Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday Morning Chow

Or Chao, if you prefer....

"Lawsuit spotlights college admissions consulting; Businessman tells court he was swindled" by Laura Krantz, Globe Staff  April 06, 2015

Wealthy Hong Kong businessman Gerald Chow has described in federal court how an educational consultant promised to help get his sons into elite prep schools and Ivy League colleges, only to swindle the family out of more than $2 million.

Chow testified that the consultant, Mark Zimny, whom he and his wife, Lily, met in 2007, told them he was a Harvard professor, even though he no longer taught there, and convinced them he had financial skills and connections to open doors at top prep schools and colleges.

“We believed him,” Chow said recently in the Moakley Courthouse, where Zimny is facing charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, filing false tax returns, and performing unlawful monetary transactions.

The case highlights the peril of a growing global admissions consulting industry, as more wealthy foreign families set their sights on elite US schools.

(Blog editor just spat out Globe serving, excuse me)

Chow, a jewelry magnate, testified how he and his wife repeatedly rushed to wire as much as $250,000 at a time to Zimny, who promised to donate it to prep schools where his sons applied.

Over the course of about three years ending in 2010, the Chows paid Zimny more than $2 million to cover fees to his company IvyAdmit and for donations to prep schools where their sons applied, according to court records. The donations, Zimny told them, would confront an anti-Asian bias in admissions offices and make the right impression.

But the Chows later discovered that money they had wired to Zimny never made it to the prep schools. The government has charged that Zimny instead funneled that money into his own bank account and spent it on himself. He is also charged with lying on tax returns and mortgage documents in the same suit.

“Once a con man begins conning, there’s very little you can trust,” Victor Wild, the lead prosecutor, said in his opening statements.

Chow said he really began to worry when he found out from the Loomis Chaffe School in Connecticut, which one of his sons attended, that the school never received his donation.

Zimny also faces a civil suit brought by the Chows seeking the return of their $2.2 million plus attorneys fees. That suit is expected to go to trial in June....

I've had enough.


So where do you wanna go eat?

"29 Newbury is latest casualty of rising Back Bay real estate; Real estate boom ousting longtime restaurants" by Taryn Luna, Globe Correspondent  April 06, 2015

April 30 will be bittersweet for Debbie Lewis, the owner of 29 Newbury. It’s her 60th birthday, but also the day she is shuttering her restaurant after nearly three decades.

The restaurant, which features lobster and cobb salads and other fare typical of an upscale American cafe, drew a strong tourist trade in the summer with its outdoor patio. That part of Newbury Street, on the block closest to the Public Garden, features high-end boutiques such as Giorgio Armani and Cartier. It’s increasingly pricey real estate for a small business operating on thin margins.

Lewis, a month-to-month tenant, said her landlord, D.L. Saunders Real Estate Corp., told her in mid-March that she had to be out by the end of April. 

(Blog editor puzzlingly and perplexing looking up at closed sign)


The closing comes as the real estate boom sweeping Boston is resulting in higher rents and property taxes, particularly for restaurants and retailers in the Back Bay. On Newbury and Boylston streets, the average tax bill for both residential and commercial owners rose 18.4 percent, compared to 5.7 percent citywide, according to the City of Boston.

And thus WEALTH INEQUALITY PERPETUATES ITSELF with COLLATERAL DAMAGE that is unfore$een as the doomsday machine plods on.

“It’s a place where small independent businesses are increasingly going to be priced out,” said Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the Back Bay Association, a business group. “It’s going to change the character of Newbury and Boylston.”

The Forum restaurant on Boylston Street was shuttered in February. The Mass Ave Tavern, near the intersection with Newbury, closed Jan. 1. The business told the website Eater Boston that the landlord had declined to renew the lease and was planning to renovate.

The harsh reality for restaurant owners, at least on Newbury and Boylston streets, is that as property values rise landlords prefer to rent to national retailers willing to pay higher rents, said Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. And 29 Newbury is just one example.

Donald Saunders, owner of the four-story brownstone, said that he intends to lease the restaurant’s space to a well-established retailer, the type of company that often has higher margins and more stable finances.

