Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gates to keep crime out of Mohali-Chandigarh-Cities-The Times of India

Gates to keep crime out of Mohali-Chandigarh-Cities-The Times of India: "MOHALI: A 'gated community' in the USA stands for a specially created residential area where the well-provided can stay in peace, cut off from the insanitary outside world. The gates there are filters of luxury that keep out nastiness. The municipal council of Mohali decided on Tuesday to create gated communities in the city. But here, the reason for their existence will be security.

MC will install 45 gates at all the entry and exit points of different residential areas in Mohali at a cost of Rs 66 lakh.

After Mumbai terror attacks, Mohali police had proposed that each sector in the city should have just one entry and exit point."

Submitted for your consideration: a world of gated communities.

Whatever happened to ... those financially-strapped gated communities? : Local : Naples Daily News

Whatever happened to ... those financially-strapped gated communities? : Local : Naples Daily News: "The Quail West community in North Naples has fallen into bankruptcy.

Affiliates of the once high-powered developer Ginn Cos. based in Celebration, Fla., have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions on two high-end resort communities: Tesoro in Port St. Lucie and Quail West.

The bankruptcy filings come after Ginn-LA defaulted on $675 million in debt owed on four of its communities six months ago. The other two communities are Ginn sur Mer in Grand Bahama Island and Laurelmor in Boone, N.C."

So the answer to the question is: "Bankruptcy." And there will be a whole lot more coming. But I believe the law of bankruptcy leaves owners on the hook for the association's debts, up to the value of their units. - Lawmakers Could Receive IOUs In Budget Crisis - Lawmakers Could Receive IOUs In Budget Crisis: "SACRAMENTO (CBS13) State controller John Chiang sent out warning letters to agencies warning that they could receive IOUs in place of paychecks in one month. Many state workers are safe, protected by a court ruling, but elected leaders and their staff may be about to get hit in the wallet.

'We are in a very difficult situation,' said spokeswoman Hallye Jordan from the Controller's Office. 'The state is running out of cash.'

In two weeks, Chiang will pull the trigger and start the process of issuing IOUs for 1,700 people -- legislators, judges and their appointed staff. The IOUs will go out after February 1st if the budget crisis isn't solved."

At least the legislators are first in line to get paid in monopoly money.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chronic caller charged with crime in Tamaqua --

Chronic caller charged with crime in Tamaqua -- "A Tamaqua man who had more than 100 contacts with police in the past two years faces charges of harassing authorities with calls about a rock in his yard being moved 4 inches, pool water ruining his grass and children making noise."
Here is a fellow who should have moved to an HOA. He would have been in heaven.
Why Roland Burris will be seated in the US Senate: The Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: "When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of each State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."
This is pretty clear. Blagojevich is still the governor because the legislature hasn't impeached him yet, even though it was obvious at least a year ago that they needed to. There is a vacancy. He has a duty to fill it. He just did. The legislature also hasn't gotten around to making this a temporary appointment pending a special election, so I think that means Burris has the job until the term expires in 2010.

Now Jesse White, the Illinois Secretary of State, claims he will refuse to certify this appointment to the US Senate. I think he can be forced to do that by writ of mandamus. His function here is limited. He just certifies that the governor made the appointment of a particular person. He has no other discretion.

Then comes the claim by Harry Reid that the Senate will not accept Burris in any event. They will rest this assertion on Article I of the US Constitution. That reads in part as follows: "Section 5: Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members...Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member."

Reid apparently thinks this means he and his pals can on their own authority decide not to seat a Senator who was duly elected or appointed. That is ridiculous. They can pass on the "qualifications" of the person, and those qualifications are defined in Article I as well:

"No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen..."

The Senate's function is limited to ruling on age, citizenship, and residency. That's it. The US Supreme Court said as much in Powell v. McCormack, when the House tried to prevent Adam Clayton Powell from taking his seat because he was charged with making personal use of public funds and evading court process. The Supreme Court said, "...In judging the qualifications of its members, Congress is limited to the standing qualifications prescribed in the Constitution. Respondents concede that Powell met these. Thus, there is no need to remand this case to determine whether he was entitled to be seated in the 90th Congress. Therefore, we hold that, since Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was duly elected by the voters of the 18th Congressional District of New York and was not ineligible to serve under any provision of the Constitution, the House was without power to exclude him from its membership."

That covers the Burris situation pretty well, except that Burris has an even stronger case than Powell because Burris isn't accused of doing anything wrong. The wrongdoing came earlier and concerned other potential appointees to that seat. If Powell couldn't be excluded by the House for his own apparent wrongdoing, certainly Burris can't be excluded by the Senate merely because the Governor who appointed him is under a legal cloud.

Maybe all these folks will ignore the limits on their authority, but I think Blagojevich may very well win this set in the end, just like he won the pathetic excuse for a legal challenge put forward by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

One final thought: Blagojevich abuses his power, so the Attorney General abuses her power by asking the Illinois Supreme Court to abuse their power. They won't, so now the Secretary of State and the US Senate, seconded by the incoming President, say they will abuse their powers to get even for the governor's previous abuses of power. Is there any public official in this entire daisy chain who has any understanding of this simple fact: in this country, government power is limited in specific ways, and those who occupy public offices are sworn to respect those limits? Anybody? Hello?

Housing Market Divorce Twist: Neither One Wants The House

Housing Market Divorce Twist: Neither One Wants The House: "With nearly one in six homes worth less than the mortgage owed on it, according to Moody's, divorce lawyers and financial advisers around the country say the logistics of divorce have been turned around. 'We used to fight about who gets to keep the house,' said Gary Nickelson, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. 'Now we fight about who gets stuck with the dead cow.'"
Nobody wants to be the one who has to buy out the other and keep the house. Instead the smart move is to get bought out and take your half and...then what?

Foreclosure isn't just for lenders these days | Lynchburg News Advance

Foreclosure isn't just for lenders these days | Lynchburg News Advance: "TAMPA - Donna White never thought she’d lead the charge to foreclose on her neighbors.

But that was before she was forced to fork over extra cash every month to cover bills they refused to pay.

At one point, 60 percent of the 242 owners at Kings Lake Townhomes in Gibsonton weren’t paying their monthly $194 town home association fee."

It never was just for lenders, but finally the press is catching on to how many HOA and condo foreclosures there are.

YouTube - VeggieTales Silly Song "Gated Community"

YouTube - VeggieTales Silly Song "Gated Community"
Just what the culture needed.

Speeding ticket drove mailboxing |

Speeding ticket drove mailboxing | "A man who was arrested for vandalizing mailboxes in Lake Wildwood was upset over a speeding ticket he received from the community’s security guards,according to a release from the Nevada County Sheriff's Office.

During the evening hours of Dec. 25 and 26, approximately 55 plus mailboxes were vandalized in Lake Wildwood, the release said.

Deputies assisted security officers early Saturday morning to arrest Nolan Gail, 19 in his truck. Gail was visiting his girlfriend in the gated community.

Gail was booked into the county jail on felony vandalism charges after he used his vehicle to ram the mailboxes, the release said.

The estimated damage was between $8,000 to $10,000.

Gail denies responsibility for damaging all of the mailboxes.

“There’s no way I destroyed more than 12,” he said."

I think copping to 12 will do just fine as a confession. | Connecticut gated community fetches $10.6M | Connecticut gated community fetches $10.6M: "The apartments are located at 35 Sharon Road and sold for $68,000 per unit. Built in 1974, the property contains 156 units on 10.51 acres. It is a 134,904-square-foot gated community and was financed by Fannie Mae through PNC ARCS, a Fannie Mae DUS lender."

