Look at your lipstick, all ’round your face, everything you do, is in bad taste

I have to say, yesterday was the single most insane day since I started this site. Generally, the way things go around here, I post once a day on PBE. Sometimes I have to look around for something to write about. Those of you who have been here a while know that I’ve come dangerously close to having to flash the girls for lack of content. Yesterday, I couldn’t pump the content out quick enough. There are some jewels down in the comment section. We had almost 100 times the amount of readership yesterday that usually comes in here daily. I’d like to welcome all the new visitors and new users. I think you’ll find that we have a grand time here. And some real players stop by too. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Speaking of players, a gentleman wrote me yesterday who is working on a case against Alliance Title Company. They are looking to make the connection that the wages are due from Mercury Companies. Mercury is trying to lay it in Alliance’s lap along with all the other debt stacked up in the BK case. If you have wage statements (that is the thing you print out from Lawson showing your gross pay, deductions etc.) from your Alliance days that shows Mercury at the top (which I think they all did), please contact:

Mark B. Simpkins
11 Golden Shore, Ste. 430
Long Beach, CA 90802
Tel. (562)436-9631
Fax. (562)436-1467

If you are aware of mortgage fraud that occurred in any particular office, I can hook you up on that one too. Please contact me offline for that one. My contact information is on the “Are you going to eat that?” page, the link is to the left.

If you are one of the poor schmucks that lost their jobs yesterday, I’m sorry. I’ve lost my job twice now, I feel your pain. I hope you were able to shove some away in the bank before this happened. I linked back to some of our discussion from when Alliance Title Company went under. Things you can expect from Mercury Companies now:

  • Nothing
  • Absolutely nothing
  • Bupkiss
  • Nil
  • Nada

If you’re in California, this might be helpful. David Balter is the attorney with the Labor Commission who filed a $21 million dollar suit against Alliance Title Company for wages, vacation pay, and commissions that were not paid. It is illegal in the State of California to not pay wages, vacation pay and commissions due to employees. I’ve looked all over and I can’t find David Balter’s contact information or the copy of the case. I did find the deed to Patty’s mountain house…

Click me! Click me!

And the Alliance bankruptcy petition…


And the Alliance cease and desist from the DOI…


If you’re in Texas or Arizona, I’m not sure where you need to go. If someone could send me that info, I’ll throw it up here.

If Patty Hauptman really resigned yesterday that makes things kind of interesting. She is so morally corrupt that there has to be a personal gain in there for her, so it’s our job, gentle readers, to figure out her angle. On first blush, I think Mercury Companies is about to go BK and she’s trying to dodge either responsibility or culpability or both. Possibly an outside source has been brought in to right the ship. I know a guy they were talking to last year to do just this. I just don’t know if that’s what’s happening. Maybe the line of credit failed after Jerry moved the money into an offshore account and their next step is disappearing to a country that doesn’t extradite for financial crimes…but I digress. Actually if I recall correctly, they dumped the private jet last year.

Privately owned corporations are a pain in the ass to penetrate the corporate veil. BTW, I went through the entire Annual Report for the Bloodless Empire yesterday trying to find their interest in Mercury Companies and couldn’t find it. I’m sure they have a piece of it, it’s just well hidden. They mentioned a financial interest in numerous subsidiaries that were not individually named.

My big ten inch

A couple of days ago, I picked Zuckzilla.


I decided to stuff it due to it’s size. I would of course, have to modify a recipe to Body for Life. I settled on brown rice, tomato, a touch of panko bread crumbs and egg white as a binder. I didn’t have any rice in the house so I went down to Trader Joe’s to pick up rice and tomatoes and a couple of other things. Really a quick little trip. I came home to this:


In my defense, I did not kill my dog last night, although she certainly deserved it.

