Saturday, May 20, 2017

TREASURY | Mnuchin Testimony, Senate Banking Committee

President Trump and Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin
The Senate Banking Committee heard Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Thursday, May 18. The following report on Mnuchin's testimony is from Dana Chasin, reposted by permission:

The Senate Banking Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin exhibited a coordinated effort among the Democrats on the panel to press the administration on all the priority issues for the minority. One by one, Democratic members challenged Sec. Mnuchin about promises made by the Trump administration for supporting the middle class:

The CHOICE Act —seems to renege on promises to the middle class and actually sacrifices the middle class for tax cuts.

The "Mnuchin Rule" — while he was Secretary-Designate, Mnuchin told reporters immediately after his nomination that the Trump tax plan would not net the wealthy a tax cut. Mnuchin continues to stand by it.

Passthroughs — Sen. Warren appears to have exacted a promise from Sec. Mnuchin that the S-corp passthrough will only be available to small and medium-sized business owners.

Foreclosures — Sen. Cortez Masto grilled Sec. Mnuchin about why his leadership team has no one advocating for borrowers or homeowners.

Export-Import Bank — the Secretary heard appeals for full Bank reauthorization from both sides of the aisle.

Orderly Liquidation Authority — Sen. Warner advocated preserving the authority extended to the FDIC to resolve non-banks.

Here are more detailed highlights:

Warren's Passthrough Reform Bid
Sen. Shelby called on Sec. Mnuchin on the S-corp pass-throughs and how Mnuchin had promised to not give a tax cut to the wealthy. Mnuchin responded that "we are committed to make sure that rich people do not use pass-throughs as a loophole to pay lower rates. … So we do want small and medium sized businesses to have the benefit of lower taxes."
How about big law, for example? Mnuchin: "... we will make sure that not every single accountant, lawyer, and doctor who should be paying higher personal rates sets up an LLC or a pass-through to get around the system.”
This point was brought up again later by Sen. Warren, in the most productive exchange in the hearing. Mnuchin enumerated the key elements of the administration's new passthrough policy: "specifically, people who are making lots of money will not be able to use pass throughs. There will be criteria as to whether you're eligible for the business tax if you're pass through. It will not be available to everyone.”

OLA: Backstop against Bailouts
Sen. Reed said giving up the Orderly Liquidation Authority would deprive the system of its main defense against bailouts and sought assurance that taxpayers wouldn't bear losses under OLA.
In a critical exchange, Sen. Warner asked Sec. Mnuchin,
“If we have a large, trillion-dollar-plus SIFI institution headquartered in the United States and operating across the world with multiple subsidiaries, if it runs into a credit crunch and the rest of the financial industry stops doing business with this SIFI and it therefore fails, in order to have an orderly failure and wind in Congress this week-down, would you agree that shareholders need to be wiped out in that SIFI institution?”
Mnuchin concurred that something drastic would be necessary in such a situation. Sen Warner reiterated that the OLA is necessary as a backstop for this sort of systemic risk, and Mnuchin demurred again.

EXIM Bank: Two Takes
EXIM came up several times, with Sen. Heitkamp arguing for protection of it and Senator Shelby supportive but asking for reform. Mnuchin made no promises, but it does seem to be understood that the Bank is not on the chopping block anymore -- now that the president knows it “makes us a lot of money.”

Events Next Week
The following events are scheduled:
House Ways and Means Committee: Hearing entitled, "Increasing U.S Competitiveness and Preventing American Jobs from Moving Overseas," focused on the border-adjustment tax, 10 a.m.
The American Enterprise Institute event on the CHOICE Act with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, 11 a.m. The bill is Hensarling's overhaul of Dodd-Frank.
House Budget Committee: Hearing on the White House fiscal 2018 budget with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, 9:45 a.m.
House Ways and Means Committee: Hearing on the White House fiscal 2018 budget, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 10 a.m.
Senate Budget Committee: Hearing on the White House fiscal 2018 budget proposal with OMB Director Mulvaney, 9:45 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee: Hearing entitled "Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposals for the Department of Treasury and Tax Reform", witness is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 10 a.m.

Other Takes on the Testimony: Sen. Warren on Reinstating Glass-Steagall . Video of Exchange with Sen. Warren . Video of testimony (CNBC)

Monday, May 15, 2017

THEATER BIZ | Best Contest Practices

Some contests and festivals can be exploitative. They may require large submission fees and then grab rights from the winning writers or photographers based on language in the submission contract.

In some entry guidelines (for instance, in the Emerging Writer Awards), submitting an entry grants publishing rights. 

Writers who don't read the fine print carefully enough may find themselves trapped by such provisions. See:

To reduce such exploitation, the Dramatists Guild has issued a statement on "Best Practices for Festivals and Contests". A good idea. 

