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Sandy victims still waiting for FEMA invited to fundraiser

The New Jersey Organizing Project (NJOP), a grassroots advocacy group for victims of Superstorm Sandy, will be holding a fund raiser on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 4-7 p.m. at the Lighthouse Tavern, 397 Route 9 in Waretown.

The “Sandyversary” event is being held to fund “the first community driven survey to get a picture of how the recovery is going, and how our health and finances may have been impacted (over the past four years),” according to their Web site.

“Additionally, it will help support our ongoing work to pass legislation to stop foreclosure on Sandy impacted families,” said the organization’s director Amanda Devecka-Rinear, a fourth-generation resident of Cedar Bonnet Island.

There are still thousands of people who registered for the state’s Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, a $1.1 billion, federally funded program, that aren’t back home or have not had the work completed, said Devecka-Rinear

NJOP’s past accomplishment were successfully lobbying Trenton for the creation of a Rental Assistance Program, and then led a coalition of communities and elected officials to extend rental assistance for families still out of their homes.

“We then worked with Senate President Stephen Sweeney to pass the Efficiency and Transparency in Sandy Recovery Spending Act,” said Devecka-Rinear

NJOP also worked with state legislators to pass a bill with strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and Legislature to prevent foreclosures on families whose properties had been impacted by Sandy and were still not back in their homes.

It was conditionally vetoed and sent back to the Senate by the Governor Chis Christie on the last day of the legislative session.

It effectively killed the bill causing hundreds of people to lose their homes, said Joe Mangino, of Manahawkin another NJOP founder.

The Legislature has already passed a new bill and it was unanimously voted out committee by the Senate earlier this week, he said.

“Several members and others testified at that hearing We aren’t going to quit, we will just keep plugging away to help people keep their homes,” Devecka-Rinear said

She and Mangino drew national attention to Sandy victims and NJOP shortly after Christie’s veto when they traveled to Iowa and publicly confronted the governor during a campaign event when he was running for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Sandy Memorial Wall they created in Trenton during a three-night campout at the statehouse to mark the third anniversary of Sandy last October served as the catalyst for the survey, said Mangino. “The stories we heard there and over the summer as we took the wall on tour inspired us to get a more broad based picture of what has and hasn’t happened in the last four years,” said Mangino.

NJOP has already launched the survey effort, entitled the Sandy Truth Project, when last Saturday they went door to door with approximately 60 volunteer students from Stockton University in Atlantic City.

Similar efforts are in the planning stages from there through Ocean County, including Little Egg/Tuckerton and Beach Haven West/LBI and on up the coast to Belmar, he added.

The survey is also online at

You can also find more information or join NJOP via their home page.

The will also be computers set up at the event at the Lighthouse, whose owner incidentally is Jim Keady, another NJOP founder and the man Gov. Chris Christie shouted at to “Sit down and shut-up!”

Keady had questioned the governor about the slow pace of the Sandy recovery efforts during a televised press conference in Belmar last November.

Tickets for Saturday’s fundraiser are $25 and can be purchased via the Web site or by calling or emailing Magino at 609-312-3899 or

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Monmouth and Ocean county briefs

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Wayne Co. tax foreclosure evictions begin – Detroit News

Families who sued Wayne County and several suburban cities last year over what they called illegal tax foreclosures are now being evicted after losing several court cases.

Among them is a Lincoln Park woman who says she lost nearly all her belongings Friday, when she was evicted her from her home while she was at work. Her attorney, Tarek Baydoun, said she should have been notified that a court hearing was held to issue an eviction order and that once it was posted, she should have had 24 hours’ notice to leave.

“The feeling is like you are totally broken,” said Brandy Gutierrez, 32, who added she found her locks changed and a mound of her possessions on the curb.

She is among the 18 families who sued the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office in December in U.S. District Court to stop their evictions. They allege they didn’t receive foreclosure notices and in some cases were told by county officials they had more time to save their properties. The county sold the homes to suburban communities, including Lincoln Park and Garden City, which resold them to developers to fix.

Treasurer Eric Sabree maintained his office followed the law and that many homeowners were foreclosed when they missed payments.

The evictions were on hold while courts considered the cases. U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy dismissed the case in September in part because she said she didn’t have jurisdiction. Separately, several Wayne County judges upheld the evictions.

At least four of the 18 have been evicted, said Baydoun, who represents the families and is appealing Levy’s ruling.

