Merlino & Gonzalez - March 2020

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March 2020





Unfortunately, there were a few hiccups in the process that made it far more difficult. I won’t go into all the details, but John and I worked together to make sure my client and New York State got what they needed with as little collateral damage as possible. In fact, when the dust finally settled and we realized both parties were happy, John and I recognized that we were kindred spirits, and we have worked together and been friends since.

Ed is a litigation attorney to whom we often refer our clients. He’s an excellent attorney who will fight hard for clients in a reasonable and convincing way while making sure that their needs are met. Above all, Ed is a great person. He’s incredibly patient and treats all his clients with the same respect, no matter how “big” or “small” their case may be. We really value his association with our office.

Being an attorney is all about helping people and problem-solving. No matter what kind of law you practice, whether in a courtroom litigating, providing advice in an office, or helping close a business deal or the sale of a home, you are helping people solve serious problems or achieve milestone events in their lives. Every situation presents its own unique set of facts. But if you pay attention to the facts and the needs of the clients, you will really be able help people improve their lives. I graduated from New York University School of Law in 1988. I worked for many years with several large and midsize law firms in New York City. In 2012, I founded the law firm of Finkelstein Filler, LLP. I met John Merlino Jr. in late 2012 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated many parts of New York City and Long Island. Many homes on Staten Island that were near the ocean were completely destroyed. In order to prevent people from rebuilding homes in unsafe areas, New York State created a program under which it bought the destroyed properties. One of my clients was an owner of a destroyed home, and John was representing New York State during the purchases of the destroyed properties. The purchase from my client should have been simple.

I think that Finkelstein Filler, LLP and Merlino & Gonzalez work so well together because we are both driven by the goal of helping our clients and making a difference in their lives. We have a well-earned, mutual respect for the work that we do.. I also try to make time for life outside of work and have developed several outside interests. Over the past few years, I have been honing my photography skills. One of my great pleasures is walking through a city and taking photos. I recently realized that I approach photography the same way I approach practicing law. I’ve discovered that the best pictures come from capturing the subject from an unusual or unexplored angle. Doing this allows me to see the subject in many different ways. My hope is that my photography will expand horizons and give other people the ability to see things from a different perspective. You could say I am helping people in work and in recreation. –Edward Finkelstein




Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland vs. America

The observation of St. Patrick’s Day grew in popularity in cities with large Irish populations, like Boston, New York, and Chicago. Then, in the booming post-World War II economy, various businesses aggressively marketed the holiday to Americans of all heritages. Thus, it became a day when anyone could celebrate Irish American heritage, or at least it gave everyone an excuse to drink like they believe the Irish do. Ironically, imbibing was not a part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland until relatively recently. Due to the religious nature of the holiday, pubs and bars closed down on March 17 until 1961. Additionally, the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage is another American addition. In Ireland, pork and cabbage was actually more common, but impoverished Irish immigrants substituted less expensive beef for pork, and the tradition stuck. Even though the most widely observed St. Patrick’s Day celebrations originated in America, many of them have found their way back to Ireland. Starting in 1996, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin now attracts over 1 million attendees with all the drinks and revelry that Americans love. You’d be hard pressed to find a green beer, though. In the hallowed birthplace of Guinness and whiskey, some traditions may be better left across the pond.

From extravagant parades to green-dyed rivers, something about St. Patrick’s Day feels quintessentially American — despite its Irish heritage. That’s because many common St. Patrick’s Day traditions actually originated in America, evolving beyond their roots in the Emerald Isle in a few key ways. On March 17, Irish folks commemorate the death of St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to pagan Ireland during the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Historically, these religious origins make for a more somber observance of St. Patrick’s Day. Many Irish families go to church and eat a modest feast as the extent of their celebration. However, St. Patrick’s Day in America is not so much about venerating Ireland’s patron saint as it is about celebrating Irish heritage in a foreign land. When Catholic Irish immigrants first came to the United States, they faced persecution from a largely Protestant population. In response, Irish Americans began using March 17 as a day to publicly declare and celebrate Irish heritage with parades and demonstrations.

