by Carol Harvey
Update: The auction has been postponed once again to July 20.
Just when you felt safe in your home, here comes another shark attack! Wells Fargo Bank – that shark – seems poised to bite off your leg with no warning.
We received late word tonight, Wednesday, June 20, that, despite the verbal promise from Wells Fargo Foreclosure Specialist Jamie Gyamfi to Archbishop Franzo King to extend his sale date to July 21, the bank will attempt the sale tomorrow, June 21, anyway.
Ms. Gyamfi gave a verbal extension to Archbishop King so an appraisal could place him in a program to save his home. The day following, when the appraiser completed the job, he told Archbishop King that Wells Fargo would let him know the results in three days. The bank, however, has not notified him. Nor have they put in writing the extension date promise.
Both verbal and written contracts are binding. Additionally, Archbishop King understands the law states that, for 30 days following such a promise or contract, the sale can’t resume.
Archbishop King suspects the bank could be engaging in a form of “dual tracking” where one department makes a promise to work with the homeowner while another sends auctioneers to points of sale like San Francisco City Hall and, unknown to the owner, auctions off the home.
Sign the petition: Please sign the petition to Foreclosure Specialist Jamie Gyamfi, call her at (515) 324-5115 and email her at email@example.com. Let her know this maneuver is unacceptable to all those standing in solid support behind Archbishop and Marina King.
Stop the auction: Then go to the auction tomorrow, Thursday, June 21, at 1:45 on the steps of City Hall, the Van Ness side. If the auctioneer seller attempts the sale, make a lot of noise with your voice, whistles, and pots and pans to block it. Be clever about your blocking. Get in close to the seller. We’ve been told these people, now wise to the noise tactic, slip in these sales by whispering in each other’s ears. Watch the last video below to see a successful effort to stop an auction.
Archbishop Franzo King, foreclosure fighter
When Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting’s Feb. 15, 2012, Aequitas Compliance Solutions report exposed irregularities and violations of law in 84 percent of bank foreclosures, San Francisco homeowners like Archbishop Franzo King were considerably emboldened to fight fiercely for their homes.
Foreclosure fighter King sees embedded in Ting’s statistics, especially those revealing communities of color as targets, a moral and spiritual dilemma, a double standard for rich and poor people, and a serious resistance to creating real solutions.
“We see how, with premeditated malice and forethought, the banksters have devastated the Black, Brown and poor communities of this nation.”
Who bears the cross?
Recently, His Eminence Archbishop Franzo Wayne King sat down with me at the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church, at 1286 Fillmore in San Francisco.
“Jesus said, ‘If you would be my disciple, pick up your cross and follow me,’” he observed. “What these banksters have put on poor homeowners! Should they bear the cross (of suffering) alone, and the banksters go free?”
He suggested that, in one blow, Wells Fargo and other big banks bankrupt the whole country financially and morally. “Are we now encouraging youth, ‘If you commit a crime, let it be white collar? Like Bernie Madoff, steal several million. Unless you’re the fall guy, you won’t go to jail. If you do, your family and future is protected.’”
Archbishop King fears we send a message to youth: “If a crime is a crime, and you commit the crime, do you do the time? Or do you do it just because you’re Black, Brown and poor?”
“No one’s really moving aggressively enough to hold these banksters accountable for the crimes they’re committing.”
In winter 2011, after the Occupy movement turned its attention to home foreclosures, San Francisco California Alliance for Community Empowerment [ACCE], together with a local Occupy-inspired homeowners’ group, Occupy Bernal, began an aggressive, smart and surprisingly successful campaign to keep neighbors in their foreclosed Bayview and Bernal Heights homes. On April 24, 2012, outside an occupied San Francisco Wells Fargo shareholders’ meeting, ACCE’s Grace Martinez told a Chronicle reporter, “If we’re successful in getting [Dexter Cato’s Bayview] house back, it’ll be the fourth house on that block that we were able to take back.”
