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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why Did Mayor Murray Bash a Veteran's Family After Intervening to Stop Their Eviction?

Posted by on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 5:47 PM

BYRON BARTON Unless the city council acts swiftly, it will do nothing to help this disabled veteran stay in his home.
  • Chris Genese
  • JEAN AND BYRON BARTON They're still holding out in their West Seattle home.

On July 21, Mayor Ed Murray sat down with anti-foreclosure activists, committed to ending veteran homelessness in Seattle by 2015, and instructed Seattle police not to remove Byron Barton, a disabled Vietnam veteran, and his wife Jean Barton from their home in West Seattle.

That made Triangle Properties, which Council Member Sawant has called a "developer that specializes in buying up foreclosed homes," really pissed off. Triangle bought the house at auction on April 11 after the Bartons were foreclosed upon by Chase Bank. After the mayor's intervention, the company filed a legal complaint to compel the city to enforce trespassing laws and evict the Bartons.

According to the mayor's office, a judge ruled yesterday that the city is within its rights to use discretion in applying the law. The judge said now it's up to the King County Sheriff to enforce the eviction order.

"The Bartons don’t belong there. They’re not the legal owners of the property," Sergeant DB Gates, a spokesperson for the sheriff, told me today. "It’s in the hands of the courts. And we will always follow a court order." She wouldn't say any more than that about the prospects for an eviction.

Meanwhile, the Bartons are challenging the legality of their foreclosure in court. Chase Bank and Quality Loan Services haven't responded to the suit yet, and it could be months before it gets resolved. But foreclosures have been overturned before because of malpractice by behemoth banks.

"The Bartons should not be removed from their home until the court can rule on these legal claims since these issues are currently in dispute and are the subject of litigation in King County Superior Court," Jill Smith, their lawyer, says in a letter citing several previous cases of overturned foreclosures sent today to Murray, the City Council, and City Attorney.

So far so good. The mayor wants to help vulnerable veterans (if he didn't, that would alarming). And he took action—after anti-foreclosure activists put their bodies on the line and created a damning spectacle as King County Sheriff Deputies attempted to evict the Bartons last month.

Here's where Murray's messaging gets weird and unseemly, however. His statement on the court ruling included this passage:

Representatives from the City’s Office of Housing as well as the Human Services Department have been in almost daily contact with the Bartons ever since, presenting the family with an array of health and human services for which they may be eligible at the city, county, state and federal levels. To date, the Bartons, however, have not pursued any of these options while choosing to remain in the home.

I want to add that, during these site visits, staff – who are mandatory reporters – observed conditions inside the residence that required them to submit reports to Adult Protective Services.

This smacks of a flimsy attempt to undermine the Bartons' credibility with the public.

Because according to both Jean Barton and Jill Smith, the family's attorney, Adult Protective Services personnel did visit the home and carry out an inspection on Friday. They found no problems. If they had come across any serious danger posed to Byron, they would have removed him from the home, Jean says.

What about the notion that city staff have been "almost daily contact with the Bartons" and the Bartons "have not pursued" any of the options presented to them?

"No no! I don’t know who they’re talking to, but it’s not me!" Jean says.

"The city of Seattle came with two people who had a list with a couple of things [resources] on it," she explained. One of the phone numbers on that list, which she dialed, was disconnected. "I had just talked to the VA [Veterans Affairs] social worker an hour before they were there...the VA person was much more helpful than the city of Seattle."

She says she's already filled out a lot of paperwork and may qualify for Section 8 Housing. "If I do qualify, it’ll be very minimal help because we’re just over the amount for what I make and what Byron gets on disability. We’re not quite poor enough."

I asked Megan Coppersmith, a mayoral spokesperson, why Ed Murray now seemed to be slamming the family publicly, after standing up to prevent—or at least delay—this disabled veteran's displacement. Several news outlets have already quoted the statement. Why did the mayor "want to add" that sentence about Adult Protective Services?

"Seems like a low blow," she said.

The mayor's office then sent me this follow-up message: "We won't elaborate—in fact, by law, cannot elaborate on the Barton statement. But it happened, and the Mayor felt it was an important detail to the story." I've asked for clarification about the legal restrictions and received none.

"I’m happy he told the Seattle police to stand down," Jean Barton says. "What I’m not happy with is that he’s said publicly that Byron is in an unsafe environment."

