Community group looks at history of housing discrimination

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) After a series of shots fired and shooting reports in Davenport late last summer, community leaders came together to form a new group, the Boots on the Ground Coalition. Months later, the violence has slowed down but it hasn’t stopped. That’s why participants like Dwayne Hodges say they’re continuing to meet and they’re now looking at American history to try to answer the problems of today.

Things that have happened in the community aren’t stopping so I think it’s important to remember that we have to be here, Hodges said. That’s why the title Boots on the Ground is perfect.

Hodges is part of Boots on the Ground’s core group of volunteers. Rev. Jay Wolin recently joined.

It is my role, I feel, to be an ally to people of color, he said.

And facilitator Elder Daniel Teague says there are even more members.

Police are part of our community, Teague said. As a matter of fact, the new chief is part of our core group. The mayor is part of our core group. They couldnt be here tonight because he has other things going on but moving forward you will see them sit with the core group.

The initiative isn’t exclusive. On Thursday, the core held a meeting open to the public and since Boots on the Ground’s inception, Teague has been going door to door, interviewing around 800 people in the community so far.

I’m not looking at why they’re shooting guns, he said. I asked the question where are we feeling as a community.

He says the top concerns the community has identified are police and community relationships, employment opportunities, and lack of education. The core believes all of those issues are steeped in America’s history of housing discrimination.

The purpose of the presentation is to explain that people didn’t choose this; this is kind of where they’re forced to be, said core group member Latrice Lacey, who is also the director of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission.

Those families were not able to buy houses or they had to get loans that were at exorbatent rates, Wolin added.

In the minority communities you can see a large number of pay day loan stores back to the high interest loans and things you see a lot more liquor stores and so yes it still has an effect today, Teague said.

They say talking about it should equip the community with tools to go out and help.

Facilitators say the police are expected to address the community at the next Boots on the Ground meeting in February.

BoQ boss Jon Sutton lost for words … you know, like job and losses

The closest that Sutton got to addressing the job losses was in a sentence stating the need to build a more flexible and efficient operating model … This will also improve the way we work by reducing duplication and manual processes and will assist us in finding better ways to share capabilities across the group.

Job losses are minimal, said Sutton when questioned later about the delicate matter.

It was not a good day for banks in general, but it appears themarkets were particularlyunhappy with BoQ and the latest admission that its profit margins will not be where they should be.

The stock plunged below $12, shredding about $260 million from the banks market value.

Investors may have been wishing they had taken the hint and sold stock in December. This was when Sutton offloaded more than half his stake in the bank at $13.50 a share.

Bye bye Biggles

Should we read anything into the fact that, in the end,boganaire Nathan Tinkler was undone by his love for corporate jets and choppers rather than his penchant forthe nags and the millions he owes retail billionaireGerry Harvey.

The hard nuts at General Electric Commercialdid not prove to be as malleable asTinklers other creditors and have claimed their pound of flesh and snookeredhis latest corporate comeback if it makes the bankruptcy stick.

Not that you would bet against Tinklers ability to work around the problem with his new business buddies, pearlerNick Paspaleyand fellow Northern TerritoryidentityJohn Foxy Robinson.

They are helping tofinance the purchase of a NSW coal mine fromAnglo American by Tinklers latest venture, Australian Pacific Coal.

Cheque mate

The pay day loan industry still has a friend in big finance. It just has to travel a little further afield.

Cash Converters has announced that it has found a replacement for Westpac, which became the last of the Big Four to dump pay day lenders from its loan book last year.

Apparently the Big Four did not like being associated with an industry that charges unconscionable fees and rates.

Whats that you say? Pot, kettle, black?

The New York outfit, Fortress Investment Group, will fill the funding gap as of next month -on slightly better terms than what Cash Converters offers to its customers.

The terms and conditions of the new facility are more aligned to the business strategy of the company than our previous supplier, said Cash Converters boss Peter Cumins.

