Daily Archives: February 22, 2013

How could they possibly improve on what our schools already deliver?

"For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country"

“For the first time in my life I am proud of my country”

North Korea to use captured USS Pueblo as a teaching museum.

Kim Jong Un visited the site this week, KNCA reports. The North Korean leader reportedly said the museum will serve as a base for “anti-U.S. education”.


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Two more accepted offers



12 Annjim

12 Annjim

12 AnnJim Drive, $1.250 million. Good Lord.

1 Quintard, Old Greenwich, $2.995 million, 72 Days on Market.


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It never stops

Ledge Road, Old Greenwich

Ledge Road, Old Greenwich

This, from the Greenwich Association of Realtors:

FEMA Flood Maps Public Hearing

The Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission is planning to hold a public hearing regarding the proposed FEMA Flood Zone elevation changes that will take place July 1 2013. These new elevations will affect over 1900 properties. They will also be discussing how to administer the requirements.
Of imminent concern is the 50% rule. [Expenses exceeding 50% of the building’s value – not the land, which is generally far more valuable than the house that sits on it, fall subject to all FEMA requirements – no grandfathering – Ed] This is particularly onerous to homes that have sustained recent damage and may have reached the 50%. They may now have to get variances for building height and also possibly for setbacks since raising a house up to 5 feet will require stairs etc that may have to be in required setbacks.

Another issue is the properties that are being made non-conforming by the new increase in elevation. If you are in compliance now, and will not be in July, the current regulation states that any improvements made since 1987 will count toward the 50% of improvements rule. This means that although your home may have been renovated and compliant on June 30, you will not be able to improve the home after July 1, without lifting it, if your total improvements since 1987 exceed the 50%.

The value for these homeowners should be reset to zero starting in July, but this is not a given and we need to make sure that P and Z comes up with some equitable and non-discretionary policy that is fair and reasonable.

The architectural and quality of life implications of having the first floor of a neighbor’s house being elevated to the 2nd floor level of your home may be quite disruptive to the neighborhood fabric. [emphasis added]

I do so love understatement.


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For those readers who think brokers can successfully list their own houses at higher prices than their client’s, ponder this:

"You ain't goin' nowhere"

“You ain’t goin’ nowhere”

57 Byram Shore Road, owned by a relative of a real estate agent, has taken still another price cut and is now asking $2.095 million. That’s not a bad price, and maybe this cut will do it, but the house has been actively for sale (not counting periods when it was off the market) for 1,859 days. It’s first price was $5,775,000. Has anyone seen that Freakonomics professor who claims that real estate agents know the “real” value of their own homes and price them accordingly?


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More of the same or, black humor

Bankrupt, fraud and national economic policy advisor

Bankrupt, fraud and national economic policy advisor, the Reverend Al

Obumski meets with Al Sharpton, other black “leaders” to discuss how to continue failed policies of the past.

The President met with African American leaders yesterday in the Roosevelt Room at the White House to continue their dialogue on his plan to strengthen the economy for the middle class and continue to build ladders of opportunity for those striving to get there.

The President reiterated his commitment to supporting policies that will directly impact those hardest hit by the economic crisis by making sure that America is a magnet for jobs, increasing access to job training programs, partnering with high-poverty communities to help them rebuild, and encouraging companies to invest in disadvantaged neighborhoods.The president also reiterated his call to reform education by expanding universal pre-K for every child as a way to significantly decrease the achievement gap.

Everything he says he wants to do here has been tried for fifty years, since the opening salvo of the War on Poverty, and every one has failed completely. Job training is a bust,as proved by every study that’s looked at it. “Partnership” [federal funds slopped around] with ghetto communities? Been there, failed there. Expanded nursery school programs? Other than forcing children into our disastrous public education system sooner, what good will this do? Head Start’s a bust, Head Start Lite will do no better (as an aside, I heard a panel of “scholars” on NPR this morning discussing the underachievement of our education system. They advocated for more money to the poor, of course, but were perplexed that even the richest districts’ students ranked in the 67th percentile compared to other countries, “and there’s been no improvement in forty years!” Care to guess when American educators introduced a new, improved curriculum and imposed it on our schools?) I remember Obama telling voters that we couldn’t afford to continue “the failed policies of the past”. I guess he’s changed his mind.

But wait, there’s more! Voter fraud!