Blagojevich to name Roland Burris to Obama's Senate seat :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Gov. Blagojevich: "Gov. Blagojevich today is expected to name former state Comptroller and Attorney General Roland Burris to Illinois' vacant U.S. Senate seat, a knowledgeable source said this morning."
Burris is 71 years old, black, and a former state Attorney General and Comptroller. His political career was over until he (and probably Emil Jones) convinced Blagojevich to make him a Senator, because he has run unsuccessfully for Mayor of Chicago, Governor (twice), and Senator. That is the trifecta if you ask me. However, I suspect he would have been at least as good at those jobs as their current or previous occupants, and he is as qualified to be a US Senator as anybody, I suppose. I think that will become obvious as Burris defends his appointment in the media over the next few days.

With his crafty little mind, Blagojevich thinks this appointment will pit the leaders of the Democratic Party, who are white liberals, against black politicians and voters. He hopes the party will have a huge crisis because the Democrats will have to decide whether to reject on legitimacy grounds a respected black politician who is actually qualified to be a Senator--unlike the pathetic Caroline Kennedy, who can be rejected because she is, like, unqualified, you know?

And in the process, Blagojevich thinks he will gain some black popular and political support that will help insulate him against impeachment by the Democrats who run the state legislature. Burris is a buddy of Emil Jones, who as leader of the State Senate was the only major ally Blagojevich had. Jones' shenanigans in the Senate enabled Blagojevich to bring the state government to a standstill over capital spending, taxation, education funding reform, and everything else. Jones is a dunce, Blagojevich is a narcissistic fool, and now they have the Burris appointment to create more dysfunction with. Grandstanding and dysfunction are Blagojevich's hallmarks.

Home prices plunge record 18 percent in October: S&P | Reuters

Home prices plunge record 18 percent in October: S&P | Reuters: "'The bear market continues; home prices are back to their March, 2004 levels.' David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement."
March, 2004? That's not such a bad thing, is it? We were young and carefree then.

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs: "Developer abandonment is likely to become a serious issue in the coming year for as many as 200 of the more than 10,000 Arizona communities under HOA control, both opponents and supporters of Arizona's HOA policies say."
Detailed and scary story. These developer abandonment cases are only part of the problem, though. Foreclosures, mismanagement, embezzlement, and litigation will continue to plague many communities.

Fred Pilot notes that the numerous comments to this linked article are striking--take a look.

Police: Pa. man shot for making noise during movie - Yahoo! News: "PHILADELPHIA – A man enraged by a noisy family sitting near him in a movie theater on Christmas night shot the father of the family in the arm, police said.

James Joseph Cialella, 29, of Philadelphia, faces six charges that include attempted murder and aggravated assault. He remained in custody Saturday.

Police said Cialella told the man's family to be quiet, then threw popcorn at the man's son. The victim, whom television reports identified as Woffard Lomax, told police that Cialella was walking toward his family when he stood up and was shot."

Fred Pilot found this example of holiday cheer. Movies cost about ten bucks a head these days, so you'd think people would behave. But no. Many people are so noisy and inconsiderate that only the action movies are worth seeing because the noise drowns out the cell phone conversations. I think many people have never been taught that you can't behave in public the way you can in private places like your living room. In private you can act like a jerk and those close to you just have to suffer or throw a lamp at you, or perhaps tie you up and leave you in the back yard for the coyotes. In public, however, you have to behave. It was once called "manners," a word that has dropped entirely from the American vocabulary.

But shooting people is not the remedy for bad manners in public or private, so the gunfire trumps the noise complaint anyway.

So says Mr. Manners.

Phoenix officer won't allow neighbor to get stranded cat - Phoenix Arizona news, breaking news, local news, weather radar, traffic from ABC15 News |

Phoenix officer won't allow neighbor to get stranded cat - Phoenix Arizona news, breaking news, local news, weather radar, traffic from ABC15 News | "'There's some friction here between these neighbors and I said I could care less about the people I just want to go up and get the cat,' said Smith.

Smith and Toman said they chose to go behind the home on a public sidewalk and lean a 25-foot ladder against his back wall.

In this way they figured they were not on his property.

Just as they were about to get the cat, Smith said, 'This guy comes barreling out of his house, flashed his gun and his badge, and started screaming and freaking out.'"

Normally I would think having a police officer for a neighbor would be a good thing, but it seems in this case it hasn't worked out that way. The cat has been in the tree for 8 days.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Caroline Kennedy tells Daily News: I wouldn't be beholden to anybody

Caroline Kennedy tells Daily News: I wouldn't be beholden to anybody: "'I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party,' Kennedy told the Daily News Saturday during a wide-ranging interview.

'I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor.'"
I think we need, you know, more of these, you know, intellectual heavyweights in, you know, the Senate. You know?

Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US - Times Online: "There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then pickpockets and bullies."
I think we have reached the high or low point of the privatization revolution.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Record pension underfunding seen for 2008-S&P | Markets | Bonds News | Reuters

Record pension underfunding seen for 2008-S&P | Markets | Bonds News | Reuters: "NEW YORK, Dec 23 (Reuters) - The funding status of U.S. pensions has been 'devastated' by sharp declines in the stock market this year and U.S. pensions are expected to register record underfunding levels for 2008, Standard & Poor's said on Tuesday.

Standard & Poor's analyst Howard Silverblatt expects pension funds of companies in the benchmark S&P 500 index .SPX to be underfunded by $257 billion in aggregate this year, beating the previous underfunding record of $219 billion set in 2002."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Volokh Conspiracy - -

The Volokh Conspiracy - Eric Posner-: "Home ownership policy of the Bush and Clinton administrations was, in essence, an attempt to pay low-income people to make a risky investment that they would otherwise rationally avoid. I cannot understand why anyone would think that such a policy would be sensible."
Neither can I.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Raw Story | Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Tutu suggests using violence to remove Mugabe
Maybe there was a typo and it was the Nobel Peach Prize.

Can we have a Defcon Five Irony Alert?

Chinese drywall causes problems on the Treasure Coast : Treasure Coast : TCPalm

Florida: Chinese drywall causes problems on the Treasure Coast : "PORT ST. LUCIE — Martin and St. Lucie counties are two of nearly a dozen counties where complaints of possible exposure to the contaminated drywall in new homes have arisen.

The problem may have been sparked by drywall imported during the local construction boom of 2004 and 2005.

Some common symptoms are irritated eyes, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and symptoms similar to bronchitis and asthma.

The contaminated Chinese drywall may be emitting one of several sulfur compounds including sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide. While exposure to fumes from sulfur dioxide can create irritation and breathing disorders, exposure to hydrogen sulfide can be deadly."

Nasty situation. I assume the only remedy is to remove and replace all the drywall.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

True Facts News: 10 Municipal Bankruptcies in Coming Year

True Facts News: 10 Municipal Bankruptcies in Coming Year: "Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The accountant who predicted the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy says as many as 10 insolvencies will roil the $2.7 trillion U.S. market for state, county and city debt next year as public finances worsen amid calls for federal aid to state and local governments.

John Moorlach said in 1994 that Orange County, California’s leveraged investing strategy could wreck its finances. The county went bankrupt about six months later after losing $1.6 billion.

As many as four cities in the Golden State and six others nationwide may seek court protection from creditors next year under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, the section devoted to municipal governments, Moorlach said in an interview."

Only ten?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Driver banned for having world's most untidy car |

Driver banned for having world's most untidy car | "Police have banned a woman driver's car from the road - for being too untidy.

The Vauxhall Astra was so full of junk, magazines, old clothes and even bits of furniture that they could barely see the driver at it roared down a motorway in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The driver - who has not been named by police - has been banned from taking the car on the road again until it has passed a tidiness test."
I don't see how a human being could fit behind the wheel. - Where'd the Bailout Money Go? Shhhh, It's a Secret - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - Where'd the Bailout Money Go? Shhhh, It's a Secret - : "WASHINGTON — It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where's the money going?

But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they either can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it."

