Stuff to do this weekend.

A quick recap of the week

week review 2015-01-23

Here are a few highlights from the past short week on AOA:

+ Daniel and the Best Dozen made a stop at the Schuyler Bakery.

+ Sean asked about finding a good graphic designer.

+ We gave away tickets to see Demetri Martin at The Egg + a City Beer Hall gift certificate by asking people to tell a joke. There were a lot of *terrible* joke. But we laughed. A lot.

+ Deanna tried the tortas at El Mariachi.

+ What was up in the Neighborhood this week: cars changing people, turning toward joy, choosing to react badly, compromising, a checkered storyline, $1 oysters, Peck's Arcade, The Shop, pasta at a Thai place, 500 words, Treviso, searching for challah, making applejack, gluten-free food, Cohoes Falls, and the blues.

+ Matt asked for advice about fixing lath-and-plaster walls.

+ Five big things from Andrew Cuomo's combined State of the State/state budget powerpointpalooza.

+ Sheldon Silver was arrested. Here's what the feds are alleging he did.

+ And Lauren talked with the creator of the upcoming Love Story Masquerade.

Here's the whole week all lined up.

Thanks to everyone who posted a comment or shared an idea or photo this week!

Zhenelle Falk photo: Organic Images Photography/Breanna Berger-Tzabar

Today's moment of winter

Hudson River at Troy ice sunset

The Hudson River at Troy.

Downtown Albany, before and after

Institute for for Quality Communities urban change Albany

Head over to the OU site to use the photo slider.

Check out these before-and-after aerial photos of Northeast cities posted by an academic institute at the University of Oklahoma. Albany is among the cities featured -- that's a screengrab above -- in the series of before/after sliding photos.

From the Institute for for Quality Communities post:

60 years has made a big difference in the urban form of American cities. The most rapid change occurred during the mid-century urban renewal period that cleared large tracts of urban land for new highways, parking, and public facilities or housing projects. Fine-grained networks of streets and buildings on small lots were replaced with superblocks and megastructures. While the period did make way for impressive new projects in many cities, many of the scars are still unhealed.
We put together these sliders to show how cities have changed over half a century.

One of the things that struck us as we moved the slider back and forth on the Albany photos was that, sure, the Empire State Plaza took up a lot of space -- but it's remarkable how the wide path was plowed for the South Mall Arterial connecting I-787 and the ESP.

The institute's posted other series of sliding photos for Oklahoma and Texas, the Midwest, and Southeast.

[via @albanymuskrat]

photo compilation: Institute for for Quality Communities at the University of Oklahoma

"[A] federal prosecutor who doesn't give a f..."

Over at Buzzfeed Ben Smith has a quick profile/backgrounder on Preet Bharara, the US Attorney overseeing the investigation and prosecution of Sheldon Silver. It opens with a story about Bharara speaking a big gathering of hedge fund managers: "'I just want to apologize in advance that I don't have enough subpoenas for all of you.'" Pause for nervous laughter. "'Obviously, I'm kidding. I do have enough.'" [Buzzfeed]

Stuff to do this weekend

RPI Union hockey Doug Kerr cc

RPI and Union renew their rivalry in the Mayors Cup at the TU Center Saturday night. / photo: Flickr user Doug Kerr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (cropped)

Hot chocolate? Check. Blankets? Check. Netflix? Check.

Stuff to do for those of us who want to do more than huddle under blankets with hot chocolate watching Netflix this weekend? Check.

After the jump we've pulled together our list of stuff to do this cold January weekend. So pick a few, bundle up and get out and have some fun.

Doing something that you don't see listed here? Drop it in the comments for the rest of us to see.

And whatever you're up to, keep warm and have a great weekend.

