Californians urge Gov. Brown to repay $331M in special funds

Comment: I just sent correspondence to the Wisconsin Attorney General and informed him that I will be organizing plaintiffs for a suit against him and Governor Walker.

SACRAMENTO — Homeowners and nonprofit groups headed by the National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) visited the State Capitol on June 22-23 to urge Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators to repay the $331 million that was unlawfully diverted from mortgage settlement funds to help distressed California homeowners. The $331 million, part of the National Mortgage Special Deposit Funds, came from a  nationwide settlement of a fraud suit against some of the nation’s largest banks over mortgage misconduct. California received $5 billion from a total settlement figure of $25 billion. The funds, intended to offer home loan counseling and other educational services to distressed California homeowners, especially those facing foreclosure, were instead used to plug holes in the state’s budget as it faced a multi-billion dollar deficit. The Superior Court in California recently ruled in favor of a suit filed jointly by the NAAC, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Christ Our Redeemer AME Church ordering Gov. Brown and the state to put back the $331 million it took from the National Mortgage Special Deposit Funds negotiated by Attorney General Kamala Harris in 2012. The case was filed in March 2014, with the firm of Jenner & Block LLP representing the litigants. “We want this to happen sooner than later,” Faith Bautista, CEO of NAAC told the Asian Journal. “The money came from the banks… these are not taxpayers’ money. Homeowners have been suffering since 2008.” “We are appealing to Gov. Brown to return the $331 million that was unlawfully taken away. Please return the money back to the special funds so that nonprofits like NAAC can help homeowners,” Bautista said, while also revealing that they had left a message to the Governor asking for a meeting in order for this matter to be settled, even without lawyers present. Bautista also said that talks with the Latino, Black and Asian Caucuses in the state legislature have yielded positive results, although the question of where the money will come from has popped up in those talks. She does not want the state to appropriate the money from other sectors like education. However, she believes that the money is there given that the state reportedly has a projected surplus in 2015. “Everybody needs their own funds too, but it’s gotta be there somewhere,” she said. “Jerry Brown is the CEO of the State of California and he should be able to look into it… you took the money, you’ve got to return it.” Bob Gnaizda, legal counsel for the NAAC, said that taking action is of utmost importance, and that includes signing a petition being circulated regarding this issue. “This is the most important action that the community can take, which is to let the Governor and key legislators know that the court order must be obeyed immediately. What we’re trying to do is to get the legislature to immediately convince the Governor that he should appropriate the $331 million the court ordered back to homeowners. It will help homeowners who want new mortgages, refinancing, homeowners who are in foreclosure and possibly new homeowners who want to change their credit reports so they can get a home,” Gnaizda said. “If you possibly can, sign the petition or call the Governor’s office, or call your legislator and let your legislator know that you want action now!” The petition, which can be seen at the NAAC website, and is both being sent out to the nonprofit’s contacts and distributed in Island Pacific locations in the state, reads: “On June 12th, the court ordered Governor Brown to return $331 million he illegally took from a homeowner fund. The fund will help millions of homeowners and future homeowners. The NAAC is meeting with all of our legislators to join us in convincing the Governor to obey the court order and help the homeowners. If you want the Governor and your legislator to act on behalf of homeowners, please sign below.” According to both Bautista and Gnaizda, there is no indication yet what action the Governor will take, or how soon the money will be put back in the NMSDF. “There is no indication that the Governor is going to take any specific action now. We know he’s taking a look at it now and we know some legislators are beginning talks with him because the legislative consensus is that the funds should be repaid. But the legislators have not decided whether they will publicly urge the Governor to do so or merely privately,” Gnaizda told the Asian Journal. Bautista believes that the Governor is still a friend of the Filipino American community and other communities in California despite being on opposite poles. “Gov. Brown loves Filipinos. In 1975, Filipinos did a lot of fundraising for him. He’s the only Governor that appointed Filipinos to 40 different positions. He loves Filipinos, he loves people… he’s got the heart. It’s a matter of when he will do it,” Bautista said. Gnaizda delivered his own message for Governor Brown: “The Filipino American community has been his best friend for 20 years and he should now be a friend to the Filipino American community and other homeowner communities.” (With reports from Christina M. Oriel/AJ Press) – See more at: http://asianjournal.com/news/californians-urge-gov-brown-to-repay-331m-in-special-funds/#sthash.x7kS8gJ3.dpuf

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