Brooklyn Boro

Will dangers of drones, gyrocopters finally prompt new regulations?

Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister

April 21, 2015 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A gyrocopter illegally landed on the Capitol lawn last week. AP photo
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Several months back, a local photographer made nationwide news when a drone — buzzing around for publicity purposes — suddenly veered off court and sailed right into her head.

She was cut, bruised and stunned, but Gallery 364 proprietor Georgine Benvenuto apparently escaped more serious injury when the incident occurred during an indoor press conference to publicize the opening of a new TGIF restaurant.

There were the usual laments from public figures and normal citizens alike, i.e. “We gotta do something about these drones. They’re outta control. Next thing you know, someone will be flying one into the White House!”

By “something,” we all are expecting some controls, rules, regulations — and even laws — governing the use of this potentially very dangerous method of “delivery,” which could result in tragedy if some miscreant armed one of them with high explosives and flew it into a crowd, or a big building.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

We learned that the FAA was indeed formulating plans to regulate the growing use of drones, which are now available in stores near you and through the mail. (UPS even discussed the possibility of sending out single packages on special-delivery drones.)

* * *

Florida Mailman Sent Timely, True Message to Congress

Meanwhile, a parallel peril — the loosely licensed use of gyrocopters capable of carrying people and/or explosives — powered into view the other day when a one-man “’copter” sailed through Washington, D.C., coming to rest at the heart of the nation’s capitol.

A 61-year-old man — Florida postman Doug Hughes — fed up with the excesses and failures of the U.S. Congress, piloted his one-man machine from Gettysburg, Penn., directly through one of the most “protected” air spaces in the world.  

Some say he should be punished; others believe he should get a medal for revealing the “make-believe” invincible shield we all thought guarded the center of our government.

Of course, he was arrested and should probably face some charges, which should promptly be dropped, or otherwise dismissed. A bit of a nut? Maybe. But his was an unmistakable message to our lawmakers: Stop the partisan nonsense and get on with the business of governing.

“There’s no question that we need government, but we don’t have to accept that it’s a corrupt government that sells out to the highest bidder,” Hughes said.

It’s hard to disagree.

* * *

Richmond Surrogate Heads Panel Reviewing ‘Pitfalls of Will Drafting’ at Upcoming Bay Ridge Lawyers Session

President Lisa Becker Notes This Is Also a ‘New Member Outreach Meeting’

As part of their continuing CLE program — which, by the way,  was the first such presentation to be held by a Brooklyn legal group almost 20 years ago — the Bay Ridge Lawyers will gather on Wednesday, April 29 to learn about the “Pitfalls of Will Drafting,” according to President Lisa Becker. Hunter’s Steak & Ale House, 9404 Fourth Ave, will host the event.

The presenters there, who will start their delivery at 7 p.m. (following a 6 p.m. collation) compose a very well-informed panel that includes Richmond County Surrogate Robert J. Gigante, Richmond Surrogate Chief Clerk Ronald Cerrachio and Richmond Surrogate Court attorney Irini Bekhit.

In addition, President Becker points out that this will be a “new member outreach meeting” and certificates will be presented to those who are joining for the 2014-15 year.

Other officers include Vice President Grace Borrino, Secretary Stephen Spinelli, Treasurer Margaret Stanton and Corresponding Secretary Joseph Vasile.  Immediate past president is Joann Monaco.

* * *

Brooklyn Bar Association Sets Busy May CLE Agenda

The Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) is moving into an active May season with several vital areas up for assessment and instruction.

On May 4, a panel of veteran lawyers will lend insight into the requirements of Labor Law 240,241(6), a statute that protects workers at potentially dangerous construction sites.

It’s titled “How to Employ a ‘Hurry-Up Offense’ to Fast-Track Your Case From Inception to Settlement.”

The following week, on May 11, an experienced group of attorneys will explore a topic vital to practitioners in many legal areas — “Co-op Apartment Transactions: A Little More Than the Basics.”

Like most other BBA CLE offerings, explains CLE Director Danielle Levine, each 6 p.m. session will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. networking reception at the BBA’s 123 Remsen St. headquarters.

The BBA is headed this year by President Rebecca Woodland, who is ably assisted by Executive Director Avery Okin.

* * *

Relentless Mockery of President Shames the Rule of Law

In a recent PBB column, this writer voiced an opinion that the relentless wars in Washington — and across the nation — were ignited in part by racial resentment unleashed by the election of our first black president. Some (very few) readers disagreed. But last Sunday, the New York Times, in an editorial, directly linked Obama’s race to the endless attacks on his patriotism and competence.

For the record, here’s what we asked in PBB: “When was the last time a leader of another nation — especially one like Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, who is locked in a tight re-election race — was asked to address the U.S. Congress without the prior agreement or advice of the U.S.  president?

“When was the last time 47 U.S. senators communicated directly and publicly with a foreign hostile power, e.g. Iran, at the very same time the U.S. president was negotiating with that hostile power, attempting to save this nation and others from a possible outbreak of war?

“When was the last time a Senate minority leader greeted the election of a new president from another political party by announcing that his (opposing) party would thereafter be dedicated solely to the crippling of each and every action that the new president would take, even if doing so meant endangering national security and  jeopardizing the  funding of Homeland Security?

“One more question: would any of these insults and outright lies directed at the man elected twice to rule from the White House have occurred if he were not our first African-American president? Some, very strongly, believe race is an issue here — an ugly issue.”

* * *

Sunday’s Times Links Race to Obama Hate Campaign

Last Sunday, the New York Times ran an editorial titled “A New Phase in Anti-Obama Attacks,” which noted in part:

“It’s getting more and more difficult to look aside in silent disgust, or remain mute, as  a small, poisonous portion of our body politic continues to take every opportunity to make Barack Obama wish he had never considered entering the race for president.

“Republican lawmakers in Washington and around the country have been focused on blocking Mr. Obama’s agenda and denigrating him personally since the day he took office in 2009.  But even against that backdrop, and even by the dismal standards of political discourse today, the tone of the current attacks is disturbing. So is their evident intent to undermine not just Mr. Obama’s policies, but his very legitimacy as president.

“It is a line of attack that echoes Republicans earlier questioning of Mr. Obama’s American citizenship.  Those attacks were blatantly racist in their message — reminding people that Mr. Obama is black, suggesting he was African, and planting the equally false idea that he was secretly Muslim. The current offensive is slightly more subtle, but it is impossible to dismiss the notion that race plays a role in it.”

* * *

To Some, Attacks on Obama Are Worst Ever on Presidency

This quite visible, race-based assault on Obama is seldom discussed by the television “talking heads” and most newspapers are afraid to touch this depressing issue.  We credit the Times for voicing an opinion on a topic that has led to total disrespect for Congress and everything it does and doesn’t do today.

It seems that some extreme thinkers, encouraged by Fox News, want to convince Americans that we should never again elect a black president. The rule of law means very little to them as they labor to sap every executive power out of the White House.

The Columbia University School of Journalism just completed a thorough study into a terribly written story in Rolling Stone that showed very little regard for the truth, while damning the causes of scores of rape victims with legitimate claims.

Now is the time for a reputable school, such as Columbia, to do an analysis of racist-driven politicians and news outlets to come up with some objective data supporting the Times editorial.  

Racism is hard to quantify, but the evidence is there. Some thorough research on this depressing topic might alert more fair-minded Americans that our form of government is under challenge each day that goes by.

Obama opponents clearly are willing to risk a war or a nuclear holocaust to derail his policies regarding Iran. Their letter to Iranian leaders — the first of its kind in our history — insulting President Obama marks a low point in Washington behavior.


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