Items tagged with 'Schenectady'

The Capital Region's theater district

schenectady theater composite

Clockwise: Proctors, Schenectady Light Opera, MopCo and Schenectady Civic -- part of the Downtown Schenectady performance scene.

In the late 1920s there were 19 theaters in just the city of Schenectady.

"Companies like General Electric and ALCO were booming back then," says Schenectady County Historical Society librarian Michael Maloney, "and the city experienced a huge growth in population between 1900 and 1930. Theaters were able to capitalize on that."

Of course, there were also zero TVs in the city at the time. There was no internet. There was no Hulu or Netflix. There were no video games.

But that time set the stage for some remarkably long running theater institutions in the city. And almost a century later, they're helping Schenectady develop an identity as the Capital Region's theater district.

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GE Realty Plot tour 2015

GE Realty Plot tour 2015The GE Realty Plot Home & Garden Tour returns this year on Jun 6 and 7. Tickets are $25 and available at a handful of locations listed at that link.

The plot is just east of the Union College campus. General Electric bought it at the end of the 1800s and it was subdivided as a neighborhood for company executives. The design of the neighborhood was inspired by New York's Central Park.

The tour has been offered sporadically in recent years -- the last one was 2013 -- but it sounds like the plan is to now offer it biennially.

This year's tour includes six homes. A listing is after the jump.

Albany tour
Just a reminder that the annual Hidden City House and Garden Tour in/near Albany's Center Square neighborhood is set for Thursday, June 25 from 5-8 pm. Tickets are $15 through June 19 and are available online.

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Music Haven 2015 lineup

Red Baraat band

Red Baraat will be there in July. (Their music is really fun.)

Here's the lineup for this summer's Music Haven concert series in Schenectady's Central Park, which is now in its 26th season. The Sunday evening series starts up June 26 28.

One of the things that sets Music Haven apart from the other summer series is that it tends to focus on world, jazz, and roots music. And this year is no different.

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AOA Startup Grant winner Puzzles Bakery & Cafe set to open this month

Puzzles exterior.jpg

Puzzles Bakery & Cafe is on State Street in downtown Schenectady.

One year after winning the AOA Startup Grant contest, Puzzles Bakery and Cafe is about to open.

In addition to serving sandwiches, salads and baked goods, Sara Mae Hickey's bakery and cafe has a mission: Puzzles is a for-profit business with a commitment to employing people with disabilities -- autism, especially.

The cafe was inspired by Sara Mae's experience with her autistic sister. She set out to create a business at which adults with developmental disabilities would have an opportunity for personal growth, a source of income, social interaction, and a sense of purpose.

The last year of renovating the building, creating the space, and preparing to open the business has been a long road with a few unexpected bumps -- including a burglary, and a front loader plowing into the back of the building. Three times.

What has the last year taught her?

"Well, I've learned that opening a business is one of the hardest things that a person can do. I know that about a year ago I thought we were able to open in a month or two -- and here we are almost a year later and we're finally ready to open our doors for real."

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Capital District project is a finalist for national public art prize

bloomberg public art project finalists map

A map of cities that submitted proposals. / map: Bloomberg Philanthropies

A joint submission by Albany-Schenectady-Troy to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge has made it to the final round, the org announced today. The competition will award at least three cities as much as $1 million for their proposed projects.

And what did the Capital District cities end up proposing? Blurbage:

Albany, Schenectady and Troy, NY - Breathing Lights
Illuminating the Need for Community Revitalization

The City of Albany, in partnership with its neighboring cities of Schenectady and Troy, proposes to illuminate up to 500 vacant homes nightly over two months. Working with artist Adam Frelin and more than 25 community and private sector partners, including the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, this multi-site installation aims to regenerate interest in once-vibrant neighborhoods that currently have high vacancy rates. This consortium proposes to culminate the project with a regional summit on vacant homes and abandoned buildings to engage local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policy makers.

Bloomberg Philanthropies says 237 cities submitted projects.

The other finalists: Albuquerque; Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Des Moines; Gary, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hartford; Los Angeles; Maplewood, Minnesota; and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Earlier on AOA: Public Art Challenge

Good daycare near Schenectady?

kid crawling with blocksLindsay emails:

About 2 years ago, you had a post asking for suggestions for good day cares near Albany. Now, I'm pregnant, and both my husband and I work in Schenectady. If possible, I was hoping that you could ask the readers for any daycare recommendations in the Schenectady area.

That Albany question generated a lot of suggestions, and it was great to see people explain some of the reasons they were recommending the daycares mentioned.

So, got a suggestion for Lindsay and her husband for a daycare in the Schenectady area? Please share!

photo: D Sharon Pruitt (CC BY 2.0)

The Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady

MohawkGiantsTalk-011.jpg

The 1931 Mohawk Giants. / photo courtesy of Schenectady County Historical Society

Each Friday this February we'll be highlighting people and stories from the Capital Region in honor of Black History Month.

In 1913 professional and semi-pro baseball teams dotted the landscape of the United States. Baseball historian Frank Keetz says every city and town and factory had an independent team. But in the Capital Region, there was only one black pro baseball team--the Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady. And they were good.

How good? They took on one of the best major league pitchers of the day, and won.

So why did they only last a season and a half? And how were they resurrected more than ten years later to become one of the most successful black indie teams in the country?

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"What would it take to turn this into..."

960 Broadway Albany back

960 Broadway in Albany, viewed from from North Pearl Street.

Maybe you've stood outside one of the Capital Region's many old, underused industrial buildings and thought: "What would it take to turn this into (insert thing)?"

Well, The Preservation League of New York and the Troy Architecture Program have provided some answers to that question. Specifically, they've provided some detailed answers -- about building condition, code issues, variances, and costs -- for what it would take to transform a handful of buildings in Albany, Troy, Schenectady, and Amsterdam.

The reports are the product of the Preservation's League's Industrial Heritage Reuse Project, which is aiming to find new uses for historic former industrial buildings. (As mentioned last summer.)

One example: 960 Broadway in Albany's Warehouse District, which a developer would like to flip to restaurant and residential space.

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Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady picked for Capital Region casino

Rivers Casino Schenectady rendering front small

A rendering of the project.

The state Gaming Facility Location Facility Board has picked the Rivers Casino and Resort project in Schenectady as its recommended site for the Capital Region. The $300 million proposal is part of the Galesi Group's Mohawk Harbor mixed-use project at the former Alco site.

Ahead of the announcement, chairman Kevin Law explained the board sought to select applications that both fit the guidelines laid out in the state law allowing the casinos -- 70 percent economic development, 20 percent local impact, 10 percent jobs -- and also held the most promise of long term success.

Strengths of the Schenectady proposal cited by the board:

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A look inside Wolff's Biergarten Schenectady

The new new Wolff's Biergarten in downtown Schenectady opens Wednesday around 4 pm.

This Wolff's looks a lot like the Albany location, but it's larger, with three garage doors, more picnic tables, lots of flat screens for viewing soccer matches, and the requisite indoor faux tree. The building has been vacant for about ten years. It started out as a service station and last belonged to KEM cleaners.

If the Erie Blvd location seems strange, Matt Baumgartner says, it is a little.

"I think that's also consistent with Wolff's in Albany, which opened before there was much down in that area. And hopefully it will grow the same way."

Renovations on Erie Boulevard and recent growth in Schenectady were encouraging factors, he says. And the building itself interested him. "It was really affordable, and I love an old, sad building -- and this one was really sad. But I knew you could have garage doors, and having the garage doors is a real asset. People love them."

So with a Bombers and a Wolff's, is there going to be a Schenectady Sciortino's too? Baumgartner just laughs.

"Well, that's a good question. There's an empty building across the street."

After the jump, a look inside Wolff's Schenectady.

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TOP2014: The Final

tournament of pizza final a lot of pizza

Sometimes things live up to the hype.

The final of the 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini, was this past weekend at Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park. And, as would only be fitting for the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza, it featured a clash of local pizza titans: DeFazio's of Troy versus Marino's of Schenectady.

DeFazio's, so many times a finalist, finally broke through last year to take the title. Marino's won the title in 2010 by beating, yep, DeFazios's. The two shops have posted the two highest individual pizza scores this year. And they represent the two highest all-time shop averages in TOP history.

That all adds up to a lot of expectation. And they exceeded it.

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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TOP2014: RD1: Mario's vs. Marino's

Marino's and Mario's exteriors

The 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini -- the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza -- rolls along with a showdown between 2010 tournament champ Marino's of Schenectady and two-time semifinalist Mario's of Niskayuna

This year's clash-of-champions format includes first round matches consisting of two pizzas. Highest aggregate score advances. And, again, the types of the pizza for this first round: sausage and the ever-tricky broccoli ricotta white pizza.

Pizza judges, assemble!

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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Memories, of laser cats and laser dogs

schenectady high school laser cat dog photo

Remember Schenectady High School senior Draven Rodriguez and the laser cat yearbook photo?

Here's the compromise photo planned for the yearbook: Rodriguez and Mr. Bigglesworth along with principal Diane Wilkerson and her dog Vivian. CBS6 has some behind-the-scenes photo from the shoot, and reports the photo will appear on the principal's page of the yearbook with a message about pet adoption. [Daily Gazette] [CBS6]

Oh, and if you'd like your own laser cat portrait, the photographer -- Vincent Giordano of Trinacria Photography -- is offering them for $225.

photo: Trinacria Photography

Cats. Lasers. Memories.

draven rodriguez cat lasers yearbook

With Mr.Bigglesworth.

Schenectady High School senior Draven Rodriguez has won yearbook this year. And the internet.

That's the photo he planned to submit to the yearbook this year, and started a pre-emptive petition for the photo's inclusion. Over at the Daily Gazette, Mark McGuire has some backstory -- and word from the school district about the photo's chances of making it in.

[via @CBS6]

photo: Vincent Giordano

Schenectady's Little Italy outdoor film festival

Moonstruck poster.jpgSchenectady's Little Italy opens an outdoor film series with an Italian flare this Friday.
The Dan DiNicola Film Series , named for the late arts journalist and entertainment critic, will be held in the parking lot behind Perreca's in Schenectady. It's a bring your own lawn chair event. The series opens this Friday with Moonstruck, and continues on Friday nights through August 22. Here's the rest of the schedule:

August 1 - Big Night

August 8 Fellini's- 8 1/2

August 15 - Roman Holiday

August 22 - My Cousin Vinny

Earlier on AOA

+Friday night flicks outdoor movies

Bike sharing pilot program this summer

citi bike rack manhattan 2013

A Citi Bike rack in Manhattan.

A test run of a bike sharing program is planned for Albany, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, and Troy later this summer. From the Capital Moves project:

There will be 25 bicycles available for use between 10am and 8pm at one or more locations in each City. Locations are planned to include Jay Street at State Street in Schenectady, Riverfront Park in Troy, Broadway at Division Street in Saratoga Springs, and Washington Park in Albany. Once registered, participants will receive an ID number allowing them to use the bikes for the rest of the month. There will be no cost to participants, although a credit card will need to be on file as security for the bikes. In addition, participants will need to sign a waiver and provide positive identification.

Over the Gazette, Justin Mason has an article that includes a bunch of details about the program. [Daily Gazette]

The program will run from July 10-August 15. Dates for each city are after the jump.

It'll be interesting to see how this pilot goes. Bike sharing is one of those things that sounds like it could useful/fun, but the details also seem hard. One of the most famous bike share programs is the Citi Bike system in New York City, which turned out to be very popular during its first year -- and also faced significant financial problems. And the system is apparently still trying to shake out some of its operational problems. [NYT] [NYDN]

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Mexican Radio Schenectady now open

mexican radio schenectady exterior 2014 June

The long in development Schenectady location of the restaurant Mexican Radio officially opened today (Monday).

The upscale Mexican restaurant's location -- a completely renovated former a large building, a former OTB betting parlor, at State and Broadway in downtown Schenectady -- has been years in the making. Word of Mexican Radio's impending arrival in the city first bubbled up in 2010 after the owners apparently picked the Electric City over Albany. [Tablehopping 2010 April ] [Daily Gazette 2010 April]

The original Mexican Radio opened in NYC in the 90s. A lot of people around here know the restaurant from its location in Hudson on Warren Street, which opened a little more than a decade ago.

Earlier on AOA: Flan at Mexican Radio (2009)

Music Haven 2014 lineup

conjunto chappottin band

The Cuban band Conjunto Chappotin y Sus Estrellas will be making a stop in Schenectady during its first tour of the US.

The lineup for this year's Music Haven series of free concerts in Schenectady's Central Park is out. As usual, it has a bit of an international and folk flavor to it. This will be the 25th year for the series.

Without further ado, here's the lineup...

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Spumoni at Civitello's

civitellos spumoni lid on

Many vibrant layers of flavor await underneath that lid.

By Deanna Fox

One of the (many) great things about Italian food is that it often looks like the country it came from. The hallmarks of many popular Italian dishes -- tomatoes, basil, cheese, pasta -- are the same red, green, and white that grace the country's flag.

Few nations promote their patriotism in such explicit culinary ways as Italy, a practice carried on by the cooking of many Italian-Americans. The pistachio spumoni at Civitello's in Schenectady is no exception. Layers of green and white with flecks of candy-colored red leave little doubt that a sweet bite of Italy is coming your way.

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What is this Quirky in Schenectady?

quirky ben kaufman

Quirky founder Ben Kaufman, in a company video: "At Quirky we have one simple goal, to make invention accessible. Now, that doesn't happen overnight. But that's not to say it doesn't happen really f------ fast."

The invention/product company Quirky announced today that it will be opening an office in downtown Schenectady. The news has created a bit of a stir not only because the company is promising 180 jobs, but also because Quirky and its founder -- Ben Kaufman -- have been getting attention and hype in national media over the last few years.

So, what's the deal with the Quirky? Here's a quick backgrounder...

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That time the Capital Region included four of the nation's 100 biggest cities

nys cities population national rank 1790-2010 crop

Don't worry, there's a bigger version.

Albany was once the 9th largest city in the nation, by population. And Schenectady the 17th. And Troy the 19th.

It's true. Of course, that was in 1840, 1800, and 1840.

Inspired by this chart of the nation's most populous metro areas over the country's history [via], we figured it'd be interesting to chart the national ranks (up to 100) of New York cities from 1790-2010. A few of the rankings surprised us (Cohoes! Watervliet!). And the trends help illustrate New York State's shifting position within the nation.

OK, let's have a look...

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Alicia's charming Schenectady home

open house upper union composite

By Nicole Lemperle Correia / Photos by Dave Hopper

One of my favorite things about living in the Capital District is all the corners of our area to discover, even after living here most of my life.

Alicia lives in an area of Schenectady that I'd driven through in the past, but never knew much about. The Upper Union neighborhood is charming and grand -- wide boulevards lined by old trees, stately homes, and a mix of residents who have spent their lives there and younger people moving in. When I visited Alicia on a Saturday afternoon, the voice of the announcer at the Union College football game could be heard echoing off the houses.

Alicia's home reflects the history of the area -- a neighborhood built around the beginning of the 20th century, in part for General Electric executives and Union professors. Alicia has honored the home's past and at the same time created a vibrant and welcoming space.

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TOP2013: Round 2: Schenectady

TOP2013 RD2 Schenectady

The 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- continues its Round 2 tour with a stop in the Schenectady bracket.

The pizzerias in this head-to-head matchup of veggie pizzas (green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives):

Giovanni's - Scotia - winner of the Round 1 pool of new-to-the-tournament shops

Mario's - Niskayuna - the returning bracket champ, who had a first-round bye

Can the Scotia shop wrest the bracket from its fellow suburban competitor? Or will the ever-treacherous veggie round be too tall a challenge?

We head back to the headquarters of the Mop & Bucket Company...

Saint Rose Tournament of Pizza ad 2013 in post

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TOP2013: Round 1: Schenectady

TOP2013 RD1 Schenectady

The opening round of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- continues with the Schenectady bracket.

The new-to-the-tournament pizzerias in this Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Visco's - Scotia
Giovanni's - Scotia
I Love NY Pizza of Schenectady - Schenectady
Pizza Buono - Niskayuna

The judges gathered at the Mop & Bucket Company studio...

Saint Rose Tournament of Pizza ad 2013 in post

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Trailer for Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, which shot in Albany and Schenectady

Embedded above is the trailer for Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, the HBO movie that filmed in Albany and Schenectady last year. The film is set to debut on HBO October 5. (Presumably it will eventually be released on DVD, too.)

It's hard to tell if any local spots appear in the trailer. There are a few shots that could be the State Education building in Albany -- it served as a backdrop meant to resemble buildings in DC (and very easily could with a little CGI).

Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight is based on the Howard Bingham book of the same title -- it's about Ali's refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, and specifically, the Supreme Court's handling of the case. In fact, Ali apparently only appears in the film via archival footage. Most of the action seems to center on the justices and their clerks.

The movie was directed by Stephen Frears, and stars Christopher Plummer, Danny Glover, Frank Langella (they play justices), and Bejamin Walker (a clerk). It was screened at this year's Cannes film festival. A Variety review from earlier this year called it "a worthy but faintly dull civics/history lesson."

[via @SarahLaDuke]

Earlier on AOA: Gawking at the shoot of Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight in Albany

Proctors theater... and power plant, trash collection, and internet service

Proctors Marquis.jpg

An old Vaudeville theater that hosts Broadway road shows like Wicked and Book of Mormon, plus films, comedy, and music is easy to write about. There's glitz, there's glamour, there's history. It's sexy.

A district energy plant that heats and cools businesses along a city block -- less sexy.

OK, but what if the same place also collects trash? And sells internet and phone service? And hosts Broadway touring companies, films, comedy and music performances.

Then it's Proctors.

When you pass by the Schenectady theater and arts hub, here are a few interesting things that you won't see on the surface.

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Electric City

electric city location scouting photo

A location scouting photo from the movie's Facebook page.

Another film -- appropriately titled Electric City -- is set to film in Schenectady this summer. Among its producers: Metta World Peace -- yep, the NBA player (formerly known as Ron Artest)*. Metta -- or, World Peace -- is even slated to appear in a scene at Newest Lunch. [Daily Gazette]

Here's a plot outline for Electric City. The director and writer is Nick DeRuve, a Schenectady native and Niskayuna High School grad. (One of his student films: The Inner Workings of William Balltown. Nisky reference?) Here's a little bit of background on both the movie and DeRuve. He's been posting bits about production on on Twitter and Facebook.

The Electric City cast includes Joey Lauren Adams, Emma Holzer (Boardwalk Empire, Spring Breakers), Liz Mikel (Smash's mom on Friday Night Lights), and Harrison Holzer.

* Our favorite Metta World Peace/Ron Artest Moment: When he thanked his psychiatrist after the Lakers won the title in 2010.

photo: Nick DeRuve / Electric City Facebook

A few things we learned covering The Place Beyond the Pines red carpet in Schenectady

pines schenectady premiere composite

We're going to let you in on a secret here: We don't cover many red carpet events. Let's rephrase that: We've never covered a red carpet event. Until now.

Last night we headed over to the Bow Tie Cinema for the local premiere of The Place Beyond the Pines in Schenectady -- which, like us, is also not accustomed to red carpet events.

For those of you who also have never attended a red carpet event, here -- in no particular order-- are a few things we learned or observed, and some pictures of what we saw.

And, yes, there are a few pictures of Bradley Cooper.

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Where the food trucks are. And aren't. And why.

Wandering Dago in Schenectady

The Wandering Dago in Schenectady last fall.

Last week's announcement that the Food Trucks of NY Festival -- originally planned for Albany's Washington Park -- was instead headed for Troy, prompted people to ask: What happened?

So we looked into it. And as we found out along the way, part of the challenge of operating a food truck in the Capital Region is the area's many municipalities -- and their many different rules.

Here's a look at where you're more likely to find -- and not find -- food trucks around the area, and why.

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My Place Beyond the Pines

place beyond the pines my house leah

A scene from the story that usually plays at Leah's house.

By Leah Wolff-Pellingra

Somewhere, there is an Italian restaurant where Michael Corleone shot Sollozo and McCluskey.

Somewhere, there is a bar where Matt Damon slammed a piece of lined paper on a window and said, "I got her number. How d'ya like them apples?"

Somewhere there is a bench where Forest Gump sat, a ring where Rocky fought, and a stage where Jennifer Hudson, threw out her arms, opened up her throat and sang, "You're going to love me."

I was watching the mastery that is Silver Linings Playbook last week, watching Bradley Cooper start to reach the height of his craft, and all I could think was: "Oh crap. You know that scene that will finally win Bradley Cooper his Oscar? That's going to be in my house."

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A quick scan of Place Beyond the Pines reviews

place beyond the pines ryan gosling shirtless

Ryan Gosling's tattoos co-star in the film.

Because you've probably heard not one thing about it: The Place Beyond the Pines opens today in New York City and LA. (It'll start screening here April 12.) So most of the major publications have reviews today of the film, which as you well know, was shot in Schenectady.

Many of the critics seemed to be generally positive about the film, if maybe a little let down. (If anything, none of the reviews that we read today remarked about whether the actors were too hot to live in Schenectady, as one of the early festival reviews did.)

Here's a quick scan of a handful of the reviews...

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Place Beyond the Pines Schenectady special screening

place beyond the pines gosling still

But will Ryan be there?

Update: We hear the screening is full -- tickets were basically available to people somehow connected to the production.

Just announced: there will be a special screening of The Place Beyond the Pines April 11 at Bow-Tie Cinema in the Schenectady.

Director Derek Cianfrance is expected to be there, along with "select cast and crew members from the film."

So, will you be able to go? Details on how to get tickets won't be available for a couple of days, but the publicists for the film say they're trying to accommodate everyone who'd like to attend.

The full release is posted after the jump.

Pines opens this Friday in New York City and LA. It'll be released here April 12 at the Bow-Tie, Spectrum, and Regal Colonie Center.

Earlier on AOA:
+ The Place Beyond the Pines local release
+ The Place Beyond the Pines trailer

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Trying the alligator at Café NOLA

cafe nola alligator bites

They won't bite back. Probably.

By Casey Normile

I'm not a big fan of seafood. But I don't really know my stance on reptile.

So I decided to try some alligator at Café NOLA in Schenectady.

The restaurant specializes in all things Cajun, with po' boys, etouffee, jambalaya, dirty rice, gumbo, beignets -- and my dinner: alligator bites.

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The Place Beyond Pines local release

place beyond the pines gosling still

The Gos.

This Friday is the release of The Place Beyond the Pines -- but it's a limited release. Like, really limited. As far as we can tell, the movie will be showing in four theaters total -- two in LA, two in New York City.

The film goes into wider release April 12, and there will be at least two local theaters showing it starting that day: the Bow-Tie Cinemas in Schenectady and the Spectrum in Albany, according to the websites for both theaters. Update: It will also be showing at the Regal Colonie Center.

As you know, this movie was shot in and around Schenectady back in 2011. We haven't heard word lately of any local premiere/event.

Update: We checked in with Don Rittner, who was involved in bringing Pines to Schenectady. He says he's organized a "People's Premier" at the Spectrum the evening of April 12 for locals who were involved with the film. He says he still has a few tickets. (Don also says he's looking forward to seeing himself get beaten up by Ryan Gosling in the film.)

Soundtrack: The soundtrack for the film -- by Mike Patton -- was released today. Pitchfork is streaming it. We'd call it... moody.

Bank robbers: This is from last fall, but we just came across it today and it included an interesting bit: In an interview with NY Mag, Pines director Derek Cianfrance says Schenectady police brought him a former bank robber so he could meet a real one. (Ryan Gosling's character in the movie robs banks.)

Earlier on AOA: Early reviews of The Place Beyond the Pines

still: Focus Features

Cycling in style

Over at the blog for the Schenectady County Historical Society's Grems-Doolittle Library blog there's a very interesting post about cycling in Schenectady around the beginning of the 20th century.

Bicycle garages at GE! A bike toll road along Route 5 between Albany and Schenectady! Early 1900s hipsters! It's kind of amazing how robust the cycling culture was then.

The post includes the above photo, from the Larry Hart Collection. From its description:

Two women stop during a bicycle ride around the Schenectady area, ca. 1900. Women's participation in the bicycle craze during the 1890s led to the decline of corsets, inspired "common-sense" dress, and allowed greater mobility for women. Women also joined men as members of cycling clubs formed during this period. Many suffragists and women's rights advocates saw the bicycle as a mechanism for women's freedom; in 1896, Susan B. Anthony told New York World reporter Nellie Bly, "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate woman than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood."

As we've said before, the library's blog is totally worth a look. Lots of good stuff there.

[via Carl]

Challah from New Mt. Pleasant Bakery

New Mt. Pleasant Bakery challah

By Daniel B.

There's nothing new about the New Mt. Pleasant Bakery. This old school bakery in Schenectady's Mont Pleasant neighborhood may not show many signs of life from the street. Their hours are posted on a printed-out piece of paper taped to the door, scratched out and amended with a faded sharpie.

Inside, there's not much to look at these days, either. Yes, there are a few trays of colorful cookies, some donuts, a handful of black and whites, and perhaps a few random pastries. Yet many of the racks are empty, and past adventures in trying their sweets have taught me to avoid them.

But wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, this very same bakery just so happens to make the best challah in the Capital Region. And it's worth making a special trip during the day on Friday to get it.

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Winter in Schenectady, then

ice skaters Schenectady Central Park 1916 Grems-Doolittle Collection

Above is a 1916 photo of ice skaters in Schenectady's Central Park. Make sure to check out the large version. The picture makes us smile -- the big crowd of people all out on the the frozen lake, like it was the place to be that day.

The photo is from a collection at the Grems-Doolittle Library and Archives at the Schenectady County Historical Society. The library also has a blog, which includes a handful of other interesting winter-time Schenectady photos -- like one showing harness racing on a frozen Erie Canal.

The blog is good -- we got sucked into it for longer than we'd like to admit yesterday. It includes some great historical materials. Definitely worth a look.

Researching old houses
Speaking of the Schenectady County Historical Society: The Grems-Doolittle Library is offering a workshop on researching the story of old houses on February 16 from 2-4 pm. Blurbage: "Join us and discover the resources in our library available for researching the history of your home, neighborhood, and the people who lived there. This workshop will also include time to conduct research in the library." The workshop is $5. Contact librarian Melissa Tacke for more info -- 374-0263, or librarian |at| schist |dot| org.

photo: Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection

Car crashes, snow, crime, and public data

no longer vacant Albany map clip
A clip from a map of vacant -- and no-longer-vacant -- properties in Albany, created by Tim Varney last year. See below.

Lots of interesting bits in this Daily Gazette article by Kathleen Moore about how police in Albany and Schenectady are using data*. Here's a clip, about how Schenectady police have been paying closer attention to car crashes:

By tracking car accidents last fall, Schenectady police pinpointed patrols in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood and saw certain crimes plummet by 12 percent in the last quarter of 2012. They are using the same system to respond proactively to crime throughout the city, in hopes of getting similar results everywhere.
Maps of crashes, drunken-driving arrests and other traffic violations are overlaid with maps of crime reports. Police patrols are sent to the hotspots -- locations where traffic problems and crime are high.
"What we know is, the driver that's risky enough to drive drunk ... is often risky enough to take other risks," said federal Highway Safety Specialist Shannon Purdy. "A lot of criminals are caught at seatbelt checks."

A section about the Albany police department mentions how the APD is using weather forecasts to adjust patrols.

Also: Schenectady mayor Gary McCarthy is working with UAlbany's Center for Technology in Government to build a platform that would allow city departments to share code enforcement data (say, about code enforcement), and share it with Albany and Troy.

More, please

That common platform is a good idea. And it's worth pushing even further: Why not created a Capital District consortium for publishing and sharing public data? The org could help develop tools, set common formats, and provide a clearinghouse for sets of public data. It would open the way for more orgs and people to get involved, and even maybe set the stage for new businesses. (NYC is already doing something along these lines.)

Sure, there are obstacles: time, money, attention. And civil liberties issues will probably crop up along the way. But having meaningful access** to data generated by your government is becoming a 21st century civil right.
____

* Yep, it's a Gazette article, but we have a feeling that link will work for you.

** A pdf that you have to file FOIL for is not meaningful access. It's a start, but we do a lot better.

Earlier on AOA:
+ A future timeline of Watson at RPI
+ Map: vacant -- and no-longer vacant -- buildings in Albany -- created by Tim Varney from data published in a city report last year

The Place Beyond the Pines trailer

The trailer for The Place Beyond the Pines is out. And it's embedded above. And, yep, you can recognize Schenectady.

Focus Features has scheduled the film's release date for March 29 "in select theatres." That usually means a film will be released in a few big cities, and then a few weeks later be expanded across the country. (It'd be great if Schenectady could be one of those first cities, though that's probably unlikely.)

Earlier on AOA: Early reviews of The Place Beyond the Pines

Taking in a game at the Schenectady Curling Club

schenectady curling club ice wide

By Casey Normile

When I first found out my roommate and her family were curlers, I pictured a large, strange rink with equally large men quietly moving around the ice while you sat in a cold seat, cheering them on without really understanding what they were doing.

But in reality, going to the Schenectady Curling Club to watch a game is just like watching from the comfort of home. You get to watch other people physically exert themselves while you sit in a warm viewing room with a fully stocked bar, leather couches, and a fire place.

I love sports.

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Flatbread pizza at Tara Kitchen

tara kitchen flatbread pizza closeup

By Daniel B.

This is not a pizza. A pizza without cheese is like a hat without a crown, which isn't a hat at all but a headband. Henceforth I'll refer to what they call pizza at Tara Kitchen in Schenectady as a flatbread, since no sensible person is going to confuse one for the other.

On the most basic level the flatbreads here are a pita, covered with toppings, slid onto a plate, and cut into quarters. As a pizza it doesn't rate. But it's an intensely satisfying way of delivering the flavors of North Africa. And there is one topping in particular that puts this over the top.

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Zombie Film Feast/Walk/Prom 2012

The annual Zombie Film Feast/Walk/Prom is at Proctors this year. (It had been at The Linda. Maybe there are no brains left to eat in Albany.) Here's the schedule:

Zombie prom
The zombie prom -- "complete with booze and ooze and finger foods" -- is Friday, November 16 at 9 pm. Tickets are $10.

Zombie walk
This year's zombie walk -- in which people dress up as zombies for a parade -- will stagger from Proctors to Schenectady city hall on Saturday, November 17. The undead processional starts at 4:45 pm. It's free to participate.

Zombie Film Feast
The annual festival of zombie flicks is that same Saturday in the GE Theater at Proctors. There will be two blocks of films -- 11 am - 5:30 pm, and 5:45 pm - midnight. Tickets are $25 for the whole festival, or $15 for one block.

TOP 2012: Round 2: Schenectady

TOP 2012 RD2 Schenectady

The second round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- stops back in the Electric City.

The pizzerias in this head-to-head matchup of veggie pizzas (green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives):

Mario's vs. Nico's

How we got here: Nico's and Mario's both separated themselves from the other shops in this bracket with scores of 74 and 64. Those are very good totals. And they ousted the defending tournament champ from the contest.

Now, it's the always difficult veggie pizza.

We head to Anthology Studio in downtown Schenectady. Pizzaaaaaaa...

sunmark pizza banner

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Eggs in Purgatory at More Perreca's

more perreca's eggs in purgatory

Hot breakfast.

