Lenders object to proposed consumer rights laws

July 17, 1998
Home equity lenders are bracing for a government report expected to tell the U.S. Congress how to crack down on unfair lending practices.
     The most controversial option under review would give consumers the right to sue lenders under federal law for unfair and deceptive practices, an easier legal test than suing for fraud, according to industry lobbyists and consumer activists.
     Banks, finance companies and other lenders say that would lead to an explosion of unnecessary lawsuits over perceived lending problems.
"It's a trial lawyers' dream," said Wright H. Andrews Jr., a prominent Washington lobbyist hired by National Home Equity Mortgage Association. 

Many blacks lack access to prosperity, Gore says

July 17, 1998
As his expected presidential bid continues to take form, Vice President Gore did a little preaching to the choir today, telling thousands of NAACP members that too many African Americans are excluded from the benefits of the nation's prosperity.
     Amplifying a theme discussed throughout the NAACP's annual convention here, Gore cited wide disparities in black and white wealth, education and health statistics as causes for concern.  Gore criticized Republicans for opposing Clinton administration efforts to combat racial discrimination and expand opportunities for minority communities.
     He also blamed Congress for cutting proposals to increase after-school programs, provide summer jobs and strengthening civil rights enforcement.

Farmers' bias claims get NAACP support

July 16, 1998
The NAACP today publicly embraced the nation's dwindling corps of black farmers and demanded the federal government compensate them for a long history of racial discrimination that has driven many farmers off their land.
     The nation's largest civil rights group voiced support for a number of measures aimed at clearing the way for the government to resolve lawsuits and other complaints brought against the Department of Agriculture by black farmers in recent years.
     Thousands of NAACP members also heard from Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who in a speech acknowledged the department's racist past and promised to attack the vestiges of bias that remain within the agency. He also said USDA will compensate farmers who can prove they were discriminated against.

Military "biggest slumlords in the country"

July 15, 1998
Nearly three years after the Pentagon persuaded an alarmed Congress to allow private-sector developers to step in and replace dilapidated military homes, it has spent $37.5 million on consultants without breaking ground on a single new housing unit.
     Only two Navy projects under way before the program began have been funded. Meanwhile, the military says two-thirds of its family housing units are inadequate.
     ``In reality, we're the biggest slumlords in the country,'' said Michael J. Haze, chief of Fort Carson's housing division. ``I have soldiers every day telling me they live in the projects.'' 

Colorado town may prohibit some group homes

July 13, 1998
In a move aimed at quelling residents' complaints, the Aurora City Council is poised to pass a law that would limit new halfway houses and group homes for youths from setting up shop in the city limits.
     The move has raised concerns among mental health and corrections officials, who are worried the city is turning its back on facilities that help rehabilitate troubled children.

Lawyers Committee attorneys recall movement

July 12, 1998
In 1967, Clarence Dunnaville Jr. left a high-profile New York law job and headed south, planning to help translate new civil rights laws into progress for black people. Soon, when he asked a Mississippi constable for help, he learned the hazards of the legal profession.
     The policeman ``put a shotgun in my face and ran me out of town,'' said Dunnaville, now a private attorney in Richmond, Va. ``It was very tense at the time.''
     Dunnaville and dozens of other attorneys answered President Kennedy's call in the turbulent 1960s and gave up lucrative careers and the comforts of home -- mostly in the North -- to join the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  

Solutions elusive in final race forum

July 09, 1998
The format was more controlled, the talk more sober. But as President Clinton conducted the third and final forum of his yearlong dialogue on race yesterday, he found that the end was much like the beginning: plenty of consensus about the challenges facing a multiethnic America of the 21st century, but painfully few concrete solutions.
     "This," said Clinton, "is tough stuff."

Farmers sue USDA for lending discrimination

July 08, 1998
A group of 129 black farmers filed a $500 million lawsuit against the Agriculture Department over complaints of discrimination in denial of farm loans and other benefits.
      The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court is intended to protect farmers who came forward with complaints after Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman's admission on February 21, 1997, that there was past discrimination.
      An earlier $2 billion lawsuit filed by 400 black farmers covered only those who had brought complaints prior to that date. Lawyers for the second group say they have been virtually ignored by the Agriculture Department.

Another bank merger drawing fire from activists

June 25, 1998
Community groups who say that Citicorp and Travelers Group don’t do enough business in low-income neighborhoods are lining up to oppose the proposed merger of the two financial giants.
      The latest salvo was fired Wednesday as a national community organization filed complaints in 11 cities with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development against the two companies.
      ACORN and other groups are expected to argue that Citibank, Citicorp’s banking subsidiary, has no better record in poor and minority neighborhoods than Travelers’. “Both parties are poor actors when it comes to servicing low- and moderate-income residents,” said Patrick Woodall, policy director for ACORN. “Here are two entities with bad records serving low-income communities, and it is very poor public policy to put them together.”


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