Monthly Archives: April 2014

Let’s hope Tesei did better this time

 

The NW corner gets its firehouse

The NW corner gets its firehouse

Swears in his personal choice for new fire marshal, overruling the department’s preference. Tesei hasn’t done well in his selection of people to fill this position – the last disaster afflicting the department was Joe Benoit, fired for incompetence by Jim Lash and promptly rehired and promoted by Peter Tesei as one of his first public acts. Benoit eventually retired on a comfortable pension, which you are paying as you read this.

In a rare reflective moment, Tesei struggled today to sum up his philosophy on life in general and fire marshal jobs in particular: “Yesterday was yesterday,” our modern Socrates declaimed to the Greenwich Time, “while today is today.”

With Mensa material like that guiding our town, how can we go wrong?

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Ogilvy’s trying it again, on the other side of the harbor from Copper Beech

 

The offending pool which appears to still be unfenced. Guess it wasn't important after all.

The offending pool, which appears to still be unfenced. Guess it wasn’t important after all.

[Edited to reflect new information]

He’s brought 14 Marlow Court on the market for $18 million. Well, maybe he’ll get it. The owner paid Sandy Rand $9.5 million for this in 2002, an amount so astonishing it had all of us laughing up our sleeves. The guy had lived next door to this property and (rudely, some say) demanded that Rand fence in his pool. The pool was grandfathered, Rand refused, so the gentleman said “name your price”. Sandy called his friend Ogilvy for a price opinion, Ogilvy said “$10 million”, and the neighbor, unaware of Mr. Ogilvy’s reputation for being “optimistic” in his valuations, deducted the commissions and paid the price. Hahahahaha.

But who knows? If he gets anything close to this price he’ll have had the last laugh, twelve years later. And he can always take satisfaction in, after being rejected for membership by the Riverside Yacht Club across the water, successfully shutting down the club’s 50-year-tradition of skeet shooting.

Of course, we can take our own satisfaction in keeping him out of the club: don’t you just love petty quarrels?

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Back after a time out

 

95 Butternut Hollow

95 Butternut Hollow

95 Butternut Hollow Road, priced at $10.5 million in 2008, has been trying to find the right price ever since. Today it’s at $5.950. Lovely land, lovely, 1936 house, and perhaps $6 million will attract a buyer. One caution, however, is that the beautiful sparkling pond behind it is actually our reservoir, off limits to human use. I’d find that frustrating if I lived here, like living next to a golf club that won’t let you join.

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The Purple Prose of Texas

434 Riversville Road, new at $2.690 (sold for $2.525 in 2005). Described thus:

Remarks: Beyond the gate the Belgian block lined driveway winds through terraced emerald lawns cresting on a majestic plateau on which is sited this stunning home with sparkling pool and magnificent views. Situated on 4 dramatic acres this 4 bedroom, 4.1 bath home offers a gourmet kitchen w/center island, an adjoining breakfast room opening to a terrace, an elegant master suite, 3 fire places, a large media room/play room. Skylights and vaulted ceilings fill the home with the light and openness so desirable today.

Looks thus:

434 Riversville

 

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Diane Fox to retire from P&Z

The Fox Legacy

The Fox Legacy

The announcement will be made public today, actual vacation of office probably in June. Nothing much will change; her replacement, Katie Blankley (daughter of perennial Democrat candidate, John), shows the same ignorance of and indifference to private property rights as Fox, but at least we’ll have the satisfaction of paying two salaries, Blankley’s and Fox’s pension, instead of one. Bad government is supposed to hurt.

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Lesson here is, never live in a “historic district”

 

Being built

Being built

Architect and his wife ordered to tear down their partially-built home after historic commission reverses itself and revokes certificate of appropriateness. I had a friend have this happen to him in Rockville, MD, and the legal costs to prevail ate up his entire renovation budget. Stay away.

 A respected North Carolina architect is facing being ordered to tear down his dream modern home because it is out of keeping with the historic neighborhood.

Louis Cherry and wife Marsha Gordon had been given approval to build their sleek two-storey home in Raleigh last September.