A so-called mortgage modification
Occupy Bernal recently bestowed on Archbishop King a Good Neighbor award. The archbishop, part of the Bayview community since 1948, has owned his home there for 14 years near Dexter Cato’s house. A supremely valued and beloved member of his community, Archbishop King was tricked through no fault of his own into a bad mortgage loan by an unreliable seller. Like many of his vulnerable neighbors, he was told the unnecessary money could re-establish improved credit for his retirement by his making the payments on time. Knowing that in two years the payments would skyrocket, Mr. Unscrupulous vanished.
In 2007, the Archbishop’s monthly mortgage payments ballooned “from $1,200 to $1,600 to $2,800.”
Things cascaded downward. For two years, he and his wife Marina King depleted their “little savings,” now gone. “We’re looking up, and we’re another $30,000-$40,000 dollars in arrears, paying interest only.”
In late 2008, early 2009, they first approached Wells Fargo for the modification they never received. In 2009, they attended NACA’s [Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America] Cow Palace foreclosure event but couldn’t get a modification because they were current.
Last year, 2011, they fell behind. In 2011, Wells Fargo refused his 2009 modification request.
Since then, Archbishop King, like most foreclosure fighters, has endured the sword of Damocles swinging over his head – threat of eviction and imminent home sale.
His consecutive sale dates come and go fading to black like sequential death sentence reprieves. His case has apparently escalated to the CEO’s and vice president’s offices. They never resolve the problem.
A letter from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office stated: “Please understand that Representative Pelosi is not able to force a private bank to expedite your case or to act in your favor. Please do not hesitate to contact me at Rep. Pelosi’s San Francisco District office if I can be of further assistance to you.”
On the foreclosure fighter’s behalf, Occupy Bernal approached Supervisor David Campos.
Wells Fargo postponed Archbishop’s original Dec. 13, 2011, sale date to May 7, 2012, with a final sale date upcoming Thursday, June 21, 2012.
After May 7, the bank offered a “so-called modification.” Three factors made the modification unreasonable and unworkable:
1. The payments would continue to increase and the interest rate rise. Banks often offer modifications that accelerate above what people can afford, stringing them along until they’re in trouble once again, applying default or late fees until they owe thousands and never get current.
2. From his documentation, the bank calculated his income and payments higher than he could handle – 35.5 percent of their monthly income. Not the 31 percent the couple expected. They rented one of their rooms for $700, but lost the roomer. Archbishop’s church stipend decreased 50 percent.
3. Upon signing, he would waive all rights for legal action which could be taken if, in the future, as he hoped, “the bank’s criminal activity could be properly stated and realized by a court, to the degree that they can be held accountable.”
He presented his loss of income statement to the bank with a letter from Occupy attorney Bob Kane saying he appreciated the effort, “but [the agreement] needs to examine some things that had happened since this long process of so-called modification qualification.”
The bank responded, warning, “You have seven or eight days to sign that agreement. If you don’t, the foreclosure goes forward.”
“I wanted to sign it, but, when I looked at the bottom, it said I had talked to an attorney; I haven’t talked to an attorney.”
They gave him time to talk to an attorney. “(Bob Kane) did me the service of a letter to (help them) understand this is beyond what we would call workable.”
Archbishop King phoned his contact, Wells Fargo Foreclosure Specialist Jamie Gyamfi, at (415) 324-5115.
“‘Yes,’ she said, ‘We got the letter. Either you sign it like it is, or we move on.’”
He told her, “I feel like I’m standing on the Empire State Building. You got a gun to my head. You’re telling me, either sign this, jump or you’re going to blow my brains out.” He could not sign.
“That’s where we’re at now.”
Something more permanent than delays and postponements
Archbishop King observed that postponement, at best, buys time to settle with the bank. But he lives out the torture that delays and postponements bring. We need something less temporary than postponement.”
Unfortunately, in negotiation, the bank holds all the cards. For example, Wells Fargo locked his monthly payment at 35.5 percent of his gross monthly income – a rate he could not afford. To date, no entity can force the bank to lower the rate to the industry standard of 31 percent.
Legislation has limited effectiveness
In April 2012, John Avalos and David Campos led six San Francisco Supervisors in proposing a moratorium on city foreclosures. This legislation lacks enforcement.
By June 6, 2012, Evan Nemeroff reported in Mortgage Servicing News that the state legislature unanimously approved two bills for AG Kamala Harris’ Homeowner’s Bill of Rights. They allow Harris to “call special grand juries to investigate and indict alleged perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in multiple jurisdictions.
