Tuesday, September 30, 2014

House Votes to Increase Veterans’ Disability Payments

Veterans receiving disability payments scored a win last week in the House of Representatives. The house cleared legislation to increase compensation benefits for disabled veterans on Tuesday.

The legislation, already passed unanimously by the Senate, now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

Veterans will see a boost in their payments starting on December 1, so that the cost-of-living increase will match the rate of Social Security benefits. Approximately 4.5 million veterans rely on disability benefits, and many of those individuals could have seen a cut to their benefits had Congress not acted.

The veterans whose disability payments are their only source of income are especially breathing a sigh of relief.

In a news cycle that has been dominated by partisanship, especially with the mid-term elections, this story is a refreshing reminder that when it comes to those who have served our country, our representatives can shed their partisan coats and come together for the greater good.
Read more on The Hill’s website:  


Monday, September 29, 2014

The End is in Sight for Michigan Driver Responsibility Fees

Matt Worley, Esq.

In Michigan, many drivers feel the weight of Driver Responsibility Fees on their shoulders.

These fees are assessed by the State of Michigan to drivers who are found guilty of certain traffic misdemeanors.  These fees are assessed in addition to any fines and costs that were assessed in the district court.  The responsibility fees were created in 2003 at a time when the state was in dire financial straits as a way to generate cash flow.

Part of what makes the responsibility fees unique is the sheer size of the fee assessed.  For example, if a person pleads guilty or is found guilty of driving on a suspended license, that person is assessed $1,000 in responsibility fees – paid out over two years.  Similarly, if a person is convicted of operating while intoxicated, they are assessed a total fee of $2,000.  Other common offenses that have responsibility fees include reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and various drunk/drugged driving offenses.

The problem with these responsibility fees is that they are so large they often send the state’s poorest people in a downward financial spiral that, for many, is nearly impossible to escape from.  The responsibility fees have been called a “tax on the poorest people in the state.”

House Bill 5414, introduced by Representative Joe Haveman, aims to phase out the responsibility fees.  Under the plan, the fees will be virtually eliminated by 2018.  The bill has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in the near future.

The question remains, however, what will replace the nearly $100 million in annual revenue generated from the responsibility fees?

If you would like to know more about Michigan’s driver responsibility fees, or have other questions, contact the legal experts at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  Our team of lawyers consists of current and former prosecutors knowledgeable in both civil and criminal law.  You can reach Matthew Worley at (248) 380-0000 or online at www.fb-firm.com.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Canton Could Save $10 Million with Joint Water Venture

Jim Fausone, managing partner of Fausone Bohn and the Chair of the Board of Water Commissioners for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), helped arrange the latest round of talks that could result in a savings of almost $10 million for Canton, Michigan.

The savings could be realized if Canton held off on a proposal to build its own water-storage facility and instead opted to lease or buy a portion of a DWSD station on the township’s north end. Rather than spending as much as $10 million to build a water tower or ground-level storage facility, Supervisor Phil LaJoy said Canton may spend as little as $1 million through the proposed joint venture.  

Fausone says that in addition to Canton trimming its costs, DWSD could offset operational costs under a long term lease.

The talks of a Canton-DWSD joint venture come on the heels of an announcement of a new regional water authority, which holds promise to address the problems that have long plagued DWSD. Under Fausone’s leadership the past several years, DWSD has already made great strides in its internal operations.

The soon-to-be Great Lakes Water Authority will build upon the progress, providing suburban customers with greater control and stability in their water rates. Though many suburban officials have long eyed DWSD with suspicion, Fausone implored local leaders to judge the department by what is happening now rather than focusing on past mistakes.

If you have environmental, municipal or water related issues, you can contact Jim Fausone at (248) 380-1818.

To read more on this story, check out the Canton Observer’s Report:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Great Lakes Coalition Celebrates 10 Years of Restoration Efforts at 2014 Conference

Ten years ago, scientists dedicated to protecting the most significant fresh water resource on Earth – our Great Lakes in Michigan – came together to start Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition (HOW). The Great Lakes Restoration Conference, celebrating a decade of HOW’s work, just wrapped up a few days ago in Grand Rapids, MI.

