Monday, October 15, 2018

New web platform helps users research meanings of words used in Constitution, Supreme Court opinions

A web platform that provides law-related historic linguistics information was announced recently:
Corpus linguistics involves the use of naturally occurring language in large collections of texts—called corpora—to help determine the meanings of words and phrases, according to a press release about the platform.

The unveiling of the Law and Corpus Linguistics Technology Platform, which is free to use, ties in with Constitution Day, the anniversary of the document’s ratification.

The Corpus of Founding Era American English, which allows users to examine how words from the Constitution were used from 1750 to 1799, is searchable on the platform; as is the Corpus of Early Modern English, which has more than 40,000 texts from 1485 to 1800; and the Corpus of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has more than 32,000 court documents. BYU Dean D. Gordon Smith said in the release that this is “the first corpora featuring all United States Supreme Court rulings (up to the most recent term).”

Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Solum said the new corpora will be helpful to those who want to research the meaning of the Constitution. “The method of corpus linguistics … provides an important tool for the recovery of the original public meaning of the constitutional text.”

The platform is available here. For more on the program, click here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

“Raise the Age” law takes effect: Schuyler County looks at consortium to address new state mandates for housing juvenile and adolescent criminal defendants.

In response to state mandates changing how teenagers charged with crimes can be tried and detained, the Schuyler County Legislature will consider voting Tuesday (October 9) to join a planned ten-county consortium looking at ways to comply with the new “Raise the Age” law and lessen the burden on local taxpayers.

On Wednesday (October 3) the county’s Legislative Resolution Review Committee tentatively approved authorizing Chair Dennis Fagan to sign an Intermunicipal Cooperation Agreement between the counties to create a not-for-profit local development corporation. That corporation, if formed, would develop and operate a joint detention facility pursuant to the “Raise the Age” law, eliminating the need for the county to create and operate its own facility. The full legislature will now take up the matter October 9.

Under “Raise the Age,” effective October 1, rather than be tried in criminal court, sixteen-year-olds charged with most crimes will have their cases heard in Family Court. In addition, they can no longer be held in local jails. The law will expand to seventeen-year-olds on October 1, 2019.

According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, who acts as the Family Court prosecutor, youth who are charged with misdemeanors (other than traffic offenses) and most felonies will have their cases heard in Family Court, except in “extraordinary circumstances.” Cases involving sex offenses, defendants who display a weapon while committing a crime or cause a significant physical injury can still be tried in criminal court, Getman said.

“The teenagers who have their cases heard in Family Court, will have their sentences capped at 18 months in a juvenile detention facility,” Getman noted. “They also will no longer be held in jails, regardless of the seriousness of the charges against them.”

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, although the state certifies and regulates detention facilities, the state does not develop or administer the facilities, leaving that to the counties.

“This group of counties is working with a consultant to determine how to best meet the detention mandate by pooling our resources and needs,” O’Hearn explained. “It is our hope that this plan will allow Schuyler County to once again lessen the burden of state government through intermunicipal cooperation.”

O’Hearn added that the consortium should operate at no cost to the county because the state has promised reimbursement for all costs related to probation, youth detention and alternatives to detention, and allocated $100 million for “Raise the Age” in the 2018-19 budget.

Other counties who have joined—or are looking to join—the consortium are Allegany, Chemung, Cortland, Livingston, Cattaraugus, Wayne, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins and Yates. The counties have already contracted with John Treahy, of Treahy and Associates Consultation Services, an organization experienced in juvenile justice and child welfare issues, job coaching and staff training.

In addition to O’Hearn and Getman, Schuyler County officials working to comply with “Raise the Age” include District Attorney Joe Fazzary (whose office will continue to prosecute adult offenders), Social Services Commissioner JoAnn Fratarcangelo, Sheriff William Yessman and Probation Director Chris Rosno.

The “Raise the Age” law is intended as a shift from punishing to rehabilitating teens charged with crimes. While in custody, the suspects will be eligible for a variety of case services and programs to divert them from offending again and give them access to treatment for addiction or other problems.

The “Raise the Age NY Campaign” believes the law will be more effective in preventing re-offenses. They cite a U.S. Center for Disease Control study that found youth who are tried in the adult criminal justice system are 34 percent more likely to commit future crimes than those who remain in the youth justice system.

The legislature’s October 9 meeting will be held at the Schuyler County Courthouse, 105 Ninth Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, beginning at 6:30 pm.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Schuyler County Presents: Planning for Peace of Mind

Schuyler County will present “Planning for Peace of Mind” on Saturday, October 6 at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, New York.

Informational table topics will include Medicare Plans, Powers of Attorney, Wills, Volunteering and Community Programs and Services.

Presentations will be given on the following topics:

• Power of Attorney in Detail Workshop;
• Elder Law Survival Guide, Elder Abuse;
• Top Five Things You Need to Know about Medicare Open Enrollment;
• The Probate Process.
The event runs from 9:00 am to Noon at the 323 Owego Street, Conference Room 120, Montour Falls, New York.

Free breakfast snacks with coffee will be provided.

RSVP is required. To register to attend or for more information, please call the Schuyler County Office for the Aging at 607.535.7108.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Third National Prosecutors' Summit on Child Abuse

The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys' Child Abuse Prosecution Project will be holding its third National Prosecutors’ Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect.

