Daily Archives: January 23, 2014

He must have seen the movie

936full-trading-places-screenshotGypsy “barefoot beggar” in Scotland exposed as fraud when photographer catches him wearing, naturally, shoes.

This barefoot beggar has been exposed as a fraud after a photographer caught him wearing shoes shortly before taking them off and asking for money from passers-by.

The man was seen stepping down an alleyway with a female sidekick before going out into the open in Glasgow city centre to beg with no shoes on.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Marital difficulties? Head to England, and bring your wife.

Just havin' a word with the Missus so sod off, copper

Just havin’ a word with the Missus so sod off, copper

Bloomberg News reports that a London Morgan Stanley employee has received  a “life sentence” – really, just 16 years – for strangling his wife. The article mentioned a another banker who also strangled his wife, a Mr. Neil Ellerbeck, being sentenced to a mere eight years,  and I wondered about the discrepancy, so I looked him up, and my goodness – “eight years” means four!

Just four years after he killed his wife in a jealous rage, a millionaire banker is out of jail and back living with their two children at the family home where he strangled her.

Neil Ellerbeck, 49, has moved into the smart suburban house where he took his wife Kate’s life after she asked for a divorce.

Mr Ellerbeck, who earned £170,000 as HSBC’s global chief of investment, feared losing his two children, £650,000 home and £1.3million fortune in the break-up.

He lashed out after bugging her phone calls and reading her texts, discovering she had been having an affair with her son’s tennis coach [don’t they all?] as well as having ‘close friendships’ with a childhood sweetheart and a chef at the Ritz.

She received 43 separate injuries in the attack in November 2008, around 18 of which were on her face.

After his furious assault, Ellerbeck collected their ten-year-old daughter from a school entrance exam.

He later insisted his 46-year-old wife had been alive when he left her.

During his Old Bailey trial three years ago, it emerged he had been having an affair himself during the troubled 14-year marriage.

He was acquitted of murder but jailed for eight years for manslaughter after a jury accepted he did not intend to kill his wife.

Time spent in custody awaiting trial and his good behaviour means he served a total of four years behind bars.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Fish in a barrel

12 Baldwin Farms South

12 Baldwin Farms South

I know, I know, but Greenwich Time is really making it easy. Here’s their latest attempt to cover real estate news.

If your house is less than half the cost of others on your street, you shouldn’t have too much trouble selling it!

As a prime example, my “Sale of the Week” was also on Baldwin Farms at No. 12, selling for $5,125,000. A stone and shingle manor-style home of more than 9,000 square feet, this 2007 custom construction property was priced well and sold in 66 days at 97 percent of its $5,295,000 asking price. The pricing and marketing of this property was key to its very quick sale. Some unusual features of this home include a barreled ceiling in the kitchen, shown in the accompanying photo, with an open floor plan desired by today’s buyers for their lifestyles.

There are so many features of this home that evidence its high-quality construction and excellence in design. Just a peek at the luxury master bath (see photo), should convince you of that at a glance.

Add a pool and tennis court, if desired, on this parcel and you’ll increase the equity in this home pretty quickly into the $6 millions, especially as our market continues to improve.

Leaving aside the question of where, exactly, one might locate a pool and a tennis court on this property that’s fronted by swamp and backed up by a ledge cliff, overlooking the fact that this house was not “custom built” but was instead built on speculation, just like the developer’s other project next door, which was also lost to foreclosure, and ignoring the claim that this sale is just half that of other homes on the street (none have breached $6, in fact), my opinion of its merits differs substantially from that of GT’s expert. From last November 6, when I reported it under contract:

12 Baldwin Farms South, one of developer Jay Silver’s two failed projects here and currently asking $5.295 million, has finally found someone to make an acceptable offer.

