More From Eric Dixon at http://www.NYBusinessCounsel.com

Top 50 Twitter Rank of Worldwide Startup Advisors For Much of 2014. Go to my professional site for solutions to your legal, business and strategic problems. The only lawyer who is a co-inventor of multiple, allowed-for-grant patents on blockchain technology!!! Blockchain and Digital Currency Protocol Development --
Top Strategic Judgment -- When You Need A Fixer -- Explore Information Protection and Cryptographic Security -- MUST-WIN: JUST DON'T LOSE -- SURVIVE!: Under Investigation? Being Sued? Handling Extreme Stress -- Corporate Issues -- Startup Issues -- Investor Issues -- Contracts To Meet Your Needs -- Opposition Research -- Intellectual Property, Media and Reputation Issues -- Independent, top-notch legal, strategic and personal advice -- Extensive ghostwriting, speechwriting, book writing, issue research, press and crisis management services. Listed by American Bar Association's Law Bloggers (Blawgers). Contact EDixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com. European Union audiences: This site uses a third party site administrator which may use cookies but this site is intended for AMERICAN clients and prospective clients only!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Country Farm Ripoff: Don't Believe It's Homemade

Buyer beware. That supposedly homemade, authentic jelly you bought off the shelf at Grandma's Organic Farm might be as fake as the 62nd flavor variation of Pop Tarts. 

September brings the cultural shift from the beaches or mountain lakes to the country farms, as thoughts turn to leaves turning and the harvest of crops.  So when you start thinking about apple picking or pear picking or digging through dirt for potatoes, you might be at risk.

Risk of being ripped off!


For the cosmopolitan readers out there whose idea of "the country" is the Sheep Meadow of Central Park, the closest you might come to sensing the seasonal shift is the replacement of lemonade offerings with "pumpkin spice"-infused beverages. (I am waiting to see the first "pumpkin wine" or even worse, the first pumpkin-flavored scotch. Blasphemy!)

Country farms in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic are not the huge behemoths you see in the Great Plains, the South or even California. These outfits depend on multiple revenue streams to survive. One of those revenue streams is the production and sale of canned goods like jellies, jams, sauces, pie fillings, pies and other baked goods, and other items.

Many of these goods sound like they're natural, authentic, homemade, any title that will get you thinking of warm apple pie, warm apple cider and slathering your toast with weird jams.

Most of it is pure hogwash.  Here are some tips.

One: Consider the crops the farm actually grows before buying any canned goods. Look at the ingredients on any can or package. The most common ingredient you will see is white grape juice. Pumpkin butter doesn't contain much pumpkin, but a whole lot of white grape concentrate. And sugar. Are you at a white grape farm? I doubt it. Any grape of merit is one you will find at a grape orchard run by a winery. It goes into wine and you'll be lucky to get a bottle for under $10 at a winery. (More on the perils of canned goods later.) That white grape juice is an imported ingredient and highlights just one of the many flaws in anything for sale off the shelf. And what is the second most common ingredient? 

Corn syrup.

That's right, the same artificial food you can get in any conventional supermarket. The farm may say all it wants that its crops are "GMO-free" (that is, they aren't 'genetically modified organisms') but those canned or baked goods are coming from a factory.  Even if the label says "Abe's Farms," look closely at the label to see where it was produced or packaged. Stop dead in your tracks if you see a disclaimed that says, "Packaged specifically for Abe's Farms." That is a surefire sign of a private-label food distributor. Private label, by the way, means food that is produced and distributed by a no-name company which will slap on any farm's label for a license fee. This means that the "Abe's Farms" boysenberry syrup is likely the exact same product, made in the same mixing vat, as the syrup from "Uncle Jeb's Farm" 500 miles away. This goes for canned goods as well as baked goods. Authentic pies are made on the premises; one place I recommend is the Masker Orchards near Warwick, NY. (These people treat apples like they are a separate food group.) 

