Daily Archives: October 15, 2010

That had better have been a hell of a waiver form

24-year-old dies after crashing Indy car in race course replication. Of all my legal drafting, I’m most proud of an IPO I put together for a project that was, to a  dumb 29-year-old legal associate, a certain failure. It did fail, yet there was not a single suit. Pretty cool, but how do you draft a waiver for certain death?

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Our tax dollars at work

You’ll have to read the article to get the details, but basically, we’re beggaring Puerto Rico to favor St. Croix, all at a cost of billions so that foreign rum makers can profit. It makes sense to Washington, but not to me.

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Yankees zero, Rangers five

Heh heh heh

But Robbie Cano just slammed a home run, so Yankees 1, Rangers 5.

Ooh ooh! 5-2 now, but the damn Yankees have bases loaded no one out, and ARod’s at bat. Base hit!  2 runs scored! 5-4. These guys give me agita, but they are good, darn ’em. Two runners still on, still no outs.

Tied ’em up – it’s 5-5, ARod’s on third, no outs.

Base hit, ARod scores, Yankees 6, Rangers 5. Pretty impressive rally.

11:57 – Yankees win, 6-5. These guys are tough.

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Firehouses: from eight to four?

Bob Horton’s got an interesting column in today’s Greenwich Time. Here’s what I find thought-provoking:

How many firehouses does the town need to provide optimal protection to residents and property? Right now we have eight fire stations: Central Greenwich, Cos Cob, Byram, Glenville, Sound Beach (Old Greenwich), Round Hill, Banksville, N.Y. (Greenwich pays for this coverage through an agreement with the New York town), and Backcountry (North Street).

Some very knowledgeable people who have studied the town’s fire coverage say that Greenwich would be well-covered by only four properly situated and professionally staffed stations, but they know that such a proposal is a political dead-end. Our firehouses, like our schools, have grown up with their neighborhoods and have strong political support. No town neighborhood is going to stand by while their firehouse is closed and no RTM is going to favor scrapping the existing firehouse locations for four new locations.

It seems that, rather than consolidate stations, we’re on track to add a ninth, up on King Street. But maybe we need some political leadership here. If four firehouses, properly staffed, would provide better service and at less cost, then why not try to achieve that? I feel more secure knowing that the Old Greenwich firehouse is right around the corner, but I could be persuaded that I’m enjoying a false sense of security if that indeed is the case. Rather than give up on a more efficient system, let’s get a non-politician who doesn’t aspire to higher office or even a second term and see if he or she can’t get the town around this idea. If, that is, Horton’s sources are correct. I rather suspect that they are.

 

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The engineer who did so much to save the miners

Good article on the mining expert who directed the rescue. Plenty of people from around the world helped, but here’s a profile of the guy who led the effort. Great stuff.

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Foreclosure sales

Article here on the pitfalls of buying at foreclosure auctions these days. I’d be more impressed if the lead illustration wasn’t two idiots, with an idiot agent, who bought a second mortgage and only after the sale discovered that there was a first mortgage looming overhead. Come on, folks.

But I do agree with this:

Given the foreclosure moratorium that some banks have put in place and the lengthy investigations and lawsuits that are sure to follow, there is no rush to buy as long as you don’t have to move or if renting is an option.

Take your time. Assemble a panel of experts and apprentice yourself to them. And watch the listings carefully. For better or for worse, foreclosed properties are going to be available for a very, very long time.

 

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Sleeping with the fishes

Story here about a small restaurant/bar in Vassar, Michigan (pop. 2,800) up at the base of the thumb of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, trying to lure back customers with fried perch.

The meal sounds delicious, but I was struck by this side note:

Fast-forward a few years: Cheek’s daughter Karen Warner and her husband, Jerry, now own the place, and the ban on smoking has cut into business.

“We went down about 49 percent on Keno, and 47 percent on alcohol sales,” Warner said as her daughter Jenny Colosky wiped down the bar. “People used to come in and play pool all night, but when they couldn’t smoke, they quit coming around.”

Perhaps the deep-fried fish will draw back those customers, and perhaps it will be healthier, but I do wonder at the intrusiveness of our modern government and the determination of these awful people to regulate our lives at the expense of people just trying to make a living, albeit at the expense of smokers, who as adults, were not long ago considered smart enough to make up their own mind on issues like this. No longer.

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Coming soon: middle class anarchy?

Interesting article on a middle class couple who are slowly realizing that they’ve been hosed. Or, upon reflection, not really hosed: they voluntarily bought the house they did at the top of the market, but as they watch their neighbors walk away from their own mortgages, this nice, law-abiding couple is beginning to think they’re the chumps in the game.

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I wonder if Chris Dodd will be contributing?

CountryWide CEO Angelo Mozilo will disgorge $67,500,000 in fraudulent profits.

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Short sale in Havemeyer

17 Marshall Street

Reported today as “pending”, this Marshall Street home is in pretty bad shape. It was asking $629,000, assessment is around $559,000. To my eye, it has no value over the land value, and perhaps a little less: the lot my clients bought down the street for $485,000 had already been cleared whereas this one requires a dumpster and a backhoe.

We’ll see what it sells for.

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Crazy?

33 Keofferam

A reader points out that this house just closed at full asking price, $3.150, after just fifteen days on the market (a June contract). It’s a very nice house but when my old firm, Round Hill Partners had the listing in 2002 we sat on it for 100+ days and finally sold it for $2.420. Nothing has been done to it since, and its assessment is just $1.883, but sell it did.

Keofferam is a great street and a wonderful neighborhood – sometimes, if you have the money to get what you want, you shouldn’t agonize over the price. I guess.

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Price cut

 

49 Shore Rd

I was never really struck by this Old Greenwich house, particularly at its 2008 price of $4.2 million. It’s down today to $2.775, which is better. Assessment is $2.