Silver started off in 2007 asking $12.495 million, lost the place back to – who else? Patriot Bank in 2011, and left the scene, while Patriot tried, first, $7.499 (September ’11 Jim Campbell, broker; Jim’s on a losing streak) and various prices since then, culminating now with another broker and at what I’m sure they hope is near its final resting place. Perhaps the latest cut, from $5.700 to $5.295 will prove to be the trick, but I’d be astonished if the final sales price doesn’t begin with a four.

There wasn’t much to like about this house – certainly not at $12.5 or even $7.5 million, from its entrance via a stone causeway over the swamp that comprises its front yard, to the skimpy patch of yard in the rear (ignore the trick photography, it’s a handkerchief-sized back lawn), to the weird, sort-of-French-manor, formal  exterior, to the informal country kitchen look inside. I suspect a committee of architects deigned this place, with interference “input” from the developer. Whoever was responsible for the final result, they doomed it from ever achieving anything more than a fire-sale price.

So, is a price in the high-fours the right fire-sale? I suppose so – there’s a lot of house here, and it all seems to have been well made, exterior design notwithstanding. 2 1/2 acres, some of it useful, close to town, must be worth something, and I’m sure replacement cost for the house itself would be higher than this is selling for. Of course, if someone did replace this they could use a different architect, but hey – then you’d be paying more. There’s some very nice, livable space in here, so maybe you only arrive at night (leave the exterior lighting timer off).

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

With billion dollar deficits looming, this isn’t good news for Connecticut

 

Helpless taxpayer gets a scalping

Helpless taxpayer gets a scalping

Foxwoods is laying off croupiers as volume declines. No surprise, as there are now casinos built or in the design stage in the surrounding states, but politicians being what they are, I suspect our Hartford yahoos are “balancing” the books on projected revenues that will never materialize.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Which is why we seem to keep reelecting Tod Laudonia

Sore loser

Sore loser

No other qualifications that I can think of.

Wolcott tax collector Cheryl Brundage erases all data upon losing election. 

 

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Brackish water doesn’t freeze as quickly, children

Private school kids

Private school kids

Two kids fall through ice on Willowmere Pond in Riverside. Idiots ignored the warnings of the man who knows, Paul Palmer.

Willowmere Circle resident Paul Palmer, 89, said he warned the boys to get off the ice when he spied them walking around the pond. He said the boys ignored his warning.

“It’s beautiful ice skating when it’s right, but we’ve only had one night of real cold,” said Palmer, who is a former Sound Beach fire chief.

When he saw the boys fall into the pond, Palmer said he called 911.

“I knew something was going to happen, so I kept my eye on them,” he said.

Over the years, Palmer said he’s pulled numerous people and pets there who’ve fallen through thin ice.

“I’ve pulled four people out,” he said. “I pulled two boys out one day. I pulled my cousin out one day. You won’t believe how many dogs I’ve pulled out.”

Mr. Palmer is the class act of Riverside; always has been. Great guy.

UPDATE: Greenwich Patch adds this touch – when Paul Palmer warned them of their danger, they boys shouted at him to “mind your own business.” Nice kids. Parents? Send the kids over to thank Mr. Palmer and to apologize?

UPDATE II: What’s I tell you? The brats are Country Day students. I chose the illustration and supplied the caption based on a general suspicion but ….

26 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Long Meadow sale

56 Long Meadow Drive

56 Long Meadow Drive

56 Long Meadow Road, $1.212 . This sold in a bidding war ($995,000 asked) in 2004 for $1.111 million, and then hit the shoals of foreclosure.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 4.08.23 PM

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Weaponizing the IRS, the EPA, and government agencies in general

The NYT reports on a two-year-and counting IRS examination of a conservative Hollywood group. The group seeks the same status as its much larger liberal counterpart, “People for the American Way”. No problem for the latter, naturally.

A Freedom of Information demand, meanwhile, has resulted in a trove of E-mails between the EPA and opponents of the Keystone pipeline showing what is described as “a cozy relationship” between the agency and environmental groups. I‘d call it more than that.

