ESSEX JUNCTION – The 83rd annual Champlain Valley Fair had one its best seasons ever with 299,168 people – about 1,500 more than 2003 – coming through the gates during the annual 10-day fair, held Aug. 28 to Sept. 6. The slight increase in attendance was due, in part, to enjoying one of the Vermont summers longest stretches of sunny weather during the final week of the fair. From an informal survey of license plates on the grounds, visitors from 41 states and several Canadian provinces attended the fair. From the standpoint of operations and quality, this was an outstanding fair, said David F. Grimm, general manager of the Exposition. We had excellent diversity in our grandstand which accounted for a 15% improvement over 2003. We received many positive comments about the cleanliness of our grounds, the variety of entertainment and the improvements we added this year. The Fair hosted two sell-out concerts for country music superstars Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith. The Fair opened with the good vibes of The Beach Boys. Other concerts included local jam bands Strangefolk and The Samples; a rocking Friday night concert with ZZ Top and nostalgic 35th anniversary tour concert by classic rock band, Yes on the second Saturday night. The remainder of the midweek grandstand shows included a freestyle motorcycle thrill show, Figure 8 Racing, a Demolition Derby and NTPA Grand National Tractor and Truck Pull on Labor Day.The Reithoffers Midway featured 35 rides and many special ride and admission discounts over the 10 days.Free daily entertainment included a live bear show, butter sculpture, an aerial thrill show, a juggling family, hypnotist, caricature artist, racing pigs, petting zoo, musicians and an authentic cowboy chuck wagon. Some $75,000 in competition premiums and prize money was awarded during the fair. Significant increases in entries to the art and photography department were realized, including a Best of Show landscape oil painting which carried a record-setting price tag of $12,000. A heavyweight pumpkin record was set at 1,042-pound pumpkin (previous record: 1,036 pounds in 2003) and it was one of the big surprises in the agricultural area considering the wet summer in the region. More than 150 people, including Vt. Gov. James Douglas, were on hand to honor the 2004 inductees into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame at the Champlain Valley Exposition in a ceremony held during the Fair.International Association of Fairs and Expositions popular summer Read and Win program was offered locally to area youngsters, grades K 5 in five counties. Approximately 1,000 completed the assignment of reading three books over the summer and received free admission to the fair on Aug. 30. Significant improvements were made to the fairgrounds and facilities over the summer for this years fair including the addition of $350,000 three-lane paved road connecting Route 15 and Route 2 to Exposition parking areas; a complete renovation of the Ware Building, including heating and air conditioning for the exhibit hall; and general fix-up and repainting of buildings and landscaping. The 2005 Champlain Valley Fair is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27 to Monday, Sept. 5. Photos from the 2004 Champlain Valley Fair are posted in day-by-day photo albums at www.cvfair.com(link is external), which also include information about the Expositions year-round calendar of events.
November 1, 2003 Regular News Workers’ CompAmendments to Ch. 440, the workers’ compensation law, went into effect on October 1. Those of us who represent injured workers predict that the responsibility for medical care and lost income from injuries on the job will be shifted from the industry served to the taxpayers in general.Fewer and fewer injuries related to employment will be covered by the act. An unintended consequence will be more and more situations where injured workers will be able to escape from under the thumb of the “exclusive remedy” and bring their grievances into the court system. This will shift the cost of adjudication from the Administrative Trust Fund set up under Ch. 440 to pay the cost of the administration of the system from a premium tax on carriers and self-insurers, to the taxpayers. Court funding will need an increase, not a decrease, if the predictions come true. Mark Zientz Miami Legal Needs of ChildrenI am a retired attorney and a volunteer guardian ad litem in Brevard County. I have been following all the letters and articles in the recent issues of the News, and am pleased to see that so much interest has been generated on the problems of underrepresented children.I agree that something is very wrong with a system that takes seven attorneys two years (and countless appeals) to effect the adoption of one child. How many of these children will ever find themselves in the serendipitous circumstances of this little boy? And what are the rest of them supposed to do?Here in Brevard County we have only enough GALs to appoint one in approximately 50 percent of the cases.Mr. Dutkiewicz’s letter in the October 1 News points out several of the problems, but, as he himself admits, most people would find his solutions too draconian. It’s the age-old problem of finding a balance between the “rights” of the parents to “possession” of their children, and protecting those innocent children.Oftentimes (sometimes justifiably) parents who have been caught up in the “system,” and have had their children removed, accuse DCF of