Today’s Dolan Wrap-Up Brought To You By the Letters O and G

letter-o.gifIf you want to keep track of how the environmental ethic is being translated into office building construction, you can’t do better than to read our Daily Journal of Commerce in Portland, Oregon. In fact, they’ve created a special “Sustainability Feed,” if you want to keep track of green developments in the Rose City.

How many “Sustainability Feeds” do you suppose you can put on your RSS reader?

The latest DJC story on that topic is about the city of Portland creating a less expensive alternative for tenant improvements to earn LEED certification, the gold star for sustainability that businesses increasingly want to show off. At least in Portland.

“A building is what it is,” Byron Courts, director of engineering services for real estate developer Melvin Mark Cos., said. “All we can do is improve it.”

For Melvin Mark, the improvement potential is on the inside, with the 3 million square feet of office space the company controls. And by tailoring the city of Portland’s G/Rated Tenant Improvement Guide to create company specific outlines, Courts and the rest of the team at Melvin Mark try to push green improvements on a big scale.

The G/Rated program got its start in 2000 as Commissioner Dan Saltzman pulled promotion of green building in the city into an Office of Sustainable Development-housed resource for demonstration projects, policy development, outreach, incentives – and free technical assistance for owners and tenants.

The G/Rated guide for tenants, created in pursuit of healthy and highly efficient workspaces, covers the how-to for office space improvements. The guide got its start in 2002, OSD green building specialist Mike O’Brien said, when Metro funneled OSD a little money to study construction waste – and why contractors weren’t recycling.

“The number one reason was,” he said, “nobody asked us to.”

You know what they say: Today Portland, tomorrow the world…

In that other U.S. state that starts with “O,” ubiquitous sustainability efforts might be a little ways off. But it’s a great time to get into the oil and gas business. At least that’s what Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association President Mike Terry tells The Journal Record.

“It’s an exciting time for the state. For the first time, gross production taxes were over $1 billion in the state.”

The industry has had a lot of attention lately, partly because it’s on such a profitable run.

“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity for young people to get into this business, start new careers and make good money,” Terry said. “Southeastern Oklahoma is a very exciting place right now because of the Woodford Shale development. Also, in western Oklahoma the deep drilling going out there is also exciting. It takes a lot of capital to drill out there, but when you look all over the state, it’s a great time because of all the exploration and activity.”

Those in oil and gas also are targeted from time to time by others outside of the business, Terry said.

“At a time like this, it tends to be an attitude by some people that oil and gas industry should pay for everybody’s problems,” he said. “We feel like we pay our fair share. Counties have tried to take advantage of the industry on the ad valorem tax side of things. We have tried to deal with that over the last several years.”

letter-g.jpg

The other “G” they’re talking about in Oklahoma: Gaming. Tribal casinos see that market getting saturated soon, so the tribes are looking into new kinds of business — in partnership with the state government.

Neal McCaleb, a former state representative and chairman of the board of Chickasaw Nation Industries, said tribes need to move into the business enterprise arena in order to bring themselves closer to self-sufficiency.

Congress gave the tribes an opportunity through gaming, he said.

“We’ve taken advantage of it,” McCaleb said.

However, he said that window will at some point close or become more competitive as other states, including Texas, consider venturing into gaming. Oklahoma’s tribal casinos receive much of their customer base from neighboring states.

McCaleb said the Chickasaws formed a federally chartered corporation that is separate from the tribe for purposes of economic development.

He said that placing more land in trust as tribal land would work to the ultimate benefit of the state as well as the tribes, although that thought is anathema to some.

It is true, he said, that tribal lands are not subject to property taxes.

McCaleb added, however, that businesses created on Indian land create more jobs for more people, resulting in added sales taxes and other revenues to the state.

Here’s another great “G” word — guffaws. According to DC Dicta, the Lawyers USA blog, the Supreme Court justice who gets the most of them is Antonin Scalia.

A review by DC Dicta of official oral argument transcripts revealed that Scalia is the justice cracking ‘em up the most during verbal exchanges in the hallowed halls.

While this revelation will surprise no one who has witnessed oral arguments before the Court, the next one might: right on Scalia’s heels in the funny race is the Chief Justice himself, John G. Roberts, Jr.

Tied for last with zero giggles? Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas gets an asterisk, though. He hasn’t actually said anything yet this term.

Federal prosecutors’ favorite “G” word is, no surprise, “Guilty.” According to Eric T. Berkman, writing in Rhode Island Lawyers’ Weekly, the government wanted to use a withdrawn plea of guilty against a Maine defendant in court. Here are the facts of the case:

In February 2002, police searched the home of Winslow Newbert, a Maine resident, where they discovered 18.3 grams of cocaine.

The defendant later pled guilty in U.S. District Court to narcotics possession with intent to distribute.

The plea agreement contained a clause stating that the defendant would waive his Rule 410 rights should he successfully seek withdrawal of his plea “under circumstances constituting a breach” of the deal. The agreement did not define what would constitute a breach.

Shortly after entering into the agreement, evidence of the defendant’s actual innocence emerged. Accordingly, he sought to withdraw his guilty plea.

According to the defendant, he had decided to plead guilty only to protect his wife and a friend, James Michael Smith. But since entering the agreement, he had learned that his wife had moved in with Smith, who was preparing to testify against him.

The defendant also learned from his daughter that she had seen Smith place a pill bottle in the defendant’s house close to where the police later discovered the cocaine. The defendant’s other daughter informed him that, according to Smith, the cocaine the police discovered was actually his.

Meanwhile, the government had no physical evidence linking the cocaine directly to the defendant. Plus, Smith was to be the prosecution’s sole civilian witness against him.

Ah, but the prosecutors had his guilty plea! Notwithstanding the defendant’s actual lack of culpability, notwithstanding that he was clearly set up by people who intended to do him harm… that plea might sway a jury. That’s a win, right?

The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said no. Actually, “No,” to the power of four.

No, if a judge agrees to the withdrawal of a guilty plea because it was “not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary,” there is no breach of a plea agreement and no waiver of his rights under Rule 410 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

No, if a plea agreement is ambiguous as to what constitutes a breach, the government can’t interpret it in a way that is adverse to the defendant. Said Judge Sandra L. Lynch, “If the government had such a clear idea of what the breach language did or did not cover, it could have said as much in the agreement itself.”

No, the cases cited by the government weren’t relevant. In both citations, the defendants agreed they had breached their agreements — unlike this case.

And no, the case shouldn’t even be before the appellate court in the first place. The prosecution was really challenging the trial judge’s decision to allow the plea withdrawal, not the defendant’s right to exclude the withdrawn plea. “In pressing this dispute here, the prosecution is attempting an end run around the limits of interlocutory appeal.”

Meanwhile…

Long Island Business News reports that some 76,000 jobs in Long Island derive from just four non-profit/government sector employers….

The downtown jazz park project proposed for New Orleans? One of those post-Katrina feel-good ideas. According to New Orleans City Business blogger Deon Roberts, the lack of support from the city and state might’ve finally worn down the project’s main champion….

Back to sustainability…Colorado Springs Business Journal blogger Alex Brown finds a handy list of environmental blogs….

Michigan Lawyer blogger Ed Wesolowski unearths a Boise, Idaho sports bar that has a “no lawyers” policy….

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One Comment on “Today’s Dolan Wrap-Up Brought To You By the Letters O and G”

  1. Sophie Says:

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