"I’m extremely stressed," she added. "I’m trying to work, taking care of my husband, check out all these resources. So how do you think I feel? I didn’t want to be out here having to justify everything that I do. I'm just trying to make it day to day."

"I'm very familiar with exactly what communications went on between the Bartons and the APS," Jill Smith, the family's lawyer told me. "And I don't think there's any basis for the mayor to be claiming there are any problems at the house whatsoever. Maybe he got wrong information. I don't know."

"I've worked all my life and I've served my country for four years," Byron Barton said the last time the authorities attempted to evict him. "I want to stay in my home," he told KIRO 7.

Triangle Properties and Adult Protective Services did not respond requests for comment.

UPDATE Friday, 11 a.m.: Coppersmith clarified last night that her "low blow" comment was not intended to convey the position of Mayor Murray or his office.


Comments (30) RSS

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seatackled 1
He can't say anything more because of privacy issues? Could he legally say whether or not they availed themselves to any services in the first place?
Posted by seatackled on August 14, 2014 at 5:58 PM · Report this
This matter has been covered in comments on Slog in earlier posts and it sounds like the Bartons are either scammers or extremely poor money managers.

Ansel should be reporting on the underlying facts of the foreclosure.
Posted by caution&daring on August 14, 2014 at 6:11 PM · Report this
Quit interrupting Ansel's tee-ball game, guys.
Posted by Hutch on August 14, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this
Teslick 6
Maybe the Mayor acknowledges the shades of gray in this story, unlike your fundamentalist black and white worldview?
Posted by Teslick on August 14, 2014 at 7:28 PM · Report this
While the Bartons may have been stupid with their money they didn't break the law like the banksters. Let them stay put until the courts have their say. If they did do something illegal let charges be brought.
Posted by Oldmesenger82 on August 14, 2014 at 7:32 PM · Report this
ferret 8
Ansel, you need to learn more about Journalism 101. There is a difference in reporting a story, to making wide firm judgments on a pretty innocuous matter of a fact statement by the Mayor's office. Whether your judgement i based is true, with other material showing bias by the Mayor to the Property Firm, you have to do a much better job in your reporting...

You got a good story, but you blew it in how your blow things out of proportion, and make the story about the Mayor's office statement, rather than the policy itself. Whoever is your editor, should be read the riot act as well..
Posted by ferret http://!/okojo hide on August 14, 2014 at 8:18 PM · Report this
Thank God all these people were here in the comments to **splain it to us.
Posted by cracked on August 14, 2014 at 9:14 PM · Report this
#9: Better than having Ansel 'spain it.
Posted by Jizzlobber on August 14, 2014 at 9:25 PM · Report this

Why aren't they moving into a tiny home on wheels, parked in their neighbors driveway?

More importantly, when's the last time they used transit?

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 14, 2014 at 9:33 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 12
So what do they contend was illegal about their foreclosure? Surely it's not that hard to explain to the class.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 14, 2014 at 10:14 PM · Report this
So there's some sort of abusive or neglectful situation going on?
Posted by GermanSausage on August 14, 2014 at 10:15 PM · Report this
Mayor Murray, Mr. Holmes, and City Council Members:

I represent Byron and Jean Barton on their legal claims regarding the foreclosure of their home and subsequent eviction. My position is that because courts have invalidated and set aside trustees' sales that have already occurred, and halted unlawful detainer actions, the Bartons should not be removed from their home until the court can rule on these legal claims since these issues are currently in dispute and are the subject of litigation in King County Superior Court. The following legal analysis provides support for my position:

Washington courts have voided and rescinded trustees’ sales where the Trustee failed to abide by the Washington Deed of Trust Act. In Albice v. Premier Mortgage, the Supreme Court validated the lower court's ruling that failure to comply with the statutory requirements was reason to set the sale aside and that factually, the purchaser did not qualify as a BFP (bona fide purchaser). The court also held that the homeowner did not waive their rights to legal challenge even after a sale had taken place, despite the fact that they did not attempt to obtain a restraining order (Albice v. Premier Mortgage Servs. Of Washington, Inc., 174 Wn.2d 560, 276 P.3d 1277 (2012)).

