Monday, January 25, 2010

New Mexico Democrats Still Promote Vote Fraud

The New Mexico state legislature is in its 30 day session. (Legislative sessions in even-numbered years are only 30 days long here, and can only consider topics included in the "governor's call".) And the legislature is continuing its actions against New Mexico's voters.

As previously noted, the legislature last year killed a Republican-sponsored voter ID bill on a straight party-line vote. That left New Mexico law in the state described by the Albuquerque Journal last year (registration/subscription required):

Current New Mexico law, approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, allows voters to identify themselves in one of several ways that don't involve a photo ID, including a “verbal or written statement” by the voter giving their name, registration address and year of birth.
In other words, current state law says you can just walk in and claim to be someone, and you can vote in their place.

This year's legislative Democrats want to expand this open invitation to fraud. At the request of Governor Bill Richardson (and presumably included in his "call"), Representative Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe) has introduced House Bill 123 which, if passed, will allow same day registration and voting at early voting sites without the need for a photo ID. (Same day registration would apparently be available only during early voting, and not on election day. Presumably, this is because the election day voting sites do not have real-time update access to the state's voter rolls, thus limiting the fraudulent updates to the early voting sites.)

In other words, you would be able to walk in and give a fictitious name, fictitious birth year, and fictitious address — with no documentation whatever — and be immediately placed on the voter rolls and immediately allowed to vote. This wouldn't be just an open invitation to vote fraud. It would be an absolute iron-clad guarantee of it.

HB 123 is being referred to two House committees, the Voters and Elections Committee and the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.

Oh, yes. Need I mention that Speaker Ben Lujan and Representative W. Ken Martinez (presumably still the majority leader) — who led the effort to kill voter ID last year — are members of the Voters and Elections Committee? Something tells me they will follow the wishes of the governor, and to hell with the wishes of New Mexico's citizens and voters.

As I have said before, anyone who opposes a serious voter identification requirement is objectively promoting vote fraud. That's why a large majority of New Mexico voters (apparently 80%) favor a voter ID law, but that doesn't matter since that 80% obviously doesn't include the Democrats in the legislature. I wonder why the Democrats are insisting on this. (Maybe I shouldn't wonder.)

Things like this tell me the Democrats have had control of the state legislature FAR too long.

Regulators Take Untroubled Bank From Its Owners

The federal Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) closed family-owned Charter Bank in New Mexico on Friday afternoon and handed it to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which gave it to Beal Financial Corporation of Plano, Texas. The FDIC said all bank branches would reopen on Monday under Beal's ownership.

The closure was a surprise because the bank was not having problems, except with its regulators.

Last fall, Office of Thrift Supervision examiners, responding to the national collapse of real estate development, ordered Charter to increase its allowance for loan losses from $10.8 million to $55.4 million, even though Charter had no delinquent commercial construction loans and only .34 percent of the loans in its commercial real estate portfolio were behind on their payments. That order reduced the level of capital Charter had on its books.
Then, last Wednesday, "OTS ordered Charter to find new capital as a buffer against insolvency or face closure." That order was followed by OTS' closing the bank just two days later.

Let's look at those figures again. This bank, which the regulators said was so troubled it had to be closed, had no delinquent commercial construction loans and just .34 percent — one third of one percent of its commercial real estate loans that were behind in their payments. That's a record I suspect very few banks in the country could match.

"This was not indicative of any instability on the part of the bank," New Mexico State Regulation and Licensing Secretary Kelly O'Donnell said Friday.

In an interview Saturday, Charter Bank President Glenn Wertheim said politics played a role in his bank's death. He noted that the AIG unit considered to have been the "linchpin" in the financial system collapse in September of 2008 was regulated by OTS, which ended up with much of the blame for the collapse. As a result, "OTS found itself fighting for its life as politicians called for its abolition or merger into other regulatory bodies." As a result, they "had a shift in examination standards", which subsequently resulted in Charter's untroubled loans being reclassified as toxic.

Charter's management, led since 2001 by bank President Glenn Wertheim, insisted that loans, mostly commercial real estate loans — which OTS said were troubled — were, in fact, being paid on time. OTS disagreed and ordered tens of millions of dollars of those loans to be classified as toxic.

That classification, recorded as an entry on the bank's balance sheet, on paper lowered Charter's capital (money regulators require banks to make sure their deposits are safe) to levels well below those regulators regard as sound, even though virtually all of Charter's commercial real estate borrowers continued to pay their bills on time.

