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> Chicago Options Associates, What’s the story?
Peter Damian
post Tue 27th September 2011, 7:52am
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In 1994 Wales left the university of Alabama and took a job at Chicago Options Associates, as Research Director. He left in 1996. I am still puzzled how he made enough money so as not to work again, having worked there less than two years, in a research capacity (rather than a trader).

What happened to Chicago Options Associates? The CEO was Michael Davis, who in that period was the subject of a lawsuit referenced here

http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/appe...tml/1041110.htm
http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/supr.../may/102578.pdf

I haven’t time to follow the details of the case yet, but it seems Davis was successfully sued for a large sum of money (then), nearly $1m, and tried by various means to avoid payment. Does anyone know the full story? I see Greg has followed this one in the past.
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dogbiscuit
post Tue 27th September 2011, 10:39am
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Tue 27th September 2011, 8:52am) *

In 1994 Wales left the university of Alabama and took a job at Chicago Options Associates, as Research Director. He left in 1996. I am still puzzled how he made enough money so as not to work again, having worked there less than two years, in a research capacity (rather than a trader).

What happened to Chicago Options Associates? The CEO was Michael Davis, who in that period was the subject of a lawsuit referenced here

http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/appe...tml/1041110.htm
http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/supr.../may/102578.pdf

I haven’t time to follow the details of the case yet, but it seems Davis was successfully sued for a large sum of money (then), nearly $1m, and tried by various means to avoid payment. Does anyone know the full story? I see Greg has followed this one in the past.

Isn't it the case that the "enough money to never work again" is entirely fictitious? The circumstantial evidence is his modest assets (such as car and house which Greg has mocked in the past) and his putting in excessive claims for expenses and his ability to hang onto large speaking fees. I've never seen anything suggesting that he personally put in any substantial amounts of money into any project. Most of it seems to have been scammed from other people.
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Peter Damian
post Tue 27th September 2011, 12:39pm
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I found some more recent information on the net. Google ‘Dowling vs Davis’. The case wasn’t finished until this year. The upshot was the Davis was bankrupt and couldn’t pay any money back, and only just managed to hold onto his retirement fund, merely $95,000. There is a bit on WR here. http://wikipediareview.com/index.php?s=&sh...ndpost&p=266739 about Davis’ involvement in Wikia.

Question: assuming COA broke up in 2006, after Wales and Davis formed Bomis, why did they end up owing Dowling nearly $1m? What happened to the money? How did Davis end up being bankrupt? Did Jimmy really make any money at all?

