Disciplinary Actions Prepared by The Florida Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services DepartmentThe Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 34 attorneys, disbarring 12, suspending 14, and placing three on probation. Seven attorneys were reprimanded and four were ordered to pay restitution. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline.The following lawyers are disciplined: Alexander Osondu Akpodiete, 242 Southern Main Road, Marabella, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago, to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, following an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Akpodiete failed to keep required minimum trust accounting records, which resulted in an overdrawn trust account. There is no evidence of missing client funds and no evidence of client harm as a result of Akpodiete’s actions in this case. (Case No. SC07-1193) Richard Salvatore Amari,490 Sail Lane, Apt. 401B, Merritt Island, suspended,effective 30 days from an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) In 2005, Amari was arrested and later charged with driving under the influence and possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. In 2007, Amari was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. In February, Amari pled guilty in both cases to drug possession, third-degree felonies and was sentenced to two years probation with drug offender conditions. (Case No. SC08-654) Carol Cobourn Asbury, 248 N. Congress Ave., Boynton Beach, to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, following an April 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Asbury was an escrow agent for a real estate deal that never closed. In August 2005, an attorney contacted Asbury requesting the release of a $100,000 deposit to his client. Asbury admitted that she had no knowledge of the $100,000 and she had not authorized a non-lawyer employee to write an escrow letter verifying receipt of the money. Asbury pled guilty to failure to properly supervise the employee and failure to respond to The Florida Bar’s inquiries regarding the case. She also failed to appear before The Florida Bar’s grievance committee and produce requested records. (Case No. SC07-1961) Michael Lester Berry Jr., 258 Magnolia St., Atlantic Beach, suspended for one year,effective retroactive to Oct. 1, 2007, following an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) In 2004, Berry was retained by a client for a contract dispute regarding commercial property. In several instances, Berry neglected to inform the client of the status of the case, nor did he inform the client of filings or provide copies of the filings. He also failed to appear for court hearings and inform his clients of them, and neglected to respond in writing to official inquiries. (Case No. SC07-1624) Tricia-Ann Abigail Blair, 18350 NW 2 nd A ve., Suite 500, Miami, disbarred,effective 30 days from an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Blair represented a client in the sale of property in Georgia and accepted $34,000 as a deposit. She then disbursed a portion of the funds to her client and a broker despite the fact that no closing took place and there was no transfer of title. Blair has since failed to provide complete trust account records and failed to account for the balance of the funds. (Case No. SC08-633) J. Gordon Blau, 815 Orienta Ave., Suite 3, Altamonte Springs, placed on probation for one year, effective immediately, following a March 20 court order. ( Admitted to practice: 1978) Blau failed to enter into a rehabilitation contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance during his two-year probation ordered by the Florida Supreme Court in 2005. (Case No. SC07-393) Steven C. Blinn, 4936 Lake Sharp Drive, Orlando, suspended until further order of the court, following a March 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) The Florida Bar petition for emergency suspension states that in February, Blinn was arrested on multiple felony charges, including grand theft, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and sale and delivery of cocaine. In November 2007, the circuit court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit removed Blinn as guardian for a property worth more than $40,000 because he neglected his required duties. Between Dec. 27, 2007, and Feb. 5, 2008, the Bar received seven insufficient fund notices on Blinn’s trust account in which he testified that he had deposited the guardianship funds. On Feb. 25, the Bar received a complaint from a couple alleging that Blinn had provided them with a settlement check of $13,511.89 that was returned for insufficient funds. (Case No. SC08-427) Dominic G. Bocco Jr., 2220 Hillcrest St., Orlando, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) In two separate cases, Bocco represented clients in personal injury cases. In both instances, Bocco received settlement money on behalf of the clients, but neglected to disburse the money as directed. An audit revealed that Bocco improperly commingled client funds with his own funds. Bocco also failed to provide a required written response to The Florida Bar regarding the cases. (Case No. SC07-1495) Vanessa Bravo, 3301 SW 189 th A ve., Miramar, to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, following an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) In July 2005, Bravo pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of making improper campaign contributions. She donated $120 in the names of six different people on behalf of a county commission candidate. In a separate incident, Bravo was sanctioned by the Florida Elections Commission for certifying that her campaign treasurer’s reports were correct, when they were not; for incurring an expense without sufficient funds in her account; for accepting campaign contributions in excess of the legal