But six months into the project, the council revoked their permission after complaints that the design was ruining the look of the surrounding area.

House of complaining neighbor

House of complaining neighbor

 

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Who’d have expected this?

2009-07-06-economist-cover-needle-obamaMedical spending up 10% as the result of ObamaCare. And it’s just getting going.

Spending on health care grew an astounding 9.9% in the Bureau of Economic Analysts’ advance estimate of first-quarter GDP. It’s the biggest percent change in health-care spending since 1980, when health-care spending jumped 10% in the third quarter. Analysts said it’s primarily due to a consumption boost from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Adjusted for inflation, America is spending more on health care than ever.

Personal consumption grew by 3.0% — about half of which was due to the growth in health-care spending, said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “If health care spending had been unchanged, the headline GDP growth number would have been -1.0%,” Shepherdson said.

A BEA spokesperson said the uptick “reflects additional spending associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”

The White House, of course, promised otherwise:

Bending the growth curve of health care spending: In keeping with President Obama’s pledge that reform must fix our health care system without adding to the deficit, the Affordable Care Act reduces the deficit, saving more than $200 billion over 10 years and more than $1 trillion in the second decade. The law reduces health care costs by rewarding doctors, hospitals and other providers that deliver high quality care, making investments to fund research into what works, and cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse.

And here’s a Harvard economics professor chiming in  T

The anger over the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance exchange — and over the conflicting explanations about whether people can keep their coverage — has been bipartisan and well-deserved. The administration needs to make personnel and management changes to get enrollment back on track. But the focus on insurance coverage obscures other parts of the ACA that are working well, even better than expected.

It is increasingly clear that the cost curve is bending, and the ACA is a significant part of the reason. Since 2010, the average rate of health-care cost increases has been less than half the average in the prior 40 years. The first wave of the cost slowdown emerged just after the recession and was attributed to the economic hangover. Three years later, the economy is growing, and costs show no sign of rising. Something deeper is at work. The Affordable Care Act is a key to the underlying change.

And Paul Krugman

So, how’s it going? The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent?

The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic.

And on and on and on. The only curve being bent here is the taxpayer’s spine, as he’s forced over and given it good and hard.

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Price cut on Old Mill Road

 

124 Old Mill Rd

124 Old Mill Rd

Mel Gibson’s former house at 124 Old Mill Road has cut its price from $32.995 million to $29.9, so if you’ve been holding out for a better deal, here’s your chance. It’s a pretty neat place: 75 acres, old house with even older paneling and moldings stripped from England and stuck on over here, but the market for over-sized lots and dated mansions is thin. Gibson paid $9.250 million for it in 1994, never really lived in it, from neighbors’ accounts, then put it up for sale at $39.5 million in 2007 and sold it for $24 in 2010.

The new owners claim to have renovated it, but I see from the pictures that Mel’s now-long-obsolete overhead projector is still up on the ceiling of the home theatre (last time I was there there was a large collection of VCR tapes – probably could be made part of this deal, too) and, worse, a picture of the mantelpiece to the walk-in fireplace shows two holes where Mel’s 6-foot-long claymore from “Brave Heart” used to hang. It’s probably just me, but a walk-in fireplace without a claymore on the mantle just doesn’t say “home”.

If it turns out that no one wants to take on the job of rebuilding this place, then the owners have four building lots (restrictions on all that acreage) and that’s it. At, say, $3.5 per lot, there’s still room for shrinkage in this new price.

 

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So throw more money at it

 

Pay for performance? No way

Pay for performance? No way

Education spending has doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars, academic achievement has dropped.

Since the early 1970s, the federal government has tracked the academic achievement of American 17-year-olds. The results have been essentially flat despite the fact that per-pupil spending has more than doubled, even after adjusting for inflation.

The average state has seen a three-percent decline in math and verbal test scores, and a 120-percent increase in real spending per pupil.

 

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Price resistance in Riverside?

