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Less than a week after the Schuyler County Legislature rescinded its support for a Crestwood subsidiary's plan to store up to 1.5 million barrels of liquefied propane in underground caverns near Watkins Glen, the New York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.