2007-12-12 / Political Page

Maloney's Bill Would Cut Red Tape To Reaching Bank Regulator

It's a piece of legislation whose time has come. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney has introduced a bill that would help many people anguishing over mortgage irregularities to contact a government banking regulator promptly to try to get some relief.

Maloney's Financial Consumer Hotline Act of 2007 would establish a single, toll-free telephone number consumers could call if they have a problem with a bank and want to speak to the bank's federal regulator.

Maloney, chair of the House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee, pointed out that a member of different governing bodies currently regulate banks, which can make it difficult for harried consumers to figure out who they should contact with concerns and complaints.

"Most consumers have no idea who regulates their local bank," the lawmaker pointed out. "If they have a problem and want to talk to someone, it's confusing to even know where to begin. One toll-free number will cut down on the confusion and help put consumers in quicker contact with the appropriate regulator who can help them."

Currently, the various federal agencies charged with regulating banks, credit unions and other financial institutions include the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS).

Maloney's bill, which will have a hearing today in Washington, would direct the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), a formal interagency body empowered to prescribe uniform principles and standards for financial institutions, to set up the toll-free number and Web site.

Over the past few months, as the mortgage industry suffered a meltdown over thousands of foreclosures, newspapers have been filled with stories of homeowners claiming they were duped into signing documents that, unbeknownst to them, imposed conditions that obligated them to pay far more than they could afford. In cases like these, consumers need help in a hurry and Maloney's bill would, if passed, provide that help.

SCHOOL PARENTS BACK VALLONE ON HOMEWORK: The local public school District 30 President's Council (PC), covering schools in Astoria, Long Island City and Jackson Heights, has passed a resolution supporting City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. in calling for a limit on nightly homework assignments.

Under the plan, the Department of Education would cap homework for grade school students at a maximum of two hours a night and leave one night a week free of any homework.

Vallone said the homework bill will be introduced in about two weeks.

The President's Council resolution goes beyond Vallone's guidelines, adding a two-hour homework limit for middle and high school students as well. As for elementary schools, the PC calls for about 10 minutes of homework per grade, which Vallone said he supports, and says that homework assignments should only reinforce a day's lesson and not be assigned for further teaching by parents at home.

"The unanimous vote reaffirms my conviction that students are burdened with too much homework," said Vallone.

GIANARIS CONSIDERING CITY COUNCIL SEAT: Looking ahead to 2009 when incumbent Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. will vacate the Astoria/Long Island City 26th Council District seat because of term limits, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris says he would consider running for the post.

There had been some rumors that he was eyeing the seat that covers territory very similar to his Assembly district, and when he inquired about this speculation he answered: "The City Council office is definitely a position where someone can make a great impact. I enjoy my present position in the Assembly, but I would consider running for the City Council seat, but that's still a long way off. But I do find it appealing and I've been considering it."

QUINN: 'FORGET TERM LIMITS CHANGES': If Council Speaker Christine Quinn maintains her latest position on the term limits law, there will be no changes in it for the rest of Quinn's career in the council.

Quinn, who as Speaker exerts almost unlimited control over how that body functions, stated last week she was "making a firm and final decision- I will not support the repeal or change of term limits through any mechanism and I will oppose aggressively any attempts by anyone to make any changes in the term limit law".

So the term limit law, which restricts councilmembers to two consecutive fouryear terms, will apparently remain unchanged while Quinn is in command of council matters through the end of 2009, when her council tenure will end. She plans to run for mayor that year.

Quinn and some other present council members had entertained some thoughts about changing the law so that they could run for another term or terms beyond 2009. But her latest statement, made last week, would appear to end those ideas.

This puts her on the same wavelength as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has for some time now opposed any changes in the law.

Also praising Quinn for her firm, new stand on not tampering with term limits was the good government organization Citizens Union which noted that the voters had twice previously voted for the current law.

EYES GENNARO'S COUNCIL POST: Martha Taylor, a Jamaica Estates resident and Democratic co-leader with Councilmember David Weprin in the 23rd Assembly District (Part A) since 1996, said on Monday that she plans to run for the City Council seat presently occupied by Councilmember James Gennaro when he's term limited out of office at the end of 2009.

Taylor, an attorney and mother of four married children who have given her 11 grandchildren, says she has Weprin's support to seek the post. She said she filed with the Campaign Finance Board last week for what will be her first attempt to win a public elective office.

Taylor has been active in community matters as vice chairperson of Community Board 8 and founder of Friends of Cunningham Park, raising funds to support park maintenance.

Taylor has held several appointed positions in past city administrations under Mayors Edward Koch, David Dinkins and Rudolph Giuliani and for the past five years has been director of an office in city Comptroller William Thompson's administration which collects for claims against people charged with damaging city owned property. During that time she has collected more than $5 million."

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