Ride, Captain Ride

Tuesday I stopped by the local bike shop and picked up these patches that you put inside a gashed tire. It allows you to inflate the tire tube without it pushing through the gash and rupturing again. Pretty cool shit, although it makes me a little nervous when I inflate to over 100lbs of pressure. Anyway, it is working well so far. I’m still nervous. I carry three tubes with me, so I have plenty of room for screw ups, pinched tubes etc. Rita took a new tube and chewed that up yesterday too. I’m thinking that she doesn’t like it when I go on interviews. Anyway, it was over 90 when I left the house. I took half a bottle of Accelerade with me, just because the ride was only an hour. I had been fooling around with the computer on the bike trying to set the time but now the stop watch isn’t working right so I don’t know my time for yesterday. I did the Ygnacio loop. There was a terrible head wind leaving the house. It was a crosswind on the downhill, so I braked the whole way down and didn’t freewheel at all. I did make it back up in 9:42. Not a land speed record, but decent. I’m going around 40 over the weekend. I’m finding that see sawing these rides works better for my body. I need to get the bike fitted next week. It’s not quite right which is negligible on the shorter rides and insufferable over 60 miles.

Keep those comments and emails coming and I’ll share it with the community. And thanks again for stopping by!

Had enough of the monster you’ve become

 From the comments section

ITC is still in operation, Mercury has no control over the assets because of the Alliance BK filing. ITC was owned 80% by Alliance and 20% by 1st am. Oh by the way Patty resigned from Mercury today.

Comment by titleguy — July 30, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

Do you think she got her last paycheck? Vacation pay? Does she think this will get the Wine Dog off her ass? For the newbies, go back to December 2007 for the Architectural Digest pictures of Patty’s homes.

From the Wine Dog’s inbox:

Chris White sent an email this morning saying that they were no longer owned by Mercury. You’re right, they are under the control of the Trustee. REDACTED thinks they are trying to get sold, but in this market, to whom? I asked if they had more layoffs, and REDACTED said no, there really wasn’t anyone left. (18 minutes of erased tape) I can’t believe that they pulled out of the hole they were in when I left. Chris White told unintelligible that they were already 1.5 million in the hole, so how much could that have improved?

Yeah, so I protected the author. So sue me. That being said, maybe we should ask the trustee of the bankruptcy case… Dude howzit?

I’m afraid a lot of Financial Title people just found me. I’ve been warning for about seven months on this. I hope y’all had been squirreling away your nuts because that rainy day is here. I’ve been in this business for 32 years and I’ve never seen it this bad. I’ve seen lay offs and I’ve seen staff taking pay cuts and working two jobs and doing their own office janitorial and everything in between. I’ve never seen company after company folding. I would recommend that escrow staff look at picking up as Asset Managers with the lenders who have a lot of failed mortgages. I would recommend title staff look to solid companies that have a real estate department. Companies like Starbucks, Chili’s, Chevron etc. all have real estate departments. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get a coordinator job. Best of luck to all of you, it blows. Trust me, I’m out of work with you.

Which gets us to my final (maybe) comment of the day. When I look at the hits I got today and the organizations and government bodies who have come here for information, I am infuriated at the Bloodless Empire for doocing me. It makes me wonder what are the suits trying to hide? What nest of cockroaches do you not want me to shine God’s flashlight down on? What do I know that frightens the flying corporate monkeys so much that dumping 32 years experience was the preferred decision? What is it that needs to stay buried? Or is that just who you’ve become?

[youtube 8yPTsGrfcVE]

It’s over


This is bad.  (not the picture, the situation)  Lender’s First Choice, done.  Jerry’s line of credit ran out.  Something about complying with the terms of the agreement, which required him to keep a certain amount of cash in the bank.  They pulled the line, game over.

And I have never made so many posts on the same day.

The hits just keep on coming…

From: Sandi Sigg
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:28 AM
To: FTC-ALL-California
Subject: urgent message from IVY ANDERSON

It is with deep regret that I must tell you that as of close of business Tuesday, July 29th, 2008, Financial Title Company has been closed by its parent company Mercury Companies of Colorado. Mercury is closing all of its companies outside of CO, which also includes AZ, CA, OR, and Utah. As of this moment, all employees are terminated and should remove their personal items now. No files are to be removed or copied in any manner. Files with money in them should also remain as they are now. First American Title has been given stewardship to Financial Title’s trust funds and active files. They have already visited many of your offices this morning and if they have not done so will be doing so shortly.

This event was brought about by Mercury running out of capital to support their operations. They failed to meet the requirements of their creditors thus losing their line of credit. We became aware of this late yesterday afternoon.

