Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bayview Overlay Proposal

I received an e-mail from a staff member at Planning & zoning regarding the scheduled hearing Thursday at 6:00 pm. Two things. No, they can't notify everyone if it is cancelled at the last minute. It is suggested that you call before 4:00 pm or so, to get the latest status, as the storm impacts, or doesn't, the meeting date and time. 446-1070.

Snow Day (Again)

I'm writing this primarily for my friends that are snow birding in Arizona. Last week-end, Bayview got over a foot of new snow. Starting tonight, we'll go for 30 hours of snow, predicted to be 6-10 inches in the valleys and 18 inches in the mountains. Just another snow day. Lakeland School district closed Monday, opened Tuesday, then sent students home early, as snow kept piling up.

They, along with a long list of Spokane area schools are closed again today. Having said that, we aren't experiencing rain like you are in Arizona. I can see it now in Wellton. Everyone huddled around the stove at the VFW, drinking Captain Morgans and wondering when the rain will stop. Then there's those dastardly 70 degree temps to put up with. It's enough to bore you to death.

Burlington Northern lost track of an engine that was towing cars along the Northwest Blvd. tracks. Seems that at about the road leading into the Sewer treatment plant, the engine hit a snow berm that derailed it. I suppose that is natural, since the derailer was invented just down the street at the Iron Horse. Hmmm. I wonder if BN will gripe about the snowplow berms that the city plowed up?

Here, however, we have skating rinks, (Pretty much everywhere) sledding hills, (same) and native drivers acting like Californians, barreling down Highway 95 with their SUV's at 65 MPH or more, shouting for everyone to get out of the way. We need sand. Not for traction, but so we can see where the damn road is. White-outs have become the norm, as our Winter weather has reverted to the Idaho of old. It just isn't nice to take Mother Nature for granted. ...

Many folks around here, including me, talk about '68-69, or '91-92, or Icestorm '96. We aren't through with this Winter yet, but if things go as they have recently, for much longer, we will have '07-08 to brag/bitch about too, not to mention the floods that will occur at Lake Coeur d'alene and Lake Pend Oreille.

So, having painted this picture, I think I'll dodge down to Hayden, croak a little Karaoke at Rusty's, then slide home just ahead of tonight's monster storm prediction.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Scouting! It's the best

I just wrote a description of a great scouting adventure at Farragut over the weekend, in the comments at Huckleberries on line. They had their annual Klondike Derby. I wallowed up there Friday Night, visited with some of the officials, then headed back to Bayview for the Mid-Winter beach party at the Captain's Wheel. I met some very nice people at the party. One lady in particular caught my eye.

Later, I was able to speak with the organizers of this event. Just think about it, you parents. 541 Scouts, 100 volunteers, and 60 staff, all spread out over 50 or so acres of deep snow. If that wasn't a Klondike experience, then I don't know what would be.

The above picture, is when I was a tyke and a Cub Scout. Back then we didn't have Weblos, just cubs. I think I held the rank of Wolf, or Bear, oh heck, it's been too many years. I was, however, the proud holder of the Life badge. I didn't make Eagle, since the resouces of my troop weren't sufficient to give us those hard to get badges. The picture, as you can see, is in black and white. We didn't have color back then. This picture was taken by my Mom, long deceased, with a Kodak brownie. I have to admit that even after all these years, mentioning Mom, brought tears to my eyes.

Local Happnins

Well, let's see. Oh yes, it snowed. Here in Bayview, that's not unusual, but the packed house at the Wheel for the mid-winter beach party was. Considering the weather, which could have been worse, but exacerbated by the State and Lakes Highway's unwillingness to pay overtime for week-end snow removal, roads did get a little testy. I took a run up through Farragut to check out the roads. They were passable, but getting worse. What I did see, though, was over 500 Cub, Boy and eagle scouts, camping out in their annual Klondike Derby.

