SO, AFTER THE MEETING I WENT TO THE COMPTROLLER'S OFFICE TO FOLLOWUP ON AN ISSUE I BROACHED EARLIER THIS YEAR. 'WHY ARE THE CAMERAS IN THE BOARD OF ESTIMATE MEETING ROOM STILL NOT WORKING AFTER BEING ON THE WALL FOR SEVERAL MONTHS AND HAVING HAD THE BILL PASSED FOR YEARS AND ADVERTIZED ON THE COMPTROLLER'S WEBSITE AS OPEN SESSION ON TV CHANNEL 25----'? FIRST I HEARD THAT SHE WILL GET TO IT WHEN SHE DOES. THEN I HEARD THAT A MESSAGE WOULD BE GIVEN TO THE COMPTROLLER AND SOMEONE WOULD CALL (I HAVE NEVER RECEIVED A RETURN CALL FROM THE CITY!) SO A CALL TO PRESIDENT YOUNG'S OFFICE GOT ME A 'SOON'. I WILL BE WRITING A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST ON THIS ONE AND ASKING THE LOCAL MEDIA TO PURSUE THIS.
FOLLOWING THE IBM/TELECOMM ISSUE THE FIREFIGHTERS WERE NEXT TO PROTEST THE FIRE CHIEF'S RAISE IN THE MIDST OF SPENDING CUTS. CITY COUNCIL AND ALL TOP EXECUTIVES GET RAISES IT IS SAID. THE FIREMEN ARE OBVIOUSLY FURIOUS ABOUT LOSING WAGES/BENEFITS AND NOW CLOSING OF STATIONS MEANING MORE WORK. IT'S PARTICULARLY GALLING AFTER SITTING AND HEARING MILLIONS IN DEVELOPMENT MONEY GIVEN AWAY. WHAT MAKES IT WORSE FOR THESE GUYS IS THAT IT WAS RAWLINGS-BLAKE AND JACK YOUNG ALONG WITH O'MALLEY THAT DELIBERATELY DEFUNDED THESE PUBLIC PENSIONS THROUGH THE 1990s-2000s AND IT WAS THIS VERY COMPTROLLER PRATT THAT INVESTED BADLY FOR LOSSES ON PENSION INVESTMENTS, AND AS IS SAID ABOVE.....O'MALLEY BETTING ON LIBOR AND OTHER FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS WITH A VERY CRIMINAL WALL STREET LOSING LARGE SUMS. YOU ARE A HARD WORKING PROFESSIONAL PLAYING BY THE RULES STANDING IN FRONT OF THIS, BEING TOLD YOUR FUTURE IS NO LONGER WHAT YOU THOUGHT IT WAS.
File ID Type Status Introduced Date 10-0224R
Enactment No.: Title: Investigative Hearing - Broadcasting of Baltimore City Government Proceedings FOR the purpose of examining the logistical requirements for, and efficacy of, requiring that meetings and/or hearings of the Board of Estimates, the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals, and the Board of Liquor License Commissioners be broadcast on cable TV or webcast to provide greater transparency, accountability, and openness to the workings of government and to give a wider audience to Baltimore City citizens unable to attend government meetings in person.
President Young, Bill Henry, Nicholas C. D'Adamo, Warren Branch, William H. Cole, IV, Sharon Green Middleton, Helen L. Holton, Carl Stokes, Mary Pat Clarke, James B. Kraft, Edward L. Reisinger, Belinda K. Conaway, Agnes Welch, Rochelle 'Rikki' Spector
9/20/2010 City Council Introduced to the City Council 9/20/2010 City Council Assigned to the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Completed on 11/8/2010 9/23/2010 City Council President Referred for a Report to the Board of Municipal & Zoning Appeals due on 10/23/2010. Completed on 10/28/2010 Notes: No objection 9/23/2010 City Council President Referred for a Report to the Board of Liquor Licenses Commissioners due on 10/23/2010. 9/23/2010 City Council President Referred for a Report to the Mayor's Office of Cable and Communications due on 10/23/2010. Completed on 10/28/2010 Notes: Favorable 9/23/2010 City Council President Referred for a Report to the Dept. of Finance due on 10/23/2010. Completed on 10/26/2010 Notes: Comments 10/4/2010 Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Scheduled for a Public Hearing to the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations due on 11/1/2010. Completed on 11/1/2010 Notes: CABLE TV 25 11/8/2010 Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Recommended Favorably to the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Completed on 11/8/2010 11/8/2010 City Council Adopted
MY NOTE TO LOCAL MEDIA:
WE HAVE SEEN CAMERAS ON THE WALL FOR MONTHS IN THE BOARD OF ESTIMATES MEETING ROOM BUT NO TV ACCESS AS PROMISED TWO YEARS AGO. THIS IS THE CRITICAL CITY OFFICE IN NEED OF TRANSPARENCY. THE COMPTROLLER'S OFFICE SAID SHE WILL DO IT WHEN SHE DOES. ANOTHER OFFICE SAYS IT WILL BE DONE SOON. WE NEED MEDIA PRESSURE ON THIS IMPORTANT TOPIC!
