Two good things happened yesterday:
• The bill to provide a large public subsidy for the refurbishment of the the Miami Dolphin’s stadium died in Tallahassee. The combination of outrage over the fiasco of the Miami Marlins deal, and the fact that the team’s lead owner is a multi-billionaire seemed to scuttle it.
• Chartwell’s workers (UMiami dining hall workers) voted to unionize.
Given the source — AbovetheLaw.com — I would have been prepared to dismiss it out of hand. But Brian Leiter, who is a very discerning consumer of rankings, says that that the “ATL Top 50” is “not nuts and contains some useful information”. Coming from him, that is fairly high praise.
U.Miami Law comes in at 49th on the list — considerably higher than our usual US News rank, and right near the middle of the range (41-55) I would put us at if I were Ratings Czar. And Yale is #1, so they got that right too.
I was working up a long post on the looming food workers strike against Chartwells, which operates the food court and dining areas at UMiami, but it looks as if there may not be one. Responding, undoubtedly, to pressure from the U, Chartwells has agreed to the workers’ demand for a card check election regarding a union.
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI STATEMENT ON UNIONIZING EFFORTS The University is aware of a possible work stoppage as part of a unionizing effort. Today, we have learned that Chartwells offered the union a card check, and the University is hopeful this will resolve the issues. The University assures the campus community that residential college dining halls and our food court operations will continue as scheduled through the remainder of the semester. The University values its faculty and staff, as well as employees of its contractors, including Chartwells.
This is very good news for the workers and for the rest of us. I would like to think that the faculty letter I and about 300 others signed, and the subsequent action by the UM Faculty Senate played at least a small role in this development.
The Tampa Bay Times has a story about an “alternative spring break program” in which a group of UMiami Law students work in a mobile clinic to help undocumented long-time US residents get deferments from deportation. The story leads with my former Torts student and later research assistant:
Paulina Valanty arrived at the clinic for undocumented immigrants at St. Clement Catholic Church with more than a passing interest.
Valanty, 23, a law student at the University of Miami, used to live in the shadows, worrying about being deported.
“I was undocumented until I was 20. I was very afraid,” she said. “Any time I applied for anything and saw that little box that says ‘Social Security number,’ I was afraid. It was nerve-racking just looking at it.”
Valanty, who today is a citizen, regularly attends clinics like the one held at St. Clement on Tuesday to help young undocumented immigrants seek a change in their status.
Under a modification in federal laws last summer, undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children, brought by their parents, can apply for a deferment to avoid deportation.
Law school faculty email is down … and so is the UM Law web site. They did a big server move Saturday night, and all was supposed to be well by Sunday.
But it isn’t.
Since most law school workstations are set up to rely heavily on the network, I hear they are not working either.
You can contact me at gmail.com using my firstname.lastname before the @. Or you can wait like the rest of us.
Update (3pm): Fixed at last.
Congratulations to colleague Sarah A. Mourer who has just published her first book, Working in Innocence Programs: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Innocence Work But Were Afraid To Ask.
Here’s part of the synopsis:
This book is written for anyone interested in the innocence cause. The problem of wrongful convictions is moving more and more into the public’s eye every day. This book is specifically written to guide a student or participant through an innocence program step by step. It covers everything from how not to get too worried about the clients to how to conduct a client interview. It really is everything you need to know to participate in an innocence program. It is also a valuable resource for those directing innocence programs or hoping to start one. It provides templates for forms and suggestions for best practices for procedures necessary to run an exemplary innocence program. It is a must for any student enrolled in a law school innocence program. It will help the students hit the ground running and allow programs to get help to the clients more efficiently. No other book on the market is available that encompasses all of the major issues for effective innocence work in one convenient place.
This may be the first piece of advice the U has sent me on ID theft that I actually agree with: Tax Season Is Here; File Early to Avoid Scams:
As faculty and staff start receiving their W-2s and other tax documents, it is time to start thinking about filing income tax returns—early. This is also the season when identity thieves go into overdrive, attempting to file fraudulent tax returns. Tax fraud is now the third-largest theft of federal funds after Medicare/Medicaid and unemployment-insurance fraud. South Florida, already the leader in Medicare fraud, is also taking the lead in tax-identity theft. Florida has the highest rate of identity theft in the country, with 178 complaints per 100,000 residents in 2011. Tax-identity theft exploded to more than 1.1 million cases in 2011 from 51,700 in 2008.
Fraudulent tax returns can come in the form of tax-identity theft, refund fraud, or return-preparer fraud. With e-filing, evidence of fraud is difficult to find. There are no signed tax forms, envelopes or fingerprints, and e-filing promises quick refunds. For criminals to e-file in your name, they need your name and Social Security number, combined with a phony W-2 (wages) or fabricated Schedule C (business income). These ID thieves steal your personal information and then use it to file a fake tax return in your name, usually tweaking the numbers to get a large refund. The refund can be posted to an anonymous “Green Dot” prepaid Visa purchased at a drugstore, Wal-Mart, etc. The taxpayer whose ID has been stolen will not find out until he or she attempts to file the real return and then is informed by the IRS that the return has already been filed and the refund sent. That is the primary reason to file as early as possible, before a potential criminal attempts to do so on your behalf. To read the complete tip, including steps to protect your tax identity, please click here.
Interestingly (at least to me) the tip comes from the U’s Office of HIPAA Privacy & Security whose web site suggests it might be run by sensible people. This differentiates it from the junky and fearmongering advice I find strewn on a table at the front of our library at the start of every school year and which is issued by the campus police department.