Saturday, November 13, 2004

ScrappleFace: Bush Took Charge During Cheney Hospital Visit
It seems that the constitutional succession provisions are working fine.
The Border Mail:Feral family made him do it

Ah, yes: "The ferals made me do it." I know I'm sick and tired of the ferals living up the road from me. If only we had an HOA with a "no ferals" covenant.

BRETT James Poulter was pushed to the limit before reacting and attacking a neighbours car, causing more than $1500 damage. Solicitor Mr Chris Halburd told Albury Court this week that Poulter moved to Myrtle St in West Albury earlier this year and became sick of a neighbours children “terrorising the neighbourhood”.
He had approached their father in the hope of resolving the situation but according to Mr Halburd was told to leave in frank and rude terms.
It was followed by gestures and threats towards Poulter.
So he reacted by picking up a childs bike on September 26 and attacking the car belonging to the offending family. When police arrived a short time later, Poulter told them he was “sick and tired of the ferals up the road”.
He also told police he was annoyed by the man at the residence often showing his penis to nearby residents and urinating on his front lawn.
Poulter, 32, pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of malicious damage.
He had used the bike to hit parts of the car and cause damage totalling $1576. Mr Halburd said the Department of Housing has since moved the family causing the problems following further complaints. Poulter was convicted, put on a 12-month bond and ordered to pay the compensation for the damage.

'The city stole my car'

Who says HOAs have all the fun with foreclosure for peanuts? The City of Chicago will boot your car for unpaid traffic tickets, impound the sucker, tack on a pile of towing and storage fees, and threaten to sell your car if you don't pay the whole thing. But then if you don't pay the full amount, the city will sell your $13,000 car to a junker for...$125.

Then the junker will turn around and sell the car for $4000.

That'll teach you. But it won't teach the city much about basic arithmetic. We could do better with Homer Simpson as mayor.

Yahoo! News - Atlantis Hunt Reveals Structures in Sea Off Cyprus
NICOSIA (Reuters) - An American researcher on the trail of the lost city of Atlantis has discovered evidence of man-made structures submerged in the sea between Cyprus and Syria, a member of his team said Saturday.
Robert Sarmast, who is convinced the fabled city lurks in the watery depths off Cyprus, will give details of his findings Sunday. "Something has been found to indicate very strongly that there are man-made structures somewhere between Cyprus and Syria," a spokesperson for the mission told Reuters.
...Greek mythology says Atlantis was a powerful nation whose residents were so corrupted by greed and power that Zeus destroyed it.

See where corruption with greed and power gets you? With a better HOA, Atlantis never would have sunk in the first place.
"Challenged neighborhood
What happens at notorious 'Zoo' is criminal"

Life in a blighted condo complex...

RIALTO - People living in the Rialto Apartments behind Eisenhower High School know well the sign of a drug deal, the sound of a gunshot and the smell of sun-bleached urine. And for months, they felt the inconvenience of having to go to the post office after a firefight stopped daily deliveries.
Driving into gunfire on Winchester Drive last summer was the final straw for a letter carrier. She had already heard rumors about violence in the area. Now she'd seen it. Concerned about safety, the U.S. Postal Service in July told residents of the Willow-Winchester neighborhood to travel two miles south on Willow Avenue for their bills and packages. Or go without. The list of problems goes on and on: Many of the 160 units are dilapidated and boarded up. Animal feces and trash form a pungent ground cover. Fire hydrants, for a time, were turned off. The community pool is drained. In jest of the neighborhood's Third World nature and in reference to a notoriously deadly part of Los Angeles known as "The Jungle' residents dubbed it "The Zoo.' It's a war zone where two-bedroom condos rent for $800 or more per month and residents are afraid to go outside at night. Some of the tenants receive federal housing assistance; most are working poor who can afford no more.

