Letters: Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mortgage Melt-Down
To the editor: This letter is in response to the sub-prime mortgage melt-down and its impact on the rest of the economy (“Too Little, Too Late,” Sept. 12, 2007).
Until recently I was an underwriter for a sub-prime mortgage company that is about to close. It seems that most media outlets and government officials feign ignorance about the real underlying cause of the problem. There is a tendency to blame the borrower or to act as though no one in the industry (or outside of it) saw this coming. They fail to mention that those who gained the most financially got off scot-free, leaving the mess behind for everyone else to clean up.
In my former company, the sales managers and loan officers decided which guidelines to ignore, sometimes going so far as to bribe underwriters to look the other way. Other times, fellow underwriters would be threatened with losing their jobs for “impeding company growth and progress,” because they refused to go along with the flagrant disregard of guidelines. I complained to the sales managers about the bribing, but all I got was a formal write-up for making “inappropriate comments.”
There was absolutely no support from the owner or human resources. This company is as corrupt as they come. As a result, several hundred people (including me) were laid off. I believe the federal government needs to investigate this company and bring the lawbreakers to trial. This would set an example for the rest of the mortgage industry that absolute corruption corrupts absolutely.
Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio

News from New Orleans
To the editor: Kudos to Laurie Barker James on her op-ed piece “No Flood of Money” (Sept. 27, 2007). As someone who calls New Orleans home, and has gone back four times since Katrina (yes, once for Mardi Gras!), I have seen what she describes. She has put, in one short column, what the media has ruminated about for the past two years. If only those in power could see so clearly.
Joanne Z. Sirgo
Fort Worth

To the editor: Laurie Barker James’ guest editorial about New Orleans was a lightning strike on the federal government and President Bush.
As is always the case, the people’s contributions (taxes) are squandered to benefit those at the top and their collaborators. Corruption and outright avarice are the tools of crime when dealing with certain governmental entities. I want to know why these individuals are never held accountable for their decisions and actions — while we, the taxpayers, pay the price.
Dee Taylor
Fort Worth

Trinity Tree Threat
To the editor: I attended a meeting on Sept. 8 at Capstone Church that included a presentation by Jim Bradbury, spokesman for trinitytrees.org. He described the Chesapeake gas well site, 2.6 acres in the very core of a grove of ancient oak and pecan trees, within undisturbed park land. He showed a photo of a sign that until recently stood at the trail’s edge: “Park open from dawn to dusk.”
A Chesapeake flier distributed at the meeting was called “Natural Gas Drilling: The Truth about Trinity Trails.” The language was typical corporate irresponsibility and nonsense. For example, it insisted, “Twigs and rigs can coexist.” Calling that eight-acre ancient canopy “twigs” captures the lack of regard Chesapeake Energy has for our natural world. When Mr. Bradbury spoke of an alternative drilling site on adjacent industrial land owned by Union Pacific Railway, the Barnett Shale people were simply not interested. They own that grove of trees now, and by God, they’ll drill there if they want to.
I think of a seldom-recalled verse from Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”:
As I went walking, I saw a sign there
On that sign it said,”private property”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothin’
That side was made for you and me
The Trinity grove should be preserved as a park. I listened as the city council congratulated themselves for carving out a billion-dollar city budget. Maybe some of that Barnett Shale money from DFW airport leases could buy a single eight-acre sanctuary along the Trinity Trail. Of course, Chesapeake says it’s not for sale.
A sign with more platitudes was displayed in the church foyer. It called Barnett Shale the “energy boom of this generation.” I thought then, and I think now, what happens to the park after the trees are destroyed and the boom goes bust? What kind of world follows the Barnett Shale explosion?
Kendall McCook
Fort Worth

In last week’s cover story, “Putting the Bite on Hospitals,” details of a lawsuit settlement were incorrect. In that settlement, Retractable Technologies received a $100 million settlement from the medical supplier named Becton Dickinson. Three other major companies — Novation, Premier, and Tyco — paid Retractable a combined $58 million.
In the same story, the name of the “private label” line of products provided to hospitals by Novation was twice given incorrectly. It is Novaplus, not Neoforma.
Fort Worth Weekly regrets the errors.

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