Daily Archives: November 27, 2009

Oysterman’s kid makes it big: Greenwich Time columnist!

 

Bob Horton in his donut days

Greenwich Time has hired my friend Bob Horton to write a weekly column on town issues, and it’s about time. I adore Bernie Yudain and enjoy his tales of Greenwich of ninety years ago, but the paper can use a voice on current issues as well, and I do not mean sightings of poor Cody Gifford at his dentist’s.

The inaugural column is here. Something about demanding higher test scores for our high school football players which doesn’t seem fair to better students but if it helps keep Cos Cob kids in school, I suppose that’s alright.

Regardless, it’s the best move Greenwich Time has made since they got rid of that Fudrucker fellow’s blog.

 

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Ah, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and the airwaves are filled with tales of disfunctional families.

Four relatives shot dead at Thanksgiving celebration. Some party.

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Tiger Woods seriously injured

Hit a fire hydrant and then a tree outside his home “early this morning”. I hate to say it, but early morning car accidents this time of year more often involve alcohol than turkey stuffing. I hope he’s okay – he’s the only reason thin non-golfer watches on TV.

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Real estate board closed today

No exciting news forthcoming so I’m off to buy a huge plasma TV and a half-price Nintendo at Stamford Bloomingdale’s. Back by noon.

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Will the last one out turn off the lights in the MacMansion?

Cos Cobber sends along this delightful link to a story about hedge funders contemplating decamping England for Switzerland or Asia to escape pending regulations and punitive taxes. It is precisely this possibility that has Pelosi et als caling for a new world order where regulations (and taxes) extend globally. I don’t know if Asia will go along with that but Switerzland has been cowed into deconstructing its banking industry, so I ‘m not hopeful.

From the NYT:

Wall Street Tax Must Be International, Pelosi Says

November 20, 2009, 6:01 am

<!– — Updated: 4:00 pm –>

Any tax imposed on financial transactions would have to take effect internationally to prevent Wall Street jobs and related business from moving overseas, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

“It would have to be an international rule, not just a U.S. rule,” Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference, Reuters reported. “We couldn’t do it alone, we’d have to do it as an international initiative.”

Her comments seemed to spell longer odds for the Wall Street tax, which would see a tax imposed on stock trades worth more than $100,000 and which some Democrats in the House of Representatives are proposing as a way to pay for job-creating legislation.

The tax, which could raise $150 billion a year, would tap into widespread public outrage at Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis, but support is lackluster among key legislators, Reuters said.

“This is just something that is on the table, it hasn’t been developed to a high priority. But it has substantial currency in our caucus,” Ms. Pelosi said.

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Canadian Loonies

They’re camping out to buy (and flip) condo units up north and, I’m told, it’s cold up north of the border, eh?

BusinessInsider sums it up perfectly: “Mortimer, we’re back!”

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And speaking of fools and money, did the Hamilton Avenue crew build the new courthouse?

The Stamford Superior Court House, completed in 2002, is leaking and falling apart. Turns out that the state hired a Mafia-controlled contractor, long since out of business, to do the work. No surprise there – Connecticut is an Italian state and half its legislature has friends in the family – but blaming the contractor for all of the problems and all of the cost overruns is disingenuous. I remember how long the site for the building sat as an empty hole while the Legislature delayed funding the project. The hole filled with water, cattails grew and ducks inhabited the place – I feared that completion would be further delayed because we’d need a wetland permit to proceed. What happened was that, after authorizing the new building, our legislature funded it piecemeal as spending on their own pet projects allowed. So first we had a hole dug, then, after several years, enough money was allocated to erect the frame, then it was delayed again, etc. As it ended up, we now do have a court house, but there was no money spent on modern computers so the place is as inefficient as the old one.

So yes, I’m sure somewhere in Sicily the peasant are living high on Connecticut taxpayers’ money, but our crooks and incompetents in Hartford enjoyed the feast too.

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Fools and their money

The post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy is apparently still on this year despite the recession. Fine; God bless them, and may their consumer dollars enrich state tax coffers. But the idiocy of these people is astonishing. From the article linked to comes this vignette:

Robin Fryman, 47, of Mount Orab, Ohio, said she and her daughter, a friend and her husband got out at 6:30 a.m. for deals at Best Buy. Her hours as a food worker were recently cut from 40 to 25 per week.

“I’ve definitely cut down. You have to cut down, because you have to eat,” Fryman said. “It’s definitely made a difference in the way I’m shopping.”

Uh huh. I can’t think of anything Best Buy sells that could be called essential – nothing at all. So I’d think that if my income had just been slashed almost in half, I might hunker down this Christmas. More than think, my family had some rough economic spots in the mid-90s and that’s exactly what we did. Somehow, our children survived. But these mobs of screaming shoppers are going full throttle. at least for today – I suppose they believe, like that famous voter of a year ago, that Obama is going to pay their rent bill.

There’s increasing talk of the inevitability of a VAT tax coming to our fair land to raise some of the revenue Washington has committed to spending on our behalf. The tax is considered regressive because it falls on poor dumb morons more than people who save their money but if these people are just going to waste their money on a bigger flat screen TV, why not send it to Pelosi to distribute to her friends? If Nancy’s happy, perhaps she won’t punish the rest of us so much.

 

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Expired in Havemeyer

4 Nimitz Place

This Havemeyer modular on Nimitz Place nicely illustrates the rise and fall of prices there over the past five years. It was built on a quarter-acre that was listed for $799,000 in 2004 and sold in four days for $875,000. I don’t know what caused the delay that made this house miss the bubble but something must have happened because it didn’t show up for sale until May,2009, long after the music had stopped. The builder priced it at $1.875 and only dropped it $100,000 before its listing expired yesterday. I’m sure it will come back, either as a rental or a sale property, but at what price? More important, what price will a buyer pay for this? Those two new houses on Havemeyer Lane, admittedly a much busier location but still just a block away, started at $2.1 each and are selling for $1.2 or $1.1 and I believe the market is still falling. Whatever happens here, I don’t think we’ll see bidding wars on Havemeyer tear-downs for a while, and the days when a building lot could fetch almost $900,000 are gone – you should have sold two years ago.

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