Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Pasadena Adventures of Mule - Plus: Is the Reverse Mortgage Business In Big Trouble?

Mules with a message
Occasionally certain kinds of things do show up in the comments section of this blog, and I am not always sure on what I should do about them. There are those usual unkind rants from our detractors that have to be eliminated, of course. Some of the language directed our way does show a certain lack of decorum and eloquence.

And then there are the endless series of spam emails where certain English challenged third world entrepreneurs attempt to place free advertising for at times exotic services in the Tattler's comments section. I get a lot of those. And honestly I never would have believed that so many young women from impoverished and obscure nations would want to marry middle-aged American men, and that they believe this is the proper place to announce their romantic intentions. But apparently they do. Those posts are, of course, also deleted.

But then there are those sincere and authentic local appeals that, while having only marginal significance to whatever it is we're trying to accomplish here, really do make you want to reach out and help. Or at least find out what's going on so whatever it is can be turned into an article. The elephant in the Sierra Madre 4th of July Parade story started out that way, and you know how exciting that one eventually got.

So on December 28th, at 5:10 PM to be exact, a post by Barbara appeared in our comments section. Here is what she had to say:

Hi, this is off the subject today, but I am asking anyone reading the Tattler for some insight on what just occured today out in Glendale. I was passing by on San Fernando Road when I saw three mules tied to a fence. No kidding, mules wearing camping tackle and their owner looked like an older gold prospector from the high desert, he did say he had passed through Ely Calif this past week. 3 mules.com was on his gear; he said he was heading out to see the Rose Parade. Just then two Pasadena Humane Society trucks showed up and the one attendent said he was called out for cruelity to animals being tied up to a fence! The old guy said no; I was just stopping by to pick up some food before passing through. Well two more police cars arrived ... Anyway after defending a stranger with his three mules (it was odd to see them on a city street) the police were very nice, and hoped he would take the side streets ETC., but the Pasadena Humane Society would not give up wanting to write him a citation for cruelty to animals (?). Why are we contracting with this particular group again? Really they were very uneducated and unprofessional. I also admit that I am not mentally up to speed with my quick wit :), but what part of three mules tied to a fence so that the owner could pick up supplies and head out on surface streets (the mules did have on shoes) so that they could make it over to the parade route, was cruel? Please offer some help on insight or call into the Pasadena Humane Society to support this unique individuual, as this poor man was heading over to the Pasadena area and into the hands of a misguided group of individuals representing that city. I hope he can make it out of that town with out any mishaps and back into the safety of the hills.

To my way of thinking this is a great posted comment. Some guy wandering the west with nothing but 3 mules and whatever they can carry on their backs is an intriguing story. We're talking a California lifestyle that has not been in vogue around here for at least a century. But I had no real idea where to take this one and, despite my promise to look into the matter, I hadn't really done anything about it.

So it was with great interest that I read the following in a Star News story about yesterday's festive events in Pasadena. The article is the called Reporter's Notebook: 124th annual Rose Parade attracts the weird, wonderful and whimsical" (click here), and at the bottom there is the following news about Barbara's acquaintance and his mules:

The Rose Queen and court had an unexpected escort for a 100-foot stretch of the Rose Parade route on Tuesday, as a man and his three mules abruptly walked onto Colorado Boulevard.

He said his name was Mule. He wore a tattered jacket held together by duct tape. His three mules carried all of Mule's belongings in packs slung across their backs. They didn't have names, according to their owner. "They're just mules," said Mule, who was promoting his website 3mules.com.

But the quartet had a purpose. "You got all this glitz and nice presentation, but when you look at us people on the ground, we are dirty, we smell, but we are real," Mule said. "We just wanted to bring something real to the parade."

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies escorted Mule and his mules off the route. Sheriff's officials said they didn't plan to arrest Mule.

It's the same guy Barbara wrote about, right? That this guy named Mule wished to make a statement about the contrast between himself, his three mules, and the lifestyles of the reigning royalty at the Tournament of Roses Parade, is really pretty unique for around here. Even when you consider that the Rose Parade has always been a powerful magnet for folks with eccentric messages they simply must share with the world.

There is a second article about Mule on the Pasadena Star News website titled "Man and his mules get the bum's rush at Rose Parade" (click here). Apparently Mule and his 3 mules have been wandering the dusty roads of the west for a while. There is also a method to his mulishness. From the article:

But his hasty exit from the parade didn't dissuade Mule from completing his mission. Mule wants people to live in accord with nature. He operates a website, 3mules.com, which preaches about the benefits of natural living.

