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Banks aren't in the transit business, but in the tax-break business.
By Ryan J. Donmoyer
(Due to the interest in the “SILO” action, this article is being re-printed
from Bloomberg News. They have covered the ELA press conference,
and have been writing about these alleged tax abuse shelters from
the very beginning of the Congressional hearings. This is an “educated,”
non-leasing viewpoint of the situation. Editor)
Altria Group Inc. and Wachovia Corp. bought 570 New York subway cars. Wells Fargo & Co. owns more than 700 Chicago buses. And half of Atlanta's commuter rail tracks belong to Wachovia and American International Group Inc.
The companies aren't running public transportation. They are just collecting $3.3 billion in federal tax breaks through leasing arrangements that Congress wants to curtail.
Since 2001, 16 U.S. companies have bought transportation assets from cities through 35 leasing agreements, a review by Bloomberg News shows. The arrangements allow the buyers to save on taxes as the assets depreciate, even though they don't operate the equipment.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) called the sales an abuse of tax law that costs the federal government revenue.
"It's a scheme that doesn't benefit cities very much, but provides a real advantage to companies with no risk to them," Grassley, cosponsor of legislation to limit the practice, said in an interview last week. "Leasing arrangements are fine, but there ought to be risk involved to get a tax break."
The Department of Transportation has delayed 15 similar transactions worth $3.1 billion since November at Treasury Secretary John Snow's request. Leasing arrangements already in place won't be affected by the Senate measure, which will be voted on this month.
Grassley and cosponsor Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) estimated that the federal government lost $2 for every $1 a transit system gets through leasing deals.
The Bush administration says the shelter, as currently allowed, will cost the federal government $33.5 billion during the next 10 years as more companies seek tax breaks by acquiring properties ranging from sewer systems in New Jersey to the Alamodome basketball arena in San Antonio, Texas, to emergency 911 call centers in Chicago.
While the transportation contracts mainly focus on infrastructure in the United States, most of the other leases involve municipal facilities in other countries.
Bank of America Corp., of Charlotte, N.C., for instance, bought and leased back Canada's air-traffic-control system last year. Pending arrangements involve U.S. banks' buying assets such as the baggage-handling systems at airports in Paris and Singapore.
The Internal Revenue Service is auditing transactions that have been completed.
"We're concerned," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in an interview. "All you're doing here in some of the transactions is, you're really abusing the system."
Defenders of the tax shelter say that it is legal and that the Department of Transportation encouraged transit authorities to pursue the contracts as a "creative" way to secure cash. The Federal Transit Administration even published an online guide for how to win approval of the agreements.
"It's found money," said Daniel Duff, chief counsel and vice president of governmental affairs for the American Public Transit Association. "It's legal and it's available, and that's why transit authorities have taken advantage of it."
Records on the 35 transit deals in the United States obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the agreements resulted in an almost 600 percent return on investment in taxes saved for the biggest investors. Those include Wells Fargo, which bought $1.6 billion worth of assets in 11 of the 35 transactions.
The deals pose little financial risk to participating banks because most proceeds given to transit authorities from the asset sales must be held in escrow so the municipality won't default on the lease payments.
Transit authorities pocketed only about 5 percent of the value of the assets - while the companies claim 100 percent depreciation.
Wachovia paid no taxes on a $3.6 billion profit in 2002 and got a $159 million tax refund, according to the company. That was due in part to its joint purchases of 570 New York subway cars with Altria's Philip Morris Capital Corp. unit and 155 cars with Textron Inc., maker of Cessna airplanes.
Wachovia spokeswoman Mary Eshet said the company made a "strategic decision" last year to stop doing the leasing transactions involving public infrastructure because of "the evolving regulatory environment."
But "the transactions comply with applicable tax laws [and] regulations, and are supported by tax opinions by a number of reputable law firms," she said.
Wachovia, of Charlotte, N.C., is a major bank in the Philadelphia area, with the largest share of deposits in the market.
Timothy Kellogg, an Altria spokesman, said the company's transactions were "based on long-standing and commonly accepted leasing principles." Still, the company is no longer entering such agreements "due to a change in strategic direction," he said.
Janis Smith, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, of San Francisco, said she didn't immediately have a comment. Comerica, of Detroit, and Boston's FleetBoston didn't return calls seeking comment.
Here's how one case worked: On Sept. 20, 2002, Altria and Wachovia purchased the 570 New York subway cars for $1.18 billion from the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The companies leased the cars back to the MTA for 30 years, after which the authority can repurchase them.
The transit authority got $104 million in cash up front, and $1.1 billion was put in an interest-bearing escrow account to guarantee that the buyers would get the lease payments.
Altria and Wachovia are splitting a federal tax break worth $413 million by depreciating the cars on their tax returns. Altria, of New York, will save up to $89 million on state income taxes.
Defenders of the practice say it is no different from companies' leasing lawn mowers, cars or airplanes. About $900 billion in equipment was leased in the United States last year, according to the Equipment Leasing Association, a trade group.
Richard Marsh, financial planning manager for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, said he turned to leasing in 2001 when sales-tax revenue dropped because of the recession. "This has been a salvation," Marsh said.
