Loudoun And Fairfax Are Ranked The ‘Happiest’ Counties In America

Two months after the United States placed number 13 on a report marking the happiest countries across the globe, SmartAsset is zoning in on the happiness of American counties. And two places in Northern Virginia are on top of the companys annual list.

Loudoun returns to its number one spot as the happiest county in America. For the second year in a row, Loudoun is favored for its low unemployment and poverty rates (both under 4 percent) and an income ratio of 2.5, meaning that residents incomes are more than twice the cost of living.

Closer to DC, Fairfax County ranked second on the list (it placed third last year). SmartAsset points out that the runner-up is just one of three counties in the ranking where residents are expected to live over 83 years. And with a population larger than eight states and the District, residents bring in median incomes of $100,584.

The list looked at counties with populations of at least 50,000. Each locale was then ranked based on the eight categories: income ratio, marriage rate, life expectancy rate, physical activity rate, poverty rate, unemployment rate, divorce rate, and personal bankruptcy rate.

The Virginian counties preceded Carver County, Minnesota, Chester County, Pennsylvania, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and Morris County, New Jersey. Another District neighbor, Howard County, Maryland, came in at number seven. And Douglas County, Colorado, Somerset County, New Jersey, and Ozaukee County, Wisconsin rounded out the top 10.

Ken Plum: Being among the happiest

Technologists have applied their big data and computer-crunching to determine where in the world and where in the United States are the happiest places to live. The Happiest Places in America-2016 Edition was released last month by Smart Asset, a firm that uses technology to help consumers understand finances. Since my constituents reside in what this study rated the second happiest place to live in America and next door to the happiest place, I thought it would be interesting to examine how Loudoun County as number 1 and Fairfax County as number 2 got those distinctions.

While I am certainly a happy person surrounded by many happy people, I believe the methodologies employed while useful in understanding the communities in which we live can also create a false sense of community satisfaction.

Loudoun and Fairfax Counties are the two happiest counties in the US when you limit your study to counties over 50,000 in population. The only other counties in the top ten in happiness located near us are Howard County in Maryland at number 7, Chester County in Pennsylvania at number 4, and three counties in New Jersey; the rest are in the Midwest. No county west of Douglas, Colorado (number 8) made the list.

Eight factors determined happiness in the study. On the positive side, marriage rate, the ratio of median income to cost of living, life expectancy, and physical activity rate (the percentage of the population getting adequate physical activity each week) were considered. Negative factors were poverty rate, unemployment rate, divorce rate and personal bankruptcy rate. The factors considered together created a score for each county. Loudoun County for example has a median income that is more than twice the cost of living. Its unemployment rate and poverty rate are both under 4 percent. Fairfax County bolsters its score with a life expectancy rate over 83 years and a median income that is almost twice the national median income. At the time of the study, both Loudoun and Fairfax Counties had an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent.

Looking at an extended list of the top 25 happiest counties in America adds York, Virginia at number 15, Montgomery County, Maryland at number 19, as well as counties in Texas and California. Nearly a thousand counties were considered in the study.

For persons working in social services in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, the list may cause some consternation. A 4 percent poverty rate is low but when applied to a population of 1.2 million in Fairfax County represents a very large number of people. The same is true of low unemployment rates when applied to a high number of persons living in an area with a very high cost of living. Even in the happiest of places, some among us struggle. We clearly have strengths in Northern Virginia that we can build on to extend health, wealth and prosperity to those who may not share those characteristics now.

Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Settlement brewing in Pfister’s wrongful-death claim

The wife of William Styler, convicted of killing Aspen native Nancy Pfister, has yet to respond to a wrongful-death claim against her because a settlement is pending.

That’s according to court documents filed last week in plaintiff Juliana Pfister’s claim against Nancy Masson, who previously went by Nancy Styler, in her personal bankruptcy case. Juliana Pfister, the daughter of Nancy Pfister, filed the adversary action Feb. 26 in the US Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern Division of Massachusetts, the venue for the case.

“The parties have reached an agreement in principle that is expected to lead in a few weeks to the parties being able to dismiss this adversary proceeding,” said a brief filed Monday by attorneys for both Pfister and Masson.