Charter Bank specialized in mortgage loans designed to help first-time home buyers get affordable mortgages, even though they could have made more money offering other types of loans. Many of its loans were made in cooperation with Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA), established by the New Mexico legislature to help finance low-income home construction. According to MFA executive director Jay Czar, Charter Bank services "about 95 percent of the mortgages issued through the agency." It is unclear how the Charter Bank closure may affect MFA programs.
— Subscription to the Albuquerque Journal is apparently required for access to most of its news articles.

Dealergate & Quality Chrysler: Owners May Get Their Dealership Back

General Motors and Chrysler unceremoniously dumped a large number of dealerships last year as a part of their bankrupcy proceedings. Indications of political influence in the selection of which dealers were to be cut off earned the process the name of Dealergate.

I was aware at the time of the numbers of dealers being cut — General Motors cut 1,350 dealerships and Chrysler cut 789 (some accounts said 900). And I knew that Chrysler Corporation cut off the dealers it was dumping on June 9, 2009 — as soon as allowed by the bankruptcy court decision and its review by the US Supreme Court — and Chrysler specified that the auto inventories were to be taken from those dealerships (with Chrysler billing the closing dealership for the "service") to dealerships Chrysler was allowing to remain open. What I hadn't known was that the General Motors dealerships were allowed to remain open until October 2010 to sell their inventories.

Belatedly, at least some of the dealers may be able to have some recourse. Late last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed a law requiring mandatory arbitration for dealers challenging their termination. One dealership that has requested arbitration, according to an article (subscription required) in the Albuquerque Journal, is Albuquerque's Quality Jeep Chrysler — the dealer I wrote about previously.

The DiLorenzo family owned the Quality dealership for 22 years. They have no idea why they were targeted for closure. Annette DiLorenzo Thayer, the dealership's former Director of Operations, described this as "a chance at getting 'a little bit of justice' ".

"We are ecstatic for the opportunity to find out why they would take something from us, steal something from us, and give it to someone else for free," she told the Journal.
The DiLorenzo family wants to get its brand back, and hopes for reinstatement. Chrysler is still considering "whether to challenge the appeals process."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What Massachusetts' Voters Said

Once more, Trever (of the Albuquerque Journal) hits the nail squarely on the head.

What Massachusetts' Voters Want

There has been a lot of discussion since last Tuesday as to the meaning of Republican Scott Brown's election to the US Senate seat held for so long by Senator Edward M. (Teddy) Kennedy. The Washington Post did a poll to find out. Its results, as reported in an Associated Press story in the Boston Globe include:

Nearly two-thirds of those who supported Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley said their vote was intended partly to show opposition to the Democratic agenda in Washington, including the health care overhaul. Still, rather than just blocking proposals, three-quarters said they wanted to see Brown work with Democrats to get GOP proposals into legislation in general; nearly half said that specifically about the health care legislation.
In other words, Massachusetts' voters
  1. really don't like the agenda of the Democrats' national leadership (elsewhere, it was said they also didn't like the dishonest way the leadership has been pursuing that agenda), and
  2. they wanted a Senator who wouldn't be just an obstructionist, like this decade's Democrats when they were in the minority.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Even Before the Democrats' Medicare Cuts

The Democrats — or at least their Congressional leadership — pretend their "health care" bill won't damage Medicare, even though it takes half a trillion dollars from the program. But let's take a short look at some reality.

The Medicare "savings" are to be accomplished by cutting Medicare's payments for medical services rendered by more than 20%. The Congressional Democrats claim there is this level of fraud in the Medicare program. But they make no attempt to fix that problem, to attack the fraud they claim is there, instead taking out their legislative anger on all Medicare doctors and patients.

But, as everyone already knows, Medicare is in trouble even without these new cuts. Two ways.

  1. It's about to go bankrupt. It soon won't have enough money to pay its commitments.
  2. It only pays doctors about half what it should — half what patient treatment costs. That's why so many doctors won't take new Medicare patients.
Both aspects will be made substantially worse by stealing half a trillion dollars from the program.

And what brings this into focus now? The Mayo Clinic — cited by Barack Obama as a model of healthcare efficiency — has made a decision. Not only will its Arizona clinic not accept new Medicare patients, its existing Medicare patients will have to pay cash to stay with their Mayo doctors. That's because the Arizona clinics lost $120 million last year treating Medicare patients. Overall, the Mayo clinics lost $840 million on Medicare patients last year, which had to be made up from their non-Medicare patients.

Can you imagine how much worse it will be for Medicare doctors and Medicare patients if the Democrats' "health care" bill becomes law? And how many doctors will have to choose between bankruptcy and turning away Medicare patients needing medical care?