Saturday, March 13, 2010

Police: Man Drunk At DUI Sentencing - Omaha News Story - KETV Omaha

Police: Man Drunk At DUI Sentencing - Omaha News Story - KETV Omaha: "PAPILLION, Neb.--Authorities said a drunken driver showed up for his sentencing hearing drunk again. Jason Botos, 30, was driven to court by his father and investigators said he was so drunk that he had to be helped inside and wasn't able to make his court appearance. 'He was unable to get himself out of the vehicle, he was so intoxicated,' said deputy Sarpy County attorney Ben Perlman."
But he gets points for showing up, right?

The American Conservative » Sprawling Misconceptions

The American Conservative » Sprawling Misconceptions: "For the 101st time: sprawl — an umbrella term for the pattern of development seen virtually everywhere in the United States — is not caused by the free market. It is, rather, mandated by a vast and seemingly intractable network of government regulations, from zoning laws and building codes to street design regulations. If Stossel wants to expand Americans’ lifestyle choices, he should attack the very thing he was defending, namely, suburban sprawl.

It’s odd that self-described libertarians such as Stossel are so slow to grasp that government planning makes sprawl ubiquitous. You would think that libertarians would instinctively grasp the deeply statist nature of suburban development."

Libertarian John Stossel thinks (scroll down to his pet peeve #2) that the market created sprawl. Here is a different take on it--government policies are largely responsible for the way people live in suburbia--something that I have been saying for a long time. Seems that some conservatives don't buy the libertarian magic beans.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Court sides with homeowner in dispute over pickup

Court sides with homeowner in dispute over pickup: "A.J. Vizzi has lived in The Eagles golfing community in northwestern Hillsborough County since he built a two-story house on a lake in 1997. For a few years, he parked his pickup in the driveway and didn't hear anything negative about it.

That all changed in 2001, when he said he received a violation notice from his homeowners association. 'Up until 2001, I was here for four years before they ever even told me I was in violation of any of their covenants,' said Vizzi."

The circuit court ruled in Vizzi's favor. So did the court of appeal. Congratulations! I see the HOA's attorney, Jonathan Ellis of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick in Tampa, was unavailable for comment. I wonder if they will try to take it to the Florida Supreme Court. Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

New round of foreclosures threatens housing market -

New round of foreclosures threatens housing market - "The housing market is facing swelling ranks of homeowners who are seriously delinquent but have yet to lose their homes, and this is threatening a new wave of foreclosures that could hit just as the real estate market has begun to stabilize."
"Seriously delinquent" as in "haven't made a mortgage payment in three months or more." We are getting close to 10% of all US mortgages falling in that category, folks. And from where I sit here in bankrupt Illinois, the job losses are mounting.

Bankruptcy Won't Work!

Bankruptcy Won't Work!
Tyler Berding and Sandra Bonato explain why members get no protection when the association goes under.

HOAs suffer during recession - Las Vegas Sun

HOAs suffer during recession - Las Vegas Sun: "Foreclosures are taking a toll on some Las Vegas homeowner associations, some of which are closing pools and deferring maintenance as they deal with a drop in revenue.

The financial woes faced by the associations come as they are locked in legal and legislative battles with investors in foreclosed homes who complain they are overcharged for fines and fees by the associations and their collection agencies."

Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link to another story about hard times in Privatopia.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Half of Kansas City's schools to close by fall

Half of Kansas City's schools to close by fall: "The school board narrowly approved the plan Wednesday night to close 29 of the district's 61 schools to try to stave off bankruptcy. The closures have angered many parents, students and teachers, but administrators say they had no choice because without them, the district would have been in the red by 2011."
It seems that this is not a scare tactic, like the Illinois governor's proposed teacher-firing budget. This appears to be real.

U.S. Sales Tax Rates Hit Record High -

U.S. Sales Tax Rates Hit Record High - "While President Obama's push to raise federal income taxes for the wealthy gets lots of attention, the continuing upward creep in the sales tax rates imposed by state and local governments has gotten less notice.

