Monday, November 30, 2009

Winston Churchill at 135: The Two Chartwells

What better way to celebrate Winston's birthday (1874-1965) than to introduce readers and tourists to the two Chartwells. The first is his country home located in southeast England in Kent, now a National Treasure and open to the public.

The young military officer, statesman, politician, First Lord of the Admirality and burgeoning artist first alighted on the property in 1922; he immediately fell in love with the modified Elizabethan Manor House and bought the property for his wife Clementine who was likewise enchanted with it. So much work had to be done to refurbish the home that Churchill hired the architect Philip Tilden to transform the structure into a home. The couple finally moved into their homely abode two years later in 1924. (Photo at left is the young Churchill with his fiancee Clementine Hozier, shortly before their marriage in 1908; Photo upper right is Chartwell Manor)

In this very private retreat, where he wrote his memoirs and painted most of his 500 pieces, two rooms of particular interest are the dining room and Churchill's study. A short film produced by the WPA two years after his death takes you into both. There are many videos available online that afford a marvelous tour of the Kent countryside, the Koi ponds, cattle and swans that abound amidst the beautiful display of flora on the grounds. One can only marvel about the view that he had from his study as he composed his memoirs and histories.
The dining room is also the screening room where Winston would entertain his guests with movies.

The other Chartwell is right here in the United States. It is the only bookstore devoted exclusively to books and memorabilia about WC. It is located appropriately along a strand of high ceilinged windowed public arcades that run continuously from 56th to 49th street between Madison and Park Ave in New York City: the booksellers are at the Park Avenue Plaza building on 52nd Street.
I have been in the shop many times and there are many book collections and letters that are personally signed by WC. It's well worth the outing to enjoy the best kept secrets in NYC: the arcades, the flora and the many shops along the way; however, Chartwell is the jewel of them all.

Image source (1)
Image source (2)

Goldman plans $16.7 billion in bonuses for 2009

The $16.7 B in bonus money that Goldman Sachs plans to distribute to its employees after a windfall profits year equates to nearly $700,000 to each of its 31,700 employees.

This would be a staggering amount during more stable economic times; it is even more unconscionable during these turbulent times when Goldman was teetering on the brink of collapse and the Feds determined the 140 year- old firm, deemed too big to fail, needed a bailout. And so the US Taxpayer pumped in $22 Billion to save the sinking ship.

Consider this: $12 B was loaned to Goldman to protect its investments in credit default swaps created by AIG-- an extremely risky move by Blankfein's firm. Goldman then turned around to use the total US aid package of $22B to reap profits, to a certain extent, in the very investment vehicles-CDW's- that purportedly was going to sweep it under.

What an outrageous situation. Since she used our money as insurance to further leverage her investments in other less risky investments, we the 300 million citizens of our country deserve to share in the profits as well. That means each US citizen would reap about $70 in profits.

What hubris (and of course, irony) for those whose own greed brought them to the brink of disaster should even consider receiving any profit, let alone any bonus, when 300 million of us are lend our 'full faith and credit' behind her to insure success, when 1 of 3 homes is less worth than the mortgage that secures it, when unemployment is reaching 20% in many areas, the once rich are lining up for food stamps, and the homeless swell the streets.

We cannot fault the greed of those with the capital, nor can we fault the innocent home buyer who is sweet talked into a deal that any prudent lender would reject. Greed will always prey upon the innocent. What we need is for Congress to quickly enact emergency legislation to tax these bonuses at a 90% rate. That way America can earn her just due and perhaps Goldman may still live to see the light of day!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remembering Dad's passion for sports: 10 Years after his Passing

This year marks the 10th year of the passing of my dad, Dr. Saul Schwartz and the 20th year of the passing of my brother, Dr. Gabe Schwartz. I would like to recall their passionate involvement, not only as physicians and researchers (Dr. Gabe wrote over 150 papers) but as sports enthusiasts. (Look at my next blog on remembering brother Gabe).

