The odd couple fighting against predatory payday lending


first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr In South Dakota, a conservative pastor and an openly gay former Obama campaign staffer have teamed up to battle an exploitative industry.by: Sean McElweeOne of the most important bipartisan reforms of recent years started with a Twitter fight. Steve Hickey, a pastor in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, sent a letter to the editor of the Argus Leader, denouncing gay marriage and homosexuality.* Steve Hildebrand, owner of a local coffee shop, took offense. “You are becoming a huge joke in this state—huge,” he tweeted at the pastor. “We should have coffee,” Hickey responded. “I love you, tolerate you, I don’t support gay marriage.” And Hildebrand took him up on the offer: “As long as you come with an open mind and an open heart and a willingness to listen to my point of view as I was BORN gay.”The two Steves sat down at Josiah’s Coffee House and Café, the shop owned by Hildebrand. They make an odd couple. Hickey is pastor of the Church at the Gate and a conservative state legislator; Hildebrand was the deputy national campaign director for Obama’s 2008 campaign. But they soon found they had something in common: concern over payday lending. Many of Hildebrand’s employees had taken out payday loans, and Hildebrand often offered them zero-interest loans to help them escape. Hickey said people in his church had often faced the same struggle. He had similarly aided people trapped in the cycle of debt that payday lending creates.Hickey had been introducing reform bills every legislative session since he had been in the legislature. “I’ve been here five years and I’ve offered something every year, but it has never gone anywhere, but I know from polls that voters want to vote these guys off the island,” Hickey told me. At one point, payday-lending lobbyists told him they would be interested in working on legislation. They flew to South Dakota to prepare a 12-page bill. But when the bill reached the legislative committee, industry lobbyists opposed it. “They lobbied against the very bill that they wrote,” Hildenbrand told me, describing the industry as “full of bullies and lies and cheats.” Payday lending companies hired “the most powerful lobbyists walking the halls,” which “really instilled fears in the eyes of these legislators,” he said. “There’s been efforts for several years now, and you can’t even get a bill out of committee.” continue reading »last_img read more

The strata by-laws all Cairns unit occupiers have to know


first_imgDecorating indoors can be subject to strata by-laws.He said owners and tenants in strata properties had to know their scheme’s by-laws inside and out. “But, unfortunately, there are many instances of residents taking actions that are in breach of the by-laws,” he said.More from newsCairns home ticks popular internet search terms2 days agoTen auction results from ‘active’ weekend in Cairns2 days ago“We had a report of a unit owner concreting their courtyard then having to jack hammer it all up as they didn’t have approval for the works. The resident previously lived in a house with only council regulations applying and was not aware he could not make this type of alteration to his courtyard without first seeking approval as stipulated within the scheme by-laws.” Mr Mifsud said even changes to the inside of the unit could be risky without checking the property’s strata by-laws. “Even changing the curtains can be an issue that causes a breach in a strata scheme. There can be by-laws that specify light backed curtains should only be installed in particular windows,” he said. “Similarly, making unauthorised changes to blinds can be a problem, while the same situation can arise with window tinting.” Apartment blocks across the city are subject to their own strata by-laws. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERSSTRATA management is meant to create harmony across a townhouse or apartment block, but not sticking to the rules can land owners and tenants in hot water. Archers the Strata Professionals partner Grant Mifsud said even the wrong choice of curtains could result in costly consequences. “As a tenant or owner within a strata property, it’s important to be aware of the things you can and can’t do in your strata scheme,” he said.“Strata schemes have by-laws which regulate common property to help maintain peace and harmony within the community and also to ensure residents can live safely and in an orderly fashion protecting the value of their properties.” Swimming pools are a common cause for contention in apartments and units.The strata expert said common areas like swimming pools were not only strata by-law landmines, but could also raise tension between neighbours. “Some residents treat the pool like it’s their own private resort when in fact it is a shared area which can have strict rules such as ensuring children using the pool are supervised by an adult, for both safety and harmony,” he said. He said other common sources of strata-scheme disputes could involve pets, parking, parties, passive smoking, hanging laundry from the balcony as well as the behaviour of visitors.“Tenants and owners should brief their visitors about the accepted behaviour inside the strata property, particularly when holding any gatherings and be mindful of the other occupants’ peaceful enjoyment of their home,” he said.“To maintain a harmonious, friendly and comfortable atmosphere in a strata property, it’s always good to familiarise yourself with your strata scheme by-laws and play within the rules.”last_img read more