Builder challenges Dingell on mortgage tax proposal

By CAROL CAIN
FREE PRESS BUSINESS COLUMNIST
August 19, 2007
Custom-home builder Eric Guidobono considers himself as patriotic and environmentally conscientious as anyone, but that doesn’t mean he won’t call out a politician he believes is off the mark.

And Guidobono says U.S. Rep. John Dingell is misguided with his recently announced proposal that would include the elimination of mortgage tax deductions on homes larger than 3,000 square feet.

Dingell disclosed details of his plan to cut global warming during town hall meetings earlier this month in Ann Arbor and Dearborn. His plan also included talk about a 50-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax.

As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat, is one of the handful of people who will attempt to guide Congress as it grapples with climate-change bills over the next couple of years.

Guidobono and his brother Mark Guidobono are building and selling Tuscany Reserve Estate Homes in Novi, which is to include 58 custom-built homes with price tags in excess of $1.2 million each. The homes range from 3,600 to 6,000 square feet.

The brothers also built Bellagio estate homes in Northville, 55 upscale homes that took them eight years to sell. Despite the difficult economy, upscale homes that cost more than $1 million have been selling, albeit slowly, Eric Guidobono said.

But the potential loss of the mortgage tax deduction could give some buyers pause.

“The truth is that larger homes being built today are far more energy-efficient than the ranches of the ’50s and colonials of the ’70s. Does Mr. Dingell really intend to punish owners of high-energy-efficient homes in an effort to combat global warming?” Guidobono asked.

It’s all in the name
When Jason Vines talks about “knocking them down like gophers,” he isn’t talking target practice.

Rather, the feisty vice president of communications at Chrysler LLC is using the metaphor to talk about things that keep popping up after the company’s recent name change.

Private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management took majority ownership of Chrysler LLC on Aug. 3, and the automaker has been working to remove the outdated DaimlerChrysler moniker from company letterhead, signs, e-mail addresses, pay stubs — even mentions on TV and radio ads. Despite the months of planning, some things have fallen through the cracks.

“Just last week I heard a radio commercial on Paul W. Smith’s show for Jeep that mentioned DaimlerChrysler,” Vines said. He said he’ll keep at it until DaimlerChrysler is long gone.

Get ready to roast at fund-raiser
If you like hearing folks poke fun at executives, politicians and media types, get out your red marker and circle Nov. 1 for the Steakout roast at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.

The theme of this year’s show is “Detroit Idle.”

“If you’re famous in this state, and you’ve done something illegal, immoral or, well, just plain stupid, we’re gunning for you,” joked Vines, who is cochair for the event along with Tim Kiska of CBS Radio and the University of Michigan, and Ed Lapham of Automotive News.

Proceeds go to Goodfellows, which provides needy children with Christmas gifts, and the Detroit Press Club Foundation, which provides journalism scholarships.

The event includes a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and the show at 8 p.m. The highlight will be the Steakout Lifetime Achievement Award, given to the newsmaker who gives the media the most so-called raw meat. The past two winners were Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The only potential bugaboo: Should the Detroit Tigers make it into the World Series, Game 7 would be played that night. Regardless, the show will go on, Vines said.

Tickets are $150 each and can be purchased by mailing a check to Steakout, P.O. Box 255, Eastpointe, MI 48021.

CAROL CAIN writes about business and politics on Sundays in the Free Press. She is host of “Michigan Matters” on CBS Detroit (Channel 62) at 11 a.m. Sundays and on Channel 50 at 9:30 a.m. Sundays. She can be reached at 313-222-6732 or clcain@cbs.com.

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