Your personnel, insurance and payroll questions should go to Sheri Gustad at 1.303-572-9090 in Colorado.

You can reach me by cell phone at 408-710-5880.

You have have been an incredibly committed and honorable group of individuals and I am so very sorry to see this end like this. I am committed to assist each of you during this transition in any way I can.


Word is they may not be even getting their final checks. Vacation pay -same situation as Alliance Title Company.

I feel like the Perez Hilton of the Title Industry right now. My head is just spinning from all of this buzz. Of course I have some damned good sources. My peanut gallery is the best of the best. Want to join on? Email the winedog at astound dot net with your personal experience. All sources are kept confidential. As a lot of you know, I’ve already lost my job so I’ve got nothing to lose.

Auf Wiedersehen


Financial Title Company employees have been given 24 hour notice to clean out their desks.

Update: They are locked out. Fatco is on site. I’m guessing no one got their vacation etc. We’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. At least now the folks at Financial Title can enjoy Pink Bunny Ears because they’re no longer blocked!!

Update II:  Anybody heard what’s going on with Investors?

But wait, there’s more!

Coconut Telegraph

This just in:

—– Original Message —–
From: Jim Hilbun – UTT
To: UTT – Division Presidents; UTT – Department Managers; UTT – All Fee Attorney Employees
Sent: Tue Jul 29 16:50:23 2008
Subject: UTT Ceases Operation – Urgent Message

It is with deep regret that I must tell you that as of close of business Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 United Title of Texas has been closed by its parent company Mercury Companies of Colorado. Mercury is closing all of its companies outside of CO, which also includes AZ, CA, OR, and NV. As of this moment, all employees are terminated and should either remove their personal items now or return Wed. morning for removal. No files are to be removed or copied in any manner. Files with money in them should also remain as they are now. This is a difficult thing to ask of you but as of this moment you have no legal cause to be in the file since you are no longer and employee of UTT.

This event was brought about by Mercury running out of capital to support their operations. They failed to meet the requirements of their creditors thus losing their line of credit. We became aware of this on Friday but were not notified until 4:15 today of our closing.

Your personnel, insurance, and payroll questions should go to Sheri Gustad at 303-892-7883 in CO.

I will be in the corporate office Wed. morning and will answer questions to the best of my ability.

I am sorry to lose a team as great as you have been. I pray we will cross paths again in the near future.


Jim Hilbun
United Title of Texas
Southwest Regional President
512-340-4100 Office
866-209-8346 Fax

The Hauptman’s are at it again!

Swappin’ tales and tellin’ lies from days when they were young

What’s this “we” shit Kemosabi?

Dinty Moore is keeping a “skeleton” staff here in CoCo County because they don’t want to appear like they run when things get bad and come back when business is good. The Wine Dog has never called them carpetbaggers. (in this blog) I’ve called them carpetbaggers in real time. They are carpetbaggers. When my friends were all on the street with the Alliance Title Company shut down, I told them if there was anything they could do BESIDES go to Stewart, they should. That first full month, they took the REMS. Those guys could do some business. Houston is a bunch of wussies. They are carpetbaggers. I said back in December 2007 that Dinty Moore would just roll up the carpet and go back to Houston until the market picked up that they didn’t have the stomach for down cycles. BUSINESS IS CYCLICAL. DAMMIT! How many times do I have to say that. And I got my MBA from the School of Hard Knocks. Magna Cum Goddamn Laude. But the Alliance crew didn’t have a choice and quite honestly, local management was smart enough to pick them up. Houston wasn’t smart enough to let the ponies run. Too bad. We know what it was all about. And we know who buried what knives in whose back. The Wine Dog has had to pull a few daggers out of her own back.

Coconut Telegraph

This just in:

Gale Bode (Mercury Technology EVP) laid off Mitch Tanenbaum (Mercury CTO, Guardian Mortgage Documents CIO, and Jerry’s personal geek). It seems like 15+ years with the Hauptmans really isn’t worth much. Everybody who is left on the 14th floor of 1515 Arapahoe was asked to take a 10% pay cut. We have a pool on when they’ll be forced to shut their doors, my bet was Labor day.