HWB 525x80.jpg

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All Sheldon Silver all the time, push for state to help pay for legal defense for the poor, JetBlue scheduled for November arrival, learning to walk again with an exoskeleton

Sheldon Silver was released after posting a $200k bond in federal court Thursday afternoon, and afterward said: "I am confident that when all the answers are aired I will be vindicated." [State of Politics] [NYT]

A quick scan of what the feds allege Sheldon Silver did. [AOA]

Andrew Cuomo, to the New York Daily News editorial board, about the Silver situation: "Obviously it's bad for the speaker, but it's also a bad reflection on government and it adds to the negativity. And it adds to the cynicism and it adds to the 'they're all the same,'" (The governor did not say whether he thinks Silver should resign his leadership spot.) [NYDN]

The state Assembly session scheduled for Thursday was cancelled, and Assembly Democrats huddled up before announcing their continued support for Silver as speaker. Said Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle: "We believe he can carry out his duties as speaker and we are standing side by side to do our responsibilities and do our job so we can advance forward." Capital Region Democratic Assembly members all had pretty much the same take: they're waiting to see how things play out. The Republican Assembly Minority Leader, Brian Kolb, said Silver should step down as speaker. [State of Politics] [TWCN] [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Despite the Democrats' efforts to insist that the Silver situation wouldn't be a "distraction" from business of the legsislature, Silver's arrest could signal a massive shift in the fundamental political calculus of the Capitol. [State of Politics] [NYT]

Education policy -- including funding, teacher evaluations, and other hot topics -- are set to be a key part of the legislative session, and the Silver arrest could tilt things toward Andrew Cuomo and state Senate Republicans. [Capital]

The feds allege Silver racked up millions in income from his legal work -- yet by public appearances, Silver is said to have lived a relatively modest life (including stays at the Red Carpet Inn in Albany). [NY Post]

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timesunionPLUS

timesunionPLUS screengrabThe Times Union rolled out "timesunionPLUS" for its website Thursday, a paywall/subscriber membership program.

The paper is pitching the program as an enhancement of its current offerings. And it may include some bonus features, such as a week-in-review section and "special issue briefs from time to time on major topics of interest." But it's also a paywall.

An example: That story Thursday about DeFazio's wanting to buy the old Vanilla Bean building on 4th Street in Troy was open only to subscribers. That very much appears to be the sort of story that would have run normally on the website pre-PLUS.

Current subscribers to the TU print version get PLUS along with their subscriptions. There's also an all-digital option that's currently being offered for $1 a week. (It looks like the regular price will be $3/week.)

This is a notable moment in the Capital Region's media scene -- the Daily Gazette, Record/Saratogian, Post-Star, and the Times Union now all have some form of paywall. It's interesting to see how each outlet has set up their wall: the Gazette holds almost everything back, the Record/Saratogian and Post-Star allow a certain number of stories before hitting the wall, and the Times Union appears to be picking and choosing which items will be walled and unwalled.

People grumble about paywalls, but newspapers need to make money to stay in business. And over the last decade that's become increasingly harder as the internet -- and services native to the internet -- have steadily eaten away at newspaper revenue streams, such as classifieds, that had subsidized news for decades.

Sure, there's advertising. But the difference between what a media company makes on print ads versus online ads is huge. So something has to span the gap. And getting the people who consume your product to directly help pay for it isn't a bad idea.

DeFazio's baking up plans for expansion

DeFazio's wants to take over the former Vanilla Bean building in Troy (just a block north from DeFazio's current shop on 4th Street) to expand the business with restaurant with a bar, banquet space, and culinary class space, the TU's Kenneth Crowe reports. [TU]

A quick scan of the feds' allegations against Sheldon Silver

sheldon silver federal complaint screengrab

As you have no doubt heard incessantly today, Sheldon Silver -- the loooongtime speaker of the state Assembly, one of the most powerful politicians in New York -- was arrested by the feds today on corruption charges. Silver said Thursday afternoon that he's "confident that when all the answers are aired I will be vindicated." [State of Politics]

So what exactly are the feds accusing Silver of having done?

Here it is, broken down in a quick-scan format.

(there's more)

A girl named Cuse

A Saratoga Springs man is such a Syracuse University sports fan that he and his former wife named their daughter Cuse. The self-described "super fan" also tells the Post-Standard's Mike Waters that he has a tattoo of Otto the Orange. [Post-Standard]

New dean for Albany Law

Albany Law Alicia OuelletteAlbany Law School announced Thursday that Alicia Ouellette is its new dean and will become its next president in July. Ouellette has been the school's interim dean since last fall.

The past handful of years have been challenging for law schools across the country as the job market for attorneys has shrunk and in turn enrollments dropped, forcing schools to adapt. Albany Law has been no exception to this trend. The school offered buyouts last year as part of a tense situation between the administration and some faculty. [ABA] [Biz Review] [Above the Law]

More recently, Albany Law had been in talks with UAlbany about some sort of partnership. [Biz Review]

Ouellette replaces Penny Andrews, who had headed up the school since 2012. Andrews announced last year that she'd be steeping down as president and dean at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Ouellete -- who's name is pronounced "wull-ett" -- is an Albany Law School alum (class of 1994) and her academic focus has been the field of bioethics.

