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Governor Patterson; Santa or Scrooge? Exemption Update Decision Less a Week Away

Within a week, we will know if Governor Patterson will be delivering a holiday present to bankruptcy and judgment debtors, or if there will be only coal in their stockings. The bankruptcy exemption update bill was sent to the governor December 15, and he has 10 days to veto it (excluding Sundays and holidays), or else it will automatically become law. By my calculation, "V" day is December 28.

Earlier today (Tuesday, Dec. 21), New York City bankruptcy attorney Charles Juntikka organized a press conference at the state capital for supporters of the update bill. Mr. Juntikka brought in two of his bankruptcy clients from New York to present a human face to the problem of antiquated motor vehicle exemptions. Each have cars with equity above New York's $2,400 exemption limit, an amount set in 1982 and not changed since. One used her car to get to work and to transport her disabled mother; the other delivered car parts for a living. Both stand to lose their employment if they cannot pay their bankruptcy trustee the excess above the current exemption.

Joining Mr. Juntikka at the conference was Russ Haven, staff attorney at NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group); bankruptcy professor S. David Cohen of Pace University Law School, Kristen O'Keefe from the Empire Justice Center; bankruptcy professor Edward Janger of Brooklyn Law School, and myself, representing the western end of New York State.

The press conference took place at 11:00 this morning in the Legislative Office Building, across the street from the New York State Capitol Building. Attending the press conference included representatives of WNYT Channel 13 Albany; the Associated Press, the Albany Times Union, and a student political journal.

After the conference, Mr. Juntikka, Mr. Haven and I dropped by the Albany office of the Gannett News Service and discussed the issue with Cara Matthews. Later in the day, Mr. Haven phoned Jonathan Epstein, business reporter at the Buffalo News, and I also called him with the Western New York angle on this story.

As of this evening (12/21), there were already two internet links concerning the press conference:

Rick Karlin, Capitol bureau in General; Albany Times Union Capital Confidential December 21, 2010: "Advocates to Patterson: Don't Be a Scrooge"

WNYT Channel 13 Albany: Increase urged in protected Amounts During Bankruptcy Filing; by Bill Lambdin; posted Dec. 21, 2010

My picture accompanies the Times Union article, and I can be seen in the back of the group scene in the Channel 13 vid.

Mr. Scribner's wardrobe courtesy of Hickey Freeman, Rochester New York.


Good job on this issue, Pete. I spoke with one of the Buffalo trustees the other day, and he had heard that if the Guv does nothing, it may constitute a "pocket veto" since the Legislature is not in session.

A friend of mine works in one of the local Assembly offices, and I've been pushing to get him on Patterson to do the right thing.

Thanks for the compliment, and keep up the good work. Although you wouldn't know it, the legislature is still, technically, in session (the Assembly is, I understand, "at the call of the speaker.") So this is definitely a 10 day bill.

True; the Albany Times Union online posted their story about the exemption update law half an hour before I did, but, hey, they are like a real newspaper and I'm just a guy with a laptop.

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Peter R. Scribner, Esq.
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