Archive | December, 2010

Tags: ,

The Most Underreported Stories of the Decade


The last 10 years have seen unprecedented growth of ethnic media in the United States. Media serving the country’s immigrant and minority communities may be the new mainstream of American journalism, but many of the stories they cover still fly under the radar. Editors and publishers of ethnic media weighed in with their picks of what they felt were the most underreported stories of the decade.

Good News

The rise of community leaders, which didn’t happen overnight. For many years, the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) were the major players when it came to community activism. In the last 10 years, however, community leaders have sprung up with little or no ties to either the UFW or MAPA.

Rufino Domínguez became an effective advocate for the region’s growing Oaxacan community. Magdalena Romero became the unofficial spokesperson for mothers who gave birth to babies with defects in Kettleman City. Teresa de Anda led the fight against pesticide drift and cleaner drinking water in rural communities like hers in Earlimart. Pedro Ramírez recently “outed” himself as an undocumented student who is the ASB president at Fresno State University. Leonel Flores has pushed for Mexico to pay back money owed to former braceros. Immigrants in rural communities have united to provide aid in the form of money, medical equipment, fire trucks and such to their communities back home. This story remains underreported because not much attention is paid to the grassroots involvement of these communities, and how they have taken over to fill many community needs.
-Juan Esparza, Executive Editor, Vida en el Valle, Fresno, Calif.

There have been several achievements in the last decade that have been overlooked by the mainstream. At least on a local level, there are many Arab Americans who have achieved powerful positions, without any scandals. For example, Ismael Ahmed, co-founder of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, was named director of the Michigan Department of Human Services a few years ago, and also Azzam Elder is the deputy executive of Wayne County, the largest in the state.
-Osama Siblani, Publisher, The Arab American News, Dearborn, Mich.

In my opinion the most underreported story in our community is the annual Fish Fair and Salmon Relay/Run. This is a 40-mile running course which actually starts by boat from the mouth of the Klamath River where the first salmon is caught and transported upriver for the ceremonial first salmon feast. There has yet to be any in-depth regional coverage of these events.
-Joe Orozco, Station Manager, KIDE FM, Del Norte and Humboldt County, Calif.


Bad News

The most underreported story is the drug problem in our region (Klamath-Trinity) which includes over nine communities and three Native American tribes. There is little in the way of communication among the local drug task force agencies, tribes, and news outlets. Most information is left to word of mouth and what people hear on their police scanners. The Hoopa Tribal Police Department does not have an information officer and sent out two press releases in the last several years, both under five sentences, and only at the request of our department.
-Lorencita Lavine, Managing Editor, Two Rivers Tribune, Hoopa, Calif.

The most underreported story is how Vietnamese businesses are hurting themselves, with price breaking, by not taking advantage of the business resources and education available to them, by not marketing outside the Vietnamese community, because an exclusively Vietnamese market is not going to help them make money in Seattle, Washington.
-Julie Pham, Managing Editor, Người Việt Tây Bắc/Northwest Vietnamese News, Seattle

Nearly 10 percent of Indian immigrants in the U.S. currently live in poverty. The fact that Indians in the U.S. also have the highest average individual and household incomes is because those in the top tiers skew the average and hide the fact that so many Indians live in poverty.
-Richard Springer, Reporter, India West, San Leandro, Calif.

Particularly within the space of the Haitian earthquake, Jan. 12 of this year, few news agencies have followed the effects of the disaster on local families trying to locate, reconnect with, or adopt their relatives.

Another example would be elders and the economy. With so many elders in assisted living spaces, but also charged with caring for grandchildren, few news agencies have examined how already-strapped populations are coping with disappearing resources.
-Shantella Sherman, Managing Editor, The Washington Informer, Washington, D.C.

David Vitter’s attacks on the Hispanic community which he used as a platform for his re-election (as senator from Louisiana).
-Juan Carlos Ramos, Publisher, El Tiempo New Orleans, La.

