Saturday, May 09, 2009


FORECLOSING ON POL - New York Post: "State Sen. Kevin Parker -- a vocal supporter of foreclosure relief for troubled homeowners -- has good reason to take that position.

His own two-story Flatbush house is in danger of being repossessed.

According to court papers, Parker, a four-term Democrat representing Brooklyn's 21st Senatorial District, hasn't paid a dime in more than a year toward the $488,000 mortgage he took out in 2006."

And now he's in trouble for allegedly attacking the photographer who took the pictures.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Dark Roasted Blend: Underground Cities and Bunkers: Living Down Below

Dark Roasted Blend: Underground Cities and Bunkers: Living Down Below: "Ever since Tolkien's Mines of Moria, and perhaps the haunting, grandiose structures of Gormenghast, the vast underground spaces has intrigued and thrilled readers, movie-goers and urban explorers (see our article Abandoned Tunnels and Vast Underground Spaces)

This time we'll highlight a few subterranean (or built into a mountain) cities and huge bunkers - but we have a feeling that our feeble spotlight of information is not going to sweep away the murky mysteries surrounding these sites."

Absolutely astounding.

Rivera found guilty in third trial for 1992 rape, murder :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime

Rivera found guilty in third trial for 1992 rape, murder :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime: "Juan Rivera’s third trial for the notorious 1992 rape and murder of Holly Staker ended Friday the same way as his first two — with a guilty verdict.

A Lake County jury deliberated for nearly 35 hours over four days before convicting Rivera of raping, stabbing and strangling the 11-year-old Waukegan girl."

Well, that makes three times a 12 person jury has unanimously found this psycho guilty. So, 36 people have been convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. But twice an appellate court has decided it wasn't done right. I hope this time the conviction sticks.

Chicago home sales drop 37 percent in first quarter :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business

Chicago home sales drop 37 percent in first quarter :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business: "Home sales in Chicago plunged 37 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, and prices fell 26.8 percent, the Illinois Association of Realtors said Friday.

There were 2,909 existing single-family homes and condominiums sold in the first quarter of this year, down from 4,617, and the median price was $216,000, down from $295,000, the group said.

In the Chicago metropolitan area, sales sales dropped 26.4 percent to 10,306 from 14,012, and the median price fell 22.8 percent to $187,500 from $243,000.

Statewide, sales were down 23.5 percent to 16,748 from 21,902, and the median price sank 21.1 percent to $146,000 from $185,000."

I don't much care how many houses change hands, but these price drops are downright painful to behold.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

UIC Bans Handshakes At Graduation -

Are We Over-Reacting To The H1N1 Flu Outbreak? UIC Bans Handshakes At Graduation -

"It's a graduation tradition: a congratulatory handshake along with your diploma. But Wednesday night, the H1N1 flu virus has the University of Illinois at Chicago banning the handshakes."

I will be there, of course. What will they do if I shake hands with one of my students?

Anthony DiMaggio: Obama and the Housing Crisis

Anthony DiMaggio: Obama and the Housing Crisis: "It appears that the housing crisis will play a major role in defining the Obama administration; unfortunately, it is not entirely clear that the President is up to the challenge."
Here is a piece by Tony DiMaggio, a UIC Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and prolific author as well as exceptional teacher. How do I know? Because he was once one of my teaching assistants. This is a very detailed and intelligent analysis of Obama's housing policies and it is well worth reading in its entirety.

Wall Street Journal blog--HOA dues as mine canary

Another Sign of Foreclosure Trouble in California - Developments - WSJ: "Here’s another sign that California’s foreclosures could jump in 2009: Delinquencies on dues owed to homeowner associations have risen sharply.

The homeowner association delinquency rate can serve as a leading indicator of sorts because homeowners usually stop paying dues before they stop paying their mortgage. The 90-day delinquency rate on dues for the 260 homeowner associations in California managed by Merit Property Management jumped to 5.3% in March from 2.8% last June. Delinquencies first spiked to 2.6% in December 2007 from 0.8% in March 2007."

Shu Bartholomew sent this along. I think the basic observation is sound. People can say what they want about the stock market and the banks. To me, the recession is mainly about housing and unemployment, and those are the two sets of indicators I pay attention to. Neither looks good at the moment.

Homeowners receive citations after making complaints public - The Times-Herald

Homeowners receive citations after making complaints public - The Times-Herald: "Wednesday's citations followed the airing of an Atlanta TV news story about their grievances with the builder and HOA management company. The homeowners didn't expect retaliation in the form of covenant citations. Additional citations will mean fines."
They called the builder, then the management company, and then the media. And now they are getting hit with citations for all sorts of violations.

Fred Pilot sent this along.

Tadpole Acres?

