Daily Archives: May 12, 2009

“Buy White” movement sweeping the country

White people are banding together to support their own race in these troubled economic times and people are applauding.

Plans are under way to track spending among supporters nationwide and build a national database of quality white businesses. The first affiliate chapter has been launched in Atlanta, and the couple has established a foundation to raise funds for white businesses and an annual convention.

“We have the real power to do something, to use the money we spend every day to solve our problems,” Maggie Anderson said recently at a meet-and-greet in Atlanta. “We have to believe that white businesses are just as good as everybody else’s.”

Now, the Andersons are following up with 4,000 people who signed up for the experiment on their Web site to gauge their commitment and set up online accounts to track their spending. Hundreds have also joined the experiment’s Facebook page, Maggie Anderson said.

Gregory Price, chairman of the economics department at Morehouse College, said, “the idea is a sound one, given that entrepreneurship is a key component to wealth.”

The Andersons track their spending on their Web site and estimate about 95 percent of their monthly spending is with white businesses for things like day care, groceries, car maintenance and home improvements.

“So often, we make purchases and decisions and aren’t even mindful that there is a a need to support our own businesses,” said Peeples. “Now, I’m reaching out and making sure I know that I have an option when I look to make a purchase.”

Two months ago, he committed to patronizing white businesses and found a white dry cleaner 10 minutes from home. Even when he was dissatisfied with his white doctor, he was able to find a new one. He suggests both to friends and refers others to the experiment’s Web site, where he tracks his expenses.

The Andersons remain encouraged by their momentum online and in the media. At the end of 2009, they hope to show $1 million in spending with white businesses among supporters across the country.

“The response has been so huge,” Maggie Anderson said. “We think so much can come out of this. We’re in movement-making mode now.”

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Hope and change is alive in Washington

$800,000 taxpayer’s money to be spent repaving Murtha’s airport. Obama sees fit to micro-manage Chrysler’s ad budget, cutting its advertising budget in half, but is silent when Murtha’s airport, handling six flights a day, grabs loot. My liberal friends aqpplaud the Chrysler decision – “well, the government can’t do a worse job running that company than Chrysler did itself” – but they fail to see what it all means, for health care, manufacturing, and everything else the government takes over: decisions will be based on political clout. When your Uncle Henry needs a hip replacement, better hope he’s a major contributor to his Congressman.

The Washington Post reported last month on more than $150 million in federal funds that Murtha directed to the airport, which has six arriving and departing flights per day. Among the improvements, Murtha directed the Pentagon to give the airport a new, $8 million, state-of-the-art radar tower that has not been used since it was built in 2004, and $30 million for a new runway and tarmac so the airport could handle large military planes and become an emergency military base in case of crisis.

Other news outlets, including CNN and ABC News, subsequently visited the airport and reported on the sleepy terminal and its gleaming federal buildings paid for by federal taxpayers.

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Coming soon to a theatre near you

Madoff trustee sues another feeder fund for $1 billion. Picard seems to be working his way up the food chain, from small to large. Hmm, who lost more than a billion dollars with Bernie? Oh, yes.

In the latest of a series of aggressive actions against the funds that helped to prop up Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the trustee of Mr. Madoff’s investment firm sued a hedge-fund investor for more than $1 billion, claiming the fund “should have known” about the fraud.

Trustee Irving Picard, who is collecting the assets of Mr. Madoff’s firm to distribute to investors burned in the scheme, said Harley International (Cayman) Ltd. invested more than $2 billion with Mr. Madoff, receiving an average annual return of 13.5%. Mr. Picard said the Cayman Islands-based fund ignored warning signs that should have alerted it to the fraud.

Harley International couldn’t be reached for comment.

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Convenient to (the sound of) transportation

Are you deaf?

Are you deaf?

I mentioned before that this house on Glen Avon in Riverside was being “quietly marketed” for $18.9 million. I guess that marketing effort couldn’t be heard above the roar of I-95 across the water because it’s now listed on the MLS for that price. Beautiful waterfront in one direction, a nice view of the old power plant and the railroad and highway in the other, all with 9,000 square feet of luxury. Cheaper than yesterday’s $35 million listing on Field Point Circle, if that floats your boat.

(dig those photshopped clouds in the picture!)

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When Round Hill loses its charm

Bear markets happen

Bear markets happen

Walt and the husbands of the Fabulous Five are looking for a new course to play through on, Freddie Bourke will want one too, assuming he’s still free to play outside after June 1st, Stephen Dido Dent will be paying alimony, not club dues soon, Peter Brandt is going to be rooming with Stephen, and gosh only knows whether Peter Dooney can stay a member at Maidstone once word gets out about his chasing Freddie around with a syringe filled with a “harmful substance”.

So, to help all those fellows, as well as any of you Merrill and Lehman guys who still have Internet access (it’s free at Greenwich Library, as you’ve probably already discovered, here’s a tip: A directory of public golf courses in the United States, Canada, and all countries that  don’t have an extradition treaty with the US.

