Archives: News


Judge Randall Eng has a Prominent Role in Re-enactment of Landmark Civil Rights Case at NCBA

Attorneys, who must take continuing legal education courses to keep their license active, have traditionally taken them for a fee at their local bar association. But in recent years, an increasing number of alternative providers are offering CLE courses, both online and in-person, and often at no charge.

Amid this competitive environment, the Nassau County Bar Association is making a radical move regarding the 100-plus CLE courses it offers each year: The classes will now be free for members, effective July 1.

“In this new culture and new economy, bar associations face new challenges,” said Steven Leventhal, Nassau Bar president.

“Trying to get people to join the Bar Association, and on top of that, pay for CLEs has become more of a problem,” said Thomas Foley, dean of the Nassau Academy of Law, which is the Nassau Bar’s education arm. “We’re competing with ‘free’ – attorneys can often get credits for free, or many credits for a small price while sitting at a computer.”

By making CLEs a benefit of membership, the Nassau Bar hopes to add to its stable of 4,500 attorneys, judges, law students, paralegals and legal administrators.“Trying to get people to join the Bar Association, and on top of that, pay for CLEs has become more of a problem,” said Thomas Foley, dean of the Nassau Academy of Law, which is the Nassau Bar’s education arm. “We’re competing with ‘free’ – attorneys can often get credits for free, or many credits for a small price while sitting at a computer.”

In particular, Bar leaders hope the free CLEs will help bring younger attorneys through the door of its Mineola headquarters, which is known as Domus.

Membership in the Nassau Bar is free for law students and first-year attorneys.

“New attorneys are required to take a series of CLE classes,” said Leventhal, referring to the “Bridge the Gap” program. Attorneys must earn 32 Bridge the Gap credits in their first two years. After that, they must earn 24 credits every two years.

By making Bridge the Gap-free, the Nassau Bar hopes to lure new attorneys away from their computer screens so they can better appreciate all the benefits of membership.

“We’re hoping to bring new members to Domus to break bread together and learn from each other,” Leventhal said. “Collegiality is the hallmark of our profession. We may be adversaries in the courtroom but at Domus we’re colleagues. I deeply believe I am a far better lawyer today because of my active participation in the Bar Association. You learn about the substantive areas of law, about courthouse procedures, about how to conduct yourself as a professional.”

Networking is particularly important for newer lawyers, Leventhal said.

“They learn, they make valuable contacts, and they may also find employment opportunities through meeting other lawyers,” he said. “The most common style of practice on Long Island is solo or small firm practice, and when you’re not at a large firm, you don’t have many lawyers practicing in different disciplines that you can consult with as needed. At the Bar, you have a universe of lawyers practicing in every discipline, who can help and guide you. There’s also the opportunity to meet judges. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to walk into a courtroom and have already met the presiding judge.”

In addition to serving the profession, the Bar Association’s mission includes serving the public.

“The Bar offers an opportunity to make a difference,” Foley said. “We have different programs where attorneys volunteer their time.” These include free mortgage foreclosure and Hurricane Sandy legal consultation clinics and the We Care program, which raises funds for various charities.

Currently, the Nassau Bar’s CLE courses vary widely in price, but typically a member will pay about $30 for a one-credit course.

The bar is planning to increase its membership rate slightly to offset the lost CLE revenue. The current annual rate is $310 for a regular member, $145 for an associate member and $135 for a paralegal. The new membership rates were not yet decided at press time.

In addition to making CLE courses free, the Nassau Bar is mixing up the format.

Last month, the Bar offered its first Dean’s Cocktail Hour, which included one CLE credit.

“It was like a coffeehouse atmosphere,” Foley said. “Members had the opportunity to have a drink, and it was more interactive, with stand-up tables, as opposed to members sitting in rows and looking at the presenters.”

Last week, the Bar hosted a dramatic reenactment of a landmark civil rights case, Meredith v. Fair (see page 75). Twenty-five Nassau Bar members, including Leventhal, read parts for the lawyers, judges, and witnesses.

The event was spearheaded by the Nassau Bar’s diversity and inclusion committee, which was established earlier this year with a goal of engaging more members to participate on all levels at the Bar and ultimately develop a more inclusive leadership.

