Lawsuit Argues FirstEnergy Is Shorting Nuclear Cleanup Fund

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Plain Dealer:FirstEnergy’s power plant subsidiaries have not put enough money into federally mandated decommissioning trust funds to pay for the shutdown and cleanup of each of its four nuclear reactors, charges an environmental group with a reputation as a legally effective environmental advocate.The Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, or ELPC, made that charge in a petition filed in March with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The ELPC’s intervention in the Peabody Energy bankruptcy led to the court requiring that company to purchase $1.2 billion in surety bonds to guarantee clean up.The ELPC wants the NRC to hold parent company FirstEnergy Corp. responsible for bankrolling what it argues could well be a multi-billion reactor cleanup shortfall, which taxpayers or customers could be forced to pay.The ELPC petitioned the NRC just days before the FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection on March 31 and the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. told the NRC it would close its nuclear plants within two years. Now the ELPC, joined by the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund, the Ohio Environmental Council and Ohio Citizen Action, have intervened in the bankruptcy case under way in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio.The groups want Judge Alan Koshik to “lift” the normal “stay” on legal action that companies seeking bankruptcy protection are normally afforded. “[We] are not seeking a money judgment, but, instead, are seeking leave to continue pursuing the legal and administrative remedies afforded them under federal and state laws and their constitutional right to petition their government,” the environmental groups argued in their 96-page petition filed with the bankruptcy court. In other words, they want the judge to allow their action at the NRC to continue unimpeded by a decision in the bankruptcy case preventing it.More: FirstEnergy Must Guarantee Nuclear Clean Up, Environmental Groups Tell Feds Lawsuit Argues FirstEnergy Is Shorting Nuclear Cleanup Fundlast_img read more

NextEra CFO: Battery storage is starting a ‘real revolution’ in electric industry

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s how much NextEra Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jim Ketchum estimates that batteries will add to the cost of solar and wind projects that the company has built over the last six to 12-months, as revealed in the company’s results call yesterday.But that’s not all. Ketchum further added that he expects this cost to fall to around half a cent per kilowatt-hour in the middle of the next decade. “Early in the next decade, mid-next decade, it’s going to probably be about $0.005 a kilowatt hour add, maybe $0.01, but probably closer to about $0.005. And so if we find ourselves in a marketplace where we are selling wind right around $0.02, I mean, a combined wind and solar product probably looks roughly around $0.025. Solar, into the next decade, probably looks more like a $0.03 product, sub-$0.03 in some markets. You add half a penny on that on the high end, you’re probably at about $ 0.035 a kilowatt hour.”NextEra CEO Jim Robo added to this, noting that batteries are allowing the company to provide “firm” power. “We’re right at the beginning of, I think, a real revolution in this country in terms of how electricity is – how storage interacts with electricity on the grid, and how we’re going to start delivering much different, firm, renewable products to our customers going forward,” stated Robo on the results call.CFO Ketchum elaborated on that statement, noting that the economics of wind and solar are going to allow these resources to out-compete existing conventional power plants – and potentially knock them off the grid. “As battery cost declines and efficiency gains are realized during the four-year start of construction period, we continue to expect that in the next decade new nearly firm wind and solar, without incentives, will be cheaper than the operating costs of traditional inefficient generation resources, creating significant opportunities for new renewables growth going forward.”These confident statements about the costs and abilities of solar and wind plus storage come as the company has reached a record backlog of 7.4 GW of solar, wind and energy storage projects. This includes nearly 2 GW of solar projects that the company has contracted to put online through 2020. During the quarter NextEra added 692 MW of solar projects and 90 MW of battery storage to its backlog.The large majority of this, at 1.48 GW of solar and 75 MW of battery storage, is planned for the 2019-2020 timeframe, however NextEra is also planning projects after 2020, and notes that the new IRS guidelines on the beginning of construction allow the company to claim the full 30% Investment Tax Credit for projects that it puts online as late as 2023, as long as they have started construction in 2019.More: NextEra expects storage to add half a cent to solar in mid-2020’s NextEra CFO: Battery storage is starting a ‘real revolution’ in electric industrylast_img read more

Wood Mackenzie: 2019 was a record year for battery storage across the U.S.

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The U.S. energy storage industry capped off its biggest year of installations with its largest single quarter in Q4.U.S. energy storage installation topped 522.7 megawatts/1,113 megawatt-hours in 2019 as a whole and 186.4 megawatts/364.2 megawatt-hours in the fourth quarter, according to the newly released Energy Storage Monitor, produced by Wood Mackenzie and the Energy Storage Association.For years, those in the industry have argued that the ability to store and release electricity nearly instantaneously offers great operational benefits, not just for the adoption of intermittent renewables but also for more efficient grid operations. The latest numbers suggest that this argument is starting to resonate as utilities across the nation contract for large battery plants and an unprecedented number of homeowners seek solar-battery combinations to keep the lights on in an outage.Indeed, the home battery sector delivered the most striking growth, the Energy Storage Monitor reported. Fourth-quarter residential installations doubled year-over-year to 40.4 megawatts/90.3 megawatt-hours, marking its third consecutive record-setting quarter.Eight states now contain utility-scale storage facilities adding up to more than 50 megawatts. Another 11 states operate more than 10 megawatts each. Only 15 states have yet to adopt any advanced storage in front of the meter, according to WoodMac’s data.Overall, U.S. storage installations are expected to nearly triple in 2020 and more than double in 2021. Residential numbers, in particular, will triple this year compared to last year. This year could also be the first in which the annual storage market surpasses $1 billion. In 2019, storage investments totaled $712 million; this year, they are poised to jump to just shy of $2 billion.[Julian Spector]More: U.S. storage industry achieved biggest-ever quarter and year in 2019 Wood Mackenzie: 2019 was a record year for battery storage across the U.S.last_img read more

Renewables provide 52% of Germany’s electricity in first quarter, a new record

first_imgRenewables provide 52% of Germany’s electricity in first quarter, a new record FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Energy Wire:Germany produced nearly 52 percent of its domestic electricity consumption with renewable power in the first three months of 2020, marking the first full quarter in which renewables covered more than half the country’s power needs, utilities association BDEW and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) reported. That’s up from about 44 percent in the first quarter of 2019.The numbers were driven by record wind power production in February, unusually high solar production in March, and a dip in overall energy use tied to the coronavirus crisis. Because of those unusual circumstances, BDEW warned it’s too soon to project whether the numbers might hold going forward. “The performance of renewables is very encouraging. However, we should always bear in mind that this is only a snapshot and includes many one-off events,” BDEW head Kerstin Andreae said in a statement. But BDEW also noted that the numbers reflect several underlying policy shifts, including the shutdown of nuclear and coal power plants that were taken offline in late 2019.The numbers, combined with increased renewable generation in 2019, put Germany on track to meet its 2020 target for increasing renewables’ share of total energy consumption (which includes not just electricity, but refers to all energy, for example fossil fuels used in transport and heating). Germany has pledged to produce 18 percent of its total energy consumption with renewables by the end of the year. “The EU renewable energy target of 18 percent in 2020 is within reach,” economy minister Peter Altmaier said in the statement. “We must now work to ensure that we achieve the targets on a sustainable basis and further increase the share of renewable energy.”Overall, Germany used a total of 148 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in the first quarter of 2020, down about two percent from the same period in 2019 (151 billion kWh). Renewables made up 51.9 percent of that total, BDEW and ZSW said. The majority of Germany’s renewable power came from onshore wind, which supplied 28.9 percent of the country’s electricity needs, up from 23.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019 (see graph). While this is the first full quarter in which renewables have covered a majority of the country’s electricity needs, Germany has crossed that threshold before during individual months, BDEW said.Meanwhile, the grid operator 50Hertz announced several new regional records for renewable energy in the first quarter. In February, wind and solar power together covered 85 percent of electricity needs in 50Hertz’s area of operation, which stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Ore Mountains near the border with the Czech Republic. And on March 23, the utility delivered a record 8500 megawatts (MW) of solar power without having to shut down any photovoltaic systems, it said.[Rachel Waldholz]More: Germany marks first ever quarter with more than 50 pct renewable electricitylast_img read more

Healthy Tip#89432: Grab a Headlamp

first_img headlamp headlamp The fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down; the night can provide just as much of a playground as any afternoon sun. Follow this week’s healthy tip and let your pupils adjust, play under the starlight, and grab a headlamp.Are you afraid of the dark, the mysterious noises and lack of sight? What is it about the darkness that evokes an embedded worry to our hearts? The blindness, the loss of a sense that drums on your ears, that paralyzing uncertainty of the unknown, it all adds up to a lot for just an absence of light.But alas, sometimes to discover new things you have to walk in the dark. So grab a flashlight, find a full-moon to guide your way, and light up those darkened corridors.. Explore what lies out of sight long enough and your eyes will adjust as you start to understand that the only thing hiding in the darkness is the light.Go, shine a flashlight, and explore the unknown.-BDLcenter_img headlamplast_img read more

Commit to the Trip

first_imgA common occurrence in the active community is a little known ailment that goes by Insufficient Commitment Disorder. There are many brief spots in history where I have fallen victim to this pandemic. Someone will be riled up about a trip, hut-to-hut skiing perhaps or a biking afternoon at Carvins Cove, and I’ll be equally as excited and often times exclaim “that sounds awesome, count me in.” But as the adventure draws nearer, and excuses bubble to the top, somewhere in my head I know I’m not going to go on the trip.Everybody experiences this, the dissonance between “yes I’m going” and getting in the car. There are always many excuses readily available, but like elbows, everyone has them (and they don’t look that different from each other.)Maybe Insufficient Commitment Disorder can be looked at from a higher perspective. If I could live out all the lofty goals and expectations I have verbally committed to, I would be doing just fine for myself. Talk is cheap, and I love it, but action and movement are what will truly define your voice.Figuratively and literally easier said than done I’ve realize from experience. But now I think twice when asked to commit to the trip, think twice about the difference between “yes” and going, and realize that no matter what I say, it’s what I’ll do that will keep me moving.last_img read more

Weekend Pick: Volunteer on the John Muir Trail

first_imgSaturday is National Trails Day, a nationwide series of events hosted by local trail clubs, individuals, and organizations dedicated to keeping the United States Trail System in good working order. Throughout the country, events will be held encouraging people to get outside and hit the trail. Although National Trails Day is organized by the American Hiking Society, mountain biking, paddling, bird watching, trail running, and anything else that involves a trail are all supported by the program. Not only is this a celebration of our trail system and a chance to get more people outside and on the trail, it is also a chance to recognize the thousands of volunteers who spend their time keeping the 200,000 miles of U.S. trails in good working order. They are the ones out there on weekends and evenings doing the manual labor and maintenance it takes to make the trails passable and beautiful.To that end, this weekend give a little something back and volunteer to help clear or cut a trail on public lands this Saturday. There are numerous opportunities to do so in North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee with all the national park and national forest land and you can find a map of official National Trails Day clean up events on their website. We recommend heading for Ducktown, Tenn. and volunteering with the Tennessee Wild Helping Hands to clear up the eastern end of the John Muir Trail. The John Muir Trail is a National Recreation Trail, but is in need of rebuilding, reshaping, and other basic trail repairs. No previous trail maintenance experience is necessary and all tools and safety gear will be provided. Just bring your work boots, lunch, and enthusiasm – long pants would probably be a good idea also.Give back to the trails that have given so much to you and make this Saturday a day of service. You’ll feel good, get some exercise, and set the tone for future generations of trail users.View Larger Maplast_img read more

The Magic Kingdom of Wilderness

first_img“When are you going to take your family to Disney World?”Every fall, my cousin and I watch football games in his “man cave” equipped with sports memorabilia, X-Box, a fully stocked bar and the crown jewel, an HD 70-inch television. As a lifelong Southerner who loves college football, this is nirvana.And for about six years, my cousin pops the Disney question.You see, I have a 10-year-old daughter who has never been to Disney World.The window is closing fast.A year or two ago, American Girl dolls traveled with us everywhere. Planning for a trip to the grandparents in Chattanooga was like organizing a bus load of tourists. In our case, dolls and stuffed animals.These days, fewer and fewer American Girls dolls are joining us, and my cousin, who has an older daughter, has warned me that the Disney princesses are not going to be as appealing come this fall and spring.I have nothing against Disney World or princesses, but this past summer my family decided to do something different. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act by visiting the Citico Creek Wilderness area in the Cherokee National Forest, near Tellico Plains, Tennessee.We literally traded castles and mouse ears for waterfalls and salamanders.We hiked into the Citico Creek Wilderness ending up at Falls Branch Falls, a spectacular roaring 70-foot waterfall. Nurse logs, moss, mushrooms and wildflowers abound. We also snorkeled in the wilderness-fed, Citico Creek, donning wetsuits, floating and exploring for hours in a rushing three-foot clean and clear stream. I will never forget the moment my daughter grabbed my hand when she saw her first colorful darter—a moment of joy and discovery we would experience a hundred times that morning and afternoon.For my entire family, the wilderness became our Magic Kingdom.Disney World in Florida and the Wilderness Act are about the same age. The Wilderness Act passed in 1964; after several years of development, Disney World opened in 1971.Both are uniquely American.We all know the story of Disney, but many of us do not know America’s wilderness story.Fifty years ago this year, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law The Wilderness Act of 1964. The Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System and allowed Congress to permanently protect some of America’s most special and beautiful places as wilderness.Today there are 757 distinct wilderness areas located in 44 states and Puerto Rico, designated to preserve and protect wildlife and natural systems for hiking, camping, backpacking, picnicking, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, kayaking and nature photography. These special places provide us clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.Big Frog and Little Frog, Linville Gorge, Shining Rock, Cohutta, Sipsey, and Shenandoah—these are the special names of just a few of our southern wildernesses.And there is one key difference between Disney World and these wilderness areas. Disney is owned by shareholders and is a multinational corporation. We—all Americans—own the wilderness areas.It’s all public land. It is our treasure. Our inheritance. We all have a stake in it. We are responsible for it, and future generations are counting on us to pass it down protected and preserved.In the age of Facebook and social media, my cousin has seen pictures posted of my daughter standing beside waterfalls, big trees and in a wetsuit. He hasn’t mentioned Disney this fall in the “man cave.” But we have talked about our Magic Kingdom–America’s wilderness.In fact, I’ve been asking him, “When are you going to take your family to the wilderness?”—Pat Byington is Executive Director of Wild South (wildsouth.org)last_img read more

Watch: “Our Theory of Human Motivation”

first_imgLooking for a little weekend inspiration? In this skillfully composed collection of outdoor adventure film clips, founder of the outdoor-themed podcast Dirtbag Diaries, Fitz Cahall, articulates his theory of human motivation—the ins and outs of what gets outdoor adventurers like you out of bed and on top of the next summit, over the next pitch, back out on the trail, or just back into the woods in general. Plenty more inspiration can be found by checking out Fitz’s critically acclaimed podcast, The Dirtbag Diaries. Throw on an episode of DBD next time you’re facing a long drive to the trail head and watch the time fly by.last_img read more

Two species thought to be extinct re-discovered + Dolphins get high on purpose

first_imgToday marks 100 years since the Grand Canyon was designated as a national park. To celebrate, the park will host special events and programs at the park and throughout Arizona during the centennial year. Although afforded federal protection in 1893, the Grand Canyon did not achieve national park status until 1919, three years after the formation of the National Park Service. The Grand Canyon National Park Act, which officially made the Grand Canyon a national park, was signed by President Woodrow Wilson and considered an early success of the conservation movement. Today the Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes more than 6 million domestic and international tourists a year. Grand Canyon National Park Turns 100 Elephants get drunk on overripe fruit, horses eat hallucinogenic weeds, and now, it appears, dolphins may get high off of pufferfish. Footage from a new BBC documentary, “Spy in the Pod,” reveals dolphins purposely coming into contact with toxic pufferfish, which release a potent defensive chemical when threatened. In small doses, the toxin appears to put the dolphins into a trance-like state. The dolphins were filmed playfully passing the toxic pufferfish between them for 20 or 30 minutes and at one point were observed floating just beneath the surface of the water, apparently mesmerized by their own reflections. A zoologist with the film said that the dolphins’ handling of the pufferfish implied that it was not their first time interacting with the fish in this way. Another species feared extinct, the Fernandina Giant Tortoise, was also discovered last week on a remote Galapagos Island. The species had not been seen in more than 110 years when scientists found a single female tortoise, believed to be more than a century old. Scientists think there may be more living Fernandina Giant Tortoises on the island due to tracks and scat they found. The tortoise was taken to a breeding center for giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. Cue Beyoncé’s “All the Single Ladies.” A single female Wallace’s giant bee, feared extinct for 38 years, was discovered on the Indonesian island of the North Moluccas last week. The world’s largest bee, four times the size of a honeybee, was found living inside a termite’s nest in a tree. The bee’s habitat is threatened by deforestation, and its size makes it a target for collectors. Two species, both thought to be extinct, recently re-discovered in Indonesia and Ecuador Dolphins may use toxic pufferfish to get highlast_img read more

Outdoor Updates: Dominion Energy strikes deal to turn cow manure into energy

first_imgDominion Energy strikes deal to turn cow manure into energy Goldman Sachs says it will not finance new oil projects in the Arctic The WSJ reports that the gas extracted from cow manure, called biogas, is in high demand among consumers, businesses, and local governments that want to lower their emissions. Although producing biogas is more expensive than producing natural gas from shale, it can generate carbon offset credits for buyers, making biogas profitable for energy companies.  Dominion Energy has entered into a $200 million pact with a renewable energy producer and the Dairy Farmers of American Inc. to extract natural gas from cow manure, the Wall Street Journal reports. The utility will fund construction of organic-waste processing facilities, connect the facilities to natural gas distribution pipelines, and sell the gas.center_img This week, Goldman Sachs announced it would not finance new oil drilling or exploration projects in the Arctic, the Sierra Club announced. It’s the first time a US bank has made such a commitment. The move comes after the bank revised their environmental policy. The commitment also includes a ban on financing for new thermal coalmines around the world. The bank made the shift citing “potential impacts to critical natural habitats for endangered species” as well as the negative effects drilling can have on Indigenous communities. Previous to Goldman Sachs announcement, US banks have been some of the top financiers of fossil fuel projects.last_img read more

