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.
She’s asking $30 million over a client’s dog bite. Have her subjects informed her about New York’s abolition of ad damnum clauses? [Eric Turkewitz, earlier]
Susan Dominus explores an outbreak of tics and other neurological symptoms among teenage girls in a town near Rochester, as hyped on outlets like “Today” and CNN. Roving Tort-Finder Erin Brockovich, who parachuted into the town to blame possible chemical spills, does not come off well either: “Things only go wrong,’ [King's College London epidemiologist Simon] Wessely wrote in 1995, ‘when the nature of an outbreak is not recognized, and a fruitless and expensive search for toxins, fumes and gases begins.’” [NY Times Magazine]
Cybex International, a manufacturer of exercise equipment, has agreed to pay $19.5 million to a Buffalo-area woman “who was injured by a piece of Cybex equipment when she improperly used a leg machine to stretch her shoulder.” A jury had awarded $66 million and a New York appellate court upheld the verdict, while reducing the sum to $44 million. [Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York; Lintoid/Seeking Alpha and more; Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association]
An overweight customer in Rockland County, N.Y. has dropped his Americans with Disabilities Act suit against White Castle after a Nanuet, N.Y. outpost of the hamburger chain put in new free-standing chairs that could accommodate him [NY Post, December via Lowering the Bar, earlier]
New York’s notoriously stringent Department of Labor has fined a pizza shop owner $5,535 for not giving his employees enough polo shirts to wear — at least five for those who work five days a week, even if they work only a few hours a day. Owner Christian King
was told that an appeal would take years due to the backlog and the fine would accrue with interest….
“What happened to him is not unusual,” agreed Richard De Groot, a Syracuse consultant who advises businesses — including King’s — on human resource issues. He represents employers across much of the Eastern Seaboard and says New York is unusually demanding.
“There is so much in the way of state rules and laws,” he said, adding that he would advise some businesses, such as manufacturers, to simply look to elsewhere.
[Albany TImes-Union via Stoll]
In a move likely to be welcome to his Left base, the president is naming New York’s business-bashing attorney general to head up a probe into banks’ mortgage misconduct. Capital New York’s headline says it all: “Obama elevates Eric Schneiderman, Who Was Too Liberal for Andrew Cuomo.” Another view: Felix Salmon (& Roger Donway, Atlas Business Rights Center).
A distinctively unfair bit of favoritism toward public sector unions, it legally locks in benefits after a contract expires, thus encouraging and rewarding union intransigence in negotiating the next. [Michael Allegretti, Public Sector Inc.; Empire Center for New York State Policy]