Richmond, VA

Lenders trying an alternative to foreclosure

May 04, 2002
As the recession of the last year caused a sharp increase in the number of people falling behind on their mortgage payments, the nation's lenders decided to take a risk.
      Adopting an approach that economists say has led to one of the most important changes in the housing market in recent years, mortgage lenders significantly reduced the rate at which they repossessed homes. In place of foreclosure, many altered the schedule of loan payments in the hope that the drop in borrowers' income would turn out to be relatively brief.
      Now, as the economy continues to show signs of recovery, the bet seems to be paying off. Mortgage delinquencies have begun to fall, suggesting that many homeowners are getting back on their feet. That should help lenders — particularly, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the large government-created companies that have driven much of the change — avoid the staggering losses that their newfound flexibility could have caused if the economy had deteriorated further.

Confederate plates get court's ok

April 30, 2002
Virginia must allow a Confederate heritage group to display its flag logo on specialty state license plates, a federal appeals court ruled.
     The state's refusal to issue the plate because of its Confederate flag logo amounted to discrimination against the Sons of Confederate Veterans and violated the group's right to free speech, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
     The court upheld a ruling by a lower court judge, rejecting the state's argument that the license plates constitute public speech and that the state had the right to regulate which groups and designs are allowed on plates that represent Virginia. 

Va. schools to get civil rights funds

November 14, 2001
Virginia will give $10 million to two historically black universities as part of a settlement to end a 30-year desegregation battle with the federal government.
     Under the agreement with the U.S. Department of Education  announced Tuesday, the money will be used to improve buildings and finance six new academic degrees each at Norfolk State University and Virginia State University.
     Both schools are to get the money by September 30, 2004.
     The settlement comes 32 years after the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights informed Virginia it was operating a public system of higher education segregated by race. In response, Virginia developed a plan to dismantle the system and attract black students to predominantly white colleges. 

Va. Senate contest becomes racially charged

November 02, 2000
U.S. Senate candidateGeorge Allen (R) prepared today to reach out to black voters in the aftermath ofthe extraordinary assault on his racial record by Democratic incumbent CharlesS. Robb.
      As Robb's attack Tuesday on Allen's racialsensitivity reverberated across the state, Allen put the finishing touches on anad for black-oriented radio stations that features an endorsement by a formerstate NAACP president who once supported Robb.
     Meanwhile, Democratic leaders, including Robb, calledanew on voters to examine what they said are the candidates' starkly differentrecords on civil rights issues and African American concerns.
     Unlike Robb, Allen has never pushed African Americanpolitical priorities such as affirmative action programs, wider protectionsagainst discrimination and honors for heroes of the civil rights movement.
     Allen has defended the Confederate flag he once hung inhis home and the hangman's noose that was in his law office as nothing more thaninnocent decorations, not the relics that Robb and black Democrats seized uponthis week as incendiary emblems of racial hate.

Black farmers wait on settlements

August 26, 2000
Some black farmers say the government has been stingy and slow about issuing payments from last year's settlement of a lawsuit alleging decades of racial discrimination in federal lending practices.
      The U.S. Department of Agriculture won court approval in April 1999 for the settlement of the suit filed on behalf of black farmers who claimed they had been systematically discriminated against for years when they applied for loans and subsidy programs.
      Of the 21,073 farmers who have filed claims, 18,239, or 87 percent,had received decisions as of Monday. So far, 11,025 claims, or 60 percent, have been approved, while the remaining 7,214 claims have been denied.
      "I think a lot of these denials have not been fair," said John Boyd,president of National Black Farmers Association, which held a panel discussion Friday on the issue.

4th Circuit panel may be integrated, finally

July 30, 2000
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit was the first in the country to strike down college scholarships reserved exclusively for blacks. Its rules about using statistical evidence to prove discrimination are among the nation's toughest, and just last fall, it invalidated race-based school assignment policies in Montgomery and Arlington counties.
      When it comes to racial issues, the Richmond-based court has one of the busiest dockets in the country. That is partly because the five states it oversees--Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia--have the highest proportion of black residents, at 22 percent, of any multistate circuit in the country.
      But the court itself is all white and always has been. Although President Clinton has nominated a black candidate for an open seat in North Carolina for three successive Congresses, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) has blocked confirmation hearings each time, saying the 4th Circuit does not need more judges of any race.
      Now there may be a way out of the impasse. The White House recently nominated black Richmond lawyer Roger L. Gregory for a 4th Circuit seat that has been vacant since 1990. Under Senate rules, Helms's blocking tactic only works for nominees from his own state, and Virginia Sen. John Warner (R) is backing Gregory.

NAACP, Va. governor avert boycott of state

May 10, 2000
Gov. James S. Gilmore III defused the major racial confrontation of his term today, averting an NAACP boycott by agreeing to meet regularly with black leaders while reconsidering the Confederate History Month proclamation that has angered African Americans in Virginia.
     Gilmore (R) and three leaders of the NAACP's 30,000-member state conference were reserved but conciliatory as they emerged from an hour-long meeting at the Capitol, easing for now the tension in a simmering racial disagreement that had captured national political attention.
     "At this time, we have no plans for direct action" through a tourism boycott or milder protests, said Salim A. Khalfani, executive director of the NAACP chapter. "This is a very emotional and gut issue with a lot of people, so we will work with the governor." 

Va. high court agrees to rehear Nationwide case

March 03, 2000
The Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider its decision to throw out a historic $100 million discrimination verdict against Nationwide Insurance, a move one attorney is calling a "good sign."
      The court issued a two-sentence ruling Friday saying it had withdrawn its original ruling and would schedule another hearing.
      Because the original decision to throw out the discrimination verdict was decided 4-3, the rehearing decision is good news for the plaintiff in the case, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Richmond, said attorney and Richmond mayor Tim Kaine. For the court to reconsider one of its rulings, at least one Supreme Court justice who voted in the majority must agree to the rehearing.
      Such rehearings happen in Virginia only once every five years, he said.

Soldier's claims of bias upheld

February 15, 2000
A black Virginia Army National Guard soldier was subjected to racial epithets and was retaliated against by superiors after complaining about his treatment, a Department of Defense agency has ruled.
    Commanders took no action despite being aware of the epithets directed at Sgt. 1st Class Chester Dixon by another soldier, the decision from the National Guard Bureau says. After Dixon filed a complaint, a high-ranking Virginia Guard official retaliated against him by harming his chances for promotion, the bureau found.
    The decision comes in the midst of an investigation into the Virginia Guard's record of recruiting and promoting blacks. 

Va. high court overturns $100M insurance suit

January 15, 2000
A split Virginia Supreme Court Friday overturned a historic judgment against an insurer sued by a private fair housing group for discriminating against African-American neighborhoods in Richmond.
     Still, the director of the group said Friday, "we would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat."
     In its opinion, the court said that Housing Opportunities Made Equal ( HOME), lacked the legal right to bring the suit against Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company because it was not able to show that it was injured by the company's conduct. The court was split 4-3.
     "With due respect for HOME's worthy mission of providing equal housing opportunities in the metropolitan Richmond area, we conclude nonetheless that HOME lacks standing to maintain its action against Nationwide," the majority opinion said. The order nullifies the trial court decision and renders a decision in favor of the insurer.

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