The condominium complex was built in 1969 as an affordable housing project and it was a gem, Dutrey said. When it first opened, there were no absentee landlords; owners occupied every unit. "It used to be a decent, nice place. Old people would be yelling at young ones to not step on the grass,' said Jarryd, 45, who declined to give his last name and lives in a unit on Clifford Street. "It got bad, little by little.' As people began to move away, they kept their properties or sold them to management companies. Renters poured in, the homeowners' association weakened and the snaking complex became a disjointed neighborhood with 90 owners none apparently living there. Crime skyrocketed. "It is a definite constant struggle to manage the property,' said Doug McGoon of Wheeler Steffen Property Management, which oversees the vast homeowners' association. "We are dealing with drugs and gunshots instead of ugly curtains.' He said the crime is fostered by greedy absentee owners who don't screen tenants.

Committee to Explore California Secession
Here are the brain-trusters at MoveOnCalifornia, or some such collection of middle-of-the-word capital letters and run-on words, claiming that it is time to think about this ridiculous proposal. The irony of this idiocy is that the nation-state that would result would be every bit as divided as the nation itself, because within California there are Democratic counties along the coast and Republican ones inland.
Donation saves soldier's home from zealous homeowner's association

Just when you think the word has gone out to HOA presidents and their lawyers that you need to show some common sense in assessment collection, you read something like this, and you think--is it possible, in the final analysis, that they will literally never learn?

RIVERVIEW - A bay area soldier came home to a very unpleasant surprise recently: huge fines from his homeowner's association. But it didn't take long for an ordinary citizen to take action for Bernie Haithcock.

Haithcock, an Air Force reservist, is frequently gone on active duty for long periods of time, often to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

"I will try to make it home every three or four weeks," he explained.

One time, he didn't make it back for four or five months. He returned to his Riverview home to find his homeowner's association bill for $200 and another bill from the association's law firm.

"I think it was like $700," he continued.

Haithcock felt he deserved a break on the legal fees because he was away helping to protect the country. But the president of the Villages of Lake St. Charles Homeowner's Association felt active duty was not a legitimate reason to miss an association payment, and the association put a lien against the house.

"I think it was irresponsible of him," Kate Cockerill stated. "I mean, he wouldn't let his mortgage payment go for two months."

While the two sides sparred by phone, the late and legal fees built to $1,400. Then local contractor Robert Hoskinson of ICC Contractors heard about Bernie's plight.

"I was a little appalled that the attorney would run the bill up on the fella," Hoskinson observed.

Hoskinson decided to show his appreciation for the armed forces by paying Bernie's bill.

"I just felt like it was important that we pay this bill, my company, and help this man get back to work so that he can protect our national interest, which is really the most important thing right now," he explained.

In addition to Hoskinson's help, Bernie's attorney, Kenneth Grace, helped out by taking the case pro bono.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Can't park in front of your house? Dig a big hole...
A driver solved the problem of a parking ban in front of his house - by burying his garage underneath his front lawn after planners in Greysouthen, Cumbria had refused to let him build a garage reports the Mirror.

So Stephen Brown built a hydraulic ramp that lowers his red Volvo into the parking "cave". He said: "It's just great."

Guardian Unlimited | Life | European scientists envisage robotic village on moon
But what will they do when one robot wants to put up a flag pole and his neighboring robot objects?

European scientists are contemplating a "robot village" on the lunar surface: a collection of shelters, instruments and exploration vehicles, perhaps on a ridge at the lunar south pole which is in sunlight all year round.

Condo residents up in arms - 11/11/04
Here's a Detroit-area alleged construction defect saga:
HOWELL TOWNSHIP -- Poor drainage, leaky roofs and improperly installed windows are only a few of the complaints made to township officials by residents of the English Garden Condominiums.

More than 50 residents crowded into Monday's board of trustees meeting to voice concerns about the shoddy work at the 120-unit condominium development on Byron Road, just north of M-59.

"Standing water is common place, and the ground is saturated even in dry weather," said Arthur Clark, a resident and a former member of the condominium association.

Residents further complained that include only half of the streetlights are installed, the landscaping is sloppy and that balconies and windows were improperly installed, leading to leaking and mold.