This year, they got reality. The scouts build dog sleds, then are taught to equip them with camping and survival gear. Way stations, somewhat like geo-caches, named after towns and villages along the Iditirod trail were located by GPS carried by scouts, as they went from location to location. At each stop, a lesson in survival was taught. Back at the campground, the reality was being experienced. Friday night, they recorded minus 4 degree temps. Saturday and Sunday, they were buried in snow. An additional 10 or so inches fell on a base of 8 or 9 inches, to give the camp out over 18 inches of snow. By Sunday morning, the park was back to normal, the Captain's Wheel was quiet, and I experienced a computer virus.

I have AVG free as an anti-virus program. It cheerfully announced with a red banner, that I had a virus in the Kodak downloading program. Scratch pictures for a while. My question is, if AVG knew that a virus had invaded, why didn't they stop it? I put it in a place called a vault, where they told me the virus was captive. They just didn't tell me how to eliminate it. I deleted my Kodak easy share program, then deleted the most recent picture down load. Now I can't download pics and I don't know if I still have a virus or not. Suggestions are welcome.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Beach Party

The above photo of bartender, Marie, was taken by a drunk at the last beach party.

If you haven't made plans to do anything more adventuresome than hunkering down during the snow storm currently raging, try the bikini beach party at the Captain's Wheel in Bayview tonight.

This is the third year that the insane management at the Wheel is holding a mid-winter beach party. Contests, (I'm still sore from trying to stay on top of a beachball with handle,practicing for an event that I'm certain not to enter) There will be tan line contests, best bikini, and every other kind of mischief imaginable. Obviously, we here in Bayview, are in denial, big time.

The roads into Bayview are in good shape, just slow down a little.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Third Anniversary Post

Total visits since 1-27-2005: 24,532

Total page views same period: 43,193

Thank you for your support!

These are two of the posts that I wrote during the first week of this blog. My fourth anniversary is Sunday, the 27th. I thought I'd share a couple of my first attempts at on-line journalism. The picture? just because it was fun, and how many other North Idaho bloggers can say they rode a camel, She was cute, too, don't you think? Kinda reminds me of my third wife.
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Thursday, January 27, 2005
Bloggers anonymous

At an after hours session yesterday, at the Spokesman-Review,editors Ken Sands and Dave Oliveria attempted to council us folks that are blog addicted. This session was crafted in the hope that we would all go forth and do good in our community. We learned a lot, but honestly folks, after building this ant-hill, how are they going to train the ants ...

Monday, January 31, 2005
In The Spokesman-Review today

U.S. Fish & Wildlife co-ordinator, Ed Bangs in an interview. "You can classify Wolves as anything you want but predators"...Duh? How about wildlife disposal units?...

An excited Iraqi after voting yesterday ... Hamid Azazi, 57 said, "Even if I was dead, I would still participate!" ... Hamid, are you sure you don't live in Seattle?

In Huckleberries ..."I left my dollar for salami home". My Mariner heart fluttered, until I realized he was not talking about grand-slam homers ...

Psst! Based on chapter 24, of "Undaunted Courage", a book by noted historian,
Stephen Ambrose, Toby, or "Old Toby" was the nickname of an old Shoshone that guided the expedition through the Bitterroot Mountains ...
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Oh, and a big hand for Family Phil, who was my first commenter, welcoming me to the zoo.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Small World

Having been Karaoke starved for months, since no business in Bayview has it anymore, I decided to check around. Now, the Crossroads in Athol features a very good Karaoke set, but starts too late for my taste. I ran into a fellow singer at the Captain's Wheel a while back, who told me that a new bar, Rusty's in Hayden, had Karaoke and it starts at 7:00 pm.

I recalled that an old friend, Kim Gittle, a Summer resident of Bayview,had started the business, after entering and winning a lottery for new liquor licenses. I called him, verified the info and promised to show up Wednesday, last night. Kim was there and introduced me to a vaguely familiar face, as the karaoke hostess. We went through the where do I know you from, back and forth. Finally, I said, "well, my picture is in the paper a lot. Bingo. It turned out that Renee, hostess extrordinaire, works at the front desk in the spokesman-Review Coeurd'Alene office.

