Washington AG sues firm over illegal student loan practices

Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced action against a student loan debt adjusting firm that exploited borrowers for financial gain.

Ferguson filed a lawsuit Monday charging

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Grays Harbor Democrats respond to AG opinion – no new ‘list of exhaustion’

The chair of the Grays Harbor Democrats, and list member himself, George Smylie has replied to the Attorney General’s opinion recently released in an ongoing dispute with the Grays Harbor County Commissioners to fill the county prosecutor seat. The response assumes that the commissioners will formally ask for a new list from the Democratic party to fill the seat, and replies “It is impractical to provide a new list at this time based on our 10 day notice requirement to our PCOs. The 60 day window would expire before you could act on a new list. The letter goes on to says that the commissioners “have a list that was created based on the Washington Constitution and the choice to act on it to appoint a Prosecutor.” Referring to the first list provided which featured Deputy Prosecutor Katie Svoboda -who wants the job, as well as Smylie and Vini Samuel – who both want Svoboda to have the job. Missing from the list was commissioner-supported Mike Spencer, who also wanted the job vacated by Stew Menefee last September.

<a href="http://kbkw.com/grays-harbor-democrats-respond-to-ag-opinion-no-new-list-of-exhaustion/#more-103030

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State AG says Grays Harbor Commissioners need a new list for County Prosecutor

A new list of three, but they can’t pick their own, that’s the answer for Grays Harbor County Commissioners from the state Attorney General’s office in the ongoing debate

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Attorney General launches 2011 legislation

OLYMPIA – Legislators from both parties joined Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna today to announce proposals to save money, protect the vulnerable and make government more accountable.


“People depend on us to solve problems,” McKenna said. “We’re proud to work with legislators from both sides of the aisle who are as determined as we are to make our streets safer, and to make state government leaner and more accountable.”

The Attorney General's Office and the State Auditor's Office’s Open Government Task Force recommend the creation of an administrative board to rule on complaints of violations of the Public Records Act (PRA) and the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Legislation sponsored by Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, creates the Office of Public Records within the Office of Administrative Hearings. 

“It’s our hope that this pilot program will expand in the years to come, broadening access to government information,” McKenna said. “It will also prevent expensive lawsuits over the denial of records.”


McKenna also proposes two bills specifically targeted to save money by preventing lawsuits concerning open government matters. One bill, sponsored by Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, and others, requires records requesters seeking court penalties to first notify a government agency of their intent to file a lawsuit over denied records.


The other bill, sponsored by Rep. Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland, provides a one-year statute of limitations for suing over denied records.

WA Minimum Wage Workers Wait for News of an Hourly Raise

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has delayed her annual minimum-wage announcement for the upcoming year until this week. The Washington Attorney General, Rob McKenna, believes there hasn't been enough change in the Consumer Price Index to justify a wage increase, although last month Oregon looked at the same data, and will increase its minimum wage by ten cents an hour.

John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle, says the Washington law has been in effect since 1998, and he thinks the AG is pandering to conservative business groups.

"We have had 1.4 percent inflation over the previous 12 months. So legally the state is bound to increase the minimum wage, come January 1. So, that's what we would expect that the Governor would do, in accordance with the law."

Selling Gold – Consumer Protection Tips from Attorney General

CONSUMER: For some extra cash, I have been considering using one of those mail-in “cash for gold” services that are advertised on T.V. Are these companies the best option for selling old jewelry and scrap gold?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ROB MCKENNA: For most Americans, money is tighter than it’s ever been and many are scrambling for immediate avenues to ease the strain on their monthly budgets. With the price of gold reaching record highs of well over $1,000, ads have prompted millions to sift through their valuables for rings, chains, and coins they are willing to part with. However, the allure of the promised “fast cash” has many hastily submitting items they may know little about to companies they haven’t researched. This has created an industry tailor-made for a recession and a hotbed of opportunity for consumer scams.

By far the most frequent consumer complaint regarding these services involves a low payout. In fact, there are widespread reports of people sending in hundreds of dollars worth of items only to receive a check for a paltry amount – sometimes even less than $1. While these companies guarantee satisfaction, some are reported to have practices in place to make the process as difficult as possible for the seller in hope they simply give up trying to recoup the submitted items.