Common sense should be the order of the day. If you are at an apple orchard and you're buying peanut butter, you're being conned. So check the labels -- and check out how the hired help will stare you down when you do this. They know what they're selling. They know that anyone smart enough to look at the label in a country farm is not taking their claims of down-home-country-goodness at face value. Now, you know the trick and hopefully you'll save your money. 

Two: The closest you will get to crops where point of sale is closest to point of harvest is literally at that country farm. Authentic means buy it out of the farm store basket. Even better, buy it off the tree at the "pick your own" or "PYO" farms. But be warned: A tremendous amount of crops rot on the tree, and you will be advised to wash and eat whatever you pick very quickly. Mold and bacteria may be rotting the fruit or vegetables you pick even if it's still on the plant (that happens in nature, folks) and even one overnight can be enough for a mold explosion. 

Three: Many farms will grow a variety of crops. All sorts of crops grow in a temperate climate and "crop rotation" actually keeps the soil fresh, because different crops extract different nutrients from the soil. This variety is not cause for suspicion. However, those crops are most likely put out for direct sale at the farm store (if not sold to a wholesaler). It is very unlikely the crops from Abe's Farm end up in the packaged goods labelled "Abe's Farm." (More on that in a moment.) That is because the profit margin for crops is highest for harvested fruits and veggies sold directly to a wholesaler. The leftovers are left on the trees. Those crops are loss leaders and result in virtually no profit to the farm. This explains why some farms allow you to come to the fields and pick anything you want -- for free. They've already made their money. Getting you on the farm in mid-October is a way for them to get rid of their remaining inventory in the fields or in the farm store before they shut for the season. Finally, this explains why it isn't very likely the peaches you see this weekend on the peach trees will end up in the peach pies sold in the store in the same farm. 

Pretty produce commands a high price and goes straight to market. Ugly produce gets mashed up and becomes jelly, juice, anything that needs filler or flavor. 

The reality is that American farms are an endangered species as agriculture becomes more and more the domain of large corporations which can pass on efficiencies of scale to the consumer. The small farm cannot compete because they cannot sell their crops or products at the same price point. The consumer benefits from this process, by the way. It just means that it becomes harder to preserve the mythology of yesteryear that the "family farm" was the bedrock of American culture and wealth. 



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bitcoin Startup Incubator Info

As a service to the emerging information technology industry, I post the following for readers:


New York City's premier Bitcoin and digital currency center, located at 40 Broad Street in the heart of Manhattan's Financial District, 100 feet from the NYSE. Please direct media inquiries to Tanya Shimon using tanya@nycbitcoincenter.com.
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Bitcoin Center NYC
to begin accepting applications for Startup Incubator


New York - Bitcoin Center NYC,  the city's only brick-and-mortar institution dedicated to the further adoption of Bitcoin, announced today that it has created a vehicle to help fund, manage, and cultivate momentum for Bitcoin related startups. This vehicle will supply a workspace, tech-support, and event coordination for startups to build a prominent industry profile.

Please inquire further at bitcoinstartups@gmail.com or call (631)-887-4322


Bitcoin Center NYC will ensure that your startup is equipped to intercept the digital currency sphere and encourage profitability accordingly. Inquire today and start building your startup at New York City's home base for all things digital currency. 

                                           

bitcoinstartups@gmail.com




Bitcoin Center NYC
40 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
For a map of Bitcoin Center NYC, click here.

Find Bitcoin Center NYC on FacebookLinkedInMeetup, and Twitter.

# # #
Copyright © Bitcoin Center NYC All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Bitcoin Center NYC
40 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004

Friday, August 22, 2014

New York Bitlicense: Official Comment on Bitcoin Regulation

The following was submitted to the New York Department of Financial Services regarding its proposed regulations on Bitcoin and virtual currencies:


* * * * 
August 22, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am a New York lawyer and advisor and bitcoin industry developer who works with several startup companies and entrepreneurs.  I submit herewith my initial comments on the proposed virtual currency regulations first released by the Department on July 24, 2014. These comments are not exhaustive, and further comments may be forthcoming. 

