One answer to the Curious Puzzle


Within less than 5 minutes of “discussion” the BOCC voted 7-0 to approve the TWO HUNDRED-FIFTY MILLION DOLLAR HFA resolution. As predicted, the ONLY criteria the BOCC considered were:

Q: Does this have any financial impact on The County?
A: No

Q: Is this the way HFA has always gotten approval?
A: Yes

At least Commissioners Murman and Beckner asked SOME questions.

When Beckner asked about the very large dollar amount involved in the bond issue, he was told this was not a “bond issue”, it was a “financing plan” and would have no financial impact on The County 2011 Budget and besides, the HFA had just last month dealt with a similar $20 million issue.
No follow-up questions like:

What is the relationship of HFA to the Affordable Housing Department who were just in front of the BOCC talking about their low-income, first-time homebuyer financing program?
What about the relationships to other affordable housing entities in the alphabet soup like HOME, CDGB, SHIP, NSP, HERA, SAIL, LIHTC, GNMA  and HUD?

How did HFA arrive at the $250,000,000 figure?
What is this “Financing Plan” and how is that not “issuing bonds”?
Who buys the bonds?
Who sells the bonds?
If the money is to be used to buy mortgages from banks, to whom does the homeowner pay each month?
Does the HFA then own the mortgages or are they sold/transferred to another entity?
At any point, do the mortgages become part of any publically -traded securities?
Who profits from this “financing plan”? Banks, developers, brokers, title companies, attorneys, brokers and investors?
With so much money passing through so many hands, is there any possibility that the County of Hillsborough could gain any revenue?

When asked about MERS, Beckner was told that HFA didn’t know anything about MERS.
No follow-up questions like:

Even if HFA does not deal directly with Mortgage Electronic Registry Systems, Inc. (MERS) are these mortgages at any time pooled into tax-exempt, mortgage-backed, federal government-guaranteed municipal-bond securities that involve any other entity using the MERS system such as Nationwide Title Clearing of Pinellas County?
Does Hillsborough County stand to lose transfer fee revenues each time MERS pooled mortgages change hands? MERS holds about 60% of the nation’s mortgage-backed securities and is being now sued by many counties for billions of dollars in lost fees.

Where is the intellectual curiosity?
This is no way to transact the people’s business.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen


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