You can check out video clips from the conference and others about the Great Lakes at Great Lakes Now’s website here: http://www.greatlakesnow.org/glw2014/

Each year HOW has brought together a diverse group of 400-plus people from throughout the region to attend the conference. The goal: to provide a forum to discuss and learn about the importance of Great Lakes Restoration issues, allow supporters and activists to network, and develop strategies to advance federal, regional, and local restoration efforts.

This year the group also celebrated some of their more noteworthy victories, including successfully securing over $1.6 billion in federal funding to date in an effort to:

  •          Restore habitat for fish and wildlife;
  •          Clean up toxic pollution;
  •          Control invasive species;
  •          And, replace and repair aging sewage infrastructure.
You can learn more about Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition and the conference at their website: http://conference.healthylakes.org/

If you have water, environmental or wetland related issues, contact Paul Bohn or Jim Fausone at (248) 380-0000.  You can visit our website at www.fb-firm.com. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Chip Off the Old Block

It’s not often a Track & Field or Cross Country runner edges out a senior quarterback on the sports’ headlines, especially at the football-fanatic school of Michigan. But Attorney Michael McNamara’s daughter, Gina, did just that! Gina, a junior, is a true student-athlete at U of M.

Congratulations on grabbing headlines, Gina! Here’s what she had to say on the MGoBlue.com:

“Training is the bread and butter behind a great program. A lot of times being successful at running is not about doing one or two big things, but doing a thousand little things right. The training here is what makes our teams so great. Championships are won in the offseason.”

We are proud to have Michael McNamara on our Fausone Bohn team as partner at our firm. Mike leads our municipal law practice, and he has been a great mentor and trainer for our younger attorneys. Gina and her father agree: Training is the bread and butter behind a great program (or law firm)!

If you need legal help, please don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at Fausone Bohn at
(248) 468-4536, or check out our website:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Adapting to an Online World and Avoiding Internet Fraud: Helpful Tips for Seniors

Mark Mandell, Esq.

As more seniors adapt to an online world and increase their web use, they can become victims of Internet Fraud if they are not careful. Because of their late-adoption to the Internet, seniors can be easier targets for Internet and email scams.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recently listed Internet Fraud as the sixth most targeted scam towards seniors. Perhaps the most common examples of these online schemes are email scams, whether it’s enticing seniors into an investment or a seemingly reputable organization asking them to “update” their personal information.

The NCOA lists health care, counterfeit prescription drug, and fake anti-aging products in their top five frauds targeted to seniors. In reality, all these scams are increasingly going online.

Fraudulent anti-aging products and prescription drug offerings frequently pop up in email inboxes. In Arizona, a fake Botox scheme ripped off seniors for $1.5 million – the perpetrators were convicted and jailed. Since 2000, the FDA has also investigated an average of 20 counterfeit prescription drug cases per year, up from five per year in the 1990s. There’s no doubt the Internet has provided an easier avenue for scam artists.

While Internet skills are highly valuable today, what steps can the older generation take to avoid these often financially crippling schemes?

If you have a suspicious email sitting in your inbox or are uncertain about an online purchase, the first thing to do is exercise caution, and check with friends and family. Don’t open unsolicited emails without consideration, and don’t be drawn in by flashy websites. Do your homework first. And here are some other helpful steps you can take:
  • Be cautious when dealing with a seller outside of the United States.
  • There should not be any reason to give out your social security number or driver’s license number over email or through an online auction.
  • Check with friends and family to make sure the website or seller is reputable.
  • Don’t judge a company solely based on its website: scam artists can construct flashy web pages in a very short amount of time.
  • Be cautious if you are receiving an unsolicited email. Do you remember signing up for an email list with this person or company? If not, the best option may be to simply delete the email.
  • Avoid wire-transfers. When purchasing online, a credit card is the best option. Then, you can dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • If you are dealing with a business, you can check the Better Business Bureau.

If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud or you have questions, you can contact Attorney Mark Mandell. Mr. Mandell has experience you can trust when it comes to defending your rights in cases where you have been scammed. Call today at (248) 380-0000.

And for more information on cyber security, you can check-out the FBI’s website for helpful tips: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud

Friday, September 5, 2014

Maintaining I-9 Compliance – An Essential Lesson for Employers

Matt Worley, Esq.