o 1994-2000: Jimmy Wales works as a research director at Chicago Options Associates, where Michael Davis is CEO.
o May 1995 - Chicago Options Associates (traders on CME) and Dowling, a trader employed by COA and by Michael Davis, entered into an agreement revising the compensation Dowling was to receive from COA in respect of Dowling investing in and becoming a shareholder of COA. However, the investment and shareholder discussions broke down and a dispute arose concerning the compensation Dowling was due.
o May 1996, Dowling filed suit against COA and Davis seeking a portion of COA's profits, plus interest, from 1994 through the 1995 Agreement's termination date.
o November 7, 1996: Jimmy Wales, Tim Shell, and Michael Davis form Bomis, Inc., a Delaware Close Corporation
o May and October 2002: a bench trial was subsequently held and the circuit court entered judgments totaling $817,830.45 in favor of Dowling.
o January 2003, Davis's ex-wife and minor children moved to Florida and the children began attending school.
o February 2003, Davis and his wife moved from Chicago, Illinois, to Florida, purchased a home, and applied for Florida driver's licenses. Davis and his wife also applied for a Florida real estate homestead tax exemption.
o March 2003, Dowling instituted supplementary proceedings against Davis and attempted to serve Davis at his residence in Chicago; however, because Davis had moved to Florida, service was not completed.
o September 30, 2003, Dowling presents a motion for a turnover order for the cash value of Davis's Northwestern Mutual life insurance policy (the life insurance policy). The life insurance policy had been established in 1992, had a net benefit of $587,067, and, on September 17, 2003, had a net surrender value of $95,059.58.
o November 3, 2003, because Davis did not appear in response to the citation served upon attorney Landis, the circuit court, on Dowling's motion, entered an order of contempt against Davis, as well as a bench warrant for his arrest.
o November 12, 2003, pursuant to a citation to discover assets issued to Charles Schwab, and on Dowling's unopposed motion, the circuit court entered a turnover order directing Charles Schwab to deliver the full cash surrender value of Davis's individual retirement account (IRA) to Dowling.
o Some time in 2003, Davis becomes the Chief Operating Officer of “community-focused wiki hosting service” Wikia, Inc.
o June 14, 2004: Davis and COA’s appeal is dismissed.
o November 19, 2003, Dowling filed a motion in the circuit court for turnover orders directed to Davis's membership interest in Buckhorn Ranch, LLC (Buckhorn Ranch), and his stock in Boomis, Inc. (Boomis). [Probably ‘Bomis’?] Dowling asked the circuit court to order Davis to turnover his membership interests and stock directly to Dowling.
o November 19, 2003, Davis submitted to the circuit court's jurisdiction and filed a motion to vacate the turnover order directed to Northwestern Mutual, claiming that the cash value of the life insurance policy was exempt. Piper Rudnick also filed a motion to vacate the turnover order directed to Charles Schwab, asserting that the account was exempt under Florida law and, alternatively, under Illinois law. Davis also requested that the circuit court vacate its contempt order and quash the arrest warrant issued for him.
o Some time in 2006 (after the Wikia name became official), after having his expense credit card taken way by Devouard [?] at WMF, Jimbo presented a dinner expense bill (with the famous $600 wine bill) to Wikia, which resulted in his partner Michael Davis having Jimbo fired as Wikia CEO, and bringing in Gil Penchina to replace him.
o May 3 2007, supreme court of the state of Illinois considers an appeal requires us to determine whether monies paid to Davis’ lawyers as a retainer belonged to the lawyer’s or to Davis. Background: Brian Dowling, commenced proceedings to collect on two judgments he obtained against COA and Davis. In the process, Dowling learned that Davis had paid retainers to his lawyers in March 2003, in connection with efforts to protect his assets from Dowling’s judgments. Dowling sought turnover of those retainers from Piper. The circuit court of Cook County ruled in Dowling’s favor and ordered Piper to pay over to Dowling the sum of $137,576.53. The judge’s determination is that the court should remand the cause back to the circuit court for further proceedings to discern the intention of Piper and its clients, Davis and Seibel, with respect to the specific fee agreement at issue here.
o 2008, bankruptcy proceedings were initiated against Davis in the Middle District of Florida.
o April of 2009, the bankruptcy court entered an order finding that Davis' retirement assets were exempt from creditors. In May of 2009, the Order Confirming Plan was entered in the Bankruptcy Case but the bankruptcy court reserved jurisdiction to consider Davis' counterclaim for damages in the Adversary Proceeding, which was consolidated with Davis' objection in the Bankruptcy Case. The bankruptcy court held a trial on Davis' counterclaim, consolidated with his objection, on February 16, 2010, May 18, 2010, and May 21, 2010. The issue at trial was whether to impose liability against Dowling for his seizure of Davis' exempt retirement assets.

http://fl.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocVi...1032.MFL.htm/qx
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thekohser
post Tue 27th September 2011, 12:46pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Tue 27th September 2011, 3:52am) *

I am still puzzled how he made enough money so as not to work again, having worked there less than two years, in a research capacity (rather than a trader).


The puzzle is solved once you understand that Jimmy made enough money to buy a house and live off of savings for a few years, and no more than that. The "set for life" version you're quoting was a fiction created by the mainstream media, which Jimbo has only tepidly endeavored to correct.

By the way, do you not know that Michael Davis has worked for Wikia, Inc. for a number of years now? Chicago Options Associates (and Bomis along with it) was likely a casualty of Davis' hot-foot run to Florida, where the homestead laws would protect a good portion of his money (and that of his wife's, Emily Seibel) from Brian Dowling's lawsuit.
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thekohser
post Tue 27th September 2011, 12:54pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Tue 27th September 2011, 8:39am) *

The upshot was the Davis was bankrupt and couldn’t pay any money back...


