Items tagged with 'Chuck Schumer'

Chuck Schumer making a push for hard cider

glass of nine pin ciderChuck Schumer was at Golden Harvest in Kinderhook today pushing for legislation that would change the way the feds regulate and tax hard cider. Zzzzzzzzz... yeah, doesn't sound super exciting, but this clip from the press release explains why it could be important (emphasis added):

Schumer was joined by Golden Harvest Farms owners Alan and Derek Grout as he launched his proposal, the CIDER Act (Cider, Investment & Development through Excise Tax Reduction Act), to update the definition for hard apple and pear cider in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) that would increase their allowed alcohol by volume from 7 percent to 8.5 percent, encompassing significantly more hard cider products and allowing them to be labeled and taxed like hard cider, rather than wine. Schumer's proposal would also address existing tax issues related to carbonation levels in hard cider, and would put the new definition in line with that of the European Union, so producers can better compete with European products abroad. Hard cider is a value-added product that is sold around the same price every year; therefore hard cider gives producers a stable source of income when apple crops suffer due to weather and other unforeseen factors. New York apple producers are increasingly interested in producing smaller, artisanal batches of hard cider, but cite the cost and difficulty to comply with the IRC definition as significant impediments to expanding their businesses.
New York is the second largest apple producer nationwide, harvesting a total of 29.5 million bushels annually from over 650 farms and 41,000 acres across the state. In recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of hard cider, many apple producers have turned to producing this craft beverage as a method to keep apple orchards profitable, generate new economic development opportunities, and attract a new visitor demographic to their farms. There have been an increasing number of hard cider producers as a result, starting with a few producers a few years ago to over 20 today. And Schumer highlighted that number should only continue to grow, as a significant number of apple farmers are interested in adding this popular product, and have sought out advice and expertise from the Cornell Cooperative to do so.

So, short story: Changing the federal rules could make it easier financially for orchards to make cider -- which could help provide new revenue to keep orchards going, and provide the rest of us with something interesting to drink.

Golden Harvest/Harvest Spirits: Schumer was at Golden Harvest because of its Harvest Spirits distillery, which already makes excellent spirits from apples (and other fruit) -- and it sounds like Harvest Spirits is also interested in getting into the hard cider business, as well.

Earlier on AOA:
+ More fizz for the cider business in New York
+ Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany
+ Eat this: Old Sin Cider from Slyboro Ciderhouse
+ Eat this: Peach Jack from Harvest Spirits
+ Poking around at Harvest Spirits

Chris Gibson ranked as most "liberal" Republican in the House

Chris Gibson Congressional portraitThe National Journal does an annual vote rating of Congress members (methodology), then it ranks the representatives and senators on "liberal" and "conservative" scales. And this year, in National Journal's estimate, Chris Gibson ranked as the most liberal House Republican -- with a voting record more liberal than that of 10 House Democrats.

From an accompanying article about Gibson:

Gibson placed the furthest left of all House Republicans in National Journal's 2012 ideological vote ratings. Whether that means he is the most liberal, the most moderate, or perhaps just the least conservative member of the GOP conference is in the eye of the beholder. The way Gibson sees it, he landed near the middle of both ratings in his first term because he balances a pro-growth and an anti-debt agenda, all while representing a district (New York's 19th) that Obama carried twice.
"This is the kind of representation that gets things done, that creates jobs," Gibson said. "We can bring people together in an era rife with partisanship and divide."

After the jump, a quick scan of the ratings for other regional Congress members, and little more about the NY 20th, which Gibson represented until the most recent redistricting. (We'll just say it now... yes, there's a graph.)

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On the list for the presidential inaugural: Saratoga water

saratoga spring water blue bottleSure, you know Chuck Schumer as New York senior US senator, as a political power player, as a generator of weekend press conferences. But somehow one of his greatest powers had evaded our notice.

It was revealed today that Chuck Schumer gets to pick which water is served at the next presidential inaugural. Let the gravity of that sink in for a while.

Thankfully, Mr. Schumer has decided to wield this immense power judiciously: he has selected Saratoga Spring Water.

From a press release:

Schumer is the Chairman of the 2013 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and has the honor to help choose which food, beverages, performers and more are featured at the Presidential Inauguration. Schumer's decision will help draw national attention to this Saratoga Springs company.
"Saratoga Spring water has long been one of my beverages of choice, so when given the opportunity to share its iconic blue bottle with hundreds of guests at the Presidential Inauguration, it was a no brainer," said Schumer. "After touring this impressive bottling facility, I am thrilled to announce that Saratoga Spring will be served to official guests at the Presidential Inauguration. I am honored to have been selected to plan the festivities at the Presidential Inauguration, particularly because it allows me to showcase this iconic Capital Region company and its superior product at the 57th Inauguration in January."

Bottle spotting: It makes us smile when we see that distinctive blue bottle while we're traveling outside the Capital Region.

photo: Saratoga Spring Water Co.

Schumer on board with walkable, bikeable Livingston Ave Bridge

chuck schumer livingston ave bridge

Chuck Schumer near the Livingston Ave Bridge today.

Chuck Schumer was in town today to push for the inclusion of a pedestrian walkway on the Livingston Ave Bridge -- regardless of what direction the project takes (rehab or total replacement).

