Hogwash Volume 22

February 2014
Welcome to Hogwash!


Rosi and Gardner

If this is the first edition of Hogwash! you've received it's because someone you know thought that you would like to receive it and perhaps pass it on to a friend.

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The highest compliment we can receive is a referral from a friend. Although we've been in business together for more than twelve years, have more than 50 years of combined legal experience experience, we are never too busy to help those you refer to us: your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Condominium Owners Beware: A trap for the unwary

In the welcoming communities of northern Michigan, many downstate and out-of-state families make sure they have a place to stay for their seasonal visits by purchasing an interest in one of the many condominiums that dot our landscape. These purchases often represent many tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recently a little known law that affects condominium owners has come to the attention of Rosi & Gardner and it bears sharing with our Hogwash readers.

Owners of condominium interests are generally aware that they have the obligation to bear a share of the costs of the management and maintenance of the condominium property. These costs are typically $100 or so each month. Depending on the financial circumstances of the various condominium owners, it's not uncommon that some owners are delinquent in their monthly payments..

What's not mentioned in condominium bylaws, to which each owner is contractually bound, is the extraordinary power which the Legislature granted to all condominium associations. That is the association's ability to enforce the payment of delinquent assessments with Foreclose By Advertisement. (Michigan's Condominium Act, MCL 559.208.) Foreclosure can be based upon a minimal delinquency, a sum that's relatively small when compared to the value of the unit. Condominium bylaws may refer to that authority but need not explain what is meant by Foreclosure by Advertisement.

At this time condominium owners who occupy units as primary residences have marginally more protection from Foreclosure by Advertisement than do those who use them as a secondary residence, including the requirement that the allegedly delinquent owner be notified by both certified mail and first class mail.

The Legislature has authorized the following as the procedure for an association's use of Foreclosure by Advertisement to collect delinquent assessments from a non-primary owner:

(1) File a Notice of Lien for the claimed delinquent amount in office of the local county Register of Deeds and send a copy of that notice to the owner at his or her last known address by only first class, postage prepaid mail.

(2) Ten days later, if the association did does not receive a reply for the owner – and who is not familiar with (a) a delay in mail or (b) mail incorrectly addressed but not, necessarily returned – the association may cause a Notice of Sheriff s Sale to be published three times in a local newspaper, often one with very limited circulation and which a downstate or out-of-state owner would not read.

(3) A paper Notice of Sheriff s Sale is to be posted on or near the unit, a paper which, again the downstate or out-of state-owner may not see hear about.

(4) The Sheriff is to then sell the unit to the highest bidder, often the association for a sum dramatically less than the fair market value.

(5) The Sheriff s Deed will note the existence of a six month period in which the foreclosed owner may redeem the property by paying the purchaser such redemption price and costs set forth in the Sheriff s Deed.

Nowhere is there any requirement that an association is to notify the secondary residence owner of the actions set forth as items (2), (3), (4) and (5 ). Recently we have been involved in matter in which, as the result of a claimed deficiency of $855, the owners of a condominium unit that they purchased as a secondary residence for $150,000 was lost through Foreclosure by Advertisement although the owner claimed to have NOT received ANY notice of either the Notice of Lien or any of the other steps (2) through (5) and that the first time they heard of the foreclosure was when the Association took steps to evict them.

If you think the foregoing is unfair, as we at Rosi & Gardner do, perhaps sharing your opinion with members of the Legislature would lead to some positive changes.

Time for Popcorn: Brushing Off the Winter Blues with a Great Legal Movie

As much as we at Rosi & Gardner enjoy spending time outside during the winter, sometimes the cold weather downright wins. When that happens (as it often does by mid-February),'tis simply the season to stay inside and watch a good movie. And for those specifically craving a legal flick, a number of organizations have come to the rescue and compiled their own lists of the "All-Time Greatest Legal Movies."

The ABA Journal's top 25 list is a good starting point, though it is difficult to ignore the fact that 4 of its top 5 movies were released before 1963. No matter: To Kill a Mockingbird (#1), 12 Angry Men (#2), Anatomy of a Murder (#4… and Michigan pride!), and Inherit the Wind (#5) are unimpeachable classics, deserving of such high honors. Sandwiched amongst them is the newbie of the bunch: the 1992 Deep-South-meets-NYC comedy My Cousin Vinny (#3), featuring Marisa Tomei in her Oscar-winning role as the mercurial Mona Lisa Vito.

But the list of "top legal movies" looks remarkably different if box office success is used as the measuring stick. According the Oklahoma Legal Group, the highest-grossing legal movies of all time are 1993's The Firm (#1), 2000's Erin Brockovich (#2), 1992's A Few Good Men (#3), 2010's The Social Network (#4), and 1993's Philadelphia (#5). Apparently Tom Cruise makes for very successful movie lawyer.

Compare legal movies based on Academy Award wins and other motion pictures take the cinematic cake: 1979's Kramer vs Kramer, with five wins, is only topped by 1966's six-time winner A Man for All Seasons, a 16th-century drama about Sir Thomas More – not exactly a modern courtroom thriller.