By Daniel B.

Sometimes great dishes can be hiding in plain sight. It's just a matter of knowing what to order, and letting a trusted advisor be your guide.

More Perreca's had consistently disappointed me for breakfasts. The ultimate insult was toast made from the bakery's famous bread that was served cold. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. From a questionable frittata, to mushy potatoes, to an egg sandwich served on a quarter loaf of bread with a virtually impenetrable crust, nothing I tried over multiple visits had worked for me. The egg sandwich, when made with one of their generous sausage patties, had been the best of the bunch, just so long as it came unaccompanied by potatoes.

But Deanna from Silly Goose Farm insisted I had it wrong. She was willing to vouch for a dish on their breakfast menu and agreed to accompany me on one last journey to this offshoot of a Schenectady institution.

Not only are the Eggs in Purgatory there delicious, but I cannot imagine a more befitting breakfast for the Electric City in October.

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TOP 2012: Round 1: Schenectady

TOP2012 RD1 Schenectady

The opening round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- rolls ahead to Schenectady.

The pizzerias in Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Returning champ: 5th and 50 - Scotia
Crowd pick: Nico's - Schenectady
Tough luck: Mario's - Niskayuna
Mystery entry

5th and 50 is not just the defending bracket champ -- it won the whole the tournament last year. Its title defense starts now.

The judges got together at Anthology Studio in downtown Schenectady...

sunmark pizza banner

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The Wandering Dago food truck

wandering dago food truck schenectady

By Casey Normile

You might call Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks a little crazy for leaving their jobs in law and marketing and moving from Denver, Colorado to Schenectady to open a food truck.

You might even call them a lot crazy.

But this couple -- one raised on a ranch in Montana, and the other a vegetarian from Long Island -- are excited to bring their Wandering Dago food truck to Schenectady.

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If it's the third Friday, it's Schenectady

passeggiata schenectady poster1st Friday. Troy Night Out. Passeggiata. Passe-what?

A group of downtown Schenectady orgs are building on the city's "third Friday" events (Art Night Schenectady) with what they hope will become a new series: Passeggiata, modeled on an Italian term for strolling the town. From Proctors:

Passeggiata (päs-sād-ˈjä-tä) will soon be the new third-Friday tradition in Schenectady's revitalized downtown area! Starting Friday, September 21 - and each third-Friday of the month thereafter - residents, businesses and visitors will participate in a downtown strollabout. Each month will feature a different theme -- and engage businesses and attractions to share some neighborly time together.

The focus of the first event will be welcoming college students back to town. So, this Friday's events include:
+ A Wing Walk -- $5 gets you a chicken wing from a handful of downtown restaurants, from 5-9 pm
+ A "Campus Underground Block Party" on Jay Street from 7-9 pm (we're pretty sure it'll be above ground on Jay Street) with a bunch of DJs.
+ And Proctors is showing The Big Lebowski that night as part of the It Came From Schenectady series, at 7 pm. Tickets are $9 / $6 students with ID.

Of course, you don't have to be a college student to enjoy those things.

Reviews of The Place Beyond the Pines

place beyond the pines gosling still

Ryan Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider who knocks over banks. Apparently it's less ridiculous than that sounds.

The movie that shot in Schenectady last summer -- The Place Beyond the Pines -- debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival Friday night. It stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, and a bunch of other actors you'll recognize. It also reportedly includes many locations you'll recognize around the area.

The film has been picked up by prominent art house film distributor Focus Features after what was apparently a bidding war. Director Derek Cianfrance says it will be released sometime in 2013. [IndieWire] [IndieWire]

Here's a quick a scan of the post-debut reviews...

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Talking peaches with Tom Maynard

maynard farms white doughnut peach

There's a secret to picking the best doughnut peaches.

By Casey Normile

Tom Maynard of Maynard Farms is a fixture at the Schenectady Greenmarket. He's been selling a wide variety of peaches, plums, nectarines and pears since the market started in 2008. And he grows some delicious fruit on his Hudson Valley farm.

"We try to deliver an honest-to-god good product to every customer who leaves here," he says. "My goal is for people to come here, buy our peaches and then come back next week saying, 'Wow, that was a really great peach.' Once they try it, they realize this isn't supermarket fruit."

Maynard has a friendly, outgoing presence, and you can often catch him talking about the finer points of fruit with customers.

I talked with him at the market recently for a quick guide on peaches and nectarines -- what separates the different varieties, how to make sure they're ripe, what the fuzz is called, and why you should look for the ugly ones.

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The Place Beyond the Pines debuting in Toronto

place beyond the pines gosling still

Ryan Gosling. And his motorcycle.

The Place Beyond the Pines will be debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The festival has become one of the most influential in the world, often helping to start order the Oscar field -- so a spot for Pines is at least an early indication that someone thinks it could be good.

It was almost just a year ago that Ryan Gosling and company were in Schenectady area filming the movie. (We heard a crew was back in town this past May doing a bit more shooting.) There isn't a release date for the film, yet.

In case you've forgotten from last year's local media blitz: The Place Beyond the Pines is directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) and stars Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ray Liotta, Dane DeHaan (buzzed about, apparently), and Bruce Greenwood (that guy).

By the way: Virgin Alexander, the indie comedy shot in Saratoga a few summers back, is now available on DVD. (Thanks, Pat)

In appreciation of Schenectady

rose garden schenectady

Schenectady Central Park's rose garden: One reason Katherine <3 Schenectady

By Katherine Stephens

soapbox badgeI moved to the Capital District back in August of 2005 from Washington, DC. And I consider it a total upgrade.

Being a transplant gave me a whole different perspective on my adopted home. All the people I met who have lived here their whole lives found Albany boring, Troy dirty, Saratoga expensive, and Schenectady dangerous. I never found those things to be true.

Albany is exciting and fun, Troy is beautiful and revitalized, Saratoga is just a little pricey, and Schenectady is -- well, not dangerous but... what? What is Schenectady really?

I'm not quite sure, yet. I'm having fun finding out.

But what I am sure of is that there's really only one problem with Schenectady and it can be summed up into one word: perception.

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The Bier Abbey

bier abbey exterior closeup

Beer, with church pews.

By Casey Normile

After more than a year of buzz, The Bier Abbey in Schenectady quietly opened its doors to the beer geeks on that side of the Capital Region.

His first time in business, owner George Collentine says he wanted to open the Bier Abbey "out of pure passion." He first ventured into the world of craft beer in the early 90s and was encouraged to open his own bar by the growing interest in microbreweries and craft beers, especially in the Northeast.

"We want to lean toward beer geeks and there are no places in Schenectady that really cater to them," he explained.

So what will beer geeks find there?

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How walkable, relatively, is Albany?

albany walk score heat map

A heat map of walk scores for Albany. Here's the interactive map.

A post over at Atlantic Cities about the "most walkable cities" in the United States has been circulating locally on Twitter because it mentions that Albany is among the top 10 most walkable cities in the country, according to data from Walk Score.

It turns out that's not actually true.

But that doesn't mean Albany -- and a few other local cities -- don't fare well in the rankings.

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Now on YouTube: Steinmetz, Felix the Cat, and other figures from GE's history in Schenectady

This is great: The Schenectady Museum has uploaded a bunch of vintage films to YouTube from its General Electric film collection. From the museum's announcement:

Films range from advertising and educational films to raw footage of equipment tests and company picnics. Many of the promotional films were originally shown in movie theatres in the days of newsreels and cartoons. While more films are being added daily, there are currently more than 50 films available, including: The "More Power to America" Train, 1960; Magic vs. Science, 1932; Charles Proteus Steinmetz: The Man Who Made Lightning, 1960s; Felix the Cat in The Kit and the Cat, ca. 1925; and General Electric Women in Science, 1954.
The Museum is currently offering three playlists on the channel: Transportation - rail and aviation films promoting innovations, including electric and diesel locomotives, turbo superchargers, and jet engines; General Electric Research - films highlighting technologies and inventions created at GE Global Research; and Electric Cars - electric car films from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

The film embedded above is a bio film about Charles Steinmetz -- who worked for GE in the early 20th century. In addition to being a genius, Steinmetz was also one of the most colorful characters in the history of the Capital Region. We're guessing the film is from the 1960s (update: Josh says it may pre-date 1952). It includes some, well, rather dated language -- but it has some great photos of Steinmetz and other notables. (There's also a glimpse of Steinmetz's former home on Washington Ave in the Stockade, which is still there and bears a plaque noting he lived there.)

By the way:We're still holding out for a movie and graphic novel in which either Steinmetz is a superhero, or he builds gadgets and weapons for superheroes.

Earlier on AOA: A behind-the-scenes look at the Schenectady Museum's collection

What you can't see at the Schenectady Museum

Among the things you can't see in the Schenectady Museum right now.

So, when you go to a museum you get to see all this cool stuff that they have out on display, right? But museums often have a lot more stuff than space to display that stuff. Often, there are all kinds of interesting things stored away that you can't see.

So we asked Chris Hunter, Director of Archives and Collections at The Schenectady Museum, to show us a few of the interesting items in the museum's collection that you can't see right now.

What did find? Everything from comic books, ray guns and refrigerator songs to 1920's solar cell research tools.

Want to see?

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Schenectady during the Super Bowl

The video embedded above is a GE commercial that the company says will run during the Super Bowl on Sunday -- it highlights the turbine factor at GE's campus in Schenectady, along with some of the people who work there.

The spot's cinematography is good -- the turbines looks like sleek sculptures. Not as good: the odd turn in the last third about how the turbines make Bud beer possible.

The company says it will be playing two commercials during the game broadcast, the Schenectady spot and one about an appliance factory in Louisville (embedded after the jump). They both put emphasis on the fact that GE is building stuff -- and employing people -- in the US. (Possible subtext: don't just focus on taxes...)

Earlier on AOA: President Obama at GE in Schenectady

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Tacos at La Mexicana Grocery & Restaurant

la mexicana tacos overhead

Tacos from La Mexicana, from left to right: chorizo, chicken, carne asada.

By Daniel B.

Arriving at Oakland International Airport, the first thing I used to do was head to one of the taco trucks near International Boulevard. There are a lot of things I miss about living in Northern California, and the humble street taco tops the list.

Up until recently it's been unrealistic to expect a decent taco in the Capital Region. I know some people like Bros, and when the only choices were Bombers and Bros, Bros won handily. But the texture of their soft corn tortilla is just off, and you can't have a good taco when the tortilla is wrong.

After all, a taco is merely two small corn tortillas, with a little bit of well-seasoned meat, topped with onions and cilantro. Salsa verde or salsa rojo can be squeezed on top. On the side should be a wedge of lime and a few slices of radish, but ideally there will be pickled carrots and jalapeno peppers as well. From a taco truck out West, this could set you back a whopping $1.50.

The tacos at La Mexicana Grocery in Schenectady will cost you an extra fifty cents, but you get to eat them inside, on a real plate, with table service, all while watching Mexican TV or listening the jukebox filled with Mexican tunes.

There are six different tacos to choose from, including the one that stole my heart.

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Power lunch

lunch behind GE sign

Rather exclusive.

If you were in the running for "best lunch spot" this week, we're sorry -- Katelyn has you beat. Her winning spot: right behind the famous General Electric sign in Schenectady. Yep, the one on top of a building.

Katelyn works for GE and won the lunch way up there through an office charity auction that benefited a scholarship fund.

Bonus facts: The sign has been in place since 1926, is 168 feet long, and costs $15,000 a year to light. [Daily Gazette]

Haunted Stockade Tours

First Pres Cemetery Stones (1).jpg

The 1st Presbyterian Cemetery, resting place for ghosts of the Stockade.

By Wendy Voelker

We're just about a week away from Halloween. It's that time of year when everyone seems to be looking for a way to scare themselves silly (as if political campaigns aren't enough).

These ghost tours of the Schenectady Stockade may not leave you quaking in your boots, but they'll certainly entertain you, freak you out a bit, and get you in the spirit of the season.

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Pupusas at Flores Family Restaurant

pupusas flores family restaurant

It's like a Salvadoran grilled cheese.

Everyone loves pupusas.

Okay, maybe not the lactose-intolerant or the gluten-free set. But if you can eat the component ingredients, which primarily involve cheese and cornmeal, it's a no-brainer. It's like a Salvadoran grilled cheese sandwich. Or perhaps you would like to think of it as a quesadilla pocket. I always likened it to an arepa with a more fine-grained cornmeal exterior.

But it's not just cheese. Pupusas come in a variety of flavors. You can get them with pork, beans or loroco, as well. Never had loroco? Well, you will.

Brush up on a few Spanish phrases, and get yourself down to Schenectady, pronto.

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TOP 2011: Round 2: Schenectady

TOP2011 RD2 Schenectady

Round 2 of the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, rolls along to Schenectady. The pizzerias facing off in this round of pepperoni pizzas:

Marino's (Schenectady) vs. 5th and 50

How we got here: Marino's posted a solid 70 in opening round pool play. 5th and 50 squeaked into the second round by winning the tie break with Mario's after both posted 68s.

This is an interesting matchup -- Marino's is the returning overall TOP champ. 5th and 50 won Pizzageddon (or whatever it was called) at Proctors and scored well in the first round.

We head back to Anthology Studio on State Street in Schenectady for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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Haircuts at Paul Mitchell School in Schenectady

Paul Mitchell School -Salon.jpg

The Paul Mitchell

By Wendy Voelker

I have always hated my hair. When I was a kid, it was the wrong color (I was the only red-haired kid), and today, even though redheads are all the rage, it's always the wrong style. Not to mention the fact that I always wait too long to get a trim, and end up with what I call "Pumpkin Head."

I recently decided that finally, as I near the age of 40, it was time to do something about my lackluster locks. I wanted style. I wanted glam.

But where to go? I'm too intimidated and self-conscious to go to a high-end salon, and I'm too much of a cheapskate to spend that kind of money. I just do NOT understand how people can shell out $100 or more for a haircut. I clip coupons for crying out loud!

The answer came to me as I was planning an event in downtown Schenectady.

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TOP 2011: Round 1: Schenectady

TOP2011 RD1 Schenectady

The next stop in the the Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- is Schenectady.

The pizzerias in the opening round pool competition of cheese pizzas:

Returning champ: Marino's - Schenectady
Crowd pick: Pizza King - Schenectady
Renee's pick: Mario's - Niskayuna
Committee pick: 5th and 50 - Scotia

This is probably the toughest bracket in the tournament. There's the returning overall champ (Marino's), a former finalist (Pizza King), and a newcomer that won a different contest (5th and 50).

The judges -- plus our guest judge -- gathered at the lovely Anthology Studio in downtown Schenectady...

sunmark pizza banner

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Bubbles and hugs in Schenectady

hugs and bubbles outside proctors

Weeee!

We happened upon what was, for a few minutes at least, easily the happiest place in the Capital Region Wednesday afternoon in Schenectady.

Why? Bubbles and hugs.

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Photos of Irene flooding in Schenectady

Heartbreaking.

At one point Sunday, officials were projecting that Schenectady would see record flooding -- a once in 500 years flood.

Thankfully, the Mohawk River relented before reaching that mark. But there was still a lot of water. And the Stockade -- one of the Capital Region's greatest neighborhoods -- got hit hard. Walking around Monday afternoon it was heartbreaking to see so many of the picturesque streets half-filled with water.

The good news: the water was already receding. And when you're more than 300-years-old, what's a little (or a whole lot) of water? The Stockade will bounce back.

Many photos from the Stockade -- and a few from Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia -- after the jump.

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Letterman: "People in Schenectady can suck it!"

Last night Rose Byrne, who's in The Place Beyond the Pines, challenged David Letterman to spell Schenectady. He was (haltingly) successful -- and in triumph exclaimed, "People in Schenectady can suck it!"

Ms. Byrne, who replaced Greta Gerwig in the role of Bradley Cooper's character's wife, also talked about the reception the stars of the film have gotten in Schenectady -- mainly people going nuts for Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes:

They have to barricade these women who are there screaming, you know, "Bradley! Ryan!"
And then when I open door, they're like "Bradle... who the f is that?" And then just go back [to texting on their phones] ... It puts me in my place.

Schenectady, you need to get on this. You can swoon all you want over Cooper and Gosling. But Rose Byrne totally deserves some screaming.

[via TU Movies]

Earlier on AOA:
+ Waiting for Gosling
+ An exclusive interview with Ryan Gosling's motorcycle
+ Say "Schenectady"

The Wizard of Schenectady

steinmetz with tesla and einstein in New Jersey

Steinmetz -- with Einstein, Tesla, Langmuir and others -- in New Jersey in 1921.

The Smithsonian's "Past Imperfect" blog has a post about Charles Steinmetz -- the "Wizard of Schenectady" -- this week is that is completely jammed full of awesome. A clip:

He stood just four feet tall, his body contorted by a hump in his back and a crooked gait, and his stunted torso gave the illusion that his head, hands and feet were too big. But he was a giant among scientific thinkers, counting Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison as friends, and his contributions to mathematics and electrical engineering made him one of the most beloved and instantly recognizable men of his time.
In the early 20th century, Charles Steinmetz could be seen peddling his bicycle down the streets of Schenectady, New York, in a suit and top hat, or floating down the Mohawk River in a canoe, kneeling over a makeshift desktop, where he passed hours scribbling notes and equations on papers that sometimes blew into the water. With a Blackstone panatela cigar seemingly glued to his lips, Steinmetz cringed as children scurried away upon seeing him--frightened, he believed, by the "queer, gnome-like figure" with the German accent. Such occurrences were all the more painful for Steinmetz, as it was a family and children that he longed for most in his life. But knowing that his deformity was congenital (both his father and grandfather were afflicted with kyphosis, an abnormal curvature of the upper spine), Steinmetz chose not to marry, fearful of passing on his deformity.

The post was written by Gilbert King and it's a good, quick read of Steinmetz's story. It includes a bunch of great little stories, including one of our favorites, about Steinmetz and Henry Ford (as the story goes, Steinmentz sent Ford what may be the greatest invoice in the history of consulting (or perhaps it was GE, the story has a lot of variations)).

The term genius gets thrown around a lot -- but Steinmetz really was one. And a total character.

Tangent: There needs to be a comic/graphic novel/TV series/something in which Steinmetz's genius scientist/engineer identity is a cover for being some sort of superhero.

(Thanks, Brandon!)

photo from the Franklin Township Public Library collection via Wikipedia

Messing with Schenectady

schenectady wikipedia entry screengrabChris Churchill recently checked the Wikipedia entry for Schenectady and found an interesting "fact" about the origins of the city's name -- specifically that it's "derived loosely from a Mohawk word for 'dress in layers.'"

Of course, that's not true. The edit was made August 4 at 6:24 pm by user RalphMonster -- the first contribution recorded under that name. It was corrected (with the actual origin) just 8 minutes later by Wknight94, who has a significant record of contributions -- in fact, he/she has the highest number of logged changes to the entry.

The correction was uncorrected (if that's the word) Monday at 4:07 pm, about a half hour after Chris noted the odd "fact." The new version: "The name 'Schenectady' is derived loosely from a Mohawk word for 'church hill,' or 'near the church hill,' or 'place beyond the church hill.' The user: 518Snark, who seemed to be having some fun based on Chris' name. (It was 518Snark's first contribution.) The entry was re-corrected at 11:15 pm Monday by a user who did not login, but whose IP address does have a history of contributions.

Anyway, everyone knows that Schenectady means "place where people swoon over goslings."

Something wicket this way comes

But can they take all 10 wickets in an innings?

By Rob Madeo

When I was a boy, we played in the street. Stickball and street hockey, running bases, touch football. Even though there were perfectly good lawns and parks, we just sort of liked the street. Maybe it was the curbs, which were like built-in sidelines. Naturally, you had to look out for the storm sewers that swallowed countless balls, pucks, and Frisbees -- and oh yes, you had to watch for cars -- but the street was our playing field.

I don't see kids playing ball in the street much anymore, even at the dozens of basketball hoops that line our suburban neighborhoods. There are three hoops on my block alone and I've never seen a basketball being shot at any single one of them. They stand like monuments to the idea of sports. Go figure.

But things are different on my street these days. And the kids aren't playing the old reliable
standbys: they're playing cricket.

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From Schenectady to Antarctica

uss bear

The USS Bear, the ship on which Anthony Wayne sailed to Antarctica.

This is great: a 95-year-old Schenectady man now has a landmark in Antarctica named after him. "Wayne Head" -- a rock headland on Horseshoe Island just off the Antarctic Peninsula -- has been named for Anthony Wayne. [Daily Gazette] [USGS]

Wayne was honored for his service during the United States Antarctic Service Expedition in 1939, Richard Byrd's third Antarctic expedition. Aboard two ships 125 men sailed to Antarctica to take surveys and build bases. Wayne served on the USS Bear, a steamship that had been built in 1874 to sail icy waters. The Bear is, according to a Coast Guard site, "probably the most famous ship in the history of the Coast Guard."

From a 2010 story by the Gazette's Sara Foss about Wayne and his trip to the Antarctic:

Wayne said he decided to go to Antarctica because it sounded like an exciting adventure.
"I thought, 'Who the hell goes there?' " he said. "It was something new. I was never sorry I went, but I was glad I came back. ... I thought I'd never survive. It was all frozen ice. There was snow 20 feet high and icebergs all over." The scariest part of the trip occurred when the ship got stuck on the ice and the men had to wait several days for the ice to separate and a channel to open. ...
Wayne said Byrd selected him for his crew because he was in excellent physical shape and, as a native of upstate New York, accustomed to cold weather.

Wayne showed Foss film he shot during the trip -- and it's awesome. Seriously, go watch it on the Gazette site (it looks like it's not behind the paywall). It shows Byrd, the ship, icebergs, penguins, seals, whales, sled dog teams, and this huge vehicle that looks like something you might drive on the moon.

Anthony Wayne is now the last surviving member of the expedition. [Daily Gazette]

A map showing Wayne Head is embedded after the jump. It's a short 7646 miles from Schenectady.

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Mitch Messmore: from Schenectady to Beirut and, eventually, back

By Danielle Furfaro

mitch messmore with paintingMitch Messmore takes the Capital Region art scene very seriously. The Schenectady native has spent the past several years championing local art and attempting to bolster the arts community through his work with various organizations. In 2007, back when cities started getting the art walk bug, he founded Art Night Schenectady. This was just after he became the chairman of the board of the Capital Region Initiative Supporting the Arts and just before he was named the executive director of the Upper Union Street BID. He's also been involved with Upstate Artists Guild, Existing Artists and the Schenectady Photographic Society, just to name a few.

In November of last year, Messmore moved temporarily to Beirut to be with his wife while she is there working on a SUNY research project. You might think that while he is living in the Middle East, Messmore's penchant for local art would have at least been put on the back burner, but the multi-media artist has remained as active and committed as ever, continuing to run Art Night Schenectady via Skype, email and phone with the help of a posse of volunteers.

Now, Messmore has launched Art Night Beirut as a sister organization to the one in his hometown. His exhibiting his abstract paintings at a Beirut gallery. And he's thinking about how to turn the Capital Region into the cultural hub of the Northeast...

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Why you should tip your pizza delivery guy more


A map of attacks on food delivery people, 2008-2011.

This past weekend in Albany's Center Square neighborhood a pizza deliveryman for Soho Pizza was the target of what must have been a terrifying attack. From the Albany Police Department press release about the incident:

At approximately 1:10 a.m. James Kehoe, 25, was attempting to make a food delivery for Soho Pizza to 172 Jay Street. He was approached on the street by the first suspect who told him "hold on my brother will be right out with the money". A second suspect came from across the street and wrapped his arm around the victim's throat and threw him to the ground. A third suspect then walked up behind Kehoe and placed what appeared to be a handgun to his neck and told him not to scream or he would get shot. The first suspect then reached into Kehoe's pockets and stole his money and cell phone.

The APD says the suspects fled the scene after getting the money and phone. A search of the area, including a sweep by a K-9 team, came up empty.

You might not think that being a food delivery person is a dangerous job, but attacks on them are not uncommon in Albany and other Capital Region cities. In fact, there have been six incidents just this year.

Concerned and curious about about the frequency and locations of these attacks, we gathered reports of the crimes from the past four years, organized them by date, and mapped them.

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Slices at Pizza King

pizza king slice broccoli ricotta

A broccoli ricotta slice from Pizza King.

By Daniel B.

This is a town where pizza loyalties run deep.

For some, they've been going to The Fountain since they were a kid, and to these folks that is the very definition of pizza, no others need apply. Depending on the neighborhood you grew up in, The Fountain could be replaced by The Orchard, Smitty's, The Purple Pub, DeFazio's, Popes, Ralph's, etcetera.

Others have come here from downstate, and are continually frustrated that nothing they try even comes close to the pizza heaven they've left behind. Luckily, I don't think we host a major population of displaced Chicagoans or New Havenites. Nor do we have a lot of people hankering for the Old Forge pizza they remember growing up in Pennsylvania.

So with all of these considerations, how can I possibly put one slice above all the rest? Especially when it failed to win the Tournament of Pizza (in which it competed three times)? Well, there are several reasons. But there is one thing that clearly sets Pizza King apart from the rest of the pack, and that is focus.

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The story behind the little anti-frackers

little anti-fracker rally

A rally of little anti-frackers.

After tracking the spread of the little anti-fracking protests from Schenectady to Albany to Troy, we now know who's behind the tiny campaign.

Her name's Nancy. She's from Schenectady. She outed herself in a comment last week -- and we followed up with a few questions...

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Scouting the places beyond the pines

place beyond the pines location inquiryThere were a few reports this week that pre-production crews for The Place Beyond the Pines, the movie starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, were scouting locations around the Schenectady area.

Jason tweeted that the film's director, Derek Cianfrance, actually stopped by his house Thursday. And @BUNKRE shared the flyer a location scout had left on his house in the Old Niskayuna neighborhood. That's the flyer on the right -- there's a bigger version after the jump.

The flyer says crews are "tentatively scheduled" to film in the neighborhood sometime in September. And the description of the film:

Luke [Ryan Gosling] is a professional motorcycle rider who turns to bank robberies to support his newborn son. But when he crosses paths with a rookie police officer [Bradley Cooper] their violent confrontation spirals into a tense generational feud. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is a rich dramatic thriller that traces the intersecting lives of fathers and sons, cops and robbers, heroes and villains.

It's not any more far-fetched than Angelina Jolie jumping from trucks while being chased by the CIA with the Albany skyline in the background.

By the way: the name Schenectady comes from a Mohawk word that roughly means "beyond the pine plains."

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Say "Schenectady"

INT. GOOGLE MARKETING CONFERENCE ROOM
A MARKETING EXECUTIVE is sitting at a conference table with a staff of marketers.

MARKETING EXECUTIVE
We need a city name that a lot of people will recognize, but one that they'd never be able to spell if their lives depended on it.

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Tiny protests against fracking

Abby was in Schenectady Sunday for the Greenmarket and noticed these tiny fracking protestors. She says there were dozens of them hiding around the State Street/Jay Street area.

A bunch of the tiny anti-frackers are after the jump.

As Abby said in an email: "Yes, had too much fun finding these..."

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Very Important (scientific) People

ge research vip book thumbnailGE has posted images from the guest book for the company's original research center in Schenectady (GE Global Research is now in Niskayuna):

While its beginnings were humble, it didn't take long for scientists and inventors from around the world to flock to the Research Lab to see what GE was working on. And each famous mind that visited would stop at Willis Whitney's desk to sign the VIP guest book. The book sat at Whitney's desk from 1914 to 1935, and the signatures are a veritable Who's Who of inventors, physicists, chemists, physiologists, and businessmen -- including 9 Nobel Laureates.

The collection of people who stopped by the place during its first years is remarkable. Among the names signed in the book: Bohr, Marconi, Pavlov.

photo: GE Reports

Schenectady County Horticulture Education Center

Horticulture Center Seedling

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Good things come from the Schenectady County Horticulture Education Center.

Good in the form of thousands of flowering plants that go back into the community, job training for adults who need assistance, and horticultural classes for the general public.

It's tucked away in Schenectady's Central Park, but its impact on the community is everywhere. And you can be involved too.

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For sale: the "oldest" house in Schenectady

oldest house in schenectady maybe

When you're 284-years-old, what's a decade-or-two age difference.

oldest house in schenectady maybe markerThe "reputed oldest house" in the city of Schenectady -- the 284-year-old (or so) Yates House in the Stockade -- is for sale. The list price: $389,000.

Apparently there's some question as to whether the Yates House is actually the oldest house in Schenectady. The Brouwer house on North Church Street might be a few decades older. Researchers from the Cornell Tree-Ring Lab concluded the Yates House was built sometime in 1727 or 1728, based on core samples take from beams in the basement. (In the same study they report the oldest part of the Brouwer House dates to 1730.)

The Yates House has been added on to many times. It's now 3,462 square feet with four bedrooms and a "large eat in kitchen," according to its real estate listing.

Update April 13: The Times Union talked with the owner of the house.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Getting reacquainted with Schenectady's Stockade
+ The oldest building in Albany?
+ The oldest house in Saratoga Springs

Getting reacquainted with Schenectady's Stockade

stockade lawrence

Meet Lawrence.

By Akum Norder

I'm passionate about my Albany neighborhood. It takes a lot for me to imagine living somewhere else.

But you know what? The Stockade's enough to make me wonder.

When a 200-year-old Schenectady Stockade home recently lost part of its front wall, apparently a victim of water damage from melting snow and ice, it made me consider that I hadn't been over there in a while. A two-hour walk in the neighborhood's springtime sunlight made me remember: The Stockade is one of the Capital Region's superlative neighborhoods. It's a jewel. And it should be a source of pride for our whole region.

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5 places to check out on Upper Union Street

Union Upper Union Big

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Albany's got Lark. Saratoga has Broadway. And Troy's got River. So what about Schenectady's walkable hub of shopping and dining?

With Proctors, the Greenmarket and a handful of restaurants - downtown is great. But when I'm looking to get some food, pick up gifts, and get errands done, my vote's for Upper Union Street. Thanks to efforts by local business owners and the Upper Union Street BID, the strip has grown into a lineup of unique, locally-owned stores run by passionate people.

Here are five places worth checking out...

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"Polish Wednesday" at the State Street Station

train diner lunch

Mniam mniam.

By Akum Norder

Doug Cath, by his own admission, is "only a little bit" Polish.

So in some sense it follows that his diner, the State Street Station in Schenectady, offers "only a little bit" of Polish food -- only one day out of seven.

We dropped in recently for Polish Wednesday at the State Street Station.

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Standing before the post office boxes in Schenectady

schenectady post office box closeupWe stopped into the downtown Schenectady post office this week and had to take a moment to admire the banks of old-school post office boxes. We imagine the brass doors swing open with a meaningful weight and close with a satisfying click. (Sadly, the user experience of AOA's P.O. box at 12203 is rather less notable.)

The Schenectady post office is a grand building that's on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally constructed in 1912 for $125,000 -- about $2.7 million in today's dollars (which seems like a steal). It was later expanded in 1933, and renovated in the 1960s.

One of the great things about standing before these rows of boxes is that they feel like the tangible interface to a fantastic system.