limits; and for failing to report contributions that were required to be reported. (Case No. SC08-636) Anna L. Brown, P.O. Box 1504, Naples, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Two cousins charged with felonies visited Brown’s office together and signed retainer agreements presented to them by Brown’s paralegal. One of the men paid $700 and agreed to pay $250 a month until the $3,500 fee for his representation was paid. Brown actively represented one client but failed to diligently represent him or communicate with him. Brown accepted money from the other client, appeared in court and filed pleadings for him, but she never personally told him that another lawyer was representing him. Because the cousins’ interests were directly adverse, Brown’s representing both of them was improper. (Case No. SC04-2119) Julio Cesar Cavero, 701 SW 27 th A ve., Suite 702, Miami, to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors and placed on probation for three years, effective immediately, following an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Cavero pled guilty to failure to maintain minimum required records of deposits, original and cancelled checks and other documentary support for the disbursement of trust fund accounts. Cavero also failed to reconcile the trust account monthly and annually and failed to provide a detailed annual list of discrepancies in the trust account. No misappropriations occurred. (Case No. SC08-635) Isabel Vals Colleran, 9330 SW 104 th A ve., Miami, to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors and directed to attend a trust accounting workshop, following an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) In August 2007, Colleran issued a check from her trust account to pay her Florida Bar dues. An audit of Colleran’s trust account revealed that she was commingling funds and using her trust account mostly for personal matters. No clients were harmed and no trust account funds were misappropriated. (Case No. SC08-632) Marty Earl Davis, 609 NE 127 th S t., North Miami, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Davis obtained a mortgage to refinance a personal residence. In several documents related to the purchase and the mortgage, Davis signed the name of a witness who was not present and did not authorize him to use his name. Davis also used the same individual’s notary stamp on one of the documents to verify his own signature, without consent. (Case No. SC09-634) Ruben L. De Leon, 561 NE 79th St., Suite 204, Miami, suspended until further order of the court, following a March 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) The Florida Bar petition for emergency suspension states that De Leon submitted 20 fraudulent final judgments for dissolution of marriage to a court. Twelve of the final judgments falsely purported to be signed by a particular judge. Three additional final judgments bore the forged signatures of three other judges and case numbers belonging to other matters. Several of the clients said they’d remitted fees to De Leon’s office, were subsequently advised by De Leon or an associate that their divorces were final and received proof of the final judgment of dissolution. All believed they were legally divorced. (Case No. SC08-491) Marc Francis Desiderio, 3100 N. Ocean Blvd., Apt. 1710, Fort Lauderdale, disbarred, retroactive to Oct. 22, 2007, following an April 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) In January 2006, Desiderio was indicted by a federal grand jury. In July 2007 he pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy. Desiderio was sentenced to 41 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. (Case No. SC07-1930) Edward Thomas Dinna, 719 Intracoastal Drive, Fort Lauderdale,to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors and directed to attend a trust accounting workshop, following an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Dinna was selected to take over a malpractice case after the original attorney was suspended from practicing law. Dinna hired the suspended attorney to work for him as a paralegal on the case, but failed to properly supervise him. In another case, Dinna took the videotaped deposition of a confidential informant (without effectively notifying the state) and allowed the criminal defendant (his client) to be present in violation of The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. He also attempted to intimidate the witnesses. Finally, Dinna failed to maintain required minimum trust accounting records. (Case Nos. SC07-1152, SC07-1156 and SC07-1161) Joseph Sailor Garwood, 3232 Albert Drive, Tallahassee, suspended effective 30 days from a May 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) In December 2007, Garwood was found guilty by a jury of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony, battery, and resisting an officer without violence. He was sentenced to 24 months probation. (Case No. SC08-838) Martin James Hannah,1515 N. University Drive, Suite 231, Coral Springs , disbarred, effective 30 days from an April 24 court order. ( Admitted to practice: 1981) Hannah has repeatedly failed to comply with Florida Bar rules, made false statements and engaged in deceptive practices. Since 2001, he misappropriated trust account funds and used the property of others for his own benefit. Hannah also engaged in a pattern of neglecting clients and failing to respond to communications from The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC07-2155) Theodore William Herzog,1101 Simonton St., Key West, disbarred,effective immediately, following an April 24 court order and ordered to pay restitution to all persons whose funds have been embezzled prior to seeking readmission. (Admitted to practice: 1972) In September 2005 , Herzog received $44,442.79 from a client to settle a labor dispute with 25 employees. He deposited the funds in his escrow