Asheville’s Bent Creek River Park closed for six weeks for natural gas pipeline replacement

first_imgAccording to the Aspen Times, the knuckle huck is a competition that “allows for, encourages and celebrates the flair, the style and the fun at the heart of snowboarding as riders huck themselves off the “knuckle,” or rollover, of the big air landing before landing in the formal landing area. The park says that each of the three primary entrances near Gatlinburg, Cherokee and Townsend all saw an increase in visitors, but the secondary entrances also helped contribute to the large number. “Secondary park entrances experienced tremendous growth, due primarily to the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley,” the park said in a news release. “Over one million visitors enjoyed this new driving experience.” Bent Creek River Park on Brevard Road in Asheville will be closed for up to six weeks while Dominion Energy replaces a natural gas line. Josh O’ Conner, Director of Buncombe County Recreation Services, told WLOS that they worked with Dominion to close the park during the slowest time possible, since Bent Creek River Park is a popular spot for kayakers and tubers to put in during warmer months. Read the full story here: https://wlos.com/news/local/bent-creek-river-park-to-temporarily-close-for-up-to-6-weeks  Read the full story here: https://www.wbir.com/article/entertainment/places/great-smoky-mountains-national-park/great-smoky-mountains-national-park-sets-visitation-record-with-125-million-visitors/51-1c6762a5-cb32-4ee0-aff2-3da87fda17db Great Smoky Mountains National Park breaks visitor record in 2019 Twenty-year-old snowboarder Zeb Powell won gold in Wendy’s Snowboard Knuckle Huck at the X Games in Aspen last week. According to Powell’s Red Bull athlete profile, he grew up skiing at Cataloochee Ski Area where he learned to ride with “creativity, flow and style.” His signature blend, states the website, is “of a super-smooth rail game with shifty spins and tweaked-out grabs.”  Asheville’s Bent Creek River Park closed for six weeks for natural gas pipeline replacement In a statement, Dominion Energy said, “as the regulated natural gas provider in the area, our responsibility is to ensure system reliability and safety in compliance with regulations, and this project is a part of that. We apologize for the inconvenience and will work diligently to complete the project in a timely manner, weather permitting.”  Waynesville, NC native wins Gold at 2020 X Games The country’s most visited national parks keeps getting more popular. In 2019, Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw record visitation numbers, welcoming 12,547,743 visitors. That’s up from a record-breaking year in 2018 which saw 11,421,203 visitors.last_img read more

How to Safely Go Outside

first_imgBe Prepared—Medical and emergency service professionals are already feeling the strain as the virus makes its way through communities. Don’t add to their workload. Pack plenty of water, snacks, and a basic first aid kit. Reduce potential accidents as much as possible. If you are going out on a new trail, do some research on what to expect before heading out. Be Kind and Considerate—This is a stressful time and everyone is affected by closures in a variety of ways. Be respectful of other people’s health and safety by keeping your physical distance and being kind to the people ensuring you still have access to the outdoors. Stay Local—Think of the small communities that are on the edge of your favorite park or forest. Help stop the spread of the virus by staying local and not visiting communities more vulnerable to an epidemic. Remember the 7 Leave No Trace Principles—Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others.  As states begin to lift restrictions and parks are reopening, we encourage folks getting outside to continue practicing social distancing guidelines and to use common sense as COVID-19 continues to affect communities around the region and the world. Use other resources out there like the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, CDC, and your local officials to help you get outside safely during this time. As the situation changes, make sure you are getting the most up to date information regarding your health and the outdoors. Photo by Ellen Kanzinger National ParksAppalachian TrailGeorgia State ParksKentucky State ParksMaryland State ParksNorth Carolina State ParksPennsylvania State ParksSouth Carolina State ParksTennessee State ParksVirginia State ParksWest Virginia State Parkscenter_img More Information Pay Attention—The situation is changing daily as state and local officials make adjustments and announce new openings/closures. Before heading outside, check guidelines in your own community to make sure it is safe where you want to go. There Will Be Closures—Many trailheads, visitor centers, and recreation areas closed down to avoid exposing staff and visitors to the virus. Don’t expect all of the amenities, like water, restrooms, and campgrounds, to be open during this time. Plan ahead, pack everything you need, and abide by closure signs. Have a Plan B—As more people turned to the outdoors to find peace during these uncertain times, we saw parking lots and trails overcrowded with no way to stay six feet apart. If there are already a lot of cars at the trailhead, don’t add to the congestion. Find another trail to hike, come back at another time, or go for a walk around your neighborhood. Recreate Responsibly—It is important to maintain your distance from others, at least six feet apart, and narrow trails don’t always allow for this. Avoid groups larger than 10 people and stick to recreating with the people you live with. Pack a mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer just in case.Love the Trail—While avoiding crowds, make sure to stick to designated trails. Wait for wide sections to pass people while still maintaining your distance. Help keep your impact on the trail to a minimum.Pack it In, Pack it Out—You should always pack out everything you bring in. But it is especially important to take care of all your trash as park and maintenance staff is reduced at this time.  photo from Getty Imageslast_img read more

Castroneves Wins Third Indianapolis 500 Title

first_imgBy Dialogo May 26, 2009 Nice article also much informative.Is it magical race as this was the best race of the month. This wasn’t just a race, it was vindication. Helio Castroneves crossed the finish line Sunday beneath an overcast sky at the Indianapolis 500, then loosed enough tears to float his race car another 500 miles down the road. He cried because a third win gained him entry into a charmed circle of champions, only nine of whom have been lucky and courageous enough to capture that many in the 93 times the race has been run. And he cried because the crushing weight of a three-month legal battle with the Internal Revenue Service was finally, unmistakably in his rearview mirror. But mostly, Castroneves cried because his fate once again rested in his own two hands. “You guys don’t understand,” Castroneves roared from the winner’s circle as a 250,000-strong crowd roared back just as loudly. “You guys kept me strong.” A lesser man might have been broken by what Castroneves went through. In March, he was standing trial for federal income tax evasion and looking at six years in prison. He was acquitted, but the final charge against him wasn’t dropped until Friday, two days before the biggest event in his sport. Compared to that ordeal, the race could not have seemed all that taxing. Castroneves grabbed the lead coming out of a restart with 17 laps to go and never faced a serious challenge after that. He started on the pole, played it safe through the middle while ironing out a gearbox problem, then saw his opportunity and grabbed it by the throat. Then just like Rick Mears, one of three four-time Indy 500 champions that Castroneves will train his sights on next, he deployed smarts and patience to choke every last bit of drama out of the race. The resemblance is hardly coincidental. Owner Roger Penske gave both men their shot at the big time and won their loyalty forever. He stood by Castroneves throughout his fight with the IRS and keeps Mears on the payroll as a driving coach and consultant. To no one’s surprise, the two drivers found common ground and became fast friends. “He’s always taken to this place like a duck takes to water,” Mears said. “He’s a competitor, but he’s a big picture guy also. And that’s what it takes … around this place. He’s very good, and what I mean by that is that he rarely puts a wheel wrong around here. He makes very few mistakes.” Both men are masterful in the maelstrom of a race, sifting through clues swirling around them at 220 mph and collecting just enough pieces to solve a tough puzzle. Yet Mears conceded he couldn’t imagine the emotions Castroneves worked through in the quiet moments away from the racetrack, nor the joy he must have felt coming down the home straightaway in front this time. “I know he was just glad to be here. But to have everything fall into place like it did,” Mears said, “is just amazing.” Yet Castroneves’ rivals sensed something different when he returned to the track. The bubbly Brazilian who electrified crowds at Indy Racing League stops and won an international following by waltzing off with the title on “Dancing With The Stars” two seasons ago was noticeably subdued. “Just the kind of hug you get from him” is how IRL glamour girl Danica Patrick described it. “After what he’s gone through, it was a different kind of hug. “So I’m very happy for him,” she added. “We’re glad to have him back, and obviously he’s very good for the sport.” It’s funny how things work out. Just last week, former NFL star Michael Vick walked out of federal prison still vilified and nearly broke, a disgraced former con with no guarantee there will be a place for him in pro football if and when he’s ready to go back. Castroneves, on the other hand, was acquitted, then welcomed back to racing with open arms and the benefit of the doubt. With a quarter of the race left, his sister stood behind Castroneves’ pit, her eyes shut tight and hands clasped in prayer. In short order, Helio’s parents and his girlfriend locked hands and joined the vigil. Given the chance to pick up where he left off, the Brazilian climbed back behind the wheel and wrote the perfect ending to what could have been a Hollywood script. Except that it was all true. “Towards the end,” Castroneves said. “I didn’t touch anything on the car. When I got in the front, it was, ‘Never look back.'” He paused one more time to choke back tears. “This race is magical. It was a tough beginning,” he added, “but this is the best month of May ever.”last_img read more

Cuba and US Hold Dialogue on Migration in New York

first_imgBy Dialogo July 16, 2009 NEW YORK, 14 July 2009 (AFP) – The United States and Cuba, which have shown timid signs of a thaw in their relations since President Barack Obama took office, resumed a dialogue on migration issues that had been suspended since 2003 in New York on Tuesday. During the meeting, the United States and Cuba committed to promoting “safe, orderly, and legal” migration, as the State Department and the Cuban chancellory indicated in separate statements. The diplomatic talks that were held twice a year at a technical level — alternating between the United States and Cuba — had been suspended since the period of tension with George W. Bush’s administration. The dialogue was broken off by the United States. At the time, Cuba was also afraid of an American military invasion, as President Raúl Castro later revealed to the Nacional Defense Council. After arriving at the White House, Obama sent a friendly signal to the island in April when he authorized U.S. citizens of Cuban ancestry to travel and send money to Cuba. Subsequently, the State Department indicated that representatives of both countries had opened unofficial discussions with the aim of trying to relaunch the dialogue on migration issues. Nevertheless, despite this rapprochement, both Washington and Havana continued to signal their mutual distrust, each side waiting for gestures from the other before moving forward. The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, recently reiterated that the United States will not lift the embargo it has imposed on the island for almost half a century if Cuba does not release its political prisoners and respect human rights. The anti-Castro exile community in Florida, the influence of which has declined in recent years, calls on Washington to keep up pressure for democratic change in Cuba and considers the migration dialogue to be an incentive in the opposite direction. According to the State Department, upon resuming the migration meetings on Tuesday, the United States reaffirmed its interest in “pursuing constructive discussions with the government of Cuba” on matters of common interest. Regular talks began in 1995 to coordinate measures intended to avoid mass Cuban emigration to the country to the north. The United States committed to granting around 20,000 annual visas to Cubans, and Cuba agreed to take back and not take reprisals against individuals who attempted to escape from the island and were captured at sea by the American coast guard. In New York, the Cuban delegation indicated in a statement that it “presented a proposal for a new accord to the American side,” without specifying the proposal’s content. The Obama administration, for its part, specified that it addressed with the Cuban representatives not only points of “successful cooperation,” but also the “obstacles to the full implementation of the accords.” Washington identified assurances for the full functioning of its interests section in Havana, access to a deep-water port for repatriating migrants, assurances of their welfare, and the ability to return migrants with a criminal background as among its priorities. “The United States views these talks as a venue to achieve practical, positive results that contribute to the full implementation of the accords and to the safety of our citizens.” The U.S. delegation was headed by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Craig Kelly. The Cuban delegation was headed by the Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations, Dagoberto Martínez. “We had a productive working session that validates the usefulness of the mechanism,” Martínez said.last_img read more

Report Shows Afghanistan Plan is Working

first_imgBy Dialogo November 01, 2011 The Defense Department’s latest report to Congress on Afghanistan details steady progress and shows the plan there is working, a senior defense official speaking on background told reporters in Washington D.C. The Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan — commonly called “the 1230 report” for its citation in the law that requires it — is the latest congressionally mandated report card on Afghanistan to Congress. The reports, which have charted the state of security in Afghanistan, began in 2008. “We have been describing the situation on the ground as it is,” the official said. In June 2008, the report said the Taliban had regrouped. In January 2009, the report said conditions had deteriorated and continued to do so in June 2009. The April 2010 report said the decline in security had stopped and the November 2010 report said there were modest gains in security. “In this report, we’re saying there are important security gains [and] reversed violence trends in the country, except the area along the Pakistani border,” the official said. The bottom line is the plan President Barack Obama rolled out in December 2009 is working, the official added. “It was about reversing that deterioration, it was about reducing violence through a combination of military and civilian surge working together on the group in Afghanistan,” he said. “Where we’ve been least successful is in [Regional Command] East, where we put the fewest [surge] troops and where the safe havens in Pakistan are.” The Afghan security forces have been crucial to the progress, the official said, noting these forces are increasing in numbers and quality. Two years ago, few people enlisted in the Afghan army or police. Now, he added, the Afghan government turns away thousands who can’t meet the new higher standards required by the security forces. “Their performance is the key to our ability to continue the withdrawal … by the end of 2014,” he said. Afghan forces are in the lead in seven areas of the country covering 25 percent of the population, the official said. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he will announce the next areas to transition to Afghan responsibility Nov. 2 during a meeting in Istanbul. Afghanistan still has problems, the official said, noting the insurgents there are resilient. But, he added, the insurgents have been significantly weakened. The safe havens in Pakistan are a major stumbling block, the official said, but in all other areas of the country and by almost any measure, he added, conditions in Afghanistan have improved.last_img read more

USSOUTHCOM Honors Partner Nation Liaison Officers

first_imgBy Dialogo February 13, 2012 February 10 marked the culmination to their assignments as Military Liaison Officers to the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) for Brazilian Navy Commander Paulo Petró, Peruvian Army Colonel Juan Carlos Liendo and Chilean Navy Captain Luis Felipe Bravo. SOUTHCOM honored the country representatives in a ceremony to thank them for their service and bid them farewell. U.S. Air Force General Douglas Fraser, USSOUTHCOM Commander also recognized their distinguished service by awarding Cmdr. Petró and Capt. Bravo with a Joint Service Commendation Medal on behalf of the Secretary of Defense. In his opening remarks, Gen. Fraser said, “This program is very important to the United States…the benefit we gain mutually will pay us dividends in the future,” and was quick to add that the relationships established with the liaison officers and the work achieved together have already paid both sides important dividends. “We have learned a great deal from each other as we worked with the Armed Forces of their countries.” The same medal was presented to Col. Liendo in a previous ceremony on February 3, by U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Steven Shepro, Director of SOUTHCOM’s Strategy, Policy and Plans directorate, according to a press release published by the command’s Public Affairs Office. The Partner Nation Liaison Officer (PNLO) Program began in 1998 with a focus on fostering a better understanding among partner nations and facilitating the ability to integrate and synchronize operations among them by assisting in the transfer of vital information, enhancing mutual trust and developing an increased level of teamwork among the countries. Since then, according to the press release, seven South American countries, in addition to Canada have assigned military liaison officers to the command. Cmdr. Petró, a Marine officer and naval aviator (helicopter) who celebrated 28 years in the Brazilian Military on the same day, was assigned to SOUTHCOM on February 7, 2011, and will head back to his home country as Commander of the Amphibious Assault Vehicular Battalion in Rio de Janeiro. “As an aviator I have flown across open seas, over the Amazon jungle and over the snowy southern Andes, but if I have to mention one highlight in my career, it would have to be my time in Miami as part of the SOUTHCOM family,” said the Brazilian helicopter pilot, while stressing his admiration for “the U.S. for the bravery of the American people.” Chilean Submariner, Capt. Bravo, served as PNLO to SOUTHCOM since February 13, 2010, providing invaluable service as the primary link to the Chilean Command Authorities during the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck his country only 10 days after his arrival to Miami. Capt. Bravo thanked his family and the command staff, expressing, “All of you [the U.S.] bring hope to many nations; you really, truly foster regional stability with your efforts in the region.” “You make this world a better place in which to live and I feel honored to walk alongside you,” he concluded. Capt. Bravo’s next assignment will be as member of the Staff to the Chilean Commander of Naval Operations in Valparaiso, Chile. Col. Liendo, a fully qualified Military Intelligence Officer and Professor at the Peruvian Army’s Command and General Staff College, Military Academy and Intelligence and Analysis School in Military Intelligence, History and Strategy, served SOUTHCOM since February 8, 2010 and retired from his military career on December 31, 2011. In addition to serving as advisor to various directorates within the command, Col. Liendo also contributed greatly to a CHDS Seminar on Security and Defense during his assignment to SOUTHCOM.last_img read more

Colombia Opens Door to Talks with Guerillas

first_imgBy Dialogo June 19, 2012 The Colombian senate’s approval June 14 of looser terms in peace talks sends a strong message to leftist guerillas who have been battling the government for half a century, experts said. The constitutional reform proposed by President Juan Manuel Santos, which must still pass the House of Representatives and Constitutional Court, allows for the possibility of amnesty for demobilized guerillas. It also sets out provisions to provide restitution to victims of the decades-long conflict and opens the door for former guerillas to gain political office so long as they did not perpetuate crimes against humanity. “It is essentially a message to the guerillas — they’re saying here is a way to make peace,” Fernando Giraldo, a political science professor at the Javeriana University. Colombian law currently imposes hefty prison terms on guerilla leaders accused of terrorism and bars them for life from political office. Amnesty is only offered for non-violent political crimes. “It’s a law for peace,” said Ariel Avila of Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris, a think-tank promoting peaceful resolutions to the Colombian conflict. “It opens a door to dialogue and offers a legal grounding to support it.” The approval does not signal that talks are imminent, cautioned Giraldo. “Society needs a pathway to escape this interminable armed conflict, but peace is not around the corner,” he told AFP. In public speeches this week Santos urged the military to attack guerillas with force and insisted that if a dialogue is opened “it will be on our conditions and under our controls.” Colombia has been riled in a bloody internal conflict that has killed, injured and displaced hundreds of thousands of people over the past 50 years.last_img read more

Brazil Crime Gang Spread through Most of Country

first_imgBy Dialogo November 27, 2012 Brazil’s largest organized crime gang has now spread across most of the country, according to a Justice Ministry report on November 25. The gang called the First Command of the Capital is now present in 22 of the country’s 27 states, as well as in Paraguay and Bolivia, said the report quoted by Brazilian newspaper O Globo. The group was formed in 1993 by drug traffickers doing time in a prison 140 kilometers from São Paulo. It is blamed for a wave of violence ravaging São Paulo state. In response, authorities have transferred jailed leaders of the gang to maximum-security facilities elsewhere in Brazil. The report quoted startling numbers: the gang takes in $32 million a year in drug sales and boasts 13,000 members, 6,000 of whom are held in jails in São Paulo state. It said that of the 152 jails in São Paulo state, 135 are controlled by the gang. Members who are not in prison have to contribute $400 a month. The increase in violence blamed on the gang is sobering: So far this year, around 100 people have been killed in São Paulo state, compared to 47 in all of 2011.last_img read more

