Thursday, April 21, 2011

Landlord Has to Pay $25,000 Dollars for Trying to Evict Man With HIV For Having A Dog In a Pet Free Apartment Building

Richard M. Blake was diagnosed with HIV over 20 years ago. Because of this, Mr. Blake became depressed and wouldn’t leave his house. His blood pressure rose as well as his weight. Blake’s doctor recommended getting a dog as a companion in order to not feel lonely which would in turn hopefully improve his physical and mental health.

Blake asked his landlord if he could get the dog and he said yes. So with his landlord’s permission and his doctor’s request, Blake got a dog. After getting a dog Blake said that “She’s [the dog].. [has] given me sort of a routine in my life. She’s given me a lot of joy. Animals just seem to make it hard for you to be in a bad mood.’’ (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/
04/05/ landlord_must_pay_25000_for_trying_to_evict_hiv_patients_dog/).

After getting the dog, Blake’s blood pressure went done along with his weight. He stopped being depressed and went out of his home. “Ever since I have had her, the walks and the tons of exercise I do with her have helped,’’ Blake said. (http://www.boston.com/news/
local/massachusetts/articles/ 2011/04/05/
landlord_must_pay_25000_for_trying_to_evict_hiv_patients_dog/).

Two months later, la Michael Lombardi, the landlord of Brighton Gardens in Massachusetts made a ruling that no pets are allowed in the apartment building. Drake asked Lombardi if since if he keep the dog since Lombardi said he could before the “now pets allowed” ruling, especially since the dog was important to him and added meaning in Drake’s life. The landlord denied Drake’s request, so Drake filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The committee ruled in favor of Drake saying that he was disabled and (according to the ruling) for Blake to “give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.’’ (http://www.boston.com/news/local/
massachusetts/articles/ 2011/04/05/
landlord_must_pay_25000_for_trying_to_evict_hiv_patients_dog/).

“The commission also ruled that each of the five landlords should pay a $5,000 fine “given their utter intransigence’’ in refusing to discuss a “reasonable accommodation’’ with the man.”(http://www.boston.com/news/local/
massachusetts/articles/2011/04/05/
landlord_must_pay_25000_for_trying_to_evict_hiv_patients_dog/).

Lombardi criticized the ruling stating that, “my firm did not knowingly discriminate against anybody. Lombardi called the ruling “an extraordinary decision because they really haven’t pinpointed any discrimination.’’ (http://www.boston.com/news/local/
massachusetts/articles/2011/04/05/
landlord_must_pay_25000_for_trying_to_evict_hiv_patients_dog/).

Lombardi also didn’t know that been diagnosed with HIV is considered being disabled.

While I don’t think that Lombardi acted nicely towards Drake—first giving Drake permission to buy a dog to improve his mood and then two months later changing his mind, especially when the dog was shown to improve Drake’s life—isn’t a very compassionate and nice thing to do, I also feel legally speaking (not morally and ethically), Lombardi is in the right.

As a landlord, Lombardi has a right to impose any rule he wishes and if his tenants don’t like his ruling they can either learn to deal with it or find a new place to live that does allow pets. At the same time, Drake asked permission to get the dog from Lombardi and if Lombardi wanted a pet-free apartment he should have voiced this when Drake asked him about getting the dog—although saying this isn’t really fair to Lombardi since he changed his mind two months later and maybe there was a valid reason why this is the case. While I don’t think Lombardi acted very compassionate and more like a landlord, with an emphasis on the lord, I also think that the ruling might have been impacted by the fact that Drake has HIV and that the doctor recommended a dog as a companion and not having a dog as an integral part of being able to function (like in the case of a seeing eye dog for the blind, for example).

Gary Rome Auto Group would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Do you find the case interesting? Do you think the committee was being objective in their ruling or was their ruling impacted by the fact that Drake has HIV?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blue Sox Holyoke—Social Programs Opportunity

The Blue Sox is a baseball team in Holyoke, MA. The athletes who play on The Holyoke Blue Sox come from top colleges across the country and many of the players get drafted into Major League Baseball teams. Such professional sport teams that the Blue Sox athletes have been drafted in are: The Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Mariners, Nationals and Tigers.

The Blue Sox have been a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL www.necbl.com ) since 2008. The NECBL is partially sponsored by Major League Baseball and has 12 teams in all of the New England states who recruit athletes from around the world to take part in joining the Blue Sox in order to learn the skills necessary to play in the Major Leagues.

