Monday, August 07, 2017

Couple buys private Presidio Terrace road in San Francisco for $90,000 in auction | The Sacramento Bee

Couple buys private Presidio Terrace road in San Francisco for $90,000 in auction | The Sacramento Bee

"It turns out the homeowners association for Presidio Terrace failed to pay a $14-a-year property tax, something that owners of all 181 private streets in San Francisco must do. So the city’s tax office put the property up for sale at the cost of $994 in an online auction to regain unpaid back taxes, penalties and interest. The couple eventually won the street with a $90,100 bid, outlasting several other bidders. Scott Emblidge, the attorney for the Presidio Homeowners Association, said in a letter to the city that the owners failed to pay because the tax bill was being sent to the address of an accountant who hadn’t worked for the homeowners association since the 1980s. Now the couple, who purchased the road in April 2015, are aiming to cash in. “We could charge a reasonable rent on it,” Cheng said, adding he and his wife could stand to profit from the 120 parking spaces on the street.
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What a delightful story. This couple is going to charge rich people to park on their own street. Unless they would prefer that the couple rent spaces on the street to the peasantry.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Public Transit, Privatization and the Canada Infrastructure Bank | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

Public Transit, Privatization and the Canada Infrastructure Bank | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization:

From Canada:

"The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) will create a pipeline of privatization for our public transit systems. Corporations will be able to extract long-term profit from public transit fares and public subsidies.  Our governments subsidize public transit because it’s critical infrastructure for our communities: to get us from place to place, to reduce traffic congestion, and to green our environment. When we allow corporations to plan, finance, operate, maintain and own public transit, we funnel ridership fares and government funding into corporate coffers. The CIB will give unprecedented control and decision-making power over our public transit infrastructure to private sector investors. This means the public interest will take a back seat in transit planning and development. Many of our public transit systems in recent years have been built using public-private partnerships (P3s). The CIB will open the door to even further privatization, allowing profit to drive public transit planning and decision-making."

Privatization Is Changing America's Relationship With Its Physical Stuff - The Atlantic

Privatization Is Changing America's Relationship With Its Physical Stuff - The Atlantic:



"Whether it’s P3s, or the outright privatization of public assets, as Trump suggests doing with the air-traffic control system, cautionary tales abound. Many experts cite the case of Chicago, which sold off its parking meters to a consortium headed by Morgan Stanley and including the government of Dubai. The consortium paid the city $1.1 billion. The Chicago Sun-Times estimated that the consortium will earn back its investment from meter revenue three years from now, but the deal runs for another 60 years. So Morgan Stanley, Dubai, and the other partners will pocket millions every year ($156 million in 2015) from Chicago parkers. Meanwhile, the city has to pay the consortium every time it takes a meter out of service—during a street fair, for example. As The New York Times explored last December, cities can be blindsided by such deals, especially if a private owner raises the price, for example, of using its water system in order to provide a profit to investors."

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There are many situations in which municipalities have made terrible privatization deals brokered by investment bankers and funded by some shadowy sovereign wealth fund or private equity combine. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

America's infrastructure debt is so bad that towns are unpaving roads they can't afford to fix / Boing Boing

America's infrastructure debt is so bad that towns are unpaving roads they can't afford to fix / Boing Boing



Here is what 35 years of ignoring the need to maintain public infrastructure have brought us:



"The chickens are coming home to roost in rural America, where paved roads have been neglected so long that they are effectively beyond repair, prompting municipalities to tear them up and replace them with car-smashing gravel roads whose dust pose a health hazard to residents and livestock."  

Monday, July 03, 2017

Trump takes over his condo board.

Trump Foot Soldier Sidelined Under Glare of Russia Inquiry - The New York Times

"Just over a decade ago, Donald J. Trump was locked in conflict with a group of apartment owners who had taken control of the condominium board at his new glass tower across from the United Nations. Faced with accusations of financial impropriety and an affront to his authority, Mr. Trump turned to Michael D. Cohen, a former personal injury lawyer who helped run a taxi fleet. Mr. Cohen did not seem to have extensive expertise in the arcana of New York City condo rules. But he had something Mr. Trump seemed to value more: devotion to the Trump brand. He had already purchased a number of Trump properties and had persuaded his parents, in-laws and a business partner to buy apartments in Mr. Trump’s flashy new development, Trump World Tower. Plus, he had read Mr. Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal.” Twice. With Mr. Cohen’s help, Mr. Trump regained control of the board, orchestrating a coup that culminated in a standoff between his security detail and private guards hired by the disgruntled owners, according to people who were there. Details of the dispute’s resolution are secret because of a confidentiality agreement, but Mr. Cohen said that his task was “masterfully accomplished.”