THE BALTIMORE SUN WROTE THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE O'MALLEY ENTERED INTO THESE SHADY DEALS WITH GREAT SUMS OF CITY MONEY AND NEEDED AN EXCUSE FOR DOING IT. REMEMBER THAT THIS IS THE SAME TIME HE DEFUNDED PUBLIC SECTOR PENSIONS TO SEND MONEY TO THE BANKS AND IT WAS THE SAME TIME THE BANKS WERE IN FULL SWING WITH MASSIVE MORTGAGE FRAUD AND TALK OF THE INEVITABLE COLLAPSE OF THE ECONOMY WAS COMMONPLACE. WE WILL SEE PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR FROM THIS SETTLEMENT AS WITH OTHERS AND YOU WILL NOT HEAR RAWLINGS-BLAKE SHOUTING AGAINST THAT!
With Libor suit, Baltimore reinforces role as banking watchdog City is lead plaintiff in class action that 'goes to the heart of our financial system'
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun 6:46 p.m. EDT, July 14, 2012
Two huge civil cases led by Baltimore — one that ended last week as the other gained momentum — spotlight City Hall's emerging role as an aggressive watchdog against the misdeeds of multinational banks.
On Thursday, Wells Fargo settled a nationwide suit launched by the city four years ago that alleged the bank discriminated against black and Latino mortgage borrowers.
Baltimore is also the lead plaintiff in a class action suit against a group of financial firms worldwide it accused of conspiring to keep a key interest rate benchmark low — and thereby siphon off money from the city treasury. The case, pending in a New York federal court, drew fresh attention when the British megabank Barclays recently agreed to a related $450 million settlement with regulators.
A succession of Baltimore leaders have brought several class action suits against banks, alleging a range of financial improprieties that ultimately cost taxpayers and residents, making it one of the more activist municipalities in the country.
"They've taken an active approach to policing the public markets," said Bill Carmody, a lead outside attorney on the interest rate case. A lot of municipal plaintiffs want the money but don't want the responsibility of taking control of a case, he said. "They've stepped up to the plate."
Fear of retribution from banks has not scared off Baltimore's leaders, said City Solicitor George A. Nilson.
"It's to the credit of our two mayors that they didn't back off on Wells Fargo and these other suits," said Nilson, applauding Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her immediate predecessor Sheila Dixon.
Wells Fargo settled the Baltimore suit and a related one filed by the U.S. Justice Department for $175 million, most of which goes to borrowers allegedly discriminated against. The city was allocated $7.5 million, money that Rawlings-Blake says will be used to assist Baltimore homebuyers.
"It all started here in Baltimore City," said Thomas E. Perez, the U.S. assistant attorney general who heads the Justice Department's civil rights division. He appeared at City Hall with Rawlings-Blake on Thursday to announce the settlement and credited Baltimore for sparking recognition of the role race played in the subprime mortgage scandal.
Though the Wells Fargo settlement was big, the nation — and world — may have a much larger financial stake in Baltimore's interest rate suit, experts say.
"It could be billions. Or tens of billions. Or maybe even more," said Phillip Swagel, professor in international economic policy at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and a former assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department.
Baltimore's share could range from hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions, Nilson said.
The suit alleges that banks purposefully suppressed the London interbank offered rate — Libor, for short — during the late 2000s.
Libor is a daily average of the interest rates that banks around the world say they use when they're lending to one another. The rate is meant to reflect market conditions, Swagel said.
Set by the British Bankers Association, a trade group the banks report rates to, Libor is tied to the interest rates on trillions of dollars worth of debt, such as home loans and municipal bonds.
In its settlement with British and U.S. regulators, Barclays admitted that it underreported its rate because it made the bank appear more stable.
Baltimore and more than a dozen other plaintiffs, including public and private entities, believe other large banks did the same thing.
The city sued in August because of Libor's relationship to some of Baltimore's bonds, naming banks on the Libor-setting panel, including Bank of America, Barclays and Citibank.