Neither returned phone messages this week. Pfister’s Aspen attorney, David Bovino, declined comment, as well.

This week’s brief was the fifth motion filed by Pfister and Masson seeking to extend filing deadlines in the case.

Masson declared bankruptcy in July. On Aug. 6, William Styler, whom she divorced earlier in 2015, hanged himself in a Canon City prison. Styler, 67, was serving a 20-year sentence for the second-degree murder of Nancy Pfister, who was slain at her Buttermilk Mountain home in February 2014.

Styler’s death triggered a $1 million life-insurance payment to Masson. The bankruptcy court approved $150,000 of those funds to be managed by the case’s trustee. But in March, after Juliana Pfister filed the adversary action to the bankruptcy case, Judge Joan N. Feeney froze the remaining $850,000 that Masson collected pending the outcome of the wrongful-death claim.

Bovino called the judge’s order a “huge win” at the time.

Masson, once charged in Nancy Pfister’s murder before her then-husband confessed to authorities in June 2014 that he acted alone, introduced a sworn affidavit in March saying she did not “participate in any way in the murder of Nancy Pfister.”

Juliana Pfister’s wrongful-death action contends Masson did, arguing that her then-husband wasn’t physically equipped to pull off the murder by himself. Nancy Pfister was found beaten to death from hammer strikes to her head. Her body, which was placed in a closet, was wrapped from the neck down in a heavy-duty trash bag. Her neck was wrapped with an electrical extension cord, her head shrouded in kitchen trash bags, the suit says. She was 57.

Juliana Pfister originally filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in January against Masson in Pitkin County District Court. That case, however, was put on hold after she filed an identical claim in Masson’s Chapter 7 case.


Puerto Rico’s debt, humanitarian crises focus of briefing, prayer service

Eric LeCompte, director of Jubilee USA, spoke briefly about the urgency of Puerto Ricos situation, and introduced Father Enrique Camacho, director of Caritas Puerto Rico.

Father Camacho described his work with the poor, providing food, aid, shelter, emergency relief and help for the sick and elderly left behind by young people fleeing high income taxes.

Five times more people need help now than they did in 2011, he said, citing a 12 percent unemployment rate and a 56 percent poverty rate for children. Even professionals are in personal bankruptcy are coming to my office asking for help.

Father Camacho discussed families divided by the migration of young people to the mainland United States.

We have a lot of elderly people living alone because their sons live in the US, he said. He described a common situation for many on the island: a grandmother who fell and waited in the hospital from 2 pm to 6 am before getting help from the only doctor.

We are sad, Father Camacho concluded, because we dont see a solution.

In 2014, Puerto Rico tried to enact legislation that would allow them to restructure their $72 billion debt that has been keeping them out of the market for prospective investors. The Supreme Court ruled this legislation, called the Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act, unconstitutional on the basis that because Puerto Rico is not a state, it is exempt from Chapter 9 of the federal Bankruptcy Code, which authorizes states to restructure their debt.

US Rep. Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat who is Puerto Ricos sole member of Congress, also known as the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, tried in 2015 to introduce a bill that would allow Puerto Rico to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, but the bill failed to pass the House of Representatives.

Now, in 2016, US Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisconsin, has introduced a new bill titled commonly called PROMESA, Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, will set up a seven-member advisory board to oversee Puerto Ricos budgets and financial plans for at least four consecutive fiscal years, or whenever criteria outlined by the measure are fulfilled. In addition, PROMESA allows employers to reduce their workers salaries to below the national minimum wage. The bill also will also authorize Puerto Rico to use some debt relief to revitalize their public utilities to help their citizens who are without food, water, and power.

Overall, PROMESA seeks to establish a process for the gradual and constitutional restructuring of Puerto Ricos debt while providing the island with the necessary funds to continue running. The bill has passed the House, and must pass the Senate before July 1 to become effective in time to help Puerto Rico.

What You Should Know About Caesars Enjoyment” s Claim Currently

Caesars Palace in Southern nevada, among Caesars Amusements.
flagship residential properties. Picture resource: Caesars.com.

