Daily Archives: December 8, 2009

Well, at least I’m not a trader for SAC

Wanna come up to Crown Lane and go long Citi with me?

      The FBI is back digging into Little Stevie Cohen’s trading company for insider trading. Nothing too surprising about that, but get this:

One of the SAC employees Kang interviewed during his investigation was former SAC analyst Andrew Tong, who accused his male supervisor, Ping Jiang, then a top SAC trader, of forcing him to have oral sex, dress in women’s clothes and take female hormones, Reuters said.

I read yesterday that SAC Capital has made 27% a year since inception. I’m amazed they have time to do that. As an aside, the fellow to the left looks a lot like a certain Riversider I knew who abruptly left Stevie’s employ a few years ago. You don’t suppose ….


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Maybe there is life after death after all

33 Dairy Road

We are seeing some real sales lately and here’s another. This two-acre teardown on Dairy, offering a fine view of the water tower and priced at $3.595, just sold for $3.150 million, more than I would have expected. Builders, take heart.


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More movement?

Perhaps – my memory has let me down on #9 “The Avenue” up Bedford way, reported as under contract (asking $1.095) today. There’s at least one foreclosure pending on that street and if this is it, then we’re witnessing death throes, not market life. But there are at least two houses for sale on that street so maybe not.

Similarly, 98 Hillcrest Road is reported under contract today but I thought it had enjoyed that status since early November. Did the first deal fall through? Is it just being reported again for jollies? Who knows? Anyway, it’s no longer available.

And, while not actively listed, 1 Ford Lane Tomac Lane went back to the lender December 5th – next step, a few months from now, will be an auction. We’d been working on this but couldn’t get the parties together before time ran out, unfortunately.

30 Crescent Lane, taken over by its lender in August, is still not available for sale – the former owner is holding on and has tied things up in court, claiming a tenant’s status. I don’t blame the man at all – when you have nowhere to go, you don’t voluntarily shove off into the night because some bank asks you to. But eventually, he’ll lose – times are not good out there.


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Down a notch from the Mariani price range

11 Somerset Lane


I liked this little Riverside house, even with its noisy location near I-95. The owners put some money into fixing it up and it had a decent back yard. Best of all, if your car got dirty and you were nice to him, Mark Curtis of Splash would come over from his house and give it a washing. 

Well perhaps that last part isn’t true, but I did like the house. It started in May at $940,000, which didn’t seem as unlikely then as it did a few months later with the market still moribund but it was eventually cut into the $8’s and sold today for an even $800,000. They paid $629 for it in 2002 and put in a new roof, furnace and kitchen so probably didn’t gain all that much but these days, walking away from a closing with cash in your pocket is a triumph all by itself. Assessment is $1,002,000, by the way, but the assessments on Somerset are all crazy – they must have sent a deaf appraiser over to do the job.

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There’s still money in town and some people are spending it

1 Meadowcroft

Mark Mariani’s spec job off of Grahampton, priced at $11.9 million has gone to contract (to a Russ Pruner client). Not my cup of tea but no one asked me, did they? This sat around for awhile and cut its price from $14.5 but I’m sure Mr. Mariani will make out just fine: he paid $5.2 for the land, so there’s plenty of room to cover the interest and still pocket a nice profit.

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And the Pioneer Award goes to …

Hurry, Ma, there's a hangin' at Dead Rock 'fore noon!

Kenny Biros, who last night became the first prisoner to be executed with a new form of drug. Considering the fellow stabbed a 21-year-old 91 times,  chopped her into little bits and scattered her in three states, it’s a little annoying to read that he spent 18 years on Death Row, but I suppose progress takes time.

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Wonders never cease department: a sensible op-ed in the WaPo

I saw the headline of this essay by Anne Applebaum:”In Switzerland, Towers of Fear” and assumed it would be another soppy plea for tolerance and understanding of the mad bombers and their progeny. It is not. It’s more tolerant than I’d be, but the issue and the problem presented by Muslims in Europe is presented well.

There are many explanations for this phenomenon (the best is found in Christopher Caldwell’s recent book, “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe”), but, to put it very crudely, they boil down to one thing: Because of mistakes made by Europeans and by the Muslim immigrants who live beside them, the two groups have, over the past several decades, failed to integrate. Two or even three generations after their arrival, some European Muslims still live in separate communities. They often go to separate schools. And a small but vocal minority openly refuses to respect the laws and customs of their adopted countries.

No European government has found a way to deal with this phenomenon. Those that have tried often find themselves running up against their own civil rights and legal traditions. The Danes, determined to limit the number of foreign spouses entering Denmark through arranged marriages, decided that they had no choice but to make it more difficult for all Danes to marry foreigners. The French, realizing that the headscarf had become a symbol of political affiliation in some French schools, found themselves limiting the rights of all students to wear religious clothing, including yarmulkes, to school.

There is, therefore, nothing especially Swiss, or especially isolationist, about the recent referendum result. A similar question, put in a similar way, might well have led to a similar result anywhere in Europe. In fact, fear of Islamist extremism shapes all European politics far more than anyone ever acknowledges. The growth of the “far right” parties in the recent past is almost always connected to fear of Islamist extremism. The opposition to Turkish membership in the European Union — which would mean that Turks could eventually work freely in any member state — stems from the same set of fears, though almost no one ever says this.

The referendum on the construction of minarets is no different. No one quite says what the real issue is, but everybody knows: As grotesquely unfair as a referendum to ban minarets may have been to hundreds of thousands of ordinary, well-integrated Muslims, I have no doubt that the Swiss voted in favor primarily because they don’t have much Islamic extremism — and they don’t want any.

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