Daily Archives: March 18, 2013

Ten years, no Ike memorial, no $62 million. Where’d it go?

Chump change in D.C., but the money could have supported at least a truncated version of the White House Easter Egg hunt. No one seems to know where $62 million, allocated and disbursed by Congress to further desecrate the South Mall, has upped and gone. We know where it didn’t go: the memorial, which was never built. That blessing is probably cheap at any price.

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Cyprus west

 

Windmills, desert and an empty train. Poster credit, Calf. Ministry of Education

Windmills, desert and an empty train. Poster credit, Calf. Ministry of Education

California approves sale of $8.6 billion in bonds to fund train to nowhere.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority, brushing aside questions about their legality, Monday approved two major steps toward construction of a north-south bullet train system.

By unanimous votes, the five-member governing board approved a “memorandum of understanding” to “blend” the bullet train with local commuter rail service on theSan Francisco Peninsula and ask state officials to sell up to $8.6 billion in voter-approved bonds to begin construction on an inititial segment in the San Joaquin Valley.

The CHSRA hopes to break ground later this year on the 130-mile segment from near Merced to north of Bakersfield, using about $3 billion in state bond money and another $3 billion from the federal government. The state bonds will actually be sold only as needed for construction, officials said.

Both steps are being challenged in lawsuits, one of which is set for trial in May, but Dan Richard, the CHSRA chairman, and other bullet train officials say they they are confident that they will pass legal muster.

Critics say that when the CHSRA decided to create a system connecting with local commuter rail on the SF Peninsula and in Southern California, they effectively abandoned one of the requirements in the voter-approved bond issue, that the system be capable of carrying passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes. They also allege that using state bonds for the segment in the San Joaquin Valley violates another provision of the bond issue.

These will never, ever be repaid, but Wall Street will peddle them and you, oh taxpayer, will be making good on them.

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Hint to mothers

When your crazy son prints out a seven-foot-long, four-foot-wide spread sheet, in tiny font, detailing every mass murder in history, lock away your guns and call the boy’s psychiatrist.

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White House threatens to kill the Easter Bunny

Now y'all go home and tell yur momma dem ebbile Republicans made me do it!

Now y’all go home and tell yur momma dem ebbile Republicans made me do it!

Annual Easter Egg hunt threatened by sequester, Obama warns. What a complete and utter load.

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Real estate news

Yes, we report it when there is some, and today there is.

Two sales,

353A Sound Beach Avenue

353A Sound Beach Avenue

485 June Road, Stamford,$1.620 million. Lots of land, a builder’s idea of high end back in the 90s, taxes $23,000. I mention it, I suppose, to highlight the difference in prices between Stamford and Greenwich.

353 (A) Sound Beach Avenue, $1.750. Back lot.

Six accepted offers on single family homes.

205 Sheephill Road, $499,000.

130 Woodside Dr

130 Woodside Dr

130 Woodside Drive, Milbrook, $1.49 million. Asked $1.525 321 days ago, last April. Thruway impact? I don’t recall.

1025 North Street, Siberia. $1.295 million. Just 17 days on market, perhaps because the sellers paid $1.630 for it in 2006 and a buyer smelled a bargain.

62 Halsey was discussed earlier today. One weekend, $759,000.

9 Shorelands Court

9 Shorelands Court

4 Shorelands Court, $2.295 million, 30 days. Paid $2 million even in 2006.

Nothing to note among the new listings, but I found the latest price reduction for 37 Richmond Drive interesting. Sold new in 2003 for $3.6 million, it presumably had a number of improvements added because it came back up for resale in

2008 at $7.450 million. Buyers found that too steep, as well as its other prices over the past five years, but today’s cut to $4.950 might do it – hey, you never know.

37 Richmond Drive - clouds by (Bob) Ross

37 Richmond Drive – clouds by (Bob) Ross

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And this

On the ninjafying of the police

 

Popular Mechanics has a piece (with scary photos) on NYPD’s terrorism unit. Key quote:

“The response we usually get is, ‘Holy s—!’” Nieves says. “That’s the reaction we want. We are in the business of scaring people–we just want to scare the right people.”

