Daily Archives: May 12, 2010

So, what happened to Connie Jones?

The GHS tennis coach had a hearing today to determine whether she is fit to coach our teens after getting arrested while trying to defend her kids. Her only sin, so far as I can tell, was making the same mistake most civilians do: she assumed that the police were there to assist and were open to reason. NEVER speak to the police, except to demand a lawyer! Ms. Jones did, was handcuffed and arrested for her efforts, and was due to be fired today as the result.

Anyone know what happened?

UPDATE: The hearing is today – Greenwich Time has an article here.


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Fountain on the oil mess

Cousin Henry’s reporting from Houston – sounds promising.

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And it’s barely started here

Shadow inventory will drive prices down. From Caluclated Risk.

From Jon Prior at HousingWire: Shadow Inventory To Peak in Summer of 2010: Barclays

Barclays defines the shadow inventory of foreclosures as loans in 90-plus day delinquency or already in the foreclosure process. …

The shadow inventory should reach its height in the summer in 2010 before falling gradually as the market absorbs 130,000 distressed properties per month, according to the report. Over the next three years, analysts forecast 4.7m distressed sales with 1.6m in 2010, another 1.6m in 2011 and 1.5m in 2012.

From Diana Olick at CNBC: Home Buyer Tax Credit Takes its Toll

From one of our own CNBC producers, Andrea Mantia:

“I’ve been househunting for a few months now…we totally got caught up in the “tax credit frenzy”….thank God we took a deep breath and relaxed…EVERY SINGLE HOME we had our eye on dropped in price this week…and this is in Bergen Co (NJ) where prices weren’t budging!”


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A religion of pieces

American Muslim: bring on the Holocaust!

David Horowitz: “The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes ‘the Jews will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally’ – for it, or against it?”

Muslim student: “for it”.

What are we to do with these people? We can’t just shoot them, I suppose, but they’re here and plotting to kill fellow Americans. Last Liberal, do you have any suggestions? Because I’m baffled.


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Are the folks in Conyers Farm feeling pinched?

We know that at least one of them is being foreclosed on, but yesterday, driving through, I noticed many sections of the white  horse fencing peeling, blistered and in general, looking dilapidated. I’m not a regular visitor up there (joke ) but I don’t remember this area looking so run down before. Interesting.

By the way, Peter Pervert Brant has removed “Santa with Butt Plug” from the grounds. Did Stephanie claim it in the divorce?


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Conyers Farm listings

An interesting experience yesterday viewing David Stockman’s house , $23 million, and another that’s asking a mere $17 million. The Stockman house, while unpretentious from the exterior, went on and on and on and eventually overwhelmed this middle class boy. A house like this involves such an elaborate, complicated lifestyle that I was totally repulsed.

But I don’t entertain heads of state nor do I expect to. It’s a grand place, I’m certain (the dog’s sleeping pen at the top of the staircase is larger than my daughter’s bedroom) and I respect Mr. Stockman hugely, but I’m glad I don’t have to live in this house.

The other Conyers Farm listing was more amusing because it evoked a memory of one of my worst gaffes as a realtor. The place has been for sale since 2002, listed with every prominent broker in town (the latest is Joe Barbieri) and sometime between  then and now, I went to an open house with two colleagues, one of whom had built the house back in the 80s.

We were in the library when the builder said, “you know, there’s a secret panel here that leads to a panic room, but I can’t remember how it works.” He poked around the bookshelves for awhile and, just as we other two were leaving the room, the builder exclaimed, “Ah here it is!” And he pushed the panel.

Well – turns out, the secret door was armed with its own alarm. Bells rang, lights started flashing and alarm sirens wailed. The Conyers Farm security guards were calling and the poor showing broker, who had obtained the listing just the day before, had no idea how to shut off the noise. He went nuts and the three of us slunk out the door – who, us?

When I visited yesterday everything was quiet, so I assume they figured it all out. I did not try that panel again.


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Sell everything

Fed says “zero chance” of double dip recession.


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In the six weeks from April 1st, the height of Greenwich’s spring market, 14 houses priced between $3.1 million and $5.6 have gone to contract, many of them severely marked down after lingering, unwanted, for a long time. We still have an inventory of 129 houses in that price range. If you’re a buyer, that’s great news. For sellers, not so good.


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New listings

46 Will Merry

Not necessarily my favorite street, but this house sits on 2.8 acres, was purchased for $2.025 in 1999, is currently assessed at $2.564 and is asking $2.750. Could be a deal here.

39 Bote Road (off of lower Stanwich) was bought for $2.075 in 2006 and is on today for $1.975. There’s probably some room there, but I admire the seller’s realism.

