Posted by: Timothy Ellis (The Tim)

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

38 responses to “Weekly Open Thread (2014-01-06)”

  1. Blurtman

    Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right….

    “Does anybody believe that they didn’t know before now what was blocking Big Bertha and this isn’t a classic Friday news dump where they’re hoping it’ll get buried by the end of the week?

    I bet they’ve known for days. I bet they would have done this press conference later if The Seattle Times hadn’t gotten the story because you do it at 4 p.m. to make it even tougher to get on the newscasts.

    It was stuck and hadn’t moved before I went on vacation for the holidays, so almost a month. And I was incredulous they didn’t know what was blocking it. So it’s a huge steel pipe that was put in the ground in 2002 by the Department of Transportation when they started to do some test drilling for the viaduct replacement project. The Department of Transportation put the obstruction in front of the Department of Transportation’s project and they didn’t know that?

    Either they’ve been lying about it for a month or they didn’t know. This is unbelievable.

    They’ve been lying to us for a month about what’s been blocking Bertha. They’ve been trying to figure out how to spin it. This is unbelievable incompetence. This is exactly what we predicted on this show years ago when we said there would be unfathomable delays and at least a billion dollars in overruns on this project.

    This is the first in what is going to be a financially disasterous project. And when you look at the Big Dig in Boston and the billions of dollars of overruns there and think that the geniuses that run this state were somehow going to be impervious to what happened with the Big Dig in Boston – now we’re seeing first hand everything that we predicted coming true.

    How many people are collecting a paycheck for this project and they are going to find they can’t move forward? What’s going to happen? Are all these people going to collect a paycheck for a year to sit on their butts because of the incompetence? That’s what we have to find out.

    Wow. We can all agree this is a stunning development.”

    http://mynorthwest.com/76/2425940/Dori-WSDOT-clearly-lied-about-Bertha-blockage?google_editors_picks=true

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  2. Blurtman

    The end is near.

    Mel Watt Confirmed As Director Of The FHFA; How Long Before HARP 3 Becomes Available To Everyone?

    Congressional representative Mel Watt was confirmed as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Tuesday. The FHFA controls Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and administers the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

    Watt is considered to be more consumer-friendly than his predecessor, Ed DeMarco.

    With Watt at the helm, the FHFA is expected to overhaul HARP in order to provide low mortgage rate relief to troubled U.S. homeowners stuck with above-market rate loans.

    http://themortgagereports.com/14025/why-mel-watts-heading-fannie-mae-and-freddie-mac-will-push-harp-3-0-to-the-forefront

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  3. softwarengineer

    RE: Blurtman @ 1

    Reminds Me of Renton’s “Never-ending” Ranier Ave Rework

    Do they milk these 1-2 mile repavement and sidewalk projects for like years before they finish them?

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  4. softwarengineer

    RE: Blurtman @ 2

    Let’s Not Harp About Harp

    Sounds like another way to incorrectly reduce the percent of undocumented underwater mortgages….just put it in HARP administration [while the sherriff prepares the eviction papers]?

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  5. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 1 – Dori Monson isn’t exactly a great source. That said, one news source (I forget which one) reported that this pipe jumped about seven feet out of the ground when it was struck, but that they continued drilling for a day or two after that. Assuming that is true, then clearly they knew what the problem was. And assuming that is true, I can’t believe that they didn’t stop as soon as they noticed the pipe to avoid risking damaging Bertha.

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  6. softwarengineer

    SWE’s End of Month/Year Investment Report

    Stocks are averaged for all in trade.

    YTD 1.89% (1.68%) 32.45% 38.35% 22.13%
    Last 12 mo 1.89% (1.68%) 32.45% 38.35% 22.13%

    In order: Longterm CDs, Longterm Bonds, American Stocks, Foreign Stocks, Foreign Stocks

    The rich get richer…..except if they didn’t gamble that interest rates wouldn’t go down anymore [and bought bonds].

    How long will this stock price bubble last? I wouldn’t have predicted it would have happenned in the first place….so don’t ask me….

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  7. softwarengineer

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 5

    Stop Road Construction Because Its Useless?

    God forbid…..when the job can’t be finished that’s when they approve OT.

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  8. Kary L. Krismer

    I commented last week about how I DVR football games. Yesterday I made the mistake of recording the ESPN2 version of the national championship game, and didn’t notice the mistake until the game was almost half over.

    I’m somewhat shocked by what I saw. On ESPN two the game was shown on maybe 60% of the screen, with the right hand side of the screen being live shots of three different groups of people watching the game and live audio to one or more of those groups.

