Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter “Ms. Kihagi apparently thought she could treat the justice system like a pawn. She continually violated court orders and was even convicted of contempt of court during her appeal. This defeat couldn’t be clearer,” wrote City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “It’s time for Ms. Kihagi to end her games. This decision will allow the trial court’s full injunction to go into effect, which prohibits Ms. Kihagi from contacting tenants and requires that an independent property manager oversee these properties.”The $2.7 million, meanwhile, is just the tip of the iceberg. Kihagi owes the city about that much in legal fees for the initial case as well. And that roughly $5.4 million figure has been gathering interest at 10 percent yearly for the better part of two years. Additionally, City Attorneys have been tabulating costs for each and every motion and filing Kihagi has forced them to make in a campaign several have called “legal trench warfare.” City Attorneys are billing for the time they spend filling out forms to tabulate their billing totals. It’s Inception-like. And they’re billing at something like $500 an hour — market rate, more than they earn from the city.In the end, Kihagi may be out some $7 million.Or someone will. One rabbit hole she and the city went down (all billed by the City Attorney’s office to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars), was a battle to force Kihagi to take out an $8 million bond in the event of non-payment. The city won that fight, and a bond was, in fact, taken out by Kihagi. And bonding companies do not operate on a charitable basis. If Kihagi is unable or unwilling to pay the price and the city instead recoups what it is owed from the bonding company, then Kihagi’s collateral will, presumably, be forfeited.It remains to be seen if this is the coup de grâce for Kihagi, who has been cut off from the lucrative income streams that enabled her to leverage purchase after purchase — and, additionally, she will be forced to take a back seat to her wronged tenants Dale Duncan and Marta Muñoz in collecting proceeds from the liquidation of her assets.Kihagi’s response to all of the above has been to disseminate literal fake news assailing her tenants and the city as her real situation has grown ever more dire.She will, likely, keep fighting and fighting. It’s all billable hours. Someone will pay.“This is a fight for justice,” said Peter Keith, the chief of the City Attorney’s code compliance unit. “The attorneys in this office and the folks in the building department have been on this for many years. We’re going to keep going until these buildings are safe and the tenants are secure.” The strange and terrible saga of Anne Kihagi, the city’s cruelest landlord, hit an inflection point Wednesday when the California Supreme Court spurned her appeal. This relegates her case back to Superior Court, and enables the city to take steps to begin collecting on massive penalties that had been on hold during the course of her appeal. It also means an injunction will belatedly go into effect, placing a third party in charge of Kihagi’s many city properties and keeping her at an arm’s length from her put-upon tenants.Between 2013 and 2016, Kihagi-controlled LLCs scooped up at least 11 San Francisco buildings for some $30 million. She made a habit of buying up rent-controlled structures often inhabited by elderly or disabled tenants paying well below-market rates — and then systematically emptying those buildings, and bringing in market-rate tenants. In May 2017, Judge Angela Bradstreet found for the city and against Kihagi in a jaw-dropping 163-page ruling. Bradstreet wrote that Kihagi and her family members engaged in an “egregious and ongoing” pattern of unlawful conduct, and levied $2.7 million in fines upon them for 1,612 separate violations. The judge also held the defendants responsible for legal fees and costs that should more than double that amount, and ordered them to abate voluminous code violations.Much of this work — and payment of these fines — was in limbo during the appeals process.But that process has now come to its ostensible end. Email Address