Bridge Capital, Lake Forest, California---Two Complaints
“ We had been dealing with the above subject for a loan of $30,000 against
invoices for durable medical equip. When it was time to fund, they said they were "over budget" and suggested outsourcing. We declined and asked for the return of our monies $2,410.30 which was to go for the first and last lease payments and the doc fee. We have yet to receive this and our calls go unanswered. I have reported them to the BBB and Dept. of Corporations, Financial Services Division.
“Don't know if you can help in any way, but please contact me at 941-953-4308 or fax 941-954-2993 or e-mail- rita email@example.com. Possibly you could put something negative about Bridge Capital in your newsletter (a complaint has been filed, etc.). I look forward to hearing from you and thanks.”
rita levin firstname.lastname@example.org
The above was received in December. After receiving copies of the agreements and talking with Paul Behechti, the president, a summation of this is after two months,
the lease was not approved, and the lessee went elsewhere, asking for their
“commitment fee” back.
“We had no choice but to go elsewhere for the funding. Bridge Capital kept putting off sending the money, with one excuse after another, and when it came
down to the wire they said they were over budget and suggested they outsource the financing. Since we had been pre-approved by other vendors before even
approaching Bridge, and our vendor had been promised payment for weeks, we felt it necessary to take advantage of the funding available immediately. There was
no breach on our part.
“Calls to Bridge Leasing do not get returned and the only offer we have gotten from them is to hold our monies for future financing with them. First, we do not wish
to work with them any further, and second, we have no idea when the need for this kind of financing might arise. Therefore, they have no right to withhold returning
“I realize you are only a third party in this, and we only contacted you on the advise of another finance company who suggested you might want to place something in
your newsletter. Certainly it was not our intention to get you involved.”
rita levin email@example.com
The first intention is to seek a resolution, to negotiate a settlement. There was a documentation fee involved in the commitment letter, so deducting this and then
splitting the remainder in half seemed a good compromise. Paul Behechti agreed
to this. Rita Levin did not.
There was no “time limit” in the agreement, and the applicant after two months,
did seek out another company and obtained a lease at the rate originally quoted
by Bridge Capital Leasing.
The first role as an ombudsman is to seek a resolution. The applicant went to the
Better Business Bureau and the Department of Corporations, as Bridge Capital
Leasing does not have a Finance Lender’s License. However, they are licensed
as a Real Estate Brokerage firm, which allows them to act as agents for loans
and finance leases.
This complaint has been in “limbo” for several months, and it appeared both sides
had a position. It was not until the second complaint was received in February that
the first had more credence:
“I would like to tell you the story of how Bridge Capital Leasing located at: 28351 Commercecentere Drive in Lake Forest, California treated our company and will not return the money paid by us to them in the amount of over $3000.
“Search Google.com for Bridge Capital Leasing and you will see the link to this site listed there as well on the right under Sponsored links.
“They are being reported to the Better Business Bureau, and the United Association of Equipment Leasing. We have also submitted this story to KCBS Television in Los Angeles and they are deciding to possibly do a story about this.
“The facts (in brief)...
“Several months ago a lease agent / sales person working for Bridge Capital by the name of Linda Caplette who initiated contact for our lease which we were told that we were "Pre-approved" for. Shortly thereafter, she had left the company and our file was transferred to another salesman named Alex Butler who we negotiated with for many weeks as we were continued to be told that we were approved for the lease so we proceeded. Here is a screen shot of the email received with the docs attached and a refund promise for unused funds.
“We were urged to complete the lease agreement and invoices for equipment to be purchased so they could get a check cut to the vendors within a week. We let them know that we were not going to need the initial 75k that they "pre approved" us for and gave them a new amount for which they reduced the down payment amount and promised a refund (Which I have confirmed by email from Alex) if we did not use the full amount that we were approved for. We sent the agreement, a check, and the invoices as instructed. Bridge Capital quickly cashed the check we sent.
“After several weeks, I contacted Alex and was told that he had never received the invoices that I faxed to them, so I re faxed them. He confirmed by phone that he had received them and that payments would start being made quickly to the vendors for the furniture and equipment. I had not heard back and the vendors were not paid, so I called Alex back after a couple of weeks and was told that Alex no longer worked there and that my file would be handled by "Paul" who was a manager. I spoke to "Nicole" after no return calls after many attempts to Paul and she said that she would help. She obtained my file and told me that the vendors had not been paid yet and that they only needed another business reference to get it done. I gave her the information and she told me that it would be expedited. After several more days, I called again and Nicole had told me that Paul had all of the info and would get back to me. This never happened. I called more than 15 additional times on various days and left messages for Paul.
“After an extreme amount of frustration and duress, I was finally able to speak to "Val Stiefel" who is an attorney there an he told me the file had gone to him. I quickly received correspondence letting me know they want to do the lease but cannot because of issues they found on the credit reports. How could this be if I was already approved as told many times? I told Val Stiefel was no longer was interested and asked if they would please return the money I had paid to them because as of this late date, I no longer needed the lease since we had already purchased what we needed because of their lack of response for several months. He told me he would speak to Paul and get back to me. After leaving many messages for the next week or so, I finally spoke to Val & Paul before Christmas, and they told me they wanted to keep the money towards a future lease. I told them that because of the extremely poor way my account and myself as a customer was handled and because I had been lied to many times by them, I would never do business with them and demanded a full refund. They asked me to wait two weeks while they get the refund together because of the holidays. I agreed and they promised to call me as of the second week in January.
