In a time when you can stroll over to the computer and rattle off an e-mail to your elected official because you think your taxes are too high or leave an anonymous comment on a blog or article voicing your disapproval with a particular reporter, it would seem that the days of face-to-face action and rallies are unfortunately a thing of the past.
Not for a group of activists in Florida heading to the Capitol in Tallahassee on Wednesday, April 21.
Michael Redman (4closureFraud), together with the Law Offices of Carol C. Asbury, Attorney Matt Weidner, and Lisa Epstein of Foreclosure Hamlet, in an effort to convince Florida legislators to listen to their constituents, are organizing a transport to the capital. An old fashion road trip of attorneys, advocates, and homeowners. Transportation is being organized and buses will be available from key areas throughout Florida and along major roadways. Redman and Epstein had initially dipped into their own pockets to charter buses for the event.
As of April 16th, according to Redman's blog, in a Friday post,
"Team Ice in West Palm has sponsored their bus and now one of Pinellas County's toughest foreclosure fighters has generously agreed to sponsor a bus to make sure any attorney and homeowner who wants to go to Tallahassee and make his or her voice heard has the opportunity to get up there and meet face to face."
"One of the most inspiring things about all of this is seeing how the defense attorneys are all throwing their time, talent and treasure into this fight. We all share our ideas, insight and experience because doing so serves the interests of not just our clients but those folks out there who cannot afford an attorney and it especially serves the Constitution we took an oath to protect and the judiciary we respect," Redman says.
The most important piece of legislation the group was trying to stop was a push by bankers to change the way Florida handles foreclosures. Florida currently, and always has had Judicial foreclosures. The bank's proposed legislation would have allowed banks to foreclose on Florida homes without going to court. According to Matt Weidner, a Florida attorney, the bill for now appears to have been stopped in the House, but the Senate will meet next week and according to an old Florida saying, "No one's safe while the legislature is in session."
A non-judicial foreclosure would mean that, "you the homeowner won't automatically get your day in court if your lender tries to take your house away. The way it works right now is the lender is required by law to file a civil lawsuit against you in order to foreclose. You then have to answer it. If you don't answer it or don't show up to court, the judge issues a summary judgment against you. In a non-judicial foreclosure everything is done administratively and your right to due process is compromised and you have to beg for your day in court," as explained by Steve Dibert of MFI-Miami.
Although the bill appears to have died, and the bankers appear to have conceded, this motivated band of advocates doesn't want to leave anything to chance.
An e-mail from Weidner reads:
As Mark Twain said, 'News of My death was greatly exaggerated.'
Although the legislation appears to have died, the passion and concern that its introduction incited has only increased with word of its demise. Tapping into broad based anxiety and concern felt by homeowners all across Florida, the group has turned its focus from defeating this legislation to demanding legislation that will increase protections for Florida homeowners. Talk about turning the tables. They are meeting with Senator Mark Aronberg and Rep. Darren Soto who introduced a "Homeowner's Bill of Rights". They're asking that this legislation be resurrected... at the very least they want to make sure their legislators are fully aware of their concerns and the problems they're facing.
According to Weidner's press release,
"The response from legislators to this movement has been awe-inspiring. Our leaders in Washington may have trouble hearing the voices of their people, but the leaders who represent us in Tallahassee hear the voice of the people loud and clear! Already leaders from both houses have graciously agreed to meet with their voters, we're confident many more will agree to meet with us when we arrive."
Michael Moore spoke of the apathy and lack of action he witnessed despite his tireless work drawing attention to key issues affecting millions of Americans.
"Two years ago, I tried to get the health-care debate going, and it did eventually, and now where are we? We may not even have it. What am I supposed to do at a certain point?, " Moore said in an 2009 Toronto press conference.
I wrote about that similar frustration with apathy in "Where are the Screaming Liberals?," back in September 2009.
It's refreshing and inspiring to think that may be changing.
Denise Richardson (givemebackmycredit.com) posted the following from Lisa Epstein on her blog:
This is not just for homeowners!
We are ALL reduced by the actions behind the mortgage frauds and scams. Tenants! Anyone who relies on any public service funded by our now shrunken tax revenues! Anyone owning any property at all, fully paid off or not. Any business owner! Unemployed family members! Credit card/bank account fees victims! Those with drained 401Ks and college savings accounts!
We will be heard as was the Florida Bankers Association on their own "Capitol Day" on March 10, 2010. Florida Bankers, guess what? You wanted a "Taste of Florida"? You are gonna get one! We are having our own "Capitol Day"! But our collective voices will be a harmony; louder, clearer, unwavering, and with a foundation firmly planted in the historical roots of our country as a nation for WE, THE PEOPLE!
Bankers and other stealth foreclosing entities, listen up! We are NOT boobs, chumps, doormats, dupes, easy marks, fools, goats, gulls, patsies, pigeons, pushovers, saps, scapegoats, schmucks, sitting ducks, stooges, suckers, victims, or weaklings, And we most certainly are not "deadbeats"!