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The code for reservations

aperitivo qr codeThat business card to the right is for Aperitivo Bistro in Schenectady. And the blocky graphic on the card is a QR code (yes, we know you know, but other people might not). If you scan the code with your phone (you might need an app), it takes you to Aperitivo's OpenTable reservation page.

QR codes have been touted as the next big thing (or at least a next thing) for a few years now. This is the first time we've seen a local restaurant use one this way (we bet there are more). On a mobile it is easier than typing in a url (not so much on regular computer).

Lou dropped a great comment explaining more about QR codes a few months back.

Earlier on AOA: "The funky tags"

The eggplant sandwich at Peter Pause

Peter Pause eggplant sandwich

You're going to need a napkin.

By Daniel B

This is not a sandwich.

Let's be clear, the entire purpose of a sandwich is to be held in the hand so that it can be eaten with relative ease and tidiness. Please allow me to assure you that any attempt to do this with the eggplant sandwich at Peter Pause is a recipe for disaster.

This sandwich requires a knife and fork. It may also require a fair bit of advanced planning, because while Peter Pause is for everybody, they don't make it easy for people outside of Schenectady to enjoy this regional treasure.

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The Schenectady Silly Putty Mystery

Silly Putty Exhibit

It first bounced in Schenectady... we're pretty sure.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Remember Silly Putty? The rubbery stuff, in the egg?

It stretches, it bounces, it copies pictures out of comic books.

Yeah, that stuff.

It was invented in Schenectady!

Unless it wasn't.

But it probably was.

Like most stories of invention, the one behind Silly Putty has its competing claims. But a new exhibit at the Schenectady Museum traces the wonderful rubbery substance to a failed experiment at a GE lab in Schenectady.

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"Philly Steak" at Morrette's

Morrettes Composite

Filling up on potato skins is a rookie mistake.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

It's Forget the Resolution week on AOA: a whole lineup of foods that can send your New Year's resolution to eat better/eat less/exercise more/lose weight to its timely end.

Nothing says "I'm sick of this diet" like eating a pound of beef covered in cheese. Well, unless you're on the Atkins diet.

So if that's the case, add a side of fried potato skins drenched in cheese sauce and bacon and you've got yourself a meal suitable for Forget the Resolution week.

I found this spread at Morrette's -- the local landmark in Schenectady.

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It's official: Stratton leaving for Cuomo admin

The Cuomo administration officially announced this morning that Schenectady mayor Brian Stratton has been tapped to head up the the New York State Canal Corporation.

The announcement came bundled with three other appointments -- the relevant portion of the release is after the jump.

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Schenectady, GE and Ronald Reagan

The Schenectady Museum pops up tonight in the HBO documentary about Ronald Reagan -- it serves as a backdrop for an interview with author Thomas Evans, who's written about Reagan's experience with GE. The not-yet-president served as a spokesman for the company from 1954-1962, and his time with the company is credited with shaping some of his conservatism.

Reagan's work with GE brought him to Schenectady a few times. At least one of the visits to the Capital Region doesn't seem to have been too pleasant -- from a letter he wrote to Nancy Reagan from the Hotel Van Curler in Schenectady (now an SCCC building) one snowy April day in 1960:

Now you might think [the snow storm] would curtail some of our activities -- but think not so. Nothing interferes with one of these d-n "nut & bolt" fiestas.
We arrived around 4:30 pm Sunday and by 7:30 were at a Country Club (Country Club??) for dinner with various and sundry G.E. executives (half the party were stalled around the country side & never made it) But we made it and in the meantime had showered, changed clothes gone to two radio stations for interviews and appeared on one TV program. And this was a leisurely three hours compared to the schedule that began Mon. morning with a press breakfast at 8 A.M. Try this with your shoes filled with snow.
It is, with some justification, I believe that I now employ my full register of eloquence to say -- "I have had it!"
Tonite I address a banquet of "execs" (G.E.) here in Schenectady -- and incidentally I resent it because this is my 3rd speech in this d-n town. I get in N.Y. tomorrow at noon and will film "opening & closings" all afternoon. But rest assured of one thing -- only you have seen this bitter side. I have been a smiling picture of grace and warmth throughout each 18 hour day.

Everybody gets cranky when they have snow in their shoes.

Letter excerpt from I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan.

Muddy Cups no longer

By Akum Norder

Formerly known as Muddy Cup.

Albany's unnamed coffee house has finally settled on a name.

The cafe, on Madison Avenue near Main, took down the Muddy Cup name last fall. After a brief flirtation with the name "Drama Cup," it's now Tierra Coffee Roasters.

The name echoes the fact that their coffee is from Tierra Farm, a Valatie operation that roasts Fair Trade coffees. It's catchier than "that place that used to be the Muddy Cup." Shorter, too.

The Muddy Cup had a dusty bohemian vibe. As Tierra, it's been spiffed up with a new coat of paint and art by Samson Contompasis.

And with Proctors Theatre taking over the Muddy Cup in Schenectady, the Hudson Valley chain's local presence is no more.

Muddy Cup opened the Proctors lobby cafe in 2006.

Proctors' plan is to run the Schenectady place itself. From their press release:

"At Proctors request, Muddy Cup transferred operations and all equipment back to Proctors. Proctors will rebrand the location for business with a fresh look and a new name before the start of next Sunday's Green Market in the lobby of Proctors State Street complex."

Update: The location at Proctors will be called the Apostrophe Cafe. [Marv Cermak]

A tour of the Casa Visco factory

Casa Visco Label On
By Liz Clancy Lerner

When people think of eating locally, they often picture farmers' markets and road-side stands, but there's this whole other world of regional fare: local manufacturers of food.

Casa Visco is family-run tomato sauce company in Schenectady. Carmella and Joseph Viscusi, Sr. started the company as a small wholesale grocery in 1945. The first sauce "factory" was in their basement. Today, Casa Visco makes 30 varieties of tomato sauce (including a kid's sauce, an allergen-free sauce and a fat-free sauce).

Cousins Adine and Michael Viscusi are the third generation to manage the company. On a recent visit to their factory, they showed us how their sauce goes from tomato to jar...

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Barack Obama's visit to Schenectady, take two

Thumbnail image for obama hvcc feed picThe White House sent out the schedule for Barack Obama's (re)planned visit to Schenectady this Friday. From the press release:

WASHINGTON--On Friday, January 21, 2011, President Barack Obama will travel to Schenectady, NY, to visit the birthplace of General Electric and deliver remarks on the economy. He will depart Schenectady later the same day. The arrival and departure of Air Force One in Albany, NY, is open to pre-credentialed media and closed to the public.
The President will then travel to the General Electric Plant in Schenectady, home to GE's largest energy division, including steam turbines, generators, wind and solar, and the future home of GE's advanced battery manufacturing facility. The President will tour the site with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and he will make remarks on the importance of growing the economy and making America more competitive by investing in jobs, innovation and clean energy. The President's remarks are open to the press, but space is limited. Public attendance at this event is by invitation only. [AOA adds: we've heard there was a lottery for GE employees to attend.]
The GE plant in Schenectady is a direct beneficiary of GE's power turbine deal with India announced during the President's trip last November.

As with the previously planned visit, the POTUS will not be in the Capital Region very long -- just about two hours. Air Force One is scheduled to arrive at ALB around noon. The President is scheduled to speak at GE around 1 pm. And AF1 is scheduled to take off again around 2 pm.

Details on Barack Obama's Schenectady visit

obama at hvccUpdate update: There are now details for the rescheduled visit.

Update: The visit has been postponed because of the shooting in Arizona. The White House says it expects to reschedule the event.
____

Hot off the email press release we got from the White House this afternoon:

On Tuesday, January 11, President Obama will travel to Schenectady, New York to visit the birthplace of General Electric.
The site is home to GE's largest energy division, including steam turbines, generators, wind and solar, and the future home of GE's advanced battery manufacturing facility. The President will tour the site with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and he will make remarks on the importance of growing the economy and making America more competitive by investing in jobs, innovation and clean energy.
The GE plant in Schenectady is a direct beneficiary of GE's power turbine deal with India announced during the President's trip last November.

The POTUS won't be here long -- his stop in the Capital Region is scheduled for just under two hours. The (very short) schedule after the jump.

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Barack Obama coming to Schenectady

air force one taxi

Air Force Once at ALB during Barack's Obama's last visit here.

Update: The TU reports the President will be visiting the GE campus, most likely the new battery plant being constructed there.

_____

The word going around this afternoon is that Barack Obama will be visiting next Tuesday. All the reports are based on unnamed "sources." [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The purpose of the visit is still unclear, but all the speculation is focused on some sort of GE-related thing. WTEN reports the "the governor's office" confirmed the POTUS will visit a GE facility. [WTEN]

Of course, President Obama visited the Capital Region in September 2009 and spoke at HVCC.

photo: Amy Mengel

Schools in Albany, Schenectady on "persistently lowest performing" list

Thumbnail image for Albany High SchoolThree local schools are on the "persistently lowest performing" list released today by the state education department: Albany's high school and Hackett Middle School; and Schenectady High School.

All three of these schools are up for "registration review," which requires them to implement a "major intervention" to turn them around (there's funding that goes along with these interventions). There are four intervention models: turnaround, restart, transformation and closure.

This is the second year in a row Albany High School has been tagged on this list. In July the state released a report that painted a harsh picture of the school. In September, the school district announced that the school would be broken up into four "themed academies" starting next school year.

Albany High School had a 53 percent graduation rate in 2009, according to state figures. Schenectady High School's rate was 56 percent.

It's hard to overstate the importance of improving these schools. First and foremost, the students deserve better. But the quality of these schools is also a key part of the health of Albany and Schenectady. It's anecdotal, sure, but we know a bunch of people who have moved out of Albany (or plan to) because of the schools (we'd actually like to see research on this question). A schools turnaround could go a long way to toward improving the overall health of the city -- by providing students with better opportunities, and holding onto to families who would otherwise leave.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Capital Region high school graduation rates 2009
+ Projected Capital Region school district per-pupil spending
+ Capital Region elementary school test scores

Off-roading with one wheel

This is fun: Sebastien's posted video from an off-road unicycle race through Schenectady's Central Park a few months back (above).

There are more details and photos at his site.

Some of the unicyclists who rode this Schenectady course were part of the group that rode coast-to-coast across Panama in 2009. You might recognize Roland Kays, the curator of mammals at the State Museum -- he's involved in the Cooking the Tree of Life series, and he talked with AOA about his research on fishers.

Pictures for a song about Schenectady

A while back we mentioned the song "Schenectady" by the Brooklyn alt-country band Yarn. The group recently recorded a video for the song, which was shot in Schenectady:

The song was written by Yarn's frontman, Blake Christiana, who grew up in Schenectady. As the band notes on its Facebook page for the song: "The lyrics are less then complimentary and are not intended to beat up on Schenectady, but rather to express what Blake's feelings were while writing the song. We encourage reaction of any sort."

The song appears Yarn's album Come On In, which was released earlier this year.

(Thanks, kert!)

When pizza chefs get weird

pizza king shop smallYou wouldn't be able to make this up: Djovalin Camaj -- AKA John Camaj, AKA The Pizza King of Schenectady -- was arrested last week by the Montgomery County Sheriff's department for allegedly blocking a roadway to a Buddhist shrine in Auriesville and then later allegedly posing as a member of the sheriff's department. [Daily Gazette] [YNN]

But, wait, it (allegedly) gets weirder. From the (Gloversville) Leader-Herald:

Undersheriff Jeffery Smith said today that Serpa charged Camaj with trespassing after the man admitted erecting the roadblock that consisted of a portable orange road construction sign, several yards of orange string, a smashed jar of peppers, a jar of Yoga brand peaches, two campaign signs and a small statue of a pizza chef.

You know, we thought Camaj's decision to enter his chicken marsala pizza in the final of the 2008 Tournament of Pizza was a bit odd. Obviously, this resets the bar.

A Buddhist org called the World Peace and Health Organization has been buying up properties around Amsterdam as part of a large scale development plan.

Update April 22, 2011: Camaj has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. [Daily Gazette]

This Schenectady Life

steven raucci mug shotThis week's episode of This American Life will focus on the Steven Raucci case in Schenectady. From the blurb for the ep, appropriately titled "Petty Tyrants":

In Schenectady, NY, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he's in charge of the maintenance department. That's when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night.

TAL airs on WAMC Friday night at 8 pm and Saturday at 4 pm. You can also listen -- and download -- online.

Earlier this year, TAL focused on the broken New York State budget.

(Thanks, everyone!)

photo via This American Life

The world's first television drama

Queens-Messenger1.jpg

The cast of the world's first television drama, on set in Schenectady.

Here's a little something to think about while you're watching Mad Men on one of the hundreds of channels on your HDTV: The very first television drama was filmed in Schenectady in 1928.

It was a little play called The Queen's Messenger, a British drama with more special effects technicians than there were television sets in the Capital Region.

More on how it was filmed, plus a neat clip that shows how it worked, after the jump.

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TOP 2010: The Final

TOP2010 the final

It's time for the match we've all been waiting for: the final of the 2010 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. We have quite an impressive pair of competitors in this final matchup:

Troy champ DeFazio's vs. Schenectady champ Marino's

First, how we got here. DeFazio's edged out Nunzio's 62-59 and Marino's ended Pasquale's incredible run with a 69-66 victory.

Unlike in previous rounds, the two pizzerias get to pick the pies they enter in the final. Steve visited the two shops this week and their choices look great:

DeFazio's
A whole-wheat crust pizza with spinach, sausage, kalamata olives, roasted red pepper pesto, fresh mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Marino's
A classic pizza with sausage, peppers and onions.

Let's eat some pizza.

sunmark pizza banner

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In the kitchen with the TOP finalists

Check it out: Steve visited the two finalists in the 2010 Tournament of Pizza -- DeFazio's in Troy and Marino's in Schenectady -- to find out which pizzas they'll be entering in the final showdown. This video will make you hungry:

Bold choice by DeFazio's going with the whole wheat crust. And how about the way Mario from Marino's tosses that dough?

Thanks to Steve and the two pizzerias for joining in on the fun! And many thanks to Jennifer Gish for her help.

sunmark pizza banner

The 2010 Tournament of Pizza is sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, which now offers banking from mobile devices. They even have an app for iPhones and Android phones.

Earlier on AOA: TOP 2010: The Semi-finals

TOP 2010: Round 2: Schenectady

TOP2010 RD2 schenectady

The second round of the 2010 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, heads back to Schenectady. And we have quite the matchup in this round of sausage pizzas:

Marino's Flying vs. Pizza King

First, how we got here: Marino's Flying scored a solid victory over Fireside 71-59 and Pizza King topped Johnny C's 64-46.

There's some serious TOP history here in Round 2 Schenectady. Pizza King placed second in the entire tournament in 2008 -- but it was upset by Marino's Flying in the first round last year. Marino's then went on to win the bracket.

So, let's get to it. We head back to the fragrant Anthology Design Studio for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2010: Round 1: Schenectady

TOP2010 RD1 Schenectady

Round 1 of the Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, rolls on to Schenectady. The matchups in this cheesy first round:

Fireside vs. Marino's Flying Pizza

Johnny C's vs. Pizza King

Lots of drama in this bracket. Marino's was the surprise winner last year, but it's up against a time-tested favorite in Fireside. And Pizza King, the 2008 overall tournament runner up, is looking for redemption from last year's first round upset. Or will Johnny C's represent for Rotterdam?

Let's eat some pizza! The judges gathered at the elegant and fresh Anthology Design Studio on State Street in Schenectady for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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Romeo the Peacock still runs free in Schenectady

Schenectady peacock sightingIt appears that Romeo, the peripatetic peacock of Schenectady, is still on the loose. Another sighting popped up on Craigslist yesterday, along with a photo (right).

Earlier postings indicated that peacock had left his Juliet at home on Maxon Road and gone for a walkabout in early August. It sounds like he's been sticking around the neighborhood north of Union College. This latest sighting had him at Foster Ave and Gerling Street. And a comment here on AOA last week by SB also had him sighted him on Foster.

(Thanks, Arielle!)

Earlier on AOA: Peacock on the lam in Schenectady

photo: Craigslist peacock item 2010-09-06

Peacock on the lam in Schenectady

peacockA few people have posted on Craigslist this week that they've seen a peacock wandering the area around Union College in Schenectady (map). From a posting on Sunday:

Just before sunset this evening I realized one of my cats was staring insanely at the roof of my very tall garage. To my surprise, the cat was staring at an almost mature (or quite under-nourished) peacock. He seemed undisturbed by the neighbors, but took off as soon as my stupid camera made a noise.

Two other postings reported sightings north of campus, including a stroll across Van Vranken Ave. And yet another reports the peacock's name is "Romeo" and he's from a home on Maxon Road (where his "Juliet" awaits -- we so hope that posting's true).

We'd love to hear if Romeo makes it back home.

As it happens, this isn't the first peripatetic peacock in Schenectady County this summer. In June, one of the birds was on the lam in Rotterdam. [Daily Gazette]

photo (of another peacock, not Romeo): Paul Friel (Flickr user frielp)

Raucci sentenced to 23 years to life

A few quick bits from the flurry of coverage:

Steven Raucci's total sentence is 23 years to life. [YNN]

That's 20 years for the arson conviction + one to three years for coercion. [CBS6]

A 15-year sentence for criminal possession of weapon will be served concurrently with the other sentences. [WTEN]

The sentence was preceded by emotional victim impact statements. Said one of the victims: "Let him live the nightmare that the victims have endured." [Daily Gazette] [TU]

More local Refresh grant winners

contemporary artists center panorama

The Contemporary Artists Center in Troy

Check it out: three more local projects are in line to get $50,000 Pepsi Refresh grants.

+ The Contemporary Artists Center is getting funding to renovate its complex in Troy.

+ The Center For Disability Services and C-R Productions (at the Cohoes Music Hall) are launching a program that will "enrich the lives of 30 people with disabilities through the exploration of performing arts."

+ The Boys and Girls Club of Schenectady is building a playground and garden in Hamilton Hill.

Two Capital Region projects have already received $50k grants from this program -- The Foundry in Cohoes and former UAlbany football player Danny Bocanegra's SelflessTee.

There's now a Facebook page that's tracking and organizing support for Capital Region groups looking to score Refresh grant.

Here are a few that are still seeking grants:

+ The Sabre Companies, based in Slingerlands, is trying for $250k so it can build a prototype playground that can generate electricity to run water pumps in developing countries.

+ Art n Soul Inc is looking for $50k to produce videos of artists talking about their work.

Also: Capital District Community Gardens is hoping to win $50k from an organic food company for its Produce Project. And Victory Christian Church pastor Charlie Muller won a $10k grant from the Pine-sol Powerful Difference Contest.

(Thanks, Annmarie!)

photo: CAC

The voice of Edison via shaking light sound

thomas edison pallophotophoneDead or near-dead media formats: wax cylinders, 8-tracks, cassettes, floppy discs, CDs (almost) and... the pallophotophone.

The pallophotowhat?

From the GE Reports blog:

A pile of dusty film canisters in the basement of the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium has yielded some of the world's oldest surviving radio broadcasts. The 20 shows were first heard on Schenectady radio station WGY between 1929 and 1931. One features a talk by GE founder Thomas Edison in a broadcast celebrating the 50th anniversary of the incandescent light bulb. Another is a portion of a high school basketball game that's believed to be the second oldest surviving sports broadcast.
They were recorded on a long forgotten machine that GE developed in 1922 called a pallophotophone -- after the Greek words for "shaking light sound" -- in one of the earliest attempts to record sound on film. But there was only one catch with the great find: There weren't any known pallophotophones in existence to play back the lost pieces of history.
Enter the museum's curator, Chris Hunter, and GE's engineers, who together cracked the pallophotophone code.

How? The engineers built a whole new machine out of modern parts to read the media.

The post includes a photo of the new machine and audio from one of the Edison recordings.

Earlier on AOA: The new old Daily Gazette

photo: Schenectady Museum via GE Reports

Timothy's World Market in Schenectady

Timothy's sign

Timothy's -- your one stop shop for goat and cricket bats.

By Jessica Pasko

Back when I compiled the AOA Ethnic Market Compendium a commenter pointed out that I'd missed some great Guyanese markets in Schenectady.

Schenectady has a pretty big Guyanese population, one that former Mayor Albert Jurczynski worked to help develop . The city now has a chapter of the Guyanese American Association and a whole bunch of Guyanese markets.

I took a drive out to the Electric City yesterday to check some of them out for myself. This was both a good idea and a bad idea.

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Mexican Radio coming to Schenectady

mexican radio hudsonSteve reported this weekend that Mexican Radio will be opening a location in Schenectady, address to be announced. The owner tells the Gazette's Jessica Harding that they were "seriously considering" Albany, but ended up liking "the vibe" in Schenectady.

Mexican Radio's first location opened in Manhattan in the 90s. Its second location, on Warren Street in Hudson, opened in 2003 (photos).

We've eaten at the Hudson location a few times -- it was pretty good. Jess is a big fan of the flan there. The Yelpers have been generally favorable (seemingly the most consistent complaint: price).

Oh, yeah: Sonic tells the Gazette's Ameerah Cetawayo that a Capital Region location is "only just a matter of time." Currently, the closest Sonic location is in Kingston.

Earlier on AOA: Flan at Mexican Radio

photo: Mexican Radio

Paterson says he never promised to not lay off state workers, Paladino into the pool for governor, police officers suspended, local family going to White House for Easter egg roll

David Paterson on the deal he struck with the state worker unions last year to trade the new, cheaper pension tier for a no-layoffs pledge: "I never promised I would not lay anyone off." Appearing at an Easter egg hunt in Albany Sunday, the governor said: "it's time for everyone to make a sacrifice." [TU] [WNYT]

Buffalo-area real estate developer Carl Paladino is scheduled to announce this afternoon that he's running for governor as a Republican. He says he's willing to spend $10 million of his own money on the campaign. If he elected, he said: "I will chop and I will chop their budget until they stop their nonsense." The Buffalo news describes Paladino as "outspoken" and "a man of contradictions." [YNN] [AP/Troy Record] [AP/Troy Record] [Buffalo News]

An employee of the state Department of Labor has apparently been assigned to sit at home and call into the office twice a day -- at a salary of $115k/year. [TU]

A Rotterdam family has reached a $5.2 million settlement with two obstetricians and Albany Med over a mother's death following a Caesarean section. The family's attorney said the death was caused by a "cascade of errors." As part of the settlement, Albany Med is funding a 20-year lecture series on patient safety and is investing in equipment for additional training. More than a third of births in New York State are via C-section. [Daily Gazette $] [WTEN] [TU] [TU]

The 12-year-old girl authorities said was forced by her mother to climb through pet doors to assist in robberies, in her victim impact statement: "Tell my mom that I will never forgive her." [TU]

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Steven Raucci guilty on 18 counts

Update: YNN has posted video of the verdict being read in the court room.

Update: The TU's Lauren Stanforth has a detailed breakdown of the counts.

The verdict just came back. WTEN reports he was found NOT guilty on the terrorism charge. CBS6 has a rundown of all the counts.

A melancholy Schenectady

schenectady song by yarnWe came across this song called "Schenectady" by the Brooklyn-based alt-country band Yarn this week (you can hear the song at that first link). From the lyrics:

I see people go crazy Get lazy when their life Ain't got nothing to lose

You're better off dyin
Then whining
Cause this towns got too many of you

Oh Schenectady
I've been waiting so long for you to comfort
But that boy has moved on
Oh I can't escape the past, no
And I won't forget the truth, no
Schenectady
I am you

The song was written by Yarn's frontman, Blake Christiana, who grew up in Schenectady. As the band notes on the Facebook page for the song: "The lyrics are less then complimentary and are not intended to beat up on Schenectady, but rather to express what Blake's feelings were while writing the song. We encourage reaction of any sort." The song is on the band's upcoming album, called Come On In.

[via... someone... we forget who... it was on Twitter... sorry]

image: "Schenectady" Facebook page

Many questions in teacher's death, deliberations start in Raucci trial, what happens in Vegas stays on Facebook

Police near Buffalo say there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the shooting death of Albany elementary school teacher David Park. The attorney for the homeowner who fired the shot said his client and wife were "terrorized" during the episode and were protecting themselves. The principal at Arbor Hill Elementary, where Park taught, said he "exemplifies everything you're looking for in a teacher." One of Park's co-workers said the "whole faculty is devastated." [Buffalo News] [WTEN] [TU] [YNN]

Steven Raucci trial Jurors have begun deliberations. During closing arguments, Raucci's attorney used a bag of plastic Easter eggs to represent doubts about the prosecution's case. Schenectady County DA Bob Carney urged jurors to send the message that "street justice is no substitute for real justice in a court of law." [Fox23] [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

The stepson of Virginia Gratto Utigard told WTEN that his stepmother "is wound differently than anyone I've ever met and I wish I'd never met her." [WTEN]

The SUNY Board of Trustees voted again to close the New Covenant charter school in Albany, this time 6-0 with four abstentions. Four hundred students about $3 million in funding could be headed back to the Albany school district. [SUNY] [TU]

This week in Which Way Northway? State police say a man led troopers on a chase from Exit 13 to Exit 8 Saturday night. And on Sunday, state police say a man drove south in the northbound lane at Exit 10 and hit a tractor trailer. Police say the man's blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. [TU] [TU] [Fox23] [YNN]

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Local elementary school teacher shot and killed in Buffalo, McCaffrey leaving Siena for Iowa, state budget will almost certainly be late, a seven-year-old philanthropist

An Albany elementary school teacher was shot and killed in a Buffalo suburb this past weekend. Police there say the man appears to have gone into the wrong house and was shot by the homeowner -- though they some of the details are unclear. The Albany school district says the man was "a loved and respected teacher with a strong commitment to his students and their families." [TU] [CBS6] [Buffalo News] [Fox23]

Schenectady police say two men were shot and killed in Hamilton Hill Friday night (map). The SPD says there was a crowd on the scene and it appears there had been some sort of argument -- though it's not sure whether the victims were at odds or on the same side. [Daily Gazette $] [WNYT] [TU]

Siena men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery is leaving to become the head coach at Iowa. McCaffery's teams were 112-51 at Siena and went to the NCAA tournament three times. [Iowa press release] [TU]

Local state legislators says GlobalFoundries request for another $300 million in state subsidies for the Luther Forest chip fab will have a tough time. GloFo says it wants expand capacity at the not-yet-open facility to include the world's largest clean room. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

Steven Raucci Trial Closing arguments are expected today. On Friday, a CSEA union leader took the stand as a defense witness. The testimony continued didn't seem to help the union get out from under the negative light cast by the case. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [TU]

A daughter-in-law of Virginia Bellerose Gratto Utigard, the sole survivor of a Cohoes fire that killed eight people 32 years ago, says Gratto Utigard went to Washington State a few weeks post-fire after receiving a sympathy card from a man there. She ended up marrying the man's brother a week later. Gratto Utigard's brother said last week that his sister was "absolutely not" capable of setting of fire. [TU] [Troy Record] [WTEN]

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Attorney says hit-and-run suspect feared for his life, possible development in decades-old arson case, GloFo looking for more state money, warm spring tough on maple syrup producers

The attorney for Travis Carroll, the man who allegedly drove the car involved in the fatal hit-and-run on Henry Street in Saratoga, says his client was fleeing the situation because he feared for his life after a fight. Carroll's attorney says his client had been beaten with a belt buckle and threatened with a knife. Saratoga Springs police and Carroll's attorney differ on the amount of time that separated the fight and the car collision. Police alleged that Carroll removed the damaged windshield from his car shortly after the collision in attempt to hide the evidence. Carroll's been charged with two felonies -- leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence. [Post-Star] [Fox23] [Saratogian] [TU] [WNYT] [YNN]

Local investigators are reportedly in Washington State to pursue leads in a suspected case of arson that killed seven children and a father in Cohoes in 1978. The lone survivor of that fire -- the mother and wife of the victims -- now lives there and says she was questioned by investigators. The woman, Virgina Utigard (formerly Virginia Gratto), told a Spokane television station KXLY that she was pressured into a signing a confession. Utigard reportedly told KXLY that her relationship with her first husband had been abusive. [TU] [Daily Gazette archive] [Troy Record] [KXLY] [WTEN]

Steven Raucci trial Day 18 A state police forensic scientist testified that DNA found one of the unexploded bombs matched DNA collected from Steven Raucci. And FBI employees testified that devices allegedly used by Raucci were much more powerful than firecrackers. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

David Paterson reportedly was involved with drafting a statement the he hoped would be issued by the woman who accused his former aide of domestic abuse. The woman reportedly refused to go along with the statement, which indicated the incident was non-violent. [NYT] [NYDN]

GlobalFoundries is reportedly asking New York State for $300 million more in incentives so it can add extra capacity to the Luther Forest chip fab. [TU]

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Schenectady Art Attack

schenectady light bulbThis first Schenectady Art Attack is this weekend in (where else) downtown Schenectady. What's an "art attack?" From the brochure:

The Schenectady Art Attack is an attempt to bring hundreds of creative people together for a weekend to display their visions of what the world is and could be. We have invited painters, poets, musicians, wood workers, film makers, writers, photographers and others to attack the city with their collective artistic power to invigorate the city and its inhabitants.

We hear from the organizers that there will be live music, photos from 20 photographers, films by local directors such as Mike Feurstein and Román Jáquez. And... chainsaw carving.

The event runs Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 11-5. It's free. You can pick up a brochure with maps and info at Schenectady City Hall.

One in five living in poverty in Albany, Schdy, Troy; pressure on Murphy from all sides, state running out of cash, North Greenbush kid gets lead role on Broadway

New York State's poverty rate is 14 percent, according to a report from the New York State Community Action Association. More than 20 percent of the people in Albany, Schenectady and Troy live in poverty. And about one third of children in those cities live in poverty. Of the four core Capital Region counties, Saratoga had the lowest poverty rate at 6.9 percent. The poverty line for a family of four is $22,000. [NYSCAA] [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Troy Record] [YNN]

As David Paterson's World Turns The governor said yesterday that he did not try to convince Sherr-una Booker to drop her domestic violence case against David Johnson. Paterson also said Kirsten Gillibrand threw him under the bus when she said he should resign if the allegations against him turn out to be true. Also yesterday: Marissa Shorenstein, Paterson's press secretary, resigned. "Due to the circumstances that have led to my unwitting involvement in recent news stories, I can no longer do my job effectively," she wrote in her resignation statement. Translation: I didn't know what Paterson might really have been trying to do when he told me to get in touch with Sherr-una Booker. [AP/YNN] [Fox23] [NYT] [Daily Politics] [NYT March 1]

Raucci Trial Day 12 Deborah Gray testified that her family's house and cars were vandalized on multiple occasions after Steven Raucci accused her of writing an anonymous letter to unions officials complaining about his leadership. Gray also testified that a former friend told her that Raucci was going to "take care of things" after the former friend told Raucci about her friends with a former partner (an unexploded device was later found at the former partner's house). A former co-worker of Raucci also testified that his vehicles were vandalized after he filed a sexual harassment claim after Raucci played the "man game" with him. [TU] [Daily Gazette $] [WTEN] [YNN]

Ron Canestrari says talk of a cancelled racing season at Saratoga is a pressure ploy by NYRA. Roy McDonald and Tony Jordan have written a letter to David Paterson urging to review the already-existing bids for the Aqueduct racino (money from that deal was going to prop up racing in the state). [WTEN] [Saratogian]

The Schenectady man accused of killing two dogs and torturing another has pleaded guilty. The plea deal includes two years in prison. [YNN] [Daily Gazette $]

(there's more)

State delaying refund checks, Save the Y rally, father of American Idol judge to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand, Hasbrouck makes NBA

save the y rally

From yesterday's Save the Y rally -- here's a photoset from Sebastien B.

