The last week's worth of items on AOA
Spotted this today River Street and 1st Street in downtown Troy, painted like one of the markings used to identify utility lines or paving instructions.
The much-anticipated Breathing Lights project opens this weekend in Albany, Schenectady and Troy. For the next two months hundreds of vacant buildings in the three cities will be illuminated from the inside by gently pulsing lights as part of the public art installation.
The project is backed by up to $1 million in funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, and it won out over more than 200 other entries in a national competition for public art projects.
Here's a quick overview, along with some thoughts at the start of the project's public phase...
It's the weekend! Wake up and smell the cider donuts.
So much stuff to do, and only two days to do it. No worries -- we're here to help.
After the jump a list of weekend events we thought you might enjoy. Doing something you don't see here? Share it with the rest of us in the comment section.
And whatever you're up to, have a fantastic weekend!
Looking at crime numbers around the Capital Region, continued chatter about creepy clowns, toward a regional taxi system
+ A look at 2015 crime numbers for Capital Region municipalities out this week from the FBI. [Daily Gazette]
+ Troy had a 22-percent increase in the number of reported violence crimes between 2014 and 2015. [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record]
+ From the Daily Gazette: "Strange clown sightings abound in Capital Region" [Daily Gazette]
+ And from The Saratogian: "A local law enforcement press release on suspicious clown sightings in the southern part of Saratoga County has the area's professional clowns asking the public to take a step back." [Saratogian]
SUNY Poly allegations
Bits continues related to the state and federal allegations involving SUNY Poly continued to spill out this week:
+ A look at the situation surrounding the prominent architecture firm EYP and its tenancy at, and dealings with, SUNY Poly. [TU+]
+ Rensselaer mayor Dan Dwyer says Todd Howe tried to hit the city up for a $4k-per-month lobbying fee when discussions started about SUNY Poly developing a piece of land on riverfront. [TU+]
It's insect week, apparently.
His lecture, titled "What the %@&*! Happened to Comics?" will explore evolving perceptions of comics as a literary medium. Although they have often been disdained by academics and other literati, they can be eloquent and powerful, Spiegelman argues, in part because "comics echo the way the brain works. People think in iconographic images . . . and bursts of language, not in paragraphs."
Spiegelman won the Pulitzer in the 1990s for his graphic novel Maus, which focused on the Holocaust and cast the various people involved as animals (the Nazis were cats, Jews were mice). And it's the work for which he's most famous. But he also created the Garbage Pail Kids series of trading cards for Topps. His career has also included work for The New Yorker.
Spiegelman's talk is this year's Steloff Lecture at Skidmore. It's Tuesday, October 4 at 8 pm in Palamountain Hall's Gannett Auditorium. It's free and open to the public.
photo: Enno Kapitza - Agentur Focus
Google expanded its Google Express delivery service to the Northeast this week, including New York State.
What is it? It's sort of like Amazon Prime, but for a specific group of retailers. And it offers delivery times ranging from end of day to two days depending on the item and location. Like Amazon Prime, there's a membership fee -- $95 per year (it's currently offering six months free). For non-members there's a $4.99 per store charge.
From the about page: "Google Express is an online marketplace that connects shoppers with popular retailers. You get fast delivery of a wide variety of essentials, from apparel and electronics to pantry staples such as bread and cereal."
Among the things it doesn't sell are perishables -- apparently it did in the past as part of a pilot program, but Google cancelled that service as part an expansion plan. So if you're looking for grocery delivery, one of the services offered by Price Chopper and ShopRite are probably a better bet.
As mentioned above, this is a pretty obvious competitor to Amazon Prime. But apparently it's not just an attempt by Google to compete with Amazon on delivery, but also on search -- Amazon's been cutting into Google's position as the place to start searching for products, and Google's trying to push back.
Anyone tried this service?
Earlier on AOA: Delivery! Comparing ShopRite from Home and Price Chopper Shops4U
photo via Google Express FB page
Look who's over at Eater writing about the Capital Region's own Meadowbrook Farms and the persistence (and resurgence) of home milk delivery. [Eater]
The Albany Barn's annual Fusion event -- exploring "the intersection of art and industry" -- is October 14 this year. And we have a pair of "catalyst" tickets to give away. Maybe to you.
To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:
What are two Capital Region things that should be combined -- and what would they create?
We've asked a similar drawing question in the past and gotten fun answers. It could be anything -- two geographic areas of the region, a drink from one place and a food item from another, whatever. Be creative. We'll pick one winner at random.
Here's what's lined up for Fusion this year:
+ custom menu by Chef Michelle Hines Abram with special guests Chef Derek Adams and Chef Benji Blanco + wine and craft beverage pairings from Empire Wine & Druthers Brewing Co.