Tired of browsing over other people's lists, we at Rosi & Gardner compiled our personal favorite legal movies to help you through cabin fever. Enjoy!

Phil: Inherit the Wind (1960)

Gary: Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Karen: To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

Jessica: The Conspirator (2010)

Marcelo: My Cousin Vinny (1992)

The Myth of "Shared" Custody

"As long as we have 50/50 custody, there is no child support, right?" Wrong. It is more complicated than that. "Shared" custody means some substantial (overnight) time spent in both households, not that no one pays child support.

Michigan has mandatory Child Support Guidelines that all Michigan courts must follow. Use of the Michigan Child Support Formula ("MCSF") is mandatory unless the Court finds – and states – that application of the formula to the circumstances of a particular case would be "unjust or inappropriate." A court cannot, consistent with Michigan law, simply decide that the amount calculated using the formula is too much, or too little; it has to identify, in writing, a compelling reason to deviate from the formula. For instance, if a child has special needs, or a parent earns income "of a magnitude not fully taken into consideration by the formula." The formula applies to divorce cases, paternity cases where the parents were never married and family support cases where the parents are married but have not filed for divorce, or were never married but paternity has been acknowledged.

There are three variables in the Formula: the father's income, the mother's income, and the parenting time division (the number of overnights spent with each parent). In determining each parent's income, the Formula and Guidelines take into account family size, other support orders, child care expenses, and health insurance premiums. The guidelines do not take into account all household debts and other obligations. Even if each parent has "equal time," the formula will require one parent to pay support to the other, unless their incomes are very nearly identical.

A parent cannot negotiate away, or waive, a child's right to be supported by both of her parents. The stated goal of the formula is to provide the child with the benefit of both parents' incomes, regardless of where she spend more, or most, of her overnights.

So . . . "If we have shared custody, no one pays child support, right?" Wrong, unless your incomes are exactly equal.

Issue: 22
In This Issue
Condominium Owners Beware: A trap for the unwary
Time for Popcorn: Brushing Off the Winter Blues with a Great Legal Movie
The Myth of "Shared" Custody
Veterans' Exemption from Real Estate Taxes
The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance
What's a Bitcoin Worth?
Bad Acronym, Great Cause: Celebrating Girls & Women in Sports Day
Karen's Home Cooking

Veterans' Exemption from Real Estate Taxes

The Michigan Legislature passed a law that exempts (and even refunds, for 2013, if certain conditions are met) disabled, and unemployable, United States

veterans, from most real estate taxes on their primary residence.

If the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has declared you to be 100% disabled (even temporarily, such as during your therapy for PTSD) or "individually unemployable," you may not have to pay 2013 or 2014 real estate taxes that are based on millages (special assessments, utilities connection fees, etc. may still apply). Even widows of veterans who would have qualified may be eligible.

For more information, contact your CountyTreasurer's Office, or the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

We will also provide more detailed information in next month's Hogwash!, so stay tuned, and please forward this to anyone you know who may qualify.

The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance

Yes, you're reading that correctly, "The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance" was adopted in 1969 by the board of commissioners in a heavily forested county of Washington state.

Apparently this area of the state had some alleged "Sasquatch", or "Yeti", or "Bigfoot", or "Giant Hairy Ape" sightings that forced the board to enact an emergency ordinance resolving that:

"any premeditated, willful and wanton slaying of any such creature shall be deemed a felony punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed 5 years". Ordinance No. 69-01.

In 1984 the ordinance was amended declaring the county a "Sasquatch Refuge" and classified Sasquatch killings a homicide if it was determined the creature was more man than ape. However, if it was determined the creature is more ape-like then the penalty would only be a misdemeanor. Also in the amended ordinance, it is provided that if there were to be a trial for any "accused Sasquatch killer", the insanity defense would not apply.

…you can't make this stuff up…

What's a Bitcoin Worth?

Maybe a lot, maybe nearly nothing. Remember, Bitcoin only has value to the extent that someone else will trade you something – either products or services – for it. Of course, that is actually the case with many of the world's currencies, isn't it? Since the United States "untied" the dollar from the gold standard, its value is not intrinsic either. But, the U.S. dollar is still supported by "the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government."

What can you buy with Bitcoin? A Sacramento Kings jersey from their fan store. You can buy anything offered at Overstock.com (using a Coinbase digital "wallet"). As of February 3, the 0.02 Bitcoin that we hold (via Coinbase) is worth $16.09. We paid $17.30 for it on December 2. The exchange rate to the dollar, as of midday on February 5, is about $807 per Bitcoin.

But is it worth the same everywhere? Yes, and no. One of the benefits of Bitcoin is that it is not tied to any centrally-supported national currency. That, though, is also one of its limitations. If you want to make exchanges, of products or services, measured in Bitcoin, and something goes wrong, to whom do you turn? At present, there is no one. The State of New York is considering ways to attempt to regulate Bitcoin as are many other jurisdictions. Of course with regulations usually come expenses. That could cause an increase in transaction fees for doing business in Bitcoin. At present, very low transactions fees are one of the advantages of Bitcoin as a medium to store value. If those transaction costs go up, as a result of regulation, Bitcoin's popularity could suffer.