The president and the leaders expressed a shared concern about the need to implement common-sense improvements to the voting process because our democracy works best when every American eligible to vote has the opportunity to cast their ballot and make their voices heard.

Have you noticed the left’s recent adoption of the term, “common-sense”? Just in the past three months we’ve all heard the demand for “common-sense” additional taxes,  new, “common-sense” gun control laws and now, “common-sense” changes to voting laws. What decent citizen would be against common-sense? “Yes, that makes sense, it’s only fair, it’s only sensible.” Readers of Atlas shrugged will recognize this tactic and that includes on the left, too, who read and learned.

The White House press release concludes with this warning:

The President praised the participants for their steadfast leadership on a broad range of issues critical to improving the economy and strengthening our country. The leaders in attendance also highlighted their goals to continue to build momentum for Congress to act in the best interests of the American people by supporting policies that help move our country forward.


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An accepted offer and a new listing


174 Cat Rock

174 Cat Rock

32 Ferncliff has another accepted offer, its first deal having fallen through a month or so ago. Asking $1.195 million. I liked this place more than he clients I showed it to, which explains why the sale won’t be recorded in my name. The sellers made some interior rearrangements that seem more personal than designed to appeal to someone else (although that didn’t stop these buyers) and its one – acre is up a steep driveway and fairly rocky when you climb up there. I liked it despite that – given the price, not such a bad deal.

174 Cat Rock is a “new” listing, back at $1.650 million after failing to get $2.395 in 2007. I don’t really remember the house, but I do like its new price.


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Quick, big sale

23 Ridgeview

23 Ridgeview

23 Ridgeview, $5.8 million, has a fully executed contract in just 13 days (and most of that time was probably eaten up by the lawyers, trying to justify their fees). Before I saw it I had my doubts about the sellers getting their price because this area is next to street with far less expensive homes. But it turned out to be an incredible home and I understand why someone would pay up to nab this location.

Nick Berile (York Development, Old Greenwich) built it and sold it while it was still unfinished for $4.2 million in 2005. I’m told that the owners paid Nick to customize it and brought in exotic workmen like a custom cabinet maker from Pennsylvania. All told, this price probably represents a break even proposition at best and perhaps a modest loss.

Not much of a yard (no yard, pretty much) but you’ve got the playing field across the street to lure the children away from Death Star: the Revenge of Doom, and there’s that location I mentioned. Everything inside is absolutely top of the line: very expensive and very, very attractive. Nice to see that there’s an active market for fine homebuilding.


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“If you like your current medical plan, you can keep it”

Dr. O

Dr. O

It’s your spouse who’s losing hers under ObamaKare. Corporations dumping wives from employee health plans.

While surcharges for spousal coverage are more common, last year, 6% of large employers excluded spouses, up from 5% in 2010, as did 4% of huge companies with at least 20,000 employees, twice as many as in 2010, according to human resources firm Mercer. These “spousal carve-outs,” or “working spouse provisions,” generally prohibit only people who could get coverage through their own job from enrolling in their spouse’s plan.

Such exclusions barely existed three years ago, but experts expect an increasing number of employers to adopt them: “That’s the next step,” Darling says.

So much for last decade’s victory for gay people, who successfully fought for the right to be considered “spouses’ under corporate health care plans. It’s that hopey changey thing, picking up speed.



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Who knew? Turns out, the defense’s fantasy story had legs

black+knight+defeatedDespite the prosecution’s attempt to cut him off at the knees, Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail. It’s his first step towards regaining his freedom, I suppose – I figured he didn’t have a leg to stand on.


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Generalissimo Franco’s still dead


Feel better yet?

Feel better yet?

Chavez’s condition worsens.


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Gone today, here tomorrow

I wanted a contract!

I wanted a contract!

The Mickster alerts me to the news that 63 Winthrop, new construction in Riverside asking $4.395 million and which reported an accepted offer last week, has returned to the market. Buyer’s remorse? Don’t know.


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11 Cardinal Road

11 Cardinal Road

Three reported this morning, 132 Henry (Byram, short sale), 11 Cardinal (next to skating club, off Fairfield), and 50 Hillcrest Park.