“Around January 21st I never received a call and finally contacted Val Stiefel after 2 attempts and was told they had not yet decided what to do (which is contrary to what I was told before Christmas). Val promised to speak with Paul and get back to me. I demanded same day response and he did call me back stating that they have a greed to pay me back 50% the money owed because of "expenses". I demanded a full refund and promised to post my story on this web site if they did not comply.
“Bridge Capital Leasing promised us a lease, had us send a check, then cashed the check and did not honor the lease. I have personally placed more than 30 phone calls to them to get this resolved and it took months before I could even get as callback. Now they offered to return 1/2 of the money due to "expenses". They will not honor a full refund which we paid for the lease down payment.
“Their web site is located at: http://www.bridgecapitalleasing.com In my opinion, they have stolen our money and have scammed us while personally causing me countless hours and an extreme amount of stress. Now they are threatening to sue me if this site is not take down due to Libel. Can you believe it?
“I know it is hard to believe that companies in this day and age still treat customers like this. I can only hope that nobody else has had to endure the horrific treatment that I have received by Bridge Capital Leasing.
“Hopefully, they realize that they have wronged our company and will return our money eventually.
“Thank you, Mitch Farber
Here is a copy of the lease signed:
For several months, Paul Behecti told the lessee, he would be returning
the money, according to both Mitch Faber, Paul Behcti, and Val C. Steifel,
the alleged “house” attorney.
There are several e-mails to this, but when Mr. Farber did not receive the
money, he created a web site and brought his case to the world wide web.
Basically Bridge Capital said that was “slander” and “the deal is off.”
This was confirmed in an e-mail to Leasing News by Paul Behechti.
Leasing News kept giving deadlines to make a statement and/or resolve
the complaint. It appeared to be a valid complaint to us.
Several calls were placed to both Val C. Stiefel and Paul Behechti this week.
The last communication was a fax from Mr. Val C. Stiefel to Mitch Faber,
sent to Leasing News by Mr. Stiefel.
“In it he basically says a credit matter has “impacted the loan terms, but there
remains a viable leasing package for you to enjoy. “ This statement indicates
the original lease presented was not approved, the rate and terms were changed.
In addition, he asks for further credit information. The fax was dated December 3,2003.
The last e-mail from Paul Behecti was last Friday:
“Mr. Steifel is an attorney and our lead counsel and he is currently discussing the issue of lender's license with outside counsel. I don't have a problem settling with both complaints if in fact we are in non compliance with the department of Corporation. Outside Counsel will have his recommendation to us this Monday and We have a board
meeting on Tuesday to discuss these two specific cases.”
E-Mails and telephone calls to both parties was not returned on Wednesday.
There is a provision in the Real Estate Law that calls for a fine
and censure for mishandling escrow accounts:
In California, escrow processing can be performed under various forms of
licensure. Most commonly, real estate related escrows are performed by
independent escrow companies licensed by the California Department of
Corporations and title insurance companies licensed by the California
Department of Insurance. Real estate brokers licensed by the California
Department of Real Estate can also perform escrows, but only in transactions
where the broker is acting as an agent. To determine if a specific escrow
company, title company or real estate broker with an escrow division has
been the subject of administrative action, please check the following sites:
a.. California Department of Corporations - Escrow Agents/Employee
b.. California Department of Insurance - Consumer Alert/Enforcement
c.. California Department of Real Estate - Public Licensing Information
I think you should return both monies to both complainants.
The Complaint Bulletin Board is for legitimate complaints. Our role is
to verify the complaint and materials, not to inform the Real Estate Board
or give legal advise, such as simply in the State of California you can
got to Small Claims Court for transactions under $5,000.
There was no agreement presented that allowed Bridge Capital to keep
any money. Particularly in view of the rulings recently un-executed
leases (http://www.leasingnews.org/#leases), the contract appears
to be “invalid.” The fact is the complaint appears to be valid, therefore
it is now listed
on the Leasing News Bulletin Board.
### Press Release #################################
MicroFinancial 4th Q/2003 Year End $15.7 Million Loss
WOBURN, Mass--MicroFinancial Incorporated (NYSE-MFI) announced today its financial results for the fourth quarter and the year ended December 31, 2003. The reduction in revenues is directly related to the Company's inability to fund new originations beyond October 2002 as a result of its Lenders not renewing MicroFinancial's revolving credit facility on September 30, 2002.
Revenues for the year ended December 31, 2003 were $91.6 million, compared to $126.8 million during the same period in fiscal 2002. The net loss for the year ending December 31, 2003 improved to $15.7 million, versus a net loss of $22.1 million for the same period last year. Loss per share for the year improved 30% to ($1.20) on 13,043,744 shares, versus ($1.72) on 12,821,946 shares for the same period last year.
