Designer Confidence Increases Four Items in Dec

“This is definitely an encouraging sign as we move into 2014,” said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “The HMI is up 11 points since December of 2012 and has been above 50 for the past seven months. This indicates that an increasing number of builders have a positive view on where the industry is going.”

“The recent spike in mortgage interest rates has not deterred consumers as rates are still near historically low levels,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Following a two-month pause in the index, this uptick is due in part to release of the pent-up demand caused by the uncertainty generated by the October government shutdown. We continue to look for a gradual improvement in the housing recovery in the year ahead.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in December. The index gauging current sales conditions jumped six points to 64, while the index gauging expectations for future sales rose two points to 62. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers gained three points to 44.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South edged one point higher to 57 while the Northeast, Midwest and West each fell a single point to 38, 59 and 59, respectively.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at More information on housing statistics is also available at


Pc specialist facts untrue charter school documents

The former business manager of Dorothy June Brown’s charter school network admitted in federal court Monday that he was lying to federal investigators when he told them the school boards had approved emergency loans to each other.

In fact, Anthony Smoot said, he lied over the course of seven interviews with federal agents.

But Smoot said he was telling the truth on the stand - he had to, he said, under his plea agreement with prosecutors. He has already pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the $6.7 million charter fraud case and prosecutors have told him he could be charged with lying to federal agents if he does not say what really happened.

Brown is accused of defrauding the four charter schools she founded and then conspiring with two former administrators to obstruct justice by initiating a cover-up. Links:

Place of business: 1133 Aldgate Avenue,
La Puente, CA, 91744
Contact: 800-419-0211

During cross-examination by Gregory P. Miller, one of Brown’s defense attorneys, Smoot also acknowledged that he had asked his sister, Myra Corbin, who worked for Brown, to sign some blank checks.

"I was instructed to have the checks signed by Dr. Brown," Smoot said.

Miller asked Smoot why he had not just quit rather than involve his sister.

"I don’t know why. I don’t know why," Smoot said on his second day on the stand. "I just didn’t."

Also during the ninth day of a trial that has featured testimony of doctored charter board meeting minutes, fake resolutions, and backdated contracts with forged signatures, a forensic computer expert told jurors how analysts were able to determine when the documents were created.

Esteban Roche, a forensic computer expert with the FBI, said that specialists had copied hard drives of computers that were seized from Brown’s administrative office in Bala Cynwyd during a search in May 2010, and then sifted through the massive data using certain phrases to find the records.

Roche explained how time stamps in documents created using Microsoft Office, as well as information from computer operating systems, show when documents are created, changed, printed, and downloaded. He said the analysis also pinpointed the computers in Brown’s administrative headquarters used to produce the documents.

As Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan E. Burnes guided him through the evidence, Roche testified about 14 charter documents, including board minutes and resolutions, that were created months or years after their purported dates.

For example, an emergency loan agreement between Laboratory Charter School and Ad Prima Charter School, which was dated in July 2004, actually was created on March 31, 2010, Roche said.

He said the document was found on the computer of Joan Woods Chalker, a former top administrator who has pleaded guilty to three counts of obstruction of justice. Chalker last week testified that she had created several phony documents.

During cross-examination by Miller, Roche acknowledged that while records may show the name of the person who is authorized to use Microsoft Office or has an e-mail account associated with a particular computer, “it does not tell you who sat down and prepared the document.”


Taken from: