Monthly Archives: May 2013

Two sales prices reported

3 Ashton Drive, 108 Hillcrest Park.

3 ashton3 Ashton sold for $6.875 million. That’s a lot of money, but not the $11.750 million the owner was asking 657 days ago. A house not to everyone’s taste, but it only takes one.

108 Hillcrest108 Hillcrest sold for $1.150. 1970s construction but nicely renovated. For this amount, what’s not to like?

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Accepted offer and the return of a native

2 Horseshoe

2 Horseshoe

2 Horseshoe Road, Cos Cob, asking $1.385 million, has a buyer. I liked this house and thought it was a good value. Two different sets of clients looked at it, saw its value but declined to bid, but that was because its site didn’t serve their requirements. It sits up high on rocks and overlooks ponds on two sides. Parents with young children get nervous about rock “cliffs” these days; in my time, we’d see them as a great opportunity for climbing but never mind – times change. The house itself was gutted down to the studs not long ago and pretty much completely rebuilt. Here’s a case where price really wasn’t as relevant as waiting for the right buyer. Listing agent Tom Broadhurst did a good job pricing it to begin with (that just means I agreed with him, but heck …).

11 Loughlin Ave

7 Loughlin Ave

7 Loughlin Avenue, also in Cos Cob, is back after reporting an accepted offer a few weeks ago. The sellers made two mistakes, I think, when first listing it in January; one was pricing it at $1.750 million, the other was demanding that a pre-qualification letter from an approved lender be presented before the potential buyer could even enter to look at it. I don’t know whether they corrected that second error; I wouldn’t go near it, but I give them credit for recognizing that their price was too high and rapidly correcting it, taking large price cuts repeatedly until they hit $1.195 and finding, or so it seemed, a buyer.

I don’t know what went wrong here, and there are so many reasons a deal can fall through that it’s unfair to speculate, but the house is right on Loughlin Park and an easy walk to the train or what passes for the Cos Cob shopping district – seems like a decent value, today.

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So a little more real estate news

Gotta get me one of them hermes ties!

Gotta get me one of them Hermy’s ties!

Aside from the BOE’s threatened destruction of Riverside property values, there’s no significant real estate activity reported today, so far, but I was intrigued by a message sent to my peers about the result of a raffle conducted at an “exclusive” broker open house yesterday up in Conyers Farm. The house is not listed on the MLS and is priced at $10 million – not a price that’s going to attract many buyers for a home so close to Banksville. Instead of slashing its price or – gasp!- placing it on the MLS, the owner and his broker tried luring agents up to an open house by offering prizes. I didn’t go, because I have no $10 million clients (though if you’d like to change that, feel free to call). Here’s what persuaded 60 real estate agents to drive 40 miles north – I won’t say they were bought cheaply, just that there must be some bored people out there looking for something to fill their day:

FREDERIC FEKKAI –   CUT AND BLOW DRY

APPLE I PAD MINI

DINNER FOR 2 AT  THE HOMESTEAD

HERMES TIE

SUBSCRIPTION TO 5 HEARST MAGAZINES [Second prize, 10 subscriptions and a recycling bin – Ed]

BOTTLE OF LA CREMA CHARDONNAY

BOTTLE OF PINOT NOIR

BOTTLE OF ROSE –

GOURMET GIFT BASKET

SILK COAT AND NECKLACE FROM  “PINKY”

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As long as we’re dumping on the school board …

I’ve been receiving messages about the absolutely awful science curriculum that’s been introduced and imposed on our kids. If it’s as bad as these writers say (and several have expressed the hope that we could interest Brian Peldunas, the man who rid the curriculum of “Every Day Math”, in getting involved in all science education, instead of just math), it’d be a shame to let the issue get lost in the massive battle gearing up against busing.

Maybe after the busing meeting on D-Day.

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School Board feeling the heat

Under the subject heading, “Misinformation on your blog”, I have just received the following email:

Mr. Fountain,

The information on your blog is incorrect.

You have picked up a sample redistricting map from a 2007 study, used as part of a Board report/discussion back in December referencing the last look at redistricting in the district. This was part of a larger discussion on options for addressing racial imbalance and enrollment issues. It is NOT a proposed redistricting plan.

