Cuomo pushes for independent redistricting, another post office closure in Albany, Harmony Mills developer looking in Troy, come on down!

Andrew Cuomo has introduced legislation that would create an independent commission to draw the lines for Congressional and state legislature districts, which advocates say would help end gerrymandering. Democrats have argued that Republican control the state Senate not because they got more votes from the public, but because of the way the districts are drawn. Dean Skelos said in a statement yesterday that redistricting reform is important -- but not currently a priority. [NYT] [TU] [State of Politics]

Observers say Cuomo is trying to expand the powers of the state's executive branch. [WSJ via State of Politics]

Pedro Espada's state Senate office spent $1.2 million from April to September last year, the most of any senator (by about $300k). The now-indicted former senator had a staff of 50 people working for him. [TU] [NYDN]

The state Public Service Commission approved a plan to build a new high-voltage transmission line from from northern Saratoga County to Rotterdam. Many property owners along the path of the line opposed the project. The $66 million line will help power the GlobalFoundries fab in Malta. [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star] [Saratogian]

Said a GloFo spokesman yesterday about the fab's economic impact on this area: "We think it's going to lead to very positive impacts, (but) we don't have a crystal ball into the future." Economic development officials say they're already seeing interest from companies looking to do business with the fab, but there's a lack of suitable office/warehouse space currently available. [Troy Record] [Post-Star]

The US Postal Service say it's closing the Patroon Station post office in north Albany (map). The USPS says it still hasn't made a decision about the Pine Hills Station on South Allen. [TU] [Fox23]

A Brighter Choice Foundation bid for financing through an economic development arm of the city of Albany was rejected, a decision some are placing in the larger context of the ongoing charter school debate. [TU]

Hank Morris, who was convicted of helping to organize the "pay to play" scheme at the state pension fund under former comptroller Alan Hevesi, was sentenced to 1.3-4 years in prison. [State of Politics]

Brian Scavo, the Albany County legislator accused of forging a tenant's signature on an eviction notice, has pleaded not guilty. [TU]
Rotterdam has become a hotspot for local municipal drama -- the latest turn is over the hiring of the a law firm for the town. [Daily Gazette]

The North Colonie school board voted to close the Maplewood School, which has been open in some form since 1897. The closure is expected to save $750k. [WTEN] [Troy Record] [YNN]

Hundreds of people showed up for a Bethlehem town meeting about whether the town should put in a bid for the bankrupt Normanside Country Club, a debate that balances concerns about the cost of the potential purchase (maybe more than $1 million) against the desire to preserve open space. [YNN] [TU]

The developer of the Harmony Mills apartments has interest in turning the Marshall Ray building on River Sreet in Troy into student housing (map). [Troy Record]

The head of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce says the Borders building in downtown Saratoga will probably be subdivided into space for four or five businesses after the bookstore closes. [TU]

Troy police say a man was mugged outside the Atrium during daylight on Wednesday. [Troy Record]

The Saratoga County sheriff's department says three men were arrested for allegedly stealing six Northface jackets from the EMS in Wilton. [CBS6]

A woman won a Travers Week trip to Saratoga yesterday on the Price is Right (and a trip to Scotland -- it was part of a showcase). "Tatiana" seemed rather excited. [WNYT]

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My grandmother has Alzheimers and sometimes comes to stay with us in Troy. Last week the absolutely highlight of her day was seeing the hundreds of crows that came streaming by the window at our apartment. I watched her go from completely unresponsive to engaged... stringing questions together and returning to her old joyful self for the half hour she watched those birds was enough to endear crows to me forever.

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