Aspiring and talented baseball players come to The Pioneer Valley for the summer to play for the Holyoke Blue Sox. These athletes come from all over the United States to become part of this fun and learning experience where they come to practice and increase their baseball playing skills. 42 baseball games are performed during the 60 days of summer, so these players get a lot of practice in getting better at their game.

While coming to Holyoke, the athletes stay at people’s homes who are interested in hosting these athletes. The goal here is to provide visitors with a feeling of warmth and family. Not everyone knows people in Holyoke and while there are athletes that are willing to sacrifice family and social life for a summer training in professional sports, but why make that sacrifice if you don’t have to? Thanks to the openness and generosity, there are families that house the athletes. The athletes don’t have to scope out these families themselves; Blue Sox takes care of this for them.

Host families are integral to the success of The Holyoke Blue Sox. Staying with a family allows the athletes to feel that sports are a part of their life, not their life. Doing what you love and are good at can lead to happiness, close inter-personal relationships are needed for this as well. Blue Sox is lucky to part of a community where the family the athletes say with feels like family.

If you are interested in hosting the athletes come summer time, please go to http://www.holyokesox.com/site/featured/com-post-headline/ for more details. In thanks for proving accommodations for the Blue Sox players, Blue Sox would like to show their appreciation by giving the hosting families:
  • Benefit: Host Family immediate members will receive a season pass allowing them general admission access to ALL regular season games, home and away.
  • Photos in-season with you player(s)
  • Invitations to ALL Holyoke Blue Sox special events
  • Special Discounts on summer clinics and Blue Sox merchandise
  • T-Shirt for each immediate family member
  • Get in return: Lots of love, smiles and great memories! (http://www.holyokesox.com/site/featured/com-post-headline/)
The Holyoke Blue Sox are also interested in looking for highly motivated individuals that have an interest in sports management and/or advertizing and marketing. The Holyoke Blue Sox are a Major League Baseball affiliated organization and is run as such. If you are interested in garnering experience in taking part in helping run a sports team, this is a perfect opportunity for you.

The volunteers with be able to interact with the players, sponsors, coaches and fans. Such duties the volunteers with perform are:

  Promotions and Marketing-where you will help coordinating contests, sporting events, sponsor nights, etc.
 Concessions-you will help with ordering and restocking the food concessions and merchandise. Web site management-this involves working with a website manager on updating Blue Sox’s website.
 Team maintenance-this is being on the road and packing food for the road trips, making sure the equipment is on board and safe, as well as conversing with the players and having a good time.
Please go to holyokesox.com for more information.

Going to games, hosting baseball players, and volunteering with helping run a sports team is a great way to have fun, meet people, learn valuable skills, and take part in the Holyoke community by engaging with interesting people. Please visit holyokesox.com on how to become part of such an enhancing experience.

Not in My Backyard!


Residents in Holyoke are clashing with state officials’ plan to allow the building of a parking lot (through the use of a special permit) in some residential areas in order to help businesses. Home owners feel that having a parking lot in their neighborhood would change the neighborhoods’ environment for the worse.

On Wed., August 6, at 6:30 P.M. at City Hall, the City Council Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board held a hearing deciding whether or not the wishes of the business owners or of the home owners will be listened to about building a parking lot in residential areas in Holyoke.

Martha G. Robinson commented that, “Nobody wants to live next to a parking lot… Owners of businesses in residential areas would benefit, but homeowners would see their property values and quality of life bear the brunt of this ordinance.” (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/ 2011/04/holyoke_proposal_to_allow_park.html).

The staff at Gary Rome Auto Group would love to hear your opinion about this issue.

Why Improve Our Businesses When We Can Tax Others?

I was talking to someone awhile back about Walmart. The person I was talking to said that she hates Walmart. I asked why. She didn’t say “because Walmart mistreats their employees and are rude and dishonest.” [I’m not saying Walmart does or doesn’t do these things, I am just giving hypothetical reasons someone might give for thinking that Walmart is unethical.] She said the reason that she hates Walmart is because Walmart sells everything; because Walmart sells things cheaply and contains all different types of merchandise they end up putting small local “Mom and Pop” stores out of business.

The person I was talking to feels that Walmart is unethical because other stores go out of business because they can’t compete with Walmart’s vast stock and cheap prices and that it’s wrong for Walmart to succeed while many smaller stores go out of business. While I didn’t respond this way to her at the time, I thought of responding: “I see. So because Walmart is better than their competitors, this makes them bad. You want a Harrison Bergeron type of society where those who are richer, or smarter, or better looking than others should be punished for being so. Walmart is a business that is trying to attract customers by selling things people want at a cheaper price than anywhere else. How is this unethical? It’s better that the more business—savvy store be forced to shut down to make room for those small stores that are more expensive and less convenient than Walmart according to you. Why should someone be punished for running a business well? If someone studies and works hard and is the only student to get an A on a test so there is no grade inflation for the rest of the class, according to you this A student is unethical because now that he got an A no one else’s grades can be inflated and it’s his fault. I’m sorry, but I disagree.”