I’m taking Thanksgiving. Patty Hauptman likes to put people out on the streets for the holidays.

This just in…

Stewart Title Contra Costa buh bye. Houston tossed in the towel today. PBE wishes the best of luck to the folks who lost their jobs. Call me, we’ll do lunch! God knows I haven’t anything else to do.

When the jester sang for the king and queen


My dog is a jerk.


Title bots up close and personal


I left them a little something on the window sill. They are either hiding real well or haven’t been back.


Better than Coconut Telegraph

Don’t be a hater, but look what one gentle reader put in the Wine Dog’s inbox.

We have all seen and experienced changes going on in our marketplace, some within LandAmerica and many around us in the industry. We have seen friends and co-workers leave the business as these times dictate, some have had their positions reduced, some at a time of their choice. We have another such change on our horizon.

As you know, we have recently seen announcements about some of LandAmerica’s benefits changing at the end of the month, and a few at the end of the year. That has changed the plans of some employees and Don Littell is one of those individuals. As we talked over the past couple of weeks, Don made it known that this may be the best time for him to leave the company in order to maximize the opportunities he had available to him. Therefore, we have worked out a voluntary reduction for Don and he will be leaving LandAmerica at the end of July. Don has been a great contributor to the over all efforts in Northern California for LandAmerica Commonwealth for many years and we are working with him in this endeavor to honor those contributions.

As we move forward, we have two individuals who will be stepping into Don’s responsibilities. For Contra Costa County, Mark Medel will be the interim residential manager as we develop a plan for the long term success of this area. Mark is no stranger to Contra Costa, having been the manager there in the past, as well as currently running a successful Alameda operation. For Napa County, Bill Starner will assume the residential manager responsibilities there. Joining us recently from Liberty Title and currently the Sonoma manager, Bill will bring many years of experience in the industry to the great staff in Napa.

Please take the opportunity to touch bases with Don before the end of the month and express your appreciation for what he has contributed to the Northern California operations. Thank you Don.

The Wine Dog wishes you well, Don. At least you had a choice.


Or stuck on stupid… For some reason, I went through my time card on Tuesday of last week, as in one day before Mr. First American called in my paperwork. What I found was that Mr. First American had taken hours off of my time card that I had worked and substituted in PTO, thereby eating up some of my PTO. Well, Dearly Departed Escrow Officer’s told me that he’d done some funny stuff to her time card, which is why I looking in the first place.  She did an audit and found a lot of missing time. Imagine that! An Escrow Officer doing an audit, as if you didn’t see that one coming. Well, I found missing time too, and I had kept records too. When I called his ass on it his lame excuse was “Sometimes I have to do these remotely and they need to get done so I make the changes”. Hey Eagle boy! There was nothing to change.   My card was right! How about picking up that freaking thing on your belt that you play with during meetings and dialing a number? BTW, a cell phone on your belts is sooo 2002. So you got to wonder how many before us got cheated out of their PTO by this joker. They are so shutting that sonofabitch down.

How do you like me now?

The Eagle didn’t like PBE. Back on April 24th they called me in and gave me a formal verbal warning for internet usage. I lost my mojo for about a week and this precipitated the Al Capone analogy . Because my internet usage was not what the problem was. It was PBE they were upset about. They didn’t get that I was writing about things that were already out on the internet in some other form. I guess they were confused by The Google. So they shitcanned me. Who thought that was a good way to shut me up? Yeah, I know the answer to that. How do you like me now? I’m sure Patty Hauptman is thrilled that I got laid off. Don’t worry honey, I’ll be back up your ass soon.

Road Rage

Yesterday’s ride was a lot of things. The Ygnacio loop at 1:10:41. A loss of five minutes. The wind was blowing all the way down the hill so I took it a lot slower, just to be safe. And my legs felt like lead. And it was around 95 out. And I was so bad coming up the hill that I will tell you it was around 10 minutes. Tuesday I got to the base at 46:03. Today it was 50:10 and went downhill (not really) from there. I just stunk up the place. I did do a crossfit workout this morning. I’m going to start powerlifting again on Monday. It was thrusters and pullups. I added a bench in there two. Three sets 21-15-9.

