March 2012 Newsletter

March 20, 2012

SPRING EVENTS

My Assembly District 24 staff and I are organizing four key events next month. I hope you can attend them.

  • Assembly Select Committee on Foster Care: Wednesday, April 4, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, 3200 Motor Ave., Los Angeles. This hearing – co-hosted by Assemblymember Holly Mitchell – will analyze the factors that lead to the disproportionality of African American children in California's child welfare system. A request has been submitted to the Assembly to have the meeting webcast and videotaped is pending. If the request is granted, a notification will be sent out.

  • Creek Clean-up: Saturday, April 14, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Campbell Park, Campbell, corner of Gilman and Campbell avenues. This is my annual event to observe Earth Day. Everyone's invited; clubs and classes are welcome. It's a great way to fulfill community service requirements. To RSVP, click here, or phone Assembly District 24 office in San Jose, (408) 282-8920.

  • Funding the Future -- A Student Budget Dialogue with Legislators: Thursday, April 19, 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., De Anza College, Campus Center A and B, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. In partnership with community college students throughout Santa Clara County, legislators will learn firsthand from students about how proposed budget cuts to higher education will affect them. Parking is available at the Flint Center Garage. To RSVP, click here, or phone Assembly District 24 office in San Jose, (408) 282-8920.

  • Senior Scam Stopper, Don't Be a Victim!: Friday, April 20, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Cypress Community and Senior Center, 403 Cypress Ave., San Jose. Seniors are invited to learn how to spot scams and avoid them. Expert speakers from local, state, and federal agencies will speak about identity theft, auto repair, and investment scams. To RSVP, click here, or phone Assembly District 24 office in San Jose, (408) 282-8920.

FORECLOSURE HELP

With California still among the top five states with the highest rates of foreclosures, the Legislature and the state's top law enforcement official are acting to protect homeowners and prevent abuses.

I am the principal co-author of SB 708, legislation requiring lenders to contact property owners to attempt to avoid foreclosure. The bill also gives renters additional time to move from a foreclosed property and mandates that properties that have been foreclosed upon continue to be maintained, to limit blight. Currently, these protections are in place but they will expire at the end of this year. SB 708 extends these protections until Dec. 31, 2017.

Last month, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced California would receive at least $12 billion from a $26 billion national settlement that was negotiated with 48 other state attorneys general and five of the nation's biggest mortgage service lenders. Harris's office, however, warns that most homeowners whose loans are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may not be eligible for benefits. To learn more details about the settlement, click here.

With the settlement in hand, Attorney General Harris and the leadership of the Assembly and state Senate have drafted six bills, called the Homeowners Bill of Rights, to reform foreclosure procedures.

The bills would:

  • Set basic standards of fairness in mortgage procedures, including stopping dual tracking, a process in which lenders seek foreclosure while negotiating with property owners over loan modifications.
  • Improve transparency in the mortgage process, including a single point of contact for homeowners. Impose a $10,000 civil penalty for the filing of "robo-signed'' documents.
  • Prevent blight after banks foreclose on residences, including levying a fine of $5,000 per day against owner of the neglected property.
  • Expand protections for renters after foreclosures.
  • Impanel a special grand jury to investigate multi-jurisdictional financial and foreclosure crimes.
  • Impose a $25 fee on mortgage servicers to be paid upon the filing of a notice of default. The money would be channeled into real estate prosecution trust fund to help finance the Attorney General's Office investigation and prevention of real estate fraud.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR

Congratulations to Malinda Markowitz, my choice for Assembly District 24's Woman of the Year!

In observance of Women's History Month each March, members of the Assembly honor a woman whose contributions have made their district a better place.

Ms. Markowitz, a registered nurse who lives in San Jose, has been an outspoken and courageous advocate to improve health care and make it accessible for everyone, rich or poor.

She has served at Good Samaritan Hospital for more than 30 years, working in the oncology, orthopedic surgical and neurologic units.

Stay tuned for my next newsletter for more information and photos of the ceremony at the Assembly chambers honoring her.

MY EDUCATION CORNER

In late 2009, the Santa Clara County Office of Education and the City of San Jose partnered to create the SJ 2020 Imitative, tasked with closing the significant achievement gap that exists in the City of San Jose, as well as the county at large, by the year 2020.

The recently released 2012 SJ 2020 Annual Report shows progress has been made in improving academic proficiency across the city and county but an achievement gap still persists along racial and socio-economic lines. As a member of the SJ 2020 Executive Committee, I am proud of the progress that has been made this year, however there is still a lot of work ahead of us if we are to narrow the divide between our students by the end of the decade.

Overall, the report shows that growth has been uneven. Targets were met in third, fifth, and eight grade English Language Arts, however, in other subject areas, the gap remained the same or even increased in some cases. One promising indicator was that the percentage of Latino students scoring as proficient or above increased in nearly all subject areas across both the city and county.