But Vertex Inc., which calculates sales tax for Internet sellers, reports that the average general sales tax rate nationwide reached 8.629% at the end of 2009, the highest since the Berwyn, Pa., company started tracking data in 1982. That was up a nickel on a taxable $100 purchase from a year earlier and up nearly 40 cents for the decade. The highest sales tax rate in the country now stands at 12%."

Here in Illinois the governor proposed yesterday to raise it from a flat 3% to a flat 4%. He called it an education surcharge or something, but it's an income tax hike. The key to understanding this is to stack up all the taxes people pay in a given state. And as we all know, you also need to add on the amount they pay in assessments to their CID if any, because that is really a disguised tax in most cases.

6 of the 10 richest counties in U.S. are in DC area | Washington Examiner

6 of the 10 richest counties in U.S. are in DC area | Washington Examiner:
"America's 25 richest counties
Rank County Population Median household income
1 Loudoun County 277,433 $110,643
2 Fairfax County 1,005,980 $106,785
3 Howard County 272,412 $101,710
4 Hunterdon County, N.J. 129,000 $100,947
5 Somerset County, N.J. 321,589 $100,207
6 Fairfax City 23,281 $98,133
7 Morris County, N.J. 486,459 $97,565
8 Douglas County, Colo. 270,286 $97,480
9 Arlington County 204,889 $96,390
10 Montgomery County 942,747 $93,999"

It would seem that being close to DC is good for your pocketbook.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Developer-created CC&R requiring listing with particular broker

Just ran across this interesting issue on DIRT-L. I took out the names to protect the privacy of the attorneys who were discussing it:


Do any states prohibit by statute or case law the practice of a developer (or HOA) requiring subdivision owners to list any future re-sale of their property with the developer's preferred real estate listing brokerage?

In SC, developers put listing with the preferred brokerage into their CCRs (covenants conditions restrictions) that owners must list for a period of time with the preferred brokerage (aka the brokerage of record or the on-site brokerage).

A member of the public called and said that NC, Ga, and California have prohibited this practice.

In SC, many developers use this strategy.

In Connecticut, such a covenant has been held to violate the state Anti-Trust Act. See State v. Hossan-Maxwell, Inc., 181 Conn. 655 (1980)

It is also my understanding that this practice is prohibited by statute or regulation. In any event, under the conventional test, the covenant would not "run with the land" and would bind only the first purchaser.

So there you have it. I haven't researched the issue myself and I'm just passing it along FYI to check out if you are interested.


The Associated Press: Roberts: Scene at State of Union `very troubling'

The Associated Press: Roberts: Scene at State of Union `very troubling': "Responding to a University of Alabama law student's question, Roberts said anyone was free to criticize the court, and some have an obligation to do so because of their positions.

'So I have no problems with that,' he said. 'On the other hand, there is the issue of the setting, the circumstances and the decorum.

'The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court — according the requirements of protocol — has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling.'

Breaking from tradition, Obama criticized the court's decision that allows corporations and unions to freely spend money to run political ads for or against specific candidates.

'With all due deference to the separation of powers the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,' Obama said in January."

That was my reaction at the time. Obama has every right to bash the decision in Citizens United v. FEC, but he did it in a crude, boorish way that was intended to bully them in public.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Obama moving to limit fishing access - ESPN

Obama moving to limit fishing access - ESPN: "The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters...Led by NOAA's Jane Lubchenco, the task force has shown no overt dislike of recreational angling, but its indifference to the economic, social and biological value of the sport has been deafening.

Additionally, Lubchenco and others in the administration have close ties to environmental groups who would like nothing better than to ban recreational angling. And evidence suggests that these organizations have been the engine behind the task force since before Obama issued a memo creating it last June."

I'd like to say that this is from some lunatic fringe, far right wing blog. However, it is from ESPN.