Another drunk kills another cyclist.  My Father taught me way back when I was 15 years old that a vehicle is a dangerous weapon.  Too bad he couldn’t have taught that to everyone.

Double Secret Probation 

I know it’s long, but it’s worth it.

[youtube h6N42M81Yg0]

And this little tidbit came in from dolphyngyrl.  I told you so.   And because we’re on the subject, little Brother was hilarious yesterday.

I stirred my last batch of gravy

Things got a little messy over at Ted’s Excellent Title Adventure. LandAmerica/Commonwealth/New Century/Liberty CoCo County just got a little leaner. They’re light one County Manager, who decided to “retire”. Interesting timing. If you’re going to retire you don’t usually decide to do it on a Wednesday afternoon and clean out your desk on the spot. The Alameda County guy will run both counties yada yada yada. We’ve all heard this song and dance before. Wouldn’t it be nice if he took one for the team? I think he just took one. I liked the guy, but I didn’t have to work for him…

From the Peanut Gallery

EOinHell had a very interesting observation yesterday. Will NASCAR Teddy be putting copy machines in all the EO/Sales Rep’s living rooms? Actually the whole concept has garnered some interesting discussions. I’m wondering if it gets so busy that the EO/Sales Rep needs an assistant, do they set up an assistant in the EO/Sales Rep’s house? Kind of reminds me of the networking meeting on Tuesday when the agent said the bathroom had been converted to an office. How does NASCAR Teddy expect to teach the business to new EO/Sales Rep’s? Traditionally, someone would start as a messenger or receptionist, then would become an assistant and learn at an EO’s knee and after several YEARS be moved up to EO. How are you planning to homegrow’em Teddy? I guess there’s no worrying about what your rep’s doing. You are your rep. The big problem I see is the two different skill sets that are needed to do the two different functions of the job. Some EO’s are sales oriented, many are simply polite and wouldn’t drive business their way without a rep to bring it in. They may get some referral, but numbers and order are their strong suit. They are the personality that crosses every t and dots every i. Sales reps are your walking party. They don’t ever like filling out expense reports and now you want them to do escrow? This is a recipe for disaster. I can’t even begin to figure out the multitude of ways they can violate RESPA in LA with this, although it does take the romance out of equipping new real estate firms. Maybe that’s the answer to EOinHell’s inquiry. They buy the copy machine for the real estate office and just use that one!


Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Mr. First American’s arrival in San Francisco. While we love to celebrate here at PBE, in this case, after a discussion with Dearly Departed Escrow Officer, we thought it would be nice to post his resume. Here’s some lowlights. In one year he:

  • Gave away one long standing well respected rep and lost the other
  • Lost two solid EO’s to attrition (both money making desks)
  • Lost an EO who always did solid six figures (including a 300k month)
  • Thought it would be a good idea to lay off another EO because she had an opinion (ok it was because she’s smarter than he is…we should leave this part off of the official resume)
  • Laid off the guy who knew everything, probably because he was gay
  • Played a lot of golf
  • Bought a lot of lunch for people who probably never want to lunch with him again
  • Sent numerous clients to other branches
  • Explained to us that we weren’t competent to operate a fire extinguisher because we hadn’t been in the Navy. No shit.
  • Broke employment laws in the name of “company policy” (which was recently corrected after a class action settlement)
  • Lost two published title policy experts including a National Underwriter
  • Lied to the staff so much that the only certainty is if his lips are moving he’s probably lying
  • Dismantled an office that his predecessor spent years building and creating good will in only a year

Happy Anniversary. I hope you and your stuffed eagle remembered to wear your First American pin on your lapel.

Martina McBride disables all her videos so no embedding today. In lieu of embedding…linky loo. Actually other links work. File this one under “We get what we deserve”

[youtube vsiADdmoh3E]

I’m bursting with pride. Et tu?

Speaking of bursting with pride, this little speed bump has been good for Rita. Today she was out in the yard barking at something, that’s right at 5am. For the sake of the neighbors, I called for her to come in and all of her hackles were up. Then she started spinning and herding me out to see what she was upset about. She’d touch my leg, bound, spin once, head in the direction she wanted me to go and go through the routine again until I came out in the yard to check it with her. I suspect the culprit was a long gone raccoon.