David Paterson says the state is delaying the distribution tax refund checks in order to keep the state afloat. Paterson and legislative leaders are finally meeting to negotiate the budget. [TU] [TU]

Paterson said yesterday that "we wouldn't project that the Saratoga racing season is in jeopardy at this point." Members of the racing industry have said recently the Saratoga season could be in doubt because of problems with New York City OTB and the stalled-again Aqueduct racino. [YNN]

Paterson signed The Family Health Care Decisions Act yesterday, which allows family members and close friends to make decisions on behalf of a patient who lacks capacity. The law has broad support, but was hung up in the legislature for 17 years. [YNN] [TU]

More than 100 people showed up yesterday for the Save the Y rally outside the Washington Ave location in Albany (photo above -- more photos here). Protesters criticized the Capital District YMCA and city officials for their handling of the location's now-imminent closure. A spokesman for the Y says it "just wasn't possible" to keep the location open. [Fox23] [Sebastien B] [TU] [YNN]

Day 11 of the Steven Raucci trial focused on testimony by former Schenectady school district athletic director Gary DiNola, who testified that an un-exploded device left on his car and vandalism of his house had "terrorized" his family. The testimony featured a heated exchange between DiNola and Raucci's lawyers, who objected to his characterization of the situation. Emails introduced as evidence indicated Raucci at one point wrote to DiNola: "I'm not a tolerant person to begin with. I'm even less tolerant of people who show me disrespect." In an email from DiNola to district superintendent Eric Ely, DiNola said that he had "learned to park my beat-up Volvo in front of the security cameras near the loading dock." [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Fox23] [CBS6]

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Where to have a small wedding?

rose garden schenectady

The rose garden in Schenectady's Central Park.

A crowd member approached us -- in real life! -- recently with a question about places to hold a small wedding ceremony in the Capital Region. She's looking for a pretty place to gather about eight or ten people for a small, quiet ceremony.

A few places that came to mind are after the jump. We're hoping you'll have some suggestions, too.

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Washington Ave Y closing, track season at Saratoga threatened, little hope for on-time budget, police say teen party caused $200k in damage

The Washington Ave YMCA will close March 31, according to a letter dated March 11 from Capital District YMCA president David Brown. The letter cites the $400,000 annual loss from the Washington Ave location and calls the decision to close the branch "very painful and difficult." The Y has said the location has been losing money for the last two decades. [Save the Y Facebook] [TU] *

A state police report on the fatal police car crash on Madison Ave in Albany last summer concludes that both drivers were at fault, according to the APD. The primary fault was laid with the civilian driver, who the report concludes failed to yield to the oncoming police car. The driver has said she didn't hear the car's siren (the report concluded the car's siren was on). The report says "secondary contributing factor" to the crash was the "failure to drive with reasonable care for all persons using the highway" on the part of APD officer Christopher Orth. [Troy Record] [WTEN] [TU] [Fox23]

Leaders of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc say "there will be no Saratoga race meet this summer" if that state doesn't find a way to get $15 million to NYRA -- either by fixing the bankrupt NYC OTB or finding a new winning bidder for the Aqueduct racino contract. Saratoga business owners are anxiously watching the situation. [NYTB] [TU] [WTEN]

Potential bidders for the Aqueduct racino apparently believe that the contract is step towards the legalization of casino gambling in New York State. [NYT]

Troy police say they're investigating the shooting of a 14-year-old Saturday night. They say the gunfire was picked up by the ShotSpotter system. [WTEN] [Fox23]

State police say a man pulled over for driving the wrong way on 787 Saturday afternoon had a blood alcohol level almost three times the legal limit. [WNYT] [YNN] CapNews9 is now YNN

(there's more)

Cuomo hands off Paterson investigation, movie theater planned for Troy, Porco conviction upheld, bizarre chase ends in tasering

Andrew Cuomo has handed off the investigation of the Paterson administration to former chief judge Judith Kaye. Cuomo said a "preliminary review" of the situation concluded "there are credible issues to be resolved." He said he was turning the investigation over to Kaye because of an "abundance of caution, or a zeal to ensure that the public has total confidence in the investigation." (The sharp drop in Cuomo's approval rating in a recent poll might also have had something to do with that.) Kaye has never worked as a prosecutor. She won't be paid to head up the investigation. [NYT] [TU] [Daily Politics] [NY Mag] [NYT] [Daily Politics]

The Paterson administration announced that the tentative agreement with AEG to run a racino at Aqueduct is now off the table. The deal would have paid the state $300 million and revenue from the racino would have helped fund NYRA -- including improvements at Saratoga. That has some now saying that this year's season at The Track could be in jeopardy. [NYT] [TU] [Saratogian] [Saratogian]

Testimony in the Steven Raucci trial yesterday focused an explosive device that attached to the door of a Rotterdam home in 2001. Prosecutors allege that Raucci planted the device in attempt to retaliate over a union matter -- but they say he put it on the wrong house. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

The Saratoga County sheriff's deputy accused of forcing four women to perform sex acts on him while he was on duty took a plea bargain yesterday. The deal includes six months in jail and a resignation from the sheriff's department. He won't have to register as a sex offender. [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6] [WNYT] [Saratogian]

A $160 million development proposed for the Congress-Ferry corridor in Troy includes a movie theater. The city's planning board also gave the official OK to the new Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which is now expected to open in August. [TU Places and Spaces] [Troy Record] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

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Artichoke, goat cheese and potato spring rolls at Cella Bistro

cella bistro spring rolls

Crispy, potatoey, goat cheesey goodness at Cella Bistro.

We're big fans of variety at AOA, which is one of the reasons we like tapas so much. The idea of lots of little plates, filled with lots of different flavors, kind of makes dinner more of a party.

The need to put a little more party in our dinner sent us to Cella Bistro in Schenectady.

We had fun sampling a whole bunch of good stuff from their tapas menu, but the things we keep thinking about, the comfort food that has joined the list of yummy things we want someone to make us on cold winter nights, are the goat cheese and potato spring rolls.

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Paterson say continues to say he's staying, state stepping up tax audits, another Republican into NY 20 pool, pay by mobile in Saratoga, Dickens letters found

David Paterson told a Brooklyn congregation on Sunday that he will "keep governing till the end of the year." He also said that finishing the term would "fulfill the mission in which God placed me." [NYDN] [NYT]

It's not clear which agency will end up investigating the allegations that Paterson perjured himself during questioning about the Yankees tickets. [TU]

If Paterson were to leave office, lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch appears to be widely respected at the Capitol for his competence, experience -- and bluntness. Of course, that would mean another lt gov appointment, which could be tricky. [TU] [TU]

During opening statements in the Steven Raucci trial, prosecutor Robert Carney alleged that Raucci planned his alleged attacks for night so as to maximize their impact. Carney also alleged the Raucci's actions stole his alleged victim's "peace of mind, their comfort, their security." It also came out on Friday that a key undercover witness for the prosecution is a former cop whom Raucci's attorney called a "crook.". [TU] [Daily Gazette $] [Daily Gazette $]

Fred Lebrun says he thinks the state legislature will find a way to keep the state parks open. [TU]

The state has stepped up the number of audits in an effort to find more tax cheaters. [Daily Gazette $]

The state Board of Regents is reportedly considering cutting some Regents exams in order to save money. [TU]

One man died and a car hit a house as part of a two-car crash in Colonie Saturday. The driver who survived has been charged with Driving With Ability Impaired (drugs). Residents who live near the crash site say the residential intersection is notoriously dangerous because drivers often go through the stop sign there. (map). [CapNews9] [Troy Record] [CBS6] [TU] [Fox23]

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Made in Schenectady: personal care for your derriere

mb3 multipleEarlier this week saw mention of a product called MB3 on Twitter -- and it seemed to have a local connection. Hmm... what's MB3? So we checked out the web site. From the product page:

MB3 is a soothing external perianal cleansing lotion designed to achieve that "bidet fresh" feeling on the go. When applied to toilet paper for the final wipe, MB3 will leave you clean, comfortable, and confident.

OK, so we have to admit we thought at first this might be a joke. But it seemed to check out. So who was, uh, you know, behind this product?

The answer: Steve Markham . He's a remodeling contractor (by day) in Schenectady -- and now a personal care product developer (by night).

We emailed Steve a few questions and he bounced back answers about the origin of the idea, getting his start at a business incubator in Schenectady, and his home-brew setup for MB3.

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Paterson now snagged in Yankees ticket flap, new Troy city hall won't be cheap, Proctors expanding, cookies for Oscar

The state Commission on Public Integrity announced yesterday that it's asked prosecutors to look into whether David Paterson should be charged for giving false testimony during an ethics inquiry about Yankees World Series Tickets. The commission says it found:

"... there is reasonable cause to believe that Governor Paterson solicited, received and accepted an unlawful gift; and falsely testified under oath that he had always intended to pay for the tickets for his son and his son's friend when, in fact, the Governor's intention was to receive and accept the tickets without paying for them until a press inquiry caused him to submit a backdated check as payment for the tickets."

When asked yesterday whether he lied during the ethics investigation, Paterson said: "No." Paterson's story about how he ended up with the tickets has changed multiple times. In response to one of the Paterson administration's versions, the president of the Yankees told the NY Post the governor was "a liar." The Paterson aide who reportedly approached the Yankees: David Johnson. [NYS COPI] [TU] [NYT] [NY Post] [NYDN]

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio was in Scotia yesterday and told a gathering of Republicans that "the people of New York deserve better than what they've been getting." He also criticized Andrew Cuomo for "ducking and bobbing and weaving - avoiding taking positions." [CapNews9] [Daily Gazette $] [Fox23]

"Several hundred" people showed up for yesterday's state parks rally outside the Capitol. Jack McEneny said he's been getting more mail about the parks closures than all proposed budget cuts combined. [TU] [Troy Record]

The 12 jurors for the Steven Raucci case have been selected. Potential jurors were screened for their thoughts on firecrackers and the use of informants. As part of jury selection, potential witness lists surfaced -- and many current and former top officials for the Schenectady school district are on the lists. [TU] [Daily Gazette $] [WNYT] [Daily Gazette $]

Consultants for the City of Troy report that building a new city hall could cost somewhere between $21 million and $25.5 million. Here's a live blog transcript from last night's meeting. [TU] [City of Troy]

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Conflicting reports about what Paterson said, Sararoga paid parking off the table, another potential Gillibrand challenger drops out

The friend David Paterson allegedly enlisted to talk with the woman who sought an order of protection against a top aide reportedly has told investigators that Paterson asked to pass along this message to the woman: "Tell her the governor wants her to make this go away." A Paterson spokesman said last night that it was not the message the governor sent -- and when he did talk with the woman, it was about getting the media off her back. [NYT] [TU]

Harry Corbitt, the New York State Police superintendent, announced last night on Capitol Tonight that he's retiring -- he said the "media fire storm has really disrupted my ability to function in that capacity." Denise O'Donnell, the state official who oversaw the state police, resigned last week after saying she couldn't "in good conscience" remain a part of the Paterson administration. The head of the State Troopers Police Benevolent Society released a statement yesterday trying to distance rank-and-file troopers from "the reported actions of a few people in higher positions." [CapNews9] [TU CapCon] [CapNews9]

David Paterson has called a cabinet meeting this morning at the Capitol. [Daily Politics]

Saratoga Springs' finance commissioner says downtown paid parking is now "off the table at this point." The city's budget had included $1.35 million in revenue from parking. [Post-Star] [Saratogian]

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Weird and difficult budget process could be ahead, jury selection in Raucci trial, RPI knocking down presidents house, man robs supermarket with a note

Pundits say David Paterson's now-lame duck status could be the beginning of a very weird and difficult state budget process. That has some people -- notably Sheldon Silver -- calling for lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch to handle the budget negotiations. Meanwhile, the head of the state Democratic Party called Andrew Cuomo "all but the presumptive nominee" for governor. [AP/Post-Star] [NYDN] [TU]

John Sweeney pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI Friday afternoon. As part of the deal, he's up for 30 days in jail -- and he'll have to wear an alcohol monitor on his ankle after he's released. He'll also have to do 300 hours of community service. [Daily Gazette $] [Saratogian] [TU] [WNYT]

Jury selection is scheduled to start today in the trial of Steven Raucci. The pool of potential jurors for Schenectady County Court has been doubled to 675 this week. Raucci faces 26 criminal charges, including arson and terrorism. [TU] [Daily Gazette $] [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6]

Schenectady police officer Kyle Hunter pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal contempt -- and part of the plea deal, he's resigning from the police force. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

(there's more)

Snow emergencies taking effect, brake on paid parking in Saratoga, medical marijuana comes up in legislature, rabid raccoons in Rensselaer County

snowy road

Around 4:30 pm on Tuesday.

We got more than six inches of snow yesterday, according to the National Weather Service (obviously, there's been more since midnight). More snow is forecasted for today. Many cities and towns have declared snow emergencies (including Albany and Saratoga Springs). National Grid was reporting on its web site this morning that about 15,000 customers were without power in the Capital Region. [NWS] [CapNews9] [National Grid]

Rochester's police chief, who was a finalist to head up the Albany police department, has pulled his name from consideration -- somewhat to the annoyance of the search committee. [TU] [CapNews9]

A SUNY committee has voted to recommend closing the New Covenant charter school in Albany. The final vote on the matter is next month. [TU] [Fox23]

The advisory panel for paid parking in downtown Saratoga Springs voted to reject all four of the plans submitted by contractors. One panel member called all the plans "totally flawed." The proposed 2010 budget for the city includes $1.35 million in revenue from parking. [Daily Gazette $] [Saratogian] [Post-Star]

Troy's city council voted 4-4 on the sale of the Uncle Sam parking garage -- which pretty much kills the deal. The developer who wanted to buy the garage now says he might pull out of the city. [TU] [Troy Record]

(there's more)

Weekend of shootings, Victoria Pool on secondary closure list, college student killed on Thruway

Schenectady police say a man was shot five times and killed on Maple Ave in the Vale neighborhood early Saturday morning (map). It's Schenectady's first homicide of the year. The SPD says two officers were injured by a ricocheting bullet as the SWAT team executed a search warrant on the same street Sunday night -- one of the officers was reportedly saved by his bulletproof vest. Police aren't saying whether the warrant is connected to the earlier shooting. The SPD says eight people were detained. [Fox23] [CapNews9] [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6] [CapNews9] [TU]

Albany police say a man was shot four times while walking between apartment buildings near Tivoli Park in Albany Friday night (map). And a teen was shot in the leg Thursday night in south Albany (map). There were a total of five shootings last week in Albany. [WNYT] [TU] [WTEN]

The Victoria Pool, Grafton Lakes and Peebles Island are on a secondary list of state parks and facilities slated for closure, depending on whether the legislature allows the state parks office to use capital funds for operational costs. The planned closure of Thacher Park -- which was officially announced on Friday -- is expected to save $255,000. If the budget plan is approved (a big "if"), parks on the first list would start to close April 1. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [AOA] [TU] [Troy Record]

David Paterson officially announced his gubernatorial candidacy Saturday on Long Island. In his speech, he tried to position himself as the anti-establishment candidate and said, "I've done more in my two years as governor that most governors have done in two terms." Perhaps a bad sign for the governor: getting more than 100 people to show up at a campaign stop is described as "beating expectations." [NYT] [Daily Politics] [NYO] [NYDN]

(there's more)

Second teen pleads guilty in Bailey case, Paterson says he gets advice from Spitzer, Murphy talks about Afghanistan trip, appeals court ruling in mall peace tshirt case

Ricardo Caldwell, one of the three teens accused of being involved in the shooting death of UAlbany student Richard Bailey, took a plea deal yesterday that requires him to testify against the alleged shooter, De Von Callicut. The third teen that was charged -- King Modest -- took a similar plea deal in January. [TU] [Troy Record]

Albany police say investigators have not yet met with the two officers involved in the fatal shooting this week on Quail Street. [TU]

A group of citizens -- including UAlbany students -- testified at last night's Albany common council meeting that they don't think the police chief search has been open enough to public input. [WTEN] [WNYT]

A spokesman for David Paterson called the New York Times' latest profile of the governor (perhaps the article that had been the subject of so many rumors) a "gossip-laden, subjective, and poorly-sourced narrative." [NYT] [press release]

David Paterson says he talks to Eliot Spitzer "from time to time and get[s] advice from him." [NY Post]

Two people have filed a lawsuit against the Schenectady school district alleging that top district did nothing after being warned about Steven Raucci. [Daily Gazette $]

(there's more)

The new old Daily Gazette

gazette google grab

There should be more stories about giant blimps.

This is cool: Google is digitizing the Daily Gazette's microfilm -- and it's indexing the archives using optical character recognition (that's software that can "read" the text in images).

Google has already indexed 7.6 million Gazette articles, according to the newspaper's site. The current index stretches back to the 1920s, but paper the archive will eventually include articles from 1897 forward.

The archive is fun to do through. You can search for a topic, read the article (and link to it), zoom out to see page on which the article originally appeared, shuffle through adjacent pages and click on headlines to zoom back in. For example, here's an article from 1922 about Thomas Edison's return to Schenectady. As far as we can tell, you don't have to be a subscriber to use the archive.

Google has working with newspapers to digitize archives since 2008 (and few major papers before that). It shares ad revenue from the archives with the papers.

screen grab: Daily Gazette

The Puppet People of Schenectady

puppet people composite

Michelle, Mark and a few of their friends.

By Jessica Pasko,

Schenectady's Michelle Smith-Carrigan and Mark Carrigan advertise themselves as "your puppet professionals."

Seriously, how much fun must they have at parties?

"So what do you do for a living?"

"Well, actually, I'm a puppet professional..."

(there's more)

Multiple shootings over the weekend, stats indicate drop in Troy crime, Tedisco calls for tougher animal laws, big research grant for Siena

Schenectady police say a woman was shot in the face Sunday morning in her apartment in Mont Pleasant (map). Police say witnesses reported that a man had been ringing the woman's door bell repeatedly and then kicked in her door. The SPD says it's looking for the suspect. [Fox23] [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

Albany police say a woman was shot yesterday evening on Broad Street. [Fox23]

Albany police say a teen was shot in the face early Monday morning in West Hill (map). The APD is looking for the suspect, whom the teen said he didn't know. [TU] [Fox23]

Colonie police are investigating the death of a man found outside a muffler shop on Central Ave Saturday (map). The man's body was reportedly leaning against a building. Police say no cause of death was found during the initial autopsy -- foul play is not suspected. [CapNews9] [CBS6] [Troy Record] [Fox23]

The City of Troy reported that federal stats indicate the city's overall crime rate was down 2.5 percent last year compared to the year before -- and violent crime was down 11 percent. [City of Troy Facebook]

An arbitrator has ruled that an Albany cop accused of pointing a gun at a clerk should serve a 30 day suspension. [TU]

(there's more)

Monserrate expelled, Paterson says he'll only leave office "in a box," the center of the nanotechnology universe, horse breeders say they're leaving

It's snowing. React accordingly.

The New York Senate voted to expel Queens senator Hiram Monserrate last night. The expulsion followed Monserrate's conviction on misdemeanor charge for dragging his bleeding girlfriend through the lobby of an apartment building -- though Monserrate alleged in a 16 minutes speech last night that political fallout from his role in last year's Senate coup was actually motivation for the vote. Eight senators voted against expulsion, including Monserrate. David Paterson says there will be a special election for Monserrate's seat on March 16. Monserrate is vowing to challenge the expulsion in court and may run in the special election. [TU] [NY Senate YouTube] [Daily Politics] [CBS6] [NYT]

Said David Paterson yesterday at a press conference: "The only way I'm not going to be governor next year is at the ballot box and the only way that I'll be leaving office before is in a box." Paterson also said he had met with NYT reporters and the much-buzzed-about piece that apparently is in the works is a "profile piece." The Paterson administration also sent a letter to NYT's public editor "to communicate our deep disappointment in the approach taken" to compiling the article. [CapNews9] [TU] [CBS6]

The Paterson administration's revised budget plan is banking on $1 billion in federal stimulus money. It also includes a proposed redistribution of funding between the Egg and NYSTI. [AP/Saratogian] [TU]

The five Albany plastic surgeons, a nurse and an administrator who pleaded guilty to giving unapproved off-brand Botox to patients were sentenced to community service and fines. They were also ordered to pay restitution to the patients who got the knock-off de-wrinkler. The attorney for the medical practice told the judge yesterday that it was on his advice that the practice kept quiet about the product's use when it first came to light. [Daily Gazette $] [CapNews9] [TU]

The public vote on the Troy schools capital project is today. [CBS6]

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Paterson attacks rumors, police say listening system reported gunshots first, county sending out prescription discount cards

In an interview with the AP, David Paterson defended himself against the still-unknown accusations that may or may not be included a New York Times article that may or may not be published. The frenzy of anticipation has led outlets to print all sorts of rumors. Rick Lazio called out the NYT yesterday in a letter, writing that if it doesn't have a story, it has "a moral obligation to stop the drama and the psychological warfare" on the governor. Neither NYT officials or reporters are commenting. And now some are saying Paterson might even come out ahead in all this. [AP/Post-Star] [NY Post] [Daily Politics] [Fox23] [NYO]

The bid to override David Paterson's veto of the ethics reform bill failed yesterday in the state Senate. Twenty-five Republicans and one Democratic voted to sustain the veto. Hugh Farley and Roy McDonald both voted to override. [TU] [NYT] [Daily Politics]

Troy police say a man was shot in North Central Friday night -- and they first heard about the shooting via the city's ShotSpotter system. The TPD says the system alerted officials 10 minutes before the first call related to the incident. [TU] [Troy Record] [WTEN]

A 19-year-old from Troy has been arrested for allegedly shooting an 18-year-old last week in north Albany. [TU]

During his State of the City address, Schenectady mayor Brian Stratton said last night that the city is freezing hiring and cutting other expenditures in an attempt to cover an upcoming $12.8 million budget gap. The city council also voted yesterday to move toward freeing itself from being responsible for taxes not paid to the school district. [WTEN] [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6] [Daily Gazette $]

The construction company that's building the GlobalFoundries chip fab at Luther Forest is moving its headquarters to the Watervliet Arsenal. Also: ATIC, the investment company funded by the government of Abu Dhabi, now owns 66 percent of GloFo. [TU] [Post-Star]

Two Ballston Spa teens were charged with felonies over the weekend for sending explicit text message pics. [WNYT]

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Rumors swirl about Paterson, Bruno bacon not delivered, clerk and robber crash through window, a Schenectady gift basket for Stephen Colbert

The big news at the state Capitol is... a NYT story about David Paterson... that hasn't been published yet... and no one seems to know when it will be. The story is rumored to include some sort of bombshell -- though that, too, is currently a mystery (Gawker commenters had some ideas). The governor reportedly met with Democratic party leaders over the weekend to discuss whether or not he will follow through on his vow to run for election this fall. And there are rumors about serious discontent within his administration. A spokesman for Paterson called all the recent rumors "a new low even by the standards of planet Albany." [TU] [Gawker] [AP/Post-Star] [NY Post] [CBS6]

Harold Ford accused Kirsten Gillibrand of using "underhanded tactics" in her attempt to gather early endorsements from county Democratic Party leaders around the state. Gillibrand is calling for Ford to disclose whether he got a bonus from Bank of America. [NYT] [NYO]

Much of the $75 million in state money promised by Joe Bruno just before he left office hasn't made it through. [TU]

The chairwoman of an inspector general's panel charged with tracking stimulus money says much of the federal funding distributed to New York State has yet to be spent. [TU]

The man accused of stabbing three people near the intersection of State and Henry Johnson following LarkFest last year was convicted on Friday on three counts of assault. He could get 25-50 years in prison. The victims said the man ran at them, shirtless, and yelled "I live for this, this is what I do!" during the attack. The man had been up for trial in 2008 for another alleged stabbing in Troy in 2007, but a judge tossed the case for procedural reasons. [CapNews9] [Troy Record] [CBS6] [Troy Record] [TU]

A Schenectady man died from carbon monoxide poisoning in his apartment after turning on his stove to keep warm because the apartment's thermostat was malfunctioning, keeping the heat down. [Daily Gazette $]

(there's more)

Paterson says budget gap growing, Gillibrand asks Obama question, rabid kitten found, another escaped dog

David Paterson says the state is now facing an $8.2 billion budget gap -- that's up about $750 million from the previous estimate. The state's budget director says the widening gap is the result of smaller than expected tax revenue from Wall Street bonuses. In the increased estimate had member of the legislature criticizing the governor for not providing an "accurate picture" in his proposed budget. [TU] [AP/Post-Star] [NYT] [Daily Politics]

Kirsten Gillibrand got to ask a question at yesterday's Q&A with Barack Obama. That might not be a good sign for her. [NYDN] [PolitickerNY]

The Greenfield man accused of stabbing and killing a tenant last year during a fight pleaded guilty to manslaughter yesterday. The case ended up being a bizarre tangle of allegations. [Saratogian] [TU]

(there's more)

No jail time for pedestrian death, RPI mansion zoning app bounced, Ford and Gillibrand race for donors, Schenectady beckons to Stephen Colbert

The woman who pleaded guilty to hitting and killing a pedestrian -- and then temporarily driving away -- on Madison Ave in Albany a year ago was sentenced to probation, restitution and community service. The victim's family said justice was not served by the sentencing. The judge presiding over the case said the misdemeanor plea deal "on its face, does not look right." Prosecutors say the evidence didn't support a felony charge. [Troy Record] [WTEN] [TU] [Fox23]

Congress Street in Troy between 15th Street and Brunswick Ave will be closed today from 10 am - 4:30 pm for what the city says is the emergency demolition of a building (map). The city's engineer says the front wall of the former Industrial Tool and Die building "could rupture at any time." The building had already been slated for demo. (CBS6 says it will be streaming video of the demolition.) [@TroyMayor] [TU] [Troy Record] [CBS6]

Troy's Zoning Board of Appeals has bounced RPI's application for a height variance for the new president's mansion. [Troy Record]

David Paterson the vetoed the legislature's ethics reform package. The governor said the bill didn't go far enough. Legislative leaders are now talking about trying to override the veto. [TU] [NYDN] [NYT]

(there's more)

Snowfall total way behind, Republicans lining up behind Lazio, shooting in north Albany, Brunomobile still parked

This winter's snowfall so far is about a foot less than typical totals. By the way: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today. [TU] [CNN]

Brian Stratton says Schenectady is facing a budget gap of almost $13 million in 2011. One possible way to help cover the gap: start charging non-profits such as Union College and Ellis Hospital for police and fire services. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

It's looking like the state Republican Party is lining up behind Rick Lazio as its choice for governor. Lazio was in Colonie yesterday and called out Andrew Cuomo, saying that Cuomo has "locked himself in his office and watched as Albany burned." A spokesman for Cuomo said yesterday that the AG is currently "focused on his public service." [CapNews9] [TU] [NYT] [Fox23]

Skidmore's president announced yesterday that the college will not have to go through with planned layoffs. He said the college's financial is improved because of an upswing in the endowment, as well as the results of attrition and a hiring freeze. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Post-Star]

(there's more)

Holiday work for SPD union head, bar busted for being jammed with underage drinkers, dog granted order of protection, telethon raises $1.9 million

The head of the Schenectady police union worked for the department on just three days last year -- all of them holidays at 2.5 pay. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

A state Supreme Court judge has denied the FOIL request submitted by the Daily Gazette and TU for the Schenectady school districts internal report on Steven Raucci. The judge ruled the report was not subject to FOIL and its release could be an invasion of witnesses' privacy. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

Schenectady County legislature chairwoman Sue Savage is proposing legislation that would require calorie counts on the menus of chain restaurants. Five NY counties -- including Albany County -- and New York City already have such a law. The law would only apply to restaurants with 15 or more locations in the county. [WNYT] [TU] [CapNews9]

The Paterson Administration has finally picked an operator for the Aqueduct racino -- the revenues from which should help fund a bunch of improvements at Saratoga's track. That is, if the money actually comes in. [Paterson] [Saratogian] [NYT]

David Paterson has just $620k on hand right now to spend in a Democratic gubernatorial primary -- Andrew Cuomo has $12 million. But Paterson says he'll raise a lot more. [NYDN] [NY Post]

The smoke-filled room -- which was in Albany this past weekend -- appears to be leaning heavily toward Andrew Cuomo. [WNYT] [TU]

An assemblywoman from Long Island topped the legislature's travel reimbursement list for last year at more than $41,000. [TU]

Saratoga Springs' police chief says budget cuts will make it hard to assign officers to efforts that led to many arrests last year. [Post-Star]

The State Liquor Authority has suspended the liquor license of The Garage, a bar at the corner of Western and Quail in Albany, after a raid last week allegedly found 500 people -- "most appearing to be underage" -- jammed into a space certified for 250. The SLA says the bar had so many it customers it drafted some to be "guest bartenders." The bar's owner wasn't commenting publicly on the raid. The bar is located in the middle of the "student ghetto" -- and the previous operations there have also been tagged for serving minors . [NYSLA] [TU] [Dowd on Drinks]

(there's more)

Details about Harriman redevelopment, Clinton endorses Gillibrand, college endowments take hit, burglaries in Manning Blvd neighborhood

The two state officials in charge of redeveloping the Harriman State Office Campus in Albany say the redevelopment plan will be incremental. The Harriman Campus board also now says it will release Columbia Development's proposed plan for the site. [TU] [HRTDC]

The US Census will be hiring 1,500 people in the Capital Region. The temporary jobs will be part time and pay about $15/hour. [CapNews9] [Fox23] [Troy Record]

While New York did score some of that federal rail funding -- other states got a lot more. [TU]

Laws banning driving-while-cellphoning don't appear to be reducing the number of accidents. The number of tickets issued in New York State for violating the ban has been increasing steadily. [NYT] [TU]

Bill Clinton has endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand. [NYDN]

Catholic Charities is starting the Capital Region's first needle exchange program in Albany. [TU]

(there's more)

Cold snap, New York rail funds request stops short, low number of home foreclosures, surgical robot unveiled

Today's weather forecast includes a steep temperature drop, the possibility of strong wind gusts and some snow. [NWS]

Chuck Schumer says New York State is in line to get $151 million from the $6 billion the feds have pledged for high speed rail. Part of that money will go toward constructing a second track at the bottleneck between Rensselaer and Schenectady. It will also pay for signal upgrades and engineering studies. New York State had been hoping to get billions, not of this money. [Post-Star] [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6] [TU]

The state Department of Taxation and Finance is looking to step up its tax collection enforcement efforts. [TU]

Friends and family of Joe Bruno have been writing letters urging the judge presiding over his case to go easy on his sentencing. [TU]

Schenectady's sewer maintenance supervisor was the city's highest-paid employee in 2009 -- mostly because of overtime. [TU]

(there's more)

Schenectady man accused of torturing dogs, soda tax falling flat, proposal for prayer before common council meetings, family raises $1 million for research

A Schenectady man has been charged with felony animal cruelty after police say he killed two dogs and burned another. Thomas Hendricks is also accused of assaulting his wife -- and police say the alleged violence against the dogs was the an attempt to hurt his wife. Hendricks has denied the allegations. [WTEN] [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

During his state of the city speech last night Saratoga Springs mayor Scott Johnson criticized the "dysfunctional" state legislature for stripping the city of $4 million in VLT money. He said the city would fight new plans to keep the racino open 24/7. Johnson also said that paid parking downtown would start in May. And floated the idea of sharing services with surrounding municipalities. [CapNews9] [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Saratogian]

There was some flooding in Schenectady's Stockade neighborhood yesterday as ice jams broke the Mohawk. People in the neighborhood seemed unimpressed. [WTEN] [WNYT] [TU]

The woman who died after apparently jumping from the Berkshire Spur overpass on the Hudson this week was an Albany High School teacher. The interim Albany schools superintendent says the woman was "an excellent teacher." She had been teaching math in the district since 1984. [Troy Record] [TU] [WNYT]

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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]

(there's more)

Suspended Schenectady cop arrested again, Cuomo to declare in March?, man arrested for 65th time, local pilot flies supply missions to Haiti

Suspended Schenectady police officer John Lewis has been arrested. Again. It's his sixth arrest in the last two years. In this most recent case, he's accused of causing a car accident in the Ellis Hospital parking lot after he allegedly left the emergency department drunk. The SPD first tried to fire Lewis in 1998 for allegedly using a racial slur. The department's waiting for a decision on its most recent attempt to terminate him. [WNYT] [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Fox23] [CBS6]

A "source close to [Andrew] Cuomo" tells the Daily News that Andrew Cuomo will officially announce he's running for governor in March. David Paterson's campaign manager says "it's clear Mr. Cuomo is running for governor." [NYDN] [NYDN]

David Paterson is apparently going to try again to get the state worker unions to give up their raises this year. [TU]

Colonie assemblyman -- and outspoken MMA critic -- Bob Reilly says he's willing to support a compromise bill that would legalize ultimate fighting in the state if certain restrictions were placed on the sport. [TU]

UAlbany cancelled a cage fighting match scheduled for the SEFCU Arena this past weekend after a state commission said the event appeared to violate state law. [@albstudentpress] [Daily Gazette $]

(there's more)

Police say home invasions linked to drugs and gambling, Cuomo could wait until April, a familiar robbery attempt

The Albany Police Department said yesterday that the shooting of two men in a Pine Hills apartment last week appears to be connected to sales of pot. The APD said there have been 23 reported "home invasions" in the city over the last year and "illegal activity such as drug sales or gambling." [APD]

An Albany common councilman is proposing a law that would require new city employees to live in the city. The rule wouldn't apply to police and firefighters. [TU] [CBS6]

The Schenectady County DA is backing efforts to keep emails related to the Steven Raucci case from being made public. [Daily Gazette $]

Both houses of the state legislature passed a package of ethics reforms -- and shortly thereafter, David Paterson vowed to veto the bill. The governor says the package doesn't go far enough. [NYT] [Daily Politics] [TU]

(there's more)

Chilly reaction to Paterson budget, shooting near school in Troy, mop protests at Bruno fundraiser, prof accused of growing pot

David Paterson's proposed budget doesn't seem to have gone over well with state legislators, some of whom are already vowing to make significant changes the proposed cuts in education and health care spending. Local elected officials also seemed cool to the budget plan. School district officials also weren't happy. Andrew Cuomo: good start, let's see it actually happen. And the conservative-leaning Empire Center said Paterson's budget didn't cut enough. One person who did seem enthusiastic: SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher (the Paterson plan would give SUNY more control over its tuition rates). [NYT] [TU] [Troy Record] [Saratogian] [Daily Politics] [Post-Star] [CapNews9]

The state legislature didn't vote yesterday on a plan to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The legislature had been bouncing the plan around because of a deadline yesterday afternoon to file for federal education money. [TU] [NYT]

Troy police say a man was shot in the back yesterday afternoon in North Central, just a block from a school. (map). A witness said he saw two men run from the scene and drive off. [TU] [CapNews9] [Troy Record]

The woman who was driving over the Dunn Memorial Bridge in 2005 when a section dropped two feet has settled with the state Department of Transportation for more than $100k, according to her attorney. The lawyer says her client has suffered from PTSD because of the experience. [TU] [Fox23]

(there's more)

Paterson to propose budget today, questions about APD chief salary, protest planned for Bruno fundraiser, the "conscious" candy machine

David Paterson is scheduled to release his 2010-2011 budget proposal today.