Total operating expenses for the year decreased 28.1% to $117.7 million compared to $163.7 million in 2002. Interest expense declined 30.3% to $7.5 million, as a result of lower average debt balances. Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased $11.7 million to $33.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2003, versus $45.5 million for the same period last year. The decrease was driven in part by a reduction in personnel related expenses of approximately $5.8 million, as management reduced headcount from 203 to 136, $2.0 million in collection expenses, $1.8 million in cost of goods sold, and $0.7 million in rent.
Depreciation and Amortization expense decreased 9.8% to $16.6 million, compared to $18.4 million in 2002. The provision for credit losses decreased $29.1 million to $59.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2003 from $88.9 million for the same period last year. Gross charge-offs increased 21.9% to $93.2 million while recoveries decreased 39.5% to $7.1 million. Net cash provided by operating activities decreased 18.7% to $98.1 million, compared to $120.6 million last year.
Richard Latour, President and Chief Executive Officer said, "I am pleased that the Company repaid debt balances on its senior credit facility and securitizations of $110.1 million in 2003. The Company has outperformed the financial expectations of our bank agreement by accelerating its required repayments."
Fourth quarter revenue for the period ended December 31, 2003 decreased 28.7%, or $8.0 million to $20.0 million compared to $28.0 million last year. The net loss per diluted share for the quarter was down slightly at ($0.61), or a net loss of $8.0 million, compared to $7.7 million in the prior year's fourth quarter. The year-over-year decline in net income for the quarter was primarily the result of a reduction of the following: 50.5% in lease and loan revenues to $5.5 million, 32.6% in service fee and other revenues to $2.7 million, and 19.2% in income on service contracts to $1.9 million. The reduction in revenue was primarily related to the suspension in October 2002 of new origination volume.
Total operating expenses for the quarter declined 18.5% to $33.3 million compared to the same period in 2002. Interest expense was $1.2 million as a result of lower debt balances. Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased $3.1 million to $8.2 million versus $11.2 million for the same period last year, as the Company continued to align its infrastructure with current business conditions.
The provision for credit losses decreased to $19.9 million from $22.5 million for the same period in 2002, while net charge offs increased to $33.3 million versus $28.9 million. Sequentially, past due balances greater than 31 days delinquent on December 31, 2003 decreased to 19.9%. Net cash provided by operating activities for the quarter decreased 31.6% to $19.9 million compared to $29.1 million during the same period in 2002. In addition, the Company repaid debt of $26.7 million on its senior credit facility and securitizations during the quarter.
The Company remains in full compliance with the terms and conditions of its securitizations and senior credit facility. The Company has made or exceeded all scheduled payments on these debt instruments in a timely manner. During the quarter, MicroFinancial was able to reduce its bank debt by $18.2 million to $55.3 million.
MicroFinancial Incorporated continues to operate without the use of gain on sale accounting treatment and a balance sheet with total liabilities less subordinated debt to total equity plus subordinated debt of 1.1 to 1.
MicroFinancial Inc. (NYSE:MFI), headquartered in Woburn, MA, is a financial intermediary specializing in leasing and financing for products in the $500 to $10,000 range. The company has been in operation since 1986.
Statements in this release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In addition, words such as "believes," "anticipates," "expects," "views, " and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The Company cautions that a number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of the Company. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which reflect the management's view only as of the date hereof. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly revise these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. The Company cannot assure that it will be able to anticipate or respond timely to changes which could adversely affect its operating results in one or more fiscal quarters. Results of operations in any past period should not be considered indicative of results to be expected in future periods. Fluctuations in operating results may result in fluctuations in the price of the Company's common stock. For a more complete description of the prominent risks and uncertainties inherent in the Company's business, see the risk factors described in documents the Company files from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
CONTACT:MicroFinancial Incorporated Richard F. Latour President and CEO Tel: 781-994-4800
### Press Release ##################################
Business Bank of Nevada Launches New 100 Percent Equipment Financing Program With No Loan Fee Offer; Bank Hopes to Finance $10 Million in New Equipment Loans During Three-Month Promotional Period
LAS VEGAS, / -- Business Bank of Nevada (OTC Bulletin Board: BBNV - News) today announced that it has launched a new equipment loan program that offers up to 100 percent financing on both fixed and variable rate equipment loans. As part of this new equipment loan program, the Bank also announced today that it is waiving the loan fee on all approved deals through May 31, 2004, which typically runs about one percent of the total loan amount.
The Bank's new equipment financing program may also provide borrowers with tax advantages. Equipment purchased through this program may qualify for up to 100 percent write off for amounts under $100,000. Furthermore, if the purchased asset is new, current laws allow taxpayers to write off 50 percent of their equipment purchases in excess of $100,000.
"If businesses need new equipment and want to take advantage of the 50 percent bonus, they'll have to purchase the equipment before the end of the year," said Mark Phillips, executive vice president and chief credit officer of Business Bank. "Current tax laws mandate that the bonus element of equipment purchases goes away at the end of the year unless Congress passes legislation that makes it a permanent part of the federal tax code."