Given that Cash Converters has paid out tens of millions of dollars to settle law suits relating to its business practices, your columnist is not sure what Cumins is trying to say about its new business partner.

Fortress recently finished its long-running relationship with another great Aussie success story, Octaviar.

For those who came in late: Octaviar, originally known as MFS, was the Gold Coast financial group which spectacularly collapsed in 2008 owing $2.5 billion.

The liquidators got tetchy about the repayments Octaviar was making to its financier, Fortress, ahead of its implosion.

Barely a month ago, the liquidators settled the $300 million law suit for $10 million. That sounds like a win for Fortress, so no wonder they are coming back for more.

Dog house

ASICs blitzkrieg of local crap cap, Sino Australia Oil and Gas, hit a rare hurdle on Monday.

The Federal Court decided that the companys board had enough corporate coherence to validly appoint administrators in May last year. ASIC was hoping the court would declare the appointmentinvalid.

The administrators will now get back pay, whichis wonderful news for investors who will almost certainly kiss goodbye the millions they paid into the 2014 float.

Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Council employee accused of stealing £35000 claims money went missing at time of ‘crisis’ in department

A Cardiff council employee accused of stealing pound;35,000 from the safeguarding children unit claims the money went missing at a time of staff absences and of “crisis” in her department.

Caroline Wootton-Thomas also told police who arrested her that she was horrified to see her pensioner mother being investigated as police looked for the cash.

“My mum wouldn’t do anything,” the 49-year-old finance officer told officers who were questioning her about 75 cheques she is said to have dishonestly cashed from her department, putting its account into the red.

“I am absolutely horrified she is being dragged into this.”

Hilary Wootton, then 79, was charged with “money laundering” for allegedly receiving stolen council cash into her back account when she was in danger of losing her home to bailiffs.

Now 80, of Caesar Crescent, Caerleon, she is on trial alongside her daughter – who denies theft – at Cardiff Crown Court .

Read more: Council employee accused of stealing blamed others when confronted with pound;40,000 overdrawn account

People were screaming for their money

Wootton-Thomas claims it was “coincidence” that large amounts of money were repeatedly being taken from the council’s child protection petty cash at the same time that her mother needed to pay off a loan or risk being evicted.

Prosecutors allege the daughter was surviving on pay day loans before a council petty cash account which was supposed to operate on a balance of pound;500 was suddenly discovered to be pound;42,000 overdrawn.

At the same time, claimed prosecutor Matthew Roberts, her mother was facing eviction because of an unpaid loan she had taken out to help her daughter.

Wootton-Thomas of Veronica Close, Rogerstone, Newport , had “repeatedly” gone to a post office at St Mellons, cashing council cheques for pound;500 a time and keeping the cash.

But in police interviews put before the court on Monday, she said every withdrawal was taken back to the office and that she had been asked to carry out the transactions by more senior management, in order to pay staff expenses.

“I’m a nobody – only an admin manager – I was so stressed I felt I couldn’t cope,” she said.

“People were screaming for their money.”

The trial is being heard at Cardiff Crown Court

Read more: Court hears claims of bullying at council department where former employee is accused of stealing pound;35,000

Had been heavily dependent on pay day loans

Detective constable Claire Bennett, the officer in charge of the case said that as much as pound;8,000 had been taken out in a single day, around the time bailiffs were due at her mother’s home.

She alleged, “Caroline Wootton-Thomas’ bank account had been heavily dependant on pay day loans for over a year – but overnight that stopped.”

Producing detailed bank details to the jury, she listed loan companies which had deposited sums into the defendant’s bank.

“It seems like she is getting a second pay day loan to pay off a first pay day loan. robbing Peter to pay Paul,” she said.

Investigations into a bank account held by her elderly mother began after Wootton-Thomas was first taken to court on the theft charge and was said to have challenged the police and prosecution to show where the missing pound;35,000 had gone, when it was not in her account.

