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New York

By a 12-4 vote, the board of legislators of the suburban New York county has approved going to court against the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in the long-running dispute. HUD is still insisting that the county enact a “source of income discrimination” law barring private landlords from turning away Section 8 federally aided tenants, as well as critically reexamine zoning rules in its various towns. [Peter Applebome, NYT, Journal-News, Newsday] Earlier here, etc.

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Enough that 33 states have so-called enacted At Rest laws, requiring that bottles spend time in an in-state warehouse before being sold to consumers. Although the laws limit competition, drive up prices to consumers, and make it harder to special-order less common labels, New York may join the list following generous donations to politicians from an in-state wholesaler. [New York Post] FTC attorney David Spiegel analyzed anti-competitive liquor laws in this 1985 article (PDF) in Cato’s Regulation magazine.

And: I’ve posted an expanded version at the Cato blog. (& Michelle Minton, CEI “Open Market,” who cites an informative column by Tom Wark, WineInterview.com, to the effect that the New York bill may be dead for now.) (Edited for accuracy 4/9: licensed New York wholesalers already own warehouses in both New York and New Jersey, and the bill would have protected the former from competition from the latter)

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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.

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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]

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January 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 29, 2013

  • In job bias dispute: “Federal Court Says Veganism Might Qualify As A Religion” [Religion Clause]
  • Perennially credulous L.A. Times drops broad hints that Toyota settlement vindicates sudden acceleration theories, others know better [LA Times, NLJ earlier]
  • “Cato Named America’s Most Effective Think Tank Per Dollar Spent” [Dan Mitchell, Nick Rosenkranz]
  • Disappointing: Transportation Sec. LaHood said to be “sticking around for a while” [Roads and Bridges, earlier] That was quick: only hours later, he says he’s leaving after all [WaPo]
  • It became necessary to destroy the sex workers in order to save them [Melissa Gira Grant/Reason]
  • Profile of lefter-than-thou NY attorney general Eric Schneiderman [NY Mag]
  • As rural pub tradition declines, Irish government rejects proposal to ease DUI laws [AP]

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]

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on December 14, 2012

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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]

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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]

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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.”

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Paul Caron, TaxProf, on one of the more closely watched tax rulings. Earlier here.

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“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]

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October 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 8, 2012

  • Karma in Carmichael: serial Sacramento-area filer of ADA suits Scott Johnson, often chronicled in this space, hit by sex-harass suit by four former female employees, with avert-your-eyes details [Sac Bee; News10, autoplays] One of Johnson’s suits, over a counter that was too high, recently helped close Ford’s Real Hamburgers, a 50-year-old establishment. [KTXL/The Blaze]
  • Fifth Circuit reverses decision holding Feds liable for Katrina flood damages [Reuters]
  • “Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril”: SCOTUS takes up first-sale doctrine in copyright law [Jennifer Waters, MarketWatch on Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons]
  • Rubber room redux: “New York Teacher Live-Streams $75,000 Do-Nothing Job” [Lachlan Markay, Heritage] Teacher charged with hiring hitman to kill colleague should have been fired decade ago [Mike Riggs]
  • “George Zimmerman sues NBC for editing 911 audio to make him sound racist” [Jim Treacher, Daily Caller]
  • Prof. Mark J. Perry has moved his indispensable Carpe Diem economics/policy blog in-house to AEI;
  • New York will require newly licensed lawyers to do pro bono [WSJ, Scott Greenfield, Legal Ethics Forum]

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Labor roundup

by Walter Olson on August 7, 2012

  • I dreamed someone sabotaged the memory care unit by switching Rosa DeLauro’s name tag with Rosa Luxemburg’s [Fox; Raising Hale, Labor Union Report with more on alleged nursing home sabotage and the Connecticut pols that enable it]
  • New York’s Scaffold Law will inflate cost of Tappan Zee Bridge rebuild by hundreds of millions, according to Bill Hammond [NYDN]
  • “In Michigan, a ballot measure to enshrine union rights” [Reuters, WDIV]
  • Massachusetts voters rejected unionizing child care providers, but legislature decided to do it anyway [Boston Herald]
  • SEIU flexes muscle: “Surprise strike closes SF courtrooms” [SFGate, NBC Bay Area]
  • If it goes to arbitration, forget about disciplining a Portland police officer [Oregonian via PoliceMisconduct.net] Boston police overtime scandal [Reason] Related, San Bernardino [San Diego Union-Tribune]
  • Louisiana teacher union furor: “Now There’s A Legal Defense Fund For Schools The LAE Is Threatening To Sue” [Hayride, earlier]
  • As unions terrorize a Philadelphia construction project, much of the city looks the other way [Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer, PhillyBully.com; via Barro]

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July 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2012

  • Congress, HUD face off on “disparate impact” in housing and housing finance [WSJ edit, Clegg/NRO] Wells Fargo says it didn’t base loans on race but will pay $175 million to end federal probe [Reuters]
  • Maryland vs. Virginia: if only there were a government that was consistent about favoring liberty [John Walters, Maryland Public Policy Institute]
  • British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal levies $3000 against husband-and-wife owners of bed-and-breakfast who canceled reservation of gay couple based on religious objections [Religion Clause, The Province] UK: “‘Gay flatmate wanted’ ads break equality laws” [Telegraph] See our earlier coverage of the Ninth Circuit Roommate.com case here and here.
  • “Lifeguard fired for saving drowning person — outside his designated zone.” [NBC Miami via @commongood]
  • “Do you want to be informed about the constant, infuriating corporate welfare for professional sports owners? Follow FieldOfSchemes.com” [Matt Welch]
  • Negligent entrustment lawsuit against parents who let 33 year old daughter drive car yields $1.2 million in Tennessee [Knoxville News]
  • Pretrial and discovery: “New York state bar recommends federal litigation reforms” [Reuters]

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