48 Bramble Lane

48 Bramble Lane

Too soon to tell, but I see that the new spec house at 48 Bramble Lane, which came on just three weeks ago at $4.175 million, has already reduced its price to $3.995. In just a few years, Bramble, Hearthstone and Druid have been transformed from streets with modest homes in the $1.5 range to rows of new spec homes costing $3.5. I’ve wondered when the demand for such houses would be sated, and perhaps this is that time.

Or not; but this one will be interesting to watch.

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Come on, it’s as old as Cinderella

 

(Different version)

(Different version)

Women having surgery to fit into designer shoes. This is somehow supposed to be a moral for our times (well, The New York Times), but remember the Grimm story of Cinderella, and her nasty stepsisters who cut off their toes and heels trying to fit into the glass slipper? And the Chinese practice of foot binding wasn’t a day at the races either.

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Somewhere in Riverside, Splash Curtis is sweating

 

But he's got an idea on how to keep customers coming

But(t) he’s got an idea on how to keep his customers coming

Nissan develops first self-cleaning coating for cars, endangering car washes.

The paint, developed by engineers at the Nissan Technical Centre in the UK, is hydrophobic and oleophobic. That means it repels water and oil. That means the gunk and goo that normally sticks to your ride slides right off. It’s like wax, but better. Nissan’s engineers have applied the finish, called Ultra-Ever Dry, to a Nissan Note and say it does a remarkable job repelling rain, spray, frost, sleet and standing water. If the video is to be believed, mud literally slides right off.

There’s nothing new about hydrophobic or oleophobic coatings–Rust-Oleum offers a hydrophobic spraythat works (mostly) as advertised, and the iPhone features an oleophobic coating to reduce fingerprints on its precious screen. Still, it’s new to cars, and Nissan will continue testing it. Nissan says it has no plans to offer the paint as standard equipment, but will consider making it an option.

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Probably the wrong time to propose her for ownership of the Clippers

 

At least she's got the flag behind her

At least she’s got the flag behind her

Democrat mayoral candidate caught on tape: “we don’t want no f…ing N…ertown here.”

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Effect and cause

Brown University students celebrate free speech by shouting down Ray Kelly

Brown University students celebrate free speech by shouting down Ray Kelly

From James Taranto:

Fox Butterfield, is that you?

  • “Only 13 percent of Americans approve of the job the U.S. Congress is doing. Yet Brown alumni continue to go to Washington to work on Capitol Hill.”–article blurb, BrownAlumniMagazine.com, March/April issue

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Price war in Old Greenwich, for the second time

 

2 Fairgreen Lane

2 Fairgreen Lane

2 Fairgreen Lane, in Shorelands, asked $2.299 and sold for $2.350. Last time it sold was 2002, when it was priced at $2.1 and sold for $2.2. It’s a nice older (1921) house, sitting up high and dry on a hill in one of the favorite Old Greenwich neighborhoods, so no mystery about its appeal.

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New Listings

 

45 Old Stone Bridge

45 Old Stone Bridge

45 Old Stone Bridge is for sale, asking $2.250 million. This caught my eye because, before the crash, that’s about where Old Stone Bridge values topped out and I’ve been sensing that they’ve come back. In this case, almost. The current owners paid $2,287,500 for it in 2006 and did some extensive renovation in 2011. So not all the way back, but getting there. I really like this neighborhood, and it offers good value, compared to Riverside and Old Greenwich.

33 Twin Lakes

33 Twin Lakes

And speaking of Riverside, David Ogilvy’s trying again with 33 Twin Lakes (Gilliam Lane South, for traditionalists), this time at $5.6 million. This may do it, too, considering that one-acre lots without houses around the corner on Carriglea routinely fetch $5, and this is a better street (says I, proud Gilliam Lane alumnus).

This place started out at $8.2 million in ’07 and sat, price unchanged, for a full year (duh). In 2009-2010 it came back at $7 million and never dropped below $6.750, which also failed. Now it’s at just about land value, with a very nice house thrown into the bargain.