Last night's special session of the legislature didn't include action on the proposal to increase the state's cap on the number of charter schools (though senators did find time to squabble over parliamentary procedure). The state has until 4:30 today to file its application for $700 million in federal funding -- and removal of the charter school cap is seen as a key part of that application. [AP/Post-Star] [TU] [Fox23] [TU]

Jerry Jennings is hoping to a close a gap in the next Albany budget by getting the state to advance almost $40 million in PILOT money for the ESP. [TU]

As Albany searches for a new police chief, the question has come up: does the job pay enough? [TU]

(there's more)

Teen accused in Bailey shooting pleads guilty, Walmart heirs backing local charter schools, rash of car break-ins in Colonie

King Modest, one of the teens accused of being involved with the killing of UAlbany student Richard Bailey in 2008, has agreed to a plea deal that involves him testifying against the other two accused teens. If convicted on the original charges, Modest faced 25 years to life -- he's now expected to get 10 years in prison. Statements the three teens allegedly made to Albany police indicated that Modest was a lookout during the robbery-turned-shooting. The attorney for the teen accused of pulling the trigger tried yesterday to cast doubt on Modest's version of events. [CapNews9] [Troy Record] [TU] [Fox23]

Albany police say the shooting of two men in an apartment near the St. Rose campus this week appears to have been a targeted robbery attempt. The APD says it's searching for five suspects allegedly involved in the crime. [APD] [TU]

The state Senate committee investigating Hiram Monserrate has recommended "expulsion or in the alternative, censure with revocation of privileges" for the Queens senator. Monserrate was convicted of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend last fall. A state Senate vote on whether to expel him is expected to come in the next few weeks. Neil Breslin and Roy McDonald are both expected to vote for expulsion -- Hugh Farley says he's undecided. A political scientist says Monserrate's expulsion could throw the chamber into "chaos and deadlock." [Daily Politics] [NYT] [CapCon] [TU]

Delmar resident Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector and outspoken Iraq war critic, has been accused of being caught in a online sex sting. Police in Pennsylvania allege that he exposed himself via webcam to a undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old girl. Ritter faced similar charges in 2001 from a sting here in the Capital Region -- those charges were dropped. Ritter did not comment to reporters who knocked on his door yesterday. [AP/Saratogian] [CapNews9] [TU] [WNYT]

(there's more)

Two men shot in Pine Hills, legislators propose new ethics oversight, alleged horse slasher pleads guilty, struck Saratoga pedestrians ticketed

Albany police say two men were shot on Ontario Street near St. Rose yesterday evening (map). They say how the shooting went down was unclear. The two men's injuries were not considered life threatening. St. Rose security said the campus was locked down temporarily while police searched for suspects. [CBS6] [TU] [CapNews9] [ASP]

The Troy police overtime was almost double the amount budgeted for last year. The city's highest paid employee last year was a police sergeant who made $140,738.10 -- almost half of that overtime. [Troy Record] [TU]

State legislative leaders introduced a package of ethics reforms that would create new watchdogs for the legislature, the executive branch and lobbyists. David Paterson said the plan isn't enough because it doesn't require legislators to disclose their outside business clients. A "top aide" said the governor won't sign the bill in its current form. [TU] [NYT] [Daily Politics]

Documents filed by Andrew Cuomo's office in state supreme court allege that Pedro Espada may have violated tax, election, labor law -- and committed fraud, too -- as head of a Bronx health care group. Espada called the investigation by the AG a "witch hunt driven by his political ambitions." [NYT] [TU]

(there's more)

Landlord owes Troy more than $600k, man arrested for allegedly stabbing mother and brother, wettest decade on record, renovations begin on Dinosaur building

Companies owned by landlord Sandy Horowitz owe the city of Troy more than $600,000 in back taxes, according to his bankruptcy filing. Horowitz owns the Cannon Building, which was recently shut down temporarily because of code violations. [Troy Record] [Troy Record]

A Greenfield 20-year-old has been charged with stabbing both his brother and mother Friday. Saratoga County DA James Murphy said "every major organ except the heart was punctured or injured" in the brother during the attack. [Post-Star] [Saratogian]

Troy police say a man was shot multiple times Saturday night in South Troy (map). The TPD says it's arrested a Schenectady man. [CapNews9] [Troy Record]

The state will be spending $5 million to replace the bridge that connects Niska Isle -- and its nine households -- to the rest of Niskayuna. (Niska Isle is actually a peninsula.) [TU]

(there's more)

State now has glut of H1N1 vaccine, increase in heating oil prices, Olmert to speak at Union, suspect accused biting man in the neck

Apparently there is now a glut of H1N1 flu vaccine in New York State. [TU]

Prompted by the promise of federal money, David Paterson is now in favor of lifting the state cap on charter schools. [TU]

Schenectady County prosecutors allege that a Schenectady man accused of sexually abusing two girls offered to pay the girls' mother if they didn't testify against him. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

The cold weather has prompted a rise in home heating oil prices. [WTEN]

(there's more)

State of the State today, hundreds show up for save-the-Y meeting, Some Girls "in jeopardy," Murphy says he was "clotheslined" in the House

David Paterson is scheduled to deliver his State of the State address this afternoon at 1 pm (webcast). He's expected to propose a set of reforms aimed at fighting political corruption. Among the proposals: terms limits for legislators and a requirement that legislators disclose their outside income. [NYT] [TU]

The executive director of the Capital District YMCA said last night at a community meeting that the Washington Ave location -- which is on the verge of closing -- lost almost $400k last year. He said the location currently has 1800 memberships -- and, to stay open, needs 2500 by April and 3500 by the end of the year. About 400 people showed up for the meeting. [TU] [@sebastienbarre] [ACO]

The Duanesburg Central School District announced yesterday that almost $3 million had been stolen from its accounts electronically last month. The district says about $2.5 million has been recovered. The theft came to light after the district's bank flagged a transaction to an overseas bank account. A district official says they thought they had "the proper safeguards in place" to prevent such a crime. The FBI and state police are investigating. The district says it does not believe the theft was an inside job. The district has a budget of $15 million. [Daily Gazette $] [CapNews9] [CBS6] [WTEN] [Fox23] [TU] [WNYT]

After years of planning, the Albany Police Department recently installed cameras in its patrol cars. Here's press release explaining how the system works. [TU] [APD]

(there's more)

Mayor says Albany faces "financial tsunami," ESP man caver gets a year in jail, Skidmore moves into new Zankel Center

During his state of the city speech last night, Jerry Jennings said Albany is facing the possibility of a "a financial tsunami" in 2011. The mayor said the city will be bringing in outside financial consultants to help develop a plan. He also continued his call for "appropriate equitable state aid" to the city. [WTEN] [TU] [CapNews9]

The janitor who pleaded guilty in the ESP Man Cave case was sentenced to a year in jail and scolded for bringing "contempt and ridicule" on state workers. [CapNews9] [TU]

Parts of the Cannon Building on Monument Square in Troy have re-opened after the building inspectors shut it down for code violations. Harry Tutunjian tweeted yesterday that the building is still without water. [TU] [@TroyMayor]

The new president of the Schenectady city council is calling for voters to dump the city's school board members in the spring elections. [TU]

(there's more)

Thruway tolls increase, Albany schools to use lottery, the weekend in crime, the first baby of 2010

Thruway tolls went up five percent on Sunday, for both cash and EZ-Pass. State comptroller Tom DiNapoli criticized the increase, calling it "the last thing New Yorkers need now." [AP/Saratogian] [Fox23] [NYS OSC] [WNYT]

A 78-year-old woman was killed in Schenectady Saturday night after she was struck by a pick-up truck while crossing State Street near Proctors. The woman had been volunteering at the theater. The SPD says it's investigating the accident. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

Troy police say a man stole an idling SUV -- with two kids in it -- from outside a grocery store Friday morning. The TPD says the kids were found 45 minutes later, unharmed, along with the SUV. They say the suspect was arrested later that day. [Troy Record] [TU] [Troy Record]

Officials from the YMCA will be holding a meeting with the public this week to talk about what might be done to save the Washington Ave location in Albany. [Troy Record]

The Albany school district will be switching to a lottery system for filling slots in its pre-k programs. The old system was first-come-first-pick-wait-all-night. [TU]

(there's more)

Fatal shooting in Schenectady, kids credited with saving horses from fire, Cannon Building shut down, push to redevelop First Prize Center

Police say a man was shot and killed yesterday in Schenectady -- allegedly by his girlfriend's former husband. Police say they've arrested the alleged shooter, who they say is an active duty serviceman who was on holiday leave. [CapNews9] [TU] [Fox23] [WTEN]

Schenectady cop Dwayne Johnson pleaded not guilty yesterday to the 15 counts in his indictment, which include four felonies. Prosecutors allege that Johnson defrauded the city by working as a security guard at a gas station while he supposed to be on duty. Johnson topped the pay chart for Schenectady cops last year thanks to overtime pay. [Daily Gazette $] [CapNews9] [TU] [WTEN]

A group of "kids" is being credited with helping to save a bunch of horses* from a big barn fire in Colonie. A 12-year-old was apparently among the first to smell smoke and take action to evacuate the animals. All the horses were saved. The Gazette has a remarkable photo of the fire, which firefighters say was stoked by strong winds. [CBS6] [WTEN] [CapNews9] [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Three adults and one teen in Knox pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges they tortured and blew up a turtle last year. Police say they found video of the alleged turtle bombing this year during a raid for an Internet scam case. [Troy Record] [CapNews9] [TU]

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State comptroller says Medicaid is "leaking" millions, 89-year-old accused of attempted murder-suicide, electricity rates going up, The Missile pleads guilty

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli reported yesterday that New York's Medicaid system is "leaking" millions of dollars. He says the program lost $92 million over the last five years to errors, improper payments and poor record keeping. Among the improper payments cited by the comptroller: $196,000 in cab rides for a woman to travel daily from Dutchess County to Albany to visit her son. [NYS OSC] [NYT] [TU]

The Troy city council and mayor Harry Tutunjian were in court yesterday in an attempt to resolve their budget dispute. They didn't -- and now a judge will rule. [Troy Record] [TU]

Niskayuna police say an 89-year-old man tried to kill his 87-year-old sister as part of an attempted murder-suicide last week. He's been charged with attempted murder. [TU] [CapNews9]

Real estate agents say the federal first-time home buyer tax credit led to a surge in closed sales in the Capital Region last month (up 36 percent from last year, though only about 2 percent from 2007). There's still a lot of inventory. [TU] [AOA]

(there's more)

Investigation finds fraud at state forensics lab, Paterson talking about layoffs again, homeless shelters jammed, another bank robbery attempt

A investigation by the state inspector general concludes that Gary Veeder, a former state police forensic scientist, "routinely" failed to conduct a required test on fiber evidence and then lied about performing the test in case records. Twenty-six of the cases were from the Capital Region. State police say it does not appear the fraudulent testing affected any convictions. The IG's report also concludes that Veeder was able to get away with the fraudulent work for years because "laboratory staff's technical, or peer, reviews of Veeder's fiber examinations were substandard, overlooking obvious indications that Veeder had omitted the required fiber test." State police say they're bringing in an outside consultant to address the problem. Veeder is now dead -- he committed suicide at his home in Vorheesville last year. [NYS IG] [Fox23] [WNYT] [NYT] [TU]

The Saratoga County sheriff's deputy accused of forcing an acquaintance to perform a sex act on him while he was on duty has been indicted on 11 new charges. Saratoga County DA James Murphy says three more women have stepped forward to accuse the deputy of similar crimes. [TU] [Saratogian]

Federal prosecutors are predicting jail time for Joe Bruno. [NYDN]

David Paterson says state worker layoffs will be back on the table if state revenues continue to drop. [NYP]

Steven Raucci will stay in jail after a state appeals court affirmed a lower court's decision to deny him bail. The TU and the Daily Gazette are now suing the Schenectady school district for access to its investigation of Raucci. The district has already released a version of the report -- but it was heavily redacted. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

State DEC scientists report that bat populations are down 90 percent in caves where they're studying "white nose syndrome." "We don't have a lot of years to figure this out," says a DEC scientist. [NYS DEC] [TU]

(there's more)

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]

(there's more)

State school aid cuts detailed, state police report on I-90 shootout, town's bond rating downgraded to junk, the $40,000 tree

The state Division of Budget released a breakdown of how much funding would be held back from each school district as part of David Paterson's cut-for-solvency. Among the Capital Region districts, Albany took the largest hit (in absolute terms) -- $744,643. Albany's interim superintendent says the district had been anticipating the cuts and had already started trimming its budget. David Paterson said this week that the districts could eventually receive the delayed money if the state's fiscal condition improves. NYSUT is leading a coalition that plans to file suit over the delays/cuts. [Daily Politics] [CapCon] [TU] [NYT] [WTEN]

The state Board of Elections has finally approved new voting machines. [TU]

David Paterson is expected to extend anti-discrimination protections to transgender state employees today. [NYT]

A State Police investigation reports that the man at the center of January's shoot-out on I-90 was probably high on PCP and yelled for police to shoot him (which they eventually did -- he later died). They also released video of the incident from a camera in a state trooper's car. State Police say it appears the man was on the run from crimes in Connecticut. One effect of the shoot-out: the state police troop based in Loudonville is now equipped with 48 patrol semi-automatic rifles. [Daily Gazette $] [Troy Record] [Fox23] [WTEN] [CapNews9] [TU]

(there's more)

Troy budget veto overridden, APD leaning toward community policing, Paterson looking for a "hand back," trailer runs into overpass

The Troy city council voted to override Harry Tutunjian's budget veto last night -- and now Tutunjian says he'll take the issue to court. The mayor says he would go jail before certifying what he calls an "imbalanced" budget. He also accused members of the city council of lying and distorting the truth. Council president Clement Campana said the council was within its rights to adjust the mayor's budget. [TU] [Troy Record] [Fox23] [@TroyMayor] [CapNews9]

The Albany police department appears to be leaning toward an embrace of community policing again. (Question: Why are fundamental policy decisions being made before a new chief comes on board?) [TU]

Now that Colonie has tightened its rules on motels that house sex offenders, Albany County Social Services has been placing them in homeless shelters and apartments in the city of Albany, according to a county spokesperson. [TU]

Saratoga Springs police say they're still investigating an incident last Friday that resulted in a man being shot in the leg. [Saratogian] [TU]

(there's more)

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]

(there's more)

Joe Bruno convicted, state managers upset they're not getting a raise, another bank robbery, cash for clunker appliances, crackdown on deer jacking

A federal jury convicted Joe Bruno on two felony counts of mail fraud. (here's a breakdown of the counts). "It was very hard to convict him when he's done so much for the area," said the juryforewoman to the TU. As he exited the courthouse, Bruno said to reporters: "It's not over till it's over and I think it's far from over." It sounds like Bruno is already planning an appeal. He faces up to 40 years in jail and $500k in fines -- though the judge has broad sentencing discretion. [TU] [Troy Record] [TU] [Troy Record] [Buffalo News] [NYT]

The Albany County legislature has approved a budget that includes a 5.9 percent tax increase* -- and keeps 100 jobs that were slated to be cut. (*The Record says the legislature approved a budget with a 5.4 percent tax increase, as opposed to county exec Mike Breslin's proposed 5.9 percent.) [TU] [CapNews9] [Troy Record]

Schenectady police say a man was shot on Hamburg street early this morning (map). [TU]

State management and confidential employees are upset that they're not getting raises -- even though the unionized people they supervise are. [TU]

(there's more)

Movement on state budget gap, Bruno trial jurors say they're stuck, Saratoga chiefs retiring, still no public release of plan for Harriman, police say guard was tied up during safe robbery

The state Assembly passed a deficit reduction bill during the middle of the night -- the bill falls short of making all the necessary cuts, though. The state Senate is scheduled to vote on a budget gap bill today. [NYO] [Daily Politics] [TU]

The Assembly also passed the same-sex marriage bill again. Who knows if the Senate will vote on the bill. [NYDN] [NYO]

Joe Bruno Trial: The jury said yesterday that it had reached a verdict on two counts (which ones and what verdict unknown) -- but was stuck on the six other counts. Judge Gary Sharpe then basically told them to keep trying. The Bruno camp appeared to be heartened by the development. [Troy Record] [NYT] [TU]

Saratoga Springs' police and fire chiefs announced yesterday that they're retiring. The chiefs say they hope their retirements will helps save the jobs of younger members of their departments slated for layoffs. Both chiefs make about $100k. [TU] [Saratogian] [Post-Star]

The SUNY central office says it will not be investigating allegations that SUNY Cobleskill allowed unqualified students into the school just so it could get their tuition money. The allegations are part of a suit filed by a former dean, who alleges that the school discriminated against African-American students from NYC by lowering its admission standards in order to balance its budget. [TU] [CapNews9]

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Culinary boot camp at SCCC

kitchen knivesThis could be an interesting/fun food experience: SCCC and the Chamber of Schenectady County are offering a three day culinary "boot camp" in January. It's pricy, but it could be worth it if you're a serious foodie or have been curious about a culinary career.

Via Wendy Voelker, one of the organizers:

Schenectady's Culinary Boot Camp is a three-day, two-night culinary workshop, offering food lovers and novices alike the opportunity to learn classic cooking techniques, taste ingredients, and share a great experience with fellow foodies. ...
The three days of professional instruction by Chef [Christoper] Tanner are centered on the theme "A Taste of Tuscany." Students will learn about traditional Italian cuisines, classic Italian ingredients, Antipasti, Primi (pasta, polenta & risotto), Italian ingredients, pairing wine with Italian dishes, and creating Italian desserts. Brief seminars blended with extensive hands-on cooking time will offer students a true interactive culinary experience (which even includes a professional chef's coat)!

The course runs January 3-6. It's $590 ($690 with hotel stay in Schenectady).

photo: Flickr user Kent Wang

A few things to do Thanksgiving morning

golf course closedIf you're not among the approximately 7,000 people planning on Turkey Trotting Thursday morning in Troy, chrisck sent along a few things to do:

1. The Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society is having a dog walk at Capital Hills golf course in Albany from 9 am to 11 am. Golf season is over now and anyone can walk there for free (as Otto knows), but that morning will be an opportunity to help out the animal shelter.

2. I saw in the TU Reglion calendar that there are two Polka Masses in the area Thursday morning. Both 10:00 am, at the Church of St. Adalbert (550 Lansing St, Schenectady) and St. Michael's Church (36 Page Ave, Cohoes). Non-perishable food items for the food pantry will be collected at both masses. Polka masses are a pretty interesting Polish-American phenomenon, even a bit controversial since some Catholics consider the music profane because it is "dance music."

Know of anything else interesting going on Thanksgiving morning? Please share.

Movement at the Capitol, executives said they didn't know why they were paying Bruno, woman charged for not getting treatment for her dog, school district denies Whalen's appeal

There was movement on legislation at the Capitol yesterday -- just not on the deficit reduction plan. The Assembly passed -- and the Senate apparently is about to -- a bill that reforms the hundreds of quasi-independent state authorities (such as the Thruway Authority). Richard Brodsky, the assemblyman behind the bill, says the authorities have been "rogue institutions" that resembled "Soviet-style bureaucracies" and called the the bill "the most fundamental reform of Albany in decades." [TU] [NYT] [NYO] [NYDN]

And in a display that the Capitol can move quickly, the Senate passed and David Paterson signed a bill called "Leandra's Law" yesterday (the Assembly passed it on Tuesday) that makes it a felony drive drunk with a child in the car. The law also requires that anyone convicted of DWI to have an interlock device installed in their car. The new rules have been described as the toughest DWI law in the country. [NYT] [CNN] [CapNews9] [Wikipedia] [CBS News]

Not present for the last two days of the special session: Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr, who says he's been in the Bronx distributing turkeys. [NYO]

Joe Bruno Trial Day 12: Prosecutors focused on hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees that a series of telecommunications companies paid Bruno -- even though executives for those companies apparently didn't know why they were paying the senator. It also came to light that Bruno helped steer $500k in state grants to a Troy firm connected to two longtime friends/associates, one of whom apparently had a deal with the company to get paid stock in return for helping to score the money (he says Bruno's consulting wasn't connected to the money). A former attorney for the state Senate also testified that he had a "CYA" file to keep notes of his dealings with Bruno regarding ethics issues. And Judge Gary Sharpe scold of the day: "Let the record show the witness made a disgusted glance." [NYT] [NYDN] [TU] [Troy Record] [TU] [Fox23]

(there's more)

Bruno speaks out about case, dog found duct-taped and bagged, another student mugging in Pine Hills, Albany High production prompted by protests

Joe Bruno called into Talk 1300 yesterday to complain about the federal case against him. During the segment, Bruno said of the federal investigation of him: "I wasn't a terrorist.... I never abused the public trust that people put in me. I never, never used politics to make money. I just didn't do that." Bruno's comments may not go over well with the judge presiding of his case, who has warned both sides in the trial about speaking outside of court -- and just the day before said scolded them in court: "This is not an election campaign." [NYDN] [TU] [TU] [NYT]

About Gary Sharpe, the judge in the Bruno trial: An op-ed in the Troy Record this past weekend questioned whether the judge had a conflict of interest because his son works as a prosecutor in the Albany US Attorney's office -- the same office that's prosecuting Bruno. The head of that office told the NYDN yesterday that Sharpe's son has had no involvement with the case. [Troy Record] [NYDN]

David Paterson said he will pull the $25 fee for the new "EmpireGold" license plates -- if someone can come up with a way to replace the $129 million the fee is projected to contribute to the state budget. [NY Post]

The Paterson Administration projects that increases in the fee that retailers pay to be sellers of tobacco products will reduce the number of tobacco retail outlets by 40 percent. [TU]

A group of hunters in Saratoga County say they found a dog wrapped in duct tape and stuffed in a garbage bag. [WNYT]

(there's more)

Bruno trial Day 3, shouting over post office closures, seasonal flu still on the way, "water celery" snags development plans, school lunches go local

Joe Bruno trial Day 3: a former official with a Connecticut investment firm testified called Bruno an "introducer" and said the senator brought $140 million worth of investments to the firm. And an attorney for the investment group, testifying with an immunity deal, said Bruno relationship with the firm wasn't vetted by the ethics committee because it was "commonplace." Yesterday also included testimony by NY Daily News columnist Bill Hammond and SPAC president Marcia White, who was once Bruno's spokesperson. [TU] [CapNews9] [Fox23]

Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that his office has filed an anti-trust suit against Intel for allegedly abusing its monopoly power to keep AMD down. Any penalties assessed against Intel could help AMD, which is the biggest customer of GlobalFoundries -- Cuomo says the GloFo chip fab project in Malta had nothing to do with the suit, though. [NYO][NYT][TU]

The man accused of being the shooter in Troy's Second Street homicide was released on his own recognizance yesterday after the Rensselaer County DA's office wasn't ready for a preliminary hearing. [TU]

More than a hundred people showed up for the public info session about the potential closures of the Pine Hills and Delaware Ave post offices. The crowd included Jerry Jennings, and Common Council members Shawn Morris and Cathy Fahey. The exchanges between the crowd and USPS officials apparently got a bit heated at times. [TU] [CapNews9] [Fox23]

(there's more)

Opening statements in Bruno trial, Aretha Franklin coming to RPI, investigation into Paterson World Series tickets, cops say man was wearing a Breathalyzer costume, naked sprint around the Nott

A jury was selected for Joe Bruno's federal trial yesterday. Each side also delivered its opening statement. The prosecution said Bruno used his influence at the capitol to rake in more than $3 million from clients. Bruno's defense said he's "a hardworking, honest public servant" and the feds had made a mistake. As he entered the courthouse yesterday, Bruno told reporter he had been "looking forward to this day." [CapNews9] [NYT] [Troy Record] [TU] [NYSNYS via Daily Politics]

GlobalFoundries has announced that Hector Ruiz is stepping down as chairman of the board. The WSJ reported in October that the feds had identified Ruiz as the AMD executive who leaked news of the impending formation of GlobalFoundries to a hedge fund last year. The new chairman will be Alan Ross, who had been the CEO of another semi-conductor company. GloFo says Ruiz's exit will have no effect on plans for the Luther Forest chip fab. [NYT] [San Jose Mercury News] [TU] [Saratogian]

The Albany County Department of Health reported its first death associated with the H1N1 flu. The ACDoH says the teen had a "longstanding underlying medical condition." The county health commissioner said the news was not cause for alarm and "the vast majority of individuals" will recover. [TU] [WTEN] [Troy Record] [CapNews9]

The Albany County Department of Health says the death of a county resident has been associated with the contaminated ground beef that was recently recalled. The beef was produced by a company in western New York and distributed throughout the East Coast. Locally, the beef had been available at Price Chopper, which has been contacting people to notify them of the recall. [Fox23] [NYT] [TU] [@ChrisRooney]

Aretha Franklin and Joshua Bell will performing at EMPAC in December as part of a celebration of Shirley Ann Jackson's 10 years at RPI (or, as @supraphonic @timesunion called it yesterday; Shirleystock). The performances will not be open to the general public. (Earlier on AOA: RPI's Jackson tops compensation chart) [RPInsider] [TU] [AP/CBS6]

(there's more)

Bruno trial starts today, homicide in Albany, speculation about connections between deaths in Greenfield, toddler found because of lights on his shoes

Joe Bruno's federal trial starts today. The feds are prosecuting him under a "theft of honest services" statute -- the feds allege that Bruno made more than $3 million in consulting fees from groups who benefited from his influence in state government. The case is expected to shine a light on the many of the gaps in New York State's ethics laws. Apparently some people are saying the case is almost like putting the entire culture of the capitol on trial. Bruno has already spent more than $600k on his defense. [TU] [AP/Saratogian] [TU] [NYT] [AP/Troy Record]

Albany police say a man was killed on Saturday in an Eagle Street apartment just down the block from the Governor's Mansion (map). The APD says there are no suspects, yet. [Fox23] [TU]

Troy police say a man has been arrested and charged for the murder on Second Street two weeks ago. They didn't release info about a motive. Police say information from people in the neighborhood helped lead them to the suspect. [TU] [Troy Record] [WNYT]

The Schenectady city council approved a budget that does not include a tax increase. The originally-proposed budget had included an almost six percent increase. [TU][TU]

New York State's texting-while-driving ban took effect yesterday. [Fox23]

(there's more)

Human skull fragments in Saratoga County, flu hitting some schools, school board hears Whalen appeal, Rensselaer stations Amtrak's 10th busiest

State police say fragments of a human skull were found in a wooded area in Greenfield (map). They say it appears the skull belonged to a child 10-12 years old. The state police lab will be testing the fragments for DNA. [TU] [Fox23] [Saratogian] [CapNews9]

The Empire Center reports that 1.5 million New Yorkers have moved out of the state since 2000. The one area to show a population gain: the Capital Region. [Empire Center] [CapNews9] [Post-Star]

A spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration says judges are leaving the bench because "they can't make ends meet" on their $136,700 salary. The state's judiciary has been pushing for a pay raise for years. [TU]

Albany police say four men, armed with guns, invaded a house on Washington Ave yesterday (map). Police say the it appears the house was targeted. They say the robbers used zip-ties to tie up seven people in the house. [Fox23] [CapNews9] [TU]

Some Capital Region schools are reporting higher than usual rates of absenteeism because of the flu. Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons cancelled classes yesterday because so many students were sick. [TU] [WTEN]

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TOP 2009: Round 2: Schenectady

RD2 schenectady

Downtown vs. uptown.

