Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where Did All That Money Come From?

The New York State judiciary has been perceived by many as viewing itself above the need to share in the pain of the current budgetary crisis. Judges whine that their salaries are far below what they could earn in private law practice, never mind that they chose to run for the seat on the bench in the first place. The New York Court of Appeals is now completing, if it has not already completed, construction of luxury apartments for its judges to use while up in Albany. Many court personnel are where they are on account of political patronage, which wouldn't be so bad if so many of them were not so insolent towards the attorneys and members of the public whose circumstances compel dealings with the court system. And Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman did a lot of pouting and pissing and moaning before he grudgingly conceded the need for the judiciary to make some painful cuts in its budget.

But there is at least one judge who understands his duty to stand watch over the public purse. Justice Robert A. Ross, of the Nassau County Supreme Court (don't be too impressed by the "Supreme" terminology; the county Supreme Courts in New York are the lowest courts of general jurisdiction), has before him the matrimonial action of Felice Cohen against Eyal Cohen. In the course of the proceedings, Eyal had asserted that his income was approximately $10,000 per year and that he lived rent-free on Mom & Dad's dime, and, pleading poverty, was assigned counsel (i.e., on the taxpayers' dime).

Eyal apparently had been less than fully cooperative with the Court's directives, and a contempt hearing (not the first one) had been scheduled. Shortly before the scheduled contempt hearing, Felice and Eyal reached a settlement whereby Eyal would pay Felice a settlement of $45,000.

The numbers did not add up when Justice Ross crunched them. How would a person whose income is only $45,000 and who has few assets come up with $45,000? It is one thing to hide assets and income from your soon-to-be-ex spouse. But Eyal hid the assets and income from the Court, and, based upon Eyal's representations, the Court upheld Eyal's Constitutional right to counsel by dipping into the public fisc to engage an attorney for Eyal.

Judge Ross has now called upon Eyal to attend a hearing to explain the apparent discrepancy. In his order, the Judge gives Eyal the opportunity to file an amended Statement of Net Worth, and, to spare Felice's purse, has dispensed with the need for her to attend the hearing. Unless Eyal has a good and credible and documentable explanation, it seems that Judge Ross intends to make Eyal reimburse the State for paying the assigned counsel. And if Eyal did make a major misrepresentation to the Court, then his proper and honest filing of an amended Statement of New Worth would, in all likelihood, give Judge Ross a basis for not sending Eyal to the slammer.

After 20-something years, my own marriage is in no danger of going before Judge Ross or any of his colleagues on the bench. This good investment in my marriage has saved my wife and I lots of money that otherwise would go to the divorce lawyers. It also has saved the taxpayers of New York the expense of having another matrimonial action work its slow and convoluted way through the judicial system.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Useful Idiots as Sacrificial Lambs

First and foremost, let me wish everyone a Happy Purim. This world has so many Hamans, but only one Purim!

I'm now between trips out of town, and will be on the go for much of this coming week. One place I will not be going is to Albany, New York. It seems as though the far-far-left faculty union of which I am (reluctantly) a member is trying to mobilize its members to go to Albany to protest against Governor Cuomo's budget cuts to education.

This, of course, places me into a bind. On one hand, it is clear that the taxpayers of New York need to have significant relief, and significant and painful budget cuts must be instituted. On the other hand, some of the proposed cuts may well affect a portion of my regular income (and, for that matter, a portion of the regular income of my wife).

But my union is not only protesting the budget cuts, they are also protesting the proposed tuition increases. And my local chapter president, who majored in economics as an undergrad, is fully aware that what is being proposed means higher taxes. Can you say "Redistributionist?"

In any event, the union is calling for a peaceful protest, yet is providing civil disobedience training and transportation reimbursement for those who are willing to get themselves arrested. I've seen enough in my years on this earth to know that "peaceful" protests that end up in mass arrests usually, in fact, do not play out quite as peaceable as the organizers would have the world believe.

This is one where I would say that individual union members need to follow their consciences as to whether, and what degree, they actively oppose the proposed budgetary cuts.

Point of information: My local chapter's Chair and Vice Chair, who are circulating the "Come to Albany and Protest" e-mail, have admitted that "for reasons essentially related to [their] teaching" they themselves will not be showing up in Albany.

Okay, I can buy off on that excuse (though I know of at least one far-left union-active colleague who has admitted that he cannot risk arrest for another few months, until his criminal case, now ACD (adjourned in contemplation of dismissal), actually gets dismissed).

But my local chapter's leadership would carry far, far greater credibility and respect if at least some local chapter officers were willing to go to Albany and stick out their own wrists for the handcuffs.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Zsa Zsa Gabor's Standing in the Matter

Okay, so some of you will call this title's double entendre a cheap shot, but I think that it is quite appropriate under the circumstances, both current and historical.

I never really was able to classify Zsa Zsa Gabor. She is a poor excuse for an actress, a movie star or an entertainer. Those few of her appearances I happened to have watched on the lobotomy box were never anything memorable to write home about. And, in life off the stage, screen or tube, she is, by all credible accounts, a narcissistic, self-centered and inconsiderate boor.

But now she is in the news for her refusal to undergo a second leg amputation.

I will not second guess Zsa Zsa's (or anyone else's) decision as to the legitimate medical treatments she accepts or rejects. And, notwithstanding my low opinion of Zsa Zsa, I do empathize with her medical situation, having grown up with a grandfather who was an amputee and having seen the many difficulties he faced -- and overcame. It takes a special kind of courage and strength of character to deal with that type of thing. If, like Zsa Zsa, you do not have it, then there is little anyone can do to help you.

Having stated this, I cannot help but note that in 1983, when Zsa Zsa was performing live in Philadelphia, she insisted that a group of wheelchair users be removed from the front rows because she was repulsed at the sight of them. G-d works in strange ways, and now, Zsa Zsa, having lost one of her legs to gangrene, is herself now a person with a disability.

Apparently, as one who is repulsed by the very sight of people with disabilities, Zsa Zsa is now repulsed even by herself, and does not have what it takes to deal with life after the amputation.

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