account. Between October and December of that year, Herzog issued 19 checks from his client’s funds, made payable to himself, totaling $44,150.00 and leaving a balance of $114.55. Only two of his client’s employees were paid. An audit of Herzog’s records found similar occurrences involving numerous other clients. (Case No. SC08-199) Michael T. Kovach Sr.,105 N. Seminole Ave., Inverness, disbarred for 10 years, effective immediately, following an April 24 order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Kovach intentionally converted client funds for his personal use. Several transactions had no client identification associated with them and his wife, a non-lawyer, had signatory authority on the trust account. The overdrawn balance of Kovach’s ledger card totaled $77,968.12. (Case No. SC07-2214) Robert Joseph Locker,825 W. Linebaugh Ave., Tampa, suspended for 36 months, effective retroactive to Sept. 20, 2007, following an April 24 order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) As a condition of reinstatement, Locker shall complete The Florida Bar’s Trust Accounting Workshop. Upon reinstatement, Locker will be placed on probation for three years. Twelve cases were consolidated in the complaint before the court. Locker essentially abandoned his practice, failing to appear for court dates. He successfully completed residential treatment for substance abuse and is now in aftercare. Locker entered into a three-year contract in February with the Florida Lawyers Assistance program. (Case No. SC07-1962) Gary Mark Mills, 5732 Via De La Plata Circle, Delray Beach, suspended,effective 30 days from a May 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Mills pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, a felony. In April, Mills was sentenced to 46 months in prison. (Case No. SC08-833) Paul Richard Parker, 3203 Pleasant Hill Road, Lynn Haven, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a March 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) In September 2007, Parker pled guilty to three felony counts of using a child in a sexual performance and 75 related counts of child pornography. He was sentenced to 14 years incarceration, to be followed by 14 years probation. (Case No. SC07-2397) Jeffrey George Paster,80 Main St., West Orange, N.J., disbarred effective immediately, following an April 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) In March 2007, the Supreme Court of New Jersey disbarred Paster. One complainant accused Paster of failing to timely release trust funds. Another said Paster coerced her into loaning him $15,000 from her equitable distribution being held in his trust account. An investigative audit revealed that from March 2003 until August 2006, Paster misappropriated client funds for his own personal use. (Case No. SC07-2151) Juan Carlos Perez, 1568 Normandy Drive, Miami, suspended for six months, effective immediately, following an April 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) In September 2006, Perez was suspended for one year and ordered to accept no new business until the suspension expired. Despite the order from the Florida Supreme Court, Perez accepted new business in October 2006 and did not notify the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Osceola County of his impending suspension until more than one month later. (Case No. SC07-415) Jerry Arthur Riggs Sr., 1926 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 314, Hollywood, disbarred, retroactive to May 7, 2005, following an April 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Riggs must also pay restitution of $2,000 to one client. In March 2006, Riggs was hired by a client for a real estate case, and was paid $2,000. In April 2005, Riggs was suspended from practicing law on an emergency basis in a separate matter. Riggs continued to practice law and neglected to immediately furnish his clients, opposing counsel and the courts with a copy of his suspension order. As of the effective date of his suspension, Riggs had also failed to perform the services for which he was paid. (Case No. SC07-1125) Joseph Raymond Rowe Jr.,P.O. Box 272066, Tampa, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from an April 24 order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) In March 2006 the Florida Supreme Court suspended Rowe for 30 days and placed him on probation for two years. Rowe was to attend ethics school within six months of the date of the order and to undergo an office procedures and record-keeping analysis under the direction of the Law Office Management Assistance Service of The Florida Bar. Rowe neglected to attend ethics school and failed to contact LOMAS to schedule a review. (Case No. SC07-956) Robert Alvarez Rudolph, 8027 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, disbarred, effective immediately, following a March 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Rudolph will also pay restitution of $2,500 to one client. In June 2005, Rudolph was paid $2,500 by a couple as a retainer to file a post-conviction motion. In November of the same year, Rudolph spoke with the clients and told them that a post conviction motion was being finalized and would be filed shortly. It was never filed. The clients made numerous requests for Rudolph to provide billing invoices, but Rudolph neglected to do so. He has a past discipline history of three admonishments and two suspensions. (Case No. SC07-364) David Jon Russ,7200 SW 8th Ave., Apt. 86, Gainesville, suspended effective immediately, following an April 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Russ was found guilty of a third- degree felony, driving under the influence — the third in 10 years, as well as three related misdemeanors. Russ is currently serving a three-year suspension as a result of another case. (Case No. SC08-691) Scott Alan Salomon, 11555 Heron Bay Blvd., Suite 200, Coral Springs,to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, following an April 17 court order. ( Admitted to practice: 1992) Salomon pled guilty to failing to diligently represent his client. On numerous occasions, Salomon failed to appear at court proceedings for the client, even those he scheduled. (Case No. SC07-50) Steven M. Siegel, 2814 N. 46th Ave., Apt. H677, Hollywood, suspended effective 30 days from the date of a March 24 order. ( Admitted to practice: 1995) In February, in the circuit court of the 15th Judicial Circuit (Palm Beach County), Siegel was found guilty of one count of attempt to seduce, solicit, lure or entice a child using an Internet service to commit a sexual offense, a felony. (Case No. SC08-548) Kristine W. Valentine-Miller, 204 NW 3rd. Ave., Ocala, disbarred following a Jan. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) In June 2006, Valentine-Miller was suspended on an emergency basis, and in October, 2006, The Florida Bar filed an amended complaint against her, alleging more than 20 violations. Valentine-Miller is accused of using client funds and failing to manage her accounts properly. During 2004 and 2005, she neglected numerous clients by failing to diligently pursue their cases. Her poor record-keeping and maintenance of files, many of which are missing, made it impossible to determine the exact total of client funds converted. An audit by The Florida Bar for February 2004 to February 2006 determined that the total owed clients was no less than $31,416.41 and no more than $51.291.41. (Case No. SC06-1629) Stephen Leonard Ziegler,1401 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) In September 2007, Ziegler was found guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, a felony. Ziegler was sentenced to 60 months in prison and three years probation. He was ordered by the trial court to pay restitution of $826,839,642. (Case No. SC07-1929) Carl K. Zolezzi, Jr.,199 Tyler Ave., Apt. 2, Cape Canaveral, suspended for one year, effective retroactively to November 29, 2007, following an April 17 court order, and ordered to pay restitution of $2,500 to a client. (Admitted to practice: 1974) In January 2006, Zolezzi was retained by a client regarding a criminal matter and paid $2,500. In February 2006, Zolezzi was arrested on charges of sale and possession of cocaine. Thereafter, Zolezzi performed minimal work on his client’s behalf. The client retained new counsel to handle the matter and requested a full refund. In September, Zolezzi pled no contest to felony cocaine possession. (Case No. SC07-2217) Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. June 1, 2008 Disciplinary Actions June 1, 2008 Disciplinary Actions
Nebraska addition to benefit Big Ten Samuel GordonJune 28, 2011Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintAfter gaining official approval last June, the University of Nebraska will officially join the Big Ten on Friday.The institution, its historic football program and its 22 other varsity sports will join the conference that will remain known as the Big Ten âÄî despite the fact that it now has 12 teams. On June 4, 1990, Penn State was the 11th team to join.âÄúThe University of Nebraska would have new opportunities with membership in the Big Ten âÄî and I believe the Big Ten would be a stronger conference as well,âÄù university President J.B. Milliken said after the move was announced.NebraskaâÄôs economic effect could also be profound.NebraskaâÄôs entrance into the Big Ten paved the way for the two six-team football divisions and a subsequent Big Ten football championship game, which is set to generate as much as $19 million by itself, according to Indiana-based Sports Corp. research.Couple that with the exposure the school will receive from the Big TenâÄôs $1 billion contract with ABC/ESPN and the financial incentive for Nebraska to switch conferences is apparent.Through the television deal, bowl games and other rights, the conference apportioned roughly $20 million to each school in 2009, the most of any league in the country, and approximately $22 million in 2010.The conferenceâÄôs television revenue alone is projected to grow to $196 million by 2014, according to Indiana University professor Bruce Jaffee, head of the Big Ten program and budget review committee.In the short term, Nebraska is poised to add anywhere from $20 million to $22 million to the value of the Big TenâÄôs television deals. That figure wonâÄôt increase the other conference schoolsâÄô share of that money, but a school of such magnitude could add to the conferenceâÄôs leverage in future television contract negotiations, according to USA Today.Nebraska is also set to begin research collaborations with the conferenceâÄôs institutions, a move that carries potential benefit for every Big Ten school. Nebraska also brings 23 varsity sports to the table, none more prominent than football.For the last century, the Cornhuskers have been a powerhouse. TheyâÄôre one of just six teams in Division I football with more than 800 victories and have claimed five national championships.However, football isnâÄôt the only dominant sport Nebraska brings to the table.The Huskers possess one of the premier volleyball programs in the nation, and have won three national titles since 1995.Its wrestling team has quite the reputation, crowning 11 national champions and 89 All-Americans in the programâÄôs history.The Nebraska baseball team has taken three trips to the College World Series since 2001, and has eight 40-win seasons in the last 10 years.Both the softball and womenâÄôs gymnastics teams were ranked in the Top-25 for the majority of last season.It also has womenâÄôs bowling and rifle programs, neither of which can be found at the University of Minnesota. All of those programs will be a part of the Big Ten in just a matter of days. How they will change the landscape of the conference remains to be seen.
