Thursday, February 24, 2011
Today's Equipment Leasing Headlines
Alert Up-Date--AMC Funding, Charlotte, North Carolina
######## surrounding the article denotes it is a “press release” and was not written by Leasing News nor information verified, but from the source noted. When an article is signed by the writer, it is considered a “by line.” It reflects the opinion and research of the writer. It is considered “bias” as it is the writer’s viewpoint.
Alert Up-Date--AMC Funding, Charlotte, North Carolina
The Burlington Times News reports: "Brendan Job Messenheimer, 34, of Napper Road, Greensboro, was charged by Burlington Police Department with felony worthless check. According to warrants, Messenheimer is accused of writing a $10,587.88 check to Kendal Nuclear Medicine, even though he knew he didn’t have sufficient funds to cover it. Bond was set at $5,000."
Fourth Alert----AMC Funding Still at It
Greg Steffes Retires
Greg Steffes retires this Friday from Bank of the West Leasing. They recently moved to their new offices in Dublin from Walnut Creek, and it was not the commute, but the time as he reaches 60 years old. A veteran credit man, Leasing News quoted him as the authority when it came to reading financial statements and interpreting credit. He could say "yes" in two to three minutes, but if he saw something, he found out what his instinct was telling him. He will be missed by many leasing companies and discounters.
Classified Ads---Asset Management
(These ads are “free” to those seeking employment
Free Posting for those seeking employment in Leasing:
All “free” categories “job wanted” ads:
Tyco Kozlowski Mansion Sold to Direct Capital CEO and his wife
As reported in Seacoastonline.com, "North Hampton--A 10,000-square-foot mansion build on property once owned by former Tyco International CEO L. Dennis Kozloswski sold at auction...for $4.2 million.
"Assessed at $9.4 million, the 15-acre estate at 10 Runnymede Drive went to the highest bidder following 20 minutes of 'first' bidding...the estate was purchased by a family who attended the auction and were 'hugging and happy' with their new home.
The two people were Chris Broom, CEO of Direct Capital, and his wife Joanne Broom.
Slide Show of house and features:
About the sale:
10 Runnymede Drive Deed
(Leasing News provides this ad as a trade for investigations
CHG-Meridian Joins Funder & Looking for New Broker Lists
"We specialize in IT and Medical equipment financing. We can do both Operating and Capital leases. We also offer a state of the art contract management system to track all leased asset. We are not vendor sensitive."
A -Accepts Broker Business | B -Requires Broker be Licensed | C -Sub-Broker Program | D -"Private label Program" |E - Also "in house" salesmen
Funder List "A"
Funders Looking for New Broker Business
NAELB Announces a New Member Benefit - NAELBList.org
The National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers is pleased to announce the launch of NAELB List (pronounced nel-be-list) as a new member’s only resource.
While only NAELB members can post on NAELB List, it is open to viewing by the general public so please pass the site address along to anyone you know looking for equipment to buy or lease.
The association recognizes that many of our members can benefit from getting used equipment either sold or re-leased. NAELBList.org was created as a classifieds website dedicated to assisting our members in posting equipment online and available to the public.
Any member can post equipment ads on NAELB List. To create an account, go to www.naelblist.org and click on the My Account tab. Click on Register for an Account. Fill in the required information and click Submit Information.
Once you have your NAELB List account set up you can post an unlimited number of equipment ads. Ads will stay on the site for up to 90 days or until you remove it.
Click here to view tips for posting hyperlinks in your ads:
Link is Active: http://www.naelblist.org/
Leasing Industry Help Wanted
Please see our Job Wanted section for possible new employees.
Bulletin Board Complaint
Business Leasing Northwest, Seattle, Washington
Michael W. Palmer, owner of Business Leasing Northwest, Seattle, Washington started the company in 1990, according to his web site, and merged with Cypress Leasing, Inc. which became Cypress Leasing Inc. dba Business Leasing Northwest, Inc., although the company today works under the sole proprietorship of Business Leasing Northwest and/or Business Leasing Northwest, Inc. dba (which their bank Cashmere Valley, Cashmere, Washington verified.)
His Linkedin.com site states he started Business Leasing Northwest in 1988. A story on the history of Colonial Pacific shows he was head of commercial leasing at then Colonial Pacific Leasing until September, 1989, and evidently has a lot of experience as both a credit executive and company officer.
