Saturday, April 26, 2008 - Condo Assessments Can Be A Scourge To A Homeowner: "FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) ― A raging dispute over condo association fees boiled over into an armed standoff Thursday afternoon in Pompano Beach that ended when the Broward Sheriff's Office SWAT team opened fire on a man who had taken two office workers hostage."
So now he can forget about paying that assessment. But it underscores how much stress these situations can create.
Daily Herald | Associations need to face troubled times square on: "If you own a home in a townhouse or condominium association, or an HOA, or serve on the board, and you fail to take into consideration what could possibly befall you without careful planning, you could be facing a financial crisis that could cause property values to crash, in your community."
Hey, this guy sounds like me. But actually it is Jordan Shifrin, one of the top community association practitioners in Illinois, or the nation for that matter.

Food Crisis Starts Eclipsing Climate Change Worries | The New York Sun

Food Crisis Starts Eclipsing Climate Change Worries | The New York Sun: "With prices for rice, wheat, and corn soaring, food-related unrest has broken out in places such as Haiti, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Several countries have blocked the export of grain. There is even talk that governments could fall if they cannot bring food costs down.

One factor being blamed for the price hikes is the use of government subsidies to promote the use of corn for ethanol production. An estimated 30% of America’s corn crop now goes to fuel, not food."

I have learned over the years that there are few things more dangerous than a lot of people who are absolutely convinced that they are right and will brook no disagreement. As in "The debate is over" from Al Gore and the global warming mob. Here is what Al Gore said on his campaign web page back in 2000:
Vice President Al Gore maintains that “it’s well known that I’ve always supported ethanol. I have a consistent record of shoring up the farm safety net.” Gore, who as vice president cast a tie-breaking vote in 1994 against a proposal Senator Bill Bradley sponsored to cut tax incentives for ethanol fuel, adds that “I have not ducked when votes for ... agricultural interests were on the floor...Our administration’s goal is to triple the use of biomass technologies, ethanol, gasoline additives, plant-based textiles and other environmentally friendly products by 2010. This is just one of the exciting ways our efforts to protect the environment will begin to help America’s ailing farming economy.”

Now it turns out that burning food for fuel may be a bad idea. Where is Mr. Gore to explain why he was so wrong, and maybe to show a little humility about his other pronouncements on what we must do to stave off the disaster he predicts? I am concerned about the environment, too, but I also realize that there is a whole lot nobody knows and we had better not start adopting radical solutions until we are sure of the outcomes. - Countrywide CEO Made $132M In 2007 Pay, Stock Sale - Countrywide CEO Made $132M In 2007 Pay, Stock Sale: "CALABASAS, Calif. (AP) ― A securities filing shows Countrywide Financial Corp. CEO Angelo Mozilo earned some $10.8 million in total compensation and cashed out $121.5 million in stock options last year. The compensation disclosed in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing released Thursday represents an 80 percent cut from the 70-year-old's total pay in 2006 of about $51 million. The Calabasas-based company reported a yearly loss in 2007 of $704 million amid the nationwide mortgage market meltdown. It agreed in January to be acquired by Bank of America Corp. for $4.1 billion in stock. The SEC has been scrutinizing the timing of Mozilo's stock sales. Mozilo has said he's cooperating with the inquiry and has denied making any improper trades."
I don't usually get on the evil corporate executive hobbyhorse, but it seems to me that when a company loses a bazillion dollars and gets bought out, the CEO may not deserve to get fabulously wealthy in the very same year. I keep hearing about how great a job the free market does of setting prices for goods, services and labor, but I don't see the relationship between results and rewards here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

4 Investigates: Floodwalls stuffed with newspaper? | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News | | News for New Orleans, Louisiana

We're from the federal government, and we're here to help you: New Orleans floodwalls stuffed with newspaper? : "“It's like putting a Band-Aid on the hole of a gas tank of an airplane,” the resident said.

Instead of an airplane, it's a floodwall, and instead of a Band-Aid, the witness says two years ago, he saw the contractor filling the expansion joint or opening between the floodwalls with newspaper.

“The whole length of the wall was stuffed with newspaper.”"

This is how the feds show New Orleans that they really, really, care?

Humans lived in tiny, separate bands for 100,000 years

Humans lived in tiny, separate bands for 100,000 years: "Human beings for 100,000 years lived in tiny, separate groups, facing harsh conditions that brought them to the brink of extinction, before they reunited and populated the world, genetic researchers have said."
Let's see...tiny, separate bands. Check. Facing harsh conditions. Check. So far it sounds like either a lot of HOAs or Chicago's sports teams.

Why the next mortgage crisis may be worse. - By Mark Gimein - Slate Magazine

Why the next mortgage crisis may be worse. - By Mark Gimein - Slate Magazine: "Unfortunately, the crisis in California is going to get much worse, and there is no bailout that will solve it. Why? Because if the first stage of the foreclosure crisis was about people who could not afford their mortgages, the next stage will be about people who have every reason not even to try to pay their mortgages."
His argument is that prices are collapsing big time, and tens of thousands of people who had ARMs with little or nothing down will be upside down on their mortgages by far more than any government bailout can cure, and with no equity to protect anyway. The only rational option open to them is to walk away.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dead actor Roy Scheider donates to Barack Obama campaign anyway : Top of the Ticket : Los Angeles Times

Dead actor Roy Scheider donates to Barack Obama campaign anyway : Top of the Ticket : Los Angeles Times
Now that's commitment.

Condominium controversy: Mundy Township couple sue their condo association over $30,000 lien involved in Web site debate - The Flint Journal Online News - Michigan Newspaper -

Condominium controversy: Mundy Township couple sue their condo association over $30,000 lien involved in Web site debate - The Flint Journal Online News - Michigan Newspaper - "MUNDY TOWNSHIP, Michigan -- When a judge dismissed a condominium association's lawsuit against a condo-owning couple for starting a Web site related to the association, the pair hoped their trouble was over.

Instead, the Lake Park Village Condominium Association has slapped a $30,000 lien on James and Helen Cunningham's home -- including the attorney's fees the association paid to sue the couple.

The Cunninghams now face possible foreclosure on their condo."

That will teach those homeowners to beat the association in court. Good grief.

The Orillia Packet & Times - Ontario, CA

The Orillia Packet & Times - Ontario, CA: Community association granted party status: "A group of homeowners objecting to the scale of a proposed high-rise condominium project at Orchard Point on Lake Simcoe has been granted full party status before the Ontario Municipal Board.

That means the Orchard Point Community Association, which represents 40 to 50 people, will be able to fully participate in the legal proceeding with the ability to cross-examine, call witnesses and make submissions."

Interesting variation on local ordinances in Canada.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - Canada- Ban lifted on drying laundry outside - Canada- Ban lifted on drying laundry outside: "It's time to get over any hang ups with clotheslines.

Ontario will outlaw clothesline bans by this summer to encourage citizens to use the environmentally friendly option when doing laundry.

'We want you to feel comfortable, wherever you happen to live in the province of Ontario, to put up a clothesline and to let mother nature, let the wind and the sun, dry your clothing,' Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

Homeowners would no longer be subject to municipal bylaws or homebuilder agreements that ban the lines."
Ontario hangs HOAs out to dry.

Monday, April 21, 2008 Worldwide Worldwide: "April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp., the second- largest U.S. bank, said profit dropped for a third straight quarter as the company set aside $6.01 billion for bad loans.

First-quarter net income declined 77 percent to $1.21 billion from $5.26 billion a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said today in a statement. The results fell short of analysts' estimates and sent the bank's stock down as much as 3 percent in New York trading."

This bad news just keeps on coming. Where is the bottom?