Opening arguments in trial connected to Jay Street fire, more cross examination of Todd Howe, new Troy police chief, remembering Edmund O'Neal

Jay Street fire trial
During opening arguments in the trial of former Schenectady building inspector Kenneth Tyree connected to the fatal Jay Street fire, the prosecutor said the fire alarm was not working properly two weeks before the fire and that "if the defendant had done his job properly" ahead of the fire four people wouldn't have died. The defense argued Tyree had not been trained for that sort of inspection and is being scapegoated. [WNYT] [Daily Gazette] [News0]

Percoco trial
+ During cross examination of Todd Howe, an attorney for Joe Percoco laid out an argument that Percoco thought he was making money from a lobbying firm and Howe deceived him -- a charge that Howe denied. [TU]
+ Also on cross examination, Howe admitted that he had lied to his credit card company about racking up a $600 charge at the Waldorf Astoria in October 2016, which would appear to be violation of his cooperation agreement with the feds. [NYT]
+ Another angle to this whole situation: the use of private email accounts by Cuomo admin officials for government business, which Howe has testified was widespread. [TU]
+ The trial has also highlighted, again, the LLC loophole in the state's campaign finance rules. [Spectrum]
+ Andrew Cuomo again declined to comment on Thursday about the trial. [Politico NY]

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New Troy police chief
Mayor Patrick Madden announced Thursday he's promoted assistant police chief Brian Owens to chief, and promoted two captains to assistant chief. Owens on the direction of the department, which has been under scrutiny because of the Edson Thevenin shooting and the alleged drug unit warrantless search coverup: "We need to get back to the basics of policing. We have to get back out into the neighborhoods where we need to fix problems." [Madden admin] [TU]

Review of death of man in Schenectady police custody
The widow of Andrew Kearse -- the Bronx man who died in Schenectady police custody following a foot chase, and whose family alleges SPD was slow to call for medical help -- on the video she says the state Attorney General's office showed her from the incident: "I keep seeing his face, I keep hearing him, to literally see death in a person's face, and they did nothing." [TU]

State tax system adjustments
The latest thread in the complicated effort to reshape New York's tax system in response to the federal tax overhaul: a proposal to let New Yorkers itemize on their state taxes even if they don't do so on their federal taxes. [TU]

Schenectady casino
Rush Street Gaming CEO on the Rivers Casino in Schenectady significantly lagging project revenues over its first year: "It's certainly no secret that gaming in upstate New York has under-performed the original projections." He said the continued build out of the Mohawk Harbor site will help the casino. [News10] [WNYT]

Albany County overtime
A look at Albany County's top overtime earners for 2017 -- one corrections officer made 160 percent of his base pay in overtime. [TU]

Pets and fires
The Boght Fire District in Colonie has added oxygen masks designed to fit dogs. [News10]

Scallions
The restaurant Scallions in Saratoga Springs is for sale. [Daily Gazette]

Edmund O'Neal
A little bit about the life of Edmund O'Neal, the Albany school district's first African-American principal and the namesake of the new Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School. [Spectrum]

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