According to Palmer, about a year ago he expanded into accepting broker business, but things came apart in November when his bank Cashmere Valley learned the deals he was sending in were sub-brokered, meaning they were not originated from him; that was against their policy, which Palmer states he was unaware of the prohibition. Unfortunately for him, about the same time this happened, the bank where he had his warehouse line was closed by state banking authorities and subsequently sold by the FDIC.
It put his company in a dilemma. Cashmere gave him a separate line of credit and he put his house up as extra collateral, he explains. The cash flow at the time with the problems of working with brokers became his “perfect storm.”
There were three leases from Jaime Kaneshina, CLP. Kaneshina was the former vice-president of credit for Pacifica Capital, Irvine, California from 1999 until April, 2004 when he became general partner and vice-president of credit at TCCG, LLC dba The Cambridge Capital Group, Chino Hills, California(1). The problem began with two leases from Cambridge to Notorious. Mike Palmer was asked to buy back the lease on the first one by Cashmere Valley Bank when the lessee stopped ACH on the first lease in place to the bank, and refused to allow an inspector to view the equipment. It was suspected Notorious had sold the equipment. During this time, a second lease was to be sent to Cashmere, and Mike Palmer had issued a purchase order with much of the equipment delivered, but not all, and when he learned about the problems in the first lease, he requested to see the equipment in the first lease and the second lease.
The lessee refused. He therefore is then stuck for the first lease and to the vendor for the equipment on the second lease on the purchase order he issued. While there may be "representation and warrants" to Cambridge, this is a factor, and the return of the overage was held up because of the occurrence.
It is also very odd that the vendor in the transactions were PC Mail, a national company, regarding computers where Notorious is a company that sells computers and related equipment of all brands, including the same in the lease to the company:
10 17"Macbook Pro 15 2.53GHZ/4GB/500 (54)G $22,490.00
Notorious Web Site of Equipment they sell:
That this evidently was never questioned by any of the parties appears to be a major lack of due diligence.
Jaime Kaneshina’s complaint,” These all involved transactions reportedly approved whereby we were provided formal approvals on three transactions, documented each transaction, and remitted for funding but never to have the transactions fund due to his 'issues' with Cashmere Valley Bank and his inability to secure a replacement credit facility…
"One instance, we had to return advance monies to the client damaging our reputation with the vendor; the second instance, we were forced to locate a replacement funding source, and the third and final transaction ultimately resulting in his remitting us a personal check to reimburse us for a 9/28/2010 “shortfall” that we remitted to him in good faith on a transaction that he elected not to fund… This personal check issued on 12/27/2010, deposited on 12/28/2010, and returned/stop payment on 12/31/2010. January 14, 2011, "he chose to issue these approvals even though he did not have a funding source to fund the deals… In our three instances, all three were never approved by Cashmere Valley Bank – one was never submitted, one was pended for additional information and the other was declined… Hence, based on his approval we proceeded to request documents, visit clients to get documents signed, coordinate the logistics with the vendors and insurance agents for the invoice and certificates, respectively, etc. Very sad situation for all involved not to mention the damage done to our reputation with those clients and vendors… "
He also reports a "stop payment" on a check: "We remitted it along with a $2,986.52 shortfall check as the advance monies collected were greater than our commission to be earned(back-end was up-side down without the first and last. editor)… Our check was issued on 9/28/2010 and was posted to our account on 9/29/2010… He elected not to fund the transaction after not being able to secure a warehouse credit facility… Finally, after almost three months, he remitted us a personal check to reimburse us for the shortfall previously remitted on 12/27/2010 which we deposited on 12/28/2010… Unfortunately, we were notified by our bank on 12/31/2010 that he placed a stop payment and that the funds were not available…"
Mr. Kaneshina approved the statements he made above before this article was published.
The major debt BLNW owes to brokers is with Quail Capital Corp., Burbank, California and three deals from two of their brokers that Quail sent to Business Leasing Northwest that Cashmere Valley funded two. One of the deals the lessee was asked to make the next payment, although the equipment was not delivered. The third had difficulties and then it steam rolled with other leases that Business Leasing Northwest had reportedly approved, but didn't, and according to Cashmere Valley Bank, who only handles about 12 to 15 brokers in the Northwest, extended a line of credit to resolve the cash flow difficulties.