The federal I-9 form is one of the most recognizable forms for employers and employees.  Generally, anyone who has ever been employed has likely filled out this form during the hiring process.  However, it is very commonly filled out incorrectly.  Many employers aren’t aware of this form’s importance and thus don’t properly train their HR personnel to ensure it is properly completed.

Unfortunately, if employers knew of the stiff penalties for non-compliance, they would likely change their procedures.  Fines can range anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars per violation. 

The purpose of the I-9 form is to document that the employer verified the identity and employment authorization of new hires.  It ensures that, for instance, employers are verifying that their new hires are in the United States legally and eligible for employment.

The form has two main sections – Section 1, which must be completed by the new employee.  Section 2, however, must be completed by the employer after the employer has viewed certain identifying documents of the employee.  It is a good business practice to not only view and properly fill out this information on the I-9 form, but also to photocopy the documents as well.  Generally, these include viewing the new employee’s driver’s license and social security card, but other documents can be used as well.

The Department of Homeland Security can (and does) audit employers to ensure that they are complying with the requirements.  The result of non-compliance can be hefty fines and fees or, in the event of purposeful violations, even criminal charges.

If you have questions about the employer requirements regarding I-9 or other required forms, or would like to develop a self-audit program, contact the team of legal experts at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  Our attorneys can help you with this and any other employment or business law questions you may have.  Contact us at 248-380-0000 or online at www.fb-firm.com

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Lesson in Customer Service: Veterans are Not an “Oscar the Grouch”

The Department of Veterans Affairs continues its parade of poor decisions and bad ideas with their most recent slideshow shown to VA employees, which depicts veterans as Oscar the Grouch, the character from Sesame Street.

Perhaps the VA needs to bring in Oscar the Grouch’s Sesame Street neighbor, Count von Count, to give themselves a lesson and count how many veterans have waited far too long to receive the health care and benefits they have earned.

The cranky Sesame Street character who lives in a garbage can was used in reference to veterans who will attend town-hall events Wednesday in Philadelphia. The spokeswoman from the Philadelphia VA benefits office - which will host the town halls - said in a statement that the agency regretted any misunderstanding caused by the slide show.

There’s no clear answer as whether this idea came out of the Philadelphia VA or the national office. But so much for improving customer service to our veterans.

What’s more, the slide show contains a “coping with stress” and four-minute relaxation technique for employees if they feel angry or overwhelmed (by the veterans in attendance at the town halls).

Maybe some of the veterans in attendance would love to know about those “coping with stress” techniques as well, especially as they sit on egregiously long wait lists for care.

The bottom-line throughout all this unfortunate news coming out of the VA is this: those who have sacrificed so much for our country do not deserve to be treated like garbage. They are not grouches. Veterans are not “too demanding” or “unreasonable” when they get upset by the current state of their care. Many have lost trust in the VA.

Instead of slideshows depicting Oscar the Grouch and relaxation techniques for employees, perhaps a presentation on best practices, cutting wait times, and real customer service is in order.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge"

The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” has become the internet sensation this summer. Your Facebook account probably has received dozens of these videos and challenges designed to raise money for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  You may have seen former President George W. Bush participate in the challenge which made broadcast news.  The DOD has now declared that military personnel cannot participate in such a challenge in uniform because it may be construed as an implied endorsement of support by DOD. Ok, that is overreacting, without thinking the problem through. 

DOD should know that ALS afflicts US Military Veterans at twice the rate of the civilian population.  The data which VA, ALS, Harvard University and many medical schools have reviewed supports this conclusion.  The reason for the startling medical fact is unknown at this time. 
In fact, no one knows why U.S. military veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS than the general population, or why those who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990-91 may be twice as likely to get the disease as other troops. Although it’s still a rare illness, affecting about 30,000 people across the country, it is so devastating to its victims and their families that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have made a mission out of trying to reduce their suffering.   

VA will treat ALS as a presumptive disease for veterans disability compensation purposes.  So after viewing the 100th bucket of cold water being dumped on friends, relatives and celebrities, the challenge is getting a little tedious.   However, it is raising money for necessary medical research.  I just wish that DOD & VA would use this opportunity to let veterans and the general population know that this is a situation that is inflicting our veterans at twice the normal rate.  Did you know that?  Think about that or “paste” the above comment into your Facebook page next time a friend sends you one of those videos.