In a USA Today column yesterday entitled “Government Conspiracy Theories aren’t Crazy”, law professor Glenn Reynolds points out the danger of this politicization of our government agencies – here’s an excerpt:

At a tax symposium at Pepperdine Law School last week, former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb was asked, “On a scale of 1-10 … how damaging is the current IRS scandal?”

His answer: 9.5. Other tax experts on the panel called it “awful,” and said that it has done “tremendous damage.”

I think that’s right. And I think that the damage extends well beyond the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, I think that the government agency suffering the most damage isn’t the IRS, but the National Security Agency. Because the NSA, even more than the IRS, depends on public trust. And now that the IRS has been revealed to be a political weapon, it’s much harder for people to have faith in the NSA.

As I warned President Obama back in 2009 after he “joked” about having his enemies audited, the IRS depends on trust:

Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system. Our income-tax system is based on voluntary compliance and honest reporting by citizens. It couldn’t possibly function if most people decided to cheat. Sure, the system is backed up by the dreaded IRS audit. But the threat is, while not exactly hollow, limited: The IRS can’t audit more than a tiny fraction of taxpayers. If Americans started acting like Italians, who famously see tax evasion as a national pastime, the system would collapse.

Since then, of course, the new “weaponized IRS” has, in fact, come to be seen as illegitimate by many more Americans. I suspect that, over time, this loss of moral legitimacy will cause many to base their tax strategies on what they think they can get away with, not on what they’re entitled to. And when they hear of someone being audited, many Americans will ask not “what did he do wrong?” but “who in government did he offend?”

This is particularly true since the Obama administration is currently changing IRS rules to muzzle Tea Partiers.

 

23 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Relax, if your grandfather had hidden a bomb in his diapers, they’d have nabbed him

 

Potty break!

Potty break!

LAX (how appropriate) security guards were either on snack breaks or ran away when gunman arrived and began shooting.

LOS ANGELES — Minutes before a gunman opened fire in a Los Angeles International Airport terminal last fall, killing a security screener and wounding three other people, the two armed officers assigned to the area left for breaks without informing a dispatcher as required.

As terrified travelers dived for cover, TSA officers — who are unarmed — fled the screening area without hitting a panic button or using a landline to call for help. It took a call from an airline contractor to a police dispatcher, who then alerted officers over the radio — a lag of nearly a minute and a half, the officials said.

When the shooting started, the two officials say one of the armed officers assigned to the terminal was at or just outside an adjacent terminal. One of the officials said the officer was on a bathroom break and the other foot-beat officer was in a vehicle on the tarmac outside Terminal 3, headed for a meal break.

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Finally, some open houses to go see

Between the holidays and snow storms, there’s been a dearth of new listings to tour. The official spring market has either begun (I say it’s immediately after MLK Day) or about to (post-Super Bowl, say others). Regardless, I’m off to poke around, back later with a report.

Comments Off on Finally, some open houses to go see

Filed under Uncategorized

Civility splinters

Shrinkage

Shrinkage

Thieves are stealing their neighbors’ woodpiles. Having split and stacked dozens of cords of wood in my time I know the work involved – you’d think a lazy thief wood lack the energy and drive to bother with this, and would stick up a 7-11 instead.

Comments Off on Civility splinters

Filed under Uncategorized

If malls wither, where does that leave the Sears land play?

Apparently not

Apparently not

“Tsunami” of retail store closings expected. Sears stock has been strong based, from what I understand, on its control of so much valuable mall space. If malls are due for a sharp contraction and stores will be much smaller, as this analysts (and others) predict, then that unrealized potential would seem to be set to continue to be unrealized, to the bitter end.

I know nothing about bricks and mortar retail – I’m pretty much an online shopper and shun malls – but I’m always interested in what’s happening with Eddy Lampert, even if he has fled Greenwich for Florida. As go malls, goes Eddie, no?

