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As reported earlier this week, a committee of the General Assembly will meet tomorrow to, by all indications, recommend legislation to loosen regulations on mortgage brokers. As also reported in the story, consumer advocates believe that the proposals to lower bonding requirements and do away with  the requirement of audited financial statements for regulated businesses is the direct opposite of what ought to be done. These facts remain beyond dispute.

Since the story ran on Tuesday, however, it’s come to my attention that another central premise — that tomorrow’s meeting was scheduled for the Friday before the Christmas holiday to help keep the matter flying under the radar of public scrutiny — may be in error (or, at least, an overstatement).

According to information forwarded to me last night, it does appear that various legislative deadlines and the limited availability of various members of the Committee on Banking Law Amendments on other dates played a significant role in the scheduling of the meeting for tomorrow. By all reports, the chairman of the Committee, Rep. Jonathan Jordan, has run an open process and allowed all parties and points of view to be heard as the committee has moved forward with its work.

And so, while is is clearly true that a) the proposed legislation is strongly opposed by consumer advocates as an unwise giveaway to a troubled industry, b) the scheduling of tomorrow’s meeting can’t help but minimize the public attention on what ought to be a controversial proposal and c) the best solution would have been for the committee in question to simply abandon its work on the subject (or at the least to have approached the process with greater foresight from the beginning so as to have been able to complete its work at a time in which its actions would have received a great deal more sunlight), it was incorrect to imply that tomorrow’s schedule was arranged for the sole purpose of evading public scrutiny.

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Mel WattThis just in from the good folks at the Center for Responsible Lending:

NC’s Rep. Mel Watt receives early and bipartisan support to head FHFA
Agency oversees financial enterprises with $6.7 trillion in assets

By Charlene Crowell

President Obama recently nominated Melvin (Mel) Watt, a long-time North Carolina Congressman, to direct the operations of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). While major news media reported on the development, few mentioned exactly what the new job would entail or the significance of an African-American potentially leading a key financial office.   Read More

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The crisis on Wall Street is forcing everyone to rethink their assumptions about banking, lending, and our economy.  Have you noticed how some on the right have attempted to pin the blame for these troubles onto the Community Reinvestment Act?  First it was Rush Limbaugh, then it was Fox News.

It is simply not true, says Peter Skillern, executive director of the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina, in this editorial submitted for the North Carolina Editorial Forum.  AIG has struggled because of bad bets on credit default swaps.  They were not even subject to CRA regulation.  As a matter of fact, neither were the great majority of transactions at Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns.  The culprits were negative equity, excessive housing supply, loose lending rules, and a lack of financial regulation.  That’s what our North Carolina policy leaders have known for some time.

Although North Carolina is better off than other places, there is still a lot of need for affordable and safe housing.  North Carolina’s affordable housing professionals are gathering in Durham on Thursday and Friday this week for the North Carolina Housing Coalition’s annual conference.  What is the near prospect for projects funded with tax credits?  What can developers of affordable housing do to utilize green building techniques? How can we revitalize our mobile home parks?  These are the kinds of questions that will be answered at the Durham Marriott.  Stay tuned!