    We’ve apparently become a country so addicted to social media that we can’t even watch a football game without knowing what other people are thinking about it at the same time. I’m surprised they didn’t replace the picture of the game with a screen showing only Twitter feeds.

    Fortunately I didn’t really care that much about the game, so I didn’t “have to” watch what I recorded on ESPN2.

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  9. softwarengineer

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 8

    I Watch Football Until the Score is so Lopsided It Puts Me Asleep

    Fortunately, last night’s game wasn’t like that….very close nail biter. I did turn the half time boring talk off and finished watching a “no commercial” TV series I liked. You sure get your cable’s money worth when you can watch regular TV show without commercials that way….hades, a TV series with a no commercial DVD set can run up to $50-100 at the store.

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  10. Kary L. Krismer

    And in more football news: fans are contributing to pay Marshawn Lynch’s $50,000 fine for not talking to the press.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Seahawk-fans-unite-to-feed-the-beast-after-50000-fine-239092781.html

    Marshawn is promising to donate the money to charity, and to match the money contributed.

    Only in Seattle. Contribute money to someone making millions, only to cost them even more money! I wonder who will contribute more–people who love him or hate him?

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  11. One Eyed Man

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 5

    The public officials say the contractor had the information about the location of the pipe, so I don’t think that its entirely clear that WSDOT is the only party at fault. Its fashionable for small government advocates to blame the public sector, but it may be the contractor that screwed up or that both WSDOT and the contractor screwed up. (Didn’t the government and the private contractors both screw up the Obama Care website and most of the public project fiascos we hear about? Who got the wrong concrete for the Hood Canal pontoons?)

    I’m an old f__k so as everybody knows, I get all the news I need from the Weather Channel and they reported that:

    ” Friday, officials said the location of the pipe was included in materials provided to the contractor on the $1.4 billion tunnel project, Seattle Tunnel Partners. But the contractor reported that it didn’t know the pipe was there.”

    http://www.weather.com/news/big-bertha-mystery-steel-pipe-way-seattle-tunnel-machine-20140103

    And it might be the contractor that’s playing hide the weenie concerning what stopped Bertha and why they didn’t stop boring when they hit the pipe. WSDOT probably defers to the contractor as to what stopped Bertha. And nobody wants to say anything that could be used against them due to the potential for big litigation.

    Given the likelihood of delay costs and repairs, it looks to me like the tunnel may turn out to be a construction lawyer’s wet dream complete with shafts and lubricants and boring heads and big legal fees if not big collectable damage awards. I doubt that “Seattle Tunnel Partners” has much in the way of a balance sheet other than the contract and some operating capital unless WSDOT paid for a completion bond, which I doubt unless it was required by statute. I’ll bet every hard asset needed for the project, including the boring machine, is leased to the contractor so the contractor can’t lose it if they screwed up. And nobody wants to publicly point fingers yet because they will likely have to work together until the job is completed. Its not like they can fire Seattle Tunnel Partners unless there are more giant tunnel contractors available out there who can come in and complete the job on a cost effective basis which I doubt.

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  12. Kary L. Krismer

    By One Eyed Man @ 11:

    And it might be the contractor that’s playing hide the weenie concerning what stopped Bertha and why they didn’t stop boring when they hit the pipe.. . .

    The first part is what I was suggesting. They tried to make it a hit and run!

    As to the public/private blame game, that can work both ways. I remember decades ago when there were problems with a ferry construction contract, having just about every elected person in Olympia make claims about the issue balanced the reporting far more in favor of the state than what was fair. Then there’s my favorite topic–the California Energy Crisis, where having had every (or virtually every) politician in Sacramento vote in favor of a deregulation scheme pointed the coverage in such a manner that even today 95% of the people don’t know what happened down there.

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  13. Blurtman

    Securitize the tunnel project and sell it off to pension funds and widows and orphans funds. Triple A! Inslee, get Goldman’s on the phone.

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  14. softwarengineer
  15. Kary L. Krismer

    Update on Marshawn Lynch. He apparently won an appeal of the fine, but will still give any money raised to charity, and match any amounts donated (even if they don’t pay or withdraw their offer to pay).

    http://www.komonews.com/sports/Seahawks-Lynch-I-won-appeal-for-50000-NFL-fine-239339611.html

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  16. Blurtman

    Can we start killing the bankers now? Working with the state police to keep the population under control. And while Gregoire was governor. Chilling!

    “The newly published documents reveal a coordinated effort by Bank of America, the Washington State Patrol (WSP), and federal counterterrorism agencies, to monitor activists as they prepared for a public demonstration in Olympia, Wash. Over 230 people originally signed up to attend the “Million Mask March” event, which was organized by the Anonymous movement and took place on November 5, 2013.