Phillips added that the Bank is hoping to generate up to $10 million in new business equipment loans during the three-month promotional period. Even though Business Bank can finance both very large as well as smaller equipment loans, the Bank expects the typical deal to be about $100,000. Loans that are under $150,000 will be run through the Bank's Accelerated Loan program that requires limited financials and documentation, with loan decisions in 48 hours and funding in two business days or less on all approved requests.
One of the other benefits of Business Bank's new equipment financing program is that it's a loan and not a leasing product, which a lot of banks and leasing companies do not typically offer with 100 percent financing. The Bank is hoping that this feature will give it a competitive edge since the tax benefits are pretty much the same for both equipment loans and leases, but with the ownership advantages of a loan versus certain types of leases.
"If you're a business that is growing and has been operating for more than two years, with the current interest rate environment and limited tax benefits, there's no better time to purchase new equipment," Phillips said. "Whether it's delivery vehicles, computer equipment or any other type of equipment needed by businesses, we can help with the purchase of that equipment."
The Bank's sales efforts of this new program will focus primarily on professionals, manufacturing, retailers, distributors and more. The Bank will be blanketing the marketplace in both northern and southern Nevada with print and radio advertising, direct mail, in-branch collateral material and statement inserts (http://www.bbnv.com/equipfin.htm). Bank employees are also receiving added incentives for helping promote and sell this product.
About Business Bank
Business Bank, with $277.7 million in total assets as of December 31, 2003, is in its ninth year of operation and is one of the fastest-growing independent banks in Nevada. The Bank has five branch offices in the state, with three in the Las Vegas area, one in Carson City and one in Minden. The Bank also has two Loan Production Offices (LPOs), with one at Stateline in South Lake Tahoe and one in Reno. Business Bank is FDIC Insured and is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Its stock is listed on the Over The Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB) at ticker symbol BBNV. Additional information about Business Bank is available on the Bank's Web site at www.bbnv.com.
For further information, please contact Paul C. Stowell of Business Bank of Nevada, +1-702-952- 4415, firstname.lastname@example.org.
### Press Release ##############################
Charles Van Sickle Joins Paragon Board
Finance Industry Executive to add Broad Range of Experience to the Board
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., March -- Paragon
Financial Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: PGNF) announced today that Charles
Van Sickle has joined the Company as its newest member of the Board of
Mr. Van Sickle is a founder and director of KVI Capital, an equipment
leasing and finance company based in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to KVI, Mr.
Van Sickle was President and CEO of Healthcare Financial Services Corporation,
a New York City-based healthcare finance company. Mr. Van Sickle spent 14
years at AT&T Capital Corporation headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey,
where he was a member of a management team that led the company from a wholly
owned subsidiary of AT&T to a diversified full-service equipment leasing and
finance company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Van Sickle had
significant involvement in that company's initial public offering, as well as
the sale of the company to Nomura Securities through a management leveraged
buyout and subsequent to that another sale of the company to Newcourt Credit
of Canada. Mr. Van Sickle played a key role in 23 acquisitions while at AT&T
While at AT&T Capital Mr. Van Sickle developed an international strategy
leading to the establishment of leasing and equipment finance companies in 23
countries throughout the world. He also directed the diversification of the
company into new business areas including automotive services, technology
finance, project and structured finance, and small business lending. Mr. Van
Sickle is a member of the Equipment Leasing Association, International Leasing
Association, and the Organization of International Financial Executives.
"We are very pleased to have Charles join our Board of Directors," said
George Deehan, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Paragon
Financial Corporation. "The broad range of experience that Charles brings in
the financial services sector, as well as his experience in the capital
markets and with mergers and acquisitions will be a tremendous resource for
the Company." Mr. Deehan added.
"I am excited to join Paragon's board during this stage of the Company's
growth," said Mr. Van Sickle. "It is rare to find such a talented management
group in this size company and I look forward to working closely with them to
execute the Company's growth strategy," he added.
About Paragon Financial Corporation
Paragon Financial Corporation is a specialty mortgage banker focused
primarily in the growing nonconforming, or sub-prime, segment of the one-to-
four family residential mortgage market. Paragon also brokers loans in the
conforming segment of the one-to-four family residential mortgage market.
Paragon's business is currently conducted in 24 states and the District of
Columbia. The Company plans to augment its growth by acquiring other companies
in the same or related industries.
### Press Release
Trade deficit widens to record amount in January, imports near all-time high
Internet Providers File Suits to Stop Spammers
Covad Offering Bare-Bones High-Speed Web
JetBlue announces new transcontinental service
'American Idol' Picks 12 Finalists
“Gimme that Wine”
Helen Turley Wins Lawsuit Against Bryant Family Vineyard
U.S. Wine Industry Urged to Market to Minority Groups
Gallo to launch French wine in America: Red Bicyclett
Tatyana Zicko Appointed Manager of Marketing, Communication and Advertising at Cline Cellars
" New York Times Guide to New York City Restaurants 2004"
This Day in American History
March 11-17: the turkey vultures return to the “Living Sign”” the entire Canisteo Valley, Canisteo, NY. Traditionally turkey vultures return on St. Pat's Day to their roosting sites in and around the world-famous living sign. For more information, call after 4pm EST to Rick Roche, 607-698-2134. Any of our readers who travel here this week, send us a picture and we will share with all our readers.