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Mystery of the day

We all thought that Country Living Associates was gone, its agents departed to better (or different)  homes. Now comes a renewed listing today for that $7 million brick house on Ridge Road with the view of the Honda parking lot,  showing as a Country Living listing? Is it back? Did the listing agent buy the Country Living name so he could have a brokerage to hang his hat in? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Aw, gee, now Gawker’s picking on Walt

I guess being kicked out from the Round Hill Club’s bigger news that I’d thought.

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Who’s to blame?

I have buyers with $3.5, $4, $4, $5, $6 and $6 million respectively, cash, ready to buy in Greenwich, and aside from those  properties owned by lenders or heading there, I can find nothing to recommend. We’ve weeded through and dismissed existing houses and viewing new listings is  useless because they’re coming on at prices that are so crazy  it’s obvious the owner won’t be reasonable for a long time. One came on recently for just under $3 million, for instance, and with that price offers the roar of I-95 at no extra cost. Others are perfectly nice, older homes, but are priced millions of dollars above what I think they will eventually sell for.  What the F? I blame the listing brokers for these prices, either because they suggested them in the first place or accepted their clients’  opinion of value. Either way, they’re doing their sellers no favor. I was taken to task a year ago for suggesting that a particular house was overpriced – the listing agent told me that the sellers were “a really nice couple who have to move and get on with their lives”. I wasn’t sure how that affected the value of the house but did suggest that, if they had to move, they should lower their price. A few weeks ago that same broker told me rather smugly that the house was finally under contract. “Of course,” she conceded, “it is a short sale.” So the sellers have lost everything and the bank will get a fraction of what it loaned on the house. Who was kinder to those poor people in this instance, their agent for encouraging them to stick with an unrealistic price, or me? I’m not losing sleep over that question.

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Impeach Bush!

Thank God Bush is gone. Were he still in office, he might have ignored the EPA’s finding that CO2 was a dangerous compound and ordered them to do nothing about that finding, lest they ruin the economy. But with that dreadful idiot gone and a real Harvard man in office, not just a pretend one, the polar bears are safe and our world is about to be saved from global warming. Or not.

WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday a finding that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are a public-health danger won’t necessarily lead to government regulation of emissions, an apparent about-face for the Obama administration.

The new position follows revelation of a White House document that warns the EPA of the wide-ranging — and potentially economically harmful — consequences of an agency finding last month that proposes declaring greenhouse gases are a danger to the public.

The White House memo also undermines the EPA’s reasoning for the “endangerment” proposal.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has previously said such a decision “will indeed trigger the beginning of regulation of CO2.”

But speaking before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Ms. Jackson said Tuesday that an endangerment finding, “does not mean regulation.”

An EPA spokeswoman wasn’t immediately able to explain the apparent change of policy position.

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Go figure

10 Spezzano Drive, a failed spec house that is now owned by its lender, has been listed for rent today at $7,250. Not long ago the same lender tossed out tenants who were paying $6,500 per month, I suppose because they wanted to sell the place and get out of town. That they’ve changed their mind indicates that they realize they are not going to get anything close to their loss ($1.8 million) and are now hoping to salvage some cash while they await better times. If you’re looking for a really long term lease, this might be for you.

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But Greenwich is different

Home prices fall most in history last quarter, driven by foreclosures and job losses. Can’t happen here? My pard Frank Farricker was just down in the Town Hall vaults checking on the latest foreclosure filings. Nothing there to surprise either of us, but if you think Greenwich is immune from the ills of the current economic scene, you are wrong.

Every buyer I am dealing with wants a bargain at best, a reasonable price at worst. The place to find those listings is among the weak stragglers, so if you’re getting no offer on your house, be glad: you’re probably still employed, current on your mortgage, and don’t have to sell. Hang in there.

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Out, damn spot!

adam and eveGuest of a Guest reports that Walter and Monica have been tossed from Round Hill Club! This is awful – will John J. McCloy take up their defense (pro bono)? Will the caddies take up a collection to bring Walt’s dues current? Will Frederic Bourke’s various pratfalls really fill the void that will be left by the absence of Walt and the Fabulous Five at the 19th hole? Oh, the humanity!

UPDATE: Guest of a Guest is wrong on the law, by the way, when it says that a private club need have no reason to eject a member. These are non-stock corporations and as such, subject to Connecticut’s corporation law. Walter could fight this and win, possibly, but he seems too much the gentleman to do that. Monica or Andres, however, might not care about offending fellow members. But then, there’s always the pesky difficulty of paying membership dues with stolen money.

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Dead Men Walking

A storm blows down North Street

A storm blows down North Street

I had the opportunity to revisit 504 North Street (corner of Dingletown) and see for the first time 634 North (bordered by North, the Merritt entrance ramp and the Merritt itself), each priced at $9 million. Whoo boy. We’ve discussed 504 before and I’ll just say that it’s no more attractive at $9 than it was at $12 million. 634 is a even odder, to my eye – do builders do absolutely no market research on what buyers’ want?

