Soares bumped from steroids case, state budget gap widens, State Museum to close on Sundays, men accused of stealing from Holiday Lights in the Park display

An Albany County judge has dismissed the indictment against the five pharmacy operators from Florida involved in the Signature Pharmacy steroids case -- and ruled that Albany County district attorney David Soares should be bumped from the case because the defendants' federal civil case against Soares created a conflict of interest. The judge named Saratoga County DA James Murphy as special prosecutor for the case. In a statement, Soares said the judge's decision is "a get out of jail free card for every criminal defendant in New York State. His message to defendants is: 'if your DA is being too tough on you, sue him, and you can get a new one.'" An attorney for the defendants says the case was a publicity stunt that shouldn't have been prosecuted in New York. [NYT] [TU] [CBS6] [YNN] [WNYT]

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli reports that the state's current year budget gap is almost $1 billion -- three times the size projected by the Paterson admin. And his office figures next year's budget gap is about $9.5 billion. Next year's budget puzzle is even harder to put together because of the loss of federal stimulus money. [AP/Troy Record] [State of Politics] [TU]

The State Museum will be closed on Sundays next year because of budget cuts, according to a memo obtained by the Times Union. [TU]

The family of the RPI student found dead in his Troy apartment from a gunshot wound in 2008 are suing city police for details from the still-open investigation. [TU]

Four Loko is reportedly "flying off the shelves" of local stores after word of the impending voluntary ban in the state. Stewart's says it pulled the beverage from its stores Tuesday morning. [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

Saratoga County's administrator -- the person who runs the day-to-day operations of the county -- is retiring. David Wickerham has had the job for 21 years. [Saratogian] [TU]

The chairman of the Albany County legislature is criticizing a state mandate that requires counties to pay a third of the tuition for residents at state community colleges. [TU]

The man who allegedly posed as a psychologist to serve in that role with the Saratoga County Family Court has been charged on four counts related to falsifying his credentials. [Saratogian]

The City of Schenectady is asking non-profits to pay a voluntary "curb fee" for city services. [WNYT]

A final survey of the Berlin Elementary School found 99 locations with lead hazards. [Troy Record]

The UAlbany faculty senate approved three resolutions that condemn the school's move to discontinue five majors in the humanities. [TU]

Albany police say two men stole decorations from the Holiday Lights in the Park display in Washington Park. The story may prompted the lead of the week, by YNN's Ryan Peterson:

'Twas a month before Christmas, when all through the park, not a creature was stirring, not even a lark. When, what to the wondering eyes of a couple of patrol officers should appear, but two grown men carrying away some of the city's holiday cheer.

Saratoga Springs police say they've busted six minors for allegedly being behind the rash of car ornament thefts this past summer. Police say they group allegedly snatched more than 20 ornaments and hubcaps. [TU] [Post-Star]

A woman flipped her car onto its side after hitting a parked car in Saratoga Springs Monday afternoon. [Post-Star]

The Rensselaer City School District scored a Steinway grand piano from federal government surplus for $1000 (plus shipping). [TU]

A women's recreation group in Burnt Hills has been meeting regularly since 1925. [Daily Gazette]

The local Toys 'R Us stores will be opening Thanksgiving night. [Daily Gazette]

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I had the pleasure of experiencing protected bike lanes in Montreal recently. It really made for a fast, efficient way to move both bike & car traffic. As a biker, it was easy to see how to navigate a busy road, and it was nice to have a bit of buffer/safety from traffic (or just knowing that the possibility of a car swerving in to you was incredibly low because of these features). As a driver, it was nice to see all of the bikes in one area, so that you don't have the errant biker who decides to blow through most of the traffic signals the wrong way down a street.

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