My dear Facebook friends it’s a beautiful day outside and I have so much to be thankful for. Today we are celebrating the birthday of my dear friend Ananth “Andy” Narain. Both Andy and his wonderful wife Latha are incredible achievers. They come from families in India that are both great achievers. At one time, Andy’s father was surgeon general of the Indian Army. At age 44 Andy gave up an upper middle class and comfortable life in India to start his life over int he US. It was a move that took a great amount of courage. Andy, Latha and their then small children came to Palo Alto, California and started their life over again. When they came here they found out that the life was tough and competitive. Neither one of them regretted their decision to take a huge chance on America, Sixteen years later they have raised two wonderful kids and have incredible careers. Andy Happy Birthday #60 and may you have 60 years more!!!
Argentina just issued a new 100 peso bank note. It has the image of Evita Peron. It has a very strong feminine influence. It’s the first banknte in the world that is orientated toward women. Presidenta Cristina you did a good job!
It’s a beautiful Monday morning and the work week begins. I am stuck in the house for the morning taking deliveries and handling a new cell phone for a friend of mine. I went to the pool at 05:00 and swam for 1.5 hours. I noted with great joy that arrests are about to be made in the LIBOR rate fixing scandal. Finally some of the crooked bankers who almost destroyed the world economy are being brought to justice.
Last night there was a fascinating program on the Military Channel. It was about a non-forgotten double agent from World War II named Ducan Popov. On August 12, 1941, he had a meeting with then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. He warned Hoover about the coming Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hoover told the man to stop telling him how to do his job. A heated argument ensued, Papov stormed out of Hoover’s office.. Hoover took no action on the warning. Here is a fascinating link confirming this:
Mr. President a Happy Birthday. I voted for you in 1994 in the first democratic election in South Africa. I remember the wild celebration the night of the election. I remember your incredible inauguration You saved South Africa from a civil war that could have killed hundreds of thousands of people. You left office at the height of your glory. As Stevie Wonder would sing to you: “Happy Birthday to you baby!”
Yesterday Elena and I came back from a delightful morning at Stanford University and San Mateo. Elena took the mail up to the house and put it on the table. Thee was one innocuous letter from the San Mateo County Clerk’s Office. I assumed it was just a notice on the change of our property taxes due to the recent passage of a parcel tax for the Jefferson Union High School.
I opened the letter and it was a legal paradox. It was in complex legal language that I had to struggle to understand despite the fact that I had attended law school. I figured out that it was the release of lien on the second lien that had haunted our house since 2007. It was anti climactic. I was in shock to finally see this document after a four year legal battle. Elena could not read the complex legal language. I had to translate it for her despite the fact that she is a medical doctor.
All of this drama began in April of 2007 when we took out a second mortgage on our house during the wild housing bubble. From the start we had trouble with Wells Fargo Bank. The monthly payment was an astronomical $2,500 US per month. When the housing bubble burst our house dropped in value from $870,000 to about $400,000. I also left my corporate job to form my own resources business. I picked up a client in Colombia. I was part of a team developing a new gold mine. It looked like I had a $250,000 fee coming in. Sadly we never got paid for all of our work. I found myself over 60 years of age and unemployed.
I contacted Wells Fargo Bank and asked for a loan modification on the second lien. They were nice to me at first. They reduced our payments from $2,500 per month to $800 per month. We paid this payment for 18 months. We then were served with a demand to increase the payments back to $2,500 per month. We declined and stopped paying on what we considered to be a worthless loan.
We continued to negotiate with Wells Fargo Bank. I even went to a meeting with their loan officers in Oakland. Nothing seem to work.
I met with a very good real estate lawyer in San Bruno. He pointed out that even if we walked away from the house and did a strategic default, Wells Fargo could sue us for the $152,000 balance of the loan because the loan proceeds were not purchase money. We were looking at the prospect of Elena’s wages being garnished for years to pay for a worthless loan.
In April of 2010 I filed by Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization. I started with one team of lawyers but soon realized that the case was very complicated. I took the case to one of the best bankruptcy lawyers in the US; Cathy Moran. She took the case. She looked at the Wells Fargo second lien. It was in Elena;s name and Elena was not on the bankruptcy. She said that California was a community property state and I could put the loan on my bankruptcy petition despite the fact that my name was not on the loan.
When Wells Fargo heard about this bankruptcy filing. They hired a top-notch lawyer to fight us. This man was so well respected in bankruptcy circles that the US Justice Department had suggested that the Russian government use his services to help them develop a comprehensive new bankruptcy law.
Cathy Moran did a great job of fighting this matter through one year in court. The bankruptcy judge agreed that our law was correct. He had a personal objection to the fact that Elena was not on the bankruptcy petition. He felt that Elena was getting the full benefits of bankruptcy without the penalties of bankruptcy. Wells Fargo was taken off the bankruptcy petition. We eventually exited bankruptcy and the legal bill was over $20,000. I suspect that Wells Fargo had a legal bill just as big.
We tried to negotiate with Wells Fargo Bank. They demanded $38,000 to settle the loan. We did not have that kind of money. A collection agency was brought in. We were deluged with phone calls and letters for 18 months. We were expecting a lawsuit and another $20,000 legal bill. If Wells Fargo had sues us they would have had a $20,000 legal bill also as the litigation drug on for several years. If the case had gone to the appeals courts. Elena and I could have seen a total legal bill of $35,000 as would have Wells Fargo.
One day I called the collection agency and got a really nice lady named Mitzi on the phone. She said that she wanted to work with Wells Fargo bank to get the settlement figure down to $25,000.