WHOSE PICKS WILL GO ALL THE WAY? March Madness Fun for the Whole Family

One of the greatest things about March Madness is that you don’t have to be a huge college basketball fan to get in on the fun. Kids of all ages can fill out brackets — or have a parent fill one out for them — and watch their picks duke it out on the court. While healthy competition among family members can be fun all on its own, check out the following tips if you’re looking to go the extra mile and reap as much fun from March Madness as you can. TURN EACH GAME INTO AN EVENT. Not every kid may like watching basketball, but if they fill out a bracket, then they might gain at least a passing interest in who will win each game. To elevate their interest, turn each March Madness matchup into a little party. It doesn’t have to be fancy; make fun snacks to eat while you watch or bet pieces of candy on who will have the most points to create great family bonding opportunities. REWARD THE WINNERS WITH PRIZES. Offer prizes to each round winner as well as the overall bracket winner to get the whole family involved. Small prize ideas for each round can include a homemade dinner of the winner’s choice, a week’s supply of their favorite snack, or a coupon for getting out of a chore. Whoever wins the whole tournament (or makes it the furthest with their bracket) deserves a bigger reward. Offer them the chance to see a movie of their choice in theaters or to eat a meal at their favorite restaurant.

CREATE A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Learning math or geography might not sound like your child’s idea of fun, but it can be when they learn it through the lens of March Madness. See if your kids would be interested in understanding the inner workings of the ranking system or studying where some of the qualifying colleges are located on a map of the United States. They may find it so interesting that they don’t even realize they’re learning valuable skills.



A lthough the costs of purchasing a home have changed drastically over the last few decades, owning a home is still a lifelong dream for many Americans. Though markets change year to year, you should consider several consistent factors to ensure you make the most financially wise decision for yourself and your family. Here are the 10 most important questions to answer before you start shopping. 1. Are you absolutely sure you want to buy and care for a home? 2. Do you foresee large expenses coming up in the next couple years, like having children or purchasing a new car? 3. Do you have reliable job security for the next two or three years? 4. Is there any chance that your employer will be relocating within the next few years? 5. Do you have a realistic sense of what your budget is for purchasing a home?

6. Do you have a good credit score and credit record? 7. Have you calculated the money you’ll need for a down payment and closing costs? 8. Are you prequalified for a mortgage, and do you know how much you can borrow? 9. Do you have existing debt that might disqualify you from receiving a mortgage? 10. Will the amount you’re able to borrow be enough for a home you truly enjoy, rather than a home you’re just willing to settle for? If you can answer at least eight of these questions in ways that support purchasing a new home, then you’re on the right track for making some big decisions. But if you haven’t addressed the majority of these questions yet, then now is the time. Buying a home is a thrilling prospect, but it’s also a difficult process. If you don’t consider these difficulties, owning your own home can quickly turn into a nightmare rather than a dream you’re finally fulfilling.


take a break


• 1 cup graham cracker crumbs • 1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs • 1 stick butter, melted • 1 oz green food coloring (gel works best) • 3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened • 2/3 cup sugar • 3 eggs • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract • Green sprinkles, optional


1. Heat oven to 350 F, and line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, combine crumbs, butter, and food coloring. Press into the baking pan. 3. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together.

4. Add eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla. 5. Pour mixture over the packed crumbs. 6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center is set. 7. Let cool completely before adding sprinkles and slicing.

718-698-2200 3

394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314




Meet Litigator Edward Finkelstein The Evolution of St. Patrick’s Day

March Madness Fun for the Whole Family 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home Green Velvet Cheesecake Bars Celebrating National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

GIVING BACK TO LOCAL COMPANIES On National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

March 29 is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, which is huge for small businesses everywhere. Mom and Pop businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy;

In addition to the economic boost, products from small businesses are usually higher quality, which makes them a better value for your dollar. Take this day to shop for birthday and holiday gifts for your loved ones that will bring them great joy and last a lifetime. GET SOCIAL AND SPREAD THE WORD! While small businesses utilize every form of marketing available, social media is essential for their success and growth. After shopping at your favorite Mom and Pop business, share that experience on your social media! When you write a post on Facebook or take a picture for Instagram, be sure to tag the business and use relevant hashtags so your friends, family, and everyone else in your community can shop there too. Writing reviews on Google Reviews and Yelp helps establish validity for the company. When another potential customer looks for reviews, they know they’re getting quality products and services from a well- established pillar of the community. The local businesses that are active on social media may post deals and sales for that day only, so keep your eyes peeled and be sure to follow all your favorite businesses!

Small Business Trends reports that Mom and Pop businesses account for 64% of gross domestic product (GDP) and generate 78% of all new jobs. Furthermore, no matter what turns the economy takes, small-business owners are less likely to lay off their employees than big corporations. Mom and Pop businesses support all communities, and you can support them by celebrating this unofficial holiday! GIVE YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY A BOOST! Shopping locally has a massive impact on your community. Local businesses return three times the amount of money to the local economy than larger corporations do. With that big of a return on investment, your community can support even more small businesses that generate a wealth of jobs and keep the cycle going. 4

Published by The Newsletter Pro •

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