In the early 2000s, during Martin O'Malley's tenure as mayor, Baltimore issued bonds tied to Libor to raise money for parking infrastructure, water utilities and other projects. To entice investors, the bonds paid a floating interest rate — Libor plus an additional percentage. Such floating rates insulate investors from interest rate swings and inflation.
But they can present problems for municipalities with tight budgets. If interest rates shoot up, a municipality would need to find money by either raising revenue or cutting costs to pay more to the bond investors.
Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun
The reason Baltimore is involved in so many of these lawsuits is that its leaders look the other way as these frauds are happening! Everyone knew these banks were targeting minorities unlawfully as subprimes mortgage sales thrived in Baltimore under O'Malley and this city council. If Rawlings-Blake were interested in justice she would have been shouting loudly and strongly when Attorney General Gansler agreed to the $25 billion settlement giving her constituents $1,900 for their trouble rather than the $600-800 billion most financial analysts agreed was reasonable. All these settlements are absurd and hurt the people more than help as these financial institutions simply write these payments into their operating costs. She should be appalled at the lack of convictions and the failure to admit to guilt.
There is no way any politician in this climate of continuous fraud from every business sector can be mentioned positively. Shame on the Baltimore Sun for pandering!
KEEP IN MIND THAT THE 1990s AND 2000s SAW BOOMING REVENUES BECAUSE OF THIS ARTIFICIAL MORTGAGE BUBBLE. ALSO REMEMBER THAT STARTING IN 2006 THE RUMORS OF COLLAPSE HIT THE NEWS. THE 6.8 ACTUARIAL RETURN WAS HIGHBALLING THE RATE SO THAT LESS HAD TO BE SET ASIDE. IT WAS DONE ON PURPOSE. JUST LIKE PRIVATE SECTOR PENSIONS AND NOW SOCIAL SECURITY, THESE POLITICIANS DELIBERATELY RAIDED THESE TRUSTS EXPECTING US TO JUST ACCEPT WHAT WE WERE GIVEN.....THAT IS WHY FIREMEN ARE MAD!
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!
Baltimore City pensions lose $600 million January 28, 2009 The ExaminerThe Washington Examiner
Mounting losses for Baltimore City's pension funds are forcing officials to brace for millions of dollars in increased contributions come July, further adding to the fiscal woes of a city facing declining tax revenues across the board.
Actuaries have determined the city must increase its contribution to retirees' benefits by $20 million over the previous fiscal year -- a 15 percent increase.
Taxpayers will have to make that up by either paying more or suffering service cuts. Or city employees must contribute more and get less.
The rising costs stem in part from $600 million in combined loses through the first six months of fiscal 2009 for the city Fire and Police Employees' Retirement System as well the city Employees' Retirement System funds, pushing total contributions due July 1 to $126 million, a record amount for a city that contributed roughly $23 million to both funds as recently as 2000.
"It's ugly, and based on the market performance it's going to get a lot uglier," said Thomas Taneyhil, executive director of the Fire and Police Pension fund that pays the retirement costs for city firefighters and police. "There's no precedent for this type of market."
"It could get even worse if we change our investment assumptions," added Stephan Fugate, chairman of the fund's board. "We're in trouble, we're having significant difficulty."
The losses come as pension officials meet at City Hall today with Mayor Sheila Dixon to discuss proposed changes to the way the city's retirees are paid.
A new law under consideration by the City Council would cap increases in pension payments to retirees to 1.5 percent annually, allowing the funds to retain market gains rather than pay part of them out.
But Fugate said the cap may not go far enough to make up for past losses and performance projections that were overly optimistic.
"Three years ago our actuaries recommended we use 5 percent as our actuarial rate of return but we decided to stay at 6.8 percent to keep the city contributions lower," he said. "The problem is if we drop to 5 percent now it could mean the city will have to pay even more."
Pensions generally book an "actuarial" rate of return each year, a process called "smoothing." The rate of return remains at a predetermined level set by actuaries regardless of market fluctuations. But the process has now caused a widening gap between the Fire and Police actuarial funding levels, and the market value of the fund's investments, Fugate said.
"On an actuarial basis we're 89 percent funded, but if you [consider the market value of the fund] it's 73 percent, and that does not include the losses this [fiscal] year."
The actuarial funding is the percentage of benefits the fund could pay to current and future retirees if the city stopped contributing to the fund altogether.
"It's a staggering number," said City Councilman William Cole, D-11, who chairs a special council subcommittee tasked with finding ways to reduce the city's property taxes. "When you start out with a hole that large, it's hard to find ways to do anything."
"It's really bad timing if the losses hold up," added City Councilman Robert Curran, D-3. "We have to hope we get some of the stimulus money; otherwise, it's going to be rough."