Gestapo tactics. But at the same time, children are returned to their parents prematurely and end up dead. Even though the legislature has acted to change the language of the statutes to emphasize “the best interests of the child,” all too often there still seems to be an inexorable push to return the child to the parents at any cost. It seems the “rights” of the parents have to be protected at all costs, much like in the criminal system where the alleged criminal’s rights take precedence over the innocent victim.I guess if we want to be truly draconian, we could just scrap the entire dependency process altogether. (Getting rid of DCF would make a lot of people happy, and balance the budget overnight.) We could just apply property law, since it seems that these children are viewed as the rightful property of their parents anyway.Finding a solution is going to require the involvement of every concerned citizen. New laws are not the answer, as the laws we have aren’t being properly applied. We need education and awareness so that we can find a workable process for balancing these ever-conflicting interests. Marjorie S. Green Satellite Beach Family LawThe Family Law Section is seeking comments on whether there should be a presumption that children of divorcing couples should spend equal time with each parent.The answer is obviously no. We are all different. Children are all different. There should be no presumption whatsoever regarding anything to do with children.The presumption that children of divorcing couples should spend equal time with each parent is intrusive, not in the best interest of the children, not in the best interest of the parents, et cetera. The presumption would negatively impact upon all of those parents who work five days per week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Do they have to leave work early to pick up the children at school? Do they have to hire a stranger to pick up the children at school while they finish their work day? What about parents who travel, such as airline pilots, professional athletes, entertainers, and the like? Should they look for another career because they have to spend 50 percent of their time with their children? If there is a presumption and they don’t spend 50 percent of their time with their children, are they bad parents? Stephen H. Buttler Aventura Conflict CounselAs part of Revision 7 to Article V of the Florida Constitution, in July the state will assume responsibility for funding “conflict defense legal services.”The Article V Indigent Services Advisory Board, created by the legislature to help guide this transition, is currently preparing its recommendations, including which “due process services for indigents. . . should be. . . bid competitively on a circuit, region, or statewide basis.”Cutting through the legislative jargon, the state is considering whether to assign “conflict defense counsel” on a “low bid” selection process.As a criminal defense attorney with 22 years experience, I find this proposal highly inconsistent with Florida’s constitutional obligation to provide “effective assistance of counsel.”The “low bid” selection process is a bad idea, giving the appearance of fiscal responsibility while hiding significant costs — wasted court time, expenditure of finite court resources, additional delays, and larger court dockets.Implementing a statewide “low bid” selection process would institutionalize a practice, presently only in limited use, that is designed to assign too many cases and clients to too few (and sometimes the least experienced) attorneys.For the system to function optimally, the accused individual’s choice to enter a plea, exercise the right to a jury trial, or to assert a particular defense must be a knowing and voluntary decision, a decision that the accused must acknowledge as his own and accept its consequences completely. For that decision to be sufficiently “knowing,” the accused must have adequate time to consult with the assigned conflict attorney. The “low bid” approach negates the attorney’s most precious asset, the time he or she has available to consult with and advise their client.The most frequent complaint by an accused individual is the lack of opportunity to consult with their appointed attorney. When this complaint arises, the trial court judge must devote valuable courtroom time allowing the accused individual to state his complaint.Implementing a “conflict defense counsel” system that emphasizes the appointed attorney’s qualifications and maximizes that attorney’s time available for clients will reduce the most common complaint that diminishes the effectiveness of the criminal court system.A second related problem is that the board, and probably the legislature, will likely attach only minimal qualifications for conflict defense counsel. Presently, only “participation” in five criminal trials and being a member of The Florida Bar will allow an attorney to “bid competitively” for conflict cases. A conflict defense attorney with no felony trial experience might be assigned to a serious and complex case involving life felonies.There is another option: a registry of qualified attorneys who accept cases on a rotation basis. This proposal increases the number of private attorneys available to accept conflict assignments and maximizes the time those attorneys have for clients. In the “registry” option, more emphasis can be placed on the qualifications of the attorneys and fiscal responsibility is maintained by legislating fair hourly