It is feared that New York State's proposed regulations on virtual currency (most commonly referred to as Bitcoin) may drive new virtual currency founders out of the state and soon make it hard for any New Yorker to buy or sell Bitcoin. These consequences may not be the stated intent of the proposed regulations, but they may be their effect. While some commentators have tried to dismiss these concerns as exaggerated or hysterical, a careful evaluation of the proposed regulations reveals three legitimate "macro" concerns which support such strong concerns and justify the alarm with which many industry participants have reacted to the regulations as first proposed. 

The first concern arises from the burdens on industry participants which do not have the great financial resources of major international financial institutions. There is the fear that this regulatory scheme will lead to eventual domination of an emerging field by large multinationals (which as licensed banks are exempt from the regulations), who may eventually end up hiring the very same regulators in the symbiotic revolving door between big business and big government.  There are concerns within the industry that the regulations are either designed to or likely will force smaller players out of the industry or at least out of the New York market in favor of established financial institutions, which not coincidentally are the same institutions most likely to be potential future employers of today's regulators, legislators, lobbyists and other "players" in the government.


Some of the proposed virtual currency regulations mirror existing state requirements for regular banks. It must be noted that your agency's own guidance for those considering forming a bank in the New York metropolitan area suggests that prospective banks have minimum capital of $50 million net of startup costs. (See http://www.dfs.ny.gov/banking/iac2b.htm).  The proposed regulations also impose requirements for written anti-money laundering, know-your-customer and cybersecurity policies as well as the requirements to report "suspicious" transactions. Bitcoin and virtual currency bitcoin businesses are largely internet dependent and as such their operations involve concerns about cybersecurity, both for the companies' internal operations and as regards the safety of any customer information or transaction information.  However, the burden of these requirements is likely to be absolutely draconian in expense (both in time and money) in relation to the size of business conducted. This raises serious questions as to whether the proposed regulations are appropriate for the virtual currency industry in general, and also whether they support the inference that the Department believes that companies should have capital and compliance abilities on the level of banks in order to engage in this industry within the State of New York. 

I urge the Department to carefully consider whose interests are protected by any regulatory scheme which limits their choices of service providers or forms of payment to merchants, and encourages oligopolies in the name of "consumer protection."


The second concern arises from the broad definition of a "New York person." As currently drafted, the regulations will require anyone in the business of buying and selling virtual currency to a  "New York person" to get a state-issued "bitlicense." (Note: I use that term for the ease of third parties who may read this comment and who commonly refer to the proposed regulations as imposing a "bitlicense.") However, the initial draft of the regulation has broadly defined this term. The unavoidable result of such broad scope is that the definition can be interpreted to reach all sorts of people and companies with minimal contact with the state. Residing part-time in New York, even for one day, could make that person subject to the rule as a customer, meaning businesses might not accept that person as a customer. This is no different from the practice in the heavily-regulated securities brokerage industry, where broker-dealers will only handle customer accounts for people living in certain states where the broker-dealer is licensed).  And of course, any trust, corporation or other entity with any connection to New York, even a satellite office, becomes subject to the regulation whether it is engaged in the exchange business or other specified "virtual currency business activity."  


One is entitled to candidly wonder whether the burden of these regulations makes it worth it for a bitcoin industry business to either stay in New York or accept business from "New York persons" which makes that business, no matter where it is located, subject to the New York regulation.  Of course, it bears mentioning that the largest international financial institutions which already comply with equivalent requirements would gain a substantial competitive advantage if not a virtual government-sanctioned oligopoly. 

