Daily Archives: December 24, 2008

Ah, that was meant to be a lump of coal

President Bush has just reversed himself and rescinded a pardon granted yesterday to Brooklyn land scammer Toussie. Good – it seems the guy bought a pardon for a measly $28,000 donation to the Republican party. I believe Marc Rich’s pardon set the standard for this types of thing and so the payoff should have been millions. Glad Bush caught his mistake.

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Editors at work

The NYT reports that Lance Armstrong’s new baby was conceived naturally. That’s good news for the happy couple, but, while I realize the man’s a testicular cancer survivor, should this article really be filed in the Times’ “Art” section? What happened to the Science section? They keep compressing their paper there’ll soon be nothing left.

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Say goodbye to Kwanzaa?

It says here that Kwanzaa, that ridiculous commie holiday dreamed up by a nut job in 1966, is disappearing back into Christmas, something like, I suppose, black ducks, which spun off from mallards 10,000 years ago and are now blending back in. I’m delighted it won’t take 10,000 years to rid of this blight but I wonder: do our public schools here in Greenwich still make something of it? My guess is yes, but I’m just a suspicious guy.

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Nobody doesn’t like Sarah Lee. But Riverside?

12 Druid Lane

12 Druid Lane

Not so much, apparently. This house on Druid closed yesterday for just $2.825 million,  a far cry (73%) from its original price of $3.850. There’s no question in my mind that the first price was too high but it’s still a significant hammering. Notice to home owners who’ve thought of selling their lot to a builder: it’s going to be awhile before you see this lot’s history repeated. In March, 2006, it came up for sale for $1.695 and went in a builders’ bidding war for $1,737,042. You can’t pay that much for land and sell the resulting house for $2.8 million without losing your shirt.

On a brighter note, especially for the commentator who’s been so exercised by realtor commissions, $141,250 of the selling price would have been split between the two brokerage firms so someone made money on this deal. I thought you’d want to know.

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Live by the sword …

Mama Noel was known for taking a keen interest in keeping her five daughters in the public eye, even going so far as to hire a publicist to accomplish it. That publicity is probably not so welcome now, what with the spot of trouble Frere Pere Noel has gotten into. Today’s NYPost has nothing but mean things to say about the girls, which is too bad, but I was struck by the lack of credentials of the various boyfriends and hangers-on in their earlier lives. Some of the lowlifes: mafioso’s kids, party organizers and gigolos, if you believe this sort of gossip, went on to marry a daughter and enter the Noel family business. It is becoming clear that no one in charge of vetting investments at Noel’s FGG firm paid any attention to his job and now we see why: too busy partying and drumming up new business.

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Yesterday we warned you not to be a highway Good Samaritan – today, stay off charitable boards

Mr. Me-Too, Connecticut’s own aspiring Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, has discovered that there was gambling going on down on Wall Street and wants a piece of the publicity. So he’s going after you, if you were silly enough to serve on a charity that lost money with Madoff.

“We are focusing on whether board members or trustees of these charitable organizations may have failed in their due diligence, which requires that they do research and fact-finding,” he said.

“I have a responsibility under the statute to make sure nonprofit organizations’ assets are used as donors intended,” Blumenthal said. “We want to make sure that the trustees or board members were doing their jobs.”

Given the man’s aching, desperate desire for higher office, why doesn’t he plow new ground and go after the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee’s illegal dealing with Countrywide Mortgage? At the very least, he could subpoena the loan documents that man, Christopher Dodd, refuses to release. At best, those documents would show that the son is as corrupt as his disgraced father and clear the way for Blumenthal to take his place. I doubt that would be an improvement but we could always use a fresh face in Washington.

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But he belongs to the best clubs!

Here’s a jaundiced view of Walt Noel, his firm, his son in law and the fees they charged investors for the privelege of losing money.

“Ultimately, these people were blind to what was going on,” said Michel Dominicé, a veteran Geneva hedge fund manager with $200 million under management.

He said the links between UBP, Fairfield Greenwich and Mr. Madoff, as well as the hundreds of millions in fees the firms earned by steering money to Madoff investments, pointed to conflicts of interests that penalize investors.

Mr. Dominicé was himself approached by a salesman for Madoff investments three years ago but declined to invest, saying he could not figure out how Mr. Madoff earned such steady returns, month after month. “It just didn’t make sense,” he said.

As for the fees earned by UBP and Fairfield Greenwich, Mr. Dominicé said: “If you’re nasty, you call it corruption. If you want to be more polite, you can call it a lack of professional consciousness.”

Have I mentioned that the Noel property may be coming on the market?

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Gimme that!

grinchScientists warn Christmas lights cause global warming.

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A contract! $2 million!

helmsleyNo, not the house pictured – that’s Leona’s place which, despite a $30 million write-down is still for sale. I wonder when Ogilvy or Leona’s heirs will mark that to market? In any event, 8 Hillcrest Park Road in Old Greenwich did go to contract yesterday. This house was built new in 2000, put up for sale in 2003 for $2.650 and eventually sold in June, 2004 for $2.4 million. The buyers returned it to the market in May of this year at $2.750 and when that didn’t work chopped its price until on November 21 it hit $2.495, which has flushed a buyer from the bushes. I would assume that the winning price was less than the asking price so someone lost money here.

And speaking of losing money, two new houses were listed in New Canaan yesterday for $6.775 and $6.895, respectively. They’re both part of the same subdivision on 2 acres each and are sized at 9,500 sf and 10,900 sf. I don’t pretend to know the New Canaan market but these prices, and maybe these sizes, seem out of whack.

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The trouble with dispersed governmental authority

After years of watching the Hamilton Avenue School uilding committee bungle the job completely and incur huge cost overruns and delays, First Selectman Peter Tesei can only “suggest” that the Committee head, Frank Mazza, be yanked off the job. Neither Tesei nor Jim Lash would ever have tolerated this incompetence had they any authority over these fools. Instead, they’ve been forced to watch helplessly while some well meaning amateurs learned on the job. That’s a silly way to handle a $20 million project, in my opinion.

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