And the we have 206 Sheephill Road – the seller tried and failed to get $1.375 for it in 2001 so he pulled it from the market and has returned nine years later asking $1.795. He must be in a different real estate market than I am, because, in my world, prices have dropped, not risen since then. Then again, maybe traffic has decreased on Sheephill in the past decade and it’s now a quiet, bucolic lane.


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From Conyers Farm to Weaver Street

199 Weaver Street


Basic shelter: listed at $729, sold for $675,00 by Charles Magyar to a client of Charles Magyar. Nice when that happens: it’s almost a real commission.


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This is supposed to be a real estate blog

But there’s so little news to report!

But here are some dregs. 65 Conyers Farm,  23 acres of land, has dropped to $5.975 million. The seller paid $5.125 for it in ’07 and claims to have spent all sorts of money preparing plans etc., but so what? The previous owner had the same idea and priced it at $9.975 in 2005 before  caving in and selling it for that $5.125, and he himself paid just $3.275 for it in 2003. If I were bidding, I’d start at the 2003 price.

At least 44 Upper Cross Road has a house on its 26 acres. The house was built in 1986 and could probably use a few million in updates and renovations, and a lot of those 26 acres are wetlands, but the price has dropped to $9.495 today and at some price: $7? $7.5? $6.5? There’s a deal to be found here. Dump your horses in those swamps, fix up the house and bingo: instant mansion.

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What new construction sells for

26 Cedarwood

Not my favorite house, but not terrible. Originally listed for $7.950 million in 2006, sold for $4.5 milliosn yesterday.


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That EU fix isn’t working

Corporate bonds hammered.

By Tim Catts and Pierre PauldenBy Tim Catts and Pierre Paulden

May 12 (Bloomberg) — Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is punishing corporate borrowers, with bond issuance tumbling as investors doubt a $1 trillion bailout plan will be enough to bolster confidence in government finances for the region.

Borrowers worldwide have sold $15 billion of corporate debt this month, a 62 percent decline from the same period in April and 83 percent less than the average for the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The extra yield investors demand to own corporate debt instead of government bonds soared last week to the highest in more than four months.

While a finance package hammered out over the weekend by European leaders slowed the decline in the euro and spared Greece from defaulting, investors aren’t showing they’re convinced a 13-month credit-market rally is poised to resume. Corporate bonds have lost 0.47 percent so far in May, the worst start to a month since February, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data.

“This is a fix and not a resolution,” said Jason Brady, a managing director at Thornburg Investment Management in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who helps manage $8 billion in fixed-income assets. “Investors have seen volatility and that makes it harder to get excited about longer-dated assets paying a fixed return.”

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Mohammed the bi-sexual

It seems that there’s at least one brave soul out there in IslamistLand

The evangelical Arabic satellite station, al-Haya (Life TV), regularly takes the Muslim prophet to task, especially on two weekly programs: Hiwar al-Haq (Truth Talk), hosted by Coptic priest Fr. Zakaria Botros, and Su’al Jari’ (Daring Question), hosted by ex-Muslim Rashid. Both shows revolve around asking uncomfortable questions about Islam and its founder in an effort to prompt Muslims to reconsider the legitimacy of their faith. (It is on these shows that the aforementioned, unflattering assertions of Muhammad originate; see here and here for English summaries.)

These broadcasts are viewed by millions of Arabic-speaking Muslims around the world. That the satellite station strikes a Muslim nerve is evinced by the fact that it is formally banned in several Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, and is regularly condemned by Islam’s demagogues on mainstream Arabic media, including al Jazeera.

When the programs first began airing, they certainly caused uproar in the Muslim world. Then, Muslims regularly called in cursing the hosts, promising them death and destruction (both here and in the hereafter). Al-Qaeda reportedly put a $60 million bounty on Fr. Zakaria’s head; and the priest is on CAIR’s radar. (See the father explain his mission in this rare English interview.)

Far from being cowed by the daily death threats, however, Life TV and its unrepentant hosts have responded by upping the ante and providing even more anecdotes discrediting Muhammad. Rashid recently examined the theological implications of Muhammad’s hatred for the gecko lizard, which the prophet accused of being “an infidel and enemy of the believers.” Muslims who kill it in the first strike receive 100 “heavenly-points,” whereas those who kill it in two strikes receive only 70. More graphically, Fr. Zakaria recently  examined canonical hadiths (authenticated Muslim accounts) that record Islam’s first believers eating Muhammad’s feces, marinating food in his sweat, drinking the water he gargled and spit out, and smearing  his phlegm all over their faces — all to his approval.

Needless to say, Life TV’s hosts — especially the flamboyant Fr. Zakaria — are hated by Muslims around the world. But to the careful observer, the outrage appears to be subsiding, ostensibly replaced by apathy — that is, the default strategy when threats and displays of indignation fail. Most callers are now Muslim converts to Christianity, who encourage and thank Fr. Zakaria and Rashid (often in tears). Conversely, the diminishing angry callers usually spew a barrage of insults, culminating with a “may-you-burn-in-hell,” and quickly — almost as if ashamed of their childish behavior — hang up.


