Saturday, August 29, 2009

The future of American housing: modular HOA?

Prefab homes continue to evolve: "Modular-home interiors are almost indistinguishable from comparably priced site-built homes. The exteriors are improved, with everything from wood siding to stucco, decorative stone walls and tile roofs.

But negative perceptions of manufactured housing are tough to reverse, and prefabricated builders are eager for consumers to take another look at their products...However, modular homes are plentiful in rural Arizona and in the outer urban areas. There are also modular-home communities in the Valley, including Dolce Vita at Superstition Mountain in Apache Junction. Dolce Vita - meaning the sweet or good life in Italian - is a 55-and-older gated community with a full range of pools, fitness facilities and other activities for residents."

I don't know about you, but the idea of living in an Arizona HOA subdivision full of prefabricated homes just doesn't appeal to me.

"We just want to protect what we pay for"

Tracy Press - Nothing wrong with Redbridge gates: "Redbridge Community — an 8-year-old, 430-home neighborhood between Lammers Road and Kelly School — is widely considered one of Tracy’s cleanest, priciest neighborhoods. Its sidewalks are spotless, its landscaping impeccable and its parks off-limits to all but the people who call Redbridge home.

But the neighborhood has taken some heat lately for discouraging outside traffic by erecting a pedestrian gate on one of its main streets. The barrier is especially needed, Redbridge residents said, since the newly opened Kimball High School has upped foot traffic on the subdivision’s privately maintained sidewalks.

But the shiny new gate hasn’t been well-received by a handful of neighbors just outside Redbridge."

Here's how one resident justified the 7 foot fence, which may soon include a locked gate: "Real estate agent and Redbridge resident Jeff Pelletier agreed.

“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but this is a private community,” he said from the Redbridge General Store. “We actually double-pay because we pay for our own services on top of what we pay the city in taxes.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Activists in Pennsylvania Thwart Three Privatization Attempts |

Activists in Pennsylvania Thwart Three Privatization Attempts | "Last week, the Mt. Jewett Borough Water Authority Board in Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania announced it would deny requests from two separate private companies, American Water and Aqua America, to purchase its water system. Food & Water Watch applauds the decision of the Mt. Jewett Borough Water Authority Board to ensure both the integrity of this vital natural resource and its delivery by keeping the Mt. Jewett water system in public control.

'Both American Water and Aqua America have track records for exorbitantly high rates and shoddy service delivery. In fact, communities across the country have responded to the sky rocketing bills and poor water quality inflicted by both companies by buying back their water systems and placing them in public hands."

Thus spake Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director. / US / Society - California turns to ‘garage sale’ for funds / US / Society - California turns to ‘garage sale’ for funds: "Arnold Schwarzenegger has come up with a novel way to raise funds for cash-strapped California. He has ordered officials to sell surplus state property, with some of it signed by the movie star-turned governor to increase its value.

Under the “Great California Garage Sale”, thousands of items including signed cars, bookcases and even dentist chairs are up for grabs on Ebay and Craigslist."


Not to put too fine a point on it, but...

Death Panels and the Politics of Death - George's Bottom Line: "Mike Huckabee tossed a hand grenade into the debate over who's politicizing Ted Kennedy's death Thursday morning when he told his radio audience that under Obamacare, Kennedy would be told to 'go home to take pain pills and die.'"
But instead he received for his brain tumor the most intensive and expensive treatment available, including an operation, radiation, and chemotherapy. Fine with me. But Huckabee is pointing out that at age 78 and with a tumor that was said to be "inoperable" and certainly fatal, Kennedy was exactly the kind of patient who would not be deemed worthy of such expensive end-of-life care under the system being proposed by Obama and the other Democrats...including Kennedy himself. It will be interesting to see how Democrats respond to this. I am no Huckabee fan, and I hope he never runs for public office again, but this cuts right to the core of the division over these proposed reforms.

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet | Politics and Law - CNET News

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet | Politics and Law - CNET News: "Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency."

I wonder if this will be another issue where "inaction is not an option," and if you don't like it you are in "the party of no" or worse.

60 days for man convicted of embezzling $44K

Jail time for man convicted of embezzling $44K: "Weinrich was the subdivision’s homeowners association board president when other board members found something was fishy with the books. It came to light that Weinrich had set up a secret HOA checking account and was paying his credit cards with those checks, his attorney Mark Krumbein said."
60 days in the can plus pay back the $45K he stole. Too lenient? Too harsh?

Condo association meltdown

Condos are cheap, but some hike fees to cover for owners who refuse to pay -- "Desperate condo associations are starting to seek court-appointed receivers — a trend that started in South Florida but has spread to this part of the state. It's a sign of how dire the situation is, said Donna Berger, executive director of the Community Advocacy Network, a nonprofit group representing more than 1,500 condo and homeowner associations. 'The current economic downturn and foreclosure crisis have placed many associations on the brink of disaster,' she said."
A grim situation, indeed. And as the story explains, many associations are going into receivership.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anger reigns over dress code | | Palladium-Item

Anger reigns over dress code | | Palladium-Item: "The school board approved revisions to RCS' dress code by a 5-2 vote in May after school officials said they were unable to enforce a less restrictive code last school year. Why? To create a 'culture of success' that focuses students on learning instead of fashion.

The result has been a doozy for families. While the revisions allow for students to wear jeans, and hooded sweatshirts, the clothing must contain solid colors only -- unless they promote RCS or its programs. Low-cut shirts, anything not considered a crew neck, is also prohibited, along with other baggy or tight-fitting clothing.