What Ethnic Media Could Do Better

Health issues are somewhat underreported, particularly the effects of the new health care law early this year.
-Dymphna Calica-La Putt, Editor, The Asian Journal, Las Vegas, Nev.

The environment and the new ways to promote more efficient energy use.
-Maritza Lizeth Felix, Reporter, Prensa Hispana, Phoenix, Ariz.

There should be more coverage on stories about Asian Americans defending their rights.
-Won Taisheng, Editor in Chief, World Journal, New York, N.Y.

The most underreported story in the community has been how budget cuts have affected/will adversely affect black residents.
-Dorothy Rowley, Reporter, The Washington Afro-American, Washington, D.C.

Most of the Arab-American newspapers rely on cutting and pasting information from Arabic sources on the Internet. Therefore they tend to focus on the Middle East. Few do local reporting. It’s often overlooked that Arab Americans live normal lives and face regular issues—navigating school systems, paying the mortgage, finding jobs, getting health care, raising children, getting old—and need information on these issues in their own language, too.
-Antoine Faisal, Publisher, Aramica Newspaper, New York, N.Y.


Posted in Featured, NationComments (0)

Tags: ,

Malloy Taps East Hartford Mayor To Head DMV


EAST HARTFORD — Governor-Elect Dan Malloy selected East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey to lead the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“I got to know Melody when she was in the House of Representatives, and I’ve admired her work as Mayor. She is exactly the type of person we need at the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Malloy said. “She’s smart, innovative, and she’s always made a point to seek out new ways to serve the people she represents more efficiently and effectively.”

Mayor Currey pledged to come up with ways in which the DMV can be more efficient.

“Governor-Elect Malloy has put a premium on reducing waste, duplication, and trimming our spending wherever possible. The DMV is a prime place to find those savings and I look forward to working with the staff there to get our ideas together,” Currey said.

Currey was elected as East Hartford’s mayor in 2005. In that role, she managed a budget in excess of $155 million, while downsizing town government without a loss of services.

She serves as the Vice President of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, the President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, and as the Chairperson of the Capitol Region Council of Governments.

Posted in East Hartford, Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)

Tags:

DPUC Reduces Connecticut Electric Rates


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  State residents should expect lower electric bills by Jan. 1 2011.

That’s because the Department of Public Utility Control Chairman Kevin M. DelGobbo announced yesterday that the DPUC has approved basic electric rates for the Connecticut Light and Power Company and the United Illuminating Company.

DPUC officials said the revised rates should have an impact on nearly all the other rate payers in some way. However, CL & P residential customers should expect close to an 8 percent reduction, and IU customers should expect close to a 2 percent reduction, according to a press release.

However, Connecticut has had some of the highest rates in the nation. State officials said rates have declined consistently since Jan. 2009.

The rate decrease could be attributed to competition in the market. According to DelGobbo, a significant number of residents switched electric suppliers and saw significant savings in their electric bills. The number of residents who switched this year alone went from 18 percent to 36 percent, he said. That is more than 500,000 residential and business customers.

For more information about competitive suppliers in the state, go to www.ctenergyinfo.com.




Posted in BusinessComments (0)

Tags:

The Top Ten Hindi Films of 2010


1. Guzaarish

Even though Hrithik Roshan long ago proved his mettle at playing underdogs with disabilities (Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish), Guzaarish, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s soaring drama, takes Roshan to a new level, literally. Roshan’s quadriplegic former magician Ethan Mascarenhas contemplates mortality while untangling unresolved feelings for his devoted, silenty-suffering, and very married nurse Sofia (Aishwarya Rai). Set in Goa, the movie even goes as far as giving Ethan a Christ-like persona (the hair, flashbacks to a stage trick where Ethan rises and is suspended in midair above a stupefied audience). Bhansali’s fondness for dark interiors that foreshadow gloom, a gimmick that paid off in Black and Khamoshi: The Musical) prove again his mastery over desi Gothic. With a great soundtrack, courtesy of filmmaker Bhansali himself, the immensely successful previous pairings of Roshan opposite Rai (Dhoom 2 and Jodhaa Akbar) was substantiated again to be an extremely appealing proposition.