By BERNADETTE LAURITZENLos Alamos Retired & Senior OrganizationThis week I would like to focus on the fact that smart people use resources. I know it sounds simple, but too often we get caught up in life and forget to take the time to do simple things, or not be aware of the importance of other things.There are so many ways that I want to highlight this area. My first concern with seniors is, are they alone? Do you know a senior that lives alone and aren’t sure if they are connected to the senior centers? Do you know if they are aware of our services? You can call me or send me an email and I will get them our newsletter, so they see what we have to offer. They also will see how much they can do for free.I feel like one of our job duties is to worry about things some might not be worried about yet. The topic we have been working on lately is emergency preparedness. This takes on a huge meaning for me, from Coronavirus to wildfire season. We’re thinking about it all, not in a Nervous Nelly kind of way, but in a one-step ahead of the game kind of way.We have presentations coming up for Emergency Preparedness and what you need to be ready. We want to make sure you have an emergency plan, or help you acquire one. Are you aware of the county’s Volunteer Emergency Registry? If not, perhaps we can help you get registered, especially if you don’t have a computer or on-line access.Are you aware of the Code Red and the Code Red mobile app, that can notify you of local emergencies? Once again, a simple on-line registration, but do you even know if you are registered yet? Our goal is to have the resources on hand for you to help with the planning. The local office of Emergency Management has developed these handy evacuation workbooks, free for the taking.Have you heard of Fire Department’s Vial of Life? Do you have a list of important medications at the ready, in case you have to leave, or aren’t home? We have a document for that too, just ask. We want to help you acquire the resources you might need, that will fill a variety of needs. If you are able, stop by, we have a small display of resources, at both centers.We want to get you up to snuff, so that you are prepared for any circumstance. If you are interested, give me a call or send me an email and I can get some information headed your way. Perhaps we can help you get it filled out or even register you in the county system. The most important thing to remember is that there’s only one stupid question, only the one you don’t ask. So, visit your local senior center, call Bernadette at 662.8920 or email Director@losalamosseniorcenter.com. We’ll get you connected to the right resources, whenever you are ready.
Jaden Thompson and her younger sister, Aniah, tacked on the triples to trigger two four-run and one three-run rallies in Mattituck’s 13-3 win over visiting Port Jefferson Monday.Jaden Thompson, a senior, finished 3-for-4 with two RBI-triples and three runs, while Aniah, a sophomore, also scored three times and finished 3-for-3 with an RBI-triple and RBI-single. The Tuckers (9-1 overall, 6-1 League VI), which won their fourth in a row, are batting over .400 as a team, according to head coach Kim Gerstung.“We’re very aggressive. They’re coming alive, and I’m very happy,” Gerstung said, adding it’s been unique working with a pair of sisters. “They’re not afraid to go after it, reach for those extra bases. They’re supporting each other, and it’s great.”She said Jaden especially doesn’t hold back, hurling her scoops from third base to her sister across the diamond at first.“I didn’t think Aniah could handle Jaden’s throws,” she said, laughing. “But she stepped up and proved that she could.”Senior Ashley Perkins put her bat on the ball first, singling in the second inning to get things going after a three-up, three-down opening inning for the Tuckers. She advanced to second on a passed ball at the plate. Aniah Thompson smacked an RBI-triple and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Bridget Ryan two batters later to put Mattituck up 2-0 after two innings.“We’ve been hitting great,” said Perkins, who also finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs. “We start off slow, but come back to prove how well we can hit.”Both sides were retired in order in the third before Jaden Thompson got the ball rolling again in the fourth. After her lead-off single, she stole second and third before Perkins brought her home on a ground-rule double. Perkins advanced on Aniah’s foul ball in the dirt, and the sophomore was able to advance to first, giving Ana Farr a chance to stretch the lead with no outs. The freshman delivered a hit to right that allowed Perkins to tag up and reach home standing up. An overthrow the plate proved costly, and Thompson was able to cross easily for a 5-0 advantage.Back at first, Aniah Thompson snagged a line drive to give Mattituck a defensive boost to open the top of the fifth. Jaden made the next play with a stop in the dirt before firing the ball to her sister for the second out.“Having her at first this season definitely helps,” Jaden said. “It’s still a learning experience, but I know what she can do when she needs to.”Her younger sister said while the two have their moments, she’s learned a lot.“I try to focus on the ball,” Aniah said. “Some days I have trouble, but seeing Jaden perform the way she does helps me bring my ‘A’ game.”Port Jeff was just getting warned up though. A walk and line drive to right set up a bases-clearing double to close the gap to 5-2. But that didn’t last long. Dominque Crews bunted and beat out the throw to first, and advanced to second on another wild pitch before Jaden Thompson’s RBI-triple to deep right field, which fell just feet short of becoming her eighth home run of the season. The wind held it in. Perkins’s base hit scored her and Aniah Thompson’s RBI-single brought Perkins home to give Mattituck a commanding 9-2 lead.