February 24, 2009

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Again, another bank which fed at the handout trough, spending gobs of money on lavish parties. This one is called Northern Trust:

Article here

Bank Spent Gobs On Parties, But You Don't Understand

By BONNIE BUCK

Northern Trust bank, "a bank that received $1.6 billion in bailout money," spent gobs of money at a bank-sponsored golf tournament in Los Angeles last week, but the bank says it can afford to party and didn't ask for the bailout money in the first place. The story first appeared in TMZ.com.

According to the TMZ Web site, "Northern Trust flew hundreds of clients and employees to L.A. and put many of them up at some of the fanciest and priciest hotels in the city. We're told more than a hundred people were put up at the Beverly Wilshire in Bev Hills, and another hundred stayed at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Still more stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey and others at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica."

Additionally, guests of the bank attended a gala dinner at the Ritz one night, followed by a concert by Chicago. Then the following night, event planners rented out an airport hanger for another dinner party and a concert by Earth, Wind and Fire.

Sheryl Crow appeared as the Saturday night entertainment, but not until after a lavish dinner at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. The menu included seared salmon and petite Angus filet.

Female attendees were each given a gift bag from Tiffany's, to boot.

Laid Off and Left Out

If all that makes your blood boil, imagine how the 450 workers who were laid off in December feel. With 4 percent of its workforce now out of work, the bank wouldn't give a bottom-line total for the LA golf junket, but in a written statement it confirmed that it had "participated in" the federal bailout as "a healthy bank."

In an updated report, Congressman Barney Frank, who chairs the House Committee on Financial Services, reportedly told TMZ that he was going to write to Northern Trust and demand that it pay the government back whatever amount it spent on the golf tournament.

You Just Don't Understand

In the end, Northern Trust says, you just don't understand. All that money they spent on the Nothern Trust Open is actually going to benefit taxpayers ... in the long run.

In a statement to NBC news on Tuesday morning, Northern Trust defended the money spent in connection with the golf tournament. The bank said "The Northern Trust Open is an integral part of Northern Trust's global marketing activities, focusing on retaining and growing business with existing clients, and attracting new clients."

Northern Trust said the Open was in the second year of a 5-year sponsorship contract that started a year before the bailout was enacted.

The statement also said it didn't particularly want to participate in the bailout program and that it did not need to do so.

"As a healthy bank, Northern Trust participated in the U.S. Treasury's Capital Purchase Program, issuing approximately $1.6 billion of preferred stock and warrants in November, 2008. Northern Trust did not seek the government’s investment, but agreed to the government’s goal of gaining the participation of all major banks in the United States."

It's Not Like They Spent the Grocery Money...

The bank says it keeps its accounting of bailout money separate from its party money. And in its statement, the bank took umbrage at the use of the term "bailout" as shorthand for "Capital Purchase Program" or "CPP."

"CPP funds are not allocated to operating expenses, including marketing, advertising, corporate sponsorship or charitable activities. These are funded through our normal cash flow. Last year, Northern Trust earned operating net income of $641 million. The TMZ story you reference used the word 'bailout.' Is that the right word for CPP funds?

And, in the end, the bank says taxpayers might even appreciate their excellent partying and the wonderful impact it has on the return on our dollars.

"Unlike common shareholders, U.S. taxpayers are contractually assured a return on their investment. Currently, Northern Trust pays the government $78.8 million on an annual basis as a return on taxpayers' investment -- $19.7 million per quarter."

Well, what do you think? Do you buy the bank's defense?


Posted by Valkyre at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2009

The Morning After

Time to see if my predictions were right. My choices are in bold print. The winners are in italics. Bold italics mean I was correct. I only missed two. Best actor in a leading role and best supporting actress. Not bad for not seeing any of the movies, except for Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda. The ceremony seemed lame this year. Actually, it's been going downhill for quite awhile.

BEST PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

DIRECTING

David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant - Milk
Stephen Daldry - The Reader
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire

ACTOR, LEADING

Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”
Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn in “Milk”
Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case
of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”

ACTOR, SUPPORTING

Josh Brolin in “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt”
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”

ACTRESS, LEADING

Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie in “Changeling”
Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
Kate Winslet in “The Reader”

ACTRESS, SUPPORTING

Amy Adams in “Doubt”
Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis in “Doubt”
Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Caseof Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”

ANIMATED FEATURE
Bolt
Kung-Fu Panda
WALL-E

Posted by Valkyre at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2009

My Annual Uneducated Oscar Guesses

Ever since I have started this blog, I have made my Oscar choices before the event. And, like other years, I haven't seen most of the movies that are up for the awards. I only pick the main categories too. My choices will be in bold type:

BEST PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

DIRECTING

David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant - Milk
Stephen Daldry - The Reader
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire

ACTOR, LEADING

Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”
Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn in “Milk”
Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case
of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”

ACTOR, SUPPORTING

Josh Brolin in “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt”
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”

