Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grand Rapids, MI: Another condo project looks likely to bite the dust

Downtown Grand Rapids Condo Project Faces Foreclosure - News : MediaMouse Progressive Left News Blog - Grand Rapids, Michigan: "Yesterday, the Grand Rapids Press reported that the Icon on Bond condo project faces foreclosure. The bank that loaned the money for the project says that the father-son development team built the project, Joseph A. and Joseph W. Moch, owe more than $40 million--even after getting tax breaks from the city government.

The Mochs launched the project with hopes back in 2003, saying that it would bring critical a critical development. However, the project has largely failed to deliver and has been a source of controversy for years. According to the Grand Rapids Press, only four of the 118 units have been sold and 50 have been leased."

Thanks to Shu Bartholomew for this link. There are so many of these stories now that you have to wonder when it will end.

Canvassing in a gated community? Call the cops! News: "On April 6, selectmen candidate Thomas R. Creamer was campaigning at Bentwood Drive, off Route 15, when Town Clerk Lorraine Murawski called police to say there was “someone campaigning door-to-door” at the gated community. “It had nothing to do with me,” she said. “I was doing my job as town clerk, trying to get an answer to a question from a resident.” Ms. Murawski, a Bentwood resident, was working at the Town Hall when she got a call from concerned neighbor asking if campaigning on the grounds was allowed. “It’s a gated community, and I said I was not aware of whether or not it was legal for somebody to park and walk but that I would check it out,” she said. Ms. Murawski said she called police to find out if such solicitation was legal. They put her through to an officer and she explained the situation. Even though a resident had invited him into Bentwood, Mr. Creamer said, he parked his car outside and walked onto the grounds. He said he looked to make sure there were no signs posted outside. “There is nothing that says, ‘No soliciting’ and nothing that says, ‘You can’t come on these grounds,’ ” he said. “I looked just to make sure. So I go in, going door-to-door.”

After police sent an officer to Bentwood, Ms. Murawski got a call back from police saying Mr. Creamer wasn’t doing anything wrong. Shortly afterward, Mr. Creamer drove to Town Hall to file his campaign finance report. He told the town clerk he was very disappointed in her. "

Hey, no campaigning in Privatopia. It might cause debate and deliberation about important issues, and that could lead to democracy.

Security still a concern in landed, gated and guarded projects

Security still a concern in landed, gated and guarded projects: "Developers believe landed gated and guarded (G&G) projects are preferred for two main reasons: security and community living. However, they are quick to add that nothing is fool-proof.

All the developers spoken to have, at one time or another, promoted – or are promoting – G&G living."
Interesting interviews with Malaysian developers.

Miami-Dade water department turns off condo's water - Breaking News -

Miami-Dade water department turns off condo's water - Breaking News - "The cash shortage plaguing South Florida's foreclosure-ridden condominiums reached a crisis at the Mirassou Condominium in Northwest Miami-Dade after the county shut off water to residents because the association failed to pay its water bill.

Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department said Thursday that it turned off the water to the 310-unit building after the condo association failed to abide by three separate repayment plans over the last nine months. The association has an outstanding balance of $109,000, the department said."

Tough times...and this is the beginning.

Lenders give Summerlin condo project new life - Las Vegas Sun

Lenders give Summerlin condo project new life - Las Vegas Sun: "You wouldn’t think anyone would be brave enough to restart construction of a condominium project given the soft economy and continued credit crunch that has prevented many people from obtaining financing.

But three banks are stepping up to the plate with $37 million to complete construction on the first phase of luxury condominiums in Summerlin, where construction was halted in early 2008 after developer Westmark Homes filed for bankruptcy."

Will the $500,000 and up condo market catch fire before the lower reaches of the market? Counting Mexico's Guns Counting Mexico's Guns: "President Obama says 90 percent of Mexico's recovered crime guns come the U.S. Not true."
It goes beyond "not true." It is more like, "an intentional distortion."

This 90% figure is the percentage of guns Mexico asks US officials to trace that turn out to have come from the US. But Mexico only asks US officials to trace guns they recover that they already believe originated in the US because of their markings or other information. Of that sample, 90% actually did originate in the US. That is the best example of a horribly biased sample that I can imagine.

