Uncategorized

“Diversity & Inclusion in State Lobbying Just Makes Cents,” INFLUENCE Magazine

The lobbying world could potentially face one of the most challenging sessions in the history of the profession. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other victims of police shootings, the ongoing Black Lives Matters protests, and the passing of Congressman John Lewis and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have put a spotlight on the need to diversify lobbying teams to better address issues and reflect today’s society.

As corporations across the country prepare to manage the challenges ahead, incorporating a strategy that includes diversity and inclusion will increase opportunities for growth and limit the risks and pitfalls that come with a narrow understanding, devoid of cultural nuances.

Diversity can set the stage for a coordinated, strategic response among legislators and leaders to ensure a strong outcome for clients. In fact, a recent study by McKinsey & Company, the noted management consulting firm, suggests firms that exhibit gender and ethnic diversity are more likely to outperform their less diverse competitors and produce better results.

Governors and state legislators establish budgets and taxes that pay for state services. They appoint judges, regulate businesses, and shape policies that impact the administration of justice. Who benefits from the money, laws, and regulations often comes down to the effectiveness of individual lobbyists and their firm’s lobbying strategies.

Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans are poorly represented as registered lobbyists in Florida.  African Americans account for less than 2% of registered lobbyists and only seven are women.

The issues of social justice, race and pandemic response are all intertwined. The battles for power and funding will be fought not only on “K Street” in the nation’s capital, but in state capitols throughout the country.

In Florida and across the nation, the communities that have been the hardest hit by COVID-19 are overwhelmingly minority. When additional pandemic relief becomes available, be it in the form of funding or a vaccine, a positive outcome for these communities depends on a diverse advocacy approach.

In a post-pandemic world, successful corporate leaders will re-examine their advocacy strategies and include diversity and equity in their messaging, in how they interact with legislators and in identifying community partners. This assures that a client’s message aligns with lawmakers and the affected communities.

Corporations must get involved to create and hire diverse lobbying teams. In 2019, I co-founded the National Black Professional Lobbyists Association. We provide mentoring and networking and have been partnering with diversity and inclusion leaders to ensure Black government affairs professionals are included in efforts to expand the perspectives communicated to state government leaders.

A diverse team ensures a broader understanding of the client’s challenges. With a broader understanding, a more successful and financially beneficial result can be achieved. Diversity is not just good for business; it’s good for the bottom line.

Yolanda Cash Jackson is a Shareholder of Becker and Poliakoff, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and has served on the firm’s management committee since 2010.  Ms. Jackson is also a founder of the National Black Professional Lobbyists Association.

Reprinted with permission from the INFLUENCE Magazine.

Yolanda Cash Jackson Named to The INFLUENCE 100 By Florida Politics Magazine

Becker is proud to celebrate Shareholder Yolanda Cash Jackson’s inclusion in the 2020 edition of INFLUENCE 100, a list of the 100 most influential people in Florida politics. Yolanda is an experienced Government Law attorney who has established a strong reputation in the community for her leadership and commitment to civic, charitable and professional organizations. She has a particular interest in state government funding and appropriations, and actively collaborates with Florida’s leading elected officials and policymakers to shape a better future for the Sunshine State.

“It is no surprise that Yolanda appears among prestigious company on this list,” said Gary Rosen, Managing Shareholder of Becker & Poliakoff. “She has always emulated true leadership and, even in her role on our firm’s management committee, works to build relationships that benefit the greater good of our firm. We are proud that she has been recognized for both her work and her heart of service.”

Yolanda is a current appointee to The Florida Bar’s new standing committee on Governmental and Public Policy Advocacy and a co-founder of The National Black Lobbyists Association (NBPLA), a group launched in 2019 to promote diversity and inclusion in the lobbying corps at state capitols.

For more about Yolanda’s work in Florida and beyond, please click here.

“Condominium Insurance Explained,” News-Press

Q: We recently discovered that the air handler drain in the unit above us became clogged resulting in water damage to our unit. Our insurance covered some of the costs, but not all. We were not in the unit when this occurred and it was some time before we discovered it, resulting in mold. Would our condominium association be responsible for the uncovered damage? For example, we had to repaint the unit, and replace the water heater and two vanities that had to be thrown out. (G.T., via e-mail)

Webinar: 2020 Elections and Display of Signs in Community Associations

Watch the replay of this timely webinar that answered frequently asked questions that are front and center during this hotly contested campaign season. It’s easy to misstep if you don’t know New Jersey law.

Topics Covered:

  • Can owners in condos and individual homes display political signs?
  • If so, where can those signs be displayed?
  • Are American flags modified to convey a political statement protected by federal law?
  • What about signs saying Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter?
  • What if your governing documents say no signs are permitted?
  • Can the Board adopt rules limiting the display of signs?

Watch the replay below!

