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Posts tagged: Rob McKenna

Washington AG McKenna sues firm for alleged illegal foreclosures

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna on Friday filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Bank of America subsidiary, ReconTrust, based in Simi Valley, Calif., for numerous alleged illegal foreclosures against Washington homeowners.

The company is a foreclosure agent for the bank.

A press release noted that “ReconTrust ignored our warnings, repeatedly broke the law and refused to provide information requested during our investigation,” McKenna said. “ReconTrust’s illegal practices make it difficult, if not impossible, for borrowers who might have a shot at saving their homes to stop those foreclosures.”

Notably, at least 74 Spokane County homes are included in the several thousand potential victims of the alleged bad practices of ReconTrust, according to a database maintained by ReconTrust, listing the homes it's foreclosed on and is currently selling.

To search the full list of recent (2011) foreclosures processed by ReconTrust in Washington, here's the link.

An AG's office spokeswoman said the suit does not allege every ReconTrust foreclosure followed the same pattern.

The release notes, however, that “ReconTrust has failed to comply with the Washington Deed of Trust Act, RCW 61.24, in each and every foreclosure it has conducted since at least June 12, 2008.”

Debt relief company to return almost $800,000

Hundreds of Spokane-area clients of Freedom Debt Relief will benefit from a legal settlement announced today by Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna.

The agreement also resolves a class-action lawsuit filed in Spokane by Attorney Darrel Scott, whose office will oversee the return of $742,613 to about 570 clients of California-based Freedom Debt Relief.

The state settlement alleges the company overcharged 1,100 Washington residents for its services. Fees, which are limited to 15 percent of the total debt, were deducted from accounts set up to repay debt Freedom attempts to renegotiate.

The company denies the allegations, but agreed to the refunds and to pay $70,000 in state costs. The settlement was filed in King County Superior Court.

Freedom Debt stopped accepting new Washington clients in March 2009, when Scott filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

The company will have to alert the Attorney General's Office if it renews business in the state.

Scott said he will notify the District Court of the settlement Monday.

Consumers eligible for redunds will be notified by the court. Those who have already received refunds are not eligible.

“The two are hand-in-glove,” Scott said of the state and class-action cases.

Washington signs off on the Comcast-NBC merger

We saw a press release from the Washington Attorney General's office today. It said Rob McKenna and several other state AGs have formally agreed to the U.S. Department of Justice settlement that allows Comcast to merge with NBC Universal.

What we're not sure about is whether any of the states raised any issues that weren't already addressed by consumer groups, media companies and public interest entities.

The release sent by the McKenna office doesn't list any one or two major points that the AGs collectively made a big deal out of.

Today was also the day the real decision took place, in Washington, D.C., when the FCC formally gave its approval to the media merger, which will create a mammoth conglomerate with a trove of media content, along with the nation's largest cable system (not to mention being one of the nation's biggest Internet service providers, providing the system that is the primary way many will get entertainment and news).

A full summary of the agreement is at FCC.gov.

One of the several key points in the approval required that localism become a major focus for the merged media company. That agreement says:  “To further broadcast localism, Comcast-NBCU will maintain at least the current level of news and information programming on NBC’s and Telemundo’s owned-and-operated (“O&O”) broadcast stations, and in some cases expand news and other local content.

NBC and Telemundo O&O stations also will provide thousands of additional hours of local news and information programming to their viewers, and some of its NBC stations will enter into cooperative arrangements with locally focused nonprofit news organizations.  Additional free, on-demand local programming will be made available as well.”

We believe that means we'll see a gain in local news and information programming from stations like KHQ and from the local government-public access channels provided here by Comcast.

State will raise minimum wage by 12 cents

Washington state’s minimum wage will increase by 12 cents — to $8.67 an hour — on Jan. 1.

The wage is tied, by a citizen initiative, to the the Consumer Price Index. Since inflation was flat the previous year, no increase occurred in 2011.

The most recent CPI data show a slight increase in that index.

Washington’s Labor and Industries department originally went to Attorney General Rob McKenna to determine if the state has the right to boost the minimum wage if the CPI has risen but to a point below what was used to set the existing level of $8.55.

McKenna said the state can’t. The group who pushed the wage initiative, the Washington state Labor Council, opposed McKenna’s interpretation.

Labor and Industries spokeswoman Kim Contris said the decision to raise the rate “was based on interpreting the original intent of the law.

“We really wanted to correctly implement the law,” she said. “We recognize there could be confusion and additional cost if we made a mistake and the court overturned the decision.”

Washinton’s rate is the highest minimum in the nation. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

 

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