There is a third "macro" concern arising from the regulation as proposed. As a "coin" or unit of virtual currency is really only a unit of data, units or bits of data are the same objects whether they are used as currency or as part of a database. The regulation as drafted fails to distinguish between the various uses of the Bitcoin technology and instead targets the technology itself.  As currently written, the regulation threatens to govern Bitcoin in any use including uses or applications having nothing to do with use as a currency or medium of exchange.  That is because Section 200.2(m) of the regulation defines "virtual currency" as:
"...any type of digital unit that is used as a medium of exchange or a form of digitally stored value or that is incorporated into payment system technology."
It seems the Department may have intended to regulate and limit the use of Bitcoin as a form of currency, but the regulation as presently proposed has a broader scope that covers Bitcoin as an object. If the regulation intends only to cover and regulate its use as a currency or form of medium of exchange, the regulation needs to be more narrowly drafted to clarify its true scope. I urge the Department to revise the regulation to clarify that the regulation would only cover the use of Bitcoin-based technologies as a currency or medium of exchange, but would not seek to regulate its use for other information technology applications. 

This clarification is of crucial importance given that the modern post-industrial economy is information-centric. Any regulation imposing a regulatory cost on the transfer or maintenance of information is virtually guaranteed to impose a serious competitive disadvantage on New York State; in fact, such a regulation would threaten New York City's very stature as a world center of international finance and commerce. 


It has been my experience in talking with virtual currency industry participants that an inference as to an overall hostility towards small business and in particular towards an innovative technology has been drawn. If the Department did not intend such an inference, it is incumbent upon the Department to clarify the revised regulations and redraft them with an eye towards not making New York State prohibitively expensive for all but the largest financial institutions to participate in this emerging industry.  As it stands now, the foreseeable consequence of the proposed regulations is that Bitcoin industry participants will move their operations to friendlier jurisdictions where they are able to compete on a fairer and more level playing field. However, another possible result is that some companies will refuse to do business with anyone situated in the State of New York. (Indeed, some companies have already threatened to take this approach.)

The regulations do not only cover doing business in New York. They affect anyone in the world doing business with someone living in New York State.  They affect all New York residents and threaten to reduce New Yorkers' choices as consumers in virtually any field of product or service.  They make New York State a frying pan, and New Yorkers hot potatoes, in an increasingly competitive and global world economy. 



There is the danger that regulators and elected officials have simply overvalued and overrated the attractiveness of the New York market to entrepreneurs in an age where the flow of information, capital and people is increasingly unrestrained, and where neighboring jurisdictions are often able to offer friendlier climates in which to run businesses, own property and raise families. This is a reality which New York's government leaders should confront if they wish this State, and New York City in particular, to retain its current status as an international leader. 

Sincerely

Eric Dixon, Esq.
Eric Dixon LLC
116 West 23rd Street 5th Floor
New York NY 10011
Ph. 917-696-2442
Email: EDixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How One Man's Death By Orange Could Lead To Absurdity

There is the very real and very tragic news of the death of a man in South Africa by pelting with oranges.

In a world both prone to violence and now revealed to be increasingly narcissistic (the hey-look-at-me syndrome), one has to be on the watch for exaggerated responses.  The actual death is a tragedy. But the follow-up could be absurd. Might we see the following acts of political correctness?

10. Holder Justice Department announces anyone possessing an orange toy gun may be charged with two felonies: one for weapons possession, the second for a hate crime.

9. Syracuse University announces its collegiate sports clubs will no longer be called the "Orangemen."

8. Arts departments across the nation are instructed to never, ever let red and yellow be next to each other. The combination could be deadly.

7. Tropicana has suspended sales of orange juice while they consider how to rebrand their tangerine-citrusy mix of high fructose corn syrup and water.

6. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is cutting all state funding to the towns of Orange, East Orange, South Orange and West Orange NJ until they switch their town names. North Orange cannot be found and is considered a fugitive from justice.

5. Public works departments around America are furiously rushing to buy day-glo green and other fluorescent colors to cover over all objects colored with the hue previously known as "orange."

4. Prisons around America now hire Joe Arpaio as a fashion consultant, announce prisoners will now be fitted in pink prison jumpsuits to reduce violence among inmates.