Gutierrez said she went to her part-time job at a roofing company Friday about 6 a.m. When she returned about 8 p.m., she said the house had new locks, piles of her belongings were at the curb and an eviction notice was on the door. She said she did not see any notice when she left for work.

She said she’s missing most of her belongings including dozens of power tools, jewelry and about $800 in cash.

“I don’t even have a bed sheet to give my kids,” said Gutierrez, who sent her two children to live with their grandmother months ago while the home was in limbo.

An attorney for Warren-based JSR Funding, which bought the homes from Lincoln Park, said the eviction was the “result of years of non-payment of taxes.”

“We are very confused by her claim that she was surprised by the eviction because surely her attorney should have advised her as to the legal significance of losing an appeal to set aside a court ordered eviction,” Tony Taweel wrote in an email.

Officials with the 25th District Court in Lincoln Park didn’t return calls for comment. Evictions are initiated by property owners but are enforced by court officers.

Gutierrez said she fell behind on taxes because her estranged husband never told her he wasn’t paying until the unpaid bill accumulated to nearly $12,000. She borrowed money to pay about $8,000 in December 2014 and got on a repayment plan.

County officials said they foreclosed when she fell behind on those payments.

Gutierrez contends she didn’t get foreclosure notices. County staffers told her she was caught up enough to avoid foreclosure, she said, and had until December to pay. She went to the city with a $4,000 cashier’s check, but it was too late. The home was mortgage free.

Gutierrez said she is now living out of her car, sleeping at work or her sister’s couch.

Another Lincoln Park homeowner, 38-year-old Tim Padden, said he got an eviction notice Friday but was given until Monday to move out by a court officer. Padden also said he thought he had more time to pay, didn’t get foreclosure notices and was given bad information by county staffers that he had more time.

“We’ve been in that house for 14 years,” said Padden. “The city (of Lincoln Park) should have notified us. That would have been the right thing to do.”

The family of four, with two teenage sons, is now living apart at the homes of friends and family.

Allegations of botched foreclosure notices aren’t new to the county.

State law requires officials to reach out to anyone with possible interest in the properties when it is headed to foreclosure — through First-Class and certified letters, newspaper notices and personal property visits, including posted notices if no one is home.

The Detroit News obtained records of certified mailings through the Freedom of Information Act and sampled 1,000 of the 333,000 sent by one contractor in late 2014. More than half were still listed in the U.S. post office’s tracking system as “in transit,” The News found.

County officials acknowledged they haven’t always received proof from the post office that a person signed for the letter or that delivery was attempted, but said there was no evidence the post office didn’t try to deliver the letters.

Family of both Padden and Gutierrez have set up online fundraising sites to help pay for their relocation.

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Kalamazoo County foreclosures prompt lawsuit alleging they impact certain neighborhoods

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — A lawsuit brought to the attention of the FOX 17 Problem Solvers is aimed at the Kalamazoo County treasurer.

The suit accuses Mary Balkema of ‘bad practice’ when it comes to foreclosed homes, and ‘bundling’ properties for land deals. It’s where these homes are located and who used to own them that are bringing questions of race into the equation.  Balkema answered questions for FOX 17 on Monday.

Bundling is when foreclosed properties go to auction as a bundle and no longer are sold separately. The process makes is fiscally impossible for someone to buy their homes back, but it’s legal, and the county treasurer stands behind it.

William Piper, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Willie Capers in Kalamazoo, told FOX 17 News there are grounds for suing the treasurer’s office. “We are maintaining or alleging in this lawsuit that the bundling process has a discriminatory effect on African Americans,” said Piper.

Balkema thinks otherwise. She said it’s her job to do what’s best for the county.

“You can’t make a wild jump to say you foreclosed on this person because of their minority status, or where they live. That is not a valid argument. We foreclose on people based on nonpayment,” said Balkema.

Balkema said bundling is not a discriminatory practice, rather it’s used as a tool for revitalization in the county, and 50 years from now they are hoping to rebuild certain neighborhoods. The biggest factor is hoping property value rises. Balkema said part of the problem is people who were buying homes in the late 90’s and early 2000’s didn’t have the means or the money to be buying and banks pushed people into homes that they were “ill-equipped to buy and pay taxes and utilities.”

Most of the homes that come to Balkema through foreclosure are worth very little. In the lawsuit filed against Balkema, the owner’s home is worth about $4,000. She said bundling a property like that helps stop a constant foreclosure process.

