Saturday, June 11, 2005

Chicago Tribune: Chief zoning official fired in condo probe

From Nancy Levy comes this article on further carnage in the Daley administration. Daley is being treated like a huge success by the national press and other big city mayors. Somehow the numerous corruption investigations that are going on regarding multiple city departments (with hundreds of millions of dollars involved) doesn't affect their opinion. In this case, a condo project mysteriously got built in an area zoned for manufacturing, and several city officials just coincidentally happen to have had a nice vacation in Brazil with the developer of the condo project. But of course, Daley himself knows nothing about any of these incidents. We know that because he invariably says so.

Mayor Richard Daley's administration fired a high-ranking Zoning Department official Friday, saying he refused to answer questions from city investigators who are probing a controversial condominium project west of the Loop. John Quinn, who received $83,000 a year as chief zoning inspector, was put on paid administrative leave last week pending the investigation into the 44-unit condo development at 373 N. Morgan St...The firing follows the resignations last month of two top Buildings Department officials who faced scrutiny in the same probe. Kimberly Brown, the department's $124,700-a-year first deputy commissioner, resigned after officials learned that she made a vacation trip to Brazil earlier this year with the project's developer, Jerry Cedicci, and his brother.

Feliciano v. 7-Eleven, No. 29564--West Virginia Supreme Court
Feliciano was employed at a 7-11. He disarmed a robber and held her for police. 7-11 fired him for violating company policy, which requires that the employee not subdue or otherwise interfere with the robber. Held: employees right to self-defense trumps the terms of the employment contract. He can sue 7-11 for wrongful discharge.

When an at will employee has been discharged from his/her employment based upon his/her exercise of self-defense in response to lethal imminent danger, such right of self-defense constitutes a substantial public policy exception to the at will employment doctrine and will sustain a cause of action for wrongful discharge.
Significance for HOAs? Well, it's nice to see a court find some limits to this notion that the terms of a contractual relationship are always sovereign. The state Supreme Court found the employment relationship limited by fundamental public policies, in this case the right of self-defense. But how do you like the trial court's holding (reversed), that "self-defense is not a substantial public policy in West Virginia"? Is that scary, or what?
Philippine HOAs invited to participate in policy making
This, from Nancy Levy, should be read by those who keep saying HOAs are entirely private organizations. In my view, this sort of explicit relationship between HOAs and municipalities is the shape of things to come.

The Quezon City government will be sponsoring the First QC Subdivision Forum today to encourage homeowners associations to participate in the formulation of policies and programs aimed at enhancing the delivery of the city’s basic services.
NBC 4 - Weather - Malibu Beach Battle Erupts Over Homeowners' 'Sand Grab'
Fred Pilot sends this fascinating story from Malibu, California. Is it privatization when an HOA takes sand from a public beach and piles it on their property?

The Broad Beach homeowners association has used skip loaders to move tons of public beach sand, as high as eight feet in some places, in front of their ocean-front homes. The California Coastal Commission sent a letter to the homeowners, ordering the work stopped. The commission says not only has public access to the beach been blocked, but moving the sand has harmed local wildlifre and put adjacent public beach under water. Broad Beach homeowner and former coastal commissioner Marshall Grossman says the homeowners weren't trying to block public access, but were restoring sand dunes that had washed away during last winter's storms.
Found: Europe's oldest civilisation
Archaeologists have discovered Europe's oldest civilisation, a network of dozens of temples, 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC. Their discovery, revealed today by The Independent, will revolutionise the study of prehistoric Europe, where an appetite for monumental architecture was thought to have developed later than in Mesopotamia and Egypt. In all, more than 150 temples have been identified. Constructed of earth and wood, they had ramparts and palisades that stretched for up to half a mile. They were built by a religious people who lived in communal longhouses up to 50 metres long, grouped around substantial villages. Evidence suggests their economy was based on cattle, sheep, goat and pig farming...The multiple bank, ditch and palisade systems "protecting" the inner space seem not to have been built for defensive purposes - and were instead probably designed to prevent ordinary tribespeople from seeing the sacred and presumably secret rituals which were performed in the "inner sanctum".

Comments, anybody?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Chicago Tribune: Condo plan would raze McCormick birthplace

Nancy Levy sends this link (it is also in the dead tree edition of the Trib sitting on my kitchen table) about a battle between developers and preservationists. I have no strong feelings about this one way or the other, but I love the line from one of the preservationists: "McCormick, who died in 1955, 'was an eccentric, but he was our eccentric,' Moran said."