rates and realistic caps on attorneys’ fees.To the Article V Indigent Services Advisory Board and the Florida Legislature, I say, “I am more than a ‘due process service provider,’ ” a term that implies only a passive role in the criminal justice system deserving a mere pittance in compensation. I am an advocate, actively representing my client and ensuring that the criminal justice system operates within constitutional and statutory bounds. Most important, I am the legal advisor to my client. I, and other private practice conflict defense counsel, must be given the time to properly advise our clients. Otherwise, recurring litigation over “ineffective assistance of counsel” complaints will further tax an already overburdened and underfunded criminal justice system. Without time to advise our clients, “justice for all” can never be achieved.Joe D’Achille Titusville Inventory AttorneyThe August 15 News article “When lawyers die are the clients protected?” makes valid points for the requirement of each attorney to designate an inventory attorney. However, the Bar should recognize that a requirement for designation of an inventory attorney for each and every attorney is unnecessary.From my own recent experience, where an attorney died unexpectedly, and I was appointed as the inventory attorney to reconcile the firm, I appreciate the desirability for pre-designation of an inventory attorney as recommended by the Bar. I suggest that this requirement should be limited to those attorneys whose position, practice structure, or business designation makes him or her solely and directly responsible for his or her clients’ interests.A lawyer employed at a large incorporated firm, partnership, or in the public sector would necessarily have a framework to assure the lawyer’s obligations to its clients are protected with competence and care. Indeed, depending on the category of the practitioner (sole practitioner, sole shareholder in an incorporated firm) the mandatory requirement for inventory attorney designation is not only desirable, but a must. The circumstances where this designation should be required would be determined by the information identified in each attorney’s membership dues form because of the predictability and/or presumption that client protection issues would be built-in based on the attorney’s form of practice. Those in public employment, large firms, or partnerships would presumably have an inherent framework to deal with client protection issues upon the death, disability, or disbarment of a lawyer in such practice structures.While the requirement for inventory attorney designation is a legitimate and effective means to protect the paramount interests of an attorney’s clients, the preferred course would be to decide this requirement’s applicability, based on the attorney’s practice designation on any membership dues form, membership records change of address form, etc., based on the type and ownership of the practice.The mandatory requirement for inventory attorney designation should be limited to those lawyers whose practice structure makes him or her the only lawyer responsible for his or her clients.Hopefully, the Bar will recognize the appropriate circumstances where lawyers would be required to designate their inventory attorney. Andrew M. Bragg Tallahassee November 1, 2003 Letters
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has issued a fatwa on compulsory Muslim prayers specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.MUI Fatwa Council chair Hasanuddin said in a written statement on Monday that Muslims in areas where COVID-19 had spread “uncontrollably” were “not permitted to perform Friday prayers in those areas until the situation returns to normal”.“They are obliged to replace [the Friday prayer] with the zuhr [midday] prayer [at home]. Likewise, it is [forbidden] to hold religious activities that involve large numbers of people that could further spread COVID-19,” Hasanuddin said in the statement. He added that Muslims in areas “less affected” by COVID-19 could perform the Friday prayer at mosques. However, people were encouraged to minimize physical contact, bring their own prayer mats and wash their hands diligently.The MUI also prohibited Muslims who tested positive for COVID-19 from attending Friday prayer at mosques, and instructed them to replace the obligatory Friday prayer with the zuhr at home.”It is haram for a [person with] COVID-19 to carry out sunnah activities that create opportunities for contagion, such as performing the daily prayers in congregation, the tarawih [special Ramadan prayer] and the Eid prayer at mosques and other public places, as well as attending public [Quranic] recitations or majelis taklim [Quran study groups],” the fatwa stated.The statement also said that the bathing the bodies of the dead should be carried out by medical authorities in compliance with their protocols and with regard to Islamic law.Hasanuddin added that funeral prayers and burials should be conducted as usual, but with precautions in order to avoid exposure to COVID-19.The fatwa council also stated that actions that caused panic and/or public losses, such as hoarding basic necessities and face masks, were haram. On March 16, Indonesia reported 134 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including five deaths. The virus has spread throughout the country, including major regions like Jakarta, Yogyakarta, West Java, Central Java, Banten, Bali, North Sulawesi and West Kalimantan. (aly)Topics :