City, county and state governments throughout the United States often enact measures to protect or promote favored business groups. The City of Portland’s efforts to protect the cab companies through ordinances limiting the rates and services of other businesses that transport individuals within the metro area such as airport limos, Uber and Lyft recently received judicial approval from the Ninth Circuit in Speed’s Auto Servs. Group v. City of Portland, 2017 U.S. App Lexis 5551 … Read more
Mar 7, 2017
The Oregon Supreme Court has just ruled that a City Council or other government body can be punished for committing an unfair labor practice if one of its members criticizes the public employee unions to which the city’s employees belong.
In AFSCME Council 75 v. City of Lebanon, 360 Or 809 (2017) the Court held that the City could be sanctioned for an unfair labor practice if one member of the Council, in a letter … Read more
Feb 27, 2017
Benjamin Franklin once observed “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” For those who doubt Franklin’s sagacity in that regard, consider the recent case of Marci McNicol. A federal court found her personally liable to the Internal Revenue Services to the tune of $125,000.00 with respect to taxes owed by her late husband. Here’s what happened.
On his death, in addition to their four minor children, McNicol’s husband … Read more
Feb 20, 2017
Paul Scofield, as Sir Thomas More, in A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Once upon a time, an oath taken by a public official meant something, consequences notwithstanding, as dramatized in the Hollywood classic movie of more than 50 years ago, A Man for … Read more
Feb 9, 2017
Mandated Exceptions to Confidentiality Provisions in Employee Agreements; The Government’s Campaign to Promote the Snitch
Employers often insist that their employees sign written agreements promising not to disclose confidential information concerning their employer to anyone during and following their employment. Of course such agreements frustrate governmental agencies which want to encourage employees to complain to them.
Thus, federal agencies are now invalidating and refusing to recognize employee confidentiality agreements which do not explicitly acknowledge and alert the employee of their right to file a charge or complaint against the employer … Read more
Feb 7, 2017
Companion bills have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Senate to repeal the federal estate tax. On January 24, 2017, Representative Noem introduced H.R. 631 which was referred to the House’s Ways and Means Committee for consideration. The same day, Senator Thune introduced comparable legislation in the Senate. If enacted by Congress and signed by President Trump, no federal estate tax would be assessed against estates of decedents dying thereafter.… Read more
Jan 23, 2017
Although our schools do not equip us to distinguish between the almost 1500 different bugs, lizards, birds, rodents, fish, etc. that the government labels “endangered”, it is now being argued that to take or kill even one of these creatures should be criminal regardless of how innocent or inadvertent the act. Even an endangered splat on your car’s windshield might render you a criminal and send you to jail.
Jan 20, 2017
Testimony before grand juries is serious. It generally results in the issuance of felony charges and a warrant authorizing the arrest of the person charged. Testifying falsely before a grand jury so that an innocent person is indicted and arrested can really ruin the victim’s day. However, a recent 6th Circuit Court case eloquently demonstrates that you can’t recover damages for malicious prosecution or for violation of your civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983 … Read more
Dec 21, 2016
In a recent case the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a wife who had apparently discovered her husband’s infidelity by intercepting his emails to and from various women could be liable for violating the federal Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act. 18 U.S.C. §2520. In his concurring opinion, Judge Richard Posner questioned whether the law should protect the husband’s privacy interest in concealing his infidelities from his wife.
As Judge Posner wrote: “I … Read more
Dec 20, 2016
In a recent act of performance art, illustrating that city and county governments may truly be the sewers of American politics, King County Washington is now sending its employees out digging through residential garbage in the early morning hours when they’re least likely to be discovered. Residents have found men outside their homes at 5:30 in the morning going through their garbage with flashlights. The highly-paid King County public servants engaged in this dumpster diving … Read more