The drama surrounding.
Caesars Amusement.

( NASDAQ: CZR) and also its legal fight with shareholders remains to.
progress. Although the presiding judge recently gave Caesars a.
trial expansion to proceed settlements, it looks as if completion.
of this expensive video game might be coming soon.

The result could possibly mean a personal bankruptcy declare Caesars.
Enjoyment, however if it doesnt, Caesars can be in a terrific.
place to dump most of its responsibilities as well as come back on track. Or.
rivals might pick up some excellent buildings if its forced to.
market them. Either way, it could be an interesting opportunity for.

Exactly how did Caesars enter this debt dilemma?

In 2008, 2 investment company purchased what was then called.
Harrahs in a leveraged buyout that swelled the now-private.
firms financial obligation to virtually $24 billion. That buyout occurred.
right before the 2008 financial accident, which left Harrahs with a.
debt-heavy annual report as well as inadequate leads moving forward throughout.
the economic downturn that complied with.

The firm presumed the name Caesars Enjoyment Corp. in.
2010 and also underwent an IPO in February 2012. Its destiny really did not.
enhance a lot after going public, however, as it uploaded bottom lines.
of $2.9 billion in 2013 and $2.7 billion in 2014, with over $28.
billion in total obligations. Administration began to caution of.
financial trouble in late 2014, and also in January 2015, it put its.
biggest subsidiary, Caesars Enjoyment Operating Co.,.
right into personal bankruptcy.

Great Caesars, Bad Caesars.

Caesars gradually began evasion possessions as well as obligations around.
its numerous subsidiaries starting in 2013, relocating most of the.
less desirable obligations to its subsidiary Caesars.
Amusement Operating Co. (CEOC) while transferring more.
beneficial as well as quality properties, such as the effective online.
gambling segment, to various other subsidiaries. When that begun.
happening, the writing was on the wall surface for a coming personal bankruptcy.
applying for CEOC, which then contained most of the most awful components of.
the company, in addition to much of its debt.

After putting CEOC right into an $18.4 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
protection properly seeking to eliminate parent-company.
responsibility to numerous debtholders, which now were primarily.
huge and also effective hedge funds those detrimentally impacted by the.
step started strongly fighting the activities in court. The.
plaintiffs stated Caesars asset-shuffling developed an excellent Caesars.
that the company would certainly keep and also a bad Caesars that it would let.
declare bankruptcy.

In March of this year, a bankruptcy-court-ordered.
investigation ended with pungent comments about Caesars actions.
Not just did the file claim that the shareholders remained in reality.
damaged by Caesars activities and were most likely owed greater than exactly what.
the personal bankruptcy court initially asserted, yet it additionally discovered.
some unsavory activities from individuals overseeing the CEOC activities,.
such as text messages where elderly leaders essentially called.
CEOC useless while publicly proclaiming a prospective IPO.

Where points stand currently.

Former court Joseph J. Farnan Jr. has come on as an arbitrator to.
help browse arrangements with Caesars as well as its bondholders. In.
its latest effort toward negotiation, Caesars offered $4 billion.
in a structured offer that would repay senior loan providers as well as.
senior bondholders initially, and also junior shareholders with exactly what was.
left over. Those talks seemed to have damaged down as of June.
6, when.

The Wall Road Journal.

[registration needed] reported Farnan saying, I think that.
there is currently no possibility of product progress in the.
conversations in between the [Caesars] parties and also the noteholder.

The test was intended to begin in late June.

However, on June 15, the judge managing the case released an.
injunction that will certainly delay the situation up until Aug. 29, specifically.
to allow even more time for settlements. Caesars stock leapt almost.
10% on the news, possibly because investors have new hope that a.
settlement will be struck and also Caesars will certainly come out of this legal.
fight active.

If Caesars could prevent a personal bankruptcy.

If a settlement is accepted, or the judge in the event finds.
Caesars liable for an amount that it could deal with, the company may.
have the ability to continue its course of dumping financial obligation and also preventing total.
personal bankruptcy. If that takes place, Caesars still has plenty of.
residential properties as well as operations that could be very valuable going.
forward. With much less debt expenditure and new management, Caesars could.
be back on a development course, which could ensure its present stock.
cost, below its preliminary IPO rate, resembles a steal.

