Daily Archives: August 28, 2009

Stories we missed, until now

Hurry! Ribbon cutting's in two minutes!
Hurry! Ribbon cutting’s in two minutes!

New $100 million Greenwich police station opens.

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I blame Turbo Tax

Charles Rangel, the writer of your tax laws, forgot to mention $1.3 million in income. It’s racism, they’re out to destroy any politician who looks like our President.

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Remember the “Axis of Evil”?

North Korean ship carrying arms to Iran seized by U.A.E.

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But when everyone works for the government, who will pay the salaries?

Business Insider closes off a depressing week with this chart – the future beckons.

Public sector vs. private

Public sector vs. private

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Sale price reported

32 Ferncliff

32 Ferncliff

32 Ferncliff (off Cat Rock) is a very nice house which I’ve recommended since it first came on asking $1.495. An older contemporary that I found very pleasant and a beautiful 1.25 acre yard. The yard is undersized for its 2 acre zoning but this one is entirely usable, unlike many of the lots on this street which are mostly rocky woodland. In any event, it sold toady for $1,092,500, close to the $1.05 paid for it in 2003. Assessed value is $1.0280. There is another nice house for sale on Ferncliff, #18, but even though it’s newer (1984?), and a Deck House (great modul;ar builders, now defunct) and has a new kitchen, its owners must be looking at their asking price of $1.995 today and wondering how far and deep they should cut. Or if they aren’t doing that, they should be. Assessed value: $1.412.

From the Slow Death Department, 25 Mooreland, listed for $6.2 million back in May, 2008, is down today to $4.395. Assessed value is $3.617.

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Here are some statistics from a reliable source

From Reader Pete the Appraiser, comes this summary he’s prepared of single family sales in Greenwich, calculating the sales price to the assessed value:

1st Qtr. 2008
Average Ratio: 1.48
Volume: 105

2nd Qtr. 2008
Average Ratio: 1.53
Volume: 140

% Price Change from 1st Qtr.: + 3.38%
3rd Qtr. 2008
Average Ratio: 1.52
Volume: 132
% Price Change from 2nd Qtr.: -0.65%

4th Qtr. 2008
Average Ratio: 1.37
Volume: 30
% Price Change from 3rd Qtr.: -9.87%

1st Half 2009
Average Ratio: 1.22
Volume: 95
% Price Change from 4th Qtr.: -10.95%

July 2009
Average Ratio: 1.36
Volume: 37
% Price Change from 1st Half: +11.48%

So Pete’s figures show that we’ve stopped falling precipitously and have climbed back to last quarter 2008 prices. That’s actually very encouraging, if it holds up. Question I have is whether this improvement is due to the normal spring market fervor, delayed until summer, or the start of something better. I don’t think we’ll know that until the end of November but I’ll certainly be watching September’s sales closely.

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Better to be our enemy than our friend

State Department moving to cut off all aid to Hondura.  Maybe the Hondurans should start developing an atom bomb.

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Joyce Carol Oates on Teddy Kennedy

The Norwichj Millionaire sends along this link. Oates is kinder to the man than I would be, or at least she leaves open a question that I would answer in a manner different from the man’s present mourners.

At Chappaquiddick, having been drinking and partying with young women aides of his brother Robert Kennedy, Senator Kennedy, at this time a married man and a father, slipped away with 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, who was trapped in his car after he took a wrong turn off the Chappaquiddick bridge, lost control of his car which was submerged in just eight feet of water.

Kennedy chose to flee the scene , leaving the young woman to die an agonising death not of drowning but of suffocation over a period of hours. Incredibly, it was 10 hours before Kennedy reported the accident, by which time he’d consulted a family lawyer. The senator’s explanation for this unconscionable, despicable, unmanly and inexplicable behaviour was never convincing: he claimed that he’d struck his head and was “confused” and “exhausted” from diving and trying to rescue the young woman and had gone home to bed.

There followed a media circus, as all of the world rushed to Chappaquiddick to expose Kennedy’s behaviour and to speculate on his future. Yet, appealing to his lawyer and not rather seeking emergency help for the trapped Mary Jo Kopechne would seem, in retrospect, to have been a felicitous move.