Mike Palmer was contacted and he pleaded that he was not aware that Cashmere Bank would not accept “sub-broker” business. One of the party’s making the complaint confirmed his deal was not approved at Cashmere. Palmer asked for 30 days as he had a line of credit to pay vendors and brokers from Cashmere. This was confirmed with the bank officer. In one instance, a leasing company paid the broker his commission although they had not received the commission. During the next 30 days, this broker was paid as was other vendors, but at the end, not all were paid. Mike Palmer asked for another 15 days and promised to pay all. When that 15 days were up, he asked for another 15 days, and in the spirit of resolving the matter, Leasing News held off in reporting the Bulletin Board Complaint. He made the agreement if not paid in full during this time period to post the complaint.
Rick Rodman, Credit Manager, Quail Capital Corporation: "Business Leasing Northwest owes Quail Capital Corp commissions on 3 transactions totaling $12,521.74.
"Essentially, we’re interested in finding out the names of all the brokers that are in the same boat as us and find out specifically the last time anyone has received any monies from BLNW so that we may be able to pool our efforts / resources to best approach them for collecting the fees due to us."
During this period Leasing News held back on the story as promises were made the brokers would get paid, some of the money owed since November. There are several others who were involved, but they prefer not to make their complaint public."
Craig Rose, Magellan Financial, Inc., Tustin, California brokered two deals to Quail Capital and stated one of his transaction the lessee was contacted for payment, but had not signed the delivery and acceptance nor completed a verbal. It wasn't his first lease and he wanted to know why he was now required to make payments to Cashmere Valley Bank.
He also wonders “what fiduciary responsibility (Quail has) to pay me even though they did not get paid?"
The other party who sent a transaction and owed a commission is Jean M. Hamilton, Crosspoint Leasing and Financial Services, Inc., Sacramento, California.
That Quail states that it is a funder and a direct source although the sub-broker appears an exception. At this time, a promissory note at $1,000 a month is being negotiated (3).
David A. Normandin, CLP, ENvision Capital Group, December 15, " In our experience they were doing some bizarre activities such as funding the deal and not paying vendors for weeks where Cashmere had funded BLNW and BLNW was holding the funds. I think Cashmere figured it out and cut them off but since they needed cash they spent the vendor payments and were unable to pay the vendors or broker’s commissions. Once we figured out what was going on we simply went to Cashmere and cut BLNW off. (The original amount was $2200, and Palmer has paid $500 to date. editor.) They still owe us $1,700 in commissions and according to Michael Palmer they will have the funds next week for the last 2 months." January 14, "Mike Palmer called last week to say that he would be sending $150 per week to pay us our commission. I have yet to receive any funds."
It has reached a point that Bob Underwood, Specialty Funding, Albuquerque, New Mexico, who stated after not getting telephone calls or emails back, he turned the matter over to his attorney. On December 15 Palmer was to receive back the advance rentals on a deal that he was told was approved, but turns out after 30 days it was not. On December 22, "Once again Mike’s promise of payment by last Friday was broken. December 29th he received a check and put in his bank, who on Friday day reported there was a “stop payment” on the check. On January 3rd, "Palmer called me and assured me that it was just a clerical error and he would see to it that a bank check is sent out via overnight carrier tomorrow."
Underwood’s attorney did receive a check last week, but Underwood’s bank said “insufficient funds.” Mike Palmer sent Leasing News a copy of the check and said Underwood should deposit the check. He, at first, was reluctant to put it through the bank as it would incur a $39 bank charge. He talked to Wells Fargo banker about it on Monday, and she agreed to help him out. The good news he was told last Thursday, February 17“…US Bank in Seattle says that the check has cleared the customers account. That means we have our funds:” $1711.08, not counting his time or attorney fee.
It should be noted that Cashmere Valley Bank continues to accept leases from BLNW and Mike Palmer has promised to personally pay the commissions owed.
According to FDIC records, the bank was established September 24, 1932 the bank has 214 full time employees with 12 offices. Bank equity year-end 2008 $81.7 million, 2009 $87.4 million and 2010, $97.3 million. Profit in 2008 was $12.2 million and in 2009 $7.7 million following charge offs of $6.4 million in construction and land development, $1.9 million in loans secured by 1-4 family residential properties, $1.2 million in commercial and industrial loans, $466,000 in loans to individuals for personal use and $273,000 in lease financing receivables.
