Saturday, May 29, 2004

Alderman tricked by her gang lover

This is a member of the Chicago City Council who claims she didn't know her loverboy was a major league gang-banger. Do you believe that? I don't.

Embattled Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) has told associates she was searching for a long-term romance and thought a fugitive gang kingpin she believed was a legitimate businessman "might be the one" -- and now she feels "like she's been tricked." The associate described Troutman as "scared to death, a nervous wreck" after being questioned about her love affair with Donnell "Scandalous" Jehan by federal investigators probing the Black Disciples street gang. ...Two weeks ago, the feds wrapped up a six-year investigation of the Black Disciples with the arrest of 32 men. They were accused of presiding over a criminal empire that peddled up to $300,000 a day in cocaine and heroin and laundered the profits through legitimate investments, including real estate, construction and a recording studio. The FBI has identified Jehan, who is now on the lam, as the No. 3 man in the Black Disciples. Also known as "Big Scan," he's accused of controlling drug sales in a turf that stretched from the Dan Ryan Expy. to Cottage Grove and from 61st to 71st

This is the same alderman who gets free police protection outside her home, and who says, "Damn right...I deserve it!" I posted on that a few weeks ago as an example of the arrogance of government officials. Now Troutman has rung up another mention by being literally in bed with organized crime, and being so brazen as to claim she didn't know who she was sleeping with. In Chicago, I assure you she can get away with this. This will not hurt her standing with her constituents at all.

AB 2598 Assembly Bill - Status
Steinberg's bill banning non-judicial foreclosure, referred to in the previous post, has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment. > News > State -- Assembly votes to ban nonjudicial foreclosures in associations
Here's a good explanation of the Steinberg bill by Jim Wasserman of the Associated Press.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Supreme Court Justice's in-Laws Told to Remove Flag; 'I'm Not About to,' He Says - from
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Every morning since 9/11, Donald Lamp has hung his American flag from his apartment balcony. Managers of his retirement community want it gone, citing policy on building appearances. The case makes Lamp one of many Americans who, because of housing covenants, are discouraged from flying their flags this Memorial Day weekend. But Lamp is different from the rest. He is the father-in-law of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Oops. Now maybe we'll get some action from the United States Supreme Court on deprivation of basic constitutional liberties by homeowner associations...
SB 1682 Senate Bill - History
SB 1682, that passed the California Senate on May 18, is now in the Assembly committees on Judiciary and on Housing and Community Development. This bill bans nonjudicial foreclosure for assessment amounts under $2500.

So: Ducheny's bill (SB 1682) has passed the Senate and is in committee in the Assembly. And Steinberg's bill (AB 2598, see post immediately below) has passed the Assembly and is in the Senate, but has not been assigned out to committee yet.

Things must be getting rather hot in Sacramento right now...
AB 2598 Assembly Bill - Status
Steinberg's bill just passed the California Assembly and is now headed to the Senate. This is the one that would ban nonjudicial foreclosure for collection of unpaid assessments.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Chicago Tribune | Mold tied to trouble breathing, little else
Mold can contribute to respiratory problems--especially in people with asthma--but there is no evidence that a host of other maladies is spawned by the fungi that thrive in damp, dank quarters, a long-awaited report concluded Tuesday. The 281-page study by the National Academies of Science is the most definitive look to date at the national controversy over mold, which has prompted hundreds of lawsuits, millions of dollars in cleanup costs and claims that the fungi breed a variety of illnesses. The scientific review found no proof that mold causes memory loss, fatigue, seizures, inhalation fevers, skin outbreaks or other conditions that many people say they've experienced as some experts have hyped the fungi as a modern-day plague. "The consequences of being exposed to toxic mold have largely been overstated," said Dr. Karin Pacheco, assistant professor of occupational and allergic disease at National Jewish Medical Research Center in Denver. The National Academies' report did, however, confirm well-documented and generally accepted claims: that symptoms for people with asthma can be exacerbated and that healthy people can develop coughs, wheezing and upper respiratory symptoms because of mold. It also shined a spotlight on a wide range of health hazards associated with dampness in buildings, and recommended the need for prompt action when water or moisture is discovered.

That sound of breaking glass you hear is plaintiffs' attorneys jumping out of windows all over the nation. > News > State -- Judge ousts two flocks of peafowl from Palos Verdes Estates
A Los Angeles judge said Palos Verdes Estates is illegally "keeping" peafowl by maintaining flocks of the free-roaming birds in two neighborhoods. Superior Court Judge Jane L. Johnson said in a six-page tentative decision made public Monday that the citywide homes association didn't give the city valid permission to keep the peacocks and peahens deemed a nuisance by many homeowners. The association wields unusual influence in the wealthy community, including powers over the color of homes. The board passed a resolution after the initial trial a year ago that gave the city written permission to "keep" the birds. In the original trial, Johnson held that proper permission had not been granted. But the resolution didn't constitute valid permission either, the judge said, because the association's own rules require that such decisions be made uniformly. In other words, the judge ruled, association members must be treated equally and one association member (the city) cannot be granted a right no other is accorded.

Must be nice for an HOA to have its own city.
AB 2598 Assembly Bill - Bill Analysis
Here's an explanation of the bill, and I note that it seems to have passed the Judiciary Committee:

SUMMARY : Seeks to give homeowners more reasonable protections
in their dealings with their homeowners' associations, leading
to a more balanced "playing field." Specifically, among other
things, this bill :

1)Prohibits the use of the non-judicial foreclosure process by
homeowner associations in collecting overdue assessments when
the underlying debt is for the failure to pay association
assessments or dues.