Round 2 of the 2009 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, rolls on to Schenectady today. Here's the match-up of sausage pizzas

Nico's vs. Marino's

First, how we got here. Nico's beat out Latham entry Ario's 59-45 with a pie that was consistently just a little bit better. Marino's pulled a shocking 62-59 upset over Pizza King, last year's tournament runner-up

So, who wants the crown?

Bring on the pizza!

sunmark pizza banner

(there's more)

Thomas found guilty, guilty plea in 40 year old murder, home sales falling through, upstate teaching jobs in high demand, busy beavers causing trouble

A jury found Adrian Thomas guilty of second-degree murder in the case of his infant son's death. The jury reached the decision Friday afternoon after 25 hours of deliberation. Thomas' stepmother says the verdict was influenced by race -- eleven of the jurors were white and one was African-American. Sentencing is scheduled for November 12. Thomas' attorneys say they will appeal. [Troy Record] [TU] [WTEN] [Fox23] [WNYT] [CBS6]

Nelson Costello, the man accused of killing David Bacon 40 years ago in Waterford, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Friday. Recordings of phone conversations between Costello and witness apparently helped prompt the plea. Costello's attorney says his client is remorseful and "almost wants to be punished." Costello has apparently agreed to help officials find Bacon's body in Virginia. [TU] [Saratogian] [WTEN] [WNYT]

There's been yet another report of an attempted abduction, this time in Albany (map). [Fox23] [WNYT]

Archaelogists have found the skeleton of an infant at the former grave site turned up during the Delaware Ave reconstruction in Albany. The remains will be re-buried at a cemetery in Glenmont. [CapNews9] [TU]

David Paterson has scheduled a special session of the legislature for November 10 to address the budget gap. He also wants a joint session on November 9. [NYO] [CapNews9]

(there's more)

State flu shot mandate cancelled, charges over ESP man cave, Paterson says Obama Admin cost state $1 billion, a big year for lady bugs

The state Department of Health has rescinded the flu shot mandate for health care workers. The DOH says there isn't enough vaccine to go around and the state would rather see the vax go to at-risk populations (young people, pregnant women). The Paterson Administration said the move was not related to the group of lawsuits filed over the mandate. [TU] [NYT] [NYDN]

The two men accused of being involved with the alleged "man cave" in the ESP have been hit with a bunch of charges that make the cave sound like some sort of stoner's paradise. Both men have pleaded not guilty. The attorney for one of the men said they were "shocked" to face charges over the cave "when there was actually a more publicized and egregious waste of tax money last spring as our state Senate sat around proud doing nothing while Rome burned." [Daily Politics] [AP/Troy Record] [TU]

A special meeting of the Troy city council turned into a bit of display as Democrats refused to show up and people ended up yelling at each other in front of TV cameras. Harry Tutunjian had called the meeting in an attempt to suspend three Democratic appointees accused of being involved with recent case of alleged voter fraud. [Troy Record] [TU]

Two alternate jurors from the Adrian Thomas trial say they would have voted "not guilty." [Fox23]

(there's more)

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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Troy police find guns during raid, suit filed over landfill expansion, local company dumps chamber of commerce over climate change legislation, sole tenant leaving Kiernan Plaza

Troy police say they found a shotgun and an assault rifle during raid connected to the investigation of last week's fatal shooting in south Troy. They also arrested a man. But they say the guns weren't used in the crime nor is the man a suspect. [Fox23] [CapNews9] [TU]

Save the Pine Bush is suing the City of Albany and the DEC in attempt to block expansion of the city landfill. A volunteer for the environmental org says the city "needs to adopt a rational solid waste policy that does not include destroying 15 acres of rare Pine Bush ecosystem." [AP/CBS6] [TU]

The judge in Adrian Thomas case has ruled that the jury will not hear testimony from dueling expert witnesses about the possibility of a coerced confession. Closing arguments are scheduled to start today. [Troy Record] [TU]

David Paterson said yesterday that he will be including the soda tax in next year's proposed budget. The Paterson Administration also said same-sex marriage will be on the agenda for next week's planned special legislative session. [WNYC] [NYDN]

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TOP 2009: Round 1: Schenectady

RD1 Schenectady

Will the King reign again?

Round 1 of the 2009 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, moves on to Schenectady (earlier results from Saratoga). The matchups for this round of cheese pizzas:

Nico's vs. Ario's

Marino's Flying Pizza vs. Pizza King

Can Nico's hold off its competitor from Route 7? Will the Pizza King -- #2 in the entire tournament last year -- reign again?

There was only one way to find out. The judges assembled at Proctors for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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Reaction to Paterson's proposed budget cuts, investigators say RPI student's death was homicide, state says it didn't know hotel owner was behind on taxes, Saratoga sued over Taser info

David Paterson has proposed $3 billion in cuts to this year's state budget. He said yesterday that "all of us will have to sacrifice to save the state." Sheldon Silver said Paterson "took the bull by the horns" -- but the governor's proposals were met with skepticism by state senators, and outrage from interest groups. [AOA] [Daily Politics] [NYT] [Daily Politics] [Daily Politics]

The man who was stabbed in Albany's Grand Street neighborhood last week has died -- the city's 8th homicide of the year. [CapNews9]

Private investigators hired by the family of the RPI student found dead of a gun shot in a Troy apartment last year say they have concluded the student was murdered. Troy detectives have said the case was a suicide -- but the private investigators accused the TPD of coming to that conclusion in "a rather imaginative way." [TU] [Troy Record] [Troy Record]

The state's Division of Human Rights has ruled that Saratoga Springs must pay 8 city employees damages of $10k each because the city had not provided sufficient facilities for female employees of the city's police department. The decision prompted squabbling between mayor Scott Johnson and public safety commissioner Ron Kim (who are both running for mayor this year) over who's to blame for the situation. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Saratogian]

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State budget widens and Paterson warns of pain, Raucci to get pension even if convicted, Gillibrand pushes repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, goat kidnapped

New York State comptroller Tom DiNapoli now says the state's budget gap could be as big as $4.1 billion. David Paterson has said that he will release a slate of proposed budget cuts that would involve "pain." LG Richard Ravitch, who's helping Paterson with budget issues, says the plan will be "asking every agency in the government to cut back significantly." As bad as things might be this year, apparently the real problem is next year when the federal stimulus money ends. As one anonymous legislator told Liz Benjamin: "Then we're in deep sh*t." [TU] [NYT] [CapNews9] [Daily Politics]

Adrian Thomas, the Troy man charged with causing the death of his infant son, took the stand in his own defense yesterday -- and testified that he had lied during his videotaped interrogation by police. Thomas said he admitted to police that he slammed the child down so he "could go to the hospital and see my son and my wife." [Troy Record] [TU]

The Troy man shot in the head earlier this week has died. It's the third homicide of the year in Troy. The TPD says it's following leads. [Troy Record] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

Albany police have arrested two men -- one already in prison, the other 18 years old -- for a 2007 murder on Second Street. [TU]

The Lansingburgh High School student suspended for having a pocketknife in his car says he's been contacted by West Point and told the incident won't have any effect on his application to the service academy. [WTEN]

Steven Raucci, the now-retired Schenectady school district employee accused of arson, intimidation and harassment related to his former job, will receive a pension of $79,067 -- even if he's convicted. [TU]

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DA says recent attempted abduction reports not unusual, man accused of throwing person into a fire, police taser man in Schenectady, David Hyde Pierce returns to Saratoga

Despite a recent string of reports, the Schenectady County DA says he doesn't believe there's been an unusual number of attempted abductions. [TU]

The state Department of Transportation says there's been an increase in the number of fender benders on Route 85 in Slingerlands where the roundabouts have been installed -- but fewer accidents involving injuries. The DOT reported a similar trend for the Malta roundabouts last year. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

State Democrats have reportedly given David Paterson until December to turn his poll numbers around ahead of next year's gubernatorial race. [AP/TU]

The state has spent $19k to install hand sanitizer dispensers in state buildings -- including the Capitol -- around Albany. [PolitickerNY]

East Greenbush police say a man threw an 18-year-old into a bonfire during a party early Friday morning. The alleged victim reportedly suffered second degree burns on many parts of his body. The alleged tosser has been charged with first degree assault. [Fox23] [WTEN] [WNYT]

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Paterson order state agencies to cut back, proposed Saratoga budget includes paid parking, natural gas prices down, teachers say they were secretly videotaped

David Paterson has ordered state agencies to cut their non-personnel expenses (travel, equipment, office supplies) by about 11 percent -- a move that his administration says will save the state $500 million. Paterson has been projecting that the state will face a $3 billion budget gap this year. He's been criticized for not setting an overarching lists of cuts -- but the governor says he's letting the legislature "participate in formulating that menu." [NYS DoB] [NYT] [AP/Troy Record] [TU]

The witness lists for both the prosecution and defense in the Joe Bruno trial include more than 100 names (with a lot of overlap). The lists include current state senators, current and former state officials, legislative staffers and two journalists. [Troy Record] [TU] [NYT]

The budget proposed by Saratoga Springs' finance commissioner includes a 7.8 percent tax increase, 50 job cuts and a plan for paid parking on city streets and lots. [Saratoga Springs] [Fox23] [TU] [Saratogian]

The first batch of H1N1 vaccine arrived in the Capital Region yesterday. Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties have all received limited quantities (in the hundreds of doses). Albany Med received 1000 doses. The focus on flu this year has apparently prompted a lot of interest in flu shots -- and local doctors' offices report that they they're having trouble getting shipments of the regular seasonal flu vaccine. [Daily Gazette $] [Fox23] [Saratogian] [Schenectady County] [CapNews9] [WTEN] [WNYT]

(there's more)

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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Reaction to APD shame sign, man found dead near the Egg, Paterson and Ravitch reportedly at odds, Other Guys shoot wraps, local woman on Jeopardy tonight

A spokesman for the APD says the light-up sign on Central Ave that's set to display the names of people arrested for soliciting prostitute is no different from mug shots appearing in the local news. The spokesman says city attorneys don't foresee any legal issues with the sign. Defense attorneys aren't so sure about that. [CBS6] [WNYT] [Fox23] [TU]

A state Supreme Court judge has thrown out 39 of the allegedly fraudulent Troy absentee ballots. [TU]

A man was found dead Saturday morning at the foot of the ESP wall below the Egg near Lancaster Street. Police say they're investigating, though it appears the man fell. [Troy Record] [Fox23] [WNYT]

GlobalFoundries' "Fab 1" in Dresden, Germany -- which was built by AMD in 1998 -- is now at the center of a cluster that employs 35,000 people. [Saratogian]

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Voters testify about alleged ballot fraud, man arrested for shooting dogs, Troy police set trap for suspected muggers, live poultry market opens

A string of Troy residents testified in court yesterday that that their absentee ballot applications contained fraudulent information. And the voters mentioned that a handful of Troy city and Democratic officials had approached them with absentee ballots. A state Supreme Court judge will decide whether the ballots should be tossed from the recent Working Families primary election. [CapNews9] [Troy Record] [WNYT] [TU]

The allegations of ballot fraud spilled over into last night's Troy city council meeting. Democrats and Republicans squabbled over a proposed resolution that would suspend two city marshals who have been accused of being involved with the alleged scheme. [CBS6] [Troy Record]

And handful of local municipalities released proposed budgets: Jerry Jennings' Albany budget keeps the tax levy the same, but shifts more of it onto residential tax payers; Harry Tutunjian's proposed Troy budget includes a 4.25 percent property tax increase; the proposed Colonie budget keeps the tax levy the same, but shifts a little more on commercial property owners; Clifton Park's proposed budget uses $900k from its reserve fund to balance the budget. [TU][Troy Record] [TU] [TU]

The Albany County sheriff's department announced yesterday that it had arrested a man for shooting those two dogs in Berne. Police say the man told them he killed the dogs because they were killing his chickens. The man's attorney says the dogs also killed two calves and threatened the man's family. The sheriff's department says the man isn't being charged under Buster's Law because he didn't kill the dogs in a "depraved or sadistic manner." [TU] [WNYT] [CapNews9] [Fox23]

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First H1N1 shots on the way, more concern about mercury near LaFarge, man accused of trying to force snot burger, Troy library district approved, reward increased for dog shooting info

Upstate New York will be getting 100,000 doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine next week. More doses will apparently be on the way later this year. [AP/TU] [Saratogian]

Several hundred healthcare workers were at the Capitol yesterday protesting state regulations requiring them to get a flu shot. They said they're worried about having to serve as "guinea pigs" for the new flu shot against their will. Richard Daines, the state's health commissioner, says the H1N1 vaccine has been prepared the same way as the regular seasonal flu vaccine -- and healthcare worker vaccination is a matter of patient safety. [Troy Record] [CapNews9] [Fox23] [CBS6]

State wildlife pathologist Ward Stone reported yesterday that tests he performed on soil samples from the neighborhoods near the LaFarge cement plant in Ravena indicate elevated levels of mercury. Stone says much of the mercury is from the plant. (Previous studies have reported that the plant is one of the state's biggest emitters of mercury. Erin Brockovich was recently in Ravena on behalf of a law firm to talk with residents about mercury pollution.) Stone did not conduct the study as part of his job with the state -- and the DEC says it will review the results. [CapNews9] [Fox23] [TU] [WNYT] [TU]

Crews working on the Delaware Ave reconstruction project turned up what appears to be five coffins from the 19th century. Archaeologists will be checking out the site today. Jack McEneny says the coffins are probably left over from an old cemetery that was moved in 1910. [Fox23] [CapNews9] [TU]

Schenectady police say a man has been charged with child endangerment after an incident in which he allegedly tried to make his girlfriend's daughter eat a hamburger with his snot on it. [TU]

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Special prosecutor appointed for Troy absentee ballot case, Breslin reportedly calls Espada a crook, healthcare workers protest flu shot requirement, brown bats threatened by fungus

A special prosecutor has been appointed to look into the allegations of absentee ballot fraud in Troy. The city housing authority has also locked down the office an employee accused of participating in the alleged scheme, which would have benefited Democrats. Democratic city councilman Clem Campana said yesterday he's "done nothing wrong." And the Rensselaer County Democratic chairman struck back at Republican Bob Mirch, who brought the alleged to scheme light, saying, "Mirch wrote the book on absentee ballot corruption." [Troy Record] [TU] [CapNews9] [WTEN]

Neil Breslin reportedly told a church crowd in Bethlehem this past weekend that Pedro Espada is a "crook" who "should be in jail." He also apparently told the crowd that Espada doesn't actually live in his Bronx district. Breslin has been talking recently about organizing a reform group in the state Senate because he's "embarrassed" by what's gone on in the chamber. [PolitickerNY] [Jay Gallagher] [Daily Politics]

De Von Callicutt, the 19-year-old accused of firing that shot that killed UAlbany student Richard Bailey, showed up in court yesterday without a lawyer. That's the second time his arraignment has been delayed for that reason. Callicutt is already in state prison for a different crime. [TU] [WTEN] [CapNews9]

Schenectady police have arrested a man for last September's Albany St. murder. [TU]

Personal information for 300,000 state and local employees could be at risk because of a security breach at Express Scripts, the company that manages pharmacy benefits for the Empire Plan. Hackers apparently stole the information last year and have been trying to extort the company. Letters notifying people of the breach went out to some local state workers during the past two weeks. [TU] [CNET] [Fox23] [CBS6]

Saratoga Springs' school superintendent says the district may reconsider its ban on elementary and middle school students biking or walking to school. [TU]

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Fight over funds for homeless in Troy, Ellis to continue mayoral run, attempted abduction reported in Schenectady, Cohoes goes flashy

A spokesman for Harry Tutunjian says the Troy mayor's move to turn down $845k in federal money aimed at helping the homeless was "politically courageous." The mayor's administration has said the city doesn't have the money necessary to hire someone to administer the funding -- though critics have suggested the move is political payback. [TU] [Troy Record]

It appears that Corey Ellis will continue his Albany mayoral campaign on the Working Families in the general election. Ellis lost the Democratic primary to Jerry Jennings 56-44. [TU]

Leif Engstrom has come out as the winner the Democratic primary for the newly created job of Albany city auditor. There's no general election opponent, so the job is his. [TU]

A Marist poll reports that a majority of New Yorkers don't want David Paterson to run for governor -- but they also would rather not have Barack Obama be the one to push Paterson out. [Marist] [Daily Politics] [PolitickerNY]

In a radio interview yesterday David Paterson basically said that Andrew Cuomo would have bad poll numbers, too, if he were governor right now. [PolitickerNY]

PEF -- one of the two biggest state worker unions -- says it will be lobbying David Paterson to approve more $20k buyouts for its members. [TU]

RPI says it now appears five students have come down with the H1N1 influenza. The school has set up 90 isolation rooms to handle a potential flu outbreak. In an email, the school's medical director said "the number of cases could change very quickly." Sage also reported this week that two of its students have H1N1. [CapNews9] [Troy Record] [RPInsider] [CBS6]

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Paterson says he never expected to be Gov, another person arrested for turtle bombing, chief suspended for slur, Schenectady overrun with kingergartners

Yesterday wasn't exactly a day of ringing support for David Paterson. Of Paterson's vow to run for governor in 2010, Sheldon Silver said, "I think, right now, I support him for governor." And at a Capitol leaders meeting, Senate leader John Sampson publicly doubted Paterson's estimate of a $3 billion midyear budget gap by saying his conference "doesn't believe in government by guesswork." Paterson says he'll be calling the legislature back at some point to address the gap. [AP/Troy Record] [PolitickerNY] [TU] [WTEN]

Paterson said yesterday in Syracuse that he never thought he'd be governor: "I did not sign up for this ... I wanted to be lieutenant governor. I had this grand plan that Hillary Clinton was going to become president. Maybe the governor would appoint me to the Senate." But he said he's still planning to run next year -- probably. [NYT] [NYDN]

The Schenectady County legislature has approved a county budget that will cut taxes a little more than two percent. Republicans -- who are in the minority -- criticized the cut as an election year ploy. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

A group of Albany County legislators is proposing that the county build a new nursing home to replace the current facility. County exec Mike Breslin has been pushing to close the existing home in favor of placing residents in private facilities and in-home care. [TU]

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Jennings wins Democratic mayoral primary, Joe Bruno takes a turn on the swings, plane headed for Saratoga crashes, dogs found shot

Jerry Jennings topped Corey Ellis in the Albany mayoral Democratic primary with 7,615 to 5,971 (that's 56 percent to 44 percent). At his victory party, Jennings told the crowd he "wasn't going to walk away from this city in a very challenging time." Ellis told supporters that he would "continue to fight for this city" and that "this fight is just beginning." Ellis also said problems at polling sites held down his vote total. [CBS6] [TU] [CapNews9]

In other Albany primary results: Carolyn McLaughlin beat Lenny Ricciuti for Common Council president, Kathy Sheehan won big over incumbent Betty Barnette for treasurer and Leif Engstrom holds a 225 vote lead over Darius Shahinfar for city auditor. [CapNews9] [TU]

The whole list of primary results: Albany County | Rensselaer County | Saratoga County | Schenectady County

As the jury selection process started for his federal trial, Joe Bruno took a turn on the swings at a new playground in Troy that was built with Bruno Bacon. [TU] [CapNews9]

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Rumors of Obama visit to the area, Paterson says layoffs on the table, more complaints about student behavior, a big garage sale mistake

It's primary day. Polls are open from noon to 9 pm. If you're not sure where to vote, you can look it up at the State Board of Elections site.

Rumors are swirling that President Obama will make an appearance the site of the GlobalFoundries chip fab project in Malta. A source tells the TU that the Obama Administration is "considering" it. WNYT reports that the Secret Service has been doing advance work. A source tells CBS6 that the White House has been interested in the chip fab and how community colleges are involved in training workers. A spokesman for GloFo told the Post-Star that he didn't know "anything definite." [TU] [WNYT] [CBS6] [Post-Star]

Troy Police say they're still trying to piece together the details of the incident that led to a man getting shot in the head. Neighbors say the man had told the group of teenagers in the street to quiet down before the shooting. One neighbor says the shooting "could have been prevented" because residents called police before it happened. Six teens have been arrested for fighting outside the house. [Troy Record] [TU] [WTEN] [WNYT]

The man police say was the shooter in the Second Street murder last month in Albany says he heard shots at the party and ran away. [TU]

David Paterson said yesterday that "everything is on the table" -- including state worker layoffs and furloughs -- in the discussion about how to close the $2.1 billion midyear budget gap. He's called a leaders meeting to work on the cuts. [PolitickerNY] [Daily Politics]

(there's more)

State Senate back to squabbling, gun violence team coming together, Troy shoot and kill dog, seniors say vultures weird them out

Yesterday's state Senate session fizzled as Democrats and Republicans fought over a new system for policing ethics. Democrats blamed Republicans for being obstinate and Republicans said Democrats were trying to design the system to their advantage. [TU] [NYT]

The squabble over ethics reform kept other issues off the Senate plate -- including the bill that would create a residential parking permit system for Albany. [PolitickerNY]

The implementation team for Albany's Gun Violence Task Force is coming together -- both the Common Council and Jerry Jennings announced their picks yesterday. The school district and the police department have yet to announce their selections. [TU] [CapNews9]

Two Schenectady women have been charged after police say they signed a contract to allow a 19-year-old guy to date a 13-year-old girl. [Fox23]

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Police say shooting wasn't random, residential parking permits probably won't pass, Erin Brockovich coming to talk about mercury, quarters to depict Battles of Saratoga

Albany police say the shooting death of a man on North Pearl Street this week does not appear to be random. Albany County DA David Soares told residents of the apartment complex where the man was shot that the APD has its "best and the brightest working on this." A resident of the apartment complex said the APD used to have more of a presence in the neighborhood -- and she'd like to see it return. [Fox23] [TU] [Fox23]

In response to this latest shooting -- the fourth in a month -- mayoral candidate Corey Ellis said: "The City of Albany is under seige and we are in crisis." An APD spokesman asserted that the city is safe, though he said "when you have violent crimes that occur of this magnitude it gives you the perception that the streets aren't." [CBS6] [WTEN]

It appears that now-retired former APD chief James Tuffey has landed in a soft spot: BBL Construction -- the city's dominant construction company, whose owner is friends with both Tuffey and Jerry Jennings. [TU]

The state Senate is back in session today and is expected to take up ethics reform. Though it originally was scheduled to be on the slate, it now appears that a residential parking permit law for Albany will not come up. [CapNews9] [PolitickerNY] [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 $]

(there's more)

Teen shot while riding bike, council president candidate accused of sexual harassment, attendance down slightly at Track, demolition begins on Wellington

Police say a teenager was shot in the leg as he rode his bike through Albany's West Hill neighborhood on Saturday (map). Police say they don't have a suspect. [TU] [Fox23]

Lenny Ricchiuti -- head of the Albany Police Athletic League and a candidate for Common Council president -- has been accused of sexual harassment by a former PAL employee. Ricchiuti is running against Carolyn McLaughlin for the Common Council presidency. [TU] [TU]

The Bethlehem police officer who's accused the town's police chief of using a racial slur has had his service weapons taken away -- the town cited the officer's "emotional state.". [TU]

Critics of Albany's charter schools say the schools score better on state tests because they have lower numbers of special education students. [TU]

Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce that his office has not found any evidence that a special unit of the state police had been assembled to gather information about politicians. The issue rose out of the "Troopergate" dispute between Joe Bruno and Eliot Spitzer. [NYT] [AP/Troy Record]

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Shooting in Albany, Jennings and Ellis debate, rolling billboard targets police chief, snakeheads!

Jennings and Ellis

Jerry Jennings and Corey Ellis just before the start of last night's debate

Police say a 19-year-old man was shot and killed last night in Albany's Delaware Ave neighborhood, just a few blocks from the Spectrum (map). There weren't a lot of details -- the APD was canvassing the neighborhood for info. The police say they're not even sure the man was shot at the location he was found. The shooting pushes Albany's murder count to six this year. Update: Police now say the shooting appears to have been an accident. [TU] [CapNews9] [CBS6] [WNYT]

Jerry Jennings and Corey Ellis debated last night in front of an overflow crowd at the Albany Public Library's main branch. Jennings said his top priority is the city's children and economic development -- Ellis said transparency and public safety. The exchanges were mostly calm. One exception: Jennings got a little stirred up when Ellis said he had been ignoring the city's gang problem. There was only one mention, by Ellis, of retiring police chief James Tuffey. The candidates answered a wide range of questions that had been written on notecards by the audience before the debate -- a format that didn't allow follow-up questions. [CapNews9] [Fox23] [TU] [AOA was also there]

For a quick read through of the debate, here's the stream of live tweets from AOA and the TU. Also, CBS6 has posted video, helpfully broken down by issue.

At last night's Schenectady school board meeting, the board president briefly addressed the now infamous graduation kegger, saying it demonstrated "a lack of parental boundaries." James Casino, the board member shown taking a Jager shot from an ice luge in one photo, was not at the meeting. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

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Local post offices escape the chopping block

usps logo on mailboxWell, at least a few of them. Three of the local post offices slated for possible "consolidation" by the Postal Service are no longer on the list. The USPS says it still hasn't made any final decisions -- and it won't until after October 2.

Here are the three locations no longer on the chopping block...

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Speculation about Tuffey's resignation, state Ed Department looking into kegger, Bethlehem cops go weeding, new row houses planned for Center Square

Speculation continues about the departure of Albany police chief James Tuffey. His retirement announcement -- by many accounts sudden -- came after a group of department commanders retained legal counsel and told city hall they would not deny a incident in which Tuffey is accused of using a racial slur. Mayor Jerry Jennings says he did not ask Tuffey to resign. The union that represents Albany police officers is saying that the resignation was forced with the help of the department's command staff -- and is accusing the city of using Tuffey's departure to stall contract negotiations with the union. [TU] [CapNews9] [WNYT] [Fox23] [Troy Record]

Jennings says there will be a "national search" for a candidate to replace Tuffey. Because of a charter change in 2007, the Common Council will have veto power over the mayor's choice for the position. Common Council president Shawn Morris says she wants Jennings to talk with the council about criteria for the candidate search. Citing Jennings' five other picks for chief, Morris said, "It's time to broaden the search." [CapNews9] [TU] [CBS6] [CBS6]

The New York State Education Department now says it will be looking into photos that popped up on Facebook of a Schenectady school board member and his wife -- a teacher -- at a kegger celebrating their son's high school graduation. Schenectady's schools superintendent says the district is "looking at [the situation] internally." [WTEN] [Upstream] [TU]

(there's more)

School board member party photos draw interest from police, DMV fees going up, Albany FreeNet expanding, cutbacks come to David Paterson's face

The Schenectady County DA says police will be looking into photos (originally posted on Facebook) that show a Schenectady school board member and his wife -- who's a teacher -- drinking from a Jagermeister luge and doing a keg stand at their son's high school graduation party. [TU] [WTEN] [Daily Gazette $]

DMV fees go up today -- the cost of renewing a driver's license is going up $14.50. Next year, car registrations will require a new license plate ($25) -- and keeping the same license number will cost an extra $20. Jim Tedisco called the higher fees a tax increase. Rensselaer County's clerk said the state legislature is treating the DMV like "a cash cow." [TU] [Saratogian] [WNYT] [CapNews9]

David Paterson and other state officials were at a middle school in Albany yesterday to raise awareness about prep for flu season. Officials say the recently emerged H1N1 flu is likely to flare up in schools. Local school districts and colleges say they're getting the word out about preventive measures to parents and students. [CapNews9] [Fox23] [TU]

A state comptroller's report indicates that county sales tax receipts in the Capital Region are down more than six percent this year. In Saratoga County, which the report indicates is down 12 percent, officials said the numbers seemed off the mark. [NYS Comptroller] [Saratogian]

(there's more)

Second murder in Albany this month, Summer Bird wins Travers, hospital employees required to get flu shots, party invitation causes kerfuffle

2nd Street murder

The scene outside 327 Second Street in Albany, where police say a man was shot and killed this past weekend during a party. (Photo by Paul Esmond)

Albany police say a Troy man was shot and killed in a basement apartment in West Hill early Sunday morning (map). There apparently had been a party at the house. Police say they don't have suspects or a motive, yet. It was the fifth murder in Albany this year. [TU] [Troy Record] [Fox23 [WNYT]

Police have arrested another suspect in this month's Western Ave murder in Albany. This second suspect, who's been charged with second degree murder, just turned 16. [WNYT] [TU]

Summer Bird won the Travers by 3.5 lengths on Saturday. The horse also won the Belmont and is the son of Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, who also won the Belmont and Travers in 2004. Rain kept attendance to 34,221 -- the smallest crowd in 30 years. Among those in attendance: David Paterson. [CapNews9] [Post-Star] [Saratogian] [CapNews9]

Backstretch workers at The Track still haven't seen most of the money a state investigation concluded is owed to them by horse trainers. [TU]

(there's more)

State AG's office investigating Espada, man pleads guilty to killing son, CDTA trimming routes, Mine That Bird out of Travers

Andrew Cuomo's office is investigating whether Pedro Espada was something less than forthcoming when filling out a form for a $3 million state grant for his Bronx health care org. [TU]

David Paterson signed a bill that makes it illegal in most cases to shackle a prison inmate during childbirth. [AP/CBS6]

Glenn Vosburgh, the Coeymans man accused of killing his son last spring, pleaded guilty to manslaughter yesterday in a deal that will send him to prison for 19 years. Vosburgh said he was intoxicated when he shot his son in the back. [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

Last night's Schenectady school board meeting included pointed criticism from the crowd as Linda Bellick, who lost in the last board election, was appointed to fill a recently vacated spot. Bellick's remarks during the meeting were stopped by the district's attorney after Bellick started talking about the not-publicly-released Steven Raucci report. [WNYT] [TU]

(there's more)

Health care forum raises blood pressure, arrest in Albany murder, plan proposed for Troy Proctors, Green Island Bridge up and down today

About 1,500 people showed up for Paul Tonko's health care bill public forum last night in Bethlehem. Both supporters and opponents of the Obama Administration's health care reform plan were there -- and it led to some heated exchanges. When one speaker asked Tonko about where Congress gets the authority to pass health care reforms, Tonko pulled out a pocket constitution and started reading from Article I. [TU] [CapNews9] [Lydia Kulbida] [WNYT]

Schenectady police say a man was shot three times on Park Place last night -- just a few blocks from Union College (map). The shooting appeared to be the result of some sort of argument. No arrests have been made. [Fox23] [CBS6] [WNYT]

