Monthly Archives: February 2013

Obama declares war on the American people

Look at those little wetbacks run!

Look at those little wetbacks run!

This goes beyond politics and exposes the man for who he is and what he’ll do for political gain. For the first time, Michelle is proud to be an American.

Department of Homeland Security releases thousands of illegal aliens in attempt to stop sequestration. Next week, if Republicans are still holding fast on limiting sending, he’s unleashing more plagues, including frogs, deadly gases, anthrax and nuclear waste. He thinks he’s Moses; he’s Pharaoh.

The Department of Homeland Security has started releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants held in local jails in anticipation of automatic budget cuts, in a move one Arizona sheriff called politically motivated — and dangerous.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Tuesday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement released more than 500 detainees in his county alone over the weekend. A spokesman for Babeu told FoxNews.com that ICE officials have said they plan to release a total of nearly 10,000 illegal immigrants.

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Bad ideas never die

UPDATE: I spoke too soon about the zombie project: BET Democrats and Republican    are ready to dump $200,000 more into the sink hole, to hire a consultant. Forget the pool, why on earth does the town need to spend $200,000 to hire an outsider to move this scheme through our own zoning process?

Though Tarkington is opposed to the funding request for the pool, which is leaking water through cracks and has no restroom facilities, it does not appear to be enough to stall the funds.

Her three colleagues, fellow Republican and committee Chairman Joseph Pellegrino, and Democrats Jeffrey Ramer and William Finger, spoke in favor of moving the project along.

Check out this bit of objective, fact-based reporting by Greenwich Time:

That should come as good news to Byram residents for whom the pool, the only public facility of its kind in Greenwich, is a source of embarrassment among residents of the neighborhood and the greater swimming community. The project’s supporters, including the Junior League of Greenwich, have faced an years-long battle to secure preliminary funding.

The $200,000 would be used to commission more detailed drawings of the project and to steer it through the land use process.

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I do believe the Byram pool project has been shelved, at least until 2199

GHS Music Hall, opening Night (representative image - need not be built)

GHS Music Hall, opening night (representative image – need not be built)

Clean up costs for GHS field estimated at up to $146 million, before overruns.

It would likely take 60 dump trucks six days a week over a 10-week period for each of the next 12 summers — all at a cost of $146 million to local taxpayers — to remove several feet of toxic soil from Greenwich High School under the most expensive and aggressive cleanup option presented to the town by its environmental consultant Tuesday night.

Kind of makes the $50 million anticipated to be spent putting a music hall on top of the dirt a mere rounding error.

 

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Your granny’s got crabs.

We got a hot one here

We got a hot one here

Old people contracting STDs at record rates as they discover on line dating.

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As sequestration draws closer, the debate sharpens

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This should bring Greenwich real estate values roaring back

Greenwich Town Committee chairman rests after saving the poor

Noted Greenwich Democrat rests up after round I of tax hikes and prepares for more

Connecticut Democrats preparing massive, widespread confiscation of wealth from Fairfield County residents and businesses.

Leery of the governor’s plans to raid special programs, … Democratic lawmakers are proposing increases in income, estate, corporation, sales and cigarette taxes.

Rich vs. poor

“We will, I think, need some additional revenues to have a balanced budget, and I’ve always believed we should have more progressivity in our income tax,” said Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven.

Looney has proposed boosting the income tax’s top marginal rate from 6.7 to 6.9 percent. That would apply to earnings above $250,000 for individuals and above $500,000 for couples.

Seeking more from big corporations

With fiscal analysts projecting a 6 percent gap, about $1.2 billion, in next year’s finances based on current trends, Malloy was hard pressed to avoid tax hikes, and is seeking more from businesses.

But Malloy argues the $139 million extra from the corporation, electricity generation and insurance premiums taxes comes only from extending existing rates or credit limits otherwise set to expire — and therefore doesn’t count as a tax hike.

“I think he had to look at every option to deal with a difficult situation,” said Flexer. “But now it is our responsibility to do the same.”

Flexer is one of several lawmakers who has proposed a “combined reporting” measure to ensure that Connecticut corporations pay more in taxes.

The “combined reporting” concept holds that any corporate group with at least one affiliate here should owe taxes that reflect the entire group’s net income.

Rep. Betsy Ritter, a Waterford Democrat, not only has sponsored a “combined reporting” bill, but she has also proposed a hoarder’s tax. This would place a levy on liquid assets — companies with a lot of money in the bank — and dedicate the proceeds to job creation programs.

