Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tally in for southern Seneca red kettle drive

From the Ithaca Journal:
volunteers invested 162 hours in raising a record $1,539.53 at Ovid's Big M ($787.50), the Ovid McDonald's ($395.44), the Ovid post office ($230.66) and the Interlaken post office, ($125.87)...[the fundraisers included]Janie Nusser, school district superintendent, and attorney Mark Sinkiewicz, of Ovid, president of the board of education. Another attorney on duty was Steven Getman of Interlaken.

Charity Watch lists The Salvation Army among its most trustworthy charities. According to the site, "Groups included on the Top-Rated list generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve, and receive "open-book" status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to AIP."

I am honored to be allowed to participate in this annual fundraising event and urge others to join us in raising funds during next year's event.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beware of phony earthquake relief appeals

The tragedy in Haiti has resulted in an outpouring of sympathy and charitable giving to the victims of the earthquake. Unfortunately, not every request for assistance is coming from a reputable relief organization. Some solicitations are from scam artists.

Here are some tips from Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau for people who want to make donations:
*Avoid newly formed charities and give to an established charity that has worked in Haiti. Find a charity with a proven track record of success in providing disaster relief and one that has worked in Haiti. You can find a list of highly-rated charities on Charity Navigator’s Web site. You can also research charities on the Web sites of these organizations: Better Business Bureau, American Institute of Philanthropy and Guidestar.

*Do not give to the Haitian government. Haiti is known to be a corrupt country.

*Designate your donation. With disaster related giving, you should specify that you want your donation used only to respond to this particular crisis, rather than letting the charity spend the money as it sees fit.

*Be leery of people contacting you via e-mail claiming to be a victim. Unless you personally know someone in Haiti, anyone alleging to be in this situation is most likely part of a scam.

*Avoid telemarketers. Hang up the phone, do your homework and give directly to a charity.

*Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and give directly to charities that have a presence in the region.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Laws for the New Year

Approximately one dozen new laws took effect January 1 in New York State. These laws include the following:
# S.66026/ A.40026: Provides retirement benefits for new entrants to certain public retirement systems;
# S.5472-A/A.8402-A: Enhances consumer and provider protections by instituting a series of managed care reforms through limitations on denial of claims for pre-authorized health care services; relates to grievance procedures; relates to managed care health insurance contracts; relates to determinations involving urgent care by utilization review agents.
# S.8376-A/A.11752: Relates to identity theft, protection of sensitive personal information, employee personal identifying information and crime of unlawful possession of a skimmer device.
# S.8715/A.11759: Establishes clear rules for determining when livery drivers in New York City, Westchester and Nassau Counties are employees or independent contractors of livery bases, and creates a fund to give independent contractor livery drivers workers’ compensation benefits in certain circumstances where no-fault automobile insurance does not provide any or sufficient coverage.
# S.2810/A.1001: Authorizes the use of titles, initials or abbreviations of names as signatures on absentee ballots.
# S.56-B /A.156-B: Enacts Part QQ, Sections 1 and 2: To amend the workers’ compensation law, in relation to calculation of assessments.
# S.57-B/A.157-B: Enacts Part Z, Sections 2-a and 3-a: To amend the social service law, in relation to the pass-through, disregard and assignment of support for persons applying for or in receipt of public assistance, and collection of a twenty-five dollar annual service fee for child support enforcement services furnished to certain persons receiving such services.
# S.58-B/A.158-B: Enacts Part C, Section 27: To amend the public health law, in relation to payment by governmental agencies for general hospital inpatient services,
# S.522/A.1559: Requires a board of elections in a city of over one million to provide the same information in Russian that it provides in languages other than English.
# S.3330/A.8088: Adds providers of voice over internet protocol service (VOIP) to current standards.
# S.4135-A/A.6718-B: Removes excess barriers to dental residencies and permit dental residents to take the mandated dental ethics training course during the period of their residency.
# S.8122/A.10979: Exempts State-chartered credit unions from the special additional mortgage recording tax

The full text of each law may be found here.

If you believe that any of these laws may impact you or your business, you may wish to contact an attorney to review the legislation and advise you as to your responsibilities and rights under the statute.