Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bravo, Sheriff Tom Dart!

By John Bachtell

Chicago - Bravo Sheriff Tom Dart! The Cook County sheriff stood up for justice and morality by announcing he would no longer enforce evictions on behalf of global banks and the mortgage industry. “That’s not part of our job,” he says.

It’s the sheriff’s office and courts that do the dirty work of the finance corporations when they make business decisions to clear out families from an apartment or house from some faraway corporate headquarters so they can put the property on the market again.

These are the same corporations that committed massive fraud and criminality by duping many of the same homeowners into mortgages they knew buyers couldn’t pay. They made off like bandits and ought to go to prison for it.

Recently Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a settlement with Bank of America and Countrywide Financial that would allow tens of thousands of residents to stay in their homes. The suit had been brought on behalf of Illinois and California and 9 other states.

The settlement allows for a cap on mortgage payments at 34% of income and reducing interest rates and adjusting principal so borrowers don’t lose equity under their payment plans. Interest on some of the riskiest loans could be reduced to 22.5% a year.

Dart’s action comes as foreclosures in Chicago hit a record. The October 9 Chicago Tribune reported, “In Cook County, foreclosures are expected to reach a record high of 43,000 this year, compared with 18,916 in 2006. The sheriff's office is on pace to conduct 4,500 foreclosure-related evictions, compared with less than half that number in 2006. About one-third of those are rent-paying individuals.”

One of the problems, as Dart explained it, is one-third of evictions are being carried out against families who are renting in buildings that have been foreclosed on. The families have been paying their rent on time, but never receive notices of the impending eviction. Dart says the global banks don’t care if they are throwing families with children, disabled or senior citizens out on the street.

More elected officials should join Dart and Madigan and stand up to corporate corruption, criminality and greed, including the judges who issue the evictions in the first place. A moratorium on all home foreclosures would be a good start.

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