Dad attended CCNY in Manhattan graduated in 3 years pursuing a busy pre-medical program. Yet he found time to play on the varsity baseball, basketball and field and track teams. He was a fierce competitor, extremely fast around the bases, up and down the court and was a sprinter. He spoke glowingly about doing the hurdles and playing catcher for hard ball pitchers. He did not have time to play tennis, but as soon as he built up his practice in the Bronx, he joined a golf foursome organized by some medical friends and played at Mosholu golf course, Saxon Woods and other NY Metro courses.

I recall his aggressiveness and speed during a parent/son baseball game sponsored by Emmanuel in Mount Vernon. He was so quick going around the bases that he slipped and fell injuring his ankle and so had a cast on his leg for about 6 weeks. In his late 70's and 80's he had to have knee replacement surgery on both legs-a result of all that stress running so much.

I taught him tennis which he picked up rather quickly in his late 50's. On one occasion we were playing at Boothbay Harbor, Maine. And playing on the court near us was young Senator Ted Kennedy who was fond of hitting stray balls onto our court. I don't know how he knew dad, but he kept running onto our court in his blue Bermuda shorts and all the time saying: "Sorry to bother you, Doc!" This was a year after the tragic death of Mary Jo Kopechne when the Senator's car rolled off a bridge at Chappaquidick.

As part of his athletic agility and his dedication to service of others, Dad continued to make house calls into the early 1960's. Those who knew him called him 'The Concourse Flash' going up and down flights of steps at the numerous apartment houses lining the broad thoroughfare--even though elevators were in common use; he simply preferred the exercise. Frankie Frisch another Bronx boy who played major league baseball and was extremely fast was nicknamed "The Fordham Flash" as a result of his playing four sports-one more than dad-while at Fordham.

Dad lived until 92 and only retired from his one-man practice on the Grand Concourse a few years earlier. He walked with a cane until his last days. G-d bless your soul, dad!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Remembering Brother Gabe's Passion for Sports 20 Years Later

In this blog and the next, I pay tribute to milestone family anniversaries: the 20th year since the passing of my brother Gabe and the 10th year since the passing of my dad. See the next blog for my discussion of Dad's connection to sports.
My brother was a gridiron genius. While living in Chicago and the chief physician at a renal dialysis center, Gabe struck up a friendship with Mike Ditka of the Chicago Bears. Mike often relied on Gabe to suggest plays and running patterns. During their friendship from 1984-1989, Iron Mike-- with a 67-12 win loss record --was the best coach in professional football.
How did Gabe communicate to Iron Mike? Through the use of an apple computer, Gabe, with a flick of his index finger would tap on a key that connected directly to Mike.
This was quite a feat for Gabe was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease in 1984 and progressively lost all virtual motor functions in his extremities. The Bears team hailed him as "Doctor Gabe." Gabe, you are a legend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Those ESPN Guys: Cliff Drysdale and Pat McEnroe a Class Act at the US Open

After watching the Grand Masters of Tennis play: Stan Smith, Mary Jo Fernandez, Ille Nastase, Hana Mandlikova etc., I was wandering about the grounds at the US Open; and so it was a delightful surprise to run into two of the finest tennis broadcasters in the game and to swap a joke or two with them. In the photo above that's Drysdale giving me a thumbs up for my badinage and Patrick McEnroe, the last man standing (the brother of the court terror, explosive John Mcenroe)

Here, my camera catches them during some 'down time.'

I told the obviously tired and droopy eyed Cliff and his partner that "You guys haven't put in real day's labor since you put your rackets down years and years ago (to focus on business). When are you guys going to get a real job?" This levity brought some smiles.

Actually, each of these 2 broadcasters brings a class act demonstrating his love of the game.

