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Cypen & Cypen
September 18, 2014

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

1. PROPOSED ERISA AMENDMENT COULD SAVE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR EMPLOYERS: A new senate bill calling for an amendment to a controversial section of Employee Retirement Income Security Act is expected to save employers and plan sponsors millions of dollars over the next decade, according to Employee Benefit News. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) first introduced S. 2511 in June, 2014, as a modification to Section 4062(e) of ERISA. The bill mandates that employers and plan sponsors will no longer face stiff payment plans from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation should there be a cessation of a  single-employer pension plan (see C & C Newsletter for September 4, 2014 Item 4, second milestone.) According to the current rule, employers are required to put together financial assurances, whether the form of credit or additional contributions, to employees should a cessation of operations result in a 20% reduction in the number of employees participating in the plan. In the bill, substantial cessation of operations equates to a total workforce reduction -- not just a reduction within the plan’s participants -- to more than 15% of the number of all eligible employees of the employer. The Congressional Budget staff noted these changes could decrease direct spending by $15 million over the 2015-2024 period. Even more, when linking estimates from the staff of Joint Committee on Taxation, the collective reductions extend to $29 million over the same time frame. CBO naturally found that because terminated plans will have fewer assets “PBGC to take over, it will cause a reduction in reimbursements and raise the agency’s costs.”

2. IRS AFFIRMS TREATMENT OF SHORT SALES FOR UBTI PURPOSES: Since there are many hedge funds that utilize short selling as part of their investment strategy, it is important for hedge fund investors, including tax exempt organizations, to understand the U.S. tax treatment of these transactions. It is well known that tax exempt investors, including public and private employee pension funds, are among the largest and most influential investors in alternative investment strategies, such as private equity and hedge funds. From a U.S. federal income tax perspective, the key issue impacting hedge fund investment by tax exempt organizations is the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules imposed under Sections 511 through 514 of the Internal Revenue Code. A Public Letter Ruling 201434024 (8/22/14), IRS has reaffirmed this position regarding short sales. [Mintz Levin via].

3. DETROIT FIREFIGHTERS STUCK WITH PRE-HISTORIC ALERT SYSTEM: According to the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Fire Department just might be saying goodbye to its rigged-up emergency alert system. Several philanthropic software companies have expressed an interest in replacing the stone age system. This is how it “works”: a soda can filled with coins or screws gets knocked over by a piece of paper that rolls through a fax machine. The rattle signals an emergency. (Sounds like a Rube Goldberg.) Seven software companies are interested in helping the department. Detroit’s fire stations do have fire bells, but they have to be triggered manually, which is done by the on-call firefighter (we hope.)

4. POOPER SUES CITY OVER STINKING POLICY: A Florida man who was caught allegedly defecating in the woods filed a lawsuit accusing police of violating his civil rights, according to Elvan Moore of Lake Mary filed a federal lawsuit in Ocala against a Mount Dora police officer and the city of Mount Dora. Moore alleges his civil rights were violated in an encounter with the officer in a wooded area near a bar. The Mount Dora police report alleges the officer saw Moore leave the bar, and followed him into the woods, were he discovered the man squatting with his shorts down next to a disabled vehicle. The officer said Moore was clutching a handful of napkins and there was a strong smell of feces. Moore allegedly told the officer he was having a bad digestive reaction to vitamin supplements and left the bar to avoid defiling the bar's bathroom. However, the lawsuit contends Moore was vomiting, not defecating, in the woods that night. The disorderly charge which was ultimately dropped by the State Attorney due to lack of evidence, caused the incident to became a matter of public record and led Moore’s employer, Merrill Lynch, to fire him from his $55,000-per-year job as a financial advisor. (We hear one company followed by Moore is Waste Management.) The lawsuit accuses Mount Dora of adopting a careless and reckless policy for police that allowed him to be cited and harassed by the officer. Our observation: in order to survive a charge of selective enforcement, police are also going to have to cite Smoky the Bear.

5. STATES WITH RUDEST DRIVERS: surveyed drivers nationwide to find out who is most guilty of offensive driving behavior. Roadway rudeness reached its zenith in the following 10 states.

  • Utah: The amazing race. The state’s motorists are all in a race. But nobody knows where it ends or how to get to the finish. So, everyone drives 5, 10 or 15 miles over the speed limit. They tend not to signal, because they would not want anyone to know their next move.
  • Nevada: Betting on red. The motoring is not just inconsiderate, it is more than rude, it is really dangerous. You have to be totally on the defensive when driving here. You see accidents almost every time you go out.
  • New Jersey: Sliding home. People love to try and pull onto the road with far less space than they should, never to let the other car merge in and do not seem to realize that yellow means slow down.
  • Delaware: Slowing down for no one. Speed is also a huge issue, and not just on highways but in neighborhoods. Despite the 25 mph speed limit and presence of kids, residents travel 45 to 50 miles per hour down the main thoroughfare, often glued to their cellphones.
  • Vermont: Trying to keep it a secret. When residents complained about inconsiderate drivers rocketing toward a local park, the police department installed an electronic radar-controlled sign telling drivers how fast they were going. Before it could even be insured, the $3,200 sign was stolen, maybe by someone who did not much like his rudeness pointed out in bold, flashing numbers.
  • Massachusetts: Owning it. Massachusetts drivers embrace rudeness, as evidenced by their “Masshole” bumper stickers.
  • Wyoming: The cowboy chronicles. “The Cowboy State” hints at why the state might be considered among the rudest. According to statistics, Wyoming had the second highest roadway fatality rate per 100,000 people in 2012.
  • New York: Beware of Bagadonuts. Is known for lack of respect to other drivers. A driver tries to figure out if the women talking on her cell phone and smoking a cigarette is going to run a stop sign.  Good thing she did 75 miles per hour up to the stop sign, then flipped me off for not letting her go. Even pedestrians are rude, a driver was told to f*** off by a woman pushing her baby carriage through an intersection against the light, because he interrupted her texting and emailing.
  • District of Columbia: Self-serving. Driving in D.C. can be compared to the recklessness of politics: self-serving, abrasive and unsafe. D. C. is ranked number 1 in speeding tickets per capita.
  • Idaho: Wait for it. The roadways of Idaho present a dichotomy of drivers. Those who are moving so slowly that they are judged to be rude, and the aggressive drivers who speed around them and flip them off. The other, their opposite yet equally vexing styles of driving, pushes Idaho to the top of the rankings.

A surprise (at least to us), is Florida’s 23rd ranking. Also, Florida drivers are most hated by drivers from Georgia. It figures.
6. INTERESTING FACTS: The Swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused more death and illness than the disease it was intended to prevent.

7. TODAY IN HISTORY: In 1945, 1000 whites walk out of Gary, Indiana schools to protest integration.

8. KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS COMING: Several readers regularly supply us with suggestions or tips for newsletter items. Please feel free to send us or point us to matters you think would be of interest to our readers. Subject to editorial discretion, we may print them. Rest assured that we will not publish any names as referring sources.

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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.

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