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Here’s an interesting Riverside contract

29 Crescent Rd

I sold the land this house sits on to Lou van Leeuwen back in, I think, 2006 for $1.5 million. He put up this house and sold it privately for something like $3.5 million. It came back on a little while ago asking $3.790 and by gosh, it’s reported today as under contract. Some other houses we sold in that era for $3.8 have been marked down considerably but here’s this one, indicating, maybe, that Riverside’s coming back? We’ll have to wait for the final sales price to be reported, but it seems that the market for almost-new homes is coming on strong, at least in Riverside.

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you know you’re in trouble when …

You’re an eighteen-term Congressman and receive exactly one contribution ($500) from just one constituent. I know nothing about Jim Oberstar, (D. Mich.) but this can’t be good news for his campaign.

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In Greenwich, there’s hope for everyone

24 Hardscrabble Rd

This cottage on Hardscrabble Road seemed to have everything against it. It’s way up on Riversville, close to John Street, perched on a hill and is pretty small, but as it’s on 2 acres in the 4 – acre zone, not much room, if any, for expansion.

It was originally priced at $1.295, below its assessment of $1.347, and sold yesterday for $1.1 million. I was guessing less.

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Thank goodness, our nation is saved and Steptoe & Johnson can continue to work its magic

The D.C. law firm/lobbyist group has managed to shut down a burger joint whose aromas were disturbing the cerebral lawyers hard at work f###ing taxpayers. But now where will Michelle Obama eat?

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Congressional greens – the gift that keeps on giving

From InstaPundit:

THE BARNEY FRANK PRIVATE JET STORY ISN’T FADING AWAY.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s GOP challenger is calling on the congressman to release an ethics opinion that Frank says cleared his trip to the Virgin Islands aboard a $25 million private jet owned by a billionaire hedge fund manager.

“Frank should release the opinion from the Ethics Committee so we know exactly what Frank was claiming,” said Sean Bielat, the Newton Democrat’s Republican opponent. “If he did not disclose all the gifts or undervalued them, he could be in violation of House ethics laws.”

The Herald reported this week that Frank and his partner, Jim Ready, made the tropical getaway just before Christmas 2009 on a jet owned by financier S. Donald Sussman, fiance of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). In addition to flying from Maine to the Virgin Islands with Sussman and Pingree, Frank and Ready stayed in Sussman’s mansion on the island, an aide told the Herald.

Frank reported the jet ride as a gift in required House financial disclosures – claiming the cost of the flight was $1,500 – but reported no other expenses related to the vacation. Aviation experts say the cost of flying a private jet between Maine and the Virgin Islands would cost as much as $30,000 each way.

House Ethics rules aren’t exactly stringent — but I don’t want to hear one goddamned word about my freaking carbon footprint from Barney Frank, or his cronies.

Including his crony Nancy Pelosi: New documents uncovered by Judicial Watch show Pelosi took 85 trips on military aircraft.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and members of her family and staff took 85 tax-paid trips on military aircraft between March 2, 2009, and June 7, 2010, according to new documents uncovered by Judicial Watch.

Pelosi’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons were on the June 20, 2009, flight from Andrews AFB to San Francisco where Pelosi resides, according to the documents. On July 2, 2010, Pelosi took a grandson on a flight from Andrews to Travis AFB, north of San Francisco.

Judicial Watch obtained the documents as a result of a January 25, 2009, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Previous documents received by the non-profit watchdog group revealed that Pelosi’s travel “cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over a two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol,” according to Judicial Watch.

“For example, purchases for one Pelosi-led congressional delegation traveling from Washington, DC, through Tel Aviv, Israel to Baghdad, Iraq May 15-20, 2008 included: Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewar’s scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and several bottles of wine.”

I’m not proposing that Congressmen and women subsist on bread and water while on their junkets, but how dare they charge their booze to taxpayers? I have travelled on business, and never once thought I was entitled to charge personal expenses to my client’s or employer’s account. But then, I’m not a member of Congress.

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Peggy Noonan on Chile

She approves, as do we all. But I was struck by her concluding comments about our current president and his whining that environmental laws prevented “shovel-ready” jobs from proceeding. A leader could have done something about that, an Obama – nothing.

Do you recall that, immediately after the Gulf blow out, the Dutch offered to send their oil containment vessels over here to mop it all up? We rejected their offer because our environmental regulations demand discharge of 100% purity and the Dutch system was only 99% pure. The president of Chile would have quickly figured out that 99% was 99% better than nothing, and ordered in the ships. Obama did not. And, to be fair, if he had, he’d have been sued by every environmental group in the country and we’d still be in court and the oil would still be spewing.

I’m not saying we’re doomed, but we sure do need a change in attitude.

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The Lexington of the mortgage wars

 

Where it all began: Norway, Maine (NYT photo)

 

The NYT reports on the mortgage foreclosure case that set off all of this. Fraudulent documents and affidavits, a determined, pro bono lawyer, and suddenly every foreclosure in the U.S. is affected.

But while I share the outrage of the lawyer and the presiding judge over the fraud on the courts GMAC was perpetrating and really: we can’t have a judicial system that overlooks such practices, take a look at the facts.

The borrower hasn’t paid on her loan since 2008 – 2 1/2 years of free living. Worse, and I blame GMAC for this as well as her, she had down payment. GMAC ponied up 100% financing plus more, so that she could fix the p;lace up. Okay, that makes GMAC as stupid in granting the loan as this woman, who lives on welfare and food stamps, was to accept it.

A pox on both their houses (so to speak), but this is the tip of the iceberg.

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“Cheeseburger, fries and heavy on the grease”

That was the First Lady’s order at a Chicago diner yesterday. Salads are for the Little People. At least her husband smokes only in private.

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