“Otherwise you get a parcel, and it will sell, and you will get it back three years later, in worse shape, and sell again, get it back and meanwhile no one is paying the taxes on it. It kind of stops the constant churning of some of the lower valued properties,” said Balkema.  Property taxes are used for a wide variety of services throughout the county like law enforcement, roads, colleges, just to name a few.

The particular home in the lawsuit was bundled with about 60 other properties selling for more than $400,000. It was too costly for the former owner to buy back at auction. Balkema said the owner wouldn’t have been able to purchase back in or out of the bundle, because he would have to pay off all delinquent taxes. Balkema said even getting to that point where the house goes to auction doesn’t come without due diligence.

“We get out and personally knock on every single door. We have people sending out notices, we work with people, put them on payment plans,” said Balkema.
The process can take two to four years just to foreclose, and if you don’t have your property taxes paid then you’re out of luck.

“If you’re in the bundle and you have delinquent taxes, you couldn’t have purchased it in the auction. If it wasn’t in the bundle, you couldn’t have purchased it period,” said Balkema.

FOX 17 looked at the foreclosures in Kalamazoo County since 2010, and there were 378. The state equalized value before auction of all these parcels was about $9 million. Only about 100 of these parcels are back into productive use, so the county is only making a third of the money back.

If you plot all the bundled addresses on a map a lot of these foreclosures are in minority neighborhoods like the northern part of Kalamazoo where some areas are 60% African American.

“First of all I have no idea who lives there. We see parcels and addresses. Poverty is sometimes largely concentrated, I absolutely agree with that. Our decision to foreclose is made on payment and nonpayment,” said Balkema.

Balkema said bundling these foreclosed homes into land deals attracts investors who pay the needed property taxes. Also, Balkema pointed out they don’t just foreclose on properties. Sometimes they will rebuild homes, or refurbish homes and sell them.

“Every single house we have taken down where we have had a new build or we have a remodel, we have sold 100 percent of the inventory,” said Balkema.

Balkema said taking away peoples’ homes is never her goal, but when a homeowner can’t pay and the house is not worth, much it’s her job to turn it around adding that ‘bundling’ sometimes is the best option.

“It’s up to the treasurer what’s in the bundle and what’s not in the bundle, the state statute gives me that authority,” said Balkema.

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Diane Lane Back On Broadway As Leading Lady In ‘The Cherry Orchard’

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Diane Lane spoke with 1010 WINS on Friday about her leading role in the Broadway play “The Cherry Orchard.”

The play opened at the American Airlines Theatre on Sunday for a limited engagement, which is scheduled to run through December 4.

Lane stars as a woman who returns to her family’s estate to stop its foreclosure.

“There’s so much heart, and there’s so much laughter, and there’s so much crying, and there’s so much you know analysis of human nature and people are making fun of each other throughout the show. There’s just so many different points of view that are going on within the play,” she said. 

This isn’t Lane’s first time in the production. She was also in the play in 1977 when she was just 13 years old.

“I’ve always loved this play. Even when I was a child, it was memorizing. It’s so worthy and timely I think to come to the stage now,” she said.

Lane said she and her late father used to listen to 1010 WINS while he drove his taxi.

“We would be sitting there listening to the radio getting our news from your station,” she said. “So it’s all very — it’s like coming home, in every way possible.”

She went on to make a name for herself on the big screen in movies like “Unfaithful,” “The Outsiders,” “The Cotton Club,” “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “The Perfect Storm.”

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What Servicers need to know about the Statute of Limitations

(Can Waiving Acceleration Avoid the Statute of Limitations’ Bar to Foreclosure?)

By Jamin S. Neil and T. Robert Finlay, Wright, Finlay Zak, LLP

Foreclosure Two BHThere are many who hope the expression “time heals all wounds” will prove to apply to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, but that same passage of time has an alternate—and potentially severe—consequence for mortgage lenders and servicers (servicers): the loss of their ability to enforce the loan after they accelerate the debt.

The expiration of the statute of limitations (SOL) on a servicer’s right to foreclose has long been an issue in New York and Florida. But, it is becoming an increasingly common defense and attack raised by property owners in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest as well. Opportunistic investors in states like Arizona are scouring title records looking for loans that have long been in default without the completion of a judicial or non-judicial sale. Borrowers too, in states like Oregon and Washington, are jumping on the bandwagon, claiming that the servicer is prohibited, by its delay, from now foreclosing on the loan. Consequently, servicers must take a close look at their loan portfolio to determine whether the SOL has run or is close to expiring. Most importantly, servicers must know what can be done to stop any further running of the SOL clock.