Please understand that one's residential property in Florida is in most cases untouchable by civil judgments, then also please understand that Mister "Bankrupt" Davis had purchased his Florida home for (if I recall) about $1.7 million.

One can pretend to be "bankrupt" if it serves the purpose of hiding money from a judgment owed to your mortal enemy from a business deal gone bad.
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Peter Damian
post Tue 27th September 2011, 1:00pm
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QUOTE(thekohser @ Tue 27th September 2011, 1:46pm) *

QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Tue 27th September 2011, 3:52am) *

I am still puzzled how he made enough money so as not to work again, having worked there less than two years, in a research capacity (rather than a trader).


The puzzle is solved once you understand that Jimmy made enough money to buy a house and live off of savings for a few years, and no more than that. The "set for life" version you're quoting was a fiction created by the mainstream media, which Jimbo has only tepidly endeavored to correct.

By the way, do you not know that Michael Davis has worked for Wikia, Inc. for a number of years now? Chicago Options Associates (and Bomis along with it) was likely a casualty of Davis' hot-foot run to Florida, where the homestead laws would protect a good portion of his money (and that of his wife's, Emily Seibel) from Brian Dowling's lawsuit.


Sorry Greg I half expected you would have covered this already, and indeed I found your work after posting. Andrew Lih has something about Wales working there, saying Wales was originally hired on the strength of the option pricing model he worked on (Brooks, Robert; Jon Corson, Jimmy Donal Wales (1994). "The Pricing of Index Options When the Underlying Assets All Follow a Lognormal Diffusion". Advances in Futures and Options Research 7). Note that Wales was not the lead author and seems to have claimed credit for the authorship. And he would not have been paid much for what he was doing at COA.

But the puzzle is far from solved. We don’t know whether, or how, COA folded. How possible, given the money which Dowling had made for them? What actually was the trading agreement? What happened to the money? Davis is now bankrupt.

Dowling would be the person to locate for his take on the days at COA, but he seems to be internet invisible.
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SB_Johnny
post Tue 27th September 2011, 2:27pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Tue 27th September 2011, 9:00am) *

Note that Wales was not the lead author and seems to have claimed credit for the authorship.

Sounds like Jimmy alright. Fudge the resume, take the credit, let the partners crash and burn.
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EricBarbour
post Tue 27th September 2011, 9:59pm
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The irritating part of all this is that most of it happened before the public Internet became popular, so there's very little about COA and the Dowling-Davis dispute online.

Plus, there's an Irish TV personality and an American football player also named Brian Dowling. Arrgh.

See if you can find out the name of Dowling's legal representation. I can help by purchasing the Findlaw case if needed.

I'm looking on Justia for "Davis v. Dowling", there are multiple documents.
The representatives were Robbins Salomon & Patt, Tracy E. Stevenson appears to be Dowling's attorney.

I also found this. Greg's right, the courts keep upholding that "Florida homesteading" rule that allows the hiding of assets in a primary home in Florida--even federal courts can't touch it.

This post has been edited by EricBarbour: Tue 27th September 2011, 10:31pm
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thekohser
post Wed 28th September 2011, 3:39am
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QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Tue 27th September 2011, 5:59pm) *

I also found this. Greg's right, the courts keep upholding that "Florida homesteading" rule that allows the hiding of assets in a primary home in Florida--even federal courts can't touch it.


It's the reason Michael Davis and O.J. Simpson and Ruth Madoff all suddenly found a new home in Florida when civil suits came a knockin' on their doors (in Illinois, California, and New York, respectively).
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Kelly Martin
post Wed 28th September 2011, 4:45am
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QUOTE(EricBarbour @ Tue 27th September 2011, 4:59pm) *
Greg's right, the courts keep upholding that "Florida homesteading" rule that allows the hiding of assets in a primary home in Florida--even federal courts can't touch it.
Federal bankruptcy code explicitly states that if a state has an exemption-from-execution statute, that statute overrides the federal one for petitions filed against a debtor in that state. Florida offers a nearly unlimited homestead exception (certainly the broadest in the country), so if you're facing a large judgment just move to Florida and sink all your cash and assets into your home and whoever is after you can't get a dime.