DC Bennett said: “As a result I made further investigations and found two payments of pound;6,000 and then pound;10,200 (into the pensioner’s account).

“As a consequence the investigation was widened to include the mother and both were interviewed on suspicion of money laundering.”

Read more: Council employee accused of pocketing pound;35,000 was withdrawing five times more money than her job required, court told

I was trying to keep my department running

In her interviews, Wootton-Thomas accepted she had signed each of the 75 cheques and had cashed them – sometimes on her way home from work.

But she said every penny had then been taken back to her office and handed over, to be used for expenses for child protection reviewing officers.

She also claimed that each cheque – which required two signatures – was already signed by another member of staff before it was handed to to her for her to fill in with the amount needed.

She “hadn’t realised” she had withdrawn more than pound;40,000 (some is accounted for with expenses receipts) but maintained all of it had been withdrawn at the request of others “six or seven grades above me”.

“I was trying to keep my department running,” she said.

“I was being told to get on with it and I was absolutely overwhelmed – it was an awful time and Safeguarding was at crisis point.

“We had 350 chilldren in care and eight to 10 officers were going out doing reviews – sometimes two in a day.

“The nature of the business is that you then get people screaming at you for their (out of pocket) money.”

Read more: Cardiff council employee denies stealing more than pound;35,000 from petty cash

Deny charges

Opening his case last week, prosecutor Matthew Roberts said the petty cash account was meant to be kept small and to cover car parking or toll bridge charges for staff – and claimed Wootton-Thomas had told the postmistress she was withdrawing large amounts for wages.

He told the jury: “It wasn’t for wages and it wasn’t for expenses………”

Wootton-Thomas denies theft and both women deny money laudering.

Proceeding.

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McCaskill targets ‘deceptive’ hotel fees

McCaskill has experience in taking on consumer protection issues. In 2001, as Missouri auditor, she took on the “instant loan industry,” which her audit pointed out, in one example, had charged as much as 391 percent on a $300 pay-day loan, without any statutes to regulate this.

BoQ boss lost for words when it comes to the unkindest cut of all

The closest that Sutton got to addressing the job losses was in a sentence stating the need to build a more flexible and efficient operating model … This will also improve the way we work by reducing duplication and manual processes and will assist us in finding better ways to share capabilities across the group.

Job losses are minimal, said Sutton when questioned later about the delicate matter.

It was not a good day for banks in general, but it appears themarkets were particularlyunhappy with BoQ and the latest admission that its profit margins will not be where they should be.

The stock plunged below $12, shredding about $260 million from the banks market value.

Investors may have been wishing they had taken the hint and sold stock in December. This was when Sutton offloaded more than half his stake in the bank at $13.50 a share.

Bye bye Biggles

Should we read anything into the fact that, in the end,boganaire Nathan Tinkler was undone by his love for corporate jets and choppers rather than his penchant forthe nags and the millions he owes retail billionaireGerry Harvey.

The hard nuts at General Electric Commercialdid not prove to be as malleable asTinklers other creditors and have claimed their pound of flesh and snookeredhis latest corporate comeback if it makes the bankruptcy stick.

Not that you would bet against Tinklers ability to work around the problem with his new business buddies, pearlerNick Paspaleyand fellow Northern TerritoryidentityJohn Foxy Robinson.

They are helping tofinance the purchase of a NSW coal mine fromAnglo American by Tinklers latest venture, Australian Pacific Coal.

Cheque mate

The pay day loan industry still has a friend in big finance. It just has to travel a little further afield.

Cash Converters has announced that it has found a replacement for Westpac, which became the last of the Big Four to dump pay day lenders from its loan book last year.

Apparently the Big Four did not like being associated with an industry that charges unconscionable fees and rates.

Whats that you say? Pot, kettle, black?

The New York outfit, Fortress Investment Group, will fill the funding gap as of next month -on slightly better terms than what Cash Converters offers to its customers.