What this little story of mine shows seems to be a popular notion today. A lot of people feel that it’s not fair that there are people who are attractive, smart, and rich when there are those that aren’t and that it’s justice to level the playing field by taking away from those with advantages and giving it to those with disadvantages. While you’re entitled to your opinion, I’m also entitled to mine. If the only way you can give charity is by robbing from millionaires then don’t give charity. Leave charity to those who can give to the poor without stealing from others (yes, even if those others are millionaires). Why is our country turning into the characters from Raising Arizona who feel that it’s okay to take from others who they deem to “have enough already”?

On April 5, The Retailers Association of Massachusetts plans to unveil its "Main Street Fairness Coalition" at a legislative hearing. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts is made up of local merchants who want people to pay a sales tax when ordering online. The reason that local businesses have to pay sales tax and online businesses don’t is “because of the Quill Corp. vs. North Dakota decision [which rules that] states can only require a company to collect sales taxes if it has some sort of physical presence in the state.” (http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/opinion/x719609407/ Chesto-Retailers-fight-back-against-Amazon). The Quill Corp vs. North Dakota decision gives online stores an advantage local stores don’t have.

Local stores feel that the way to stop losing business is for the government to impose sales tax on online stores. This proposal hopes to level the playing field. Of course there are numerous reasons why people shop online and not in stores that has nothing to do with sales tax. Sales tax is only part of the issue. First of all, online stores have shipping and handling fees which local stores don’t have. But of course, you don’t hear the local stores mentioning this advantage.

If local stores really wanted to get people coming to their stores this would entail lowering their prices and having a wider selection of merchandise. But why lower your prices and make less money when you can have online stores raise theirs? (Or in the above analogy, why study hard to get an A when you can have grade inflation?).

The meeting will take place on Beacon Hill where Massachusetts will decide if this new legislation will get passed. According to Representative Martin J. Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat who supports the bill charging online businesses with having to pay sales tax, “This is less about collecting taxes and more about a question of fairness. This levels the playing field for retailers in Massachusetts who are losing sales to the Internet.’’ (http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/04/06/ retailers_push_for_e_commerce_sales_tax/).

States such as IllinoisNew York and Rhode Island have already agreed to charge a 6.25% sales tax, effective July 1st 2012 for online stores that have buildings located in any of those 3 (so far) states (and dozens of more states are proposing to adopt this bill as well).

“According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states missed out on an estimated $8.6 billion in 2010 from failing to collect sales tax for online and catalog purchases.” (http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/04/06/ retailers_push_for_e_commerce_sales_tax/).

The problem I have with this bill isn’t so much that customers have to pay sales tax when ordering online, but the reason that this bill is introduced in the first place. It’s one thing if some states decided to propose this bill, but instead this is coming out of local businesses. It seems obvious to me that these businesses only have self interest in mind, which is okay but at least admit that’s the reason for this bill. Don’t pretend it’s about leveling the playing field when it’s really about money. Local businesses are losing money and they feel this bill will increase sales at local stores. The fact that this bill may increase sales to local businesses but will certainly cause people to spend more money online isn’t the concern of local businesses.

Do local stores really believe the way to attract customers is to isolate them by adding online expenses to people? Why don’t local stores ease the burden on customers by lowering their own prices instead of lobbying the government to raise the prices (through the use of sales tax) of their online competitors? Is the only way to get people to shop at your stores is by taking away the advantages of others? There are advantages to buying in stores already, such as having your item right away and knowing what condition the product is in instead of having to wait a week for online stores to deliver. Customers who shop online have to pay shipping and handling fees that they don’t have to pay when shopping at a local store, but I don’t see the online stores complaining to the government about this.

There are always advantages and disadvantages that both groups have. Isn't better to try to get rid of the disadvantages instead of spreading them to others? Well I guess it’s true what they say: “The best defense is a good offense.” The staff at Gary Rome Auto Group (who have both local and online stores, so we aren't part of the problem) would love to hear your thoughts on this—which only costs 6.25% of your purchase.

The Hyundai Equus Ultimate

The 2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate has a nice sporty look to it. The car design has a strong, sleek look to it without drawing attention to itself.

