Real Estate around the Country & NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton

Soon to be spending some time in an apartment in NYC, this is what I’ve learned so far about rentals there and in other major cities….

                           Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. As business will soon be taking me back to New York City I’ve been checking out apartment rentals and thought you might find rental rates there and around the country interesting. I’m also bringing you a profile of the new top cop in NYC who I find very interesting. I may try to interview him while I’m there.`

When I’m in the city time is always important so location is critical because long subway and bus rides are just too slow. Most of my business is in the Rockefeller Center and Times Square areas but there is a limit to one’s budget and I’m finding that rentals in these locations are just too expensive for me. As an example, one bedroom 1 bath units with mini kitchens in a nearby 58 story high rise building start at $3,495 a month. They are nice but I need something quite a bit cheaper. Rooms at hotels in Manhattan start at about $400 a night which might work out for a short stay but I need a better long term alternative. It turns out that there are a lot of rooms for rent in other people’s apartments and they are much more affordable. $800 a month will get you a 10’x 10’ room on the east side and for $1,200 a month you can also find a place that offers laundry privileges. You might be sharing a brownstone with several other working people or it could just be one other person in a two bedroom apartment.  Most of the locations I have looked at are just a short walk to the subway which is the most reasonable transportation I have found although as I said, travel on the subway can be time consuming if you have to change trains very often. Yes, Manhattan is an expensive place to hang your hat.

In Washington, D.C. you can rent a one bedroom luxury apartment just one block from the White House with views of the Washington Monument for $2,100 a month. In Santa Monica, California $1,500 a month gets you a unit just a block from the ocean right where Whitey Bulger was living when he was captured. Chicago’s Chestnut Tower offers studio apartments in a high rise with doormen and a pool for $1,500 a month and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is one of the most affordable places to rent, a one bedroom unit in a complex with a pool goes for $400 a month. I’m going to keep on looking for a place that’s available for those Tulsa prices until I get ready to leave but I’m not holding my breath.

With my recent visits to New York I’ve been asked several times about the crime rate and I’m happy to report that criminal activity has been steadily decreasing since 1994. Many people credit this decrease to the leadership of newly appointed NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton who is actually returning to the post he held in 1994 under former Mayor  Rudy Giuliani. Bratton is a top cop who has spent his career in law enforcement and has led several major departments including service as Superindent and Chief of Police in his home town of Boston where in 1993 he became the Police Commissioner. Bratton took over as Chief of Police in Los Angeles in 2002 and then just last month he was recruited for his current position by newly elected Mayor Bill DeBlasio. If you are a Tom Selleck fan, you probably know that Selleck plays a NYC Police Commissioner on the TV series Blue Bloods. As the top cop in a city with over 8 million residents which is also considered a target for overseas terrorists, Bill’s job ain’t for sissies.

Bratton’s accomplishments go beyond leading the nation’s sixth largest police force. In 1995 he established the Comp Stat real time police intelligence computer system which tracks crimes and is still in use today. This system is credited with helping to reduce the crime rate in New York City as well as other places. Bratton’s experiences also served as the inspiration for a television series called The District.

Vice Chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; Chief Executive Officer ofthe Bratton Group a security consulting firm with clients both in the U.S. and overseas; best selling author of “Turnaround”, the true story of how America’s top cop  reversed the crime epidemic and now once again Police Commissioner in the town I’m headed for. Well when people ask “do you feel safe in New York City?” You bet I do!

Till next week I’ll see ya down the road….





Jim’s Story: The True Story of A Smuggler

Welcome back. With the legalization of the use of marijuana in Colorado this week, it seems like a good time to continue a story I promised you readers several years ago. I first became interested in this story after reading several front page accounts of the bust in a New Mexico paper eight years ago. Subsequent interviews with a wife, children and several former Bartlesville residents who were involved and later jailed have added more details to the story and my thanks goes to them. I hope you enjoy it. Please note that the names of the people in this story have been changed to spare their family members from embarrassment.

His days are spent staring at the concrete cell block walls that surround him, often counting each brick one by one. There is a wall on either side, one in the back and a large metal door in front of him. The cell is 8’ x 12’ with 12’ ceilings. It has been 8 years, going on 9, and with good behavior there’s a chance he’ll be out in 7 or 8 more. By then he’ll be in his late ‘70s. Although he tries not to, he thinks constantly of his ex-wife and their two children, wondering how everything had gone so terribly wrong. In the background he hears the sounds of the other inmates, many of whom are nut jobs and others who are hardened criminals with long rap sheets. Some are smart and quite cunning but none of them come from his background or have his education. How could this have happened to him?

The end of the road had come quickly. All of his business associates assumed he was successful based on his many legitimate investments including land in New Mexico, Arizona and New York along with homes in gated communities on both coasts. Fancy cars and motorcycles were hobbies supported by his aviation business and trucking company. He was also involved in buying and selling steel and had yards in several states. Yes, Jimmy MacDonald was certainly wealthy by anyone’s standards.

It was well known that he had been born in New York City to a banker’s daughter and a money manager father. Jimmy was their only child and was expected to take over management of the family fortune. He was driven to excel in both academics and sports both in private school and at the Ivy League college where he graduated with honors.  After graduation, he quickly became a successful businessman in his own right. Between his earnings and the trust funds his parents had established, by the time he was twenty-five Jimmy was worth well over 10 million dollars. He had safe deposit boxes full of cash and jewels, employees who catered to his every whim and plenty of women.