2. Peepli [Live]

Freshmen filmmakers Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui, with support from producer Aamir Khan, transformed this unpretentious entry into a chronicle of the collision between two emerging Indias—one country forging ahead into the new century without glancing backwards, and the other a sometimes-stumbling agrarian behemoth that threatens to leave behind those who don’t make the income cut. The result is a bawdy black comedy featuring a cast of relative unknowns who gelled together wonderfully. The topic of farmer suicides gets dragged into sharp focus after one family decides to put out one of their own for suicide in order to collect a tidy sum in government assistance for the surviving family members. The race to film the event live by every possible media crew imaginable would be preposterous if it only weren’t so plausible. Bravo to Rizvi and Farooqui for doing so well with their very first film. Speaking of Khan’s current can-do-anything standing in Hindi films and near universal name recognition, be sure to buy tickets for an upcoming event where Khan will walk on water without props.

3. Rakht Charitra

Ramgopal Varma’s congenitally violent re-tracing of real-life events from South Indian regional politics proved to be an incredibly powerful movie. Seldom has this much protracted gore been channeled into one Indian film. Varma’s film, very loosely based on the life of gangster-turned-politican Paritala Ravi (played very well by Vivek Oberoi, with good support from Shatrughan Sinha as the legendary actor/politician N.T. Rama Rao), raised eyebrows in some circles. There were threats of a boycott against theaters screening the film. The first installment was released in October. By press time, the second installment of this two-part work had not been released. No matter, the filmmaker behind such audacious underworld forays as Satya and Sarkar proved again that by focusing on only directing, and leaving the production responsibilities to others, minor celluloid miracles can still happen. Warning: Prepare yourself. Rakht is extremely graphic and highly unsettling.

4. Udaan

In a year of sensational directing debuts, Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan inexplicably failed to ping on the movie-going radar—which is a downright shame. Motwane’s stunning directorial arrival, with this fantastic movie, became India’s official entry to Cannes for 2010. Watching 21-year old newcomer Rajat Bharmecha dissolve under the skin of the agitated 17-year old Rohan with jaw-dropping precision was a remarkable feat. Kicked out of boarding school where he has spent most of his life, Rohan returns home to live with a cold distant father (Ronit Roy aces his role as Daddy Dearest) and a younger step-brother Rohan never knew of. Using the heavily industrial eastern Indian city of Jamshedpur as a hard-driving backdrop also proved an apt metaphor for the mechanical motions that Rohan’s father insists his two boys live by, often by force. Like Francois Truffault’s 1959 opus The 400 Blows, Udaan also silently celebrates the unbreakable bond between childhood friends while creating a tender, lump-in-your-throat reaffirmation of the universal sanctity of childhood.

5. Karthik Calling Karthik

In yet another commendable debut, Vijay Lalwani directing the underrated Farhan Akhtar was a cause célèbre indeed. The best thrillers, especially techie thrillers, convolute the most ubiquitous gadgets or the most mundane phobias into well-etched life or death psychological scenarios. Lalwani offers up Akhtar in the title role as a painfully average Mumbai office worker who, almost on a whim, buys a new phone for his home. The arrival of the new phone soon takes a macabre turn as Karthik starts getting mysterious phone calls from someone sounding just like, well, Karthik himself. Utilizing simple camera work, Lalwani milks maximum suspense from each ominous call Karthik gets. Accessorized by a repetitive motions that make up Karthik’s daily routine—a flashing neon street sign that blinks at what seems like precisely timed intervals, the daily teasing Karthik is subjected to in the office—Lalwani succeeds in drawing the viewer into ever smaller concentric circles that make up Karthik’s relentless claustrophobia. Karthik was a call well worth taking.