Someone close to Jimmy once told me that Jimmy was completely useless as an option trader; his inherent fearfulness and risk-aversion made him almost useless as he was (and still is!) almost completely unwilling to take risks, and obviously anyone who knows anything about the options market knows that there's no such thing as an absolutely sure thing. It's quite certain that he never made that much money in the options business, but was fairly useful to Michael Davis and Tim Shell as a front man to pitch their various side gambits in the overheated Web 1.0 boom of the late 90s, including Bomis. Bomis was originally basically an underpants gnome venture with a vacuous business plan and pointless but spiffy-sounding mission statement existing solely for the purpose of getting VC funding, buzz, and an eventual buyout, which was the way to quick riches in those days if you were a good sleazer. And, as we all know, Jimmy is an excellent sleazer; even so, he wasn't able to flip Bomis for his friends Michael and Tim, and they foundered about for various ways to keep the company in cashflow, with ideas that included the infamous Bomis Babes and, of course, Nupedia and Wikipedia.

I am fairly certain that Nupedia originally gave credit to both ODP and Everything/Everything2 at first as inspiration, but I rather well doubt you'll see Jimmy acknowledge the influence of either of those projects today. The only credit which is ever given is to Ward Cunningham for the "wiki" concept; the idea of a web encyclopedia is one that Jimmy tends to pretend is his originally.
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Peter Damian
post Wed 28th September 2011, 7:53am
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I have Dowling’s address (still lives in Chicago) so he is potential candidate for interview. But there are many puzzles

The $1,580,506.86 that Davis transferred to his account in Florida was not his own money, but a loan from North Shore Bank using assets held by “4637 Manor LLC” to purchase his residence in Florida. I am speculating that this is probably 4637 N Manor ave, chicago, IL 60625, i.e. Davis made his own house in Chicago into a company. However, that amount of money for a house in Chicago in 2003 seems implausible. What actually was Davis’ personal balance sheet in 2003?

What exactly was the agreement between Dowling and COA in 1994? Why did it take so long to get a judgment?

How much money did Wales make from his contract with COA?

When and how did COA wind up?

What was the exact nature of COA business? On the assumption that they were speculating, rather than running a balanced book, whose money were they speculating?
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EricBarbour
post Wed 28th September 2011, 8:02am
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All good questions, although I think the only person who would be willing to answer at least some of them would be Dowling.
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Kelly Martin
post Wed 28th September 2011, 1:23pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Wed 28th September 2011, 2:53am) *
I am speculating that this is probably 4637 N Manor ave, chicago, IL 60625, i.e. Davis made his own house in Chicago into a company. However, that amount of money for a house in Chicago in 2003 seems implausible.
Not the least bit implausible, and in fact 4637 N Manor Ave. is a 5 bedroom 5 bathroom 7000 foot spread in Ravenswood that has recently been listed at $1,650,000. See here.
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Kelly Martin
post Wed 28th September 2011, 1:55pm
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One of the things I rarely see anyone mention is Jimmy's potentially fraudulent conveyance of Wikipedia from Bomis to the Wikimedia Foundation in 2003. Jimmy has always acted as if he owned all of Bomis, but that wasn't the case; he never owned more than 10%, from what I've been able to piece together. His conveyance of Bomis' sole valuable asset to the Foundation may have been contrary to the interests of the other stockholders, one of whom may well have been Dowling (although it was clearly consistent with Michael Davis' interests, and Davis was the majority owner of Bomis, from what I've been able to learn), and may also have violated one or more of the orders related to the Dowling litigation. I've always regretted that Dowling didn't attempt to pierce the veil and go after Wikipedia. Keep in mind that Wikipedia, in 2006, had a speculative market valuation between $100 million and $2 billion.

One of the dirty little secrets about the WMF is that one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, it was created was to gut Bomis of value so that even if Dowling got his hands on it, there's be nothing left but an empty shell.
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Peter Damian
post Wed 28th September 2011, 2:55pm
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Kelly I think you are right about Manor Ave, as this http://chicago.nbc5.il-foreclosure.com/pro...637-n-manor-ave appears to confirm. So here’s a guess at a time line.