+ decadent coffee and desserts by The Cookie Factory
+ musical selections to keep you moving
+ live art installations and exhibition featuring artists in residence
+ silent auction and more!
And with the "catalyst" tickets, you'll also get reserved parking and commemorative Albany Barn glassware with a signature cocktail.
Fusion is Friday, October 14 starting at 6 pm at the Albany Barn. Tickets are $75 each / catalyst tickets are $125 ($200 for two) -- and they're available online.
The event is a fundraiser for the Albany Barn.
Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Monday, October 3, 2016 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon am on Tuesday and must respond by noon on Wednesday, October 5.
AOA is a media sponsor of Fusion.
The federal complaint filed last week alleging bribery and bid rigging involving former top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco and Todd Howe, another longtime Cuomo associate, includes snippets from multiple emails that use the term "Herb" to refer to people. (And these people are not named Herbert.) Jimmy Vielkind looked into the origin of the term, and even found the person who's said to be the Herb index case: "I'm really a little perplexed about the use of my name." [Politico NY]
A quick update on that Humans of New York event at UAlbany October 8...
Registration is now open for the general public -- UAlbany says people should register via the homecoming weekend registration page. (It's OK if you're not an alum or somehow connected to the school.) The event is in the SEFCU Arena, and a UAlbany rep told us this week they're expecting there should be room for everyone who wants to attend. (The registration is to keep a headcount just in case.)
And if you didn't see the earlier post: Humans of New York founder Brandon Stanton will be at UAlbany Saturday, October 8 for about the very popular photography series. It's at 8 pm and it's free.
The event is one of a whole bunch of events for UAlbany's homecoming weekend, October 7-9, many of which are open to the public.
photo via Humans of New York Twitter
Cuomo to set aside developer contributions, Schumer's bid for NCAA in Albany, creepy clown or Halloween costume?
SUNY Poly/alleged bid rigging
Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the state and federal complaints in the alleged bid rigging case were primarily about flaws in SUNY's purchasing and procurement systems, and were not due to unchecked corruption in his office. Meanwhile, Tom DiNapoli's office says the alleged bid rigging scandal shows the need for more state oversight of SUNY spending.[TU][TU]
SUNY Poly has removed photos of and links referencing Alain Kaloyeros from the school and its website. [TU]
Cuomo on alleged bid rigging
Chris Churchill on Andrew Cuomo's handling of the SUNY Poly scandal. [TU+]
Andrew Cuomo says his re-election campaign will "set aside" the $350,000 in contributions it received from developers who are facing corruption charges in connection with the bid rigging scandal unveiled this week. Republican state Senate candidate George Amedore says he won't return the more than $30,000 in campaign contributions he has received from Albany developer Joe Nicolla , who is facing charges in the alleged bid rigging scandal. [WNYT/AP][TU]
The Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy is hosting a clean tech hackathon October 15-16. It's free to attend if you'd like to gawk at what's been made. And if you have a team that would like to take part, registration is still open -- there will be $5,000 in cash prizes.
What is this hackathaon? Blurbage:
A hackathon is an event, usually lasting more than a day, where groups of computer programmers and other tech-oriented people collaborate intensely on projects using software. Hackers typically staying in the space the entire time working constantly. To help inspire the competitors, organizers of the TVCOG Clean Tech Hackathon have solicited problem statements from key players in the industry in the areas of Advanced Buildings, Renewables and Clean Transportation. Some problems hackers may tackle include: making solar photovoltaic and wind energy more predictable; innovations in "smart" building technology that can adjust energy usage based on intelligent predictions of the occupants' behaviors; and designing hardware/software solutions that use on-street installations to improve bike and pedestrian safety and comfort.
Participating teams will have mentors from NYSERDA, BessTech, The Wagoner Firm, New York State Mesonet, and Bette & Cring Construction Group. Also: "An abundance of high quality free food is available to all hackers and participants."
As mentioned above, it's free to attend or participate, but registration is required.
TVCOG advertises on AOA.
Did you ever watch the Academy Awards when they were presenting the Best "Live Action" Short Film or Best Short Animation Oscars and say to yourself...
"Where are these films, and why haven't I seen any of them?"
Well, the The Asbury Shorts Concerts has been giving people the opportunity to see these little gems in a real theater format on a big screen since 1980.
The Asbury Shorts Concerts covers it all: Animation, Comedy, Drama, Documentary and Experimental.
Our show is like a trip to the best film festivals in the world where you sample the elite of the short film genre but without competition and plenty of live surprises!
Tickets are $10 and available online. The event at The Linda starts at 8 pm Saturday it's about two hours long.
Here's a quick description of some of the films on this year's slate, if you're curious...