“I’m here for my team, so I try to do my best, think it through — what I want to do, where I want to place the ball — move everyone over,” Jaden said. “We motivated each other, kept pushing through. We have speed on this team, so when we see those chances to grab extra bases we know we can.”The All-County returnee tacked on her second RBI-triple in the bottom of the sixth, scoring after a Port Jeff error. Gerstung said she trusts Thompson’s judgement rounding the bases in those moments.“She’ll look at me when she’s coming to third, but if I tell her to turn and look, she’s on her own,” the coach said. “And at that moment she was thinking, ‘I’m going home.’”Aniah hit a line drive through the gap into left before Farr’s base hit to shallow right brought her home for a 12-2 lead.Mattituck just missed making the playoffs last year, and that’s made the team hungrier to get there this time around. With how many runs the team is racking up each game this season, outscoring teams 109-70, that goal is realistic. “We’re doing a lot better than expected,” Perkins said. “And I think we’re only getting better.”email@example.com Share
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The government has high hopes of reaching an agreement in Brighton next month that will lead to major reforms to the European Convention on Human Rights and the court in Strasbourg that enforces it. Britain’s proposals are set out in a draft declaration which the government hopes will be approved by the 47 member states of the Council of Europe that are bound by the convention when they meet at a high-level and, no doubt, high-security conference by the seaside. What is not on the table is withdrawing the right of 800 million Europeans to petition the court directly – the reason the court now has more than 150,000 pending applications. Although several member states might welcome such a drastic curtailment of the court’s powers, I am told that none was willing to say so publicly. Instead, the leaked draft puts a strong emphasis on implementing the convention at national level in order to reduce the number of cases brought before the court. This is backed up by some important amendments which Britain hopes will become the 15th protocol to the convention. Of the two reforms that stand out, one would impose stricter admissibility criteria, while the other would allow the court to issue advisory opinions. Paragraph 23 of the draft declaration would render an application inadmissible ‘if it is the same in substance as a matter that has been examined by a national court taking into account the rights guaranteed by the convention’. But there would be two exceptions, allowing Strasbourg to admit an application if the ‘national court clearly erred in its interpretation or application of the convention rights’, or if the application ‘raises a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of the convention’. It would be for the court to decide whether a case came within these exceptions. What is not clear is whether the national court would even have had to consider the individual applicant’s claim. On this wording, all that would need to have been considered at national level was the issue raised by the case. According to a ‘non-paper’ circulated last October, the intention is to reduce the number of cases being reconsidered in Strasbourg. Certainly, paragraph 21 of the declaration seeks to ensure that the court ‘adjudicates only those cases in which the principle or the significance of the violation warrants consideration by the court’. Where does that leave the right of individual petition, described in the draft as a ‘cornerstone of the convention system’? What’s proposed may be fine if you live in a country that respects human rights but must be deeply alarming to those in Europe’s ‘emerging democracies’. And it is not as if the reform will reduce the court’s workload. According to a leaked ‘preliminary opinion of the court’ adopted on 20 February, ‘it is probable that assessment of whether proper or due consideration had occurred or whether the national courts had manifestly erred would, in any event, require systematic and thorough examination’. The court says it already considers similar factors in deciding whether to reject an application as ‘manifestly ill-founded’. The judges were equally sniffy about the idea in paragraph 19 that they should give advisory opinions. These would, it seems, be available only very rarely. First, a state wanting to use the system would have to opt in. Second, the case would have to get as far as the state’s supreme court or its constitutional court. Even then, the court would have discretion over whether to refer a question to the human rights court. Finally, the national court would not be bound by the Strasbourg judges’ opinion. That said, if the opinion was applied by the national court then ‘the individual in whose case the opinion was sought’ would ‘ordinarily have no further right to make an application to the [human rights] court on the same matter’. In their paper last month, the judges took the view that this proposal merited ‘further reflection’, adding that ‘a reflection paper prepared by the court on this subject will be issued subsequently’. This attempt to kick the proposal into the long grass may