6. Raajneeti

Prakash Jha’s movies put to task topical, sometimes political themes. His 2003 entry Apaharan dwelled on institutionalized political kidnappings in Bihar. With Rajneeti, Jha invoked the time-tested outline of the Hindu epic Mahabharata to devise a politically-charged contemporary drama. With an all-star cast featuring Ajay Devgn, Nana Patekar, Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, Rajneeti was not without its detractors. Indian censors initially refused to grant a screening license on grounds that Kaif’s role as a widow resembled the life of current Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi too closely. Undeterred, Jha went ahead with the release after making minor edits. Even though the story is too messy to sort out all at once, the best news is the acting by Devgn and Kaif. Concluding with a drawn out, nihilistic ending that remains true to the story’s source material, Jha’s work took in huge box office hauls just about everywhere it was screened.

7. Aakrosh

Director Priyadarshan intelligently packages a crime thriller plotline that borrows liberally from contemporary headlines about so-called “honor killings.” While the root premise follows the 1988 Hollywood entry Mississippi Burning, Aakrosh translates well into an Indian context, especially by focusing on the specter of lingering feudalism in parts of rural India. Smartly filmed in the former Portugese colony of Diu off of the Gujarat coast, in addition to providing a first rate good-cop/bad-cop playoff between the two male leads (played by Ajay Devgn and Akshaye Khanna), Aakrosh also ropes in one of the vilest villains in recent film memory. Paresh Rawal, as the head village constable Ajatashatru, is an unmitigated bigot with sharp derogatory verbal barbs that perfectly caricature both religious and caste-based prejudices. Like a ready-to-strike snake who sneaks under the lowest of rodent-control fences, he outsmarts almost every trap set for him. Even with a borrowed thematic outline, this re-dressing works as it was meant to.

8. Dabangg

Tongue-in-cheek about every stereotype about policemen in rural India(down to the Ray Ban sunglasses), this Salman Khan vehicle kept punching away. Co-starring newcomer Sonakshi Sinha (the daughter of veteran actor Shatrughan Sinha), Dabangg unleashed a series of shrewdly and sometimes crudely staged cops-and-robbers chases, on foot and sometimes on rooftops, all shouldered by Salman Khan’s latent comical talents. The popular Dabangg soundtrack, offering up tunes by Sajid-Wajid and Lalit Pandit, also exemplified the strong resurgence of Sufi influences in cinematic music. Sinha stands her own ground opposite Salman Khan, with decent help from both Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia. With a nearly $50 million worldwide gross, Dabangg became the second highest Hindi language movie of all time, behind only the 2009 release 3 Idiots. Lest this highly successful formula for box-office alchemy gets lost in the shuffle, Dabangg 2 is already in the works.

9. Jhootha Hi Sahi

After the highly successful Dostana, which will soon have a Dostana 2 progeny, John Abraham has the distinction of being a heartthrob for both straight and gay audiences. Even without a drop-trouser moment, Abraham has the gay-friendly bromance thing down to a science. Though not as overtly gay-centric as Dostana, Jhootha Hi Sahi is an approachable romantic comedy. Abraham plays Siddharth, a spectacled, sweater-wearing bookseller in London, whose uninteresting romantic life gets a freakish turn when his cell phone number inadvertently gets crossed with a suicide hot line number. Siddharth’s friends form a free-spirited band of Gen-X hatchlings that includes characters from India, Pakistan, and even Japan. Refreshingly, the script does not shy away from tossing in all-male couplings from the romantic goings on. With the casting of Pakhi as the female lead, director Abbas Tyrewalla’s film became the rare big budget Hindi movie where the female lead is also the story writer. Zooming in on London in a playful party mood and one or two catchy tunes from an A.R. Rahman score, Jhootha Hi Sahi may serve well at your next party event.

10. Aisha

Appreciable retakes of classics are always a welcome sight. Co-produced by veteran actor Anil Kapoor, Rajshree Ojha’s Aisha has daughter Sonam Kapoor in the title role of a story that re-traces Jane Austen’s Emma. Under the watchful gaze of her well-meaning neighbor (Abhay Deol), and undeterred by her dismally low success rate, 20-something New Delhi spinster Aisha (Sonam Kapoor) embodies a ditzy New Delhi matchmaking socialite who is so busy matching everyone else up and parading around in expensive threads that she utterly misses overtures from her own would-be paramour—and she would not be the first single gal to search high and low while overlooking the handsome stranger right under her nose.

