Saturday, July 12, 2008

Let's Do the Math

The story so far:

Norm Coleman quits what is described as a "luxury apartment" for which he pays $1200 per month, to move into an apartment owned by a friend and GOP activist for $600. The Soros "Ethics" Thugs a/k/a Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Republicans Washington files an ethics complaint. Local lefty bloggers echo this story relentlessly, and having suddenly left their impromptu professions as forensic videographers and bridge engineers, become instant real estate appraisers, and summarily convict Coleman.

That about right? Good.

Let's begin with that $1200 figure mentioned above for some undescribed "luxury apartment", and juxtapose that with a Strib reporter's description of Coleman's new pad this morning.

(And it has not passed without notice that some local bridge engineers video experts real estate appraisers lefty bloggers, have cited this morning's article as proof that the Strib is in the bag for Coleman. Apparently ignoring the fact that: a) the article takes up a critical part of a story that these bridge engineers video experts real estate appraisers lefty bloggers have been pushing; b) it's a Saturday article below the fold; and c) it's objective unassailable fact that the Strib has never, ever been in the bag for Republicans. Ever. What has been proved, however, is that these licknobs should be even more aggressively ignored than they presently are.)

To the article:

Norm Coleman slept here -- but the FedEx box turned nightstand, neckties tossed over the top of an accordion-style closet door and low ceilings aren't much to write home about.

Luxury apartments have real doors. I'm knocking $50 off the value. We're at $1150.

The Washington, D.C., living arrangements of Minnesota's senior senator recently came under fire when reports surfaced that Coleman is renting space for $600 a month from a longtime Republican associate. Political opponents detected a "sweetheart deal" in what is a strikingly affordable rent for Washington's upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The Star Tribune requested a tour of Coleman's accommodations, and on Friday a reporter snooped around the senator's pad with his communications chief, LeRoy Coleman
.

A set of stairs beneath the three-story rowhouse's front door leads down to his private entrance to the garden-level apartment. The main carpeted living room, with a low, approximately 7-foot ceiling, is cluttered with desks, computers and telephones used by his landlord's employees during business hours. Young children stomped around in the space above; they belong to the family that rents the upper floors.

The low ceiling doesn't mean much. On the other hand, how much would you pay for an apartment that has a living room that's used by your landlord as an office space during the day? How much is privacy worth? Your own space?

Less than $600, I'd bet. But I'm feeling generous toward the bridge engineers video experts real estate appraisers lefty bloggers and CRERW so I will deduct only $400. I'm sure that one of the luxuries of a luxury apartment is not having to come home to a boiler room operation in your living room. And I'm not even taking into account then noise from the hyper ADHD addled rugrats upstairs.

We're down to $750

Two couches and a TV fill the far end of the living room. LeRoy Coleman said the senator may use the couches occasionally.

Sen. Coleman doesn't have a kitchen, but his wet bar lines the back of the living room. It includes a small sink, cupboard space and an empty wine cooler. The mini-fridge was well stocked with bottled water and yogurt. On the marble counters were granola bars and other snack food and the senator's iron and ironing board.

Now, if you're Atomizer, the wet bar brings this property back into the realm of luxury apartments. But most normal non-alcoholic people need a kitchen. For cryin' out loud, he doesn't even have a real refrigerator. Remember, we're trying to determine fair rental value here. Do you think there are a lot of renters in the DC area willing to pay more than $600 for a basement hovel that has no kitchen and a living room that doubles as the landlord's call center?

Neither do I, notwithstanding what some partisan hack local bridge engineers video experts real estate appraisers lefty bloggers may think. A kitchen has got to be worth $200 to $250 to an average renter. Again being generous, I'll use the former figure.

We're at $550.

A few steps down a cramped hall is the bathroom, just big enough for one person to turn around. Turn the corner and the senator is within leaping distance to his tall full-sized bed, covered with a mound of pillows.

The bed almost fills the 10-by-10 space, leaving only a several-foot-wide walking space between the bed and the closet. Photos, including one of his family alongside President Bush, line the walls.

Squeezed between the end of the bed and the wall is a bench with a table and laptop dock in the corner. The neatly organized closet was all business: collared shirts, dress suits and a pile of black shoes on the floor. Jay Winik's "The Great Upheaval" sat on the makeshift bedside table.

Square footage is important, and we haven't accounted for it. The bedroom is a mere 100 square feet. The bathroom sounds like it can't be much more than 36 square feet. Cramped is an understatement. Luxury apartments are not cramped, and even the smaller ones make efficient use of the space to avoid cramping. Again, I'll be conservative and only knock off $50. I could probably go as high as $100.

We're at $500.

A Washington-based government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), has asked for a Senate ethics committee investigation to determine if Coleman is violating gift rules by paying a below-market rent.

And according to our calculations, he's paying $100 more than he should be. Of course, our local bridge engineers video experts real estate appraisers lefty bloggers will probably take this to mean that Senator Coleman lacks the judgement to serve in the Senate. As if his stand on ANWR oil exploration couldn't be used as proof of that.

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