For servicers to understand their options, they must first understand what a SOL is and the risk of letting it expire. In the most simplistic terms, a SOL is the outward time limit of when a servicer can enforce its Deed of Trust following a particular default. For example, if the SOL is six years, the servicer must complete its foreclosure within 6 years. If the servicer fails to foreclose within six years, it is arguably prevented from ever foreclosing on its lien, effectively giving the borrower or owner the property free and clear of the Deed of Trust. Needless to say, this is a less than desirable result!

If the outward limit to foreclose is, say six years, the key question is – what triggers the clock to start running the SOL? Contrary to popular belief, it is not the default itself that starts the clock running; but, rather the existence of a prior notice from the servicer declaring the loan in default and that all sums are immediately due (i.e. acceleration). The problem is that, in many instances, the debt was accelerated long ago (often by a prior servicer as part of a previous foreclosure attempt). In that event, the current servicer could have a ticking time bomb on its hands.

The SOL defense is generally raised years after a potential acceleration. At that point, servicers (and their legal teams) are left scrambling to review the entire loan file to determine when the first acceleration occurred, whether there were any tolling events preventing the SOL from having already run, and, most importantly, was the loan ever “de-accelerated.”

As we are now several years removed from the height of the financial crisis, the six year SOL on foreclosures in Arizona, Oregon and Washington are becoming an increasingly bigger problem for servicers in these states. Indeed, because servicers may not be aware that acceleration of the loan arguably starts the SOL running, proving that the loan was de-accelerated (or that the running of the statute was tolled) may prove crucial to avoiding the bar to foreclosure.[1]

This article discusses the applicable SOL period in all three states, what events or actions servicers take that could commence its running, servicers’ ability to waive acceleration and the need to create further precedent confirming this right.


Limitations Period: Six years for foreclosure under a deed of trust.[2]

Accrual Date: The statute begins to run either on the due date of each matured installment payment[3] or, as to unmatured future installments, the date on which the Servicer exercises the deed of trust’s optional acceleration clause.[4]

Acceleration: Occurs when a servicer undertakes some affirmative act to make clear to the borrower that the servicer has accelerated the obligation.[5] Demanding full payment before all installments are due and filing suit to collect the entire debt are arguably sufficient affirmative acts to constitute acceleration.[6]


Limitations Period: Six years for an action on the Note. Ten years for foreclosure under a deed of trust.[7] It is unsettled in Oregon whether a non-judicial foreclosure is barred if the limitations period on an action under the Note has already expired. Accordingly, servicers should exercise caution and utilize the 6 year limitations period.

Accrual Date: Where an instrument gives the creditor an election to accelerate maturity of the debt and it is accelerated, the statute of limitations begins to run from the time of the election to accelerate.[8]

Acceleration: An affirmative act evidencing an intention to exercise the option to accelerate is required.[9]


Limitations Period: Six years for foreclosure under a deed of trust.[10]

Accrual Date: The statute begins to run when the amount becomes due.[11] The full amount becomes due either upon maturity of the note or if an obligation to pay in installments is fully accelerated.[12]

Acceleration: Acceleration requires some affirmative act by the servicer, in a clear and unequivocal manner, which effectively apprises the borrower that the servicer has exercised its right to accelerate the payment date.[13] This exercise of the option may take different forms including, but not limited to: Giving the borrower formal notice that the whole debt is declared due; or by the commencement of an action to recover the debt.[14]


If the servicer has not already sent notice to the borrower advising that the loan was accelerated, the question arises as to whether the initiation of non-judicial foreclosure proceedings suffices to start the running of the statute. Although there are no decisions from the above states addressing whether (or at what stage) the initiation of non-judicial foreclosure proceedings might constitute an acceleration of all amounts due under the loan, it is arguably analogous to the commencement of a foreclosure lawsuit and, thus, could constitute an affirmative act demonstrating acceleration.


In general, the exercise of an option to accelerate is not irrevocable, and a servicer who has exercised the option of considering the whole amount due may subsequently waive this right and permit the obligation to continue in force under its original terms.[15] The waiver may be express or implied.[16]

The requirements for establishing waiver of an optional acceleration under a Deed of Trust is one of first impression in Arizona, Oregon and Washington;[17] however, courts in Florida, New York and Texas have unanimously held that servicers can waive the acceleration.[18] As the Florida and New York decisions are in the context of judicial foreclosure sales, the decisions from Texas relating to non-judicial foreclosures are most applicable to Arizona, Oregon and Washington where the primary mode of foreclosure is non-judicial.