What makes the Hyundai Equus Ultimate such an ultimately enjoyable experience are all the cool new features that the Hyundai Equus Ultimatecontains. The 2011 Hyundai Equus Ultimate has a heated steering wheel, seats which can be heated and cooled, a refrigerator in the rear console, an entertainment system in the rear of the car, and power sunshades are a just a few of the features that the Hyundai Equus Ultimate contains.

The Equus has two seats in the back of the car. In between the two seats is a console which stores the entertainment system. The back seats (unlike many cars, which only give this feature to the front seats) can recline as well as massage the passengers. All this makes no only driving but sitting in the Equus a pleasurable experience.

The 2011 Hyundai Equus has Hyundai’s exclusive dealership experience. All you have to do to get a routine checkup and maintenance is click on the service application on the I-Pad (which comes with the car) and make for a technician to come and take your car to get a checkup.Hyundai’s exclusive dealership experience gives you an Equus or Hyundai Genesis until your car comes back from the dealership (after the routine maintenance).

With all these unique features, comfortable seats, and nice sleek look, make the 2011 Hyundai Equus the car to buy.

“Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?”

Some teachers in Amherst, MA want the community to grow more food. Brian Donahue, an environmental history professor at Brandeis is speaking on March 30 at 7 P.M. in Town Hall about growing more food. Donahue’s speech is called, “Growing More Food in Amherst: Public Responsibilities and Opportunities” (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/ 03/amherst_officials_want_residen.html). John Gerber, a professor at the University of Massachusetts is also leading a campaign to help residents from Amherst take part in growing more food. Gerber is trying to make it easier for people to get a raise chickens. Gerber’s goal is to get ordinary people in Amherst to raise chickens as a way to help contribute to the producing as food as well as having people become more self-sufficient. Gerber also mentions that there is around 100 acres that could be used for farming, instead of growing hay to feed animals (which is how the land is currently being used). Gerber says that people can do more in terms of growing more food. Such ways to do this are by raising chickens and other farm animals, supporting local farmers and markets and having people have their own gardens and growing vegetables from there. Gerber says that, “we need a lot more people involved if we’re going to make the kind of changes [to grow more food]” (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/ 2011/03/amherst_officials_want_residen.html).  Gary Rome Auto Group hopes that Donahue’s speech and Gerber’s advocacy will be successful. Thanks to modern technology and know- how, there are ways to combat food shortages. The staff at Gary Rome Auto Group hopes that increasing the amount of food and decreasing starvation will be successful and lead to even more ways to combat food shortages in the near future.

Not Everyone Gets a Defense Lawyer? What Kind of Country Do You Think We Are Running Here?

