Local schools again tagged by state for lack of improvement, nothing definitive in death of teen, State Police pull thousands of pot plants, man found stuck in the mud

Schools in the Albany, Schenectady, and Troy school districts are on the state's "priority" list -- either for not making significant progress on raising standardized test scores or for having low graduation rates. Here are the "Accountability Designation Reports." [TU] [NYSED]

The state Department of Health says it's not sure what caused the death of 16-year-old Queensbury High School student Jonathan Vasiliou -- tests for the four most common types of bacterial meningitis were negative. Said a DOH spokesman: "That does not mean that we can rule out a communicable disease. But it's unlikely it is communicable." A physician for the school still suspects the original diagnosis -- "I do believe it was bacterial meningitis of some kind, but I cannot prove it." The school says it's been cleaning its athletic facilities (Vasiliou was a football player) and has switched from water bottles to paper cups. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette] [YNN] [Fox23] [News10]

More back-and-forth in the Albany County DA race: Lee Kindlon on the DWI plea deal policies instituted by Soares, the Signature Pharmacies steroids case, and Soares on the investigation of Kindlon's county time sheets. [TU] [TU] [TU]

Gloria Allred says the settlement two of her clients agreed to over alleged sexual harassment by powerful state Assemblyman Vito Lopez did not preclude the Assembly from referring the case to an ethics investigation, as asserted by Sheldon Silver. In response to Allred, a Silver spokesman said: "At all times, the Assembly has acted to protect the privacy of the victims and has deferred to their preferences in this matter." Meanwhile, the state comptroller's office responded to questions about its role in paying out the settlement by essentially saying, "Not it." [TU] [NYT] [State of Politics]

UAlbany School of Business Weekend MBA ad 2012 summer

State Police say they pulled more than 2,200 pot plants from a location in Washington County. Noted: marijuana plants appear as a "very distinct brilliant emerald green" from the sky. [Troy Record] [YNN]

Albany County's two elections commissioners had raised questions about the new electronic methods for voter registration -- though their concerns appear to have been addressed. [TU]

Chuck Schumer was at Central Warehouse Thursday to push legislation that would require sellers of scrap metal to provide proof of ownership or authorization to sell it, and cap payments for scrap metal at $100. Schumer referred to "a scourge of metal theft here in the Capital Region." (If you remember Central Warehouse caught fire from sparks created when a crew removed piping without authorization.) East Greenbush police say they nabbed two people this week for allegedly stealing copper wire and tubing from the New York Independent System Operator facility. [Schumer office] [TU] [TU]

The state Authorities Budget Office has recommended that the three water authorities in Saratoga County merge in order to reduce costs. The heads of the Wilton and Clifton Park water authorities both disputed that a merger would be practical. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Special prosecutor Robert Becher on the idea that Scott Chaplin should get in a trial in the Rosemary Crosier murder because of George Mott's recent allegations that statements attributed to him had been manufactured: "Mott is either a liar, delirious or significantly memory-impaired." [TU]

The feds have approved a $54.8 million loan for Ellis Hopsital's emergency department expansion. The federal loan is expected to save the hospital $17.5 million in interest. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The two development groups behind the proposed mixed-use project on the former city hall site in downtown Troy say they're currently "evaluating the next steps for the project." [TU]

A fee for non-resident boaters at Saratoga Lake has been floated. [TU]

Residents of Stuyvesant (in Columbia County) who live near the Amtrak tracks worry their homes will be taken by eminent domain because of plans for safety upgrades along the tracks. [News10]

Ongoing discussion in Troy: whether removing the benches and swings from Barker Park actually improves disruptive activity. [Troy Record]

There's speculation the warm, relatively dry summer will mean an earlier turn for foliage, and less vibrant colors. [Daily Gazette]

New rule in the Scotia-Glenville school district: teachers have to notify parents if they'll be showing a movie in class, and parents can opt out for an alternative assignment. [Daily Gazette]

Weirdest story of the week: residents near Saratoga Lake say they found a man, wearing a blazer and dress shoes, stuck in the mud -- up to his chest. [Saratogian]

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They should turn Maiden Lane into a stepped pedestrian street, like they have all over Europe. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, they do steep small streets pretty well across the pond, let's look for some precedents... Human scaled lighting is critical too, that goes for the whole city. And we don't need paint on the road, just signage perpendicular to the flow of traffic at the bridge entrance. I also echo the call for basic, ongoing maintenance to our current infrastructure. How about some weed removal in sidewalks, etc?

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