In Texas, Arizona, Oregon and Washington, “waiver” is defined as the intentional relinquishment of a known right that can be implied as well as express. Texas courts intermingle the terms waiver and abandonment in reference to de-acceleration and conclude that when a servicer sends a subsequent notice of default and intent to accelerate to a borrower, such notice abandons any prior acceleration as a matter of law. This abandonment or waiver of acceleration effectively restores the note’s original maturity date.[20]

Stated differently, a subsequent notice of default unequivocally manifests a servicer’s intent to abandon the previous acceleration and provides the borrower with an opportunity to avoid foreclosure if he or she cures the arrearage. Accordingly, the SOL ceases to run at this point.[21] While this may be the law in Texas, there are no appellate decisions reaching the same conclusion in Arizona, Oregon or Washington. However, the logic behind Texas decisions could arguably cross borders into these states as well.

Servicers should look to their loan files for correspondence and notices indicating whether the loan was no longer accelerated and, therefore, that a prior acceleration was waived. Most servicers’ loan history notes will not indicate a change in the loan’s accelerated or de- accelerated status, but rather will only reflect the commencement or cancellation of foreclosure proceedings. It is nonetheless crucial for servicers to provide evidence that the loan was not still accelerated after a particular foreclosure was cancelled.


Unfortunately, “what’s done is done” in the context of a SOL that has already expired. But, servicers can prevent the expiration of another SOL next week, next month or next year by taking certain steps to protect its loan portfolios. For starters, it is essential to identify which loans may be close to surpassing the six year SOL in Arizona, Oregon and Washington. To do that, a servicer must audit its defaulted loans in these states to determine when the SOL may have started to run. Once this cross-section of loans has been identified, the servicer or its legal counsel should identify which loans are at imminent risk of hitting the six year mark. If the foreclosure on those loans cannot be completed before the SOL expires, the servicer should consider taking overt steps to waive prior accelerations.

After the loans at immediate risk are addressed, servicers may next want to consider implementing procedures to “flag” loans as they near the expiring SOL.

And, remember to check for SOL risk on any incoming servicing transfers!

Of course, none of this should be relied upon as legal advice. Before addressing any SOL issues in Arizona, Oregon, Washington or any other state, servicers should consult with their in-house legal counsel or hire outside counsel.

If any servicer has questions about the subject matter of this article, the applicable SOL in any states on the West Coast or in the Southwest, desires assistance in auditing your loan portfolios or developing SOL protocol, please feel free to contact Robert Finlay at [email protected], who will coordinate with our team of attorneys in Arizona, Oregon and Washington.


1A variety of terms are used to describe de-acceleration, including: waiver, abandonment; revocation; and rescission.

2 A.R.S. § 33-816 and A.R.S. § 12-548(A)(1).

3Navy Fed. Credit Union v. Jones, 187 Ariz. 493, 494, 930 P.2d 1007, 1008 (App. 1996).


5Baseline Fin. Servs. v. Madison, 229 Ariz. 543, 544, 278 P.3d 321, 322 (App. 2012).


7 ORS § 12.080; ORS § 86.815 and ORS § 88.110. Oregon also has a statutory exception to the 10 year statute of limitations codified at ORS § 88.120.

8Fed. Recovery of Wash., Inc. v. Wingfield, 162 Ore. App. 150, 156-57, 986 P.2d 67, 71 (1999).

9Salishan Hills, Inc. v. Krieger, 62 Ore. App. 84, 90, 660 P.2d 160, 164 (1983).

10Walcker v. Benson McLaughlin, 79 Wn. App. 739, 743, 904 P.2d 1176, 1178 (1995) (The six year statute of limitations on an action for a contract in writing applies to the foreclosure of a mortgage on real property. Since Washington’s deed of trust statute, RCW 61.24, does not refer to any limitation period for non-judicial foreclosures, the limitation period for foreclosure of mortgages applies.).

11Westar Funding, Inc. v. Sorrels, 157 Wn. App. 777, 239 P.3d 1109, 1113 (Wash. Ct. App. 2010).

12Kirsch v. Cranberry Fin., LLC, No. 69959-8-I, 2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 2871, 2013 WL 6835195, at *4 (Wash. Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2013).

13Glassmaker v. Ricard, 23 Wn. App. 35, 38, 593 P.2d 179 (1979).

14Weinberg v. Naher, 51 Wn. 591, 594, 99 P. 736 (1909).