A restaurant, Saunders said, is “the last type of tenant we want.”

That's nice to know when the Globe is really into food.

Saunders said higher property taxes and values played a role in his decision to stop renting to 29 Newbury. The tax bill on the building, which also houses Newbury Fine Arts and the venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures, jumped 16 percent, to $221,541, after the building was reassessed in 2015 at $7.5 million, 22.3 percent higher than its previous value. 

And the city makes out with the property taxes -- and then they turn around a spew about the problems they enabled while claiming to be looking out for you!

The restaurant, which is on the ground floor, did not have a lease and paid 10 percent of its monthly sales as rent, which Saunders said works out to about half of what he could get at current market rates.

Eat up the greed.

Saunders said sales and the rent decreased each month. He wanted Lewis to renovate the space to increase sales, but said that she didn’t have the money to do it.

“We reached the point of no return,” Saunders said. “I can no longer afford to subsidize Debbie Lewis’s business. We love her. She’s a great lady and has a great restaurant, but the taxes are too high.”

I've reached mine, too. Love ya', but.... (blog editor gets up, leaves table, and walks out of restaurant)

Lewis refutes his characterization. She said sales declined only during Boston’s record-setting winter, when restaurants across the city struggled. She could have renovated the restaurant but wanted a lease first, she said. Regardless, Lewis said, Saunders did not talk to her before ending her tenancy.

“They just decided that they wanted us out,” Lewis said. “I absolutely could have afforded to renovate the restaurant. It never got to that.”

Lewis’s former husband bought the restaurant, which opened under different owners in the early 1980s and went bankrupt, as an engagement present in 1986. She ran 29 Newbury for a number of years and became the sole owner after their divorce.

Over the years, 29 Newbury drew celebrities such as Madonna, Jack Nicholson, Nicholas Cage, and John Kerry. Most of its business is in summer, from tourists, while a smaller crowd of regulars support the restaurant during the off-season.

She said the restaurant often sells as many as 100 cobb salads in a day. Its most popular dish is a $25 sesame-encrusted salmon on snow peas, which customers continued to order long after she tried to remove it from the menu. To stay fresh, Lewis said, she tweaked the menu at least every quarter. The secret to its long survival was treating all customers the same and providing a comfortable atmosphere, she added.

“I had a homeless man who would collect nickels and dimes and have a hamburger and a beer,” Lewis said. “Whether it was the postman coming in for lunch or someone with a Ferrari outside, it made no difference.”

Luz, of the restaurant association, marveled at the fact the business stayed alive as long as it did.

“Twenty-nine years makes it prehistoric,” Luz said. “For something to have survived that long and done well is remarkable.”

Must have used a lot of preservatives.


Maybe we could go to Remy's for lunch?

Some Easter leftovers:

Pope praises nuclear deal with Iran in Easter message

I'm no longer listening to him, sorry.

"Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said Sunday the proposed deal is a bad one — but it was the best one Obama could get because the Iranians don’t fear or respect him. Graham said he favors waiting until a new president, Democrat or Republican, takes office in January 2017 and then trying again. In the meantime, economic and financial sanctions would stay in place. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has criticized the framework as deeply flawed and a threat to Israel’s very existence. He is urging negotiators to improve the agreement or scuttle it. A senior Senate Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, warned that bashing the proposed deal could backfire on Netanyahu. Feinstein said imposing more and stiffer economic sanctions would only make Iran’s nuclear program more difficult to monitor. “I wish he would contain himself,” Feinstein said of Netanyahu."

Better reheat them some more because they are still cold.

UPDATE: After a couple hours digesting the Globe I started feeling really sick. Must have been the cheesesteak.

NDU: Israel suggests ways to make Iran nuclear deal ‘more reasonable’

It's already done, you pieces of..... and here is all you need from that article:

"Referring to Israel, the president said “we’ve got their backs” in the face of Iranian hostility. And despite Obama’s more conciliatory tone toward Israel in recent days, Israel has made it clear that it intends to keep up the pressure when it comes to Iran." 

I'm letting some out by skipping that pos propaganda.