This fits perfectly with Bush being able to give it to automakers if he chooses. Nobody has to account for anything connected to that $700 billion, apparently.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Richard White: Associations should allow members to volunteer to do tasks : Columns : Naples Daily News

Richard White: What happens when a CID tries to go banrupt?: "Q. If our condominium were to go into bankruptcy, what would happen to the condominium owners who are current on all assessments and repairs and own our condominiums in full with no mortgage? Would we still be able to live in our condominiums? — P.G., Miami

A. Usually the bankruptcy courts will not accept an association bankruptcy. Their feeling is that all the board needs to do is raise the fees. But let us look at a worst case scenario. Say more than half of your homes went into foreclosure and the fees were just overwhelming for the remaining owners. It means that none or few of your association services would be provided, no insurance, no payment of utilities, no repairs and no operations. The problem is that you could not sell your home for a fair market value and most banks would not provide the buyer with a mortgage if you could find a buyer. In my many years of management, I have only known of one condominium that successfully declared bankruptcy. There may be others but very, very few have been successful.

If the association does go bankrupt the owners are still on the hook for the debt.

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs: "When the San Tan Heights Homeowners Association switched from developer control to homeowner-elected leaders in August, its new board members and management company learned that the HOA was practically DOA.

Its problems included nearly $1.6 million in unpaid dues that the previous HOA board in the Queen Creek-area community had made no effort to collect.

The biggest individual delinquencies belong to bankrupt home builders.

Developer abandonment is likely to become a serious issue in the coming year for as many as 200 of the more than 10,000 Arizona communities under HOA control, both opponents and supporters of Arizona's HOA policies say. both"

This is only the beginning.

Home Front: Impact fees may be the next battlefield for area builders - Sacramento Business, Housing Market News | Sacramento Bee: "When the housing market soared in Sacramento a few years ago, many cities, counties and school districts hiked fees for a new house, with some soaring into the $80,000s and $90,000s. Builders complained, but moved on. Times were so flush they just paid some and passed the rest to buyers. What did $90,000 matter if a house sold for $470,000 or more to a buyer using exotic financing?

It's sure different today. There are no exotic loans. And much of the new home market is back in the $200,000s. At those prices, builders say, the fees make it hard to break even.

So they're again pushing City Hall to rethink impact fees in light of a devalued housing market."

When cities were in the driver's seat the developers had to pay the fees, and then they passed them on to the home buyers in the form of higher home prices. So this practice fueled housing price inflation, which in turn contributed, along with other problems, to the whole debacle we are enjoying. Now a developer with money is able to strike a harder bargain. How will this play out? Cities have been minimizing property tax increases on residents by practices like impact fees, mandatory CIDs, TIFs, and other similar cost-shifting mechanisms. How will development be accomplished in this new financial environment, where nobody has any money?

Maybe new housing will be, shall we say, a bit humbler than in the past.

Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

CNN Meteorologist: Manmade Global Warming Theory 'Arrogant'

CNN Meteorologist: Manmade Global Warming Theory 'Arrogant': "CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers had never bought into the notion that man can alter the climate and the Vegas snowstorm didn’t impact his opinion. Myers, an American Meteorological Society certified meteorologist, explained on CNN’s Dec. 18 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that the whole idea is arrogant and mankind was in danger of dying from other natural events more so than global warming."
He says there are other environmental problems that we should be concerned about.

Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at Bush was then viciously beaten | World news | The Observer

Not News Department: "The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George Bush was viciously beaten after being taken into custody, according to a police officer who accompanied him to prison."
Shocking. What did he or anybody else think would happen to him? If he had done this to Saddam Hussein, he would have been fed slowly into a plastic shredder.

A tale of two houses - 12/19/08 - Chicago News -

A tale of two houses - 12/19/08 - Chicago News - "By Chuck Goudie

Real estate deals involving the governor and his wife have attracted the attention of federal authorities. Since Mr. Blagojevich was charged, most public attention has focused on the allegation that he tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.

But authorities are looking at far more than that, including the curious tale of two houses.

The governor owns two houses. The governor's well-known residence on Chicago's North Side and a condominium that he and his wife own in the chic Dupont Circle section of Washington, D.C.

For a man who makes $177,000, owes $2 million in legal fees and is at risk of losing his job, according to property and tax records, Rod and Patti Blagojevich appear to be over-leveraged on their known real estate."

They could be living for free in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, but he has insisted on living in Chicago all this time. He says it is "for the children," meaning that his kids attend a Montessori school in Chicago. The article suggests it is so his wife can make bucks from her real estate license. She is under investigation because her clients seem to be people getting favors from the Governor, such as the Mahajans.

Paris Hilton Like Totally Burglarized! : "Early reports estimate that upwards of $1 million worth of Hilton's belongings were snagged in the late Thursday/early Friday morning robbery. The break-in reportedly took place late on Thursday. Hilton apparently did not come home till early on Friday morning, at which point (it is presumed that) she called the LAPD.

The police are investigating the break-in at Hilton's swanky gated community. No one has been arrested yet, and there has yet to be a description released of the suspect(s)."

Ohmigod, I would like totally be wondering what I am getting for my assessments here at this "swanky gated community," I am so totally sure.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Way News - Detroit mayor: Deficit nears $300M, cuts ordered

My Way News - Detroit mayor: Deficit nears $300M, cuts ordered: "The mayor of Detroit says the city's deficit is approaching $300 million and he has ordered all departments to reduce their budgets by 10 percent.

Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. said in a statement Friday that new problems are being discovered daily regarding the finances and financial reporting practices of the administration of his predecessor, Kwame Kilpatrick."

$3 billion budget. $300 million deficit. New problems being discovered daily. Thank you, ex-Mayor Kilpatrick.

Rubidoux man mauled to death by own dogs | Inland News | | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California

Rubidoux man mauled to death by own dogs | Inland News | | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California: "Two dogs mauled their 60-year-old owner to death Friday afternoon when he stepped into the backyard of his Rubidoux home to smoke, officials said.

Gerald Adelmund was declared dead at the cream-colored house in the 5700 block of Kenwood Place after deputies pulled him inside, said Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.

'This is an unfortunate, very tragic accident,' Gutierrez said.

He said he did not know why the dogs attacked Adelmund or who dragged him into the house.

The dogs were described as a 4-year-old, 107-pound male, part pit bull and part mastiff, and a 52-pound female pit bull, about 6."

Time for the pit bull lovers to blame the guy they ate. These dogs need to be sterilized--every last one of them.

Americans less likely to roam :study - Yahoo! News

Americans less likely to roam :study - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (AFP) – Once celebrated for their ability to pack up and move around the country on a whim, Americans are increasingly opting to stay put, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center.

Using polling data and government statistics, Pew found only 13 percent of Americans moved house between 2006-2007, the lowest rate since records began in the 1940s.

According to Thursday's report, roaming has been on the wane since the 1960s -- an era when millions followed beatnik author Jack Kerouac 'On the Road.'

Analysts say the slipping trend is due to an aging population. 'The US population is getting older and most moves are made when people are young,' Pew researchers noted."

There is more to this than aging.

Schwarzenegger orders mass layoffs, unpaid furloughs - Los Angeles Times

Schwarzenegger orders mass layoffs, unpaid furloughs - Los Angeles Times: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered mass layoffs and unpaid furloughs for state workers starting in February to address California's growing fiscal crisis.

Under his executive order, 238,000 employees will be forced to take off two unpaid days per month through June 30, 2010. Managers will receive either the furlough or an equivalent salary reduction during the same period."

Begun, the state and local budget wars have.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Separated at birth?

Ford says does it not need short-term loans from bailout
Now that's what I call a car company. I drive a Ford Freestyle that was manufactured in Chicago.