"I don't understand how the county building inspector approved these buildings," Clark said.

Joseph Colyer, president of Edgewood Development, the developer of the property, said the residents' complaints are unfounded.

He, in turn, accused some of the residents of not paying their monthly association dues, which are $98 and will rise to $120 in January.
[more] - LOCAL NEWS:Prospects greener for lawn alternatives in Castle Rock
Another clash between HOA mandates and public policy:
As part of this town's ongoing campaign to reduce water consumption, homeowner associations that mandate lush lawns will find themselves before a judge.

Further, associations no longer can ban less-thirsty landscapes, according to a new ordinance recently adopted by the Town Council.
KPHO Phoenix - Beating your HOA
(CBS 5 NEWS) - They're supposed to help make your neighborhood a place to call home, but some valley families are under attack from their home owners or condo association. CBS 5 News asks what you can do to fight your HOA.
I guess 2004 will go down in history as The Year of the Rat for the HOA industry. Every press treatment of the subject seems to have the same angle. Every owner's dream has turned into a nightmare because they couldn't display the Code of Hammurabi on stone tablets in their front yard, leading to foreclosure over $50 in fines and $8,000,000 in attorney fees. OK, so I'm exaggerating. A little.

Thursday, November 11, 2004 Duck Bush Beheaded...

The SRF homeowners' association recently sued one of its own boardmembers for at least $25,000 in damages after she allegedly decapitated a topiary duck in front of the board president's condo this past summer. The suit also alleges that boardmember Susan Feinberg ripped down vines from a trellis and threw garbage out in a common area. Acting board prez Robert Louisell called the sheriff and told a deputy he caught Feinberg in a pink dress taking a handsaw to the shrub. Nobody was arrested.

Limit on duplexes proposed
Not being a regular reader of the Coon Rapids (Minnestoa) Herald, I would have missed this article if not for Fred Pilot. Here we see just how far down the food chain the common interest community revolution has reached. The Coon Rapids City Council is proposing to require that all duplexes must have HOAs. Somebody please tell me how you beat that? Next step: all custom built, one-off homes located five miles from the nearest neighbor must have their own one-unit HOA? Can we all agree now that common interest housing is here to stay?

Construction of duplexes in Coon Rapids will be restricted under an ordinance introduced by the Coon Rapids City Council. The ordinance revises city code to prohibit future construction of two-family homes located outside of common interest communities or developments with homeowners' associations.
Veterans Day
Thank you, veterans, for keeping the country free and safe. We appreciate your sacrifice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Eye in sky may watch Parks workers
How do you keep your eye on Chicago Park District employees?

Perhaps, from 12,000 miles up.

Space may be the next frontier for the district, under a plan that would use a satellite system to track some Parks employees.

Parks Supt. Timothy Mitchell is negotiating with manufacturers to equip some workers with Global Positioning System technology that would allow supervisors to know where work crews are at all times.

"We could look at a map and pinpoint them,'' said Mitchell, who would like to begin using the technology next year.

Under Mitchell's plan, workers would carry devices that double as two-way radios. The system would also allow the district to keep better records of how long jobs take and what work has been done.

But what's the point of taking a job with the City of Chicago if you have to actually work?
Houston Community Newspapers Online:Homeowners' associations in The Woodlands question increased law enforcement funding
THE WOODLANDS -- The funding used to increase police presence on Woodlands streets is coming more and more from residents' association fees. And some of the community associations' board members said they've had enough of the increased costs for law enforcement that county tax dollars should fund.
"We are not in the law enforcement business," said Peggy Hausman, a member of The Woodlands Community Association at the last budget hearing. "Every year, we add hundreds of dollars instead of demanding our fair share at Commissioners Court."
But Precinct 3 Constable Tim Holifield, whose department will receive $1.14 million from the county this fiscal year, said he believes commissioners did a good job in allocating funds to each of the five constable offices.
"I would never want to have the commissioners' jobs," he said Monday. "Would I like to see more resources? Yes. But not if it means raising taxes."
Woodlands residents seem to be questioning what they consider an excessive reliance on their pocketbooks to fund local law enforcement. Equal cost for equal services? Maybe not.
World News Update: Yasser Arafat Still Dead--I think

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Blue states buzz over secession - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - November 09, 2004
I have been writing about secession for years, but I used the term figuratively to describe the way CID owners could "secede" if they lived behind walls and gates, had privatized public services, and could deduct their assessments from their property tax bill. But now secession is being put forward by the losers of last weeks election as a semi-serious proposal.