The Board will be receiving information about possible options for addressing the facility utilization and racial imbalance issues facing the District at it’s June 6th meeting. These options, redistricting among them, will be discussed over the next several months and into the Fall before the Board adopts any plans.

I invite you to attend the Public Forum on this topic tomorrow night at Central Middle School at 7pm and/or as a Relator in Town, to the Realtors Meeting at Greenwich High School on Friday (the topic on Friday will be the high school, but we will touch on the District enrollment issues as well and have offered the GAR to hold a another meeting dedicated to the topic).

Additionally, you can obtain updated, accurate information on the GPS web site, here:http://www.greenwichschools.org/page.cfm?p=10833

We appreciate any efforts you can give at clarifying this for the community on your blog.
Regards,
Kim Eves
Director of Communications
Greenwich Public Schools
290 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT, 06830

Why am I not impressed? Because Ms. Eve’s own communication is itself misleading or at best, incomplete. Here are my questions:

Explain why the document containing the 2007 busing map is dated January 28, 2013. I didn’t “pick it up”, you included it in an official release from the BOE announcing a public hearing on “redistricting”, this week.

Explain these illustrations from that January 28, 2013 BOE document:

What does “Full or partial redistricting” mean?

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Improve Racial Balance - compatible with no busing?

Improve Racial Balance – compatible with no busing?

What’s involved in “Improving racial balance”?

Do you see busing included in “unacceptable means” of achieving racial balance? Neither do I.

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Time to change

Why on earth has Greenwich ceded half the governing power of this town to Democrats and Republicans, who represent a quarter and a third of registered voters, respectively, when the majority are unaffiliated? The set up now is that the Board of Estimate and Taxation (all spending) and the Board of Education are composed solely of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, with no representation of unaffiliated citizens. This is not strictly true, always: the two parties nominate exactly the number of candidates allocated their side and count on voter ignorance and apathy to ensure their election. An independent party could be established and run its own slate of candidates and who knows? Given enough publicity and a hot issue, those people might win.

If ever there was a chance for that happening, our current spate of bad budgeting and now, busing, ought to serve as the necessary catalyst.

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God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board. Mark Twain

Greenwich BOE assembles

Greenwich BOE assembles

Two commenters have supplied notice of a school board busing public forum tomorrow night Central Middle School. Here:

FYI – on the website- the public forum is:
05-30
Public Forum: Facilty Utilization & Racial Balance
7:00 PM
Central Middle School

Not sure why it is not mentioned in above notice.
Everyone should go tomorrow!

In addition, you may want to file a comment with the school board here.

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Poor Riverside: losing its schools and gaining J House

J House disco - fun for all ages!

J House disco – fun for all ages!

Two friends (Fly Angler, Pal Nancy, thank you), have sent along this NYT review of J-House. The critic is, er, critical.

The review apparently missed the bar scene, which includes amorous couples fornicating in every semi-secluded spot in the neighborhood, from the ATM kiosk across the street to the driveways of private homes and even the parking lot of a tire store (WTF?). The roar of I-95, literally 25′ away, gets only passing mention, but I’m delighted to see that she draws our attention to the heated toilet seats. Like her, the immediate image to comes to mind is that of a pair of fat buttocks vacating the room just before the next occupant. Ugh.

In keeping with the hotel’s penchant for gadgets, the toilet-bidet combo had more buttons and functions than a clock radio. A heated seat gave the unnerving impression it had recently been occupied, while the motion-sensing lid had a life of its own, automatically opening when someone walked by. Oddly, the most basic necessity, toilet paper, was absent when we checked in, requiring a request to the front desk. On the plus side, there were L’Occitane products and attractive Kohler fixtures.

Dining

The hotel’s stylish restaurant, Eleven14 Kitchen, serves New American food often accompanied by the now-familiar buzz words like “gluten-free” and “organic,” and high prices (the most affordable breakfast option: a bagel with herb cream cheese at $9). The dinner menu includes pastas, salads and surf-and-turf entrees like organic salmon and rainbow chard ($24) and an excellent burger with Amish Cheddar ($22). Service was problematic: one server couldn’t answer basic questions about the wine list (dry or sweet); water arrived in badly cracked glasses. Room service, which will deliver poolside, is available only from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Bottom Line

Despite J House’s sometimes baffling idiosyncrasies and hit-or-miss service, its relatively reasonable rates make it a good option for business travelers who prefer their hotels with a bit of personality.