Joseph Brogan, 58, professor at La Salle with Tolkien touch | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/09/2009

Joseph Brogan, 58, professor at La Salle with Tolkien touch | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/09/2009: "Joseph V. Brogan, 58, of Havertown, a La Salle University political-science professor who taught an honors course on The Lord of the Rings, died of lung cancer Wednesday at his home.

Dr. Brogan taught at La Salle for more than 25 years. In addition to courses such as modern and classical political theory, constitutional law, and U.S. politics and federalism, he twice conducted the honors course on J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy."

I met Joe Brogan through his brother (and my friend and former colleague) Tom Brogan. Joe was just a wonderful person. He was a brilliant scholar and a fantastic teacher. I attended a panel that he chaired at the American Political Science Association on the politics of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was one of the most fascinating theoretical conversations I have ever heard. Whether it was something that elevated, or just sitting and talking with him at a Phillies game, he was a great guy in every way. What a loss for LaSalle, his family, and everybody who knew him.

UIC students, faculty push gov. for more funding - 3/08/10 - Chicago News -

UIC students, faculty push gov. for more funding - 3/08/10 - Chicago News -
Here's the local media take on the demonstration here at UIC yesterday.

Fans of Donna Berger

Ever since I posted a couple of what I thought were light-hearted observations on the similarity of attorney Donna Berger's blog to mine (see below), I have been getting nasty, mean, and (of course) anonymous personal attacks on me in the comments to those items. I finally started blocking these posts. I don't mind the occasional personal attack on me, and I normally leave things like that up for all to read because they say more about the writer than about me. But this is obviously an orchestrated campaign that came in response to my attempts at humor, and I'm not going to open my blog to this person or persons, whoever she/he/they may be, to carry on in this cowardly and petty fashion.

I wonder who it could be?

Ugly gender war splits country club - Chicago Tribune Archives

Ugly gender war splits country club - Chicago Tribune Archives: "PHOENIX—When the men of the Phoenix Country Club saw their feeding ways in peril, they did not tarry. Some sent nasty e-mail messages, hectored players on the fairway and, for good measure, urinated on a fellow club member’s pecan tree. One of the club’s male members was expelled.

The targets of their ire were the women—and some men—who have dared to speak up against the club’s policy of forbidding women in the men’s grill room, a center of power dining in Phoenix."

Mystery Reader sent this along. You need to register to read past the third graph, unfortunately. I would have to say that urinating on the pecan tree definitely means war.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Last Decade Spelled Disaster For Older Workers

Last Decade Spelled Disaster For Older Workers: "Washington, DC—Older workers endured a staggering 331% increase in unemployment over the last 10 years, a new analysis conducted by the AARP Public Policy Institute shows. This dramatic rise in older unemployed workers has resulted in declining financial and retirement security for millions of Americans who have little time to make up the losses.

“The last decade has spelled disaster for millions of older workers who have lost their jobs, seen their retirement savings diminish, and had their health care costs continue to skyrocket,” said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President. “The recession has only made this bad situation worse, as the statistics show clearly that older workers who lose their jobs stay unemployed longer than other groups.”

The new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by AARP’s Public Policy Institute shows a dramatic 331.4% increase in the number of unemployed Americans age 55+ and over from January 2000 through December 2009. For age 65+ workers, the increase in the number of unemployed was lower, but still a massive 235%."

Now add to that the impending collapse of many private and public pension funds. Add to that the meltdown in home equity. Add to that the loss of many public services that I believe will hit all levels of government over the next few fiscal years, as governments make cuts that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. This thing we once called "retirement" could become rather interesting for those now aged 55 to 65.

California Proposition 14, Top Two Primaries Act (June 2010) - Ballotpedia

California Proposition 14, Top Two Primaries Act (June 2010) - Ballotpedia: "A California Top Two Primaries Act ballot proposition is on the June 8, 2010 ballot in California as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

If approved by voters, the proposal will require that candidates run in a single primary open to all registered voters, with the top two vote-getters meeting in a runoff. The new system would take effect in the 2012 elections.[1]

Specifically, it would provide for a 'voter-nominated primary election' for each state elective office and congressional office in California. Voters could vote in the primary election for any candidate for a congressional or state elective office without regard to the political party affiliations of either the candidate or the voter. Candidates could choose whether or not to have their political party affiliation displayed on the ballot.