3. Showtime cancels "Orange Is The New Black" after community groups threaten protest.

2. Seton Hall University announces it will move its campus from South Orange, NJ to protect its students and encourage their continued growth. The university will relocate...to Three Mile Island.  We look forward to students growing...new fingers, toes and feet...during the fall semester.

And the number 1 protest of Orange is:

1. Joan Rivers wears orange sundress to Late Show With David Letterman; entire audience walks out in protest.

The Aristocrats: Don't Blame Obama For Nation Turning Aristocratic

I promise much more will be written on this theme...but is Obama the first ARISTOCRATIC president this country has had?

Follow my reasoning. Consider that his Administration is not really discouraging class conflict but is enhancing class consciousness.  This supports the inference that -- but is not the same as -- his Administration or its policies are designed to stoke resentment of the "rich" in order to make the "rich" want to self-isolate.  Then you have to think how the "rich" are defined. Suspend rationality. In a world sanctifying envy on every level, being "rich" simply means you have something which someone else wants and thinks they're entitled to take from you.

Consider that in most societies, the "achiever" class ends up being clostered behind high fences, in policed communities or otherwise segregated. (How the achievers got their wealth, and the merits and demerits of feudalism, are related topics and useful for discussion, but not in a short blog post.) Think back to the classic medieval protections of the high castle walls and moats.  The "haves" recognized that their possessions, their status, even their literal physical safety, were at risk from the "commoners."

What if current policies are either designed to enhance this new class consciousness, this new (or a return to the old) awareness that relative wealth carried with it the penalty of being at risk from the class envy or raw rapaciousness of the street mob?

Could the effect (if not the objective) be to make the self-isolating achievers more dependent on government for their protection?

Could the effect or objective be to induce the "haves" to seek government protection or interference?

Could the effect be to have the "haves" realize their common class interest with the government class?

Could this all be about a reordering of American society into a two-tiered structure, one much more in line with classic human societal boundaries in which you have the "owners of the means of production" (whether that means the literal owners or the managerial class), and then you have...well...everyone else.

Could America be turning into the classic aristocracies of Europe (see why they're imitating European government policies?), and in such a new social utopia the power and influence of the meritocracy and aristocracy is actually magnified?

What if America, and the concept of a democratic, pluralistic, relatively equal (if illusory) society, is really the outlier in human history -- many argue that this is what makes America unique -- and is merely regressing to the norm?

Incidentally, Obama is not the cause of this mentality. His presidency, at most, is only a symptom. Blaming Obama is the biggest waste of time in addition to being a huge strategic blunder. It would be hilarious, if it wasn't so boring.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Tea Party Amateur Hour

The next time you hear network or major media pundits citing the "Tea Party" as the reason for political gridlock, or whatever, consider the proof of the pudding in the Northeast. Like in New York State.

The biggest winner in New York State politics today is the State Republican Party and, to a lesser extent, the State Conservative Party.

How can this be, you ask? (Keep reading.) And what does this have to do with the Tea Party movement? (Think analytically. I will connect the dots.)

That's because the StopCommonCore petition has over 100,000 signatures and will likely give Rob Astorino a third ballot line in November.  In New York, voters can cross-endorse, so a candidate can be on multiple party ballot lines. The Republicans and Conservatives already endorsed Astorino and the third line supposedly will attract voters who just absolutely cannot bear to vote for Astorino when he is under the "Republican" ticket or the "Conservative" ticket.

As for incumbent Andrew Cuomo -- aka "Son of Sfacim" to you old Bob Grant radio fans -- he is on the Democratic ticket, barring a huge surprise from some leftist law professor aptly named Zephyr Teachout who has survived a court challenge to her claim of having been "domiciled" in the state for the required five years, and he is on the Working Families Party ticket (barring another primary upset from the same Teachout), and he is also going to be on the ballot line of the "Women's Equality Party."

How are the Republican and Conservative Parties winners? When Astorino trails by nearly 30 points (according to this morning's new Quinnipiac Poll results)?  When incumbent Andrew Cuomo has a favorable rating of nearly 60%? When Astorino is most surely a lost cause?

