The photos below are from last week’s action outside Bank of America in Clayton: one sign, a group of activists, and one activist in the making.
Bank of America is a master of the “string them along/stonewall them” technique that we’re seeing skillfully applied to Mike and Mary Boehm. The Boehms are so frustrated that they are beginning to wonder if the bank’s managers have read Catch-22 and instructed middle managers to follow Sergeant Towser’s example in that book.
In the World War II saga, Major Major was determined to avoid any contact with people plaguing him for favors–or indeed with anybody at all. So he summoned his aide:
“From now on,” he said, “I don’t want anyone to come in to see me while I’m here. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir,” said Sergeant Towser. “Does that include me?”
“I see. Will that be all?”
“What shall I say to the people who come to see you while you’re here?”
“Tell them I’m in, and ask them to wait.”
“Yes, sir. For how long?”
“Until I’ve left.”
“And then what shall I do with them.”
“I don’t care.”
“May I send them in to see you after you’ve left?”
“But you won’t be here then, will you?”
“Will that be all.”
And Sergeant Towser had no problem following those orders and leaving befuddled, frustrated supplicants standing in the major’s empty office, wondering if a cruel practical joke was being played on them. The Boehms can identify with their bewilderment.
When I spoke to Mary last Wednesday, she reported that someone from the Bank of America had left a phone message Monday night saying that the bank would be negotiating another mortgage with them. Then he failed to return phone calls. I spoke to Mary today, and she said that he finally did get back to them Wednesday evening and gave them the name and phone number of a negotiator, Elizabeth Gomez, who returned their calls on Thursday.
But Ms. Gomez claimed that there was no record in their file of an intent to foreclose. Odd, considering that the Boehm’s possessed a letter from Bad for America listing December 26th as the date that foreclosure proceedings would begin. Gomez was puzzled, furthermore, to find no paperwork in their file saying that they owed late fees–which is also odd, considering how the bank has been badgering the Boehms for those fees.
Sergeant Towser Gomez promised to check on those issues and call them the next morning, December 24th. Would they mind, she asked, being bothered on Christmas eve, about this matter? (Never let it be said that paper shufflers at B of A have no sense of humor.) After Mike and Mary assured her, nay, urged her to call on Friday, Gomez said she would phone them at 11:00 sharp, which is 9:00 in her time zone, opening time.
11:00 Friday came and went. Nothing.
It’s more than five days since the promised call, and the Boehms are standing in Major Major’s empty office.
Meanwhile Mike and Mary are pursuing every avenue they can think of to persuade Chris Koster to pressure the bank to modify their mortgage and even to bring suit against Bank of America, as Arizona and Nevada have, for its foreclosure practices. They are contacting their elected officials to plead their case with the Attorney General.
I put in my two cents this afternoon, talking to Chris and Nancy in Koster’s office. They’ve had no reply from Bank of America to their letter of inquiry about the Boehms’ situation. I asked if Koster will consider bringing suit. Nancy says she “will check.” I didn’t exactly expect to hear positive news on that front yet. I’m prepared to be persistent.
So are the Boehms. Mary is determinedly upbeat. Hey, she even offered to describe the decor in Major Major’s office for me. If anybody can pin down that elusive son of a gun, it will be the Boehms.