Daily Archives: April 2, 2012

They follow the First Family’s example and get fired for it?

Was it the clown's makeup?

The head of the General Services Administration forced to resign after spending $835,000 to take 300 federal employees to Las Vegas, where they were entertained by a clown, a mind reader and put up at luxury hotels. $75,000 was spent to put on a bicycle building training session but no mention is made of anyone playing golf. So what’s the problem?


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Here’s a guy who should have saved that law school tuition

Thank Allah for pass-fail!

Of course, as an affirmative action player he probably didn’t pay a thing but he’d be entitled to a refund if he had.

From James Taranto:

President Obama made a statement today whose ignorance is all the more stunning for his once having been a part-time professor of constitutional law. National Journal has the report:

Obama said he was confident Monday that the healthcare reform law will be upheld by the Supreme Court because it is constitutional.

“Ultimately I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically-elected Congress,” he told reporters in the Rose Garden.

[Taranto]: Unprecedented?  Even Linda Greenhouse would mock him for saying that. Did he sleep through the Harvard Law class on Marbury v. Madison?

Marbury is the first case taught in constitutional law classes because it was the first case from the newly-created Supreme Court that established the principle that the Supreme Court could determine whether a law enacted by Congress was unconstitutional. Marbury found the law in question unconstitutional and overturned it. Now that was unprecedented, back in 1803, but even a community organizer affirmative action Harvard “lawyer” should know that Marbury established the very precedent he now claims would be unprecedented.


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Sooner or later, someone’s going to buy this place

Back yard, I think

But probably later.27 Vineyard Lane is back again, asking $2.995 but promising a new gravel driveway and laundry room this time. We’re at 909 DOM and counting on this old house, at prices ranging from $4.995 million (2007) to $2.8 million (last month). Not a bad house, albeit under 3,000 square feet and probably destined for the dumpster, but it sits on a hill overlooking the swamp of a front yard. I’m just guessing, but I’d think most buyers for a new house on this road will be looking for a more impressive approach. Still, there’s 3 1/2 acres here, and if you can find a way to keep clear of those swampy bits and find space to build a whopper, FAR won’t stop you.


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If it saves the life of just one child …

Arizona legislature censors internet freedom.

The state legislature of Arizona has passed a bill  that vastly broadens telephone harassment laws and applies them to the Internet  and other means of electronic communication.

The law, which is being pushed under the guise of  an anti-bullying campaign, would mean that anything communicated or published  online that was deemed to be “offensive” by the state, including editorials,  illustrations, and even satire could be criminally punished.

The bill is sweepingly broad, and would make it a  crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to ‘annoy,’  ‘offend,’ ‘harass’ or ‘terrify,’ as well as certain sexual speech. Because the  bill is not limited to one-to-one communications, H.B. 2549 would apply to the  Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons, and  other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.”

This type of legislation is far from unprecedented. Last year, former president Bill Clinton proposed a law to censor internet speech. “It would be a legitimate thing to do,” Clinton said in an interview that aired on CNBC. Clinton suggested the government should set-up an agency that monitors all media speech for supposed factual errors.

“That is, it would be like, I don’t know, National Public Radio or BBC or something like that, except it would have to be really independent and they would not express opinions, and their mandate would be narrowly confined to identifying relevant factual errors” he said. “And also, they would also have to have citations so that they could be checked in case they made a mistake. Somebody needs to be doing it, and maybe it’s a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money.”

Cass Sunstein, head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has also proposed banning speech on the internet that  the government disagrees with. Sunstein proposed the creation of an internet “Fairness Doctrine” similar to the one that was used for years to limit and eliminate free speech on the radio.

The Arizona bill, H.B. 2549, if you care to Google it, passed the state senate 30-0, so it’s fair to say that Democrats and Republicans joined in this rush to limit citizens’ freedom. Forced purchase of medical insurance, helmet laws – from the serious to the ridiculous, legislators and their supporters see no limits to legislate “for the common good”. When it is pointed out to them, as certain Supreme Court justices did last week, that that is not how our government was established or designed, they claim that the constitution is obsolete. Hope not.


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Interesting thought experiment

43 Doubling

43 Doubling Road is back on the market, either for sale at $4.8 million (they paid $5.2 for it in 2009) or rent at $25,000. Just for kicks, I plugged those numbers in that NYT rent or buy calculator I link to over on the right (under “Useful Links”) and, figuring in lost opportunity costs, zero appreciation, 3% rent increase a year, etc. you’d actually be better off in the first four years renting instead of buying. That surprises me, but it probably shouldn’t.


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A/O in Lucas Point

21 West Way

21 West Way, asking $4.475 million. 174 DOM. Nice house, Lucas Point, waterfront – what’s not to like?


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Seems pricey to me

Stamford Lighthouse

#2 and #4 Indian Dive (Old Greenwich, end of Ledge Road) hae come on as a $15 million package deal. No pictures up yet but it’s certainly a wonderful street and waterfront down there is commanding a large sum. But, the two lots are 0.41 and 0.26 acres respectively and it’s a sure bet that no one’s going to pay $7.5 million for 0.26 of beach. Not here, not now, anyway. $15 million for a lot with a combined area of 0.67 acre? I’m guessing this land will be around with us for quite a while.