Said New York's senior senator in a press release:

"For decades, people could easily walk over the Livingston Avenue Bridge and its sister, the old Maiden Lane Bridge, providing an important link between downtown Albany and the Rensselaer waterfront. ... Then all of that stopped, and the gates went up, shutting down the pedestrian link between these great cities. When the new bridge is built, we have a fresh chance to reconnect these two downtowns [Editors: Albany and Rensselaer] and funnel more visitors to key areas on both sides of the river. Failing to include a pedestrian component in this bridge would be shortsighted, and we can't make that mistake. That's why I'm urging everyone from CSX to Amtrak to NYSDOT to climb aboard with this plan, so that every design going forward will link up the biking and walking paths on both sides of the scenic Hudson."

In a Soapbox piece last fall, Martin Daley explained why local transportation planners are pushing for a pedestrian walkway on the bridge -- and the obstacles the idea has encountered:

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Speed reading what local Congressional reps said about the debt ceiling deal

schumer gillibrand gibson tonko

Yes, No, Yes, No

The federal debt-ceiling drama ended today after the Senate passed the bill raising the ceiling, and Barack Obama signed it late this afternoon. [NYT] [NYT]

No one seems happy about the deal -- a fact reflected in the votes and comments from local Congressional reps, who split on how they voted...

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Chuck who?

chuck schumer official portraitThe Brennan Center recently released a "report card on New York's civil literacy." Newsflash: it's low, in most of the way's you'd expect (nope, the President can't declare war; the founders weren't trying to found a Christian nation; the Constitution's goal wasn't to increase the power of the 13 original states).

But this bit made us take notice/wonder/laugh wryly: 58 percent of New Yorkers in the survey failed to name at least one of the two current New York members of the US Senate. As the report notes (emphasis added):

Respondents were not given any list to choose from, so they had no opportunity to guess or "refresh their recollection." Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's junior Senator, was appointed less than two years ago, after then-Senator Hillary Clinton was appointed Secretary of State. Senator Gillibrand had never previously run for statewide office, and the fact that her name wasn't widely known is not surprising. Chuck Schumer, though, has represented New York State since 1999 and is a major national player on the political stage. It is significant that so few New Yorkers were able to provide his name when asked, especially when we consider that both senators' names were on the ballot in the November 2010 elections and both were campaigning during the time the poll was conducted.

That's right, Chuck Schumer, who hasn't passed up an opportunity for a press conference -- ever* -- still not at the top of a majority of New Yorkers' minds.

It's worth noting that Schumer did get 65.5 percent of the vote in last year's election, so he's doing OK -- whether people remember his name or not.

The full Brennan Center report is embedded after the jump.

* Unconfirmed, but probably true.

photo: schumer.senate.gov

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The Kirsten Gillibrand storyline shifts

gillibrand nyt front page 2010-12-23This was a big week for Kirsten Gillibrand. Two pieces of legislation for which she's gained a high-profile supporter were approved in Congress. First, it was the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. And yesterday, it was the bill funding health care for 9/11 responders.

The legislative successes landed her on the front page of the New York Times today:

Once derided as an accidental senator, lampooned for her verbosity and threatened with many challengers who openly doubted her abilities, a succinct, passionate and effective Senator Gillibrand has made her presence felt in the final days of this Congress.
Her efforts have won grudging admiration from critics, adulation from national liberals and gay rights groups, and accolades from New York politicians across the political spectrum, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who once shopped for potential candidates to oust her.
Even her relentlessness, which once drew mockery, is now earning the highest compliment of all: professional jealousy from her more senior colleagues.

Chuck Schumer said this week that KG's persistence on the 9/11 bill had Senate colleagues asking him to call her off:

You know, some of these senators said: Would you stop her from bothering me? And I said: No! And the result of all that hard work we see today. What a great victory for a new legislator, isn't that fabulous. For any legislator, but for someone this new to do so much so soon is utterly amazing. [State of Politics]

This coverage represents quite a shift in the media's attitude toward KG. Earlier this year as she faced a possible challenge for her Senate seat, stories often focused on issues such as her weight loss and the the tone of her voice. And just this past fall Harry Reid reportedly called KG "the hottest member" of the Senate.

As it happens, this recent arc is roughly similar to one Gillibrand followed here in the Capital Region. She wasn't given much chance of knocking off John Sweeney (though his self-destruction didn't hurt). And there were doubters she could hold onto the seat in the majority Republican district (which she did, easily).

May we suggest a new media frame for KG: not to be underestimated.

Earlier: Don't Ask Don't Tell as Kirsten Gillibrand's signature issue

image: New York Times

Trying Four Loko and Joose

four loko tasting cans

So, what are we missing?

Updated: The FDA issued warning letters today to the makers of these drinks, indicating the caffeine is an "unsafe food additive."
____

For the last week or so, New York has been buzzing about caffeinated alcoholic beverages such Four Loko. Last week, Chuck Schumer urged the state Liquor Authority to ban the drinks. This week, the company that makes Four Loko voluntarily offered to remove the product from New York stores. Yesterday, Schumer announced the FDA would effectively ban the drinks. And then early this morning the company behind Four Loko said it's pulling the caffeine from the drinks.

Yet, with all this buzz, we hadn't talked to anyone who had -- you know -- actually tried the stuff. And while we admit, we'd never had a desire to try it before, the idea that we might not be able to made us wonder if we were missing something.