While Malloy has said repeatedly this is not the time to raise taxes, that line already has been crossed, Ritter said.

“It sounds to me like the legislature is respectfully saying (tax increases) are something we have to have on the table to have a balanced discussion about the budget,” she said.

Other proposals offered recently would repeal a 2009 tax cut on wealthy estates, increase sales tax on food served at restaurants, add 95 cents per pack to the cigarette tax and preserve the towns’ share of state sales and real estate conveyance taxes — worth just under $100 million per year.

The finance committee did raise a concept bill — a measure with a title, but no specific language drafted to date — regarding the real estate conveyance tax. Such measures typically are drafted in anticipation that members may discuss the topic during the legislative session.

Rep. Sean Williams of Watertown, ranking GOP representative on the finance committee, said he doesn’t think Democrats will find the spending cuts needed to support tax hikes and said he fears it will be hard enough to eliminate the other revenue gimmicks in the budget. “There is never enough money for these folks to spend.”

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Statistics

Greenwich Realtors Boosters Association

Greenwich Realtors Boosters Association

The Mickster, as optimistic as only an Irish Guinness salesman can be, writes in to comment on the amazing housing recovery here in town and “New Normal” who is either another agent or a desperate Greenwich homeowner goes even farther than the Mickster in damp-panty enthusiasm:

“Chris Fountain himself will tell you this is probably the busiest Jan and Feb he has had in a while; call it anecdotal or fudging the numbers as much as you want, transactions are happening at a much more rapid pace than normal.”

Well okay, are we seeing the normal spring market or are we really observing a phenomenal recovery? Let’s go to the videotape, and compare  January February contracts and accepted offers:

2013: 120

2012: 119

2011: 120

2010: 115

2009: 84

2008: 123

2007: 145

2006: 157

Next?

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Zero Hedge looks at the housing numbers

So what’s got Wall Street and FWIW’s reader “New Normal” so hetted up today? Reader Shoeless sends along this link to Zero Hedge so that you can see for yourself. )Note the number homes, nationwide, selling for more than $750,000: 1,000.)

In the government’s endless desire to show just how blistering, nay, stupendously amazingful the gargantuantest housing recovery has been, we just got news that New Home Sales in January soared, SOARED, to 437K from an upward revised 378K, slamming expectations of a 380K print (chart). “This is the best New Home Sales print since August 2008!” the mainstream media roared with adoration and approval (hoping for an avalanche of ad RFPs from Trulia, Zillow and of course, the NAR). Alas, as so often happens, there was more than meets the eye.

Much, much more.

For one: the actual, unadjusted number of homes sold in January was a meager 31K (of which 1,000 houses sold in the $750K+ range): a tiny 4K increase from December, the same as August, and lower than all months from March to July 2012 (chart); the houses for sale rose to the highest since December 2011; the Median Price plunged to $226,400, the lowest since January 2012 and down $23k from December’s $249,800. Finally of the 31K houses sold in January, just 12K were actually completed, with 10K under construction and 10K not even started. So who cares: seasonal adjustments happen all the time, and January just happens to be an important inflection point right? Yes.

Which is precisely why we took the December-to-January change in New Home Sales as reported since the peak of the housing bubble, to get an accurate sense of how this inversion has behaved in history. The result is plotted below: the blue bar shows the sequential change in actual data. The red one shows the seasonally adjusted one.

 

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More on the Messiah

 

No, it's not Michelle it's me, Barry!

No, it’s not Michelle it’s me, Barry!

James Taranto looks at the revelation that Obama’s selling himself for $500,000 per trick, and isn’t impressed. In fact, even Obama must be disgusted with himself, although his followers are steadfast.

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski unearths a clip of then-Sen. Obama in 2008 railing against ” ‘the cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests’ who ‘write the checks’ and ‘get the access while you’ “–the poor suckers in the audience–” ‘get to write a letter.’ ” Quoth candidate Obama: “They think they own this government, but we’re here today to take it back.” They’ve taken it back, all right, and they’re milking it for all it’s worth.

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Lake Avenue construction

If like me you’ve been wondering about what appears to be an airport being built on 751 Lake Avenue up near the Merritt, the mystery is solved today by the listing of two houses under construction. Each is around 10,000 sq.ft, each wants about $9 million.

Maybe.