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Dick Blumenthal: Public education, like taxes, are for the little people

Stolen ValorThe (completely erroneous) interpretation of the Supreme Court decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (2007),   barring school redistricting on account of race, an interpretation being used by our school board to justify its plans to bus children around town, was provided by local resident Dick Blumenthal while he was Democrat Attorney General. You’ll hardly be surprised that Mr. Blumenthal sends his own children to private school: in fact, one of his daughters was this year’s valedictorian at Greenwich Academy. That’s a credit to her, although it is not unfair to speculate how she’d have performed at Hamilton Avenue, but certainly not any tribute to her duplicitous, hypocritical father.

Blumenthal is a man who lied about serving in Viet Nam, and even about such a trivial thing as being a member of the Harvard varsity swim team. We should destroy entire neighborhoods based on what he says is the true holding of the Parents Involved case? Better that our board sends him a speedo and a Viet Nam Veterans cap, thanks him for his advice, and forgets that he ever intruded on this matter.

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Contact information for Greenwich School Board Members

Many of these people are quitting, doubtless because they fear facing the consequences of their Music Hall fiasco and their upcoming decision to screw Riverside (and don’t believe for a second that your own neighborhood is exempt from this social engineering: when busing Riverside children to Byram fails to raise the educational performance of their new peers, the levelers’ efforts will metastasize into yours).  But for now, here’s the Town of Greenwich’s list.

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June 6th, Board of Education will reveal its plans for block busting

Come and learn what your “elected” (in fact, under our charter, the Democrat and Republican party leadership effectively appoint theses people) have in store for you.

BACKGROUND

In June 2012, the Greenwich Public Schools were cited by the CT State Board of Education for Racial Imbalance in two schools – Hamilton Avenue School (HAS) and New Lebanon School (NLS). As defined by State Statute (10-226e), schools are cited for racial imbalance when the percentage of the minority population in a given school is 25% points more or less than the average for the comparable schools in the District.

In January 2013, the Board of Education directed the Superintendent to develop a plan to address facility utilization and racial balance issues in the District.Over the last few months an extensive enrollment and demographic data analysis has been conducted. The Board of Education and the Greenwich community will be presented with the historical background, existing conditions and a definition of the problem at the May 23, 2013 Board of Education (BOE) meeting. A second presentation at the BOE June 6, 2013 meeting will explore possible options for addressing the facility utilization and racial balance issues that exist today and are projected for the future. The Greenwich community is encouraged to provide feedback through various (OPORTUNIDADES PARA COMENTARIO PÚBLICO)

Le recomendamos que envíe comentarios y sugerencias con respecto a la utilización de las instalaciones y las cuestiones sobre el equilibrio racial que enfrentan las Escuelas Públicas de Greenwich. Puede hacerlo en persona en cualquiera de los foros públicos o audiencias o enviar sus comentarios utilizando esta oportunidad de Comentarios Públicos en línea.

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Well this should kill the Riverside boom

The new “proposed” school board redistricting plan will send half of Riverside’s school kids to New Lebanon elementary in Byram. This to achieve “racial balance” from east to west. Still want to split the BOE seats equally between Republicans and Democrats?

Scroll down to pages beginning at 53 to get to the two options. Both will cut Riverside in half and send everyone west of Indian Head Road all the way to the Port Chester border. Don’t gloat: when property values drop top nothing in Riverside  the Grand List will drop in half and we’ll all pay the price in higher taxes to make up the shortfall. Vote Democratic? Only if you hate your children and love poverty.

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Makes sense

 

Home sweet temporary home

Home sweet temporary home

Montauk residents renting out their homes and living in trailer parks for the summer. Hey, pay $18,000 in rent, collect $60,000, what’s not to like? I once came somewhat-seriously-close to doing that on Martha’s Vineyard, where a summer rental would more than cover a modest mortgage. Live on the island for ten months, flee during the summer when no one with any sense wants to be there anyway, and pocket the cash. Renting to strangers isn’t much fun, but at the right price ….