When seeking to trade valuables in for cash, it is imperative to equip yourself with as much information as possible to safeguard yourself in the transaction.

AG’s law enforcement bills still alive – for now

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna’s law enforcement bills have survived the first major hurdle of the 2010 legislative process.
The AG’s proposals to update the state’s domestic violence protections, restrict access to child pornography to fight child sexual abuse and assault, and bolster protections for seniors facing physical abuse or financial exploitation have all received enough support to continue past the Legislature’s first committee cut-off date.
“I’m grateful that even in the toughest of years, lawmakers recognize the need to protect the vulnerable,” McKenna said. “Kids who are sexually assaulted, victims of domestic violence and seniors facing physical or financial exploitation can’t afford to wait for a better budget year.”

McKenna plans to take action to protect victims of state’s most dangerous criminals

OLYMPIA — When shocking crimes are committed by repeat offenders, members of the public often ask elected officials why they didn’t do more to keep those criminals off the streets.
 “We know there are ticking time bombs out there, just waiting to go off,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. “Local police and prosecutors know the identities of many of the worst repeat abusers. Today we’re asking the Legislature to allow the authorities to bring them to justice.”
The attorney general’s domestic violence bill was among those previewed at a press conference Monday. Just as the law gives extra penalties to serial car thieves and drug dealers, McKenna’s proposal clamps down on repeat domestic abusers. The legislation targets abusers who graduate to felony abuse, which often involves firearms or other deadly weapons.

Washington draft wolf management plan – meeting Thursday night in Aberdeen

A three-month public comment period on a draft state wolf conservation and management plan has begun, and will include a dozen public meetings held by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The meetings will take place from Oct. 20 through Nov. 10 at locations around the state. An earlier schedule of meetings, posted on WDFW’s website, has been revised to allow more time for public review of the draft plan.

The draft plan is the preferred alternative among four presented in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), as required by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The DEIS and draft wolf plan are available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/gray_wolf/. Desk copies of the DEIS will be available at WDFW regional offices and public libraries by Oct. 9. Those unable to view or download the DEIS on the website can request paper or compact disc copies by calling (360) 902-2515.

Comments can be submitted through Jan. 8 electronically at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/gray_wolf/mgmt_plan.html, by FAX to (360) 902-2946, or by U.S. Mail to: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

How to avoid a repo when you can’t make a car payment

Consumer: “I cannot make my car payment. If I pay the interest and a little towards the principal, can I keep the car until I get back on my feet?”

Attorney General Rob McKenna: Unfortunately, if you don’t make your payments, your lender may repossess your vehicle – and your blemished credit history can make it difficult for you to obtain another loan in the future. Plus, you will still owe the remaining balance on the vehicle you no longer have. Here are some options that may help you avoid a repo:

·       Contact your lender as soon as possible. Be honest about the situation and why you aren’t able to make the payment. If you’ve been a good customer and made your payments on time in the past, your lender may be willing to defer a payment and allow you to keep the car. If you can reach an agreement to change your original contract, get those new terms in writing. Don’t wait until your loan has been turned over to a debt collector. By then, your lender has given up on you and it’s too late to negotiate.

·       Refinance. You may be able to negotiate a lower interest or spread out the payments over a longer period of time, resulting in lower payments. The downside to a longer-term loan is that you’ll pay more interest. Compare loans from your current lender and others.

·       Sell the car to pay off the loan. Determine how much you owe on the vehicle then check its market value on a site such as Edmund's or Kelley Blue Book. If you owe less than the car is worth, sell it and use the cash to clear your debt. Before selling, review your financing agreement to see if the lender charges prepayment penalties for paying off your loan early.

·       Look for ways to save more money. Are you positive you can’t make your payment? You may be able to cut household expenses by eliminating other services you don’t need. You might qualify for assistance programs to help cover groceries, utilities or prescription drugs. Check out our Recession Survival Guide for resources at www.atg.wa.gov/economy.aspx.