Albany Law has advertised on AOA in the past.

photo via Albany Law School

The Love Story Masquerade

Zhenelle Falk TheLoveStory promo photo

Zhenelle Falk

By Lauren Hittinger

There's a new kind of Valentine's Day event at the Takk House in Troy this year. And it involves masquerade, burlesque, a mysterious host, and a whole lot of secrecy.

Zhenelle Falk is planning The Love Story, a carefully-orchestrated alternative to Hallmark cards and heart-shaped boxes.

I chatted with her about this immersive event that is aiming to be frightening, exciting, and sexy all at once.

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Sheldon Silver arrested on corruption charge, Cuomo lays out $141 billion "opportunity agenda", Albany lawmakers consider residency requirement, new redistricting plan for Schenectady schools

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested today on corruption charges. The charges stem from allegations that Silver took payments from a small law firm that he failed to list on his annual financial disclosure filings. [AOA][NYT]

Andrew Cuomo laid out a 141.6 billion budget plan on Tuesday for the upcoming fiscal year. What Cuomo called his "Opportunity Agenda" included plans to tie $800 million in school aid to an 11 point list of school reform that includes incentive pay for teachers, tenure reform and an increase in charter schools. The plan also calls for cutting more than 2 million in aid to communities with VLTs, which could mean a hit of half-a-million dollars to Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County. Cuomo also announced a proposal to better protect students from sexual assault on college campuses and $500 million for broadband access in rural upstate areas. Reactions to the plan were mixed. Here are a few take away items from the speech [TU][TU][TWCN][TU][Saratogian][Gazette][WNYT][Record][AOA]

Twenty-two protestors were arrested outside the entrance to the convention center during the speech.
Protests outside the address were smaller than in recent years, with some anti fracking advocates holding up thank you signs. Others work "I Can't Breathe" sweatshirts and carried signs that read Black Lives Matter. [TU][WNYT][CNY]

Saint Rose MB in post ad 2014-fall

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Sheldon Silver arrested

sheldon silver at podiumHuge state politics news: Sheldon Silver has been arrested by the feds on corruption charges -- he turned himself in to the FBI Thursday morning in New York City, according to the New York Times.

NYT first reported back in December that Silver was under investigation by the feds, and reported Wednesday night that the Speaker of the state Assembly would be arrested. From NYT:

The investigation of Mr. Silver began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.
The federal inquiry, led by the United States Attorney for the Southern District, focused on payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes.
While it is legal for lawmakers to hold outside jobs, investigators said Mr. Silver failed to list the payments from the firm, Goldberg & Iryami, on his annual financial disclosure filings with the state.
In the past, Mr. Silver has been criticized for his outside law practice, a lucrative career that supplements the $121,000 he earns as speaker.
In 2013, Mr. Silver earned at least $650,000 in legal income, including work for the personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, according to his most recent financial disclosure filing.
But what he does to earn that income has long been a mystery in Albany, and Mr. Silver has refused to provide details about his work.

Silver's attorneys issued a statement Thursday morning: "We're disappointed that the prosecutors have chosen to proceed with these meritless criminal charges." [WSJ]

As recently as two weeks ago Silver, in typical Sheldon Silver fashion, calmly no-commented the news that he was under investigation. [NYDN]

Silver, who represents a section of lower Manhattan, has been speaker for just short of forever (well, 1994), the second longest tenure in New York history. He is one of "The Three Men in a Room" of state government. And he's demonstrated a remarkable ability during that time to ride out the waves and scandals (of which there have been many) in the legislature. Here's a NY Mag article from a few years back that looked at Silver's ability to persist.

More than 30 New York state legislators have faced ethical or criminal charges since 2000, according to list kept by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Some history: Over at State of Politics, Liz Benjamin looks at what happened the last time an Assembly speaker was arrested, in 1990.

photo: Nyer42 via Wikipedia

5 things from the 2015 State of the State / state budget presentation

state of state 2015 three amigos slide

Sometimes people have a little too much with Powerpoint.