So -- while the drinks are still legal-- AOA bought a few, assembled a panel of tasters, and checked them out.

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Schumer: FDA will effectively ban caffeinated alcohol drinks

Thumbnail image for caffeinated alcoholic beverages four lokoChuck Schumer's office says the FDA "will rule that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic beverages, effectively making products such as Four Loko, Joose, and others like them, prohibited for sale in the United States."

A story in NYT this morning reported that an official FDA ruling could come today -- a spokeswoman for the agency said it was "taking a careful and thorough look at the science and the safety of these products."

The Paterson administration announced this past weekend that the company behind Four Loko had voluntarily decided to stop selling the beverage in New York State.

Schumer has been pushing for a ban. Last week he called for the state liquor authority to ban caffeinated alcoholic beverages in the state. Michigan banned them earlier this month, and Washington did the same last week. And Oklahoma has a ban set to start next month. And they apparently have been banned for some time in Utah.

photo: Flickr user jameskm03

Four Loko voluntarily bans itself from New York

caffeinated alcoholic beverages four lokoUpdated Tuesday morning with additional links and info about research

The Paterson administration announced over the weekend that Phusion Products, the company that makes the caffeinated malt liquor drink Four Loko, had voluntarily agreed to stop shipping the beverage to New York State by this Friday. The administration also announced the state's largest beer distributors had voluntarily agreed to stop selling malt beverages that contain caffeine and other stimulants.

Said David Paterson in the press release:

"New Yorkers deserve to know that the beverages they buy are safe for consumption. The voluntary agreement reached this weekend between beverage distributors and the State Liquor Authority is an important first step toward permanently removing alcoholic energy drinks from the marketplace. I'll continue to work with the beverage industry to protect the safety of all New Yorkers.

Despite some good tabloid-y lines -- "liquid cocaine" and "badness in a can" -- there doesn't actually appear to be any research showing that the caffeine/alcohol mix in these beverages is inherently unsafe, at least not yet (the FDA is currently reviewing the products -- there are suspicions ingesting alcohol and caffeine at the same time is more potent than consuming the substances separately). As devtob and others pointed out in comments here on AOA last week, the tales of drunkenness and other mishaps associated with Four Loko probably come from the fact that the beverage is 12 percent alcohol by volume. Considering a single can is 24 ounces, that's enough alcohol to get most people relatively well smashed. (If you can actually get past the taste.)

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Chuck Schumer, not loco for Four Loko

caffeinated alcoholic beverages four loko

Our senior senator isn't a fan

Chuck Schumer is calling on the New York State Liquor Authority to ban caffeinated alcoholic beverages. Schumer says the drinks are dangerous -- and cites the case of an 18-year-old Long Island woman who died this past August after allegedly drinking a Four Loko.

The now-infamous Four Loko is a malt liquor drink that comes in 23.5-ounce cans and is 12 percent alcohol by volume, with what the company says is about the same amount of caffeine as a 12 ounce cup of coffee.

Four Loko has apparently become quite popular among the college set. There have been a bunch of reports students being hospitalized or otherwise getting into trouble after binging on the drinks (and many tales). And the coverage has resulted in some tabloid-y lines describing the drink, including "liquid cocaine" and "badness in a can."

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Siena poll: Cuomo crushing Paladino

The Siena poll out today reports that Andrew Cuomo leads Carl Paladino 63-26 among likely voters. That's approaching the territory of Eliot Spitzer's landslide in 2006.

The situation is bad for Paladino no matter how you cut the results. Independents favor Cuomo 61-26. And upstate, where Paladino had to do well to be competitive, Cuomo leads 57-33.

It's not even close on favorability, either: 62 percent say they have a favorable view of Cuomo -- and 69 percent say they have an unfavorable view of Paladino.

Poll results from other statewide races are in the table above. The poll was conducted October 14-18 and screened for likely voters. Margin of error: +/- 3.9.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Gubernatorial debate live blog
+ Gubernatorial beer poll results

Siena poll: Cuomo still has a big lead

cuomo and paladinoThe Siena poll out this morning reports that Andrew Cuomo leads Carl Paladino 57-24 in the race for governor (margin of error +/- 3.5). And Rick Lazio registers at... eight.

So, that's quite a different result from yesterday's Quinnipiac poll that reported Cuomo was ahead by just six points. And a Survey USA poll also out yesterday reported Cuomo was ahead by nine points.

There are a few differences between the Siena poll and the other two. First, Siena included Rick Lazio and the others did not. And the Siena poll surveyed registered voters, while the others surveyed "likely" voters.

Polling data uber-nerd Nate Silver examined the likely voter issue after Wendnesday's surprising Q Poll result. Likely voter models tend to favor Republicans a bit. But after talking with people at Quinnipiac, Silver concluded it probably doesn't explain Paladino's surge in the poll.

So... who knows where things are at right now. There are still 40 days before Election Day, which is plenty of time for the situation to change. Let's hope for a debate or two. Or at least a more interesting exchange between the candidates than a Photoshop competition.

A few other bits from the Siena poll

+ Chuck Schumer leads Jay Townsend 64-30.

+ Kirsten Gillibrand leads Joe DioGuardi 57-31 (though, that Survey USA poll only had her up 45-44)

+ No one knows who's running for attorney general. Both candidates -- Eric Schneiderman and Dan Donovan -- have don't know/no opinion scores over 60. The same thing goes for the comptroller matchup between Tom DiNapoli and Harry Wilson.

