low-income people all the opportunities they have to reduce their energy or water costs, or to fix leaky roofs,” he added.

The decision also only affects properties located within the city limits of VIsalia. The owners of the county and neighboring towns – Exeter, Woodlake, Tulare, etc. – can continue to use PACE programs.

“No matter what (the board’s) vote, we’re going to do what’s right for the taxpayer,” Cook said. “We will continue to do our job and do it well.”

Joshua Yeager covers water, agriculture, parks and housing for the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @VTD_Joshy. Receive alerts and stay up to date on all things Tulare County for as little as $ 1 per month. Subscribe today.

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The Abrahamic Accord: Will It Bring Peace or Perpetuate Pain in Palestine? Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:01 +0000 Armed conflicts, Economy and trade, Highlighted, Securities, Middle East and North Africa, Peace, TerraViva United Nations


SINGAPORE, August 24, 2020 (IPS) – There isn’t much good news for President Donald Trump of the United States these days. If the election polls hold any credibility, he faces almost certain defeat in the November election. So when Abraham’s so-called Agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was sealed in a phone call between him and the leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, signaling a silver lining in the dark clouds that otherwise hovered over him, Trump was elated. A Trump twitter called it a “HUGE breakthrough among ‘three BIG friends!’

Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury

How realistic was this statement? Not a lot. The deal only formalized what had actually been going on for years between Israel and the United Arab Emirates under the table, out of the public eye, but not out of public knowledge. So why this far-reaching uproar fanfare? The timing was important. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner were negotiating an “outside-in” strategy to resolve this “fundamental” Palestinian crisis in the Middle East. This involved the strategy of moving the Arabs away from the “center”, ie Palestine, in order to create greater pressure on the Palestinians already under siege. The pillar of the deal was that the West Bank would not be annexed. But the pillar began to collapse immediately when the Israelis let the cat out of the bag. Israel said the decision to annex is still on the agenda, but only temporarily suspended at the request of the United States so that the agreement can be signed. It seemed a pretty crude deal to the Palestinians, those most affected by the deal, but with no way to influence it.

The first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country was that signed in March 1979 between Cairo and Tel Aviv in 1979, for which Egyptian President Anwar Saadat paid with his life. The second was between Israel and Jordan in 1994. But these were between Israel and two of its border states with which there was a history of wars. The UAE shared no borders and had no military conflict with Israel. This agreement violated a principle of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) that the Arab states bordering (or frontline) of Israel could advance their interests vis-à-vis Israel in the way they chose because for them the question was existential. Distant OIC members would continue their non-recognition of Israel in favor of the Palestinian cause. The United Arab Emirates was the third Arab country to enter into such an agreement with Israel, and the first in the Gulf. This indicated that the pro-Israel powers had succeeded in brushing aside the support of Palestinians from other Arab countries.

Generally speaking, the Abraham Accord agreed to the complete normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, including the exchange of ambassadors. In addition, it would be followed by agreements on investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other matters. Then there was this risky provision on Israel’s annexation of the West Bank which was already falling apart. A massively large concession was made to Israel by an OIC Arab state without any tangible benefit to the Palestinians. But then, why? Some analysts believe the idea was to give Trump a feather in his cap, where there was none, by his Israeli and Emirati friends. If that was why the Accord was a sacrifice of crucial Palestinian interests for a very marginal benefit, even for Trump, then the US elections will be conducted primarily on domestic issues. Foreign affairs will be of little importance, and the Middle East, none at all.

Some believe the UAE would not have taken this step without a nudge and a nod from Saudi Arabia. The two countries are not doing anything meaningful these days without consulting each other. Their heir princes, who direct the shootings in the two capitals, are the best friends. While an open Saudi peace treaty with Israel is unlikely to be imminent as the cost of its reputation as guardian of two of Islam’s holiest shrines would take a big hit, their other Arab friends such as Bahrain and Oman may well be in the queue.