Bad Acronym, Great Cause: Celebrating Girls & Women in Sports Day

In case you missed the opportunity to commemorate it this year, mark it on your 2015 calendar: February 5 is the official National Girls and Women in Sports Day (also identified by its not-so-catchy acronym, NGWSD). Celebrated since 1987, NGWSD serves to acknowledge the past and present achievements by female athletes and also to highlight the ongoing march toward equality and access for girls and women in sports.

One focus of the NGWSD celebrations is the enactment of Title IX of the Educations Amendments Act of 1972, which declared that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Title IX applies to school and college sports because athletic programs are considered "educational" programs under the law. Generally speaking, to comply with the law, institutions (mostly universities) receiving and spending federal funding in athletic programs must provide equivalent participation, financial assistance (scholarships), and other benefits to male and female athletes alike; the key to compliance is "equal opportunity."

As is often the case with similarly short, seemingly straightforward laws, understanding exactly Title IX requires is actually rather complicated and certainly beyond the scope of Hogwash – but we can cherish it anyway. After all, shouldn't the world have at least as many Candace Parkers (first woman to dunk in a NCAA basketball tournament game) as Dennis Rodmans (first American retired basketball player to visit North Korea, meet ruthless dictator Kim Jong Un, and then declare him "a friend for life")?

February's Special Offer

Want to know what your child support obligation should be?

Call or email us until March 15 and we will "run the numbers" for you, at no charge. We have the same program used by the Court to apply the child support formula to your income and case.

Don't worry; nothing will be reported to the Court or Friend of the Court, unless you hire us to represent you.

Offer Expires: March 31, 2014

Karen's Home Cooking

Saffron for a Taste of Spring

I have been cooking with saffron this month.
Saffron comes from the stigma of the

Crocus sativus, or Saffron Crocus.

Although this crocus differs greatly from the spring crocus that is one of the first flowers we see here in Northern Michigan, just thinking about the crocus flower it makes me hopeful for spring.

Saffron is a mysterious herb – spanning more than 3,500 years across cultures, continents and civilizations. There was a shortage of it during the Black Death of 1347-1350, as it was believed to have medicinal purposes (better than flu shot!). Going back even farther in history, the first known image of saffron in pre-Greek culture stems from the Bronze Age. A saffron harvest is illustrated in a palace fresco depicting the flowers being picked by young girls and monkeys. Follow this link to learn more about the history of saffron.

It takes about 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of dry saffron. And while I love the image of sitting around a table piled high with crocus, drinking wine, and plucking the bright yellow stigma from each flower, most of us just don't have 75,000 flowers in our yard, and even if we did the crocus that flowers here in spring, as well as the autumn crocus, are toxic and don't have a saffron flavor.

Instead, celebrate the thought of spring with a trip to your local spice shop, then get in touch with your ancient taste buds, improve your health, and indulge in saffron. Spring is not far off!

Mini Paella

Ingredients: brown Basmati rice, vegetable broth, olive oil, paprika, saffron

4 cherry sausages

10-15 raw shrimp

1 red and 1 yellow pepper

1 medium onion

2-3 garlic cloves

½ cup dry white wine

Saffron threads (3-5), to taste –
soak them in 2 tbsp. hot (not boiling) water

for at least 20 minutes

Cook brown basmati rice according to instructions in rice cooker with mixture of vegetable broth and water, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. smoked paprika and saffron

Cut sausage into bite-size pieces & fry on high heat until slightly blackened. Add shrimp, garlic and white wine. Cover and steam until shrimp turns pink.

In another pan sauté the onions and pepper until soft. Top the rice with the onion and pepper mixture then add sausage, shrimp, and the juices from the pan. A little lemon or lime can be sprinkled on if desired.

Stuffed Zucchini with Saffron-infused French Lentils


3 zucchini 2 cloves garlic

1 yellow tomato feta, parmesan, mozzarella (or combination thereof)

1 shallot French lentils

1 cup chopped spinach, kale or Swiss chard

White wine

Scoop out the insides of zucchinis. Chop the insides and sauté with garlic, shallots, spinach and tomatoes and a little wine, for about 10 minutes. Put mixture into zucchini shells. Top with cheese.

Cook French lentils until they are slightly softened. Pour into casserole dish. Add ½ cup of broth and 1/4 cup wine, salt and pepper, hot pepper flakes and whatever herb combo you like, e.g. curry, saffron, paprika, basil, etc. Put the zucchini boats on top of the lentils and bake (covered) for about 30-40 minutes at 325̊ until zucchini is soft and lentils cooked through. Top with fresh herbs before serving.

For desert drink this:

White Russian Coffee with Cardamom

Fill your mug with ice cubes. Add the following:

1 shot vodka

1 shot Kahlua

1 shot strong coffee

Whole milk to the rim

Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cardamom

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Rosi & Gardner, P.C.
735 S. Garfield Avenue
Suite 202
Traverse City, Michigan 49686

Philip R. Rosi

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Email Philip

Gary Allen Gardner
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