The terms and conditions of the new facility are more aligned to the business strategy of the company than our previous supplier, said Cash Converters boss Peter Cumins.

Given that Cash Converters has paid out tens of millions of dollars to settle law suits relating to its business practices, your columnist is not sure what Cumins is trying to say about its new business partner.

Fortress recently finished its long-running relationship with another great Aussie success story, Octaviar.

For those who came in late: Octaviar, originally known as MFS, was the Gold Coast financial group which spectacularly collapsed in 2008 owing $2.5 billion.

The liquidators got tetchy about the repayments Octaviar was making to its financier, Fortress, ahead of its implosion.

Barely a month ago, the liquidators settled the $300 million law suit for $10 million. That sounds like a win for Fortress, so no wonder they are coming back for more.

Dog house

ASICs blitzkrieg of local crap cap, Sino Australia Oil and Gas, hit a rare hurdle on Monday.

The Federal Court decided that the companys board had enough corporate coherence to validly appoint administrators in May last year. ASIC was hoping the court would declare the appointmentinvalid.

The administrators will now get back pay, whichis wonderful news for investors who will almost certainly kiss goodbye the millions they paid into the 2014 float.

Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Sebi tightens norms for MFs exposure to riskier bonds

The issue of reducing the MF exposure limit for debt schemes caught Sebis attention after JP Morgan Mutual Fund got into troubles due to its exposure to debt securities of Amtek Auto, while a few other fund houses have also faced similar problems with regard to corporate bonds of a few other distressed firms.

At a meeting here today, Sebis board undertook a review of the prudential limits on investments by mutual funds and approved a wide range of changes which would be applicable to all fresh investments by any new or existing scheme.

The fund houses would be given appropriate time to confirm that their schemes are in compliance with the new investment restrictions.

The steps will mitigate risks arising on account of high levels of exposure in the wake of events pertaining to credit downgrades, put mutual funds in a better position to handle adverse credit events.

It would also provide mutual fund investors with enhanced diversification benefits, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said in a statement after the board meeting.
The Sebi board has approved amendment in Mutual Funds

Regulations, 1996, which will reduce sector exposure limits of debt schemes to 25% from current 30%.

In the case of housing finance companies, the cap is an additional 10%. Now, the regulator has decided to slash this to five%.

In addition, fund houses will not be able to invest more than 10% of a schemes corpus in debt securities of a single company. However, it can be extendable to 12% of net assets value (NAV) after trustees approval. Currently, the limit is 15%.

The regulator will merge credit exposure limits for single issuer of money market instruments and non-money market instruments at the scheme-level.

Sebi will introduce group level limits for debt schemes through issuance and the ceiling would be fixed at 20% of NAV extendable to 25% of NAV after trustee approval.

All Government-owned PSU entities, PFI and PSU banks will be excluded from group level limits, Sebi said.

Trustees will review exposure of a mutual fund, across all its schemes, towards individual issuers, group companies and sectors. Trustee should satisfy themselves on the levels of exposure and confirm the same to Sebi in the half-yearly trustee report, the regulator said.

McCune Davis pushes for curbs on title lending industry

A state lawmaker who fought to rid Arizona of payday lenders now wants new curbs on the title lending industry.

Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, said the triple-digit interest rates that are charged to consumers are as abusive as those which were charged by now-defunct firms that gave short-term loans based on a promise to repay. In fact, she said, the title loans are sometimes worse because, unlike payday loans, there is no limit on the amount that can be borrowed.

McCune Davis wants to require title lenders to live within the 36 percent annual interest cap that applies to other consumer lenders.

Her proposal came as the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Economic Integrity were releasing a report on Jan. 25 saying the title lending industry has exploded in Arizona since a 2008 statewide vote to kill off the payday loan industry in 2010.  It says there were just 159 lending locations at that time; now there are more than 630, a figure they said exceeds the number of payday lenders that surrendered their licenses in 2010.

What that means, according to the two organizations, is there is one outlet for every 8,072 adults, a figure they compute out to the seventh most concentrated title loan market in the country.