The truth is that the US government has no idea how many guns Mexican cops actually confiscate, and still less knowledge of what percentage of them originated in the US. The Mexican government doesn't know, either. Any figure is speculative.

Revealed: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking | The Australian

Revealed: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking | The Australian: "ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.

The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.

However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown 'significant cooling in recent decades'.Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica. "Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally," Dr Allison said. "

The usual arguments will not dispose of these findings. This is not a corporate funded think tank and it isn't Fox News. I am certainly no expert on this subject, but if you are trying to reconcile the dire predictions with the fact that sea levels are not rising as fast as predicted, this would explain it. Ninety percent of the world's ice is in Antarctica, and over the last 30 years, "Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally."

But the global warming zealots only look at evidence that supports their thesis, and they slander and vilify anybody who even considers evidence to the contrary. It is one ad hominem argument after another, coupled with attempts to panic the public and the media into acting without even thinking. That's why Al Gore and others insist "the debate is over." If we have a debate on the merits, they might lose.

I am very much in favor of finding new energy sources and would love to see this nation and the world stop using petroleum for transportation and electricity generation. I have been taking mass transportation to work since 1994, and when the weather cooperates I get around on a bike whenever I can. I will stipulate that the Bush administration was horrifically irresponsible on energy policy, and I'm hoping the next four to eight years will be different on that issue. But in all sincerity, I think the evidence in favor of human-caused catastrophic global warming is questionable at best, and in some cases deliberately deceptive.

The Cybersecurity Act--regulating the internet

S 773: Cybersecurity Act - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
Here it is. This is the bill (S 773) that Jay Rockefeller introduced. The stated purpose is basically to protect the internet. But it creates a new and powerful government regulatory agency to accomplish that.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Raw Story | Cybersecurity Act would give president power to 'shut down' Internet

The Raw Story | Cybersecurity Act would give president power to 'shut down' Internet: "A recently proposed but little-noticed Senate bill would allow the federal government to shut down the Internet in times of declared emergency, and enables unprecedented federal oversight of private network administration.

The bill's draft states that 'the president may order a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic' and would give the government ongoing access to 'all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.'

Authored by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 seeks to create a Cybersecurity Czar to centralize power now held by the Pentagon, National Security Agency, Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security.

While the White House has not officially endorsed the draft, it did have a hand in its language, according to The Washington Post."

Nice to see some bipartisanship in Washington. Too bad it involves preparing to shut down the internet in case of "emergency."

FEMA on board with housing plan for Katrina victims - Breaking News from the Press-Register -

FEMA on board with housing plan for Katrina victims - Breaking News from the Press-Register -
"The Federal Emergency Management Agency is supporting an Alabama state agency's efforts to let a handful of Hurricane Katrina victims remain in rent-free travel trailers and mobile homes past a May 1 deadline, a spokesman has confirmed."
At the risk of appearing churlish, does it strike anybody else as unusual that people are still living rent-free at taxpayer expense as a result of a hurricane that occurred in August, 2005? Is it possible that some of these folks need a gentle nudge out the door?

English Russia » Camaro Mod

Now that's what I call a Camaro!
If Chevrolet starts making these, they will be in the black in no time. Especially after civilization collapses.

March housing construction falls 10.8 percent - Yahoo! Finance

March housing construction falls 10.8 percent - Yahoo! Finance: "The Commerce Department said Thursday construction of new homes and apartments dropped by 10.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 510,000 units. That was the second lowest construction pace in records that go back 50 years.

The decline was worse than economists had expected and February activity was revised lower as well. That is more evidence that the steep slump in housing, which was a major factor triggering the current recession, has yet to run its course."

Here in the Chicago area you can ask anybody in the housing industry and the answer is the same. Nothing is being built.

General Growth Files Biggest Real Estate Bankruptcy in U.S. -

General Growth Files Biggest Real Estate Bankruptcy in U.S. - "April 16 (Bloomberg) -- General Growth Properties Inc. filed the biggest real estate bankruptcy in U.S. history after amassing $27 billion in debt during an acquisition spree that turned it into the second-largest shopping mall owner.