But Old Greenwich can surprise me so ….


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Fun Moments in Real Estate Pricing

92 Hunting Ridge Rd - (Photo by EOS)

92 Hunting Ridge is back on the market, now asking $1.490 million. It may be, as its broker says, “the best value on the market”, but it didn’t sell at $1.295 this past August through November (or $1.469 before that). I would think that once an owner has publicly announced what he’ll accept – in this case, less than $1.295 – no buyer will offer more. So why price it $221,000 over the highest possible bid you’re likely to receive? At best, you’ll scare off potential buyers and at worst, you’ll look silly.

Don’t like the looks of that back yard, either.


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There are some robust rental prices being had out there

364 Sound Beach Avenue Old Greenwich has rented for $16,000 a month. Decent house, renovated/expanded in 2005 and a pool instead of a back yard but right on Sound Beach Avenue (!). But I’ve been working with a client in this price range and this is about what newer construction in OG and Riverside (if you can find any in Riverside) is going for. I know of one house that we tendered what we thought was a reasonable offer of $14,000 and were told that just that evening the owner had rejected $18,000. Wow.


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Thinking of attending law school? Probably a bad idea.

From InstaPundit:

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD ON THE LEGAL EDUCATION BUBBLE:  First, let’s indenture all the lawyers.

In other words, for many young Americans, going to law school will mean literally signing away their financial independence for the rest of their adult lives. They will spend the next twenty-five years of their lives (if they never earn more than their Income-Based Repayment amount) — ten years if they work in public service — servicing debt they incurred for a skill that didn’t pay off. They might spend even longer before they are ever in the clear if they took those federal loans out before 2009 (when IBR kicked in), or if they have high interest private loans.

This isn’t just a problem for the people involved. The result is a situation no one wants: young people who aren’t in a financial position to make major steps in life — marriage, purchasing a home, having children, or saving for retirement — because they spend the majority of their life financing a decision they made at 22.

[Law Professor Glenn Reynolds]: “Read the whole thing — especially if you’re considering law school.  I wouldn’t advise people not to go to law school, necessarily, but I would advise almost anyone to avoid taking on significant debt to do so.”


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Cos Cob cape drops 20% since 2005

Which isn’t all that bad, I suppose. 8 Barton Lane off Cognewaugh, undersized at 1  acre in the RA-2 zone, sold just now for $847,500. Sellers bought it in 2005 for $1.065 million.


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Three accepted offers reported

91 Overlook ($2.495) and 67 Lockwood Lane ($1.595)  were already discussed here in the past two weeks: 67 Lockwood Lane is the $1.595 house that found a buyer just about the day it was listed. The third, 1 Cottontail, was also written about here but I forget when. It’s final asking price was $1.450 but that’s after trying to get $2.295 for it in 2007 and suffering ever steeper price cuts over the ensuing five years. 933 days of actively being on the market. The owners paid $1.703 for it in 2002 and spent more money on renovations so $2.295 might not have seemed too-high a price back in 2007 but I remember going out there then to give a price opinion and thinking (and saying) that they were going to have to take a loss and would sell the house below what they’d paid for it and with no credit for their renovations. A house of great appeal to me, but I like quirky houses; most buyers don’t.


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Awkward price level

38 Cedarwood has reduced its price again and it’s now asking $6.850, down from the $7.50 it originally sought. The place sold new for $6.5 million in 2003 and the buyers added a pool and did some other nice things to it in 2005 all of which, should this sell for its 2003 price, could be considered their gift to you the buyer.

This is a nice house and I like Cedarwood as a street. The difficulty this is having finding a buyer is probably the large inventory: there are currently 17 homes built after 2000 for sale between $5.5 and $7 million. There were nine sales in that range in the past 12 months so that’s roughly a two-year supply, even assuming no more such houses come on the market. Patience is the watchword here. For sellers – buyers might want to explore the inventory and see if there isn’t a seller of one of them who’d like to just get rid of the place.


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“We must have tenure at universities so that professors can engage in unfettered research”

Depends on the subject and the university. At Duke, for instance, two economists and a sociologist examined the performance of affirmative action students and legacy kids who were admitted with much lower (150 point) SAT scores into STEM (science, technology,engineering, math) programs. Turns out, if they came in unprepared as freshmen they never caught up and either switched majors to softer subjects or graduated with much lower GPA’s than their better-prepared peers.

The difference was not about race – the unprepared legacy admissions fared as poorly, but instead of asking how these kids could be helped to compete, Duke – students and administration, denounced the professors as racists for even examining the subject.  This is the academic equivalent of sticking fingers in one’s ears and shouting “nah nah nah nah na na, I can’t hear you!”

That’ll help.


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