As a result of the dress code, Richmond High School officials suspended 239 students during the first week of school. Principal Barb Bergdoll orchestrated the iron-fist approach to show students that her staff was taking the dress code seriously."

Solid colors only. Of course we all know that no school can function with kids wearing striped shirts.

University of Florida News - Snap! Crackle! Pop! Electric Bug Zappers Are Useless For Controlling Mosquitoes, Says UF/IFAS Pest Expert

University of Florida News - Snap! Crackle! Pop! Electric Bug Zappers Are Useless For Controlling Mosquitoes, Says UF/IFAS Pest Expert: "GAINESVILLE—If mosquitoes and other insects are taking a bite out of your summer fun, don’t bother with one of those electric bug zappers, says a University of Florida pest control expert.

“They are a total waste of money. Bug zappers will not control mosquitoes or other biting insects such as horseflies, dogflies or deerflies,” said Jonathan Day, associate professor of entomology with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“They simply do not work as advertised. In fact, bug zappers actually make things worse by attracting more mosquitoes into your yard, and they end up killing thousands of beneficial insects that don’t bother people.”"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The babies born in hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets | Mail Online

The babies born in hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets | Mail Online
Another triumph of the British National Health Service. Coming to a nation very near you?

Man collapses with ruptured appendix... three weeks after NHS doctors 'took it out' | Mail Online

Man collapses with ruptured appendix... three weeks after NHS doctors 'took it out' | Mail Online: "To his shock, surgeons from the same team told him that not only was his appendix still inside him, but it had ruptured - a potentially fatal complication.

In a second operation it was finally removed, leaving Mr Wattson fearing another organ might have been taken out during the first procedure.

The blunder has left Mr Wattson jobless, as bosses at the shop where he worked did not believe his story and sacked him."

Gotta love that British National Health Service.

Builder's woes stir property concerns -

Builder's woes stir property concerns - "Several dozen homeowners met Tuesday night at the Laurenwood Preserve clubhouse to discuss ways to keep the remaining 250 undeveloped lots in the subdivision on Capshaw Road from being built under more lenient covenants than the ones their homes were built under. The subdivision's original builder filed for bankruptcy."

Feds: Stimulus money sent to 4,000 cons -

Feds: Stimulus money sent to 4,000 cons - "One day after the Herald reported some surprised Bay State inmates - including murderers and rapists - were cashing in $250 stimulus checks, federal officials revealed the same behind-bars bonus was mailed to nearly 4,000 cons nationwide.

A federal watchdog is now probing how the cons were cut the checks. The same cash also may have been sent to fugitive felons, people kicked out of the country and even individuals now deceased.

It’s all part of the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - and what is becoming an accounting nightmare for red-faced feds."

Well, I'm sure these fellows put the money to good use and stimulated the market for shanks, pruno, and cigarettes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dog Uses Balcony As His Bathroom - Chicago Bar-tender

Dog Uses Balcony As His Bathroom - Chicago Bar-tender: "A condominium association filed a complaint today against residents of a unit who allegedly allow their dog to defecate on the unit's balcony."
And the doggie hundred pounds. Must be like that scene in Jurassic Park with the triceratops where Laura Dern...oh, never mind.

Hugh Hewitt: Housing depression headed our way | Washington Examiner

Housing depression headed our way | Washington Examiner: "The employment picture in the United States cannot brighten appreciably until and unless government at every levels stops the continuing assault on homebuilders and even begins to help them with the processing of projects, with the costs and with the tax incentives to buy a new home.

If President Obama returns from vacation committed to a jobs policy that actually creates rather than kills jobs, assistance to the home builders on a number of fronts will be at the heart of any serious plan."

Hewitt says there won't be a recovery until the housing market recovers, especially in California, and he thinks policy-makers are holding back the real estate development industry instead of stimulating it.

My Way News - RI gov to shut down state government for 12 days

My Way News - RI gov to shut down state government for 12 days: "The shutdown will force 81 percent of the roughly 13,550-member state work force, excluding its college system, to stay home a dozen days without pay before the start of the new fiscal year in July.

The closures come as the worst recession in decades has eliminated hundreds of millions of dollars in tax collections and pushed unemployment to 12.7 percent, the second-highest jobless rate in the nation behind Michigan.

Carcieri predicted the state's fiscal future could grow even bleaker."

I wonder how many states will have these shutdowns. Maybe I should start a "Government Shutdown Blog."

Obama Weekly Approval Average Now 52%, a New Low

Obama Weekly Approval Average Now 52%, a New Low: "While Obama has taken some flak from the left wing of his party over his apparent willingness to take the idea of a 'public option' for healthcare reform off the table, Gallup finds little slippage in liberal Democrats' support for the president. In fact, among his Democratic base, Obama's approval rating has dropped more among moderates than among liberals. Among Republicans, the erosion is primarily seen among liberals and moderates, while his already-scant support from conservative Republicans has hardly changed."
He is down 4 percentage points with liberal democrats, but he lost 7 points with moderate democrats, and 8 points with liberal/moderate republicans.

White House projects bigger deficits, bigger debt - Yahoo! News

White House projects bigger deficits, bigger debt - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON – The federal government faces exploding deficits and mounting debt over the next decade, White House officials predicted Tuesday in a fiscal assessment far bleaker than what the Obama administration had estimated just a few months ago."
Surprise, surprise, surprise.