Saturday, December 29, 2007

What Gives Councilman Lew Fidler the Nerve to talk about Predatory Lending?

posted by bigapplecharm
Sat, 12/29/2007 - 10:43pm
A couple of weeks ago I was at a meeting sponsored by Lew Fidler that had to do with the current sub-prime mortgage mess. He referred to this tragic circumstance as "predatory lending." This really surprised and annoyed me, since I recently spoke with someone who is in a terrible financial situation and made the mistake of borrowing money against a pending lawsuit, which should have netted her a good deal of money to help pay for medical bills due to a severe injury caused by the people she was suing. This person will probably be nursing her injuries for the rest of her life.

Instead of collecting the large sum awarded her, which would have helped pay for the medical care she desperately needs, she wound up owing Lew Fidler's company (a lending institution that loans money at rates often higher than 50% to people in financial trouble), the entire amount of the final settlement.

It seems that Fidler's company seeks out people in financial trouble, who have a lawsuit pending in the courthouse. Then Fidler sends a letter to these people, asking if they need money while they wait for their settlement. Only the poorest of the poor would take this opportunity, since the interest rates are so usurious. My acquaintance claims that she paid interest of over 60%!

Most people who need money would ask a family member, or take out a second mortgage, or use credit cards. Only someone who does not have any other option would borrow at such a thieving rate. This usually means people who are so tight for money that they cannot obtain a credit card, or afford to own a home. So the offer of what looks like easy cash is very tempting, even at such enormous interest rates. Lots of time people who are in dire striats do not look at the end game. In this case that would be winding up with much, much less, if any money at all. The high interest rates certainly do add up, eating up all of the money a person would have gotten, if they had only been able to wait rather than borrow against the future proceeds. This is out and out robbery, in my opinion.

This acquaintance said that she was drawn in because she was told that if she lost her case, she would owe Fidler's company nothing. But first Fidler's company determines the value of the case, before offering the loan. The company claims that technically what it is doing is not loaning money, because if the borrower looses the case, they would not owe anything. But, as I said, first Fidler decides the monetary value of the case before offering the loan. The trouble is, the poverty-stricken person, who is put in the position to borrow money against the proceeds of their case, usually winds up with NO MONEY BECAUSE IT HAS ALL GONE TO FIDLER'S COMPANY IN INTEREST.

So, really. Who is the predator? We have a New York City councilman preying on the poor, taking their money as if it was his own. And not even caring. He is using his position to trade on the misery of others. I wonder if his company has any dealings with the city? Are any of the people that he loans money to in the process of suing the city of New York? Is he getting New York City's money too? Taxpayers money too?

This is all very upsetting. I am wondering if anyone else has heard about this?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fidler Protects Lopez's Ass

Brooklyn Judicial Screening Chairman Speaks
September 27, 2007
Martin Edelman, chair of the Judicial Screening Committee for Kings and Suffolk counties, said today he believes it’s a violation of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s own rules for party leaders to support candidates who either don’t come before the committee for a review or are deemed unqualified.

“Based on my understanding of the rule, the chairman and members of the executive committee should not be endorsing judicial candidates who are not on the list of approved candidates,” Edelman told the DN. “It? unfortunate if the chair or the executive committee would endorse a candidate not on the list. As for other district leaders, in my opinion the rules should be clarified on whether or not is appropriate for an individual district leader to endorses a judicial candidate not approved by the screening committee.”
Edelman noted that this question became an issue this fall in the Civil Court primary that pitted former Civil Court Judge Karen Yellen against former Councilman Noach Dear after the candidate who was screened and recommended by the committee, Charles Finkelstein, dropped out.

Neither Yellen nor Dear asked to be considered by the committee, Edelman said, and thus neither the party nor any of its leaders, according to his interpretation of its rules, should not have endorsed them.

The executive committee did not formally back Dear, but Party Chairman Vito Lopez did, as did a number of other elected leaders including, most surprisingly, Dear’s longtime nemesis, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Lopez is, of course, both a DL and chairman, but Edelmen said he didn’t think a distinction should be made.

Edelman, who is an enrolled Democrat but not a member of the Brooklyn Democratic Party (he has an office in the borough but lives in Manhattan), stressed that he has no control over what the party does and noted its leaders are the final arbiters of how the rules are interpreted.

Noting that it takes approximately six months to complete the screening process, Edelman also said he would support a “clarification” that would require the party to support candidates screened by the committee and not ignore its recommendations. He also insisted that the committee doesn’t have the authority to screen Surrogate Court candidates, and suggested a party rule change would be in order here as well.

Councilman Lew Fidler said he doesn’t believe it’s possible to bar individual members of any organization from supporting any candidate they see fit, calling this “a First Amendment issue.”