The summit is being held in Montclair, New Jersey on September 25-27 and featurs instruction from leading experts in the field of child abuse and neglect on cutting edge topics employing the most current model practices for investigating and prosecuting cases of child abuse and neglect.

These three days will consist of multiple tracks being available for prosecutors, investigators, law enforcement, forensic interviewers, social workers, and other multi-disciplinary team members.

The conference is being co-sponsored by the Northeast Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the New Jersey Children's Alliance, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, and Montclair State University.

For more information, click here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Schuyler County recognizes September 17 as Constitution and Citizenship Day

The Schuyler County Legislature has enacted a resolution recognizing September 17 as Constitution and Citizenship Day.

The resolution, drafted by County Attorney Steven Getman, urges civil and educational authorities of states, counties, cities and towns to make plans for the proper observance of the day and “for the complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside.” It was passed by the legislature at its September 10 meeting.

September 17 marks the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution, which, the resolution notes, "is the supreme law of the land and the document by which the people of this country self-govern."

In remembrance of the signing of the Constitution and in recognition of the Americans who strive to uphold the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, the Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 106), designated September 17 as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day."

The complete text of the resolution appears below.





Monday, September 10, 2018

Schuyler County joins class action lawsuit against U.S. Department of Interior


Watkins Glen, NY—Schuyler County has successfully opted into a class action lawsuit against the federal government to recover payments in lieu of property taxes on federal lands within the county.

According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, the county was notified Friday (August 31) that its claim had been accepted in the Kane County, Utah v. United States class action lawsuit to recover federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) underpayments for fiscal years 2015 through 2017.

The County Legislature voted August 13 to authorize Getman to file papers joining the lawsuit.

The United States Court of Claims has held that underpayments by the Department of Interior on federal PILT programs in Kane County and other local governments may have occurred during 2015 to 2017, Getman explained.   The PILT Act is intended to compensate local governments for tax revenues lost from federal lands in their jurisdictions, and the costs of providing services to those lands, Getman said.

That could include the part of the Finger Lakes National Forest in the Town of Hector, Getman said.

“If court determines the county was underpaid under PILT agreements for lands in the National Forest, the county can recover additional money” Getman said.   “There is no cost to participate in the lawsuit and no disadvantage to the county to do so.”

According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, “any money collected would go to the county as direct revenue to offset the cost of services to the forest and lost tax revenue, in order to reduce the local tax burden.”

“Given the fiscal stresses placed on local governments by state and federal mandates, county officials have a duty to make sure that any funds due Schuyler County taxpayers come back to Schuyler County to pay for necessary services,” Getman noted.

County Treasurer Harriett Vickio has reported that the County received payments for the affected years as follows:  2015, $16,526.00; 2016, $17,244.00; 2017, $17,091.00.   

Any additional amounts for those years obtained from the lawsuit would be calculated by the court, Getman said.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Schuyler County offers "Powerful Tools for Caregivers" program

Are you struggling to balance your daily life while caregiving for a loved one?

The Schuyler County Office for the Aging will host "Powerful Tools for Caregivers," a six-week educational powerful tools training provided by Lifespan, for family and friends who are caring for older adults suffering with long-term conditions. This program focuses on the needs of the caregiver. The classes will be held at the Schuyler County Human Services Complex, Conference Room 115, 323 Owego Street, Montour Falls, from 3:00pm-4:30pm on:

• Tuesday, September 25th
• Tuesday, October 2nd
• Tuesday, October 9th
• Tuesday, October 16th
• Tuesday, October 23rd
• Tuesday, October 30th
The class provides you, the caregiver, with the skills and confidence you need to better care for yourself while caring for others. Caregivers will develop a wealth of self-care tools to reduce personal stress, change negative self-talk, and communicate their needs to family members and healthcare providers. Caregivers will also develop skills to communicate more effectively in challenging situations, recognize the messages in their emotions, deal with difficult feelings, and make tough caregiving decisions.

Participants also receive a FREE copy of The Caregiver Helpbook, developed specifically for the class.

Registration is required. Please call Office for the Aging, 607-535-7108, for additional information or to reserve your spot in the classes.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Tips for Schuyler and Seneca County residents impacted by flood damage to avoid scams when hiring contractors


In response to last week’s flooding in Schuyler and Seneca Counties, which left many property owners with extensive damage, New York State officials have released a list of tips for consumers to avoid being scammed, when hiring a contractor:
          Be specific about what work you want done.
          Educate yourself about the required permits – don't rely solely on the contractor.
          Shop around.
          Get references and check them.
          Get proof of insurance from the contractor.
          Check licenses (if required).
          Never pay the full price upfront.
          Always put work to be done in writing, including all add-ons.
          Know where your payments are going.
          Never do business with a contractor who is unwilling to abide by any of the conditions above.

New York State law requires every home improvement contractor, before beginning work to provide the consumer with a written contract to be signed by both parties that sets out certain specific information and disclosures, including:
          Proposed start and completion dates;
          Particular description of the work to be done;
          Materials to be provided; and
          Notice that the consumer has an unconditional three-day right to cancel the contract without penalty.