Preservationists seemed resigned Thursday to the demolition of the Streeterville birthplace of longtime Chicago Tribune editor and publisher Col. Robert R. McCormick to make way for a condo and retail tower. > News > North County -- Damaged condos' lawyer blasts city
Interesting wrinkle in a landslide case--thanks to Nancy Levy for the link. Seems the condo association got itself a new attorney, who doesn't like the repair deal that had been worked out:

CARLSBAD – A city official said a contractor is ready to begin stabilizing a landslide at the Marbella condominiums today, but the attorney for the homeowners association said he will not allow workers onto the property to begin repairs. Patrick Catalano, who replaced another firm as the homeowners association's attorney on the slope collapse two weeks ago, called a news conference yesterday to accuse the city of breaching an agreement to repair the slope. Neighbors by choice
Nancy Levy forwards this story written by a reporter who is smitten with how idyllic life can be in a condo because you don't have to mow the lawn. Wait until these owners put up the flag on the Fourth of July.
Here's the advantage of being bilingual--talking out of both sides of your mouth
Wondering if Bill Richardson is running for president? It depends on which language you speak. "I want to be very clear about this presidential stuff," Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, said at yesterday's New Hampshire Latino Summit. "No, I will not run for president." Then, switching to Spanish, he told the heavily Hispanic crowd, "Segura que si, voy a ser candidato!" Rough translation: You bet I am!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005 - Goodwill ends after man takes chain saw to neighbor's trees
I have a huge backlog of great links that people have sent me, but I have been too busy to attend to this high-paying job of maintaining a weblog. Sorry. In the meantime, here's something I ran across. I have only included the lead, because it is a work of pure genius that deserves to be taught in journalism school for the next half-century.

Looking to improve his territorial view of Bellevue, Shaohua Li took a chain saw to his neighbor's cypress trees.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Fiscal guru didn't pay the mortgage
It's so nice here in Illinois ever since we put the Chicago Democratic machine in charge of the entire state government...

In a matter of months, a $60,000-plus campaign contributor to Gov. Blagojevich went from defaulting on a mortgage to heading up a state agency that annually doles out $3 billion in loans. Ali D. Ata and three partners took in more than $3.2 million from taxpayers by leasing a West Side office building to the state over 10 years, records show. Despite that income, they fell behind on mortgage payments, and the property was foreclosed upon in September 2003. In January 2004, Ata landed a $127,000-a-year job as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, one of Blagojevich's showpiece government streamlining initiatives. He left that post after a little more than a year amid a critical audit, but then almost immediately was awarded a $55,200-a-year contract to be a consultant for the agency. - Family - Texas Developers Creating Sex-Offender-Free Neighborhood
Ah, the advantages of private government. Here's something no municipality can do--exclude sex offenders.

LUBBOCK, Texas -- The sales pitch for a planned subdivision promises safety: criminal background checks for homeowners and, guaranteed, no convicted sex offenders. It's a concept that might prove right for the times, said first-time developer Clayton Isom, one of three partners in a company that's creating Milwaukee Ridge on the outskirts of this West Texas city.
Governor signs new condo laws - 2005-06-03
A Nancy Levy/Fred Pilot submission about action in Hawaii. There's something about the name "Linda Lingle" that sounds like a character in a comic book. Lois Lane, Peter Parker...and now Linda Lingle.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed two bills on Thursday that make some major changes to condominium laws...[Act 93]expands the types of disclosures that sellers must make, specifying the contents of the developer's report and clarifying requirements for binding sales contract.
The act clarifies the basis upon which a buyer can rescind a condominium sales contract.
The act also provides condo associations the power to evict a tenant if a tenant violates rules, even if the owner fails to do so, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to be heard.
Act 92, the second bill the Gov. Lingle signed, allows a broader range of condominium disputes to be heard by a dispute resolution pilot program in the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

WLOX-TV - The News for South Mississippi: Long Beach Mayor Worries About Division Over Condos
Fred Pilot and Nancy Levy sent this story. Please note that even in Mississippi the municipalities are using impact fees from condo projects to fund public infrastructure. The problem is that new development changes the community.

It's the hottest political issue in Long Beach this election year, but you won't find it on the ballot. The discussion about high rise condominiums is creating quite a division in "the friendly city". Mayor Billy Skellie doesn't have to worry about re-election. He's unopposed this Tuesday. But he is worried about the division over condo development, an issue he fears could hurt the city's image and it's future...Skellie says city leaders worked hard on an ordinance to regulate condominiums and charge the developers with funding necessary improvements to the city infrastructure. Condo projects will pay for a new fire station and pumper truck. "It will all be built, like the infrastructure on water and sewer, also on police and fire, will all be accomplished as funds come in from developers. And it's not going to cost the citizens a penny," the mayor explained.

Pahrump, NV: 700 homes planned for Sheri's Ranch

From Nancy Levy, a story from Art Bell's "Kingdom of Nye" that poses the eternal question, "BROTHEL OR SUBDIVISION?"