If Kennedy had summoned aid, he would very likely have given police officers self-incriminating evidence, which might have involved charges of vehicular manslaughter or homicide. The local prosecutor was not nearly so outraged by Kennedy’s behaviour as other prosecutors might have been: the charges were “failing to report an accident” and “leaving the scene of an accident.” The punishment: two months’ probation.

That the Kennedys had always been a family operating outside the perimeters of the sort of legal restrictions that bind other citizens to “moral” behaviour publicly, is well known; no occasion so exemplifies this than Chappaquiddick and the subsequent cooperative silence of the Kopechne family who agreed never to speak of the tragedy.

One is led to think of Tom and Daisy Buchanan of Fitzgerald’s the Great Gatsby, rich individuals accustomed to behaving carelessly and allowing others to clean up after them. It is often in instances of the “fortunate fall”, think of Joseph Conrad’s anti-hero/hero Lord Jim as a classic literary analogy, that innocent individuals figure almost as ritual sacrifices is another aspect of the phenomenon.

Yet if one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?

The poet John Berryman once wondered: “Is wickedness soluble in art?”. One might rephrase, in a vocabulary more suitable for our politicized era: “Is wickedness soluble in good deeds?”

This paradox lies at the heart of so much of public life: individuals of dubious character and cruel deeds may redeem themselves in selfless actions. Fidelity to a personal code of morality would seem to fade in significance as the public sphere, like an enormous sun, blinds us to all else.

Joyce Carol Oates, one of America’s leading novelists, is the author of Black Water, which was inspired by the Chappaquiddick incident

UPDATE: Teddy may be gone but his drinking buddy Chris Dodd is still with us. Here’s a charming vignette of the two of them coming close to raping a waitress in D.C. What a pair of fun-loving guys.

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Will Riverside’s Tim Armstrong have to start flying commercial?

But Jet Blue still serves peanuts!

But Jet Blue still serves peanuts!

That’s what they’re speculating at Business Insider. Time Warner is set to dump off AOL, but they plan on keeping the Gulfstream. If you hear a wailing and gnashing of teeth down on the water off Meadow Road, you’ll know why.

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We will sell no house before its time

421 Field Point Road in Belle Haven has been listed for sale since 2007. It started at $11 million and is gradually creeping downward; today, it dipped below $8 million and now rests at $7.995. The sellers are obviously in no hurry to move and why should they be? They paid around $1 million for this place in 1994, fixed it up in 1996 (and spent what? Another million? – dubious), so regardless of eventual selling price, they’re sitting on a nice bit of appreciation. Assessed value is $5.749 million.

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Pravda along the Mianus

Just in time to please their Friday real estate advertisers, Greenwich Time is out with the front page news that home sales are up in Connecticut and, not content with that bit of misleading copywriting, a claim that “in Greenwich, sales and prices are up in July”. Up from where? And who gave them the statistics to back up that claim? Not I.

Here are some numbers on single family homes, all based on the Greenwich MLS records:

Sales (as of August 28), 2007: 600

”                    ”                          2008: 400

”                    ”                           2009: 264

Inventory (Aug. 28, 2007): 461

                                            2008: 561

                                            2009: 688

Sales between $300,000 – $499,000, 2007: 1

                                                                                2008: 12

                                                                                2009: 49

I’m still working on average and median prices but whatever  Greenwich Time used to deduce that “sales and prices” are up in July, is either so skewed or such a small sample that it’s worthless as a guide to what’s happening.

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The Dirty Dutch

Dutch courts prevent 13-year-old girl from attempting to circumnavigate, remove her from parent’s custody. The kid grew up on a boat with her parents, has sailed since she was a toddler and certainly knows how to sail at least as well as any of the wise cheese eaters who won’t let her go. I certainly wasn’t ready for that kind of undertaking at her age but if she and her parents feel that she is, I say, bon voyage.

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Finally, an incentive to get the French into showers

Ooh la la!

Ooh la la!

Peeing in shower healthy, safe and saves water, “experts” say. What would we do without experts?

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