Most great undiscovered musicians have day jobs. Renee is no exception. Oh, by the way, she is an extraordinary singer. She even yodels. I'll be back next Wednesday, you can bet on it. Oh, yet another example of a small world, I ran into friends of friends of mine, Nancy and her guy friend, Drew. I'll just call her Nancy Drew for want of a better reminder. Drew also remembered me from when I was the Conductor/Entertainer on the Silverwood train. (that could happen again, if everything works out.

Nancy, the bar manager, was very gracious, and lest I forget, Tonya, the bartender,faced with over 35 guests, never missed a beat. Friendly, charming, and always there to check on everyone's needs. Folks this is a class joint. AND, it's a no smoking bar, too. Located in the strip mall on Orchard, between Government Way, and Highway 95. Phone, 772-2400.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


photo coutesy of Mike Lee

It pays to have adequate protection for your home. Terrified, the bull moose decides he's had enough for one day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Short Memories Part 111

The theme of this series, is short memories. The reason I have harped on that is simply because those that haven't experienced something in their lifetime, or professional career, seldom expect the possibility to arise in the future. People that hadn't experienced a volcanic eruption,couldn't believe it when Mt. St. Helens blew up. Twenty years from now, nobody will even remember it, except historians, unless of course, it happens again.

The Savings & Loan disaster that occurred with the 1981-82 recession, was caused by prevailing savings/Certificates of deposit rates, going through the roof. When interest rates on real estate loans hit 24%, savings rates followed them up, just not as high. Compare this example to a grocer that buys a box of apples for $12, then retails it for $20. Same thing with money. Wholesale/retail. The greatest example that I am personally acquainted with is Washington Mutual, the largest Savings bank in the country. During the period from 1979 to about 1984, WaMu was paying out an average of around 14% on savings/certificates of deposit. Loans that they did not sell, and they took pride in not selling their loans on the secondary market, were earning anywhere from 4.5% to 6.5%, depending on how old the loans were, and what the prevailing rates were when they were closed. Paying out 14% while earning much less, put them upside down. Within Months they were broke. Fortunately, unlike other S & L's that bankrupt, Washington Mutual was a Mutual, meaning that they theoretically were owned by their depositors, much like a co-op. They were able, then, to reinvent themselves as a stock corporation, then selling stock to recapitalize. They still call themselves Washington Mutual, but they aren't.

Enter the current market. Overbuilt spec homes, banks competing with each other to snag the most loans, with the belief that good times are here to stay. Folks, nothing is here to stay. We have extreme energy prices. The largest real estate lender in the country, Countrywide, was in so much trouble, that Bank of America had to bail them out. Washington Mutual did it to themselves again, the same old way, with the same old mistakes.

Since around the 1970's, lenders stopped, for the most part, selling loans individually to FNMA and Freddie Mac, and began to bundle loans into multi-million dollar packages, which they then sold as securities on Wall street. They still do that. The purpose, was to spread the risk, by owning a small part of a large body of loans.With thousands of loans in trouble, panic is setting in. Causes:

The differences between then and now with regards to graduated payment ARM's, is that in the early 80's, interest rates were back down to 8 plus percent. The other, and more important difference, is that in the 80's, lenders weren't making loans to borrowers that weren't considered good risks. Competition between lenders, that were selling their loans like hotcakes, since values were climbing at great rates, (sound familiar?)and the sky was the limit. If the borrower didn't pay,there would be enough equity to resell the property at a profit, without loosing a dime.

Reality Check:

Interest rates have stayed too low, too long, causing the demand to dry up naturally. Low rates of interest also caused many buyers to step up, buying as much home as they could, while the good times last. Lenders, are eating sub-prime loans at an alarming rate, and values haven't continued to rise, but are falling precipitously. I predict that Wall Street is going to implode with drastic results in the investments market.


