Daily Archives: July 13, 2010

Say, here’s a nice libelous story

And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude

My brother Gideon was supposed to provide me with the documentation to back this story  up but, trusting that he will, here goes: Oil tank removal fraud.

There are lots of good companies out there who will do the job: remove the tank, test the soil and, if necessary, remediate any leaks. Then there is Envirotech, which has been removed from Connecticut’s list of approved contractors because they were caught bribing soil lab technicians to “find” oil leaks when none existed. Positive test, lucrative job removing perfectly good soil.[Update – no worries about libel now – the principals are convicted and going to jail]

This company is not to be confused with ENVIROSHIELD, a completely legitimate, honorable company that I have recommended many times in the past and which has always done an honest, capable job. But if you, homeowner, paid for a multi-thousand dollar remediation job to Envirotech, you might want to call our current Attorney General Dick Blumenthal. He’s rumored to be running for the U.S. Senate and I suspect he’s got his staff running constituent service full time.

I will still bug Gideon to provide the link to approved oil tank removers and will post it when he does but in the meantime, if you paid anything to Envirotech, you should try to get it back, if there are any assets left.

UPDATE II: the principals got suspended sentences, dependent upon their making restitution to victims, so there may well be some money to be recovered. And one of the guilty parties was the president of Brooks Laboratories, which was, until now, considered a reputable company. So now my advice is, if you paid anyone for soil remediation – and for the uninitiated, these costs can easily reach $40,000 and more – check to see what lab certified the presence of oil. If it was Brooks, call Blumenthal’s office right now (well okay, tomorrow morning)

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Oooh! The Greenwich Time is finally getting on top of the tax bill fiasco.

Chris Fountain for tax collector!

Laudonia rejects all blame. What’s amusing is that in my made-up interview with the yokel, I had him admit that he  didn’t send the tax information to the processors until June. Turns out I can’t make this stuff up! He did!

I can sympathize, sort of, with a “real” paper like the Greenwich Time missing this story for weeks while we bloggers were all over it. They have to discover the story on their own, since they won’t stoop to read local blogs, and then they have to track down the perpetrators and get nonsensical, empty  quotes. But really, if someone like me can just imagine what these buffoons will say, and then they say it anyway, is there any reason to waste time bothering to talk to them?  Loosen up guys – you know exactly what a politician will say about any issue, so just put words in his mouth. They’ll be close enough to the actual thing that no one, even the politician, will notice or care.

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Scoop! FWIW’s Scusie finds Tesei

Tesei and the salmon

Taking advantage of this blog’s unlimited budget, ace reporter Scusie tracked down our missing First Selectman Peter Tesei, finally locating him on  remote salmon stream in Nova Scotia where, having lost every item he owned in a hot session of strip poker the night before, he was attempting to catch some marketable fish. He professed no knowledge of fellow Republican Tod Laudonia’s tax bill F-up, nor did he seem to care.

“Look – I can’t go back to Greenwich until I can buy some clothes,” he told Scusie, “and the way these goddamned fish are cooperating, that’s gonna be late August at best – that screw ball will have sorted things out by then.”

Told by Scusie that the spring salmon run was over and the fall run wouldn’t begin until mid-September, our First Selectman visibly brightened. “Even better! People will have forgotten the whole thing by then.” He swatted his bare ass. “Say, listen, you don’t happen to have any mosquito repellent with you, do you?”

Scusie always travels with a 100% deet product but, being a Demmerkrat at heart, she handed Tesei a bottle of Old Woodsman’s Fly Dope instead, a creosote-based repellant that was the best they had in 1950. And until at least mid-September, it’s the best Tesei has, too.

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An apology to Chris Finlay

Earlier today I posted an item stating that Mr. Finlay had rejected an offer of $8 million from my client and subsequently sold it to his own client for $7.8. I was wrong and I deeply regret relying on my memory, rather than first double-checking my email records. I did indeed recommend an $8 million offer ($7.9, actually) to my client but in fact, he chose to bid only $7.5 million. So Chris acted entirely appropriately in selling the property for $300,000 more. And I am very, very sorry to have impugned his integrity. I like Chris – we had a rocky start together many years ago but since then we have gotten along just fine and I have found him to be a highly professional agent.

So Chris, I apologize, profoundly and humbly and ask your forgiveness.

UPDATE: Chris has graciously accepted my apology but corrects me: my client offered $7 million, not $7.5. (although his ultimate goal was $7.5). You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead.

