Daily Archives: June 16, 2010

California trial on gay marriage ends

Not definitive – it’s bound for the Supreme Court.

Arguing for the ban to be reversed was conservative jurist Ted Olson, who served as U.S. solicitor general under former President George W. Bush. He partnered with David Boies, his adversary in the 2000 Supreme Court decision that put Bush in the White House.

Throughout the case, Olson and Boies argued that the ban discriminated against one segment of the population by denying them the fundamental right to marry and that same sex marriage was no threat to heterosexuals.

I can’t think of two lawyers I respect more (Olson’s wife Barbara was murdered on 9/11 and died bravely) and as a divorced father, I have nothing legitimate to say on the sanctimony of marriage. My personal opinion is that, if two people love each other and want to marry, the state should have no say in the matter. But maybe the state should have no say in marriage to begin with – civil unions, yes, but leave the rest to churches.

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It’s certainly been my experience

Picky buyers slow real estate sales, And why shouldn’t they?

Exacting buyers are upending the battered real estate market, agents and other experts say, leading to last-minute demands for multiple concessions, bruised feelings on all sides and many more collapsed deals than usual.

It is a reversal of roles from the boom, when competing buyers were sometimes reduced to writing heartfelt letters saying how much they loved the house and how they promised to eternally worship the memory of the previous owners. These days, it is the buyers who are coldly seeking the absolute best deal while the sellers are left in emotional turmoil.

“We see buyers who must have learned their moves from the World Wrestling Federation,” said Glenn Kelman, chief executive of the online broker Redfin. “They think the final smack-down occurs at the inspection, where the seller will be reluctant to refuse any demand because the alternative is putting the house back on the market as damaged goods.”

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This metric football thing doesn’t seem to be going well

Crime, loud horns and boredom. Blah. Plus, I saw some reference to a goal scored eighty minutes in – how long do these games last before they end in a tie?

Traffic jams that tie up fans for hours, the incessant backdrop drone of the vuvuzelas, the abomination of a ball that has a mind of its own, frigid winter weather, ticketing fiascos and an alarming decrease in the number of goals — 1.56 per game one-quarter of the way through the tournament — all add up to a less than a celebratory start for 2010.

Even the players realize it.

“To be honest, all the games I’ve watched haven’t been exciting,” said England striker Wayne Rooney.

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I like clerics, but this is getting embarassing

The Rev. Simeon P. Stefanidakis

Old Greenwich pastor hit with kid-pic child porn charges. Can’t anyone in the clergy keep his dick in his pants?

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I suppose this is progress

Port Chester illegals elect their first representative with federal help.

The election of that member, Luis Marino, a Peruvian immigrant who ran as a Democrat, came in the first local election since a federal judge ordered Port Chester to adopt a new voting system to give Latinos a better shot at electing one of their own to the six-member board.

The unusual electoral system itself made news, allowing voters to use six votes however they chose — including casting all six for one candidate. One Republican who won, Joseph D. Kenner, was the first black elected to the board.

“I think the results are clear — that the new system worked,” Mayor Dennis G. Pilla, a Democrat, said Wednesday morning. “This is a fantastic victory for Port Chester.”

According to the most recent census data, from 2006 to 2008, Latinos make up 49 percent of the village’s roughly 28,000 people, though many are noncitizens; about 39 percent are non-Hispanic whites and 7 percent are black. Still, in past elections, the preferred candidates for the village board among Latino voters were usually defeated.

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Foreclosure tax repeal? Don’t count on it.

Politicians do love their taxes, after all.

Brian Lockhart

The Democratic-majority General Assembly is expected to meet in special session June 21 to yet again extend increases in the conveyance tax applied to real estate transactions.

But it is uncertain whether legislators will simultaneously eliminate a new conveyance tax which, since January 1, has been levied on foreclosures.

A few years ago state lawmakers increased the real estate conveyance tax to help funnel additional revenue to cash-strapped cities and towns. The hike was supposed to have sunset, but it keeps getting extended in the face of pressure from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

When the 2010 legislative session ended at midnight May 5, the House of Representatives had again extended the increases, scheduled to expire at the end of this month, for another year. But the Senate failed to take up the measure. Democrats at the time told an enraged CCM it was an oversight and they would make it right during a special session.

