Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Of Funerals, Lawsuits, Senators, Wusses and Bombing ISIL

GG Would Have Enjoyed Her Funeral! 


The blog got delayed this week, when the whole family spent the past few days in Ohio, attending the funeral  of Audrea Hitz Wynn (my mother-in-law “GG,” for “great grandma,” who listened to Fox Network news 24-7, literally), highlighted by my wife’s eulogy to her gregarious, constantly volunteering, and politically conservative, WWII vet Mom. 

As the oldest of four, Heidi Wynn Maloni created a 23 page, 30 minute farewell memory, made better after she and two sibs spent a night polishing the prose and consuming five bottles of wine. 

Unfortunately, my wife gave an advanced copy to the local priest, the one St. Michael’s parish official that GG didn’t like and who she didn’t want at her funeral, but who—unfortunately--was the only available priest at St. Michael’s that weekend. 

Not knowing GG’s seminal role 40 years earlier in founding the church and its school and fundraising to make the two reality—not to mention her work for the Canton, Ohio Catholic Charities, United Way, Girl Scouts, Avondale Neighborhood Association, Friends of the Library,  the Garden Club, Walsh College, the Hospital Gift Shop (from whence years’ worth of family Christmas presents emanated), etc. etc.--Fr. “BuzzKill” warned my wife that her eulogy was much too long, laden with too much small talk, and she was better off “deferring” to him to remember her mother (what BS, but all true!).

Chauvinism in the Catholic Church?


Heidi isn’t her tenacious mother’s first daughter and a life force herself for nothing!

So she barreled forward. Thirty two minutes and lots of laughs and verbal connections with the elderly audience later (“That was Audrea”), Father “Buzz Kill” couldn’t stand it, rising in his seat and appearing to search for a shepherd’s crook to deny Heidi uttering her final paragraph (enumerating the six grandchildren by name and age who gave GG her chosen title, just after mentioning the eight grandchildren similarly), he realized he was beaten and just collapsed into a chair-bound slump, realizing he had failed  just like he had on his original mission to silence her remarks. 

Afterwards, the daughter earned much praise from her mother’s friends and neighbors, while her own children proudly congratulated her and offered to video tape a reprise so it could be sent to the number of church goers who asked for a copy.

Father “BuzzKill” was not one of them.


Lawsuit Updates 

Not surprisingly,  Fairholme Capital’s lawyers, Cooper and Kirk, quickly responded to the government’s effort to deny Tim Howard’s appointment as a consultant to the firm, jumping all over the Department of Justice’s contention that Howard—because he was a former Fannie official who had written a book claiming he was the subject of government slander and political manipulation-- could not be trusted to view “discovered” documents without employing the information for personal financial or ideological use. 

Judge Margaret Sweeney’s current “gag order” prohibiting misuse of the government’s records applies to any Fairholme official or attorney likely to review the government files, including Howard. But the government sought only to target Tim and claim he was not trustworthy. (Shame on you Uncle Sam!) 

In rebutting the government’s claim, the C&K lawyers pointed out that Howard’s personal legal matters occurred in 2004 with the Bush Administration in power and that he was long gone from Fannie, when the 2012 issues in the current lawsuit, were implemented by the Obama Treasury and the F&F regulator. 

They further introduced records from Howard’s own successful hearing, which resulted in Federal Judge Richard Leon’s decision, two years ago, dismissing law suits against Tim and others based on the bogus “securities fraud” charges initially leveled in 2004 by the Office of Financial Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), the predecessor to the current F&F regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). 

Cooper and Kirk included statements by Federal Judge Leon’s, who dumped the case against Howard et al, attesting to Howard’s veracity and factually strong testimony. That was when Tim was directly involved and had with access to 67 million pages of hearing records, including innumerable government documents and didn’t misuse the federal information then. 

(Tim reported last night that because of scheduling conflicts, the defendants waived oral arguments to his hiring, to which Fairholme’s lawyers agreed, and the Judge will decide the matter on her own.) 

I am not adept at turning these legal docs into a link—since they were sent to me in an unlikable form--but if someone wants to see what C&K produced supporting Fairholme retaining Howard, send me a request and I’ll see what I can do. 

Lawsuits Update Redux 

Plaintiff Perry Capital’s Ted Olson—the other famous lawyer, along with David Boies for Fairholme, in on these “Third amendment/ takings cases--last week also filed a crucial motion to expand access to additional Treasury and FHFA administrative records, which Perry believes are germane and necessary for them to proceed. 