The business is absolutely confident regarding its very own future. In a.
current 8-K file, it stated it sees annual earnings increasing.
to $ 9.19 billion in 2017 and around $10.47 billion by 2020,.
with EBITDA climbing from $ 1.87 billion in 2017 to $2.43.
billion by 2020.

An interesting prospect.

However even if Caesars can not prevent this crushing financial obligation worry and.
eventually does go bankrupt, or is forced to begin selling some.
of its more than 50 properties worldwide to pay shareholders, that.
could possibly additionally be an interesting scenario for financiers. For example,.
MGM Resorts International.

( NYSE: MGM) had the ability to acquire Caesars Royal residence on the Las Vegas.
Strip, helping MGM to proceed dominating the Strip, that could.
be an important play.

Caesars loyalty program, called Total amount Benefits, which keeps.
data on a reported 45 million consumers, would certainly also be unbelievably.
attractive to competitors. This and many various other lucrative assets.
were not in the initial for-sale plan when CEOCs bankruptcy.
started, but in a complete business personal bankruptcy, they most likely would.
be. So whether your home can win in this wager or not, its.
something for financiers to take a close eye on.

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The sights and point of views expressed here are the sights and also point of views of the author and also do not necessarily show those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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Pottsville attorney tries to move Mootz case forward

The family that once owned the former Mootz Candies in Pottsville is hoping its case against three of the contractors hired to build the city’s Union Station will go to trial in early 2017, the attorney for Mootz, Albert J. Evans, Pottsville, said Monday.

“We’re hoping we’ll have a trial date by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, or as soon as possible,” Evans said.

The Buckley family, who ran the landmark chocolate factory, claimed construction of the bus station in 2010 damaged the Mootz store at 220 S. Centre St. As a result, the store closed July 20, 2010. And, in January 2012, the family filed a $2,750,000 lawsuit in county court against those contractors.

On her behalf, Evans filed a “Motion for Scheduling Conference” in county court June 2.

The owner, Joseph E. “Ned” Buckley, died on Feb. 19, 2012, at age 54. And, recently, Buckley’s wife, Sharon J. Ege Buckley, Orwigsburg, filed for personal bankruptcy with United States Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg.

“To date, the defendants have conducted no deposition, despite knowledge of the involvement of several Mootz candy employees and Plaintiff Sharon Buckley. Given that this litigation commenced almost 5 years ago, and that the present counsel for the plaintiff has conducted numerous depositions over the past two years, with the defense failing to conduct any depositions, the plaintiff is legitimately concerned that the defendants failures to move forward with discovery will unnecessarily delay the resolution of this matter, to the plaintiff’s great prejudice,” Evans said in the motion.

“The closure of the Mootz candy business has left Plaintiff Sharon Buckley without income, and she has been forced to file for personal bankruptcy. A Bankruptcy Court hearing is scheduled for July 14, 2016, in response to creditors motions to lift the automatic bankruptcy stay and foreclose on her personal residence. Unfortunately, delays in resolution of the instant litigation will cause further prejudice, as Ms. Buckley’s ability to prevent foreclosure to her house in bankruptcy proceedings is dependent on the proceeds from the instant litigation,” Evans said in the June 2 motion.

“For these reasons, plaintiff is requesting that this Honorable Court Order that a Scheduling Conference be conducted,” Evans said in the motion.

Evans hopes a litigation schedule can be assembled in time to list the matter for trial in early 2017. On Monday, he said he hadn’t received a response from the attorneys representing the three defendants. He’s hoping the county court schedules a trial.

“One of the judges will have a hearing on our motion. And at that time the court will order a discovery deadline. It will be a local judge who will enter a scheduling order. Usually after 30 days we get a notice from the court,” Evans said.

Evans has received no response from the attorneys representing the contractors.

The prime contractor, William H. Lane, Binghamton, New York, is being represented by attorney Andrew B. Cohn, Blue Bell.