Well, you’re not going to scare me as long as members of your crew put their Aimpoint Comp red dot sights on backwards (which they’ve been known to do):

Posted in uncategorized on July 12th, 2006 by SayUncle | RSS 2.0 |

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Update on that NY SWAT Team

My posting earlier of the cop with his rifle sight mounted backwards elicited several comments from readers who wondered whether (a) it really was on backwards or (b) whether it was possible to look though either end. The answer to “b” is to just look through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars and see how that works, but here are two photographs, one showing the  actual product, with the proper see-through side to its right, the other of the cop hard at work pretending to be a soldier. Yoyo.

(one way) Eotech sight

(one way) Eotech sight

(Not) Sargent York

(Not) Sargent York

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By odd coincidence …

Benvenuto a Roma

Benvenuto a Roma

Just last week a client sent along an interesting thought piece from a Mr. Dylan Grice, of Edelweiss Holdings. The article is lengthy and I don’t have a link, but its summation says a lot:

But the scarce substance we prize above all else is trustworthiness. Aware that we worry too much in a world growing more wary and  distrustful, it is here we place an increasing premium, here that we seek refuge from financial folly and here that we expect the next bull market.

As the European markets suddenly wake up to what’s happening in Cyprus and discover – duh – that there is nothing to support the Euro except faith, which has now disappeared, there’s a tanking going on. The Ruskies in particular are outraged that a safe haven for their money laundering has been violated. Things will probably recover, temporarily, but two years of kicking the can down the road must inevitably end and that terminus is approaching, says I, closer than most traders want to believe.

Of course it’s amusing that Russians are complaining that Cyprus is breaking the law by stealing 10% of depositors’ money: Russia, where there is no rule of law, where contracts are invalidated (BP) and Putin’s competitors have billion dollar corporations seized and they themselves shipped to Siberia (Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 10 years and counting), Russia is miffed that someone has taken a page from its playbook?

Nonetheless, and irony aside, Cyprus exposes a plague that will spread across our globe, already hinted at by the corrupt accounting practices and theft of intellectual property by the Chinese government’s businesses, the shell games of the world financial industry, aided and abetted by central governments everywhere, and, essentially, the collapse of trust, everywhere. If Cyprus can just up and grab 10% of people’s money, why not 25% to ease Italy’s woes? 50% to bail out France? And continuing from there.

The band plays on.

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The low inventory seems to be having a beneficial affect for sellers

Two similar properties reported news today: 29 Long Meadow Drive sold for $755,000 and 62 Halsey Drive has an accepted offer after just one weekend, asking $759,000.

29 Long Meadow Drive

29 Long Meadow Drive

29 Long Meadow started off last summer at over a million, languished, and finally found a buyer in February after a succession of price cuts. The tax card shows 1,268 square feet but there’s another 500 sq.ft. of windowed, finished basement space, with separate entrance and useful as an office or exercise room or what have you. Perhaps a bit of an odd layout but nothing that wasn’t easily redone and the house itself has been completely renovated and is in move-in condition.

62 Halsey

62 Halsey

62 Halsey, which last sold for $660,000 in August, 2010,  has 1,246 sq.ft and to my eye, was no Long Meadow. And while Havemeyer is a perfectly good neighborhood, the Mianus River beach enjoyed by the Long Meadow community puts Long Meadow ahead of Havemeyer by a mile (in fact, it’s less than a mile, to the southwest, but you get my drift).

So why the same price for two houses that I’d consider of such different value? I’d guess two factors, the first being, as so often warned about here, the stigma that attaches to a house after it’s sat on the market for a long time due to being overpriced. I showed this house to two different clients and both wanted to know why no one else wanted it. “Because it was priced too high, but now it isn’t (!!!!)”, I’d explain, but to no avail. The other factor is this current lack of inventory. 62 Halsey was appropriately priced for what’s available, which isn’t much.

I’d say that the Halsey buyers are paying current market price, while the new owners of 29 Long Meadow just made out like (ethical, mind you) bandits.

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Hmm – hot market, second thoughts, scrivener’s error?