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Too bad the media won’t tell the sheeple this

Sequester doesn’t have to amount to even a minor inconvenience unless, duh, the administration makes sure it does.

If you want to know how misleading the Obama administration is being about the effects of the sequester, look no further than Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s dark warnings about flight delays.

LaHood showed up at the daily White House press briefing Friday to claim the sequester — automatic spending cuts President Obama insisted on that are now scheduled to take effect in March — will “be very painful for the flying public.”

Because of those cuts, he said, the department will have to furlough flight controllers, leading to “delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours” at major airports.

It will also have to close more than 100 air traffic control towers, and preventive maintenance and runway repairs “might not be possible.”

The horror!

But LaHood, taking his cues from Obama, is needlessly trying to panic the public.

Take the claim that cutting back on flight controllers will lead to massive delays.

Back in 2000, the FAA handled 23% more air traffic with fewer flight controllers than it employs today, according to the Department of Transportation’s own inspector general, who added this raises “questions about the efficiency of FAA’s current controller workforce.”

Either air traffic controllers have gotten far less efficient over the past 13 years, or the FAA could get by with about 3,400 fewer of them — without affecting the quality of air travel one bit. Cutting out those excess controllers would get LaHood more than halfway to the $600 million he has to cut from the FAA’s budget.

And while LaHood ominously talks about closing 100 control towers, what he doesn’t say is that these towers should have been closed long ago.

In fact, Bloomberg News reports the FAA itself identified more than 100 “zombie towers” that handle so few flights they should be cut back or closed.

Then there’s the fact the administration has more flexibility in dealing with the sequester cuts than LaHood, or anyone else working for Obama, is willing to admit.

As the fact-checking site PolitiFact.com points out, “within the specific programs targeted for cuts, federal managers have a fair amount of discretion about what to reduce.”

And finally, instead of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, LaHood could use the current budget cuts as an opportunity to do what Canada did 17 years ago when it also faced a severe budget crunch: fundamentally reform the air traffic control system.

Instead of a government-run agency, a private nonprofit called Nav Canada now runs Canada’s air traffic control, with user fees rather than federal funds covering the costs. Today, Nav Canada operates with 25% fewer workers than under the old government system, despite a 50% increase in traffic.

And, unlike the FAA, which has been struggling for years to upgrade its woefully outdated equipment, Nav Canada has deployed state-of-the-art technology that it’s now selling to other countries.

 

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Accepted offer reported

19 Thunder Mountain19 Thunder Mountain Road, asking $3.375 million. Owner paid $3.8 back in 2007, I happen to know (ahem) it’s going this time for well below its current asking price.

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Open house tour results

21 Hope Farm Road

21 Hope Farm Road

Nothing to write home about, mostly, but I was struck by 21 Hope Farm Road, two acres, $1.995 million, with a contemporary on it that will almost certainly be torn down. What caught my attention was that while the consensus among agents was “tear down”, the house was built in 1987! Functional obsolescence is speeding up.

On a related note, I spoke with a friend when I was leaving the home who told me that she’d been looking up comparative sales for a new listing she’s preparing to bring to market and was deeply surprised to see that high end bathrooms in homes built as recently  2006 already look dated. And she’s right – I’ve noticed the same phenomenon.

So here for free is the same advice I give my clients: if you’re planning on sticking around in your present house for ten years or longer, go ahead and redo your kitchen and master bath to your taste and enjoy them, but amortize them over the next ten years because they’ll add nothing to the value of your house after that.

If you’re thinking of moving in a shorter period, wait until you’re just about ready to sell before doing those upgrades. You won’t make back their cost entirely, but they’ll be up-to-date, so your  house will sell more quickly and buyers will assign extra value to them.

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Why do Democrats so love the minimum wage? Because their union allies do

The higher the minimum wage, the higher the wages of union workers whose pay is tied to it. But wait, there’s more!

Minimum-wage hikes are beneficial to unions in other ways. The increases restrict the ability of businesses to hire low-skill workers who might gladly work for lower wages in order to gain experience. Union members thus face less competition from workers who might threaten union jobs.

This view is not speculation. A 2004 study in the Journal of Human Resources by economists William Wascher, Mark Schweitzer and David Neumark determined that lower-wage union workers typically see a boost in employment and earned income following a mandated wage hike. Never mind the corresponding drop in jobs and earned income for nonunion minimum-wage workers. They may have been priced out of the jobs they need, but that is not the union’s concern—its members have landed higher wages and reduced competition for jobs.

