Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Must Read: More Same-Sex Nuptials, More Lawsuits For Wells Fargo, But Fewer Foreclosures

By Stephen Buel
Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 10:08 AM

US District Judge Vaughn Walker will rule today on whether to allow new gay marriages to take place while his ruling throwing out Prop 8 is appealed by foes of equal civil rights for homosexuals. Walker invaliated the ruling last week as an unconstitutional violation of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, but he temporarily suspended his ruling. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that same-sex couples are lining up this morning at the San Francisco clerk's office in anticipation of being able to wed.

A court ruling ordering Wells Fargo Bank to repay its customers $203 million for manipulating bank balances to charge more in overdraft fees could just be the beginning of the bad news for the financial giant, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The bank apparently controlled the order in which customers debits were processed in an effort to incur the maximum possible overdraft charges. On Tuesday, US district judge William Alsup said the bank's conduct was designed to "maximize the number of overdrafts and squeeze as much as possible" out of its customers. But the ruling just applied to California, and the bank faces similar charges in a much larger case in a Miami court.

East Bay defaults, trustee sales, and other foreclosure rates were lower in July than they were one year ago, but the residential property picture is still murky, the Oakland Tribune reported, citing data from analysts at RealtyTrac.com. Overall foreclosures were down 15.7 percent in Alameda County and a whopping 40.6 percent in Contra Costa County. But with a wave of adjustable-rate mortgages just starting to reset, it's too early to suggest that property values have permanently turned a corner.

Berkeley preservationists and library users are fighting efforts to renovate or rebuild the city's four branch libraries, the Chron reported. Library users say the plans will reduce the amount of space dedicated to books.

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