=========Early American History=========
=========Civil War—including pre and post=========
=========World War I --pre and post=========
=========Post World War II=========
=========Early American History=========
1665 -New York's English Deputies approved a new legal code, which guaranteed all Protestants the right to practice their religious observances unhindered. It seems
those leaving the old world brought their religious prejudices with them, but with
the intermingling of cultures, things began to change here. This action was
the result of English proprietor of New York, James Duke of York who on February 28th approved official recognition of all Protestant sects. Until this date, the official and only legal church was the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church. This unusual toleration of the Dutch Church by the English Church, by the way, contrasted sharply with the restrictive policies of the Dutch West India Company before its lost of the colony to the British in 1664. Despite this restriction, a great many unauthorized religious groups established footholds in the Dutch colony. This religious diversity inherited by the English proprietor in 1664 made the policy of toleration a practical necessity.
1731-Robert Treat Paine birthday, Jurist and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Born at Boston, MA; died there May 11, 1814
1789- Benjamin Banneker with Pierre L'Enfant began to lay out Washington in the District of Columbia, Benjamin Banneker has been called the first African American intellectual. Self-taught, after studying the inner workings of a friend's watch, he made one of wood that accurately kept time for more than 40 years. Banneker taught himself astronomy well enough to correctly predict a solar eclipse in 1789. At the request of President George Washington, Banneker was placed on the planning committee to develop the nation’s capital. It was lucky for DC that he had been asked to be a part of that process. When Pierre LÌEnfant, the architect who had been asked to lead the design process, was fired for his bad temper he left the city taking all of the plans with him. In two days Benjamin Banneker recreated the complete layout of the streets, parks and major buildings all from memory. His effort saved the U.S. government innumerable time and effort. ( In trying to prove the
date of this event, it appears part of this may be “legend” or “hoax” mixed in with the truth.
L’Enfant is recognized as the designed and he was “fired.”
“As chief designer of the new national capital, L'Enfant quickly antagonized the three commissioners in charge of making sure the place got built. When they complained, he alienated his principal supporters, including George Washington, who reluctantly fired him.”” Although L'Enfant's plan was followed he was dismissed in 1792 after being responsible for removing without permission, the house of Daniel Carroll, an important resident in the city.”
“Banneker did not work with L'Enfant. Banneker returned home in April 1791. L'Enfant was appointed in March 1791 to a very different job and worked at that job until March 1792. They would never have met and Bannaker would never have seen L'Enfant's plans which were, according to him, still incomplete in 1792. L'Enfant still has the plans and lived just outside Washington until he died in 1825. He is (now) buried at Arlington Cemetery but refused an appointment as professor at West Point.”
1824-the US War Department created the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
1845- Wittenberg College was chartered in Springfield, Ohio, under Lutheran auspices.
=========Civil War—including pre and post=========
1861-The Confederate constitution was adopted unanimously by the Confederate congress in session at Montgomery, Ala. It declared the sovereignty of states and forbade passage of any law prohibiting slavery. Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas gathered and spelled out that their country wanted to preserve
slavery, which was the reason for the formation of state. The constitution resembled the Constitution of the United States, even repeating much of its language, but was actually more comparable to the Articles of Confederation--the initial post- Revolutionary War U.S. constitution--in its delegation of extensive powers to the states. The constitution also contained substantial differences from the U.S. Constitution in its protection of slavery, which was "recognized and protected" in slave states and territories. However, in congruence with U.S. policy since the beginning of the 19th century, the foreign slave trade was prohibited. The constitution provided for six-year terms for the president and vice president, and the president was ineligible for successive terms. Although a presidential item veto was granted, the power of the central Confederate government was sharply limited by its dependence on state consent for the use of any funds and resources. Although Britain and France both briefly considered entering the Civil War on the side of the South, the Confederate States of America, which survived until April 1865, never won foreign recognition as an independent government
The war was about slavery:
“Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within this Confederacy, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all slaves.”
“No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in Negro slaves shall be passed.”
“Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.”
“The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of Negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”
1865- General William T. Sherman captured the town of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and promptly destroyed the Fayetteville arsenal
1888- Great Blizzard of 1888 rages
1898-Dixieland trombone player Miff Mole born Roosevelt NY
1903-bandleader Lawrence Welk born at Strasburg, ND. He learned to play the accordion and at 17 formed his first band. After playing all over the Midwest, he moved to Los Angeles where in 1955 his show began its nationwide television broadcast of 'Champagne Music." The longest-running program in TV history, "The Lawrence Welk Show" played each Saturday on ABC from 1955 until 1971 when it was dropped because sponsors thought its audience was too old. One of my closest high school friends, Warren Luening, came from New Orleans to play on this show as a teenager. Today
he is a sought after top studio musicians, his trumpet solo's noted on records for Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, among many others, plus major motion picture credits. Welk kept the show on a network of more than 250 independent stations for 11 more years after the network, and still can be seen in reruns. Welk's entertainment empire included the purchase of royalty rights to songs, including the entire collection of songs by Jerome Kern. He also was a major real estate investor. His son Larry manages the estate today.