“For this meeting, we wanted to generate excitement for diversity at the Bar, and offer a topic that would be of interest to all attorneys from many different backgrounds,” said Hon. Linda Mejias, chair of the diversity and inclusion committee.

About 100 people were in the audience for the reenactment, which was free to attend, with an option to purchase two CLE credits for $50.

“We saw a lot of fresh faces,” Leventhal said. “I was very proud and pleased to see that this may be the start of a pathway for greater participation by diverse members in membership activities.”

Besides varying the format of CLE courses, the Bar also strives to feature topics that are in demand.

“We’ve recently offered a lot of courses on the business of law,” Foley said. “We have been bringing in accountants, CFOs and other businesspeople to talk about business topics – how to run a law firm like a business. Small to medium law firms do not have these types of resources in-house.”

Showcasing a landmark case

Attorneys and others were transported back to 1961 as they watched a reenactment of Meredith v. Fair, a landmark civil rights case in which James Meredith, an African-American student, applied for admission to the University of Mississippi, which had never admitted an African-American before. Meredith was rejected, despite being qualified, and he sued the university in federal court in Mississippi, claiming he was denied admission due to his race. Meredith ultimately prevailed.

Twenty-five members of the Nassau Bar had parts in the reenactment, which took place at the association’s Mineola headquarters May 2, before an audience of about 100 people.

Attorney Christopher DelliCarpini played Meredith and Nassau Academy of Law Past Dean Chandra Ortiz portrayed Constance Baker Motley, his attorney. Hon. Randall Eng played Chief Judge Sidney Mize of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, while Diana Lorzada Ruiz did the part of Dugas Shands, known for his underhanded tactics to manipulate African-Americans on the witness stand. Nassau Bar Treasurer Dorian Glover was Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

The event was spearheaded by the Nassau Bar’s diversity and inclusion committee.

“Presenting a performance is inclusive as well as fun for the performers and audience,” said Hon. Maxine Broderick, vice chair of the committee. “At the same time, it serves as an excellent opportunity to network with peers. In addition, we offered diversity CLEs for this production to satisfy the state-required ‘diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias’ CLE requirement.”

The script was meticulously based on actual court records, depositions, news reports and memoirs. As the actors spoke their lines, slides flashed on a nearby screen showing the real people they were portraying.

“It was a great program,” said Nassau Bar President Steven Leventhal, who portrayed Dixiecrat Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. “I was the bad guy. I played the governor who refused to integrate. If you’re like me, when you read through this script it makes you angry. As the civil rights era recedes farther and farther into the past, there are fewer of us that have actual personal memories of it. We thought it would be a valuable reminder to some and a revelation to others about the courage of the participants, the significance of the events and the vigor of the resistance to change, which we must always remember, as those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.”

Click here for the article in LIBN


Lois Carter Schlissel Honored at the LIBN Executive Circle Awards

Twenty-nine Long Island business leaders were at Long Island Business News’ Executive Circle Awards luncheon.

Executives from the fields of law, accounting, real estate, healthcare, technology, finance, education, and nonprofits, among others, accepted honors for consistently demonstrating remarkable leadership, skills, values, and vision. The luncheon, which was held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, drew about 300 people.

“These Long Island leaders are known for their vision and their commitment to excellence, community service and diversity,” said LIBN Publisher Joe Giametta. “They are central to their companies’ performance.”

Lois Carter Schlissel chairs the Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. Board of Directors. As Board Chair, she is a member of the firm’s Management Committee. Mrs. Schlissel served as the firm’s Managing Attorney from 2002-2017. In addition to her management role, Schlissel heads the firm’s Employment Law practice and is an active member of the Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution department. She counsels clients with respect to federal and state employment laws, compliance issues, and personnel matters and litigates significant commercial cases as well as claims arising under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Schlissel also serves as a member of the Board of Overseers of Northwell Health System, the Board of Directors of the Long Island Association and the Adelphi University Board of Trustees.

She was honored for her extraordinary service to the community and superb lawyering by the Nassau County Bar Association, We Care Fund in 2012. She has also received recognition from the Long Island Center for Business & Professional Women, Long Island Fund for Women and Girls, Long Island Business News, Long Island Pulse Magazine, and Long Island Press.