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The Greenwich Advertiser

As I learned when I was fired by the Greenwich Post for speaking the truth about Coldwell Banker/Sotheby’s, real estate firms are the last paying advertisers in our dying print media, so they are pampered and protected.

It’s hardly surprising therefore, that Greenwich Time would run an up-beat, cheerful article today on the housing recovery. They do their readers no service but that’s hardly the point, is it? I, on the other hand, don’t have advertisers, so I can tell you what’s really going on. Here are three sales recorded today that Greenwich Time would have you believe are signs of a recovery:

80 Meadow Wood (Belle Haven). Asking price, $9.950 million, selling price $7.8, Days on Market (DOM) 950.

11 Tomney (off Stanwich). Asking price $3.2 million, selling price, 2006, $3.1 million, selling price today, $2.6.

142 Park Avenue (Greenwich). Asking price, $3.9 million, selling price, 2007 $3.9 million, selling price today, $3.333.

Greenwich Time likens this to the sight of the first robin of spring. I see it as vultures waiting on telephone wires. Your call.

By the way, check the paper’s home page and see how long it takes you to locate the bullshit story on the tax bill foul up. It’s there, but buried deep. You wanna know about George Steinbrenner or rescued beagles from the midwest, however, GT’s your paper.

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Would you sellers PLEASE get real?

Last week was a bust so far as new listings were concerned, but it was a holiday week, so I expected better offerings this week. Not a chance. I skipped every open house today. One Ogilvy listing is asking $12 million, with an assessed value of $5. Now come on, how am I supposed to sell that? The rest were no better, and that’s incredibly frustrating. There are plenty of buyers out there, ready to move, but, while they aren’t scum-sucking bottom feeders,  they aren’t morons either. Price your house at a reasonable level and you’ll sell it. If you aren’t willing to do that, then pull it from the market, sit tight for ten years,and hope for better times.

I have one customer who was interested in buying some land from a builder who paid $2  million for it July 1st. The builder says he’ll sell it for $4.5 million which is in effect a big fuck you. I admire his confidence, but I expect to send the same message back to him in two years.

Similarly, I’ve extended two offers to two other builders who are in serious trouble with their lenders – like foreclosure in September – and received the same response: everything is fine, go away. Well no, they’re the ones who will be going away, and they’ll go with nothing.  

Home owners, builders, banks: they all are acting as though some mortgage fairy is going to descend from heaven and save their ass. It’s not going to happen, and all three of these groups should be grabbing at the ladders of salvation being offered now. By October, the ladders will be gone, and there will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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Caution: morons at work (sort of)

Greenwich Tax Collector Tod Laudonia at his impeachment trial Don't know exactly what tool that lady is holding, but I assume it's intended for tax payers,

FWIW’s Scusie trekked out to the municipal golf course and found our new tax collector, Tod Laudonia, at the 19th hole and asked him about the f..k up with the tax bills. Laudonia was both unrepentant and unconcerned.

“Hey, it’s not my fault,” he whined. After spearing the olive in his martini and chewing it thoughtfully, he explained: “It’s all about this Tyler Technologies, some friggin Texas company that’s supposed to to do my work for me, and they screwed up. They took two whole weeks to work out a software problem, so why pick on me?”

Scusie asked Laudonia when he first notified Tyler Technologies of the problem and he shrugged, “I don’t know, maybe June 1st.”

“Why so late? Didn’t you know months before that that bills had to go out by June 30th?”

“Oh for Christ’s sake, girl, get off your high horse. We don’t have to send out bills at all! The state statute says the taxpayer is responsible for their taxes. There’s no requirement for the tax collector to send bills. We post a couple of notices in the newspaper and bingo! We’re done. Bills are just a courtesy to taxpayers, like a hold-up note to a bank teller. All you really need to do is screw the muzzle of a revolver up her nose and you’ll get the money – the note’s just more polite. Homeowners don’t like it, screw them, the friggin’ crybabies.”

“But how will taxpayers know what they owe?” Scusie asked.

“This is Greenwich, baby,” said Laudonia. “People are sophisticated. They should call our office and when they eventually get through, they can learn the new mill rate. Then they come down to Town Hall, go to the Assessor’s office to see what their house is worth, multiply that by the new mill rate and come down the hall and pay us – we prefer cash, by the way, wink wink, nod nod.”

Laudonia then abruptly ended the interview, explaining that he still had another nine holes of golf waiting. Later attempts to reach Peter Tesei, the purported First Selectman of the town of Greenwich were unsuccessful. When he returns from Nantucket in September, FWIW will send Susie out again to see if she can secure an interview with the missing man.

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