I had already worked with one of the best debt negotiation law firms in the US; The Comfort Law Firm of San Mateo, California. I called them and had a meeting with Alan Sherman who is one of the best negotiators on planet Earth. I paid them a $5,000 retainer. Alan and Mike went right to work. They got the collection agency to agree to take $20,000. Alan also got Wells Fargo bank to approve this settlement figure.
Over the next month we paid $20,000 to the collection agency. It took all of our liquid savings and other money that we could put together. We lived an austere life while paying this money. Ironically Wells Fargo got $10,000 of the money and the collection agency collected a juicy $10,000 fee for doing virtually nothing.
I was worried that the collection agency would “pocket” the whole $20,000 and give nothing to Wells Fargo. We would stioll be stuck with a $152,000 bill.
A few weeks later a letter arrived from Wells Fargo Bank. It informed us that they had received the settlement payment. We were promised a release of lien and good report to the credit bureaus.
It was a big relief to see the release of lien yesterday.
We still have to hire an accountant at year end to prove the IRS with data to prove that Elena is insolvent so she will not have to pay up to $40,000 in income taxes on thew a form 1099(c) that Wells Fargo bank will send her early next year for $132,000. We have enough debt to prove that the satisfaction of the IRS that we have a negative net worth.
This awful legal battle cost us $25,000 in legal fees and another $20,000 to Wells Fargo. Thanks to what I learned from Gretchen Morgenstern at The New York Times, we will be able to legally void that form 1099(c) for $132,000 in income.
My dear readers Wells Fargo Bank did not lose all that money. They probably had our loan in some mortgage-backed securities that were sold, for example, to some teacher’s retirement fund in New Zealand. These hard-working teachers were the ones who suffered the big loss.
Wells Fargo is the most ruthless bank in the world. They play “hard ball” and they will make your life hell on earth. This is a soul-destroying experience.
I’m watching this presidential election unfold with some fascination. I think back to the 2004 election. Whether you love or hate Carl Rove, he is a genius at politics. He won the election for President Bush II by defining John Kerry before John Kerry could define himself. John Kerry is a war hero and a really bright man with incredible political experience and insights. He would have been a great president. Let us fast forward to 2012. David Plouffe and the Obama team have taken some pages out of Carl Rove’s play book. They have defined Mitt Romney before Mitt Romney could define himself. They have drawn a picture of him as a rich elitist robbing people of their jobs while outsourcing and using every trick in the book to avoid paying taxes. This is going to cost Romney the election. I also see a lot of dissatisfacton with the Tea Party people elected to congress. Do not surprised to see Nancy Pelosi return as Speaker of the House in January of 2013. Also do not be surprised to see Elizabeth Warren in the senate.
Yesterday I took one hour to watch the HBO documentary Hard Times/Lost In Long Island. This show looked at four families that were affected by the high unemployment. I three of the families both the husband and the wife had lost their jobs. Three of the families had partners over 50 years of age. One man had survived the 9-11 attack in 2001. All of the people had good educations and skills. Yet they suffered from long periods of unemployment. It was so sad ot see them struggle every day to get a new job. It was hard to watch them all fight foreclosure and massive medical bills. It made me thankful for what I have. It is hard ot realize that these 8 people were just a small fraction of the millions of people who are unemployed now. I will not blame any political party. I will not say that any political party has the answers. I will say that we are suffering Great Depression II. This will only end when the people wit the money to invest finally feel positive about the future and start hiring. To all of you young people with a job save your money and pay your debts. If you get caught without a job after age 50, you have big problems!!!
Natalie Wood is one of my most beloved actors of all time. She was not only beautiful but also had a brilliant mind and incredible talent. I was in Sydney in 1981 when her death by drowning was announced. It was a huge shock. Now over 30 years later the case is reopened and we are told that she might have been murdered. I do not “buy” the murder theory. It has been clearly established that Robert Wagner, Christopher Walken, and Natalie were drunk that night. Most likely they were also “loaded” on drugs. Even if some struggle developed and somehow Natalie was pushed off the boat it is, at best, still an accident or ,at worst, a manslaughter case for either Robert Wagner or Christopher Walken or both. Manslaughter has a statute of limitations of 5-7 years. It’s not like murder that has no statute of limitations. The ex-ship captain who “came forward” with startling new allegations 30 years later is looking for a multi-million dollar book deal. The LA County Sheriff’s Office is enjoying all of the publicity. Please let this dear, beautiful and brilliant lady rest in peace and be forever in all of our thoughts as a beautiful and a special spirit.
There is an old saying that sort of goes like this: “Nothing is as easy as it looks at first. Projects will always take longer, be harder, and cost more money that you first imagined.” This describes perfectly Elena’s office move from San Francisco to Daly City. One week ago I had to take a whole day to collect all of her things, load them into our SUV and drive them out to Daly City. I was exhausted when we got everything into her new office. Sadly her Persian rug got a stain on it. We had to take it home. I could not fix it. I had to hire a cleaning company to clean it. Yesterday morning we took her convection oven in. I installed it and left my Swiss Army knife at her office. I wsa in panic all day long thinking that I had lost it. I also picked up a painting that a patient had made for Elena. I took it to a picture framing shop and it cost me $200 to get it framed. It will not be ready until 16 July. I returned at 5:00 PM yesterday with Elena’s Persian rug that is now clean. We put it on her floor. We did some other work around the office. Elena gave me a nice surprise that she had my Swiss Army knife. I then found out that we had left a precious thing in the old office. It is a brass plate from Colombia. It dates back to the time before Europeans were there. It’s the symbol for a doctor’s office. Now I have to drive all the way to San Francisco and collect it. “The things we do for love!!”