SPEAKERS:

Arnold J. Calabrese
Moderator
Office Managing Shareholder
Morristown

Tana Bucca
Panelist
Shareholder

David L. Dockery
Panelist
Senior Attorney

Ellen M. Goodman
Panelist
Senior Attorney

Becker Advises DLH in $95M Acquisition of Health Technology Provider

Becker & Poliakoff recently advised the DLH Holdings Corporation (DLH), a leading provider of innovative healthcare research, services and solutions to the federal government, in its acquisition of privately-held Irving Burton Associates, LLC (IBA).

Atlanta-based DLH has approximately 2000 employees serving numerous federal government clients throughout the United States and abroad. Virginia-based IBA employs approximately 115 employees and provides research, systems development and other technology-enabled solutions to the Defense Health Agency, Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center of the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, and other agencies within the U.S. Department of Defense. IBA maintains a top-secret facility clearance, and its defense contracts provide for a range of health IT services including digital transformation, data analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.

Financing for the acquisition was provided by a credit facility comprised of a syndicated term loan of $70 million and revolving credit facility of $25 million. First National Bank of Pennsylvania acted as agent, and F.N.B. Capital Markets and M&T Bank acted as joint lead arrangers.

Becker corporate attorneys Michael Goldstein, Victor DiGioia, Paul Shur, and Sami Lesser provided legal counsel and support to DLH regarding the financing of this transaction.

More information about the transaction can be found here.

“The Constant Call for Transparency — What is Proper Transparency?,” AssociationHelpNow

Serving on the board of any community association is not for the faint of heart. One of the trickiest challenges is to support a transparent decision-making process while simultaneously maintaining strict confidentiality.

“Successful boards, in my opinion, don’t keep anything a secret unless they have to,” Becker Senior Attorney David L. Dockery tells Association Help Now. “I think a properly functioning board should be as transparent as possible.” But, he continues, unit owners do not have the right to see contracts before they are decided upon by the board, and many discussions are required to be held behind closed doors for legal reasons.

Dockery provides some insight into how a board may be required to address requests:

  • to view financial records, ligation-related items, employment contract items, or any information that cannot legally be disclosed,
  • to discuss employee discipline or any information that will affect competitive bidding in contract negotiations, or
  • to decide the priority of projects in a community or the contractor hired to perform said projects.

He also points out that bylaw requirements may provide additional guidance on some situations, and owners do have recourse if they feel access is being unfairly denied.

Read the full article here.

“Can Political Flags Be Flown?,” Naples Daily News

Q: I went on a walk in my community and saw at least 8 homes flying either Trump or Biden flags. Is it legal to fly a political flag on a home located in a homeowners association? I.B.A: Sections 720.304(2)(a) and 720.3075(3) of the Florida Homeowners Association Act specifically permit the flying of the US flag and other types of governmental flags, including flags of the various military branches. These statutes do not address other types of flags, such as political flags.

“Use of Easements Limited by Intent,” News-Press

Q: My homeowners’ association has maintenance access easements over certain areas across the lots adjacent to a pond. Does this mean that all homeowners’ association owners/members are allowed to walk over these access easements to access the pond? (D.P., via e-mail) A: It depends upon the language of the grant of easement itself, which will usually be found either in the declaration of covenants or on the plats.

Becker Helps Secure the #1 Domestic Port Development Award For the Virginia Port Authority

Becker’s Government Relations team helped secured $20M+ in government funding for the Central Rail Yard (CRY) expansion project at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT). The Port Infrastructure Development Grant will build on the investments already made across its two largest terminals, the NIT and Virginia International Gateway (VIG), to expand on-terminal rail capacity at NIT.

The grant supports construction of two new rail bundles containing four tracks each, in addition to a center working area for transferring and staging containers. Associated lead-in tracks will incorporate turnouts and switches from the terminal’s main rail line and vehicle crossings. Additionally, the project will create a return access road that will separate rail dray traffic returning to the container yard from general truck traffic.

The VPA has experienced significant growth for almost two decades and is currently the third largest port on the East Coast of the United States. The VPA has made major investments in infrastructure and capacity with the expansion of primary cargo terminals, expanded capabilities of port facilities, and dredging to make Virginia one of the deepest seaports on the east coast of the United States.

Read more about the impact this funding will have on the Port of Virginia from U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and Congressman Rob Wittman.

Property Damage and Falls: When Things Go Wrong

As all real estate professionals know, it’s difficult to predict what bumps in the road may arise while a property is being marketed for sale. Even in the seemingly benign scenario of a vacant residential or commercial property, someone – be it a potential buyer, an agent, a vendor, a landscaper, or anyone else who may find themselves on the property – could be injured, or the property could be damaged or destroyed through fire, vandalism, theft, or a variety of other risks too numerous to list. Understandably, if an ongoing business is being operated on the property, the possibilities are almost endless.