Jen asks via Twitter (and a series of tweets):
I swear I ask once a year at least, but I can't seem to get my ish together finding a hair stylist I like. Suggestions? Cc: @alloveralbany
Not too concerned about $ bc I only get my hair cut 3-4x/yr. Just want somewhere convenient (location + hrs), high quality, & not sales-y.
My last stylist was great but her hrs are limited & no longer work w my schedule. Went to John Paul last & it was fine but very sterile.
Albany area, I would say within a 10-20 min drive from Center Square. Guilderland, Loudonville, Colonie, Delmar, EG.
Similar questions have been popped up in the past, but we checked the archive today and it's been (at least) a few years. And things changed, shops close, stylists move.
So, got a suggestion for Jen? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're recommending a person or shop can be a big help.
Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: how much is enough, a crash, Maiden Lane, Amelia Earhart, pretty things, a battle monument, the third trimester, being hands off, the Schenectady Greenmarket, bao art, Thai food, an unusual etiquette question, pizza touring, and ribbons.
The city of Schenectady's ongoing work toward a master plan for bike infrastructure includes a demonstration project that starts today (Wednesday) and runs through the weekend on Craig Street in Hamilton Hill that's focused on bike lanes, shared lanes, and street calming. Blurbage:
As part of the Schenectady Bike Infrastructure Master Plan, riders and residents are invited to participate in this community demonstration project showcasing street-level bicycle improvements designed to increase safety and connectivity. The temporary installation through funding from CDTC, is designed to explore bicycle-related Complete Streets options for improving Craig Street as a City, Neighborhood and Schools connection.
The demo includes a bike fest Wednesday afternoon from 2-6 pm with bike-themed activities and prizes. And the Electric City Bike Rescue will be there helping with repairs and maintenance.
This is the second demostration project as part of the bike master plan process. Earlier this year there was a demo of a contra-flow bike lane on Washington Ave.
The annual Wing Walk returns to downtown Schenectady this Saturday. Tickets are $10 / $5 for students with a valid ID and available online.
How it works: You pick up a map at the Proctors box office (it's also your ballot), then you visit a series of restaurants around downtown Schenectady that are offering samples of chicken wings in a variety of styles. Then you vote for your favorite.
There are 22 restaurants participating this year. The list is after the jump.
The Wing Walk is Saturday, October 1 from noon-5 pm.
No tax hike in Albany's proposed budget, National Grid truck pulled from Hudson, SUNY Poly's financial woes, Capital Region leads state metro areas in economic growth
Albany's proposed 2017 budget contains no tax increase, but Mayor Kathy Sheehan says she'll be looking to the state for more payments in lieu of taxes for state properties. [TU]
Truck in Hudson
Authorities are trying to figure out why a National Grid Truck crashed into the Hudson River in Troy overnight. It took three tow trucks to pull the vehicle out of the water. The truck was reportedly involved in a police chase just prior to crashing through the gate and into the river. Rescuers pulled a body out of the river. [TWCN][TU][WNYT][News 10]
A lovely day to hang out somewhere and soak in the sun late this afternoon.
Earlier this year Andrew Cuomo floated the latest plan for building a new train station in New York City to replace the outdated and much-unloved Penn Station. The broad outline of the project included the long-planned conversion of the huge post office building across the street from Penn Station.
Now there are more specific details: On Tuesday Andrew Cuomo revealed a timeline for the project, showed more renderings, and said the project will build a "world class" train station.
The architecture of UAlbany's uptown campus is probably an acquired taste for many people -- maybe it takes a while to come around on the Edward Durell Stone's modernist design. But, hey, look at UAlbany uptown tucked into this Thrillist list of the most beautiful public college campuses in America -- right there with UVa and UNC. [Thrillist]
Coyotes are famously stealthy, able to move through urban and suburban areas while rarely being noticed by people. And in forested areas? Good luck.
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve posted this spot-the-coyote clip on Youtube this week that demonstrates how well the animals blend in. It's a quick clip. Have a look.
As it happens, coyotes are easier to spot when they stand and pose for the trail camera.
And if you're thinking, "Coyotes? Here?" Yep.
The animals have been moving into this part of the country over the last century. And there's research done by scientists who were/are at the State Museum that some of the coyotes in this part country are actually coyote/wolf hybrids (coywolves). A bunch of years ago one of the scientists, who studies urban wildlife, told us research indicated the Albany area is a "population sink" for coyotes -- they move in from more rural areas, but don't end lasting long because they get hit by cars.
Earlier this month in the Altamont Enterprise, Melissa Hale-Spencer wrote a really interesting article about coyotes in the Hill Towns.
Newly-signed state legislation is changing the rules about fees and expiration dates for gift cards sold by retailers.