"To answer the most asked questions: Who are we? Where are we from? And where are we going? We are mules. We are from the outside. We live outside all day , every day. Where are we going? Nowhere, we're here - the outside, the web of life - the beautiful earth, a place like no other. We have come to this place - a place of golden sparkling light, a place for anybody and everybody. Give your faith, hope and energy to this place at which time you connect to it and receive the magic and endless possibility of infinity. As you walk in this place with these mules you spread the awareness that this beautiful earth like no other can only be protected by the way we live one day at a time," reads the text on the website.

According to an article I found on a San Diego blog called Virtual Road Kill, the man now known as Mule was born with the name John Sears, and he has been walking his mules around California for nearly 28 years. This is no flash in the pan or trendy green mule edge kind of thing. The picture at the top of this post comes from the VRK article, which you can access by clicking here.

If you want to connect with Mule's muse on his rather sparse website you can do so by clicking here. Seeing how today marks my return to the rather wacky day job I hold down, and after a long 10 days vacation at that, I must admit, at least for this moment, I do find his lifestyle appealing.

Are "Reverse Mortgages" on their way out?

A couple of days ago we posted an article about reverse mortgages, and some of the controversy surrounding this novel method of extracting equity from the homes of retired persons. Our immediate agenda was, of course, to discuss all this because of Sierra Madre Mayor Josh Moran's involvement in the field.

There have now been further developments in this story and I thought you should be updated on them. Apparently things in the reverse mortgage trade are now about to change. According to an article published on Dec 30 in the Los Angeles Times ("Losses on reverse mortgages prompt FHA to make changes" click here), 2013 is a whole new ballgame.

You've probably seen the reverse mortgage pitchmen at work on your TV screen — former Sen. Fred Thompson and actors Robert Wagner and Henry "Fonzie" Winkler prominent among them — urging seniors to pull cash out of their homes through a loan program guaranteed by the federal government.

But it looks as if the pitchmen will have fewer and smaller mortgages to sell in 2013. In a move aimed at controlling losses to its insurance funds, the Federal Housing Administration is clamping a moratorium on the most popular form of reverse mortgage — the so-called standard version, which allows large lump-sum drawdowns of cash at fixed interest rates.

(Later in the article ...)

The HECM program has been racking up outsized losses for the FHA, in part attributable to foreclosures on homes whose market values have fallen below the insured amounts provided to the borrowers. In the FHA's annual independent audit report to Congress, losses on reverse mortgages contributed $2.8 billion to the agency's capital reserve deficiency and increased the chances that the FHA might have to seek a bailout from the Treasury next year.

Congressional critics of the agency consider the reverse mortgage performance scandalous. During a Capitol Hill hearing this month, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) told Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan: "You are losing your shirt on reverse mortgages ... You have got mortgage brokers out there that are making an absolute fortune right now [off reverse mortgages].... Some of them are good operators. A lot of them are schlocky operators. And I do not understand why you do not shut the program down."

Within days, that's pretty much what Donovan, whose department runs the FHA, decided to do. In a letter Dec. 18 to Corker, acting FHA Commissioner Carol J. Galante announced plans for an "immediate cessation" of the standard fixed-rate version of the program.

It is ironic that so strong a supporter of the ways of big government as Josh Moran should now himself be feeling the heavy hand of the man. Apparently the fiscal reverse mortgage cliff has now been breached, and few prisoners are being taken.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

71 comments:

  1. Corporate Rule of GovernmentJanuary 2, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    Reverse mortgages are only the very tip of a global con game that is currently being settled between the Big 14 banks and US government regulators. Check out the comments in this NYT article, they're screams from the trenches.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/business/settlement-expected-with-banks-over-home-loans.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When the Corporate world and Government join forces, isn't it called FASCISM?

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    2. Call it what it isJanuary 2, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      Yes! The alliances between Corporations and government is a form of Fascism, but with a "pretty face" sold as being a good thing. It is truly where the term "To Big To Fail" originates. The government partner cannot be viewed as a failed enterprise, so these corporations get propped up with taxpayer dollars. These dollars are used to underwrite these enterprises. It runs through national, state and, yes, local government...(including school districts).
      Just look at SCAG and SVGCOG and how they operate. It has attracted the true low lifes and bloodsuccurs as a source of a limitless profit center with no risk of losses.
      Until their is a divorce, we as taxpayers will be on the hook financing them, and when they fail we will still be on the hook.

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    3. Good post, 9:38, too bad so very, very few of us get it.

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    4. Fascism has learned how to behave itself. The prisons are full, and people are sleeping on the sidewalks, but nothing people seem too concerned about. As long as you're in a position to consume on a predictable basis and pay your bills on time, you're just fine with the state.