Drysdale was in the top ten for six years and contested in the finals of the US Open National Championships at Forest Hills against Manolo Santana of Spain in 1965. His smooth voice "combines precise South African diction with a natural ease on air that recalls James Bond engaged in a game of backgammon." (see interview in on 1/10/08) He combines his love of broadcasting tennis with his passion for developing' pied pipers': masters of the game such as Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, Owen Davidson and Aaron Krickstein, to name a few, to create enthusiasm in spreading the game anywhere and everywhere. He says it best:

"You can grow tennis anywhere; give us a tennis facility--even in some place where no one has played tennis for a long time--and if you put the right person in charge of that place who can energize people it will catch on because it's a great game that everyone--kids, adults, men and women--can play."
In a short You Tube video, Cliff demonstrates his incisive low key analysis of the similarity of the Steffi Graff and Ana Ivanovic forehands.

John McEnroe and his brother Pat teamed up at the US Open and its very clear that Pat is as analytical as his brother and comes across like a smooth quaff on a hot summer's day: pleasant, informative and entertaining. Pat has worked hard both as a player of renown, particularly in doubles and has come into his own as a formidable broadcaster, as Captain of the US Davis Cup Squad and as general manager of the United States Tennis Association's player development program. Besides displaying his aura as a gentleman of tennis, he is a unique serious promoter of the sport.

Hats off to both of you. You guys are a class act! And great for the sport.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Joe Dimaggio's Birthday: November 25th

"where have you gone Joe Dimaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes on you.."
From Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson

Joe was a larger than life guy--my childhood hero. He was the very image of grace under pressure. He was the Bronx Bomber (even though Hank Greenberg a neighborhood homegrown Bronx boy-- oversized slugger went to PS 44 on Prospect Ave., shagged flies on my turf, Crotona Park, and went on to star at Monroe High School )
My memories touch upon seeing Joe in black and white TV; as a starry eyed 7 year- old, I would eagerly wait for Mel Allen ( the voice of the Yankees) in his pitched excited voice to cry out... "next up is Dimag (deemaj), here comes the pitch and its swung on by Joe and it's a long one toward right's going, going, gone." I would watch Joltin Joe round the bases in his inimitable graceful stride --all the while tipping his hat to the adoring shouting fans. A rare, individual who knew how to play up to the audience.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Agassi: The Punk Kid, but more much more than a "haircut and a forehand"

He is the only tennis player to win a career grand slam (winning Wimbledon, The French, US and Australian opens) and Olympic Gold Medal.

He precipitously fell from #1 in Tennis in 1995 to #141. He could have quit then at age 27 and dealt with his demons off the court.

No, he chose--he had no other choice-but to face his demons square face to face-on the very turf that generated them. He battled his addiction to crystal meth, his hatred of the game, his hatred of his dad Mike (who shoved a tennis ball in his crib before he turned 1, and was evidently behind Andre's winning $500 from Jim Brown in 3 sets at age 9!) and his self disgust

No he did not give up; he played the qualifying circuit all over again, practiced day and night, with a passion for the game that propelled him to the top of the tennis world again. And he won more slams after the late age of 29, than before.

He learned to love the game, love his dad, love the fans who adored him; he found the elusive peace he sought within himself

He accumulated over $100 million from tennis and is now giving much of it back: he has established a tuition free charter school in Las Vegas for 623 disadvantaged/at risk kids. His foundation has raised over $70 million so far for these kids

Andre should know the value of an education gathered painfully by experience --he got his education the hard way-- by pushing back, by rebelling at the often brutal, aggressive upbringing at the hands of his dad; his denim court wear and his mullet style hairpiece and his short lived tumultuous marriage to Brooke Shields were the outward signs of internal turmoil.
He is one 9th grade dropout who is paving the way for other 'at risk' kids with more formal schooling. The first graduates are now off to college.