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California dreaming

Sacramento’s school teacher’s health plan program for retirees  has a billion dollar shortfall. I’ve added Pension Tsunami to my blogroll (right)  for anyone interested in a live picture of our financial collapse.

Twelve of Sacramento County’s 13 school districts don’t have enough money in their coffers to pay the health benefits promised future retirees and are not setting aside money to pay for them, according to a grand jury report released Monday.

Collectively, the county’s school districts have a staggering $1 billion in unfunded retiree health benefits, according to the report.

School officials are effectively ignoring the mounting debt, the report concludes, and barring a drastic change of course, could end up bankrupting their districts or stiffing retirees on health benefits.

“Who is going to tell retired teachers that they have lost their health benefits or tell students and their families that there is no money for school programs?” asked Rosemary Kelley, grand jury forewoman, in a letter accompanying the report.

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Is this the future?

Newburgh, NY – a failed city. pop. 29,000-, almost all of them crack addicts. Can we reclaim these places, or do we just abandon them to their doom? I vote for the latter, but maybe there’s a solution.

Adorned with brick row houses and 19th-century Gothic Revival mansions, relics of its industrial past, the city has a certain nostalgic charm. Pleasure boats and upscale restaurants with colorful awnings line the riverfront esplanade. From there, a grassy slope leads to Grand Street, a tree-lined avenue where the expansive homes of the city’s Gilded Age stand in varying states of renovation and neglect.

But just a few blocks away is Lander Street, a menacing little stretch of boarded-up row houses and graffiti-tagged walls that has become one of the state’s most implacable centers of poverty and violence. Young men with pit bulls occupy porch stoops at all hours, guarding barely concealed drug markets inside. It is one of several such streets within a few blocks in the city’s northeast end that law enforcement officials say are mainly controlled by the Bloods street gang, the city’s largest with an estimated 160 members.

A number of homegrown groups — not formal gangs necessarily, but with the same territorial and violent tendencies — occupy various blocks and bear names like Ashey Bandits, Ave World and D-Block.

The narrow avenues and one-way streets make it hard for police — even in unmarked cars that are by now well known by the residents, including a green Chevrolet Suburban they call the “Green Goblin” — to sneak up on anybody.

“As soon as we turn the corner, they call out ‘One time!’ ” said Officer Joseph Palermo, on a recent night patrol.

The city’s southeast side, a largely Hispanic area known as the Heights, is controlled by Hispanic gangs like the Latin Kings, la Eme and a local group known as the Benkard Barrio Kings.

A sense of how embedded the gang culture has become can be gleaned at the local high school, the Newburgh Free Academy.

Two years ago, Torrance Harvey, a social studies teacher, and Mark Wallace, the school’s violence prevention coordinator, created a class where students could come and talk about issues important to them. During a recent session, Mr. Harvey drew a diagram on the board with the word “community” in the center and asked the class to define it. The students rattled off the usual institutions: churches, schools, law enforcement. But high on the list they also called out “gang-bangers,” “drug dealers” and “crackheads.”


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What I said

The D.C. – Wall Street crowd are now linked.

Nobody (important) loses in our brave new world.

Well, this is good news for Goldman Sachs (GS). They weren’t the only major bank to go all of Q1 without a single day of trading losses. In other words, the game isn’t necessarily rigged in their favor.

As Bloomberg reports (via @zerohedge), Citigroup (C), JPMorgan (JPM), and Bank of America (BAC) also booked perfect quarters.

If you don’t know how the banks can do this, you haven’t been paying any attention. It’s the Fed lending these banks money cheap allowing them to lend it back to the government at higher rates? Is that really all the banks are doing with their money? Pretty much yes.


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Old men retire – politicians don’t

Arlen Specter is running for his life out there in Pennsylvania but as this blogger points out, most octogenarians have long since conceded their age and retired – not politicians – they’ve been anointed by God, and won’t leave until He calls them home. We can help in that process.

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Maybe he should have had Stabenow call him

I'm trying to look presidential here, my man

Obummer tells Spain to cut its profligate spending. As I said earlier today, I do so like cynical humor.


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Marisa Noel, hard at work

Thanks to reader PF, we have this exciting! Interview! With Marisa Noel, who seems to exclaim! Rather than speak!

Bigger is better…at least that’s my opinion when it comes to statement jewelry this season.  And lately, I’ve been obsessed with rings – in particular, giant glass orbs by TRE.  These big bad baubles ad [sic]  a bold pop to any outfit; and since they’re thick, handmade Venetian glass – they won’t tarnish or crack.  Which makes them perfect for tossing into your beach bag for instant seaside style.

The hard-working girl even has a web site. Paid for, I fear, with stolen money but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.


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