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    5. And as long as the checks we receive still cash, we're docile too.

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  2. Do mules eat roses? Maybe they should have been allowed to select a winning float.

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    Replies
    1. I was at the parade yesterday, and actually saw them. I didn't think anything of it at the time, Mules and mules just looked like part of the show. Like he was supposed to be a prospector or something. I also didn't see them get taken out of the parade.

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  3. Hey, we got our own 3Jackass.com: Nancy, Josh, and POA Johnny.

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    Replies
    1. They are into walking, but only for others.

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    2. Maybe. But I thought that mules were sterile.

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    3. Hopefully Mule will come by and lead them away.

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  4. Mr. Ed is a mule.

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    Replies
    1. A fillibustering one at that.

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  5. There were all sorts of blokes trying to crash the parade, particularly the jesus freaks.

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    Replies
    1. They are so annoying

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    2. But fruitful sources of armageddon predictions!

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    3. Wait until that big glowing comet shows up in the skies in time for the next parade. I predict 500 mules!

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  6. Mr. Sears is the good kind of crazy, like Jonny Appleseed was. Instead of apple trees, he plants seeds in people's minds about what is important.

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    Replies
    1. From what I can see Sears walked all the way up from San Diego with his mules to crash the Rose Parade. He is not lazy.

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    2. Maybe he can be on the Green Committee.

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    3. He could bring a lot of manure to the table.

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    4. Mule man is a pragmatist - a guy who lives in the most practical, un-abstract style humanly possible. He would be unwelcome in the GEPS, the Green Experts Philosophical Society.

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    5. The Green Committee would probably find the down home truths of Mr. Sears threatening. I am sure he is not a "process person."

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    6. You think we could have mules in our parade?

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    7. I think we need to invite Mr. Sears. Maybe the mules could pull the Tattler float next 4th of July.

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    8. They could serve as models to advertise all those transit village condos the green committee wants to
      build. They would even have a slogan: "40 square feet and a mule."

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  7. For the New Year, I propose we call the Mayor "Josh12%". Fits, dontcha think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mayor Dozen Per Cent.

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    2. but only until April when we can begin to say "Nancy12%"

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    3. If the wild rumors are true, maybe Josh won't be mayor much longer - he has new familial responsibilities coming up. And sounds like he better find a different line of work.

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    4. 10:54, such a grim, grim reminder.
      How embarrassing for Sierra Madre.

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    5. The wolves must be salivating.

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    6. Maybe Josh could get a job in the PUSD administration?

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    7. Are there little drinking buddies on the way?

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    8. They always need dependable yes men at the PUSD. Why else would they have Honowitz and Selinske?

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  8. Too Bad! I find that the Humane Societes as well as the SPCA are doing good work! And the LA Sherrif's Dept. is on top of the "Rooster Fighting" practiced by an ethnic group not yet separated from their home Country's animal cruelty practices; (last week over 100 roosters were fighting, some were dead found in the back yard of a Sough LA home), according to the LA Times. Arrests were made.

    I hope the Glendale Human Society will correct the over zelous individual who used his / her authority to persecute a Mule Man and his 3 Mules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed 1:46. Imagine what the lives of animals would be like without the protections of the Humane Society - heck, you don't have to imagine. Travel to any country where people compete for food with animals and you can see....many of the animals that are pets in the more privileged parts of the world are lunch in other parts of the world.

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  9. I am sure that there are some ethical people in the reverse mortgage business, and I guess there might be some people who can benefit from it - as long as they are not going to live too long. However, like so many businesses that spring up like this around real estate, there are a lot of the sleaziest kind of business people possible, people who would sell anything or anyone for a profit. Real estate and development seem to attract more than their share of greedy people.

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  10. I find it appalling that the mule man was asked to leave the parade route and many comments here joke about this.

    Go see Les Miserables and don't dare say that was then. It is now that people are hungry and homeless and mental illness is not under control. Worse the world has little compassion or empathy with those who have less.(no one knows if he is mentally ill, but there are many homeless people wandering aimlessly, who are).

    Thank you Barbara for alerting us to this tragic person who symbolizes the lost American dream.

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    Replies
    1. Whoa Nelly 2:14. Who said Mule Man was "tragic"? Sounds to me like he's clear as a bell about how he wants to live. And he's taking good care of three creatures to boot!

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    2. A free man is not a tragedy. The tragedy is that most will refuse to recognize him for what he is.

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    3. "Freedom's just another thing
      for nothing left to lose."