In addition, the law requires that any advance deposits taken by the contractor must be placed into an account at a banking institution separate from the contractor’s other funds. The contractor must notify the consumer of the banking institution at which the deposit is kept.
If you feel you have been victimized, please feel free to contact the New York State Attorney General's Office at 1-800-771-7755 or local law enforcement agencies in your area.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Schuyler and Yates Counties to Share Public Health Director, Expand Shared Services


In a move towards continued cost savings and increased efficiency, Schuyler and Yates counties have adopted resolutions authorizing the sharing of a Public Health Director between the two counties.

At their respective meetings on Monday, August 13, county legislators voted to authorize an Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) permitting the consolidation of this position within the two counties.

The aim of the project is to work collaboratively while maintaining two distinctive health departments with shared leadership and integrated service delivery. Both departments will be governed by their respective legislatures and/or boards of health.

Yates Chairman Doug Paddock commented “As we continue to seek efficiencies for our residents and taxpayers, this most recent move exemplifies the commitment of both counties towards improving service delivery while lowering costs.”

Schuyler Chairman Dennis Fagan added, “While we continue to struggle with unfunded mandates and their associated escalating costs, it is great to be able to partner with our neighbors to the north, to achieve real savings for our residents.” 

Both Chairs expressed their appreciation to County Attorneys Steven Getman (Schuyler) and Scott Falvey (Yates) for their efforts in crafting an IMA that both Legislatures agreed upon.

The agreement, which now goes to the NYS Department of Health for approval, is in response to the announced retirement of Schuyler Public Health Director Marcia Kasprzyk, and the desire to further collaboration between each county. 

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn while the combined savings approach $100,000 annually, the move will actually provide increased levels of service as each county shares departmental resources. 

By combining some resources, functions, and staff in their health departments, the two counties provide services that enhance their role as public health facilitators and educators in their respective communities, including:
  • ·        Public health education
  • ·        Emergency preparedness
  • ·        Childhood Early Intervention Programs
  • ·        Residential sanitary inspections
  • ·        Flu clinics
  • ·        Rabies clinics

O’Hearn stated “I commend both Marcia and Deb for their initiative in bringing this recommendation to their respective Legislatures. It is not often in government that such a collaborative and non-parochial approach to administration is achieved and this is a testament to their professionalism and dedication to public health!”

This is the latest shared service initiative between Yates and Schuyler, who currently share a Director of Weights and Measures and Code Enforcement responsibilities.

Both Counties have long recognized that inter-municipal cooperation can help local governments increase effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of services and is encouraged by the New York State legislature via broad statutory authority.  Here, the counties are taking advantage of legislation passed in 2011 that allows up to three county public health offices in counties with a combined population of less than 150,000 to share staff and services under the management of one public health director.

A County Health Department's mission is to protect and promote the health of its residents through prevention, science and the assurance of quality health care delivery.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ovid Town Board passes resolution supporting Seneca County development of a nine-element watershed plan for Seneca And Cayuga Lakes

The Town Board of the Town of Ovid passed a resolution on Wednesday (August 8) calling on Seneca County government to develop a Nine-Element Plan to pinpoint sources of pollution and steps to preserve the water quality of Seneca and Cayuga lakes.

The resolution, authored by Town Attorney Steven Getman, calls on Seneca County Government to work with representatives of the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, the Finger Lakes Institute, the Cayuga Lake Association, the Cayuga Watershed Improvement Cooperative and other stakeholders in preparing an application for funding a Nine-Element Plan, and ultimately in preparing and implementing the plan.

“Consistent countywide efforts to protect the watersheds of the lakes are preferable to town-by-town measures which may be inconsistent and ineffective due to the geography of the county and the watersheds,” Getman explained.

“Experience over the past decade has shown that effective watershed management includes active participation from stakeholders, analysis and quantification of the specific causes and sources of water quality problems, identification of measurable water quality goals, and implementation of specific actions needed to solve those problems.”

The resolution passed unanimously among the board members present. Voting for the measure were Supervisor Walt Prouty and board members Eric Holmberg and Joe Borst. Board members Mark Beardsley and Carrie Wheeler-Carmenatty were absent.

Following the vote, the board asked Town Clerk Michele Vangalio to forward a copy to the Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

A Nine-Element Watershed Management Plan is a clean water plan that details a community’s water quality concerns and a strategy to address these concerns. The plans are developed by people who live and work within the watershed with support from local and state agencies. The elements are intended to ensure that the contributing causes and sources of nonpoint source pollution are identified, that key stakeholders are involved in the planning process, and that restoration and protection strategies are identified that will address the water quality concerns.

The plans are consistent with the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation framework for developing watershed plans, and funding is available from the Department of State for 75% of the plan’s cost.

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors previously considered a motion considering a nine-element plan for Seneca and Keuka Lakes. The Ovid resolution asks that Cayuga be included in any such efforts as well.

In July, reports surfaced that Cayuga Lake is being monitored for Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB's), a visually identifiable bacterium which is blue or green in color and slightly resembles wet paint. People are advised to steer clear of the toxic bacteria, which is especially harmful to elderly people, those with weaker immune systems, dogs, and other pets.

The Town of Ovid, located in the geographic center of Seneca County, is bordered on the west by Seneca Lake and on the east side by Cayuga Lake.

