Sneaking Suspicions
 
Archives--April 1-May 31, 2008


This page includes posts from April 1-May 31, 2008 in the usual reverse order.

Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

May 23, 2008
Nautical Rules Apply

The recent nor'easter caused the usual havoc in Delaware's low-lying bayside communities, including Kitts Hummock, a tiny little place east of Dover Air Force Base.

I had to go there earlier today for a legal matter, and took a look around at some of the still-flooded lots in the hamlet.

As I left it, I came across a hand-lettered sign addressed to motor vehicle traffic riding on Road 68, the only way in and out:

No Wake, Please

The sign was a few feet away from a small cottage that had clearly seen far better days.

With so many locals involved in boating on Delaware Bay and other bodies of normal waters, however, I'm sure nobody had any real problems understanding this common nautical rule of the road.

Keeping to it in the immediate aftermath of the storm, on the other hand, may have been another story altogether.

May 20, 2008
Real men, eating and reading

Ann Althouse wrote an amusing post today, featuring Anthony Bourdain and cold soup.

The discussion about gazpacho and vichyssoise led to a series of questions, after a reference to ďReal Men Donít Eat Quiche:Ē

Remember that? I'll bet a lot of men avoided quiche as a result of seeing that title. But do real men read books like that? (Do real men read?) The subtitle is "A Guidebook to All That Is Truly Masculine." That's a real artifact from the 1980s.

That book title is also a source of regular amusement for my older brother, who cites it while teasing my wife.

As for what real men actually do, by way of reading (about food or otherwise), Iíll just list here some of the non-golf-related books I have read since the beginning of this year.

In Defense of Food: An Eaterís Manifesto
By Michael Pollan

On The Wealth of Nations (Books that Changed the World)
By P.J. OíRourke

The Omnivoreís Dilemma
By Michael Pollan

Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table
By Sara Roahen

Friendship: An Exposť
by Joseph Epstein

The United States of Arugula: The Sun Dried, Cold Pressed, Dark Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution
By David Kamp

As usual, the comments accompanying Althouseís post are also part of the fun.

They include a discussion about blood pudding, for which I have my own story, posted during the first month of this blogís existence.

Yum. Or not.

May 18, 2008
Sure itís late, but it helps just the same

The State of Delaware is having more budget troubles this year, with a projected deficit to end the current fiscal year and a projected shortfall when FY09 begins on July 1.

Thatís how it looked until last week, when a series of budget cuts and a nice little overdue tax payment took care of the current yearís revenue woes, at least for the time being:

Lawmakers Tuesday hashed out what they hope will be a final package of budget cuts that could erase Delaware's $28.7 million budget deficit and leave the state with a $1.6 million surplus at the end of the fiscal year.

The $30.3 million in cost reductions includes a $10.5 million windfall: A subsidiary of the global financial house Lehman Brothers lost a challenge to Delaware's tax regime when the U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to hear the case, and finance officials say they can count that tax payment against the budget deficit.

As some might say, I heard that.

I also wrote about this case, after the first court challenge to the State Bank Commissionerís determination that Lehman Brothers Bank, F.S.B. failed to pay the bank franchise tax it owed to Delaware for the privilege of operating here.

Hereís a short explanation of why Lehman sought this particular business opportunity, taken from that 2006 post:

Owning a Delaware bank gave Lehman some significant advantages. It could sell Certificates of Deposit, which would raise a lot of money for its national mortgage venture. Even more important, the Bank could obtain funds from the Pittsburgh office of the Federal Home Loan Bank.

Using the money from these two sources, Lehman Brothers Bank would finance the mortgages that another Lehman subsidiary would sell, along with others. The  mortgages would then be carried on the books of the Delaware bank for a relatively short period of time, usually 45-60 days, and then be sold to Lehman Brothers on very favorable terms--as one might expect for a bank that was essentially a captive of its owner.

***

As financial schemes go, it was a beautiful thing.

It all became quite a bit uglier, however, when Lehman failed to pay the franchise tax.

After the Commissioner ordered a large tax payment, along with a multi-million dollar penalty, the Bank appealed. Superior Court Judge Fred Silverman affirmed the Commissionerís decision in a 38-page opinion.

The Supreme Court then affirmed Judge Silvermanís primary findings concerning the Bankís tax liability, but reversed the determinations concerning the penalty payments. The appellate court also ruled that the penalty payment amount of $14 million mistakenly included the tax liability of $10 million.