So Bush emerged from his self-imposed stupor long enough to shovel $14 billion down the gaping maws of GM and Chrysler. I wish he would pay a little more attention to his actual job, which is protecting the nation, instead of fumbling around with an economy that he and his advisers have proven they do not understand. Have the Navy sink some Somali pirate boats or bring us the head of Osama Bin Laden. Anything but this doomed corporatism.

County officials say no to paying for road upkeep | | Iowa City Press Citizen

County officials say no to paying for road upkeep | | Iowa City Press Citizen: "The matter surfaced in a Dec. 9 letter from the Oak Ridge Lake Estates Homeowner Association to the county about maintenance of 140th Street, which supervisors discussed at an informal meeting Thursday. Homeowner association members requested to transfer the maintenance costs to the county as the population on their road had doubled and neighbors refused to help pay the bill. The issue is that as subdivisions are built, many of the residents prefer a chip-seal road surface over gravel conditions, and make an agreement with the county to pay for it. However, as time passes many want to transfer upkeep costs to the county."
This is happening all over the place, and it seems that most local governments say, "No, thanks."

Cleveland Law Library Weblog: U.S. Bankruptcy Filings Exceed One Million

Cleveland Law Library Weblog: U.S. Bankruptcy Filings Exceed One Million
As the blog post explains, bankruptcy law was "reformed" in 2005 to make it harder for consumers to go belly up. Still, for 2008, business filings are up 49% and non-business filings are up 30%. - Current Article Page -Gates Four homeowners sue over planned annexation: "The association and homeowners have vehemently opposed what they consider a land grab by the city, which stands to reap an extra $2.6 million in tax revenue over five years.

Gates Four residents say they have all the services they need, including curbside garbage collection, street maintenance and a small security force.

The community is a mix of stately brick houses, more modestly sized homes and smaller condominiums and town homes. Five years ago, the average tax value per house was $225,135."

Finally a gated community that puts "gates" right in their name so you know that you need to stay the heck out. And they aren't messing around on this annexation either. They are just saying, "We don't need no stinking municipal services!"

Situations like this can be prevented by incorporating as a municipality. Unincorporated land is always subject to these city land grabs.

More California Towns Face Bankruptcy - "Isleton and Rio Vista, small towns roughly 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, say they have begun consulting with bankruptcy lawyers as they draw up plans to deal with their mounting budget crises. The towns' leaders say they hope to avoid bankruptcy, but concede the move may eventually be their only option.

'We're strapped for cash and by the end of March or early April we may not have enough money to pay for payroll,' says Hector De La Rosa, Rio Vista's city manager.

California's troubled towns can't expect much help from the state. A state board voted Wednesday to shut off $3.8 billion in financing to hundreds of infrastructure projects to preserve cash, as the nation's most populous state struggles under a budget deficit that officials say could balloon to more than $40 billion over the next two years.

'California's fiscal house is burning down,' State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said..."

The photo is from Rio Vista, showing a new residential development that stopped construction last month. I don't know if the libertarians are jumping with joy to see municipalities go under. Maybe the fact that CIDs are tanking as well has tempered their enthusiasm.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Estero HOA turns out lights on Christmas | | The News-Press

Estero HOA turns out lights on Christmas | | The News-Press: "In one Southwest Florida gated community the bright and cheery colors of Christmas are not welcome.

Residents living in Villagio at Estero were told recently that Christmas decorations were against the community’s bylaws and they faced $100 in fines if Christmas lights and other decorations weren’t removed immediately."

Ho ho ho.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Most dangerous parts of America revealed by 'Death Map' - International Business Times -

Most dangerous parts of America revealed by 'Death Map' -
Good site to check before you move...

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion: Illinois Supreme Court Rejects AG Madigan's Motion To Remove Blagojevich
No surprise. It was a pathetic grab for attention.

Treasurer accused of stealing HOA funds | The Citizen Online

Treasurer accused of stealing HOA funds | The Citizen Online: "A Peachtree City man has been charged with 16 counts of fiduciary theft for writing $29,000 in checks from his homeowner’s association to himself and two of his companies."

Fred Pilot found a new blog. >> Opinion >> Opinion: Who will bail out Uncle Sam?: "The United States of America is bankrupt. Don’t believe it? Consider this: Federal obligations now exceed the collective net worth of all Americans, according to the New York-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation."
OK, but the analogy doesn't work. Nations seem to be able to go on indefinitely in an insolvent condition. With the whole world experiencing a recession, maybe the Illuminati will just hit the reboot button.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

IRS to help homeowners refinance or sell homes - Yahoo! News

IRS to help homeowners refinance or sell homes - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday it will try to make it easier for homeowners in financial straits to refinance or sell their homes.

The plan announced by IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman would speed up a process where financially distressed homeowners may request that a federal tax lien be made secondary to liens by the lending institution that is refinancing or restructuring a loan.

Taxpayers will also be able to ask the IRS to discharge, or remove, its claim to a property in certain circumstances where the property is being sold for less than the amount of the mortgage lien."

Sounds like a good idea.

Judge: Parking restrictions "unreasonable" | | Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater

Judge: Parking restrictions "unreasonable" | | Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater: "Odessa, Florida-- A Hillsborough County homeowners' association now faces thousands of dollars in legal fees after losing a lawsuit against one of their residents.

The board of directors representing The Eagles, a deed restricted community in Odessa, was trying to keep A.J. Vizzi from parking his Ford pickup truck in his home's driveway."

Thanks to Beth Young for sending the link to this interesting situation. It gets a bit complicated becasue there seems to have been a discrepancy between the rules the board was enforcing and the rules Vizzi received when he moved in.


State loses over $20 million in bond sale: Governor’s arrest shows cost of corruption: "The legal problems surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich have already cost the state more than $20 million, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said today.

The state was forced to delay its plan to borrow $1.4 billion last Thursday as a result of the governor’s arrest and missed the chance to sell short-term bonds at reduced interest rates.

News of the governor’s legal situation, a rating downgrade and market volatility drove up the interest rate by several percentage points on the bonds sold today."

As the financial situation of a state or local government worsens, their bond rating goes down, and that increases the interest rates they have to pay on the bonds they issues. So there is a slippery slope, and Illinois is on it.

Man sprays 'toilet-papering' teens with fox urine - Yahoo! News: "WILLMAR, Minn. – A 50-year-old man told authorities he was fed up with teens toilet-papering his house during homecoming week. This year, he decided to defend his property — with a squirt gun filled with fox urine.

Now, Scott Wagar is in trouble with the law. He pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court to misdemeanor assault and other charges. He was released on personal recognizance."

How did he get the urine from the fox to the squirt gun? Maybe he cheated and went to the bottled variety.
Condo Activist In Madison Defends Himself Against Charge Of Attempted Bribery -- "Not long after arriving, Perrelli started battling with the condominium association, and he eventually filed four lawsuits against the group and its board members. The association countersued, and the clashes dragged on for years with Perrelli acting as his own attorney to save money on legal expenses.

That intense passion fueled by the tension between individuals and condominium associations has led the 74-year-old Perrelli to where he is today: facing the possibility of serving as much as 10 years in prison after being charged with trying to bribe a state representative who was helping him to reform the state's condo laws."

This is a strange case that bears watching. I won't venture any opinions on it yet. He is very heavily involved with these issues in Wisconsin and is called the "Ralph Nader" of the issue.

Daily Herald | Lindenhurst Village Green project still alive but delayed

Daily Herald | Lindenhurst Village Green project still alive but delayed: "The vacant, 52-acre Village Green retail center in Lindenhurst is symbolic of the country's recession - loaded with potential but sitting idle for now.

Citing the current economy, developer Oliver McMillan and village officials have pushed back their estimated completion time for the site's 450,000-square-foot retail development until sometime in 2011. Earlier projections hoped the doors would open in spring 2010."

