Affecting Jasper County SOBs.
Citizens for a Decent
Environment member John Putnam released documents
showing that the Judge in Erotic Citys suit
against Jackson County, MO has summarily
dismissed their case as without merit and upheld
the constitutionality of the Jackson County
Ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses
"This is relevant to your
readership," says Putnam, "because the
ordinance endorsed by Citizens for a Decent
Environment that Jasper County Commissioners
declined to pass last year was the same basic
ordinance written by the same attorney, Scott
Bergthold of Chatanooga, TN, as the Jackson
County Ordinance. This same language has already
been upheld at least 23 times previously at the
appellate level. Perhaps this will give Jasper
County officials confidence that they can act to
protect the citizens of Jasper County from the
adverse secondary effects of five SOBs in Jasper
Bailed Out Bank
Had Friends in High Places.
by Paul Kiel,
of banks seeking bailout money is a long and
winding one. They cant even get a "hi
there" from Treasury officials, bankers
But OneUnited Bank is that rare
success story. Even though it was scolded by
regulators in October for poor lending practices
and executive perks (like a Porsche), it landed
$12 million in bailout money in December.
The difference: two friends in
high places. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the
chairman of the House Financial Services
Committee, was so moved by OneUniteds
plight that he tailored a provision in the $700
billion bill so that the bank would get special
consideration for help. And Rep. Maxine Waters
(D-CA), who also sits on that committee, could be
relied on to ring up the Treasury to make sure
they knew just how special OneUnited was.
Waters may have had particular
reason to jump in, the Wall Street Journal
reports. Her husband is a former director of the
bank, and as of the lawmakers last
financial disclosure statement, released May of
last year and covering 2007, her husband held
between $250,000 and $500,000 in stock in the
bank. Its unclear whether he still holds
that stock, because Waters didnt respond to
the Journals questions. (Waters herself
also once had $250,000 to $500,000 in stock in
the bank but sold it in 2004.)
In a January interview with the
Journal, she claimed to be ignorant that
OneUnited had finally scored a Treasury
investment, adding that it was "just a
Frank has said that he paid the
bank special attention because its based in
Massachusetts, is the states only financial
institution owned by African-Americans and took a
big hit when the government seized control of
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (It held a large
amount of Fannie and Freddie preferred stock.)
As Frank put it to the Journal,
"I did feel that it was important to frankly
try and save them since it was federal action
that put them into the dumper." One could
also argue it was a bad investment that put them
in the dumper, but Frank and Waters are clearly
inclined to give OneUnited the benefit of the
Waters isnt the only
lawmaker with a financial tie to a financial
institution that got a piece of the bailout.
ProPublica reported in January that House
Republican Whip Eric Cantors (R-VA) wife
works for a subsidiary of a bank that got bailout
funds. A USA Today investigation found that two
dozen members of Congress had "substantial
financial ties" to bailout recipients.
How Hard the
Fed Looked for AIGs Potential Losses
Treasury Secretary Timothy
Geithner, left, listens as Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at a House Financial
Services Committee hearing on March 24, 2009.
(Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Before you handed over $85
billion to a failing company, what sort of
information would you need to know about it?
The Federal Reserve and the
Treasury Department had to make quick decisions
to save AIG back in September. Officials believed
they had to act urgently to avoid a global
financial seize-up. They didnt have a lot
of time to plumb AIGs byzantine books.
So what information did they
have? And what information have they used in the
following six months, which saw three additional
bailouts, each one prompted by apparent
realizations that the situation was even worse
than was known before?
The public still does not know
the answer, but that is slowly starting to
At yesterdays House
Financial Services Committee hearing on the AIG
bailout, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke promised he
would let Congress in on the secret.
The Fed has already briefed at
least one congressman on the issue.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD)
wrote to both the Fed and Treasury in late
January, asking essentially the same questions
about what information the government used to
justify its AIG rescue, which has grown to a
commitment of up to $180 billion.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New
York responded to his inquiry and has since sent
representatives to Washington, D.C., to meet with
Cummings, who said the Fed was
"forthcoming" and responded with
"candor" to his request.
But the discussions were
confidential; a Cummings staff member said the
congressman cant discuss them.
"I look forward to the
release of additional information to the public
regarding the valuations that the Fed is
conducting to assess AIGs business
lines," Cummings said in an e-mail to
ProPublica. "The more information we have,
the more we can be assured that these valuations
are being conducted appropriately and that AIG
can one day repay the money it owes to the
millions of taxpayers who continue to struggle
every day to make ends meet."
The Treasury -- which has the
most money on the line when it comes to AIG --
has not yet responded to Cummings request.
No one at the hearing asked Treasury Secretary
Tim Geithner, who was head of the New York Fed
when the initial decisions were made, to provide
Treasurys set of numbers.
So while some rays of sunlight
are starting to poke through the clouds, the
public and Congress for the most part remain in
Agencies Flush With Stimulus Cash.
When President Obama spoke of
how the stimulus would "rebuild our roads
and our bridges and our schools," he forgot
to mention another thing the stimulus will be
rebuilding our bathrooms.
Among the 150 stimulus-related
bid requests posted on the federal contracting
Web site FedBizOpps.gov is one for "22
precast concrete toilets" at the Mark Twain
National Forest in Missouri.
The stimulus will also be used
to demolish the sauna and build showers in the
womens locker room at Grand Forks Air Force
Base in North Dakota. Bathrooms will also be
renovated at the McConnell Air Force Base in
Kansas, while the Laughlin Air Force Base in
Texas will replace the fitness center steam
But the federal government
isnt the only one spending recovery dollars
on the nations lavatorial infrastructure.
As we noted earlier, Oregon is
planning new vinyl walls for its restrooms in
Admittedly, while Obama
didnt mention bathrooms per se, he has
spent a lot of time talking about the need to get
rid of waste.