We are in the beginning of a recession that will probably last at least three and maybe more years. When the Republican administration proposes a cash rebate of $800 per family, to encourage purchasing, it is a dead on signal that consumer confidence is in the toilet. Home values, if the trend continues as I have described, will go as low as 50-65% of values in 2005, the peak of the market. Over thirty percent of the current North Idaho population is in some way, either directly or indirectly connected to the building trades. That number may be conservative. Turning loose 30% of our population is going to cause many businesses to go out of business, since the consumers have left for other areas and other fields of endeavor. Hunker down folks. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Signed, Cassandra

New Race Track

The new news in Bayview, is the race track that is in the planning stages. Borrowing from the ancient tradition of the Kootenai County Fairgrounds track, Bayview will soon have Quarter horse racing, as seen above.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Floating Homes Association
P.O. Box 444,
Bayview, ID 83803

To Bayview Residents:

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to seriously consider making a contribution to the Legal Fund of the Floating Homes Association (FHA).

Although most float home owners do not reside in Bayview full time, many of us spend a lot more time in our beautiful town than you might imagine, certainly more than just a few weeks and weekends in the summer. In recent years, “floathomers” have supported the community in numerous ways. One has served on the Board of the Bayview Chamber of Commerce, two have been part of the Development Analysis Committee, one has served on the Overlay project, one has been on the Community Center Board, several have testified at Kootenai County hearings, multiple Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) hearings, and the recent IDAPA rule making process. Many of us are good friends with many of you. For years and years, the FHA has contributed substantially to the Bayview Daze Fireworks Fund, and also to keep a street light lit all year. We sent a Bayview child to camp. As an association, we made a significant contribution to Jerry Berry’s medical care, and more than several of our members also contributed to Jerry’s fund. In September, 2007, the FHA and our members individually contributed $1200 to help pay the Overlay filing fee. In short, we think we have been good neighbors, and good members of the community. We hope you feel the same.

When Bob Holland raised float home moorage rates over 100% in 2004 and 2005, we asked the Idaho Land Board and the IDL to help us. To be blunt, the IDL has not been of much help to us. It took four trips in 2006 and 2007 to Boise, where several of us testified before the Land Board, to finally get some results.

As a result of our officers’ and members’ testimony in Boise at the Land Board on those four separate occasions, the Land Board directed the IDL to include language in all renewal master leases that floathome moorage rates will be reasonable. They also directed the IDL to work with the legislature on an amendment to the Floating Homes Residency Act (FHRA). The IDL was instructed to seek our input when seeking a legislative fix.

Unbeknownst to us, and certainly with no input from us, the IDL Director drafted an amendment to the FHRA that will not materially help us, and could actually hurt us, unless we take strong and immediate action in the next few weeks. We need to get badly needed revisions and amendments made in this proposed IDL amendment, or it will be passed, as is, by the Idaho Legislature in January or early February.

District Three Senator Mike Jorgenson has been helping us, but he and others have told us that to have any chance of success, we must hire a Boise lobbyist. Idaho Legislators do not have any staff, and usually rely on lobbyists to supply them with facts and arguments as to why a certain bill should be passed, amended, or defeated. Said another way, the current proposed IDL amendment will certainly pass in its current form, unless we act quickly and decisively to get it amended.

We have just hired a highly recommended lobbyist, but her fee far exceeds our existing legal fund. We have asked our membership, and even those “floathomers” who are not members, to contribute as generously as they can, but it is unlikely we will raise enough money from them to reach the needed amount.

So we are asking you now for your support; whatever you can afford or are inclined to donate will help, and will be greatly appreciated. Please seriously consider helping us win our rent battle with greedy and unreasonable developers who apparently do not care about the charm and culture of Bayview. We think our float homes are part of that charm, and we want to stay a part of the Bayview community forever. Please help us.

We realize the recent holiday season may have strained budgets and we all have many other things going on. If you can donate now, please do. If that’s not possible, would you try to do so later on in February? Or if you would like to make a pledge now, and make monthly payments over some period of time convenient for you, just write a simple note as to what you want to do, and send it in to the following address.

Please mail your contribution to:
Lyn Shoemaker, Treasurer
PO Box 444
Bayview, ID 83803
Thank you so very much for your consideration.