Hard to build when credit is tight because banks are in trouble, developers are hurting because the market is dead, and cities are (see below) cutting everywhere.

Three Decades After Cleveland Defaulted on Its Debts, Cities Face Recession Budget Woes - US News and World Report

Three Decades After Cleveland Defaulted on Its Debts, Cities Face Recession Budget Woes - US News and World Report: "Historically, cities rarely default on loans. Rarer still are city bankruptcies, despite Vallejo, Calif.'s much-publicized May filing under Chapter 9, the section of the bankruptcy code that applies to municipalities. And such moves usually stem not only from a financial downturn but from each city's particular situation—from whether the budget has balanced in the past to how willing leaders are to make the politically unpalatable move of raising taxes.

As today's economic crisis deepens, however, so will its impact on cities. In fact, experts say municipalities will feel the recession's full effect slightly after businesses and industries. Even if they do not declare bankruptcy outright, more cities might default on their loans in the coming months.

But before any of that, experts say, expect budget cuts. Lots of them."

The consensus seems to be that we are about to see major service cuts by local governments across the country. How will this effect HOAs and condos?

Journalist who threw shoes at Bush, Muntazer al-Zaidi, 'has broken arm and ribs' - Times Online
Now, that's just a doggone shame. I imagine he must have injured himself while he was in the act of throwing those shoes. Probably forgot to warm up and stretch first. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Mr. Shoe-Thrower Man.

If he had done this to Saddam Hussein, he would be feeling like Zed in Pulp Fiction. I would turn him over to Marcellus Wallace right now. Talk about getting medieval on somebody. Worldwide

Obama cabinet nominee under investigation: "A federal grand jury is investigating how a company that advised Jefferson County, Alabama, on bond deals that threaten to cause the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, did similar work in New Mexico after making contributions to Governor Bill Richardson’s political action committees."
That's two federal probes before inauguration.
illinoisreview: Illinois Attorney General Gets a Grade of "C-": "The Brief and supporting motion papers filed by the Illinois Attorney General with the Illinois Supreme Court in support of the request to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now are available online. I have no idea what the Illinois Supreme Court will do on the motion, or if Gov. Blagojevich will resign prior to the Court ruling, but I can tell you that the papers are very, very weak. Embarrassingly weak. If submitted in my course by a 2nd or 3rd year law student, I would give the student a C-, with a chance to redo the papers to get a higher grade. Here's why."
Don't take my word for it. Here is a Cornell law professor saying the same thing.

The problems with this state's government do not stop with Blagojevich. We have a nepotism crisis. Every minimally-qualified relative of a powerful Democrat gets a major policy-making job. The current poster child is our Attorney General, who has very little legal experience, knows nothing about the criminal justice process, and has just demonstrated she hasn't learned much since getting elected, but who picked the right daddy.

Southern California may see sub-freezing temperatures - Los Angeles Times

Southern California may see sub-freezing temperatures - Los Angeles Times
Al Gore must be in LA for a major speech on global warming. That usually causes a major cold snap.
The temperature here in Chicago is...2 degrees F.

Electoral College to make Obama's win official | Politics | Reuters

Electoral College to make Obama's win official | Politics | Reuters: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Electoral College met on Monday to officially elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.

Meeting in state capitals across the country, members of the Electoral College were expected to give Democrat Obama 365 votes and his Republican rival John McCain 173 votes."

Ron Paul supporters all over America are now expecting Congress to declare the Electoral College vote invalid on January 8 and elect you-know-who instead.

It isn't too late, Ronulans! Emerge from Mommy's basement and fight on!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jeffersonville, Indiana: condo president captured on video stealing ballots?
Take a look at this story. It contains the home surveillance video. I think the state legislators who are being told there is no need to regulate condo/hoa boards should watch it and hear what the residents have to say.

Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

illinoisreview: ILGOP's new ad: We Want a Special Election

illinoisreview: ILGOP's new ad: We Want a Special Election
The Illinois Republican Party wants a special election to fill Obama's Senate seat, instead of having it done by gubernatorial appointment as provided in the state Constitution. I have one question: why?

First, there is no legal basis for doing this. The procedure is clear, and a special election isn't part of it. This course of action will lead to a ridiculous legislative debacle that will make a Three Stooges episode look like the Large Hadron Supercollider in action.

Second, the Illinois Republican Party is so dysfunctional that they can't participate intelligently in a special election. Several of the state central committee members are really Democrats posing as Republicans. Other party leaders, in the organization, behind the scenes, and in the legislature, have been doing major business with the Blago corruption factory since he got elected. The party's last gubernatorial candidate was Judy Barr-Topinka, who this weekend was saying on her radio show that Obama may turn out to be one of the best presidents in US history. Some Republican. How about their Senate candidates? The party drafted free-lance lunatic and Maryland resident Alan Keyes to run against Obama for US Senate.

I think the Illinois Republican Party should politely bow out of this debate entirely and instead the leadership should go off to a remote area in secret and get their act together. Come back when you can act like a political party, folks. Worldwide: "Almost a third of hedge funds will shut or merge after the $1.5 trillion industry posted its worst ever performance this year, according to IGS Group, which advises hedge funds on raising money."
There are over 10,000 hedge funds, so if one-third of them disappear there will be a lot of gardeners looking for work. Oh, wait.

A Second Mortgage Disaster On The Horizon?, 60 Minutes: New Wave Of Mortgage Rate Adjustments Could Force More Homeowners To Default - CBS News

A Second Mortgage Disaster On The Horizon?, 60 Minutes: New Wave Of Mortgage Rate Adjustments Could Force More Homeowners To Default - CBS News: "The trouble now is that the insanity didn't end with sub-primes. There were two other kinds of exotic mortgages that became popular, called 'Alt-A' and 'option ARM.' The option ARMs, in particular, lured borrowers in with low initial interest rates - so-called teaser rates - sometimes as low as one percent. But after two, three or five years those rates 'reset.' They went up. And so did the monthly payment. A mortgage of $800 dollars a month could easily jump to $1,500.

Now the Alt-A and option ARM loans made back in the heyday are starting to reset, causing the mortgage payments to go up and homeowners to default."

But this doesn't need to happen because now the federal government is on the case and will prevent the "new wave" of defaults...right?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Madoff's arrest in billion-dollar fraud case shocks Palm Beach investors

Madoff's arrest in billion-dollar fraud case shocks Palm Beach investors
Seems to me the victims should have seen this coming, given that his name was in "made off" with your money.

Sorry. I have been grading papers for three days.

Althouse: Let's read AG Lisa Madigan's brief against Governor Blagojevich.

Althouse: Let's read AG Lisa Madigan's brief against Governor Blagojevich.: "The legal argument in the brief is embarrassingly inadequate, quoting the dictionary meaning of 'disabled' and saying over and over again that the meaning is 'plain' and the 'plain meaning' governs."
Now, to a knowledgeable observer Lisa Madigan looks like an idiot. But to an Illinois voter I suspect this will be her shining hour. She will brag about it every day when she runs for governor with her daddy's clout pushing her forward, the media hyping her, and the Republicans mired in their usual state of conflict and ineptitude.

If the Illinois electorate had any desire to clean up the political system, the last thing they would do is vote to put this lightweight product of the machine into the governor's mansion. Watch them do it, though.

Residents: HOA Wants Bailout, Too - House And Home News Story - KPHO Phoenix

Residents: HOA Wants Bailout, Too - House And Home News Story - KPHO Phoenix: "PHOENIX -- One Valley homeowners' association is more than $1 million in debt and has asked its residents to bail it out.

The HOA for the San Tan Heights neighborhood in Queen Creek said builders left 700 homes vacant and 1,000 homeowners have either been foreclosed on or have stopped paying their dues.

