10-22-2019  12:34 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Washington State Ecology Director Objects to EPA’s Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Ecology Director Maia Bellon submitted formal objections in which she calls the proposal ill-advised and illegal

Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

NEWS BRIEFS

U.S. Census Bureau Hosts Job Recruitment Events in Portland

There are several opportunities to ‘Meet the Employer’ today through Saturday for more information or to apply for 2020 census...

GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

The topic of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors' event was 'Community and Collaboration' ...

Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

The 4th Annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities: Confronting Hate will be held in Tigard on...

The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

The first in a series of interactive conversations focused on Black men and vulnerability takes place in Seattle on October 25 ...

Henry Thomas, star of 'E.T.', arrested for DUI in Oregon

TUALATIN, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say Henry Thomas, the actor who starred as a child in "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial," has been arrested for driving under the influence in Oregon.The 48-year-old Thomas was booked into the Washington County Jail and faces the misdemeanor charge after police...

Scuba divers find truck, remains in Columbia River

UMATILLA COUNTY, Ore. (AP) — A truck and skeletal remains found in the Columbia River have been connected to a 26-year-old missing person's case from Washington state.KOMO-TV reports a couple who went scuba diving last week in Umatilla County, Oregon, reported they discovered a submerged...

AP Top 25: Ohio State jumps Clemson to 3rd; Wisconsin falls

Ohio State edged past Clemson to No. 3 in The Associated Press college football poll and Wisconsin dropped to 13th after being upset ahead of its showdown with the Buckeyes.Alabama remained No. 1 on Sunday in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, receiving 24 first-place votes. No. 2 LSU held...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...

OPINION

Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Court weighing whether judge can unseal lynching records

ATLANTA (AP) — A historian's effort to unseal grand jury records from the brazen 1946 lynching of two black couples on a Georgia riverbank prompted tough questions Tuesday in a federal appeals court, but the judges also suggested there might be another way to win release of the records.The...

Trump likens House impeachment inquiry to 'a lynching'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump triggered outrage Tuesday by comparing the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry to a lynching, assigning the horrors of a deadly and racist chapter in U.S. history to a process laid out in the Constitution."That is one word no president ought to apply to...

5th church vandalized; police consider acts hate crimes

CROWLEY, La. (AP) — A string of church vandalisms in a predominantly African American Louisiana community is prompting local police to get federal authorities to investigate the possible hate crimes.News outlets report five churches in Crowley have each had a glass door or window broken by a...

ENTERTAINMENT

Television's Weather Channel wades into climate debate

NEW YORK (AP) — The Weather Channel is moving beyond cold fronts and heat waves to wade into the politics of climate change, with a special planned for early next month that includes interviews with nine presidential candidates on the topic.The campaign's most prominent climate change...

The most dangerous celebrity online is revealed

NEW YORK (AP) — Actress Alexis Bledel has been bookish and sweet on "Gilmore Girls" and "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." But the actress herself is now officially dangerous.Cybersecurity firm McAfee on Monday crowned Bledel the most dangerous celebrity on the internet in 2019. No other...

Queen Latifah to receive Harvard black culture award

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Music artist and actress Queen Latifah is among the honorees being recognized by Harvard University for their contributions to black history and culture.Harvard is set to award the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal to Queen Latifah and six other recipients on Tuesday, according to...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

AP-NORC/SAP poll: Some workers changing actions amid #MeToo

WASHINGTON (AP) — Barbara Myers started work as an apprentice electrician in 1995, and over the years she...

Autoworkers from closed plants fight new GM contract

DETROIT (AP) — If they can close our plant, they can close yours, too.That's the message from workers at...

Jimmy Carter hospitalized after fall at Georgia home

ATLANTA (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter had another fall at his home in Plains, Georgia, fracturing...

Oslo police shoot to stop man driving on sidewalk, 3 injured

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — An armed Norwegian man stole an ambulance and drove it along a sidewalk in Oslo...

Chile protests: Death toll rises to 15 after violent clashes

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile's government said Tuesday that 15 people have been killed in five days of...

Venezuelans buy gas with cigarettes to battle inflation

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Motorists in socialist Venezuela have long enjoyed the world's cheapest gasoline,...

