Blog Archives

Arizona voters reject 400% interest rates overwhelmingly; the fight continues

Arizonans for Responsible Lending, a coalition of more than 200 businesses and nonprofit organizations, Democratic and Republican elected officials, religious community leaders, neighborhood leaders, consumer advocates, credit unions, and thousands of concerned citizens across Arizona (including Downtown Voices Coalition), is gratified by Tuesday’s election results.  With 99.8% of precincts reporting, Arizona voters rejected the payday industry-funded Proposition 200 by more than 330,000 votes, or a margin of 60% to 40%.  Despite being outspent by a margin of 64 to 1, Arizonans for Responsible Lending prevailed because voters reject 400 percent interest rates.  Period.

The proposition, which would have granted payday lenders the right to operate in Arizona indefinitely at 400% interest rates, lost in every single county in the state.  State Senator Debbie McCune Davis, Chair of Arizonans for Responsible Lending, issued the following statement:

“Arizona voters stated loud and clear: the payday loan industry must play by the rules.  It no longer gets to write its own.  By overwhelmingly defeating Prop 200, Arizonans sent the following message to the payday lenders both here and across the country: the days of 400% interest rates are numbered.  The people demand responsible lending laws.

Voters demanded fair and responsible lending practices in this election, and laws that look after consumers’ interests first.  In Arizona, we shall reinstate the Consumer Loan Act and reinforce a more-than-reasonable cap on interest rates of 36%.  As Tuesday’s resounding victories in both Arizona and Ohio proved, predatory lenders cannot survive when their practices are fully illuminated by the light of day.  They may attempt to get their way through heavy lobbying efforts or expensive initiative campaigns, but the voters understand that 400% interest rates are unacceptable, and they will reject such loose regulations every time.

We have won this battle, but the war is not over.  We fully expect to face an onslaught of payday industry lobbying dollars in the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions, in their attempt to remove the 2010 sunset and continue charging outrageous interest rates.  However, our coalition will remain active and determined to protect the integrity of Arizona’s Consumer Loan Act and prevent the payday lenders from extending their special deal beyond 2010. Enough is enough.  We would like to thank the many people across Arizona who helped us fight this battle.   This is a victory for all of us.   And we will not rest until the usury law is back in effect and payday lenders either drop their rates to 36% or leave the state.  The days of legalized loan sharking are over.”

National Trust officials tour Valley for possible 2012 conference

Kathy Adams and Lori Feinman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation flew into town last week to view Phoenix’s convention facilities; tour selected historic sites and neighborhoods in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe; and visit with area preservation advocates to determine Phoenix’s ability to host the 2012 National Preservation Conference.  Meeting them at Sky Harbor was Sally Forrest, National Accounts Director for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski welcomes National Trust representatives Lori Feinman and Kathy Adams. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

The three lunched at the Hotel Valley Ho, one of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America, and then drove to downtown Phoenix to tour the Phoenix Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency and Wyndham hotels (two of the host hotels), and Orpheum Theatre. Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer, and Jim McPherson, Arizona Advisor to the National Trust, joined them for dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub in Heritage Square Park (a large outdoor venue that could serve as the opening reception for the 2,500-plus attendees of the 2012 conference).

Phoenix's historic Ellis Shackelford House was decked out in the colors of Arizona's state flag. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

On Tuesday, Adams and Feinman started off the day by visiting the historic San Carlos Hotel and breakfast at Palette in the Roosevelt Historic District.  Then it was a “timed-to-the minute” whirlwind van tour of First Presbyterian Church, Security Building (and ASU’s PURL overlooking the city), Monroe School (Children’s Museum of Phoenix), Phoenix Union High School Buildings (University of Arizona College of Medicine), Steele Indian School Park, Heard Museum, and several midtown residential historic districts.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison and Modern Phoenix Founder Alison King joined the group for lunch and tour of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.  Then it was off to drive by the Wrigley Mansion, and visit the Desert Botanical Garden, Gammage Auditorium, Pueblo Grande National Historic Landmark, and St. Mary’s Basilica.  Special guests “popped in” throughout the day to say hello, provide their perspective on preservation, and tout Phoenix as a conference site: Attorney General Terry Goddard (Palette), State Senator Debbie McCune Davis (UA College of Medicine), City of Phoenix Council Member Greg Stanton (Children’s Museum), attorney Grady Gammage (Gammage Auditorium), former Phoenix mayor John Driggs, and Arizona 2012 Centennial director Karen Churchard.

