Daily Archives: August 28, 2013

Finally, a house I’d gladly pay $7.5 million for (well, I’d certainly negotiate a bit)

Moon Ranch

Moon Ranch

Steve McQueens’s Idaho ranch

Pioneer Moon Ranch – New Listing


Once owned by legendary Hollywood actor Steve McQueen, the 500± acre Pioneer Moon Ranch lies at the foot of the Pioneer Mountains surrounded by breathtaking beauty 25 minutes from downtown Ketchum and the famous Sun Valley Resort. The ranch is defined by the East Fork of the Big Wood River, an intimate freestone stream which flows the length of the property for a mile and a half through open meadows dotted with colorful wildflowers, vigorous stands of willow and aspen, and 150± acres of rich irrigated bottomland pasture. The East Fork and its lush riparian corridor support an array of wildlife, including moose, deer, elk, and a wild rainbow trout fishery. The ranch adjoins the Sawtooth National Forest and federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is immediately accessible to miles of hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing.

The beautifully maintained residential compound is located between two branches of the East Fork to maximize privacy and comfort. The compound features a classic 1,625± sq. ft., two-story log home with covered porches that was built in 1990 and remodeled in 1999 and 2010, and a 1,542± sq. ft. log annex constructed in 2010 with an adjoining 1,728± sq. ft. garage.


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Waiting for Corey

Waiting for Corey

On a day where Democrats did everything from comparing Martin Luther King to Jesus (that was President Obama, who feels qualified to assess the talents and divine nature of both of his lessers) to white guys saying MLK would be a proud supporter of gay marriage and illegal immigrants, I’m grateful to Breitbart for finding Dr. King’s widow’s views on illegal aliens: she was against them

In a 1991 letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Coretta Scott King and other black community leaders argued that illegal immigration would have a devastating impact on the black community. At the time, Hatch was working his U.S. Senate position to undo some enforcement measures laid out in Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty agreement, attempting to weaken interior enforcement and sanctions against employers who hired illegal aliens.

We, the undersigned members of the Black Leadership Forum, write to urge you to postpone introduction of your employer sanctions repeal legislation until we have had an opportunity to report to you what we believe to be the devastating impact the repeal would have on the economic condition of un- and semi-skilled workers—a disproportionate number of whom are African-American and Hispanic; and until we have had the opportunity to propose to you and to our Hispanic brothers and sisters, what we believe could be a number of effective means of eliminating the discrimination occasioned by employer sanctions, without losing the protection sanctions provide for U.S. workers, especially minority workers.

The black leaders wrote that they feared lack of interior immigration enforcement would lead to future illegal immigration, and the hiring of those illegal immigrants into jobs that could be occupied by black and Hispanic American citizens.

“We are concerned, Senator Hatch, that your proposed remedy to the employer sanctions-based discrimination, namely, the elimination of employer sanctions, will cause another problem–the revival of the pre-1986 discrimination against black and brown U.S. and documented workers, in favor of cheap labor–the undocumented workers,” they wrote. “This would undoubtedly exacerbate an already severe economic crisis in communities where there are large numbers of new immigrants.”

Coretta Scott King and the other black leaders added that they were “concerned that some who support the repeal of employer sanctions are using ‘discrimination’ as a guise for their desire to abuse undocumented workers and to introduce cheap labor into the U.S. workforce.”


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Brother Gideon awakes

Sotheby's agents apply at HoulHoulihan Lawrence

Sotheby’s agents apply at Houlihan Lawrence

Gideon seemed to have quit blogging a while back and so as his older brother I felt it necessary to punish him by delisting him over there on the blog roll. It wasn’t that, of course, that inspired him to suddenly post again, but rather news of Houlihan and Whatstheirface coming into town and raiding some of the most successful agents. 

Gideon observes that for agents, it really doesn’t matter where we work, so why bother switching firms? He mentions “better advertising of listings” but as far as I’m concerned that’s a shuck: houses are brought to buyers’ attention on the internet these days, and the large, full-page spreads in Greenwich Time are there to promote the brokerage firm, not the house, and to boost the homeowner’s flagging spirits – so much easier than telling the poor chump his house isn’t selling because it’s overpriced.

But table hopping is part of the fabric of real estate agency life, and it’s how we agents can extract a higher percentage of the take, so I’m all for it. Too bad I’m too toxic to be so recruited, but that’s a very small, and quite acceptable price for my independence and freedom from the bureaucracy of these large firms.