Happy Movie-Going in 2011!

(Editor’s Note: Two movies releasing in December could have made it to the above list: Lagaan Director Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se, a movie based on the Chittagong uprising of 1930, and Farah Khan’s action comedy Tees Mar Khan.)

Posted in A & E, FeaturedComments (0)

Tags:

Employment Scams: When Jobs Are Too Good To Be True


Editor’s Note: With young people desperate for jobs, many have fallen victim to job scams – seemingly great employment opportunities that turn out to be hustles. De-Bug writers share experiences of getting jobs that were, in fact, too good to be true.

Just Build Your Pyramid

When I was working in a movie theater, a man approached me and said, “Hey! I’m 25 and retired. How would you like to follow in my footsteps?” Automatically, I said yes without thinking what the “job” may be. I got his contact information and met with him two days after at an “entrepreneurs house party.” I was told that I could make the kind of money that someone only dreams of, as long as I worked hard enough. Later, I found out that it was a pyramid scheme when they brought out the product — energy drinks, jewelry, and chocolate. I was told that I needed a starter kit that was worth $500 so that I can start giving out hooks (samples). All I was hearing was, “You have to spend this much for this, and this, and this.” At that point, I just started noticing that all they were talking about was how much money I would have to spend, not how much money I was going to make. They had samples there as well: small cut-up pieces of chocolate and shot-sized samples of the energy drinks. I started drinking as many as I could while eating handfuls of chocolate. The guy hosting the party caught me and said that I’d have to save some for the rest of the people. I told him “Hey, there is hella money being made here. What’s a few samples right?” His reply was “It’s coming out of my pocket.” The guy who invited me to the party told me, “It might not work out if I wasn’t ready to follow.” At that point, I didn’t know what that meant, but that’s one trend I’m glad I didn’t follow.
– Octavio Martinez

Secret Shopper and Big Checks

Although I was only 19 at the time, I still should have known better. I fell into “Secret/Mystery Shopper job” scam. Here’s how it worked on me. I saw an advertisement posted on Craigslist, claiming that if I worked for them, I would be paid up to $600 to walk into stores and evaluate customer service. Although there are such jobs that are legitimate, the one I signed up for was not. All it asked for was my name, birthdate, email, and the city I currently resided in. Shortly after sending the information, I received an email with instructions to visit a local restaurant. I would then have to reply with a review when I had finished. A few days later I received a check for $3,450, which just happened to be the exact amount of money the four guys I lived with paid for the house we were renting. What was even more strange was the fact that it came in the mail to my job, even though I never disclosed my work address. I was told to deposit the check and wire $2,850 to a bank account and keep $600 for myself. A light turned on in my brain, and I immediately shredded the check. As I said before, I should have known better.
– David Schmenk

Take This Survey
This particular scam I was lured into tries to lure people into it by claiming to be the easiest paycheck you could ever get. While there isn’t much effort in clicking a mouse, there is a lot of effort to sign up. The site asks you for all sorts of personal information, like your full name, address (which it will check to see if it is real), phone number, everything. Even when you get to filling out surveys, you hardly get any money for it. You end up spending hours filling out a hundred surveys just to make a few bucks. On top of that, your information gets sold by the website and you get junk mail both online and at home. That is initially why this “job” existed and how those sites really made their money. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
– Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Money In The Bank
One day I applied for a house sitter position in the classified section of the website. The position detailed simple day-to-day tasks like keeping the house clean and recommended stay-in living to make sure the house doesn’t get robbed. I applied to the advertisement with no hesitation. A day later, I received an email from the head of the household telling me about my compensation and the funds for keeping the fridge and cleaning products fully stocked. He mentioned in the email about instructions to follow when I received the check and to keep $1,500 for myself as my pay. I was told to deposit the check in my bank account. That was a challenge for me because I didn’t have a bank account at the time, and emailed him my problem.