A subcontractor, HT Sweeney amp; Co. Inc., an excavator from Brookhaven, is being represented by Michael A. Boomsma, an attorney based in Lancaster.

Another subcontractor, Berkel amp; Co. Contractors Inc., a driller from Pasadena, Maryland, is being represented by Adam M. Sorce, an attorney from King of Prussia.

Those attorneys could not be reached for comment this week.

“And they haven’t tried to schedule Mrs. Buckley’s deposition or depositions for anybody at Mootz’s,” Evans said.

Once a landmark in the city, the former Mootz store at 220 S. Centre St. has remained vacant since it closed in July 20, 2010.

Evans said the Buckley family still owns it and is uncertain about its future.

More information about the case is available in the archives in the lower level of the Schuylkill County Courthouse, under file S-1521-2011.

Hillary Clinton Must Debunk the Notion That Donald Trump’s Wealth Qualifies Him for President

Without the wealth, however, Trump is no more than just another loud-mouth.

So Hillary Clinton must address and debunk this aspect about Trump. It is absolutely crucial. Clinton must present a clear and convincing case as to why Trumps vast riches do not qualify him to be president.

Clinton recently attempted to do just that. Disturbingly, however, she utterly failed. Clintons approach was to reference a past quote from Trump about how he had hoped the housing market would crash because then he could buy-up assets on the cheap and make a lot of money for himself. She attempted to shame him by saying that Trump selfishly cared only about his own personal profits and not about the millions of Americans who lost their homes in the crisis.

Clintons approach was a blunder. Trump shot right back by saying that as a businessman he knows how to identify opportunities for success even in bad situations, and that as president he would employ this skill for the benefit of ordinary Americans.

BAM! Trump hit it out of the park. Home run.

This is exactly why his supporters believe that Trump will be better for the nation than Clinton. It demonstrated to many people that Trump knows how to be successful, and that Clinton has no clue how to be successful.

Clinton has attempted some other approaches as well. She referenced that Trump had a few companies that failed and wound-up in bankruptcy, and she stated that therefore Trump as president would lead the nation into bankruptcy.

But again, this utterly misses the point. Trump is super rich. Trump has been tremendously successful. It doesnt matter that a few of his ventures failed. Overall, he has been spectacularly successful. And his success is on full display for everyone to see with Trump giving interviews from his gleaming penthouse apartment and flying around to campaign stops in his own massive jet. Clintons lame attacks seem to underscore her own inadequacy, and Trumps supremacy.

Clinton also attempted to ridicule Trump for his failed casino by asking rhetorically how anyone could possibly lose money running a casino. This just rings false and hollow. Trumps casino is surely not the worlds only example of a failed casino. In fact, the entire casino industry in Atlantic City has suffered grievously. This just makes Clinton seem as if she has no solid arguments against Trump, which makes Trump appear ever stronger.

Clinton must do better. Clinton must make the case as to why Trumps wealth does not qualify him to be president.

One potential argument seems apparent.

Lets ask ourselves, how, in fact, did Trump make his money? Did he invent a new product, say, the way Steve Jobs invented the iPhone? No. Did Trump create a new computer application to make life easier for millions of people, say, the way Bill Gates created Windows? No. Did Trump develop a new way for people to better communicate with each other, say, the way Mark Zuckerberg developed Facebook? No.

So what did Trump do? Well, Trump built or bought a handful of luxury real estate properties. Thats all. Nothing more than that. There is nothing particularly special or unique about Trumps properties. They are just luxury properties designed for wealthy people, some commercial and some residential, no different than all of the other luxury properties designed for wealthy people.

So if Trump did not do anything special, how did Trump become so wealthy? Simple. The market went up. Thats all. And Trump had absolutely nothing to do with that. Luxury real estate has skyrocketed in price, and Trump benefitted from it.

As further evidence of this, when the luxury real estate market went down in the late 1980s, so too did Trump. If Trump were the genius he proclaims, he would have foreseen this and avoided it.

Now, Trump bristles at the suggestion that he was bankrupt. His denials of bankruptcy led to an uproar of accusations that he was flat-out lying about it. In a half-truth, half-deception, Trump conceded that several of his companies filed for bankruptcy, but Trump boasted that he never filed for bankruptcy himself, personally.