Why did he write his autobiography, Open, when he could have avoided the limelight? In an interview with Jim Chairusmi of the Wall Street Journal, Andre says, "...anything worthwhile in life comes with work and risk. This was part atonement, as well. I had something that most people don't get, which is a second chance. Everyday has been a form of atonement. And this book is that."
image source (1)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Warren Buffet's Company Triples Earnings in Third Quarter

Photo of Warren Buffett addressing students at
Kanas University from Wikipedia

As reported in a front cover story in the Financial Times of Saturday, November 7, 2009, Buffet's Hathaway reported earnings of over 3 billion dollars.
The conservative Mr. Buffet had once characterized derivatives as 'financial weapons of mass destruction.'
Yet his group earned over $1.1 billion by windfall appreciation of credit default swaps of which Hathaway has a portfolio of over $30 Billion. The CDSs rose in value as rising markets reduced the likelihood that the company would have to pay out on the insurance-like instruments.'
So much for the pot calling the kettle black...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Earning my Wings: My First Flight

That's me above with Cherokee Cruiser PA 28-140 (2+2), N8387C at
Chico Municipal Airport in May, 1978

2009 marks the 30th year since I earned my Private Pilot's wings at Gansner Field, Quincy, California in Plumas County with Tom Rahn, my instructor and Johnnie Miller, CEO of a crop duster business and Certified Flight Examiner.

My inaugural flight was at Chico Municipal Airport (CIC) on my birthday May 24, 1978. I flew Cherokee Cruiser 140 N8387C (November 387 Charlie). My logbook simply records: 1.5 hrs, dual, up Deer Creek.

My instructor is the first of many instructors I will have over the course of the years. He is tall, lean and fair haired. He boasts that his other students include TV Soap Opera stars who have moved to Chico from New York. He introduces me to Teal Nichols, a good looking well built blond lady. (Teal is a member of a group of 14 adults and 15 children who left New York in 1961 to avoid the fallout from a nuclear holocaust in the east, which never happened). I later learn that he is building time for his commercial license and that his real motivation is flying large jets.

An aerial view of Lassen Peak, locale of my first dual flight

Deer Creek is a scenic route that that follows Route 32 as it winds upward from Chico to Chester (near Mt. Lassen National Park, scene of a 1914-1915 volcano). The average altitude of the terrain is 3000 feet so we fly at 5500 feet The California terrain is awesome and Lassen Peak is stark dominant!

We logged 1.5 hours. As pilot in command, my instructor controlled all aspects of the flight from the initial check and visual inspection of mechanical systems, propellor, fuel tanks, oil level,
pitot tube, ailerons, flaps etc of the plane while still tied down, followed by firing up the engine, checking the basic instruments, magnetos, electrical readings, tuning radios, then radio communication to the tower requesting permission to taxi into position to hold and then tower command to take off. It was a sunny, clear day with little wind and my first takeoff is awesome: first pushing the throttle full forward to accelerate to lift off speed with rotation at 70-80 knots and then climbing out at 90 knots until we reach flight attitude.

Total cost $49. A great introduction to flight

Look for my next post in this series: The Cherokee Cruiser as The Time Machine and then followed by a blog on earning my wings .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Breaks in the Berlin Wall: Behind the Iron Curtain 1962-1965

Celebrating at the Hindenberg Gate, Berlin, November 9, 2009
Notice the Dominoes poised to fall

Enough hype about the Berlin Wall, 20 years after its fall.

Clearly, there were cracks in the wall long, long before

In 1962, I visited Berlin at the height of the Cold War. The wall was erected a year earlier, tensions were running high and each side was flaunting its parade of soldiers, its long and short range missiles, its hidden missile pads/silos. ( Dr. Strangelove or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb would soon be the craze.)

With my American Passport in hand, I was able to cross over to the Communist side of Berlin or East Berlin.

I was struck by the run down neighborhoods and decrepit homes that showed the devastation of the City at the end of World War II. (this was in contrast to the West Berlin side where building cranes were re-erecting buildings all over and the Kurferstandamm or Ku-damm for short, the city's central hub was alive with tourists, cafes and boutiques day and night.)

I boarded the S-Bahn and got off at the Pergamon Museum where ancient Greek freizes, colums and human sculptures had been transported and preserved by the Soviets during World War II. (click here for Pergamon Museum flicker slide show.)

