Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

Unrestrained greed hurts all capitalists, not just the sweat hogs

Executive pensions soared 19% last year even though,as you may have noticed, the companies and shareholders they supposedly serve didn’t do nearly so well.

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Al Gore, carbon billionaire

Say it ain’t so: Al Gore profits as result of his global warming scaremongering.

Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, asserted at a hearing this year that Mr. Gore stood to benefit personally from the energy and climate policies he was urging Congress to adopt.

Mr. Gore says that he is simply putting his money where his mouth is.

In fact, Gore is putting our money where his business is. What a load.

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Free the Meadow Drive One!

Greenwich Time has come up with the story about the man arrested to picking up campaign signs. He was exercising his free speech but two Greenwich police, fresh from saving our town from unbelted drivers, arrested him, handcuffed him and brought him to jail. This is a family friendly blog, but what a pair of assholes.

A 71-year-old former Marine fighter pilot said he was trying to clean an eyesore as he gathered about two dozen political signs on the Lake Avenue traffic circle Halloween morning.

But police called it theft, and slapped Timothy V. Conner in handcuffs and charged him with sixth-degree larceny.

Conner, who lives nearby at 6 Meadow Drive close to the traffic circle, said the signs irritated him and he decided to pluck them out of the ground and move them nearby.

“It has nothing to do with politics, it is an eyesore,” he said about the Republican and Democratic signs for today’s election. “It sure isn’t larceny.”

He said he cleans the area occasionally when he notices garbage. The political signs were no different for him.

“I wasn’t stealing them, I have no use for them,” he said. “I’m not a rebel and I wasn’t even trying to make a protest.”

He took a small wagon to collect the signs around 8 a.m. Saturday with the intention of dumping the signs in an area nearby. But a police officer who drove up had different take on the situation.

According to the police report Conner said: “This is my park and I’m taking the signs they have no right to be here.”

The report further stated that Conner was “agitated and uncooperative and kept yelling: ‘Are you going to arrest me,’ ” according to the report.

Conner disputed that and said he was surprised he was going to be arrested.

“They weren’t abusive or anything,” he said

about the two officers present at the scene. “It was just overboard. They didn’t have to handcuff me.”

 

But police officers have to ensure their safety and the safety of arrested individuals, spokesman Lt. Daniel Allen said.

“We have to take care of the people we arrest. If someone who wasn’t handcuffed were to away and get injured it would be our responsibility,” he said.

Conner said the officer acted professionally but couldn’t resist unleashing a zinger.

“He did everything by the book, I guess, if the book is called Dirty Harry,” he said referring to the Clint Eastwood police detective character.

Conner runs his own firm The Conner Group, specializing in crisis and media communications primarily for corporations, and realized the irony of his own predicament.

“I guess I am in crisis,” he said with a chuckle.

Conner had an up close and personal view of the new police headquarters that opened last Thursday as he waited for close to an hour to be processed for fingerprints and photographs.

“It was nice, it was clean, kind of spartan though,” he said. “Plus there was no breakfast or coffee or even a doughnut.”

He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday.

The two brave policemen who made this daring capture of a 71-year-old will no doubt be memorialized when Chief Ridberg passes out his “cop of the month award”. I hope we all remember them when union negotiations come around again and the pansies in blue start moaning about their dangerous jobs, arduous labor and paltry salaries of $100,000 per year. Bah humbug.

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Ah, how little he knew

Greenwich Time reporter Neil Vigdor described a recent get together of tax collector candidates this way:

“Tax Collector Candidates Square Off.” That’s a promising start, immediately undercut by the next sentence: “Compared with the tempestuous debates in the first selectman’s race, the contest among the three tax collector candidates Monday night saw few punches thrown.”

Had you just followed Bill Grad around town a few more days, Neil, you’d have had the story your headline writer was so obviously hoping for. Oh well, maybe you can catch the moment when Tesei breaks from his concession speech tomorrow night and shoves Theis into Lin Lavery.That’ll be fun.

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You look at LA and see a budget crisis, crime, gangs and poor folk – the City Council sees cats who can’t defend themselves against mice

LA City Council votes to ban declawing cats

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There’s an opening at a religious book store I know of

Jerry Brown’s aide resigns after secretly taping reporters’ calls.

