Letter to Councilor Jake Barrett

Soundgarden

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

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.

Soundgarden

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]

Sponsorships

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.

 

Todd

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

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

OMG!

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.

Why I love being a general practitioner

I love being a general practioner!

I represent corporations and individuals in such a wide and varied area of the law. I handle matters involving business planning and ultimate representation, estate planning, civil litigation, personal injury litigation, real estate, and equine law.  I have and do represent people criminally, as well as in Family Court.

Each day and case offers me a new opportunity to expand my knowledge in the law. But more importantly, it allows me to guide and assist my client in a way that is best for them. While each practice area may be different in scope and focus, the goal at the end of the day is always the same; get the best result for the client.

While each practice area has definite differences, they all excite me and keep me interested and involved. I love that one morning I can be working on a complaint in a personal injury matter and that afternoon I can be working with a family to figure out how best to plan their estate.

The saying goes variety is the spice of life. With my practice, my life is therefore definitely spicy! Which is how I like it.

Todd Engel

Engel Law Offices

[email protected]

The audacity of people

I realize that the story I am about to share may not compare to the swindling that Bernie Madoff executed, but from my perspective it is actually worse. In today’s Syracuse Post Standard, there was an article detailing the scheme conducted by Jerome Feldman involving those must vulnerable: families in need of a transplant.

Allegedly, Feldman concocted a scheme where he would solicit opportunites to obtain a transplant in the Philippines if money was sent to his bank account in DeWitt, NY. The individual awaiting the transplant was instructed to wire $70,000 into Feldman’s bank account. Medical staff would then be available in the Philippines to conduct the transplant, or so Feldman said. The problem was, once the patient flew to the Philippines, no organ was there and the money was gone.

Feldman preyed upon those individuals who are looking for any hope possible for their loved one. I know, I was there; not one of Feldman’s victims, but a family member of a person on a transplant list. My mother was on dialysis for 15 years, before her death in 2006. She started with home dialysis and progressively needed the centers. She did it three times a week, and it prolonged her life. For about 10 years of the dialysis she was on the transplant lists until she became so compromised with additional illnesses that she had to be removed. Every time the phone rang, we hoped it was the transplant center letting us know that a kidney was there. We came close, but never found that perfect match. So, I know firsthand the desire to gain more time through obtaining a new organ.

Feldman’s acts were not acts of kindness. They were not acts of benevolence from one man to another. He was motivated by one thing: greed. Taking advantage of those people who are looking for any hope necessary is in my opinion the lowest form of the low. For the families who are suffering at the hands of Jerome Feldman, I am deeply sorry. For those of us who were families of people either waiting for or receiving transplants, it proves that we must go through the system for the private market organ transplant is fraught with thieves and miscreants who only want to take advantage of the situation.

Jerome Feldman Story

Todd Engel

[email protected]

Legal Planning in a Different Economy

When I look around my community, I see a totally new and evolving economic paradigm. Sure there are layoffs everywhere. Circuit City closes and there are 30,000 fewer jobs. Magna may close their local plant eliminating what at its height was 8,000 jobs in the automobile industry. Five years ago, who would have ever thought that Lehman Brothers would no longer be in existence? If you ask me, it is a time for opportunity to grow and develop a business.

Globally the economy is shrinking. This is no surprise from picking up the newspapers. However, that offers an opportunity for an enterprising person to open and develop a new business. In my view, the old economy of manufacturing and big business is no longer viable in today’s marketplace. The manufacturing is being accomplished in other countries where the costs of doing business are less. These only makes sense in a capitalistic society, if I can make it cheaper and sell it on the marketplace, then why do I need to pay the overhead, taxes and other costs of manufacturing in this country. So, how are we going to survive and what can a lawyer do to help?

The best way to reinvigorate the economy in times such as the now is to invest in ourselves and be creative. For some, that means thinking outside the box of what they know to look for employment in new areas. For others, it is to examine what their strengths are and to start their own business. My thinking is the small to medium sized businesses are going to drive this economy forward because those are the businesses that are going to roll up their sleeves and move us forward through creative work. What industry that is in is to be determined. However this is an exciting time to be involved in legal representation of small closely held businesses.

How does a lawyer help you? A good business lawyer can help in each facet of business planning. Whether it is setting up a good quality business plan., determining the right entity to begin this venture with, whether it is a solo proprietorship, general partnership, limited liability partnership, or corporation, a lawyer can guide you through the process and help fill out the appropriate documentation. A lawyer will work with you to project financing needs and developing strategies for obtaining startup capital. A lawyer can advise as to the tax implications of owning versus renting your business location and other depreciation techniques. Use a lawyer at the beginning who you trust, and it can be mean money saved down the line.

Todd Engel

[email protected]

Follow me on Twitter

Join me on LinkedIn

WHY LAW AND WHY SPECIALIZE?

More often than not, people I meet invariably ask me what I do for a living. It is common place to ask that question, because it allows you to learn more about the person you are interacting with. I always answer that I am a lawyer. Never do I say that I am a certain type of lawyer. I let that conversation develop over time.

I then am asked why you became a lawyer. The short quip is that I am genetically predisposed, after being the third generation in my family to practice law. That is a flippant response that really does not touch on the real reason I became a lawyer. I have a desire to help people and the law offers me that opportunity to help my clients achieve their goals and desires.

So, then the question as to what type of law I practice comes up. For the first ten years of my practice, I said I was a general practitioner. I wanted to be that lawyer everyone went to for issues from cradle to grave. I did divorces, I did DWI’s. I did trusts, estates and probate. I even dabbled in Worker’s Compensation. I was everywhere and spread very thin in what expertise in any subject I could provide. I had a choice to make, I could specialize and find my niche or continue to spread myself across all aspects of the law and not truly have a focus for myself or my clients.

I changed that starting this year. I am now focused on wealth development and preservation. Sounds great Todd, but what does that mean? It means that I am focused on establishing and representing small and closely held businesses from their inception through successful operation. It means that I represent individuals in making sure that their assets are protected for the future. It means that I will make sure that the estate planning necessary for individuals meet their needs and the needs of their family. It means that I will make sure that assets survive for children and future generations. I also will work to determine the best ways to make sure any charitable gifts are done in the best manner.

Todd Engel

[email protected]

Follow me on Twitter

My Linked In profile