What was the global reaction to this event? The UN and its Secretary General Antonio Guterres, barely able, on the one hand, to overshadow the White House, its provider of financial means, and on the other hand, to oppose any peace treaty where whatever, have cleverly linked “normalization” to the hope of a two-state settlement of the Palestinian question. But Abu Dhabi surely realized that the United States was too divided to satisfy all parties, when Trump’s rival Joe Biden, unable to offend Israel and at the same time unwilling to give it any credit, mainly focused on the key issue of annexation. He said: “Annexation would be a blow to the cause of peace, which is why I oppose it now and I will oppose it as president.”

Much of the rest of the OIC, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, opposed it. Abbas outright denounced the deal. Famous Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrafi called it a “clearance sale by friends”. Rejecting the Accord, Hamas saw it as serving the “Zionist narrative.” Iran, a sworn enemy of Arab monarchies and sheikhs (with the exception of Qatar – these are the intricacies of intricate intramural policies in the Middle East), called UAE action “strategic stupidity “and likened it to” stabbing the Palestinians in the back. “An equally livid Turkey has declared that” history will not forget and never forgive the hypocritical behavior of the UAE. ” East, near my perch in Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, officials have so far remained silent, although former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir has called the deal a “step backwards for peace” , and warned that it would “divide the Muslim world into warring factions”, with the Israelis adding “fuel to the fire”.

In South Asia, Pakistan, poor but powerful, had to be and was more discreet. Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose voice carries weight in the OIC but whose stock market might be light without Saudi and Emirati support, did not speak as in writing, but the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad issued a carefully crafted and calibrated statement. He said the agreement “has far-reaching implications” and that “Pakistan has a steadfast commitment to the full realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination”, obviously keeping in mind the mind the Kashmiris. He added that “Pakistan’s approach will be guided by our assessment of how the rights and aspirations of Palestinians are being respected, and how regional peace, security and stability are preserved.” Like motherhood, no one could dispute this line of sentiment.

In the meantime, the average Palestinian must ask himself whether, for him, the Abrahamic Accord, the day after the feast of Eid-ul-Adha, would turn into an Abrahamic sacrifice!

Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury is Principal Investigator at the Institute of South Asia Studies at the National University of Singapore. He is a former Foreign Adviser (Minister of Foreign Affairs) of Bangladesh and Chairman of the Cosmos Foundation Bangladesh. The opinions expressed in the article are his own. He can be reached at: isasiac @

This story was originally posted by Dhaka Courier.

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Passenger airline revenue loss estimate continues to rise Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:01 +0000

The global airlines trade association, International Air Transport Association (IATA), has released its latest estimates on the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s airlines. He now predicts that 2020 revenue losses for passenger airlines could reach $ 371 billion.

Estimates of the trade group’s losses increased as the pandemic progressed. In early March, IATA initially forecast losses in passenger airline revenue of $ 113 billion due to the pandemic. This estimate rose to $ 252 billion at the end of March, and $ 314 billion as of mid-April as travel restrictions increased and COVID-19 epidemics spread to regions such as Africa and Latin America.

Image source: Getty Images.

The latest forecast is based on an increased lack of passenger demand as international borders close and lockdowns mount to try to contain the outbreak. He said overall passenger levels for the year will be equivalent to levels not seen since 2006. The new revenue loss forecast also takes into consideration that revenue will decline more than demand as airlines offer. price concessions to keep customers coming back.

IATA stressed that a positive point is the demand for freight. There is a shortage of cargo capacity created by immobilized passenger jets, as they are used to move certain types of cargo. That pushes rates up 30% for the year, estimates the trade group. He estimates that freight revenues will reach near record highs in 2020, contributing more than double the industry’s revenues than in 2019. The demand for cargo aircraft has been confirmed by Boeing (NYSE: BA) in his Can order update, because it delivered cargo planes in May, and no airliners.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are motley! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Green Bay Packers are now NFC No.1 seed Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:00 +0000

The Green Bay Packers were definitely not at their best on Sunday, winning a 24-20 victory over Jacksonville. It’s been a great day for the Packers, however, when it comes to the NFC playoff race.

New Orleans started the day as the No.1 seed in the conference, followed by Seattle and Green Bay. All three teams entered Sunday with 6-2 records.