Poll: New Yorkers against state worker layoffs and their state senators

NYS Capitol from ESPA few bits from the Siena Poll out today:

+ Sixty-five percent of respondents said they're against David Paterson's plan to lay off 10,000 state workers at the start of next year. A majority of every demographic opposes the layoffs (the closest split: 53 percent of men oppose).

+ When asked if they would like to see their current state senator re-elected, or have someone else get the spot, 50 percent of respondents said "someone else." (Tough talk, New York. Let's see how that turns out in November.)

+ Andrew Cuomo's favorability is down to 59 percent -- but he still crushes the rest of the field.

+ People still seem unsure about Kirsten Gillibrand (40 percent say they'd prefer "someone else" vs. 34 percent who say they'd like to see her elected) -- but check out the don't know/no opinions for her three potential Republican challengers: David Malpass (81), Bruce Blakeman (80), Joe DioGuardi (75).

+ Chuck Schumer's favorability is at 54 percent -- its lowest point ever.

The margin of error was +/- 3.4 percent. Here's a breakdown of the full results.

Ford on the Colbert Report

Harold Ford was on the Colbert Report last night. As Colbert remarked: "Evidently six minutes at my interview table counts as New York State residency." Ford continued to assert that he's "always been pro-choice" -- and said that his view on a same-sex marriage is "a changed position."

Colbert also recommended that Ford make a helicopter touch-and-go visit to Schenectady.

Kirsten Gillibrand was also on TV last night -- she talked with Rachel Maddow about Don't Ask, Don't Tell (KG is pushing for the policy to be repealed). That video is embedded after the jump.

Also: A Marist poll out yesterday reports that Gillibrand leads Ford in a hypothetical primary 44-27 (25 percent were "unsure").

And get this: the Marist poll also reported that Chuck Schumer's approval rating is now below 50 percent for the first time 2001.

Earlier on AOA:
+ It's on
+ Describing the candidates
+ Does she sound like a senator?
+ The quick scan of Ford/Gillibrand

Ford takes shot at Gillibrand and Schumer, TU Center turns profit, second ESP man caver sentenced, Phillip Livingston school up for sale

Harold Ford was in Albany yesterday to make the rounds at the Capitol and ESP -- and take shots at both Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer. Ford said on Talk 1300 that both senators were elected to be independent and not act like a "parakeet" for for the Democratic Party. A Gillibrand spokesman shot back: "The notion that [Ford] is independent is completely contrived." Said one legislative intern to the TU after meeting Ford on the ESP concourse: "He should really look into getting a New York accent." [AP/Troy Record] [NYO] [NYDN] [NYT] [TU]

David Paterson said yesterday that his potential gubernatorial campaign opponents shouldn't be hiding in the "candidate protection program." [NYDN]

Annoyed that the governor keeps calling them back for special sessions, the legislature has decided to just not adjourn -- basically blocking more special sessions. [Daily Politics]

Albany County announced that the Times Union Center, which it owns, turned a profit of almost $1.8 million last year -- up from about $900k the year before. That's the second-highest profit in the facility's 20-year history (not adjusted for inflation). [Albany County] [TU]

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The quick scan of Ford/Gillibrand

Harold FordWe've put off writing about the potential Harold Ford challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand all week.

It's probably because whenever the story's come up, we've just thought, "Dude. Run. Don't run. Make-up your mind. All this non-campaigning campaigning is boring." (Maybe we're fatigued by Andrew Cuomo.)

So it goes. Here's the quick scan of the whole week of will-he-should-he-what-if...

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Education groups sue over state aid, Schumer apologizes to flight attendant, police say stolen Timberlands kicked off chase, Albany councilman calls for cancellation of "Jersey Shore"

A coalition of education groups -- headed by NYSUT -- filed suit against David Paterson yesterday in attempt to eliminate the delay in education aid payments. The coalition argues that Paterson has overstepped his authority -- and the uncertainty created the action is making budgeting difficult. Paterson accused the coalition of trying to be "extra special" interest groups. [TU] [NYT] [Fox23] [Daily Politics]

Saratoga Springs' finance commissioner says the city may have to borrow money to cover the gap created by delayed state aid payments. [Saratogian]

Democrats in the Rensselaer County legislature says three incoming Republicans should not be allowed to serve in both the county legislature and their town boards. One of the incoming Republicans called the practice "totally legal." [TU] [Troy Record]

Richard Daines, New York's health commissioner, got an H1N1 shot during a photo opp yesterday. Even though flu activity in the state is decling, Daines called the flu a "tricky virus" and urged people to still get vaccinated. [CapNews9] [TU] [Fox23]

Chuck Schumer apologized yesterday for calling a flight attendant a "bitch" after she told him to stop talking on his mobile phone. Kirsten Gillibrand was sitting next to him on the plane (and apparently did end her call) and Republicans are now criticizing her for not publicly condemning Schumer's actions. [NYDN] [Politico] [NYT] [Daily Politics]

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Paterson says he's cutting local aid to keep state solvent, downtown Albany Y could close, yet another bank robbery, sinkhole swallows car, more quakes in Berne

