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Feds sued over blocked loans

SACRAMENTO — State Attorney General Jerry Brown sued the federal government Wednesday, asking a judge to stop government-sponsored mortgage buyers from blocking a program that lets homeowners pay for energy-efficient improvements through increased property taxes.

Mr. Brown’s lawsuit argues that Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s opposition is forcing California counties to back off plans to provide the incentives. He sued the buyers and their regulatory agency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, in U.S. District Court in Oakland.

The voluntary Property Assessed Clean Energy program would encourage homeowners to install solar panels, better insulate their homes and take other steps to improve energy efficiency, Mr. Brown said. Homeowners pay for the improvements through their property tax assessments over a decade or more.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac say the programs could give counties top priority to be repaid if homeowners default on their mortgages. As a result, they said they could not buy or guarantee mortgages on properties that participate.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency affirmed that legal interpretation July 6.


‘Barefoot Bandit’ waits for attorney

MIAMI — The teenager dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit” by authorities will cool his heels in a Miami jail at least two more days while he sorts out which attorney will represent him.

Wednesday, at his first U.S. court appearance since his arrest in the Bahamas, Colton Harris-Moore, 19, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube he thought his mother had hired a lawyer but he didn’t know the attorney’s name.

“I’d like to speak with my mom first,” said Mr. Harris-Moore, dressed in a standard tan prison jumpsuit, sandals and white socks. He added that he last spoke to his mother, Pam Kohler, “about a week ago.”

“She said that she hired one,” he said. “I have not met with him yet.”

Judge Dube set another hearing for Friday morning to determine Mr. Harris-Moore’s legal representation, whether he should be released on bail and when he should return to Seattle to face charges on a purported two-year string of crimes. He is suspected in about 70 burglaries, thefts and other property crimes in eight states and British Columbia, including thefts of aircraft - one of which he reportedly flew from Indiana to the Bahamas.


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