Homeowners feel they were misled about amenities - The Times-Herald: "Homeowners at a new subdivision in Newnan feel they've been misled and duped after learning two weeks ago that amenities touted by one of Atlanta's top builders won't be offered this year.

The 15 homeowners at Bullsboro Crossing, a 'swim community' off Bullsboro Drive, learned the subdivision will not be opening its pool, clubhouse or pavilion this summer, citing economic reasons, according to the company that manages the homeowners association for the builder.

Homeowners were looking forward to enjoying a pool that was open last summer."

The pool isn't being maintained, so now it is a nature preserve full of tadpoles. What happens when they lose their little tails and become frogs?
Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link. Ribbit.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Conclusive proof that western civilization has ended

Paris Hilton, American Treasure - May 6, 2009
Decline. Fall.

Just as I suspected...

Spiders Getting Bigger -- Global Warming to Blame?: "A group of Danish scientists wondered whether global warming would make the hairy, meat-eating wolf spiders of northeastern Greenland bigger, since longer summers mean more hunting time."
I've been expecting this for decades. Haven't you?

White House Memo - With Gay Issues in View, Obama Is Pressed to Engage -

White House Memo - With Gay Issues in View, Obama Is Pressed to Engage - "Mr. Obama — who has said he opposes same-sex marriage as a Christian but describes himself as a “fierce advocate of equality” for gay men and lesbians — is under pressure to engage on a variety of gay issues that are coming to the fore amid a dizzying pace of social, political, legal and legislative change."
This is not a problem. All he has to do is appoint a lesbian to the Supreme Court. As the article says, he has two under consideration. Even if he doesn't do that, President Obama is in no danger of losing the gay/lesbian constituency to the Republicans anyway. The GOP is firmly in the hands of the social issues folks who claim they don't care about the electoral consequences of alienating gays, Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, single women, people who want to smoke weed so they can endure chemotherapy, and any other group that crosses one of the moral lines in the sand. So, I think this NYT piece is interesting, but Obama still has a free hand to curry favor with Hispanics or whoever he chooses.

HOA sends foreclosure notices to dozens in neighborhood | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News

HOA sends foreclosure notices to dozens in neighborhood | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News: "SAN ANTONIO -- Dozens of homeowners living in a South Side neighborhood are facing foreclosure. The residents received foreclosure notices not because they couldn't pay their mortgage, but because they didn't pay a $130.00 homeowners association fee.

A total of 84 people in the Mission Creek subdivision received the foreclosure notices in the mail."

Thanks to Anonymous--check this out. These heavy-handed techniques seem to be increasingly common as the housing part of this recession continues to worsen. Say what you want about the Dow and NASDAQ. The nation's CIDs are in trouble and it hasn't bottomed out.yet.

Defenders Subjected To Profanity-Laced Tirade - San Antonio News Story - KSAT San Antonio

Defenders Subjected To Profanity-Laced Tirade - San Antonio News Story - KSAT San Antonio
An anonymous commenter sent in this link--the video and comments are pretty heavy.

Chicago, IL - Beloved Orthodox Rabbi Fired, Shul Shuttered -- VosIzNeias

Chicago, IL - Beloved Orthodox Rabbi Fired, Shul Shuttered -- VosIzNeias: "Chicago, IL - The eviction notice was addressed to 'unknown occupant,' but that could not have been further from the truth in the small slice of Uptown where Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz ministered.

Because of a dispute with Congregation Agudas Achim, where he had been rabbi for 13 years, Lefkowitz must leave the condominium the synagogue owns by mid-May.

'I'll be sitting on a couch on the street,' said Lefkowitz, 64. 'I have no place to go.'"

Seems that the dispute was settled, and the congregation was supposed to pay the condo assessments, but they didn't, so the condo association filed a forcible detainer action to evict him. Illinois is the only state where condo associations can evict unit occupants, including unit owners.

Study Names McLean, Virginia Wealthiest Community in America|NewsChannel 8

Study Names McLean, Virginia Wealthiest Community in America|NewsChannel 8: "McLEAN, Va. - A new study says the richest community in America is located in Fairfax County. Researchers say McLean, Va. Is the wealthiest, with Potomac, Md. not far behind.

Gated mansions, manicured lawns and incomes more than triple the national average earn McLean, Va. the first place on BizJournal's list of wealthiest communities."


HOAs put homes with late dues up on auction block | Latest News |

HOAs put homes with late dues up on auction block | Latest News | "The foreclosure listing service says foreclosures are up 25 percent in North Texas, and nearly 1,000 homes this year have been foreclosed on by homeowners associations.

Often, homeowners don't even realize their house is on the auction block."

Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link. People keep on expressing surprise that they can lose their home over $1000 in delinquent assessments.