David Paterson announced yesterday that he's unilaterally withholding $750 million in aid to local governments and schools in order to keep the state solvent. Said Paterson at the announcement, "I can't say this enough: The state has run out of money. We are $1 billion short." He also blamed the legislature, again, for not addressing the state's budget gap. A spokesman for the state Senate majority called Paterson's action "self-indulgent theatrics." [TU] [NYDN] [NYO] [NYT]

A state panel's draft report, obtained by NYT, says that New York State's juvenile prisons are in such bad shape that family court judges should stop sending all but the most dangerous offenders to them. [NYT]

The lawyer for De Von Callicut, the teen accused of firing the shot that killed Richard Bailey, is trying to get Callicut's statement to police tossed because he didn't have an attorney present. [TU]

A state lawyer told a state Supreme Court judge that the planned expansion of the Albany landfill would be its last -- probably. [TU]

Saratoga Springs are investigating an early Friday morning shooting. [Saratogian]

Albany police are investigating a car-to-car shooting around noon on Saturday near Hoffman Park (map). [WNYT] [Fox23]

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Official warns that state won't be able to pay bills, flu shot shortage, Troy will get money for homelessness after all, airlift wing headed for Antarctica

The state budget director says the state may not have enough cash to cover all its scheduled payments in mid-December. David Paterson and the legislative leaders met yesterday about covering the $3 billion budget gap, though it doesn't sound like they made much progress. Paterson said that the state is facing an economy that he believes will be "the worst we will see in our lifetime." [TU] [Daily Politics] [WTEN]

There was another mugging in downtown Troy. The TPD says its planning more community meetings about crime after a tip from the one this week lead to a drug bust. [Troy Record] [Fox23]

A judge has denied Save the Pine Bush's request for a restraining order that would have prevented the Albany landfill expanding from proceeding. [TU]

Public clinics and doctors' offices say they're having a tough time getting enough doses of seasonal flu vaccine. Saratoga County had to cancel its upcoming flu shot clinics because it couldn't get sufficient supplies. There have been flu shot shortages all around the US because of increased demand and the need to concurrently manufacture the vax for H1N1. [TU] [Post-Star] [NYT]

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Public voices concerns about Troy crime, questions about Paterson's budget cutting plan, supervisor race includes accusations of illiteracy, high demand for flu vaccine

More than a hundred people showed up last night at Troy City Hall for the public forum about a recent streak of crime in the city. Both mayor Harry Tutunjian and police chief Nicholas Kaiser stressed that crime is down for the year. Citizens said they were concerned about gangs in Lansingburgh and a lack of officers walking beats. [Troy Record] [CapNews9] [CBS6] [Fox23]

Saratoga Springs police say they're investigating a report from a Skidmore student that she was nearly assaulted by a taxi driver early Saturday morning. The student says she was able to escape when the cab stopped near campus. The SSPD says it hasn't identified the company that owns the cab. [Saratogian] [Fox23] [TU]

Critics of David Paterson's proposed $3 billion in budget cuts say the list includes a bunch of one-time shots and some questionable assumptions. It appears that Democrats in the Assembly are leaning toward along with Paterson's plan. It doesn't look like the state Senate is all that interested, though. [TU] [Daily Politics] [Daily Politics]

Both Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand released statements yesterday calling for state senator Hiram Monserrate to resign. Gillibrand said Monserrate doesn't leave soon, the state Senate should bounce him. State Senate majority conference leader John Sampson is expected to announce the formation of a committee that will look at what to do about Monserrate. [Daily Politics] [CapNews9] [NYO]

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Finger pointed at "chief finger pointer," Luther Forest reportedly beat out Brazil and China, Schumer and Gillibrand hedge on Paterson, microloans in Watervliet

chester arthur birthday

A ceremony commemorating the 180th birthday of President Chester A. Arthur yesterday at his grave in the Albany Rural Cemetery. (Photo: Matt Ryan)

Democrats in Rensselaer County have hit back at allegations of absentee ballot fraud by accusing Republicans of similar electoral wrongdoing. The Dems are focusing their attention of Republican Bob Mirch, who they're calling -- we kid you not -- the "chief finger pointer." [TU] [Troy Record]

Brian Stratton's proposed Schenectady budget includes an almost 6 percent tax increase. Stratton says the city is facing "challenging times," which include big increases in pension and healthcare costs. [TU] [Fox23]

Albany police say a 16-year-old girl reported being temporarily abducted on Second Street yesterday. It's the second reported abduction attempt in the city in a week. [CBS6] [Fox23]

GlobalFoundries chairman Hector Ruiz told the National Press Club that Luther Forest beat out sites in Brazil, China and Russia for the new chip fab. [TU]

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Shooting death in Albany, Bruno says he feels vindicated, sheriff says DWI sweep netted mother with kids, forklift used for robbery

Albany Police say a man was found shot and killed at an apartment complex on North Pearl Street late last night (map). There have now been three shooting deaths in Albany during the last 11 days. [TU] [WNYT]

Prompted by the recent spike in violent crime, three Albany Common Council members -- including mayoral candidate Corey Ellis -- called on the city yesterday to implement the recommendations of the Gun Violence Task Force, which issued its final report in January. Jerry Jennings said yesterday that he was tired of people "politicizing the tragedies we are having in the city." [TU] [CapNews9]