A true expert in her field, Schlissel has written and lectured extensively before bar associations, employment groups, and professional organizations.

Prior to joining Meyer Suozzi, Schlissel was a law clerk at the New York State Court of Appeals and, thereafter, a litigation associate in the New York City office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher Sc Flom, LLP.


Richard Corenthal Quoted In Reuters, “Exclusive: RBS Lawyers Ask Ex-Staffer To Destroy Documents, DOJ Informed”

Written by: Sinead Cruise

The letter, dated Jan. 18 and signed by Herbert Smith Freehills, a British law firm acting for the bank, asked Victor Hong to “permanently destroy any confidential materials in his possession” obtained via litigation disclosures or during his employment in breach of his separation agreement with the bank.

A spokesman for the bank denied any wrong-doing, describing the action as “necessary and appropriate” and in line with standard practice.

Hong resigned from RBS in Nov. 2007, less than two months after joining as a managing director for risk management and head of fixed-income independent price verification at the bank’s U.S. division, Greenwich Capital.

Hong submitted evidence against RBS in a UK legal action brought by shareholders who believed they were misled about the bank’s true financial position when they were tapped for 12 billion pounds of emergency cash in April 2008.

The bank narrowly avoided insolvency after accepting a 46 billion pound government bailout six months later.

In his witness statement for that case, Hong said he had repeatedly warned managers the bank was misrepresenting the values of millions of dollars of asset-backed securities on its books prior to the subprime mortgage crisis.

In documents filed by lawyers acting for RBS in 2016, the bank rejected those allegations, and denied that it should have repriced assets more promptly or that it misled shareholders over its finances.

RBS settled the case in May 2017, prompting HSF to request destruction of documents circulated among the case participants, including witness statements, emails and transcripts of interviews given by executives to regulators that shed light on how RBS valued these assets.

Prior to the settlement of the case, lawyers for the bank had requested the court to seal some evidence from the public domain, court documents show.

In the letter, HSF alleged that Hong was responsible for uploading the documents in question to the online library Scribd which is accessible to registered users.

Hong declined to comment on the allegation.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Scribd said all documents are uploaded by users without approval but Scribd would remove content deemed to be in violation of its policies when notified. She added Scribd typically did not divulge user account activity to third parties without a subpoena or court order.

HSF wrote that the documents were “never put in evidence” and that publishing them in this way “arguably interfered in the administration of justice” and potentially put those responsible for publishing them in contempt of court.

HSF also reminded Hong’s representatives that sharing confidential material in this way would “likely” breach the terms of his separation agreement.

“Confidential copies of documents disclosed by RBS ahead of the Rights Issue litigation were published on the internet. This is absolutely prohibited by UK Civil Procedure Rules and the bank took the necessary and appropriate action to have the documents removed from the public domain and destroyed, in line with normal practice,” a spokesman for RBS said.

HSF referred all comment for this article to RBS.

FEDERAL LAW

Hong’s lawyer said that compliance with the request to destroy documents would violate U.S. federal law and requirements that bound the former employee following earlier submissions to the Department of Justice in its separate investigations into RBS’s mis-selling of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).

“The letter was apparently written by RBS’ UK lawyers in disregard of legal requirements under federal law and governmental subpoenas,” said Richard Corenthal of Meyer Suozzi English & Klein, the law firm which represented Hong with respect to his employment at RBS.

The DOJ declined to comment.

RBS said last week it had agreed to pay $4.9 billion to the DOJ to settle its years-long civil investigation into the bank’s sales of mis-priced RMBS and collateralized debt obligations.

Some lawyers unconnected to the case said that RBS’s request to destroy legally sensitive documents could also be interpreted as a breach of Deferred Prosecution Agreements the bank signed to settle earlier DOJ investigations into its role in the widespread manipulation of interest rate and foreign exchange benchmarks.

The Foreign Exchange DPA obliges RBS to use its “best efforts to secure the full, truthful, and continuing cooperation of the current or former directors, officers and employees” and to provide “any non-privileged or non-protected document, record, or other tangible evidence” upon request.