Sweetin Sued for Home Owners Dues, Rep Blames Unemployed Ex |

Sweetin Sued for Home Owners Dues, Rep Blames Unemployed Ex | "Must be a very Full House--actress and mom Jodie Sweetin has allegedly neglected to pony up fees to her Home Owner's Association."
Her flack says he hasn't lived there for six months and it the fault of her ex.

Where is the bottom?

More than one in five homeowners underwater: Zillow - Yahoo! Finance: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Home values in the United States extended their fall in the first quarter, with more than one in five homeowners now owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, real estate website said on Wednesday."


Specter Will Be Junior Democrat on Committees - Roll Call: "Despite promises from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) would retain his seniority after switching parties, Specter will be put at the end of the seniority line on all his committees but one under a resolution approved on the floor late Tuesday."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fred "Sky" Pilot takes to the fiber optic waves

State seeks $1 billion in stimulus funds to bring broadband link to every household - Sacramento Politics - California Politics | Sacramento Bee: "In El Dorado County, freelance journalist Fred Pilot launched a cooperative last week to provide Internet service through a fiber-optic network to Net-neglected residents around Camino.

'We're going to try and qualify for the stimulus funding,' Pilot said, 'because we are the kind of area this is targeted for.'

If it could land a chunk of the funding, he said, the co-op would hire a local phone company to build the system, then run it on a majority-rules basis.

'I really do believe that this has to be done on a bottom-up basis,' he said, 'because the top-down model hasn't worked.'"

Somehow I suspect that Fred will do a far better job than all those "PUC-spawned agencies."

You go, guy!

He fired himself!

Trump Baja project is turning into a legal battle of Trump proportions - Los Angeles Times: "Instead of a 525-unit luxury vacation home complex with pools and tennis courts, this project is shaping up to be a legal battle of Trump proportions.

Dozens of angry buyers have sued Trump for failing to complete the project. He, in turn, sued the Los Angeles-based builders, saying he had only lent his name to the project, and it was the developers who allowed the project to fail.

To the buyers, the heart of the dispute is this: If Trump is identified as a project's builder, is he liable if the actual builder fails?"

But the real question is: is that small animal on his head an endangered species?

Lawmakers mulling association proposals --

Lawmakers mulling association proposals -- "Illinois lawmakers are considering an array of legislative proposals that relate to community associations. Here are some of the big ones, along with comments from the association world:"
Pamela McKuen's summary of the legislative scene in IL appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. All the "comments from the association world" are from professionals. Every single one.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Third party, anybody?

Pew Research Center: GOP Party Identification Slips Nationwide and in Pennsylvania: "In total, the GOP has lost roughly a quarter of its base over the past five years. But these Republican losses have not translated into substantial Democratic gains."
The story line in the major media is that Obama is Kennedy/FDR and we are watching the creation of a new Camelot. Here is yet another piece of evidence showing how far off that story line really is. This Pew poll suggests that (1) Bush destroyed the Republican Party; (2) Obama won because of retrospective voting, meaning many non-ideological voters were just desperate for a change; and (3) Obama is rapidly alienating all those non-ideological folks because...surprise! He is too far to the left for their taste. However, (4) the Republicans are clueless, leaderless, and largely driven by their litmus test conservatives, so (5) the ground is fertile for a third party movement to capture the disaffected. Ross Perot, where are you? I hope the answer is, "In Antarctica, looking for the people who plotted to disrupt my daughter's wedding, and I'll stay here until I find them!"

I am not a big fan of third parties--I'm just saying that if you look at the conditions this is a propitious time for one. The likeliest source is moderate Republicans, who seem to have no home in the party any longer, and the disaffected non-ideological voters whose numbers are increasing. Of course, if the Democrats stay unified and the Republicans lose voters to a new party, it would probably mean the Democrats remain in control.

May the 4th be with you! | entertainment | Today's your day, Star Wars fans: "Today is Star Wars Day. 'May the 4th be with you,' as Star Wars fans say. Here are some links to find out more."

Woman: Arlington officer secretly offered her possessions on Craigslist | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News

Woman: Arlington officer secretly offered her possessions on Craigslist | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News: "MANSFIELD – Sherry Johnson Huwitt was standing at her kitchen window in her bathrobe shortly before dawn a couple of weeks ago when two strangers pulled up and started loading the portable basketball goal from the side of her house into a truck.

When the Mansfield woman ran outside to confront them, they said they weren't stealing because the item was offered for the taking on Craigslist."

Now, that is a dirty trick. Mystery Reader sent this tale of cybernetic woe.