TOWN OF OVID: RESOLUTION SUPPORTING SENECA COUNTY GOVERNMENT PARTICIPATION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NINE ELE... by Steven Getman on Scribd

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Schuyler County may join lawsuit against Federal Government

The U.S. Department of Interior may have underpaid Schuyler County for payments in lieu of property taxes on federal lands within the county.

In response, the County Legislature’s Legislative Resolution Review Committee moved Wednesday (August 8) to authorize Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman to file papers joining a federal class action lawsuit initiated by Kane County, Utah.

According to Getman, the United States Court of Claims has held that underpayments on federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs in Kane County and other local governments may have occurred during 2015 to 2017. The PILT Act is intended to compensate local governments for tax revenues lost from federal lands in their jurisdictions, and the costs of providing services to those lands, Getman said.

That could include the part of the Finger Lakes National Forest in the Town of Hector, Getman said.

“If court determines the county was underpaid under PILT agreements for lands in the National Forest, the county can recover additional money” Getman said. “There is no cost to participate in the lawsuit and no disadvantage to the county to do so.”

According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, “any money collected would go to the county as direct revenue to offset the cost of services to the forest and lost tax revenue, in order to reduce the local tax burden.”

“Given the fiscal stresses placed on local governments by state and federal mandates, county officials have a duty to make sure that any funds due Schuyler County taxpayers come back to Schuyler County to pay for necessary services,” Getman noted.

County Treasurer Harriett Vickio has reported that the County received payments for the affected years as follows: 2015, $16,526.00; 2016, $17,244.00; 2017, $17,091.00.

Any additional amounts for those years obtained from the lawsuit would be calculated by the court, Getman said.

The measure now goes to the full legislature for a final vote August 13 at 6:30 pm.

Monday, August 6, 2018

New York Commission on Parental Legal Representation to Hold Public Hearings

The Commission on Parental Legal Representation was created earlier this year "to examine the current state of mandated Family Court representation and determine how best to ensure the future delivery of quality, cost-effective parental representation.”

The Commission will be holding public hearings this fall “to gather information on existing services and suggestions for reform needed to ensure quality representation for persons eligible for assigned counsel in family law matters." It is seeking testimony related to the following topics:

• Funding and Caseloads;
• Timely Access to Counsel;
• Structural Issues;
• Model and Scope of Representation;
• Financial Eligibility Criteria and Procedures;
• Statewide Oversight Role; and
• Global Issues.
The deadline for submission of written testimony and requests to testify at the Commission hearings is Thursday, August 16, 2018.
The hearing dates, times and locations are:

• September 13, 2018, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., 50 East Avenue, Suite 200, Rochester;
• September 27, 2018, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 27 Madison Avenue, New York City;
• October 10, 2018, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Justice Bldg., State St., Room 511, Albany;
• October 23, 2018, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 100 Supreme Court Drive, Mineola.
For more on the hearings, including how to submit written testimony and requests to testify, click here.



Monday, July 30, 2018

New York 'Drug Take Back Act' signed into law

The “Drug Take Back Act” calls for the establishment of an industry-funded, statewide pharmaceutical drug take-back program:
It advances a “product stewardship” approach to the challenge of disposing of unwanted medications. Pharmaceutical manufacturers will be responsible for all of the costs of the initiative including public education and awareness, as well as the collection, transport and proper disposal of unwanted drugs. The Act further requires chain pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies to provide consumers with on-site collection, prepaid mail-back envelopes, or other federally approved methods to encourage safe drug disposal.

****

The Drug Take Back Act will create a unified, statewide drug take-back program that will save government and taxpayer dollars, and reduce medication misuse. Additionally, the program will protect New York State’s waterways by preventing drugs from being improperly disposed of by flushing or other means that contaminate water bodies and negatively affect aquatic life.

To read more on the new law, click here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Schuyler County Sponsored American Red Cross Blood Drive - Tuesday, July 31st

The next Schuyler County Sponsored American Red Cross Blood Drive is scheduled for Tuesday, July 31, 2018, from 9:30am - 2:30pm at the Schuyler County Human Services Complex, Conference Room #120, Montour Falls, New York.

Click here to register for your donation through the American Red Cross.

Monday, July 16, 2018

New York State Bar Association calls for increased assigned counsel rates.

The House of Delegates of the New York State Bar Association has "approved a report and resolution calling for an increase in the rates paid to private attorneys providing mandated representation for those who cannot afford to pay counsel."

According to the resolution, assigned counsel fees under New York State County Law have not changed since 2004.

The NYSBA also called for any increase to be paid at state expense, to prevent an unfunded mandate to the counties.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Following Schuyler County opposition, NYS DEC rejects Crestwood LPG storage project

Less than a week after the Schuyler County Legislature rescinded its support for a Crestwood subsidiary's plan to store up to 1.5 million barrels of liquefied propane in underground caverns near Watkins Glen, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the project:
Basil Seggos, the state's environmental conservation commissioner, issued a 30-page ruling denying the request from a Crestwood subsidiary, which was looking to store up to 1.5 million barrels of liquefied propane in underground caverns near Watkins Glen.

In his ruling, Seggos said the project "is not permittable" because it could alter the character of the Finger Lakes community.

