Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Does Feddler Support Sub Prime Frank Seddio

Home to Roost
As other politicians respond to sub-prime crisis, Lew Fidler explains why he saw it first

Elie Mystal
January 14th, 2008

Lewis Fidler (D-Brooklyn), the Council member who is also the general counsel for 1-800-LAW CASH, sees two reasons to keep the Council officially part-time.

The first is practicality.

“The idea that people are going to come into a term-limited office, give up their vocation for eight years, give it their all, still pay college tuition and all that stuff, and then go back to the farm? It is just not realistic,” he said.

But just as important, Fidler says, is avoiding isolation in what he calls the ivory tower of the government world to better serve constituents. Fidler credits his private legal practice in Brooklyn as the reason he predicted the collapse in the sub-prime lending market two years ago, long before market analysts and government officials from Wall Street to Washington caught on to the problem themselves.

Fidler estimates that 85 percent of the real estate closings he participated in before he got to the City Council involved some type of sub-prime or balloon rate loan.
“We were encouraging people to do it,” he said.

Later, Fidler represented some of those same clients at foreclosure proceedings.

“I saw the beginning, I saw the process, I saw the end, and I think I saw reality setting in,” he said.

In 2005, Fidler joined with Council Member Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) in an attempt to get publicity for what he was already calling a looming crisis, but they could not obtain government funding to help affected homeowners.

As the foreclosure crisis deepened—especially in his home turf of Canarsie, which Fidler called “ground zero” for the mortgage foreclosure crisis—he started passing out fliers to other Council members with a block of text explaining the problem and his head superimposed on a movie poster from the Disney film Chicken Little. That caught his colleagues’ attention.

Fidler was able to secure $1 million for the Mortgage Foreclosure Emergency Prevention Program, which matches at-risk homeowners with legal and financial counseling services. That program and others were precursors to the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, the $5.3-million program recently announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Unaffil.), Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Fidler. The center is geared toward enhancing the city’s financial educational and counseling services.

Many proposed remedies, such as stiffer penalties for predatory lenders or an adjustable rate freeze, are beyond the purview of city government. But Fidler is not content to simply wait for a market correction.

“I’m a Democrat, I believe this is a government problem,” he said.

Fidler hopes that the national politicians now paying attention to the sub-prime market remember that local communities have been suffering from the foreclosure crisis for years.

And he also would not mind if his colleagues in government remembered his long-standing advocacy on the issue.

“It is funny to watch when Rev. [Jesse] Jackson comes to New York. I see my colleagues crowding around him as he gives the same speech I gave two years ago,” Fidler said. “It’s like they all found religion.”

Fidler will be term limited out of his Council seat in 2009. But though he is interested in continuing in politics, he says he has made no decisions about what he might run for next. “I’m not running for anything in particular, and I am not retiring,” he said.

But even if he had already been in higher office, Fidler pointed out, he would not necessarily have been able to do more to stop sub-prime lending and avert the current crisis. Just trying to convince his fellow Council members was trouble enough, he said.

“I don’t think I would have been able to get that accomplished,” Fidler said. “If I had to sell 150 colleagues in Albany, or 435 colleagues in Washington on passing legislation to end sub-prime lending, I think they would have taken me out to the loony bin.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Councilman Lewis Fidler's Crude Response Adds to his Disingenuousness: Unanswered Questions, Unsatisfying Jusitifications

After doing a bit of research on Mr. Fidler’s relationship with the lending company that he claims only to represent in the same way he represents other clients, it is a curious fact that the Councilman’s “law office” has been in the same building, and same suite as the lending company, for a period of time that for all intents and purposes, mirrors his time on the City Council. The shared offices are at 26 Court Street, suite 1104. In light of Mr. Fidler's claim, this distubing fact would lead one to believe that this connection is quite different from other attorney-client associations, contrary to what Mr. Fidler states in his response.

It is also curious that Lew Fidler says that his company has had no relationship with the City. This does not seem factual, since the woman who complained about the extraordinary interest rates (she said approximately 50% per year), stated that she had gotten injured on City property (no further details to protect her identity). And as she seemingly had no apparent reason to lie, I take her at her word. According to her, Mr. Fidler’s company loaned the money against a suit she had with the City.

Mr. Fidler, as the attorney for this lending company, would be responsible for collection of the money owed it, were a borrower to default on the loan/lien. This would amount to the borrowed principal, plus the extraordinary interest fees. Collections attorneys are notorious for sending letters that threaten some sort of action if the loan/lien is not paid in a timely fashion. Of course Mr. Fidler must advocate on the part of his company/client, or else he would be useless to them. And when, in his attorney capacity, he sues debtors who have collected money from the City, the company would then be receiving City money, contributed to the coffers by the taxpayers.

So exactly what is Mr. Fidler’s value to this company? It would seem to be much more than he has indicated. Dare I wonder what political benefit the Councilman might bring to the table? According to research, Mr. Fidler was an immigration attorney with a meager practice before being elected to the city council. With no banking background, his association with this company is indeed curious.

It also seems that the Councilman’s company probably does profit from City tax dollars. If the company loans money/takes a lien against future earnings from a lawsuit against the City, then City tax dollars must eventually flow into the company's accounts.