Now it is up to contest organizers and playwrights today attention to these guidelines. Here is the one-page statement with the language of the release preceding it.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ART BIZ | Ashawagh Hall 2018 Summer Space... Gone!

Ashawagh Hall is an art gallery and village center. Photo by JT Marlin 2016.
Ashawagh Hall is the center of Springs. 

It used to be owned by the Miller family, which lives across the road. They donated the original building to be used as a schoolhouse, with the understanding (so they told me) that if the use of the building changed, the property could not be sold; instead, it would revert to the family.

The Springs School moved to larger quarters (!) and Ashawagh Hall now doubles as an art gallery and a village hall. I have frequently reviewed community events there, such as the award to the late Herb Field last year (his memorial service is May 20).

I have also reviewed art shows at Ashawagh Hall, with an economic perspective, for example:

Search Results

Eternal Springs Hope (2016).

Hot Dots and Collage Credit (2016).

Meckseper and Troemel (2014). 

Ten Artworks Sold (2014).

Over the years I have figured out the system for allocating space in the gallery, which is that members of the Springs Improvement Society on May 15 call in to reserve space at the gallery for the following year at 8:00 a.m., and everyone else calls in at 10 a.m. The instructions for 2017 are still shown on the Ashawagh Hall website, although the space that would be allocated on May 15, 2017 is for 2018.

That system gives a little edge to long-term residents, members of the Society, and people who watch the calendar and the clock. A little quirky, but it seems fair enough.

As I checked out this year's timing, I find that this year it has changed. Artists calling on May 15 will discover that all the 2018 summertime space was already allocated. It was done during the winter. A special discount was reportedly emailed (to all members? to a list of artists?) in February.

Sorry to be the bearer of this bad news if you were planning on something in 2018. If you think the change in the system is capricious, comment below or send me an email. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

ART BIZ | Fantastic Exhibit at One Art Space (Updated May 15, 2017)

Multiple Points of View, One Inspiration — Ernst Fuchs
The "Visionary Alchemy" Exhibit opened with buzz Friday evening, April 29, at One Art Space at 23 Warren Street, New York City. The exhibition remained open until May 13. 

This gallery is a fine white cube — actually more of a white rectangular brick — half a block west of Broadway and City Hall Park. Phone 646-559-0535.

In keeping with the theme of this blog, the Art Biz, I can report that the highest price for a painting in this Exhibition is $25,000 (#2 by Isaac Abrams) and the lowest is $280 (#27 by Marnie Pitts), a range of nearly 100 to 1.

Artists Exhibiting at One Art Space, 23 Warren St., NYC

The 51 listed paintings and 48 listed artists came from all over the world — Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Dom. Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Peru. U.S. painters came from the New York area and Ohio.

They are all members of the Society for Art of Imagination, which was founded by followers of Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs.

Brigid Marlin in front of a painting
of hers, #21B.

Fuchs, which is German for Fox, is pronounced like "Looks" with an "F" (or listen to this).

Fuchs viewed himself as the reincarnation of the great German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).

The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm, until Saturday, May 13.

The Society for Art of Imagination is the successor group to Ernst Fuchs' own society, the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, which he co-founded in the 1940s.

If I may simplify, Fuchs and his colleagues in Vienna sought to explore spiritual fantasy using the hard-won schools of early Renaissance painters and engravers.
Miguel Tio, Treasurer of the
American Society and painter
(see "Heartbeats", #43, the
purple lady behind him).

The Vienna School expired with the death of Prof. Fuchs himself in November 1915

He became President of the Society of Art of Imagination before he died. 

He called Brigid Marlin, who founded the Society, "my best student".

One Art Space is curated by Diego Ponce, who can be reached by email at A catalog of the art show is available via email.

The exhibition was co-curated by France Garrido, Olga Spiegel and Miguel Tio, who are leaders in the American Society for Art of Imagination.

One of the visitors to the exhibition came up from Washington, D.C. She prepared the following video clip of her visit:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

R.I.P. | Sage of Springs, Herb Field (Updated Apr 27, 2017)

Apr 19, 2017 – Herbert E[dwards] (Herb) Field, the Sage of Springs, passed to his eternal reward yesterday at 92 years old, according to his pastor, Rev. Nancy Howarth.

A memorial service for Herb Field will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 20 at the Springs Community Presbyterian Church, at the intersection of Old Stone Highway and Springs Fireplace Road.

Herb Field's father and two uncles died tending their traps during the 1938 Hurricane when Herb was just 13. (His obituary, based on information from his son Thomas F. Field, was published in the East Hampton Star on April 27.)

Last year, he received a well-earned temporal award at an end-of-summer meeting of the Springs Community Advisory Council in Ashawagh Hall.

