[Photo credit: NYT]
No doubt you're all familiar with the old line that answers the question "How cold is it outside?" The reply, "Colder than a ...," a jab at the stereo-typical Halloween witch. It seems it may be time for a much needed update of the tired, old jokes about cold to reflect a much colder place; the deep pit of indifference that holds the heart of a banker and that of his legal team.
The photo above comes from a photo slide-show within an editorial in this morning's New York Times. The photos were given to the author by a former employee of the law firm of Steven J. Baum, the largest group of foreclosure attorneys in the state of New York, representing "virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo,NYT columnist Joe Nocera explains.
Describing what the photos depict, Nocera continues:
"Let me describe a few of the photos. In one, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck that reads: “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served.” My source said that “I was never served” is meant to mock “the typical excuse” of the homeowner trying to evade a foreclosure proceeding."
"A second picture shows a coffin with a picture of a woman whose eyes have been cut out. A sign on the coffin reads: “Rest in Peace. Crazy Susie.” The reference is to Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who had filed a class-action suit against Steven J. Baum — and had posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm’s foreclosure practices. “She was a thorn in their side,” said my source."
"A third photograph shows a corner of Baum’s office decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes. Another shows a sign that reads, “Baum Estates” — needless to say, it’s also full of foreclosed houses. Most of the other pictures show either mock homeless camps or mock foreclosure signs — or both. My source told me that not every Baum department used the party to make fun of the troubled homeowners they made their living suing. But some clearly did. The adjective she’d used when she sent them to me — “appalling” — struck me as exactly right."
I hope you'll click through and read the rest at the NYT, there's a more in-depth description of the history of cruel indifference towards homeowners seeking to work out repayment or obtain a modification to save their homes, the proverbial "hand slap" in the way of a fine not large enough to make the firm blink as they sign the check for "operating in a parallel mortgage universe, unrelated to the real universe,” according to one New York State Supreme Court judge.
Also note that the photos are from the firm's Halloween party last year, before Occupy Wall Street. I wonder how they plan to dress this year for their macabre celebration?