22 Mianus View terrace (possibly photoshopped)

22 Mianus View terrace (possibly photoshopped – note the clouds)

22 Mianus View Terrace in Cos Cob came on four days ago at $995,000 and today has raised its price $105,000.  I’m curious to know whether the owners had such a busy weekend of showings that they’ve reassessed the situation or whether this was just an miscommunication between owner and broker (unlikely, because the owner has to physically sign the listing form, which lists the price, though it happens). Either way, there’s a problem with doing this because the listing shows both the last former price and the new one, and buyers tend to get miffed at price increases.

But if there are multiple bidders for this property, I don’t suppose the seller’s going to care about ruffled feathers.

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The chumps wake up, a little

Unions discovering that Obama lied when he told them they could keep their existing health care, and they’re unhappy. Idiots. It has always been about imposition of a single payer health care system provided by the government. Enacting  ObamaKare was just to get the concept accepted by the great unwashed – its inevitable failure will usher in government control of 20% of the GDP.

As intended. Incremental imposition of an ultimate goal is not limited to gun confiscation, it’s about total government control of everything. Go sip your Big Gulp and contemplate that.

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Chinese government seeks to shut down the WSJ and Obama joins the effort

It's not political, it's our friends the Chinese asking our help

It’s not political, it’s our friends the Chinese asking our help

The Department of Justice, which is too busy to look into the Black Panther’s intimidation of voters in Philadelphia, election fraud in Chicago or its own gun running operation in Mexico, has launched an investigation into claims that two Wall Street Journal reporters bribed Chinese government officials to obtain information. By their priorities shall ye know them.

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If you remember yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, you weren’t there.

Celebrating their patron saint

Celebrating their patron saint

I remember it. If you’re green about the gills this morning I admire your patriotic fervor but perhaps you should take it easy next year, eh?

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Tax the rich, hurt the working man

 

No rich folk here!

No rich folk here!

Article in this morning’s WSJ recounts the post-war “cabaret tax” that imposed a 30% surcharge on dancing and singing. It was, Congress insisted, a tax on the rich but instead it killed the big bands, well known and local alike, threw thousands of musicians out of work and killed an entire genre of music. The exact result came about in the 80s, when a “luxury tax” was levied on yachts. It was supposed to punish the rich and again, it raised no revenue (the rich merely changed toys or had their boats built overseas) but did manage to shut down small boat builders from Florida to Maine.

There’s no longer a cabaret tax, nor a luxury tax (a federal luxury tax – some states like Massachusetts still have one, which explains why John Kerry moors his yacht in Rhode Island) but the big bands are gone and the shipyards remain shuttered. Undeterred, congress is busy dreaming up still more ways to use the tax code to punish the wealthy. As Obama says, “it’s not about revenue, it’s about fairness.” How striking at the middle class workers who earn their living producing and selling luxury goods advances Obama’s concept of fairness is unclear, but never mind, it’s the narrative that counts – just ask Dollar Bill.

Of course, if Obama really wants to hit some of the wealthiest Americans, he could always repeal the Hollywood tax cut, but then who would host his fund raisers?

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No $50 million music hall, yet these kids still want to go there.

Stuyvesant High puts on a show

Stuyvesant High puts on a show

Stuyvesant High, where admission is determined solely on academic ability, announces its incoming freshman class:

Kay Hymovitz points to the demographic breakdownof the entering freshman class at Stuyvesant High School. Stuyvesant is one of New York’s specialized public high schools where entrance is determined solely by Specialized High School Admission Test scores:

Stuyvesant offered admission to 9 black students; 24 Latino students; 177 white students; and 620 students who identify as Asian.

It’s possible that the “white” numbers are down somewhat because in NYC’s increasingly “rich man, poor man” society with no middle class, the wealthy whites may ship their progeny off to private school. Still, the discrepancy between races is interesting and someone might want to look into why one culture is doing so much better at inculcating a determination to excel in its youngsters (hint: it probably doesn’t emphasize expensive sneakers, video games and pills from mom’s medicine cabinet).

And while it’s the racial composition that’s drawing the media’s attention: nothing scarier than to see the faces of those who are eating the lunch of the children of us white folks, of more local interest is that, although Stuyvesant has a curriculum rich in humanities (and check the link to see what a real school looks like), does anyone really think the draw is its auditorium? Instead of another MISA committee, maybe our BOE should form a committee to travel to lower Manhattan and learn how quality education is done. And then bring some ideas back home.

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