1903- Dorothy Schiff Thackrey birthday, although born to wealth, she bolted the Republican party to engage in social welfare work. In 1939 she bought the New York Post. She wrestled it though the NYC newspaper wars and it lasted as the only daily afternoon paper. http://www.britannica.com/women/articles/Schiff_Dorothy.html
1907- a number of rich and famous women of the day including Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Maude Adams, Ethel Barrymore, Mrs. Walter Damrosch, and Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney opened their own women's club The Colony with a clubhouse at 112 Madison Ave., New York City, the first time women had their own public gathering place.
=========World War I --pre and post=========
1911 -the US snow depth record of 451 inches was measured at Tamarack, California.
1913- composer John Weinzweig, a pioneer of 20th- century composing methods in Canada, was born in Toronto. Weinzweig was the first Canadian to explore the 12-tone technique in his 1939 work "Suite for Piano Number One." Weinzweig's works are considered to be one of the cornerstones of the Canadian repertoire. His ballet suite, "Red Ear of Corn," composed in 1949, is his best known composition.
1918-The first cases of the "Spanish" influenza were reported in the US when 107 soldiers became sick at Fort Riley,KS. By the end of 1920 nearly 25 percent of the US population had had it. As many as 500,000 civilians died from the virus, exceeding the number of US troops killed abroad in WWI. Worldwide, more than 1 percent of the global population, or 22 million people, had died by 1920. Due to the panic, cancellation of public events was common and many public service workers wore masks on the job. Emergency tent hospitals were set up in some locations due to overcrowding.
1919- birthday of band leader/composer Mercer Ellington, Duke Ellington’s only son, Washington, DC.
1922-Drummer Jackie Mills born Brooklyn NY
1922- Madeline Houston McWhinnery birthday, founder of the First Women's Bank in New York City, the first full-service U.S. commercial bank to be predominantly owned and operated by women. In 1989, the name was changed to First New York Bank For Business and in 1994, it was liquidated.
1926- Sax player Billy Mitchell born Kansas City MO
1927-First Armored Car Robbery: the Flatheads Gang staged the first armored truck holdup in U.S. history on the Bethel Road, seven miles out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the way to Coverdale. The armored truck, carrying $104,250 of payroll money for the Pittsburgh Terminal Coal Company, drove over a mine planted under the roadbed by the road bandits. The car blew up and five guards were badly injured.
1932-Jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins born 1932 Chicago IL
1935- Bank of Canada opens.
1937-Hudson Delange Bank cuts “Sophisticated Swing.”
(see Will Hudson--- http://nfo.net/.CAL/th12.html
1941- the Lend-Lease program began which enabled Great Britain to borrow money from the US to buy food and arms during World War II, went into effect.
1942 - Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra recorded "Sleepy Lagoon", the last song Monroe recorded for Bluebird Records. Vaughn sang while Ray Conniff played trombone. Both later went to different record companies: Monroe with RCA and Conniff with Columbia. The baritone of Monroe was heard on radio, and he was in several movies in the 1950s. He died in May of 1973. "Racing With the Moon" and "Ghost Riders in the Sky" were two of his greatest contributions to music.
1942- Canadian folk singer and songwriter David Wiffen born.
1945- rock guitarist Harvey “Snake” Mandel was born in Detroit. He learned blues guitar in Chicago, and beginning in 1968 played on albums by such artists as Canned Heat and John Mayall. Mandel developed into one of the most sought-after session men, as well as releasing several albums on his own.
=========Post World War II=========
1947- Mark Stein, organist with Vanilla Fudge, one of the first heavy-rock bands, was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. Vanilla Fudge's extended and slow-motion version of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was a top-ten hit in 1968. Their debut album contained similarly extended versions of such songs as "Eleanor Rigby," "Ticket to Ride" and "Bang Bang." The group called their music "psychedelic-symphonic rock," but audiences soon tired of it. Vanilla Fudge broke up in 1970. Mark Stein later formed a group called Boomerang. There was a Vanilla Fudge reunion in 1986.
1948-a record cold followed in the wake of a Kansas blizzard. Lows of 25 degrees below zero at Oberlin, Healy, and Quinter, Kansas established a state record for the month of march. Lows of 15 degrees below zero at Dodge City, 11 degrees below zero at Concordia, and 3 degrees below zero at Wichita were records for March at these locations. The low of 3 degrees below zero at Kansas City, Missouri was their latest subzero reading of record.
Music, Music, Music - Teresa Brewer
I Said My Pajamas - Tony Martin & Fran Warren
Dear Hearts and Gentle People - Bing Crosby
Chatanoogie Shoe Shine Boy - Red Foley
1950- singer Bob McFerrin born, New York, New York
1952-Guitarist Johnny Smith along with Stan Getz cut Moonlight in Vermont, NYC.
Don’t/I Beg of You - Elvis Presley
Sweet Little Sixteen - Chuck Berry
Lollipop - The Chordettes
Ballad of a Teenage Queen - Johnny Cash
1959- the first play by an African-American woman to appear on Broadway was “Raisin in the Sun,” by Lorraine Hansberry, which opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City. It was a story about an African-American family living in the Southside area of Chicago and starred Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Claudia McNeil.