Powell Shoemaker, President 509-533-6455
Bob Brooke, Vice President 208-762-3664
Jamie Berube, Secretary 509-928-2570
Lyn Shoemaker, Treasurer 509-533-6455

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Short Memories - Part 11

The step rate or negatively amortized adjustable rate mortgage, could have been a disaster back in the 80's. It wasn't, only because interest rate went down precipitously shortly after it's advent. Also, incomes were at the time recovering as well. Back then, the one element that wasn't present was that what we called "B" paper, or as it is now known, "sub-prime," did not allow borrowers to overextend themselves. Loan applications were plentiful. so plentiful that Seafirst Mortgage, where I worked, shut down new applications, due to office overload. With no further need, the market dropped the high risk loans, as well as the graduated payment ARM.

In years since then, 1987-88 for instance, the year I went broke in a new Mortgage Company that a partner and I started, interest rates went from around 8.5% in January 1987,to 10.75% in just two months. Over the years, the federal reserve manipulated the money supply and discount rates, so as to not over inflame the economy, nor let interest rates get too far out of hand. Some years, the industry went into a two or three year tailspin, then pulled back out. Nothing, however even close to 1980-81-82-83 has been experienced since.

Think about it. Those of us that were in middle management, or for that matter, upper management then, are retired. Portfolio managers that are now in their forties and carrying the heavy responsibility for risk management, were in middle school, and had no first hand memories of the "bad old days." When we don't remember, or experience bad times, we are prone to not expect them to happen. Most people feel that the world events that have happened since they reached majority, are the only events that carry any weight. Well, famine and pestilence haven't visited our part of the earth recently, but bad lending practices have.

In the last fifteen years or so,with a few short periods excepted, 15 and 30 year fixed rate mortgages have been very affordable. So affordable, that resuscitation of graduated payment ARM's wasn't necessary. Why then, you ask, did they? Competition caused it. Competition and greed. The market has been so hot, with in most cases, sub-six percent loan rates,that everyone that ever wanted a house and had reasonably good credit could buy one. Aha, but the key words here, are "reasonably good credit." The building boom in full stride, homes started climbing in value. over building caused lumber and other construction materials to become in short supply. Short supply means higher prices. Soon an average home was out of the grasp of most young borrowers, but wait! What if we offer graduated payment ARM's again.

It worked before, right? Suddenly, a $150,000 loan of 30 years went from a level term 6% with a payment of $900 per month, to $632 per month at 3%. The difference used in this example, allowed marginally qualified buyers to get much more home with what they could afford monthly. Or, they buyer could buy a lesser home with higher loan to value ratios. What the heck, if the borrower could make the payments in a year or so, the house will have gone up in value, so that we'll still be just fine. But what if incomes don't go up, and what if homes decrease in value, instead of increase indefinitely.

Sounds a little like 1986 when I, thinking the boom would last indefinitely, started a high risk business. Nothing, especially in the money markets, lasts forever. In my next installment, I will make predictions for the short term that will make Casandra look like a beginner. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Short Memories

Back in 1978, the real estate market in the Seattle area was booming. The average price of a typical 3 bed one bath home shot up from around $20,000 to near $60,000 in just one year. Everything was great. I had just switched from real estate sales to mortgage lending in 1978. Things slowed down a little in 1979 and we saw interest rates rise to 8.75%. Then 1980-1983 happened. Inflation became severe, interest on a thirty year fixed loan shot up to 24% and as a result, home prices in many categories dropped by 50%.

By 1984, the economy had started to improve. By 1985, a new boom market occurred plus thousands of homeowners refinanced to lower their interest rates, then refinanced again, for the same reason. Part of the refinance every time interest went down 2%, was that people were operating in a panic mode, that didn't allow them to think that anything would be normal again. Many borrowers refinanced three and even four times, believing that the market would sour again and that this was their last chance. It wasn't, but I made a lot of money because of that fear.