The War at Home – PART II

first_img Dani Ticktin Koplik, founder of dtkResources, a professional training and coaching firm, believes that for veterans’ outcomes in the job market to change, they should strive to understand the context and needs of the civilian workplace. He also said it’s important for veterans to avoid using military jargon, citing O*NET Online as a good resource to help veterans convert their military skill sets into civilian terminology. There are numerous resources available to military veterans searching for employment. Here are a few: “They often have the attitude that they are owed a job, and are under the impression that their skill set is more valuable than their civilian counterparts,” Graves said. “They have to understand that you can’t take a CEO of an organization, put stars on their shoulder, and expect them to be a successful general. Just like they can’t take their rank and walk in to the top of the chain of command in a civilian organization.” Feds Hire Vets: This veteran employment website was created as a direct result of the Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama regarding the employment of veterans in the federal government. The site includes information for veteran job seekers, transitioning service members, and veterans’ family members. By Dialogo April 03, 2013 Veterans Green Jobs: Founded in 2008, this organization connects military veterans with training and employment opportunities in the green sector. Any military veteran who served 180 days or more and was discharged under honorable conditions is eligible for the programs they offer. Career Resources for Veterans “In the civilian workplace, competence is assumed and progression through the ranks is often a function of personal relationships, of visibility, and of the softer skills such as displaying emotional intelligence, being able to communicate and build rapport, and establishing trust.” Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs, a professional job finding service, suggested that veterans market their supervisory experience to employers. “It is all dependent on the career field of the member, but many gain extensive professional certifications that can translate into the civilian sector. Some such certifications are found in areas such as legal, hazardous materials, healthcare, engineering, transportation, accounting/finance, and information security.” “The reality of the civilian workplace – what it looks like, what it values, how it operates – is quite different from the military reality,” Koplik said. “Very simply, if vets want to secure employment, build a career, and succeed in the civilian sector, they have to accept what today’s business reality looks like. Business now is highly relational, collaborative, and interdependent which means that employers also look for candidates who ‘fit’ into their corporate culture, who understand and embody their corporate mission and buy into their corporate values.” Koplik said this is often foreign to vets who succeeded in a military culture based on merit, in which expectations for performance are well-articulated, clear, and consistent. Citroen said she encourages veterans to become active on LinkedIn and other networks, both in person and online. “Military personnel have extensive supervisory experience as they move up in rank. Not only do they perform as a supervisor and manager, often for numerous projects, programs, or units, but also as a mentor and professional development instructor,” she said. Interestingly enough, Graves, a Navy veteran, said that the largest obstacle for finding a job is often the veterans themselves. Wounded Warrior Careers Program: Offered through the National Organization on Disability (NOD), this program’s purpose is to help veterans with serious disabilities achieve meaningful, rewarding and sustainable careers in the civilian sector. Career specialists work with the veterans, providing support and guidance to help them identify and achieve their career goals. Fell also stressed the importance of certifications obtained while in the military. Daywalt stressed that there are more than 200 skill sets used in the military needed by civilian employers, with leadership being the main skill. VetJobs: Sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), VetJobs is a job board which allows employers to easily reach all members of the military community. VetJobs was established in 1999, and receives 20,000 visitors a day. A Sense of Entitlement Recent efforts by the National Guard have already proven effective in putting Minnesota’s military veterans in civilian jobs, as reported by Minnesota Public Radio. Acting proactively, a team of military officials accompanied government, education and business leaders to Kuwait where they spent a week on a military base and led troops through a rigorous set of exercises designed to help prepare them to job hunt. The exercises included sessions on resume writing and career planning and mock interviews. Of the more than 500 service members who returned from the Middle East without civilian jobs, guard officials said only 35 are still looking for work. Bonds of Courage: With a staff that includes veterans themselves, Bonds of Courage offers a variety of assistance to veteran job-seekers – from networking to preparation for answering difficult interview questions. Identifying and Leveraging Advantages “They should join community groups and business networks,” she said. “There are great jobs that are not advertised, and the traditional ‘say and spray’ model of shooting out resumes is not as powerful at helping recruiters find you.” last_img read more

Ten Fugitives from Rio Favela Captured in Paraguay

first_img The operation was conducted after several days of armed confrontations that left 37 individuals killed. More than 2,600 Police and Army members seized Complexo do Alemão on November 28, 2010, with the support of armored vehicles and helicopters, and restored this drug trafficking stronghold back to the hands of the state. About 8,000 community police officers have been assigned to UPP in 179 poor neighborhoods, according to the police, which intends to setup other 40 stations by 2014. Since 2000, Rio de Janeiro has raced against time to ‘pacify’ the city’s poor neighborhoods that are controlled by drug traffickers and paramilitaries, before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Pacifying Police Units (UPP) are being setup in the occupied favelas, with officers trained to address problems within retaken communities. “We only have the names of the detainees and confiscated equipment,” Jorge Santos Figueiredo, Chief of the Federal Police of Mato Grosso do Sul, stated. At least five of the criminals are members of transnational gang Comando Vermelho (Red Command), the largest criminal organization in Brazil, which is mainly involved in international drug and weapons trafficking. The operation started six months ago with thorough intelligence work, which involved members of the Paraguayan Army and the counter drug department, who worked in conjunction with the Brazilian Federal Police, according to O Globo. By Dialogo May 23, 2013 The criminals were detained in the border town of Amambay, a marihuana-producing region, which is generally disputed between Paraguayan and Brazilian gangs that fight for control over the drug and weapons market. Additionally, the soccer Confederations Cup will be held in June and one month after that Pope Francis will visit the country. Ten alleged drug traffickers from the Complexo do Alemão favela in Rio de Janeiro, who escaped to Paraguay after the police occupied this shanty town in 2010, were captured by Paraguayan authorities, Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported on May 21. A sophisticated arsenal of war rifles, automatic pistols, shotguns, and ammunition was confiscated by the police, according to the newspaper. last_img read more

Security cameras help Salvadoran police fight street gangs MS-13 and Barrio 18

first_img The surveillance cameras will help security forces keep track of the criminal activities of the two largest gangs in El Salvador – Mara Salvatrucha, which is also known as MS-13, and Barrio 18, which is also known as 18th Street and M-18. Both of these gangs engage in killings, extortion, armed robbery, kidnapping, and micro-trafficking of drugs. Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 have both formed alliances with international drug trafficking groups, such as the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, which operate in El Salvador and other parts of Central America. The gangs help drug cartels transport cocaine and other drugs north to Mexico, the United States, and other destinations. The Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, two Mexican transnational criminal organizations, have expanded their operations in recent years in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Monitoring MS-13 and Barrio 18 Training, coordination, and intelligence Technology is essential to the security forces of any nation, Aviles said. For example, London has used closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) for years to monitor the streets of the city. The new cameras will be phased in, authorities said. The first phase began May 20, when authorities began installing 360 security cameras, which the National Civil Police (PNC) will use to monitor city streets for criminal activity, according to the Ministry of Security. Each surveillance camera can cover as much ground as 22 police officers on patrol, Jose Ricardo Perdomo, the minister of justice and public security, told reporters the day authorities began installing the devices. Authorities installed many of the cameras on streets that led into and out of San Salvador. “In the past, it was easier to point to specific areas that could be dangerous. Unfortunately, crime is spreading geographically,” Aviles said. “San Salvador is a sensitive area again.” The government plans on placing up to 6,500 cameras in the capital city and outlying areas. Images captured by the security cameras can be stored in a database for up to eight years. Authorities will be able to use images to monitor crimes as they occur, to identify potential criminal suspects and victims, and to check the registration of vehicle license numbers. Each camera has a range of about 800 meters. The ability of cameras to cover large amounts of territory will allow police who monitor the cameras to conduct “virtual patrols.” The cameras will send images to the PNC’s central command and control center. PNC authorities will monitor the images to respond to dispatch officers to crimes in progress and to gather intelligence. A pledge to fight crime Using technology to fight crimecenter_img On June 10, Minister of Justice and Security Benito Lara pledged the government is doing everything it can to fight crime and improve security.in every part of El Salvador. “Our policy is clear, we will develop everything in our power to combat crime. We will deploy more police officers in areas where gangs operate,” Lara said. The combination of improvements in technology and cooperation between the police and the residents of El Salvador should lead to improvements in public safety, Aviles said. “Any action to prevent insecurity and violence brings results,” he said. “In the near future the crime reduction is expected.” The security cameras are an important tool in the fight against crime, but they are part of a larger effort which involves improved training, intelligence gathering, and cooperation between citizens and the PNC, as well as between Salvadoran and U.S. security forces, according to Aviles. “Technology alone will not solve the problem of gangs or organizations of transnational organized crime,” Aviles said. “Technology needs to be accompanied by good training for all members of the security forces, equipment, weapons, vehicles, advanced communication, coordination and intelligence to successfully combat these criminal organizations.” Before they began installing large numbers of security cameras, authorities tested the surveillance system by installing a small number of the devices in San Salvador, according to the Ministry of Security. Those first cameras helped police capture a gang of car thieves, stop a drug transaction, and identify extortion suspects. Video and images from security cameras can be important tools in the fight against crime, Aviles said. Police and prosecutors can use video and photographic images from security cameras to identify criminals and bring them to justice. Video and photographic evidence can be crucial in criminal trials. The security camera system cost more than $5 million (USD), according to the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety. The camera surveillance system is equipped with the most sophisticated technology available and is protected against cyber-attacks. Salvadoran authorities are increasing their use of technology to fight crime. For example, authorities have blocked cellphone service at 10 prisons throughout the country to fight crime. Cellphones are prohibited inside prisons, but some incarcerated gang leaders have had friends or relatives smuggle the devices to them inside prison. The gang leaders have used the smuggled cellphones to direct the criminal activities of their gangs. Providing the best in technology is part of government’s broad strategy to fight gangs, international drug trafficking groups, and common criminals. In addition to the surveillance camera system, the government in recent years has provided the PNC an automated ballistics and fingerprint identification system, which helps police conduct criminal investigations. By Dialogo July 21, 2014 Salvadoran authorities plan to install more than 6,000 security cameras in the capital city of San Salvador and outlying areas in the coming months to improve public safety. The cameras will help security forces monitor and confront violence by gangs, transnational criminal organizations, and common criminals, according to Educational Foundation for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (FORESEE) executive director Carlos Aviles. “The use of video surveillance cameras will enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement against drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, common crime, theft and other emerging threats,” Aviles said. “It will strengthen (crime) prevention in San Salvador.” last_img read more

Northern Triangle Country Militaries Train on Humanitarian Principles and the Use of Force

first_imgBy Honduran Secretariat of National Defense February 24, 2017 Universal norms will be integrated into the military’s public security tasks in the region’s three countries. Training is the result of a memorandum of understanding signed by the Honduran Secretariat of National Defense and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Twenty-five officers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala will attend the specialized course from February 7th-24th to strengthen their theoretical and practical knowledge on the application of international standards on the use of force. The lectures will deal with the role of the armed forces in public security, public security in Central America, the rule of law, and the use of force, and will be led by national and international guest panelists. “Participating in this type of training gives the personnel added value when they put these techniques and procedures into practice when using force. We aim to correctly apply this knowledge during operations so we can ensure human rights are respected,” said Cavalry Colonel Juan Ramón Barahona Uriarte, head of the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat of the Honduran Armed Forces Joint Staff. “The ICRC as an impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian institution seeks to promote the knowledge and integration of international standards on the use of force, including the use of firearms, arrest and detention, doctrine, teaching, training and equipment, and internal oversight systems of the armed forces and the security forces,” explained Eduardo Ubierna, ICRC head of mission in Honduras. The instructor training course for the armed forces and security forces is part of the ICRC activities in Central America. In the past three years, these forces have developed processes for teaching and integrating international standards on the use of force. To date more than 6,000 military members who participate in public security operations in support of the national police have been trained as a result of the instructor training and the collaboration between the Armed Forces Human Rights Directorate and the ICRC.last_img read more

Withdrawal from Anti-drug Agreements Benefits Cartels in Venezuela

first_imgBy Diálogo May 20, 2020 On February 25, in a combined operation, the Colombian Navy and Aruban security forces seized more than 5 tons of cocaine hidden inside a compartment of the cargo ship Aressa. The vessel that sailed under a Cameroonian flag had departed from Guaranao Port, in the Venezuelan state of Falcón, and was bound for Greece.The Aruban news portal 24ora said it was the largest cache seized in the island, according to the Aruban Attorney General’s Office.Mildred Camero, former president of the Venezuelan National Commission against Illicit Drug Use (CONACUID, in Spanish), said that this operation was possible thanks to coordination among Colombia, Aruba, and the United States, without the participation of Venezuelan security forces.This is another example in which first Hugo Chávez and now Nicolás Maduro, have broken off with international cooperation to counter narcotrafficking, in order to participate fully in this activity.The isolation process began in 2005, when Chávez ordered to halt the agreements signed with the U.S. Department of State’s Narcotics Affairs Section. These conventions governed, among several issues, the activities of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in the country.Camero was in the United States when Chávez announced the decision. “When I returned to Venezuela, I knew I had been dismissed,” she said.From then on, Venezuela also withdrew from multilateral anti-drug cooperation forums of the Organization of American States and the Andean Community. In 2008, Chávez threatened to leave Interpol, when technicians of that institution validated evidence from computer files seized during a raid in northern Ecuador. The files linked the Chávez government with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.International cooperation for drug interdiction and drug use prevention, as well as money laundering detection, has been declining until reaching the current situation, in which it is “nonexistent,” Camero said.Complicit service members At the same time, several high-ranking officers, who were leading the fight against trafficking organizations, began to favor these groups, taking advantage of their positions of power. One of them would be Bolivarian National Guard Major Néstor Reverol, current Interior minister and former head of the National Anti-drug Office (ONA, in Spanish), the institution that replaced CONACUID in 2008.An indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in January 2015 says that Reverol, together with Brigadier General Edylberto Molina, “alerted narcotics traffickers to future drug raids or locations of law enforcement counter-narcotics activities, so that the narcotics traffickers could change the storage locations of narcotics or alter transportation routes or times and thus avoid detection by law enforcement.”Molina was the ONA’s general director during Reverol’s tenure. Later, when Maduro designated Reverol as Interior minister, he also appointed Molina as deputy minister of the Integrated Police System (VISIPOL, in Spanish).Camero said that Major General Hugo Carvajal, former director of Military Counterintelligence, was conducting a similar activity that favored cartels.In mid-March 2020, U.S. Attorney General William Barr accused Reverol, Carvajal, and Molina of contributing to building Maduro’s “corrupt regime.”With Venezuela’s withdrawal from international drug cooperation efforts — and the fact that more than 50 countries, including the United States and Venezuela’s neighboring countries, do not recognize the Maduro regime — other tactics have been implemented to prevent illegal shipments from leaving the country. International authorities have been using electronic surveillance and confidential informants with greater intensity. According to Camero, this helped detect the preparations for the cocaine shipment on board Aressa in December.José Luis Pirela, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly (AN, in Spanish) Subcommission for the Fight Against Drugs, Terrorism, and Organized Crime, shares this view, adding that the increase in surveillance over the country explains why large drug seizures are taking place in the Caribbean and ports of destination, such as Spain and France, rather than in Venezuelan territory.“The breakdown of international cooperation mechanisms has allowed narcotrafficking to reach alarming levels in Venezuela,” he said.The lawmaker believes that it is necessary to resume Venezuela’s participation in all international forums for both drug interdiction and drug use prevention.He added that the AN speaker, Juan Guaidó, who is recognized by the United States and more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president, should seize this opportunity to renew these accords, and also create a parliamentary space to allow discussions to resume on the drug issue.last_img read more