Andrew Cuomo delivered his combined State of the State/state budget presentation -- the Powerpoint of the State, if you will -- Wednesday afternoon.

It was long (almost an hour-and-a-half). And the briefing book for it is 550 pages.

So here's a quick, 5-things scan of the presentation.

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Advice for fixing old lath-and-plaster walls?

Thumbnail image for wall with hole in itMatt emails:

Does anyone have suggestions for a contractor that can repair lathe and plaster walls? I have part of one wall that has sustained water damage from leaky chimney flashing and another wall where some of the final smooth coat has cracked apart. I've done some research and know that some contractors suggest tearing it out to the studs and replacing it with drywall (which would also give an opportunity to put in some insulation on the outer walls).
I like the plaster walls because they're thicker and more substantial than drywall, and provide good sound dampening between rooms. The idea of just ripping them out seems counterproductive (and quite frankly, a waste) to me. However, I realize repairing them is probably a lost skill and not many people do that anymore.
Any suggestions for contractors or input otherwise would be greatly appreciated.

This area has a lot of old houses, so we're guessing there are contractors who do this sort of work. But, as with most things that aren't common, it might end up costing a lot.

So, got advice or a suggestion for Matt? Please share!

South End Bikeway Link

south end bikeway proposal diagram clip

Here's an interesting idea: The South End Bikeway Link -- a proposal to connect Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail with the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail and Albany waterfront.

A coalition of local bike, rail trail, and neighborhood group is supporting the idea. And there's a public meeting this evening (Wednesday) at the Albany Public Library main branch at 6 pm to share info and rally support.

Press release blurbage:

The proposed bike link would extend the existing Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail further south and tie into the new Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. This much-anticipated "Rails to Trails" route will stretch 9.3 scenic miles to the Village of Voorheesville from the South End. The link will be wildly popular with bicyclists, runners, and walkers when the final Bethlehem-South Albany segment opens in late October 2015.

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: cars changing people, turning toward joy, choosing to react badly, compromising, a checkered storyline, $1 oysters, Peck's Arcade, The Shop, pasta at a Thai place, 500 words, Treviso, searching for challah, making applejack, gluten-free food, Cohoes Falls, and the blues..

Broadway Plaza Liquor in-post ad

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Tortas at El Mariachi

el_mariachi_torta_closeup.jpg

By Deanna Fox

You don't need to go south of the border for a lunchtime taste of Mexico. You just need to go a little south of Central Avenue.

Tortas are a traditional Mexican sandwich often sold on the street during lunch. Using whatever ingredients are on hand, tortas act as a quick, filling lunch that comes cheap, is easy to eat, and offers utility that is only rivaled by flavor.

The tortas -- in various interpretations -- at El Mariachi in Albany don't disappoint when it comes to a fast, hearty lunch that bring a hit of flavor to an otherwise drab, wintery workday.

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State of the State/budget address today, Cuomo approval rating highest since summer, minimum wage and poverty themes in People's State of the State, significant cutbacks at GE battery plant, when Santa beat Mario Cuomo at checkers

President Obama laid out an ambitious agenda in Tuesday's State of the Union address. [NYT]

Andrew Cuomo gives his combined budget and State of the State address today. In a preview on Tuesday, said "This is probably the most robust State of the State I've done." Expect to hear about tax cuts for small business, property tax relief, funding for bridges and subways and improvements for public schools.[WNYT][TU][TWCN]

On the eve of the state of the state address a Siena poll showed Andrew Cuomo's favorability rating is up to 60 percent-- the highest since the summer. [TU]

Parents and teachers gathered in Valatie last night to send a message to Andrew Cuomo to drop common core.[TWCN]

Anti-poverty groups, labor leaders and others had their say on Tuesday at the 25th annual People's State of the State at the Capitol. [TWCN][WNYT]

More than 80 legislators have signed a letter to Andrew Cuomo requesting $2.2 billion in additional state aid for schools, including $250 million in pre-kindergarten.{TU]

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Looking for more? Check out the last week's worth of posts or the archive.

And you can always try searching for it:

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[A]nother factor that allows some politicians to slide into corrupt practices is the overriding notion that if they hadn't chosen to become "public servants" that they'd be making mega bucks on the corporate world. Which maybe they would. But it seems to give them license (in their own minds) to exploit any ethical grey area to make up for that loss of income.

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