During the years 1983-84, the market developed many adjustable rate loans. The industry standard ended up being the one year adjustable, where the rate would fluctuate up or down, based on a constant, either the one year T-bill or libor. An even more revolutionary loan was added. The step-rate adjustable. The way they worked, was the payment rate would start 3% below the prevailing ARM interest rate, while the payment rate rose by 1% each of the first three years. The thought there, was that incomes would increase, after all, aren't we in a period of inflation? The catch was the negatively amortized loans were eating up equity for the first three years, leaving the borrower, in some cases, owing more that the purchase price or value of the home. Many walked.

If some of this sounds familiar, it is. Because both borrowers and lenders are either too young, or, lack the long term memories to judge risk correctly, we have a crunch in the "sub-prime lending market. "Those who don't learn from history, are bound to repeat it." I'll expound more on this and the parallel universe we find our selves in today, in my next post, where I'll make some disturbing predictions for the near future.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bob Turns 50

Actually, I will achieve the age of 70 in about two months. Easter Sunday, to be exact. This is not to be confused with aging. Years ago, I decided that growing up was over rated. I haven't changed my mind. I have gone through several incarnations professionally, and have decided that the North Idaho thing fits me best. A great guy, Richard Dunkel, now deceased, once told me that folks in Idaho, didn't have careers, they had gigs. I retired from the Real Estate Mortgage Business about seven or eight years ago, to find that first, I didn't have enough money to sail the French Riviera. I stopped, thought, then realized I could enjoy the same things here, without the accents.

Since then, I have sold office furniture, made salads in a restaurant, wrote articles for the Spokesman-Review, and still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. Right there is the problem. Everyone thinks that you ought to grow up. You don't. Just lean into the wind, and sale past the little bumps in the road. Maturity is a farce.

For every activity that you find you can't do anymore, there are others that didn't previously occur to you that take their place. Bob, you will make a fine old crank.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Moose Is Loose

photos by Ralph Jones and John Ely

Entertainment in Bayview this time of year tends to be a little simpler than Summer venues. Currently, We are entertaining a Bull Moose that has taken up residency in Town. Originally, from a distance, most thought it to be a cow. Close-ups reveal the stubs of shed antlers. Seen periodically from a mile or so West on Perimeter, to the downtown residential area, he seems quite tame. According to Chip Corsi of Idaho Fish & Game, this is not true. Moose tend to be placid unless aroused, when they can turn on a person, a car, or even a railroad locomotive. The trick is obviously not to arouse one.

In a recent conversation with Corsi, he said, "I'm going to go out on a limb, and say that Moose are more dangerous than Bear." (Including Grizzlies)He went on to tell me that they cannot be domesticated, and can eat out of your hand one day, and stomp you to death the next. It is so dangerous to train one to hang out and beg food, that the Department of Fish & Game are in the process of attempting capture and relocation.

Relocating a moose can be fatal for the animal, since darting them with a tranquilizer sometimes causes death. If that method fails, then they will kill the animal before it can become a problem. The moral of this story, is do not approach one closely, nor attempt to hand feed this or other wild game. They may get violent over you simply running out of whatever you have been providing. Moose have absolutely no fear of humans, which differentiates them from most all other wild animals found in this country.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Izzit Monday Already?

I have a confession to make. I am a procrastinator. My motto? Never do today, what you can put off 'till tomorrow, or the next day ... well, you get the idea. I haven't put my snow tires on yet. Last year, I didn't need them. The year before, I just wore the studs down, while destroying the local highways. This year, I thought of driving down to Arizona, catching the kids and grand kids in California on the way back, where they don't allow studs.

But, I procrastinated, plus I'm having a blast writing my columns for the spokesman-Review so much, I hate to leave. Besides, what if they found they could do the Voice without me. I don't think I could handle that reality, so, here I am with no snow tires. The white stuff is starting to stack up, it's slipperier than deer guts on a door knob out there, and I'm inside, where I plan to spend the rest of the Winter. On the other hand,(sound like an economist?) I may procrastinate, and wander around outside, probably still in March, either bragging that I got through a hundred year winter without snow tires, or living it out in a ditch somewhere.

Newspapers are piling up, but, hey, it's to cold, snowy, quiet, too loud, oh what the hell, I think I'll crack a good book and turn up the heat. Unless, of course, I procrastinate again.