MARKUSIC: When Elon [Musk, the founder of SpaceX] came and set up a rocket test site in Texas, I was the first long-term director of it, and I saw things about Texas that were very attractive. Texas offers a great economic and regulatory environment. Low cost of living. Austin has a very tech-focused culture. The environmental regulations are not onerous. Land rights are very free—what you can do on your land allows you to move quickly. Contrast that with California, which I experienced firsthand working for Virgin Galactic. I worked for NASA in Alabama, and I worked in Washington state for [the Jeff Bezos–founded] Blue Origin. I’ve been all over, and when it came time to start my own company, it was pretty self-evident that Texas was the place.TM: I recently saw a stat that said SpaceX built its Falcon 9 rocket with almost $400 million, whereas there was a NASA estimate that it would cost $1.6 billion to build a similar kind of vehicle. Why is it so much cheaper for a private company to do that? MARKUSIC: When you’re doing something in that heritage space way, you’re inheriting a lot of requirements that can drive cost up. It’s a very risk-averse framework. Many things in the government are like, “You just add money and a person. Here are the instructions—do this thing.” That type of approach is usually pretty reliable in getting the result you want, but it’s really expensive. And it’s usually undergirded by contractors who are disincentivized to make things at the lowest cost. With New Space, you’re spending people’s money; you’re not spending this amorphous blob of taxpayer money. That just pervades the whole culture. TM: Let’s talk about how you got here. How does a person decide it’s time to start building spaceships? MARKUSIC: I’m very interested in interstellar travel, and I’ve spent a lot of my life studying the underlying physics of that. I got a PhD from Princeton, where I studied plasma physics. At the time, fire-breathing rockets were something I absolutely turned my nose up at. I thought, “People already figured that out.” I was interested in the really far-out stuff, and that’s what I ended up working on for NASA and the Air Force early in my career. Developing space systems for military purposes, systems to take humans to outer planets, robotic exploration of outer planets. And then I met Elon.TM: Who had just started SpaceX. MARKUSIC: Yeah. NASA kind of pulled the rug out from the R&D stuff that I was working on because they wanted to focus on a new program called Constellation, which just wasn’t for me. So they gave me an opportunity to be a manager. I always like learning new things, so I thought I’d learn about management and how organizations work. I just dug into all the details of that. And at some point they were like, “Hey, there’s this crazy dot-com guy who thinks he’s going to build his own rocket. Why don’t you go out and see what they’re doing and see if there’s anything useful you can learn from them?” So I packed up all my management books and stuff that I was reading—you know, The One-Minute Manager or Who Moved My Cheese?—and I went to Kwajalein.TM: That’s the chain of South Pacific islands where SpaceX was testing its Falcon 1 rocket. MARKUSIC: Yes. And there I found a bunch of guys and women just sweating in T-shirts and drinking a lot and fishing and going between islands on catamarans and putting up this rocket. They were having bonfires and sleeping under the stars and all this stuff—and I was reading my sterile, spiritless management books. I’d been wearing a tie to work, with lots of paper pushers around me. And it became clear to me that the purpose of management books was to sell management books. And here were these people literally building a machine to go to space. I just hit it off with them, and eventually I was like, “Hey, can you hand me a screwdriver?” and I started helping. Markusic at SpaceX’s launch site on Kwajalein Atoll, in early 2006.Courtesy of Tom MarkusicTM: I love the image of a guy with a PhD working on a rocket with a screwdriver. Like, “We better tighten this down before launch.” First Name If you fill out the first name, last name, or agree to terms fields, you will NOT be added to the newsletter list. Leave them blank to get signed up. The State of Texas(Daily)A daily digest of Texas news, plus the latest from Texas Monthly In a nondescript industrial park in far-north suburban Austin, about 150 people are building spaceships. Covering one wall is a giant portrait of Wernher von Braun, the German rocketry pioneer. In the back, there’s a machine shop where engineers are turning out rocket engines. A giant video screen displays a real-time feed from the company’s engine test site in Briggs, about thirty minutes from headquarters, where more engineers regularly blast fire across the prairie. Both facilities are part of Firefly Aerospace, a maker of unmanned spacecraft and rockets for launching satellites. Tom Markusic, the 49-year-old founder and CEO, has worked for America’s largest public and private space ventures, from NASA to SpaceX. During a recent conversation at his Cedar Park office, the Ohio native opened up about his company’s roller-coaster journey to launch, the power of “New Space,” and why he’s doing it in Texas. TEXAS MONTHLY: Your company’s tagline is “Making space