(This was a mistake I also carried forward in my 2006 post, so Iíll have to fix that.)

Undaunted (most likely because it was still facing that huge tax liability) the Bank filed for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court. As noted above, that Court declined the opportunity to review Delawareís approach to franchise taxation for its banking industry.

Cool.

The Stateís revenue picture, on the other hand, remains anything but.

During the next month the Administration and the General Assembly will still have to make some difficult choices, in order to meet the state constitutionís demands for the adoption of a balanced budget.

Thatís not easy in any year, but itís especially difficult in an even-numbered year divisible by four.

May 14, 2008
Anniversary

Today marks the 30th anniversary of my graduation from the Washington College of Law at American University.

I'm thankful that earning my J.D. gave me the opportunity to have a rewarding professional career in my home state, almost all of which has been in the public service.

With the steep rise in law school tuition in the years since I finished, however, I have to wonder how many current AU law grads will have a similar option available to them.

May 12, 2008
A Late Nor'Easter?

Last night a storm blew into Delaware and most of the rest of the Mid-Atlantic states. The howling noise kept us up most of the night, accompanied by a whimpering dog who is no fan of high winds and pelting rain against the house.

This afternoon younger daughter and I took a short ride down to the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk to see the ocean under the continuing storm conditions.

It was wilder than it was during Hurricane Isabel in 2003:


One brave soul took a very short walk to the edge of the boardwalk, at one of the fenced entrances to the water-covered beach, and turned immediately back.


We walked to the edge of the boardwalk and saw why he turned around. There was no place to go at the end of the beach entrance. With the wind blowing off the tops of the 15-20 foot breakers, we were also being pelted pretty hard.


Certainly not a day to think about surfing, except as part of a suicide pact.

We're not interested, thankewverymuch.

May 12, 2008
Break Time

Apparently I needed a break from blogging again.

Thank you for your patience.

My regular work's been a little busy lately, and it doesn't look like it will calm down very much any time soon.

In the meantime, of course, golf columns were required and written. Here are the links to those items, if you'd like:

Cape wins two, loses one with two to go
May 9, 2008

The Cape Henlopen High School golf team appears to be determined to eliminate what few dark hairs may remain on the head of Coach Claudio Smarrelli. More..

Cape golf team has nice little streak going
May 2, 2008

The Cape Henlopen High School golf team continues to improve its match-play record, as the 2008 season wends its way toward the conference and state championships later this month. More..

Return to Myrtle Beach
April 25, 2008

There are a few benefits to being a middle-aged golfer who has played in Myrtle Beach several times. More..

Cape golf team bounces back with two wins
April 18, 2008

The Cape Henlopen Viking golf team started off slowly this season, with a 1-3 record in its first four matches. More..

Cape golf team stumbles after first win
April 11, 2008

After dropping their first match of the 2008 season, the Cape Henlopen High School golf team bounced back with their first win on April 3. More..

Caesar Rodney and Wind blow away Cape golf team
April 4, 2008

The Cape Henlopen High School golf team traveled to Wild Quail Golf & Country Club April 1 for its traditional opening season match against the Riders of Caesar Rodney High School. More..

Preparing for the season
March 28, 2008

The bulletin board just outside Shawnee Country Clubís pro shop had two bits of startling news posted on it on March 24. More..

I'll be posting some photos from the Myrtle Beach trip here, in a little while.

As for golf books, here are the links to the last three reviews:

First Sunday in April: The Masters is a well-done compilation of newspaper articles, magazine pieces, and book segments about the first men's major golf tournament of the year.

Just Hit It: Our Equipment and Our Game, by Frank Thomas with Jeff Neuman, is a thoughtful rumination on what the recent improvements in golf club and ball design really mean for regular players--not as much as you've been told, but more than you might think.

Golf: The Mental Game, by Tom Dorsel, Ph.D. recycles fifty columns of this Golf Illustrated columnist/sports psychologist. It should be a good resource for serious golfers.

So, it's not like I wasn't doing anything else, while I wasn't writing for this blog.


   

Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969
USA

fschranck-at-sneakingsuspicions.com


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Official small print disclaimer: This is, after all, a personal web site. Any opinions or comments I express here are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of my work as a government attorney or any of my clients.

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© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2008