Insurance disclosure form proposed

first_imgInsurance disclosure form proposedA proposed disclosure form to be given to insurance company policy holders when they are sued and a Bar rule to implement how the form is used are being presented to Bar members for comment.The Board of Governors got its first look at the implementing rule at its April 7 meeting. It will come back — along with the form which was reviewed by the board at its February meeting — to the board for final approval June 2 in Naples.Board member David Bianchi, chair of the Insurance Practice Special Study Committee, said the form, the first such in the nation, is attracting the attention of other states.“If the board votes to approve it at the next meeting, and I hope you will, we will be the model for the country, because other states are lining up waiting for us to roll it out,” he said.The form would let policy holders know of their rights and responsibilities when they are sued and their insurance company appoints a lawyer to defend them.Bianchi said it was presented to the Bar’s Citizens Forum at its April 6 meeting and forum members were enthusiastic about the document.“I’m very happy to tell you they loved it. They said it was fabulous and they wanted to say how appreciative they were of the language that was used and the tone. They said it was precise and clear,” Bianchi said. “Two of them had recently been sued in small auto accidents and they said they wished they had had this.”Comments on the form and proposed rule may be sent to Mary Ellen Bateman, Bar Unlicensed Practice of Law Counsel, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300. Comments may be e-mailed to [email protected] The proposed form and rule change follows. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE ASK FOR AN EXPLANATION. April 30, 2000 Regular News Insurance disclosure form proposedcenter_img RULE 4-1.8 CONFLICT OF INTEREST; PROHIBITED AND OTHER TRANSACTIONS(a) Business Transactions With or Acquiring Interest Adverse to Client. A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security, or other pecuniary interest adverse to a client, except a lien granted by law to secure a lawyer’s fee or expenses, unless:(1) the transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interest are fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and transmitted in writing to the client in a manner that can be reasonably understood by the client;(2) the client is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent counsel in the transaction; and(3) the client consents in writing thereto.(b) Using Information to Disadvantage of Client. A lawyer shall not use information relating to representation of a client to the disadvantage of the client unless the client consents after consultation, except as permitted or required by rule 4-1.6.(c) Gifts to Lawyer or Lawyer’s Family. A lawyer shall not prepare an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer as parent, child, sibling, or spouse any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, except where the client is related to the donee.(d) Acquiring Literary or Media Rights. Prior to the conclusion of representation of a client, a lawyer shall not make or negotiate an agreement giving the lawyer literary or media rights to a portrayal or account based in substantial part on information relating to the representation.(e) Financial Assistance to Client. A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that:(1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and(2) a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client.(f) Compensation by Third Party. A lawyer shall not accept compensation for representing a client from one other than the client unless:(1) the client consents after consultation;(2) there is no interference with the lawyer’s independence of professional judgment or with the client-lawyer relationship; and(3) information relating to representation of a client is protected as required by rule 4-1.6.(g) Settlement of Claims for Multiple Clients. A lawyer who represents 2 or more clients shall not participate in making an aggregate settlement of the claims of or against the clients, or in a criminal case an aggregated agreement as to guilty or nolo contendere pleas, unless each client consents after consultation, including disclosure of the existence and nature of all the claims or pleas involved and of the participation of each person in the settlement.(h) Limiting Liability for Malpractice. A lawyer shall not make an agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer’s liability to a client for malpractice unless permitted by law and the client is independently represented in making the agreement. A lawyer shall not settle a claim for such liability with an unrepresented client or former client without first advising that person in writing that independent representation is appropriate in connection therewith.(i) Acquiring Proprietary Interest in Cause of Action. A lawyer shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client, except that the lawyer may:(1) acquire a lien granted by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses; and(2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee.(j) Representation of Insureds. When a lawyer undertakes the defense of an insured in regard to an action or claim for personal injury or for property damages, or for death or loss of services resulting from personal injuries based upon tortious conduct, including product liability claims, the Statement of Insured Client’s Rights shall be provided to the insured at the commencement of the representation. The lawyer shall sign the statement certifying the date the statement was provided to the insured. The lawyer shall keep a copy of the signed statement in the client’s file, and shall retain a copy of the signed statement for 6 years after the representation is completed. The statement shall be available for inspection at reasonable times by the insured, or by the appropriate disciplinary agency. Nothing in the Statement of Insured Client’s Rights shall be deemed to augment or detract from any substantive or ethical duty of a lawyer, nor affect the extra-disciplinary consequences of violating an existing substantive legal or ethical duty; nor shall any matter set forth in the Statement of Insured Client’s Rights give rise to an independent cause of action or create any presumption that an existing legal or ethical duty has been breached. STATEMENT OF INSURED CLIENT’S RIGHTS An insurance company has selected a lawyer to defend a lawsuit or claim against you. This Statement of Insured Client’s Rights is being given to you to assure that you are aware of your rights regarding your legal representation. This disclosure statement highlights many, but not all, of your rights when your legal representation is being provided by the insurance company. 1. Your Lawyer. If you have questions concerning the selection of the lawyer by the insurance company, you should discuss the matter with the insurance company and the lawyer. As a client, you have the right to know about the lawyer’s education, training, and experience. If you ask, the lawyer should tell you specifically about the lawyer’s actual experience dealing with cases similar to yours and give you this information in writing, if you request it. Your lawyer is responsible to keep you reasonably informed regarding the case and promptly comply with your reasonable requests for information. You are entitled to be informed of the final disposition of your case within a reasonable time. 2. Fees and Costs. Usually the insurance company pays all of the fees and costs of defending the claim. If you are responsible for directly paying the lawyer for any fees or costs, your lawyer must inform you.3. Directing the Lawyer. If your policy, like most insurance policies, provides for the insurance company to control the defense of the lawsuit, the lawyer will be taking instructions from the insurance company. Under such policies, the lawyer cannot act solely on your instructions, and at the same time, cannot act contrary to your interests. Your preferences should be communicated to the lawyer.4. Litigation Guidelines. Many insurance companies establish guidelines governing how lawyers are to proceed in defending a claim. Sometimes such guidelines affect the range of actions the lawyer can take, and may require authorization of the insurance company before certain actions are undertaken. You are entitled to know the guidelines affecting the extent and level of legal services being provided to you. Upon request, the lawyer or the insurance company should either explain such guidelines to you or provide you with a copy. If the lawyer is denied authorization to provide a service or undertake an action the lawyer believes necessary to your defense, you are entitled to be informed that the insurance company has declined authorization for the service or action. 5. Confidentiality. Lawyers have a general duty to keep secret the confidential information a client provides, subject to limited exceptions. However, the lawyer chosen to represent you may also have a duty to share with the insurance company information relating to defense or settlement of the claim. If the lawyer learns information indicating that the insurance company is not obligated under the policy to cover the claim or provide a defense, the lawyer’s duty is to maintain that information in confidence. If the lawyer cannot do so, the lawyer may be required to withdraw from the representation without disclosing to the insurance company the nature of the conflict of interest which has arisen. Whenever a waiver of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege is needed, your lawyer has a duty to consult with you and obtain your informed consent. Some insurance companies retain auditing companies to review the billings and files of the lawyers they hire to represent policyholders. If the lawyer believes a bill review or other action releases information in a manner that is contrary to your interests, the lawyer should advise you regarding the matter.6. Conflicts of Interest. Most insurance policies state that the insurance company will provide a lawyer to represent your interests as well as those of the insurance company. The lawyer is responsible for identifying conflicts of interest. If at any time you believe the lawyer provided by the insurance company cannot fairly represent you because of conflict of interests between you and the company (such as over coverage of the claim), you should discuss this with the lawyer and explain why you believe there is a conflict. If an actual conflict of interest arises that cannot be resolved, the insurance company may be required to provide you with another lawyer.7. Settlement. Many policies state the insurance company alone may make a final decision regarding settlement of a claim, but under some policies your agreement is required. If you want to object to or encourage a settlement within policy limits, you should discuss your concerns with your lawyer to learn your rights and possible consequences. No settlement of the case requiring you to pay money in excess of your policy limits can be reached without your agreement, following full disclosure.8. Your Risk. If you lose the case, there might be a judgment entered against you for more than the amount of your insurance, and you might have to pay it. Your lawyer has a duty to advise you about this risk and other reasonably foreseeable adverse results. 9. Hiring Your Own Lawyer. The lawyer provided by the insurance company is representing you only to defend the lawsuit. If you desire to pursue a claim against the other side, or desire legal services not directly related to the defense of the lawsuit against you, you will need to make your own arrangements with this or another lawyer. You may also hire another lawyer, at your own expense, to monitor the defense being provided by the insurance company. If there is a reasonable risk that the claim made against you exceeds the amount of coverage under your policy, you should consider consulting another lawyer.10. Reporting Violations. If at any time you believe that your lawyer has acted in violation of your rights, you have the right to report the matter to The Florida Bar, the agency that oversees the practice and behavior of all lawyers in Florida. For information on how to reach The Florida Bar call (850) 561-5839 or you may access the Bar at www.FlaBar.org. CERTIFICATE The undersigned hereby certifies that this Statement of Insured Client’s Rights has been provided to [name of insured/client(s)] by [mail] [hand delivery] at [address of insured/client(s) to which mailed or delivered] this day of, 20___. [Signature of Attorney] [Print/Type Name]Florida Bar No.: Comment–Transactions between client and lawyer As a general principle, all transactions between client and lawyer should be fair and reasonable to the client. In such transactions a review by independent counsel on behalf of the client is often advisable. Furthermore, a lawyer may not exploit information relating to the representation to the client’s disadvantage. For example, a lawyer who has learned that the client is investing in specific real estate may not, without the client’s consent, seek to acquire nearby property where doing so would adversely affect the client’s plan for investment. Subdivision (a) does not, however, apply to standard commercial transactions between the lawyer and the client for products or services that the client generally markets to others, for example, banking or brokerage services, medical services, products manufactured or distributed by the client, and utilities services. In such transactions the lawyer has no advantage in dealing with the client, and the restrictions in subdivision (a) are unnecessary and impracticable. Likewise, subdivision (a) does not prohibit a lawyer from acquiring or asserting a lien granted by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses. A lawyer may accept a gift from a client, if the transaction meets general standards of fairness. For example, a simple gift such as a present given at a holiday or as a token of appreciation is permitted. If effectuation of a substantial gift requires preparing a legal instrument such as a will or conveyance, however, the client should have the detached advice that another lawyer can provide. Subdivision (c) recognizes an exception where the client is a relative of the donee or the gift is not substantial.Literary rightsAn agreement by which a lawyer acquires literary or media rights concerning the conduct of the representation creates a conflict between the interests of the client and the personal interests of the lawyer. Measures suitable in the representation of the client may detract from the publication value of an account of the representation. Subdivision (d) does not prohibit a lawyer representing a client in a transaction concerning literary property from agreeing that the lawyer’s fee shall consist of a share in ownership in the property if the arrangement conforms to rule 4-1.5 and subdivision (i).Person paying for lawyer’s servicesRule 4-1.8(f) requires disclosure of the fact that the lawyer’s services are being paid for by a third party. Such an arrangement must also conform to the requirements of rule 4-1.6 concerning confidentiality and rule 4-1.7 concerning conflict of interest. Where the client is a class, consent may be obtained on behalf of the class by court-supervised procedure.Acquisition of interest in litigationSubdivision (i) states the traditional general rule that lawyers are prohibited from acquiring a proprietary interest in litigation. This general rule, which has its basis in common law champerty and maintenance, is subject to specific exceptions developed in decisional law and continued in these rules, such as the exception for reasonable contingent fees set forth in rule 4-1.5 and the exception for certain advances of the costs of litigation set forth in subdivision (e).This rule is not intended to apply to customary qualification and limitations in legal opinions and memoranda. Representation of Insureds As with any representation of a client where another person or client is paying for the representation, the representation of an insured client at the request of the insurer creates a special need for the lawyer to be cognizant of the potential for ethical risks. The nature of the relationship between a lawyer and client can lead to the insured or the insurer having expectations inconsistent with the duty of the lawyer to maintain confidences, to avoid conflicts of interest, and otherwise to comply with professional standards. When a lawyer undertakes the representation of an insured client at the expense of the insurer, the lawyer should ascertain whether the lawyer will be representing both the insured and the insurer, or only the insured. Communication with both the insured and the insurer promotes their mutual understanding of the role of the lawyer in the particular representation. The Statement of Insured Client’s Rights has been developed to facilitate the lawyer’s performance of ethical responsibilities. The highly variable nature of insurance and the responsiveness of the insurance industry in developing new types of coverages for risks arising in the dynamic American economy, render it impractical to establish a statement of rights applicable to all forms of insurance. The Statement of Insured Client’s Rights is intended to apply to personal injury and property damage tort cases. Even in that relatively narrow area of insurance coverage, there is variability among policies. For that reason, the statement is necessarily broad. It is the responsibility of the lawyer to explain the statement to the insured. In particular cases, the lawyer may need to provide additional information to the insured. Since the purpose of the statement is to assist lay persons in understanding their basic rights as clients, it is necessarily abbreviated. While brevity promotes the purpose for which the statement was developed, it also necessitates incompleteness. For these reasons, it is specifically provided that the statement shall not serve to establish any legal rights or duties, nor create any presumption that an existing legal or ethical duty has been breached. As a result, the statement and its contents should not be invoked by opposing parties as grounds for disqualification of a lawyer or for procedural purposes. The purpose of the statement would be subverted if it could be used in such a manner. The statement is to be signed by the lawyer to establish that it was timely provided to the insured, but the insured client is not required to sign it. It is in the best interests of the lawyer to have the insured client sign the statement to avoid future questions, but it is considered impractical to require the lawyer to obtain the insured client’s signature. Establishment of the statement and the duty to provide it to an insured in tort cases involving personal injury or property damage should not be construed as lessening the duty of the lawyer to inform clients of their rights in other circumstances. When other types of insurance are involved, or where there are other third-party payors of fees, or where multiple clients are represented, similar needs for fully informing clients exist, as recognized in rule 4-1.7(c) and rule 4-1.8(f).last_img read more

