Archives for 2009

Out of town until Thursday, July 30th

I’m sitting by the shore of Lake Superior at the Java Moose coffee shop in Grand Marais, MN. My wife and I have been camping here at the municipal campground. Must say this is about my favorite spot in the whole world. The people who run the Java Moose are very kind. They don’t seem to mind how long one sits with one’s laptop.

Yesterday and Sunday were unique in that our cell phone service was out. I didn’t realize how important that cell phone has become until it didn’t work. On a trip like this it serves more as a family intercom, helping me find my wife when we get separated during one activity or another. The phones kicked back in and started working late Monday afternoon – something wrong with the tower I guess. Whatever it was it seemed to only affect T-Mobile service. Verizon and AT&T still worked I learned from comparing notes with other campers.

So yesterday, before my wife and I headed out to hike at Mount Oberg, I fired up a pair of old walkie-talkies. That way if we got separated, which happens a lot because I tend to get ahead of her on the trail, we still could talk with each other. Compared to the cell phones, the walkie-talkies seem crude. They always work at least if you are in range no matter where one is, however. Turns out that even when the tower in Grand Marais is working, the cell phone service doesn’t extent to Mount Oberg.

I’ll be back in the office on Thursday morning. These trips are always too short.

Back to Wayzata Blvd.

I’m still unpacking, but at least I’m in my new office and the phones are hooked up.

I want to give special thanks to the following, who I will not refer to by name to protect the innocent:

  • The crew who helped me move. They consisted of my my wife, two daughters, two sons in law, and a step-son-in-law.
  • The technicians from Popp Telecom, who spent almost all day Friday trying to unscramble a spaghetti bowl of wires in this building so that my DSL, phone jacks and Ethernet jacks would work.
  • The delivery crew from Office Liquidators in Plymouth, who disposed of some of my old furniture from my old location and delivered new or mostly new furniture to my new place. As close as I can figure, my old desk and chairs had been in use for 27 years – guess I got my use out of them.
  • The staff from Senior Community Services, which is my new landlord. They have been very helpful and gracious. Before moving in I had asked them for new paint, new carpeting, a sign in the parking lot and some remodeling. They agreed to everything I asked for.
  • They guys from Joe’s Carpeting – who after putting in the carpet have agreed to make some throw rugs out of the remnants for me.
  • The neighborhood mail carrier – who is making an effort to see that my mail still gets to me.

This is not the first time I have had an office with a Wayzata Blvd. address. Between 1978 and 1980 I was at 6950 Wayzata Blvd. in Golden Valley. That building is no longer there. Long after I left, it was torn down to make room for I-394. It was next door to the Perkins which is still near the intersection of Highway 12 and Louisiana Ave. I had really forgotten about that old office, until I noticed that there was something familiar about having “Wayzata Blvd.” on my business card. Deja vu all over again.

Moving to New Office

Somewhere around July 10th I will be moving my office down the street west about three blocks. The new address will be 10709 Wayzata Blvd. #205, Minnetonka, MN 55305.

Every commercial building for miles around my present office has had “for rent” signs up for some time. A couple of months ago I decided to look around a bit, and I started to feel like a kid in candy store. It didn’t take long to figure out that I could get more than twice as much space for about half as much money. The new office space will have a soaring vaulted ceiling in a pyramid-shaped building, with a patio door that opens into a grassy back yard. It’s all one level and is fully accessible to the handicapped. There’s already one elderly couple who have made their appointment to come see me after the move to avoid the steps at my old location.

I have been very happy at the old office, having been there for almost 13 years. In general I hate change, and I will admit to having an emotional attachment to the old place. I feel in my bones, however, that now is the time to make a change. The new place will have the space I need and will be quite a bit more efficient, particulary after I get it set up the way I want it. It’s close enough that I would hope to stay in touch with old friends at the old location; and I have already learned that another old friend has an office right down the hall at the new place.

My phone numbers and email address will stay the same. The fax number is changing to 952-525-7924.

Payday Max and Credit Protection Depot

I have just had a very bad experience with the above two outfits, which I believe may actually be two of many names that they hide behind. Several web pages that I found say that they are also known as “My Cash Now.”

My client had a loan from them, but it was all on line; and the client never had a physical address. I found an address after a bit of searching and used that as the address in the bankruptcy petition, but the notice from the bankruptcy court was sent back – meaning that either it was a bad address or the mail was refused.

I have spent the past hour on the phone with them. They do answer their phone. But all individuals there refuse to provide the address – except for one who put me through to a recording which said something almost too fast to write down. I think I got that address, but I’m not sure because there was no way to get the recording to play again. It was an address in British Columbia, Canada.

In my humble opinion, based on my experience with them today, I cannot characterize them as anything other than devious.