Albany police have made an arrest in the Western Ave murder earlier this month. Police say the shooting was part of a robbery. The suspect told police he didn't pull the trigger, but he says he saw who did. [CapNews9] [TU]

The Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, will take up the dispute over Richard Ravtich's appointment as lieutenant governor next month. [CapNews9]

(there's more)

Shooting in uptown Albany, Paterson lashes out at media, concerns about pollution at Cohoes factory, GloFo tapping local firms

Albany police say man was shot outside his apartment on Manning Blvd in uptown Albany last night (map). The man reportedly was sitting in car when he took multiple shots in his upper body. A neighbor drove him to the hospital. The APD says it hasn't identified a motive. [TU] [Troy Record] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

The Albany cop car involved in last week's crash that killed a man in a civilian car on Madison Ave did not have an installed video camera. In fact, none of the APD's cars have cameras even though chief James Tuffey said more than a year ago that the squad's fleet would be getting them. [TU]

The median price for single family homes in the Capital Region was down 10 percent in July compared to the same month last year (median prices are down 5 percent for the year). The number of closed sales was about the same, though. That has real estate agents speculating that the market has reached its bottom. [GCAR] [TU]

David Paterson said on Friday that media has treated his administration unfairly because of his ethnicity. Later in the day Paterson said he hadn't accused the media of being racist, but rather said "certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes." In his original comments, Paterson the press would next go after Barack Obama for the same reason -- and apparently that assertion didn't go over well with the White House. [Daily Politics] [Daily Politics] [NY Post]

A Democratic state senator from Staten Island says David Paterson's impaired vision is making it hard for him to be an effective governor. [SI Advance]

(there's more)

Jennings and Ellis spar over vacant buildings, state Senate paying lease on empty offices, Joe Bruno still alive, socialite's tiny dogs on display

Jerry Jennings and mayoral candidate Corey Ellis went back and forth yesterday over vacant buildings and the city's plan to paint boarded up windows to look like real windows. At a press conference on Henry Johnson, Jennings said the painted boards will help deter crime. At his own presser nearby, Ellis said "There's not enough paint in this city to solve these problems." [TU] [WNYT] [CitizenAction YouTube via PolitickerNY]

A former state Senate employee has alleged that David Paterson was having an affair with a staffer while he was lieutenant governor. That prompted a lawyer for the alleged mistress to call the former staffer "a lying weasel." [NYT]

The state Senate is paying $1.5 million on a lease for empty office space near the Capitol. [TU]

The Schenectady Free Health Clinic is on the verge of closing after its state funding didn't get renewed. [TU]

Saratoga public safety commissioner -- and mayoral candidate -- Ron Kim says the Saratogian has been too lax in allowing what he calls racist comments to be posted on its web site. (Kim is part Korean and apparently some of the comments make references to him being like Kim Jong Il). The Saratogian says Kim didn't report the offensive comments to the paper. [TU] [Saratogian]

(there's more)

Dredging starts up again, Espada says no quid pro quo for son's job, rally for post office, horse prices up at Saratoga sale

The Hudson River PCB dredging project has started up again. Officials say they'll be working slowly in an attempt to prevent PCB levels from spiking. The PCB spikes have prompted some "told you so" from dredging opponents. [NYT] [TU] [CapNews9]

The Schenectady County legislature has voted to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. Albany County passed a similar ban earlier this week. [TU]

Pedro Espada said yesterday that the $120k/year state Senate job created for his son (Pedro G. Espada) is "not the result of a quid pro quo or a contingency to my ending the Senate stalemate." An unnamed state Senate Democrat called the younger Espada "lazy and not so smart." Big Pedro, who's know the Senate majority leader, apparently tried to hire his son directly, but ethics rules prohibit senators hiring family members. [PolitickerNY] [NY Post] [TU]

New York State will be giving people on welfare $200/child to help with back-to-school costs. A total of 800,000 kids will get grants. The cash comes from federal stimulus money snagged with the help of $35 million from George Soros. Dean Skelos called the plan "ripe for fraud and abuse." [CapNews9] [Fox23] [AP/Troy Record]

The number of new homes being constructed in the Capital Region is way down -- because of the economy, but maybe also because of changing buyer preferences. [TU]

(there's more)

Murder in Albany, Schenectady cops could get tasers, Hudson river dredging stopped again, Cohoes considers closing barn door

Albany police say a man was shot and killed in his apartment on Western Ave Sunday morning. They say they don't have a suspect, but it appears that shooter was someone the man knew. The location of this shooting, 158 Western Ave, is less than half-a-mile from where UAlbany student Richard Bailey was shot last year. [CBS6] [TU] [Google Maps]

Among the details from the state auditor's Albany ghost ticket report: a former Albany cop was put on the VIP list after he complained about getting tickets while working at his job at the state Education Department -- he then racked up 573 no-fine tickets. Jerry Jennings released a statement Friday that said his administration would be working with the Common Council to "quickly adopt a corrective action plan" for the city's parking ticket system. Said mayoral candidate Corey Ellis in statement released Friday: ""This report clearly shows that Mayor Jennings' administration is incapable of properly managing the issuance and collection of parking fines, a system that should be simple and straightforward." [AOA] [TU] [CapNews9] [Ellis press release not online]

Schenectady police chief Mark Chaires says he pushing for the department's officers to get tasers. The family of the man shot and killed by the SPD last week questioned why a non-lethal measure wasn't used in that situation. [TU] [CapNews9]

The state announced it will be building a new $40 million food safety lab at the Harriman State Office Campus. Where that leaves the plan to turn the campus over to private development is apparently anyone's guess. [Troy Record] [TU]

(there's more)

Authorities say alleged kidnapper knew gang members, Paterson hires friend despite hiring freeze, USPS says closure list is A STUDY, Unhappy Meals distributed

Authorities say the man accused of kidnapping a woman in downtown Saratoga Springs recently did know the two alleged Salvadoran gang members arrested this week. The Saratoga DA is asking people to take photos of unusual graffiti and send them to police so the tags can be investigated for connections to gangs. [Saratogian] [Saratogian]

Colonie's town council has approved a measure that would limit the number of sex offenders who can reside in a single hotel or motel. Leaders were concerned that a strip of motels along Central Ave had become a hot spot for sex offenders -- one motel reportedly has 25 sex offenders staying at it. [CapNews9] [CBS6]

David Paterson signed an executive order that sets a state goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels. New York's current level is 290 million tons -- 23 million tons more than in 1990. [TU] [AP/Saratogian]

Despite a state freeze on hiring, David Paterson added a longtime friend -- and fellow club partier -- to a $88k job in a state office in DC. The woman was reportedly "imposed" on the office. [NYDN] [NYP]

(there's more)

GE officially announces new plant in Schenectady, Ellis calls for review of ambulance service, feds say Central American gang members picked up, toward nanobioscience

GE has officially announced that it will be building a new battery plant at the GE Energy campus off Erie Blvd in Schenectady. The plant is expected to cost $100 million and create 350 jobs. GE is getting a package of grants and incentives worth $20 million from New York State and Schenectady Metroplex. The plant will make batteries based on technology developed at the company's research center in Niskayuna. [Daily Gazette $] [CapNews9] [TU] [Fox23]

Albany police detective George McNally pleaded guilty yesterday to drunk driving and reckless driving. McNally careened through Albany and Delmar after leaving a bar on New Scotland Ave this past January. As part of the plea deal, he'll pay a fine, do community service, and his license will be revoked -- though he'll be able to drive for work. [TU] [CapNews9]

Albany mayoral candidate Corey Ellis has called for a review of ambulance service in the city. Ellis says the review is necessary because of Mohawk Ambulance's delay in arriving at the scene of the fatal crash involving a kid on a bike and a car. Jerry Jennings accused Ellis of politicizing the tragedy. [Ellis press release not online] [TU]

The state Senate will be back in session today for what's expected to be a short, "very vanilla" session. [TU]

(there's more)

Friend says man killed by police suffered from mental illness, unease over state worker buyouts, judge pleads guilty to DWAI, big year for apples

A family friend says the man shot and killed by Schenectady police this past weekend suffered from mental illness. The man's brother says the SPD should have used non-lethal force. [Daily Gazette $] [CapNews9]

Workers at GE Energy in Schenectady approved a new contract with the company that includes no layoffs for two years -- and clears the way for a new battery factory that could add 350 jobs. In return, the union is forgoing cost of living raises for the next two years. [WNYT] [CapNews9] [TU]

The Hudson River dredging project has started up again after tests indicated that PCB levels in the water had dropped below the set limit. The EPA is blaming fast-moving currents for the spike. Officials from some downstream communities say the EPA was slow to notify them of the test results. [Troy Record] [TU] [Post-Star]

New York State has finally paid the property taxes it owed on The Track -- almost $478k. The payment was six months late. Apparently the state is exempt from having to pay late fees. The state started paying property taxes on The Track after it took ownership of the property from NYRA. [Daily Gazette $] [Saratogian] [TU] [Post-Star]

Lack of information about the $20k retirement buyout is upsetting state workers. [TU]

(there's more)

Man shot to death by Schenectady police, no more Bruno bacon, conflict over dredging dump site, artist accused of stealing his own paintings

Schenectady police say an officer shot and killed a man wielding a butcher knife Saturday afternoon. Schenectady's public safety commissioner says the man moved quickly toward the officer -- and there's "nothing that indicates" the officer did not comply with department's laws and regulations. The Schenectady County DA's office says it will investigate. The officer who fired on the man had been shot in the line of duty ten years ago. Saturday's shooting was the first by an officer in Schenectady since 2002. [Daily Gazette] [CapNews9] [CBS6] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [TU]

A state panel has concluded that the City of Albany's refusal to release "fixed" parking tickets could be a violation of state law. [TU]

With Joe Bruno no longer sending this bacon this way, the Capital Region's haul of state Senate pork is down 76 percent. [TU]

Andrew Cuomo has apparently "begun to embrace the possibility of a run for governor." [NYT]

It sounds like Carolyn Maloney is now leaning against challenging Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate Democratic primary. [Politico]

(there's more)

Opening day at The Track, child dies after being hit by police vehicle, bill would allow supermarket wine sales, Schenectady could turn down money for cops, tanker spills milk on I-90

It's opening day at The Track. Racing starts at 1 pm.

The state Department of Labor says it will be continuing to scrutinize whether trainers are paying overtime and minimum wage to backstretch workers. An investigation the agency conducted last year found that adequate records were not being kept and many workers were not getting full compensation. [Fox23] [Saratogian] [Post-Star]

Many businesses in Saratoga are pulling for a strong track season -- the city's finance commissioner said the season is "like our Christmas." Hotels in Saratoga are apparently almost completely booked up for this weekend. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

A child died in Troy yesterday after being hit by unmarked police vehicle. Police say the vehicle was not responding to an emergency. There are reports the child might have entered the street between two parked cars. The city says it's conducting an investigation. [Troy Record] [Fox23] [CapNews9] [TU]

A bill has been proposed in Albany County would require chain restaurants to post calories counts on menus. One of the supporters of the bill is Panera -- the chain says its local restaurants already have plans to post calorie counts. [Albany County] [TU] [Fox23]

(there's more)

Arrest in Saratoga kidnapping case, suit alleges Raucci cut off heat to classroom, assemblyman says four day week a "no-brainer," Union disputes party school tag

Saratoga Springs police say they have arrested the man whom they allege is responsible for the kidnapping and attempted rape of a woman last Thursday night (map). The man -- who's an illegal immigrant -- has been charged with felony kidnapping and felony robbery (he's accused of taking off with $500). Police continued to praise the woman for her moxie in being able to escape from the attack. Authorities say they're investigating whether the man was involved with another similar crime in Lake George. [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette] [CapNews9] [Post-Star] [TU]

Yet another lawsuit filed over the alleged conduct of Steven Raucci accuses the former Schenectady school district employee of cutting off the heat to a teacher's classroom after her husband -- who worked for Raucci -- indicated he might challenge Raucci for a union leadership position. [Daily Gazette]

David Paterson has requested that the USDA declare 17 counties, including the Capital Region, agricultural disaster areas. The damp, cloudy summer has been miserable for farmers. [CBS6] [Daily Gazette]

New York State's new education commissioner is David Steiner, who was a dean at Hunter College in NYC. He said yesterday that he will focus on improving teacher performance. [NYT] [TU]

(there's more)

Report: ambulance delay a result of "human error," state AG's office takes up ESP man cave case, GE reportedly building new plant in Schenectady, it's huuuuuge

The city report on the delayed ambulance response to the scene of a fatal crash between a car and a child on a bike in Albany in May concludes that "a single human error" was responsible for the delay. The dispatch error held up the city from calling another service, said the chair of the report task force. The report also concluded that a faster response would not have saved the child. [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

Police are looking for a man who allegedly kidnapped a woman in Saratoga Springs Thursday night and attempted to sexually assault her. The woman, who had been forced at gunpoint to strip, escaped. Police credited her with being "brave and resourceful." The SSPD says it will release a statement about the case today. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

The ESP Man Cave case has been turned over to the state attorney general's office -- and felony charges are possible. [TU]

It seems that David Paterson's gubernatorial campaign is something less than fiscally disciplined, spending lavishly on consultants, hotels and -- in one case -- joke writers. That largesse apparently did not extend to reimbursing the state for airfare, though. [NYT] [TU]

(there's more)

Ravitch appointment temporarily unblocked, Schenectady woman set on fire, New York State owes back taxes on The Track, man saved by Pork Chop

A state appellate judge has temporarily blocked the injunction that blocked Richard Ravitch from acting as lieutenant governor. Republicans get a chance on Monday to argue that Ravitch should be re-blocked. The fight over the constitutionality of Ravitch's appointment could drag on for months -- and will probably end up in the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court. [AP/CapNews9] [NYT] [NYDN]

Schenectady police say a woman was set on fire last night during what appears to have been an argument. Police say the woman was in so much pain that she wasn't able to give them any details about the attack. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [CBS6]

Said Ron Kim during his announcement yesterday that he's running for mayor of Saratoga Springs: "There is nothing wrong with this city that can't be fixed." Kim says his administration would focus on open government, fixing the city budget and a new public safety building. Kim, a Democrat, will face Republican incumbent Scott Johnson. The two candidates were already doing some trash talking yesterday. [Saratogian] [TU] [CapNews9]

The three Democrats running for mayor of Albany will be at a candidate forum tonight at St. Sophia's. The forum will focus on senior citizens issues and will include a Q&A session. [TU] [CapNews9]

(there's more)

Ravitch appointment blocked, motivational event jams traffic, Schenectady SD paid $13k for Raucci report, Troy dog park drama continues

A state Supreme Court justice in Nassau County has issued an injunction stopping Richard Ravitch's appointment as lieutenant governor. The justice also ruled that Malcolm Smith -- who's (again) the state Senate president -- would take over the role of governor if something happened to David Paterson. A spokesman for Paterson says the administration will appeal in the ruling. Despite the injunction, Ravitch says he'll be showing up for work today. [NYT][NYDN] [Daily Politics] [Fox23]

The "Get Motivated" event at the TU Center yesterday contributed to a big traffic jam in downtown Albany yesterday morning -- I-90 and I-787 had mile-long lines of standing cars. The event featured motivational speakers -- including Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani -- pitching optimism, faith, skepticism of government and motivational products. Powell's speech was apparently the highlight of the day. (Question for another day: if having this gathering during a weekday snarled traffic so badly, what will happen if/when there's a convention center downtown?) [Fox23] [TU] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record]

Albany police say two banks -- one on New Scotland and another on Delaware -- were held up yesterday within a span of 15 minutes. And they say it looks the same person was involved in both. The guy apparently got frustrated during the first robbery attempt -- so he left without money and headed for the second bank. [Troy Record] [TU] [CapNews9]

The chairman of the Troy City Council's public safety committee says RPI needs to "bring more to the table" in assistance for fire department coverage of the campus. The union that reps Troy firefighters has been lobbying for RPI to pay a "public safety fee" to help fund firefighter staffing near the campus -- and it appears the union is going to keep pressing the issue. [TU] [Troy Record]

(there's more)

Attorney calls ESP man cave allegations overblown, SPAC ticket surchage floated, Tedisco proposes "Madoff Bill," DEC building urinals criticized for backsplash

An attorney for one of the men accused of setting up a "man cave" in the ESP for smoking pot instead described the space as "a break room" and called the allegations "overblown." One of the accused men has a criminal record -- and there are some questions about whether the state knew that before hiring him. [TU] [CBS6]

The Albany Common Council has passed a resolution that calls on public agencies to not ask a person about his/her immigration status if that person is "not posing a threat." The resolution is non-binding. [TU] [CBS6] [Fox23]

Saratoga Springs' finance commissioner has floated the idea of tacking on a $2 surcharge to rock and pop concert tickets at SPAC. The fee could bring in as much as $500k. SPAC's executive director said the venue is "firmly opposed" to the proposed fee and called it "an onerous tax." [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Saratogian]

The Troy Fire Department says mayor Harry Tutunjian has asked it to tour the RPI campus -- EMPAC in particular -- to get a better sense of the layout of campus buildings. The TFD has been lobbying for RPI to pay a public safety fee to fund additional fire coverage of the campus. [TU]

(there's more)

Raucci report won't be released, cool summer may be setting up cold winter, Tedisco hints at run for different office, alleged cold cut heist leads to pepper spraying

The Schenectady school district's internal investigation into Steven Raucci -- the former district employee who's been accused arson and intimidation -- will not be made public. The district says its lawyer "strongly advised" it to not release the report. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

The package of state incentives for the Luther Forest chip fab project is actually closer to $1.37 billion -- and could be more if GlobalFoundries expands at the site. [TU]

A guy who was forcibly sedated at the direction of Albany County law enforcement so they could search his body for drugs in 2006 has settled his lawsuit for $125k. The search included a camera being put up his rectum. [TU] [AP/CBS6]

There's some historical data that indicates we could be in for a cold, snowy winter. [TU]

The Capital Region's tick population -- and the incidence of Lyme disease -- appear to be on the rise. [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

State Senate portions pork in the middle of the night, more investment at Albany Nanotech, questions about near-drowning in Troy, common councilman owes back taxes

The state Senate was in session until 3 am this morning. It ended up passing a package of rules reforms for the chamber, including new guidelines for the distribution of pork and staff funding. The session was anything but smooth -- and the long delay prompted a few senators to leave. [Daily Politics] [TU] [Daily Politics]

Hiram Monserrate -- one of the state senators in the middle of the recent mess -- has been restored to his position as chair of Consumer Protection Committee and given his $12,500 stipend. Monserrate's chairmanship was taken away earlier this year after he was charged with slashing his girlfriend. [TU]

David Paterson's 2010 gubernatorial campaign racked up a $1000 bill for a campaign meeting at a bar in Jersey City. [NYT]

New York State announced that it will be spending $50 million on a "packaging" facility for computer chips at Albany Nanotech -- IBM is also part of the project and it will be putting up $75 million. Also part of the announcement: a new facility at SUNY IT (near Utica) that will work with Albany Nanotech. [Biz Review] [TU]

(there's more)

Game on in state Senate, documents indicate district officials may have known about Raucci, police say man used child as shield, popular Phish camp closed

The state Senate is back in session today, though it seems no one really knows what's going to happen. The session could take up NYC-related legislation -- or it could focus on reforming pork distribution. One possible complication: Democrats will only have a 31-30 majority because one of their members is on his honeymoon. [AP/Troy Record] [TU] [NYP]

David Paterson apparently wasn't a fan of the Democratic leadership signing Happy Birthday at their post-game press conference last week. Maybe he's just annoyed that he had to take time out from fund raising because of the Senate mess. [Daily Politics] [NYT]

Longtime Capital Region car dealer Ken Gowey says he's running for governor. His platform includes big tax cuts and belief that "man-made global warming" is a "boondoggle." [TU]

Documents filed as part of a lawsuit against the Schenectady School District indicate that district officials may have known about Steven Raucci's alleged acts of harassment as early as 2005. The documents include handwritten notes from the district's HR director that originally appeared as part of a workers compensation claim against the district. That claim alleged that an employee who worked under Raucci suffered emotional harm because of harassment. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

A state Supreme Court judge has struck down Albany County's sex offender residency law because it's superceded by state law. A similar law in Rensselaer County was tossed recently for the same reason. [TU]

(there's more)

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]

(there's more)

Everyone seems upset in Senate mess aftermath, Albany says sewer failure wasn't its fault, bar owners brought SLA with check of a box, rain leads to exploding cherries

David Paterson says the caucus switching that's been going on in the state Senate is "so blatantly quid pro quo that it borders on the boundaries of illegality." Jim Tedisco says that the recent mess has prompted him to work on introducing legislation in the Assembly that would allow elected officials to be recalled -- he singled out Pedro Espada for "selling his office." Roy McDonald says the legislature is "evolving into a branch of the New York City Council." And Neil Breslin says the recent events have him "less excited about being a senator." [AP/TU] [TU] [Fox23] [Saratogian] [AP/Troy Record]

Friday's special session of the state Senate was canceled and the body is next scheduled to meet on Wednesday. [PolitickerNY]

One thing the Senate ovethrow/unthrow didn't stop: big pay raises for a bunch of Senate staffers. [TU]

A hearing on the constitutionality of David Paterson's appointment of Richard Ravitch to the post of lieutenant governor has been scheduled for Wednesday. Even with the state Senate mess resolved, both Paterson and Ravitch say there's still a need for a lt governor. [AP/TU] [PolitickerNY]

Lawyers for Joe Bruno are arguing that his trial for "theft of honest services" should be delayed until the Supreme Court of the United State rules on a pair of similar cases. [TU]

They City of Albany has denied almost $300k in claims related to the flooding last August. The city says the deluge "exceeded all levels for which municipal storm sewers or municipal combined sewers are designed." [TU]

(there's more)

No progress in state Senate, mid-year budget change could be necessary, alleged pharmacy robber nabbed, stimulating the sign economy, hunting for what's left of Henry Hudson

The state Senate had two more in-and-out sessions this past weekend. Negotiations are apparently going on behind the scenes. The big sticking point remains leadership of the chamber -- specifically Pedro Espada's role as president pro tem. David Paterson is reportedly telling Democrats they may just have to get over it. [Newsday] [Daily Politics] [Buffalo News] [NYDN]

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli says it's looking like the state will be short on money later this year -- and a mid-year budget adjustment will probably be necessary. Of course, the would be virtually impossible with the state Senate locked in its current mess. [NYDN]

A state audit of the Schenectady Metroplex Authority reports that the org isn't tracking whether its investment projects are meeting job creation targets and that it's leaving parking money on the table. The authority disputed many of the findings -- and said it's purposefully not charging for parking. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Is it a coincidence that the owner of the construction company with a virtual lock on big projects in the City of Albany is BFF with the mayor and police chief? [TU]

(there's more)

State comptroller says he'll stop senators' pay, officials say fatal Schenectady fire was arson, Troy's Cannon Building could be closed, WTEN going up for auction

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli says he will withhold state senators' pay because of the Senate standoff. There's some question as to whether DiNapoli can legally do that -- and a spokesman for Senate Democrats has already said they'll sue if the comptroller actually goes through with it. [NYT] [NYDN] [TU]

There didn't appear to be an significant progress toward a resolution of the state Senate mess yesterday, though the two sides did talk. David Paterson asked the public for ideas about how to fix the situation. [Daily Politics] [Capitol Tonight]

One group that's made OK in all this: lawyers. [Capitol Tonight]

With another "extraordinary" session planned for tomorrow, senators were making Fourth of July plans. Among them: conjugal visits, fireworks at the ESP, laundry and reading "computer mail." [NYDN] [NYT]

Schenectady County DA Robert Carney says the fire that killed a 10-year-old girl in Schenectady last month was intentionally set by woman who was upset with the girl's mother. The woman has been charged with murder and arson. Carney says he doesn't think the woman intended to kill the child. The girl's mother was not home at the time of the fire -- she's been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Three firefighters were injured while trying to save the girl. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Fox23] [CBS6]

(there's more)

That was a lot of rain, state Senate will meet on 4th, RPI disputes fire department accusations, Rudy Giuliani wants to motivate you, ALB says show up earlier

Yesterday's severe thunderstorms dropped more than three inches of rain in some places (the official NWS tally of 2.76 inches was a local record for July 1). Latham and Cohoes seemed to get the worst of it. There were reports of flooding all over the area. [TU] [NWS] [Fox23] [Twitter]

The state Senate held another of its "extraordinary" in-and-out sessions yesterday. The big issue of the day seemed to be the question of whether the Assembly would accept the bills "passed" by the Senate in Tuesday's V8-fueled session. It looks like the senators will be spending the Fourth of July at the Capitol -- David Paterson has ordered them into session every day through Monday. [TU] [Daily Politics]

Both Senate factions are expected to turn in per diem requests for the last two weeks today -- though whether they'll be paid is apparently up in the air. [NYDN]

Guilderland's supervisor says the town will be pulling its garbage business from the Albany landfill because of concerns about the facility's expansion into the Pine Bush. [TU]

RPI says that its public safety office called the Troy Fire Department just 32 seconds after the first report of a fire at one its chem labs this week -- not 12 minutes as the department has alleged. The TFD says RPI's delay created a more dangerous situation for firefighters. [Troy Record]

(there's more)

State Senate still stuck, Novello to do community service at Albany clinic, political spat over playground, Miss New York crowned, angry penguin in Waterford

The state Senate is still stuck. The two caucuses repeated their parallel in-and-out sessions over the weekend. David Paterson, who's suing the Senate over the quickie sessions, met with the Democratic caucus over the weekend -- though there aren't any details about whether they decided to hug it out or to continue hating each other. Yet another "extraordinary" session is planned for today. The two sides appear no closer to working out a power-sharing deal. [CapNews9] [Daily Politics] [AP/TU]

One of the background issues to the Senate mess is the 2010 redistricting. Demographers say population shifts are pointing toward a sizable Democratic majority -- though that depends on how districts are drawn. [NYT]

The state comptroller's office has cancelled $3 million in state funding for Pedro Espada's Bronx health care company. The comptroller says Espada, the disputed Senate pro tem, neglected to report that his org owed back taxes. [TU]

Even though New York State pays some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the nation, the state's unemployment insurance fund will be $2 billion short by the end of the year. [TU]

Albany County will be furloughing employees one day per month over the next six months. County exec Mike Breslin says the plan will save $1.4 million (the county faces a $20.5 million budget gap). Breslin says he'll be taking part in the furlough. [TU] [Troy Record]

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State senators agree to hate on David Paterson, landfill expansion gets official OK from DEC, Troy dog park becomes political squabble, Dino looking for big tax breaks, rabid fox alert, gastropub opening in Saratoga

The state Senate's two caucuses held separate, brief -- and pointless -- sessions yesterday. The two sides apparently are close to working out some sort of deal to share power -- and asked for more time to negotiate. David Paterson essentially told them to stuff it and called another "extraordinary" session for today. He also directed the state treasurer to withhold senators' per diems. [Daily Politics] [NYT] [PolitickerNY]

One thing senators of both sides can apparently agree on: they're annoyed with David Paterson. Brooklyn Dem Kevin Park even called Paterson a "coke snorting, staff-banging governor" (he later retracted his comment -- at least he didn't hit the governor). Paterson said it's not him versus the legislature, but rather "governance versus chaos." [Newsday] [PolitickerNY] [NYDN] [TU]

It looks like the Senate chaos has put the same-sex marriage bill on hold indefinitely. [AP/Daily Gazette]

Former state health commissioner Antonia Novello has pleaded guilty in the case that alleged she used her state employees as personal assistants. She's getting off with no jail time, but will have to do community service, pay $22,500 in restitution and pay a small fine. [TU] [AP/Daily Gazette]

A spokesman for Rick Lazio says the former Long Island congressman and US Senate candidate "fully intends" to run for Governor of New York. Lazio has called for New York to replace the Assembly and Senate with a unicameral legislature. [AP/TU] [Daily Politics]

A draft of the Albany Common Council's ghost ticket investigation report concludes that the "intent of the system itself was not bad ... it was the impropriety in how the benefit was granted that is a cause for concern." One version of the draft report also apparently includes sharp criticism of city treasurer Betty Barnette's office. [TU]

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Marika Charles factory sale

marika charles factory

From a previous factory sale

Marika Charles -- the fashion knitwear label based in Schenectady (really) -- is having a factory sale this weekend. Apparently there will be some deep discounts.

The label's pieces are normally sold in fashion boutiques such as Fred Segel. Hipster fashion icon Sienna Miller has even been spotted wearing one of their cardigans.

Marika Charles, the company, is an interesting story. The company is a brother and sister team -- he's a textiles expert and she's a designer. They've developed a patented process for quickly dying fabrics with patterns created in Illustrator or Photoshop.