While it is true that Trump never filed for personal bankruptcy, this assertion is highly deceptive. Trump himself even said so much. In a story that Trump appears to have told in many variations, Trump and Marla Maples, now one of his former wives, were walking down a New York City street and Trump pointed to a homeless man and said to Maples that this homeless man was worth $1 billion more than Trump. What Trump meant by this was that while the homeless man owned nothing at all, Trump was far worse off than the homeless man because Trump had incurred $1 billion more in debts than he owned in assets.

The reason Trump was spared from having to file a legal claim in court for his own personal bankruptcy was because the banks bailed him out with an emergency rescue loan package. The banks rescued Trump not to save him for any reason, but for their own benefit. If Trump had filed for personal bankruptcy, all of his assets would have been sold in a fire-sale auction and this would have depressed the prices and resulted in great losses to the banks.

So Trump is not any sort of a genius. When the market goes up, Trump goes up, and when the market goes down, Trump goes down. Thats all. Trump tells us how smart he is and how great he is, and this appears to be backed-up by his extraordinary wealth. But the reality is that Trump had very little to do with it. The art of the comeback? Thats a joke. There was no artfulness by Trump. The overall market is what came roaring back and Trump just so happened to be along for the ride by dumb luck.

Clinton could turn Trump into a prime example of all that is wrong in our economic system that has resulted in such drastically unfair wealth inequality. Trump is a guy who was born into wealth and privilege, he merely went into his fathers already established real estate business, and then, without doing anything extraordinary himself to benefit society, Trump became fabulously wealthy when income inequality took-off like a rocket for the benefit of the wealthy and at the expense of everyone else. When a cartoon character like Trump can become filthy rich without contributing much of anything to society, this proves that our system is in dire need of an overhaul.

But if Clinton fails to make the case as to why Trumps wealth does not qualify him for the White House, then we will all suffer through the reasons in real life under President Trump.

Retired Partner Engineer at Microsoft Shares Rags-to-Riches Story

Its interesting, in that the main reason I interviewed with Microsoft was more out of anger than anything else. I actually didnt want to work for Microsoft. That was back in the fairly early days of software the big guys were WordPerfect and Lotus and so forth, and Microsoft was coming on big. They had launched Windows, but it wasnt doing all that well it wasnt until Windows 3.1 that it really took off. Microsoft was the Evil Empire companies like Ashton-Tate [where I worked] were falling apart. When Ashton-Tate got bought out by Borland, I needed to find another job. So I started looking at other companies in the [Silicon] Valley, and it wasnt until people from Ashton-Tate told me one by one that Microsoft had turned them down that I realized Microsoft had a presence there.

So I basically really did apply just to kind of mess with them. My assumption was, I would apply, and they would want me, and I would turn them down [saying], lsquo;Finally somebody you wanted from Ashton-Tate said no to you, then I would go on with my life. I was absolutely shocked when they turned me down the first time.

Santino worked on a lot of projects over the years at Microsoft, and I asked him what his favorite was. He said it would have to be creating and leading the Enterprise Engineering Center:

That was an opportunity to really be almost an entrepreneur in a company like Microsoft. I did a lot of entrepreneurial things early in my life, none of which worked out, other than as learning experiences. But to be able to do an entrepreneurial-like thing with Microsofts money greatly enhanced the chances of success. Microsoft really at that point had won the desktop they had a 90-plus percent share in operating systems, word processing, and spreadsheets. But they didnt own the enterprise frankly, they knew very little about going after the enterprise.

So we needed to build a facility like the Enterprise Engineering Center from scratch basically, a lab that would allow us to replicate the network topologies of enterprise companies, and install their in-house applications, our software, as well as our competitors software. We could build out these environments and truly get an understanding of how corporations were using our software, and do it at a time when the software was still under development, giving us an opportunity to fix any issues. Im sure youre aware that over time, Microsoft would release a product, and customers would report some issues that were missed, and wed do a service pack. After a while, corporations would learn, dont install the first one wait for the service pack, and let somebody else be the guinea pig.