The thing is, I have a vague memory from history classes of the Democrats doing the same thing in, let's see...wasn't it about 1861? So I guess they are building on a historical precedent here. I also recall that it didn't turn out that well for them. Not only did the Democrats lose the Civil War, but after the war ended the Democratic Party was relegated to minority party status at the national government level until the 1932 election. Oh, there were a few moments in the sunshine--Woodrow Wilson, for example--but basically 1861 to 1933 was dominated by the Republican Party. Is history repeating itself?

Monday, November 08, 2004

brendoman-dot-com: United States of Canada
Now, this is funny. I guess we down here in "Jesusland" should quake in fear of the mighty Canadian

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Red State, Blue State...Red County, Blue County
Here's the familiar map, but this time it is in three dimensions so you can see the population density. Quite a sight, and it demonstrates how the densely populated counties--the ones with big cities--differ from the suburban and rural counties. This, more than any bogus exit poll asking about "morality," tells the story of the election.
Here's the web site for the film...
Since World War II North Americans have invested much of their newfound wealth in suburbia. It has promised a sense of space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. As the population of suburban sprawl has exploded in the past 50 years, so too the suburban way of life has become embedded in the American consciousness. Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream. But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.

Fill her up.
Realty Times - Review of "The End of Suburbia"
"Fahrenheit 9/11," The Corporation," "Bush's Brain," "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," and all the other films among the sudden rash of political documentaries don't really hit home like the lesser-known "The End of Suburbia." "The End Of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and The Collapse of The American Dream" is the latest chilling report about how the decline in oil supplies will impact the American Dream -- especially the suburban version
Yahoo! News - Wisconsin City Allows Teaching Creationism
This, on the other hand, is not from The Onion.
The Onion | National Museum Of The Middle Class Opens In Schaumburg, IL
SCHAUMBURG, IL—The Museum of the Middle Class, featuring historical and anthropological exhibits addressing the socioeconomic category that once existed between the upper and lower classes, opened to the public Monday. "The splendid and intriguing middle class may be gone, but it will never be forgotten," said Harold Greeley, curator of the exhibit titled "Where The Streets Had Trees' Names." "From their weekend barbecues at homes with backyards to their outdated belief in social mobility, the middle class will forever be remembered as an important part of American history."

It's from America's Finest News Source, so it must be true.
La Vina irking county:
Motion will OK lawsuit to create public trail

I like this because it's from the Pasadena Star-News. Being a former Pasadenan (that's where we moved after leaving Maine--see below) anything with a Pasadena or Altadana dateline is of global significance. And here the La Vina HOA, a gated compound--pardon me, community--is trying to keep a foothill trail private, to the consternation of the guardians of the public weal. Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

ALTADENA -- Supervisor Michael Antonovich plans to introduce a motion at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting that would require county counsel to take the steps necessary to secure a public trail around the upscale La Vina residential community. The La Vina Homeowners Association, which represents more than 200 homeowners in the gated La Vina community in Altadena's foothills, owns 108 acres of open space that forms a ring around the development. A group of trail advocates known as the Altadena Crest Trail Restoration Working Group formed by Antonovich to make the Altadena Crest Trail continuous from Eaton Canyon to the Arroyo Seco has raised concerns at the county level about the resistance users have met on trails around La Vina. The La Vina Homeowners Associ ation posted new "No Trespassing' signs in May along a trail in Millard Canyon.