Letter to Councilor Jake Barrett


June 6, 2013

Hon. Jake Barrett

Syracuse Common Councilor

City Hall

300 E. Washington Street

Syracuse, NY 13202

Re: Sound Garden

 Dear Councilor Barrett:

I am a lawyer and small business owner. I have recently relocated my legal practice from the Northside of Syracuse back downtown to enjoy the vibrancy and energy that downtown offers as well as the proximity to the Courthouse and other offices I need.

One of the things that excited me most about being back downtown is the proximity I would be to Sound Garden. Sound Garden has and remains to be one of my favorite downtown shopping venues. Unfortunately your actions, and yours alone seem to be placing a death knell on Sound Garden’s door.

Sound Garden’s first store, on Walton Street over the Empire Brewing Company was a wonderfully eclectic mix of record store and gathering place. Often times, I would spend my lunch hour browsing the collection of CD’s available for purchase both new and used. Ultimately the management installed listening stations (one of the first local stores to do so) in order to allow the listener to gain an appreciation of what it was they were about to purchase.  At no time then, or now was there any acknowledged or known illegal activity taking place there.

Subsequently, Sound Garden moved to its present location. Not only did it have the opportunity to expand its selection of music, movies and novelties, the company took advantage of its new location to provide a service to the community. Sound Garden held movies and concerts for the benefit of the community, at no cost and they were fun and well attended.

Now, they are leaving. They have become overburdened by the necessities of legislation drafted by you. They have become unable to work with a Council where the Councilor responsible for working with Sound Garden is taking every opportunity to work against this store. You should be ashamed.

At a time when our national and local economy is reinventing itself, we need more Sound Gardens.

It is my hope that you take every step to redress this wrong. It is my hope that you will reach and find a way to make this treasured landmark a continued part of Armory Square. However, it is my expectation that you will do neither; instead you will continue to be dogmatic in your approach. Instead of finding ways to encourage small business growth you will continue to work against it, that is my expectation from you.

Therefore, the only way to counteract this to effectuate the change in leadership that is necessary to move Syracuse forward. Good luck with your reelection campaign, I’ll be supporting your opponent.

Very truly yours,

Todd S. Engel

Engel Law Offices now in Saratoga

We’ve been going through some big changes at Engel Law Offices in the last few months…in addition to our recent move from State Street to the State Tower Building in Syracuse, we now have an office in Saratoga Springs.

Equine Law is the threshold area of our Saratoga practice, representing owners, trainers, jockeys and breeders in all aspects of the industry. This includes formation of racing entities, licensing issues.

Saratoga is an important place for me, as I have spent many years part time in the area. I’m looking forward to growing my practice, not just in equine law, but throughout the other areas of our practice. It will be an honor and privilege to represent the community I have come to know.


120 West Avenue
Suite 216
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 490-1770

Soundgarden Needs our Help

I read the article on Syracuse.com with respect to how new legislation in the City of Syracuse is impacting the ability of Sound Garden to remain operational.


Sound Garden is an eclectic and wonderful store. It started 16 years ago on Walton Street, above Empire Brewing Company and quickly became my go to place to buy music and dvds. It is a dying  breed: a true independent music store that sells pre-owned cd’s and dvds as well as new issues. They carry all types of music from big band to alternative rock and rap and everything in between. The store became so successful that several years ago, they moved into a stand alone building adjacent to Onondaga Creek and the new creek walk. If you ever want to get lost for a few hours browsing music old school style, go there and look through their collection; you will be amazed.

If Syracuse Common Councilor Jake Barrett has his way, you won’t have much longer to go, so hurry.

The Syracuse Common Council has enacted legislation regarding “second hand” stores, whereby sellers of previously owned merchandise must keep strict record keeping with the Syracuse Police Department.  The owners of Sound Garden have stated that by virtue of the large volume of pre-owned merchandise they take in per day they would be overly burdened by this restriction.  This is especially true since there are no allegations of selling stolen music or videos. As a result, the owners of Sound Garden appealed to Councilor Barrett to obtain a waiver.

Councilor Barrett has stated he has “no intention” of granting a waiver for this successful business. If his mind isn’t changed, Sound Garden intends to leave downtown, closing a successful well run business that adds a lot to our community. We as an electorate need to reach out to Councilor Barrett and the other Councilors on the Common Council.

As a local business owner and one who supports locally owned or independent businesses as much as possible, I encourage you to write  or call Councilor Barrett. I am discouraged that this Administration will not work with a successful business in finding a way to work things out.

Please take a minute to make your voice heard on this issue:

Jake Barrett: Room 314 City Hall
Syracuse, New York 13202
Phone: (315) 448-8466
Fax: (315) 448-8423
Email: [email protected]

Techonology and my law practice

Becky Guiles of Boundless Media recently asked me to post a guest blog about my usage of technology in my law practice. If you would like to read that click here  

I have always been a tech geek. I think that technology has only increased the ability to practice law. I know it has made me more accessible to my clients, which is good. It has broadened my reach so that I am able to represent clients throughout New York State far easier than I could before.