"The project before me involves significant adverse unmitigated impacts with respect to local and regional community character in this area of New York State," Seggos wrote.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Schuyler County Legislature rescinds Crestwood LPG storage facility support

Watkins Glen—The Schuyler County Legislature voted on Monday (July 9) to rescind its prior support for an attempt to store liquefied propane gas in local salt mines, after reports that one of the caverns may have leaks.

The resolution was introduced at Monday’s meeting by legislator Phil Barnes and seconded by legislator Van Harp. It passed unanimously.

The resolution was authored by Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan, with input from the County Planning Department (Kristin VanHorn), County Attorney (Steven Getman), County Administrator (Tim O’Hearn), Emergency Management (Bill Kennedy) and Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted). It repeals the county’s support pending completion of future pressure testing and subsequent review and approval by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

After the vote, Fagan said “clearly, we have to consider the local taxpayers. We have to take their concerns seriously.”

As part of its passage, the legislature directed the clerk to send the final resolution to the Governor and other state officials.

The County Legislature took up the resolution after a May 17 letter to the DEC from lawyers representing Finger Lakes LPG Storage. In that letter, Kevin Bernstein, an attorney with Bond Schoeneck & King, asked the DEC to delay a final decision on the storage unit application until well pressure tests determine its suitability as a gas storage unit. Finger Lakes LPG Storage is a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners.

During deliberations, Legislator Michael Lausell cited that letter, and noted the need to remain vigilant to future developments in the application process, to ensure the safety of Schuyler County residents.

In 2014, the legislature voted five to three in support of the LPG storage plant, based on “submissions and compliance with all regulatory requests” that “minimized impacts to the maximum extent practicable and that the caverns to be used for LPG storage are well-suited for such use.” In 2016, after Crestwood scaled back its plans, the legislature reiterated that support, six votes to two.

In June, Toxics Targeting, a company that compiles information on toxic sites, released documents it claimed prove the DEC knew of, and failed to disclose, leakage concerns.

A complete copy of the draft resolution can be found here. A listing of Schuyler County Officials, and their contact information, can be found here.

Schuyler County residents can talk Medicare

On Wednesday, July 18, Schuyler County residents can find out answers to their Medicare questions.

"Let's talk Medicare" will be held at the Harvest Cafe Lounge, 224 East Main Street, Montour Falls, New York, from 8:00 am to 10:00 am.

Come and have a cup of coffee and bring your Medicare questions. You will also be able to discuss programs that could save you money on your Medicare, such as Medicare Savings Program, Extra Help and EPIC.

The event is free, but RSVP is suggested. Please call the Schuyler County Office for the Aging at 607.535.7108 to register or for more information.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Schuyler County Legislature considers rescinding Crestwood LPG storage facility support

The Schuyler County Legislature appears close to voting to rescind its prior support for an attempt to store liquefied propane gas in local salt mines, after reports that one of the caverns may have leaks.

The full legislature will consider on Monday (July 9), a resolution rescinding support of Finger Lakes LPG Storage’s liquid propane gas (LPG) storage facility project. Finger Lakes LPG Storage is a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners.

The resolution has already cleared the county’s Public Safety Committee, headed by legislator Van Harp, and its Legislative Resolution Review Committee, chaired by Dennis Fagan.

The resolution, as authored by Fagan, with assistance from the County Planning Department (Kristin VanHorn), County Attorney (Steven Getman), County Administrator (Tim O’Hearn), Emergency Management (Bill Kennedy) and Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted), repeals the county’s support pending completion of future pressure testing and subsequent review and approval by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The proposed resolution comes after a May 17 letter to the DEC from lawyers representing Finger Lakes LPG Storage. In that letter, Kevin Bernstein, an attorney with Bond Schoeneck & King, asked the DEC to delay a final decision on the storage unit application until well pressure tests determine its suitability as a gas storage unit.

In 2014, the County Legislature voted five to three in support of the LPG storage plant, based on “submissions and compliance with all regulatory requests” that “minimized impacts to the maximum extent practicable and that the caverns to be used for LPG storage are well-suited for such use.” In 2016, after Crestwood scaled back its plans, the legislature reiterated that support, six votes to two.

In June, Toxics Targeting, a company that compiles information on toxic sites, released documents it claimed prove the DEC knew of, and failed to disclose, leakage concerns.

The July 9 meeting of the Schuyler County legislature is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm at the Schuyler County Courthouse, 105 Ninth Street, Watkins Glen, New York.

A complete copy of the draft resolution is below.

Draft: RESOLUTION WITHDRAWING SUPPORT OF STAGECOACH’S LIQUID PROPANE GAS (LPG) STORAGE FACILITY PROJECT by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, July 2, 2018

Public asked to report phone scams involving Federal Court

Federal officials are alerting the public to several nationwide imposter scams involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials.

In the scam, criminals call their victims claiming the are trying to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses. The scammers tell victims they can avoid arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card and read the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.

These scammers use various tactics to sound credible, including badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses. Some will spoof their phone numbers on caller ID as appear if they are calling from a court or government agency.

Anyone who believes they were a victim of such a scam, is encouraged to report the incident to their local FBI office and to the FTC.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New York Election Day Hotline To Protect Voter Access During June Federal Primary Election

New York State officials have an announced an Election Day Hotline, which will help troubleshoot and resolve a range of potential issues encountered by voters at the polls during the federal primary election on Tuesday, June 26th.