    Although an official report by the WSP described the event as a “peaceful protest” being organized by activists who had made “no threats of violence,” those involved were still monitored by the department before the event took place. Information gathered about the potential protesters was then shared with Bank of America. Furthermore, Bank of America solicited information about activists from various federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

    http://www.dailydot.com/politics/bank-of-america-monitoring-activists-online/

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  17. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 16 – BoA probably wanted to be able to know how much glass they would have to buy the next day.

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  18. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 17 – Why is law enforcement colluding with criminal institutions to spy on American citizens? You can make light of this, but are the drug cartels also doing the same? Could Krismer, LLC obtain similar law enforcement data? Could Blurtman, LLC, obtain law enforcement data on investigations of criminal bankers?

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  19. Blurtman

    WTF? Why is law enforcement working to protect criminal institutions?

    “OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement officers have engaged in widespread domestic spying on Occupy Wall Street activists, among others, on the shaky premise that these activists pose a terrorist threat. Often, Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies have coordinated with the private sector, working on behalf of, or in cooperation with, Wall Street firms and other companies the protesters have criticized.”

    http://progressive.org/spying-on-ccupy-activists

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  20. Ron

    RE: Blurtman @ 19

    And from time to time, we get to see how it really works:

    “So basically everybody in the most intimate ring around Christie was in on this, but not Christie himself? Amazing. A donut-shaped conspiracy.
    And Christie let two of his best friends suddenly resign last month despite thinking they were innocent? How odd.
    And a jam on America’s busiest bridge lasted 4 days despite no damage, roadworks, weather or accident — just because of traffic cones with no explanatory signs — yet Christie didn’t think it odd? Christie has a bridge to sell you alright.”

    “The only reason the deputy chief of staff would pull a stunt like closing lanes to punish her boss’s enemy is to please her boss. Why else?

    And which even modestly ambitious deputy chief of staff, having pulled a stunt like this to please her boss, would not want her boss to know she’d done it?

    Of course Christie knew about it. This is the kind of thing that politicians and their staffs laugh about privately. They just don’t expect it’ll become public.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/10/nyregion/christie-controversy-bridge-lane-closings.html?hp#permid=10920310

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  21. Kary L. Krismer

    By Blurtman @ 19:

    “OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement officers have engaged in widespread domestic spying on Occupy Wall Street activists, among others, on the shaky premise that these activists pose a terrorist threat.

    Q: What did David Losh have in common with Homeland Security?

    A: They both thought the Occupy movement was capable of doing something.

    A little known fact is that the Occupy movement only lasted three days. After that everyone camping in the parks overnight were undercover Homeland Security agents. It took them four more months to figure that out, and then another few weeks to decide how to react.

    What a waste of tax dollars and resources. It’s amazing we didn’t have a terrorist attack while they were wasting time watching those idiots.

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  22. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Ron @ 20 – I made the mistake of watching the NBC Nightly News last night. I felt like I was watching a local NJ news station, but it was seemingly a slow news day based on what else they covered.

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  23. Ron

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 22

    Quite a mis-step by someone who plans to run a country. I watched the news for the first time in a year yesterday…pure entertainment. I’ll be taking the next year off…

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  24. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Ron @ 23 – Yes, I’m sure all the partisan Democrats who assume he was responsible without any evidence will really hurt his chances in the elections. They’ll not vote for him in droves. /sarcasm

    A more serious answer is that voters have very short memories. The idea that something that happened in 2013 will affect an election in 2016 borders on the absurd. Christie could have shot that mayor on national TV and it wouldn’t affect the 2016 election if he could somehow beat the criminal charges by the end of 2014.

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  25. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 24
    Christie never had a shot of being elected President. He would never move far enough to the right to get the GOP nomination, and most of America would not vote for someone who was loud, fat, and obnoxious. If his view aligned with mine, I’d vote for him, since I’m from New Jersey and can be loud and obnoxious myself. I just don’t like his views. Lying and corrupt? That hasn’t stopped me from voting for certain candidates before.

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  26. Kary L. Krismer

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 25:

    Lying and corrupt? That hasn’t stopped me from voting for certain candidates before.

    So you admit voting for President Obama. ;-)

    Seriously, I agree with your analysis of Christie’s chances. And I would go further and say that you’ve described one reason why our choice for President is usually a poor choice, between either the bad one or the worse one. The primary system spits out lousy winners. Another reason for the typically poor choice is no one in their right mind would want that job/lifestyle. As proof I point to the fact that the job is attractive to Donald Trump.