State’s lawyers and judges catapulted to international fame

first_imgState’s lawyers and judges catapulted to international fame State’s lawyers and judges catapulted to international fame Associate Editor One day, Palm Beach County Judge Charles Burton was a rookie judge handling routine shoplifting and trespassing cases. The next thing he knew, the whole world watched as he chaired a canvassing board dealing with baffling butterfly ballots. He pulled 17-hour days, as they recounted by hand presidential votes, amid flare-ups of mass confusion and partisan passions. The election debacle snagged him not only a seat on the witness stand at a Tallahassee trial where the judge declared him a “great American,” but a ringside spectators’ seat at historic oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court. While boarding a plane in Washington, the airline agent took Judge Burton’s ticket and held it high to get a look at it through the light, mimicking his now-famous chad-checking pose. Judge Burton got a big laugh out of that, along with the stunning realization that he was now famous. “Total strangers are stopping to thank me. People are coming up to me taking pictures, wanting me to autograph sample ballots,” Judge Burton said. “It was clearly an awesome experience.” Judge Burton joins dozens of Florida lawyers and judges flung into the limelight or toiling behind the scenes during the 36-day rollicking ride to fill the nation’s top job. A global audience hung on every live-broadcast word from Dexter Douglass’ homespun quotes draped in Southern drawl to Second Judicial Circuit Judge N. Sanders Sauls’ jovial exchange over a speaker phone with Miami-Dade Assistant County Attorney Murray Greenberg about the logistics of trucking ballots upstate. When Pat Roberts, president of the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association, looked out at 19 television satellite trucks parked near the Florida Supreme Court, he described the ratings as “off the chart. . . the largest media TV-viewed event in the history of the United States,” bigger than the death of Princess Diana or the Gulf War. Now that the hoopla has faded, what did it really feel like to be a sleep-deprived, adrenaline-fueled Florida lawyer playing a starring role in this high-stakes national drama? We caught up with a few of the celebrity players and supporting cast in George W. Bush v. Al Gore and its many twisting subplots. Toiling in the Trenches “The largest peacetime mobilization of legal talent in the country’s history” is how Benjamin L. Ginsberg, general counsel for the Bush campaign, described the throng of lawyers descending on Tallahassee after Election Day. More than 100 lawyers working for Bush took over the top two floors of the Florida GOP headquarters in Tallahassee, as well as the downtown Greenberg Traurig law firm and Gray, Harris and Robinson on Kleman Plaza. Jason Unger described the hectic scene at Gray, Harris and Robinson as setting up three law firms overnight, complete with a full technology studio, staffed with lawyers from Houston, Denver and Chicago firms. It was exhilarating to be around so many high-caliber legal minds who had clerked for Supreme Court justices, Unger said. Add in an array of expert witnesses, paralegals and secretaries, and it was jammed-packed organized chaos while years of litigation were smashed into a month of fast deadlines, hurtling them through the dizzying ups and downs of quick-changing victories and defeats. “We had to have name tags to know who was who,” said Unger, who described himself as “a hard-core Broward County Jewish Republican, one of three.” “Every day, I had this surreal moment of coming off the elevator and walking into our office, which was transformed into an absolute war room,” he said. All pictures were stripped from the walls, replaced with posters plotting their entire legal strategy and assignments focusing on the military ballot recount in 67 counties. Little cards helped keep track of all the lawyers telling who was where and who they were with and what they were up to. “I got at least three or four hours of sleep each night. And the out-of-state lawyers had a choice of crashing on the couch in the office or going back to the hotel. Most of the time, they just crashed on the couch,” Unger said. “I lost track of the days of the week. No one knew whether it was Thursday or Sunday. It didn’t matter. We were always in court.” A block away, the legal team for Al Gore crammed into the offices of Berger, Davis & Singerman (later moving to an extra empty office next door to Dexter Douglass’ law firm) where John D.C. Newton II, former president of the Tallahassee Bar Association, found himself in the thick of things. He was filing briefs for Gore, hanging out with top legal eagle David Boies and Warren Christopher. One of many bizarre moments Newton will never forget was when he’d drafted the first brief for the Florida Supreme Court, a partner in Washington was doing final revisions, and the printer and copier were cranking out pages while the TV blared. “The image of the Supreme Court came on the screen, with the banner: `Gore brief due in 15 minutes,’” Newton recalled. “It was an incredibly surreal moment to watch your life in real time on national television.” Another surreal moment, Newton recalled, was sitting with two other lawyers in front of the TV watching the trial in Judge Sauls’ court, while they all worked on the brief for the appeal when the trial was over. Newton’s two-person law office bustled 24 hours a day, crammed with 17 lawyers and staff sitting at card tables with laptops. Besides that group of legal talent, Newton said, they were helped by what they dubbed “The Elves,” lawyers all over the country who volunteered their time to do legal research and help make deadline with tidbits of info in calls and e-mails. Adding to the craziness was being the father of a 3-year-old daughter, who sometimes came to the law office and sat on the floor with a crayon and colored the briefs, master of a dog that had to be dropped off at friends because there was no time to walk or feed him, and son to a mother who suffered a heart attack and was stunned to get a call from Gore himself in her Sebring hospital room, just weeks before she passed away. Despite the personal crises, Newton will cherish memories of this once-in-lifetime case. “It was wonderful to sit in on a conference call with the Vice President as he’s reviewing a speech he’s about to give on national TV to make sure it’s accurate,” Newton said. “We were in the middle of a historic case, and it was exhilarating.” On the last day, when the last brief was filed with the Florida Supreme Court, Newton recalled, “There were a lot of middle-aged people pulling an all-nighter, including me. When I left around 5 a.m. to go home for a quick shower, I looked around the room. Four lawyers are typing away. One is sitting with his feet on another chair snoring. Later, the brief goes out the door. Kendall Coffey and I are sitting alone in the now quiet room and Kendall says: `You know, this is sort of it. People will start trickling back to their homes and practices. This will be the end of what we’re doing. We’ll see each other in courtrooms and airports. We will remember each other and this time. But we’re coming to the end of a rare and precious moment in time. And it’s all something we shared together.’” Celebrity Lawyers on Live TV While legal troops toiled in trenches behind the scenes, Tallahassee Greenberg Traurig lawyer Barry Richard was out front and center, gaining celebrity status as he appeared in as many as five courtrooms in a single day, representing George W. Bush in more than 46 cases, as well as making oral arguments at the Supreme Court. “It was strange,” Richard said. “I said to my wife, `One day I feel like I’ll wake up and suddenly say, “Boy, was that a strange dream!”‘ Most of the time I was too busy just doing what a trial lawyer does to focus on the significance of what was happening.” He stayed so busy and focused on leading a team of 50 lawyers, he said, that “I never had the opportunity to watch TV or read the newspaper to know what the exposure was. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks afterwards, when I began to see copies of stories, and somebody sent me the “Nightline” and “Today Show” tapes, that’s when the extent hit me.” Greenberg Traurig’s marketing department in Miami kept track: Richard had 2,753 television “hits,” actual times his voice was heard on television, and 147 total hours of network coverage that included live trial work. He had 1,141 media print hits. And his total media exposure included cable networks, wire news services, the top 20 print media outlets and all major networks. During the frenzied six weeks of constant litigation, one day Richard agreed to wear a wire so that his every word could be heard unless he switched off a little knob so he could confer confidentially with his partners, for an ABC “Nightline” story. Even the minutia of personal grooming couldn’t escape the public eye. Newsweek reported that when talk-show host Don Imus dubbed him, “Little Richard,” for the rock-and-roll performer’s pompadour, the next day Richard took a seat in his barber’s chair. With his reputation as a great First Amendment lawyer, Richard sympathized with journalists scurrying around for tips, but he found it a bit unnerving to walk down a street and have hundreds of people swarming him for a quote or a photo op. When he moved to the other side of the street, so did the crowd. “I like reporters, and we get along fine,” Richard said. “But it got to the point where I actually couldn’t leave the office.” He’s proud to say that except for two nights, he was able to rush home in time to tuck into bed his 2-1/2-year-old twins, Jonathan and Jeremy. “In terms of the litigation itself, it was unlike anything I’ve ever done. Later, when I look back, I just can’t believe it,” Richard said. “In terms of impact, it was the biggest case of my career. But the only thing about it that was unusual was the number of cases and the rapidity in which they were being moved along. The issues were no different than any other case. They were not, in themselves, that complex. The actual work was not that unique. It was the clients and the ultimate ramifications, and the surrounding circumstances, and the media and the demonstrators that made it so different.” Fan mail poured in more than 2,000 e-mails and letters. “And only five of them were negative,” Richard said. “Some were funny. One was from someone who said he hadn’t seen me since high school. Many were from Democrats hoping I would lose, but saying I was doing a good job.” After oral arguments at the Florida Supreme Court Nov. 21, George W. called him at home and said: “Keep up the good work.” Later, when a stranger remarked: “It must have been hell,” Richard replied: “Actually, it was like Disney World. I enjoyed it.” So did Dexter Douglass, one of the big guns on the other side of the courtroom, who once served as general counsel to the late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles and chaired the state’s second Constitution Revision Commission in 1997. “It was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lawyer,” Douglass said. “I’ve been in a lot of trials in the 46 years I’ve practiced that were very intense, fast-moving and required long hours. But this one took the cake.” And the day he turned 71, Douglass was in trial. “I had to look at Judge Sanders Sauls on my birthday,” Douglass said, letting out a big laugh. “Best birthday I ever had, doing what I love to do with great people for a good cause.” There was no panic riding the ups and downs. “We’d win, and three hours later we were losing. We just went back to work. We had it right in our grasp and away it went. But that’s not nearly as bad as being the lawyer for someone you think is innocent who gets convicted. That is a real crusher. Or to lose a big civil case about a personal injury that’s devastating for a client that’s much more crushing than this.” When the Gore legal team set up an office in his building, Douglass said, “I walked around and acted like I was in charge.” But he said he agreed totally that Boies should be the lead counsel and make most of the public presentations. “Remarkably, the large egos of fine lawyers did not interfere with the case,” Douglass said. “At the outset, I did a lot of the trial. As the trial went on, I thought it’d be better to keep Boies up front. He was probably most outstanding of anybody in the trial. Our styles are so different. He’s very precise. I tend to be, as the Northern press calls it, `down-home.’” Several times he appeared on “Larry King Live,” and he got a lot of public feedback, not all positive. “Some guy told me I was one of the most un-American people he’d ever seen. I told him I thought he just hadn’t seen many,” Douglass said. But the funniest moment, Douglass said, was while he was in court and on television and some guy called his home and spoke to his wife of 45 years, Terese. “I’m calling to tell you your husband is one of the sorriest excuses for a lawyer, making such outrageous statements about George Bush. What do you think about that?” And Terese Douglass calmly answered: “Yes, sir, I agree with you.” Douglass got a big kick out of that, when his wife told him: “That’s the way to get rid of those nuts. When I agree with them, they think they have the wrong number.” A Jarring Judicial Experience “The experience of a lifetime and hopefully the only one like it in this lifetime!” is how Second Judicial Circuit Judge Nikki Clark, a member of the Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors, described her role presiding over the Seminole County case involving absentee ballots. Lawyers for the Democrats alleged elections officials improperly allowed Republican workers to add missing information to hundreds of absentee ballot applications for Republicans. Kicking off her unprecedented experience was the motion from lawyers for the Republicans asking her to recuse herself, fearing she might not be objective because Gov. Jeb Bush didn’t appoint her to the First District Court of Appeal. She said she was not persuaded, stayed on the case and ended up ruling against the Democrats. As soon as the 5-foot tall woman sat in her judge’s chair, she was struck with the momentousness of the case before her, how every word she uttered was broadcast live, how every gesture and grimace was frozen in time by the incessant clicking of cameras. “But after the first 15 minutes, I couldn’t think about the press or the people or the attention, because the case was so intense and so fast-moving,” Judge Clark recalled. “It was really easy to put all that to the side and concentrate 100 percent on the case. And there was lots to read and digest and make sense of,” Judge Clark said. “The intensity of it all actually made it easier to get through it, because there was so little time to think about the pressure and the intensity of it all.” Like everyone involved in the presidential election contest, she was putting in 16-hour days. “I didn’t know what my daughter looked like for a week and a half,” Judge Clark said. After a long day in court, she was delivered to her front door by a sheriff’s deputy. When Jesse Jackson walked into her courtroom, her focus was mostly on shushing spectators all abuzz. She made sure that some of the seats reserved for the press went to several kids she knows and mentors, including her 17-year-old daughter Kianna Ferguson. “I didn’t want that part of history to go down just for the press,” Judge Clark said. After court, she held a little Q-and-A session with the teens. “They found it to be a wonderful experience, and two of the kids told me they are planning a legal career,” she said. Total strangers called her at all times of the day and night just to give their opinion. “I heard from some very unpleasant people,” she said. “One guy in particular was way too weird.” That’s when Judge Clark, after being on the bench for more than seven years without a problem, was forced to switch to an unlisted phone number. The barrage of calls and e-mails included those from people she hadn’t heard from in 30 years, to the daily pep talks from her oldest sister who was constantly asked by family and friends, “Is that our little Nikki?” Then, there were the people who messaged her to declare: “You need a makeover!” After the case was finally over, the first African-American and the first woman named to the circuit bench in the Second Circuit, described the feeling as “relief and a sense of survival.” “I want to get a T-shirt that says, `I survived Election 2000,’” she said with a laugh. For Second Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, being assigned to preside over the biggest case of his career meant enduring an exhausting schedule. The first week of December, when he got the Martin County absentee ballot case, Judge Lewis was determined to keep his prior commitment to teach three classes at the circuit judges’ conference in Amelia Island. “I did a few hearings from the conference by telephone,” Judge Lewis said, describing how judges at the conference gathered around the TV to watch Judge Sauls preside over his trial. One thing Judge Lewis said he learned is that a judge is “considered a hero or a goat depending on the result of the ruling.. . . If you are an ardent partisan, you think everyone else is. You view everything with suspicion and don’t look at the analysis, and that’s very troubling for the long-term effectiveness of the court.” With that in mind, Judge Lewis said he wished he had explained himself better in how he reached his second ruling. “It just reinforces that a judge should explain a ruling in a way that both parties understand why, so it seems reasonable, even if people disagree. You don’t want someone to think of us as political hacks,” Judge Lewis said. E-mails and letters, he said, ranged from “You’re an American hero” to “I hope you burn in hell and have a slow, miserable life until then.” His stint presiding over the big case included a glowing editorial in the New York Times calling his November 14 order “a model of common sense” when he said the secretary of state could not arbitrarily refuse to accept recount results that arrived after her hard-and-fast deadline. “People would send me pictures of me in the newspaper in Tokyo. You realize that everybody is looking at what you’re doing. . . It’s certainly unprecedented. Something like this will never happen again in my lifetime.” One extra benefit from all the media exposure was that a Baltimore Sun reporter actually read Judge Lewis’ novel, Conflict of Interest, published in 1997, a mystery about an alcoholic lawyer, and gave it a pretty decent review. Any plans to craft a novel about political intrigue swirling around a close presidential election? Judge Lewis said with a laugh: “No, no, I won’t be writing a novel about it. It’s not my type.” Parting Thoughts The legal experience of a lifetime left many Florida lawyers waxing philosophical. Mitchell Berger, who served as a chief trial strategist for Gore, said, “The thing I took away from it was how precious the right to vote is and how important it is that we honor and cherish that right.” For Judge Burton, the silver lining in the storm of protests was how deeply people cared, even young people so often branded as apathetic. Outside the highest court in the land, he was both amazed and heartened to see college students curled up in sleeping bags to save their place in line, not for tickets to a rock concert, but for a chance to witness history in the making. For 27-year-old Chanta Combs, part of the Bush team working on the military ballot issues, it was a test of her six-month marriage to a staunch Democrat, lawyer Bert Combs, whose uncle was once a Democrat governor of Kentucky. “I understand now about not talking about politics with family,” Chanta Combs said. “I really did get to see the Constitution come to life,” she said. “It was such a historic and monumental thing, and the whole world was watching. We spent so many hours in the office that we took it for granted that you knew more than the rest of the world knew and what the rest of the world wanted to know.” Having graduated from Florida State University’s College of Law a mere two years ago, she said with a sigh: “Anything less than fighting for the presidency seems mundane. The next 40 years will seem incredibly boring.” February 1, 2001 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular Newslast_img

Computer Law Committee joins Business Law Section

first_img September 1, 2001 Regular News Computer Law Committee joins Business Law Section Computer Law Committee joins Business Law Section The Computer Law Committee has relinquished its position as one of the Bar’s substantive law standing committees, but it hasn’t disappeared. The committee has become part of the Business Law Section and is now accepting members. “The Business Law Section had been courting us for a couple of years to come over and join them,” said Stephen Krulin, chair of the committee. And thanks to the hard work of people like Sam Lewis, the immediate past chair, and Jose Rojas, another former chair, the committee did just that. Prior to becoming an official committee of the Business Law Section, the committee was governed by Bar guidelines which limited the membership to 50 people and imposed a six-year term limit for members. Because the committee was created in the early 1980s, many of its more experienced members were forced to step aside, according to Krulin. The committee also was financially limited, which allowed it to conduct only one CLE offering per year. Krulin said this made it hard for members to present information about current trends in the ever-changing field of computer law. The committee has always been comprised of people who know a great deal about computers and computer law, and who are, for the most part, at the cutting edge of computer-related arbitration, litigation, and mediation, Krulin said. “We approached our CLE efforts as an opportunity to open this experience to the Bar in general. Now, with the section, we’ll be open to providing additional programs,” Krulin said. With the reorganization, the committee will have access to the section’s CLE funds. The committee may also accept as many members as they’d like, including those seasoned members who previously left the committee. “We’re very happy to have them join our section,” said Business Law Section Chair David Felman. “We’re going to invest some money to help them do whatever they want.” Krulin likened the committee’s previous situation to a large plant in a small pot. “The more that we bloomed, the tighter it got. We wanted to expand, and the only way left to us was to become a section, which became impossible,” he said. The Computer Law Committee had sought section status for several years, but a lack of sufficient funding hampered its progress. Many members of the Business Law Section represent technology companies, and some were among the early Computer Law Committee members, which makes for a good pairing, according to Felman. The committee leaders weren’t nearly as confident about the match early on in the process, though. “We’ve got people who teach computer law, who work for businesses, who work for Internet companies, who work in the criminal sector. There’s a wide variety of people who aren’t strictly business lawyers,” Krulin said. “We polled the old-time members, the former chairs, former vice chairs, and posed the question.” The majority of committee members agreed it was a good idea, and when it came down to the final vote, the committee was unanimous. The Computer Law Committee’s first meeting as part of the section commenced at the section’s retreat in Naples in late August. Plans to offer the committee’s experience and knowledge to benefit the legislature’s consideration of upcoming technology and privacy issues were presented.last_img read more

Bar investments post gains

first_imgA new investment policy begun by the Bar almost 12 years ago has weathered two recessions while more than doubling the Bar’s initial investment.And despite turbulent markets in recent months, it has made money for the Bar in the past year.Investment Committee Chair David Bianchi told the Board of Governors recently that the Bar started in September 1990 with an investment account of $9.2 million. The new policy allowed the Bar to invest in stocks and bonds, where previously it had been restricted to certificates of deposit.Since that time, the Bar has earned $9.8 million, of which about $5 million has been used to finance continuing Bar operations and the remainder left in the investment pool, which is now nearly $14 million, Bianchi said.In the past 12 months, the Bar has received a 5.8-percent return, he said, while the indexes the Bar uses to measure performance have averaged 3.8 percent.The committee recommended, and the board approved, a change in the way short-term investments are made. Bianchi said the Bar’s financial advisors recommended no longer investing in short-term commercial notes, but continuing to invest in money market accounts while adding one-to-three year term U.S. Treasury notes and bonds in a bond mutual fund. Bar investments post gains June 15, 2002 Regular Newscenter_img Bar investments post gainslast_img read more

Notice: Proposed Rule of Judicial Administration

first_img Notice: Proposed Rule of Judicial Administration Notice: Proposed Rule of Judicial Administration August 1, 2002 Noticescenter_img The Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee proposes an amendment to the Rules to add a rule governing the appointment of interpreters in certain cases. After reviewing the comments received in response to this publication, the Committee may submit its proposal to the Florida Supreme Court. Please send all comments to the Honorable Peter D. Webster, Chair, First District Court of Appeal, 301 S. Martin Luther King., Jr. Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1850. You may fax your comments to Judge Webster at (850) 488-7989. Your comments must be received by August 15, 2002, to ensure that they are considered by the Committee. Rule 2.073. APPOINTMENT OF INTERPRETERS FOR NON-ENGLISH-SPEAKING PERSONS (a) Criminal or Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings. In any criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding in which a non-English-speaking person is the accused, an interpreter for the non-English-speaking person shall be appointed. In any criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding in which a non-English-speaking person is a victim, an interpreter shall be appointed unless the court finds that the victim does not require the services of a court-appointed interpreter. (b) Other Proceedings. In all other proceedings in which a non-English-speaking person is a litigant, an interpreter for the non-English-speaking litigant shall be appointed if the court determines that the litigant’s inability to comprehend English deprives the litigant of an understanding of the court proceedings, that a fundamental interest is at stake (such as in a civil commitment, termination of parental rights, paternity, or dependency proceeding), and that no alternative to the appointment of an interpreter exists. (c) Witnesses. In any proceeding in which a non-English-speaking person is a witness, the appointment of an interpreter shall be governed by the applicable provisions of the Florida Evidence Code. (d) Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In making determinations regarding the appointment of an interpreter, the court should ensure compliance with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (e) Qualifications of Interpreter. (1) Appointment of Interpreters when Certified or Duly Qualified Interpreters Are Available. Whenever possible, a certified or duly qualified interpreter, as defined in the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Interpreters, shall be appointed. (2) Appointment of Interpreters when Certified or Duly Qualified Interpreters Are Unavailable. If, after diligent search, a certified or duly qualified interpreter is not available, an interpreter who is neither certified nor duly qualified may be appointed if the judge or hearing officer presiding over the proceeding finds that: (A) good cause exists for the appointment of an interpreter who is neither certified nor duly qualified, such as the prevention of burdensome delay, the request or consent of the non-English-speaking person, or other unusual circumstance; and (B) the proposed interpreter is competent to interpret in the proceedings. (3) On the Record Objections or Waivers in Criminal and Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings. In any criminal or juvenile delinquency proceeding in which the interpreter is neither certified nor duly qualified, the court shall advise the accused, on the record, that the proposed interpreter is not certified or duly qualified pursuant to the Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Interpreters. The accused’s objection to the appointment of a proposed interpreter, or the accused’s waiver of the appointment of a certified or duly qualified interpreter, shall also be on the record. (4) Additional on the Record Findings, Objections, and Waivers Required at Subsequent Proceedings. The appointment of an interpreter who is neither certified nor duly qualified shall be limited to a specific proceeding and shall not be extended to subsequent proceedings in a case without additional findings of good cause and qualification as required by subdivision (e)(2) of this rule, and additional compliance with the procedures for on the record objections or waivers provided for in subdivision (e)(3) of this rule. (f) Privileged Communications. Whenever a person communicates through an interpreter to any person under circumstances that would render the communication privileged and such person could not be compelled to testify as to the communication, the privilege shall also apply to the interpreter.last_img read more