U.S. Home Prices May Be Lost for a Generation: John F. Wasik -

U.S. Home Prices May Be Lost for a Generation: John F. Wasik - "Although we may not be headed for a 1930s-style Depression, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that boomers are dumping their four- and five-bedroom suburban homes for two- and three- bedroom condominiums."
This is a commentary piece that points to several reasons why home prices won't bounce back anytime soon. This "for a generation" stuff goes a bit far, I'd say. That may be true of the markets that had the greatest housing price inflation, but much of the country could see a gradual resurgence in demand.

Feliz Cinco de Cuatro from El Presidente

'El no habla': Obama jumbles Cinco de Mayo salute: "WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's joke wasn't lost in translation—even though he referred to a Cinco de Mayo celebration as 'Cinco de Cuatro.'

Obama jumbled his words as he welcomed guests to the White House to observe the Mexican holiday, sending the crowd into laughter before he referred to the day correctly.

'Welcome to Cinco de Cuatro—Cinco de Mayo at the White House,' said Obama, in what appeared to be an attempt to note they were celebrating on the fourth of May instead of the fifth."

Mr. Multi-Culti flubs his joke. There goes the re-election bid.

Stop us before we spend again!

AFP: China has 'canceled US credit card': lawmaker: "Representative Mark Kirk, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and co-chair of a group of lawmakers promoting relations with Beijing, said China had 'very legitimate' concerns about its investments.

'It would appear, quietly and with deference and politeness, that China has canceled America's credit card,' Kirk told the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American group.

'I'm not sure too many people on Capitol Hill realize that this is now happening,' he said."

Kirk is toying with the idea of running for Senate here in Illinois. He is considered a strong contender for the Republican nomination. Obama's former seat, now being held by super-shaky incumbent Roland Burris, comes up for election in November 2010. Burris is finding it impossible to raise money, so I don't see him being the Democratic nominee, but who knows. Kirk hasn't made up his mind yet, so they say. He would make a strong general election candidate because of his moderate Republicanism and general attractiveness as a candidate. But in the Illinois Republican primary race, it seems that one has to be an absolutist on abortion, gay rights, and a few other litmus test issues, so perhaps the Republicans will shoot themselves in the foot again and nominate another pathetic loser like Allen Keys.

On the substance of the issue he flags for us, all I can say is that I am astounded this is getting so little attention in the press.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Don't say "global warming," say enviro PR flacks

Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus - "EcoAmerica has been conducting research for the last several years to find new ways to frame environmental issues and so build public support for climate change legislation and other initiatives. A summary of the group’s latest findings and recommendations was accidentally sent by e-mail to a number of news organizations by someone who sat in this week on a briefing intended for government officials and environmental leaders."
I think the left has been doing a wonderful job of packaging their old, familiar policy prescriptions in a new rhetoric that resonates with many people. Now that the public is laughing at global warming (here in Illinois, winter just lasted from November until April), it is time to give the Oprah treatment to the environmental agenda: "Instead of grim warnings about global warming, the firm advises, talk about “our deteriorating atmosphere.” Drop discussions of carbon dioxide and bring up “moving away from the dirty fuels of the past.” Don’t confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like “cap and cash back” or “pollution reduction refund.”

I seem to remember that there was a great explanation for Soylent Green as well.

Jon Stewart--proven idiot

Pajamas TV - Afterburner - Jon Stewart, War Criminals & The True Story of the Atomic Bombs - Video
Leftist icon Jon Stewart called Harry Truman a war criminal. Bill Whittle presents a detailed account of the nuclear attacks on Japan that shows why Truman was right, and Stewart is an idiot. - In a First, Bankruptcy Judge Rules Calif. City Can Void Union Contracts - In a First, Bankruptcy Judge Rules Calif. City Can Void Union Contracts: "U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael McManus held March 13 that when Congress enacted 11 U.S.C. sec. 1113 to limit companies from outright rejection of union contracts it limited it to Chapter 11 bankruptcies. By failing to extend the limits to Chapter 9, which covers municipal bankruptcy, McManus said cities have broader latitude to break existing union pacts, In re City of Vallejo, 08-26813-A-9 (E. Dist. Calif.)"
This is of interest to all the state and local governments that have been underfunding their public employee pension systems, or have otherwise made commitments to public employees that they now find themselves unwilling to live up to. Last resort: go bankrupt and break the contract.

A bitter battle for power - The Daily Breeze

A bitter battle for power - The Daily Breeze: "At one time, Scottsdale Estates was a nice place to live. But the gated condo complex in Carson deteriorated long ago into a haven for drugs and gang crime.

Now it is most known as the site of a fire that killed five children in 2005. Neighbors tried to rescue them, but they couldn't pry off the burglar bars.

City officials have made several attempts to clean up Scottsdale over the years, but most efforts have been thwarted by a governing system that is as broken down as the community itself."

According to the article, one person has taken control of the association and there is an opposition group, and it led at one point to a standoff between the HOA's private security people and sheriff's deputies.