by YES! Weekly staff

Legislators plead for homeowners

Democratic members of the US House Financial Services Committee implored more than a dozen executives in the mortgage industry to exercise leniency towards homeowners who have defaulted on home loans in an Aug. 5 letter. The congressional districts of two out of the four of the signatories — Reps. Brad Miller and Mel Watt — include parts of Greensboro. CEOs of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citigroup, Wells Fargo & Co., HSBC Finance Corp., Washington Mutual, Bank of America and Ameriquest were among the recipients. “Given the recent enactment of major housing reform legislation — most importantly, the October 1 start date of the FHA “Hope for Homeowners” refinance program, we are calling upon servicers to forbear foreclosures for potentially eligible homeowners over the next few months, review their loan documents and prepare to refinance eligible borrowers by October 1,” the legislators wrote. The letter warns that lack of forbearance “facilitates more foreclosures, puts more houses on the market and risks a vicious cycle.”

— JG

Still-born Racial Justice Act mourned

NC Reps. Larry Womble (D-Forsyth) and Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth) joined with the NC NAACP on Aug. 6 to mourn the state Senate’s failure to take up the NC Racial Justice Act, a bill sponsored by the two legislators, before the end of the recent short session. The proposed would block executions from occurring if the person sentenced can establish that persons of one race are more likely to receive the death  sentence than another. The legislation passed the House in 2007, but an NAACP press release contends that the “Senate refused to bring the Racial Justice Act to the Senate floor for a vote so that North Carolinians could truly see how elected officials in this state feel about issues dealing with race and fairness in state policymaking.” Sens. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange), Dan Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg) and Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) were praised for their support of the bill, while Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight (D-Dare) and Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand (D-Cumberland) were singled out for blocking the vote.

— JG

Petition crosses GSO council’s radar

Greensboro Mayor Yvonne Johnson told YES! Weekly on Aug. 4 that she expects the Greensboro City Council to review the protest petition, a provision in state law for blocking rezonings to which the city was an exempted through an act of the NC General Assembly in 1971. The council had recently received a memo from Planning Director Dick Hails to City Manager Mitchell Johnson providing background on Greensboro’s exemption. Hails cited a 2008 report by the Institute of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill that found that only about 5 percent of zoning decisions across the state that had protest petitions attached received more than a simple majority but less than the required _ majority vote. The report also found that the presence of a protest petition may lead to greater amounts of communication between developers and surrounding property owners, Hails said. Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) has pledged to sponsor legislation next year to restore the protest petition in Greensboro.

— JG

Holliday: Wray’s no racist

Former Greensboro police Chief David Wray was not a racist, but simply a poor administrator. That is what then-Mayor Keith Holliday told Charlie Nichols, a friend who distributes and services speedometers, shortly before leaving office in December 2007. Holliday noted that Nichols “had a long and personal relationship with many members of the GPD” and then tried to persuade him that City Manager Mitchell Johnson had acted appropriately by holding Wray accountable. “Either David did not know that members of his command staff were breaking policy/procedures, allegedly breaking the laws of NC, and many other acts of bad behavior that we have proof of… thus I do not want him as police chief due to the fact he was alerted many times of these problems and either chose to ignore or blindly believe there was no problem… or he did know this activity was going on within the command staff and as such endorsed the behavior by not acting to stop it… thus I do not want him as my police chief,” Holliday wrote. “It has to be one way or the other.” The mayor added a caveat about Lt. James Hinson, the black officer whose complaint helped bring Wray down: “BTW, I realized that none of the above mentions James Henson [SIC] or others that many people feel are the root of the problem…. While I will not comment on them, I will simply say ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ and “the ends justifies the means” is an excuse that is not acceptable….”

— JG

Gangleader expresses forgiveness

The day after Jorge Cornell of the North Carolina Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation was shot at an apartment in southwest Greensboro, the Rev. Nelson Johnson conveyed a plea for peace on behalf of the gang leader during a press conference at Faith Community Church on Monday. “He is asking those who love him, those who he is affiliated with, and all those who sense this injustice not to retaliate,” Johnson said. “He doesn’t believe that will be helpful.” Russell Kilfoil, AKA King Peaceful, of the Latin Kings said Cornell was in stable condition. “We’re still going to progress with this,” Kilfoil said. “We’re still going to fight for peace in our community.” Cpl. EG Sigmon, a member of the Greensboro Police Department’s gang enforcement team, said stray bullets from the shooting went into an adjacent apartment that was possibly occupied, and expressed frustration that Cornell had not cooperated with the police in helping solve the crime. “It’s a very noble trait for anybody who has been harmed to offer forgiveness, but other people may have been victimized too,” Sigmon said. “We have been blocked by the victim from solving the crime.”

— JG