Profit in year-end 2010 was $9.7 million after charge offs of $4.4 million in construction and land development, $632,000 in 1-4 family residential properties, $787,000 commercial and industrial loans, $560,000 loans to individuals for household, family, and other personal expenditures, and $167,000 in lease financing receivables. Tier 1 risk-based capital ration: 13.38%.
P.S. Neither BLNW nor Cashmere Valley Bank are subscribers to Lease Police.
(1) Kaneshina LinkedIn
(2) Purchase Order regarding Notorious
(3) Promissory note
What is Fraud?
The Oxford American Dictionary defines fraud as:
“n. 1, criminal deception, a dishonest trick.. 2. A person (or thing) that is not what he (it) seems or pretends to be”.
USLegal.Com defines it as:
“Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage.”
Just the other day the president of a funding company called me fuming about a so-called fraudulent lessee who was an early default after making three payments. Apparently this lessee had closed up shop, skipped with the equipment and left the country. After listening to him vet for several minutes using fraud several times together with the names of the broker and vendor, I stopped him with these words. “Max (not his real name) –You use the word, fraud pretty casually but let me tell you what my lawyer told me when I was forming Lease Police. He said, Bernie—the courts decide what is fraud and not you. You can talk in generalities about fraud but not in specific cases “. As a result in our case Lease Police always uses the appellation, “Vendor/ Lessee Unusual Activity” This keeps us out of trouble and allows our subscriber to make that decision to go forward or not.
After that conversation I went looking for some definitions of fraud. The legal definition is something that should make everyone thinks before they jump the gun and start tossing accusations around which result in a law suite by an aggrieved party. The key words, of course, are “intentional misrepresentation”. Remember, everyone is innocent before the law.
Let’s examine the “Lessee Unusual Activity” described by the Max. Can he legally support his claims to meet the letter-of-the-law of intentional misrepresentation? Does the early default help his case? Does the lessee’s act of selling the equipment represent an act of mitigation, theft or outright fraud? All of the answers to these questions diminish or enhance his case. However the evaluation of these facts is the sole responsibility of a professional advocate who can use these facts to pursue further action, if any.
So a word to the wise: TONE DOWN THE RHETORIC, GET THE FACTS FIRST AND GIVE IT TO A PROFESSIONAL.
Bernie Boettigheimer, CLP
(Leasing News provides this ad “gratis” as a means
“That’s Life” ----ELFA MLFI-25 January, 2011 Alarming!
(Leasing News Chart)
The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association MLFI-25 for January is quite alarming showing a $4.2 billion for the month. The chart above shows the fourth quarter at an improvement, but it only occurs due to the acrimony of the December large jump that occurs in each of the surveys each year.
Comparing January to the first two months of the last quarter
I have always found the December major jump strange, as if there is one company, such as ADP where the customer renews their lease of accounting software and it changes the dynamic of the reporting. I realize it is the end of the year and most companies want to close out strong, but the December major jump is unusual, and it throws off the trend. For instance, here is a chart showing the trend without December:
Prior years without fourth quarter:
(Leasing News Chart)
From all the people in the leasing business that I speak to, the small ticket marketplace is getting smaller and smaller, independent brokers are being squeezed out ( you don’t see any more active broker equipment leasing schools) and there are more and more sub-broker business (even NAELB has a broker exchange for their members.) The middle market definitely is seeing more players and the tax deals are frozen due to many factors, including recent IRS tax rulings and the fears of the changes by the FASB.
The SEC filings from the banks show that their write-offs are getting less ( they’ve already written off the bad ones), but business is down everywhere to what it was at one time. The talk at the bar is one thing, but the numbers reported to the SEC tell another story.
It is difficult for even the established professional to find money sources, and without them, you become a beggar on the streets.
Here is the ELFA MFLI-25 chart:
Credit Approvals are down slightly:
Aging of Receivables is about the same, but slightly higher:
Charge offs are down to 1% as portfolio seem to have cleaned themselves out:
Employee count is down among those reporting:
ELFA MFI-25 participants and their position on non-notification in Evergreen or Winter Green clause action:
1- ADP Credit Corporation (Anthony Pacchiano of Credit Corp. is on the ELFA Board of Directors). ^^^^^
(A) Marlin Leasing
### Press Release ############################
FDIC-Insured Institutions Earned $21.7 Billion in the Fourth Quarter of 2010
Commercial banks and savings institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reported an aggregate profit of $21.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, a $23.5 billion improvement from the $1.8 billion net loss the industry reported in the fourth quarter of 2009. This is the sixth consecutive quarter that earnings registered a year-over-year increase.
