Albany Common Council passes parks smoking ban, bizarre episode involving Albany woman and snake in Long Island, rally for Aref and Hossain

The Albany Common Council has passed an ordinance that would ban smoking in all areas of city parks -- it now heads to mayor Kathy Sheehan for a signature. [News10]

The chairman of Hard Rock International, James Allen, was in Rensselaer Monday to bang the drum for the proposed casino there and announce its name would be the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Rensselaer. Allen said the company would make use of the site's riverfront location with a boardwalk and outdoor restaurant seating. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Because of several large settlements, New York State is looking at a $4.2 billion in unexpected surplus -- and people are lining up with ideas about how to spend it. [TU]

Locals, farther afield: Police in Long Island allege an intoxicated Albany woman crashed her Prius into a fire house in Nassau County, hitting two fire trucks -- and firefighters found a ball python, apparently stolen from a nearby pet store, wrapped around her neck. [Newsday]


A federal report concludes that New York State distributed the second largest total of government subsidies in the country in 2012 -- $6 billion -- though the report isn't clear on how exactly that money was broken up. [TU]

Schenectady mayor Gary McCarthy pushed back on the campaign for citywide property value reassessment. [Daily Gazette]

Saratoga Springs police say a driver is accused hitting a pedestrian at Lake and High Rock last Friday while driving drunk. The pedestrian apparently suffered minor injuries. [Saratogian] [TU]

The Rensselaer County Sheriff's Office says deputies arrested a man in a North Greenbush parking lot who had allegedly traveled from Georgia to sell three guns. [TU]

Waterford police say a passerby helped a police officer subdue a driver who had allegedly tried to grab the officer's gun Monday morning. [Daily Gazette]

East Greenbush police say an officer and a neighbor aided a woman who allegedly was being dragged at knifepoint by a man who intended to take her to an ATM to withdraw money. [TU]

Colonie police are looking for info about two suspects who tried to rob the McDonald's on Osborne Road Monday morning at gunpoint and assaulted a restaurant employee. [TU]

National Grid responded to reports of a smoking manhole cover on Central Ave in Albany Monday night. What was apparently and underground fire knocked out power in a few parts of the city. [News10] [WNYT]

Debate: Should New York State require sprinklers in all new single and two-family homes? [TU]

The acting commissioner of the state Department of Health makes about $25k more now as a deputy commissioner than he would if permanently given the job because the salaries of state commissioners has been capped since 1999. [TU]

There was a rally Monday in Albany for Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, the two men sent to prison after an FBI sting a decade ago involving a fictitious plot to launder money for shoulder-fired missile. [TWCN]

The scene at this year's Fasig-Tipton thoroughbred sale in Saratoga Springs. [Daily Gazette]


Cider Belly Donuts on Pearl Street is open for business. Got my first dozen this AM.

Exempting Albany's municipal golf course from the smoking ban would be a business decision, not a public health decision, in order to continue to attract paying customers who might go to other golf courses. Granted, an 18-hole golf course is rather wide open as far as second hand smoke and there are very few children playing golf there. In the winter, however, there are lots of children congregated on the sledding hills. I'll be curious to see what the rationale will be for the exemption. I'm basically in favor of the ban (or some version of it), but there is a bit of a class bias in this exemption business. The common folk enjoying the free concerts can't smoke, but the business class playing golf can?

Smoking ban in parks: I gave up smoking many years ago, but I cringe at the idea of more legislation turning ordinary law abiding folks into criminals.

@tim -- I could support a version with discrete smoking areas, away from where most people gather. I'm not sure a throng of smokers on the side walks adjacent to parks is much better for public health.

Maybe public health advocates should admit what their agenda is: making smoking so damn difficult with so few places to be able to do it that people quit.

When one is not qualified to find solutions for real problems (poverty, building blight, dirty streets, pathetic traffic patterns, unemployment and underemployment, crime, absentee landlords, property tax collections, property assessments, poor performing schools, gentrification of neighborhoods, homelessness, wandering mentally ill people, overtaxation, parking problems, improper use of police force, militarization of same, public service overstaffing and underperformance...), then one creates rules -- easy ones, rules that make the self-righteous scream with joy, rules that sustain self-applaud, rules that don't make any difference whatsoever in most people's lives. Ignorance is the basis and essence of oppressive systems. I see no reason, point or purpose to forbid smoking in open air spaces (disclosure: I'm a smoker). Using some indpendent thinking and respect, smokers and non-smokers can keep away from each other without the long arm of the law. This is creative stupidity, but let it go, until all we have left is our miserable selves looking around every corner, fearing that we are breaking some law or ordinance. Cameras are coming! Prohibit smoking at Washington Park, but by all means allow thousands of cars spewing pollution to cross it every day, allow them to idle at the curb -- your children will be safer!

Take that entire surplus and put it into infrastructure. Roads, bridges, water, and the electrical grid.

Everyone has the right to walk down the street and walk though a park without having to smell smoke. I smoke and I just stay home and do it. If I want to kill myself on my own time, it's ok. But I don't have the right to bring everyone else with me.

Also, will this additional prohibition apply to weed? Cause I smell more weed in the parks than cigarette smoke. Will there be an exception for the weed-smoking hipsters of Center Square?

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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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