Skype has been a blessing for this type of representation for it allows face to face conversations with clients no matter where they are.

In my view technology in my practice is definitely a blessing.


In addition to my board involvement. I have been proud to be a sponsor at various community events this past year. Sponsorship is an important way to develop and strengthen community awareness of your product, service or practice.

I was a proud sponsor of the New York State Blues Fest this summer. It was wonderful to see our community gather for such fantastic music. I am looking forward to returning next year as a sponsor.

Engel Law Offices is a proud member of Syracuse First. Syracuse First is a community organization started three years ago  to think about developing a locally first attitude regarding business decisions within the Syracuse area. In that time it has grown to over 300 members and is an exciting grass roots organization in our community.

We have also sponsored the  Jewish Music and Cultural Festival held in September at the Jewish Community Center in Syracuse. This festival highlights Jewish Culture and music of all kinds.

Giving back to the community is key to growing and developing a vital Syracuse.



I’m on the board!

I’m really excited to announce that I have recently been elected to the board of directors for the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation.

The foundation was originally created in the 1990’s to provide a camp for children suffering from AIDS.

As AIDs/HIV became a more manageable disease, the need for a camp devoted solely for these patients diminished, so the foundation joined forces with Camp TLC, a group that provides a mobile camp experience to kids living in isolated circumstances such as shelters, group homes and hospitals.


“We are pleased to have recently elected Todd to the Board of Directors. Todd is primarily involved with one of the Foundation’s programs, Camp TLC (Together Living a Challenge) and has agreed to also serve as Site Coordinator for the Saratoga session of Camp, a special session that brings a week of summer camp to children of the backstretch as well as children from the local Domestic Violence Shelter. His energy and enthusiasm for Camp as well as the Foundation will be a great asset and we are all looking forward in him helping us grow the organization”

~ Caroline Baumis, Executive Director

I’m honored to be a part of this great organization and thrilled to be working on the Saratoga camp session. I’ll be posting updates on our events here.

Results of the Birthday Challenge

My birthday challenge has come to an end.

My goal was to reach 1000 likes by midnight on my birthday March 28, and I would donate $1000 to 2 local charities – the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center and Camp TLC.


During the challenge, I realized that a lot of people liked the individual post rather than the fan page. So, while I only reached 702 likes (doubling my original number!), if I add on all the likes received for related posts, I exceeded my goal. I’m thrilled to be writing a check for $500 to the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center and $500 to Camp TLC.

Thank you for helping me celebrate another trip around the sun – I appreciate everyone’s support, and I am grateful for the interest in Engel Law Offices. I’ll continue to update the page with various aspects of my practice and legal stories of note.

My Birthday Challenge: Can you help me reach my goal?

On March 28, 2012 I’ll celebrate my birthday.


It’s a long standing tradition in my family for the person celebrating a birthday to give something away. We receive gifts, but we always give something as well.

This year , I want to give back to both of the communities I practice in. Syracuse and Saratoga both mean a great deal to me. The people have supported me and my law practice.  For that I am very grateful and believe it is time to give back.

Two organizations near and dear to my heart are the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, which is a non-profit organization in Syracuse dedicated to ending child abuse through intervention and education and Camp TLC, an on the move camping program based downstate that delivers a week of camp to children living in hospitals, group homes, and shelters across the country at no charge.

One of Camp TLC’s programs is a week long camp during the Saratoga thoroughbred race meet for kids of the backstretch employees, grooms, hotwalkers and other stable help who otherwise would not have the ability to send kids to camp for the summer.

Here is my challenge to you:

As I write this, my Facebook page sits at 391 likes. If I can reach 1000 likes by midnight on my birthday – 30 days from now – I will donate $1000, $500 to each organization.

Will you help? Please share this post.

Superbowl can be Super Expensive

This Sunday, the New York Giants will take on the New England Patriots in Superbowl XVI.

It is a  great time to enjoy the finality of the football season with friends and family. Share some drinks, eat some food and watch the game or the ads, whichever is your pleasure.

However, please make sure that if you are drinking, don’t drive. The Syracuse newspapers have already published an article saying that there will be roadblocks throughout Syracuse this weekend.  A DWI can have enormous personal implications.

Generally a DWI is charged as a misdemeanor which means it is  a criminal offense punishable by up to a year in jail. Additionally, fines and surcharges are added on to this charge and conviction. Further (at least in Onondaga County) an alcohol evaluation to determine if there is a problem requiring further treatment is required. Even if a favorable disposition is negotiated, insurance rate increases and suspension of your driving privileges will result.

If you own a bar, you too can be held liable if someone injures an individual through a DWI.

Through laws called the Dram Shop Act, restaurants and bars can be held liable for over serving a customer when that customer causes an accident and injures himself or others. It is extremely important that as a bar owner or bartender you monitor the consumption of your customers. While some owners feel it is not their place to “babysit” their customers, it is far better than losing the ability to sell and serve alcohol.

So, whether you are out with friends for the Superbowl or own the business they are in, just remember what Sarge said on Hill Street Blues:

Be careful out there.