Rust Belt Business Law - May 2021

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May 2021

We’ve all done it. We’re walking along and spot a glint of copper on the sidewalk — a penny. We pick it up, check the year, and put it in our pocket. For some people, it’s their lucky penny. The thing about the lucky penny, however, is that you have to look for it. If you’re not paying attention, you can walk right past it. I bring this up because May 23 is Lucky Penny Day. There are many offbeat holidays throughout the year, and this month is no exception, but there’s something about this day that stands out. I can’t help but think of the song “Pennies From Heaven” — popularized by Bing Crosby in 1936 (with later versions by Frank Sinatra and by me when I’m on a road trip). The song is more than appropriate these days. Businesses, individuals, and families continue to benefit from government programs aimed at stimulating the economy. Businesses, in particular, can turn to the ongoing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for assistance, or they can apply for the updated Employee Retention Credit (ERC). Additional grant programs for restaurants and venues are being rolled out. These programs have put a ton of money into the pockets of business owners and employees who really need it. The thing I’m excited about is the ERC. For 2020, certain businesses may be eligible for up to $5,000 per full-time employee. For 2021, that amount increases to $7,000 per employee, per quarter! While there is a lot of fine print attached to every government program, the ERC program has huge potential. Most businesses owe when tax time rolls around. With the ERC, along with other credits and programs, they may get a refund instead. Business owners getting money back — money they can put into their business — is awesome! Because the fine print attached to these programs is relatively complex, they can be difficult for most people to navigate. This is where we come in. We’ve been helping businesses figure out what exactly they qualify for and how they can get much-needed money back into said businesses. We help them find their lucky penny. We’re fortunate to be in a position where we can provide this type of assistance. With many other businesses calling on us for our expertise in navigating these programs, our business doesn’t qualify for PPP round two. That’s our lucky penny. COUNTING MY LUCKY PENNIES

The business aside, there is another reason why I’ve been thinking about the song “Pennies From Heaven.” My 3-year-old daughter is named Penny. While her birthday is in June, my wife and I joke that she is our lucky Penny. The past year has allowed us to spend more time with our two kids. We’ve traveled all over the place in our RV — a rather pandemic- friendly way to travel. This winter, instead of winterizing the RV, we left it in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s certainly the brighter side of the pandemic. We saw the opportunity and took it. But we had to be looking for opportunity. That’s really what the lucky penny comes down to — finding an opportunity and taking it. It applies to government programs and tax credits, just as it applies to spending more time with family. If you aren’t looking for opportunities, chances are you won’t see them. In other words, it’s not so much about gaining luck out of nothing; it’s working to create your own luck. The same can be said if we weren’t actively looking for ways to help business owners potentially get tens of thousands of dollars back from federal tax credits. We have to keep our eyes open and understand the terms of every program out there.

So, keep your eyes open for those pennies. They’re out there, you just have to spot them.

–Adam Williams

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Bring Spring Indoors

The Most Beautiful May Flowers for Your Home or Office

Delicate, ruffled, and feminine, sweet peas are sure to delight anyone who sees them.

The April showers came and went, so now we get to enjoy May flowers! You might not buy flowers for yourself often, but it’s totally worth treating yourself and your visitors, all while supporting your local florist! To start off, anemones are the most mythological May plant around because of two famous Greek myths surrounding these jewel-toned flowers. Anemones are said to have sprung from blood shed by the death of Aphrodite’s lover, Adonis. The ancient Greeks also believed that the god of the west wind favored anemones — hence their second name, the windflower. Attach them as pops of color to any bouquet for a classic, romantic, or modern arrangement, or mix them with roses and trailing greenery for a more boho look. Carnations are also fantastic flowers to display in May. Some people may see carnations as a cheap flower, but, when used en masse, they can have a truly breathtaking effect in a room. Try using natural- colored carnations to create a fresh, contemporary space. You can also freshen up the room with sweet peas , which have a wonderfully mild perfume. They come with an enormous range of colors — one of the biggest ranges in the flora kingdom, in fact!

Lastly, although tulips or orchids would be classic choices for your arrangement, consider surprising your visitors with lilies of the valley . These beautiful, peaceful little blooms only grow in white, which is often seen as the color of renewal and innocence, and they wear it well! Their adorable little bell-like flowers will be sure to put a smile on your face. We hope you will consider these gorgeous flowers for your space this year. A small purchase at your local small businesses can make a big difference, just like how a few flowers can make a big difference in your home!

The 3 Strangest Celebrity Lawsuits

Internet conspiracy theory results in a court case against Beyoncé. The internet is a wild place, and conspiracy theories are often born on its digital channels. One such theory was that Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z, hired a surrogate to give birth to their daughter, Blue Ivy, in 2012. Internet trolls who saw her pregnant belly roll as she sat down for an interview fanned the flames of this theory, and soon, a lawsuit emerged. A woman claimed she was the true biological mother of Blue Ivy, and she asked for compensation and DNA testing to prove it. Previously, the same woman claimed to be the birth mother of North West, the daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, but the court threw out the case. Mila Kunis ruffles some feathers. Actress Mila Kunis was sued for $5,000 by her childhood friend, Kristina Karo, in 2015 because Kunis allegedly stole a chicken from Karo when they were still children in Ukraine. Karo, an aspiring singer, claimed the theft resulted in extreme emotional distress and prevented her from pursuing the American dream. According to Kunis, the theft occurred when she was 7 years old and Karo was just 1 month old. Kunis and her husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, speculated that the case was all a publicity stunt to promote Karo’s upcoming music video, and the case was eventually dropped.