Voters experiencing problems or issues at the polls may call the hotline at 800-771-7755 or contact it via email at any time between 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM on Tuesday.

Voters registered in New York City trying to find their poll site can click here. Voters registered outside New York City trying to find their poll site can click here.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Phishing scams targets Airbnb customers

Criminal hackers are taking advantage of the popularity of Airbnb with phishing campaigns targeting that site’s customers.

One recent scam involves the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and

privacy of European Union citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. Websites across the world are being affected. The regulation took effect in May and many organizations are updating their privacy policies and emailing customers to ensure they are aware of the changes. The phishing scam seeks to exploit this. A phishing email, which claims to be from Airbnb customer support, advises users that they must accept a new privacy policy based on the GDPR before they can make any further bookings. Anyone who clicks the link is asked to enter their personal information, including account credentials and payment card information.

Another scam involves fake Airbnb property listings. Scammers post these listings to lure in interested renters. Once someone reaches the stage of being ready to book, the scammers will send a link to the Airbnb listing asking them to complete the booking through a real-looking, but fake, site. Once on that site, the prospective customer’s identity and payment information is stolen. Similar scams involve the fakers asking for advance payment, for properties that do not exist.

Airbnb has tips to avoid these, and other, scams involving their site here.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Supreme Court says police need a warrant for historical cell location records

Via ZDNet:
The Supreme Court has said that law enforcement must first seek a warrant before obtaining historical cell phone location records from phone companies, upending a near-decade long practice by police.

The court ruled 5-4 on the case, in what became one of the most awaited privacy legal decisions in the US this year.

The so-called "Carpenter" case had centered on the eponymous Timothy Carpenter, a criminal who was caught thanks to cell phone records in 2011. Law enforcement had obtained his location data from a phone provider without a search warrant, arguing the provider already had his data and Carpenter had no "reasonable expectation of privacy."

But the court found the government's warrantless access to cell-site records over a period of time "contravenes that expectation" of privacy, said (the court)....

The court stressed that the decision does not consider real-time tracking, or so-called "tower dumps," which police use to obtain information on all of the devices connected to a cell tower at during a particular period of time....

Police may, however, still obtain this data without a warrant in exigent circumstances, such as if there is an immediate threat or danger to life.

Read the complete decision here.

More on the Carpenter case here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New York State Supreme Court denies drug companies’ motions to dismiss counties’ Opioid cases

A New York State Supreme Court Judge has refused to dismiss lawsuits against several large opioid manufacturers in one of the first decisions to come out of the cases brought by local governments over the prescription painkillers.

In a pair of rulings on Monday (June 18), Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo rejected motions to dismiss brought by Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Insys Therapeutics Inc.

“The plaintiffs allege the manufacturer defendants employed assiduously crafted, multi-pronged marketing strategies that targeted the general public … as part of their respective campaigns to change the perception of the risks associated with prescription opioids and to de-stigmatize and normalize the long-term use of opioids for chronic nonmalignant pain,” he wrote.

Therefore, Garguilo allowed cases brought by various New York counties to go forward alleging violations of New York’s fraud and false advertising laws, as well as public nuisance and other claims.

One such case has been brought by Schuyler County. In August 2018, the County Legislature voted to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik to work with Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, as special counsel, to bring an action against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County. In May of this year, Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint for damages to the County arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in the County. That case was transferred to Suffolk County Courts shortly thereafter, along with other cases brought by New York counties in the state.

“We are obviously pleased by the court’s decision,” Getman said. “This is one of the first decisions to fully address all the substantive arguments in these various cases, and the court issued a well-thought-out opinion covering many of the issues raised throughout the state, including in our case. We consider it valuable precedent.”

“Schuyler County’s lawsuit will move forward to seek reimbursement for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as to provide the County with financial assistance to fight addiction, overdoses, drug-related crimes and drug deaths,” Getman stated.

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the County, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By going forward with litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said.

Schuyler County is one of several New York municipalities to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they're claiming are deceptive marketing practices. In addition, in February, New York State officials filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., alleging that Insys deceptively promoted prescription opiate Subsys for unsafe uses and violated state law by downplaying drug’s addictive risks.

New York State Opioid Litigation Part 48, Suffolk County orders June 18, 2018. by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, June 18, 2018

Schuyler County launches its Community Health Survey

Schuyler County Public Health and partners are doing a Community Health Survey with the intent of completing a new Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan by the end of December 2019.

The link to the online survey will be active for the next 4-6 weeks and Schuyler County encourages all to please complete it.

The same survey will be offered in each of the nine Finger Lakes Counties (Schuyler, Yates, Steuben, Chemung, Seneca, Ontario, Wayne, Livingston and Monroe). The coordinated effort is with the Public Health Department in each county and with Common Ground Health (the Regional Health Systems Agency).

Participants who provide their name and phone number or email address will be entered into a drawing for a $500 grocery or gasoline gift card.

For more information, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Schuyler County joins opposition to Romulus incinerator project

Schuyler County is the latest local government to oppose the proposed “Circular enerG” garbage incinerator project at the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, Seneca County, New York.

Citing environmental concerns, negative effects on agriculture and tourism, and local opposition from the Town of Romulus and County of Seneca, the Schuyler County Legislature voted Monday (June 11) against the project, which would be the state’s largest trash incinerator.  The vote was unanimous.