for everyone.” What do you mean by that? TOM MARKUSIC: That’s just another way of saying “New Space,” as opposed to heritage space, the NASA era. New Space is about dramatically lowering the cost and increasing the access to space. TM: Texas has such a long history in the space industry, specifically in the NASA glory days. Can you contrast Old Space and New Space for me? Last Name Enter your email address MARKUSIC: We try to be gentle and not say “Old Space.” We call it heritage space. I think “old” really shortchanges what it is; heritage is important. We’re very much interested in integrating things from the past to make our lives easier. So the foundation that’s been laid is important, but operationally we’re a lot different.TM: How so? MARKUSIC: Faster, cheaper is the big thing, and not being afraid to try different approaches. Firefly’s one-hundred-foot vertical test stand.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: A layperson would look at Texas’s history with space and say, “There must be a lot of rocket scientists in Texas, so it makes sense to launch a company like Firefly here.” But is that actually why you’re in Texas? MARKUSIC: Building a great company is not about drawing in a bunch of people who’ve done this sort of stuff before. It’s about drawing in the most talented people possible. Find the smartest, hardest-working, most passionate people you can, and if they don’t have space experience, that’s okay because they’re so good. They’ll learn, and they’ll pass the more experienced people very quickly. That’s the kind of company you’re trying to build in New Space. TM: So you’re not hiring a bunch of NASA people. MARKUSIC: Exactly. TM: Why did you create this company in Texas, then? MARKUSIC: We ended up crashing three rockets there, and part of that was probably from lack of discipline. But it was a learning experience. There was just such a dramatic contrast between what we were doing out there and my real job. Elon was there pretty much full-time, and I was just inspired by his belief that it was all going to work perfectly. It was very clear that this guy expects, one hundred percent, that this thing’s going to launch and it’s going to be great. There’s something magnetic about that. These guys were charting an entirely new path to space, this lower-cost, higher-frequency access. As soon as I got back to the States, I got an offer to leave NASA and run SpaceX’s Texas engine-testing facility, in McGregor. My wife was eight months pregnant at the time, but it just felt right.TM: But eventually you left SpaceX. Why?MARKUSIC: After having worked for them for about five years and crawling through rockets and taking every little nut and bolt apart, I learned everything about launch vehicles to the point where I could design one myself. And by then it was clear to me that not only was SpaceX for real, but this whole New Space thing could be very real. So I thought I should try to help other companies, to further the movement. I went to Blue Origin and was there very, very briefly [for just two months]. SpaceX had been just brutal and fast-paced, and I thrived in that environment, but Blue Origin felt much more like a rich man’s hobby. It was a shock to my system, and while I was there, I got a call from Richard Branson, at Virgin Galactic, asking me to help get his spaceship going. So I left to develop rocket engines for him for about three years. TM: What was the opportunity you saw to leave and start Firefly? MARKUSIC: Everything in those companies was about going to Mars [and colonizing space]. But it was clear to me that there was a need for a smaller rocket to serve the market for launching a new generation of small satellites into low-Earth orbit. I came to this crossroads where it was like, “I know how to do this. If I had a group of people and money, I could build this machine. I know I can. Let’s go make a rocket company.” That was at the end of 2013. TM: Speaking of money, who do you turn to when you decide you want to start building rockets? MARKUSIC: I was able to put in $1 million. My two business partners put in comparable amounts. And then we started talking to friends and family and our professional networks—a few hundred thousand dollars here, a few hundred thousand there. TM: But that doesn’t get you super far. MARKUSIC: You start to spend serious money when you’re hiring and making stuff. I think we eventually raised $20 million that way, the hard way, in small increments. That’s what was consuming all of my time. And when you’re burning through more than $1 million a week, as we were, you’re always just racing toward the cliff. I pitched every venture capitalist in Silicon Valley in that period, but those folks are used to funding app companies that have, you