“On its face, this seems to me an extraordinary proposition that documents could be destroyed in these circumstances,” Jonathan Fisher, QC at Bright Line Law, a London-based barrister law firm which specializes in white collar crime cases, told Reuters.

Pointing to the conflicting legal demands on his client, Corenthal said the letter had caused Hong emotional distress.

“It’s disingenuous for RBS to tell Mr. Hong to destroy evidence and then claim it is not trying to intimidate him into silence,” he told Reuters.

RBS, however, denied any possible breach of the DPA or intimidation of its former employee.

“RBS has not at any point sought to prevent the disclosure of evidence to the relevant authorities in relation to other investigations, nor does it believe that the letter in any way infringes on the terms of its Deferred Prosecution Agreements or constitutes mistreatment of a witness,” the spokesman said.

Hong told Reuters that he had alerted the DOJ to the existence of the letter on April 30.

A second notification, to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was made on May 9, Hong said.

The SEC declined to comment.

 

Click here to view article on Reuters.


Judge Randall Eng Participates in Re-enactment of Landmark Civil Rights Case at NCBA

Nassau County Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee performed a dramatic re-enactment of the landmark civil rights case Meredith v. Fair at NCBA in Mineola on May 2. The production was followed by a complimentary Diversity Reception.

Husband-and-wife team Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Kathy Hirata Chin, senior counsel at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, wrote the re-enactment. The script was based on actual court records, depositions, news reports and memoirs, and the production was accompanied by a slideshow of archival photos.

 More than 25 NCBA member attorneys and judges had speaking roles portraying the litigants, lawyers, witnesses, and judges. Pictured from top are former Second Department Presiding Justice Randall Eng, currently of counsel to Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein; attorney Diana Lozada Ruiz; and Christopher DelliCarpini of DelliCarpini Law in Mineola.

NCBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee was formed earlier this year to identify and discuss the value of diversity, as well as develop a more inclusive leadership at NCBA.

Photo Courtesy of NCBA 

Click here to read the article in the New York Law Journal


Judge Randall Eng Quoted in the New York Law Journal, “Court System Officials Want To See More ADR in New York”

New York state court system officials are pushing forward with an effort to increase the use of alternative dispute resolution in the courts, which they say is an underused method of helping to move cases more quickly through the pipeline.

Office of Court Administration officials said that employing arbitration, mediation, neutral evaluation and collaborative law to handle certain cases could save courts and litigants money that they would have spent on pricey litigation, as well as clear up court backlogs, which has been a top priority for Chief Judge Janet DiFiore since taking the reins of the state judiciary in 2016.

In a news release, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said that the court system would focus its efforts to expand ADR on the state Supreme Court, lower civil courts, Family Courts and Surrogates Courts.

To guide the statewide effort to increase the use of ADR, court officials have convened a blue ribbon advisory committee of lawyers, judges and academics to study the ADR programs already in place in both state and federal courts in New York, as well as those in other states, and look for places where ADR can be extended.

John Kiernan, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton who is wrapping up his tenure as president of the New York City Bar Association, has been named head of the commission. He said that some courts have already developed working models for diverting some cases to ADR—for example, in Manhattan Supreme Court’s Commercial Division, contract disputes that are matters of $500,000 or less are diverted into mandatory mediation.

In another example, Manhattan Supreme Court offers a matrimonial mediation program that offers mediation services for divorces that don’t involve allegations of child abuse and neglect.

“I don’t think any part of the aim of the committee is to fix something that is broken,” Kiernan said. He said that the advisory committee’s first task will likely involve taking an inventory of all ADR services currently in New York.

As it stands now, litigants are referred to ADR programs by the judges handling their cases, and ADR services are provided by either court staff or mediators. The use of ADR in state courts has grown, officials said, but not enough.

The Appellate Division, Second Department—one of the busiest intermediate appellate courts in the country—has one of the country’s oldest settlement programs. In 1974, it established the Civil Appeals Management Program (CAMP),  in which an administrator pores over cases on appeal to determine if they could be resolved by settlement rather than litigation.