Michael Kim, our friend at CRT Capital, did his usual superb analytical review of the recent court developments, which he will share with whomever contacts him.


WH/Lender Confab Produces Little

The Bipartisan Commission, that helped produce the original Corker/Warner bill which then morphed into the Senate’s CorkerWarnerJohnsonCrapo legislation, brought multiple housing interests to  town last week to discuss current housing and mortgage finance developments. 

This permitted a number lenders to meet with White House officials to look at mortgage finance problems facing low income families. 

Predictably, nothing of substance emerged, with the lenders blaming fears about Fannie and Freddie “buyback” worries as the excuse d’jour for them not doing what the Administration wants and the nation needs. 

One media report claimed, “Lenders are running scared” because of regs and buybacks. 

Well maybe those lenders should look in the mirror to see at whom they should be angry or, better yet, make whatever loans you can under the rules as they exist rather than holding back, hoping the WH’s carries your water or provides you with more federal subsidies or benefits to do what you should do.


CWJC and Congress Leaves

The Congress has run out of town, tail between its legs, to go home and campaign for reelection; every House member and about a third of the Senate are up. They won’t return until after the November 4 contests, which could produce GOP control in both the House and Senate, although the Republicans needs victories in six additional seats to control the Senate. 

The House will stay with the Republicans and likely see additional R’s elected to the lower chamber.  

Last week, in a near meaningless gesture, the Senate Banking Committee filed the report to accompany the Johnson-Crapo bill to the Senate floor. 

It is extremely unlikely that this legislation gets a floor vote when the Senate returns in a lame duck session. Then the entire issue will get carried over until 2015, when a new bill and new hearings need occur in both chambers. 

Kansas Senate Race 

Here is a Senate seat which could slip away from the R’s.

(From Politico).

“The Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Democrats attempting to remove their candidate from the ballot in Kansas' razor-tight Senate, a blow to incumbent Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts' reelection prospects.”

“The withdrawal of the Democratic nominee in the race, Chad Taylor, clears a path for independent Greg Orman to challenge Roberts one-on-one. Polls show Orman leading in the contest in a head-to-head matchup.”

“Although Taylor announced earlier this month that he was ending his campaign, Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach had ruled that Taylor's name must remain on the ballot because his withdrawal failed to meet the precise requirements of Kansas' election law. But the court dismissed Kobach's argument, agreeing that Taylor satisfied the law when he announced his decision to drop out. The court refused to address Kobach's additional claim that Kansas Democrats are required to name a new candidate to replace Taylor.” 


Their Words Worth a Thousand of Mine 
(We are powerless sheep, hear us bleat)

Conservatorship (verbatim segment from a Freddie Mac investor’s Primer)…

§We continue to operate under the conservatorship that commenced on September 6, 2008, under the direction of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) our Conservator.
§FHFA as our Conservator:  

»FHFA assumed all powers of the Boards, management and shareholders
»FHFA has directed and will continue to direct certain of our business activities and strategies
»FHFA delegated certain authority to our Board of Directors to oversee, and to management to conduct, day-to-day operations  

§Our ability to access funds from the Treasury under the Purchase Agreement is critical to keeping us solvent.

§There is significant uncertainty as to whether or when we will emerge from conservatorship, as it has no specified termination date.

§Our future structure and role will be determined by the Administration and Congress, and there will likely be significant changes beyond the near term.


My stomach churns and my brain screams “No,” when I read the material above. I am not picking on the Freddie’s, since I assume Fannie has similar material (hopefully not as cringing and kowtowing), but it cries utter and complete capitulation to government agencies that are not as adept at running a major business as a real board and management would be. 

However, the major takeaway for blog readers and others is that all major decisions and a crap load of minor ones are not made by anyone working at Fannie and Freddie but by their regulator the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) or by US Treasury officials, with an occasional boost/jab from the White House. 

So, when you hear some overpaid trade exec, Senate or House staffer, or even their principals (they have few of the other variety) berating “Fannie and Freddie,” someone remind them that it’s the Treasury and FHFA which they should harangue and criticize. 

What Others are Saying 

Bloomberg reports on first US airstrikes in Syria against ISIL.


Maloni, 9-23-2014


1 comment:

Bill Maloni said...

My bad, apologies to David Boies!

I mistakenly identified David Boies as litigating one of the "Takings" cases, but while his firm--Boies, Schiller & Flexner--is representing two individual investors, Boies is not involved in the cases.