reflect a difference of opinion among the court’s 47 judges. But it hardly makes things easier for British officials, who not only have to win over fellow diplomats, but also a disparate bench of judges. Those judges say they will accept a reduced caseload only if the right of individual petition is preserved and effective mechanisms are put in place to accommodate well-founded cases that the court cannot deal with. Above all, the judges are unwilling to cede any of their powers to the member states. There’s no question of that, British officials insist. The only formal limit on judicial powers that could not be overridden by the court is a plan to reduce the period within which an application must be lodged from six months to four, three or two. And that idea came from the judges themselves. But there are plenty of proposals designed to limit the Strasbourg judges’ discretion. They are told more than once in the draft declaration that they must apply the admissibility criteria ‘strictly’. And Britain wants the principles of subsidiarity and the ‘margin of appreciation’ enjoyed by member states to be defined in statutory language for the first time and enshrined in the convention, ensuring they are not circumscribed by overlapping judicial interpretations. This may not be a full-frontal assault on the court and its powers. But it is a reminder that the ultimate power lies not with judges but with ministers.
Housebuilding was always going to be a touchstone issue for the 2015 election and with the Conservative Party resurrecting its right to buy policy, it will provide even more opportunities for parties to highlight contrasting approaches to an intractable problem.One thing that is not in doubt is that we are not building enough houses. Housing completions remain 35% below levels seen at the last market peak in 2007. All parties have pledged a significant increase in supply by 2020. The question is both whether the targets are ambitious enough and whether the industry will respond if they are increased.Production of affordable housing may be at levels close to the long-term average, but with the housing benefit bill touching £25bn in 2013/14, it is increasingly obvious that radical changes to the housing mix are needed as well as an increase in supply.Ironically, given the level of support provided to the for-sale housebuilding industry, through planning reform, low interest rates and Help to Buy, it is nevertheless the private sector that is lagging in the delivery of new supply. The 112,000 units delivered in 2013/14 were 40% down on the number completed in 2006/07. Clearly high prices have affected demand, but perhaps there are fewer buyers for homes now than in previous cycles.The construction of 10,000 extra affordable rent homes is unlikely to make much of a dent on the housing benefit billAgainst this backdrop, the main parties have all placed housing as a high priority. Labour will set out to implement many aspects of the well-received Lyons Housing Review, including mechanisms for land assembly, greater diversity in delivery, including support to SMEs, and help to first-time buyers through prioritisation of sales.Investment to support the land assembly, infrastructure and affordable housing delivery envisaged under Lyons is of course critical. The Labour Party proposes a Future Homes Fund channelling receipts from Help to Buy ISAs. It is unrealistic to expect that the long-term funding requirements for land assembly, infrastructure and affordable rented housing can be supported through short-term savings, so Labour’s mixed funding solution highlights the challenge facing all future investment – even in areas as critical as affordable housing.The Liberal Democrats also take a detailed approach to their housing policies – presenting a shopping list which includes a 15-year planning horizon, the capture of development value through planning, the mapping of housing need to the actual needs of local people and the outlawing of “buy to leave” – where foreign investors buy homes but keep them empty – as well as the development of innovative tenure mixes to subsidise affordable housing. Like all major parties, they share a commitment to promoting garden cities. With proposals for a housing investment bank, longer-term planning of housing supply and a more active role for the public sector in delivery, Liberal Democrat policies are far-reaching and are certainly the most ambitious with respect to the numbers delivered. The number they pledge – 300,000 per year – were last delivered in 1977.Ironically, given the level of support provided to the for-sale housebuilding industry, through planning reform, low interest rates and Help to Buy, it is the private sector that is lagging in the delivery of new supplyThe Tory Party’s commitment to home ownership – exemplified by the right-to-buy – represents a conscious choice to pursue a narrow range of policies focused on homes for sale. The construction of 10,000 extra affordable rent homes is unlikely to make much of a dent on the housing benefit bill, and disappointingly, the private rental sector – which now houses nearly half of 24-34 year olds – is barely mentioned. What the market needs is the professionalisation of the rental sector and the introduction of new sources of supply – such as institutional providers. The 2015 election may be seen in a few years’ time as a missed opportunity to promote private rental as a tenure of choice. For now, it’s an expensive and short-term solution.In summary, party commitments on housing represent a missed opportunity, but probably few missed votes. Targets set by the two main parties for new housing lack ambition and do not even start to address the housing backlog. Current high house prices support high land values, even though production levels are well down. Expensive land has become a barrier to the establishment of viable rental tenures or the delivery of affordable housing. Politicians intervene in markets at their peril but the housebuilding industry has been the beneficiary of substantial support. Coalition or minority government negotiations may be the last opportunity to introduce some genuinely fresh thinking. Let’s hope that our politicians are really up to the job.Simon Rawlinson is head of strategic research and insight at EC Harris