The owner of Boston’s Faneuil Hall and the South Street Seaport in New York City ended a seven-month effort today to rework its financing. The company listed $29.5 billion in assets and debts of about $27.3 billion in the Chapter 11 filing. General Growth will continue operating its more than 200 properties."

The predicted collapse of the commercial real estate market seems to be underway.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BREAKING! Chicago Tax Day Tea Party Pictures! : Founding Bloggers

BREAKING! Chicago Tax Day Tea Party Pictures! : Founding Bloggers
Many photos here that give a flavor of the crowd's attitude. A CNN reporter had an on-the-air hissy fit. Apparently people were insufficiently deferential.

Perry fires up anti-tax crowd

Perry fires up anti-tax crowd: says Texas has power to secede from the Union: "'There's a lot of different scenarios,' Perry said. 'We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.'

He said when Texas entered the union in 1845 it was with the understanding it could pull out. However, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas negotiated the power to divide into four additional states at some point if it wanted to but not the right to secede.

Texas did secede in 1861, but the North's victory in the Civil War put an end to that."

Governor Perry will be challenged by Kay Bailey Hutchinson, so they say, and is concerned about his re-election chances. He is trying to capitalize on the Tea Party, anti-Washington, talk show, quasi-libertarian angst that is floating around right now. Throwing around the notion of secession may charge up the crowd, but if he isn't careful he will end up on Janet Napolitano's "rightwing (sic) extremist" list. I listened to his speech yesterday about the Texas legislature's resolution on state sovereignty, and he sounded like a demagogue then. I guess he thinks that role fits him.
List of Illinois legislators opposing manager licensing
I don't understand how any legislator who has the slightest concern for the public can oppose licensing of CID property managers. However, this just came in from the Illinois Chapter of CAI:

House Bill 271/Senate Bill 1579 - Community Association Manager Licensing Act. This measure is pending as House Bill 271 and Senate Bill 1579. Both bills have been approved in each Chamber. Senate Bill 1579 is now in the first reading in the House. The Senate passed this bill by a vote of 52-0. However, some Representatives apparently did not vote to approve the earlier House version of this bill. This bill will require that all individuals who are community association managers to be licensed in Illinois by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. This would also provide for disciplinary proceedings and loss of a license for illegal activities. The Illinois Chapter of CAI supports this bill.

House Representatives who serve Cook and other collar counties voted "No" are listed below, along with their corresponding district. ILAC respectfully requests that members of The Illinois Chapter of CAI contact these legislators urging them to vote "Yes" with respect to Senate Bill 1579 which is currently pending in the House.

Patricia Bellock (R) - Westmont; 630-852-8633, F 630-852-6530
Franco Coladipietro (R) - Bloomingdale; 630-582-0045, F 630-622-0406
Sandy Cole (R) - Grayslake; 847-543-0062, F 847-543-8862
Michael Connelly (R) - Naperville; 630-579-4848, NO FAX
Fred Crespo (D) - Streamwood; 630-372-3340, F-630-372-3342
Jim Durkin (R) - Countryside; 708-352-7700, F 708-352-7702
Keith Farnham (D) - Elgin; 847-841-7130, F 847-841-7140
Michael Fortner (R) - West Chicago; 630-293-9344, F 630-293-9785
John Franks (D) - Westchester; 815-334-0063, F 815-334-9147
Paul Froelich (D) - Schaumburg; 847-985-9210, F 847-891-8772
Emily McAsey (D) - Crest Hill; 815-588-0085, F 815-838-9460
Rosemary Mulligan (R) - Des Plaines; 847-297-6533, F 847-297-2978
Harry Osterman (D) - Chicago; 773-784-2002, F 773-784-2060
Sandra Pihos (R) - Glen Ellyn; 630-858-8855, F 630-858-8857
Harry Ramey (R) - West Chicago; 630-876-0703, F 630-231-3742
Dennis Reboletti (R) - Arlington Heights; 630-530-2730, F 630-530-2792
Tim Schmitz (R) - Geneva; 630-845-9590, F 630-845-9592
Darlene Senger (R) - Naperville; 630-219-3090, NO FAX
Ed Sullivan (R) - Mundelein; 847-566-5115, F 847-566-5155
Mark Walker (D) - Arlington Heights 847-640-8645, F 847-640-8690

Tijuana crime boosts demand for private security

Tijuana crime boosts demand for private security
"For the past two years, violent crime has spiked in Tijuana and other Mexican border cities, partly the result of a federal crackdown on drug cartels, prompting many who live in Tijuana or travel there from San Diego for business to hire private security.