Briefs

first_imgBriefs The Bar’s Law Office Management Assistance Service recently received meritorious recognition from the ABA’s 2003 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.LOMAS provides consulting services on a wide variety of practice management issues designed to improve the effective delivery of legal services and to enhance lawyer-client relationships. The program steps in where law school leaves off and targets newly admitted lawyers and those who become “suddenly solo.” The Florida Bar program has also been a source of technical assistance to bar-provided practice management programs among the states, where there are now 17 similar programs.The Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access is sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services, which is dedicated to improving delivery of lawyers’ services to people who do not qualify for subsidized legal assistance yet lack the discretionary income to pay for traditional legal services.“The cost-effective delivery of legal services to those of moderate income depends on the use of efficient practice management tools and techniques,” said Mary K. Ryan, chair of the ABA panel. “LOMAS is a vital resource to the practitioner and one of the most important services a bar association can provide to its members.”Section legislative agendas It may not survive the budget wrangling of a tight fiscal year, but a bill to help assistant state attorneys and public defenders pay back law school loans has cleared its first legislative committee.SB 96, sponsored by Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 4. It authorizes the state to spend up to $3.65 million to help pay back the student loans of defenders and prosecutors.Campbell told the committee it would allow for $3,000 a year after the third year of employment, increasing to $5,000 after six years, with a maximum payout of $44,000 over nine years.The state could save more than the $3.65 million on training costs if it slows down the high turnover in state attorney and public defender offices, Campbell said, although he had no exact figures.Committee Chair Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, a former prosecutor, agreed. “A lot of people go into those state attorney and public defenders’ offices and are paid very, very poorly,” he said. “There is a lot of money spent on training and two years down the road. . . the student loans come due and you have a young family. You can’t afford to stay. Someone comes along and makes you an offer and you’re gone.”Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, said he was concerned that minority law students wind up with higher law school debts than nonminorities, and that makes it harder for them to take public service jobs.“I’m a believer that the state attorneys’ offices and the public defenders’ offices ought to look like the population they serve, but minorities have disproportionally high student loans,” he said. “People come out of law school with $80,000 to $120,000 of loans; they can’t afford these jobs.”But while praising the bill, Smith, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the budget for the judicial system, expressed doubts the money could be found.“There’s not a great likelihood this is going to be funded this year because of constraints,” he said.Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-West Palm Beach, and a former assistant attorney general, said he would like to see the program expanded for attorneys in that office as well. Smith said it could serve as a model in other areas where the state needs to encourage employment, such as nursing or teaching.The bill next goes to the Government Oversight and Productivity Committee and then to Smith’s appropriations panel.Broward Legal Aid holiday project helps 35 familiesLegal Aid Service of Broward County’s Holiday Adopt-A-Family project was a record-setting success this year thanks to the generosity and effort of 21 adopters who were matched with 35 families.One hundred and twenty children and three senior citizens and their parents or caretakers received gifts and donations of food certificates or food baskets. Many adopters bought Christmas trees and decorations. One compassionate attorney learned that his adopted family did not have a stove to prepare the food arriving in the food basket he was donating and he rallied to purchase an oven that was delivered to the client’s home in time for holiday cooking.For the third year in a row, the children and faculty at Sawgrass Elementary School adopted several families. The children made crafts which they sold at a school bazaar to raise the funds for their Christmas shopping. Their principal, Alonzetta Gibson’s office was filled with over $2,000 in gifts which included bicycles, electronics, clothes, games and other toys and gift certificates for food and other items. The children adopted 36 other children. This year teenage girls living in a group foster home were adopted by the children.This year’s adopters included Emerson Allsworth, the Ft. Lauderdale office of The Florida Bar, Dominique Levy, Robert Lochrie, Kim Marjenhoff, Valerie Judd, Oppenheim Pilelsky, Keiser College, Bonnie Meskel, Ellen Gilbert-Rose, Greg Starr, Unlimited Healthcare Services, Florida Renegades Youth Soccer Team, Sawgrass Elementary School, Deborah Carpenter-Toye, Diane Centorino, Alysia Keating, and the law firm of Vezina, Lawrence & Piscitelli which adopted four families.“Each year we are overwhelmed by the generosity of our adopters,” said Tony Karrat, Legal Aid’s executive director, “and that was the case again this year as we heard one story after another about the extra effort and incredible generosity that each person and group demonstrated. We feel a partnership with each of the adopters and are inspired by their compassion and beneficence.”Stetson captures tax moot court crown New workers’ comp. rules approved March 1, 2003 Regular Newscenter_img A legislative package proposed by the Family Law Section aimed at fixing glitches in Florida’s new adoption law has been reviewed and allowed by the Bar Board of Governors.The board also reviewed and okayed proposed legislative positions from several other sections at its January 31 meeting. The 2003 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature starts March 4.Under Bar rules, the sections are granted broad authority to take legislative positions. They can advocate those positions unless the board, with 45 days of section action, specifically rejects their legislative positions.Legislation Committee Chair Jesse Diner said the adoption positions taken by the section revolved around the most controversial aspects of the law. Those provisions require single mothers who don’t know where the fathers are and who are seeking to put their children up for adoption to take out a newspaper ad revealing their sexual history. Intended to give fathers a say in adoption proceedings and to avoid legal complications when fathers contest the adoptions, the provision provoked a storm of controversy, including charges it violated mothers’ privacy rights.“This is an effort to fix some of the glitches and solve some of the problems,” Diner said.Former Sen. Fred Dudley, who now lobbies for the Family Law Section, said the positions also are significant because they heal a rift between family law and adoption lawyers, who had split over provisions of last year’s legislation.“This is not only an effort to clarify the law and adopt what will become good public policy, but it is an attempt to get our practitioners in this area back together again,” Dudley said.The positions do away with the public notice requirements by mothers and instead set out a series of steps that unmarried fathers must follow to have a say in any adoption, including signing up with a confidential registry.The father would have to file a notarized “claim of paternity” form with the Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics and to block an adoption the father would have to affirm a willingness to support the child.The proposed legislation would create a new F.S. § 63.056 which would establish the registry, and amend several other sections of Ch. 63 as necessary.Aside from the adoption issue, the Family Law Section was allowed to lobby on three other issues:• Adding this sentence to the state law on rotating custody: “There shall be no presumption for or against an award of rotating custody.”• Deleting the words “or mediation agreement” from the law on custodial arrangements, F.S. 61.30(1)(a), since those will always be contained in or ratified by a court order, and the language could cause confusion.• Opposing any legislation that would move determination of paternity to an administrative court or agency outside of the judicial branch.The Public Interest Law Section was allowed to lobby on two positions:• Opposing, in principle, “zero tolerance” policies that have a discriminatory effect, or mandate either expulsion or referral of students to juvenile or criminal court, without regard to the circumstances or nature of the offense or the student’s history. The section favors policies that are strongly against weapon possession but leave school administrators with discretion that includes due process and allows alternatives to prosecution if that will not compromise school safety.• Supporting modification of the statutory provisions of the Road to Independence Act to enhance and expand the transition program to provide an option for continuation of foster care to youth ages 18 through 23, and to provide reasonable accommodations for youth with disabilities.The Criminal Law Section was allowed to lobby in opposition to SB 90 on the evidentiary privilege for parent-child communications because the privilege is so limited in the bill that it would not be effective.The Health Law Section will lobby for allowing the Board of Medicine to exercise discretion when imposing costs on any party, to provide methods of determining costs, and excluding attorneys’ fees from allowable costs.The Business Law Section in conjunction with the Department of State will provide technical assistance and lobby the legislature for various reforms within Ch. 607, regarding Florida business corporations.All section positions, as well as Florida Bar positions, are on the Bar’s Web site, www.flabar.org, under the “Legislative Information” section.Loan assistance bill offered New procedural rules for workers’ compensation cases have been approved by the Division of Administration Hearings after they went unchallenged during a recent public comment period.The rules became effective February 23, according to Judge Scott Stephens, deputy chief judge of compensation claims for the Division of Administrative Hearings. Judges of compensation claims have discretion on using them during the transition period, which ends April 1.The new rules, as well as the DOAH rulemaking process, have been endorsed by the Florida Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims, Stephens noted.Stephens said the rules are intended to speed the resolution of disputes without affecting the rights of any party, and to have compensation judges interfere less with attorney-client matters.The complete rules are posted on DOAH’s Web site, at www.jcc.state.fl.us/jcc/rules.cfm.The Florida Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section last year filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court challenging DOAH’s authority to promulgate procedural rules, but the court has dismissed that action.Rafael Gonzalez, who monitors legislative activities for the section, noted the court added a footnote to its November opinion revising workers’ comp rules saying the rules were only provisional until DOAH enacted its rules. He said the section will likely ask the legislature to amend state law to make the court again responsible for those rules.LOMAS wins ABA access award Stetson University College of Law won the recent National Tax Moot Court Competition in St. Petersburg Beach, taking the championship for the overall competition and the award for top brief.Stetson’s team consisted of students Beth Linea Carlson, Brittan Mitchell and Paige Ward, and was coached by Professor Janice Lawrence and Adjunct Professor Joe Rugg. Stetson defeated Ohio Northern University in the final round and University of Alabama in the semifinals. Sixteen law schools across the U.S. participated in the contest. U.S. Tax Court Judges Renato Beghe and Peter J. Panuthos presided over the final round.last_img read more

Hogenmuller to lead the FPAA

first_imgJohn Hogenmuller has been named the executive director of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association.Hogenmuller, who comes to the FPAA from the Office of the State Courts Administrator where he was with legal affairs and education for the past eight and one-half- years, succeeds outgoing Executive Director Steve Urse.“I’m extremely confident in John,” said incoming FPAA President Willie Meggs, the state attorney for the Second Circuit. “He has all the talent, experience, and leadership we need in an executive director.”Hogenmuller is a native of Miami and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Emory University. In his 35 years as a member of The Florida Bar, Hogenmuller has served as an assistant attorney general, a division director at The Florida Bar, and has been in private practice.“It’s not too often you get to work for an association as remarkable as the FPAA,” Hogenmuller said. “Prosecutors are absolutely committed to safer streets through effective prosecution.”Hogenmuller lives with his wife, Janice, and has two grown children. Hogenmuller to lead the FPAA Hogenmuller to lead the FPAAcenter_img June 1, 2003 Regular Newslast_img read more

UPL Update

first_imgUPL Update October 15, 2003 Regular News The advisory opinion processcenter_img Jeffrey T. Picker Assistant UPL CounselI am often asked whether a certain activity constitutes the unlicensed practice of law. The answer to this question can be found primarily in case law. But what if there is no case law addressing the particular activity? This is where the formal advisory opinion process comes into play. The next few columns will discuss this process.Rule 10-9.1 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar sets forth the formal advisory opinion process in UPL matters. The rule requires that a written request for a formal opinion be submitted in the form of a hypothetical, providing all the relevant facts to the UPL Department, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300. The question must not be the issue in a pending lawsuit and must ask whether the activity is the unlicensed practice of law.If the request complies with the above requirements, it will be placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Unlicensed Practice of Law. The standing committee usually meets three or four times per year. At the meeting the committee will decide whether to hold a public hearing on the request. In the past, the committee has voted to hold a public hearing in matters of first impression or of statewide importance.The next column will discuss what happens at the hearing and after.last_img read more

Flanders Tire Slashings Part of Fisherman ‘Turf War,’ Cops Say

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Commercial fishermen who had their tires repeatedly slashed in a Flanders parking lot waited in the bushes until they caught the alleged tire slasher in the act and called police, authorities said.John Lombardi was arrested Sunday and charged with criminal mischief as a felony.Southampton Town Polcie said the 60-year-old Flanders man told investigators he did it because of a “turf war” between commercial fishermen, some of whom he believes take in more fish than the law allows.The fishermen who police said caught Lombardi told investigators that they watched him walk up to one of their trucks, look into the flatbed where horseshoe crabs—which commercial fishermen use as bait—in the back and then use a knife to puncture two tires.The witnesses held Lombardi until police officers arrived and took him into custody. He was released Monday on $500 bail.Detectives are continuing the investigation prior tire slashings.last_img read more

Fugitive Model Agency CEO Nabbed in Fla.

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York James MunizThe fugitive CEO of a Hicksville-based modeling agency accused of defrauding dozens of clients out of more than $250,000 was apprehended Tuesday in Florida and is facing extradition back to Long Island.James Muniz, who prosecutors said was staying with relatives in Hialeah, Fla., is facing 21 charges in Nassau County, including 20 counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud.Three of the 44-year-old Roslyn man’s employees had surrendered to authorities last month on similar charges. They include 26-year-old Jennifer Santiago of Queens, 31-year-old Jennifer Diaz-Domenech of Brooklyn and 42-year-old Michelle Alperin-Smith of Nesconset.Prosecutors alleged Muniz’s company, New Faces Development Center, Inc. and Model Talent Development Corp., which closed in November, had scouts tell victims they had the “look” to succeed in modeling or acting, would not be charged for the companies’ services and that only a few were offered such opportunities through the agencies—but scouts signed up anyone who’d pay for contracts costing $550 to $3,000. Both companies are facing the same charges as the four suspects.The New York Attorney General’s office, which sued New Faces for $250,000 in restitution in 2006 when it was owned by Muniz’ ex-wife, opened a new investigation into the company last year before the case was consolidated with a similar probe by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.Muniz is being held in a Miami-Dade County jail until he is extradited to New York. He and the three employees face up to seven years in prison, if convicted. Each company faces fines of up to $10,000, plus possible restitution.Since the arrests were announced, investigators have received about 300 phone calls from other clients of the modeling agency, leading to 85 formal complaints that are now being reviewed.The investigation is continuing, and anyone who thinks they may have been similarly victimized should contact DA Rice’s Complaints Unit at 516-571-3505 or the Attorney General’s Office at 516-248-3301.last_img read more

Rosie O’Donnell Hosts Rare Standup Special Saturday

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York In her long and somewhat bumpy career, Rosie O’Donnell was never afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. After all, it was the Commack native’s vulnerability that made her early work so memorable to audiences and producers alike.Almost seven years after her last stint of televised standup, on the short-lived variety program Rosie Live, O’Donnell will be returning to her roots to bare it all in the HBO special Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Standup.The special revolves around issues O’Donnell dealings with every day life—motherhood, marriage and health. While the comic may be naturally funny, there is more of a tell-all tone to her routine than typical standup. O’Donnell referred to it as a “heart-to-heart” on her Instagram.The special may have trouble finding an audience besides her most loyal fans because of the loftier issues, some critics have said.“She hasn’t shaped the comedy well enough to prevent a lot of this from feeling more like a public-service announcement than a stand-up performance,” Variety reported.But, the trailer of the special reveals some hilarious moments. O’Donnell entertains the audience with anecdotes ranging from the lesbian dating scene to her son masturbating.In the final 20 minutes of the show, O’Donnell openly discussed her recent heart attack. O’Donnell admittedly used this time to promote life saving and preventive measures for women with heart problems. She even performed a rap dedicated to the symptoms of heart disease.“When the doctor said I was having a heart attack, I’m like, ‘Shouldn’t that feel like Mike Tyson punched me in the tit?’” O’Donnell recalled.The special airs just two days after O’Donnell’s final appearance on The View. Viewers celebrated her re-taking a platform that enabled her to speak her strong opinions.O’Donnell was originally on The View in 2006, but left the show after multiple on-air disputes and an infamous celebrity feud with Donald Trump. Despite getting along with new co-workers and patching things up with Barbara Walters, O’Donnell made the decision to leave on her own this time.“The truth is I had a heart attack two years ago,” she said in a YouTube video, addressing her fans. “And stress is very bad for a heart attack.”In addition to the stress of hosting one of America’s most watched day-time talk shows, O’Donnell is also going through a divorce to second wife, Michelle Rounds.Fans hoped she would provide an explanation on The View this week, she said. However, O’Donnell rejected the idea and her departure was not mentioned.She used the video as a more personal address to her fans. O’Donnell also used it as an opportunity to continue spreading awareness of heart attack symptoms.“Survivors: You should minimize your stress, maximize your exercise and control your diet,” O’Donnell said. “That’s what you need to do for a healthy heart.”This new turn for O’Donnell may just be the next step of her evolution as a performer and a person. She’s played many roles in her life including comic, Star Search contestant, movie star, talk show host and gay rights advocate. No one’s career is certain, but for now O’Donnell is putting her family and her health first.Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Standup premieres 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 on HBO and HBOGO.com.last_img read more

Baldwin Crash Leaves Driver Dead

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 42-year-old man died after he crashed his car, causing it vehicle to burst into flames in his hometown of Baldwin over the weekend.Nassau County police said Gregory Balmir was driving a Toyota Camry southbound on Grand Avenue when he crossed over two lanes of traffic at the corner of Woodside Avenue, where he crashed into a utility pole and a building shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday.The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.First Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information regarding this crash to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.last_img read more

Massapequa Man Convicted of Murder

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A second gunman was convicted Thursday of killing a 44-year-old man outside of the victim’s North Amityville home and wounding two others nearly five years ago.A Suffolk County jury found Shawn Lawrence, of Massapequa, guilty of second-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.Prosecutors said the shooter gunned down James Terry and wounded two other men during a confrontation in the Andpress Plaza housing complex parking lot on Jan. 12, 2010.His codefendant, 27-year-old Alan McGhee of North Amityville, pleaded guilty last year to first-degree manslaughter and assault. McGhee was sentenced to 12 years in prison.Lawrence faces up to 75 years to life in prison when he is sentenced June 22 by Judge William Condon.last_img read more

Bay Shore Man, 26, Killed in Motorcycle Crash

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 26-year-old Bay Shore man was killed Friday night when his motorcycle crashed into a tree in Calverton, Suffolk County police said. The motorcyclist was identified as Darien Grasman. Police said Grasman was riding his motorcycle eastbound on Mill Road, west of Edwards Avenue, at approximately 7:45 p.m., when he lost control of the motorcycle, skidded off the roadway and struck a tree. Grasman was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. The investigation is continuing, police said. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call Seventh Squad detectives at 631-852-8752.last_img read more

North Bellport Man Shot Dead

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 52-year-old North Bellport man was shot to death early Thursday morning, Suffolk County police said.Officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert on Bellport Avenue and upon arrival, they found Robert Burks lying dead in front of a Bellport Avenue home just north of Montauk Highway at 12:54 a.m., police said.Investigators have not identified a suspect.Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information about this incident to call them at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.last_img read more

Service Fully Restored on Long Island Rail Road

first_imgCrews had been working since Saturday’s blizzard to have the railroad fully operational by the beginning of the week.Rail yards were buried in two feet of snow and tracks were blanketed in mounds of white stuff due to the powerful Nor’easter that rolled in on Saturday. On Sunday, officials said they were hoping to have full service restored by Monday morning. But five branches remained closed Monday and only one other line was restored in time for riders to head back to the Island for the evening commute.Nowakowski said thousands of railroad employees had been working to clear snow and repair damaged equipment.“I thank them all for a job well done fighting a snowstorm that hit us harder than expected,” Nowakowski said.The delays Nowakowski had warned riders about materialized early Tuesday morning. There were scattered delays of up to 10 minutes due to ongoing effects from the storm, the LIRR said.About an hour later, however, service was running on or close to schedule. Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Relief finally came to Long Island Rail Road riders Tuesday as the railroad returned to full service following a headache-filled commute a day earlier.All LIRR branches were fully restored in time for Tuesday morning’s commute, railroad officials said. The restoration of service comes one day after riders were forced to deal with cancellations, delays, and packed trains following this weekend’s blizzard.“We expect to have all segments of all branches operating Tuesday morning, but customers should allow extra travel time and check for the potential for weather-related delays before traveling,” LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said in a statement.last_img read more

