Sunday, September 23, 2007

Traffic Court booming

Our traffic court website is booming. Starting roughly September 4th, visits to the site jumped. There were over 30,000 unique visitors in the last 30 days, with over 75,000 pageviews. If recent numbers continue, we will approach 40,000 unique visitors per month and 100,000 pageviews.

Busiest pages on the site are the Traffic Court home page (about 10% of the page views), the New York and New Jersey state pages, and county pages for Monroe, Albany, Westchester and Suffolk. The Philadelphia and Albany traffic court pages round out the top 10.

We are also working on a project to revise the underlying programming. This should be done within a couple of months and then we hope to start adding some new features to the site. Stay tuned!

Baseball diversion: Fewest Pitches in a complete game

I was watching a baseball game the other day and the announcers were talking about pitch count -- how many pitches the pitcher had thrown so far. This prompted two questions in my head:

1. What is the fewest number of pitches thrown by a pitcher in a complete game?

My friend David found the answer to that one: 58, by Red Barrett in 1944 for the Boston Braves.

David guessed 60 before finding this, which is pretty darn close. I was guessing low 70s.

Figure that if each batter gets out on the first pitch (grounder, fly ball, etc.), then there would be only 27 pitches. If the pitcher averages 3 pitches per batter then you'd be at 81.

2. What is the most pitches thrown in one at-bat?

We don't have an answer to this one. Apparently this statistic was not tracked at all until the late 1980s.

I found a bunch of things on the web but nothing very reliable. The best I found was on the lower half of this page:

This indicates a 20 pitch at-bat in 1998. I read other sites which suggested there was one at-bat with 24 pitches by a Luke Appling, but that did not seem as reliable. There's another reference to Roy Thomas fouling off 22 pitches in one at-bat, bringing the count to 3-2, for a total of at least 26 pitches. Then I saw something else about Enos Slaughter fouling off 26 pitches in one plate appearance. Still not reliable.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mike Ricard and the assessment process

A quick update on our Guilderland NY town board campaign efforts:

I've been researching incumbent Town Board member Michael Ricard, his assessment, and other issues.

I created a page about Mike Ricard's Assessment showing what I found. It includes satellite images of his property from Google Maps, and photos of his house. One friend is now joking that I'm stalking Mike Ricard.

The short story on his assessment is that he has a 2500 square foot house with a 1 1/2 story garage, and a 2100 sq.ft. steel building, and an in-ground pool, all on 12 acres. He's assessed at $196K. For comparison, my house is 2200 sq.ft., with no pool, no fence, and no steel building, on half an acre. We're assessed at somewhere around $240K.

The pool (21' x 40') and fence were put in 2-3 years ago, at a cost of $29K according to the permit application. I'd bet they cost more than that, but have no evidence. The steel building was built about 5 years ago at a cost of $38K (per the application). That's roughly $80K in value (including appreciation) before you get to the 12 acres, house and garage. So his 2500 sq.ft. house on 12 acres is valued at $120K, or less than $50 per square foot. My house is assessed around $110/sq.ft. and many houses in Guilderland are assessed over $120/sq.ft.

The other interesting detail, that I will explore further in the future, is the zoning break Ricard got in putting his pool in. Despite a 50 foot setback requirement, he got a variance to put his pool 24 feet from the front property line. He whizzed through the permit and variance process in what has to be record time in Guilderland.

I'll do more about this in the near future, but assessment is still the big issue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NY Election Law: Update

I write with a legal update in the ongoing saga of Ricard v. Redlich. The appellate court ruled against us. We lost. And yet, I'm still on the ballot.

For those who were unaware, New York Election Law is confusing. I have heard that 50% of all election law cases in the US take place in our fair state. Okay, unfair state.

There were a few issues in our case. First, we filed the wrong form on July 26th. While the error was made by someone else, I bear some responsibility for relying on that person and not checking it out myself.

The basis of the suit was not that we filed the wrong form, but rather that it did not have the required content - specifically, the signatures of a majority of the committee to fill vacancies. In an odd twist, one of the signers was on that committee, and the notary was also on that committee, constituting a majority out of the three.

The "trial judge" (there was no trial) ruled in our favor on mootness. We had filed a correct certificate on August 1st, and that certificate was not challenged, even though it was late.

The Appellate Division reversed, stating that the August 1 certificate was not properly before them. They then found the July 26 certificate invalid.

The Board of Elections is nonetheless putting me on the ballot because of the August 1 certificate. I'm wondering if I'll get sued again on this one.

I felt ignored in the process. When we argued in front of the appellate judges, a couple of specific questions came up for the other lawyers. First, one judge asked if the August 1 certificate was in the Record. That lawyer answered no. When I got up I explained that it was in the record, in my papers, with a stamp from the Board of Elections showing that it had been received. Still, the court said in its decision that the August 1 certificate was not properly before them. It seemed like they disregarded that in my papers and what I said in oral argument.

Second, they asked the attorney working for my fellow Republicans if he agreed that the July 26 certificate was invalid. He agreed. I disagreed, and pointed to the fact that the second signature was on the document, but not in the correct form (notary rather than as a "signer"). This is an important detail because in the case of Hutson v. Bass (54 NY2d 772), a matter of form is not fatal as long as there is "substantial compliance." Absence of "prescribed content," on the other hand, is fatal. This argument was not only in my papers, but was my main argument. The appellate court did not even address this point.

An interesting side note is the lack of partisanship. The appellate court had five judges, all Republican. All five voted for the Democrat and against the Republican. Everyone I talked to who was involved in the case expected that we would win because of the partisan makeup of the bench. Having worked for a judge, I didn't think it would play a role. I thought we would win because we were right.

One other interesting note, and perhaps an explanation for the brief decision, is that the decision was ready on the court's website before the end of the day. We argued at 1:30 pm, and I think it was ready by 4 pm.