These services have been in demand in the past but more so now, according to security firms in both cities. The number of businesses offering private security is also increasing."

When the drug gangs are leaving baskets of heads on the police station steps, demand for private security increases. I think that is as solid a cause and effect relationship as you can find.

Economic survivalists take root -

Economic survivalists take root - "When the economy started to squeeze the Wojtowicz family, they gave up vacation cruises, restaurant meals, new clothes and high-tech toys to become 21st-century homesteaders.

Now Patrick Wojtowicz, 36, his wife Melissa, 37, and daughter Gabrielle, 15, raise pigs and chickens for food on 40 acres near Alma, Mich. They're planning a garden and installing a wood furnace. They disconnected the satellite TV and radio, ditched their dishwasher and a big truck and started buying clothes at resale shops."

I see how this can work for some people. Whenever I look out the kitchen window and see a few deer nibbling the grass 25 yards away, I am tempted to do a little backyard survivalism with my bow. But, as Nixon said, it would be wrong...

Swinestoppers as ornamental pig in garden sparks harassment claim from policeman neighbour | The Sun |News

Swinestoppers as ornamental pig in garden sparks harassment claim from policeman neighbour | The Sun |News: "A DAD was hauled out of bed and arrested for having an ornamental PIG in his garden — after his policeman neighbour claimed it was put there to poke fun at him."
He says the pig has been there for 8 years. The copy moved next door 4 years ago.

Church, Kiddieland among institutions 'strong-armed' by police chief, prosecutors charge --

Church, Kiddieland among institutions 'strong-armed' by police chief, prosecutors charge -- "Former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo used 'extortion and strong-arm tactics' to get local institutions—including bars and restaurants, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, Navistar and Kiddieland amusement park—to use guards from his security firm for protection, a federal prosecutor charged Tuesday.

But an attorney for Scavo defended his client's law enforcement record.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Stephen Andersson told a federal jury in his opening arguments in Scavo's racketeering and extortion trial that Scavo ran his private security firm out of the Melrose Park police station. He often used on-duty village police officers who were paid twice, once by the village and once by the client, for their service, Andersson said."

Privatization gone bad?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lehman Sits on Bomb of Uranium Cake as Prices Slump (Update1) -

Lehman Sits on Bomb of Uranium Cake as Prices Slump (Update1) - "April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is sitting on enough uranium cake to make a nuclear bomb as it waits for prices of the commodity to rebound, according to traders and nuclear experts.

The bankrupt bank, in the throes of paying off creditors, acquired uranium cake “under a matured commodities contract” and plans to sell it when the market improves “to realize the best prices,” Chief Executive Officer Bryan Marsal said."

Maybe we need to invade and change that regime before they sell the yellowcake to terrorists.


New Territory Sentinel
Here is a web site based in Texas that says, "What you don't know about your Home Owner Association could destroy you."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wells Fargo May Need $50 Billion in Capital, KBW Says (Update1) -

Wells Fargo May Need $50 Billion in Capital, KBW Says (Update1) - "April 13 (Bloomberg) -- Wells Fargo & Co., the second- biggest U.S. home lender, may need $50 billion to pay back the federal government and cover loan losses as the economic slump deepens, according to KBW Inc.’s Frederick Cannon."
They have gotten enough of my money over the years to pay that bill.

Pakistan in danger of collapse

Pakistan in danger of collapse: "PAKISTAN could collapse within months, one of the more influential counter-insurgency voices in Washington says...We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now," said David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House. "You just can't say that you're not going to worry about al-Qaeda taking control of Pakistan and its nukes," he said."
The man is a master of understatement. Time to get that Utah survival shelter all stocked up.