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Lowest common denominator

Anon$anon sends this photo that’s on the Internet today: So what do these men have in common? Martin Luther King rose above a viciously segregated society, earned a doctorate of divinity, defied racists, was beaten and jailed for his beliefs and led a movement that resulted in the most profound social change in our country since the Civil War. Young Trayvon was a thief and a druggie who, while on suspension from high school for both activities, became embroiled in a conflict with a Hispanic and was shot for his troubles. He accomplished nothing of significance while he lived and almost certainly would have maintained that record of failure had he extended his stay on this mortal coil. What did they have in common? Oh yeah, they were both black.

To compare the two is not to honor the late, unlamented Trayvon, it’s to disrespect Dr. King.

Trayvon and Martin

Trayvon and Martin


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It’s not Round Hill, but it will have to do

577 Round Hill Rd

577 Round Hill Rd

Greenwich’s Raj Rajaratnam has temporarily (about 11 years) moved abodes from 577 Round Hill Road (purchased in 2000 for $7.5 million) to Ayer, Massachusetts, but apparently things aren’t as uncomfortable there as you may have feared.  I know I’m relieved.

Fat-cat financial felon Raj Rajaratnam is kickin’ it big in the Big House — with a personal “manservant” at his beck and call, a prison insider tells me.

“He’s reigning like a king,” said the source of Rajaratnam’s new digs at the Federal Medical Center Devens, in Ayer, Mass., where he’ll spend the next 11 years on an insider-trading conviction.

“He’s doing his time in the lap of luxury compared to the other inmates.”

What’s more, the source tells me, Raj “has a very delightful guy doing all sorts of stuff for him — sort of like a ‘manservant.’ When Raj needs something, this guy gets if for him.”

The manservant is a “gentle giant,” an American Samoan named Eddie, whose main job in the P3 unit is to push wheelchair-bound prisoners. He got himself transferred to P3 after befriending Raj, according to the snitch.

“He became enamored of Raj, and Raj started talking about how much he once paid his chauffeurs. Now Eddie wants to be Raj’s driver when he gets out,” the insider told me.

He even cooks for Rajaratnam using a nearby microwave when the fallen financier doesn’t want to hoof it to the dining hall.

P3 residents have private toilets, a shared balcony for sunning themselves, televisions and adjustable beds. The doors aren’t locked — but neither are they in most of the buildings at the Devens facility, according to my source.

UPDATE: Forbes columnist offers a different perspective. No one I know who’s ever been a prisoner (including myself, when as a 16-year-old cross-country hitch hiker I spend four days as a guest of the government in the San Luis Obispo County Jail) would confuse jail for freedom, regardless of amenities like a microwave oven and a private toilet (neither of which were provided in my accommodations, damn it).  I’m sure Raj is no exception.


Filed under Back Country, Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

The scary part is Glenn Reynold’s comment at the end – I’m beginning to believe it myself

I'll always have the Jewish vote

I still have Manhattan 

From InstaPundit:


Talk about a cry for help. The Saudis have apparently judged President Obama to be rudderless in his Middle East policies, judging by their recent diplomatic moves toward Russia: They appear to have plied Putin with a deal to collude in the global oil market, while also urging him to distance himself from Syria’s Butcher Assad.. . .

This is jaw-dropping stuff, to say the least. Nothing was signed in this closed-door meeting between Putin and Bandar—Putin requested time for both countries to look into the specifics of such a deal. But the mere fact that our allies felt like they needed to go this route signals that something is seriously awry in President Obama’s Middle East approach.

And from Reynolds: “Ya think? It’s almost as if Obama is trying to weaken our position internationally.”


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Hey Drew, read this!

There goes Fountain's vote, damn it

There goes Fountain’s vote, damn it

Reader Publius sends in this link to a study from Harvard (Harvard!) on guns and violence, “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?  The conclusion of the authors: it would not. This wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with Massachusetts’ own experience with strict gun laws which, enacted in 1998, were as severe as those just passed here in Connecticut and enacted with the same enthusiasm and hope for change. The reason proponents of Connecticut’s “common sense” laws maintained a deadly silence on the Massachusetts experiment was that those laws, while causing legal gun ownership to plummet, also saw murders almost double (65 in 1998, 122, 2011), armed robbery increase 20.7% and armed assaults rise 26.7%.

But enough about failed experiments of the past, what do these Harvard academics think now? Here are some excerpts:

So it would not appreciably raise violence if all law‐ abiding, responsible people had firearms because they are not the ones who rape, rob, or murder. By the same token, violent crime would not fall if guns were totally banned to civilians. As the respective examples of Luxembourg and Russia suggest individuals who commit violent crimes will either find guns despite severe controls or will find other weapons to use.

Startling as the foregoing may seem, it represents the cross‐national norm, not some bizarre departure from it. If the mantra “more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death” were true, broad based cross‐national comparisons should show that nations with higher gun ownership per capita consistently have more death. Nations with higher gun ownership rates, however, do not have higher murder or suicide rates than those with lower gun ownership. Indeed many high gun ownership nations have much lower murder rates. Consider, for example, the wide divergence in murder rates among Continental European nations with widely divergent gun ownership rates.

The non‐correlation between gun ownership and murder is reinforced by examination of statistics from larger numbers of nations across the developed world. Comparison of “homicide and suicide mortality data for thirty‐six nations (including the United States) for the period 1990–1995” to gun ownership levels showed “no significant (at the 5% level) association between gun ownership levels and the total homicide rate.” Consistent with this is a later European study of data from 21 nations in which “no significant correlations [of gun ownership levels] with total suicide or homicide rates were found.”


The “more guns equal more death” mantra seems plausible only when viewed through the rubric that murders mostly in‐ volve ordinary people who kill because they have access to a firearm when they get angry. If this were true, murder might well increase where people have ready access to firearms, but the available data provides no such correlation.

Thus both sides of the gun prohibition debate are likely wrong in viewing the availability of guns as a major factor in the incidence of murder in any particular society. Though many people may still cling to that belief, the historical, geographic, and demographic evidence explored in this Article provides a clear admonishment. Whether gun availability is viewed as a cause or as a mere coincidence, the long term macrocosmic evidence is that gun ownership spread widely throughout societies consistently correlates with stable or declining murder rates. Whether causative or not, the consistent international pattern is that more guns equal less murder and other violent crime. Even if one is inclined to think that gun availability is an important factor, the available international data cannot be squared with the mantra that more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death. Rather, if firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show that the way it matters is that more guns equal less violent crime. 


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Not so as I’ve noticed, yet – readers?

Greenwich residents undeposit from Putnam Trust

Greenwich residents undeposit from Putnam Trust

I have a message from a reporter up in Boston who’s writing a story on rising mortgage rates and wants a comment on how Greenwich real estate has been affected. I’m inclined to tell them that it hasn’t, but I have only the very small sample of my own clients from which to draw that conclusion. Anyone out there have personal experience in the matter?

My sanguine attitude is probably due to the 14.5% rate Pal Nancy and I paid for our first house in Maine back in 1981, and even that was lower than the market at the time because my new employer was legal counsel you the bank. Buyers used to 3.5% mortgages may be freaking out over the prospect of 4.5%; I don’t know, but although I’ve seen some buyers push to close a deal before rates go up again so far, none has backed out.

So I ask you.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, pricing

Mid country land is coming back fast

12 Flagler

12 Flagler

12 Flagler Drive, 2 acres, has an executed contract. It was listed at $2.7 million and went in just 15 days, so it’s a safe assumption that it will be selling for close to that asking price, at least.

21 Flagler

21 Flagler

This compares to the 2012 sale of 21 Flagler for $2.425 which, although it had a perfectly nice house on it, was valued and sold as land. In fact, I believe the house has already disappeared. 25 took forever to sell, but that’s because it started out at $3.5 in 2010, which was just silly.

25 Flagler

25 Flagler

And speaking of 2010, that’s when 25 Flagler sold, for $2.3. Another 2-acre lot. I’d say all three parcels were just about equal, although my personal preference was #21 – a bit of wetlands at its western border, but a fine yard all the same, and that 1930s house, a colonial reproduction, could have served as a most excellent house for a buyer with more modest taste. All that said, I’d guess that over the past three years we’ve witnessed a $400,000 increase in the price of a good mid country building lot.

487 North Street

487 North Street

The five acres at 487 North a client of ours bought late last year for $4.750 backs up to Flagler, and looks like a good deal today.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Contracts, Mid Country

Geeze, now NYC has fashion police


Stop, but no need to frisk 'em

Stop, but no need to frisk ’em

Cellphone thief collared when his saggy pants trip him up

Joel Donaldson, 21, allegedly punched his victim in the face before snatching her phone at around 2:30 p.m. at Court and Remsen streets, just steps from Borough Hall. He then tried to get away on foot, but didn’t get far.

His droopy blue jeans — which left his boxer shorts exposed — kept slipping down as he ran.

A cop who was directing traffic nearby spotted the bungling bad guy’s sorry sartorial situation and hurried after him.

Donaldson made it only about a block before his pants were completely around his ankles, allowing the officer to tackle him near Joralemon Street.

“He was zigzagging all over the place, but he couldn’t run because his pants was falling down,” witness Arlene Williams said.

“This cop saw it, and he went right after him.’’


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Of course, if Liberia would just replace bribes with affirmative action its universities could be every bit as good as ours

From California, “A Devastating Failure”

The Los Angeles Times recently published a devastating case study in the malign effects of academic racial preferences. The University of California, Berkeley, followed the diversocrat playbook to the letter in admitting Kashawn Campbell, a South Central Los Angeles high-school senior, in 2012: It disregarded his level of academic preparation, parked him in the black dorm — the “African American Theme Program” — and provided him with a black-studies course.

The results were thoroughly predictable. After his first semester, reports the Times:

[Kashawn] had barely passed an introductory science course. In College Writing 1A, his essays — pockmarked with misplaced words and odd phrases — were so weak that he would have to take the class again.

His writing often didn’t make sense. He struggled to comprehend the readings for [College Writing] and think critically about the text.

“It took awhile for him to understand there was a problem,” [his instructor] said. “He could not believe that he needed more skills. He would revise his papers and each time he would turn his work back in having complicated it. The paper would be full of words he thought were academic, writing the way he thought a college student should write, using big words he didn’t have command of.”

His grade-point average was 1.7, putting him at risk of expulsion if he didn’t raise it by the end of the year. The one bright spot in his academic record? Why, African American Studies 5A, of course! Kashawn had received an A on an essay and a B on a midterm, the best grades of his freshman year:

He tries to rally his spirits with heart-wrenching pathos: “‘I can do this! I can do this!’ he had written [in a diary]. ‘Let the studying begin! . . . It’s time for Kashawn’s Comeback!’”

A counselor in the campus psychologist’s office urged him to scale back his academic ambitions. “Maybe he didn’t have to be the straight-A kid he’d been in high school anymore,” the counselor advised him. This “be content with mediocrity” message is hardly a recipe for future success, but it sums up the attitude that many a struggling affirmative-action “beneficiary” has adopted to get through college.

The black-themed dorm and student center also operated exactly as one would expect, confirming their members’ belief in their own racial oppression:

“Sometimes we feel like we’re not wanted on campus,” Kashawn said, surrounded at a dinner table by several of his dorm mates, all of them nodding in agreement. “It’s usually subtle things, glances or not being invited to study groups. Little, constant aggressions.”

Of course, the only reason that Kashawn and many of his fellow dorm mates are at Berkeley is because the administration “wants” them so much, regardless of their chances of success. It is unlikely, however, that African American Studies 5A discussed the academic-achievement gap in Berkeley’s admissions between black, white, and Asian students. That gap, not racism, explains why Kashawn is not a sought-after addition to study groups. (Kashawn came to Berkeley through one of the University of California’s many desperate efforts to evade California’s ban on governmental racial preferences: an admissions guarantee for students in the top decile of their high school classes, regardless of their test scores or the caliber of their school.)

Kashawn is on tenterhooks waiting to learn if his second-semester grades will allow him to continue into sophomore year. Which course gave him an A–, to pull his GPA over the top? Hint: It wasn’t College Writing.

The LA Times article reports on the demoralizing effects this failure has on poor Kashawn; it doesn’t mention the effect affirmative-action has on blacks who don’t need or benefit from it, namely, the devaluing of their own success. When a black job applicant newly armed with a college diploma meets a potential employer, will he be met with the suspicion that he’s less qualified than an applicant of any other race? That’s a rhetorical question.


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McKersie: Greenwich schools aren’t so bad after all, eh?

We're better than them, at least

At least we’re better than them!

All 24,000 applicants – every single one of them – fail Liberian college’s entrance exam.

A generation of war is blamed; that and, for the first time, bribes were prohibited.

[Test administrator] Jallah told Voice of America that the test has not changed significantly since last year. He instead focused on making the students’ passage contingent on test scores alone — no bribes, pleas nor social connections would be entered into account. “There is a perception in our society largely that once you take the University of Liberia admission exam, if you do not pay money to someone, or if you do not have appropriate connections, you would not be placed on the results list,” he said. “So, the university has been grappling with how they could manage the process whereby people’s abilities would be truly measured on the basis of their performance on the examination.”

Don’t try this at Yale.

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