1960-Pioneer 5 was launched from Cape Canaveral, the first spacecraft placed in solar orbit to investigate interplanetary space between the orbits of Earth and Venus. It transmitted data for 138.9 hours.
1962 -a record heavy snowfall occurred in Iowa, leaving up to 48 inches (at Inwood) on the ground. It was described as "one of the most paralyzing snowstorms in decades".
1963- the Rolling Stones entered the IBC Studios in London for their first recording session. They recorded cover versions of songs by their r'n'b heroes - Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed. The recordings were never released.
The Ballad of the Green Berets - SSgt Barry Sadler
Listen People - Herman’s Hermits
California Dreamin’ - The Mamas & The Papas
Waitin’ in Your Welfare Line - Buck Owens
1968 - Otis Redding was posthumously awarded a gold record for the single, "(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay". On December 10, 1967, Redding was killed in a plane crash in Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The song, recorded just three days before his untimely death, was one of 11 charted hits Redding recorded between 1965 and 1969.
1970-The 1969 Grammy Award winners are announced. The Fifth Dimension's "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" is Record of the Year. Blood, Sweat and Tears, by the band of the same name is "Album of the Year" and Joe South's "Games People Play" is Song of the Year. Also, Crosby, Stills and Nash won the Best New Artist
1971 - Television networks ABC, NBC and CBS were told by the Federal Communications Commission that a limited three-hour nightly program service -- or ‘prime time’ -- would begin in September. The network programs were to be slotted between 8 and 11 p.m. on the East and West coasts -- an hour earlier in the Central and Mountain time zones.
Seasons in the Sun - Terry Jacks
Boogie Down - Eddie Kendricks
Jungle Boogie - Kool & The Gang
There Won’t Be Anymore - Charlie Rich
Centerfold - The J. Geils Band
Open Arms - Journey
I Love Rock ’N Roll - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had - Ed Bruce
1985 - DJs around the U.S. began questioning listeners to see which ones could name the 46 pop music stars who appeared on the hit, "We Are the World". The song, airing first on this day as a single, contains a “Who’s Who” of contemporary pop music.
1986-After years of debate, NFL owners adopted a rule change allowing the limited use of televised replays to assist the officials on the field. This system was eliminated after the 1991 season and has been debated periodically ever since.
1988 - A blizzard raged across the north central U.S. Chadron NE was buried under 33 inches of snow, up to 25 inches of snow was reported in eastern Wyoming, and totals in the Black Hills of South Dakota ranged up to 69 inches at Lead. Winds gusted to 63 mph at Mullen NE. Snow drifts thirty feet high were reported around Lusk WY.
1989 - Twenty-one cities in the central and southwestern U.S. reported new record high temperatures for the date. The afternoon high of 95 degrees at Lubbock TX equaled their record for March.
1990 - Forty-four cities in the central and eastern U.S. reported record high temperatures for the date. Record highs included 71 degrees at Dickinson ND and Williston ND, and 84 degrees at Lynchburg VA, Charleston WV and Huntington WV. Augusta GA and Columbia SC tied for honors as the hot spot in the nation with record highs of 88 degrees. A vigorous cold front produced up to three feet of snow in the mountains of Utah.
Escapade - Janet Jackson
Dangerous - Roxette
Roam - The B-52’s
Chains - Patty Loveless
1994- Mary Wilson was the only original member on hand as the Supremes received their star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Diana Ross, who split with the Supremes in 1970, was in Europe. The third original Supreme, Florence Ballard, died in 1976.
1996- Celine Dion's "Falling Into You" was released. By the end of the year, the album had sold more than 18-million copies worldwide.
1997- Paul McCartney was knighted by the Queen in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Hundreds of fans, some wearing T-shirts that read "Arise Sir Paul," cheered his arrival and stayed outside the palace until he emerged.
1997- the Columbus Quest defeated the Richmond Rage, 77-64, to win the fifth and deciding game in the American Basketball League’s first championship series. Columbus had trailed two games to one. The Quest were lead by Valerie Still, who scored 14 points and was named Most Valuable Player of the finals.
1998 - French authorities dug up the remains of legendary French singer and actor Yves Montand and whisked them to a laboratory for DNA tests to settle a paternity suit. . ( You may say, “What has this to do with American History and my closest answer is that he was an old flame of Marilyn Monroe.)
The tests would determine if Montand was the father of Aurore Drossard, age 22, who claimed she was his daughter and wanted part of his estate. Montand died in 1991 at age 70, just three days before he was to testify in the lawsuit. While alive, he refused to submit to the DNA testing, but was forced to do it in death. Yves Montand was a popular French nightclub singer and movie actor, most famous for his dramatic role in the 1953 thriller The Wages of Fear. His long marriage to actress Simone Signoret weathered his reputation as a ladies' man, including his famous dalliance with Marilyn Monroe, his co- star in Let's Make Love (1960). In the 1980s Montand had a second wind, with character roles in several films including Jean de Florette (1986). By the way, the DNA tests proved she was not his daughter
2001- Preston Wilson signs a $32 million, five-year contract with Florida. The 26-year old Marlin center fielder, the franchise's first 30-30 player, was obtained from the Mets in the Mike Piazza deal.