While Andrew Cuomo's investigation of the State Police (pdf) did not find evidence of special political unit, the AG's office says it found "several troubling situations in which, at the highest levels of the State Police, political considerations played an improper and determinative role." In a letter, David Paterson said he was concerned about "troubling politicization of certain actions and decisions that occurred at highest levels of the State Police." This investigation grew out of the "Troopergate" scandal -- in which Joe Bruno accused the Spitzer Administration of using state police to spy on him. Bruno said yesterday that the report makes him feel "totally vindicated." [NYS AG] [TU] [NYT] [CapNews9]

The state Committee on Open Government has concluded that the Schenectady School District should have released the entire report produced by its Steven Raucci investigation. [Daily Gazette $]

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Schenectady High "persistently dangerous" again, Ellis says people don't feel safe in Albany, state texting while driving ban signed, parking permits for Troy?, Paterson finds catharsis and a milkshake

Schenectady High School made the the state Department of Education's list of "persistently dangerous" schools for the second straight year. Superintendent Eric Ely says the district didn't ask to have the school removed from the list because "We're not happy with what we're seeing." Ely also Schenectady is reporting all of its incidents to the state -- he said other districts are not doing that. [NYSED] [TU] [Fox23]

Former state Supreme Court judge Thomas Spargo, whose chambers were in Albany, was convicted yesterday of trying to shake down attorneys with cases before him. The prosecution alleged that Spargo was soliciting the bribes so that he could pay for his defense in an ethics investigation. Spargo was booted from the bench in 2006. [TU] [Troy Record] [Fox23]

Saratoga Springs police say two people were arrested yesterday after it appears that one of them accidentally shot himself at the Adelphi Hotel in downtown Saratoga. The woman staying with him, who's from New Jersey, was charged with felony weapon possession because she doesn't have a permit for New York. The cops say they were tipped off when the man, who's been charged with reckless endangerment, showed up Saratoga Hospital and wouldn't say how he'd gotten the wound in his leg. [TU] [Saratogian] [Post-Star]

Albany mayoral candidate Corey Ellis said yesterday during a campaign appearance that there "far too many violent crimes in this city, and that too many people don't feel safe in their neighborhoods." Jerry Jennings' campaign has been touting statistics that indicate crime has been dropping in the city. [Ellis press release] [TU]

Jennings held a campaign fund raiser at Michael Bloomberg's home in Manhattan earlier this month. [TU]

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Rudy leaning toward run for governor, attorney accused of ripping off clients, Giants could be leaving for good, Rachel Alexandra will race at Saratoga, fire truck for sale

People "close" to Rudy Giuliani say the former NYC mayor is leaning toward a run for governor. Giuliani has apparently told "associates" that he'll make up his mind within the next two months. Giuliani trails Andrew Cuomo 53-40 in a hypothetical gubernatorial matchup, according to the latest Siena poll. [NYDN] [NYT] [AOA]

The head of the state Republican Party is stepping down. Giuliani apparently was one of the people who pushed him out, which is another reason observers think Rudy is planning a run for governor. [Daily Politics] [NYT]

The federal Department of Justice says New York State's four juvenile prisons routinely use excessive force on their residents. That approach has led to an "alarming" number of injuries, according to the DOJ report. [NYT] [TU]

A Saratoga Springs attorney was arrested yesterday on charges that he ripped off more than $400k from clients. Police say he took the money as part of two real estate transactions. The attorney has pled not guilty. [TU] [Saratogian] [Fox23]

A Colonie lawyer says he was fired from his job with state Senate Democrats after decided to run for town justice on the Republican ticket. [TU]

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Not much has changed in state Senate, Gillibrand cut off at Sotomayor hearing, judge admonished for not getting work done, pair accused of using kid to aid burglaries

Now that the state Senate leadership mess has been resolved, the chamber can move on to the really important stuff: staffing budgets. Oh, and Pedro Espada says was made majority leader because senators "trust" that "I can lead that house." [AP/Troy Record] [CapNews9]

Already bolstered by the state Senate's "extraordinary" sessions, downtown Albany restaurants are pulling for a special session. [CapNews9] [TU]

Chuck Schumer (video) and Kirsten Gillibrand (video) introduced Sonia Sotomayor at her Supreme Court nomination hearing yesterday. KG went on so long that she had to be cut off by Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (the first gavel comes at 6:25 in her video). Gillibrand does have a reputation for being loquacious. [SchumerTube] [GillibrandTube] [TU] [NYT]

Joe Bruno has already spent more than $450k on lawyers this year as part of his defense against federal corruption charges. [Daily Politics]

CSEA members showed up at last night's Albany County Legislature meeting to protest the planned five-day furloughs of county workers. The union says workers found out about the furlough via the media. Albany County exec Mike Breslin says the county is facing a $20 million budget gap. [Fox23] [CBS6]

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Woman killed in Schenectady deli stick-up, Tonko endorses Morris, Paterson reaches out to Bruno on same-sex marriage, Price Chopper alleges grocery espionage, plane lands on Route 9

A woman was shot and killed in a deli on Eastern Ave in Schenectady Friday night (map). Police say it appears the woman got caught up in the middle of a robbery -- but they're not sure whether the she was intentionally shot. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

A Troy man has been arrested for the death of his girfriend's three-year-old daughter. Police haven't said yet how the girl died. [TU]

Paul Tonko has endorsed Shawn Morris in the Albany mayoral race. Responded Jerry Jennings: "... the people behind me are the people that live in this city, that work in this city, and that will vote in this city." [TU] [CapNews9]

David Paterson has reached out to Joe Bruno to help him lobby Republican state Senators to support to the same-sex marriage bill. [Liz Benjamin]

The Obama Administration has found many of its appointees in New York State. [TU]

Another New Yorker the Obama team has leaned on heavily -- whether they like it or not: Chuck Schumer.