It's because the SCC petition was not about helping Rob Astorino in any way.

It's because the object, the goal, is...not to win.

It was about diverting activist -- that is, tea party -- energies away from a protest third party, which could then run candidates in any election across the state for the next four years with just a handful of signatures.  The protest movement could have thrown up its own candidate and qualified as a defined political party if the candidate got at least 50,000 votes. Instead, the Astorino-led pseudo party will in absolutely all likelihood decline to engage in the legal formalities needed after the general election to form a party even if it qualifies with the votes. That is because the ballot line is owned lock, stock and barrel by the Republican party establishment.

The result for the grass roots? It means that across all of New York State, protest candidates will have to collect hundreds or thousands of signatures, and survive court challenges, just to run in GOP primaries.  Had there been an independent ballot line which turned into a political party through the process I just described, any protest candidates would get on the general election ballot, in all manner of county and state legislative races, in any election in the state, by just getting five percent of the voters enrolled in this new party. As a new party, that means five percent of an extremely low number!  So a congressional candidate who otherwise would need 3,500 signatures could instead qualify with just a handful, literally just a few signatures.

This would have been a brilliant strategy. But leave it to the rank amateurs of the Tea Party -- that supposedly fearsome political force, if you listen to the pundits on MSNBC -- to kick this opportunity away.

The proof in the pudding is the committee on vacancies for the SCC petition, which is a who's who of state GOP consultants who are very experienced in, well, coming in second and trailing by substantial margins. This and other facts were ignored by many state "tea party" groups, of whom many are indeed run or controlled by so-called "antis" who really, secretly wish they were in the club but couldn't get through Pledge Week.

Anyone with half a brain could see this coming a mile away. This is why the most credible and legitimate tea party organizations in New York State, particularly ones in New York City and Long Island, stayed far away from this political Trojan Horse.

Even New Jersey governor Chris Christie, running the well-financed Republican Governors' Association, weighed in and knew enough to steer clear of a hopeless race.

The rest of the New York tea parties have been shown to be easily playable, a bunch of dupes, rubes and abject amateurs. Just in time to wear the colonial hats and be caricatures in funny costumes at the country fairs and Oktoberfests.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rick Perry's Indictment and Protecting The Public

Usually a Friday afternoon news dump is a way of releasing bad news and hiding it in plain sight, usually to avoid or reduce scrutiny.

Consider that the news of Texas Governor Rick Perry's indictment in Texas came down Friday afternoon.

Perry faces two felony charges of "abuse of official capacity" and "coercion of a public servant" by threatening to exercise his veto power over a bill to authorize funding for the Public Integrity Unit operating out of the office of the Travis County District Attorney unless the head of that office, Rosemary Lehmberg, resigned. Lehmberg was targeted for removal by Perry after her arrest for driving under the influence. 

The legalities of the indictment are too wide for immediate discussion here (and more facts need to be revealed, frankly). But some initial observations give serious concern. I start with the least troubling, and work up the ladder.

This type of case threatens to make Texas government less efficient (although government efficiency is often at odds with liberty). It is not a good precedent to have political decisions become criminalized. This suggests that the criminal code is vague, perhaps unconstitutionally vague. More troubling: Do Texas elected officials need to seek pre-clearance from the local prosecutor? Is the county prosecutor the de facto final word in Texas government? 

If the district attorney can indict any elected or appointed official for a disfavored political action or policy decision, you know who's really in charge. Putting partisanship aside, this cannot be good. Period.

But more importantly, this type of case weakens the legitimacy of the criminal justice system and the rule of law. The primary role of the justice system is to see that "justice is served," and that objective depends upon the public's respect for the system. (A case in point is provided by the widespread public protests of the Civil Rights Era.) When overtly political prosecutions are brought, the public's skepticism in fundamental, impartial justice is warranted and encouraged. Unfortunately, such cases also give cover to those who are serious lawbreakers, who would use arguments as to the illegitimacy of "the system" to excuse their own misconduct, avoid detection or responsibility or retaliate against legitimate authority. In all cases, society at large and the rule of law are weakened.