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Thank God for Darwin

North Carolina couple fly to Hawaii to undergo “dolphin assisted birth”

Adam Barrington, 29, and his pregnant wife Heather, 27, told the Charlotte Observer that the dolphin-assisted birth will bring ‘peace, comfort and strength’ to the mother and her baby during birth.

 

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Accepted offers, Riverside and Old Greenwich

A few readers have complained that I’ve been focusing on these two areas of town but it’s not I, it’s the market that’s doing it. In any event, here are two more accepted offers reported this morning.

10 Edgewater

10 Edgewater

10 Edgewater, purchased for $1.095 in 2004 and renovated in 2011, asked $1.745 million and has a buyer 27 days later. Listing says it didn’t flood during Sandy, but that’s not the issue: where does it sit in the new FEMA flood zone? If the buyers haven’t satisfied themselves on that yet, their lawyer will ask. If this reappears on the market in a week, we’ll know the answer. I have no personal knowledge of the FEMA reg’s on this street or this particular location, I just know that we’re in murky waters on the issue and so far, there hasn’t been much focus on the problem. That will change, rapidly.

65 Lockwood Lane

65 Lockwood Lane

65 Lockwood Lane (the portion that backs up to Eastern Middle School, not the I-95 section, asking $1.725, buyer in 35 days. A 1967 Murphy House (cheap), it was redone in 2009. It still looks like a Murphy house to me, and my own clients, who weren’t in town when Mr. Murphy was desecrating old, larger lots, weren’t impressed either, but as I pointed out earlier today, this is Riverside and in this market, I’m not surprised it’s found a buyer – what else is out there?

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A little real estate news

30 North Street has sold, $1.250 million. Not a bad deal, to my mind – building lot close to town, road noise be damned, but it did linger. Started at $1.595.

18 Grey Rock Drive

18 Grey Rock Drive

18 Grey Rock Drive not only sold, it sold in a price war: $800,000 sale price, $785,000 ask. Grey Rock’s a good street and it this price range, even in Glenville, demand is strong. Not surprising at all.

On the other hand, I’m a little surprised that 21 Weston Hill, Riverside, reports an accepted offer just 13 days after hitting the market. Listed at $1.539 million, it lasted 521 days last time it was listed before selling at $1.253. Some renovations, but a back lot with a shared driveway, minimal yard, and you have to walk around back to get to the front door. But this is Riverside, and these days …

8 Dempsey Lane, on the other hand, is not in Riverside, and after its last deal fell through no one else has stepped up. Today its price was dropped from $8.495 million to $7.995. Hurry on over.

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Then why run the article at all?

Greenwich Time: “Hospitals brace for Post Sandy Baby Boom” This is one of those “makes sense” theories – with no television to distract them, women temporarily recover from their headaches and turn to their husbands and boyfriends for entertainment, but it’s also not true, and has been thoroughly and regularly debunked, as the body of the Greenwich Time article admits.

Thus my question.

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This can’t end well

EU lifts arms embargo, will ship heavy weapons to Syrian rebels.

Lots of bad guys have been waiting for this, and despite the EU’s intention to give arms only to “good guys”,  these things tend to end up in the possession of whoever’s the most powerful. I think we’ll regret this. Russia certainly thinks so and, regardless of what we may think of that country’s leaders, they seem to have a more realistic view of what’s going on in the Middle East than, say, John McCain. Al-Qaeda awaits.

UPDATE: Oh goodie – Russia has responded by saying it will now ship anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian government, Israel says it will target them in return.   Obama says he’s ended all war by presidential dictate, so I guess everything will turn out right, but still I worry.

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The science is settled

Primitives demonstrate in Washington, Earth Day, 2013

Primitives celebrate Earth Day, 2013

Well no, of course it never is: plate tectonics comes to mind; but the global warmists insist that no new knowledge or contradictory data can be allowed to challenge the “settled science” of global warming (new since it replaced “global cooling, the settled science until 1983). Here’s some more settled science that has just been unsettled: The body’s immune system has another, heretofore unknown method of fighting disease.

