Viewpoint: My Crime Was Not Curbing the Guilty

American Banker

By Robert Gnaizda

Many minority leaders concerned about foreclosures and lack of future homeownership opportunities, have asked me, a co-founder and former general counsel of the Greenlining Institute, to respond to charges that it caused the financial crisis by promoting predatory lending practices.

My response is that the accusations against Greenlining are not without some merit, though the facts are a little more complex. For example, the institute unfortunately was far less influential than suggested by the CEO of Countrywide, Angelo Mozilo, when he blamed it for his predatory actions.

In 1992, Greenlining sent a letter to Mozilo criticizing Countrywide for finishing last among California financial institutions in making conventional, prime, fixed-rate loans to blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans.

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Cap-and-Trade Rules: Hold the Applause

California Progress Report

By Orson Aguilar and C.C. Song

There has been a lot of cheering over the Dec. 16 decision by the California Air Resources Board to adopt rules setting up the nation’s first cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions. While the regulations represent an important first step and contain several positive elements, their flaws are serious and shouldn’t be ignored.

As the regulations now stand, their ultimate result could be a massive giveaway to the state’s biggest polluters.  Instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the proposed rules could result in billions of dollars in windfall profits to polluting industries at the expense of California’s most vulnerable communities.

A successful cap-and-trade program relies on a strategic allocation of allowances. In that context, it is hard to grasp the strategic value of CARB’s decision to give away the overwhelming majority of carbon allowances for free to big polluters.

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An Ebenezer Scrooge Christmas?

By Preeti Vissa

This time of year conjures up traditional images of family gatherings, cozy fireplaces, shared meals and happy exchanges of presents — images of home, security and friendship. But millions of Americans who have had their homes foreclosed or who are in imminent danger of foreclosure have no such sense of security, and in many cases no real home. Far too little is being done to help them.

It seems like Ebenezer Scrooge is running Christmas this year. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

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Open Up the Revolving Door

By Preeti Vissa

One of the more disturbing issues highlighted by the recent documentary Inside Job is the revolving door between the financial industry, the agencies that are supposed to regulate it and the academic world where economists churn out theories used to justify that regulation — or, more often, the lack thereof. It feels like a closed loop, with the same small, elite group perpetuating policies based on a severely limited array of perspectives. Continue reading “Open Up the Revolving Door”

Martin Luther King’s Dream of Economic Justice in Danger
By The Greenlining Institute

Martin Luther King’s Dream of Economic Justice is in Danger, Advocates Say

In the wake of new reports indicating record foreclosures last year and a further increase expected in 2011, elected officials and nonprofit leaders joined homeowners today to call for an urgent program to stem the tide of foreclosures and reduce the principal of troubled mortgages. They spoke at a protest and press conference this afternoon in front of the Alameda County Superior Court building where foreclosed homes are auctioned off. They warned that the millions of foreclosures that are imminent will devastate neighborhoods, with communities of color suffering the most.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Foreclosure Crisis
By Preeti Vissa

On Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, we commonly remember the great civil rights leader’s struggle to peacefully end segregation, but the King commemorations often fail to mention another key part of his legacy. That’s why, on January 13, I joined a group of homeowners, elected officials and community advocates to call attention to another part of Dr. King’s dream that is in grave danger.

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The Comcast-NBC Merger: What Now?
By Samuel S. Kang

The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice recently moved to allow Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal, despite the concerns raised by many organizations and individuals. The good news is that we won important concessions, but serious concerns remain.
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New Data, Old Worries on Homeownership
By Preeti Vissa

Two new federal government reports — neither of which got a lot of press — suggest continuing trouble in the housing market, meaning continuing trouble for the economy. And, in a pattern we’ve seen so often that it’s ceased to be surprising, communities of color are faring the worst.
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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Wants to Hear From You

By Preeti Vissa

Every once in a while, government gets something really, really right, and it looks like one of those instances is happening right now. One of the best provisions of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed last year, created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). This new agency has the ability to give our communities extraordinary new protections from predatory financial products and services.
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Redistricting: The Next Chapter in the Voting Rights Struggle

Pasadena Journal
Written by Samuel Walton and Michelle Romero

Since the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and penned the United States Constitution, the issue of voting rights has been very contentious. While the right to vote is the very cornerstone of democracy, poor white men, blacks, women, and other minorities were initially denied this right. One could argue that while the United States held itself out as a democracy, it was very much an aristocracy until after the Emancipation Proclamation and passage of the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th amendments, and the Voting Rights Act. And even that wasn’t enough.
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