Two days later he replied saying that it did not matter and to cash the check at any locations that were willing to cash it for me. The next day I received the check for $4,400 and given a list of items to retrieve from the money after it was cashed and also to put aside $1,500 for my pay.

After the check was in my hand, I had to think about it for a moment and wonder, “What if this is a scam?” After that, I received a second email in the same day asking if I already cashed the check and if not to cash it immediately.

I then realized that I’d been “got.” I was trying to get a job, and almost got scammed.
– Alex Gutierrez


Octavio Martinez, David Schmenk, Juan Carlos Gonzalez and Alex Gutierrez are writers for Silicon Valley De-Bug.

Posted in Business, Featured, YouthComments (1)

Tags: ,

Foreclosure Crisis Compels Increased HUD Funding


By Khalil Abdullah, NAM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama did not mention America’s foreclosure crisis during his year-end press conference. But the next day, Dec. 23, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan held his own teleconference to announce the award of close to $73 million in counseling grants.

The grants are supposed to fund counseling services to assist first-time homebuyers. But Donovan stressed they are also to help homeowners facing foreclosure. He said that homeowners who receive counseling are “twice as likely to receive [loan] modification and stay out of default” than those who do not.

The numbers are grim. RealtyTrac, which tabulates foreclosures, reported that banks have taken possession of 980,000 properties thus far in 2010. Nevada is still the country’s state leader in foreclosures, followed by Utah, California, Arizona and Florida, according to RealtyTrac data. Vacant and foreclosed homes mean a decline in real estate tax revenues which is often accompanied by a decline in a jurisdiction’s capacity to offer services, thus prompting other owners to leave as well.

The crisis has led to calls for a moratorium on foreclosures, a plea that the Obama administration has thus far ignored. But the foreclosure rate has gone down in recent months, partly due to self-imposed temporary freezes because some lenders have launched their own internal investigations into allegations of “robo-signing” of loan documents. “Robo-signing” refers to the practice of an institution’s officers merely affixing their signatures to loan documents as opposed to the legal requirement to familiarize themselves with their contents, a near statistical impossibility given the volume of foreclosure paperwork that has flooded mortgage loan offices.

While moratoriums may provide a temporary reprieve for some homeowners, too many may yet fall victim to fraud by people or organizations representing themselves as mortgage counselors or foreclosure experts. The HUD grants enable legitimate counseling services to offer free expertise as contrasted, for example, with so-called “experts” who often charge an upfront fee and then disappear, or who convince distraught homeowners to sign documents that may result in the legal loss of their homes.

“HUD-certified counseling is one angle, one way, one method of providing some assistance to the public,” said Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Oakland, Calif.-based Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) which offers legal and technical assistance services, including counseling, to individuals and organizations throughout California. “The public has been treated so badly by mortgage services they’re like prey by the watering hole for services who have promised them the moon,” Brown said.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable. The $73 million package carves out $9.5 million targeted for use by counselors to educate seniors about whether they can qualify for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, more commonly known as reverse mortgages. HECMs enable the elderly to draw an income from equity in their homes.

“In addition,” Sec. Donovan’s release stated, “HUD is awarding more than $5 million to three national organizations to train approximately 4,500 counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.” Grant winners were selected on a competitive basis and the funds are to be funneled to HUD-certified agencies and non-profit organizations in all 50 states. Donovan explained that President Obama had fought for and obtained a 22 percent increase, or an additional $13 million, over the previous funding level in the annually awarded funds as part of the fiscal year 2010’s budget package. Fiscal year 2010 began in October 2009 and concluded in September 2010.

But some worry it’s too little, too late. An officer with one of HUD’s new grant recipients, who personally has more than two decades of mortgage counseling experience, was cautious. Preferring to speak anonymously, she said the need for foreclosure counseling is and has been pandemic for years. “HUD has never embraced counseling” as a primary tool to deter foreclosures, she said, and given the scale of the current crisis, the funds amount to no more than a “drop in the bucket.”

