Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lowdown On Economic Downfall At Forest Hill Community and Civic Association Meeting - Times Newsweekly

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Rep. Anthony Weiner's call for added regulation in the practices of buying and money lending was heard by a throng of concerned residents at the Tuesday, Nov. 11 Forest Hills Community and Civic Association meeting held at the Metropolitan Avenue American Legion Hall.

"It's a mess. We have to embark on a plan to resolve it," remarked the congressman on the nation's current financial crisis.

Photo left: Rep. Anthony Weiner (standing) provides insight into the nationwide financial crisis at last week's Forest Hills Community and Civic Association meeting.

While Weiner conceded that greediness is always part of the equation when talking about capitalism, he added that it could only work with a modicum of "transparency" and "regulation" in an effort to ensure that the people doing business know "the rules of the road."

"Without that you have system failure," he added.

The lack of oversight, according to Weiner, has led to banks selling off mortgage loans, which only made it more difficult for homeowners to negotiate with brokers in times of financial distress.

Due to the failure on the part of the Federal Reserve, the Department of Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to monitor several ill-advised transactions, said Weiner, borrowing and lending came to an abrupt halt.

He readily admitted to approving the Department of Treasury's decision to print money to buy "bad" mortgages in order to bail out myriad financial institutions.

The nation was losing a lot more in holdings and investments than the federal government dispensed in providing relief, he said.

"You can't have the Treasury saying it's okay for someone to get a 100-percent loan without [performing] checks and balances—the era of small government business is over," he stated.

Weiner continued by assuring that new guarantees for bank consumers are already in place, including money-market protection, which wasn't the case before.

Despite the nation's financial troubled waters, the Brooklyn native insisted that New York has much to offer in terms of investment opportunities.

International money is reportedly coming in to purchase Treasury bills (commonly referred to as T-Bills).

"Money is coming here because we are the only mature, transparent economy in the world. Every crises has led countries to invest in our TBills," he added.

Civic member Claudia Valentino (Photo left) took issue with the congressman's hard stance on how many foreclosure victims ought to be held accountable for their own mistakes.

She explained that many of her colleagues in the publishing industry have been laid off, and many of their "good" mortgages have taken a turn for the worse since the loans were based on their former salaries.

Weiner agreed that mortgages should be negotiated whenever possible. He even endorsed the extension of mortgage agreements to help ease the burden of monthly dues that can't be paid.

South Queens activist David M. Quintana asked the elected official to comment on Wall Street brokers who created much of the financial turmoil that exists today by pushing bad loans upon people.

Weiner acknowledged that mortgage brokers, banks and bond-rating agencies took fees that facilitated a number of loans which were destined to hit a brick wall.

"Bond-rating agencies were getting money to give out A-ratings. There's lots of guilt to go around," he said. "Mortgage brokers made no-paper transactions with no money down. [These practices] were targeting people of color and those with little-to-no literacy."

Future outlook

On the subject of healthcare, Weiner said that methods should be sought to allow it to "grow" since it's an industry that can't be outsourced.

He was also baffled by how spending on education has increased by 40 percent over the past five years, while the graduation rate in the city has only risen by one percent over the same period of time.

He chastised city leadership for focusing too hard on planning for new residential buildings instead of also developing office space, which is what has recently occurred in Jersey City, which now boasts its own skyline.

Weiner took aim at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlanNYC 2030 strategy by highlighting that it makes no reference to the creation of jobs in the five boroughs.

"Our tax burden is getting overwhelming. Whenever there's a problem, we raise taxes. We then spend our surpluses, go into deficit and raise taxes again. We don't think past our own noses in this city," opined the federal legislator.

Digital conversion

FHCCA President Barbara Stuchinski introduced Federal Communications Commission Outreach and Policy Advisor Roger Goldblatt in an effort to settle numerous doubts that may still linger regarding Feb. 17, when all full-power television stations will reportedly stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and only transmit their programming digitally.

In photo at left, Roger Goldblatt of the FCC shares advice on how to prepare for the upcoming signal conversion from analog to digital for all television stations on Feb. 17.

The FCC representative clarified that people that already have cable or satellite television wouldn't have to worry about losing their signals.

Those with standalone sets, however, were advised to purchase converter boxes that would enable the new all-digital flow.

Digital broadcasting, he said, would not only enhance a television's picture quality but improve sound and add more channels.

Goldblatt told those in attendance that $40 coupons are being distributed to every household to help people purchase the converter boxes.

He rationalized the change by telling the audience that the FCC is trying to free up spectrum space that would allow more room for firefighters and police to communicate during emergencies.

Those with questions regarding the move to digital broadcasting can call 1-888-Call-FCC for further details.

The Forest Hills Community and Civic Association (Information, call 1-718-997-7014). regularly meets on the second Tuesday of the month at Metropolitan Avenue American Legion (Name: American Legion Continental Post 1424. 10715 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills, NY 11375-6820 Phone: (718) 520-8623). For further information, call 1-718-997-7014.

Photo: NYPD 112th Pct Community Affairs Officers taking questions from civic members

During FHCCA's December session, the group has scheduled a holiday party in lieu of its regular meeting.