Randall Eng, the recently retired presiding justice of the Second Department who is now of counsel to Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, said that during his time with the state court system, roughly 60 percent of the qualifying cases referred to CAMP reached a settlement.

Diverting some cases to ADR can not only save money on cases, Eng said, but can save litigants from “unexpected, undesirable” outcomes that can potentially arise from settling matters through litigation or jury trials.

“ADR is valuable, there’s no question about it,” Eng said. “Litigation is very expensive.”

Click here to read the article on the New York Law Journal 


Judge Randall Eng Receives the QDA Public Service Excellence Award at the Annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration

The Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrates the history, culture, traditions and contributions of Asian Americans in the United States. The Queens District Attorney Office is celebrating its third Annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration on May 17, 2018.

As part of each of our celebrations, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown selects one distinguished honoree every year to recognize for their contributions and public service to the community in Queens County. DA Brown is proud to be honoring former Presiding Justice Randall T Eng for his service as a former Queens County Assistant District Attorney, as a former State Supreme Court Judge sitting in Queens and as a member of the Second Department Appellate Division where District Attorney Brown also had the distinction of serving.

Elected officials, members of the judiciary, as well as members of several New York City legal associations will join QDA staff at the ceremony which is approximately one and half to two hours long. The program will include a few speeches where several members of our Office will speak about the significance of celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Appetizers and refreshments will be served. District Attorney Brown will then present Randall T. Eng with the QDA Public Service Excellence Award and Justice Eng will be asked to say a few words.

 

Article courtesy of: District Attorney, Queens County


A. Thomas Levin Quoted in The Garden City News, “Village continues consideration of apartment complex”

As May arrives, the Village of Garden City will have additional hearings on the proposed 150 apartment development for 555 Stewart Avenue, adjacent to Roosevelt Field. Plans are in place for the hearings and reviews of related legislation to conclude by the Board of Trustees’ May 24th meeting.

Garden City resident Kevin Walsh, the attorney for the applicant (550 Stewart Acquisitions LLC) presented the Board of Trustees with the traffic study comments document from consultants Cameron Engineering at the last hearing on April 12th and spoke about items related to the site’s environmental review (SEQR).

Special counsel to the village hired for zoning-related applications is A. Tom Levin of Garden City-based law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein P.C. On April 12th, just prior to the continuation of the public hearings, Levin announced that some framework and grammatical changes to the proposed new zoning were still being ironed out by the village counsel, Peter Bee.

Levin said “non-substantive changes” to the proposed local law to rezone the area, which will allow for 150 apartment units, were going to be posted to the Village of Garden City website starting April 13th for the public to review. “The changes are essentially language, correcting grammar, and to clarify with respect to the maximum height of the project,” Levin told the audience on April 12th. The original proposed legislation stated four stories high or an average height of 45 feet, but Levin says there were difficulties to determine what an average height of the building would be given the design. Also the stipulation conflicts as there aren’t any such restrictions stated in Village Code regarding “average height.” Essentially, the new legislation will state “the project shall not exceed four stories or a height of 45 feet” and the word ‘average’ is deleted.

Meanwhile, the process to establish the Board of Trustees as the lead agency for the project’s SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) compli- ance has moved forward. Levin said only the Nassau County Department of Health commented on the Board’s application for that role, and it stated it has no objection for the Board to serve as lead agency. “There are a number of items that will still have to go before the Department of Health for approval, as is the case with all applications of this type. We will certainly be complying with all of those, but at this point the Board establishes (itself) as the lead agency for the project,” he explained.

The Board of Trustees must still review the Environmental Assessment Form that was submitted by 550 Stewart Acquisitions LLC and attorney Kevin Walsh. At the last meeting Walsh said by April 20th his firm will file “responses to environmental comments” on behalf of the applicants. Levin concurred as he told the Board there were revisions to be made on that official form in mid- April, followed by analysis from consultants to the village at H2M Engineering.

“Hopefully, we would have that in the coming days. The next step is for the Board to make its environmental determination — a negative or positive declaration on whether the project does or doesn’t have significant adverse impacts. Then Garden City will refer it to Nassau County Planning Commission and give them ample time to make a non-binding recommendation back to the Board. When all of that is done, the Board can finally get to the heart of this and make its decision on the applications for the project,” Levin said at the last meeting.