“The wine, craft beverage, agriculture, and agri-tourism industry is driving job creation and economic growth in the Finger Lakes,” the legislature held, further noting that, “trash incineration is not compatible with current or future economic development goals of the region, nor with New York State’s renewable energy standard.”    Therefore, the resolution says, state and federal officials should reject the project.

In a separate vote, the legislature unanimously resolved to support legislation introduced by Senator Tom O’Mara, Senator Pam Helming, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, and Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Michael Cusick, that would help block the facility.   That legislation would prevent power projects that burn garbage from receiving expedited permitting through the “Article X” process. Instead, those projects would be required to conform with local laws, applicable environmental rules, and the state solid waste management permitting process.

Both resolutions were submitted to the legislature by the County’s Planning Department (Kristin VanHorn, Director), with assistance from the County Administrator (Tim O’Hearn), the Schuyler County Attorney (Steven Getman), the Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted) and the County’s Community Development and Natural Resource Committee.  The motions to pass each were made by legislator Mark Rondinaro (Town of Reading) and seconded by legislator Van Harp (Town of Hector).

Romulus Town Supervisor, David Kaiser, an opponent of the project, praised Schuyler County officials.

“I want to personally thank the Chair of the Schuyler County Legislature, Dennis Fagan, and his fellow county officials who worked to pass these resolutions,” Kaiser said.  “If this incinerator project is approved, it will have a devastating impact on Romulus and the Finger Lakes region. Allowing a giant trash incinerator disguised as a power plant to move forward over local opposition is unfair to our residents and existing businesses.”

The Circular enerG facility would require the daily delivery of more than 1,000 tons of trash to the site, primarily from New York City, and withdraw 445,000 gallons of water daily from Seneca Lake.   News reports indicate that a 260-foot smoke stack will emit chemicals that may be harmful to human health, and that the facility will be located near the Romulus Central School and the Hillside Children’s Center. 

After the project met strong opposition from the community, the company asked for “Article X” approval from the state's Public Service Commission rather than the Town of Romulus in an attempt to bypass local review.   Circular enerG also sued the town in a bid to overturn recent local zoning decisions blocking its construction.

Schuyler County joins county legislatures in Seneca, Tompkins, Yates and Ontario as well as the town boards of Romulus, Geneva, Lodi, Ovid, Seneca Falls, Varick and others in opposing the project.

The text of each Schuyler County  resolution is available here.

Resolutions of the Schuyler County Legislature: Opposing Proposed Garbage Incinerator, Seneca County, New Y... by Steven Getman on Scribd

Bill to crack down on child sex trafficking set to pass

New York Post:
A bill to crack down on predators who force or manipulate children into prostitution is headed for passage this year, lawmakers said Thursday.

The revised law would punish anyone who intentionally promotes or profits from prostitution of people under the age of 18 with a felony sex trafficking charge — without having to prove the child was compelled....

The Senate has already passed a similar version of the ... bill, which was sponsored by Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island)....

The bill set for passage makes it a separate class B felony for anyone 21 or over to promote or benefit from the prostitution of anyone under 18.

It also says that arguing that a perpetrator didn’t know a victim’s age is no longer a valid defense.

Monday, June 4, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court: police need warrant to search vehicle located near home

Via Washington Examiner:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled police must obtain a warrant to search a vehicle parked near a home on private property, setting new limits on law enforcement's ability to conduct searches...

The man at the center of the case is Ryan Collins, who twice eluded police while riding a motorcycle in Albemarle County, Va., in 2013. Officers eventually found the motorcycle covered with a tarp and parked on a parking patio outside a house belonging to Collins’ girlfriend.

Police lifted the tarp and ran the motorcycle’s vehicle identification number. Upon running the VIN, officers discovered the motorcycle had been stolen in New York several years earlier, and Collins was arrested.

Collins argued the police violated the Fourth Amendment with its warrantless search because the motorcycle was located within the curtilage of the home.

But a trial court, state appeals court, and the Virginia Supreme Court disagreed, and said the search was constitutional.

In its decision, the Virginia Supreme Court cited the Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception, under which an officer can search a vehicle without a warrant if he or she has probable cause to believe the vehicle was involved in a crime.

But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, saying nothing in its case law indicates that the automobile exception gave law enforcement the right to enter a home or its curtilage to access a vehicle without a warrant.

The complete decision can be found here.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Schuyler County calls on New York State to increase financial resources to County Veteran Service Agencies

Declaring that “our veterans represent the very best of America, having bravely answered the call to serve …and having earned the dignity that comes with ... defending our great nation’s values,” the Schuyler County Legislature has called on New York State to amend the Executive Law, in the relation to the cost of maintenance and operation of veterans’ service agencies.

The resolution, prepared by the County Veterans’ Service Agency (Joan Scott, Director)

with assistance from the Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted) and the County Attorney (Steven Getman) asks the state legislature to remove the fifty percent cap on total expenditures for maintenance and operation that can be reimbursed by the state. The resolution also supports increasing the maximum reimbursement allowable to each county, noting that the amount of funding currently provided by the State to local veterans’ service agencies is minimal.