Stories about celebrities can be enjoyable or awkward, but no matter what happens, they usually create great material for Buzzfeed or Reddit users. This also includes celebrity stories involving the law, which bring on a lot of head-scratching and legal action — like these three strange cases. Simon Cowell pays for a chef’s disappearing shoes. Known for his unrelenting critiques and setting the stage for some of the world’s biggest names in show business, Simon Cowell has amassed enough wealth to afford a private chef. When one such chef came by his house for a job interview, she was asked to remove

her shoes, but according to court documents, she never received her shoes back. The chef claims to have tried multiple times to retrieve the shoes — which were outfitted with $500 orthopedic insoles — but never succeeded. She sued

Cowell for the shoes and gas money, and the

“America’s Got Talent” star shelled out.

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TAKE A BREAK

Millions of families in Europe have relied heavily on government aid for survival, but that’s becoming a concern for the younger generation. European debt hasn’t been so high since World War II, and it’s even outpacing national economies. In France alone, the national debt has risen to 2.7 trillion euros ($3.2 trillion) and will soon exceed 120% of the national economy. While the International Monetary Fund expects growth to bounce back this year to 5.1% in the United States, Europe will likely lag with a rebound of 4.2%. WILL EUROPE BE ABLE TO PAY ITS $3.2T PANDEMIC DEBT?

Yet, as debts skyrocket, economists wonder if it’s possible for Europe to get a “free lunch.”

In the current zero-interest era, strange things are happening. Although the amount of debt companies have taken has grown, the amount that governments pay hasn’t. Countries can now roll over their debt at low interest rates, which is akin to refinancing a mortgage. Banks are also buying government debt, effectively lending around 1.3 trillion euros during the first six months of the pandemic. This makes the debt affordable — for now. Government debt may never have to be fully paid back if central banks keep buying it up. According to the Institut Montaigne, an independent think tank in Paris, public debt could rise to 4 trillion by the end of 2023. Some economists are worried about the risks. What if inflation and interest rates help revive growth too rapidly, forcing central banks to put a complete stop to their easy-money policies? Weaker countries may fall into a debt trap and struggle to pay. Simon Tilford, director of a strategic planning firm in London, told the New York Times, “If inflation starts to return but there’s no growth, then the situation gets a lot trickier.”

THAI MINCED PORK SALAD

Inspired by EatingThaiFood.com

Ingredients

• Juice of 1–2 limes, to taste • 4 small shallots, thinly sliced • 4 green onions, thinly sliced • Cilantro leaves, to taste • Mint leaves, to taste

• 5 tbsp uncooked Thai sticky rice • 1 lb ground pork • 1/2 tbsp chili flakes • 1/8 tsp sugar • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce

Directions

1. First, make toasted rice powder: In a frying pan over low heat, dry- roast the rice, stirring continuously until it turns golden brown and smells fragrant, about 15 minutes. 2. Let toasted rice cool, then grind into a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle, blender, or food processor. Set aside. 3. In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, fry pork, breaking it into small pieces as you go, until fully cooked. 4. Remove from heat and add 1 heaping tbsp of toasted rice powder along with all other ingredients. Stir to combine. 5. Taste and adjust, adding more lime juice and herbs to suit your palate. Serve with rice.

When the next recession rolls around, it may be tough to stimulate their economy with this amount of debt on their hands. This worries the younger generation of Europeans, but at least for now, those troubles seem far away in the eyes of those steering European economies through the pandemic.

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814-315-9255 www.RustBeltLegal.com 425 West 10th St. Erie, PA 16502

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

It’s Raining ‘Pennies From Heaven’

1

Brighten Up Your Space With These May Flowers! Mila Kunis Got Sued for That!? (And 2 Other Weird Celebrity Legal Cases)

2

Thai Minced Pork Salad Will Europe Be Able to Pay Its $3.2T Pandemic Debt?

3

Influencer in Florida Commits Voter Fraud

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Influencer in Florida Accused of Voter Fraud

Using hashtags like #go[candidate], Mackey posted false, edited campaign images to convince people to “vote” by text instead of going to the polls or using the mail-in ballot. In one instance, he posted an image depicting an African American woman holding a sign, reading “African Americans for [candidate].” The images would then include instructions on how to vote by texting a specific number. Mackey and his associates also created images with Spanish instructions, obviously targeting minorities as well. Of course, voting by text is not a legitimate way to cast a ballot, yet the deceptive campaign duped over 4,900 unique phone numbers. William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, reported in their press release, “Protecting every American citizen’s right to cast a legitimate vote is a key to the success of our republic. What Mackey allegedly did to interfere with this process — by soliciting voters to cast their ballots via text — amounted to nothing short of vote theft.” It’s certainly fascinating and terrifying to see just how influential social media can be on an election and even go as far as to lure people into wasting their vote. We’re glad, however, to see these types of cases being brought to court — Mackey was recently arrested on federal charges of election interference for this 2016 voter disinformation campaign. Some influencers are taking their title much too seriously!

A February 2016 analysis by MIT Media Lab revealed that Twitter account “Ricky Vaughn” was the 107th most important influencer in the then-upcoming election. That’s a higher ranking than many other groups and individuals like NBC News (114), Stephen Colbert (119), and Newt Gingrich (141). Everyone had one question: Who in the world is Ricky Vaughn? As it turns out, the Florida man was really stepping up his game. Douglass Mackey, aka Ricky Vaughn, is based in West Palm Beach and gained an audience on Twitter with over 58,000 followers by 2016. Many would describe him as an internet troll, or someone who posts hurtful comments for his own amusement. He’s posted anti-Semitic memes in the past, but those offenses were hardly illegal. That changed when Mackey allegedly went too far.

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