Morning Fizz: "We've Got To Do Something!"
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring foreclosures, consultants, and spying.
1. A group of more than 30 community members from the "Reset Seattle" coalition urged city council members to take action against home foreclosures yesterday with testimony linking the continuing epidemic to "predatory lending" practices. From 2008 to 2012, there have been a total of 16,515 foreclosures in Seattle.
"The city could ask all of the banks and holders of these mortgages to voluntarily reduce those mortgages to the fair market value," SEIU Local 925 President Karen Hart said.
During City Council's Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee meeting, frustrated community members told their dramatic stories, including one woman who documented a never-ending cycle of home foreclosure threats—ending with an emotional plea to the council members: "Where is the fairness? We are frustrated! We've got to do something!"
The council members at the meeting—Nick Licata, Sally Bagshaw, and Bruce Harrell—were sympathetic, but whether they'll actually act on the group's preferred solution (Cornell University Professor Robert Hockett presented a report via video about Seattle foreclosures saying principal reduction is the best solution) went unanswered.
UPDATE: KUOW reports that the Hockett's report uses King, Pierce, and Snohomish County metro area data to report the number of "Seattle" mortgages that are currently underwater, 42,000. Seattle actually has fewer than 17,000.
2. Lest Fizz appear naive, we want to revisit an item we reported at face value on Tuesday: the news that King County Executive Dow Constantine had endorsed Lynne Robinson in her Bellevue City Council race against Vandana Slatter.
Here's what we left out (duh): Robinson has the same political consultant as Constantine, Christian Sinderman. Seattle City Council members Sally Bagshaw and Tom Rasmussen, weirdly, also took a position in the Bellevue race, endorsing Robinson. Not so weird really. Their consultant? Sinderman.
Keep in mind: Sinderman also works for mayoral candidate state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill).
3. The Foreign Intelligence Service Court declassified 1800 pages of documents yesterday that are likely to shed more light on the government's spying program, particularly the illegal overlap of NSA and FISA to snoop on domestic emails and online communications.
The U.S. house judiciary committee is scheduled to meet with FISA and White House officials in a classified briefing. Stay tuned.
For now, judiciary committee member U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, who's emerging as a harsh critic of the administration on the issue, had this to say:
The latest disclosures are further evidence that our existing policies and laws are not adequately protecting the civil liberties of Americans. I am stunned by the explanation that the government made ‘unintentional misrepresentations’ to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2009 because of a lack of technical understanding within the NSA about how these surveillance programs worked.
As I have previously stated, I strongly oppose the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, and I believe we need meaningful reforms to ensure these surveillance programs have vigorous oversight, transparency and accountability. With each new disclosure, it’s painfully clear that the NSA’s motto of ‘just trust us’ is not good enough.
I am eager to hear more from administration officials about the significant problems that have been revealed about these programs so we can move forward with appropriate policy to rein them in.