“I know that I personally take that position and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Fidler said. “But I think the party rules can only govern the actions of the party, not its members.”
Fidler noted that the changes adopted by the party Monday as recommended by the blue ribbon panel (but not yet formally codified in its rules) call for all candidates for elected judicial office to be screened going forward. The panel’s tenth recommendation also states:

“In order for the screening panel to have any respect, it is essential that the executive committee respects the determination and role of the panel. It would be wholly counter-productive for the executive committee to act in contravention of the penel’s fundings.”


September 27, 2007
5:33 PM
Filder talks reform and always supports the county chooice regardless of what happens in the screening panel.

Can anyone with an IQ over 50 explain what Fidler quote means: "But I think the party rules can only govern the actions of the party, not its members."

Double speak to protect Vito's ASS

I know Fidler and Fidler is machine bought and sold.

Fidler is an expert at getting his name in the paper talking reform. He told several reporters 2 years ago ( after Judge Lopez Torres won the Surrogate seat) that the Blue Ribon committee would clean up the process at that time.

And Edelman was on the screening committee in 2005 that interview Lopez-Torres, Knipel and Johnson for Surrogate Judge. Where is there a statutory law that says a screening panel can or cannot interview a judicial candidate, it is all made up, like everything else Vito and company does

Vito told several reporters during the summer that the Surrogate opening occured 2 late to go before the screening panel.

All Vito and the machine which includes the screening panel have left is there pathetic lying spin.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lew Fidler Laments Impending Loss of Parking Permit

by Aaron Naparstek on August 24, 2007 Streetblog

The Daily Politics' Liz Benjamin captured this little off-the-cuff gem in her interview yesterday with Brooklyn Council member Lew Fidler. Fidler, who called the 17-member congestion pricing commission "a sham," is emerging as one of City Council's most outspoken congestion pricing critics:

"I am not retiring, but I have not decided what I'm going to do," Fidler said. "I'm not running for mayor, comptroller, public advocate of borough president. There are lots of ways to serve in government, and they're not always elected positions...I enjoy being a councilman more than I could tell you. I wish I wasn't term-limited, but I'm not going to run for an office I'm not likely to win, trying to jam a square peg in a round hole, just to keep the parking permit."

Tell it like it is, Lewis!

4 CommentsLast comment by MF
nobodyAnd this guy calls himself an environmentalist? Looks like he could use some time out of the car.

Lose the permit, Lew.
August 24, 2007 at 9:03 am Link # 1 EricMaybe it's time for Lew to put together a resumé and try life in the private sector.
August 24, 2007 at 9:54 am Link # 2 Charles SiegelHe looks like a fairly round peg to me. As one of my High School teachers used to say: "How can someone so round be so square?"
August 24, 2007 at 3:05 pm Link # 3

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hack Attack A disbarred lawyer wins a patronage job with Christine Quinn's council

Hack Attack
A disbarred lawyer wins a patronage job with Christine Quinn's council
Tom Robbins
Tuesday, May 15th 2007
You Can't Escape the Canvasser's Pitch
'Got a minute?' The young bleeding-heart carnivores who hunt you down on your lunch hour
The Coen Brothers Make Another Mockery with Burn After Reading
Remarkably consistent, there's nothing these boys can't hold up to ridicule
No Witness Protection for Mobster Turned Snitch Joe Campy. PS: He's Hiding in Plain Sight.
PPS: He has a web site.
Mickey Rourke is The Wrestler
The onetime Hollywood A-lister climbs back in the ring with Darren Aronofsky's latest
Midway Through the Toronto Film Fest, and Things are Looking Bleak
Oh, Canada
A Hip Young Couple Clears Out Low-Rent Tenants for its Television and Playroom Needs (42)
Generation excess comes to Prospect Heights
The Book of Sarah (Palin) (28)
Strafing the Palin record
The N-Word Is Flourishing Among Generation Hip-Hop Latinos (22)
Why should we care now?
Watching the V.P. Debate with Young, Black, Palin-Proud Republicans (20)
Watching the chronic winker with her outnumbered, seemingly unlikely supporters
Bill Maher Makes an Adolescent Case Against Religion in Religulous; Muslim Comics Play It Safe in Allah Made Me Funny (14)
Oh, God! You devil's advocate
You Can't Escape the Canvasser's Pitch
'Got a minute?' The young bleeding-heart carnivores who hunt you down on your lunch hour
No Witness Protection for Mobster Turned Snitch Joe Campy. PS: He's Hiding in Plain Sight.
PPS: He has a web site.
Baby-Mama Drama and Deadbeat Dads
Cathy Middleton has become black radio's favorite expert on child support
What We Learned about the Election in This Summer's Movies
From the multiplex to the stump: It's caped crusader versus community organizer, and the end is nigh
Should the New 9/11 Museum Tell the Whole Truth?
Victims' families say yes.
Part of the promise that surrounded Christine Quinn's election last year as City Council Speaker was the hope that the former activist would bring the best and brightest into government with her. That optimism endured even after she quickly purged 61 longtime council staffers—including several who were considered standouts. The upbeat explanation was that the new leader was just clearing the decks for her own team, rather than making way for the patronage picks of the political insiders who had endorsed her.
But that fails to explain the resistible rise of one Michael D. Benjamin, a disbarred former attorney whose résumé was quickly and successfully floated to Quinn by a political ally after the mass firing opened up scores of vacancies on her staff.