ERM is a journey

first_imgLet’s imagine for a moment that you’ve been asked to lead a group of settlers. Your team will be traveling through uncharted territory and will begin in Fresno, Calif., and head east. The goal is to reach Santa Fe, N.M., where the group plans to build a home. There has never been a group attempt to reach Santa Fe from the west. What should you do at this point? You could:accept the risk and begin the journey without knowing what lies ahead;mitigate the risk by sending a scout team ahead to inform you of any obstacles;transfer the risk by contracting experienced guides to help lead the group; oravoid the risk and refuse to lead the group.In this case, let’s assume you’ve decided to accept the leadership role and forge ahead and mitigate the risk. A scout team is moving ahead of the group. Runners are relaying messages back to the group leader. The group has been traveling for several days through the desert and conditions are beginning to improve. The group is anxious to hear what the runners have to say. On this particular day a runner reports a huge canyon just a few days ahead. continue reading » 12SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

41 biggest personal finance lessons from 2015

first_img 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr 2015 is almost over and it certainly has been an interesting year. Between Black Monday, Donald Trump’s Republican presidential candidacy and the Volkswagen scandal, there’s a lot to learn about the economy and your money. Here are the top 41 events of 2015 and what personal finance lessons you can learn from them.1. Interest Rate Hike TalkThroughout 2015, investors and consumers have been waiting with bated breath for the forthcoming interest rate hike. But while the Federal Reserve has said they might raise interest rates in December, the truth of the matter is you don’t know when rates will change.Interest rates affect every aspect of American finance from the government’s budget down to your personal checking account. “Interest rates affect consumers because people use debt to fuel purchases. When rates are low it’s a great time to get a loan or use a credit card,” said Tiffany Welka, vice president of VFG Associates. For consumers on tight budgets, she suggested reviewing your finances to see how a potential rate increase could affect your finances. continue reading »last_img read more

7 must-haves for your employee handbook

first_img 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr An employee handbook is a vital part of your business, but it can also be overwhelming to develop when you consider all of the information that should be included.An employee handbook sets the tone for your new hires and can (should) be a valuable resource for existing employees to go to review policies and find pertinent information that they may have forgotten, such as your FMLA policy or disability benefits. Further, some federal, state, and local laws require you to inform employees in writing about certain policies, so you should familiarize yourself with those requirements by visiting the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).Whether you are starting your first employee handbook, or you are revamping your existing handbook, take a look at a few of the must-haves to make sure you have a complete handbook that will protect you legally and give your employees a thorough understanding of your company and the expectations you have for them. continue reading »last_img read more

New survey sheds light on perceptions (and misconceptions) of loyalty programs

first_img 14SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Lydia Hattrup Lydia Hattrup brings an extensive background in branding, product and database marketing to her role at Buzz Points. She’s spent the last several years building data-drive local marketing strategies … Web: buzzpoints.com Details Misconceptions abound among credit unions not offering debit rewardsSome rewards programs are under-delivering on benefits, especially beyond retention and revenueGetting More than Loyalty from Loyalty ProgramsWhat members call rewards programs are generally called loyalty programs from the financial institution’s perspective. Not surprising as increased loyalty – via more products utilized and being the primary payment card used for transactions – is a primary goal of such programs.This should be the tip of the iceberg.Among issuers satisfied with their debit card rewards program, there is little variance on what is pleasing them. It’s no surprise that revenue and loyalty are top reasons, but somewhat surprising is the altruistic winner: the value it provides members.“The loyalty it creates” (91%) and “value for our members” (88%) were nearly tied for credit unions ranking it in their top three reasons for satisfaction (with “generating revenue” in the ballpark at 70%). But adding value to members rises to the top by gaining 59% of first-place votes, with revenue a surprisingly distant second at 22%.Support, marketing, and data insight scored remarkably low. Suggesting that some rewards providers are underperforming in the delivery of these services. Ongoing engagement programs, in-depth data analytics, and cardholder support are key components that credit unions should seek from their rewards provider. Since they are proven to drive greater success, it should be part of the ROI for credit unions.Many Concerns Are Missed OpportunitiesAmong credit unions not offering loyalty programs, 53% are at least somewhat likely to add such a program in the next twelve months. Those credit unions are, for the most part, seeking what current institutions offering rewards are satisfied with. But what’s holding back nearly half of credit unions?Nearly half of decision-makers (46%) cited integration with their core as a significant concern. This suggests that rewards providers need to do a better job communicating the implementation process, as many do not even require a direct core integration, operating from much simpler data reports.Unsurprisingly, “the cost of the program” was at the top of the list, with 88% including it in their top three concerns and 45% citing it as their #1 concern. This again suggests loyalty programs are not viewed in a holistic sense. Even looking beyond the revenue gains, a well-managed loyalty program should provide actionable data analytics that typically only the largest financial institutions can afford.Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity however is simply awareness. The survey presented hard-hitting research stats demonstrating consumers strongly expect banking rewards, and make decisions on where to do their banking and which payments card to use based on the rewards offered. In each case well more than half of respondents were not aware of this fact.The “Banking Rewards” survey uncovered that greater awareness and understanding of loyalty programs changes the priority level credit union decision-makers assign to investing in a program.More insights, results, and eight data charts are available in the accompanying white paper, “Banking Rewards: Perceptions and Awareness among Credit Union Executives.” Consumer demand for debit rewards programs are on the rise. In fact, repeated surveys find rewards as the highest-ranking priority for consumers choosing where to bank.1 Yet 61% of credit union decision-makers are unaware of this fact.This is but one of the illuminating insights uncovered in the new “Banking Rewards: Perceptions and Awareness Survey” delivered by CUNA Strategic Services and Buzz Points. Some common threads permeated the survey’s results:Credit unions currently offering debit rewards are largely satisfiedYet even they are missing tremendous opportunities to gain more valuelast_img read more

3 money-smart skills you should teach your child earlier than you might think

first_img*Foundations of Financial Well-Being: Insights into the Role of Executive Function, Financial Socialization, and Experience-Based Learning in Childhood and Youth by ANITA I. DREVER, ELIZABETH ODDERS-WHITE, CHARLES W.KALISH, NICOLE M. ELSE-QUEST, EMILY M. HOAGLAND, AND EMORY N. NELMS** Learning Your Monetary ABCs: The Link between Emergent Literacy and Early Childhood Financial Literacy by Martha H. McCormick and David Godsted***Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment) Start financial literacy lessons early — and I don’t mean as a Freshman in high school.“Parents’ influence on their children’s understanding of money management begins early…before they even start school.”*If you’re a parent, your child will invariably show interest in money before you drop them off for their first day of kindergarten. Your kids will undoubtedly be exposed to messages to consume by the time they’re two. This is why I’ve spent the better part of my parental experience advocating that parents begin money-smart lessons as early as possible, even as kids are toddling through the house. Research supports what we do: “the early elementary grades may be a developmentally appropriate time to teach children to resist consumer culture.”* Though toddlers are not developmentally able to fully grasp these concepts, they are being exposed to consumer messages and that means that we must expose them to meaningful, balanced counter-messaging. Think of it as “emergent financial literacy.”**Three basic money-smart skills that will set your kids on the path to a smarter financial future are:Making Smart Money Choices.“We are happy with things, until we find out there are better things available.” –Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn, Michael NortonMaking choices is at the heart of our experience with money. We are always making money choices as adults. It’s important that we allow our kids to do the same – with parental guidance. The best way to teach and reinforce these lessons is through actual experience with cold, hard cash. Providing your kids with a structured allowance is a very effective way to accomplish this goal. Although some would cynically label an allowance as a “handout,” when given for the purpose of teaching your kids how to use money properly, it is a noble endeavor.My parents are wonderful people. Like other parents at the time, they gave us money, called it “allowance” and hoped it might help teach us to become money-smart. Given the limited discourse on youth financial literacy at that time, their approach was actually relatively progressive.We need to do better today, however.Don’t give your kids a handout. Be explicit with them about the meaning of an allowance. Just as you wouldn’t allow them to use a saw or razor without guidance, let them know you are providing an allowance so they may learn to use money properly.A good starting point is to provide your five-year-old with five dollars a week, increasing it from there as your child hits each birthday. I’ve written extensively on allowance and growing financial responsibility with your kids as they age. You can read more in this post, which provides practical allowance tips for kids age two to 12.“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”–Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert.My daughters like to ask me about the quality of their spending decisions. Just last week, my teenage daughter talked to me about her desire to buy a Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack, which are apparently all the rage. They cost $60 and she could afford to buy one using some of the money she earned earlier in the summer. I shared my thoughts, “You already have two backpacks. Why do you need another?” In a moment of rare thoughtful attention, I told her to keep in mind that my opinion was just that – mine. My value judgements come from oodles of experience (good and bad). We parents want to share our values. Of course, we’d like our kids to adopt our most cherished ones. But our value judgments are not theirs. Giving our kids responsibility over their own money allows them to learn to make their own judgments when the stakes are low and when those same financial mistakes aren’t potentially catastrophic.Personal experience is the best teacher. Setting up a guided allowance will help your kids begin to understand how to make money-smart choices that will work best for them now and in the future.Needs vs. WantsDistinguishing between needs and wants is essential to becoming money-smart. It’s also very important to not fall into the trap of “demonizing” wants. Desire is okay. Even Money Mammals are allowed to want things. However, it’s equally important that kids recognize that the money tap is not endless.For early elementary and even preschool age kids, it’s very easy to play a simple “need vs. want” game at the market. Ask your child to tell you which of the items you’re purchasing are “needs” and which ones are “wants” as you walk around the store. It’s simple and fun and even little kids start to understand these basic concepts very quickly.It’s also a good idea to explain the unseen decisions that you make. Shelter, food and clothing are three obvious needs that are good for your kids to understand. Teach your children the nuance of what I call “conditional needs.” For example, you need a conveyance to get to work. Your options include walking, biking, taking public transportation or driving your car. You can explain to your kids that the latter might be the best choice, because the other options eat into family time.It’s also helpful for kids to understand that your purchase of a $27,000 Prius may seem extravagant to them. They didn’t see that you didn’t buy a $45,000 SUV. They also don’t see the money you save with its superior fuel economy. It’s worth a conversation with them about these choices. Of course, you could make arguments for all these conveyances depending on your location. It’s ultimately up to you and your situation. The point here is that you communicate to your kids the “why” behind the choices you are making (especially the big, invisible ones).Discussing needs and wants pays off. I recall a time when I dropped and shattered my phone. As I quickly cried out my need for a new one, my very proud daughter interjected, with gusto, “You don’t NEED an iPhone, Dad.” Point taken! Once you begin to teach your kids how to be money-smart, they may help keep YOU in line.Saving for a Goal“Delaying consumption does not drive people to unmitigated self-denial. Rather, it drives them to maximize their happiness, whatever form that takes.” –Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn, Michael NortonSaving for a goal is one of the most powerful skills you can teach your kids. It goes beyond the financial literacy realm. I believe it’s an essential life skill. Life is only truly lived by the dreamers, and dreams are achieved by setting goals.Research strongly supports training kids to focus on goals early. You’ve likely heard about The Marshmallow Test famously implemented by Stanford researcher, Walter Michel. Children were given a choice between one small immediate reward or waiting a short period of time to get double the reward. You may not know that Mr. Michel did a follow up study on some of those same test subjects many years later. The participants who were able to delay gratification “tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.”*** The long term effects of learning to delay gratification are powerful.Brain research also supports this approach:“Executive function of the brain, critical in goal setting and delaying gratification, develops rapidly in the first five years… Research indicates that there are innate individual differences in inhibition that can be influenced during executive function’s rapid development between the ages of 3 and 5… For example, working memory and inhibition together make it possible to keep our savings goals at the front of our mind even while considering a seductive purchase.”*Need a bit more convincing that it’s important to start early?Another study “found that parent and teacher reports of child’s self-control between the ages of 3 and 11 is associated with future savings and investment behavior, home and retirement account ownership, and self-reported money and credit management success.”*Undoubtedly, there is much that is complicated about financial matters. Teaching your kids about money does not have to be. Start with these basics and you’ll be well on your way to raising a money-smart,  “money comfortable” kid. 111SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,John Lanza John Lanza is the Chief Mammal of Snigglezoo Entertainment, and Creator of The Money Mammals. John created The Saving Money Is Fun Kids Club for credit unions nationwide and has … Web: www.themoneymammals.com Detailslast_img read more

People Analytics: Tapping into a powerful resource

first_imgHR has relied on the use of data and analytics for years but has only recently begun to embrace people analytics. Defined as using a data-driven approach to inform your people practices, programs and processes, people analytics is a powerful resource for HR. After all, human capital is the source of all business success—it makes sense to analyze people to understand and even predict enterprise performance. Recently, HR departments have begun to leverage this powerful tool – and it’s changing the game for many businesses.HR today is all about understanding people and predicting their actions and responses. And, as Josh Bersin has said, “…People Analytics” as a business discipline has arrived. Our research now shows tremendous growth in this market, and a significant shift away from measuring HR toward a real focus on using people data to understand and predict business performance.”Unfortunately, while we see more organizations beginning to talk about it, 92 percent of HR departments don’t believe they’re proficient in using people analytics. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Use the following got tips to get started or build your proficiency in using people analytics in your organization. continue reading » 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

What not to say when asking for a raise

first_img 21SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Tyler Atwell Web: www.cuinsight.com Details “I’m leaving if I don’t get a raise”Never give an ultimatum. While it may seem like a good idea to show how serious you are, it won’t turn out well for you. If you do get the raise, chances are your relationship with your boss has taken a turn for the worse. And if it doesn’t work, you could be in a tough spot if you’re not prepared to follow through.“I am a harder worker than (Co-worker’s name)”You might know this to be true, but you should never bring this up in conversation, especially when asking for a raise. Never compare yourself to others. If it backfires, you may not be happy with what the response you get. Focus on what you have accomplished for the company and how your achievements warrant the bigger salary.“I haven’t had a raise since…”Stop right there. When you’re trying to convince someone to invest more money into you, the last thing you want to do is start by complaining. Not to mention, there may be a reason you haven’t had a raise lately. It doesn’t necessarily mean your work isn’t deserving of the compensation, but other factors like where the company is financially may be at play here. If your place of business isn’t currently turning a profit, more than likely they can’t afford to pay you more.“I need a raise because my expenses are high”It’s never a bad idea to keep your personal life and work life separated. Whatever expenses you are running into, planning to buy a house, medical or just living beyond your means, they are irrelevant to you getting a raise. Your boss may feel sympathetic, but beyond that all it does is make you look bad. You are asking for more money because of a perceived inability to plan with the money you currently make.last_img read more

A credit union man: Part 3

first_img 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr During college summers, Dad guided my brother, sister, and I to work at credit unions. We met amazing people, with whom we have stayed in touch while learning valuable lessons in enhancing the member experience. Talking with my siblings on their credit union days, one story in particular highlights the extent we all go through to enhance the member experience. Kirby Kangaroo Club is a popular and effective way for children to learn to “spend, save, and share.” Bobby, my younger brother, worked at a Kirby Kangaroo credit union and was asked to play Kirby at the Halloween festival. Between giving kids high fives and taking pictures, Bobby kept laughing to himself and thinking about a scene from the comedy “Old School” when Vince Vaughn’s character, Beanie, is throwing a birthday party for his son. One of the fraternity brothers nicknamed Spanish is dressed as an elephant mascot and takes off his mask.Beanie: Spanish, what the he(ck) are you doing?Spanish: I’m just going to get some water. This suit is crazy hot, yo.Beanie: Put your head back on. That can be very traumatic for the kids.Spanish: You’re right, I’m sorry, sir.Beanie: Don’t sorry me, babe. And shake the tail when you walk. You’re better than that.And that last line, “shake your tail when you walk. You’re better than that” captures the point. Whatever roles you happen to be playing today, give it your all and remember the details. In the credit union business we are free to work with our heads held high because our job is to help our neighbor. Enhancing the member experience is not a means to an end; enhancing the member experience is an end in itself. continue reading »last_img read more

House panel to hold Wells Fargo hearing Sept. 29

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The House Financial Services Committee plans to hold a hearing Sept. 29 on Wells Fargo’s creation of more than 1.5 million unauthorized consumer deposit accounts and 500,000-plus credit card accounts.Wells Fargo will pay some $185 million in fines – $100 million of it imposed by CFPB, the largest amount the bureau has ever assessed – due to this activity, also being looked at by the FBI and Justice Department.John Stumpf, Wells Fargo’s chairman and CEO, faced hours of intense grilling and criticism during a Senate Banking hearing earlier this week. The San Francisco Fed announced Thursday that Stumpf has resigned from an advisory panel to the Federal Reserve.The bank’s scandal invoked numerous comments from speakers throughout NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus this week, with lawmakers stepping up to the podium to discuss the good relationship credit unions have with their members and their support for the member-owned cooperatives. continue reading »last_img read more

Berger opens NAFCU Annual Conference general sessions, live

first_img 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger, in a message that will be streamed live, today will highlight the association’s accomplishments and credit union industry milestones during the opening general session of NAFCU’s 50th Annual Conference and Solutions Expo in Honolulu.During his remarks, Berger will recognize NAFCU’s 50 years of service to credit unions and how the industry has evolved within the past 50 years. He will also address the growth of the industry and how NAFCU will continue its fight for credit union regulatory relief.Following Berger’s speech, credit union attendees will receive a agency update from NCUA Acting Chairman J. Mark McWatters, who will discuss the current regulatory environment and what it means for credit unions. Keynote speaker Jeff Havens will discuss strategies credit unions can use to identify and eliminate problems caused by generational disconnects and tips to inspire a healthier, more robust work ethic in younger credit union employees.Attendees also have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions focusing on how to better credit union executive leadership skills, maintaining a strong board of directors and best practices for supervisory committee members. continue reading »last_img read more

Carpe Diem! The NCUA deadline for comment on bailout funds merger is here

first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NCUA headquarters The NCUA has given credit unions a rare opportunity to let the regulator know what they think about its plans for the system’s money.The NCUA proposes to merge the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund into the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund and is accepting comments through Tuesday, Sept. 5.Although the merger idea on the surface is a good one, the devil is in the details.The regulator proposes to hold back from credit unions perhaps $1.8 billion of the $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion the corporate bailout fund would be worth at that point.NCUA staff says that would be prudent, protecting the share fund against the liabilities it would take on from the corporate credit union bailout fund. continue reading »last_img read more