The factory sale is this Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 11-4.

photo: Marika Charles

Paterson threatens state Senate, landfill expansion needs another permit, Troy dog park controversy, another pizza person mugged, gourmet market coming to Latham

The state Senate was in session for all of five minutes yesterday -- and the Republicans weren't even there. [Daily Politics]

David Paterson has called another "extraordinary" session for today. If senators don't show, he says he'll move to withhold their pay. He's also threatening to send the State Police after missing senators. A Brooklyn senator responded to Paterson's threats by calling him a "coward" who "will not be returning as governor." Leaders of both caucuses say their memberships will be at the Capitol today. [TU] [Daily Politics] [NYT] [Buffalo News]

A business run by Pedro Espada, one of the senators who set this whole circus in motion, owes almost $350k in back taxes. In 2007, Espada made almost $460k at the org, which gets funding from the state. [TU]

Even if the DEC approves the Albany landfill expansion, the project will still have to get the OK from the Army Corps of Engineers (though it won't stop the landfill from being piled higher). [TU]

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Special state Senate session a disaster, landfill expansion could be approved soon, home prices holding steady, new music venue for Saratoga

Yesterday's special state Senate session was a mess. Among the absurdities: Democrats entered the chamber early in some sort of attempt to call "first!"; each side held its own concurrent session (with their own gavels) and tried to call the other out of order; no one knows if any of the voted-on bills were legally passed. [TU] [Daily Politics] [CapCon] [NYDN] [NYT]

David Paterson has called the Senate back for another session today -- with the same-sex marriage bill on the agenda. The inclusion of that bill could prompt Democrat Ruben Diaz Sr. to switch allegiance to the Republicans, giving them a majority. [Daily Politics]

Jerry Jennings' chief aide says the city's application to expand the Rapp Road landfill could be approved by the DEC as early as this week. At its current size, the landfill is projected to be full later this year -- six years ahead of schedule. Common Councilman -- and mayoral candidate -- Corey Ellis called for "a comprehensive audit of the Rapp Road landfill by a truly independent body" yesterday. [TU] [Ellis press release]

The median price for homes in the Capital Region more or less held steady last month compared to the same period last year -- though the number of transactions was down. Median prices were up in Schenectady County, flat in Albany County and down in Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. Homes priced under $200k are apparently selling well. [Daily Gazette] [GCAR/Post-Star] [TU]

(there's more)

Paterson calls special Senate session, twins die in accident, lottery winner allegedly sold crack, man accused of syruping gas tanks

David Paterson is calling the state Senate into special session this afternoon. Whether anything of actual substance will happen is uncertain, though -- in large part because it's not clear who will be running the chamber. Paterson can set the agenda -- and he's putting up 90 largely uncontroversial bills for consideration (he can't make the senators vote, though). When/if the bills are voted on, Paterson says he'll keep the Senate in session for bills related to "reform, fiscal discipline and also civil rights." One of those bills is probably the same-sex marriage bill, though Paterson didn't say that exactly -- probably because Democrat, and outspoken same-sex marriage opponent, Ruben Diaz has been threatening to switch parties if the bill is brought up. [TU] [NYDN] [Buffalo News] [Daily Politics] [PolitickerNY]

While the Senate drama lurched forward yesterday, the Assembly finished its session. [AP]

Twin teenage brothers died Sunday in Rensselaer County after the ATVs they were driving collided head-on. A teen girl was also seriously injured. The teens were not wearing helmets (the TU story says state law requires helmets, the Gazette story says it does not helmets are required). [TU] [Troy Record] [Daily Gazette]

Police say a Schenectady man stabbed his adult step daughter and her friend after the man got into an argument with his wife at a Father's Day party on Sunday. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

Paterson says he will force Senate into session, judge snagged in DWI sweep, bristling at being New York's pay toilet, vinyl records store opens in Schenectady

David Paterson says he will call the state Senate into special session tomorrow if the body doesn't get to work today. Said Paterson yesterday of all the drama: "Over the last couple of weeks, the senators' conduct has been laughable." Paterson says Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman would preside over the special session -- a provision that some say could be unconstitutional or create a conflict of interest. The session would focus on "emergency" issues such as the sale tax extension for some counties. Not on that list: same-sex marriage, though Paterson says he intends for the Senate to vote on the bill before the summer break. [TU] [NYDN] [PolitickerNY] [Daily Politics] [NYT]

Two things that might prompt Senators to start moving: they can't hook up their cronies with patronage jobs until the situation's resolved; and all their pork is currently locked in the barrel. [TU] [TU]

A man was stabbed to death in Schenectady Saturday morning. Police say they haven't identified a motive. [TU] [Fox23]

Police say an Albany County family court judge was snagged as part of the county-wide drunk driving sweep last Thursday. Green Island police say the judge tried to evade a checkpoint at the Troy-Green Island Bridge and led police on a short chase. [TU] [Troy Record]

The Albany Police Department is reportedly trying to fire two members of the force -- the detective accused of driving drunk through Albany into Bethlehem in February; and the sergeant who's been accused of trying to cover for the detective. [TU]

(there's more)

Senate is still stuck, big drug bust in Wilton, Alive at Five DWI crackdown planned, man accused of impersonating a cop, another local moose sighting

The state Senate is still borked. Local elected leaders are getting nervous because the Senate hasn't passed bills that would extend special sales taxes (this group includes Rensselaer and Columbia counties). Also held up: the new pension tier that was part of David Paterson's deal with the state worker unions. And the lid on the pork barrel is also shut. [TU] [CapNews9] [Buffalo News]

Republicans and Democrats are apparently trading ideas for power-sharing agreements. They're also starting to throw mud at each other. A sample exchange: Pork-throwing adulterer! Liar! [PolitickerNY] [NYP]

Pedro Espada, the lone Democrat in the Republican "coalition," has been reiterating his claim that his position as Senate pro tem gives him two votes -- not just in the event of a tie, but also to establish a quorum. An expert from the the Rockefeller Institute said Espada's claim "just might be correct." But the case law would seem to indicate otherwise. If Espada tries to act in this manner, the Democrats will almost certainly sue. [Daily Politics] [AP/Troy Record] [TU] [NYT]

The revised Schenectady schools budget did pass after all. A re-check of the numbers found a mistake that had resulted in almost 50 fewer "yes" votes. Had the budget not passed, the school district was going to impose an almost 16 percent tax increase as part of a contingency budget. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

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State Senate frozen with no end in sight, local orgs lack pandemic plans, abandoned high-end homes in Saratoga, DEC hoping for hot turtle action

The state Senate is basically frozen right now. Yesterday a judge dismissed the Democrats' suit seeking to void last week's takeover by the Republicans + Pedro Espada. The Republicans claimed victory and tried to go into session -- but with only 31 senators present, they couldn't form a quorum. [NYT] [Daily Politics]

David Paterson again called on the Senate to work out some sort of power sharing deal, perhaps bringing someone such as former chief judge Judith Kaye to preside over the chamber. He also said the line of succession to the governorship is in dispute. [TU]

If the state Senate ever does back into session, Espada is arguing that he should have two votes -- his regular vote plus one as acting lieutenant governor. Apparently there's no precedent for that, though. [NYP]

By the way: the Assembly has been working while all this has been going on. [Daily Politics]

(there's more)

State Senate paralyzed by drama, plane plucked from Mohawk, Albany sewers maxed out, moose on the loose

As had been rumored, Hiram Monserrate switched back to the Democratic caucus yesterday and now the state Senate is split 31-31. Result: no one knows what the hell is going on. The two parties discussed a power-sharing arrangement, but couldn't come up with a deal. They're now looking to the courts to settle things> -- and it sounds like the judiciary would really rather not do that. [NYT] [NYDN] [NYT]

The situation puts the state in a "constitutional crisis" as there's no clear way for the Senate to function. Also muddled: the line of succession to the governorship. [Buffalo News]

The Republicans + Democrat Pedro Espada showed up in the Senate chamber yesterday, but couldn't do anything official because they were one short of a quorum. Democrats are now threatening to sue Espada because, they say, he violated a court-issued injunction against acting as Senate pro tem. [Daily Politics] [CapNews9]

John Sampson, the new leader of the Senate Democrats, is being credited with bringing Monserrate back into the caucus. [TU]

A crew pulled the small private plane that crashed into the Mohawk near Glenville out of the river yesterday. The victims were also identified -- one was a former Bollywood actor turned real estate developer. Officials aren't sure what caused the crash. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

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Senate drama twists again, small plane crashes into Mohawk, firefighters pull unconcisous girl from fire, Whole Foods reportedly scouting area

The state Senate drama took another twist over the weekend when Hiram Monserrate -- one of the Democratic switchers -- said he's returning to caucus with the Democrats. Apparently one of Monserrate's demands for returning to the Dems' caucus was that Malcolm Smith had to go as majority leader. Brooklyn senator John Sampson is reportedly going to take over as head of the Democratic caucus -- but Smith might stay on as leader-in-name-only so the Democrats can pursue their case arguing that the Republican takeover was illegal. [NYDN] [NYDN] [NYP] [TU]

If Monserrate really does switch back, it would leave the Senate split 31-31 -- and that could mean epic gridlock. Dean Skelos and Pedro Espada -- the (new, former?) Senate leaders -- would stay in charge of the body. Typically in a 31-31 split the lieutenant governor would cast the deciding vote -- but New York is currently without a lt governor. Republicans are apparently arguing that Espada -- who's the Senate pro tem -- should get two votes. That's not going over well with the Democrats. [Buffalo News] [NYDN]

By the way: Espada still hasn't settled his numerous campaign disclosure violations, as he promised to do. [TU]

Two people are dead and another missing after a small plane crashed into the Mohawk shortly after take-off from the Mohawk Valley Airport in Glenville yesterday afternoon. Witnesses say it appears the plane didn't get enough speed to take off. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The Troy pizza shop worker who thwarted a robbery last month was shot four times Saturday in another hit on the shop -- he's expected to live. Police say the man confronted the shooter(s) in front of the store because he thought something was up. The shop is a Domino's -- the company is offering a $5000 reward for info. [TU] [Troy Record] [CapNews9]

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Senate drama grinds on, land deal closed for chip fab, Tuffey back on the job, man tasered in burning house, winery planned near Saratoga

The state Senate stayed locked -- literally -- yesterday as the Republican led coalition tried to solidify its backing and Democrats tried to regain the upper hand (it looks like they'll be challenging the takeover in court). Pedro Espada, the possibly-new Senate president pro tem, said the chamber would open today -- and he proudly displayed the key to the locked room (though he wouldn't say how he obtained it). David Paterson scolded the Senate yesterday, urging its members to "to act like adults." [TU] [TU] [AP/Daily Gazette] [NYDN]

The senator-of-the-moment is Hiram Monserrate, the other Democratic switcher. It seems he might be playing both sides in a bid to get the best deal. Said one unidentified legislator: "Hiram is driving the train. God help us all." Monserrate seemed to indicate yesterday that he's sticking with the Republican-led coaltion. One apparent undercurrent to this drama is increasing friction between Latino and African American legislators (both Espada and Monserrate are Latino). [NYT] [Newsday] [Buffalo News] [Daily Politics] [NYT]

Part of yesterday's proceedings outside the Senate chamber: a clown -- who was apparently hired by the New York Post. [PolitickerNY]

GlobalFoundries closed on the land for the Luther Forest chip fab yesterday. GloFo bought 223 acres for $7.8 million. Land clearing is scheduled to start next week and construction in late July. The signed deal had Saratoga County officials celebrating what one person described as a "10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle". Others were a bit more in-your-face. Said the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce president: "To everyone who said it wouldn't happen: 'See you, suckers!'" [Daily Gazette] [Biz Review] [TU] [Post-Star] [Saratogian]

(there's more)

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.

(there's more)

Chip fab construction could start soon, bottle bill postponed, new principal for Albany High, fee going up for flying out of ALB

GlobalFoundries and labor unions have reportedly worked out a deal that includes the payment of union wages at the construction site of the Luther Forest chip fab -- whether workers are union or not. GloFo has been waiting to close on the land for the fab until it had such a deal in place. The agreement is apparently not officially a done deal -- though both the company and the unions say they're "very close." If the agreement does comes together, the initial stages of construction at the site could begin in a few weeks. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star] [Biz Review]

The emergency preparedness drill involving that low-flying helicopter started yesterday in Albany County. The drill's scenario includes the "detonation" of two radioactive "dirty bombs" in downtown Albany. About 600 people from local, state and federal governments are involved in the training. [TU] [Troy Record] [Daily Gazette] [Fox23]

A federal judge has postponed the start of New York's "better bottle bill" (which adds bottled water to list of beverages that require a 5 cent deposit) until next April. The judge also tossed the bill's New York State-specific bar code provision. [AP/TU] [NYT]

It sounds ethics reform for the state legislature is going to stall because Sheldon Silver is not on board. [NYT]

The two largest state worker unions say they're in "discussions" with the Paterson administration about the planned layoffs. [CBS6]

(there's more)

Police say kidnapping and car chase shooting were linked, crackdown planned for Alive at Five, new Spitzer details, badass of the week

Police say last week's multi-city kidnapping and the car-to-car shooting in Troy were all part of the same story -- a twisted, violent story like something out of 24 or a mob movie. Police say the woman abducted in Albany last week was tortured -- including the use of bleach and salt in her wounds -- in Troy as part of an attempt to extract information from her about a safe her brother allegedly stole. The brother then allegedly went to Troy to swap the safe for his sister, but not trusting the captors, police say he opened fire on them as they drove -- with the man's sister in the trunk of one of the cars -- through the streets of Troy. [TU] [Troy Record] [WNYT]

The City of Albany says it'll be cracking down on drunk people at this summer's Alive at Five concerts. Among the methods: the use of a sensor to test drinks -- and people -- for alcohol. [Troy Record] [TU]

Scores on state math tests given to grade school students were up statewide this year -- including local school districts. The results prompted the head of the state Board of Regents to ask if the test was too easy. [NYSED] [Daily Gazette] [TU]

State Senator Tom Duane, the sponsor of the Senate same-sex marriage bill, says the measure has enough votes to pass the state Senate. Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith says he doesn't think that's true -- and says he won't bring the bill to a vote if he thinks it will fail. [NYDN] [Buffalo News] [TU]

(there's more)

Albany cop testifies he was yelled at over accident involving chief's niece, Kathina Thomas killed a year ago today, Albany Med gets big gift, Saratoga bike-to-school ban protested

Albany police officer Daniel Condon testified under oath before the Common Council last night that he felt "intimidated" after police chief James Tuffey "yelled" at him over the radio at the scene of a 2007 car wreck involving Tuffey's niece -- Condon ended up not issuing a ticket. Condon was testifying as part of the Common Council's investigation into the ghost ticket scandal. Retired commander Leonard Crouch -- a former head of the police union -- also testified, and accused the council of pursuing the investigation "for no good reason other than personal or political gain." [TU] [CapNews9]

Police say an Albany woman was abducted from her apartment on Elk Street, transported to Troy where she was beaten, and then transported to Schenectady in a car trunk. They say the woman escaped in Schenectady after managing to get the trunk opened from the inside -- a passing driver picked her up and took her to the hospital. Three women have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping. A spokesman for the Albany police said the case is like something "right out of a movie or a TV show." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [Fox23]

Kathina Thomas was killed by a stray bullet in West Hill one year ago today. There's a memorial for her this evening. [TU] [WNYT]

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Justin Maine: "So Right, So Smart"

Justin.jpg

Justin Maine, one of the directors of "So Right, So Smart."

Local filmmaker Justin Maine just got back from New Zealand where he collected the Best Feature Film prize at the Reel Earth Festival for his new documentary, "So Right So Smart."

Maine is one of the owners of MagicWig Productions in Schenectady. Usually they produce corporate video, but for the last three years his team (Guy Noerr, Leanne Robinson Maine and Michael Swantek) has been flying around the country documenting the efforts of businesses to "go green."

The resulting film, narrated by Daryl Hannah, covers a wide range of businesses -- from a farm to a brewery to a clothing company to Barenaked Ladies (yep, the band) to Wal-Mart.

So Right, So Smart makes its local debut on Saturday at Albany's Palace Theater.

Before he left for New Zealand, Justin hung out with us over bagels and told us how the worlds largest manufacturer of commercial carpeting taught him about the importance of going green, why Al Gore isn't in his movie and what he and his team have in common with folks like Kevin Smith and Peter Jackson.

(there's more)

More criticism of ambulance response times, Tuffey's credentials quesitoned, fewer state worker layoffs predicted, students not allowed to ride bikes to school, bear sightings in Troy

The head of the Albany firefighters' union says his members have complained "several times" about slow response times for Mohawk Ambulance. The service is under scrutiny after it took 25 minutes for an ambulance to show up at the scene of a fatal crash between a kid on a bike and a car last week. [TU]

A TU review of records indicates that Albany police chief James Tuffey is not actually licensed to be a police officer -- though, by law, the doesn't preclude him from being chief. Common Council president Shawn Morris -- who's also running for mayor -- says there's "a strong expectation across the board that the police chief is a police officer" and has called for Tuffey to go on leave while the matter is investigated. That TU investigation also turned up questions about whether Tuffey has a permit to carry a gun. [TU] [Fox23] [TU]

"Experts" say only a few hundred state workers will actually be laid off as part of the state budget cuts. The state Department of Budget reports that 1,200 of the 8,700 planned job cuts have already happened because of the hiring freeze and retirements. [Newsday]

A Greenfield landlord has been charged with murder after police say he stabbed a tenant last week. [Saratogian]

(there's more)

Ambulance delay questioned, Paterson pessimistic about state finances, Rensselaer council doesn't show for no-show vote, Listerine blamed for failed sobriety test, surge of interest in home gardens

Albany mayor Jerry Jennings says he's putting together a task force to investigate why it took 25 minutes for an ambulance to show up at the scene of a fatal crash between a kid on a bike and a car. A spokesman for the ambulance company, Mohawk Ambulance, said "extraordinary circumstances" required the company to pull an ambulance from Troy to make the run. Firefighters who first responded to the scene reportedly called dispatch twice inquiring about the location of the ambulance. The boy -- who wasn't wearing a helmet -- later died at St. Peter's. The site of the crash was a little more than two miles from the hospital. [CapNews9] [TU] [Fox23] [Google Maps]

David Paterson is warning that $3 billion may have to be cut from this year's state budget -- though it seems that prediction isn't based on much more than his own hunch. Paterson's own budget office gently disputed the claim yesterday. [NYT] [NYDN]

Paterson made his comments about the budget at an appearance yesterday to sign a bill that uses federal stimulus money to extend a person's possible collection of unemployment benefits to 72 weeks. [TU]

State leaders are trying to work out a fix for the new bottle bill. It looks like a revised version will not include the New York-only barcode that bottlers said was going to be so much trouble. [TU]

Saratoga Springs police say they found a grenade and a bunch of guns during a domestic violence call yesterday. SSPD -- along with the ATF -- later arrested a man who lived at the residence. The bomb squad was called to remove the grenade. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

School budgets pass with a few notable exceptions, state budget might have to be cut again, state driving while texting ban proposed, SPAC tax might help Saratoga close gap

Most school budgets in the Capital Region passed yesterday -- but the budgets for Schenectady and Troy did not. Schenectady's schools superintendent blamed recent negative media coverage (Raucci, suicides) for the defeat. Troy's budget was narrowly defeated and its schools superintendent says he thinks the budget would pass on a second attempt. County round-ups: Albany, Schenectady, Rennselaer, Saratoga. [TU] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [Saratogian]

State revenues are falling significantly behind last year's pace and it looks like this year's budget will have to be cut again, according to a report from the state comptroller. [NYT]

It doesn't look like caps on state spending or property tax increases currently have any chance in the state legislature, but municipal consolidation is getting attention. Also (sort of) surfacing again: the soda tax. [TU] [Daily Politics]

A state Assemblyman from the Bronx has proposed a bill that would ban texting while driving. The bill is currently being blocked by a Rochester legislator, but it apparently has some support from Sheldon Silver. [CapNews9] [Buffalo News]

The bottled water industry has filed suit in federal court arguing that the new bottle deposit bill is unconstitutional because it violates the commerce clause and the equal protection clause. [TU]

(there's more)

Earth gently relieving its stress, Paterson calls for calorie counts on menus, Golisano says state bailed on us, Pink Palace sold, guy wins car with hold-in-one

Today is school budget and school board voting day. [CapNews9]

A geologist at the State Museum says the recent string of small earthquakes in Berne is a good thing because stresses in the earth are being released gently. [AOA] [TU]

Police are continuing to investigate the former doctor who's accused of torching Saratoga Winners for the insurance money. Among the points of interest: alleged paycheck irregularities at his staffing firm and a burned-down hair salon. [TU]

Republican Mary Ann McGinn -- an attorney with an MBA -- says she's running for Albany City Treasurer. The current -- and embattled -- treasurer, Democrat Betty Barnette, is also facing a primary challenge. [TU]

Sixteen schools in New York City have now been closed because of the recent flare up of the emerging H1N1 flu. Public officials aren't sure if the school closings actually help, though. The state health department is trying to get a centralized system together to track student illnesses -- the hope being such a system would help officials identify an outbreak earlier. [NYT] [NYT] [AP/CapNews9]

David Paterson has proposed state legislation that would require chain restaurants to post calorie information on their menus. The rule might even apply to places such as Stewart's. [TU] [Troy Record]

(there's more)

Police say Saratoga Winners fire was arson, earthquake near Berne, two men Cheney'd while hunting turkey, time capsule found

Colonie police say the owner of Saratoga Winners set the club on fire so he could collect the insurance money. The owner is a former gynecologist -- his medical license was revoked 2006. [Troy Record] [TU]

The USGS reports there was a magnitude 3 earthquake near Berne last night -- people report that it woke them up. [USGS] [CBS6]

Stillwater says water usage in the town is down 2 million gallons (no time frame given)-- perhaps out of concern about PCB contamination from the Hudson seeping into the town's wells. [CapNews9]

One of the highest-profile potential primary challengers to Kirsten Gillibrand says he won't run for the Senate. Steve Israel, a Congressman from Long Island, says President Obama asked him to not challenge Gillibrand. [TU] [NYT]

A man in New York City died last night from complications related to the emerging H1N1 influenza -- New York's State's first reported death from the virus. NYC has closed 10 schools in an effort to keep a lid on another flu flare up. [NYT]

(there's more)

Hudson River dredging starts today, no pork for Tedisco, Brown's new brews held up by barcode confusion, prom dress rugby

The Hudson River PCB dredging project finally starts today. Years in the planning -- and fighting -- the project is expected to cost more than $750 million and stretch until 2015. The first phase will include crews working 24 hours a day, six days a week until October. Towns in Saratoga County that get their drinking water from the Hudson have already switched over to Troy's water supply after tests indicated the level of PCBs in the river was twice the EPA's safe limit. [Post-Star] [Biz Review] [TU] [CapNews9]

A fourth Skidmore student has been charged in the alleged assault of a fellow student in April. The four students -- all seniors -- are accused of breaking down multiple doors to reach the sophomore, who -- according to his attorney -- says the alleged attack was like something out of The Shining. The four seniors reportedly had a dispute with the sophomore over a woman.[Saratogian] [TU] [Post-Star]

Jim Tedisco didn't take any pork this year for his Assembly district. Last year he gave out more than $400k in "member item" money. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

David Paterson vetoed legislation that would have fined local governments for not complying with the state's open meetings law. He said the law was "problematic" because the $500 fine would have been assessed to the governmental entity -- not the officials. [AP/TU]

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli issued a report recommending that the state adopt a two-year budget cycle and voter-approval of new state debt. [Biz Review]

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Assembly passes same-sex marriage bill, GE battery plant coming to Capital Region, NY's top court says no police GPS without warrant, condo slump in Saratoga, the $500 wedding

The state Assembly passed a bill that would allow same-sex marriage. The vote was 89-52 -- that's four more "yes" votes than in 2007. Five members who had voted "no" two year ago voted "yes" this time around. The lobbying focus now shifts to the state Senate, where there's currently no vote scheduled on the bill. The Senate sponsor of the bill said last night the he thinks he has enough votes to pass the measure. [TU] [Daily Politics] [NYT] [Planet Albany]

GE announced that it will build a plant to manufacture special rechargeable batteries somewhere in the Capital Region. The plant will employ 350 people and will cost $100 million -- $15 million of which the state is chipping in. The exact location of the plant has yet to be determined. Saratoga County officials are hoping the plant will land at the Luther Forest tech campus or NYSERDA's Saratoga Technology & Energy Park. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

Former state health commissioner Antonia Novello was arraigned yesterday in Albany County Court on 20 count indictment that alleges she took advantage of her staffers while she headed up the health department. She could get as many 12 years in prison. An earlier state inspector general report concluded that Novello had run up almost $50k in staff overtime for things such as driving her to the mall, watering her plants and arranging her furniture. Novello's case is being compared to former state comptroller Alan Hevesi, who resigned after it came out he had been using state employees to chauffeur his wife. Novello's lawyer she's being targeted for political reasons. [TU] [AP/Daily Gazette] [NYP] [NYDN]

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Same-sex marriage vote today in Assembly, two confirmed cases of H1N1 in Capital Region, Saratoga Springs facing big budget gap, Rachael Ray back at her alma mater

The state Assembly is expected to pass a bill today that would make same-sex marriage legal in New York (no vote is scheduled in the Senate). One of the leading advocates of the bill in the Assembly is Daniel O'Donnell, the first openly gay person to serve in the Assembly -- he's also Rosie's brother. [NYDN] [TU] [NYT]

Former state health commissioner -- and US Surgeon General -- Antonia Novella was arraigned this morning in Albany County court on charges she defrauded the state by taking advantage of her state staffers. [TU]

There are now two confirmed cases of the emerging H1N1 influenza in the greater Capital Region. Officials are saying very little about the case in Saratoga County -- they do say that it's a 12-year-old. The other case is in a Washington County student -- Cambridge Central School officials say they've been disinfecting high traffic areas of the school every night. There have now been 196 confirmed cases of the new strain of H1N1 in New York State -- 38 of them outside NYC. [Post-Star] [Fox23] [NYS DoH]

The Schenectady County DA says investigators have matched DNA from a fork used by Steven Raucci to DNA found on a cigarette used as part of an explosive device. The former Schenectady school district employee was arraigned yesterday -- he's under indictment for 26 felony counts that include terrorism and arson. Raucci's attorney said yesterday that prosecutors have put together "a case full of exaggerations." [TU] [Daily Gazette]

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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]

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Local spots on the big screen

winter frozen dreams

From Winter of Frozen Dreams: yep, that's Schenectady.

A couple of films that were shot in the Capital Region have surfaced lately.

The Skeptic, which was shot in Saratoga and a few other local spots, opens at the Spectrum on Friday. The film's writer/director, Tennyson Bardwell, will be at the theater for a post-screening talk Friday and Saturday evening.

Bardwell told the Gazette recently that Upstate New York is a good place to make movies because there's "not a jaded film community like you see in L.A. or New York." The centerpiece location of the The Skeptic is the Batcheller Mansion in Saratoga -- it's all over the film's trailer.

The other locally-shot movie is Winter of Frozen Dreams, which is based on "the bizarre tale of a brilliant biochemistry student who lead a shocking double life." It was shot at many locations around Schenectady -- in fact, First Prize Mike's shows up prominently in the trailer. WoFD is already available on DVD -- and it's scheduled to be shown at Proctors on May 14.

So are these movies any good?

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Dalai Lama in town today, Republican steps into Albany mayoral race, KG introduces first Senate bill, famous shotgun wielding-grandma dies

The Dalai Lama is appearing at the Palace Theater in Albany at 2 pm today. He's also scheduled to stop by the state Senate. A critic of the Clifton Park executive training program that's connected to the event's sponsor organization says Dalai Lama's association with the org is "a mistake." [Palace Theater] [Liz Benjamin] [CapNews9]

There's now a Republican in the race for Albany mayor. Nathan Lebron, an IT exec who lives in the Whitehall neighborhood, says the city's Democratic machine is broken and needs to be replaced. [TU]

Troy police say a man was shot and beaten in his home last night (map). His injuries aren't considered life-threatening. [TU]

David Paterson has ordered state agencies to stop buying bottled water for environmental reasons. The ban covers both indivdual bottles and the standup water cooler bottles. [NYT]

Paterson also announced that the state would be spending $25 million on battery research. The center for that research may not be located upstate, as had originally been announced. [TU] [Gannett/TU]

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Paterson proposes spending cap, man arrested after 29 years on the run, more suspected H1N1 cases test negative, Schenectady's empty neighborhoods

David Paterson has proposed capping increases in state spending at the average rate of inflation over the previous three years. Paterson says a cap "will force government to live within its means." The Governor says that if such a cap was already in place, the state would have spent $17 billion less over the last five years. A spending cap would probably have to be added to the state constitution to have any real effect. [AP/Saratogian] [NYDN] [Daily Gazette] [TU] [NYT]

Police arrested a Troy man yesterday who had escaped from a Tennessee prison 29 years ago. Robert T. Henry had been serving a 15 year sentence there for robbery. Henry apparently saw that Tennessee officials were looking for him as part of a sweep of old fugitive cases -- and he contacted them to proclaim his innocence. Henry says he was pardoned, though there doesn't seem to be a record of it. Though he apparently kept an apartment, police say he told them he'd been living in Prospect Park. [Troy Record] [TU] [Tennessean] [CapNews9] [Fox23]

The sister of Albany police chief James Tuffey testified before the Common Council last night that her daughter's car did not carry a bull's eye sticker when it was involved in a 2007 crash. The TU has reported that Albany cops didn't ticket the chief's niece for the crash because she had a sticker. [TU]

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Officials expect H1N1 flu in every county eventually, first local stimulus project starts, mixed-use development planned for downtown Albany, Dr. Z gets stiffed, the weekend in chase and taser

There were 96 confirmed probable cases of the emerging H1N1 influenza in New York State as of Saturday night, according to the state department of health. Seventeen of the those cases were outside NYC -- and the state health commissioner says they expect that the virus will pop up in every county at some point. Three suspected cases from Schenectady and Albany counties have tested negative -- a suspected case in Saratoga County has gone for testing. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus is now "circulating all over" the country. [NYS DoH] [NYT] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian] [NYT]

The Capital Region's first stimulus-funded project -- the reconstruction of Delaware Ave in Albany -- starts today (map). [TU]

The final tally for spending in the Tedisco-Murphy special election: $3.6 million -- $2.05 million by Murphy and $1.55 million by Tedisco. [TU]

Scott Murphy opened an office in Saratoga Springs Friday (it was Kirsten Gillibrand's old office). Murphy mentioned KG at least six times during his public comments. Apparently the biggest complaint at Murphy's first "Congress on Your Corner" event: Murphy supporters were blocking the nearby drive-up mailbox. [Post-Star] [Saratogian]

A state commission is looking into whether the ghost parking tickets given to some state officials in Albany violated a ban on gifts. [TU]

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Shopping the farmers' markets

farmers market report logoLocal farmers' markets are moving outdoors this weekend and there's lots of yummy, seasonal food to be had.

This week's bounty includes ramps, asparagus, arugula, spinach and all sorts of seedlings.

Here's a breakdown of what you'll find at the weekend markets in Troy, Schenectady and Saratoga. Don't forget, the Troy market moves to its new location in Riverfront Park this week.

Next week we'll have more from these and other area markets.

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Officials urge calm on emerging flu, CDTA consolidating routes, Albany getting grant for anti-violence program, old Saratoga Winners destroyed, no Shakespeare in the Park this year

New York State has now had 54 confirmed cases of the emerging H1N1 flu -- including three cases outside NYC. Samples from five suspected cases in the greater Capital Region (two each in Schenectady and Washington counties, one in Albany County) have been sent for testing -- officials say they're not sure when results will be back on those samples. David Paterson reiterated his call for people to stay calm and said the state is prepping for a worst-case scenario. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]

Albany city treasurer Betty Barnette now says she will release copies of dismissed parking tickets to the Common Council -- if the council agrees to not share the info with anyone else. Barnette had initially balked at the council's request, which is part of the ghost ticket investigation, citing HIPAA -- even though the medical privacy law doesn't apply to her office. [TU]

CDTA ridership was up 11 percent to record levels during the fiscal year that ended in March. The transit org says it's still short on money, though, and will be changing, consolidating and eliminating routes to save money. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Police used a state police helicopter, a K-9 unit and a lockdown of schools yesterday during a manhunt in Schenectady. Police were looking for a man they suspect has information about the fatal shooting outside a club this past weekend. They didn't get him. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

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Officials expect statewide spread of swine flu, Murphy to be sworn in, Vick offer "a big mistake," paid parking proposal for Saratoga, ice cream truck pulls crazy U-ee

State health commissioner Richard Daines says he expects swine flu to eventually spread to every part of the state -- and DoH is already testing suspected cases in a handful of upstate counties. There have been 45 confirmed cases in New York State so far -- all of them in NYC. Said David Paterson yesterday: "This not time for alarm, but it's time to be alert." [WXXI] [TU]

State budget director Laura Anglin says this year's budget is on track to stay even -- if the planned state worker job cuts go through. The next few years aren't looking good, though. [NYS DoB] [TU] [NYT]

About 8,700 state worker job cuts, the Division of the Budget says it's still reviewing plans submitted by various agencies. [TU]

Scott Murphy is scheduled to be sworn in today at the US Capitol. [Daily Gazette]

The Albany Firebirds say the team's contract offer to Michael Vick was a marketing ploy -- and, in the words of the team's owner, "a big mistake."

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State is monitoring swine flu situation, murder in Schenectady, Angelina makes shows up, baby born on Thruway, Fountain Day draws record crowd

David Paterson says the state is monitoring the swine flu situation, but doesn't see "any real danger ahead." There have been eight confirmed cases of swine flu in Queens. (Some