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COLUMN

Happytown

Wherein we bemoan the demise of the Florida Democratic Party, decry the smugness of Bank of America and then stare into a mirror to discover the real ugly

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Donkey wrong: Florida’s broken Democratic Party machine isn’t going to fix itself


“It’s difficult to reform when the thing you need to reform controls all the votes,” he says. “The elected officials basically have no 
ability to control the party.”

Bring in the circular firing squad! Anyway, Randolph is calling for a stronger organizational structure, more youth inclusion, investment in technology and a plan to help the party fight its way out of the paper bag of ineffective bylaws that keep it from moving forward. Also, a little bit of can’t-be-’em-join-’em rhetoric: “The Democrats need a response to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which is nothing more than an arm of the 
Republican Party.”

Should none of that come to fruition, and if the party machine stays in Tallahassee to throw pencils at the ceiling and pout, there’s going to have to be a Plan B.

“The other option is to completely circumvent the party and organize it yourself,” Randolph says. “But Florida hasn’t shown that it has any progressive groups that are capable of doing that.” And an ACORN falls from a tree in the distance. Sigh.

Calling out corporate America’s hypocrisy is a game that’s been rendered dull by repetition, so these days it takes some especially noxious bullshit to drive us out onto the 
playing field.

That was the case last week, when a self-congratulatory press release from Bank of America announced that, as part of the bank’s “Neighborhood Excellence Initiative,” a total of $450,000 would be doled out to five “local heroes” and two Orlando-based nonprofits as a reward for their efforts – though the five individuals will be forced to donate their five-notes to charities. “[T]he [initiative] is producing deep, long-lasting economic and social impact at the local level where it’s needed most,” the release bragged.

We’d wager that the bank is indeed making a deep social and economic impact, but that it’s more likely due to the policies of a subsidiary that, as economics professors William Black and L. Randall Wray put it, “defrauded more people, at a greater cost, than any entity in history.”

Writing in the Huffington Post last month, the authors referred to Countrywide Financial, which was acquired at the height of its infamy by Bank of America in 2008. The glaring tip of the mortgage-fraud iceberg, Countrywide was the target of a civil lawsuit filed in June by the Securities and Exchange Commission charging the mortgage company with issuing billions of dollars in fraudulent loans. The company was also sued in September by the Ambac Assurance Group, which took a closer look at 6,553 Countrywide loans it had insured and found that 97 percent of them did not conform to mortgage-underwriting standards. Despite all this, BOA has appointed senior leaders from Countrywide to its own top ranks and kept the bad loans on its books. “Foreclosure fraud is the necessary outcome of the epidemic of mortgage fraud,” write Black and Wray.

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