So here was our opportunity to work directly with the enterprises, bring them to our lab, and then ship products that are deployable from Day One. That was an amazing accomplishment, and the fact that the company allowed me to spend that kind of money building something at a time when the market around us was crashing, and companies were going out of business, was just fantastic it was like I owned my own business, in the middle of Microsoft.

Given Santinos entrepreneurial spirit, I asked him if he ever considered leaving Microsoft to start his own tech company. He said he didnt, and he explained why:

I went to work for Microsoft, in spite of the fact that I didnt really like them, and I learned very quickly that the company was all about results if you worked hard and got great results, you could do very, very well there. I used to tell people, if youre going to work in software, theres no better company to work for than Microsoft. There was no reason for me to go off and try to do something on my own. I was working for a great company that provided me with great support, paying me extremely well I didnt need to take that risk. The entrepreneurial period of my life was over. I tried many, many different businesses, some that worked better than others. But now I had the opportunity to have those same sorts of entrepreneurial feelings, but with no risk of having to close the business. It really was the best of both worlds.

I asked Santino if he had it all to do over again, what he would do differently. He said hed try to get to Microsoft sooner:

All the years I spent as an entrepreneur were great fun, except the way they ended. I learned a great deal from it. But the success and fun and opportunities I had at Microsoft truly were a great experience. It was an opportunity to touch a lot of peoples lives. Im glad I retired when I did I was 55, and it was time to do a lot of things that I had been putting off because I was working as hard as I was. I started at Microsoft when I was 35, when a lot of people start there straight out of college. It would have been nice to get there sooner, and be a part of that early growth.

But I really dont have any regrets, because each one of those things, no matter how much of a failure they felt like at the time, was along that path that got me where I was. Frankly, if the shoe repair business didnt collapse, and we didnt declare corporate and personal bankruptcy and load up a U-Haul truck and move to California, I never would have gotten to work for Microsoft. So even though it sucked at the time, it was a very important step along that path.

Santino said now that his book is finished, hes eager to do some professional speaking:

I want to talk to people when theyre young about the opportunities out there in the world. Sadly, were hearing a lot these days, especially from politicians, about how the American Dream is dead, how the deck is stacked against you, how its unfair, the systems rigged, vote for me and Ill fix it all, because you dont stand a chance. Thats such bull. I still think that in America, you can get out there, and if you work hard and put in the effort, you can still go from rags to riches. But you have to be willing to take on that ownership, and get out there and make things happen for yourself.

That was a great segue to my next question: Whats his advice for young people who aspire to make it big in the tech world? He said the first thing to do is to get an education.

Though I didnt get a college degree, the competition out there is absolutely fierce. So get into a decent school, acquire those skills, and make sure you do internships. Its so hard to come straight out of college and apply to some of these companies. Make sure you get the summer internships, and start to forge those relationships with the company. Once you get in there, bust your ass. Find out from your boss what the company values, and what it rewards. Do those things, and do them better than everybody else. Dont do anything halfway. Give it your all.

Santino also shared a fascinating inside look at the culture within Microsoft, and how it changed over the 20 years he was there. Ill cover that in a forthcoming post.

A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the US in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the US edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.

The Storybook Homes And Scandalous Divorces Of The Sunset’s Rousseau Brothers

Although Henry Doelger is the Sunset Districts most famous and prolific builder, his was just one of several firms that transformed San Franciscos Outside Lands in the early 20th century. Brothers Oliver and Arthur Rousseau may have constructed fewer homes than Doelger, but their distinctive designs continue to turn heads nearly a century later.

In 1932, the Rousseaus developed a parcel that includes 36th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton.

Oliver Rousseau and his older brother Arthur were born to build houses. Their father, Charles Rousseau, was a well-regarded architect, and he eventually partnered with his sons to create Marian Realty Co. in the 1920s. According to an historical survey of Sunset builders, the company specialized in hotels, office buildings and apartment houses, until the Great Depression cratered most large-scale projects.

The Rousseaus pivoted to residential construction. Arthur focused on raising capital, while Oliver was tasked with designing architecturally stimulating houses that were affordable to households of moderate means. 