Why is it that some of the best quotes I’ve heard have been on Youtube and on public internet forums? I remember reading a comment that a person wrote on YouTube. The topic was on the dealth penalty and about the argument that the death penalty saves money so that’s why it should be implemented. In response to this a person (who goes by the username, “kjmehal”) wrote, “’It's cheaper’ So? Our justice system should be about JUSTICE not about money.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSwZ2_4yFrI –page 4). I agree with kjmehal. Now, I’m not voicing my opinion on the death penalty, simply the idea that justice is bought. It is a sad truth, but this is the case. I don’t call the justice system the justice system, but the legal system. I call it the legal system for a few reasons. One, what is justice is arguable. Lawyers, jurors, and judges don’t have a monopoly on justice. Plenty of things are laws which are unjust and plenty of things are unjust which are allowed. Justice is something to discuss, it’s not an absolute that any system can determine. What is justice isn’t so clear (if it even exists at all). What the judges and lawmakers decide isn’t what is just but what is legal. It’s very arrogant for someone to think that they are the arbitrator of justice. The so called justice system determines what is allowed, not what is right, since what is right is a matter of debate and while society’s rules might be legal that doesn’t make them just. For instance, slavery and segregation were allowed, but were they just? During the 1950s, while segregation was certainly legal, it wasn’t certainly just. While I am a pretty hardcore libertarian, I believe that there are a few things people have a right to. John Locke said that people have a right to “life, liberty, and property.” I agree. I feel that what our tax money should go to is to try to punish people who take away those three things from others as well as making sure people who are threatened with people having their “life, liberty, and property” taken away from there are entitled to a defense. The law should protect everybody. I don’t believe in the shifting of power roles or taking something from one person and giving it to another, but everyone is entitled to a defense. If the legal system really cares about justice as it claims, then people shouldn’t have to buy justice; that’s called bribery. Once someone puts a price on justice, you lose all respect for the law. There is a famous joke about a guy who sees a woman on the street and offers her money if she will go to bed with him. “I will pay you a million dollars to go to bed with me,” the man tells the woman. “Okay,” is her response. “How about one dollar? I’ll give you a dollar if you sleep with me,” the man says. “What kind of a person do you think I am?” the woman responds. “What kind of person you are we’ve already established; now we’re just talking price,” the man states. This joke, like the best jokes, has truth to it. If it’s wrong to pay a person a dollar for sex, paying them a million dollars doesn’t make it right, it shows that their morals can be bought. Justice should have no price tag. Justice can be bought unfortunately (isn’t that what lobbyists are for?) and occurs daily, but that doesn’t mean it should continue. There are a few things in our LEGAL system that makes sure everyone gets a defense, but it seems that there are people who want to take this away. Gov. of Mass., Deval L. Patrick wants to change the current system of providing legal representation to poor criminal defendants. Patrick proposes to hire 1,000 additional full-time state attorneys instead of having the state pay private lawyers to represent the poor criminal defendants. “Gov. Deval Patrick recommended that oversight of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPSC) be moved to the executive branch of the state government, and has proposed budget cuts to CPCS and the private bar-advocate program. “(http://www.masscounsel.org/2011/03/09/more-criticism -about-proposed-changes-to-the-massachusetts-public-defense-system/) Patrick says that he wants to save the taxpayers’ money, since private lawyers are expensive. Patrick feels that hiring private, independent lawyers cost more than having lawyers employed by the state. The private lawyers that Patrick wants to get rid of come from nonprofit organizations that are made to help represent poor defendants. There have been many critiques about what Patrick is proposing. According to attorney and bar advocate, Susan Edgett: Bar advocates have been accused of being expensive to the state. But in 98 percent of cases handled by bar advocates, the state pays $50 a billable hour. Out of that amount they are required to pay the costs to maintain their own malpractice insurance, pay their own self-employment tax, and maintain an office with the overhead expenses of computers, paper, and telephone. While not required, if a bar advocate chooses, he or she may obtain at his or her own cost medical/dental/life insurance, continuing education, pension benefits, and office support staff. Conversely, many of these items are provided to the district attorneys’ offices and none of them are included in the $92 million budget often cited by the district attorneys. Should Patrick implement his new public-defender model, these cost benefits will have to be paid by the taxpayer.” (http://www.masscounsel.org/2011/03/09/more-criticism -about-proposed-changes-to-the-massachusetts-public-defense-system/) David P. Hoose, president of Hampden County Lawyers for Justice, which administers the private bar advocate program in Massachusetts has been a lawyer for 31 years. Hoose said, “The best system for providing indigent defense is the one that we have here in Massachusetts. Not only the best for providing quality indigent defense which we should all be concerned about but it is the best bang for your buck.” (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/ 2011/03/lawyers_ask_legislators_to_der.html). Hoose also mentions that defense lawyers who represent poor defendants hardly get rich out of defending them. Hoose mentions that defense attorneys represent poor defendants because they believe that everyone deserves a defense and that the lawyers believe that their clients are innocent. Anthony C. Bonavita, a lawyer who does a large amount of bar advocate work, said “that lawyers who take cases as bar advocates are businessmen who in turn spend money in the city on office rent, meals, business supplies and other things.” (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/ 03/lawyers_ask_legislators_to_der.html). “Bonavita said after doing his tax return he wondered ‘why I continue doing this, I’m probably crazy....But, you do continue doing this because you have a passion for it, and you love the work and the bottom line is you’re trying to help people.’” (http://www.masslive.com/news/ index.ssf/2011/03/lawyers_ask_legislators_to_der.html). Former Northampton District Court Judge W. Michael Ryan criticized Patrick’s proposal, saying, “ “If Governor Patrick truly believes that our system of justice is expensive wait until he sees the price tag of the injustice system he has proposed” (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/ 2011/03/lawyers_ask_legislators_to_der.html). It seems that Patrick has many people criticizing his proposal. They are saying that what Patrick plan on doing won’t save the tax payers money. What will end up happening if Patrick succeeds in his goal is not just costing the taxpayers more money, but will have the poor be represented by lawyers less skilled and qualified than the lawyers they have now. One wonders how what Patrick is proposing is just. What do you think of what Patrick is proposing? What do you think the goal of the legal system should be? What do you think about the points I brought up? Gary Rome Auto Group would love to hear your thoughts on what you feel justice is and what Patrick is doing. So please share your thoughts, there is no need to plead the Fifth here.