The resolution was passed at the legislature’s May 14 meeting and directs that the Clerk of the Legislature forward certified copies of the Resolution to Governor Cuomo, Senator O’Mara, Assemblyman Palmesano, and all other appropriate state officials.

The Schuyler County Veterans Service Agency advocates on behalf of Schuyler County veterans and their families, as individuals and as a group, to ensure they receive benefits granted by law for service in the United States Armed Forces.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Version of N.Y. Family Court "Do it Yourself" Form Programs Launched

All New York State Family Court DIY (Do It Yourself) Form computer programs have been updated to improve the unrepresented litigant’s experience.

Program users no longer require Adobe Flash or Microsoft Word or Word Viewer to prepare their court papers. Instead the papers generated by the programs open in a PDF document. The computer program is also now available on mobile devices.

The DIY Forms FAQ page has been updated to reflect the changes to the program. According to the Court System, improved DIY Form Programs for Surrogate’s, Supreme, County, District, City, Civil, Housing and Justice Courts will be coming soon.

These forms cannot give you legal advice.  Litigants having questions about family court procedures should consult an attorney.  In certain cases, you may be eligible for assigned or low-cost counsel.

For more information about DIY Form Programs click here.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Town of Ovid Honors Former Clerk

The Ovid Town Board honored former Town Clerk James Vangalio for his “lifetime of service” to the town at its Wednesday (May 9) meeting.

Vangalio, who passed away April 4, had served as Town Clerk for twenty years.

To honor Vangalio, the Town Board presented his widow, Michele Vangalio, and his children and grandchildren with a certificate honoring his service to the community.

Vangalio was a lifelong resident of the Town of Ovid. As a 27-year member of the Ovid Fire Department, he was a truck captain and 2nd assistant chief. For more than 16 years, he and Michele hosted 43 foster children through Seneca County Department of Social Services.

Vangalio is survived by his wife of nearly 43 years, Michele; and his children Harland Kent, Lisa (Lee Benjamin) Vangalio, Vincent (Jamie) Vangalio, Staci (Martin) Hooker all of Ovid, Brian (Kayla Plante) Kuhlman of Red Creek, and Tracy (Chris Dresser) Andrews of Interlaken; his grandchildren Jade and Chelsea Parson, Grace and Hayden Benjamin, Lucas, Zackary and Addilyn Hooker, Skylar Howard, Emily, Alyssa and Toni Vangalio, Derek Andrews, McKenzie Dresser, and Brian Kuhlman Jr.; his sister, Patty (Dean) Arcangeli and their family; and his mother in law, Julie Byrne of Auburn; along with his wife's extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents; by a son, Anthony Vangalio; and by his father-in-law, James Byrne.

Michele Vangalio is currently serving as Town Clerk to fill the vacancy until the end of the year.

The Ovid Town Supervisor is Walt Prouty. The Ovid Town Board members are Mark Beardsley, Joseph Borst, Erik Holmberg and Carrie Wheeler-Carmenatty.

(Photo credit: Steven J. Getman, Esq.)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Schuyler County files lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers.

Schuyler County officials are formally taking “big pharma” to court.

On Friday (May 11, 2018), Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint against manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in and to the County.

“Over the past few years, despite its small population, Schuyler County has seen an uptick in opioid and heroin use and overdose,” Getman said. “To date, County officials have expended significant resources to help its residents battle opioid addiction and prevent further deaths. The lawsuit will seek to reimburse the County for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as provide the County with financial assistance to continue this battle.”

The Summons names approximately thirty defendants, including some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry, such as: Purdue Pharma L.P.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Actavis Pharma, Inc. and Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

The Complaint alleges the defendants knew--and had known for years–that opioids were addictive and subject to abuse, particularly when used long-term for chronic non-cancer pain, and should not be used except as a last-resort. However, the Complaint alleges, the defendants spent hundreds of millions of dollars disseminating scientific materials and advertising that misrepresented the risks of opioids’ long-term use.

“The United States is now awash in opioids,” the Complaint says.

Summons and Complaint: The County of Schuyler v Purdue Pharma L.P. by Steven Getman on Scribd

Schuyler County is the latest New York State county to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they're claiming are deceptive marketing practices. In addition, in February, New York State officials filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., alleging that Insys deceptively promoted prescription opiate Subsys for unsafe uses and violated state law by downplaying drug’s addictive risks.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Missing Infant: Schuyler County authorities search for missing 15-day-old

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of a missing infant from Rock Cabin Road in the Village of Montour Falls.

The infant, Gionna K. Harter is 15 days old and is believed to have been removed from the residence by her mother Katrina M. Harter, age 31. It is believed that Katrina Harter took the child to avoid service of a Family Court Order that transfers custody to another party.

Katrina Harter is believed to be in the Geneva, NY area and has family ties to Wayne County, NY.

Anyone having information about the location of Gionna or Katrina Harter is asked to call the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office at 607-535-8222 or our confidential tip line at 607-535-8224.

The Wayne and Ontario County Sheriff’s Office’s, Geneva Police Department and New York State Police are actively assisting in the investigation.

For more information, click here. 8:45PM UPDATE: Schuyler County Deputies have announced 15-day-old Gionna Harter has been located in Geneva and is safe.

The AMBER notice regarding Gionna’s disappearance has been cancelled.

More information on the case is pending.