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Maxipad to grace Indian Head Road in Riverside

Good bye to all that

Good bye to all that

112 Indian Head, 2 acres in the 1-acre zone, sold for $5.3 million last fall, an impressive figure, but not as impressive as the $7,250,000 original 2010 price. A nice older house but as I suggested here back in 2010, its value was its land, not the charm of an old house destined for the dumpster.

And tomorrow night the new owners will come closer to accomplish that by applying to the P&Z for approval to build what seems like a pretty big house to me:

JKLR LLC. wants to demolish a home and build a 12,215-square-foot residence, new driveway, two detached garages, an accessory living structure, pool, spa, bath house and patios on a 2.07-acre lot at 112 Indian Head Road.

Do the math with me here – the FAR Czar in his wisdom decreed that the maximum allowable house on a two acre lot shall be 7,841 sq. feet – 43,560 X 2 X 0.09 FAR

The maximum allowable house size on one acre is 5,880.00 (in the one-acre zone. In a two acre zone, that same one acre is punished and the FAR size is reduced to 3,920 sq.ft. Does that makes sense to you? Never mind ).

But if 7,842 sq feet is deemed too large for the two-acre zone, and 5,880 sq.ft. has been determined to be the maximum ideal size of a home in the one-acre zone, how is it that a 12,215 sq.ft. house in the one acre zone is appropriate? Why is a home owner allowed 7,851 on one two-acre plot and 55% more, 12,215, on another two acre lot?

I am not objecting to this large house going up, but I do object to the utter lunacy of the Floor Area Ratio scheme that’s been foisted on Greenwich property owners; it has survived every attempt to instill some rationality into the process while the RTM has abdicated its role in governing the town by leaving the enactment of ever-more-onerous FAR regulations  to the demented, arrogant Land Use Committee and the staff of the P&Z.

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Sequester NASA

Sweat shop

Sweat shop

If there is any limit to our own government’s stupidity you won’t find it at NASA, which is out with a report today that says that global warming has already cut worker productivity by exactly ten percent. That certainly sounds scientific, doesn’t it? I mean, they use real numbers and all that, so the “science” is settled! It might make you wonder how America could have grown and prospered 100 years ago, when factories were cooled, barely, by drafts coming in through windows, tenement houses lacked even air shafts and field hands worked directly under the sun, eh?

Well I have the true, scientific answer: before air conditioning Washington would shut down for three months every summer and the politicians would flee. That respite from government meddling for one quarter of each year made all the difference. Now we’re inundated by government regulations and laws 24/7, 12 months a year, and suffer from agencies like NASA that once had a scientific purpose and is now just a collection of political hacks.

Save the nation: ban air conditioning.

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Gene mapping or, the Irish riddle solved

Off to O'Malley's

Off to O’Malley’s

Drinking to excess traced back 10 million years  to ape genes. Or 3,000 years to Shamus O’Reilly.

The boozing gene can be traced back 10million years to the common ancestor humans share with chimpanzees and gorillas, new research claims.

It is believed these ancient forebears were the first to pick up fruits fermenting on the ground after they developed a lifestyle away from the trees.

Individuals able to stomach the boozy fruit would have survived better in this new environment than those who could not, programming the ability into their descendants’ genetic codes.

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In ObamaLand, everything’s for sale

Never pass up a free meal

Never pass up a free meal

According to The New York Times, $500,000 will get you four meetings a year with the President of the United States. I’m insulted that the man would sell out his country so cheaply.

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More activity

25 Copper Beech

25 Copper Beech

25 Copper Beech sold for $2.4 million, $2.795 ask. Good house, decent yard, kids’ rooms are up, master and another bedroom down. That ought to be very attractive for parents of teens, a little offsetting for those with small ones, although I would think that in these days of intercoms and whatnot it shouldn’t be an issue. Obviously, whoever bought it didn’t mind the layout.

17 Dorchester, Riverside, has an accepted offer just days after being put up for sale. Asking price was $2.825 million, it sold last in 2008 for $2.875. So for Riverside, at least, we’re back to pre-crash levels, at least for new, almost new, and tear-downs. This one is “almost new”.

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Another contract

19 Angus19 Angus Lane, $4.995 million, has an executed contract. I wrote about this property when it came on briefly in May at $5.295.  I thought it was a beautiful house then and nothing changed this time except the asking price dropped a bit.

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