It's Congressional primary day, new principal at Albany High School, rash of burglaries in Albany, NYRA announces Saratoga giveaways

It's Congressional primary day in New York -- a lot earlier than primaries past (June vs. September). The unusually early date has prompted concern that turnout will be very low. Polls are open from noon to 9 pm. [TU] [NYT]
+ Three Republicans are vying to face Kirsten Gillibrand for the US Senate. [AP/Troy Record]
+ Two Democrats are competing to face Chris Gibson in the new 19th Congressional District -- which includes large parts of Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, and Schoharie counties. [Troy Record]
+ Two Republicans are competing to face Bill Owens in the new 21st Congressional District, which includes northern Saratoga County. [Post-Star]

An audit by the state comptroller's office has concluded that a special education contractor in Troy inappropriately billed more than $830k "for services for no-show executives, inappropriate staff bonuses and other costs." The audit focused in part on an executive it said spent most of her time in South Carolina (she says she's done nothing wrong). Said another of Capital District Beginning's co-director in response to the audit: "We challenge the comptroller's findings and maintain there has been no misuse of public funds." Capital District Beginnings provides services to many school districts and educational programs in the area. [NYS OSC] [TU] [WNYT] [YNN] [Troy Record]

CDTA has installed 12 video cameras at BusPlus stations along State Street in Schenectady as part of a collaboration with the Schenectady Police Department. The SPD has 109 cameras around the city -- and 40 more will be added over the next year. Schenectady County DA Robert Carney says a camera on a CDTA station captured video of an alleged bank robber in a currently pending case. [CDTA] [Daily Gazette] [YNN] [TU]

The Albany school district has named a new (interim) principal for Albany High School -- Cecily Wilson is a 1995 AHS grad and has degrees from Princeton and NYU. "Inside sources" tell the TU that the school's current principal, David McCalla, is being reassigned because officials aren't happy about the pace of improvement at the school. Superintendent Ray Coluccielo highlighted the high school's low graduation rate -- 52 percent -- "This has got to be 60 [percent] and it's got to be 70 and it's got to be 80 and that can happen." Wilson said her top priority is increasing the graduation rate. And what she says she can bring to the school: "My connection and history with the district gives me some insight into what we struggle with from elementary school to secondary school." [Albany school district] [TU] [YNN] [News10] [Fox23]

Earlier: Capital Region high school graduation rates 2011 -- AHS had the lowest rate in the area.

The State Police response to Occupy Albany's protest across from the Capitol last fall cost more than $90k in overtime. [TU]

Continued drama in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk school district: the wife of the school board president (who was arrested for allegedly harassment) has filed a notice of claim against the district alleging it didn't address bullying and "teacher on student violence." [TU]

Albany police say there's been a recent rash of burglaries in the city, including in the uptown neighborhoods. [Fox23]

A Schenectady man pleaded guilty to burglary after police matched his DNA to a sneaker wrenched off his foot by a resident who caught him in the act. [Daily Gazette]

Farther afield: police in Utica say that a woman they picked up who was high on "bath salts" allegedly lunged at an officer, tried to bite him, and said she wanted to kill someone and eat them. [Utica Observer-Dispatch]

One alleged consequence of the Saratoga Springs PD pulling the officer who covered Saratoga Springs Housing Authority properties: increased squatting. [TU]

The city of Schenectady is hoping to cut down on the stench wafting from its sewage treatment plant by suspending composting of sewage solids. [Daily Gazette]

There's a library vote in Guilderland today. [TU]

An overturned tractor trailer carrying frozen pizza closed a section of I-88 near Duanesburg for hours Monday. [Daily Gazette]

A Hindu temple in Schenectady is trying stem what it sees as a rash of suicides in the area's Guyanese community.

Two developers have bought the former Ellsworth Ice Cream Co. factory in Saratoga with plans to build town homes (map). [Saratogian]

A camp at Union College teaches kids with disabilities how to ride bikes. [Daily Gazette]

A restored fire tower at Grafton Lakes has opened to the public. [Troy Record]

The story behind those "What if a million people gave just $1 each?" billboards. [TU]

NYRA announced the giveaways for the upcoming season at Saratoga. [Saratogian]


I think the story about the audit of the Beginnings of the Capital District suggests a need for a more thorough investigation. There are several indications that this company provides services to many local school districts. I wonder if the terms of the agreements are similar to the one in Troy, which appears to allow payment for full time by the director of the organization...does that mean this for profit company is collecting a full time director salary for every contract they have? Whatever happened to billing for actual time spent? On all government contracts I am involved with (and I do mostly government contract work) that is the requirement.

Someone in Troy Record article commented that this is an example of government spending gone bad...true, but the real concern to me is that when our schools delegate fundamental services to for-profit companies like this they are asking for this sort of abuse. At least in this case, the abuse has been discovered, and hopefully, corrected. But what of the other contracts with other school districts?

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