The next step for the public hearings on 555 Stewart Avenue and its related zoning application will come on Thursday night, May 10th. Levin anticipates holding at least one more round of public comments on May 10th, and in the meantime, getting the application ready for an environmental determination by the April 26th Board meeting.

“If everything else falls into place, on May 10 the Board would be in position to finish public hearings. If you are prepared by then to act, you could do so, or make the determination at the May 24th meeting,” he said.

Walsh advises that his full team, including a traffic engineer, would be present at the next hearing on May 10th to answer any questions the Board or the public pose. “If Mayor Daughney and Mr. Levin agree, I can take notes on public comments and submit responses prior to the next series of meetings, whichever way the village directs me to do it,” he said on April 12th.

Former village trustee Thomas Lamberti challenged the proposition of the 555 Stewart Avenue project receiving a tax reduction through the Industrial Development Agency. Lamberti believed that the plan was for an IDA application to include Nassau County, Village of Garden City, and school district taxes, but the Board explained that the “village would be made whole” and the school board would be the governing body that needs to weigh the issue of the IDA applied for towards the offset of school district taxes. Lamberti stated his thoughts on why that will be unreasonable for Garden City’s tax base overall.

“I have an objection with the real estate developer’s proposal to have this project financed by tax dollars from our tax base to pay for their construction costs. We should have this discussion early on and not later — I do not believe there’s an economic justification for it. The powers at the Industrial Development Agency has should take interest in this $60 million project, and they should not use of taxpayer dollars from us to finance its construction. The developers advocate for this because they state the village and schools are getting contributed taxes on its vacant land now. Then they can enter into the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) — for the school tax — and it would take 20 years for their contributions to match market values,” Lamberti told the Board of Trustees.

Walsh later addressed the potential amounts of per-year village taxes the developer will pay for 555 Stewart Avenue with the project if it moves ahead, and he estimated payment between $225,000 and $240,000 (village taxes alone) which would be over a tenfold increase over the taxes currently paid on the vacant lot, which are about $19,000 a year. Walsh described this as a “considerable positive.”

Despite the financial implications, Lamberti says he is particularly pleased that the village can make progress with affordable housing as part of a resolution involving the 555 Stewart Avenue application, which would include 15 AH units (10% of the proposed 150).

Resident Bob Orosz spoke about the willingness of the developer to build on its Stewart Avenue property stemming from “such a small donation” to the village and especially with its potential school district tax contribution with an IDA and/or PILOT involved. At the first round of the hearing on March 22nd, Orosz commented that the project, based on estimated school district budget and per-pupil costs, could increase the district’s operations financing by up to one million dollars if more than 30 students are a result of the new 150 apartments. Again, he addressed the Board and fellow residents on April 12th with long-term finances as the chief concern.

“Why should taxpayers of Garden City have to put up with their own taxes increasing by $500,000 or one million dollars just so the developer can maximize his profits. Please remember that S.A.L.T. is gone and we can no longer utilize state and local taxes off as a federal tax deduction and that will add to our plight. I am not asking the Board to fulfill the role of an IDA but I am asking where your heads are at in terms of letting developers get away with this type of payment toward our taxes — I am sure the Board of Trustees could approach Nassau IDA and request for the developer’s donation to be changed (increased)?” Orosz asked.

Mayor Brian Daughney said at the current time, the Board is only taking comments, and to answer Orosz’s follow up question he said the trustees will certainly discuss that tax and financial outlook for the project in the course of the hearings and decision making.

After he asked about the Nassau County IDA hearing or meeting schedule to be made public on the village website, counsel A. Tom Levin stepped in to say “the Board is now listening to everybody and considering all parts of the application.”

“The developer has the right under the state law, which created IDA’s, to make an application to the county IDA for an exemption — a process which cannot be made until they have obtained the various project approvals. Down the road, after the village is finished with its consideration of the project and if the village approves the project the applicant has the right under state law to apply to the IDA which is not part of village government. Everybody has the right to attend the IDA hearing and argue for or against whatever relief the developer is asking for, then the IDA will make its decision. When and if that application to the IDA happens, this Board of Trustees can review it and decide to take a position on it at that point in time” Levin said.