“Other portions of the proposed bill of rights are being considered in a Joint Legislative Conference Committee, including elements to restrict unnecessary foreclosures and protect the due process rights of borrowers and homeowners,” he wrote.
On June 1, 2012, J.P. of the Occupy Oakland Foreclosure Defense Group warned home auction protestors at San Francisco City Hall, “They’re making deals in so-called smoke-filled rooms about what’s going to be in it and what’s not.” He urged phoning legislators demanding a tough bill, cautioning them not to sell out to the banks and “dilute it to the point where it’s not going to mean anything.”
Ominously, on June 6, Martin Anderson posted on the Home Preservation Network: “The Big Banks and the FHFA’s Ed DeMarco brought their considerable political muscle to the job of killing the Homeowner Bill of Rights in California, and although technically there’s still some voting to do … trust me … that’s all, she wrote.” The powerful Federal Housing Finance Agency oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, holding a majority of U.S. mortgages. Ed DeMarco, in league with banks, has fought to block Kamala Harris’ efforts at every turn.
Archbishop King notes, although some people might be helped, legislation has limited effectiveness. For politicians, legislators and judges, “It’s about being re-elected. Banks spend money every day to lobby against putting teeth in that [legislation]. We can only expect so much from the political world.”
A Thurgood Marshall to fight for permanent bankster accountability
Archbishop King believes we need legal action leading to a permanent solution holding banksters accountable for their crimes. “You can tell me it’s against the law to spit on the sidewalk. Until you give me a ticket, I don’t really know if that’s true.”
He thinks we need tough, courageous lawyers like Thurgood Marshall, the great civil rights attorney later appointed to the Supreme Court, who “will stand up and not be bullied by the courts.”
“We need to hold these politicians and judges accountable to uphold a law which will put a real moratorium on illegal foreclosures.”
“The Honorable Marcus Garvey, founding president of the UNIA [Universal Negro Improvement Association] said, ‘A people without an army is a people without a voice.’ You got to put boots on the ground. You got to have people across this whole nation stand up and scream.”
Like Black Panther George Jackson, Archbishop King “supports disturbances of all kinds.”
He described the Saturday, June 9, 2012, Occupy Bernal “civil disturbance,” an educational and consciousness-raising Occupy action at the Bernal Heights Bank of America, Chase Manhattan and Wells Fargo. “When people see you protesting, somebody asks, ‘What’s going on?’”
Saving Archbishop Franzo King’s home
As a member of ACCE and Occupy Bernal, Archbishop King enjoys powerful support. “When you are surrounded in a fight, your command is to advance in all directions, protesting, sending email blasts and establishing new legislation.”
I reminded him that when Dexter Cato got his eviction notice, unaware of his rights, he left. Then he contacted ACCE and got back into his home.
Archbishop King smiled, remembering the event. “As I always say, ‘We don’t die; we occupy.’”
How you can help
Sign the petition: Wells Fargo has postponed the auction of the Kings’ home from Thursday, June 21, until July 20. Let’s use the extra time to pressure Wells Fargo to work with Archbishop Franzo and Marina King. Please take a moment to advocate for a family that has spent so much of their lives to ensure that others are taken care of. Sign the petition at http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6267/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6149.
Call Wells Fargo: Call Wells Fargo Foreclosure Specialist Jamie Gyamfi at (515) 324-5115. All you need to tell her is: “Save the home of Franzo and Marina King!”
Make some noise to stop the auction: Although Wells Fargo’s foreclosure auction of the Kings’ home has been postponed from Thursday, June 21, 1:30 p.m., to July 20, everyone is needed on the new date to stop the auction on the Van Ness side steps of City Hall. Come prepared to make lots of noise! Bring pots and pans to bang on. We want to drown out the auctioneer and shoo off any potential buyers.
The video below shows how a buyer was driven away from an auction with lots of noise. People brought mirrors to shine in his face and make him face himself. He refused to talk on camera to a KTVU news reporter, and he finally left. The sale was blocked.
Carol Harvey is a San Francisco political journalist specializing in human rights and civil rights. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.