know, five guys and some programmers in India or something. They have a low probability of success but also low initial funding requirements and a very high potential payoff. So the venture capitalists can make a hundred bets on those kinds of companies for the price of funding one rocket company, which is also super risky. TM: Which is why it makes sense that billionaires like Bezos, Musk, and Branson are the type of people who start rocket companies. MARKUSIC: Right. You have to have a backer who has a passion for space, the resources, and a broader vision. TM: So what happened? The company was living hand-to-mouth, essentially. How did you break out of that cycle? MARKUSIC: We didn’t. We encountered a perfect hurricane of circumstances. We had finally put together a $30 million investment deal. One investor was a European company, and one was an American individual. It was the summer of 2016, and then Brexit happened and sent shock waves through Europe, which made the European company back out. Around the same time, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blew up on the launchpad and spooked the American investor. We ran out of money. Firefly Space Systems went out of business.Venting liquid oxygen at the Briggs test site.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: On a human level, here you were, literally building a rocket ship, and you had to shut it down. That must have been devastating. MARKUSIC: Absolutely miserable. It reminded me of the story of life—you know, you come in by yourself, you go out by yourself. In the end, it was just me sitting down in bankruptcy meetings. The hardest part was laying off 160 people—letting all of those people down— and letting investors down.TM: What’d you do with all the stuff? I mean, there were rocket parts being built here. What happens to a partially built rocket that no longer has a company that’s building the rest of it? MARKUSIC: That was the second-hardest part, looking at all this stuff and thinking that potentially somebody was going to drag it off and cut it up and sell it for scrap metal. So you lock the doors. I still had this office space that whole time and still had the test site in Briggs. I was actually coming in here to work. It was just me, alone, and the rocket parts. TM: What were you working on? MARKUSIC: It became about getting up every day and saying, “What am I going to do to try to turn this around, to bring it back?” And then, you know, things eventually happen.TM: Like what? MARKUSIC: We had learned a lot, and now I had an opportunity to design the absolute right rocket. If we had completed the first Firefly Alpha rocket, it would have been much less competitive than the second generation we’re building now: it was too small by half; the payload capacity was not optimal for the kind of satellites it would take up. I might have had us on a path to long-term failure anyway. So I started redesigning the rocket. The other thing that happened is that I met Max Polyakov, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s figured out lots of different ways to make money on the internet. Max saw the stories of us going down, came out here and bought the company’s assets, and we relaunched as Firefly Aerospace six months after we shut down. TM: Recently there was news that you would be building a factory on Florida’s Space Coast and launching at Cape Canaveral—and you previously announced you’d be launching at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, as well. Meanwhile, there are several rocket-launch sites in Texas—SpaceX has one near Brownsville, and Blue Origin has one near Van Horn, in West Texas. Why not launch closer to home? MARKUSIC: It has a lot to do with what you’re going to fly over when you launch. You want to be in a place where, if your rocket fails, it’s not going to damage property or people below it. For orbital launches, being near the Gulf is just not as good an option as being near an open ocean. If you launch over the Gulf, you’re going to have to do some evasive maneuvers to go around islands like Cuba, and that wastes rocket fuel. It’s also just easier to use an existing facility. Part of the game here is time and money. There’s a pool of people talking about going to space, and it’s really hard to tell who’s real and who’s not real. So it’s super important to get there and show people you’re real as soon as possible. Look at SpaceX. They’ve been using government facilities, and now that they’re established, they’re building their Brownsville facility. I could see us building our own launch site one day, but right now I’ve got to pick our fights.TM: Because small satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional satellites do, they can transmit data to us more