On Tuesday, Sears said that it will shutter its flagship store in downtown Chicago in April. It’s the latest of about 300 store closures in the U.S. that Sears has made since 2010. The news follows announcements earlier this month of multiple store closings from major department stores J.C. Penney and Macy’s.

Further signs of cuts in the industry came Wednesday, when Target said that it will eliminate 475 jobs worldwide, including some at its Minnesota headquarters, and not fill 700 empty positions.

Experts said these headlines are only the tip of the iceberg for the industry, which is set to undergo a multiyear period of shuttering stores and trimming square footage.

Shoppers will likely see an average decrease in overall retail square footage of between one-third and one-half within the next five to 10 years, as a shift to e-commerce brings with it fewer mall visits and a lesser need to keep inventory stocked in-store, said Michael Burden, a principal with Excess Space Retail Services.

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Great line

 

Sorry, not covered by warranty

Sorry, not covered by warranty

NYC snowblower shatters Apple’s glass cube.

‘It’s kind of ironic,’ quipped Marvin Washington, 53, of Midtown as he passed by to DNAinfo.com ‘Everyone drops their phones and the screens break. Now, it’s happened to them.’

Comments Off on Great line

Filed under Uncategorized

Having disarmed its citizenry, Britain now prosecutes the use of fence pickets

(As yet) unconfiscated deadly weapon

(As yet) unconfiscated deadly weapon

Man prosecuted for assault after wresting wood fence picket from thief and breaking his legs.

A businessman who attacked two thieves caught red-handed in a night-time raid was arrested after defending his property, a court has heard.

Andrew Woodhouse, 44, was today on trial facing assault charges on the two raiders he found stealing diesel from his business.

A jury heard how Woodhouse grabbed a fence post one was carrying as a weapon – and used it to fight back against them.

The father-of-five – who says he has repeatedly been a victim of crime at his gardening company – kept hold of the two burglars until police arrived.

But the court was told it was Woodhouse who was then arrested and accused of using excessive force.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Haven’t heard from Walt lately? I think he’s in China

Billionaire who promised £40 million to anyone who could turn his lesbian daughter hetro doubles his offer.

Walt panhandles for airfare, Tuesday

Walt panhandles for airfare, Tuesday

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Silicon Valley begins to awaken

First, do us no evil

First, do us no evil

Gradually, the leftist entrepreneurs are realizing that the Democrats are not their friends: in fact, they resent and hate them.

Google and other tech firms are now courting Republicans and conservatives as D.C. Democrats move to regulate them (further).

If there were doubts about the animus of the left towards successful entrepreneurs, two stories from the Golden State should dispel them. In Berkley, protestors are targeting the personal residence of a Google engineer working on the first driverless car, while across the bay San Francisco citizens took their first step to rid their city of  high tech workers, imposing restrictions and fees on employee shuttle buses.

Google, Apple, Facebook and other companies use the luxury buses to ferry their workers to and from Silicon Valley campuses. They have become the symbol as well as the battleground for a campaign by activists to reclaim a city they say has been appropriated by the tech elite.

In a small, cramped city, the private buses are forced to load and unload at public bus stops. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says this forces city buses to stop in traffic lanes, snarling traffic and placing bicyclists in danger. Activists would like to see the buses fined for illegally using public spaces, or perhaps for the companies to pay a substantial fee.

Instead, the transportation agency’s program will ask the buses to pay $1 each time they pick up or drop off passengers.

During many of the comments in favor of the shuttles members of the crowd hissed loudly.

“This is class warfare, this is not an accident,” said Steve Zeltzer, 64, a filmmaker who has lived in San Francisco his whole life. “You allow these companies to illegally use public spaces.”

Mr. Zeltzer described the tech shuttles using public bus stops at no cost as “unbridled capitalism” and accused the transportation agency officials of taking directions “from the tech barons.”

Although reason couldn’t reach tech executives, it seems that self-preservation may.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized