I'm a retired Air Force officer (JAG - love my Corps!). The title of this blog reflects the old Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1 (pronounced One Dash One), "Flexibility is the key to air superiority". Nowhere is flexibility more in evidence today than in Houston and southeast Texas, where nobody's waiting for somebody else to jump in and be about the work of rescue, response, reprovisioning and shelter. Texas and Louisiana boat owners have poured into the area, giving relief and supplementation to government resources stretched beyond the maximum, going house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood in search of stranded residents. Churches like Christ Church UMC in Sugarland (www.christchurchsl.org/) and Bayou City Fellowship (http://bayoucityfellowship.com/) - the churches my kids attend - have sheltered evacuees and marshalled and distributed desperately needed assets, coordinating with local authorities but not waiting for permission, simply being the hands and feet of Christ to those in need, even while many parishioners and staff are dealing with their own flood-related challenges. It is a mighty work to behold and reminds me powerfully that, in the words of one of my recent favorite Facebook posts, "Charlottesville isn't America, Houston is America". Houston Texans defensive monster J.J. Watt's fundraising efforts have garnered over $4 million in about four days. Color and background and personal lifestyle choices are nowhere to be seen; they - we - are just neighbors to be loved as ourselves. Blessings and prayers for safety, stamina and perseverance to all those in need and all those assisting.
On the legal side for you who are affected by Harvey, some tips:
1. blog.texasbar.com/2017/08/articles/guest-blog/vick-state-bar-has-legal-resources-to-help-during-harvey/ has some great tips and links for disaster-related legal services, most of which are free.
2. Don't pay anybody cash to help you connect to resources, or start cleaning up your property, or get "on the list" for repairing your house, and DON'T BE PRESSURED. Shysters and evil, ungodly opportunists abound and walk about like wolves in sheeps' clothing wherever they perceive an opportunity to prey on the temporarily weak.
3. If you have flood insurance, contact your insurance company promptly, even before you can get back to assess the damage. If you have renter's insurance, same advice.
4. If you don't have flood insurance on your property, FEMA loans will be available. Keep on top of announcements of when/where/how to apply.
Most of all, thank God for the people who are willing to pitch in and help, whether paid first responders, Cajun Navy or your down-the-street neighbor. And look around for that same opportunity - there's always somebody worse off than you. Hands and feet, people. Hands and feet. God bless.
A large part of my law practice is business formation and representation, and I hear this entirely too often: "Oh, I just went onto the state website and formed my LLC/corporation, it was easy!"
Then I start asking questions:
Are you in business with somebody? Lemme guess, 50/50, right? If so, do you have a company agreement or bylaws? If you don't have a company agreement, how are you going to resolve issues where you fundamentally disagree? In fact, you should have a CA even if it's just you, so that if you bring on another owner later, you'll have a framework for how to do that. And did you have an organizational meeting or annual meetings? If so, did you make a record of the meeting?
The answer is usually, "Well, no, I just have this Certificate of Formation..."
Or I'll have somebody come in who used one of those online services that included a company agreement, but the agreement doesn't cover what they're worried about, and there wasn't anybody to ask when they originally formed the company. And they haven't had a meeting since they started the company (one of them hadn't had an annual meeting or minutes in the 12 years he'd been in business).
One size often does not fit all. That's why it's important, maybe even crucial, that people starting a business talk with a business lawyer about how to do it. Not having a company agreement can put you in a death grip with another owner of the LLC if you fundamentally disagree. Not having annual meeting minutes can result in you being personally liable for debts and obligations of the LLC or corporation if you get sued. This stuff matters.
If you're thinking of starting a business, talk to a business lawyer as a part of your due diligence. If you're already in business but behind the curve on one of the issues discussed above, talk to a business lawyer. Yes, it's how we feed our children, but it's also money well spent to get you started off on the right foot (or get you back on track).
Confession time: until I had a daughter who's an elementary school teacher, I was pretty clueless about how far funding goes in the public school system, and how much teachers dig into their own pockets to supply and equip their classrooms. My daughter teaches at a lower-end-of-the-socioeconomic-scale school in Houston, and I spent Saturday cutting out crate covers that double as seats for some of the kids in my daughter's class, and a little more time whacking composition notebooks in half so they'll go farther with her kids, all bought with non-budgeted (out-of-pocket) funds. She's also on our Amazon account, so I see all the stuff she buys in the course of a school year, with her own money. I'm astounded at how much she spends to give her kids the kind of education she knows they need - and she'd spend more if she had it. She's not alone.
Enter you. Not for my daughter, but for your kids' or grandkids' or neighbor's kids' teacher's classroom (yes that's a lot of possessives, but it works!). Visit www.donorschoose.org/ - it's a website with oodles and scads of projects that need funding, posted by teachers all over. Click on "Find a classroom to support" and a new page comes up with subjects you can support, or you can enter your local school, town or zipcode.
Kids and their teachers, including my amazing, passionate daughter, Mara, are headed back to school this month. You can help make it a better, stronger, more productive school year with any size contribution. Don't leave it to the education system, participate yourself! And thanks.