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  27. softwarengineer

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 25

    He’s a Republican

    Calling it “cold-hearted” that our domestic American tax base shouldn’t pay for the process to replace our professional job base [Dream Act] like MSFT does…..in-sourcing on the cheap. I think we should replace Christie with a cheap insourced worker first….LOL

    http://immigrationreform.com/2014/01/08/christie-says-dream-act-opponents-are-cold-hearted/

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  28. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 21 – You’d fit right in in Columbia or Mexico, where the police and drug cartels collude to suppress citizens who are sick of crime and who are trying to build a better country.

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  29. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 28 – I think you need to go back and re-read what I wrote. It was hardly supportive of Homeland Security.

    I’m going to assume you liked the Occupy movement, and upset with the fact that I insulted them too. But that was without a doubt the stupidest thing to hit the country in a long time, if not ever. Even the similar, but polar opposite “Moral Majority” from the 80s was more effective, and I’m not sure they ever accomplished anything! The Occupy movement will go down as the pet rock of political movements–nothing more than a fad.

    Bottom line, the Occupy movement accomplished nothing, but they hurt a lot of small businesses and budgets of local government. Overall the country would have been better off without their ever having existed.

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  30. Kary L. Krismer

    Here’s a great example of how politicians either lie or are stupid, and how the press almost never calls them on it. The topic is forgiveness of debt income in the case of a short sale after the expiration of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act. Senator Boxer of California receives a letter from the IRS, and claims it’s great news for the citizens of California because they won’t be taxed on short sales:

    https://www.boxer.senate.gov/en/press/releases/111513.cfm

    In actuality, the IRS letter didn’t say that. It said that it wouldn’t be taxed as cancellation of debt income, but that the entire amount of the debt would need to be included in the gain recognized on the sale (see page 2):

    http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/IRSResponse.nonrecourse.pdf

    Most of the press though just parroted Senator Boxer. This is the one exception I have found:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2013/11/17/irs-letter-to-senator-boxer-on-short-sales-not-good-news-for-everybody/

    But undoubtedly there are a lot of real estate agents in California right now going around making blanket statements to people that they won’t be taxed on their short sales.

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  31. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 29 – My issue is not whether OWS was an effective organization or not. But I find it disturbing, to say the least, to learn about law enforcement colluding with criminal organizations to monitor and suppress citizens who are protesting about the criminal organizations. This country has slid a long way down.

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  32. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 31 – I find that disturbing too, but the ineffectiveness of OWS was the topic of post 21, along with the ineptitude of Homeland Security.

    On your topic, too people remind me of the proverbial frog in the pot of water. No one cares about the changes that are occurring, even though our current surveillance society was described as a nightmare scenario in the book 1984. That book, btw, also dealt with class issues that might be relevant to the OWS discussion, in addition to the NSA discussion. And surprisingly, it also touches on the issue of President Obama ordering the killing of an American citizen via drone. About the only thing it didn’t predict was the propping up of the economy with debt. In 1984 the economy was in a total shambles.

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  33. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 32 – Killed for speaking. Ends justifies the means.

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  34. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 33 – In 1984 it was killed for thinking.

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  35. pfft

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 24:

    RE: Ron @ 23 – Yes, I’m sure all the partisan Democrats who assume he was responsible without any evidence will really hurt his chances in the elections. They’ll not vote for him in droves. /sarcasm

    this is as much about the 2016 republican primary as it is about the 2016 general. don’t think that a lot of republicans aren’t glad to see Christie fail.

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  36. pfft

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 29:

    RE: Blurtman @ 28 – I think you need to go back and re-read what I wrote. It was hardly supportive of Homeland Security.

    I’m going to assume you liked the Occupy movement, and upset with the fact that I insulted them too. But that was without a doubt the stupidest thing to hit the country in a long time, if not ever. Even the similar, but polar opposite “Moral Majority” from the 80s was more effective, and I’m not sure they ever accomplished anything! The Occupy movement will go down as the pet rock of political movements–nothing more than a fad.

    Bottom line, the Occupy movement accomplished nothing, but they hurt a lot of small businesses and budgets of local government. Overall the country would have been better off without their ever having existed.

    as usual you don’t get it and are always 2 steps behind.

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  37. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: pfft @ 36 -When you write a post there are two possibilities: You’ll either say something that is wrong or you’ll say nothing. This post is an example of the latter.

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  38. pfft

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 37:

    RE: pfft @ 36 -When you write a post there are two possibilities: You’ll either say something that is wrong or you’ll say nothing. This post is an example of the latter.

    Like I said, always behind…

    Think Kary!

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