Occupy Nashville won. Chase Mortgage backed down last week to avoid a public-relations nightmare and agreed to allow Helen Bailey to stay in her home for the remainder of her life. With over 80,000 signatures to an on-line petition and coverage in the Huffington Post, MSNBC and other news outlets, I assume Chase thought it in their best interest to let 78-year old Helen Bailey just remain in her home the rest of her life and then foreclose upon her death. The settlement was reached a week ago last Friday but the terms of the agreement are being kept confidential.
While no one wants to see a 78 year old women become homeless, that is no excuse for the press never investigated this story. Sure, they reported it but they never asked questions. They just accepted without question the Occupy version of the story. The Tennessean’s reporting by Nancy DeVille was so one-sided that one could believe she was a spokesman for Occupy. What she did was not reporting at all; it was propaganda. Unfortunately, the reporting by Nashville’s smaller newspapers and TV stations was not much better.
There were so many red flags that just screamed out for answers that it is hard to believe that none of the local media asked questions. Below are a few of the unanswered questions:
Why were there two quit claim deeds recently filed on Ms Bailey’s home?
One was dated 05/27/2011 and the other was from Meriel Bailey dated 5/9/2011. The newspaper says her two daughters recently moved out of the property. The original warranty deed dated April 1999 transferred the property to Kimberly F. Bailey, Helen Bailey, and Meriel Fulton. Is Merial Fulton the same person as Meriel Bailey? Were the parties giving quit claims her daughters? Did someone give up their ownership interest in the property so Ms Bailey could qualify for a reverse mortgage? Is Ms Bailey the only person on her mortgage?
If other parties are on the mortgage they are still responsible for this debt. When one gives up an ownership interest in a property, one does not escape the obligation to pay the debt. I don’t know the facts but a real reporter would have found this interesting and found out the facts. I found the public records in a few minutes. This is not that hard.
Why did the daughters abandon their mother?
The Tennessean report says, “She fell behind on her mortgage in April after her two daughters moved out, leaving her with a mortgage just under $1,000 to pay alone.” Why did her two daughters move out? Am I the only one that thought The Tennessean should have pursued this line of inquiry? Why did someone not interview the daughters? Are either or both of the daughters on the mortgage note? Are the two daughters not more responsible for their mother’s well-being than Chase? When they moved out and left their mother who makes $700 a month with a $1000 a month house payment, what did they think would happen? What kind of daughters are these?
If Chase would have written down the debt, could indeed Ms. Bailey have gotten a Reverse Mortgage?
The news reports said Ms. Bailey could get a reverse mortgage if Chase would have simply write off $9000. Without knowing how much she currently owes on her property and other factors, one cannot know if that is true or not, however I never believed it. Revere mortgages are not as automatic to get as they once were. Reverse mortgage companies have been having a problem with borrowers who would get a reverse mortgage and then still not be able to keep up the home, keep it insured, and pay the taxes. The newspaper story says Ms Bailey only has $700 a month income. In considering Ms. Bailey for a reverse mortgage, the reverse mortgage company would have to be determine that she is financially able to provide for home upkeep, taxes and insurance and still have money to live. I am not so sure she could have qualified for a reverse mortgage. Why did the media never ask if she had a conditional approval from a reverse mortgage lender? That would be a logical question to ask. That seems like a very basic follow up question.
Is keeping this home in Ms Bailey’s best interest?
A Tennessean report said, “She receives less than $700 a month in Social Security.” Think about that. Even if she has no mortgage payment, I still wonder if she can she stay in her house on $700 a month? The home is a 4-bedroom, three-bath, 2720 square foot house. That is a lot of house to heat and maintain. No one ever asked if it was in Ms Bailey’s best interest to stay in this big house. Did no one ever ask her if she had considered downsizing?
Why not let Occupy pay the $9000 shortage?
If 80,000 people think Chase should forgive the $9000 in order for Ms Bailey to stay in her home, then do the math: $9000/80,000= 11.25 cents each. Why did the media never ask why supporters of Ms. Bailey did not pay her mortgage?
I know that newspapers have fewer reporters these days and often reporters are not allowed to commit the time necessary to investigate a story and superficial reporting is all they can do. Also, sometimes the reporters have limited knowledge of the issue they are covering and do not know the questions to ask. Maybe The Tennessean sent the B team and that is just the best she could do. However, the questions I have asked are not that complicated. I think this story was not investigated because when it comes to a liberal group that wanted to keep an old lady who marched with Martin Luther King in her home, the reporters biases caused them to lose all objectivity.
The New York Times has the slogan, “All the News that’s Fit to Print;” maybe our local newspaper should adopt the slogan, “All the News that Fits (our biases).” The National Inquirer has a slogan, “Inquiring Minds Want to Know”; maybe a local media outlet should adopt a slogan, “We Know no Inquiring Minds.”