A dozen news stories from the winter break

A lot of people -- us included -- try to unplug a bit during the time between Christmas and the start of the new year. So, we're doing something a little different for Morning Blend today. Here are a dozen notable news stories from that period. Some of these are big stories that got a lot of attention, others less so but are still noteworthy/interesting. (This isn't a comprehensive list.)

Mario Cuomo
As you no doubt heard, Mario Cuomo died this past Thursday. He was 82. Here's the NYT obit and the Times Union obit. Of course there have been many pieces about memories of the former governor: The famous 1984 Democratic National Convention speech, stories about his competitive nature and work habits, about some of his frequently visited spots in downtown Albany. [NYT] [TU] [Washington Post] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [TWCN]

The funeral for Mario Cuomo is scheduled for Tuesday. As a result, Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address has been rescheduled from Wednesday to January 21. [NYT] [TU]

Casino rebidding
Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the state Gaming Commission calling for the casino bidding process to be re-opened for a casino site in the Souther Tier. (The siting board chose to recommend three site, instead of the allowed four.) Cuomo's letter in turn prompted Rensselaer mayor Dan Dwyer to call for reconsideration of the selection of Schenectady for the Capital Region casino site -- though that looks unlikely. [AP/Troy Record] [Daily Gazette x2]

Man shot by police in Rotterdam
State Police say a trooper shot a Loudonville man in Rotterdam the day after Christmas following a string of events that allegedly included objects thrown at a trooper, a chase south on I-87, a liquor store robbery, a second vehicle chase on I-890, a foot chase, and ultimately the man threatening troopers with a sword. Colonie police say the man also allegedly called 911 to tell police he had a loaded AK-47. The man was taken to the hospital in stable condition. [NYSP] [TU] [News10]

Fatal stabbing in Troy
Troy police say a man was fatally stabbed in his apartment in North Central (map) early New Year's Day. TPD says it doesn't believe the attack was random. On Friday, TPD's investigation included a search of a car. [Troy Record] [News10] [TU]

Suspicious fire in Lansingburgh
The Troy Fire Department says a fire in a vacant house in Lansingburgh Friday appears to have been intentionally set -- and this fire, along with two other recent fires, bear resemblance to the arsons in the neighborhood this past summer. [Troy Record] [TWCN]

Sheldon Silver investigation
"People with knowledge of the matter" tell NYT that Sheldon Silver is under investigation by the feds over payments made to the state Assembly speaker by a law firm. Silver always seems to find a way to weather these storms. [NYT] [TU]

Thruway situation
The top two execs at the Thruway Authority "abruptly" resigned last week. "Sources" tell the NY Post the execs were pushed out ahead of an impending report by the state Inspector General. The Thruway had been facing questions about financing of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement and the possibility of toll increases. [NYT] [NY Post] [TU]

Albany County voting rights suit
The Albany County Legislature rejected the proposed settlement of the voting rights lawsuit against the county. As has been usual for this storyline, there was also additional drama and fighting between the legislature and county exec. [TU x2]

Saratoga Springs land deal investigation
Saratoga Springs leaders received a letter notifying them that the state Attorney General's office is investigating the Collamer parking lot land deal. City public safety commissioner Chris Mathiesen says the deal was conducted properly and he'll hand over the relevant documentation. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

The Troy night club Kokopellis has closed -- the owners blame fallout from the alleged case of police brutality at the club in January 2014 and allege they have been "targeted and harassed" for speaking out against the police. TPD chief John Tedesco called the owners' claims "baseless." [TU] [Kokopellis FB] [News10]

Minimum wage increase
New York State's minimum wage rose to $8.75 with the start of the new year. (It had been $8.) The increase affects about 700,000 workers. [NYS DOL] [AP/TU]

Price Chopper cashier
Alsada "Sadie" Phinney -- who worked as a cashier at the Rotterdam Price Chopper on the night shift since 1972, back when Price Chopper was called Central Market -- recently retired. [Daily Gazette]

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