To ease the $1.5 million burden, the HOA has asked the remaining 2,000 homeowners to pay a $750 assessment fee."

The "bailout" is nothing of the sort. It is just a special assessment. A bailout is when a corporation looks outside to government for help, as a last resort. The owners who are calling this HOA assessment a bailout don't seem to understand that they are the association and their BOD has the right to make them pay the association's debts. Even if the association were to file for bankruptcy, the owners would still be on the hook.

People who buy into CIDs need to know that the association's debts are ultimately their debts, up to the value of their units.

Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Way News - Ill. sinks deeper into chaos over scandal

My Way News - Ill. sinks deeper into chaos over scandal: "Illinois plunged deeper into turmoil Friday over disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich as the attorney general asked the state's highest court to strip the governor of his powers, billions of dollars in bills went unpaid and lawmakers moved closer to impeaching the scandal-plagued politician."
Our AG is the daughter of the most powerful state legislator--Mike Madigan, Speaker of the House. He wants to make her governor, like he made her a state legislator and then the attorney general. Now this silly, embarrassing, grandstanding lawsuit to have the IL Supreme Court oust the governor.

There is only one way to get rid of this abomination, if he won't resign. Her daddy has to move an impeachment resolution through the state house that he controls. Why hasn't he done that already? Perhaps because he wants her to grandstand and take some sort of bogus lead on the issue in the media, so that she can run for governor as the anti-Blago Democrat. This Supreme Court play, which is doomed to total failure, distracts the press and the public from the real question: where has the AG--supposedly our chief law enforcement officer--been, while Blago was running rampant breaking state and federal laws all over the place? Answer: she has been turning the AGs office into a warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely place where she can show how much she cares about the little people. She is true to Chicago Machine form: the reason the feds always have to do the heavy lifting on Illinois corruption is that the Cook County State's Attorney and the Illinois Attorney General never seem to notice anything. So, Mike Madigan is enabling his daughter to create the false impression that she is using her power to rid us of this bonehead governor, when in fact she hasn't done a damn thing.

It makes a strange kind of sense, though: in Illinois, the remedy for a governor who abused his power is for the Speaker of the House to abuse his power, so his daughter the Attorney General can abuse her power, by asking the state Supreme Court to abuse their power.

BBC NEWS | Business | Ecuador defaults on foreign debt

BBC NEWS | Business | Ecuador defaults on foreign debt: "Ecuador is to default officially on billions of dollars of foreign debt it considers 'illegitimate', says President Rafael Correa.

Mr Correa said he had given the order not to approve a debt interest payment due on Monday, describing the international lenders as 'monsters'."

Maybe GM and Chrysler should try the Ecuadorian Gambit: refuse to pay your debts and denounce your creditors as monsters.

Bad Economy Hits Green Companies Hard | Newsweek Project Green |

Bad Economy Hits Green Companies Hard | Newsweek Project Green | "First there was the dotcom bust of the late 1990s, then came the real-estate bubble that's deflating before our eyes. Next up: the green bubble. Alternative energy ventures have received a lot of great press, heavy investment and lip service from politicians in the last couple of years, but many of the nascent green industry's balance sheets are beginning to bleed red.

Among the hardest hit is T. Boone Pickens and his alternative energy hedge fund BP Capital, which has reportedly lost some $2 billion."

I wonder if the White House and Congress will decide that it is essential to drive oil and gas prices way up in order to keep inflating the "green bubble" and, of course, to save the galaxy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Little Blago for Everyone by Jonah Goldberg on National Review Online

A Little Blago for Everyone by Jonah Goldberg on National Review Online: "According to the Chicago Sun-Times, as of 2006 — when Blago’s predecessor, George Ryan, was sent to prison for racketeering — 79 elected officials had been convicted of corruption in the past 30 years. Among the perps: 27 aldermen, 19 judges, 15 state legislators, three governors, two congressmen, one mayor, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a stolen pear tree. Especially in this holiday season, it’s so very important to keep traditions alive for the kids. In a sense, Blago did it for the children."
Not exactly. He did it for the bleeping children.
Madoff's alleged $50 billion fraud hits other investors - Yahoo! Finance: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors scrambled to assess potential losses from an alleged $50 billion fraud by Bernard Madoff, a day after the arrest of the prominent Wall Street trader."
This has to be the biggest (alleged) Ponzi scheme in history. Ponzi (see photo) is credited with inventing the scam where the crook poses as an investor, gets money from a bunch of victims, tells them he has invested it, and then keeps it. He never invests at all, or just invests some of it. The scheme is that he pays off a few of them with money from some of the other investors. Then he just keeps paying off a few people with new money from other people every so often, while he continues to enlarge the number of victims. If he keeps half the new money and uses the other half to pay off a few people, the word spreads of this great new investment company.

California faces financial meltdown as debt grows by $1.7m an hour - Times Online

California faces financial meltdown as debt grows by $1.7m an hour - Times Online: "The state of California, one of the top ten largest economies in the world, will run out of money by February, causing “financial Armageddon”, according to dire new budget projections."
Maybe California will be the first state to file for bankruptcy.
HOA drama as TV fodder? Now's your chance.
Look what is circulating around the net:

Location: Orlando and surrounding areas

If the answer is yes, here is your chance to show America the significant role that homeowner associations play in neighborhoods across the country!
You have worked hard to own your home, and home ownership is at the heart of the personal freedoms we enjoy as Americans. People are passionate about protecting the property value of the most important investment they will ever make.

New HGTV pilot is in search of homeowner associations with a never-ending supply of passion, conflict and drama!

Are the members of your HOA impassioned and animated about enforcing the rules? Is your HOA president active in the community while being enthusiastic and driven in making sure your association is the best that it can be! Is your neighborhood full of volatile and dynamic personalities?

Tell us your story and be one of the lucky HOA¢s chosen to be part of our groundbreaking pilot.

Please send an email to: and tell us about your HOA. Please also include the city you live in along with contact information.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Corruption winds through Illinois politics |

Corruption winds through Illinois politics | "In the annals of corrupt Illinois politicians, Gov. Rod Blagojevich may go down as one of the most brazen. But he has plenty of company.

Three of the state’s seven previous governors have been convicted and served time. Since 1971, by one count, 31 Chicago aldermen and some 1,000 public officials and businessmen have been convicted.

“We’re the corruption capital of the United States,” says Dick Simpson, a political scientist at the University of Illinois in Chicago and a former Chicago alderman, who maintains that state corruption count. “We have more [corruption] even than New Jersey and Louisiana, which are our competitors.”"

Dick is the head of my department and the leading authority on the Chicago machine. The corruption here is so profound that criminal prosecutions, while necessary, do not have a deterrent effect. The politicians just factor in the risk of criminal conviction as one of the risks of doing business. When somebody falls to the feds, the rest of the crooks just try not to get caught the same way he did. Even if Patrick Fitzgerald nails the big fish--Richie Daley--it won't change the political culture.

Here is a modest proposal: maybe the state of Illinois needs to be put into political receivership and subjected to total reconstruction, just like the confederate states after the Civil War. Just a little thought experiment.

Gated communities gaining popularity in Vellore-Chennai-Cities-The Times of India

Gated communities gaining popularity in Vellore-Chennai-Cities-The Times of India: "Some of the townspeople have still not come to terms with the concept of a gated community. Gunasekharan, a broker in Vellore, for instance, calls it 'houses that have 24 hours common security' as opposed to the other houses for rent in Vellore that have no security."
That's a clever euphemism, but somehow I don't think it will catch on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Knoll-Century Hill Lawsuit Set To Proceed

Knoll-Century Hill Lawsuit Set To Proceed: "AVON PARK - A lawsuit filed by a Knoll-Century Hill subdivision resident against the homeowner's association will come to trial on Dec. 29.

The basis of Aaron Seward's suit is a claim that the homeowner's association held illegal and improper voting proxies to allow directors to amend the association's bylaws in order to purchase a clubhouse in the subdivision.

According to the suit, in April 2007, the association board held a member vote, allowing the association the authority to pass and enforce a special assessment to purchase property from private parties, according to an April 2 Highlands Today report."

Read the story and see if you think everything was done by the book. Doesn't sound that way from this story.

Who will fill Obama's senate seat? : News : KHQA

Is Obama lying?:
Obama says he didn't talk with Blagojevich about who would take his seat in the Senate. Obama's campaign manager, David Axelrod, said Obama did speak with him, but recanted after Obama denied it. I said (see below) that it is inconceivable Obama wouldn't have discussed something this important with Blago. Now it turns out (via Instapundit) that their meeting was documented on November 5, the day after the election, in the following article by Carol Sowers:

"CHICAGO, ILL. -- Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

That's one of Obama's first priorities today.

He's meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich this afternoon in Chicago to discuss it."

So, Obama appears to be lying when he says he didn't talk with Blago. 1) His campaign manager said the meeting happened; 2) there was a newspaper article about the meeting being set to occur; and 3) it defies logic and common sense to say that Obama didn't discuss something as important as his Senate seat (and his candidate seems to have been Valerie Jarrett) with the only person on planet Earth who could appoint him/her.

The evidence suggests that Obama is lying to the public on a matter of substantial importance. Now: will the press follow up on this? I doubt it.

Residents Demand Meeting With Prosecutors Over Break-Ins - Indiana News Story - WRTV Indianapolis

Residents Demand Meeting With Prosecutors Over Break-Ins - Indiana News Story - WRTV Indianapolis: "Homeowners' association president Melissa Huber said residents are tired of rampant crime and want prosecutors to intervene."
Fred Pilot sent this link. HOA folks are frustrated after 69 burglaries. Can't blame them.

Clout Street - local political coverage | Chicago Tribune | Blog: "Following a 90-minute audition meeting today with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. said he was confident in the process the governor is using to make his choice for a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama...Jackson has mounted the most highly visible campaign among several people who are being considered for the Senate post. He said the meeting with Blagojevich amounted to a “very productive conversation, very thoughtful” that covered a broad range of issues.

“I am convinced that the governor has a very thoughtful process that he has put in place and is wrestling and weighing a number of issues in this enormous decision that he has to make,” Jackson said. “Today, I leave confident that the governor has put in place processes and that his interview process for this position is thoughtful.”"

This meeting occurred the day before Blagojevich was arrested. And it now turns out that Jackson is Senate Candidate No. 5, who in the complaint is alleged to have offered either $500K or $1M for the seat. When Jackson said he was "confident in the process," he knew that he and Blago had just finished talking about how much the Senate seat would cost him. So, put it together: Jackson was defending Blago's corrupt process in public while dealing dirty in the back room.

Can we maybe have somebody besides me putting all this together in the press?

Question: Will Jackson be indicted, or will he just be a government witness against Blago in exchange for a grant of immunity? Because if these alleged facts and news reports turn out to be true, Jesse Jackson, Jr., seems to have committed a felony.

Internal Warnings Sounded on Loans At Fannie, Freddie -

Internal Warnings Sounded on Loans At Fannie, Freddie - "Internal Freddie Mac documents show that senior executives at the company were warned years ago that they were offering mortgages that could pose dangers to the firm, hurt borrowers and generate more risky loans throughout the industry."
A House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is jumping right on this. About five years too late.

He's the clown, but joke's on us --

He's the clown, but joke's on us -- "So though Illinois isn't surprised—this is after all the home of the Chicago Way—the national media must be shocked.

They've been clinging to the ridiculous notion that Chicago is Camelot for months now, cleaving to the idea with the willfulness of stubborn children. It must help them see Obama as some pristine creature, perhaps a gentle faun of a magic forest, unstained by our grubby politics, a bedtime story for grown-ups who insist upon fairy tales. But now the national media may finally be forced to confront reality."

The inimitable John Kass, who has been hammering The Combine and this slimy crook of a governor for a long time. And he sends the wakeup call to the national media: guess where Obama came from?

What's wrong with Illinois? - Eamon Javers and Fred Barbash -

What's wrong with Illinois? - Eamon Javers and Fred Barbash - "A visibly disgusted FBI special agent Robert Grant stood at a podium in Chicago during a press conference today announcing the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and hurling his contempt at the entire political culture of the state of Illinois.
“If it is not the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” Grant said, his disheveled shock of black hair giving some indication of the dramatic and stressful events of the day.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald termed the events leading up to the governor’s early-morning arrest by the FBI, “a corruption crime spree,” and said it was “an appalling statement about what’s been happening in Illinois government.”"

Chicago has a history of corruption that goes back to shortly after the Civil War, and the virus spread to Cook County, and then took over the state government. The biggest problem is that the voters will keep right on putting the Democrats in charge of Chicago no matter what happens to this crook Blagojevich. It's not that all the crooks are Democrats. They aren't. It's that the core of the rotten apple of Illinois corruption is the Chicago Democratic Party. The enormous political and economic power of the Chicago machine is what fuels the entire bipartisan Combine, as Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass calls it.

Hubble telescope finds carbon dioxide on distant planet - Yahoo! News

Hubble telescope finds carbon dioxide on distant planet - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (AFP) – NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of a distant planet, in a key step for finding extraterrestrial life, the space agency said Tuesday.

Detecting organic compounds that can be a by-product of life processes on an Earth-like body could one day 'provide the first evidence of life beyond our planet,' NASA said in a statement.

The discovery was made on a Jupiter-size planet 63 light years away from Earth that is too hot for life, and is all gas and liquid."

All gas and liquid? They should call it "Planet Homer Simpson."

Indian River makes 'offer' for half of house ahead of eminent domain case : Roads : TCPalm

Indian River makes 'offer' for half of house ahead of eminent domain case : Roads : TCPalm: "INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Former County Commissioner Ruth Stanbridge, who has lived for 40 years on 66th Avenue, bolted from Tuesday’s commission meeting in tears when the county offered to buy part of her house for $203,550.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the date we moved into that house 40 years ago,” Stanbridge said.

The county’s move, if the Stanbridges didn’t fight it, would divide the existing house down the middle, said her husband, Bill Stanbridge.

But in fact, Tuesday’s offer wasn’t expected to be accepted. Rather, the commission made the offer as a prelude to filing an eminent domain case in court, Deputy County Attorney Bill DeBraal said."

I'm speechless.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Political Punch

Did Obama speak with Blagojevich about Valerie Jarrett being his successor in the Senate and Blago getting something n return?: "Asked what contact he'd had with the governor's office about his replacement in the Senate, President-elect Obama today said 'I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.'

But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different.

While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a 'kingmaker,' Axelrod said, 'I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.'"

The fact is that Blagojevich knew Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett to be his successor, but it seems that he didn't want to give Blagojevich anything in return. That led Blagojevich to his expletive-laden tirades against Obama.

It is interesting that Obama says he had no contact with Blagojevich on this. First, Axelrod said he did, and second, it is inconceivable that Obama didn't make his preferences clear. He had a perfect right to do that. From the complaint there is no evidence that Obama did anything wrong. I suppose time will tell. Blagojevich, though, would seem to be headed to federal prison at some point in the future.

Coyote removed from Sears --
Can't a fellow shop for some rocket-powered roller skates without getting manhandled by security guards?

Monday, December 08, 2008

U.S. Could Take Stakes in Big 3 - "WASHINGTON -- Congress and the White House inched toward agreement on legislation that would throw a financial lifeline to the Big Three auto makers, giving the government a substantial ownership stake in the industry and a central role in its restructuring."
This story has to be wrong. We are supposed to believe the White House is going along with quasi-nationalizing the auto industry, with the Obama presidency a few weeks away? That is beyond belief. I can't imagine that a president with an "R" after his name would do this.