KTNV ABC,Channel 13,Las Vegas,Nevada,News,Weather,Sports,Entertainment,,Action News .:. Foreclosed community a mess for residents

KTNV ABC,Channel 13,Las Vegas,Nevada,News,Weather,Sports,Entertainment,,Action News .:. Foreclosed community a mess for residents: "The property is no longer owned by the builder, Astoria Homes. It was foreclosed on by one of Astoria's lendors KeyBank, back in December when still in the early stages of development.

Out of the 370 homes planned for Hillside, only 57 were actually built.

Astoria President, Tom McCormick tells Action news, 'no one expected what happened to be as bad as it is,' he continues, 'it's crushing.'"

Yet another struggling HOA--courtesy of a builder who went under.
Fred Pilot sent this link.

Robbery suspect killed at AA meeting place - Local / Metro - The State

Robbery suspect killed at AA meeting place - Local / Metro - The State: "The AA visitor who fired his weapon and killed the suspect had a concealed weapons permit, police said...This is the second time in five weeks that a person with a concealed weapons permit has killed a person in the Midlands. In early March, an Irmo pizza delivery man shot and killed an attacker who telephoned in a phony order. In that case, pizza man Christopher Miller shot and killed Paul Andrew Sturgill, 17, as Sturgill and three others tried to rob him, police said."
And if there were CCW holders in Illinois, as in South Carolina, there would be fewer robberies here. I realize there is room to differ on the scope of the Second Amendment and whether it should be incorporated into the 14th Amendment due process clause so it would restrict the states. But there is another way to see this. The most fundamental human right is self-preservation. People have the right to defend themselves, and to me that includes the right to have the means of effective self-defense, such as personal possession of firearms and the right to carry them. Background checks, training, and other limits are part of the deal. But here in Illinois there is no such thing as a carry permit, and that is just wrong.

The ideology is dead. Long live the deal - Haaretz - Israel News

The ideology is dead. Long live the deal - Haaretz - Israel News: "One of the last great ideological strongholds in the kibbutz movement is tumbling down, as the members of Shefayim have voted to privatize the kibbutz.

Shefayim its not just a kibbutz; it's The Kibbutz. No one driving along the coastal highway can miss the massive shopping center that it owns; it is one of the largest and richest kibbutzim. This is one of the reasons why, after over 150 kibbutzim have been privatized over the past decade, the privatization of Shefayim is drawing considerable press attention.

The world's leading examples of socialist communities...turning capitalist.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Way News - 2 more banks fail, lifting this year's tally to 23

My Way News - 2 more banks fail, lifting this year's tally to 23: "NEW YORK (AP) - Federal regulators shut down two more banks Friday, raising the number of bank failures so far this year to 23.

The first bank was Cape Fear Bank in Wilmington, N.C., the first North Carolina bank to fail in nearly 16 years. The other bank was New Frontier Bank of Greeley, Colo., the second Colorado bank this year to collapse.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over both banks Friday after their respective state regulators closed them down."


Lee County condos linger in limbo | | The News-Press

Lee County condos linger in limbo | | The News-Press: "Some lenders in Lee County are deciding to not enforce mortgage foreclosures they’ve filed — leaving the properties in a limbo that homeowners associations say could destroy some communities...That creates a downward spiral that’s hard to escape from, said Bill Davis, secretary of the condominium board at the 112-unit Renaissance on the Winkler Avenue extension in Fort Myers.

The problem, he said, is the property is left effectively with nobody in control of it. The borrower still owns the property but can’t sell it because it’s worth less than the mortgage.

Meanwhile, the bank doesn’t have control because it’s still not the owner and the condo board can’t file its own foreclosure to get back maintenance fees because the lender’s mortgage has priority."

The banks start foreclosure proceedings and then stop. That way they don't end up owning the unit, so they don't have to pay the six months of back assessments mandated by law, or any future units if it becomes their REO. The association, according to a Becker and Poliakoff attorney, then has no incentive to foreclose either, because the bank's lien has priority and they will end up with nothing. The net result of this practics: units that are abandoned and deteriorating, associations not getting their assessments, and a condo development in crisis.