Bonafide criminal activity needs to be deterred before it occurs. Illegitimate or highly questionable prosecutions weaken the reputational cost imposed on suspected wrongdoers (which is the classic and often the most powerful penalty), and in so doing, reduce the cost of criminality. The punishment for wrongdoing, the societal disapproval, is reduced; the flip side is that bad behavior becomes less disapproved and more tolerable, even in polite and so-called law-abiding circles.

When legitimate crimes become viewed as partisan or as a cost of doing business, the power of disapproval is diminished or destroyed. The effect is to make real crime socially acceptable.

And when you give a ready moral cover of "injustice" or "partisanship" to prosecutions, the result is that you get much more dangerous crime.


\








Saturday, August 16, 2014

Christie's Political Operation Revealed in Town Dossiers

Select documents released by the New Jersey Governor's Office, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs contain election and political party affiliation data for individual towns in the state, suggesting that the Office of Governor Chris Christie was compiling data which has an unambiguously and principally political nature and purpose.  These documents, being compiled, maintained and possessed by the Office of the Governor, are clearly "public documents" and thus subject to review by the public.

Look at the page header in the pictures below. Then ask the simple questions:

Why is the Office of the Governor compiling these documents?

Why is the Office of the Governor -- on the taxpayer's dime -- tracking election results?

As for the third picture, what exactly is the public interest, the nonpartisan interest, in the Office of the Governor tracking vote totals for candidates divided by party?

Why is the Office of the Governor tracking voter turnout?





These documents were released pursuant to a preliminary agreement and a court order in ongoing litigation involving my client, who has sued the Governor's Office under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act to get these documents.  (See the press release I posted in March 2014.)  The documents were originally requested in January 2014. (For more of my other commentary on this story, see here and here.)

The vast majority of responsive documents are still not being released. The litigation is ongoing. The docket number for the case of Serringer v. Office of the Governor is MER-L-00563-14.

I argue that the release of even a tiny fraction of public documents acts as a State admission that the requested documents are disclosable under OPRA as public documents.  The question now remains as to why the remainder -- which can be substantial -- are being kept from public view.

The content of the pages pictured above may give a clue as to the answer.

More to come....





Friday, August 15, 2014

Bridgegate's MIllion-Dollar Legal Fee Bonanza

Fridays are always a good time for a news dump.

Particularly in the dog days of summer.  So an August Friday is actually time to get another pot of coffee.

The Record of Hackensack reported late Friday that the Gibson, Dunn law firm has now billed the State of New Jersey -- that means the taxpayers of New Jersey -- over $6.5 million for its work in connection with the investigation of the Bridgegate matter and ancillary matters affecting Gibson, Dunn's official client, which is the Office of the Governor of the State of New Jersey.

I have previously been very critical of Gibson, Dunn's work in connection with its initial investigative report (released in March 2014 and available here).  The outsized expense of the legal bills should only raise scrutiny as to the quality of the work.


Hello Israel

I must have a new fan club out there. Thanks for the 1,800 pageviews in the last hour. Amazing.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Success Breeds Envy: Understanding Justin Bieber's Contempt

The premise of this question is going to shock most people, not only followers and commentators on American popular culture (okay, so the young man is Canadian) but most certainly his fans.

But what if Bieber -- and other pop stars whose "misbehavior" gets chronicled by the paparazzi and tabloids, never mind on the "look at me now" social media -- has a point?

Is it impossible to be both successful...an "achiever" in life...and to keep your friends and stay popular?

And in the wake of the untimely death (reported by at least one news outlet to have been a suicide) of legendary actor-comedian Robin Williams, this quandary takes new life, new focus.

What am I getting at? Read more...follow the link to the Financial Policy Council think tank's website.