One note of caution: the listing reports that the owner can bring “his 36′ boat to the dock at high tide”, which I imagine is true, but these are shallow mudflats out here, and they go dry – like, no water- far ahead of deeper parts of Cos Cob Harbor. You want to swing by at the peak of high tide, pick up a couple of passengers and scram you can do it, but you probably have a fifteen-minute window to accomplish it.

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I wonder how carefully they sort these things?

 

Why is this man smiling?

Why is this man smiling?

GPD collects 150 pounds of unwanted prescription and over the counter drugs, which is a good idea; from what I read, dumping drugs down the toilet, while a favored practice during police raids, spreads all sorts of bad things into our waters. But this makes me curious:

“The 150 pound we collected ran the gamut from weird, natural remedies to male enhancement pills to expired Tylenol,” said [Lt. Kraig] Gray. The collected drugs will next be lightly sorted through to remove any potential harmful items for proper destruction, police said. The majority of items will then be sent to Bridgeport, where they will be incinerated.

Percocet? Viagra? Do those get culled and kept along with the rare, antique weapons witless widows bring to headquarters during gun turn-in days?

Just asking.

(Second question: who tossed out hubby’s Viagra, and what’s that say about the state of their marriage?)

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Pending deals

 

3 Konittekock

3 Konittekock

3 Konittekock Road, asking $3.2 million. Started at $4.5 million in January, 2013; when the owners got real, so did the buyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

47 Midwood

47 Midwood

47 Midwood, $5.575. A typical Deer Park charmer, on 2.5 acres, and it’s no wonder that it went in just three weeks. Deer Park’s one of the nicest neighborhoods in town, and good houses there are, if not rare, uncommon. Alice Duff listing.

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Greenwich Democratic Party stands by its standard bearer, Lee Whitnum

Lee Whitnum enjoys a reflective moment at the Greenwich Democrat campaign clam bake

Lee Whitnum enjoys a reflective moment at the Greenwich Democrat campaign clam bake

“She denies biting anyone,” Francis Fudrucker, Democrat Chairman told FWIW, “let alone a state marshall, and that’s good enough for us. Onward to November, onward to victory!”

Story here.

Greenwich Democrat Lee Whitnum, who is hoping to run for governor on a judicial reform plank, released a statement on her website this morning in response to her arrest last week for allegedly creating a disturbance the library of state Superior Court in Stamford.

4-29-14 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – In response to the breach of peace charge against her gubernatorial candidate Lee. Whitnum responded today: “I never tried to bite anyone. The Judicial Marshals surrounded me for some unknown reason. They told me to leave.  I said I would.  I walked 25 feet never stopping; I was almost to the door, within five feet of the door when six marshals attacked me from behind and threw me up against the wall,” said Whitnum.  “I still have no idea what I did wrong.” Whitnum is filing a civil suit against librarian Pamela Kaufman. “I have no idea what that woman told the Judicial Marshals,” said Whitnum.

You can read the article about her arrest here: Greenwich’s Whitnum charged with breach of peace

 

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Forget the soccer, they should be broadcasting this farce

Ain't happening

Ain’t happening

I’m no soccer fan, but I love harmless disaster, and watching Brazil’s hopeless attempt to get ready for June 12th’s World Cup is better than the best episode of the Flintstones (is that show still on?) If they pull it off at all, they’ll probably be playing the games on the streets of Rio, because no way will the stadiums be ready.

International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates on Tuesday piled pressure on 2016 host Rio de Janeiro, blasting its preparations as the worst he has ever seen.

The Australian, who has made six visits to Rio as a member of the IOC Coordination Commission overseeing the Games, painted a dire picture of the progress being made, which he said was of “critical concern”.

He told an Olympic Forum in Sydney that the IOC had been forced to take “unprecedented” action, embedding experts in Rio’s Organizing Committee to ensure the sporting spectacle proceeds.

“The IOC has formed a special task force to try and speed up preparations but the situation is critical on the ground,” he said, adding it was “the worst I have experienced”.

And if viewers tire of the Brazilians, they could tune into Qatar, whose 2022 World Cup host bid was achieved through bribery and lies and is already utterly and hopelessly behind despite using slave labor to construct the promised number of stadiums and infrastructure. 

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