Daily Archives: September 10, 2013

Moving day?

Round Hill deportees

Round Hill deportees

Ten new listings priced at $9 million and above have been added to the market in the past thirty days, joining thirty-nine homes already there. Only five in that range have sold thus far this year, but obviously the revival of the $1-$3.5 market has convinced some people that their time has come.

They may be wrong.


Filed under Back Country, Belle Haven, Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, pricing

Accepted offer in Havemeyer

33 MacCarthur Drive: roof, chimney and driveway included!

33 MacCarthur Drive: roof, chimney and driveway included!

33 MacCarthur Drive, $1.1 million, gone in 7 days. The owner paid $905,000 for it in 2008 and clearly put some money in it, but not so much as to prevent her from making some money on this project (she’s a real estate agent, so commission costs will be reduced). I might quibble with the use of the term “understated elegance” for a home in Havemeyer – I prefer “elegant without being overly ostentatious” myself-and I’d point out that, at a million-bucks plus, people probably expect to find that the “master bedroom suit has a full bath”, but all that really counts is whether she priced this right, and she obviously did.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Old Greenwich, pricing

Well duh

Bryan Preston: Putin pulls the football away, again

Russia is not keen at this stage for a binding U.N. Security Council resolution that would provide a framework to control Syria’s chemical weapons’ stocks, France’s foreign minister said after talks with his Russian counterpart on Tuesday.

“As I understood, the Russians at this stage were not necessarily enthusiastic, and I’m using euphemism, to put all that into the framework of a U.N. binding resolution,” Laurent Fabius told French lawmakers after a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Obama is being played. The Russian deal forced him to change course and re-write tonight’s speech at the last minute. Now he has to re-write it again, or pretend that the Russians didn’t just drop a flaming bag of something on the White House doorstep. It will be grimly amusing to see what Obama tells the American people about all this now. The words “fiasco” and “clusterf*ck” have been said by others today. He won’t use either word, but that doesn’t mean both don’t apply.

Harry Reid pretended that the Russia deal drove him to halt a vote on force in the Senate. The reality is that Democrat votes for force were “dropping like flies,” and the prospect of passage in the House was always grim. Obama lost the Congressional Black Caucus today. Sen. Mitch McConnell came out against bombing today, breaking with the House GOP leaders who had supported it, and probably killing off any chance that the Senate would help Obama out by at least giving him a split vote in Congress. The likelihood now is that he gets rejected by both houses with actual “No” votes or implicitly if neither brings the authorization to a vote, and then has to decide if he wants to strike Syria anyway. Does Barry feel lucky?

So Obama is being played by Putin. The question is, does he know or even care that he’s being played? He seemed happy enough to grab Putin’s hand and get out of his jam. Now what’s he going to do? Putin is saying that there will be no quick fix, and that he intends to keep on using the UN to mess around with Obama, promise him a prize, then take it away, over and over again. Playing the part of Lucy, Vlad Putin. Playing the part of Charlie Brown trying to kick a football, Barack Obama. For a while to come.

And here’s some rare footage of our two Harvard Ivy League grads, Barry and Kerry, confronting Vladimir: in the movie, Vladimir is sent on his way – in real life, our own smart guys would slip him five bucks and ask him for investment advice.


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Which is why liberals like Robert F. Kennedy oppose it

Enemy of the people

Enemy of the people

Fracking added $1,200 to each American household’s spending power last year .

From today’s Wall Street Journal:

Last week we reported on a study showing that the U.S. oil and natural gas revolution may be the country’s best antipoverty program, and the evidence keeps coming. A new report from IHS Global Insight estimates that fracking added the equivalent of a cool $1,200 to real household disposable income on average in 2012.

Lower costs for raw materials were passed on to consumers via lower home heating and electricity bills and lower prices for other goods and services. Wages also increased from a surge in industrial activity. On present trend, IHS predicts that unconventional oil and gas will contribute more than $2,000 a year by 2015 and $3,500 by 2025.

Overall the industry lifted economic growth by $283 billion last year—$533 billion in 2025—and was responsible, ahem, for $74 billion in federal and state tax payments. The politicians should be doing cartwheels that the figure will rise to $138 billion in 2025.

IHS’s particular focus is on what the study calls a growing manufacturing renaissance aided by the boom in affordable energy. It’s a classic American story of innovation, human ingenuity, risk-taking and capital investment, not subsidies or the 47 federal job-training programs. The irony Washington will never appreciate is that fracking has done more for the less fortunate in the Obama years that all of its ministrations combined.

Oh, they realize it, I think, and they know it threatens their power over the Americans they rule.


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

New Riverside listing and 122 Round Hill Road

7 Hearthstone Drive (representative)

7 Hearthstone Drive (representative)

Tim O’Malley, a Riverside resident who builds very fine homes has listed 7 Hearthstone Drive for $3.795 ,million; he’ll probably get it. Pictures aren’t up as of this writing but it looks great on the outside and the listing sheet shows all the requirements of a new house today, including a nanny room in the basement. Not much of a yard on this 0.3 acre but these days, buyers don’t care.

Tim played this one pretty smart: he bought the parcel for $1.315 in the slow market of 2008, tore down the exiting house to save on taxes and then let the land lie fallow until the market picked up. Earlier this year he obviously decided that that time had come and commenced building. And now it’s done.

122 Round Hill Road

122 Round Hill Road

I did have a chance to see 122 Round Hill Road today, the $16 million, 1923 house that still has 17 of its original 140 acres. The house is fabulous, but needs everything: air conditioning, new wiring, a master bedroom suite, new bathrooms, windows and on and on. But the bones are there, and someone could pour money into this and end up with a spectacular home.

That, alas, is probably not going to happen. I asked another agent, a friend with 40 years in this business and who loves old houses as much as I do, what he estimated it would cost to completely redo: Five million? Nine? “It doesn’t matter,” he said, “this house will never survive – there’s no market for these any more”. I think he’s right, and that’s too bad. Time marches on.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Riverside, spec houses

Greenwich Firemens’ union contract: brace yourself, Bridget

Forget your wallet, the Fahrenheit 451 crowd wants to burn your house

Forget your wallet, the Fahrenheit 451 crowd wants to burn your house

Just in time to ruin my day, reader and Greenwich resident Lucia Jansen sends along the following:

…I  sit on the RTM on the Budget Overview Committee and created this analysis of an upcoming Greenwich firefighter contract to be voted Monday night at the RTM.  Like pigs going to slaughter the RTM Finance and Labor Contracts committees voted to support the contract—with the same tired, party line “because we can’t win in arbitration.”  The finance committee vote was 10-1-0…one member wasn’t there (Erf Porter, II) but surely he would be supporting the contract as he always does.  The Labor Contracts committee (with Joan) was 5-0-0.

Anyway, I thought you would enjoy reading the analysis.  The spreadsheet was done recently with the numbers plugged in with the deal Tesei and Caldwell negotiated.  Please note, that in the Explano’s to the RTM Tesei was clever and didn’t put in the full pension cost, but only the “normal” cost and excluded the unfunded liability…..as if the taxpayer isn’t on the hook for it all.  My spreadsheet shows the true cost of the contract—an increase of 14.60% costing the taxpayer over 3 years $48,851,218.  Note, the pension cost increase of 64.99% over a mere 3 years.

Read it and weep.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 2.36.12 PM

Here’s the contract

And here’s Jansen’s analysis.


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

It’s a mutual suicide pact only if we want to join


While China and India cheer

While China and India cheer

EU commissioners warn that energy costs are crushing European manufacturing.

“We face a systemic industrial massacre,” said Antonio Tajani, the European industry commissioner.

Mr Tajani warned that Europe’s quixotic dash for renewables was pushing electricity costs to untenable levels, leaving Europe struggling to compete as America’s shale revolution cuts US natural gas prices by 80pc.

“I am in favour of a green agenda, but we can’t be religious about this. We need a new energy policy. We have to stop pretending, because we can’t sacrifice Europe’s industry for climate goals that are not realistic, and are not being enforced worldwide,” he told The Daily Telegraphduring the Ambrosetti forum of global policy-makers at Lake Como.

“The loss of competitiveness is frightening,” said Paulo Savona, head of Italy’s Fondo Interbancario. “When people choose whether to invest in Europe or the US, what they think about most is the cost of energy.”

A report by the American Chemistry Council said shale gas has given the US a “profound and sustained competitive advantage” in chemicals, plastics, and related industries. Consultants IHS also expect US chemical output to double by 2020, while Europe’s output will have fallen by a third. IHS said $250bn (£160bn) in extra US manufacturing will be added by shale in the next six years.

European president Herman Van Rompuy echoed the growing sense of alarm, calling it a top EU priority to slash energy costs. “Compared to US competitors, European industry pays today twice as much for electricity, and four times as much for gas. Our companies don’t get the rewards for being more efficient,” he said.


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Coming our way

What happens when public officials buy current labor peace by promising things that someone else is supposed to deliver down the road? Nothing good.

California pension payouts have doubled in 14 years 

The average retirement payout for new retirees in California’s biggest public pension system doubled between 1999 and 2012, according to CalPERS data, and initial monthly payments for one group nearly tripled in that period.

State and local cops and firefighters benefited the most.

In the 14 years covered by the data analyzed by The Sacramento Bee, average first-month pensions to state police and firefighters went from $1,770 to $4,978. California Highway Patrol officers’ first-month retirement payments doubled from $3,633 to $7,418, and local government safety employees’ pensions went from $3,296 to $6,867.

The figures from CalPERS’ internal annual reports, obtained by The Bee through a Public Records Act request, show how upgraded pension formulas that became fashionable during the late 1990s and early 2000s amplified the impact of pay raises to boost retirement allowances.

The findings also illustrate the slow-motion impact of pension changes, whether enhancements approved years ago or rollbacks launched this year.

“These numbers indicate the cost of benefits given away a decade ago are finally coming home to roost,” said Dan Pellissier, a pension-reform advocate who tried and failed to put a measure before voters last year to roll back pensions. “We’re finally having to pay the pension piper.”



Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Paul Santora Sr. dead at 91

Despite all the jibes thrown at Cos Cob’s people by the likes of Fudrucker and FWIW reader Cos Cobber, some incredible people live there. Here’s the obituary of Paul Santora – I knew of his masonry company growing up but never had the honor of meeting him, having to make do with knowing his son Paul and his grandchildren, great people all. To me, Mr. Santora’s life story could be that of many Americans of his era, but Cos Cob got him and the town was lucky it did.

Born the son of Mary Lodato Santora and Joseph Santora on June 20, 1922 in Carbondale, West Virginia, the son of a coal miner. During a unionized strike he and his family moved to Cos Cob Connecticut where he attended Cos Cob Elementary School. A child of the depression he left school early in order to contribute to the family’s ability to survive. He worked several jobs as a youth including employment with The Town Of Greenwich Recreation Board as a tennis court manager and Ice Rink Manager at Bruce Park. He spoke of his days during the depression with great humility and fondness for the camaraderie those hard time begat and for the closeness that developed with families and relatives helping each other. It was these times during which the cornerstone of his existence was born, the importance of family.

On December 15, 1942 he was inducted into the Army and served with distinction in the 100th Infantry division. He became one of the division’s few soldiers to attain the title of becoming a 100th Infantry Division Ranger; a forerunner to today’s elite special forces. During his time in combat he was promoted to platoon sergeant, turned down a battlefield commission when all the officers in his company had been killed or wounded. He was awarded two Bronze Stars, The French Croix de Guerre by Charles DeGualle, and the Silver Star, all for gallantry in the face of enemy fire. He declined receipt of a purple heart for minor wounds received in action for fear of worrying his family and out of respect for those who were seriously wounded or killed in action. At the very end of the war the last town captured by his division was Stuttgart, Germany. It was during the occupation thereof that he met the love of his life Ossi Guggenbuhl.

Despite his removal of her and her family from their residence, a boundless love grew in the summer of 1945 and they were married in Germany on August 22, 1945. He was discharged from the service in February of 1946 and he and his bride came to the United States in that summer. After completing his carpentry and masonry trade apprenticeship he attended trade school, and went on to start Paul J Santora and Sons Masonry and Building Company in 1947.
He had an endless love for family, a passion for sports, gardening and gourmet food.

He worked hard to purchase enough land around him to insure that each of his children would have a house surrounding him. All of his accomplishments were shared by the love his life and partner Ossi. He always said together they were an unbeatable team.


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Greenwich crime wave stopped, key arrest made

Cause and Effect?

Cause and Effect?

Holy, Cow, talk about breaking free from stereotypical moulds – the Pemberwick Slasher, an individual who’s been terrorizing the western territory for months with malicious keying of cars has been arrested and the perp is not what I, and probably everyone else following the story assumed, a pimply faced teen with separation issues, but local resident 73-year-old Janina Slomiana, of 120 Pemberwick Road.

My apologies to young hoodlums everywhere.


Filed under Right wing nut rantings

Here’s a kickstart program we all can support

(Thanks, Chris R)


Filed under Right wing nut rantings