As a handsome member of New York society with wealthy and prominent parents, Jimmy’s success in life was virtually guaranteed. But that was in the 1960s, before his move to New Mexico. His parents were still alive then. After their deaths life changed for him. A business trip to Arizona led him to buy a house there which was followed by several land purchases. Soon he was spending more time in Arizona than in New York. He loved the high desert country and the change it provided from the hustle of the big city. He had lots of money, so much in fact that earning more money just seemed effortless.

Everything started with one of his new friends in Arizona who threw out the idea of Jim becoming the money man in a pot smuggling business. Nogales, Mexico just 70 miles from Tucson was perfect with all the open country side and as the two talked the plan just sounded like fun. The investment his friend needed was pocket change to Jim but he quickly found the thrill of being a smuggler was highly addictive.

This past life seemed closer late at night when the prison guards turned off the lights in his cell block. He could close his eyes and dream of the things he’d owned, the business deals he’d made with his father and the mother who had adored him. He could still feel the thrill of dropping off a dozen human mules loaded with weed. He had even made the 17 mile trip across the desert himself a few times, traveling at night to the meeting spot where waiting cars would take the tired men and their contraband to safe houses to rest before the return trip. Over the course of 15 years there was no telling just how many tons of pot had been moved across the border by his crew of planes, semi trucks and human smugglers. If by chance a group would get caught, Jim’s lawyers would usually get them released within a day or two.

His lawyers had hoped that he would get out of jail following an appeal but after all these years Jim realized that wasn’t likely. At the time of his arrest, the U.S. Attorney’s office had been conducting a secret two year investigation of his activities, even infiltrating his organization with a mole. On top of that when twenty one of his top associates were all arrested on the same day, several of them immediately began cooperating with investigators. They had revealed a huge multi state operation, extending from coast to coast. The government had confiscated all of property, including his planes, but keeping his eyes closed he could remember his favorite one. He had gotten his pilot’s license at a young age and had always liked this particular plane..

The Beechcraft King Air C-90 turbo prop was fast and Jim loved fast things. Years before he had asked his lawyer to use money from his trust fund to store and maintain the plane but he didn’t know if that was being done. He had owned other planes that were used for hauling weed across the border but the King Air had been the best. Now it was probably in government storage somewhere waiting for auction. Even though the U.S. Attorney had seized  over 49 million dollars in cash and assets they had not been able to touch his family money. Jim is still worth millions although it doesn’t do him much good in his present situation.

A good life filled with good restaurants, high dollar wines and nice soft beds. He is at peace as the jailer hits the lights to wake everyone for breakfast and his day starts just like the day before, and the day before that.

Till next week I’ll see ya down the road……………….





Whitey Bulger moved to Oklahoma federal prison part 2.

Welcome back to part two of the Whitey Bulger update. I ended last week with the question of who might stand to profit from this black eye in Boston’s history. During my extended stay during his sentencing I learned a lot that wasn’t always widely known or publicized and that’s where I’ll start this week. Everyone’s wondering where Whitey’s money is and who’s going to be able to benefit from it…….

The crooked FBI guys are either in jail or dead but what about Whitey’s girlfriend Catherine McGonagle who got eight years? Well my friends that’s a big maybe that will be revealed in the future. The former dental hygienist turned gangster squeeze could tell quite a story that might include an arrest in Bartlesville that has really gone unnoticed. Another little known fact about profiting from crime: in Massachusetts it’s legal. Yes, she could write a book and collaborate on a film and be paid!

Whitey’s defense attorney J.W. Carney has already confirmed that Whitey has agreed to tell his story to 60 Minutes and after Carney and I spoke I’m sure the public has not heard the last of this.

Many of Whitey’s associates during his reign as a crime boss have cooperated with law enforcement and testified against him to avoid the death penalty or long prison terms. Stephen Flemmi is serving a life sentence for the murder of Debbie Davis. Another gang hit man, John Martorano is free and walking the streets of Boston after selling the rights to his life story. Other associates are also free thanks to a law from the 60s and 70s that imposed a statue of limitations on charges of being an accessory to murder. Putting it bluntly you could help kill someone and if you weren’t charged within a set period of time, charges could no longer be filed. The law was the same here in Oklahoma but it has since been changed so there is no longer a stature of  limitations wither here or in Massachusetts.

That doesn’t help the families of the gang’s victims from those days and David Wheeler, the son of slain Tulsa businessman, Roger Wheeler blames corrupt cops for not bringing these murderers to justice. As for the Boston journalist, TV and radio personality Howie Carr, who has written several books about the gang and is said to have a price on his head, I asked him one last question about self protection as he doesn’t carry a gun.

“If they’re going to get you ,” he responded, “it doesn’t matter how big a gun you buy, they will have a bigger one!” After reading his books I understand why Whitey wanted him dead.

I’ll end this week by telling you about my request to visit Whitey in Oklahoma City.

Although his attorney says Whitey would like to speak with the media, apparently the federal marshals have refused to allow him to do so. According to his lawyer, there may be a lawsuit as a result.

Since I haven’t been able to speak with him yet, I have tired to put myself in Whitey’s shoes. Those shoes are locked up in a 6’x16’ cell with a tile floor, a metal bunk bed, a latrine and a sink. The bunk bed came with a two inch mattress, a cover and blankets. He was also given a towel, a toothbrush and a bar of soap.

On a sad note this week, local nursery and landscaping legend Mark Yorman died last Thursday taking some history with him. Back in the 1960s Mark’s dad had the landscaping contract for Phillips Petroleum Company and come summer every boy who could handle a lawn mower had a job. At Christmas time Yorman Nurseries was the place to get your tree and they would hire area auctioneer Smokey Hand to drive a semi up north to Wisconsin for a load of fresh cut trees. Mark will be missed and I will have more on this subject at a later date.

Till next week I’ll see ya down the road…..