Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Quitting the Claim

One of the obligations in the divorce settlement was that Kris would sign a quitclaim to the house within 30 days. The deadline came and went with no such claim.
I do not have much leverage in this matter; I'm not really happy about having to go to court or whatever. But I do have the 2014 tax refund, which by another term of the settlement, I am required to share with her. I don't have a problem with that but it seems to me that we should both comply.
Kris kept asking me to check with the IRS to find out when the refund would apply. I always said that they had mailed me nothing, which is true, and did nothing. Perhaps it would have been better to have a confrontation then and there, but I've learned to avoid all that in dealing with her. On the other hand, our marriage fell apart so maybe that's not such a good strategy.
Finally, on Tuesday, Kris texted me that she'd contacted the IRS via web site at work, and learned that the refund had been sent. She wanted her half. I said ok. I also asked about the quitclaim. She said she'd signed one as part of the settlement.
Wednesday she wanted to come into my space and get the check; I suggested we meet in the front yard and asked her to bring her copy of the quitclaim. We met, and she produced her copy of the settlement. I went through it page by page and showed her that there was no quitclaim deed in it. I suggested that she contact her lawyer and get one signed. She said that she was unwilling to pay them to do more work for her. I sympathized with that, since they'd done a piss-poor job for her already, although I think her attitude was more than she could get something for free out of me instead of paying them. She said one of us was a lawyer and it should be easy to do. I suppose I should have charged her for the work, but I just shut up and wrote out the check.
She said she'd like to go to Meet The Butcher; I like their stuff so I drove her there. It was closed, which is not terribly surprising after 7pm on a weeknight. I headed home and she asked why I wasn't going to my credit union. This made no sense at all to me; I asked why? She said she needed to deposit the check. I should have said that this was her problem; she was going to work tomorrow and there are plenty of ATMs downtown, or that if she was in a real hurry she could walk to one from where we are right now. Instead, I drove her to the nearest ATM.
I don't know why I keep doing stuff for her. I suppose I'm thinking that if I keep on being decent, she may keep on paying what amounts to rent, which is really useful. Or perhaps I'm just used to being a nice guy. It sure smells like letting myself be exploited, though, which is something I'm good at. It doesn't help that my income situation is marginal.
I'm writing this down because years from now I'm not sure I'd believe this!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Daniels Proposal for St. Ed's - first meeting

I was immensely cheered by the meeting in Kenmore about St. Ed's. The background:

1. Formally, it was a meeting called by Parks to get public input on whether to extend for one year the amount of time that Parks has to decide whether to vacate the main building (seal it up with minimal maintenance, let nature take its course), or accept some proposal for developing something-or-other. This is important to remember: it was not a meeting about accepting any particular proposal; it was a meeting about delaying a decision for a year.

Now, in that year, Daniels plans to work intensively with Parks to come up with a detailed proposal. Technically, anyone else could come up with a proposal too. If the Daniels proposal is bad, critics have a year to come up with an alternative. That seems fair: PUOSU.

2. In practical terms, Daniels has experience doing reasonable work in historical preservation, according to profiles in Gonzaga magazine: in a green preservationist publication: , his LinkedIn profile: , his company bio: . His is on the Board of the National Trust for Historical Preservation:

Now you can't believe everything you read on the internet, and it's always good to be careful when big money is involved, but the evidence is consistent at this point that the guy knows historical preservation and, while very good at making a buck, is also good at making run-down places nicer. IMO, that's what St. Ed's needs. Yes, Daniels wants to make money, but since Mother Theresa has not appeared with a checkbook, we have to settle for an historical preservationist. Get over it.

3. Discussing the Daniels proposal suffers from the usual problem of openness in new proposals: if you wait until a proposal is fully formed, you shut the community out of early decisionmaking; but if you open the proposal to community input, the proposal is annoying vague. IMO the latter is always the better course, and that is what Parks has chosen: to come out and say "This is a vague proposal, let's all talk about it". 

4. The general principles so far is that Daniels wants the main building, adjacent parking, and something like 20 feet around the building; the rest of the place stays as is: Great Lawn, Grotto, Play Structure, et cetera. The exact lines are yet to be drawn (see "vague", supra). That parcel is 8 acres - it just doesn't seem that big but that's what it pencils out to. In a land swap, Daniels proposes the 10 acres "McDonald" parcel, to the northwest.

Daniels will renovate the building, upgrade parking, et cetera to the tune of $50 million or so, and use it as a small hotel/lodge of about 100 rooms. The historic look is to be preserved as much as possible inside and out, although some changes will be needed, e.g. emergency exits from the dining hall. Figuring out how to do that while preserving the beauty is part of what preservationist architects are for.

5. As I see it, at present the public can't use the main building except by renting the dining hall, so there is no loss in turning it into a lodge. If the Great Lawn, play area, woods and lake can be accessed same as now, there is no loss at all except for increased hotel traffic. With 100 rooms, figure 100-200 trips a day: not bad.

6. At the meeting there was a lot of discussion of the McDonald parcel and whether it's really worth the land the main building sits on. I say, who cares? The main building is useless now anyway, except as a backdrop for photos, (and with the cost of demolition probably has a negative value) so take that McDonald land and be happy (which is a poor bargaining position, so I'll deny saying it).

7. At the meeting there was a lot of worry about what if the lodge fails or does not come through, and in 10 years or 50 years someone else buys it and turns the park into ... something bad. This I feel is a real concern, but it is why contracts of sale have binding covenants. All the agreements should be written to prevent this, and they can be, and it is up to us to read them carefully so that they are.