I had studied this exhibit 2 years earlier in my core curriculum art humanities course and what an experience it was to be able to witness these awesome freizes 2500 years old--miraculously saved from Allied bombings and now resurrected like West Berlin.

As I was touring the museum, I was approached by a museum guard who asked me in German:
"Haben Sie Amerikanische Zigaretten, bitte?!" (do you have any American cigaretttes, please?) while offering me some deutsche marks. I begged off and gave him a couple of Gauloises which he gladly accepted. The experience brought home to me the poverty, the isolation that separated W. Berlin from E. Berlin (By contrast, along the Ku-dam, the tobacconists carried all brands of cigarettes, international newspapers, etc.)

In 1965, my dad lead the first group of American Doctors 'to tour' and visit Russian health facilites behind the iron curtain at the invitation of the Soviet Government. He told me that he was approached by dissidents outside the Central Synagogue in Moscow who tried to pass him letters to take back to relatives. They communicated in Yiddish even while KGB agents were milling about.

My dad realized the 'consequences' --certain apprehension and possible jail if he cooperated- as he refused to accept anything from these ordinary citizens who literally had been cut off from the outside world.

These were grim times indeed!

Check out an 'Ugly American' experience that occurred about 40 years later in East Jerusalem just after 9/11/01.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Celebrating Claude Monet's Birthday

The Wild Poppies
Oil on Canvas, 1873
Shown at First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874

Today is Claude Monet's birthday (1840-1926). He is one of the seminal artists of the Impressionist movement in art which flourished notably in France from the early 1860's until the early 1900's. His art is dominated by three principles that he adhered to for his career. First, he advocated the concept of "en plein air"--the artist must go outside to paint. The second, related to the first, is that the artist must capture the various nuances of light. (This he did in his various portrayals of the Houses of Parliament and the Rouen Cathedral) Third, the artist must respond spontaneously to his subject and so there is no time or requisite for accurate lifelike representation which is the fundament of classical painting. The artist- far from expressing eternal fixed principles-captures an impression of the moment.

In "The Wild Poppies" (above), one can see these principles clearly demonstrated. Note the strong diagonal movement from upper left to lower right by his repeating his 'wife and child motif' above and below.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Housing Crisis is Shameful

In my election day blog of November 3, 2009, Election Day Thoughts, I alluded and concluded my observations with mention of a C-Span Video on the pitiful state of our nation's housing crisis.
With the elections concluded, I want to address the remarks made by a wonderful orator, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia who is personally schooled in the nuts and bolts of the crisis Before coming to the Congress in 1999, Johnny had a 32 year distinguished career in the real estate industry. The main points he makes are

1. In metro Atlanta there is an average of a 10 year supply of developed lots, vacant and unsold!

2. With 1/3 of the existing mortgages valued more than the value of the home, ie. there is no equity in the homes, homeowners are finding it easier to walk away from their homes than continue paying high monthly payments.

We are past the point of blame. We must urge our lawmakers to aid those homeowners who continue to meet monthly payments with renegotiated terms. We must urge our congressman to enact much stiffer regulations to halt the rampant greed, speculation/margin financing, lack of integrity that spawned this crisis. The cure must be done swiftly. Time is running out.
Those who we put in office must act to protect the vast majority of hard-working American citizens who are at their breaking point.