You enter a huge cavernous hallway, mostly occupied by a riotous stair leading up in two directions. The architect has supplied to ironic references to coat closets on either side of the door, each 12″ wide and 18″ deep. This architect must be from Yale, for only that school produces designers who have no knowledge of and disdain for the actual human beings who might dare to try living in one of their creations. No mudroom, for instance, no doubt because it interfered with the artist’s vision. Three bedrooms, plus master, upstairs, which may seem adequate to Riverside or Cos Cob cardboard box dwellers – we’re just grateful if there’s a colorful logo outside – but for the $9 million crowd, that’s not enough. The backyard is mostly bluestone and a pool, which is nice enough, but the screen of bamboo plants and the cute fountain (nothing wrong with a fountain, of course) do little or nothing to mask the rush of traffic on the side and rear yards.  The thousand agents in Greenwich all mouthing “babbling brook” together won’t overcome that drawback. For noise purists, the balcony off the masterbedroom offers the  sound of the Merritt unalloyed with water music, but some won’t see the advantage in that.

And so it goes; odd little rooms with no discernible purpose, tiny closets here and there inserted, I presume, as space fillers, and, of course, the location. I admire builders who dream large, but I think this one’s in for a rude awakening.

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New defense witness in Bourke trial

We have just learned that Frederic Bourke of Greenwich will be calling Stephen Dido Dent, also of Greenwich, as a defense witness in Bourke’s upcoming trial for bribery. Dent is expected to testify that, even if Bourke and his co-conspirator hired prostitutes while in Azerbaijan as alleged by the prosecution, there is nothing particularly immoral or wrong with such activity.

“Busy, successful businessmen need to unwind,” Dent told this reporter, “and we often just don’t have the time to establish the level of intimacy with our wives that would encourage the sexual activity we crave. I mean, how often does your wife agree to dress in black latex, strap on various appendages and go at you with a riding crop? Sometimes, it’s just easier to pay a lady and be assured of getting exactly what you deserve. If that’s what Freddy did, so what? And if he likes to carry those purses his partner Peter designs, so what again? A man’s got to have a little fun on this world or why bother inheriting?”

Mr. Bourke is out in Aspen running down hikers with his SUV and was unavailable for comment.

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Off to tour open houses

Yes, it’s Tuesday again (seems to happen quite frequently these days) so once again there’s an opportunity to revisit old favorites and see what’s new to the market. I will confess that I’m not particularly swayed by brokers’ notes on the open house list calling a new house right on North Street “an incredible value” at $8.995 million, or tired old, over-priced building lots, “a rare opportunity”. What’s a little bit scary is that in my darkest moments I think that the brokers actually believe their own nonsense, which would explain why we’re so far out of adjustment from reality. Oh well, it’s always fun to have a good chuckle before lunch.

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They agree!

couch stuffed potatoes

couch stuffed potatoes

Oprah: “It’s great to have a private jet!” Indeed it is girl, as your fellow  eco-warriors  like Al Gore, Barbara Streisand and  Prince Charles will tell you.

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Which one of these is next?

Andre will pay the mortgage, right, Andre? Andre?

Andre will pay the mortgage, right, Andre? Andre?

Victoria Gotti, the Don’s daughter, is losing her mansion to foreclosure.

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Greenwich’s next excitment, the Fred Bourke trial

Assuming that the Greenwich Police continue to refuse to arrest Stephen Dido Dent for soliciting prostitutes, the mini-scandal that’s been providing such glee among those who know and detest the man will soon die down and revert to what it should have been, I suppose: a matter between Dido and his poor wife. What will fill the gap until Walter Noel and his FGG feeder fund again fill the news channels? I suggest the matter of Walt’s Round Hill neighbor, Frederic Bourke, whose trial for violation of the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act is scheduled to start June 1st. Bourke has already started to create fun, accusing his estranged handbag-making partner, Peter Dooney, of trying to inject him with “harmful substances.”  I would guess, knowing the proclivities of the Round Hill set, that Dooney may have squirted a waterpistol at Bourke and the poor man panicked, not being familiar with that substance in its liquid form, but perhaps not. We’ll learn more, that goodness, as the trial progresses.

So what is Bourke accused of, exactly? This blog sets forth a nice chronology for those who haven’t been following the story, but the trial is bound to be  even more entertaining, involving as it does shady Russian mobsters, prostitutes, drugs, needle-toting business partners and cash, lots of cash. We’ll start a Bourke update section as the trial commences and with lck, that will carry us through an otherwise dull summer. Then comes Walt and Bernie, hooray!

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Not in my backyard!

Neighbors of the Aquarion water plant off Dairy Road are, not surprisingly, upset over its plans to update the 1920’s facility. I understand that people dislike change and I understand, maybe, the concern over storing water treatment chemicals on site, though I question whether the neighbors have any good ideas where a more logical place to store them might be located (New Jersey, of course, but what exit?)

Still, I lack sympathy. Not one of these neighbors moved in before the water plant was there. It would have been impossible to miss the tall water tower looming over their heads and that alone should have put them on notice that something was going on there by the side of the reservoir. e need water, and federal regulations have become stricter so that we need more thoroughly-treated water. Blame AIDS activists and mommies fearful of trace parts per billion for these new requirements, if you wish, but there it is.

So, as Con Edison used to say, “dig we must”. Get over it.

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