Where the lending institution or servicer told the borrower to stop making their payments during the course of the loan modification discussions, then proceeded with a foreclosure at the same time (known as dual-tracking) courts have voided and rescinded the trustee’s sale. The court stated in Bradburn v. ReconTrust, “Absent a valid waiver of the protections under the DTA [Deed of Trust Act], the failure to materially comply with that statute renders a foreclosure sale pursuant to it invalid. While Mr. Bradburn did not avail himself of the ability to seek to enjoin the sale, I felt the failure to strictly follow the requirement of the DTA required setting aside this foreclosure sale, particularly the appointment of a trustee that was not independent.” (Bradburn v. ReconTrust, et al., Snohomish County Superior Court No. 11-2-08345-2 (Order of Jan. 30, 2014)).

The court would not allow an unlawful detainer action to go forward where the beneficiary and MERS failed to produce evidence that they ever held the note secured by the deed of trust, and that the trustee failed to act impartially between the borrower and beneficiary. In that case, the court found that "[Quality Loan Service] QLS violated its duty of good faith and fair dealing with regard to Brevick required by RCW 61.24.010(4)...; and therefore was not entitled to rely upon the Declaration of Nationstar that it was the note holder...As a result of the material failure to comply with requisite requirements of the Deed of Trust Act, the waiver provisions of the Deed of Trust Act were inapplicable to the transaction...It is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that: 1. The Deed recorded by QLS conveying the property to Plaintiff is null and void; 2. Plaintiff is denied a writ of possession..." (Federal National Mortgage Association v. Brevick, Snohomish Co. Superior Court No. 12-2-05605-4 (Order of June 13, 2014)). In the court's oral decision in Brevick, Judge Bowden stated that because the DTA was not strictly followed, even though a trustee's sale took place, "It has to be set aside. It's not just a matter of monetary damages to be resolved."

The court stayed an unlawful detainer case where the homeowners came forward with proof that the trustee’s sale was not in compliance with the Deed of Trust Act. (Conner v. Everhome Mortgage et al., Snohomish County Superior Court No. 12-2-02860-3).

Jill J. Smith, Attorney
Natural Resource Law Group, PLLC
​2217 NW Market St., Suite 27
​Seattle, WA 98107
Posted by Bartlegal on August 14, 2014 at 10:33 PM · Report this
@9, that's one way to express the fact that you have no argument to make nor anything meaningful to add to the conversation.
Posted by LJM on August 14, 2014 at 10:59 PM · Report this
DOUG. 16
Because Ed Murray is a fucking idiot, that's why.
Posted by DOUG. on August 14, 2014 at 11:20 PM · Report this
17 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
Theodore Gorath 18
Is there some reason Ansel refuses to mention that they inhertied the house already paid for, took out hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from the value of the house, and now are simply not paying it back? Did the bank do anything illegal? If so, what?

Why are there no facts here, only emotional appeals and quotes that elucidate nothing?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on August 15, 2014 at 5:16 AM · Report this
JonnoN 22
@18 is there a reason you and others keep repeating that claim without anything to back it up? Links or it didn't happen
Posted by JonnoN on August 15, 2014 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Wow... how many of you have been paid to trash Ansel? because anyone can tell from your comments that you didn't read the story.

When Jean Barton showed up for court the most recent time, she assumed that the social worker from adult services who was responding to a claim of unsafe conditions for Byron had been called by Triangle Properties. Instead, she found out that it was Mayor Murray's people who had complained of unsafe conditions. The social worker found a safe and sanitary house, with a happy, if stressed out Byron Barton in it and left, finding no cause for alarm.

The question to Murray is valid: Mayor Murray, why did you send adult protective services to the Barton home and why did you feel it necessary to comment to the media on sanitary and safety issues that you have not seen in person, nor had yet been investigated by a qualified social worker?
Posted by j-so fresh on August 15, 2014 at 9:30 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 24
@22: Since I am at work, there are issues with downloading and linking to random PDFs and like documents, but being public records, they are accessible here:…

I mean, do you think the bank was just going down their evil checklist and had to put a mark in the "evict Vietnam vet from a home he already owns" box?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on August 15, 2014 at 9:36 AM · Report this
#16, Doug is quite correct, of course, and

#24, Teddyboy, is either joking or a complete effing idiot also.