"Overall, 2010 was a turnaround year with four straight quarters of positive earnings," said FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair. "We are encouraged not only by the rising trend in total industry net income, but also by the fact that a substantial majority of insured institutions are participating in this trend."
Almost two-thirds of all institutions (62 percent) reported improvements in their quarterly net income from a year ago. The average return on assets (ROA), a basic yardstick of profitability, rose to 0.65 percent, from negative 0.06 percent a year ago. Although community banks' aggregate return on assets lags the ROA for larger institutions, as a group they are recovering, as most community banks reported higher earnings than a year ago.
As has been the case in each of the past five quarters, reductions in provisions for loan losses were responsible for most of the year-over-year improvement in earnings. Fourth-quarter loss provisions totaled $31.6 billion, slightly more than half the $62.9 billion that insured institutions set aside for losses in the fourth quarter of 2009. In addition to the savings from lower provisions, net operating revenue (net interest income plus total noninterest income) was $2.8 billion (1.7 percent) higher than a year earlier, and realized gains on securities increased by $2.3 billion.
Asset-quality trends showed further improvement as noncurrent loans and leases (those 90 days or more past due or in nonaccrual status) fell for a third consecutive quarter. Insured banks and thrifts charged off $41.9 billion in uncollectible loans during the quarter, down $13 billion (23.7 percent) from a year earlier.
Financial results for the fourth quarter and the full year are contained in the FDIC's latest Quarterly Banking Profile, which was released today. Also among the findings:
Amended financial reports caused significant changes to industry earnings in three previous quarters. As a result of the restatements, first quarter 2009 net income declined from a previously reported $7.6 billion profit to a $6.5 billion net loss. Second quarter 2009 net income dropped from a $3.7 billion net loss to a $12.7 billion net loss. And, third quarter 2010 net income increased from $14.5 billion to $24.7 billion. Full-year 2009 net income declined from a $12.5 billion profit to a $10.6 billion net loss. Virtually all of the revisions resulted from corrections in the amounts and timing of the recognition of charges for goodwill impairment at one large institution.
Full-year net income rose to a three-year high. For all of 2010, insured institutions earned $87.5 billion, the highest full-year total since 2007, when the industry earned $99.9 billion. Lower expenses for loan-loss provisions and goodwill impairment were the principal factors in the $98.1 billion year-over-year improvement in net income. Provisions for loan losses were $92.6 billion lower than in 2009, while charges for goodwill impairment fell by $28.7 billion. Other positive contributions to the improvement in earnings came from net operating revenue, which was $10.8 billion higher than in 2009, and realized gains on securities, which were also $10.8 billion higher. More than two out of every three institutions (67.5 percent) reported higher earnings in 2010, and the proportion of institutions reporting net losses for the year improved from 31 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2010.
Loan balances continued to decline. Total loans and leases fell for the ninth time in the past ten quarters (the one exception resulted from changes in reporting rules, not from actual loan growth). The net decline in balances in the fourth quarter totaled $13.6 billion (0.2 percent). The largest reductions in loan portfolios occurred in real estate construction loans (down $32.5 billion, or 9.2 percent), non credit card consumer loans (down $29 billion, or 4.9 percent), and home equity lines of credit (down $11 billion, or 1.7 percent). Balances increased during the quarter in credit card portfolios (up $18.1 billion, or 2.6 percent), one- to four-family residential real estate loans (up $17 billion, or 0.9 percent), and loans to commercial and industrial borrowers (up $11.8 billion, or 1 percent). Almost 60 percent of insured institutions reported declines in loan balances in the fourth quarter.
The number of institutions on the FDIC's "Problem List" rose from 860 to 884. Total assets of "problem" institutions increased to $390 billion from $379 billion in the prior quarter, but are below the $403 billion reported at year-end 2009. The rate of increase in the number of "problem" banks has declined in each of the past four quarters. Thirty insured institutions failed during the fourth quarter, bringing the total number of failures for the full year to 157.