quickly. Why is that such a big opportunity?MARKUSIC: I like to say that space is the next frontier in the information revolution, in both collecting and disseminating information. Take Earth imaging, for example: from low-Earth orbit, you can track how much iron ore China has or deforestation or how many cars are in a mall parking lot at any time. That’s incredibly powerful and valuable information. There are just unlimited use cases. TM: So we’ll basically be getting persistent, high-resolution images of the whole planet? MARKUSIC: It depends on what you want and how frequently you want it. And what region you’re looking at. I mean, we can talk about real-time stuff—say, following your girlfriend, watching where her car is driving from space. TM: That’s creepy. MARKUSIC: I just mean that it’s possible. Then there’s the ability to access markets that are closed. You know, [nearly half] of the people in the world don’t have internet. Giving them access could help lift them up. It’s easier to beam down widespread broadband internet access using satellites than to lay terrestrial cables and fiber. In many cases, it’s faster internet, too. I’ve had people from the biggest financial institutions in the world in here, in their Italian leather shoes, saying, “If you can get me data from India to New York five milliseconds faster than it can go through a fiber-optic cable, it’s worth $250 million to me”—because over fifty percent of trading is high-frequency trading. There’s just so much that’s going to happen. The perception that space exploration is all, like, “one small step for man” type of stuff is not really what’s going on. It’s all a big financial play, which is ultimately what it should be. We’re Americans. We’re a business. We should be about making money. Doing other things like going to the moon is icing on the cake. The interior of Firefly’s Stage 2 Interstage Barrel.Photograph by Jeff WilsonTM: Can you paint me a picture of where Firefly goes in the future? Are small satellites an entry point into a much wider space play: manned interplanetary travel, things like that? MARKUSIC: One thing I would like is for us to become a parts supplier. A big reason this has all been so expensive for us is because I’ve had to develop my own rocket engines, my own valves, all these things. You want to start a rocket company? Here: you can buy rocket engines out of my catalog. I’ll sell you the parts. So the barrier to entry for future companies would go way down because you don’t have to create these technological miracles to get your company started. In the past, parts were unbelievably expensive because they were being primarily sold to the government. If you wanted to buy a space-shuttle main engine, it was tens of millions of dollars. But if you could buy rocket engines for a couple of hundred thousand dollars from this company in Austin? It would totally change the economics.TM: You’ve announced that you will launch a rocket by the end of this year. Is it going to happen? MARKUSIC: People make too many promises in the world, and I’m not a promise type of person, but I can tell you that everyone in this company is working toward 6:30 a.m. on December 16, 2019. And we’re giving it hell. TM: Okay—be honest. How much of what you do is because rockets are just cool? MARKUSIC: I’m a Christian guy. I definitely believe in Providence. I believe there’s a God who built me to do this kind of stuff. And if you’re doing what you’re built to do, it’s just naturally awesome, right? It is awesome.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Getting to Liftoff.” Subscribe today. Editor’s Desk(Monthly)A message from the editors at Texas Monthly Sign UpI agree to the terms and conditions. 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SAINTS have announced their 19-man squad for Friday’s First Utility Super League Qualifying Playoff against Castleford Tigers.Alex Walmsley misses out through suspension and that sees a recall for Greg Richards.Nathan Brown will choose from:2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Lance Hohaia, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Paul Wellens, 22. Mark Percival, 24. Gary Wheeler, 26. Matty Dawson, 27. Greg Richards, 28. Luke Thompson.Daryl Powell will choose his side from:2. Kirk Dixon, 3. Michael Shenton, 4. Jake Webster, 6. Luke Dorn, 7. Mark Sneyd, 8. Andy Lynch, 9. Adam Milner, 10. Craig Huby, 11. Grant Millington, 12. Weller Hauraki, 13. Nathan Massey, 14. Daryl Clark, 16. Oliver Holmes, 19. Scott Wheeldon, 20. Jamie Ellis, 23. Michael Channing, 24. James Clare, 26. Liam Finn, 32. Lee Jewitt.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be James Child.Tickets for the match remain on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.