One challenge in meeting the counseling need, she explained, is that a large grant recipient, after deducting its administrative costs, may be disbursing funds to as many as 50 smaller entities that in turn have to stretch those smaller sums over a typically small annual budget. Donovan acknowledged the dispersal process in his statement.

But another important component, she said, is evaluating how counseling assistance is rendered. “Some agencies simply focus on the submission of documents, helping an applicant with filling out paperwork. Others will actually play an advocacy role as well, which is more time consuming and therefore more expensive.”

“One of the ways to strengthen the counseling process is for the major lenders to become more involved with the non-profits, including supporting some of those costs,” she said. “Wells Fargo and Chase are doing that,” she said, but to her knowledge, she said Bank of America and Citibank, two leading mortgage lenders, are not.

“We’re not in a normal [housing market] environment,” said HERA’s Brown, but “if the [U.S.] Treasury [Department] would actually enforce the existing Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), many homeowners would benefit.” HAMP provides eligible homeowners the opportunity to modify their mortgages. She said an impediment to solving the foreclosure crisis is that “some of the biggest companies in the United States, if not the world, appear to be resistant to implementing the HAMP.”

But even if HUD’s training initiative successfully yields a 4,500-member cadre of new counselors, they will be thrown into the breach of daunting foreclosure rates. The pace of foreclosures will likely accelerate in 2011 should the robo-signing crisis be resolved in a way that allows lenders to expedite the foreclosure process.

Nevertheless, “You can’t measure success of counseling just by the number of loan modifications. If the only thing counseling can provide is a reality check to homeowners who may have unrealistic expectations about their options, that’s useful,” said Brown.

Posted in Business, Featured, NationComments (1)

Q&A: What the 2010 Census Results Mean for the States


EDITOR’S NOTE: The first results of the 2010 census were released last week, setting off a new round of political sniping, as Republicans gloated about potential gains in the number of congressional seats in the South and West. Earl Ofari Hutchinson spoke with Arnold Jackson (shown above), the census’s associate director.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Who gained and who lost in numbers in the 2010 census?

Arnold Jackson: There were 12 congressional seats reassigned. I prefer not to use the terms “winners” and “losers’ because this is a mandated, democratic process. Those states that will have more congressional seats are Texas, Florida, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. States that lost seats are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and New York. There are 10 states that will have fewer seats and eight states that will have more.

EOH: Why are we doing the census every 10 years—what is the point?

AJ: The Census is constitutionally mandated every 10 years and has been done since 1870. We are required to conduct a Census of the resident population and then to use the information [to apportion seats in] the House of Representatives. We [count] the resident population and add in overseas military and civilian [personnel], excluding the District of Columbia. That resident population becomes the apportionment population.

EOH: It appears that the Hispanic population has driven up the numbers across the Sunbelt states. Are you surprised at that and what are the long-range implications?

AJ: I am not surprised, because we not only conduct the 2010 census, we also do a number of very prominent surveys, and they have been telling us about [the growth in the Latino population] over the past 10 years. We do demographic analysis and take a look at immigration, based on a snapshot estimate of the national population. This is the framework of the full Census count that was done in 2010. We saw [that] a large part of the change [in Latino population is] attributable to immigration. … A large portion of the growth was in the South and West. There was much less growth in the Midwest and Northeast. Baby boomers moving [to the Sunbelt] also contributed to the change in demographics.

EOH: Because much of the growth has been in the Sunbelt states, has illegal immigration had an impact on that growth?

AJ: All residents are counted, which includes [anyone who has] a usual place of residence in the United States as of April 1, 2010. It is not the Census Bureau’s domain to determine who fits the definition as to illegal versus legal residence. That is not something that we really have much to do with.

EOH: Is there some distortion in the Census count because of the recession?

AJ: The nation’s population is a moving target, and [claims] of distortion can be made whenever you take the Census. Our economy goes up and down. Yes, we were coming out of a recession; however I would refer interested parties to go to American Fact Finder and look at the American Community Surveys data. That information has been pooled from 2009, so that you can begin to analyze average numbers [over] a period in time and get some [sense as to] whether the recession really affected [population shifts].

I’m not sure the fact that we were coming out of a recession [had much of an effect on the 2010 count]. I will tell you that because of the recession, we were able to get a great number of fine people to help us, which led to a great Census.

Posted in FeaturedComments (0)

Tags: ,

Malloy: Banking Commish Stays On


HARTFORD — Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has reappointed Department of Banking Commissioner Howard Pitkin, who has been overseeing the national banking crisis’ impact in the state during the recession.

Pitkin began his career at the department of banking about 30 years ago and has been commissioner in the last five years.

“The Connecticut Department of Banking will play a large part in our state’s economic recovery and I’m pleased he will continue in this role,” Malloy said in a release yesterday.

Pitkin said he is glad to continue his service in Malloy’s administration.

“I appreciate Governor-Elect Malloy’s confidence in me, and I’m looking forward to continuing on in my current role under his leadership,” Pitkin said. “Connecticut consumers need to have confidence in their banking institutions as we begin to reemerge from the recession and move toward recovery.”

Prior to his appointment as commissioner, Pitkin was Chief of Administration at the Department of Banking, which included overseeing the agency’s technological initiatives, and restructuring the bank examination and credit union divisions into the financial institutions division.

As Banking Commissioner, Pitkin has jurisdiction over Connecticut’s laws pertaining to commercial banks, savings banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, consumer credit, broker-dealers, investment advisers, securities, tender offers and business opportunities.

He oversees the supervision of 40 state-chartered banks and thrifts and 34 state-chartered credit unions and heads a department with about 118 employees. In his capacity as Banking Commissioner, Pitkin serves as an ex officio member of the Board of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

Posted in Hartford, Nation, NeighborhoodComments (0)

Tags:

Police Arrest Virginia Man For Stolen Pistol


HARTFORD — An-out-of-state visitor to the city got himself a Christmas gift: a 9 mm gun.

But it didn’t belong to him.

On Friday, Dec. 25, at about 11:05 p.m., Hartford Police Officer Kevin Brodie responded to a report of a firearm stolen from a vehicle.  The firearm was described as a 9mm Ruger P95PR.. police said.

Police then arrested Lee Wilson, 38, of 2619 Pocaty Road, Chesapeake, Virginia on Chrismas Day and charged hime with theft of a firearm, criminal possession of a firearm, and  having a pistol without a permit.

The stolen firearm was also recovered from Wilson(pictured below). He was visiting in Connecticut and was apparently staying at at 22 Catherine St.

Posted in Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)

Tags:

Rell: State Emergency Center Stays Open


HARTFORD —  Gov. M. Jodi Rell has directed the state’s Emergency Operations Center in the Capitol city to remain open today to address ongoing storm response needs of cities and towns.

“We continue to implore the public to not venture out on the roads unless it is absolutely necessary,” Rell said.  “The high winds continue to blow snow onto freshly plowed roads, making the clean up a lengthy process. We also want to enable state utilities crews to be able to respond as quickly as possible to the thousands of residents across the state who are without power.”

More than 21,000 Connecticut Light and Power customers and more than 2,200 United Illuminating Company customers are reported to be out of power this morning, according to state officials.

Weather advisories forecast a band of accumulating snowfall to move east of Connecticut by noon today.  Total snowfall ranges from 6 to 8 inches in Eastern Connecticut and up to 15 inches in southwestern Connecticut.

State officials said the blowing and drifting snow, combined with 45 mile-an-hour wind gusts are a highly dangerous combination.

Rell is urging residents to stay at home today so that the clean up process continue.

Residents in Avon woke up to find about six inches of snow at thier doorstep. Photo courtesy of Avon Resident.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation continues to be fully staffed, with 632 State trucks and 214 contractors clearing the roadways, Rell said.

For more information on the storm, including current weather updates and state situational reports, visit the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) website at www.ct.gov/demhs .

Posted in Business, Featured, Hartford, NeighborhoodComments (0)

Advertise Here