It isn’t often that an entire field of medical science gets turned on its head. But it is becoming clear that immunology is undergoing a big rethink thanks to the discovery that antibodies, which combat viruses, work not just outside cells but inside them as well. The star of this new view is a protein molecule called TRIM21.

Until recently, the conventional wisdom was that the body fights off infection in two separate ways. First is the adaptive immune system, which works outside the cell. It generates antibodies to intercept specific invaders, locking onto them like a tracking missile and preventing them from entering the cell. A second line of defense, the innate immune system, operates within the cell; it is like an expansive air-defense network, blasting away at all invaders.

Three years ago work by Leo James, William McEwan and their colleagues at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge revealed that this understanding was incomplete. They found that the neutralization of adenoviruses (common viruses causing colds and other infections) by antibodies was happening mainly inside the cell, not outside, and by an unexpected mechanism.

Their announcement—a challenge to the entire field of immunology—elicited a predictable immune reaction of its own from the establishment. Sure enough, leading journals rejected the Cambridge group’s paper, sometimes without even reviewing it, while key funding agencies turned down the group’s grant applications.

Gradually, though, the authors have won the argument. New papers from the group have pinned down what is going on. They describe a potent detection mechanism that links the antibodies outside a cell with its innate immunity, somewhat dissolving the distinction between the two.

My point here is not that “everything’s relative, dude”, as is currently taught in our schools and believed by the products of that education, but rather, true science is based on demonstrable, repeatable facts. That’s in distinction to religion, which relies on faith. Global warming is based on faith, and anything that threatens that faith is denounced and rejected. Odd that western civilization is intent on committing economic suicide based on some quirky religion but it won’t be the first time in history that that’s happened.

UPDATE: Forbes: To the Horror of Global Warming Alarmists, Global Cooling is here. Lots of data, lots of scientists acknowledging the effect of solar activity or, in this case, the next cycle in that phenomenon: it’s stopped, and we’re heading back into a mini-ice age.

Global warming was never going to be the problem that the Lysenkoists who have brought down western science made it out to be. Human emissions of CO2 are only 4 to 5% of total global emissions, counting natural causes. Much was made of the total atmospheric concentration of CO2 exceeding 400 parts per million. But if you asked the daffy NBC correspondent who hysterically reported on that what portion of the atmosphere 400 parts per million is, she transparently wouldn’t be able to tell you. One percent of the atmosphere would be 10,000 parts per million. The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 deep in the geologic past were much, much greater than today, yet life survived, and we have no record of any of the catastrophes the hysterics have claimed. Maybe that is because the temperature impact of increased concentrations of CO2 declines logarithmically. That means there is a natural limit to how much increased CO2 can effectively warm the planet, which would be well before any of the supposed climate catastrophes the warming hysterics have tried to use to shut down capitalist prosperity.

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Fox Butterfield, is that you?

They seriously thought they could buy me for that little? It is to laugh!

They seriously thought they could buy me for that little? It is to laugh.

“Despite corruption, campaign reform encounters difficulty.”

They like it that way, dummy.

HARTFORD — Even as a recent influence-peddling trial laid bare the hold that money has over Connecticut politics and policy-making, state lawmakers have proposed bills to make it easier for candidates to get cash.

The changes chip away at campaign finance reforms passed into law in 2005 to combat the kind of corruption recently exposed during the trial of Robert Braddock Jr., former finance director for Democratic ex-state House Speaker Chris Donovan’s 2012 congressional bid.

Those involved testified they considered state politicians “whores” who could be bought with fat checks signed by false donors and envelopes filled with cash left in office refrigerators.

But even as the trial was taking place, some legislators were trying to find creative ways to legally funnel more money into their campaign coffers.

*Mr. Butterfield, NYT:

Butterfield is the eponym for “The Butterfield Effect”, used to refer to a person who “makes a statement that is ludicrous on its face, yet it reveals what the speaker truly believes,” especially if expressing a supposed paradox when a causal relationship should be obvious.[6] The particular article that sparked this was titled “More Inmates, Despite Drop In Crime” by Butterfield in the New York Times on Nov. 8, 2004.

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