KYLE Amor wanted to play in big games and on Saturday he will realise that dream.The big Cumbrian prop moved to Saints in the off-season and the Grand Final is exactly why he signed.“It is something you dream of; playing in a fantastic stadium, in a big game,” he said. “It is something I have been working towards for a while and come 6pm on Saturday it will be special.“Wigan have been playing well and we know they will come at us thick and fast. We can’t wait for that challenge. It has all the ingredients for a great game and we are looking forward to it.“I don’t think there is anything between the two sides. A lot of the media have Wigan as favourites but how long have people been writing us off for now? We are here by merit.“Naturally, as a rugby player if anyone pulls you back or down, you want to show a reaction. But we are focusing a week at a time. It’s not a case of proving people wrong, it’s focusing on our own bubble and working towards our next win.“Nothing changes because it is a final, we just want to win.”Grand Final Ticket Details.
All proceeds from the auction will go to St Helens Autism Support.The shirts are match-worn from our game vs Widnes Vikings at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle which we won 38-18.Final Bids: Ben Barba – £1055 Tommy Makinson – £250 Ryan Morgan – £250 Mark Percival – £290 Regan Grace – £250 Jonny Lomax – £375 Danny Richardson – £280 Luke Douglas – £250 James Roby – £270 Luke Thompson – £355 Zeb Taia – £215 Dominique Peyroux – £220 Jon Wilkin – £240 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook – £400 Theo Fages – £225 Morgan Knowles – £230 Matty Lees – £225Non-Playing Squad Members’ shirts:Matty Smith – £195 Adam Swift – £160
SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Police are looking for the suspect in an armed robbery that happened early this morning at a Sunset Beach Hardee’s.Just after 4 a.m., a person entered Hardee’s, located at 1651 Seaside Road SW, armed with a pistol and demanded the manager open the safe. The suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.- Advertisement – Officers from Sunset Beach were the first on scene and soon received mutual aid from Ocean Isle Beach Police, and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.Detectives from SBPD responded to the scene and an investigation is underway. No one was hurt during the early morning incident.Anyone with information is asked to call Sunset Beach Police at 910-579-6297.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Police are looking for a man they say tried abduct a female around 9 a.m. this morning in Wilmington.The victim told police that she was walking down near the 500 block of Heidi Drive toward Wood Dale Drive when the suspect drove up behind her. After a few minutes she heard the door on the vehicle slam and realized the suspect was right behind her. The suspect grabbed her by the shoulder, however she was able to kick the suspect and get away.- Advertisement – The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 30-35 years of age, 5’7 inches tall, medium build, dark skin, with a mustache. He was wearing a sweat shirt and jeans and spoke limited English. The suspect was driving a newer model, dark grey Chevy pickup truck with two doors.If you have any information about this incident please use Text-a-Tip or call the Wilmington Police Department at 910-343-3609.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — As the school year winds down, one in Brunswick County took the time to thank people who have been helping the school throughout the year.WWAY’s Hannah Patrick was at the luncheon at Lincoln Elementary Friday.- Advertisement – Lincoln is active with community events throughout the year.The school also has Read Aloud day and Career Day. It brings in people from the community from a wide variety of careers like police, fire, lawyers, and even news.The school actually has one of the largest groups of volunteers in the county.
Police identified the victim as a male saying he is in stable condition at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.Police responded to Houston Moore after a Shotspotter alert activated. When they arrived officers were told that the victim had already arrived at the hospital.Witnesses also told police the incident occurred after the victim was seen assaulting a pregnant woman.Related Article: Death investigation begins in Wilmington after officer is flagged downAllen confronted the man, an altercation started and a short time later Allen allegedly shot the man.Allen was arrested a short time later. Police say the pregnant woman was taken to the hospital. No word on her condition.The case remains under investigation and additional charges may be forthcoming. Police positioned outside Houston Moore on April 22, 2019. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Police have made an arrest in the third shooting this holiday weekend.Police say 20-year-old, Quaneik Allen has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon, after a shooting in the Houston Moore housing community that happened around 12:22 this afternoon.- Advertisement –