3 budget-friendly ways to have a happier Halloween

first_imgThe weather is cool and crisp, the leaves are falling, and the spirit of Halloween is in the air. October 31st is almost here and that means it’s time to stock up on trick-or-treat candy, scary décor, and Halloween costumes. Before you put a dent in your budget as the holiday season gets underway, consider the following three easy ways to save on the scariest day of the year.DIYReuse decorations you have from previous years then call it a day on purchasing more décor. Instead, check out Pinterest for endless amounts of do-it-yourself décor ideas. Take the children to the pumpkin patch and have them pick out a few favorites. Then head home and spend time together making fun crafts that your kids can proudly display on the porch and around your home.Put a cap on the candyJust because your neighborhood gets hundreds of trick-or-treaters per year, doesn’t me you have to hand out candy until midnight. Head to your local discount store and buy as much candy as you’d like for cheap. Then, when your candy supply runs dry on Halloween night, turn the light off and call it a night.Free fall funMany cities and towns around the country have local fall festivities during the autumn season that are free of charge. Check out your local Parks and Recreations Department for more information on Halloween happenings near you. Also, food and drinks are often pricey at these events so plan ahead of time and pack a picnic to save extra money. 49SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Wendy Moody Wendy Moody is a Senior Editor with CUInsight.com. Wendy works with the editorial team to help edit the content including current news, press releases, jobs and events. She keeps … Web: www.cuinsight.com Detailslast_img read more

A case (study) for boosting compliance capabilities

first_imgNo doubt about it, credit union compliance is complicated. Just ask Katie Elliott, vice president of risk management and compliance at Stanford Federal Credit Union.  When Katie was hired two years ago, the $2.6 billion Palo Alto, California, institution had a surprise waiting for her that would positively change the way she manages compliance.Stanford FCU had just installed ComplySight, the compliance management system offered by PolicyWorks. As Katie learned her new job, she also mastered the ComplySight system. “I can’t speak highly enough of this program and the staff who support it,” she said in PolicyWorks’ recent case study Credit Union Compliance:Managing the Juggling Act describing Stanford’s efforts to boost its compliance capabilities. “I couldn’t have asked for a better resource.”Stanford serves a highly educated membership base with high service expectations while grappling with the rules, regs and requirements coming in daily from numerous sources. ComplySight’s comprehensive service profile and flexibility, tailored to Stanford’s unique requirements and needs, provides Katie and others who share compliance responsibilities with the tools they need to confidently manage these challenges. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

NextGen Know-How: An overlooked quality for getting ahead

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Every summer as a teenager, I worked for a family business in my small hometown in upstate New York. I would work the morning shift at the ice cream stand and then walk next door to Danny’s restaurant, owned by the same family, to bus tables at night. I was motivated—I wanted to earn enough money to pay for my living expenses and books during college. But that experience did more for me then help me earn money for college. I also learned an important lesson that has helped me in every job I have ever had since then and has contributed to multiple promotions.One of the owners, Vinny, often repeated a saying to the staff that has stuck with me: “If you can lean, you can clean.” I’ll admit that as a teenager, this off-handed comment sounded a bit like micromanaging at first—what was the harm in taking a little break once in a while?—but I realized that working hard and putting in extra effort had its rewards. I was quickly given more responsibility at the ice cream stand and allowed to open and close the shifts on my own.In my early 20s, I left upstate New York to move to my now-home state of Maryland and took the principle of “If you can lean, you can clean” with me. I realized that becoming indispensable to my bosses had its rewards in the corporate world as well. Being proactive by offering to take on additional work and taking tasks off my manager’s plate built trust, respect and accolades—because, in a nutshell, I put in the effort to make my boss’s job easier. continue reading »last_img read more

Performance standards – Rule or tool?

first_img 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr I’m often asked, in my role as a performance strategist, “Should our organization have performance standards in place?” I usually I respond with a question of my own, “Why do you ask?” What follows is a lengthy explanation of why they feel standards would hamper employee performance and engagement.  This says a lot about our views of standards.  Here’s another question, if in fact the success of an organization is directly related to the performance, productivity and commitment of the employee – why would performance standards be a bad thing? While a job description tells us what to do, performance standards provide job function parameters.  Standards are observable behaviors and actions that can be measured and coached to. In other words, they tell the employee what doing a good job looks like. Are you still asking rule or tool? I think you can see where I’m going here.  I believe that when done well, performance standards are a tool that provides your team with the specifics around “how to win”. Let’s hope we’ve hired people with the drive and desire to do a good job and succeed everyday… if not, stop reading this and find an article on “how to hire better people”. Performance standards can very well become a set of rules if not set up correctly with a focus on your employee experience and your member experience.  Avoid these mistakes:Using job performance standards to micro-manage your teamImplementing new performance standards shortly before evaluationsNot keeping your performance standards updated and currentSetting unrealistic job performance standardsLimited creativity with tight performance standardsOn the flip side, if your team understands how to win, they also know where to focus their time and efforts to achieve your credit union’s objectives.Here are the top 6 reasons why performance standards are a highly effective tool:Provides your managers with a way to measure job performance and productivityAllows your employees to measure their own performance and productivityHelps your team understand the expected scope, key responsibilities, required knowledge, skills and duties of the jobSupports equitable evaluations of all employees in the same roleFacilitates communication between managers and employees regarding job related activitiesHelps managers ensure that employees have the resources necessary to do their jobs wellWhat happens without job performance standards?Managers and employees may have a very different understanding and expectation about job requirements and performanceManagers may have difficulty identifying performance issuesManagers and employees may have difficulty separating WHAT should be done from HOW it should be doneManagers tend to lower expectations to avoid confronting employees with performance issuesEmployees may protect themselves from possible failure by performing at a lower (more comfortable) levelManagers may coach and evaluate employees (doing the same job) differentlyWhere to start:Define specific performance standards and measurement criteriaIdentify the top 3-5 job responsibilitiesIdentify specific skills and knowledge needed to perform at a high levelEstablish a method to monitor performanceImplement standards at the beginning of an evaluation cycleSet short-term (90-day) AND long-term goalsDevelop a plan for managers and employees to communicate on a regular basis When done right, setting performance standards will increase understanding of organizational objectives, empowering your team to function at a higher level and at the same time build trust and commitment to your credit union goals. This all leads to growing enthusiasm, engagement and fun!To learn more about member experience strategies, employee engagement or organizational development, email [email protected] or call 608-231-4354.AUTHOR: Jayne Hitman, national relationship manager, CUNA Creating Member Loyalty™ last_img read more

Sunshine through the walls

first_imgA few days ago I was enjoying a weekend with my husband and my son.We had taken a dip in our pool due to the hot summer day.We had watched a movie together.It was just one of those weekends that you tend to smile about long after they are done.We decided on Sunday evening to take another dip in the pool with friends when we heard a massive crash inside our home.My husband went to investigate and instantly came back outside.What was it? – I asked.Our son’s ceiling caved in – he replied calmly.BE SERIOUS! – I exclaimed.Little did I know at that point, that he was.I remember going into that room and picturing where all of our son’s things were.Where he most often was and how fatal it really could have been had he been in there.All of the sudden all of those “things” were truly just things.All of the sudden we had a vivid reminder of what was really important.Anyone that really knows me, knows that I have anxiety.Although I used to be quite hush hush about it, I have found that talking about it is not only therapeutic but a way to connect with others.Needless to say, this caused a meltdown of epic proportions.I placed a friendship SOS and was greeted with friends and family far and wide sending me votes of confidence and nuggets of faith.Why am I telling you this?Do you know who surrounded us with love and empathy immediately?My credit union family.The people that I have been blessed enough to meet in this movement.Some I have met.Some I just know through the community of financial superheroes.People I had never personally met offering to drive to my home and help the best that they could.Phone calls.Messages.Texts.As I was contemplating what to write about for my article this time, it occurred to me that THIS was exactly what I needed to say.The credit union movement surpasses the financial walls.It doesn’t end at the front door or when the last person leaves the office for the night.Credit union people seem to just carry this magical component with them.Maybe it’s because we learn what caring and empathy means.Maybe it’s because we have seen folks struggle and we have seen them come out the other side better than ever.Maybe it’s just because CU folks are just darn good people.All I know is that I am experiencing a low right now.I am worried, anxious, and every other adult word that makes your spine tingle.Despite all of those feelings, my credit union family continues to lift my spirits and restore my faith that everything will be okay.This is my shout out.My shout out to all of my CU people far and wide.You’re amazing people.You do amazing things.You make amazing connectionsYou make amazing differences in people’s lives.That hole in my son’s room is just potential for greater change.I know that because the credit union movement and the people within it taught me. 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Nanci Wilson Nanci started her credit union journey due to lack of kindness.That fact is what led her to close her bank account and open up at a credit union.Ultimately … Web: https://www.universityfederalcu.org Detailslast_img read more

Where’s my mentor?

first_img 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Cynthia Kolko Cynthia Kolko manages community involvement and public relations activities for The Summit Federal Credit Union, which serves members across Western and Central New York. She is also The Summit’s copywriter, … Web: https://www.summitfcu.org Details It’s not unusual in life to be caught between two stages. Tweens straddle the line between young childhood and the teen years. It happens again when you’re old enough to vote but can’t order a drink in a bar. And after college graduation, you may be embarking on a career but are also not completely, as my father would say, “off the dole.”Who knew it could happen again as a working adult, one who’s far past entry-level, but still a good bunch of years away from retirement?I see lots of young professional groups, mentorship programs and networking events, all geared toward helping fledgling careerists get ahead. There are management groups and networks for senior-level folks, too. But if you’re not young and your job is more rank-and-file than boss, there’s a palpable dearth of such groups, as if you’re just too far gone to pursue anything beyond what’s in your lap. Several years ago, before joining the credit union industry, I decided to transition from freelance work to something more steady. Nosing around online revealed a curious trend in advice for jobseekers of a certain age. Keep dates off your resume, they said. Don’t include anything over ten years old. Translation: Hide your age and hide your experience. Really? With all the push to be our authentic selves, to view others as individuals, we’re supposed to tone down a significant part of our identity. And why deny experience that is, or should be, a benefit to the job? One of the perks of having been alive a number of decades is a nice cache of memories from which to draw life lessons. You’ve probably dealt with a variety of problems and have seen solutions that work and those that crash. Perhaps you’ve been to a hundred or more weddings, charity galas and fundraisers, and know how important traffic flow and placement of the bar are to a successful event. Or maybe you’ve been confronted with hateful communications, and know that it’s better to wait a beat and craft a response than it is to blurt out something that will haunt you later. It should go without saying that people with talent can apply those talents, along with their work and life experiences, to whatever you throw at them. Forget old dogs and new tricks. Smart people can keep learning no matter what their ages are.Here’s a tip, old friend: choose your employer wisely. A worthwhile one will value those dates on your resume. Employees will be from a variety of age groups, and everyone will be given the same or analogous opportunities. By all means, if you think the foosball table in the conference room is stupid, don’t work there. But remember, wisdom is not one generation’s sole domain. Young people have it too. You could learn a lot from those whippersnapper colleagues. And if you can’t find a professional group or mentorship program that suits you, make a group or find a mentor yourself. You know you’re capable.last_img read more

Podcast: WFH Handbook with Jill Nowacki

first_imgAs most of us recently found out, working from home is not always the nirvana we hold it up to be. Zoom meetings with dogs barking , the newly dual-purpose homeschool sofa, and your kitchen table doubling as home-office.The truth is, it’s tricky. And among the many challenges surrounding our “new normal” comes the question of how financial institutions can give employees a renewed sense of purpose and improve morale in this WFH environment.But you’re in luck! This week on Banking On Experience, CRMNEXT’s James Gilbert is joined by Jill Nowacki, President/CEO of Humanidei + O’Rourke, author at CUInsight, and an expert on this very subject.What’s covered? ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

Five steps to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion in the product lifecycle

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr This post is currently collecting data… This is placeholder text continue reading »center_img As a credit union community, the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion speak to our very mission. From the beginning, credit unions have been called to serve all members regardless of gender, race, age, cultural background, education, disability or financial means.Credit unions across our industry are working to reimagine product development and implementation processes to ensure a more inclusive experience for members. It is not necessarily a simple journey. How exactly do we ensure that the products and services we offer equitably serve all members?We would like to offer five recommendations based on the work of our own company and what we have learned from the efforts of our client credit unions.last_img read more

Jones Beach Fireworks Show to Return this Independence Day

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Jones Beach State Park is quickly regaining its appeal as the place to be to celebrate the holidays on Long Island.After bringing back the popular Jones Beach Holiday Lights Spectacular last year, New York State announced that the famous fireworks show at the iconic South Shore beach is also returning after a five-year hiatus. The July 4th Fireworks Spectacular, which once drew thousands of revelers from Long Island and around the region, will be on full display this Independence Day.“What better place to celebrate America’s birthday than at one of the most iconic and landmark state destinations,” said Rose Harvey, commissioner of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a statement announcing the event’s return, said his administration was “proud” to revive the tradition—once a staple event for LI families. Jones Beach last hosted the dazzling pyrotechnic event in 2009. The show was cancelled in 2010 due to monetary and staffing constraints.The announced revival comes days after Jones Beach held its annual Bethpage Air Show, which featured stunt pilots performing impressive aerobatic maneuvers as revelers looked on from the beach. Hundreds of thousands attended the two-day event.Astoria Bank will sponsor this year’s fireworks show, officials said.Jones Beach itself is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar revitalization project. New bathrooms in Field 6 were installed just in time for the air show and the central mall’s mosaic was refurbished for the first time in three decades. The show’s revival is part of a state plan to invest $900 million in the state parks system by 2020.The 30-minute fireworks show is scheduled for Saturday, July 4 at 9:30 p.m.last_img read more

Suspect Nabbed for 2010 Central Islip Murder

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police have arrested an upstate New York man for allegedly stabbing a 38-year-old man to death in the victim’s Central Islip home six years ago, authorities said.Christopher JamesCentralChristopher James, 23, of Binghamton, was charged Sunday with second-degree murder.Homicide Squad detectives alleged the suspect stabbed Kevin Pierson to death in his Maplewing Drive residence, where he was found dead on Feb. 12, 2010.An acquaintance checking on Pierson’s welfare had called 911 upon discovering blood at the entrance of the victim’s apartment. Responding officers found his body in his bedroom, police said.James will be arraigned Monday at First District Court in Central Islip.last_img read more

Comedian Louis C.K. is coming to Binghamton

first_imgBINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Comedian Louis C.K. is coming to our area. The comedian will be at the Broome County Forum Theatre March 28 at 7:30 p.m. To purchase your tickets, click here. Tickets are also purchasable at the Arena Box Office. Louis C.K. is a six-time Emmy Award winner. He is also accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. The Forum Theater is located at 236 Washington St. in Binghamton.last_img

BREAKING: Body found identified as missing Glen Aubrey woman

first_img—– APALACHIN (WBNG) — According to our 12 News crew who is on the scene, there is a heavy Police presence on NY-17 eastbound between Exit 66, Owego and Exit 67S in Vestal. This is a developing story. Stay with 12 News for further updates. State Police are on the scene along with, the Apalachin Fire Department, the New York State Department of Transportation. UPDATE: A short time later, State Police say the body of a female was removed from an area between 434 and 17 Eastbound. According to 511NY.org, both lanes are blocked until further notice. —– Police found her body along Route 434 between Vestal and Apalachin. They say she was found her in a wooded area.center_img APALACHIN (WBNG) — State Police Commander Erik Dauber has confirmed with 12 News the body found has been identified as 37-year-old Casie J. Weese. She was reported missing Sunday. 2:03 PM UPDATE: Route 434 Westbound is block to traffic at the Broome-Tioga county line. They say, all Eastbound traffic will be diverted from NY 17E at Exit 66 in Apalachin to Route 434 East to Exit 67 Interchange for re-entry to NY 17 East. APALACHIN (WBNG) — Our 12 News crew at the scene witnessed a tarp covering the scene. State police say its “extremely” early in the investigation and a lot unknown as of Thursday afternoon.last_img read more

Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger cancelled over pandemic concerns

first_imgBINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement follows the Association of Tennis Professional’s decision to suspend all tennis events globally until July 13. “With the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic and its effect on both our community and the broader sports world, organizers have made the difficult decision to cancel the Binghamton TennisChallenger for this summer,” says Howard Rittberg, of title sponsor LG&T. Organizers say professional tennis will return to Binghamton in 2021 as part of the USTA Pro Circuit. Rittburg says, “The Challenger has brought top-ranked tennis players from around the world to Binghamton, providing an annual jolt to the local economy and raising thousands of dollars for charity” since its debut in 1994. In February, Binghamton Mayor Rich David announced the city would build news tennis courts named in honor of Harper Stantz. Stantz died after being struck by a car walking home from playing tennis at Rec Park. The new courts will be used for professional tennis in 2021.last_img read more

Strawberry Festival postponed; Owego businesses feel economic strain

first_img“Without having the festival, that’s a huge economic loss for the Village of Owego. When you’re talking about usually bringing in 20,000 people to our downtown, and providing opportunities for outside vendors to come in, for our own businesses in the village, it’ll be a huge loss for us,” said President of the Historic Owego Marketplace, Bradley Crews. “With an event like ours, you have to have a mass gathering permit in New York State. It’s issued by the Department of Health. We finally came to the conclusion that it’s highly unlikely we’re going to get that level of the permit we need by June,” said co-chair of the event, Wendy Post. “We got flooded by the business upstairs, so we lost our equipment. We closed in November, and we had just opened up two Tuesdays before this all hit,” said Pidcoe. 2020 would have been the 40th anniversary of the event, which typically draws tens of thousands of people. “We’re purchasing gift certificates from as many businesses as we can, we’re putting them online, you can look at our pages to figure out how to win one of those,” said Crews. Crews also says the business community will continue to focus on recovering at this time, and working toward a vision of what downtown Owego will look like as businesses reopen. With the festival postponed due to the coronavirus, many Owego businesses are feeling the economic pressure now, more than ever. (WBNG) — Owego’s beloved annual event, the Strawberry Festival, has been postponed until next year. Local printing and art shop business owner, John Pidcoe, says he’s feeling the loss, as he’s already started printing signs for businesses attending the festival. He says he’s already had a few hits to this business, and this is just another one. The Historic Owego Marketplace says they’re doing everything they can to support businesses like Pidcoe’s. If you would like to enter to win a gift card, visit this link.last_img read more