132 Henry Street’s last asking price was $650,000 and was purchased for $660,000 in December ’04. Owners put some renovation money into it and tried selling it for $928,000 in 2007, but never could over the ensuing five years despite numerous price cuts (and a price increase, from $825,000 to $898,000 when it switched brokers in 2008. What do you suppose was going through that new broker’s mind when he made that recommendation? It certainly wasn’t the stellar performance of real estate in the fall of 2007.)

11 Cardinal Road, asking $2.295 million, sold for $2.150 in 2006.

50 Hillcrest, written up here when it came on, is a great house but lacks a yard. That didn’t bother someone, obviously. Asked $2.699, purchased for $2.885 million in 2004.


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Jim Himes demonstrates the same grasp on reason that his fellow Greenwich Democrats do

As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.

As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.

The Democrats’ representative to Congress came back to town yesterday to warn his faithful of the coming sequestration apocalypse and boy was it scary:

Himes predicted Thursday night his colleagues in Washington will fail to reach a fiscal compromise by a March 1 deadline, triggering a steep and indiscriminate round of budget cuts that he said will wreak havoc on the economy, commercial aviation, the Defense Department and education.

“After two or three weeks of people waiting three hours in line at the airport, because you’ve got fewer TSA agents at the (magnetometers) and X-ray machines, as people come to understand what this means for defense contractors in northern Virginia, California and elsewhere — Connecticut frankly. As people come to feel what it means to have $83 billion in cuts in one year, the pressure will mount on the institution and a deal will get done,” Himes said, referring to the Transportation Security Administration.

Let’s examine Jimbo’s fears: The Wall Street Journal did in an editorial yesterday and its editors were more sanguine than our “investment banker” from John Corzine’s old firm:

Americans need to understand that Mr. Obama is threatening that if he doesn’t get what he wants, he’s ready to inflict maximum pain on everybody else. He won’t force government agencies to shave spending on travel and conferences and excessive pay and staffing. He won’t demand that agencies cut the lowest priority spending as any half-competent middle manager would.

It’s the old ploy to stir public support for all government spending by shutting down vital services first. Voters should scoff at the idea that a $3.6 trillion government can’t save one nickel of every dollar that agencies spend. The $85 billion in savings is a mere 2.3% of total spending. The agencies that the White House says can’t save 5% received an average increase in their budgets of 17% in the previous five years—not counting their $276 billion stimulus bonus.

[Despite Obama’s – and Himes’ – claim that the economy is now improving] … Mr. Obama just whacked the economy with a roughly $160 billion tax increase in 2013 that he says will do no harm, but he wants us to believe that $85 billion in spending cuts will trigger a recession. The sequester shaves the equivalent of about 0.25% of GDP when offsetting it against the extra money the feds are spending on Sandy relief.

After World War II federal spending fell from 42% of GDP to 14.8% in two years, yet the private economy and employment roared back to life. In the 1980s domestic spending fell by about two percentage points of GDP and in the 1990s it fell by more than three. Those were decades of government austerity but rapid growth in private output and wealth. Mr. Obama has taken government spending from 21% to 24% of GDP, yet we’ve had the weakest economic recovery in three generations.

• A tax increase disguised as “tax reform.” Mr. Obama isn’t proposing to substitute other spending reforms for the blunt instrument of the sequester. He is actually demanding another tax increase on top of the one he just beat out of Congress. His trick is to pretend that this is “tax reform” that would eliminate loopholes, but this is the same President who insisted on more than $30 billion in tax breaks for big business (including $12 billion for the wind industry) in the fiscal-cliff deal.

The real point is this: Himes et als are playing the “crossing guard game”, a phrase I coined when, some years ago, our Greenwich Police Chief responded to a demand for a cut in his budget by firing all the $6-an-hour school crossing guards. The national Democrats, naturally, think larger than that, but it’s the same ploy: instead of cutting out trips to Las Vegas for hundreds of employees, they focus on discharging minimum wage TSA goons (which I fully support, but never mind). Instead of eliminating FDA “diversity seminars” that define the Pilgrims as “illegal aliens” they get rid of low-paid packing plant inspectors. Instead of asking whether somewhere in some Congressman’s district their isn’t an unnecessary, unwanted-by the Pentagon weapons program and instead talk of firing 800,000 soldiers.

And so on. Politicians like Himes aren’t serious about cutting the budget because they don’t want to cut the budget – quite the opposite. So they generate scare stories and their public relations firm, the national media, goes along. Bitter clingers, hang on.


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