Mortgage Modification Amendment Defeated in Senate

I just received an email from NACBA – National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyers. They say that the mortgage modification in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy amendment which NACBA was trying to get passed was defeated today in the Senate. The amendment in question was to be part of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act.

I think that means it’s totally dead for this session of Congress. Had it passed, I was going to have to find a class or seminar to attend to learn what all the bill contained as finally passed. NACBA has it’s convention in Chicago at the end of this month, and I would have had to be sure that I got there. As it is, I can probably wait till next year without missing anything essential.

Recession Sing Along

While you are waiting to come down with the swine flu, you might want to have a good laugh. The funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time is a recession sing along at the Newsday web site. Click the following for a direct link to the animated video.

Maybe you have to be old enough to remember the West Side Story movie from the 1960s to fully appreciate this thing. I don’t see how the mortgage broker singing “I Feel Greedy” could quite have the full intended impact unless the viewer is familiar with the original “I Feel Pretty” from the movie.

A sales tax for filing bankruptcy? Some change!

It seems that the leadership of our Minnesota state legislature is considering slapping a sales tax on legal services. If they have to do that, I would suggest that there be an exception for legal services connected with bankruptcy filings. I just sent the following email to Minnesota State Representatives Kelliher, Sertich, Lenczewski and Benson; and to State Senator Bonoff:

I am a lawyer who does bankruptcy work. Many people who contact me cannot afford to file a bankruptcy the way it is. Adding a sales tax to my fee would make that much worse.
A sales tax for filing a bankruptcy. Some change that would be.

So much for bankruptcy law change.

An email I received today from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyers (NACBA) says that Senate Bill S. 61 is stalled. It might never get to the floor for a vote. This is the bill that passed the House about a month ago, and which would have provided bankruptcy judges with authority to rewrite mortgages.

Bankruptcy judges were going to be allowed to reduce balances, lower interest rates and extend terms of mortgages. Only a very narrow group of people would have qualified for this benefit, but it still would have been – as we native Minnesotans say -a pretty big deal.

If it had passed it was my plan to attend a three day convention – basically three days of classes on bankruptcy law – which is scheduled by NACBA in Chicago for the end of May. I would have expected that there would have been plenty of classes and materials explaining the proposed changes, if they had passed. Now I think I’ll skip it for this year. I did go last year, and without those changes it would be a lot of the same material.

In a way it’s a relief. Learning a lot of new stuff would have been a bit of work. I must say, however, that I am disappointed to see all the hoopla and fanfare followed by nothing but a big thud.

Warning about Debt Management Scams

I’m looking this morning at the March 15th tip of the day from Kim Komando. It’s a rather long article entitled Beware of debt management offers. She describes three different types of programs which one will find when running a Google search: 1) Debt negotiation, 2) debt consolidation, and 3) debt elimination. Personally I would like to add one more type: 4)debt management.

The third one – debt elimination – is always a scam. These are people who are trying to sell information that they claim is secret that you can use to make your debt just go away entirely. If anybody tells you they have that sort of a program, which sometimes is in the form of a magic form you can fill out and then send to the creditors, run away as fast as you can. There is no such program.

Debt negotiation or debt consolidation programs may or may not be legitimate. The Komando article suggests that you should make sure that any agency you use is licensed by your state and also accredited by one of two organizations, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. I would also suggest that you make sure they are on the approved Department of Justice list for counseling programs acceptable for the pre-filing and post-filing credit counseling required by the bankruptcy statute. You can find a link to the Department of Justice list of approved bankruptcy counseling agencies on my web page at http://www.mn-bankruptcy.com/chapter7.html. At that page click on “Credit Counseling Requirement.”

My two favorite local places to go for real counseling are Lutheran Social Services and Family Means. Both have offices fairly close to my office. Both are non-profit. Both do debt management, my Item 4 on the above list. Debt management might involve negotiation, but not necessarily. They are not trying to make money out of your desperate situation. They are tying to figure out how to get you on a payment plan that will actually work. And if that is a hopeless idea for you, they will tell you and suggest that you talk to someone like me.

My Dentist, My Accountant and Me.

This week I have gone to see both my dentist and my accountant. I like both of these guys, but going to see them tends to be a painful experience. I need both of these guys, but I wish I didn’t.

I suspect that the way I feel about seeing my dentist and my accountant may provide some insight into how people feel when they need to come see me for legal advice or representation. I am fairly certain that very few of my clients are glad about being my client – in fact none are glad about it. While I am certainly glad to see them, seeing me or having anything to do with me must certainly be difficult. If my clients had a choice, I’m sure they’d rather be somewhere else.

I mentioned these thoughts to one of my clients, who stated as follows : “I’m glad to have the company, but I’d rather have a different topic.” Credit to him for putting it profoundly and succinctly.

I’ll share one more fact. Between the dentist and the accountant, I’d rather go see the dentist.

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