8. At the meeting, there was a lot of worry about the impact on the local community. Construction is a real pain to everyone, and that's just life. Once construction is over, there will be more traffic - how much, no one knows. But all that is part of the year long study, and it seems to me that Juanita's traffic problems are due to factors other than St Ed's, and won't be better or much worse with or without the Daniels proposal.

9. The question of the propriety of private ownership of formerly public land was brought up. Personally, I would prefer that the taxpayers of the State of Washington front the money to open the building, but that will never happen. Alternatively I'd prefer a 99-year lease for $1 a year, so that it reverts to the public eventually. That sort of thing might be negotiated. However we must take what we can get.

And there is precedent. The Space Needle, Seattle's iconic structure, is a privately owned building within a public park. You pay to go inside, and that pay is necessary to keep the thing running, but you can run around the base, take photos, enjoy the whole park absolutely free. I feel that's a reasonable approach to the St Ed's main building (unless I win Mega Bucks and fund it all myself haha!) 

10. I've rambled on enough for now. This strikes me as a sensible proposal, but one needing huge community input. Actually it's an opportunity to build and enhance community, around this beautiful park. Maybe in 2025 I'll rent my old room lol.
What do you think?

4freeCLE: Free Continuing Legal Education! August 24, 2015

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Crafting A Happy Birthday Wish

Today was Sherry Cole's birthday, an occasion I have not noted for more than 20 years. However now that we have renewed our friendship, and there is even some sort of family connection, I allowed myself the pleasure of crafting a small birthday wish and adding it to the stream of facebook birthday wishes.
Chesterfield cooperated by doing something cute, and then it was just a question of thinking of a text.
I feel that a personalized message is more, uhm, personal. It's also more fun. I did go cardshopping over the weekend with Kiara and Nessa, and that was fun too, but there's nothing quite like creativity!
The rest of the day work of course; job hunting and putting the 4freeCLE newsletter out takes time. They're a form of creativity too, I suppose; I just have to find the fun in it.
At zoomba, I saw Tall Joan adding another flourish (probably an added spin) in one of the routines, which alerted me to the fact that there was space in the time available for it. So I tried it and it fit! I suppose this is what dancers figure out all the time, and I'm happy to be tinkering around with another creative art. The approval I get does not hurt at all, and it makes the workout ever so much more effective.
Kiara is closing in on cataloguing a full shipment of books. Remarkable! We are all planning the great switch; when Kris moves out, I'll get the upstairs to develop as a home office, the young ladies get the lower level to do as they will, starving college students and all that. I am sad, and will probably always have a sadness, that the thing with Kris did not work out, but I feel happy thinking about that future.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunay meetings

This morning I texted Kris thanks for the interesting conversation.
She apologized and asked to speak as soon as the coffee was ready. I suggested walking.
It was a pleasant walk, all things considered. She said she was ready to answer my question "What The Hell Happened?"
She accepted responsibility straightforwardly, for the first  time in my experience. She said that she had her first marriage because everyone thought she and John were a great couple and expected them to marry. She did not want to be married an when he started making too much noise about having a baby, she dumped him. However they remained on good terms, and he gave her half the value of the house when he sold it, she says.
Then, she says, she really liked me as a friend. So naturally she figured she should marry me. She did not like being married to me so she ha to divorce me.
I did not have a lot to say on this, but it was goo to hear that there was nothing I could have done differently that would make any difference. We got back and eventually I went off to do a little work.
Later that ay, I texted Kris offering to keep renting her a room at market rate or a little better. She aske what I proposed and I gave a figure of $750, which was $200 less that the apartment she found, and included Y membership. She counterproposed that I move out and she would rent the top floor for the price of the mortgage. At first I reacted favorably to that; it seemed like a creative solution. However I wanted to talk it over with the people most affected: Kiara and Nessa. They were supportive of whatever decision I made.
I thought about it. A $1400 mortgage less $950 apartment rental left me $450 a month; take away $200 or more for the solar panels, and I would be saving less than $250 a month with Kris' concept. And to get even that, I would abandon Kiera, Nessa and the cats. This made no sense to me; I understand how it seemed good to Kris - she would at last have the main floor of the house all to herself, to keep as she wished with no one to bother her. However, I'm not sure why she thought I would go for it; am I that much of a doormat?
Well, I have been. "Silent Son" and all that.
When I got home from my work expedition, I texted the three ladies stating my position. After some discussion, we decided to meet in the living room to talk it over. Kiera basically chaired the meeting quite effectively. The two of them were willing to be flexible; they just needed simple college student living. Kris seemed angry, or it may just have been that she had probably been drinking; anyway, she stated her position clearly. She wanted her own bathroom She wanted to rent either the top floor or the basement. I confirmed with Kiera and Nessa that my sharing the top floor with them was not acceptable - we are friendly enough, but a young married couple needs their privacy! I said that I was not going to abandon my family. We are a new family and an unusual family but we are family, and that's it. Kris was welcome to stay and if she left, it was because she chose to leave. She seemed angry about that, and I was sad about it, but I was not changing. That was about all there was to it. Kiera led the meeting as well as it could have been lead. There was no unpleasant language, but clear statements and a resolution.
I am sad and it is painful, but the pain is just fear leaving the body, as they say. As they also say, I will permit the feat to wash over me and move on; when it has gone I will turn and look and it will be gone; only I will remain. Indeed, I now feel determined now that I have chosen my option.
Still, it is well to have family in support.