15 11 Am. Jur. 2d Bills and Notes § 170 (2nd 2015).


17 The Arizona Court of Appeals has discussed revocation of acceleration in the context of a judicial foreclosure action in an unpublished opinion. See Wood v. Fitz-Simmons, No. 2 CA-CV 2008-0041, 2009 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1431, at *5 (App. Mar. 6, 2009). The Oregon Supreme Court, however, concluded that a Servicer may waive its previous election to accelerate and reinstate the terms of the note so long as the borrower does not change his or her position in reliance on the acceleration. W. Portland Dev. Co. v. Ward Cook, Inc., 246 Ore. 67, 71, 424 P.2d 212, 214 (1967).

18 See Deutsche Bank Tr. Co. Ams. v. Beauvais, 41 Fla. L. Weekly 933 (Dist. Ct. App. 2016) (“[U]pon dismissal [of a judicial foreclosure action], acceleration of a note and mortgage is abandoned with the parties returned to the status quo that existed prior to the filing of the dismissed action, leaving the lender free to accelerate and foreclose on subsequent defaults.”); Fed. Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n v. Mebane, 208 A.D.2d 892, 894, 618 N.Y.S.2d 88, 89 (App. Div. 1994) (“[A] lender may revoke its election to accelerate all sums due under an optional acceleration clause in a mortgage provided that there is no change in the borrower’s position in reliance thereon…”); Denbina v. Hurst, 516 S.W.2d 460, 463 (Tex. Civ. App. 1974) (explaining that a holder may “waive the exercise of the option” to accelerate a note after it “already exercised its option”); Dallas Joint Stock Land Bank, 167 S.W.2d at 247 (holding that a Servicer may “waive or rescind” its option to accelerate after exercising it). While the cases in these States differ on what constitute a waiver of the acceleration, they all agree that a Servicer can waive the acceleration.

19 See Ray v. Tucson Med. Ctr., 72 Ariz. 22, 32 (1951); Gable v. State, 203 Ore. App. 710, 730, 126 P.3d 739, 751 (2006); Gage v. Langford, 582 S.W.2d 203, 207 (Tex. Civ. App. 1979); G.T. Leach Builders, LLC v. Sapphire V.P., LP, 458 S.W.3d 502, 511 (Tex. 2015); Schuster v. Prestige Senior Mgmt., LLC, 193 Wn. App. 616, 631-633 (2016).

20Khan v. GBAK Props., 371 S.W.3d 347, 354 n.1 (Tex. App. 2012); Phillips v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., No. A-16-CA-287-SS, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63843, at *8 (W.D. Tex. May 14, 2016) citing Khan v. GBAK Props., 371 S.W.3d 347, 356 (Tex. App. 2012).

21Phillips, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63843, at *8 citing Boren v. U.S. Nat’l Bank Ass’n, 807 F.3d 99, 105 (5th Cir. 2015).

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Buesing demands TV stations stop airing attack ads in state Senate …

The state Senate campaign of Democrat Bob Buesing has sent letters to local television stations demanding that they quit running a Republican Party ad attacking him, calling it “false, misleading and deceptive.”

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Buesing is one of three candidates running against Republican state Rep. Dana Young of Tampa for the Senate seat.

The ad claims Buesing foreclosed on retirement homes, “threatening senior citizens with homelessness,” and defended Wells Fargo Bank in a Ponzi scheme case, saying in a graphic, “Buesing defended Ponzi schemer.”

In an accusation made in a previous anti-Buesing ad, and largely debunked in aTampa Bay Times story, the new ad also says Buesing’s firm was “even accused of overbilling local schools, running fees up to $70,000.”

“When powerful people need someone to do their dirty work, they hire Bob Buesing,” the ad says.

Tom Scarritt, a local attorney and Democratic fundraiser representing the Buesing campaign, provided the Times copies of letters to the station managers at WFLA, WFTS, WTSP and WTVT television stations.

The letter says the stations should quit running the ad “For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest.” TV stations are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.

According to the letter:

• The law firm where Buesing is a member, Trenam Kemker, never defended the Ponzi schemer, Arthur Nadel. It defended a bank against a civil case alleging the bank didn’t monitor Nadel’s account closely enough to prevent his activities. Buesing wasn’t involved in the case; a judge ruled there were no grounds to hold the bank liable, according to a copy of a 2015 federal court order included with the letter.

• Buesing was “foreclosure lawyer of record” for Barnett Bank 23 years ago in a case involving two Tampa Bay area retirement homes. But state regulators approved of the plans for transferring residents and none were threatened with homelessness.