1564 36th Ave. was built as a Rousseau model home in 1932. | THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 4/2/1932

Rousseaus eclectic designs were a significant departure from Doelger homes, which already dominated the landscape by the time Oliver and Arthur began building in 1930. Defying expectations, Oliver designed fanciful, sometimes opulent homes that were still within reach of middle-class buyers; a Spanish Colonial Revival might be bookended by a Storybook castle on one side, and a Tudor Revival on the other. 

Today, Sunset House is worth about $1.6 million.

In the end, historians believe the Rousseaus built fewer than 200 homes, but they made a major impression on Depression-era consumers seeking value and style. They were among the first architects to make built-in garages a standard feature, and they also popularized floor plans featuring central patios that adjoined major rooms.

In 1932, Marian Realty built 1564 36th Ave., which stands today as one of the Rousseaus most representative projects. The English Tudor was unveiled as the Sunset Model Home, the shining jewel in a new 150-home development facing the beautiful new Sunset Boulevard, reported the Chronicle.

Developer Arthur Rousseaus home at 1500 36th Ave.

When built, the 2,125-square-foot Sunset House would have cost about $7,000, or roughly $113,000 in todays dollars. These days, Trulia pegs its value at $1.6 million.

The Sunset House had a flagstone patio, multiple fireplaces, a three-car garage, and a magnificent marine panorama that extended to Ocean Beach. Although sales materials at the time claimed the propertys sight lines would remain forever unobstructed, trees, new buildings and the occasional Muni bus now limit the homes view of the Cliff House.

The brothers both eventually lived in homes of their own design. Arthur resided at 1500 36th Ave., while Oliver chose 1598 36th Ave.

Both Rousseau brothers had messy public divorces. VIA THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 10/3/1916

Although adjectives like storybook and fairy tale are used to describe the Rousseaus homes, the brothers personal lives were anything but. In 1912, Arthurs wife, Eulalia Edith Rousseau, filed a cross-complaint against him after he initiated divorce proceedings.

In her suit, Mrs. Rousseau denied Arthurs allegations of extreme cruelty, including charges that she struck him in anger and neglected her responsibilities as a homemaker. Why, I never in my life refused to prepare my husbands breakfast, and I have witnesses to prove that he was never kept waiting for dinner, she told the Chronicle.

Architect Oliver Rousseau designed his corner lot home at 1598 36th Ave.

Four years later, Olivers wife, Irene M. Caubu Rousseau, filed for divorce on the grounds that he was physically abusive, aloof from their young son, and often disappeared to party at an East Bay yachting club. I want a different chicken every night, like my brother Arthur, he reportedly told her. 

The Rousseaus business didnt last long. In 1933, three years after pivoting to residential development, Marian Realty Co. declared bankruptcy, with debts topping $6 million. Arthur filed for personal bankruptcy two months later, but held on to both of his yachts and the house on 36th Avenue, eventually passing away in 1944 at age 58.

Oliver Rousseau later remarried and continued working as an architect, creating thousands of units of housing for workers in the East Bay during World War II, as well as tract homes and apartment buildings around the Bay Area. He died in 1977, at age 85. 

The largest development of Rousseau homes in the Sunset can be found from 33rd to 36th Avenues, between Kirkham and Lawton.

Teresa Giudice’s Nightmare Not Over Yet: Slammed With Major Tax Debt

Teresa Giudice may have fought her way out of her personal bankruptcy, where she was slammed with an $11 million debt, but it sounds like shes not completely out of the dark yet. She was released just before Christmas and she really wanted to start over fresh. In jail, she wanted to make $40 million this year, but it sounds like the first quarter of a million will go to the IRS. According to a new report, Teresa Giudice has been slapped with a tax lien and she still owes money.

One can hope that Teresa is making the big bucks for filming The Real Housewives of New York, as both she and her husband owe money to the IRS. According to the report, Teresa was slapped with a $23,365 tax lien in February, while Joe is on the hook for $238,269 in unpaid taxes. Teresa has wrapped up her prison sentence, but her husband is still serving his 41-month sentence. He just started serving his sentence 3 months ago.