Friday, December 18, 2009

News-n-Views Roundup

A fake French mansion, truckers, and Brooke Astor? Go figure:

Arlington (TX) mansion sells for over $2 million at auction
Here's proof the real estate market isn't as bad in North Texas as it is in other parts of the country. This week, a gaudy pseudo-French mansion here in Arlington sold at auction for $2.23 million, just short of its $2.6 million taxable value. Word has it that the buyer is a Houston sports lover who thinks the 9,370-square-foot domicile is the ideal sports weekend hangout (the new Cowboys stadium is here in Arlington). What this sale means for other pricey property in Arlington remains to be seen - not that there's much of it anyway - but it can't be bad news that people with means are willing to plunk down some serious cash for humble ol' Arlington, can it? Imagine the trend if Frisco and Southlake get eclipsed by the very town a lot of new-money people snub because we're supposedly not exclusive enough. Maybe exurb trendfollowers - who pay mightily for the opportunity to endure excruciating commutes - will get the picture: location, location, location!

Another big rig wreck, death, and huge clean-up
A 12:30am wreck this morning at the Dallas North Tollway and Bush Turnpike killed the driver of a tractor trailer truck hauling diesel. The wreck's cleanup dragged into the morning rush hour, with a ramp leading from the Tollway to the Turnpike closed and drivers forced to find alternate routes around this busy interchange. How many big rig wrecks does this make for the week here in the Dallas - Fort Worth area? For the month? Whatever the number, it's way too high, especially for an area that relies as heavily as it does on our freeway system. When will the damage to highway infrastructure, lost wages from workers sitting in freeway parking lots, air pollution from idling traffic, and the loss of life finally force changes in the way the trucking industry polices itself? Obviously, for now, they're content that all these costs (most not borne by them) are part of their cost-of-doing-business calculations. Well, for the rest of us, it is just too big a price to pay. If they don't like regulations and government interference, then the trucking industry needs to be stricter on itself, or they may face increased meddling from Uncle Sam. Somebody has to wrest our roadways from the menace that is our irresponsible trucking industry.

Whoopi gets "heir-time" in Astor sentencing
Probably nobody but people with connections to both New York City and Maine have even an inkling about the celebrity trial that has been dragging on - in and out of the courts - for the past several years regarding the late, great New York socialite, Brooke Astor, and her only son. That son, Tony Marshall, has been found guilty of complicity in a scheme hatched by his third wife and their lawyer to defraud his mother's estate of millions in cash and valuables. For a fascinating in-depth perspective of the saga, check out Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon. For marks in chutzpah, check out the comments by Whoopi Goldberg - a most unlikely ally for the WASP Upper-East-Sider Marshall, in her letter to the court in his behalf: "Please don't put him in jail. It would only amount to an unnecessary cruelty that would serve no real purpose. Hasn't Tony been through enough?" Apparently, dragging his own mother down the paneled hallway of her Park Avenue duplex to make her sign papers against her will is something Tony was accused of doing in his sleep? At any rate, we'll be hearing more about this on Monday, when the 85-year-old son is sentenced.

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