Charges in the death of Noel Alkaramla, update on investigation into incident involving Schenectady mayor, questioning red light camera's effect on safety

The death of Noel Alkaramla
Johnny Oquendo -- the stepfather of Noel Alkaramla -- is now being held on charges in her death last year, including murder. Alkaramla disappeared after shift at a Troy restaurant in November of 2015 and her body was later found in a suitcase in the Hudson River that December. [TU] [News10]

Rally against racism
Hundreds of people attended a rally against racism in Albany Sunday, prompted by the recent presidential election and the higher profile of white supremacist messages. Said Fazana Saleem-Ismail Capital District Coalition Against Islamophobia: "When you hear a presidential candidate, now, soon-to-be president making negative comments basically about every group possible, it gave the average individual the license to do that publicly as well and we're seeing that playing out." Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan: "We have to make sure that our voices are heard and that this president-elect knows that he needs to represent each and every one of us." [TU] [WNYT] [TWCN]

Police accountability
How a 1976 state law "has proven virtually impenetrable to the efforts" to open up records on police misconduct, and could even be interpreted in such a way as to close off access to officer body cam video. [TU+]

Attempted murder charge in Waterford
Police say a Waterford woman fired two shots at a man during a domestic dispute Sunday night and is now facing charges that include attempted second-degree murder. [Troy Record] [News10]

The death of William Chamberlain
A psychiatrist testifying for the defense of Joseph M. Vandenburgh, accused of killing Troy director of operations William Chamberlain in North Greenbush last December, said that Vandenburgh hears voices, doesn't recall the incident, and is not competent to assist with his defense. [TU]

Investigation of incident involving Schenectady mayor
In the last month-plus investigators from the Saratoga County DA's office interviewed one of the women who accused Schenectady mayor Gary McCarthy of confronting them this past May, and talked with a handful of police officers. [TU+]

Troy police
The head of the Troy Police Benevolent Association says the city's relatively low salaries for police officers has members of the force headed for the exits and higher-paying jobs in other municipalities. [TU]

Albany judges
Kathy Sheehan has appointed city corporation counsel John Reilly and defense attorney Holly Trexler to fill two open city judge spots. [TU]

Red light cameras
Chris Churchill looks over the incident data related to Albany's red light camera program and isn't convinced they're a safety improvement. [TU+]

Marijuana
+ With Massachusetts legalizing recreational use of pot, Rensselaer County law enforcement officials say they expect to see an uptick in tickets and arrests for possession. [Troy Record]
+ Does legalization in Massachusetts mean it becomes more likely in New York State? [AP/Troy Record]

Hunger
+ Local food pantries say the upswing in demand during the recession hasn't remained steady since then. [Daily Gazette]
+ Confronting food insecurity among college students. [TU+]

Students and poverty
+ With its share of students living in poverty up over the last decade, the Niskayuna school district is looking at creating new position to coordinate services for struggling students. [Daily Gazette]
+ How a Mohonasen teacher's decision to wear the same outfit every day led to creation of a new resource to help students who need clothes and other supplies. [Daily Gazette]

Downtown Albany walkway connector
The walkway between the TU Center and ESP that's being enclosed as part of the convention center project will have restricted overnight access. [Biz Review]

Casinos
Tioga Downs, the first of the new upstate casinos, opened Friday. [Press and Sun-Bulletin]

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The City should take a more proactive approach based on neighborhood consensus. A prescriptive design guideline with great clarity could save lots of graves for aspiring developers and other stakeholders. The City has to be clear upfront on conditions to be met such as overall allowed building volume, easy river connection, parking, pedestrian oriented ground floor usage and etc. It not seems reasonable to expect commercial developers to build something on their own initiative to both maximize ROI and please all city residents.

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