Bank Hijinks

You did not need to be reading the business pages to catch the story of Wells Fargo essentially stealing many millions from its unsuspecting account-holders in a fraud that resulted in the implication and firing of 5,300 Wells Fargo employees.

The scheme involved the opening of two million – yes, you heard that right, two million — bank and credit card accounts that duplicated existing accounts without the knowledge of the consumer. Then, in order to meet internal sales and revenue incentive goals, the involved employees began paying fees on the accounts by transferring the money from the original account to the new accounts.

For the most part a consumer would simply think that he or she was charged a bit more in fees.

Wells Fargo is going to pay $5 million to customers to cover unnecessary charges and fees. It is also going to pay $185 million to the federal, state and local California governments in fines.

Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco and is the nation’s third largest bank. In the banking and finance world, it had — at least until this incident — a sterling reputation.

Personally, I just find the whole thing incredible. Equally incredible is that, until the fines were issued last week, it never made the news. And the fact that 5,300 employees were implicated and fired is equally disturbing.
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The New York State Conservative Party formally nominated Donald Trump for president last week at its convention held in New York City at the Marriot Marquis Hotel. Mr. Trump accepted the endorsement at an event that immediately followed. Despite what we see on television, candidates for president are actually nominated at conventions in each state held by political parties who nominate the presidential electors.

The New York State Republican Party held its presidential nominating convention the day before the Conservative Party’s on Tuesday September 6. The national conventions essentially put in place an agreement on who will be nominated at the state conventions. New York has 29 electors for Trump, 26 from the Republican Party and three from the Conservative Party. The Republicans nominate the three Conservatives and the Conservatives the 26 Republicans, creating a single ticket of Trump electors for New York. I was honored to be one of the 29 – the only one from Brooklyn.

Mr. Trump’s 20 minutes of remarks were not focused on policy but rather on his long relationship with the Conservative Party and State Chairperson Mike Long in particular. I know that the first time I met Donald Trump was around 20 years ago and it was with Mike Long. And I remember them knowing each other well back then.

Mr. Trump also spoke of winning New York and his strong belief that New Yorkers can appreciate him and his style better than most people. And of course he put emphasis on him being the only true New Yorker in the race.

It was a great afternoon and evening.
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I went over to the hotel with Mike Long a day early to meet with the Secret Service, hotel and the Trump advance staff. Trump was planning to be with us for around a half hour. The prep at the hotel for this half an hour visit took over three hours. Every last imaginable detail, from the height of the ceilings to the distance from the stage, to the rope line, were discussed multiple times

The Secret Service had all sorts of requirements regarding where guests could be checked into the event and where they could congregate. There would be a metal detector and a full sweep an hour before the event, and every last step Mr. Trump would be making was reviewed and then walked. There would be a holding room and special access required which involved paperwork so that each person entering the room had been checked out.

The Trump people had their own needs. Certain colors only could be used, the sound system had to meet certain requirements and the rope line could only be so long. The program itself was reviewed and changed and then reviewed again. The actual room that all this would take place in, in the hotel changed three times in two hours.

And all this was for a half hour visit in a day that Donald Trump had a dozen events.

After it was all over and so many people said to me that it really went well, I almost laughed, thinking how could it not. There was absolutely nothing, including the water he would drink, that was left to chance.

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