Autumn 2002 Davis obtained a $1.6 million loan from North Shore Community Bank using his house in Chicago as collateral.

February 2003, Davis moved family from Chicago to Florida, applied for Florida driver's licenses, and applied for a Florida real estate homestead tax exemption.

March 2003, Dowling instituted supplementary proceedings against Davis and attempted to serve Davis at his residence in Chicago; however, because Davis had moved to Florida, service was not completed. http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/appe...tml/1041110.htm

October 8, 2003, North Shore Bank delivered a copy of Davis's real estate sales contract from his home in Florida to Dowling. The contract disclosed Davis's current address, and on October 31, 2003, Dowling issued a citation to Davis at his address in Florida.

3 November 2003 Davis’s Chicago property (4637 N Manor Ave) is foreclosed by North Shore Community Bank.

10 June 2004, 4637 N Manor Ave is sold by North Shore bank.

Confirming this would require a look at the foreclosure and mortgage records, which I will have to purchase. Why was 4637 foreclosed? This all suggests that Davis was living off borrowed money all the time. What happened to the $817k that Dowling was proceeding for?

This post has been edited by Peter Damian: Wed 28th September 2011, 2:58pm
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Peter Damian
post Wed 28th September 2011, 3:20pm
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More here. http://trustsandestates.com/fiduciary/fidu...Update_07252007

So it turns out that the original sum owed to Dowling was only $282k, and the rest ($535k) was lawyers fees. Lawyers win, as always. Where’s Brad when you need him?


QUOTE

Estate planners have long recommended the purchase of a residence in Florida as a sound asset protection strategy. Florida's antiquated and unusually complex homestead provisions provide virtually impenetrable protection from creditors. A recent U.S. district court case highlights just how far that protection goes -- and reaffirms that even people who move to Florida for the express purpose of evading their creditors will find a haven. Dowling v. Davis, Slip Copy, 2007 WL 1839555 (M.D. Fla. June 26, 2007).

On May 1, 2002, an Illinois court entered judgment in favor of Brian Dowling and against Michael Davis for about $282,280.46. On Oct. 29, 2002, the court entered further judgment against Davis for attorneys' fees for about $535,550.

On Feb. 24, 2003, Davis and his wife of four days, Emily Seibel, purchased a residence in St. Petersburg, Fla., as tenants by the entirety. The purchase money of about $1.904 million for the Florida residence was comprised of a loan from North Shore Bank in the amount of $1.664 million as well as Davis' personal funds from several bank accounts. Davis also arranged to transfer about $35,000 in furniture, art, rugs and the remaining personal property from his Illinois residence to Seibel.

Upon closing on the sale of the Florida residence, $200,000 was placed into a Florida escrow account (also purportedly under the protection of the Florida homestead laws) for "renovations" that Dowling alleged never occurred. Seibel testified at trial that they intended to refinish the pool, redo the patio, replace carpeting, reconfigure space, change walls, add a bath and change a staircase. Only the first two items were completed.

In the Florida action, Dowling alleged that Davis and Seibel were aware of Dowling's pending judgment against Davis. Dowling's Florida complaint alleged fraudulent asset conversion under Florida law and requested imposition of an equitable lien. The defendants moved for summary judgment and maintained that Florida's constitutionally created homestead exemption protected their Florida residence.

Notwithstanding the fact that all parties apparently conceded that Davis purchased the Florida home with the intent to hinder a creditor (Dowling), the court concluded that Dowling's claims failed, as the Florida Supreme Court has expressly held "[t]hat the transfer of nonexempt assets into an exempt homestead with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors is not one of the three exceptions to the homestead exemption provided for in article X, section 4" of the Florida Constitution. Those three exceptions to homestead protection include: (1) payment of taxes or assessments on the homestead; (2) obligations contracted for purchase, improvement or repair of the homestead; and (3) obligations contracted for house, field or other labor performed on the homestead. The court stated that these exceptions are to be strictly construed and that the homestead exemption does not contain an express exception for real property that is acquired in Florida for the sole purpose of defeating the claims of out-of-state creditors.