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Friday's asks state police to look into snake head, parking official's wife's car got ghost tickets, landfill fined for stinkiness, Skidmore students accused of beat down, rooster finds new home, Tulip Queen crowned

TGI Friday's says the an independent lab has concluded that the snake head found in a side order of broccoli at its restaurant in Clifton Park was added after the veggies were cooked. The company says it's asked the State Police to open a criminal investigation. [TU] [AP/Daily Gazette]

GlobalFoundries says it won't buy the land for the Luther Forest chip fab until it can work out an agreement with construction unions -- and David Paterson's office is participating in the negotiations. Even with all the recent hype, the project still has some doubters. [TU] [Biz Review] [TU]

The vehicle registered to the wife of Albany's Parking Violations Bureau director received 70 ghost tickets, according to documents obtained by the TU. Albany treasurer Betty Barnette has said that her office, which includes the parking violations bureau, had no knowledge of the ghost ticket program. [TU]

A federal appeals court has upheld the $265,000 in damages awarded to a man who says an Albany cop violated his civil rights during an arrest in 2002. The cop -- who's had numerous complaints filed against him -- is still on the job. [TU]

Advocates for same-sex marriage have put together a coordinated campaign to lobby potential swing votes in the state Senate. Many senators have yet to say publicly how they'll vote on the issue. [NYT]

The state Senate and its slim Democratic majority have been quite the drama lately as small groups of senators have tried to get theirs by holding out on various bills. And now this: Kevin Parker, a senator from Brooklyn, has been charged with a felony for allegedly wailing on a New York Post photographer -- Parker is, perhaps fittingly, also the sponsor of legislation that would legalize ultimate fighting in the state. [NYT] [NYT] [NYP] [NYP]

Chuck Schumer has asked the Federal Trade Commissioner to look into those "your car warranty is about to expire" scam telemarketing calls. Apparently Schumer had had enough after he got a fourth call on his mobile last week. [AP/TU] [NYT]

(there's more)

City treasurer received ghost tickets, it's good to be a lobbyist, problems at the Muddy Cup, Chopper uses AdvantEdge cards to notify of recall, Fallon was quizzed for final credits

Albany city treasurer Betty Barnette has testified that she had no knowledge of the ghost ticket system until she read about it in the news -- but the TU has obtained copies of seven no-fine tickets given to... Barnette. She says she has no memory of receiving the tickets. [TU] [CBS6]

Firms that lobby the state billed their clients almost $174 million last year. NYSUT spent $4.4 million -- the most of any single group. [Biz Review]

Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are apparently becoming BFF. He's even memorized her mobile number. [NYT]

The Saratoga County towns that had sued to hold up the Hudson dredging over concerns about their drinking water supply have dropped their suit. The dredging project is scheduled to start this month. [Daily Gazette]

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State budget talks appear to be stalling, police commander: no-fine stickers date back 17 years, home prices down again, school district worried about backyard wrasslin'

The Three Men in the Room say they're struggling to reach consensus on the state budget. (Of course, it's hard to tell if that's true or not because all the negotiations are going on behind closed doors.) The budget is due April 1. [NYT]

State Senator Hiram Monserrate, a Democrat from Queens, was indicted yesterday on charges that he slashed his girlfriend with a broken glass. Monserrate says he's innocent and will not resign. The Democrats hold a two seat majority in the Senate. [TU][NYT]

Chuck Schumer says he now supports gay marriage. The New York US Senator had been a supporter of civil unions and vote for the federal Defense of Marriage Act (which forbids federal recognition of gay marriages) in 1996. [AP/NYT]

An Albany police commander testified before the Common Council last night that the "bull's eye" no-fine parking stickers date back to 1992 -- and were administered by the Albany Police Officers Union. The head of the APOU at that time: current police chief James Tuffey. [TU]

The median sales price for a home in the Capital Region fell five percent (to $176,000) in February compared to the same period last year, according to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. [TU]

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Towns sue EPA over dredging, stimulus money headed for local schools, comptroller takes up ghost ticket investigation, big hospital merger, home prices down

A handful of municipalities in Saratoga County -- including the county itself -- have sued to stop the EPA's Hudson River dredging project. The governments argue the feds have not adequately guaranteed people in the county will have a safe supply of drinking water during the project, which is scheduled to start in May. State senator Roy McDonald told a meeting last night that the EPA is "taking advantage of us" and said people should tell the feds to "go to hell." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star]

Chuck Schumer says about $50 million in aid for schools is headed to the Capital Region from the federal stimulus bill. The Albany ($6.3 million) and Schenectady ($4.8 million) school districts are getting the biggest chunks of that money. Schumer also says $3 billion is on its way to help New York State cover planned cuts in aid from the state to local schools. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Daily Gazette]

David Paterson has replaced many of his top advisors. On his new communications director's resume: experience with "strategic and crisis communications work." [NYT] [TU]