Benjamin, 55, lost his license to practice law back in 1994 when an appellate court upheld 15 charges against him of professional neglect. His disbarment, however, hasn't noticeably harmed his political career. He has spent 30 years in one decently paying patronage post or another. Much of that good fortune stems from his roots: Benjamin is a veteran officer, and petition-carrying foot soldier, of Brooklyn's Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, the powerful Canarsie-based organization that has spawned a string of the borough's leaders and judges. While the clout held by most old-time political clubs has ebbed, the Jeff Club has endured and remains Brooklyn's single greatest locus of power. That influence stems in part from its ability to reward loyal troops such as Benjamin.

When Quinn sought the speakership, the support of Brooklyn's Democratic Party organ- ization was key to her victory, and one of the Jeff Club's favorite sons, city councilman Lewis Fidler, became a crucial ally after he jettisoned his own hopes of capturing the job.

At the time the new hiring opportunities arose, Benjamin was earning $36,000 a year as an aide to Fidler, handling council legislation. It was one of two political jobs he held simultaneously: The party loyalist also collects $25,000 a year as a part-time assistant to State Senator John Sampson, a South Brooklyn politician who has also received clubhouse support. Benjamin's duties in that job are to attend one or two community events each week as Sampson's representative.

Benjamin's political appointments began right after his 1977 graduation from law school when he went to work as an assistant counsel for another Jeff Club stalwart, former State Assembly speaker Stanley Fink. When Fink passed his assembly seat to his aide, Anthony Genovesi, in 1986, Benjamin remained on staff as a $50,000-a-year lawyer. Benjamin still managed to hang on after Genovesi's death in 1998, lasting on the payroll until 2003 when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver tired of his services. "All his rabbis were dead," explains a Benjamin ally, referring to his political benefactors.

Fidler says he didn't remember whether he had approached Quinn directly, or spoke to her chief of staff about hiring Benjamin for a job on the council's central staff. But the answer was the same. "They said, 'Send the résumé in.' " He did, and his friend Benjamin was soon made a legislative policy analyst at a new salary of $60,000.

"Was it a favor to me? OK, maybe it's a favor to me," Fidler tells the Voice. "But is he qualified? He is well qualified."

Fidler cites Benjamin's role as a director of a civic organization in Bergen Beach, and as vice chairman of a local school-advisory panel. "This is a guy who's active in his community," says Fidler. Still, the councilman acknowledges that he didn't immediately tell Quinn that his aide came with some baggage. The disciplinary panel that won Benjamin's disbarment charged that he had failed to follow through on numerous matters for his clients. In one instance, Benjamin failed to file the required paper-work after an 85-year-old man gave the lawyer a $1,000 retainer to handle his divorce. A woman gave him $1,500 to fight a child-custody case but Benjamin never followed through. He was supposed to help a 12-year-old boy win a personal-injury claim but he never got the papers in on time.

Fidler says that he had read the appellate court decision on Benjamin's disbarment and decided that it "didn't involve any dishonesty. This stuff was all in the 1980s and early '90s. It's 13 years ago. We forgive criminals faster than that."

Fidler says Quinn learned soon enough about the old problem and wasn't put off by it. "I didn't have to tell her," Fidler says. "He did. At the interview he disclosed that he was disbarred, as he should have."

Fidler says he has often urged Benjamin to apply to have his law license reinstated, but that he has failed to do so. "My one criticism is that he's dragged his ass on that. But he did nothing venal and I said I'd write a letter for him when he reapplied."

In his council job, Benjamin helps to study proposed legislation for several council panels, including the Youth Services Committee, which is headed by Fidler. "He doesn't perform any legal work for the council," Fidler says. Actually, the 1994 court order forbids Benjamin from even providing an opinion about the law "or any advice in relation thereto." And documents show that Benjamin has written resolutions for Fidler's committee, as well as memos offering legal interpretations to staff attorney Laura Popa, which would appear to violate the order.

Reached at his council post, Benjamin politely returned the Voice's calls but declined to comment on his status. Sampson, who still employs Benjamin to serve as his occasional representative at community meetings, also ducked questions about his staffer. As for Quinn, spokesman Anthony Hogrebe says that he can't talk about anything in Benjamin's personnel file because "the law forbids it." But he says that before being hired, the candidate had been subjected to a background investigation "including a review of credentials." Staff policy analysts are not required to be lawyers, he adds, "and most of them are not lawyers." He did not respond to questions as to why Quinn had hired a disbarred attorney.