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I'll just leave this right here for those who (a) think condos are awful and the people who develop and run them are monsters, and (b) nonetheless voted for a real estate developer who builds condos and has a long record of leaving a trail of misery and destruction in his wake.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Law firm ordered to pay $3.1M to Las Vegas condo association – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Law firm ordered to pay $3.1M to Las Vegas condo association – Las Vegas Review-Journal

"One of Nevada’s leading law firms not only enabled a criminal conspiracy but also participated in it, according to District Judge Mark Denton. Kummer Kaempfer Bonner Renshaw and Ferrario was so negligent it enabled contractor Leon Benzer to cheat a homeowners association out of $8 million. On Tuesday, Denton ordered the law firm now known as Kaempfer Crowell to pay $3.1 million to the Vistana Condominium Owners Association. The judgment is nearly $2.4 million; the rest is interest.

“The judgment could exceed $4 million after costs and attorneys’ fees are added,” said Vistana attorney Richard Haskin, although that’s up to the judge. Denton’s findings of negligence and breach of duty against Kummer Kaempfer were plentiful and brutal...

■ A young attorney named Brian Jones wasn’t supervised and allowed ballot stuffing in a HOA election.

■ The FBI told the law firm it was investigating Jones in connection with election irregularities, but no one at the firm informed Vistana.

■ The law firm represented both sides in suspicious HOA elections, a clear conflict of interest."

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This is, of course, another stage in the Leon Benzer, et al., HOA fraud ring scandal, the biggest white-collar crime case in the history of Las Vegas. Dozens of people incarcerated, many of them prominent individuals, including the former chair of the Nevada Republican Party. Several suicides. And what is at the bottom of it? The fact that many HOAs and condo associations are vulnerable to being manipulated or even taken over by unscrupulous professionals, officers, and board members, and used like ATMs.

On this day: Voucher privatization in Russia was officially completed | Russia Beyond The Headlines

On this day: Voucher privatization in Russia was officially completed | Russia Beyond The Headlines

"The vouchers, each corresponding to a share of the national wealth, were distributed equally among the population, including minors. Almost 98 percent of Russians participated in the program, but most people were not well informed or had the proper finances. So, the governmental inner circles managed to grab most of the best assets. From 1992 to 1994, ownership of 15,000 firms was transferred from state control via the voucher program. This period is described as “the most cataclysmic peacetime economic collapse of an industrial country in history.” 

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Voucher privatization destroyed the Russian industrial economy and created the class of criminal billionaires who are now called the "oligarchs." Although almost the entire population was allowed to participate, the future oligarchs quickly found ways to buy up the vouchers and take over most of the nation's major businesses. Russia's economy has never recovered and never will. The nation went from being one of the world's major industrial countries to a third-world extraction economy that does almost nothing except selling oil and gas.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

House and Senate Set to Battle Over ATC Privatization - AVweb flash Article

House and Senate Set to Battle Over ATC Privatization - AVweb flash Article: "The House bill to reauthorize the FAA for the 2018 fiscal year—starting October 1—includes ATC privatization as most general aviation groups had feared. AOPA, EAA, GAMA, NATA, Helicopter Association International, and NBAA released a joint statement opposing the bill: “After a thorough and detailed review of Chairman Bill Shuster’s (R-PA) proposal to remove our nation’s air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration, we have concluded that these reforms, while well intentioned, will produce uncertainty and unintended consequences without achieving the desired outcomes.” Privatized ATC service would be funded by user fees under the proposal, which is the primary appeal for some supporters. Much of the FAA’s budget is currently supported by fuel taxes, which are mostly paid by operators of large jets. Replacing a fuel tax with a cost per operation—such as a fixed fee per instrument approach—would represent a tremendous tax cut for the airlines and tax increase for operators of smaller aircraft.

The Senate meanwhile seems unlikely to include ATC privatization in its companion bill. "



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Police: Man opens fire on HOA president - KTNV.com Las Vegas

Police: Man opens fire on HOA president - KTNV.com Las Vegas:



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Back off Blackstone! Standing in Solidarity Against Privatization Wherever It Threatens | Food & Water Watch

Back off Blackstone! Standing in Solidarity Against Privatization Wherever It Threatens | Food & Water Watch: "The evidence is clear: Privately run water systems charge households 64 percent more than public systems charge. A typical household using 5,000 gallons a month pays an extra $153 a year if its water services are privatized. Additionally, once a publicly run infrastructure is privatized the decision is difficult to reverse. We have seen time and time again how privatization works to take advantage of the consumers. Food & Water Watch will support those who stand up to these corporate profiteers."



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