E. Robert Levy: the mortgage crisis explained

Transcribed interview for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as published in February. As, the mortgage crisis weighs on, I thought some might be interested to learn a bit more from an industry expert.

Name: E. Robert LevyE. Robert Levy
Title: Executive director and counsel & executive director of legislative and regulatory information & legislative regulatory counsel
Organization: Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey & Mortgage Bankers Association of Pennsylvania & Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers
Education: Rutgers School of Law in York, Boston University (started undergrad) and Farleigh Dickinson (graduated undergrad),
Career History (most recent first): Private practice in law; deputy commissioner to New Jersey state Department of Banking and Insurance; Attorney general and counsel to New Jersey state Department of Banking and Insurance
Home: Livingston, N.J.

1) What are the major differences in the mortgage crisis between New Jersey and Pennsylvania?

Well, the differences are probably fairly negligible, depending upon what data you look at. Overall, the negative impact on both states, or on either state, is far less than what you find in other parts of the country, California, Florida, Nevada. As far as foreclosure rates are concerned, they are affected by the nature of the urban parts of the state, which get hit harder than others as there is some evidence that non prime lending was more prevalent in those markets.

2) How are the state legislatures and executive branches in each state approaching the problem differently?

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Glen Macnow: please rank Philadelphia cheese steaks again

People love to rank cheese steaks. There is something about listing shit that people love, so why not the cheese steaks? Listing, ranking, investigating shit that is supposed to be unique to a particular region or city or country, definitely worth a post on Stuff White People Like.

Nearly six years after Craig Laban, the respected Philadelphia Inquirer food critic, launched the Cheesesteak Project, Glen Macnow of WIP, a Philadelphia sports talk station, announced the initial findings of his own inquiry. His claim to note, though, is eating at 45 different locales, to Laban’s just 22.

His top pick thus far (his analysis isn’t complete) is South Philly’s John’s Roast Pork on East Snyder Avenue.

Like Laban, his list puts Tony Luke’s on Oregon Avenue as the top among the big name chains, and similarly, Pat’s and Geno’s didn’t even make it in the Top Ten.

Oh, another thing white people love to do is reject the most popular of a regional craft because, seriously, they know a much better place no one knows about (a derivative of wanting to be the only white person around).

Number of Views:5630

David Dinenberg: growing Grasso

As submitted for the Philadelphia Business Journal last week, unedited, for Friday’s edition.

David Dinenberg made some big deals as a real estate broker.

“But I was so unsatisfied,” said the new chief operating officer of Grasso Holdings, a full service real estate firm based in Philadelphia.didenberg-dave.jpg

It wasn’t for him. Uniting one company looking to buy and another looking to sell, no matter the field, left him feeling like a middle man, Dinenberg said.

Dinenberg’s new role will let the company’s CEO David Grasso focus on the largest deals and developing strategy for the growing firm.

“I cover the day to day management of the company,” said Dinenberg of his corporate management of the company’s affiliates, involved in construction, development, residential sales, leasing and property management. “Now I need to understand everyone’s projects.”

Those projects vary for Grasso, which isn’t asset specific. They’ve recently renovated the Lofts at Bella Vista and the Packard Grande, two Center City condominiums. Last year, Grasso opened Valley Square, a 400,000 square foot shopping center in Bucks County. In the coming months, the company is to break ground on a 1.2 million square foot mixed-use project in Center City, which will include a Whole Foods Grocery, a Best Buy, a hotel and high end rental apartments.

“We are a medium sized company doing huge deals,” he said. “We put our sights above where most people would put their own sights.”

“The best thing about real estate is that there are so many aspects to real estate,” Dinenberg said. “That’s what captivates my interest in the business in general.”

As the company continues to expand, Dinenberg is charged with developing an internal structure, offering oversight without hurting the company’s independent and entrepreneurial spirit, he said.

“You need those checks and balances as you grow up,” he said. “And we’re growing up.”

As he reduces his load of personal projects and shifts to a leadership role over the accounting, human resources, marketing, public relations, sales and leasing of Grasso and its affiliates Tycoon Entertainment, GH Property Services and GH Realty, Dinenberg said he hopes to help the company grow in a healthy way.

“I can take that to the next level, to operate Grasso and offer corporate oversight,” he said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

See other examples of my reporting here.

Number of Views:8039

Interview with former Philadelphia Mayor John Street

Early this morning I interviewed former Philadelphia Mayor John Street, now an adjunct professor of political science at Temple University. I was speaking to him for my honors thesis, which is focusing on the viability of the Republican Party in urban America, particularly Philadelphia.

I’ll post some of my notes later, but for now, check out this video of Street discussing some of the challenges his successor, Michael Nutter, will face.

Number of Views:3154

You know Chelsea Clinton is super hot

Yo, seriously, how is there any debate? Chelsea Clinton is hot.

Check out this video by The Temple News on a recent appearance Hillary’s daughter made in Philadelphia, and try to tell me differently.

That’s a far cry from her early days as the first child in White House.

Chelsea has been used a great deal by the Clinton campaign.

Yet, there has been lots of talk about Chelsea being used for the Hillary campaign. The junior Senator from New York addressed attacks of her “pimping out” Chelsea.

Check out others taking up the debate.

Number of Views:2989

Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies show holiday spirit


Never posted this, thought it as good as time as any, at this point, to celebrate the marketability of professional athletes giving back. -cgw

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed, without edits, to run in the Jan. 11, 2008 edition.

Two Eagles lent their significant star power to brighten the holidays for a group of Philadelphia kids, last month.

Through a partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, running back Brian Westbrook and free safety Brian Dawkins met individually with 70 Philadelphia children on Dec. 18, giving each a present at GPAUC’s Center City office.

“This was all the generosity of Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins,” said Bonnie Grant, spokesperson for the GPUAC, a business-community partnership that unites a handful of regional non-profits. “They wanted to make it a very special holiday for children with need.”

It was a particularly special day for Westbrook, who got word of his most recent selection to the Pro Bowl less than an hour before his appearance. GPUAC president Sharmain Matlock-Turner made an announcement during the event. The children cheered, even if some weren’t old enough to know much about Westbrook’s running game.

“The kids were thrilled,” Grant said. “It was as if there were in the presence of magic.”

Not to be outdone, the Phillies had their holiday spirit in full force.

A handful of front office personnel unloaded more than 7,000 pounds of food the very same day, all donated to feed the hungry of Philadelphia’s growing Latino community.

Among those of the Phillies top brass who were on hand to bring the canned foods, collected at a Sept. 7 game against the Florida Marlins, were Ruben Amaro, Jr., Phillies assistant general manager, and broadcaster Scott Franzke. The donations, which also included a check for $25,000, were given to the region’s largest food bank, Philabundance, which has partnered each holiday season with the Phillies since 2005 when then-Phillies first baseman Jim Thome took interest.

The day before, Phillies President Dave Montgomery, General Manager Pat Gillick and several former players served dinner at the Our Brother’s Place Homeless Facility in North Philadelphia. It was the 8th year such an event has taken place and part of a week of philanthropy.

“As an organization, we recognize how important it is to give back,” said Gene Dias, the Phillies director of community relations. “Particularly at this time of year and particularly to those in the most desperate need.”

Number of Views:4300