The proposition also prohibits political parties from nominating candidates in a primary, although political parties would be allowed to endorse, support or oppose candidates. Elections for presidential candidates, and for members of political party committees and party central steering committees would not fall under the 'top two' system."
This already failed in 2004. Apparently the idea is to produce two moderate candidates in the general election, instead of a left-wing democrat and a right-wing republican nominated by the foaming-at-the-mouth partisans of their respective parties. The Greens and Libertarians and other minor parties think, correctly, that this will wipe them out entirely because they will never, ever, be number one or number two in the primary, so they won't be on the general election ballot at all.

Congressional estimates show grim deficit picture - Yahoo! News

Congressional estimates show grim deficit picture - Yahoo! News: "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that Obama's budget plans would generate deficits over the upcoming decade that would total $9.8 trillion. That's $1.2 trillion more than predicted by the administration.

The agency says its future-year predictions of tax revenues are more pessimistic than the administration's. That's because CBO projects slightly slower economic growth than the White House.

The deficit picture has turned alarmingly worse since the recession that started at the end of 2007, never dipping below 4 percent of the size of the economy over the next decade. Economists say that deficits of that size are unsustainable and could put upward pressure on interest rates, crowd out private investment in the economy and ultimately erode the nation's standard of living."

And it seems that the electorate is now thinking about the deficit as a major issue. It took Ross Perot to put that issue out front in 1992 because the major parties didn't want to talk about it. But now the federal budget deficit, and debt in general, have become mainstream concerns--not that our politicians seem to be doing anything about it...

Sole occupant of 32-story Fort Myers condo wants out | | The News-Press

Sole occupant of 32-story Fort Myers condo wants out | | The News-Press: "Only a handful of purchasers who put down deposits closed on their condos in the building, and except for Vangelakos, they've accepted deals with developer The Related Group to swap for units in Tower 2.

But Vangelakos, who paid $430,000 for the home, closed in November 2008 and insisted on taking possession. He, his wife Cathleen, and their three children use the condo as a vacation home when he can get away from his job as a Weehawken, N.J., firefighter.

Neither side is happy with the arrangement - the company is spending money because it can't shut down the building altogether and the Vangelakos family considers the arrangement creepy, especially at night."

This would be too much like The Shining for me.

HOA Rules - Why is it Necessary in Home Buying - International Business Times

HOA Rules - Why is it Necessary in Home Buying - International Business Times: "Moreover, they set the allowable number of occupants per house, the kind of pets that are permitted and the race of persons who can stay in the community."
I linked to this ridiculous article below, and an astute commenter highlighted the language that I am re-posting. For many decades, HOAs were used to keep African-Americans and other minorities from buying suburban housing. The Supreme Court declared them unenforceable in 1948, but they remain on the books of many an HOA to this day. This "Flynna Jones" person seems to have an interesting perspective on race restrictions.

HOA Rules - Why is it Necessary in Home Buying - International Business Times

HOA Rules - Why is it Necessary in Home Buying - International Business Times: "Being a member of a homeowners association can give you a lot of benefits. As soon as you enter into such group, you can be assured of a safe and orderly community to live. This organization is tasked to look after the homeowners, enforce rules and asks the residents to pay certain fees. And in exchange, the group will keep the peace and comfort of the area, provide the best amenities, different advantages and develop living condition. It can get rid the issues of other residents too. Through this, the relationship of everyone in the community is peaceful."
Mika Brainy says if you want a good laugh, read this article.

The Galveston County Daily News

The Galveston County Daily News: "GALVESTON — A homeowners association in an affluent West End neighborhood is accusing one of its members of falsely portraying himself as its president and signing documents that would release hurricane-damaged beach-front houses to the city in a controversial buyout program."
Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link to a story about a $21 million buyout program.