And CCM has been keeping the pressure on.

The foreclosure tax was quietly slipped into the two-year state budget the General Assembly passed last September. But the move, estimated to generate $8.5 million this fiscal year and $16.2 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1, proved controversial.

Critics like state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, who as Banks Committee co-chairman has been spearheading foreclosure mitigation programs, complained the tax was never given a public hearing.

And while proponents argued the foreclosure tax would be paid by the banks, Duff and others feared it would instead be borne by financially hurting property owners. The state Judicial Branch confirmed that to be the case and judicial officials also had a tough time figuring out how to calculate the tax.

By April there appeared to be a growing consensus that the conveyance tax on foreclosures had been a bad, hastily done policy decision.

“It is tantamount to kicking delinquent homeowners when they’re down,” said Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, one of the very few lawmakers who actually raised questions about the tax during the budget debate.

Even Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, who, as co-chairman of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, helped craft the state budget, acknowledged extending the conveyance tax to foreclosures “never worked … To just exempt them is what makes the most sense.”

However, when I asked Derek Slap, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, about the issue today, he told me there is a concern about losing that estimated $16.2 million during the ongoing budget crisis.

“The issue of changing the scope of the conveyance tax has been raised but clearly there is a lot to consider,” Slap told me.

I put in a call to the state Department of Revenue services to find out if in fact the foreclosure tax has been meeting the original revenue expectations. But a DRS spokesman told me they did not have that data available.

Nicholle Dagata, president of the Connecticut Association of Realtors, said that organization agreed to suspend its traditional opposition to an extension of the conveyance tax increase as long as the policy was changed to again exempt foreclosures.

“We feel the state is striking against the most vulnerable,” she said. “We just think it’s absurd. They’re already in a dire situation.”

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Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac delisted from NYSE

Overdue, but these were once significant companies.

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Franklin Bloomer declared sane – crazy as a hatter, but sane

Franklin Bloomer?

Pakistanis say Osama hunter has at least a few marbles left.

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The Senior Center scandal

Greenwich Senior Center under new management

It’s entirely possible that the Senior Center’s cook, Marva Savariau, was fired for cause, as the Center claims, but there’s no question that the food service that fired her has immediately dropped the quality of the menu, From Bill Clark.

One of the best meals long-time chef Marva Savariau used to make at the Senior Center was her roast turkey luncheon. She was scheduled to serve it again this past Monday, but, as we all now know, she was rudely and summarily fired the Friday before. What actually happened at Monday lunch is an interesting object lesson in how quickly and how far things have suddenly spiraled downhill at the Senior Center.

Instead of the real bird fresh out of the oven, fit for a Thanksgiving table and carved in front of your eyes—”Would you like a drumstick? White meat? Dark meat? Some of each?”—it was a tasteless commercial deli loaf fed into a slicer. A few thin slices, topped with smarmy white gravy out of a can instead of the rich brown giblet gravy Marva used to prepare—that was what you got. And the desserts, instead of being the usual homemade pies and cakes and bread puddings, were either a tiny serving of jello with a little Redi-Whip on top, or six pieces of uninspired canned fruit. It was a mockery of what Marva had planned for Monday’s lunch, and she would have died of shame before she would ever have served such unspeakable slop to her beloved seniors.

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Too funny: it’s the liberals who are disappointed in Obama

Here’s Robert Reich sounding off. I heard a piece on NPR this morning that interviewed people in Florida about the oil slick coming their way and it was only self-identified liberals who blamed Obama. Conservatives, who have no faith in government’s ability to do much of anything useful, ever, all seemed to shrug and say, “whatcha gonna do?”

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More pressure on Walt?

SIPC tells court that feeder fund customer/victims of Madoff aren’t eligible for insurance. That makes sense to me from a legal perspective, but it will certainly motivate defrauded Fairfield Greenwich investors to go harder after Walter Noel.

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