2)Permits any member of a homeowner association to file a civil
action against the association should the member be denied
access to needed association records, including accounting
documents and membership lists, for inspection and copying;
provides for an award of attorney's fees to the resident if
she or he prevails in a civil action brought against a home
owners' association for a breach of this provision; authorizes
the court to impose a civil penalty of up to $500 per
violation of this provision; and clarifies that associations
may, consistent with existing law, redact information relating
to identity theft or attorney-client privilege.

3)Makes a technical correction to legislation enacted last year
(AB 1525, Longville) to comport with the Legislature's intent
in that law to protect a homeowner's right to express views
from their homes by using traditional methods of communication
such as window signs and lawn signs.

AB 2598 Assembly Bill - AMENDED
The bill still includes a ban on HOA nonjudicial foreclosure. The language that would have made association contracts available for copying by members has been deleted. The language limiting regular and special assessments increases to the annual CPI is gone.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Tom Miller strikes again: 20 Los Angeles Homeowners Recover $1.32 Million for Hearing Their Neighbors Snore
Construction defect attorneys Tom Miller and Brian
Kabateck have just landed a settlement mid-trial based on lack of soundproofing . This is a press release, so adjust your filters accordingly:

LOS ANGELES, May 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Downtown Los Angeles loft owners recovered $1.32 million for the luxury of hearing their neighbors at all hours of the day and night. When homeowners at the Toy Warehouse lofts moved into their new homes in 2001, they began to hear their neighbors cooking dinner, talking, watching TV, snoring in their sleep and even using the bathroom. When they looked into the problem, they found that the builder never followed the building plans and omitted soundproofing between the walls and the floors. The owners were left with no option but to a claim with the builder on January 1, 2003. The case went all the way to trial. Two weeks into trial, just at the Plaintiffs rested, the case was settled for $1.32 million. The developer offered a mere $125,000 before trial to settle the case. This case was fully resolved in less than 16 months. According the owners' attorney, Thomas E. Miller of The Miller Law Firm, "It is not uncommon in this kind of dense living for people to hear their neighbors in certain situations. But, this was just another blatant example of how builders cut corners and the consumer pays for the these mistakes."...

The release says the "lead trial counsel" was Brian Kabateck, of Kabateck & Garris. Kabateck had this to say:
"In order to keep developers and their insurance companies honest and to continue to pay for consumer claims for shoddy construction, it becomes necessary to try these cases. Trial by jury is the ultimate protection for the home buying public and the fact that this case was resolved in less than 16 months is a boost for California consumers."

Monday, May 24, 2004 - Former HUD chief, politicians form coalition to oppose federal housing policy

NEW YORK (AP) _ A group of Democratic politicians, anti-poverty advocates and nonprofit organizations announced on Monday the formation of a coalition to fight changes in federal housing policy and threatened to sue unless the changes are reversed. The new Coalition to Save America's Affordable Housing charged that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development interpreted provisions in a congressional appropriations bill in a way that enabled it to limit reimbursements to state agencies for the Section 8 voucher program, which helps poor people pay their rent. The coalition, headed by former New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, said the Bush administration, not Congress, mandated the changes...On April 22, HUD announced it would reimburse housing authorities for vouchers based on Aug. 1, 2003, costs plus an annual inflation adjustment that would cover 2004. Critics complained that the department's reading of the budget was incorrect and that the government should continue to update voucher costs every three months to more accurately reflect cost-of-living increases.

Oh, the horror. This is worse than Abu Ghraib.

Andrew Cuomo was Clinton's HUD Secretary after Henry Cisneros went out in a scandal. After Bush was elected, Cuomo ran an unsuccessful candidacy for NY governor in 2002. He withdrew from the race for the Democratic nomination after the Clintons and other heavyweights decided to back Carl McCall (who was kicked brutally to the curb by George Pataki--McCall ended up with only 33% of the general election vote ).

As long as we are strolling down Memory Lane, Henry Cisneros, you may recall, lied to the FBI about payments he made to a mistress. Cisneros copped to one misdemeanor count in 1999, and Clinton pardoned him just before leaving office.

Section 8 was central to the Clinton Administration's "deconcentration" policies aimed at knocking down the big housing projects and scattering the families around the metro area. The vouchers let the former public housing tenants rent from private landlords.
Pasco: Pasco neighbors seeing yellow over dogs
This story not only shows the nuttiness of some HOAs but gives a historical lesson on pooper-scoopers and related doggy-doo trivia.
Vivian Bogul always picks up after her female dogs, a beagle mix and a Labrador mix that accompany her on morning walks through Autumn Oaks, a deed-restricted subdivision off County Line Road. It's the urine that's the problem."If you don't water it and dilute it, it kills the grass," said Ron Ruppe, a retired New York police officer who lives down the street. "If that happens, you're in violation of the deed restrictions because your grass is dead." The problem gets worse when other dogs sniff out the spot and decide to mark it, too, he said. That's why some neighbors are questioning whether public pet urination violates the deed restrictions in Autumn Oaks. Neighbor Tom Contino cites this passage in the community's covenants: "No noxious or offensive activity or nuisance shall be carried (out) on, in or about any lot, unit or common area." The homeowners association's attorney is reviewing the matter, and the board of directors could decide at its June 2 meeting whether that passage applies to Mrs. Bogul's dogs.

Things kind of go downhill from there...