Here is the link to Sen. Isakson's opening testimony. Find the section entitled Transcript and go to the the 11 minute 15 second mark and click on it to hear 10 minutes of heart wrenching testimony.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Frank Woodruff Buckles, The Last Living American Soldier from World War I

Frank Buckles receives French Legion of Honor Medal at 107
Photo courtesy of Karen Kasmauski
Smithsonian Magazine, October 2008

At 107, Frank Woodruff Buckles is the only US doughboy survivor of World War I, a war in which 4.7 million American boys were recruited or conscripted and which claimed 8.5 million lives. It was supposed to be 'The War to End all Wars.'
Frank was too young at 16 to be a recruit and so after a number of turndowns by Marine and Navy recruiters, he headed from his native Missouri to Oklahoma City where he told an Army Captain that his birth certificate would not be a matter "...of public record. It would be in the family Bible." Frank continues, "You wouldn't want me to bring the family Bible down here, would you?" And with that the Captain said we was going to take him.
He was posted to England where he shuttled officers in the sidecar of a motorcycle and delivered dispatches. He did not get to the front to engage the enemy in live combat. However, after the war, he was ordered to accompany 650 prisoners of war back to Germany. This was the closest he got to combat.
On Dec. 7, 1941, he was a civilian in Manila, Phillipines and, ironically, was- himself- taken as a prisoner of war for 39 months eating his meals out of a tin cup.
He was honored by President Bush in a White House ceremony in 2008 and now lives on his family's cattle farm in Charles Town, West Virginia, named after the youngest full brother of General George Washington.
May you keep up the fighting spirt, Frank!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Salute to all American Veterans:

Today is a special day to honor the living and the deceased warriors of our country who have laid down their lives in the defense of liberty.
Being an aviator myself, I wish to commend all the aviators and related personnel including, pioneers of aviation such as Orville and Wilbur Wright, Glenn Curtis, Leroy Grumman, Igor Sikorsy, Donald Douglas, Jack Northrup, Allen and Michael Loughhed, Howard Hughes and Jimmy Doolittle. Let's also commend all the navigators, bombardiers, radar operators, two-way radio communicators, parachutists, Rosie the Riveters, WACs and all the veterans of every war we have fought.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Capturing Fall along the Merritt Parkway

She is turning 70 years old next year and she has 68 Bridges along her mellow meandering 38 mile path, but to me The Merritt displays her inherent beauty from exits 35 to 27., especially in fall.
Twice a week, amidst a busy schedule of servicing clients, I manage brief excursions to visit two homebound friends of mine in Greenwich. It is mid day and I can take a leisurely drive at 65MPH, and behold the roseate, rusty, redness of an autumn in bloom, diamond shimmering lakes and golf course(s) and the neo-modern bridges at exits 33 (Den Road, Stamford), Exit 31 (North Avenue) and Exit 28 (Round Hill Road).
So, one day I had to stop and do a photomontage and video shoot to share the beauty of my trip.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Congratulations Michael Pavia, Our New Stamford Mayor

Nov. 8, 2009

The election results are in and Michael Pavia is new Mayor of Stamford, Connecticut. He beat his opponent Democrat David Martin to become the first Republican Mayor in 14 years. The tally was 12,680 votes to 10,024, which translates to Pavia's capturing 56% of the vote to Martin's 44%.
Sadly only 39% of eligible voters participated: of 57,304 registered citizens, 22,689 went to the polls. And, I can only wonder how many residents of voting age simply refuse to register--perhaps feeling so alienated from the safeguards of our democracy to participate. So, perhaps, only about 1/3 of us actually feel we can make a difference. The rest feel disenfranchised. Doesn't that make the average American citizen the real loser here?
According to the Stamford Advocate: the reasons for Pavia's success are three fold: money/fund raising, organization (Pavia started with greater name recognition) and backlash against high taxes.
Several observations are in order. When I went to my local polls at Dolan Middle School, mid-afternoon, there were some 15 campaigners outside asking for my support and handing me literature (which I had to discard before entering) and inside there some 20 volunteers and only 3 voters. Thus the voters were outnumbered by 35 to 3 or 12 to 1. A sad state of affairs.
Though I am a renter, I can relate rather strongly to property tax increases. About a year and a half ago, the house in which I live was reassessed from about $200,000 to over $400,000--suddenly doubling the property tax of my landlord. Naturally, my rent suddenly went up. Querie: what took the assessor's office so long to do their homework?