When Mr. Fidler claims that his company “levels the playing field” for the poor, he sounds disingenuous. First of all, the interest rates are too high to help anyone, and as I first posted, no one who owns a home, and who could therefore borrow against it at a 6% rate would opt to borrow from a company who makes loans, or takes liens against potential future proceeds, at a 50% per annum rate. The people who borrow from Mr. Fidler’s company/client, do not own homes, nor have access to credit cards, or a relative who can be of help.

Mr. Fidler’s claim that his company helps borrowers keep their homes is difficult to believe. And if there is a rare borrower who does own a home, and if that borrower should default on the lien taken by Mr. Fidler’s company against future proceeds of the injured party’s lawsuit, does Mr. Fidler turn the other cheek, and say, “Oh, well, we’ll let this one go. If we insist upon suing for enforcement of the lien, the poor fellow might lose his home. After all, I am a public official, and the dire circumstances of some poverty-stricken individual should not be used to feather my personal nest.”? I doubt it.

It is obvious, that when a borrower defaults, it is the attorney’s job to collect, or sue. That is what Mr. Fidler does for his company/client, hardly a job for someone who claims to advocate for the poor. Rather than advocating for those in dire need, Mr. Fidler's function seems emblematic of corporate America oppressing the indigent. This is unconscionable for a public official.

It is unseemly for a public official to be “feeding at the public trough” so to speak, especially one who owns an “infinitesimal” percentage of a bank. No doubt, this bank probably is affiliated with Mr. Fidler’s lending company/client? And what does 0.01 percent of an unknown dollar amount mean? Is it several hundred, several thousand, several hundred thousand dollars? What is the relationship between this bank ownership and Councilman Fidler's client? Is there ownership involved here, or is there not?

As an aside, I would urge Mr. Fidler to contain his nasty language. Although I am but a retired school teacher, I am an adult voter, and active community participant for the past many years. I am above all, a human being and constituent who deserves to be addressed civilly by anyone, let alone a public official who relies upon the goodwill of the voters to remain in office. A potty -mouth and haughty attitude do not deter me. In fact, that kind of unbecoming behavior only encourages further questions.

The suggestion by the poster who posed an investigation by the Conflicts of Interest Board, is probably a worthy one. That would be a good place to start—That, and a big bar of soap to wash out Mr. Fidler's dirty and condescending mouth.

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For history alone
Submitted by Lew from Brooklyn (not verified) on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 11:48am.
Obviously, the ever anonymous "bigapplecharm" didn't quite get a rise out of anyone with this personal and unsubstantiatable attack on my character. Nonethless, as google has made history a different kind of medium, I will address the further drivel that was posted above.

An amazing coincidence that my law office address is at the company office. After all, I am in house counsel. This work represents 90% of my non council legal work anyway.

Whaqt is my value as an a "former immigration attorney of meager practice"? Sister, that is such a tell as to your identity that I have to laugh out loud. I guess during our non-communicative years, you were unware of my role as counsel to a health care financing company. some of this comapny's principals are the same as those at my present comopany. In fact, while we worked in the financing business, I helped to develop the documents and systems that are used to operate this current business.

And for the record, I have a fairly significant cv. I have been practicing law now for 29 years havng been admitted to practice shortly after my 22nd birthday. I am a graduate of a top law school (NYU)-- inthe top third of my class---and sister, you do know how important that is, right? I have been in the general practice of law (not "just" immigration work, where I did hearings, trials and argued before the Second Circuit Appeals), but in a full civil practice for that entire period, save for two years when I was law clerk to a Supreme Court Justice. and during that time, I have not had a single grievance found against me whatsoever. Jealous?

Now, the nonsense about the City. The company I work for does business in 48 states of this country. Within that massive portfolio, I am sure that there are a few cases in which we have advanced money to persons who may be suing the City of New York. No doubt. So what? I refer you to the other entry for an explanatin of how this business works. Once money is advanced to a litigant, the company has absolutely NO role whatsoever---as specified in the contract---in the conduct of the case. The company does not advise, does not appear in Court. Nothing. If the case is lost, nobody pays the company back. Period. If you win, when the defendant pays, the company's lien is satisfied from the proceeds through the litigant's personal attorney. If the company is defrauded, and not paid, it is the personal attorney and/or the litigant who are liable. So the defendant is not an issue. Ever. In 7-8 years of doing over 100 million dollars in business, a defendant has not been sued ONCE.

So much for taxpayer's coffers and conflict of interest. Got it?

Another tell as to your identity is your elitist view that when I noted that 80% of the money advanced by the industry goes to keep the litigant in their home, and you ASSSUMED it meant HOUSE. Dear, people pay rent to live as well and when you can't pay the next month's rent, the pressure on you to succumb to the economic duress of the insurer's lowball offer is even more intense thn if you had a home. At least if you had a home you have a CHANCE of getting an equity loan. Sorry to burst your ivory tower bubble there.

Finally, this retired school teacher nonsense is laugh out loud funny. Sorry if I call "bullshit" for what it is. If it truly offends you as you hide behind your anonymity, make up a fictional "friend" (do you still have any? Wanna wear a wire on them?) and attempt to assasinate my character. I guess I call it the way I see it....and if it walks like BS, smells like BS.....

So I have this suggestion for you, since getting a life appears to be out of the question. The next time you want to post about this stupidity, use your real name, and offer up the name of this real person. Otherwise, people will continue to see your posts as nasty personal invective all predicated upon your personal agenda.

Sorry if that sounds "haughty" to you. It's just the truth.

Lew from Brooklyn