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I don’t claim to speak for God, but he can’t be happy about this

Clerk at Christian bookstore arrested on Peeping Tom charges after hiding videocam in ladies’ restroom.

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You don’t say

Treasury unlikely to recoup billions given to Chrysler and GM. Yeah, well, at least we have those Cit and AIG “investments” going for us.

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The morning after’s a bitch

NYT: Iowa Obama voters rue their decision. “I’m afraid I wasn’t realistic,” Ms. McAreavy, 76, a retired school nurse, said on a recent morning on the deck of her home here in east-central Iowa.

Honey, you’re just beginning to wake up to our national nightmare.

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This is just cruel

Desperate for advertising revenue, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a full page advertisement from Macy’s today hawking Phillie World Champions 2009 tee shirts. The ad was intended to be run only if the Phillies had actually, you know, won the series, instead of being down 3-1 as of this morning. But if the paper didn’t run the ad it couldn’t collect its fee and if not now, when? If not the Inquirer, who?

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It takes an election to make a Democrat (temporarily) see sense

White House pushing for a temporary exemption from Sarbanes-Oxley for small businesses. This post-Enron “reform” was supposed to punish big business and prevent fraud. It punished all right, but had no effect on fraud. The cost to major corporations runs in the billions and it’s just walloping small public companies to the tune of $1 million a year each. You drain a small business of a million dollars and guess what? They can’t expand and hire people. Even Democrats know this, of course, but they don’t want to get rid of their shiny new law so they want to postpone its effect on the smallest of businesses until after the election.

The administration may be seeking the delay, which investor advocates oppose, to help Democrats retain control of Congress, said James Cox, a law professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Unemployment climbed to a 26-year high of 9.8 percent in September, putting pressure on the Obama administration to bring it down before the 2010 elections.

“The Democrats are getting clobbered over the unemployment rate,” he said. “In a recovery, a vastly disproportionate number of new hires are made by small businesses. The White doesn’t want to be perceived as doing things that hurt those companies.”

….

Emanuel Supports Amendment

Emanuel, a former congressman who in 2006 helped his party win control of the House, has made it clear to Democrats on the financial services panel that he supports Maloney’s amendment, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions were private.

White House Spokesman Jen Psaki said the administration is working with Congress to pass financial regulatory legislation to “prevent the kind of irresponsibility that caused the recession of the past two years.” She declined to comment on Emanuel’s conversations with lawmakers.

U.S. Representative John Adler, a New Jersey Democrat, has proposed going further. His amendment would exempt companies with market values below $700 million from the audit rules until the SEC can figure out how to reduce their compliance costs.

Lawmakers in 2002 passed Sarbanes-Oxley, imposing checks on corporate financial statements after meltdowns at Enron and WorldCom shattered investor confidence. The law requires companies to have adequate safeguards to prevent misstatements and make sure employees don’t falsify results. Controls must be scrutinized and assessed by an outside accounting firm.

Disproportionate Burden

Business groups and venture-capital firms, which profit by investing before companies sell shares to the public, argue that the law imposes a disproportionate burden on smaller companies.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2007 revised the requirements to reduce compliance costs after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson questioned whether Sarbanes-Oxley was driving companies to sell shares overseas.

The SEC has never required compliance for businesses with market capitalizations below $75 million, providing multiple exemptions dating to 2004.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro last month granted a further reprieve, giving small firms until next year to start paying auditors to scrutinize their internal controls. There won’t be any more SEC extensions, she said in an Oct. 2 statement.

Small companies voluntarily adhering to the audit requirements said they spent $690,219 on average in their most recent fiscal year, according to an SEC survey in October. Businesses with market capitalizations from $75 million to $700 million spent $1 million and the largest U.S. corporations spent $3.99 million, the SEC said.

Here’s the thing: this law and its burdens also hurts hiring and expansion at big companies but the effect isn’t so readily apparent. But if the administration can see that its harmful, wouldn’t it make sense to repeal the act, rather than just postpone it for only a segment of our businesses? Not to Democrats.

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M4 Carbine – wrong weapon for the job?

M4-TransparentThe New York Times, of all papers, has started a discussion on whether the M-16 and the M4 Carbine are adequate weapons for our troops. I’ve never fired one but from all I’ve read over the past 42 years, they jam at the most crucial times (like when you’re being attacked by a zillion bad guys), lack punch and are generally an inferior weapon. The Army still stands by the weapon and I can’t believe it would purposefully endanger its troops but that’s exactly what they did in 1967 in Vietnam so maybe they still are. Interesting discussion in any event. I like my .270 caliber, myself.