The state comptroller has informed the City of Albany that his office will be conducting an audit of the city's "ghost ticket" system. [TU]

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Facing down the "doomsday budget," sometimes-cop says no one wants his job, Morris says she's running for Albany mayor, police say woman went on rampage

At a meeting yesterday between state legislators and economists, the coming fiscal year's budget gap was projected to be as high as $14 billion. One senator said the state was facing a "doomsday budget." [TU]

The reconstruction of Delaware and Madison Ave in Albany will be one of the first projects in the state to proceed with federal stimulus money. A pedestrian described the pavement and sidewalks at that intersection as "awful." [TU Cap Con] [Fox23]

Stephen Raucci, the Schenectady School District employee accused of arson and intimidation, has been suspended with pay. Superintendent Eric Ely says he never witnessed out-of-bounds behavior from Raucci, but a former subordinate alleges in a lawsuit that Raucci created a hostile work environment. Raucci's father pleaded guilty to attempted murder and manslaughter after the death of his wife and 6-year-old son in 1986. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

The Schenectady police lieutenant who worked all of 12 days last year for the department -- at 2 1/2 times pay -- because of his union duties says his job is "terrible" and no one wants it. Schenectady mayor Brian Stratton says the lieutenant's assertion that he's been spending all that time on union business is "crazy." [Daily Gazette]

Schenectady police chief Mark Chaires said yesterday that some officers will be fired because of the absent-officer scandal. [Daily Gazette]

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Paterson under fire from every direction, Gillibrand says guns no longer under her bed, job cuts at GE Research, Rensselaer waterfront developer says if they come -- they will build it

David Paterson is catching criticism from what seems like every direction right now. State worker unions are wailing at the news that many aides in the Paterson administration have gotten pay raises since last summer's hiring freeze and spending cuts. The proposed "iTax" on digital downloads is being criticized by conservatives because it potentially could tax pornography downloads (they say taxing it legitimizes it). And in response to the barrage of TV ads criticizing his proposed healthcare cuts, Paterson said this past weekend: "I don't care how many blind people in wheelchairs you roll out. I'm going to get this budget balanced and I'm going to get it balanced by April 1." [NYP] [NYDN] [AP/TU] [Newsday]

A spokesperson for Kirsten Gillibrand says the senator has moved the guns out from underneath her bed now that everyone knows that's where she stored them (because, you know, she told everyone). Also: Gillibrand says her mom has eight guns. [TU] [AP/Daily Gazette] [AP/Troy Record]

Chuck Schumer endorsed Scott Murphy yesterday in the race to fill Gillibrand's former House seat. He and Murphy also made pretzels. [Saratogian]

Roy McDonald (the guy who replaced Joe Bruno in the state Senate) says Saratoga County's share of money from a state road maintenance fund could be cut more than 25 percent in the next state budget. Saratoga County got more than $2 million from the fund last year (as did Albany County). [Saratogian] [NYDOT]

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Stimulus stimulates budget talk, chip fab deal hits snag, guilty verdict tossed over racial remark, candy maker expects subdued Valentine's Day

Both Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand voted for the federal stimulus bill yesterday -- they say New York State could be getting about $20 billion from the bill. That has state leaders thinking about the impact on the state budget. David Paterson says the state still needs to make significant budget cuts. He also said he wouldn't support the proposed tax on high-income households -- unless the Legislature could come up with $11 billion in budget cuts. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [NYDN]

The AMD shareholder vote on the spin-off that would own the Luther Forest chip fab was delayed yesterday after the company couldn't get enough votes together for an official decision. The vote was rescheduled for next week -- both company and local officials seemed confident the deal would still go through. AMD's stock dropped 12 percent on news of the delayed vote. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Saratogian]

The FBI and State Police raided tenant offices at the Port of Albany yesterday. The raid is part of an ongoing investigation into extortion and bid-rigging among businesses there. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Joe Bruno's federal trial has been scheduled for November of this year. His attorney says they'll be trying to get charges dismissed before then. One complication for the trial: finding jurors with an open mind about Bruno's guilt or innocence. [TU]

(there's more)

Stimulus includes millions for local schools, snow totaled about six inches, new name for MapInfo, dude looked like a lady

Chuck Schumer says the stimulus bill currently moving through Congress includes $84 million for schools in the Capital Region. The Albany City School District will get the biggest chunk of that -- $12.7 (full breakdown). Local counties will also get almost $43 million to help cover Medicaid costs. The stimulus bill passed the House yesterday (Tonko voted for it) -- it's yet to be voted on in the Senate. [Daily Gazette] [Daily Gazette] [TU] [NYT] [CapNews9]

Officials from school districts, teachers unions and advocacy groups testified yesterday before the state legislature that the almost $700 million in school aid cuts in the proposed state budget would lead to thousands of layoffs and service cuts. (By the way: Schumer says that stimulus bill includes almost $2.5 billion in education aid for New York State.) [TU] [AP/Newsday]

The final tally on yesterday's storm: about six inches of snow and ice, a bunch of wrecks, some cancelled Regents exams and more snowblowers sold. [TU] [Troy Record] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]

Schenectady police say they're increasing patrols of city neighborhoods that have high levels of gun crimes. Three people have already been arrested, include a young man who has been charged with wearing an illegal bulletproof vest. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

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The Scoop

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