If Bush doesn't have enough sense to force a move like this onto Obama, he should just hand the keys to the Oval Office over to Nancy Pelosi right now and climb on a plane for Texas.

Here is the playbook for a lame-duck Republican president in the last few weeks: light the White House Christmas Tree and pardon Republican crooks. But not George Ryan. And if you get Osama lined up in the sights of a Predator drone, pull the trigger. But you DO NOT whip out the Ouija board and start channeling Mussolini or FDR. Leave that for your successor.

Cash-Strapped New York Times Wants to Borrow Against Its HQ: Anyone Want to Lend It $225 Million? | Peter Kafka | MediaMemo | AllThingsD

Cash-Strapped New York Times Wants to Borrow Against Its HQ: Anyone Want to Lend It $225 Million? | Peter Kafka | MediaMemo | AllThingsD: "The New York Times is running low on cash but has a $400 million debt payment due next spring. How to foot the bill? Raise money anywhere it can.

Last month, the Times cut its dividend, a move that could save it up to $100 million a year. Now the paper is looking to borrow against its new Manhattan headquarters. It has hired a real estate firm to raise up to $225 million using the value of the building as collateral. The company is looking at either a sale-leaseback or a mortgage, reports…the New York Times (NYT)."

And the Tribune Company, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, is consulting with bankruptcy lawyers. That's the major paper from the three major cities of this nation.

Maybe they should ask Obama for a bailout. They certainly put in their time working on his campaign.

Daily Herald - In Eagle Mountain, the “ugly underbelly” of homeowners associations

Daily Herald - In Eagle Mountain, the “ugly underbelly” of homeowners associations: "But the deterioration of this neighborhood, as bad as it is, is not what really worries the handful of owners who remain here. What keeps them up at night can be summarized in one word: snow. The gritty reality of global recession has thudded into the laps of a dozen homeowners in Eagle Mountain, exposing what city manager John Hendrickson called “the ugly underbelly” of homeowners associations. Except for a handful of owners, Silver Lake Village has been reduced to a ghost town. The real problem here is, who is in charge? The short answer is no one, not a soul. Who owns this privately owned community? Who takes care of property? Who will plow the roads? Snow will come. That knowledge recently prompted resident Erin Carbajal to go to the City Council. Because Silver Lake Village is privately owned, the city does not plow the streets."
Here is a great example of a failed HOA where the city and the residents are waking up to some very unpleasant truths. As I have been saying forever, there will be plenty more stories like this in the years to come.

Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

Ideological Warfare Rages on Federal Appeals Courts Dominated by Republican Appointees -

Ideological Warfare Rages on Federal Appeals Courts Dominated by Republican Appointees - "Although the impact of Bush's judicial appointments is most often noticed at the Supreme Court, it has played out much more frequently and more importantly here and in the nation's 12 other appellate courts, where his appointees and their liberal counterparts are waging often-bitter ideological battles. After Bush's eight years in office, Republican-appointed majorities firmly control the outcomes in 10 of these courts, compared with seven after President Bill Clinton's tenure. They also now share equal representation with Democratic appointees on two additional courts."
Like there was no ideological warfare when those same courts were controlled by Clinton appointees? Sure.

Terror, recession, oh, workout fiend Obama's still a smoker | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times

Obama still wants a foreclosure moratorium| Los Angeles Times: "I think a moratorium on foreclosures remains an important tool, an important option. I think we also should be working to figure out how we can get banks and homeowners to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages so that they are sustainable."
So the moratorium may be coming. Obama also copped to falling off the cigarette wagon from time to time. The White House is a smoke-free zone. If you smoke in a government building in Illinois, or for that matter any public place including bars and restaurants, they give you life without parole. He says "you will not see any violation of these rules in the White House," but that is a weasel answer. We won't see what goes on behind closed curtains and windows, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. What happens to a president who smokes in the White House in violation of federal law? Does he get impeached? Does he pardon himself?

I don't smoke, but I don't care if people smoke in their homes. However, I do think government officials should live by the rules. The rest of us have to. Nobody else can smoke in the White House, so neither should the president.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Chinese economy: 1930s beggar-thy-neighbour fears as China devalues - Telegraph: "China has begun to devalue the yuan for the first time in over a decade, raising fears that it will set off a 1930s-style race to the bottom and tip the global economy into an even deeper slump."
What next? Godzilla wades ashore in Tokyo Bay?

State public worker pension fund takes big hit

State public worker pension fund takes big hit: "The California Public Employees' Retirement System portfolio has lost 31.1 percent of its value since peaking last fall, a staggering $81.4 billion drop. CalPERS officials say a 'rainy day fund' is helping to defray the losses - for now. But if the market slump continues, they will hit up state and local employers for more money. That's a painful prospect as California struggles through a fiscal emergency and municipalities cope with the foreclosure crisis and economic downturn.

The good news for the 1.6 million CalPERS retirees, workers and family members is that their pension benefits are guaranteed."

Good news for the pensioners. Not for the taxpayers, who have to make good on that nifty guarantee. Here in Illinois we have a similar dynamic going on--guaranteed benefits but the state is allowed to underfund their share, year after year. Tick, tick, tick.

Condo calamity | The San Diego Union-Tribune: "The housing bust has spawned thousands of tales of staggering declines in home values in San Diego's foreclosure-ravaged neighborhoods. But few local projects have suffered as much carnage as the Normal Hights condo conversion Cityscape.

Units started selling in late 2006 and early 2007, one-bedrooms for $237,000 and two-bedrooms for $345,000. Today, of the 70 condos in the flat-roofed, nearly 40-year-old complex, 66 have been taken back by lenders or are in default, the first step of the foreclosure process.

One-bedrooms are reselling for an average of $66,900 and two-bedrooms for $94,200 – down more than 70 percent from the original prices."

Fred Pilot sent this tragic story of a devastated San Diego condo complex. The lockboxes on the gate tell the tale.

Chinese tour groups go house-hunting in U.S. - Los Angeles Times

Chinese tour groups go house-hunting in U.S. - Los Angeles Times: "Caravans of cash-rich Chinese in Hummers and Lincoln Navigators have been weaving through American neighborhoods in recent months, looking for foreclosures and other bargain properties to buy.

With housing prices crashing in the U.S., home-buying trips to America are becoming one of the more popular tour group packages in China. New U.S. visa rules for Chinese tourists and a loosening of foreign investment policies by China have made it easier for people such as Zhao Hongjun of Beijing to go house hunting across the Pacific."


Obama Pledges Public Works on a Vast Scale -

Obama Pledges Public Works on a Vast Scale - "“We need action — and action now,” Mr. Obama said in an address broadcast Saturday morning on radio and YouTube.

Mr. Obama’s plan, if enacted, would be in part a government-directed industrial policy, with lawmakers and administration officials picking winners and losers among private projects and raining large amounts of taxpayer money on them.

It would cover a range of programs to expand broadband Internet access, to make government buildings more energy efficient, to improve information technology at hospitals and doctors’ offices, and to upgrade computers in schools."

A lot of this spending would involve local governments, so it will have some impact on development policies and that always involves residential and commercial CIDs.

And if Obama thinks that massive public works projects are the way to get "action now," he has another think coming. Undertakings like that require years to get off the ground. In Chicago they have been arguing forever about what to do with a single block of downtown land. Ground Zero in NYC is still a hole in the ground seven years after 9/11. I gather that Obama wants to get around the governmental red tape by dumping money on private projects, but that will require steam-rolling all the local NIMBY and environmentalist and preservationist and anti-eminent domain and anti-sprawl groups. That will be no easy task, and besides, wouldn't that be an ironic role for the world's most successful community organizer?