The court also held that equitable liens may only be imposed in limited circumstances when a debtor fraudulently procured the funds to invest in, purchase or improve a homestead and not where the debtor legitimately owned the funds used to purchase the residence (as was the case here.) Dowling did not argue that this type of fraud was perpetrated against him but only alleged that the defendant purchased a homestead knowing that a judgment was imminent and used funds that could have been used to satisfy the judgment.

As a result, the court entered summary judgment in favor of Davis and Seibel, holding that the homestead exemption barred Dowling's claims for fraudulent conversion/transfer as well as his claim for an equitable lien.

As to whether Dowling could recover personal property owned by Seibel individually or funds on deposit held by Seibel and Davis as tenancy by the entireties, the court stated the general Florida legal principle that no property owned by spouses as tenancy by the entireties may be used to satisfy the individual judgment debt or obligation of one of the spouses. However, the court did note that this protection would not hinder a creditor's ability to proceed under other theories of recovery, such as Florida's Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (FUFTA). Apparently, neither party briefed the issue of whether FUFTA applied; therefore, the court declined to enter summary judgment on the plaintiff's attempts to recover personal property.

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thekohser
post Wed 28th September 2011, 5:40pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Wed 28th September 2011, 10:55am) *

March 2003, Dowling instituted supplementary proceedings against Davis and attempted to serve Davis at his residence in Chicago; however, because Davis had moved to Florida, service was not completed. http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/appe...tml/1041110.htm


This record confirms that Davis and his wife purchased the 5,700+ square-foot Florida home in March 2003. It has a nice boat-slip and pier, right off the seawall. It looks like they still own the place; it's likely they still live there and he tele-commutes to Wikia, Inc., which is supposedly headquartered in the San Francisco area, but they don't make their street address known.
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SB_Johnny
post Wed 28th September 2011, 5:46pm
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Peter, this is very good stuff, but where is it going to go?
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Peter Damian
post Wed 28th September 2011, 7:14pm
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QUOTE(SB_Johnny @ Wed 28th September 2011, 6:46pm) *

Peter, this is very good stuff, but where is it going to go?


Well I've pretty much decided, with the MS of the current book going to CUA on Monday, and my needing a new project, and one that might even earn something, unlike the current (academic publisher) book, to do a book on Wikipedia.

Obviously you start with the history, and there's some interesting and entertaining stuff that hasn't been given a decent airing in mainstream publications, so the story is aching to be free.

I'm thinking of a story somewhat on the lines of the relationship between the Mormons and the mafia. The Mormons (I'm told) assumed good faith and were pretty naive in their business dealings, or at least appeared to be. The Mafia, well we know about that. And together they built Las Vegas.

Similarly, you have the Wikipedian ideologists who assumed good faith, and are demonstrably naive in about everything, and you have, well, the people associated with Davis and so on. Together they built Wikipedia. So, Wikipedia = Las Vegas.

That's the idea. All help welcome.

This post has been edited by Peter Damian: Wed 28th September 2011, 7:14pm
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EricBarbour
post Wed 28th September 2011, 7:49pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Wed 28th September 2011, 12:14pm) *

I'm thinking of a story somewhat on the lines of the relationship between the Mormons and the mafia. The Mormons (I'm told) assumed good faith and were pretty naive in their business dealings, or at least appeared to be. The Mafia, well we know about that. And together they built Las Vegas.

Similarly, you have the Wikipedian ideologists who assumed good faith, and are demonstrably naive in about everything, and you have, well, the people associated with Davis and so on. Together they built Wikipedia. So, Wikipedia = Las Vegas.

That is correct. If Bugsy Siegel had not discovered that he could con Mormon construction firms and
other Nevada businesses owned by LDSers, the history of Vegas might have been very different.
In fact, it might still be a small railroad town today. Plus, Bugsy was a Jew, which to this day
impresses Mormons a great deal (Smith often said the Jews were the "chosen people").

This post has been edited by EricBarbour: Wed 28th September 2011, 7:50pm
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