"As we have repeatedly stated, we believe that the number of failures peaked in 2010, and we expect both the number and total assets of this year's failures to be lower than last year's," added Chairman Bair.
The Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) balance increased for the fourth consecutive quarter. The DIF balance — the net worth of the fund — rose from negative $8.0 billion to negative $7.4 billion (unaudited) during the fourth quarter. The increase in the fund stemmed primarily from assessment revenues and an improving outlook for losses from future failures. The contingent loss reserve, which covers the costs of expected failures, fell from $21.3 billion to $17.7 billion during the quarter. While part of the decline reflects the removal of amounts reserved for banks that failed, part also reflects lower anticipated costs from future failure activity. Liquid resources (cash and marketable securities) stood at $46.2 billion at the end of the year, compared to $43.7 billion at the end of the third quarter.
"We expect the DIF balance will turn positive in 2011," Chairman Bair said, adding that "there is ample liquidity to meet our obligations arising from past and future bank failures."
Total insured deposits increased by 14.8 percent ($799 billion) during the quarter. This increase reflects additional, temporary coverage of non-interest bearing transaction accounts authorized by the Dodd-Frank Act. This additional coverage will last through the end of 2012.
In conclusion, Chairman Bair said, "Insured institutions made considerable progress in 2010. The return to industry profitability and the improving trend in asset quality were positive developments. Cleaning up balance sheets is only a first step. Now, we are looking to the industry to take the next step, and begin to build their loan portfolios. The long-term health of both the industry and our economy will depend on a responsible expansion of bank lending at this pivotal point in the economic recovery."
The complete Quarterly Banking Profile is available at http://www2.fdic.gov/qbp on the FDIC Web site.
Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system. The FDIC insures deposits at the nation's 7,657 banks and savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to which they are exposed. The FDIC receives no federal tax dollars – insured financial institutions fund its operations
#### Press Release #############################
Leasing News: Fernando's View
Special Oscar Column:
As the cream of Hollywood get ready to parade in pricey gowns and endure goofy musical numbers, the question remains: Who will take home the gold on Oscar night this Sunday? For the benefit of movie-lovers and audiences, we’ve put together this list of predictions for the main categories of American cinema’s top award.
Nominees: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," "127 Hours," "The Social Network," "Toy Story 3," "True Grit" and "Winter's Bone"
Prediction: Continuing with the Academy's decision from last year to nominate ten rather than five films, the Best Picture slot offers a wide variety of hits that range from Gothic horrors and period pieces to sports dramas and animated blockbusters. Though there was critical acclaim behind pictures like "The Kids Are All Right" and "True Grit," the race seems to narrow between "Toy Story 3," "The Social Network" and "The King's Speech," films that have connected with both critics and audiences. David Fincher's tale about the creation of Facebook has relevance on its side, but several experts are predicting a "Shakespeare in Love"-style sweep by Tom Hooper's historical crowd-pleaser.
Previous Winner Netflix tips: "Annie Hall" (1977), "Out of Africa" (1985), "Schindler's List" (1993), "No Country for Old Men" (2007)
Prediction: Aronofsky's brand of visceral intensity, Russell's volatile naturalism and the Coen Brothers' rock-solid craft are all worthy candidates. Even viewers left cold by "The Social Network" agree that it was superbly directed, so this year it looks like Best Director will finally be going to Fincher, a three-time nominee whose work has gradually shifted from experimentation ("Fight Club") to respectability ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button").
Previous Winner Netflix tip: William Friedkin for "The French Connection" (1975), Bernardo Bertolucci for "The Last Emperor" (1987), James Cameron for "Titanic" (1997), Roman Polanski for "The Pianist" (2002)
Prediction: As good as their performances were, it's safe to say that Eisenberg and Franco (who is also hosting the Oscars) still have plenty of time ahead of them to get their own statuettes. That leaves Bardem and Bridges, both of whom already won in the past, and frontrunner Firth, whose moving performance as the stuttering British monarch has been sweeping award shows since "The King's Speech" opened. The only question, then, is whether Firth will stay in character for his acceptance speech ("T-t-t-t-thank you").