East Hampton Town Councilman Fred Overton presented him with a Proclamation testifying to his contributions to the Springs community. Overton's presentation was on behalf of East Hampton Town by its Supervisor, Larry Cantwell.

At the presentation, the crowd attending the meeting gave Herb a standing ovation for his contributions to his country and his community.
The Proclamation.

The citation, signed August 22, 2016 by Supervisor Cantwell, proclaimed that Herbert Edwards (Herb) Field was born at Franklin Farm on August 3, 1924 to Herbert Stone Field and his wife Abigail Rebecca, née Edwards.

Herb was the eldest of four sons. After the death of his father and uncles, he worked for Ferris Talmage to help support his mother and brothers. Talmage remained a lifetime mentor.

Herb enlisted at 17 in the U.S. Navy in April 1943. He served as a motor mechanic on board destroyer escorts.  He was sent on tours in the Pacific, Europe and the Americas. He was honorably discharged on December 18, 1945.

After his military service he managed Sylvester Prime’s farm on Shelter Island and then in 1949 moved to Morrisville, N.Y., where he purchased and managed two dairy farms covering 316 acres.

After 15 years upstate, he purchased the Baker and Baker dairy farm in Amagansett and lived there until his death.

Herb faithfully attended the Springs Community Presbyterian Church starting in the 1970s and sat consistently in the second row behind the organ donated by Robert Mulford.

For what must have been four decades he arrived an hour before the service every Sunday morning and started the coffee pot brewing, until one day not so long ago he announced he couldn't keep doing this any more.

When I first came to Springs in 1981 as a seasonal visitor, I started singing in the Springs Church choir and was invited, faute de mieux, to join "The Men of Springs," a church-related activity. My wife Alice Tepper Marlin was dubious about this. It sounded macho. Who knew what sinister plans these local deer-hunters, who probably looked askance at seasonal families "from away", might not be up to?

Herb Field with Tina Piette and
me, next to Ashawagh Hall. Photo
by Dr Carter Dodge.
Then we found out that the principal public activity of the Men of Springs was to cook and serve a community chicken dinner with no apparent female support. Her attitude to the group mellowed.

So I was a seasonal participant in the program, but over time the number of men who composed the Men of Springs dwindled, lost to illness or death or retirement to a place where they could get assisted living — or unassisted living — at an affordable price.

In time, the remaining men could not keep up the tradition of the annual chicken dinner. The event was continued, like so much else, through the devotion of the hard-working women of the church.

Herb was, I think, the last of the Men of Springs who were there when I arrived in Springs 36 years ago.

Herb earned the title of Sage of Springs because he knew more about the history of Springs than anyone else alive. He commented as an aside that he remembered when Supervisor Cantwell was "in short pants."

Over the years Herb told me more truly funny stories than I can count. He had a keen understanding of farming, canning, clamming, milling and human nature and he communicated it with his dry Bonacker humor, of which he was acutely aware and proud.

For example, during the period of my Men of Springs membership, I was in the kitchen, and everyone there was highly aware that I was a city guy out of my element in the Springs culture, which for centuries was built on faith, farm, fish and family. I came in for a lot of teasing as the country bumpkins enjoyed showing the city slicker how little he knew about what was important.

At one point they explained to me that how nutritious the food was, and that the delicious ginger gravy they were serving with the chicken had no sugar or flour in it.

I was amazed. How could they do that? They swore on the bible they added no sugar or flour. But I saw a glint in Herb's eye, and I demanded that he tell me, based on my rights as a fully vested seasonal member of the Men of Springs,  what the ingredients were.

Herb with Dr Dodge.
Photo by JT Marlin.
He said: "Well now, we have the juice left over from the chicken and we filter out any skin and the heavy fat. We cook it all in a pan and stir in some green onions and celery, and some garlic, about 4 minutes..."


"We add some pepper, thyme and sage..."

"And... what else?" I demanded, getting a little impatient.

I learned over time to look for the signal that Herb was about to deliver the punch line to his story, which he loved doing. He would become super-serious.

"Then, well now, you know, for every quart of gravy," he said, "we mix in five ginger-snap cookies."

After God created Herb, He threw away the mold.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

VOTE | Choosing Where

The following is reposted with permission from Resist and Replace, a blog started by David Posnett.

A suggestion from Pamela Keen:

It is completely legal in NY State to choose where you wish to vote as long as you don’t vote twice (in different locations), which is voter fraud.

Second homeowners and those who rent for the summer months may choose to vote in their summer residence, such as CD-1.  They will need evidence of having lived in the district, such as a copy of utility bills. Here are four useful online resources:

3. How to register on-line.
4. How to download the registration form online and then send in by mail— particularly useful if you want to help someone fill out the form.

Get some forms and have them handy.  Bring them to events and share them with your friends. For example, hand out registration forms at your July 4 barbecue! It is a good idea to start now.