USA: Private sector inter-city rail project promoter Virgin Trains USA announced an initial public offering of 28·3 million shares of common stock on January 30. The expected price is between $17 and $19 per share.The shares are to be listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Prior to the start of trading, Virgin Trains USA LLC would be converted to a Delaware corporation named Virgin Trains USA Inc. Virgin Trains USA was launched in November, when Virgin Group announced an agreement to make a minority investment in inter-city rail business Brightline, which is transitioning to the Virgin Trains USA brand.After the offering and concurrent private placements, private equity funds managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group would own approximately 81·6% of the common stock, or 79·5% if the underwriters’ over-allotment option is fully exercised. A Virgin Group affiliate has agreed to purchase less than 2% of the shares outstanding following the offering.Barclays, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are acting as lead book-running managers. Additional book-running managers are BofA Merrill Lynch and Allen & Company LLC, and co-managers are JMP Securities, Raymond James and Stephens Inc.‘Too long to drive, too short to fly’The Brightline service currently operates between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in Florida, with plans to expand to Orlando and Tampa.Virgin Rail USA has also agreed to acquire the XpressWest project to develop a rail corridor connecting Las Vegas with southern California, and hopes to begin construction this year for completion by Q4 2022 or Q1 2023. The development costs would be funded with the net proceeds from the offering and/or other debt or equity financings.Virgin Trains USA said it intends the Florida and Las Vegas services to generate ‘meaningful’ profits and to be a scalable model for expansion in other congested ‘too long to drive, too short to fly’ inter-city corridors between highly-populated cities 300 to 500 km apart.
#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*#zoom inzoom outIRAN: Revenue services have started operating on the first section of RAI’s cut-off which is intended to shorten the Tehran – Tabriz route serving the northwest of the country. Full map of Iranian railways in the Railway Gazette Knowledge Hub.According to RAI Chief Executive Saeed Rasouli, the railway initially expects to operate three trains a week each way between Bostanabad and the capital.Completion of the cut-off will shorten the Tehran – Tabriz route by around 100 km compared to existing line through Maragheh. RAI expects to reduce the current 12 h journey time between the two cities around by 5 h 30 min. The new route is forecast to carry 2 million passengers and 7 million tonnes of freight over the next two decades. zoom inzoom outThe 132 km southern section of the new line, between Mianeh and Bostanabad, was formally inaugurated by President Hassan Rouhani during a visit to the East Azerbaijan province on November 27.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*#zoom inzoom outUnder construction since 2000, at an estimated cost of 5tr rials, the line has been built by the State Company for Construction & Development of Transport Infrastructure. It diverges from the existing 736 km Tehran – Tabriz route at Mianeh, 436 km from the capital, and runs through Turkman Chay and Tekmeh Dash. The remaining 71 km from Bostanabad to Tabriz via Basmenj is expected to open by March 2020.#*#*Show Fullscreen*#*#
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInCopious amounts of tea and cakes were consumed at a 1940’s tea dance held at the Douglas Ewart High School. Over 90 people from the Riverside Centre, Food Train and local community attended the event that was organised by S5 pupils to celebrate National Older People’s Day.The afternoon included a high tea, dancing, singing and entertainment and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.The pupils, who are involved in youth work programmes with the Community Learning and Development Service in school, are about to embark on a new project ‘#scotswummin’. The young people will be researching women of influence in their local communities and developing a showcase that will be on display next year in Glasgow Women’s Library.As part of this exciting new project the young people will be going out into their communities to interview people and find out more about influential women who have made a difference in the local area.Councillor Jeff Leaver, Chairman of the Children, Young People and Lifelong Learning Committee said “Projects such as the tea dance and scotwummin are excellent examples of the range of intergenerational projects that are being delivered across the region, promoting a better understanding and respect between generations. Well done to all involved’