McMenamins
Alan Zibel and Curt Anderson, the Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A joint investigation by every state and the District of Columbia could force mortgage companies to settle allegations that they used flawed documents to foreclose on hundreds of thousands of homeowners.
It could take months, at least, for any settlement to be reached. But legal experts say lenders could be forced to accept an independent monitor to ensure they follow state foreclosure laws. The banks could also be subject to financial penalties and be forced to pay some people whose foreclosures were improperly handled.
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For banks, "the most efficient way for them to get out from under this is to settle across the board," said Kathleen Engel, a law professor at Suffolk University in Boston.
Employees of several major lenders have acknowledged in depositions that they signed thousands of foreclosure documents without reading them as required by state laws.
"This is not simply about a glitch in paperwork," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who's leading the probe announced Wednesday, said in a statement. "It's also about some companies violating the law and many people losing their homes."
At a news conference, Miller said the states might be open to alternatives to financial penalties for the banks. They might, for example, agree instead to have lenders step up their efforts to help people reduce their loan payments so they can avoid foreclosure.
The document problems could prolong the housing downturn if many home buyers become unwilling to purchase foreclosed homes. But for a few months anyway, the problems could help prop up prices, because fewer low-priced foreclosed homes will be for sale.
Analysts don't expect many people who lost homes to foreclosure to recover them.
The industry has begun to respond to pressure from state and federal officials. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Wednesday it would extend its review of its foreclosure cases to 41 states — doubling the number of its cases under review to 115,000. JPMorgan had previously said it was halting foreclosures in the 23 states where foreclosures must be approved by a judge.
This week, GMAC Mortgage, a unit of Ally Financial Inc., said it had hired legal and accounting firms to review its foreclosure procedures in all 50 states. GMAC has halted some foreclosures in 23 states. Bank of America has done so in all 50.
And Wells Fargo & Co. has said it would review pending foreclosures for potential defects. Wells says it's discovered no problems.
In their announcement Wednesday, the state officials said they would review evidence that documents were signed by mortgage company employees who didn't verify the information in them. They also said many documents appeared to have been signed without a notary public witnessing that signature — a violation of state law.
Attorneys general have taken the lead in responding to the revelations. State officials, not the federal government, enforce foreclosure laws, which vary by state.
Not all attorneys general have identical powers to investigate. Without clear evidence of a crime, they usually file lawsuits to force businesses to stop actions or to pay damages to wronged consumers.
The filing of false documents in court can be prosecuted as perjury. Any lawyers involved in improper foreclosures could suffer sanctions or lose their law licenses for unethical activity.
As part of their probe, state officials will be able to issue subpoenas to extract potentially incriminating documents from the industry. Such evidence could be used in lawsuits or to force settlements with lenders.
A key question is whether state investigators can persuade bank employees to divulge some of the industry's secrets, said Ray Brescia, an Albany Law School professor who has tracked the mortgage crisis. Some mortgage company workers could have a powerful incentive to do so rather than face criminal charges, he noted.
"It's quite possible that there will be insiders who come forward to reveal the inner workings of these "boiler room" foreclosure mills, which likely won't be good for the banks," Brescia said.
A lawsuit that Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray filed this month against GMAC Mortgage and Ally Financial could preview things to come around the country.
Cordray's lawsuit seeks to halt potentially illegal foreclosure practices. It also asks that a judge stop sales of any foreclosed homes involving paperwork filed by a GMAC employee who signed hundreds of faulty documents. And it aims to toss out foreclosure judgments on homes that haven't yet sold.
The Ohio lawsuit also seeks damages for consumers and civil penalties of $25,000 for each separate violation. If similar cases were brought in all 50 states, it could total billions of dollars in damages and fines for lenders and others involved in foreclosures.
The allegations raise the possibility that foreclosure proceedings nationwide could be subject to legal challenge. More than 2.5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure since the recession started in December 2007, according to RealtyTrac Inc.
Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney in Miami, said that fixing faulty or fraudulent mortgage paperwork can be relatively easy if a case is ongoing. But it's far more complex if a foreclosure has been completed and the home already sold.
There also are limits to what officials in some states can do.
For example, in Florida, an epicenter for foreclosure cases, Attorney General Bill McCollum suffered a setback last week in a probe into practices by four law firms that handled foreclosures. A judge ruled that McCollum had no authority to subpoena records from one firm. It said the state's bar association was the proper forum to decide whether to sanction the firm.
A different Florida firm involved in that investigation, the Law Offices of David J. Stern, is seeking a similar ruling. Government-controlled mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have stopped referring foreclosures to Stern's firm while they review the firm's filings.
Also Wednesday, federal regulators said all mortgage companies that work with Fannie and Freddie will have to review foreclosure documents and refile them if they spot problems. That will affect most of the industry, because Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half the nation's home loans.
In cases where no problems turn up, foreclosures "should proceed without delay," the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the agency that regulates Fannie and Freddie, said.
___
Anderson reported from Miami.

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