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How accurate is Zillow?

Not enough to base a buying or pricing opinion on, I’d say. I just checked a few sales prices from today: 18 Concord sold for $360,000 while Zillow estimated $475,500.13 Shore Acre Drive, gone to contract in 3 days so we can assume it fetched its asking price of $2.495 million, has a Zillow estimate of $1.340. 20 Limrick sold for $1.695, Zillow suggests $1.895.

Another Zillowestimate was close – $3.725 for a deal I had reached,until the buyer backed off, for $3.6. That’s pretty good. But again, if you used these estimates as gospel, you’d be way below, way too high or just right – trouble is, you can’t tell which.

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Shhh! Don’t tell Russ Pruner

18 Concor4d

18 Concord Street

Russ’s partner at Surf & Turf Realty, Ken York, just sold this Glenville multi-family for $360,00. Its assessed price was $415,300. Ken probably told Russ that he sold it for $1.36 million, just to let him sleep tonight.

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Rental vs. sale price disconnect

13 Circle Drive

13 Circle Drive

This house on Circle Drive seems to illustrate what’s happened to our housing market over the past three years. The owners paid, according to our MLS records, $859,000 for the land it sits on in 2006, $70,000 above its asking price. They built a new house on the lot but couldn’t sell it for $2.43 million in 2007 so in March, 2008, they rented it out for $11,000 per month. That lease term is ending so they’re trying again, but have cut the rent twice and as of today, are asking $7,900 per month. The house is still for sale, too, and has been marked down to $2.150 million, but if rental value and sales value have any relationship, the sales price here is way, way too high. Perhaps not as low as the town’s appraisal of $1.164 million, but if the rent will only support about a million dollars, the sales price should give, no?

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Aw, does this mean Walter Noel will no longer be “King Walt”?

jeff-tucker1

All hail His Majesty, Sir Walt

Antigue rescinds Allen Stanford’s knighthood. You strip a Ponzi artist of his honor, what’s he got left to live for?

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Gradley Fighting machine

lavery

Bill Grad has stepped out from behind Lin's skirts

We can now tell all- Greenwich tax collector Bill Grad is the candidate who smacked down a foul-mouthed, abusive Republican (or maybe the third party candidate’s?) supporter this morning on the train platform. If you’re a tax delinquent, this should give you pause – the next knock on your door might be Bill, personally delivering a knuckle sandwich. On the other hand, if you keep current and wish your neighbors did, then here’s your man.

UPDATE: seems the Demmerkrats and the Republicans all met at the train station this morning to solicit votes. A Republican named Peter Levy (?) got in Bill Grad’s face, punches were thrown and Selectman candidate Theis, misunderstanding the nature of what exactly was going on, threw a bucket of cold water on the two to separate them. Peter Tesei, meanwhile, hide behind a cruller at the Dunkin Donuts downstairs.

But do we live in a great town or what? Where but Greenwich can you find a philandering head of obstetrics stuchmping his girlfriend in the hospital, mere feet from his nursing staff, political candidates duking it out on the train, and celebrities like Regis actually ordering coffee at Starbucks, all in one day?

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He’ll be effecting an economy

Sportscaster Jim Nantz ordered to pay ex-wife $1 million a year for life (!). She seems to have done nothing to deserve living on another person’s earnings for the next forty years but considering the babe spent over a million bucks at Ed Mitchells in just ten months, it sounds like Nantz is well shed of her.

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Our regulators at work

UBS provided the SEC with proof that Madoff was lying to them as far back as May, 2006 and the SEC did …nothing.

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Two Contracts

13 shore acre

13 Shore Acre Drive

Thirteen Shore Acre Drive in Old Greenwich was listed at $2.495 and found a buyer in three days. Assessment is only $966,000 but that’s just crazy – this house and this street haven’t seen a below million value in a long time. Still, someone enjoyed a low tax bill here during their ownership.

29 Palmer Island

29 Palmer Island

29 Palmer Island, also in Old Greenwich and a very nice house, was listed (eventually) at $1.859 and it too has gone to contract. Its assessment is $1.825, which seems closer to the mark.

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