I’ve got a new piece at Reason on the long-running dispute between the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the government of Westchester County in suburban NYC. Claiming that Westchester has failed to follow through on promises of attracting more minority homeowners, HUD is suing the county and wielding funding cutoffs to get it to step up a large commitment to subsidized housing, override town zoning rules, and enact an ordinance forbidding private landlords from turning away Section 8 tenants. The WSJ editorialized yesterday on the subject. Further background: ironic that county is being penalized after seeking to cooperate [Gerald McKinstry, Newsday; Joanne Wallenstein, Scarsdale 10583]; former Democratic county legislator backs county executive Rob Astorino on so-called “source of income” legislation [Journal-News]; similar law already in effect in Washington, D.C. [Examiner]; earlier coverage here, here, etc., and my 2009 City Journal account.
P.S. Shortly after our piece, a Second Circuit panel ruled the county out of compliance. ProPublica, the foundation-supported reporting-and-opinion outfit, has been doing a series of reporting-and-opinion pieces taking the plaintiffs’ side, including this latest.
A Houston-based trial lawyer has some grandiose plans for snagging New York storm-insurance cases: Steve Mostyn “indicates his firm should be able to take on more than $1 billion in disputed claims — or half of all the Sandy litigation.” That’s assuming clients sign on, of course. One who did was a swim club owner from Pound Ridge who was frustrated dealing with New York lawyers and quickly signed a contract with Mostyn’s firm: “It is worth the 40 percent just for someone to listen to my story and be kind to me,” she said. [Austin American-Statesman]
A Cato Forum held January 9 and featuring Craig Whitney, author, Living with Guns, and a former New York Times reporter and editor; Alan Gura and Alan Morrison, who argued opposite sides of the Heller case; and as moderator, Cato senior fellow Ilya Shapiro.
Meanwhile, getting the jump on President Obama’s proposals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature of New York have rushed to passage a hasty new gun control package [Roger Pilon, Jacob Sullum, Bob McManus/NY Post, more from Sullum on "false urgency"]
Check-cashing businesses are perfectly legal, but the Long Island town of Hempstead doesn’t like them, so it’s used zoning to try to force them out of areas convenient to their clientele. New York’s highest court is considering the companies’ appeal. [Newsday]
New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has a particular niche among state courts: it’s liberal on many matters, as suits the state’s politics, but over the years has tended to take care that its commercial law is relatively predictable and efficient from a business perspective, since it would rather not risk tempting the state’s huge business sector to flee to other jurisdictions. With two vacancies on the court, Gov. Andrew Cuomo now has a chance to confirm the court’s historic path, or set it on a different one. [Lawrence Cunningham]
To get your power turned back on in the Rockaways, according to a spokesman for the Long Island Power Authority, you’re going to need a pre-inspection for your house not just from a licensed electrician, but from one licensed in NYC — nearby Nassau County, or upstate, won’t do. If occupational licensure makes any sense at all — and Milton Friedman had a thing or two to say about that — it certainly needs to be reconsidered under conditions of public emergency and disaster recovery, or so I argue in my new post at Cato at Liberty.
For more background on the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) as a political football, by the way, check out Nicole Gelinas in the New York Post. Also on disaster recovery, why this might be a good time to rethink municipal ordinances barring property owners from removing old trees [Chris Fountain]. And: “Can customers sue power companies for outages? Yes, but it’s hard to win” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
Some politicians just want there to be random shortages [WSJ editorial]:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed the Craigslist website for the identities of people who advertised gas for sale at high prices. Mr. Schneiderman is doing this in the name of a New York law that forbids charging an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption in the market.”
Paul Caron, TaxProf, on one of the more closely watched tax rulings. Earlier here.
“A group of Westchester County Jail inmates will have to fight their own legal battle for access to dental floss, a federal judge has ruled. …the 11 Westchester inmates… sued the county Sept. 10 for $500 million because they were denied access to dental floss.” [Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, White Plains Journal-News]
And some pols want to make it worse, broadening the already dangerously broad Martin Act [Jim Copland, NY Post] My take on the Martin Act here.