ACTRESS, LEADING

Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie in “Changeling”
Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
Kate Winslet in “The Reader”

ACTRESS, SUPPORTING

Amy Adams in “Doubt”
Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis in “Doubt”
Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Caseof Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”

ANIMATED FEATURE
Bolt
Kung-Fu Panda
WALL-E

Posted by Valkyre at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2009

Mii, Not Fit

I posted here about our Wii Fit. Me, Amanda and Teresa, had been trying to use it daily. I had even started to notice some results. Then, our cat, Tripod got sick, and died. During that time, we didn't use the Wii Fit. And, like almost any other exercise regimen, once you stop doing it, it's hard to start again. 231 days later, I drag the Wii Fit out. I was wondering if it would insult me for being away for so long. Would I step on the scale, only to hear, "One at a time please!" The only thing it did was tell me that it remembered me and then called me "Teresa"! I don't know if that was a bug, or it's twisted sense of humor. I did the body mass test and it told me that I had gained 11 pounds since last July, and I was now considered "obese". Shit! I did a 45 minute workout. Which included some Yoga. However, I was only able to do some of the easier exercise routines. We had unlocked some more difficult and longer routines. I couldn't do those, since I had become exhausted doing just the simple ones. I'll be back at it today. I am really going to try to discipline myself to get on it every day. If I skip, I hope it will only be a day.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2009

What's Up With Joaquin Phoenix?

I think he's lost it. Makes Tom Cruise look normal.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:40 PM | Comments (2)

February 12, 2009

Interesting Web Site

It was bound to happen. A sit called Dickipedia. It's not pornographic, and it's not about detectives. No, it's about people who are "dicks". Some of the entries are pretty damn funny.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2009

I Guess Death is No Excuse

Better not die before your lease is up, they may penalize you anyway. One of the victims, for what is being called the Christmas Eve Massacre, is being punished for not giving advanced notice about vacating her apartment. Maybe because, she's dead!?

Article here

Rent demanded from Covina massacre family

By Frank C. Girardot, Staff Writer

COVINA - When she died on Christmas Eve with eight members of her family, Alice Ortiz unwittingly broke the lease she held on an apartment in Upland.

Now the landlord, Broadcrest Foothill Apartment Homes, wants its money, $2,821.23 in all, according to documents obtained Wednesday.

A Jan. 29, itemized invoice to Ortiz's survivors claims the dead woman's estate owes $1,655 to the apartment complex on North Central Avenue for "insufficient notice to vacate."

The company also billed Ortiz for 12 days' rent and other fees accrued in January, weeks after she died.

"This is just low," said attorney Scott Nord, who represents surviving victims of the Christmas Eve Massacre and their family members.

Candyse Wardlow, who identified herself as the business manager for the property, refused to comment Tuesday.

"Unfortunately I can't discuss anything," Wardlow said. "I can't go into what happened. I can't make any comment."

Messages left for the company's corporate office were not returned Wednesday.

Alice Ortiz shared the apartment with her son, Michael, and her daughters Monique and Cecily, Nord said.

Both Alice and Michael were among nine family members killed on Christmas Eve by Bruce Pardo, the disgruntled former husband of Alice's sister, Sylvia. Also killed were Alice's parents Joseph and Alicia Ortega, her brothers Charles and James Ortega and their wives, Cheri and Theresa.

Alice's daughters have since moved in with their father Carlos Ortiz, who lives in Ontario.

"I'm dealing with my son's death and the death of my ex-wife and then they want to put up these kind of roadblocks, I just don't understand it," Carlos Ortiz said Wednesday. "They knew we would have to vacate."

Nord said apartment managers began seeking rent from the family in early January.

"I got a call from the landlord after everything happened, saying Alice didn't pay her rent," Nord said. "I asked, 'Have you seen the news? Her kids just lost their mom."'

The apartment management company followed up the conversation with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit, Nord said.

"So we had to get them out by Jan. 13, despite the fact that everything else was going on, dealing with the coroner, all these horrible things."

Carlos Ortiz said he would have no problem paying for cleaning and repairs to the apartment, but felt that being told the estate would have to pay for breaking the lease was stunning.

"Everything's been like a whirlwind since Christmas," he said. "It's sad. We had to fight them for two weeks just to get the stuff out. We thought that was the end of it."

Nord said he's had several conversations with the management company seeking some relief for the family on ethical or moral grounds.

"I asked, 'Do you really want to enforce this?"' Nord recalled. "Their response was, 'Our lawyers say we can."'

Offers of help for the Ortega family in the wake of the Christmas Eve Massacre have come in from around the world, Nord said.

"We had donations from around the country and even as far away as Switzerland," he said. "You never expect the kind of generosity we've seen.

"Toyota took the cars back and never said we want our money," Nord continued. "Other creditors said 'Don't worry about it.' But what's going on here, we think it's just ridiculous."

Posted by Valkyre at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)