Dan Klocke (Downtown Phoenix Partnership), Charles Fortenberry (Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers), John Jacquemart (Arizona Historic Sites Review Committee), and G.G. George (Encanto Citizens Association). (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

Topping off the visit was a reception at the Ellis Shackelford House in downtown Phoenix.  Over 60 preservation advocates from all over the Valley (and Sierra Vista!), city officials, and downtown business group leaders attended.  A balloon arch, special signage, decorations, and flowers in the colors of Arizona’s state flag welcomed our guests from the National Trust.  City of Phoenix Council Member Michael Nowakowski, Garrison, Stocklin, Feinman, and McPherson said a few words, and the rest of the evening was spent enjoying each other’s company and dining on wonderful hors d’oeuvres from Catered by St. Joseph’s.  Gift bags courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office and City of Phoenix were presented to Adams and Feinman, and each attendee received a small gift as well.

State senators host June 3 public forum on mortgage crisis

Arizona State Senate Democrats will host a public informational forum addressing the mortgage crisis in Arizona on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 from 4-6 p.m. at the State Capitol Executive Tower 2nd Floor Conference Room.  “While the legislature is waiting for a budget, the Democrats feel that we could make use of the time to address vital issues that impact Arizonans.  The mortgage crisis impacts all of Arizona’s families, neighborhoods, and communities, but the perception is that it only involves the immediate family.  In actuality, the impact on the entire community is quite substantial,” said Sen. Marsha Arzberger (D-Willcox), Senate Minority Leader.

One major innovation in mortgage fraud schemes includes home equity theft, which was labeled the “Latest Scam on the Block” by the FBI this March.  In some cases, the unscrupulous entity will locate homes going into foreclosure and make promises to the current owner that if the owner refinances the home that they will be able to keep their home.  Instead, the mortgage rescue company purchases the home with a stolen identity or “straw buyer,” keeps the money from the loan, never makes payments on it, and then takes over what was once your home.  “Numerous Arizonans call or come by on a daily basis telling their stories and asking for help to combat the mortgage crisis.  Now, when Arizona ranks third highest in the nation in foreclosures, we should be building bridges for people to get the help they need while establishing clear consequences for fraudulent practices aimed at vulnerable individuals and take steps to help prevent this in the future,” said Sen. Debbie McCune Davis (D-Phoenix), Ranking Democratic Member of the Senate Financial Institutions, Insurance, and Retirement Committee.

Representatives from the Department of Financial Institutions, Arizona Department of Housing, Arizona Bankers Association, Arizona Appraiser’s Association, and Arizona Realtors Association have been invited to report on what types of activity are being witnessed in the marketplace during the first part of the informational forum.  The second part will be open for members of the public to share their stories about their experiences.  The Executive Tower is located at 1700 W. Washington accessible through 19th Avenue. There is public parking immediately to the west of the Tower.  For security purposes, attendees would need to be in the doors by 5 p.m.

Help end predatory payday lending at April 24 “house party”

Please join Phyllis Rowe, Jak Keyser, Ruth Ann Marston, Bradley Brauer, GG George, Jill Gering, and special guests Phoenix City Council Member Michael Nowakowski, State Senator Ken Cheuvront, and State Senator Debbie McCune Davis at a “house party” to help end predatory payday lending in the Grand Canyon State.

  • Date: Thursday, April 24, 2008
  • Time: 5:30 to 7:30 pm
  • Place: The L.C. Lashmet House, 534 W. Granada Road, Phoenix
  • RSVP: On or before April 21 to Jill Gering by phone 602-254-9711 or e-mail.

Stop Payday Predators is a coalition of community groups, businesses, and concerned citizens across Arizona who are sick and tired of the payday loan industry gouging hard working Arizonans and are determined to put an end to it on the 2008 ballot.  Donations to Stop Payday Predators are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.  For more information, click here.

For you history buffs, the L.C. Lashmet House was designed by Luther Lashmet and custom built for Luther and his wife Mary in 1929. Mr. Lashmet is noted for designing the Historic Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon, completed the same year.