Now, since Chase is involved, let's examine the history of the JP Morgan Chase Fraudclosure Machine:


(Sorry, don't have the time to list the many thousands of other sites/stories on Chase Fraudclosures.)
Posted by sgt_doom on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Mickymse 27
The criticism of Ansel here is pretty valid... It's not like anyone following this story isn't aware of all the questions. So, why won't the Bartons tell us where they spent all that money? Do they still have it? Did it have to be spend on medical bills? And, while Byron is a vet and is disabled, why do we need to keep making it sound like he fought and was injured defneding our country? Could it be because he makes a better poster boy for foreclsoure abuse? Might we point out that City workers are trying to provide resources and services to help them out if they have to move? Or that Triangle Properties offered them money and resources to help them move?

Bottom line... NOTHING about this story seems to fit the frame of an evil banking corporation preying on a sweet innocent family who were just trying to live in their home. Maybe we should focus on countless other people in the City who are victims of eviction? Folks who have no resources to fall back on?
Posted by Mickymse on August 15, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Posted by Mickymse on August 15, 2014 at 11:48 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 29
@28, so they're evicted now.
“There are no winners in this situation, not the least of which is Mr. Barton, who is gravely disabled, and was living in extremely unsanitary and therefore dangerous conditions”, said Sheriff John Urquhart. “But Triangle Property Development, the lawful owner of the home, is a victim of bureaucratic inaction and back-and-forth finger-pointing between the City of Seattle and the Sheriff’s Office. That is inexcusable and that’s why I ordered today’s action. When politics is allowed to ride roughshod over the rule of law, everyone suffers. I was not willing to let that continue,” Urquhart added.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on August 15, 2014 at 11:53 AM · Report this
The Beady Eyes of Mayor Ed Murray 30
These eyes. Cry every night. For you.
Posted by The Beady Eyes of Mayor Ed Murray on August 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM · Report this
IndicaDogwalk 31
I'm glad my comment was pulled for "trolling" - that means that the Stranger staff is actually reading the feedback about little Ansel Herz. He's a hack and bringing the Stranger down a notch with his reckless, immature attempts to be a journalist.
Posted by IndicaDogwalk on August 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM · Report this
Keister Button 33
@27 The refinancing activity started shortly after 2003, when Byron and Jean Barton were bequeathed a house from a living trust. Said activity was four mortgages and two secondary mortgages.

It's unclear to me what the money was spent on. Reports elsewhere imply that the Bartons operated a home remodeling business in the mid 2000s.

One Promissory Note in 2007 was for $456500, granted by Washington Mutual. JP Morgan Chase acquired Washington Mutual's assets, including the Barton's Promissory Note.

On August 24, 2011 Jean Barton sent a notarized formal written request for the validation of Chase's Proof of Claim for her Promissory Note.

On September 14, 2011 Jean Barton made a notarized declaration that she sent by certified US mail, a notice of security interest and charged that Chase failed to provide Proof of Claim for the Promissory Note. Chase's response is unknown to me.

$478K was owed according to the last Notice of Trustee Sale document from King County Records Division. Byron Barton's debilitating stroke happened in 2012.

All of this is available to the public. If you want to look at recorded entries for liens, judgements, and torts pertaining to Byron and Jean Barton prior to 2005, they're available at the link in comment #24. To look at the actual scanned Deeds of Trust (except for the Notice of Trustee Sale, and Adjustable Rate Promissory Note, part of OPR20110919001034-1-12.pdf), you need to visit the King County Administration Building downtown.
Posted by Keister Button on August 15, 2014 at 12:41 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 34

So, basically, they got in over their head with debt and then unsuccessfully tried to use a legal loophole to get out from under it. There have been many shenanigans involving the actual ownership of mortgages over the past several years, but the transfer of ownership from Washington Mutual to Chase seems pretty seamless to me.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 15, 2014 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Ok, they fell into medical debt. They didn't spend money willy-nilly. Saying that they made a "bad money decision" is fucking disgusting.

What are you going to do if you were in their situation? Let your husband die if he gets sick because you can't afford it?
Posted by BookEmDano on August 15, 2014 at 1:16 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 37

I'd sell the house and move into cheaper housing rather than rack up debt I could never hope to pay back.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 15, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this

If I were in their situation, I'd be in debt to the tune of $450k, borrowed against assets worth at least $600k.

What I would do if I were in their situation is sell the home, pay the debt, and wind up with more than $100k in hand. I'm pretty sure I'd be able to find an apartment to rent with a security deposit a bit lower than that.
Posted by robotslave on August 15, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this

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