Daily Archives: June 15, 2009

Frederic Bourke trial resumes – net closing?

The first testimony linking Frederic Bourke specifically to the conspiracy to bribe Azerbaijan leaders came today as the trial resumed. Two different witnesses said that Bourke knew about it and asked questions about the bribes. Well, we knew that testimony was coming, but here’s an intriguing note: former Senator George Mitchell, who agreed to join the Bourke group in exchange for being paid $100,000 per year plus expenses (it’s great to be an ex-Senator and reap this kind of loot – almost as good as being a sitting senator like Chris Dodd and getting your wife paid directorships on 14 of the financial companies you regulate). Mitchell pocketed the money but also put in for reimbursement for $5,018 in child care expenses”.You might wonder, as I do, how an elderly gentleman like George Mitchell could run up child care expenses but there’s no answer here nor, I suspect, will there be one; it’s Fred Bourke the government is after, not one of their own. Too bad.

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Nothing to see here, move along, move along

Senator Dick Durbin (Demmerkrat, by the way), attends a secret meeting with the Fed about what’s about to happen to the financial system, and immediately after leaving the meeting calls his broker and dumps his stocks.  Pure coincidence, snorts his staff and besides, the information wasn’t all that secret – “it was released to the public the next day”. Martha Stewart did jail time for less but then, she wasn’t the #2 senator in Washington.

Does anyone know what happened to the Congressional inquiry into Charles Rangle’s tax evasion and sweet heart real estate deals? Or the Senate’s inquiry into Chris Dodd’s shenanigans? I didn’t think so.

Congressman Murtha’s ties to defense lobbyists hasn’t quite disappeared because the FBI, not his peers, is looking tito that scandal but I have confidence his peers will protect him.

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Place your bids

Market selloff today. If it’s bad enough and continues tomorrow, this might be a good time to toss out that lowball bid again – the one that was rejected a few weeks ago when the delusionists were hoping that the collapse of the Dow was just a bad dream. I readily admit to having little knowledge of stocks and trading but I can read, and nothing I’ve read in the past six months has given me cause to think that the economy is coming back any time soon.

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Richmond Hill loses its cachet

99 Richmond Hill

99 Richmond Hill

For a brief time in 2005 – 2006 big new houses on Richmond Hill were selling quickly, at astonishing prices, given the long distance from town and the short distance to Westchester Airport. That’s no longer the case, apparently. This house at 99 sold new for $8 million in 2006 and, even though the buyers spent a good sum improving it still further, priced it at just $6.995 when they put it back up for sale this past March. Even a million dollar loss wasn’t enough to move it though and today it’s been cut to $6.395. This new number, by the way, matches the town’s own assessment of its worth.

I happen to like Richmond Hill, and it doesn’t seem all that distant to me but then, I no longer have children of an age that requires them to be chauffeured around town. While I am not especially excited by this house, the one next door, number 88 is very attractive and getting to a decent price. It started at $7, I believe, and is down now into the $5s. Good land, nice pool, conservation land in the back and the Warburg acres to the side. And the house itself, brand new, has a really good “family” feeling to it, however that term can be defined.

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The Religion of Peace beheads again

Yemen – shepherds have found the mutilated bodies of nine  foreigners who were captured and executed while having a picnic. Victims included three women, a Doctor and his three children and aid workers. Allah Akbar, baby.

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Hello, sailor!

As jobs get tougher to find, tattoo removal services flourish. Now if we can just convince fat women not to wear Spandex.

It's discrimination against fat people, I tell you!

It's discrimination against fat people, I tell you!

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NYC housing sales crater – sellers won’t drop prices

This area’s real estate market has been stuck in a Mexican standoff since last September 15, the day the music died. And in NYC, just like Greenwich, sellers refuse to believe that the market reset that day. Result? No sales. Long term? One group is right – time will tell.

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Politics for a change

More on Obama’s firing of Americorp’s Inspector General who threatened his friend. From Byron York

Dispute that resulted in firing involved stimulus money

The White House’s decision to fire AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin came amid politically-charged tensions inside the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that runs AmeriCorps.  Top executives at the Corporation, Walpin explained in an hour-long interview Saturday, were unhappy with his investigation into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. Walpin’s investigation also sparked conflict with the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento amid fears that the probe — which could have resulted in Johnson being barred from ever winning another federal grant — might stand in the way of the city receiving its part of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money.  After weeks of standoff, Walpin, whose position as inspector general is supposed to be protected from influence by political appointees and the White House, was fired.

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If you want to build a house in Riverside, here’s a good opportunity

Three one-acre lots are coming on for sale today on Indian Head, each priced, I think, at $2.2 million. The late Mary Sullivan and her deceased husband Walter (Science Editor for the NYT for many years) bought three separate lots on Indian Head over  their years at 66 Indian (I’d guess they were there since about 1953 or so) and kept them as discrete parcels. One fronts on Leeward, the other on Carriglia, and the other, the aforesaid 66, on the main road. The house at 66 was built around 1850 and I haven’t been in it since I played there with the Sullivan kids in the 1960s so I don’t know what condition it’s in, but the land, as I remember it, was level. There’s a barn and a pool, too.

I think the price for land is reasonable. You could be all in for, say, $3.5 million or perhaps less, in this time of eager, under-employed builders, and this street should easily support that price, even today. Well worth considering, if you’ve been thinking of building new. Excellent location and, as preached here constantly, the land, like the Dude, abides.

A historical note: the Sullivans kept a Shetland pony in that barn in the back and one year, when they were away for the summer, loaned it to my family. They didn’t tell us that it was a nasty little beast and we kept away from it after it tried to bite, kick and buck us. My father put up with its bad behavior for a few days and then lost his patience when he came home from work and found us all still gathered at a safe distance from the animal while it bared its teeth at us. Father, an ex- cavalryman from Squadron A, changed into his old army drabs and came back outside, got on that pony and slapped the holy hell out of it as it bucked, rolled on the ground and pulled every trick in its repertoire to get him off. Five minutes of this and Dad handed the reins to one of us and said, “there will be no more trouble.” And there wasn’t for the rest of the summer. I heard later that Walter Sullivan was amazed at the pony he got back and asked my father what he’d done to achieve such a wondrous effect. “I talked to it”, was all he said.

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