(Some good inside baseball on the story that has shocked me out of my complacency – promoted by Danny the Red (hair))
The sacking of Erin Toll as Director of the Colorado Real Estate Division last week created quite a stir and was linked to the escalating dispute between Sen. Ted Harvey and his company American Home Funding and the Division’s reported investigation into deceptive advertising flyers.
While it seems this may have been the straw that broke the camels back, and there’s some very real issues raised about Harvey’s attempt to change the law involving the regulatory proceedures regarding licensed mortgage brokers, the Colorado Senate seems quite compliant in marching to the tune of the mortgage brokerage business.
Attached as Senate amendments to HB 10-1141 and passed on second reading on March 12 were two amendments which strips the current authority of the Director to investigate and fine mortgage broker scofflaws and instead establishes a board system, and another amendment that requires that complaints about mortgage brokers be closed to public inspection.
HB 10-1141 sponsored by Rep. Terrance Carroll is a consumer friendly bill which established the requirement for mortgage companies to be registered by the division of real estate. The bill passed the House, it was sent to the Senate, and reported out of committee to the Committee of the Whole.
But on March 12 on the floor, an amendment was added by Republican Sen. Mark Scheffle which strips the Director of all the rulemaking, enforcement, and administrative authority over mortgage brokers and placces it in the hands of a seven member board – five of which are required to be mortgage brokers.
This is clearly a case of the fox guarding the hen house. Boards also regulate real estate brokers and appraisers, but the proposed mortgage broker board would have a higher concentration of industry board members than any of the other boards.
At issue is the question of effective enforcement. Director Toll has been able to issue subpoenas in the investigation of mortgage fraud, and in fact if you are investigating financial crimes it is critical to do so. Under the amendment, the authority to approve issuance of subpoenas would transfer to the board, which would then only approve issuance upon a majority vote of the board which is dominated by industry board members.
Erin Toll has not been reluctant to use the power of subpoena (which by current law she clearly has) to investigate mortgage fraud. The reality is, the proposed legislation would gut a key element used in the investigation and prosecution of mortgage fraud because as a practical matter the industry dominated board will be far less likely to approve issuance, and even when doing so would need a majority vote of the board.
The other amendment was introduced by Republican Shawn Mitchell, and it requires that complaints and investigations be closed to public inspection (currently they may be closed at the discretion of the Director). While there may be some legitimate privacy concerns here, this clearly travels the path of less transparency. And since mortgage fraud is one of the primary reasons behind the collapse of the housing market and subsequent recession, is less transparency appropriate here?
Sen. Scheffel is firmly ensconced in the mortgage industry – he is founder and one of the owners of Champion Bank in Parker, and in 2008 his third highest campaign contribution by sector came from the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate industry, so there’s little doubt why he’s doing Ted Harvey’s bidding. In 2008 Shawn Mitchell received $ 18,125 from the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate industry (his highest amount from any sector), so even Stevie Wonder can see through him.
But what is disturbing is a Democrat controlled Senate allowing these amendments to be rolled right into a bill on second reading. There was no committee hearing on these rather contentious proposals, no opportunity for parties in interest to testify at hearing or otherwise make their views known.
Spring is in the air (even after our little snowstorm), and with it comes the pleasant fragrances of warm weather. But down at the Capitol, the ever present smell of money overpowers all.
If we had more regulators like Toll, the countries real estate problems would not have been so damaging. It is amazing how we can reward deceptive people and discourage innovative, hard working business citizens.
Does this mean she’s been fired? What’s her status?
And as of yet, they haven’t really been answered because nobody is talking.
Most sources refer to her as “on leave”. Nobody will say if this leave is voluntary or involuntary. As I understand it, she can only be fired for specific causes like gross incompetence, malfeasance, etc.
She has hired an employment attorney to represent her.
My right wing real estate agent neighbor loves Toll.
On the other hand I understand from a former co-worker (and hardcore Democrat) that Toll stepped way over the administrative malfeasance standard of improper comments/treatment of colleagues and staff.