Orosz counters that the step-by-step view is hard to believe: “Either the Board of Trustees backs the residents or they back the developer, so which side of the equation are they on?” he asked. Mayor Daughney told Orosz he hears him, but the comments at the hearings assume his (Orosz’s) opinion are the best interests of the village, and the members of the Board may or may not agree with the assertions related to the project’s impact. Trustee Robert Bolebruch ballasted that by saying for him as a Board member it is difficult to provide an opinion on an application (to the IDA) that has not been filed yet, or suggested for approval by the village.

“Myself and the rest of the Board will sit back and form an opinion once we have something to form an opinion on,” Trustee Bolebruche said, adding that he understands Orosz’s concern that this IDA process is coming down the road ‘one way or another.’

EPOA President Tom Hogan also spoke during public comments and said new members of village boards and commissions be approached for input on large-scale projects in the village “to be considered on a more proactive basis.” Hogan reminds the mayor that there was much time spent interviewing candidates for the various boards and commissions (ADRB, Zoning Board and Planning Commission) in 2017 and into this year, and he would like to see the talented residents and volunteer individuals have an opportunity to advise and help Garden City on a more routine basis.

Steve Ilardi of Meadow Street, the EPOA vice president, asked for the developer’s attorney Kevin Walsh to clarify the height of the proposed apartment complex as either four stories at 45 feet tall, or ‘two to five’ stories as specified in the plans. Walsh got up and replied that

Ilardi also asked for Walsh to fulfill a role of notifying the Village of Garden City on the steps with the possible IDA application, so that the information and a meeting schedule of the county IDA with the project could be posted on the village’s website “for any citizen that wants to go to the I.D.A hearings — so at least the village can inform its residents when the hearings will take place. At the April 12th meeting, Walsh said he’s agreed to notify both the Village of Garden City and the Garden City Public Schools’ officials once the IDA process is outlined.

“We anticipate that from the $100,000 to $110,000 in annual school taxes we (the developer) is paying now and going up to over one million dollars, as the IDA the phase-in of the PILOT contribution happens over a number of years. The PILOT would be based on numbers above $100,000 a year and whatever the taxes are the year the PILOT kicks in. We’d never go down from the current $100,000 a year in school taxes. With the phase-in set by the IDA, there could be a discussion at its public hearing with the public present to exactly what the IDA will approve for our phase-in on the school taxes — I am prepared to discuss those issues when we get to that point. It is premature to do so now as we do not have any approvals,” Walsh said.

Click here to read the article on The Garden City News


Brandon S. Lisogorsky Joins Meyer Suozzi’s Corporate Practice

April 24, 2018 (Garden City) – Meyer Suozzi is pleased to announce the addition of Brandon S. Lisogorsky to their roster of attorneys.

Mr. Lisogorsky has joined the firm’s Corporate Department as an Associate, and will be resident in both Garden City, Long Island and New York City offices. Mr. Lisogorsky represents public and private company clients and entrepreneurs in connection with general corporate matters including stock and asset acquisitions, mergers and consolidations, recapitalizations, and other business reorganizations. He also advises corporate clients with respect to their corporate governance matters, operational issues, securities matters and financing arrangements.

“We are proud to welcome Brandon to our firm,” said James D. Garbus, Chair of the Firm’s Corporate Department and Co-Chair of the Corporate Finance Practice. “Hiring experienced and talented attorneys is key to Meyer Suozzi’s continued ability to provide quality, comprehensive representation for all of our corporate clients in New York City, Long Island, and nationally.”

Prior to joining Meyer Suozzi, Mr. Lisogorsky was an Associate in a Long Island-based law firm. Immediately after law school, he prepared tax returns for Real Estate Investment Trusts. During law school, he interned in the legal department of an international trade and customs law firm, as well as in the tax department of a multi-focused law firm.

Mr. Lisogorsky received his J.D. from the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, his M.S. in accounting from C.W. Post – Long Island University, and his B.S. in accounting from the University at Buffalo.