Previous Winner Netflix tip: Jack Nicholson for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1978), Paul Newman for "Color of Money" (1986), Nicolas Cage for "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), Sean Penn for "Milk" (2007)
Prediction: It's always heartening to see gifted young actresses get their due, and this year's Best Actress nominees display a nice mix of veterans (Annette Benning and Nicole Kidman) and first-timers (Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman). Williams' raw emotional display in "Blue Valentine" is my favorite of the bunch, but to judge from earlier award shows, Portman's full-bodied combination of fragility and fury in "Black Swan" has a lock on the Oscar.
Previous Winner Netflix tip: Jane Fonda for "Coming Home" (1978), Shirley MacLaine for "Terms of Endearment" (1983), Frances McDormand for "Fargo" (1996), Hillary Swank for "Million Dollar Baby" (2004)
Best Supporting Actor:
Prediction: In one of the night's safest bets, Christian Bale is expected to walk off with the statuette for his intense performance as a formerly promising boxer whose career has hit the skids thanks to drugs. The less showy turns by Hawkes, Renner, Ruffalo and Rush might be just as deserving, but Bale's display of physical commitment and emotional flamboyance is precisely the kind of performance the Academy invented Best Supporting Actor Oscars for.
Previous Winner Netflix tip: Jason Robards for "All the President's Men" (1978), Michael Caine for "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986), Joe Pesci for "Goodfellas" (1990), Christoph Waltz for "Inglourious Basterds" (2009)
Best Supporting Actress:
Prediction: Melissa Leo and Jacki Weaver supplied a pair of indelible matriarchal monsters, and Amy Adams and Helena Bonham Carter added a subtle feminine touch to stories more interested in the relationship between its male characters. But the Academy has loved to reward spunky young performers since Tatum O'Neal in "Paper Moon," so expect 14-year-old Steinfeld to ride off with the award come Sunday night.
Previous Winner Netflix tip: Vanessa Redgrave for "Julia" (1971), Jessica Lange for "Tootsie" (1982), Mira Sorvino for "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995), Cate Blanchett for "The Aviator" (2004)
Madison, Wisconsin -- Adopt-a-Dog
"I am a 7 year old, Lab mix. I know sit, shake, and down. I am house trained. I have to go home with my friend Jackson."
"I am a 3 year old, Lab mix. I know sit, shake, down, and speak. I am house trained. I have to go home with my friend Raven."
Dane County Humane Society
Adopt-a-Pet by Leasing Co. State/City
Adopt a Pet
Cash-Flow Crisis Is Recession's Legacy for Small Biz
Wine industry faces glass vs. bottle challenge
Virginia “Corkage” Bill Will Let Restaurant Patrons Bring Their Own Wine
Dan Berger: Many vintners worthy of Hall of Fame
James Beard Foundation reveals 2011 semifinalists
Macaroni and cheese with pinot
Wine Prices by vintage
US/International Wine Events
Leasing News Wine & Spirits Page
This Day in American History
1761 - James Otis voices opposition to English colonial rule in a speech before the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. In 1761 the merchants of Boston hired attorney James Otis to give a speech against the writs of assistance a general warrant which was issued for the life of the sovereign to search "any House, shop, Cellar, Warehouse or Room or other Place. Customs officers could ask anyone to help with the writ, which was the reason for its name. Young attorney John Adams, who later became the second President of the United States, heard the speech, and was so inspired by it that he wrote a provision for the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights based on the arguments Mr. Otis made. The language later formed the basic language of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The battle against the writs of assistance, and the Otis speech, was one of the major opening chapters in the American colonists' struggles against tax tyranny that led to the American Revolution. The speech generated much excitement.
by Carl Sandburg
When Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into the tombs, he forgot the copperheads and the assassin . . . in the dust, in the cool tombs.
And Ulysses Grant lost all thought of con men and Wall Street, cash and collateral turned ashes . . . in the dust, in the cool tombs.
Pocahontas' body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red haw in November or a pawpaw in May, did she wonder? Does she remember?. . . in the dust, in the cool tombs?
Take any streetful of people buying clothes and groceries, cheering a hero or throwing confetti and blowing tin horns . . . tell me if the lovers are losers . . . tell me if any get more than the lovers . . . in the dust . . . in the cool tombs.
The object is to insert the numbers in the boxes to satisfy only one condition: each row, column and 3x3 box must contain the digits 1 through 9 exactly once. What could be simpler?
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