Green Bay and New Orleans both won and improved to 7-2. Thanks to Seattle’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Packers edged out the Saints and claimed the No.1 seed in the NFC.

How do you ask yourself?

Well, the Packers beat New Orleans, 37-30, on September 27 and hold the head-to-head advantage over the Saints in a two-way tie.

When Green Bay, New Orleans and Seattle were stranded in a three-way tie, the Saints held the tiebreaker because of the conference record. Seattle’s loss was therefore great news for Packer Nation.

Tampa Bay has the third best record in the conference at 7-3. Seattle, Arizona and the Rams – who play in NFC West – are tied for the fourth-best record at 6-3.

Currently, the top seven teams from each conference will advance to the playoffs. This means that only the No.1 seed from each conference would get a pass.

In recent years, when each conference had six playoff teams, the top two seeds got passes.

The NFL has discussed the possibility of increasing the playoff field to eight teams per conference. If that happened, there would be no bye.

For now, however, the Packers are number one in the NFC and would have the first playoff weekend off.

“Having warmer weather or dome teams here in December and January has always been, I feel like a good advantage for us,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Sunday afternoon. “We threw the ball well in bad weather, we won big games in bad weather.

“You know I think it even does some things because it does, everything moves a bit slower, but getting a home game in January, with or without fans, will definitely be an advantage for us.

Here’s how the race between the Packers and Saints plays out over the next seven weeks.

Green Bay (7-2)

Home games (4): Chicago, Philadelphia, Caroline, Tennessee

Road games (3): Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago

Combined opponent record: 32-31-1

Opponent’s winning percentage: .508

Analysis: Green Bay still has four of seven home games, but the Packers haven’t played particularly well there.

“The big concern for me is that it seems to be more in our home games than when we’re on the road,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I understand: it’s a strange year. Certainly, we are used to having fans to help bring that energy to our football team and we don’t have any at the moment, unfortunately. This is the situation and it is what it is. We need to do a better job of delivering this juice internally.

Despite Green Bay’s poor home performances, few teams want to come to Lambeau in January. So if the Packers can continue to follow a manageable schedule, they’ll be tough in the playoffs.

New Orleans (7-2)

Home games (3): Atlanta, Kansas City, Minnesota

Road games (4): Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Caroline

Combined opponent record: 26-36-1

Opponent’s winning percentage: .421

Analysis: The Saints have won six straight games and have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league.

Green Bay’s head-to-head victory over New Orleans is incredibly important, however, and the Saints will need to pass the Packers to win a two-team tiebreaker.

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Only 1 in 10 borrowers in abstention is poor in equity Mon, 22 Mar 2021 09:39:00 +0000

About 1 in 10 mortgages borrowers who are in abstention has less than 10% equity in their property or is underwater, indicating that defaults will remain limited, depending on Black Knight.

About 9% of borrowers with suspended payments are ‘low equity’, which means their mortgage balance is over 90% of their property’s value, and 1% of borrowers are underwater, which means their loan exceeds the value of their home, said Ben Graboske, president of Black Knight. .

Almost 80% of owners in abstention have 20% or more equity, which indicates they likely won’t end up in foreclosure, he said.

People who have more “skin in the game” are less likely to let their mortgages be foreclosed. During the financial crisis, people who had little or no equity often gave up and let lenders foreclose on their homes. Some have come and sent the keys to their lenders.

“Equity positions among forbearers are overall strong,” Graboske said. “Only 9% have 10% or less equity – usually enough to cover the cost of selling a property – with another 1% underwater on their mortgages.”

The number of “low equity” borrowers in abstention is highest among people with loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration, according to data from Black Knight.

“We find that the share of low and negative equity borrowers in forbearance is much higher among FHA / VA loans,” Graboske said. “This segment – which has the highest abstention rates overall – sees 19% of homeowners owning 10% or less of their home equity.”

The wave of foreclosures that occurred after the 2008 financial crisis resulted in the loss of approximately 10 million American families.

This created a black mark that impacted consumers’ ability to obtain credit for years after default, and caused trauma to both adults and children being forced out of their homes.

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