Friday, April 18, 2008

New York Times Company Posts Loss - New York Times

New York Times Company Posts Loss - New York Times: "The New York Times Company, the parent of The New York Times, posted a $335,000 loss in the first quarter — one of the worst periods the company and the newspaper industry have seen — falling far short of both analysts’ expectations and its $23.9 million profit in the quarter a year earlier."
Newspapers are in trouble. Competition from the internet is one reason. You can get tons of news, tailored to your interests and viewpoints, for free.

Foreclosed properties stiffing homeowner, condo associations

Foreclosed properties stiffing homeowner, condo associations: "An ironic twist on the foreclosure problem: What if the banks that repossess all those houses and condos for non-payment are none-too-strict about making their homeowner and condo association payments?

That seems to be a widespread problem in Florida, according to a survey of associations released this week. Here's a snippet:

Nearly two-thirds of survey participants said that banks and mortgage lenders now holding title to the foreclosed units or homes currently are not meeting their legal obligation to pay fees or other assessments owing to the association"

So I guess the association has to foreclose on the bank that foreclosed on the owner? Vancouver transit riders tasered for not paying fares Vancouver transit riders tasered for not paying fares: "VANCOUVER — The country's only armed transit police have been tasering passengers who try to avoid paying fares.

According to documents provided in response to a Freedom of Information request, police patrolling public transit in the Metro Vancouver area have used tasers 10 times in the past 18 months, including five occasions when victims had been accosted for riding free."

My Way News - 5.4 earthquake rocks Illinois; felt 450 miles away: "WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) - A 5.4 magnitude earthquake that appeared to rival the strongest recorded in the region rocked people up to 450 miles away early Friday, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful Midwest temblor.

The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles from Evansville, Ind. It was felt in such distant cities as Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Des Moines, Iowa, 450 miles northwest of the epicenter, but there were no early reports of injuries or significant damage."

This woke me up. At first I thought wind was rocking the house, but then I realized it must be an earthquake. I've been through quite a number of these in California so I just went back to sleep. None of the kids even woke up. But for the Chicago area, this is quite an event.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Senate OKs sweeping property insurance changes -- South Florida

Senate OKs sweeping property insurance changes -- South Florida
I like this bill, but it looks like it won't pass in the House. Insurance coverage is very important to community associations and owners. If the coverage isn't there when you need it, a whole chain of horrible events ensues.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Huge state quake predicted within 30 years

Huge state quake predicted within 30 years: "(04-14) 11:32 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A strong and deadly earthquake is virtually certain to strike on one of California's major seismic faults within the next 30 years, scientists said Monday in the first official forecast of statewide earthquake probabilities. They calculated the probability at more than 99 percent that one or more of the major faults in the state will rupture and trigger a quake with a magnitude of at least 6.7. An even more damaging quake with a magnitude of 7.5 or larger, the earthquake scientists said, is at least 46 percent likely to hit on one of California's active fault systems within the next three decades. It probably would strike in the southern part of the state, the scientists warned."
I guess anything that is left after the foreclosure epidemic passes will be cast into the sea by The Big One. The Ventura earthquake damaged a lot of CID units, especially condo buildings, and led to lawsuits among insurers, contractors, and associations. It is hard to envision what would happen if another major disaster hit CID housing in its weakened state, with numerous owners not paying assessments and property values falling.

Punditry | Professor Bainbridge

Punditry | Professor Bainbridge on Barack Obama: Is he a Marxist?
Law prof Stephen Bainbridge on how far to left is Obama?

Monday, April 14, 2008

As other staples soar, potatoes break new ground | Reuters

As other staples soar, potatoes break new ground | Reuters
I was thinking that if some of these rust belt cities like Youngstown (see below) decide to clear away the burned out houses maybe they could use the land to plant potatoes. Just a thought.

I suppose setting up a factory on that land is out of the question. After all, China has such an advantage, being so much closer to the US market. China is a mere 7,000 miles or so away. How can a distant province like Youngstown, Ohio, possibly compete for sales in the American heartland?

Meaning that maybe there is a better way to revive the local economy than knocking down houses, asking people to move out, and making more open space.

U.S. housing collapse spreads overseas - International Herald Tribune

U.S. housing collapse spreads overseas - International Herald Tribune: "The collapse of the housing bubble in the United States is mutating into a global phenomenon, with real estate prices down from the Irish countryside and the Spanish coast to Baltic seaports and even in parts of India."
I wonder if common interest housing in other nations will have the same revenue issues that are now hitting many US CIDs. Here everything ultimately depends on the individual owners. Even though CIDs are quasi-public entities, the cost is entirely privatized. Elsewhere, maybe the state will step up to keep these things solvent.
The incredible shrinking city - Apr. 14, 2008: "YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio ( -- Youngstown, Ohio, has seen its population shrink by more than half over the past 40 years, leaving behind huge swaths of empty homes, streets and neighborhoods. Now, in a radical move, the city - which has suffered since the steel industry left town and jobs dried up - is bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces. More than 1,000 structures have been demolished so far. Under the initiative, dubbed Plan 2010, city officials are also monitoring thinly-populated blocks. When only one or two occupied homes remain, the city offers incentives - up to $50,000 in grants - for those home owners to move, so that the entire area can be razed. The city will save by cutting back on services like garbage pick-ups and street lighting in deserted areas."
Kind of a strange twist on eminent domain...I have never heard of a city paying people to move out so they can plow the house under. It is a sad situation. The foreclosure tsunami was the last straw. Read down and you will see that other rust belt cities are sending delegations to learn the Path of Wisdom as laid down by the Elders of Youngstown.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spindle could be yours for just $150,000 :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State

Spindle could be yours for just $150,000 :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-StateBerwyn's Spindle -- the west suburban skewer of cars made famous in the movie "Wayne's World" -- is for sale. Last summer, the company that operates the shopping plaza where the Spindle has stood since 1989 said the sculpture needed to be removed, in part to make room for a new Walgreens.
This is totally bogus, dude. That spindle is one of the few cool things about the west side suburbs. I used to go to that mall all the time when we lived in Oak Park. Sigh.