On the bright spot, the day after elections, I had the privilege of meeting one of Mike Pavia's campaign lieutenants while shopping at the local supermaket. Dan Mccabe is lawyer here in town and has been friendly with Mike from their days in Stamford Catholic School (Trinity). Dan is one of the most upbeat guys, I have met lately. And he waxed with so much genuine enthusiasm and praise for his life-long friend that I know our city will be in strong hands.
Another bright spot is that voter turnout where Pavia lives in District 18 (covering North Stamford and Newfield) was just under 50%.
Finally, hats off to David Martin, who leaves the Board of Representatives after 26 years of service. Dave, who arrived in Stamford in 1983 from his native Kansas City, Mo. ran for for this office as a Democrat in a Republic district after 6 months residence; amazingly enough, he won the seat! So good luck, Dave, who now returns to his consulting firm, Michael Allen & Co. in Darien.

Overheard on CNBC : Job Growth in time for X-Mass?

This past week I saw the following prediction flashed across the screen of CNBC:

"Employers can only push their current workforces to do more with less for so long. If output growth remains strong as we expect, hours worked and payrolls should be rising around the turn of the year." - Dean Maki, Barclays Capital

Thinking about Tony, the subject of my blog for October 19, who is working much longer hours for the same pay in order to keep his job, I wonder whether he will be able to work fewer hours by end of the year.

I seriously doubt so! This is wishful thinking for the American Worker. The US Labor Dept. just released figures this past Friday, November 6th that unemployment is now topping 10% and could climb higher.
With more workers unemployed, the economy will weaken in the next few months. This means fewer dollars to spend for holiday gifts, a weaker demand for goods and services and further layoffs.

Let's brace for the worst, America. We are still in for hard times.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 3, 2009: Election day thoughts..

It's election day here in Stamford, CT. And a balmy 63 degrees at 2 PM. Electors are going to the polls to elect a new Mayor. Dan Malloy is 'retiring' after 12 years to seek a higher office--the Governorship of our state, to serve us in Hartford.

It's a toss-up between Dave Martin and Michael Pavia. Martin is a senior partner and owner of Michael Allen Co, a management -consulting firm whose clients are primarily Fortune 500 companies. He has served 26 years on the Board of Representatives. In the Advocate Voter's Guide 2009 supplement, published on 10/30/09, Dave says:

"....I have a deep understanding of our city and experience with issues. We have become one of the country's safest, most successful small cities--with an active downtown, a quality school system, and wonderful parks--a great place to live and work...'

I do agree with Dave's remarks. A recent transplant to CT in 2005, via No. New Jersey (10 years) Texas (2 years), Maryland (2 years), Oregon (Eugene is a close contender with Stamford for quality of life), both No. and So. California (18 years) and New York City and NYS, (30 plus years), I can attest that our City is indeed safe with a quality education system ( I have substitute taught in all schools in Town) and an excellent place to start a mentoring business here with clients in CT, NYS, FLA and Texas.

Sparring off with Martin is Michael Pavia. He is Founder/owner of a commercial real estate development group and is a residential home builder. I met Michael about a year ago at a diner where he was campaigning; though we did not discuss issues, he impressed me with having a certain charisma. In the Advocate, Pavia says he will

"....change the status quo Day one...I created 1,000 local jobs and built 200 homes that add over $1 million/year to our tax rolls."

My vote is going to Martin for two reasons. He had dedicated so many years to local government public service; secondly, I am inundated almost daily with costly 4x6 direct mail slick 4-color pieces from Pavia, which I throw away. I get 10 pieces from him versus one, maybe two from Martin. With these tough times, I find it quite offensive that he is so lavish in his spending whereas all that money could go into feeding the homeless, providing more shelter for the dispossessed, etc. There are less ostentatious marketing tools to get our attention.

(I wonder if any of the candidates has seen this video about our Nation's housing crisis , which I will discuss in my next blog. It is introduced by our own, Sen. Chris Dodd:

They are both qulified individuals. May the best man win!