“The whole process of changing ownership of an assisted living facility is regulated by the state,” Buesing said in an interview. “Receivers are appointed to maintain and operate the facilities during the process. The idea that people were pushed out onto the street is absurd.”

• The Trenam Kemker firm, without Buesing’s involvement, was hired in 2012 to investigate how the Manatee County school system overspent its budget by $8 million. The school board approved the firm’s fees; the accusation of overbilling came from the school board attorney, who was excluded from the investigation because of close ties to the personnel being investigated.

Officials at the four local TV stations either couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday or had no comment on whether they’ll continue to air the ad.

Buesing, Young and no-party candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove are running for the open seat in District 18, which covers South Tampa and northeastern Hillsborough County.

The ad is a “three-pack” run by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee with endorsements of two other Republican state Senate candidates, Lizbeth Benacquisto and Matt Hutson, in the disclaimer at the end.

That means it can be paid for with party money, raised without the contribution limits that would apply to Young’s own campaign fundraising.

Buesing said the ad “says more about her (Young) than it does about me.”

“It’s about matters I had absolutely no involvement in, making statements that are so outlandish and ridiculous that it’s time to put the TV stations on notice.”

Young did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Erin Isaac, spokeswoman for the campaign committee, said Buesing’s firm “was involved in each of the cases … As a partner, leader, and stakeholder, he benefits financially when the firm benefits financially. Bob Buesing and his army of lawyers can run from his record all they want, but we certainly won’t let them hide it from the voters.”

Previously, Young has said her campaign wouldn’t run negative ads.

In a September interview, she said her opponents are ” running their race by attacking me. I’m running my race on my record as a proven, effective leader, and I don’t believe that I need to say anything negative about any of them.”

Staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Contact William March at

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Brewer renovating notorious foreclosed home, which will soon be for sale

BREWER, Maine — All of the bedroom door jambs are broken. There is water coming into the home from a leaking roof that has compromised the electrical system, and there are holes in the walls and ceilings and household debris and animal feces throughout the house.

“The neighbors said at one point this home was one of the nicest homes on the street,” Assistant City Manager James Smith said Thursday while providing a tour of 91 Longmeadow Drive, with its marble countertops and backsplashes, hardwood floors and man-cave bar in the basement.

The foreclosed Brewer house that police officers responded to complaints about many times in recent years will soon get a facelift in order to be placed on the market, Smith said.

“We’re moving forward with making repairs and selling the property,” he said.

A professional cleaner will clean the five-bedroom home, and a local contractor will be hired to fix the problems An electrician has already replaced the electrical panel and is checking the rest of the home for wiring issues to bring it up to code.

“Our goal is to bring this back [to its former glory] and get a nice family in here,” Smith said.

As part of a negotiated deal with Candice White, who stopped paying property taxes on 91 Longmeadow in 2013, leading city officials to foreclose on the property, the former owner will get some money.

White will get “the net” proceeds from the home’s sale, Smith said.

“Whatever our costs are to fix up the house, to clean it, attorneys fees” will be removed first, he said.

Brewer City Solicitor Joel Dearborn said the agreement between the city and White was signed this week.

The brown foreclosed house with white trim near the end of Longmeadow Drive is now vacant.

After White moved out in late July, city staffers came in and cut the grass and removed debris from the lawn. They also posted no trespassing signs and only allowed White back into the house with an escort.

While White and her daughters lived there, law enforcement was called to the property numerous times — 155 since 2014 — for a variety of complaints from neighbors.

At the end of July, White owed $17,298 in property taxes to Brewer. The property is valued at $230,200, with the land accounting for $27,200 of the total.

White said she purchased the home in 2012 with cash from her mother’s inheritance and moved in with her boyfriend, his daughter and her two daughters. About a year later, he died, and several months after that, “in December 2013, I suffered a debilitating stroke,” White said in a July letter to the Brewer City Council.

She apologized for the actions of her daughters and their friends, who intimidated the neighborhood for two years.

“My girls had taken complete control over our house and allowed friends to come and destroy our neighborhood and our home,” White’s letter states.

“I didn’t have the mental capacity to stop it, and my daughters didn’t have the maturity level to make different decisions,” she said later in the letter.

White declined a request for comment on Thursday.

The city notified White numerous times about her unpaid taxes and pending foreclosure over the last year, and White never attempted to pay any of the taxes, Smith said.