In general, state law says any interest rates higher than 36 percent a year are illegal usury.

In 2000, lawmakers created an exception for payday loans of up to $500 for two-week periods.

Lobbyists argued it filled a need. For those who could not pay off the loans immediately and had to renew, effective annual interest rates could exceed 400 percent.

But that law was a 10-year experiment.

And when legislators balked at renewing the special law, the industry took its case directly to voters, spending more than $17 million on that effort only to lose. That forced payday lenders out of business.

Title loans, however, are a separate category, relying on vehicle owners pledging their interest in their vehicles as collateral. The two consumer groups said interest rates can range up to 204 percent depending on the size of the loans, which have no limits.

McCune Davis said that is no more acceptable. She said there’s no reason to charge more than 36 percent interest.

Scott Allen, president of the Arizona Title Loan Association said that’s fine — if the state wants to take a position that some residents do not deserve credit.

Allen, who also operates 25 Cash Time title loan outlets in Arizona, said those whose credit rating is good enough can borrow from banks or even against their credit cards. But he said that is not an option for those with little or no credit.

Some of the reason for the higher interest rate, he said, is bad debt.

But he said it’s also a simple math problem: At 36 percent interest his firm would make just $60 on lending $1,000 for two months. And that, he said, simply doesn’t pencil out.

McCune Davis said that’s the wrong way to look at the issue.

“The question isn’t how much should somebody charge to make it profitable,” McCune Davis responded. “The question is how do you ethically make a loan to somebody and actually give them a fair chance of being able to repay it.”

And if there is really too much risk to lend at 36 percent, she said, then perhaps the loan should not be made.

“If you can’t make a loan to somebody and then have a reasonable chance of repaying the loan, that’s loansharking,” McCune Davis said. “That’s not ethical lending.”

Allen said that’s ignoring the reality that people in need will find the money — somewhere.

He said now Arizonans get to borrow from “a licensed, regulated lender in the state of Arizona that has a brick-and-mortar storefront where a consumer can go if they have any type of an issue.” The alternative, said Allen, is going “online to find some unlicensed, off-shore lender.”

Retail Jewel Box Houses Fast Food in Rotterdam

The structure is a simple steel skeleton with its rectangular form offset to articulate it and the corner. It took only two months to erect. The architects planned the structure to be able to use the foundation of the former kiosk. All elements were prefabricated, including two-story, 20-foot-tall (6 m) glass panels; perforated anodized aluminum facade and ceiling panels; and the single-piece cantilevered staircase. Building construction costs, excluding interior furniture, fixtures, and equipment, were about €1.1 million ($1 million in mid-2015).

The historic post office behind the pavilion was decommissioned in August 2007 and sold to a team comprising the Post Rotterdam Consortium (made up of Rotterdam-based Delta Development Group, an international project developer active in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy; and SNS Property Finance, based in Leusden,) and Alderman Hamit Karakus from the municipality of Rotterdam.

In November 2009, the consortium presented plans by UNStudio, the Amsterdam-based architecture firm that designed the redevelopment of the former post office at Coolsingel 42. In the post office’s 300,000 square feet (28,000 sq m), Delta conceived upscale retail shops, restaurants, cafÃs, and bars combined with a luxury hotel, which would house conference facilities and offices. The interior central hall, 74 feet (23 m) high, was formed with large parabolic concrete beams, between which large glass skylights let light stream into the atrium.

Community projects across Aylesbury Vale to benefit from funding

gt; A permanent base for Shopmobility in Buckingham town centre.

The New Homes Bonus Fund was set up by Aylesbury Vale District Council using money it receives from central Government when new homes are created in the district.

Cllr Howard Mordue, cabinet member for finance, resources and compliance said: “These funds make such a difference in helping projects around Aylesbury Vale to improve facilities in our local communities.

“I would encourage those who are interested to come forward now and see if AVDC can help.”