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Archive for February, 2010

Tiger Woods

It was impossible to miss Tiger Woods ‘ apologies. It was everywhere. What this poor fellow said sounded totally foreign to me. Whom in hell was he apologizing to? To advertisers or TV channels whose revenues might be affected by the fall of the star? Then be clear man, talk to them. Because if you are talking to me, you missed your target. I have no claim on your moral rectitude. And around me, I don’t see anybody who does either.

Thanks to Tiger Woods’ exercise in contrition, do-gooders and most of the media had their attention diverted from much

Gregory Taylor

more important apologies. Apologies that matter.  That of the Wake County (North Carolina) district attorney, C. Colon Willoughby Jr. to Gregory F. Taylor. Why? Taylor had just been cleared by a special state innocence commission -unfortunately the only one in the nation- of the accusation of murdering a prostitute in 1991. He was wrongfully convicted and spent 16 years in jail. I wonder if he accepted the district attorney’s apologies.

Every time I go to Manhattan Family Court, I read on the wall at the entrance “exact and equal justice for all” (Jefferson). There is a bunch of non-custodial fathers who would not mind to see family courts taking on seriously the apology business.

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What is the likelihood that a custodial parent would abduct his child? Close to nil. Indeed, why would  a custodial parent take

Curvelo and daugher Jennifer

a  chance to jeopardize his parental rights with an abduction? Now, what is the likelihood that the same custodial parent would abduct his child and bring it to Haiti after the devastating earthquake that shook this country? Nil. Haiti is not exactly the place where to bring a child now.

That’s the story that model Maria Vianna, who lives in New York City, tried to sell to Manhattan Family Court. Her husband, anchorman Rony Curvelo, has the custody of his daughter Jennifer and they both live in Brazil. Curvelo mistakenly sent an email his ex that was destined to his producer, asking about covering the earthquake in Haiti. That was it. As he was waiting for Jennifer at Kennedy Airport in January, he was served with paper and could not bring Jennifer to Brazil.

Eventually judge Sosa-Lintner dismissed this no- brainer case. That’s no sign tough that Manhattan Family Court has broken with its old evils. The amazing twist of this case is that in Manhattan Family Court, Vianna’s story can even fly.  On the sole basis of this baroque accusation of planning to abduct  his daugher  to Haiti, Curvelo temporarily lost his parental rights. Sosa-Lintner indeed granted Vianna temporary custody of Jennifer. Non-custodial fathers know that in family court, you are guilty until proven innocent. Curvelo was guilty of the accusation to intend to commit a crime and preventively lost his parental rights for a while. He was cleared from this accusation. Champagne!

President Obama is closing Guantánamo.  I believe he  would be well inspired not to get rid only of a symbol of a model of justice, but of the model of justice itself. Family “justice” is part of it.

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Yesterday February 5, I called New York State Child Support Help Line (1 888 208 4485). At the beginning of this month, I discovered that $1875 had been garnished out of my paycheck. That is 32.6% of my gross income, instead of the 25% for two children that New York State Child Support Laws stipulate. My child support obligations are $1,250 a month and I have a pending case in court for unreimbursed medical expenses that are not reimbursed because ex-wife does not want to use my health insurance. I wanted to know who was the sensitive fellow who made the decision to leave me with just enough money to cover my rent and utilities. No food for me this month.

The nasty New York Child Support Help Line operator (whose call center is not located in India, I checked with her) brushed away my concerns. 32.6% of my gross income gone? Peanuts. The State can legally garnish up to 65% of your gross income. In fact I am a lucky man, and the bureaucrat from New York State Child Support Processing Center in Albany who deals with my case a sensitive fellow indeed.

Let see. You are the average fellow whose income and payroll taxes amount to 30% of your gross income. New York State garnishes another  65% of your gross income. You are left with 5 cent out of each dollar you earn. If you are taxed more than 30%, you are left with literally nothing.

New York State residents are blessed. In addition to Jim Crow Policing in New York City (read the excellent Bob Hebert Op-Ed piece in the February 2 New York Times), we have Jesse James family justice for non-custodial parents. The State strip searches you and takes everything you have in your pockets. Until next time.

When and how come have theses laws ever  been enacted? When are these politicians – republicans and democrats- who voted these laws going to be sacked out of office?

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I am one of these folks who was thrilled by Obama’s victory a year ago.  I truly thought that with a Democratic President, a super majority in the Senate, a public option would finally compete with private plans. I was savoring the not-so-far -away day, I mistakenly thought, I would opt out of a private plan and join the public option. I guess not. It looks like for the Democrats, without a super majority of 92 senators in the Senate – 60 real ones (the Barney Frank type), 30 from the South plus Nelson and Lieberman- nothing serious  can happen. During the State of the Union address,the President nicely invited the other side of the aisle to let lim know if they had a better plan to cover the uninsured and reduce the deficit at the same time. Good luck.

Now, check this interesting predicament in the supposedly very democrat New York State. By my 2001 divorce agreement,I am responsible for  $2,000 of unreimbursed medical expenses per year for my two girls. With my employer, I have comprehensive health insurance that covers dental and vision expenses for the family. Accessorily I am complying with New York State law, which mandated via medical support order (New York State Civil Practice Law and Rules 5241) that I take health insurance for my children. But  ex-wife does not want to use my health insurance, threatens the health providers to take her business elsewhere if they bill me instead of her and fill insurance forms. Twice a year on average, she takes me to court for unreimbursed medical expenses that could be reimbursed by my insurance. So far, Manhattan family court’s ruling has taken latitude in its interpretation of  New York State law: I have to provide an insurance for my kids but ex-wife can use it only if she pleases. The outcome is the wildest dream come through for the Republicans and private health insurance companies: a mandate to have insurance and a legal denial of benefits. No “medical losses” in insurance companies terminology. 100 % profits.

That’s the problem with democrats. They are sloppy lawmakers, they are sloppy enforcing the law. Perhaps because they don’t know really what they are: republicans.

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