      - Robert McGee

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    4. I like how this throwback has a website. just saying.

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    5. At least the mules don't tweet.

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    6. how could they hit those tiny keypads with those hooves? no wonder the poor things bray.

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    7. They talk to Siri.

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    8. Siri is amazing, she even speaks jackass honowitz babble? apple has outdone itself

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  11. If you want your kids to become wealthy here is the formula. Just out of the teen years five of them should form a LLC; then get educated; one a Lawyer, second a CPA, third a supplier of cement and asphalt, fourth a City / County Commissioner. and fifth a Contractor. I am sure I need not explain what role each plays in their business carrers. But one thing is for sure they will need to be ruthless and not concerned with ethics. They will become wealthy beyond their wildest imaginations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of them should be a COG Executive Director.

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    2. That could be dangerous. Bart might have somebody run over your mailbox.

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  12. "Nelly" makes a point about walking the streets with animals in the cold. not many people chose to call one successful and mentally stable who are not sheltered and fed on a daily basis by choice. It is perhaps, the only choice left.....

    Not a very safe nor comfortable life.
    Would he be welcome at your Christmas dinner table?
    What stable would he park his 3 animals near by you?

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    Replies
    1. Don't know the man, but I've known a few like him. Probably his biggest fear? To be stuck inside, living the artificial life he has chosen to leave. He doesn't want your safe and comfortable.

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    2. According to an article on the Pasadena Star News site Mule left Phoenix in Feb of 2012 with his mules to get to Pasadena in time for the parade. Slept outside every night and walked a few miles every day.. This was something that only a person who had carefully planned the trip and understood exactly what the challenges were could do. Hardly the actions of a victim or helpless person. My guess is he feels sorry for us.

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    3. Great, misery loves company!

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  13. One of my favorite groups Government Mule
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf0BNlYY_RA

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    Replies
    1. Southern roadhouse rock at it's best. Allman Brothers without the peach.

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  14. God forbid we "California" should have a major earthquake. With the Republican House of Representatives and the "Special Needs" Tea Partiers balking at the rebuilding of Hurrican Sandy disasters on the East Coast, what do you think California should anticipate? Since we now have a dysfunctional Republican Party with a large representation from the Confeterate States and the Red Middle Belt; perhaps NY, NJ, & CN will have the last say when the next Hurrican rakes FL and the Gulf States, or when one of the Monster Tornados starts in TX and clears a path all the way into Ohio.

    America is no longer a "working democracy", or a "Christian Nation" (whatever that is). We spent billions fighting in the Middle East and then rebuilding the resulting destruction, and we can't fund our own damage which was a "will of God"
    What a great Ccountry we have become!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Pysch 101 Projection at its best. Cali is going into the toilet via Democrats only and 3:55 is blaming future problems on the GOP. How about you own it, babycakes?

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    2. 355 your point is so on target, and it is so, so sad. we only spend money in the US building stuff that doesn't need to be built for people who don't need it and we hand the contracts and the tax breaks to thieves and crooks while we neglect cuts and support to the hard working people who fall victim
      -not to their own wrecklessness, but to forces beyond anyone's control. its a sick, corrupt business, this new American scheme.

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    3. I wonder if you all have read the facts of the federal money meant for Sandy rebuilding and only listened to the sound bites of the left. There was millions allocated for other things besides hurricane relief. No wonder our Country is going to Hell in a pork basket.

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  15. 4:45 Nice to know you specialize in "baking" Should have guessed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That all you got, 5:12? You should run for Gov.

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  16. You are very correct historically 3:55 and 5:23, we are NOT a Christian nation. Our founding fathers conscientiously refused to do so. They remembered the battle with Henry VIII and the persecution of religious minorities, the Thirty Years' War. The US Constitution has only one religious wording "in the year of our Lord."

    People have the right to believe, pray and build their own church in America. Sadly, some religious groups hate others.
    Attitudes cannot be legislated.

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    Replies
    1. nope, but they can be lampooned

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  17. The constitution exists, in part, to protect us from ourselves.

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  18. Mr. Sears and his mules have been in my town (Lakeside Ca. ) just last month. He is a very reserved person, will only except food for his mule's. Lakeside is a horse town but also found him to be unique, a one of a kind but in no way did we find him to be cruel to his mules, his mules look very healthy one of which if i remember correctly he's been traveling with for 25 year.
    Here is the story I did on him in San Diego"s East County Magazine.
    http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/11689

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Mr. Ortiz for adding to our knowledge of Mr. Sears and his mules.

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    2. Great article, Billy. Thank you!

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