A. Thomas Levin Quoted in the LI Herald, “Hempstead Avenue subdivision plan moves on to village Planning Board”

Hempstead Avenue resident Marjorie Stein approached the lectern and faced Rockville Centre’s Board of Appeals, beginning to discuss the negative traffic, environmental and safety impacts that she claimed a proposed subdivision on her street would cause.

Various plans by property owners Jim and Brett O’Reilly to subdivide 220 Hempstead Ave. — formerly the St. Mark’s United Methodist Church’s parsonage — have been opposed by certain residents for about two years.

The most recent plan to subdivide the 1.75-acre plot of land into six single-family homes calls for a new street, to be called Killarney Lane, to be built perpendicular to Hempstead Avenue to allow access to the homes planned for the back of the property.

Robert Schenone, the board’s chairman, quickly interrupted Stein. “We’re here to discuss a legal issue about the building department’s interpretation of a word,” he said. “I understand what you’re saying, but tonight is not the night.”

That word was “public,” as in public road. The village passed a local law in 2016 that amended a section of the village code to clarify “street” to mean a public street. If Killarney Lane was deemed a private street, four homes in the proposed subdivision would not meet zoning requirements, as homes must have 80 feet of frontage along a public road.

The village’s Building Department rejected the O’Reillys’ proposal last month, determining that until Killarney Lane is accepted by the Board of Trustees for dedication, it is a private road. But Chris Browne, who represents the O’Reillys, has said repeatedly that the road would be available to the public and offered to the village for dedication.

The night for Stein and other residents to weigh in on the subdivision itself will come, as the Board of Appeals last week unanimously voted to allow the plan to move forward to the village’s Planning Board. The approval that the street is public is under the condition that the Planning Board will approve the subdivision and the village will accept the street as its own.

“We’re pleased with the decision; we’ve always wanted the opportunity to move the application to the planning board,” Browne told the Herald after the meeting. “I don’t accept the premise that the road has to be dedicated to be public.”

John A. Matthews, counsel to the Board of Appeals, said at the meeting that he “vehemently” disagreed with the Building Department’s decision to send the application to the Board of Appeals, adding that without a definition of a public road in the village code, Browne was correct in saying that a road open to the public is a public road.

“This is going to get cleaned up and fixed after this whole case is decided so that this doesn’t happen again,” Matthews said. “It shouldn’t happen.”

But Village Attorney A. Thomas Levin, who was not present at the meeting, told the Herald that it is a private road until it is owned and maintained by the village government, meaning the trustees would have to accept the street.

“Somebody’s intent that I intend this to be a public road in the future doesn’t make it a public road today,” Levin said.

He added that the fact that there is no definition of a public road in the village code doesn’t matter. “We don’t have to have one,” Levin said. “There are definitions in case law and state statutes that tell us that.”

Levin wrote to the Herald in an email earlier this month that the 2016 law was passed after several board members expressed that private roads — of which there are currently none in the village — “are not desirable because they cause problems of various kinds, including maintenance, utility service, garbage collection, snow removal and traffic regulation.”

Browne said the O’Reillys have been “enormously frustrated” by the “many hurdles” in trying to get this project approved.

“Are we fighting over something? I don’t think so,” Browne said. “We want to create a public road. They say they want and require a public road.

“Why did it take two years to get to the planning board?” he added. “That’s been upsetting to them.”

Residents have already voiced opposition to the subdivision, citing the former parsonage’s historical value, as well as overcrowding and the destruction of open space. A hearing before the Planning Board is expected in the next month or two.

 

Click here to view article at LIHerald.com


Meyer Suozzi Scores Victory On Behalf Of Garden City Fire Fighters

Garden City Fire Fighters, Local 1588, IAFF recently won an arbitration challenging the Village of Garden City’s decision to terminate the health benefits of a Professional Fire Fighter injured in the line of duty who had been hospitalized.   The Garden City Fire Fighters were represented at the arbitration by Meyer Suozzi attorney Richard S. Corenthal.   The Village of Garden City was represented by three attorneys from the law firm Bond Schoeneck & King.  A copy of the Opinion and Award of Arbitrator Richard Adelman, finding a violation of the Fire Fighters’ collective bargaining agreement,  is attached.