Cucumber Cool Martini
By The Denver Post
1 1/2 ounce cucumber simple syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces vodka
4 basil leaves
Peeled cucumber slice for garnish
In a martini shaker, add a few ice cubes, the basil, the lemon juice and the cucumber syrup. With a wooden pestle, muddle the basil with other ingredients. Fill the shaker with more ice cubes, add the vodka and shake well. Strain the liquid into a chilled martini glass; garnish with a slice of cucumber coated in salt.
Cucumber syrup: Peel 1 large cucumber. Cut off the ends, cut into chunks and blend in a blender. Pass through a cheesecloth and chill. In a small pot, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil and chill. Add 1 part of syrup to 2 parts cucumber puree and chill until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups.
Regardless of which scumbag introduced the amendments, they had to be voted on.
Yes there will be a board – but it can only have one person from the mortgage industry on it. If you’re going toa make it a system to never find problems – then just say there will be no regulation.
I’ve been befuddled by what little I’ve read about this.
Anyone know the status of the bill at the point?
After the recent financial meltdown, did we not learn that we need more and better regulation?
We always do the same thing: the public gets ripped off, everyone wonders “how can this happen”, then we create or empower regulatory agencies to ensure whatever abomination we are whining about never happens again.
Then we put someone in place to manage the operation and ensure consumers never get fleeced again; someone like Toll.
Of course, we all know that the minute someone like Toll actually does her job really well, the people most guilty and in need of enforcement are the first to complain and usually get their way.
I think creating a board when you already have an agency in place and someone at the helm with the moxie and teeth to police the industry is a very, very bad idea. A board would have much less power, would be much slower to respond and would end up being much less effective, if at all. A board is a bad, bad idea.
Business people oftentimes have epiphanies resulting in “brilliant” yet unethical ideas to garner more money from consumers – we need people like Erin Toll to do the job she was doing without being subjected to this kind of railroading for doing her job.
I am most disappointed in the treatment that Erin Toll is receiving for doing her job as well as hobbling the effectiveness of HB 10-1141 and the Real Estate Division.
Why do we continually live through an endless cycle of (a) being shocked about lack of ethics; (b) fixing the problem; and finally, (c) making sure we dismantle the fix so we can again be shocked by a lack of ethics?
If you have a board, it should be made up of people from different industries, different walks of life as well as a couple of people with no vested interest one way or the other.
Something like 3 consumers that have experienced getting fleeced, 3 industry representatives that have experience in fleecing the weak minded and 3 disinterested people to help balance the other two groups.
Nah, a board is just a bad idea – hell, just the idea of trying to coordinate all those individual schedules so they could meet? …and how often would they meet? …and who would do the actual paper work? …and how much would we have to pay these individuals for the time they would spend duplicating the effort of an existing agency?
hmmm… the idea of a board seems to be sort of stupid… who came up with such a stupid, costly idea anyway? Please don’t tell me it was a fiscally responsible Republican…
It’s a way of creating non-regulation regulation of an industry. Either Colorado should regulate mortgage brokers, or it shouldn’t. If we want to regulate brokers, let the hired guns (like Toll) do their work. If we don’t want to regulate them, abolish the entire framework and let the free market reign.
Ever wonder why the public has no faith in government anymore?
It depends how its composed. My point on my story is this is a pretty major policy change, and shouldn’t be done just tacking on an amendment in which there are no hearings and no input from interested parties.
The Denver Post (which usually takes a pro real estate industry position) agreed on an opinion piece last Friday (19th) that these amendments were not a good idea at this time.
This just in from the DP – comments from Terrance Carroll about the amendments.
Full article http://www.denverpost.com/sear…
HB1141 discussed in this article was scheduled for a 3rd reading 3/16. The bill was laid over for 3rd reading on 3/22, but then referred back to Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee. Incidentally, Sen. Tochtrop is the committee chair and committee members include Senators Mitchell, Scheffel and Harvey. The bill is now on the committee’s schedule for 3/31.