The city filed the first tax collector’s lien on June 17, 2014, with the Penobscot County Registry of Deeds. As the statutory 18-month deadline to pay her taxes or lose her home neared, Brewer officials sent White a certified letter that she signed for on Nov. 16, 2015, telling her she must pay her taxes or be subject to an automatic foreclosure of the property.

The 2013 taxes were not paid, and the lien matured.

Since then, White’s 2014, 2015 and first 2016 tax payments have not been paid, and there are nonpayment of taxes liens already filed for 2014 and 2015, as well as a lien for her unpaid 2015 sewer bills.

Smith said both parties have agreed that selling the house is the best way to move forward. Once the holes and other problems are fixed, a local real estate agency will list the home for sale, the assistant city manager said.

“We have a lot of work, but we want a home that is ready for a family,” Smith said. “And to let this community heal.”


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‘Hell or High Water’ delivers, but not the expected action film

by Sebastian Wurzrainer
| 10/18/16 12:00am

 “Hell or High Water” may not be for everyone, but I think that’s honestly for the best. David Mackenzie’s newest film is strange, uncompromising, beautiful, confounding and frankly a breath of fresh air in a year full of films that have failed to live up to expectations. Perhaps this disappointing year was the key to “Hell or High Water”; I had no expectations for it, so I never assumed it would be one of the best films I’ve seen so far in 2016.

The film’s plot revolves around brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) who plot to rob the various branches of Texas Midlands Bank in an attempt to stop the foreclosure of their ranch. Jeff Bridges plays Marcus Hamilton who, along with his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), plans to catch the bank robbers before they can commit another crime. The film is laced with subplots involving Toby’s family, Marcus’s impending retirement and the brothers’ dead mother. And yet this is not a movie about story but instead a movie about moments. Moments of beauty, moments of pain, moments of violence and moments of ennui.

“Hell or High Water” reminded me more than anything of the very best of Cormac McCarthy’s writing, and that is undeniably high praise. Capturing the essence of McCarthy’s writing is tough work because his style embodies a distinct sense of strange emptiness and ghostly beauty. But director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan have somehow tapped into that style’s cinematic equivalent. The dialogue is functional, not fashionable, and the characters are quiet, not expressive. For some people, this manner of storytelling may lack appeal, and I’ll admit that if every film I watched were told like this I’d probably go a little stir crazy. But every once in a while, it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker eschew many of the safeguards of modern cinema.

While the characters remain partially shrouded in mystery for the film’s entirety, the actors all manage to bring an impressive gravitas to the story despite the limited amount of dialogue they are provided. Bridges is, of course, excellent, though no one would expect anything less from him. Foster is also surprisingly good, bringing humanity to a character who would otherwise be incredibly easy to hate. Pine’s performance, however, is the best by a mile. The character of Toby, the more straight-laced of the two brothers, should be the most boring character in the film. But Pine brings a depth and maturity to match Bridges and Foster; he surprised me more and more with each passing scene. The fact of the matter is that Chris Pine has been associated for years with the character of Captain Kirk, who he plays flawlessly. But in many respects, Kirk is the exact opposite of Toby, who is far more introspective and brooding. One wouldn’t expect Pine to make the transition so seamlessly, but I think with this film he proves himself to be a truly excellent actor. One scene in particular relies entirely on Pine’s ability to hold the audience’s attention, and he somehow manages to never drop the ball.

A few weeks ago I watched “Don’t Think Twice” in a theater and saw a trailer for “Hell or High Water,” and I realized it was being advertised as some sort of exciting heist thriller film. If you go into the movie with that expectation, you will be disappointed. Even in its most intense and brutal sequence, “Hell or High Water” feels far more tragic than exciting. But like I said, this film simply isn’t for everyone, and I have no doubt that some people will walk out frustrated by the misdirection of the advertising. If you walk into “Hell or High Water” expecting it to be quiet, contemplative and rather haunting then you might be surprised by how much you like it. That being said, while I thoroughly admire the filmmaking on display, I found that I felt a little hollow inside when I left the theater. The film seemed to focus so much on its distinctive style that it failed to really hit me on an emotional level. The ending especially didn’t provide me with a feeling of closure, though I think that may well be the point. And perhaps avoiding an emotional connection with the audience is also what the director was going for. But frankly, I have a hard time truly loving a film without some level of emotional investment, so instead I must just admire “Hell or High Water” from afar. I don’t imagine it will be very difficult ­— after all, there is a great deal to admire.

Rating: 8/10

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State law can’t stop king of Detroit blight

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