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.