Deal closes this year's state budget gap, Waterford site "a significant threat," quadriplegic bookie going to prison, ducks love french fries

A deal to close the $1.6 billion gap in the state's budget for this fiscal year passed both houses of the Legislature last night. The plan makes up the money by trimming a number of items, "sweeping" money from various accounts and raising a tax on health insurers. The current Three Men in a Room (Paterson, Silver, Smith) put the deal together behind closed doors -- and it was voted on by legislators before they had much of a chance to read it. Republican Senate minority leader Dean Skelos criticized the process, "Don't just push us out the door, shut the door and have three Democrats in a room from New York City make a determination on the economic policy of the state." The state still faces a $13 billion gap in next year's budget. [TU] [NYT] [CapNews9] [NYDN]

Both national Republican and Democratic parties are expected to focus on the special election to fill Kirsten Gillibrand's former seat in the House. Jim Tedisco officially began his campaign yesterday with a flurry of basketball metaphors. [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently told Waterford that a site in the town "presents a significant threat to the environment and public health." The site, on which an old barrel cleaning business once operated, had been identified as dangerous years ago -- but a miscommunication between the federal EPA and the state DEC led to an 8-year delay in further testing. [Troy Record]

An anonymous source tells the TU there may have been an accomplice involved with the that 40-year-old murder case -- but the statute of limitations on the crime have expired. State police arrested a 62-year-old man last week after a tip re-opened the case last year. As the Saratoga County DA's office prepares for the case, it's been studying old cases because the man would have to be prosecuted under the laws in place four decades ago. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The Schenectady School District and the state Education Department have been squabbling over how violent events at Schenectady High School should be classified. The state says incidents such as a student threatening a dean with a knife should have been marked as more serious than they were. Last year the state tagged Schenectady High as a "persistently dangerous" school. [Daily Gazette]

The man convicted of being one of the ringleaders of a multi-million dollar upstate sports gambling ring was sentenced yesterday to one to three years in prison. George Bedigian had been convicted numerous times before but escaped jail time because he's a quadriplegic and the costs of locking up were deemed too high. [TU]

It seems that police officers from Bethlehem and Schenectady haven't been entirely cooperative in the investigation into an Albany detective accused of drunk driving. [TU]

Maxine Fantroy-Ford, the principal at Albany High School, will be transferring to an elementary school at the end of this school year. Albany High was forced to skip its first two days of this school year because of scheduling problems. [TU]

The Troy school superintendent says he will forgo his scheduled raise this year because the district is scraping to cover a budget gap. The superintendent's salary would have increased $6,500 to a total of $192,820. [Troy Record] [TU]

John DeJohn, who owns three restaurants on Lark Street, won his arbitration case against the Lark Street BID over $1,800 the BID said he owed. The BID said DeJohn refused to pay because of a dispute over a Larkfest stage. DeJohn says he didn't pay because the BID is poorly run. [TU]

Schenectady's Upper Union Street is getting a $2.4 million face lift that one business owner says will make it "more like Saratoga." [Daily Gazette]

Local roofing companies say they've been deluged with calls from people needing help clearing snow and ice dams off their roofs. [Saratogian]

The NY Buzz world team tennis club -- which once played in Schenectady Central Park and then the Washington Ave Armory in Albany -- will be playing this year's season in UAlbany's SEFCU Arena. [Biz Review]

Dozen of ducks have decided to make downtown Saratoga Springs their winter home -- and it seems that they're big fans of Wendy's french fries. [Saratogian]

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I went to one last month. My friend took his oath of citizenship. It is a great ceremony. A local school choir sang. There was a moving speech from one of the new citizens who grew up a refugee and at the age of 21 was finally a citizen of a country for the first time in her life. The League of Women Voters give warm welcomes, flags and voter registration cards to all the new citizens. It gave me such warm fuzzies. Everyone should try to go to one of these if they get the chance.

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