Friday, January 20, 2006

Dodging Responsibility - How the Game is Played, NY Style.

A news item out of New York, home to none other than alleged consumer-advocate but mostly presidential-wannabe Eliot Spitzer, caught the Court’s attention only briefly, but after a few nights sleep, the Court is hereby convened in the case of the People v. The New York Consumer Protection Board and the New York State Bar Association.

Without elaborating in the case style, the complaint now before this Court is:

Whereas, instead of aggressively enforcing state laws and bar association tenets regarding the actions of debt collectors and their law firms, the Board (with the apparent blessing of the Bar Association) is engaging in an effort to combat abusive debt-collection practices by educating consumers.

According to a quote in the story, agency spokesman John Sorensen said: "People who owe money have to repay debts, but they should also know they have rights under the law."

So to avoid the hard, dirty work of confronting bottom-feeding law firms and the Echeneidae Collectoris they front for, the Board will spend tax dollars to put on a show for various community groups around the state to inform them about their rights.

The court has seen in camera a pre-release version of the training video, and submits a transcript of it into evidence to wit:

New York: “See the man with the gun?”

Consumer/victim: “Uhh, that one?”

New York: “Yes, that one. The one with the loaded gun pointed at

Consumer/victim: “Yes, I see him.”

New York: “Good. Keep an eye on him. You have rights.”

Consumer/victim: “Why is he pointing the gun at me?”

New York: “He wants something from you.”

Consumer/victim: “What does he want?”

New York: “Probably money.”

Consumer/victim: “But I don’t even know him.”

New York: “That doesn’t matter. He says he knows you. In fact, he knows all about you.”

Consumer/victim: “I didn’t think you could own a handgun in New York.”

New York: “You can’t.”

Consumer/victim: “But he can?”

New York: “Nope. And we’re warning you that it’s illegal to own a handgun.”

Consumer/victim: “But you won’t do anything to him?”

New York: “He’s an attorney. And he hasn’t used it yet, has he?”

Consumer/victim: “Well, sort of. I think he’s threatening me with it.”

New York: “But he hasn’t shot you, has he?”

Consumer/victim: “Not yet. I guess he won’t shoot if I give him what he wants.”

New York: “Probably not. If he does, be sure to dial 911.”

Consumer/victim: “I hope someone will.”

New York: “Consider yourself informed. Our work here is done.”

Not exactly how we'd handle it 'round here. Any member of the aforesaid Board who sets foot on this side of the Pecos is in for a rude and short grand-tour of the jail follwed by a week's hard labor over at the county dump.

And for members of the NY Bar Association, don't expect to appear pro hac vice in my court until you clean up your own house up there.

A special admonishment to Mr. Spitzer's office is in order here. In the same news article, a spokeswoman for the AG indicated that there are two investigations going on into the actions of the Echeneidae Collectoris operating in New York.

The court admonishes the AG's office for abject failure to perform it's role - only two out of the thousands of Echeneidae Collectoris skulking around in New York are being investigated? That's a major blunder on the part of the spokesperson for revealing that absurdly low number, when even the BBB (another toothless watchdog) indicates collection complaints are number three on its list. But of course, in the eyes of the BBB anyone complaining about Echeneidae Collectoris has to be some kind of deadbeat trying to get out of paying what they owe.

Perhaps as the presidential election approaches, Mr. Spitzer's office will find room for a few more announcements about investigations, even if they never turn into actual prosecutions with real penalties.

Hint to the NY AG: Do a Google Search on "Orazio Lembo." The folks over there in NJ have a long list of Echeneidae Collectoris and their NY law firms who willingly participated.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Abramoff – Not the First, Certainly Not the Last

The smell up yonder in Washington finally got strong enough for somebody to kick someone's ass to do something, and what'ya know - they’ve found the perfect deep-pocketed, well-connected fall-guy, Jack Abramoff.

And hopefully, there are going to be some members of Congress and the Senate dragged into the light of day for not only dealing with Abramoff, but with other lobbyists who basically pave the streets with money, dealing in favors and perks for the powerful.

At the top of the list of tainted lawmakers, scurrying now like roaches when the light comes on, is none other than the man identified as “Number 1” in the investigation, Bob Ney, Republican Congressman from Ohio.

What most of the news media is swarming around is the Congressman’s position as Chairman of the House Administration Committee, all the while being led in that direction because of Ney’s handling of election reform issues the committee deals with. That, it seems, will always get the media’s attention because the news media believes it, not the average person, should steer elections and their results.

But under that umbrella, Ney’s far more profound impact on the average consumer will probably be kept out of the rain of publicity it so richly deserves.

As will his other cozy lobbyist pal, Wright Andrews of the Butera Andrews “law” firm, a lobbying powerhouse for many of the financial services firms and their associations. Saying Andrews is a Squaliforme promoter doesn’t do him, or them justice. Suffice it to say, nothing that Andrews and the Squaliformes don’t like will end up in a bill that comes out of Ney’s Financial Services Sub-committee.

In the guise of standardizing the patchwork of laws that have cropped up because of deliberate stalling of real lending reform efforts, Andrews has Ney promoting something called the “Responsible Lending Act,” which is little more than a nation-wide license for Squaliformes to supersede state laws that protect consumers.

Having stepped down (as in, ousted) from the House Administration Chairmanship, it isn’t yet clear whether or not Ney will get to keep his Chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee.

Hopefully, Andrews’ key to the kingdom and shepherd of the Squaliformes’ “Responsible Lending Act” will be forced from office and more appropriate pro-consumer legislation can find its way out of the stranglehold the industry has had on the committee.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A note from the Clerk of the Court

His Honor wishes to advise all in the surrounding environs that he has recovered from his extended vacation and Court will resume in normal fashion, er, well, let's just say shortly.

Oh, and a prosperous New Year to all - with the exception of the Squaliformes and scammers out there; to those, y'all are in for a rough year.