+ The time period in which fees can be charged to unused gift card balances increases from 13 to 25 months. And monthly service fees that are applied after that period must be waived if the consumer uses the gift card within three years of the issue date.
+ No gift card can have an expiration date of earlier than five years from the date it's issued or funds were last added to it.
+ The gift card's terms and conditions must describe exactly what the procedure is to replace a missing card.
The federal government changed the rules for both retail gift cards and bank gift cards in 2010, and this state legislation appears to piggyback on that. The five-year rule was part of the federal rules change -- the two-year waiting period for fees extends the federal rule's one year period. [FTC]
One of the problems with gift cards is that people tend to forget about them, or forget about the odd balance left on them. Cumulatively, that adds up to billions of dollars. [Barrons]
The new state rules take effect for cards issued December 24 of this year and after.
Over at Curbed: "101 small ways you can improve your city." It's a wide-ranging list, and you might recognize a few of the ideas that have been implement here. But we'll highlight #82 -- "Just show up." It's something we recommend all the time: Go to a public meeting, make a public statement. You'd surprised how much a small group of people showing up at a meeting can change shift the conversation. [Curbed]
I've had the pleasure of visiting a handful of different apple orchards already this season and have noticed that the taste / quality of the cider has varied significantly thus far.
Now I know there's been a lot of documentation done on the region's different cider donut offerings, but I haven't seen much of anything done on the cider itself. I was wondering if some of your readers could weigh-in with where their favorite local apple cider comes from.
Bonus points if anyone has knowledge on how much the flavor changes from month-to-month or year-to-year based on what kinds of apples go into the mix.
Sean's question makes us want to go out a buy a bunch of ciders from local orchards and have a taste comparison. (Hmm...)
We've heard that the flavor of an orchard's cider can change over the course of the apple season as the different varieties of apples are harvested and added to the mix. But we can't say we've had a "Hey, wow, this cider is so much more (something) than it was last month" experience. Maybe you have.
So, got thoughts on your favorite local cider? Or any insight on how the flavor of cider changes over the course of the season? Please share!
Sorting through effects of SUNY Poly allegations, continued push to end violence in Hamilton Hill, sale of zombies prohibited by town
Alleged SUNY Poly bid rigging: Joe Nicolla
+ Columbia Development president Joe Nicolla pleaded not guilty Monday to the charge against him in the state Attorney General's case alleging bid rigging for a student housing project near SUNY Poly. Nicolla's attorney, E. Stewart Jones, called the allegation against his client "absolute nonsense" and predicted the charge would be withdrawn after more evidence is presented. Said Jones: "Joe Nicolla never ever would have to engage in bid rigging. He has never engaged in bid rigging. He's a remarkable businessman who plays by the rules every day of his life." [TWCN] [Biz Review] [News10] [WNYT]
+ One of the reasons this is such a big story is the scale of Columbia's businesses dealings within the Capital Region, especially within the city of Albany. [TWCN]
+ Chronicling how much money Nicolla (and those connected to him) has contributed to politicians' campaign funds over the years. [TU+]
SUNY Poly and Alain Kaloyeros
+ State Senate Republican leader John Flanagan says there should be "hard questions" about the Buffalo Billion following the federal charges filed against Alain Kaloyeros, Todd Howe, and a group of developers. [Politico NY]
+ Documents filed with the state Department of State indicate it was the large construction company M+W that was the unnamed contractor that supplied the $50 million loan for the NanoFab X building at the SUNY Poly Albany campus that was mentioned in the federal complaint. [TU+]
+ With its economic development duties transferred to Empire State Development, does this mean SUNY Poly will focus on tech alone? [TU+]
+ Chris Churchill on Alain Kaloyeros as the state's economic development star and a Capital Region celebrity: "With Kaloyeros, it became difficult to tell if he was still succeeding or if was all an illusion. Maybe it didn't matter. The boss had his back. That was then. Everything has changed." [TU+]
This year's field for the $2,500 AOA Startup Grant was very strong. There were a bunch of interesting, compelling projects.
But through crowd voting -- and an AOA editors' pick -- we narrowed the list of finalists to three.
And now we find out who's won the prize. Without further ado...
LarkFest was this past Saturday in Albany -- as you know. And a few bits/perspectives about the street festival are circulating today on the Monday after.
First, from the Times Union, word from that the Lark Street BID could make LarkFest alcohol-free in the future in order to cut down on the costs and complications related to the fest.
And from August Rosa -- a co-owner of the Lark Street beverage shop Brew, and a Lark Street BID board member -- a call to not change the festival. A clip:
... Albany events are so important, especially when surrounding towns (you know where I am talking about) are getting lots of buzz. They take chances. They have nothing to lose.
In fact, Brew might not have existed in the first place if LarkFest didn't exist. In 2004 as a freshmen at St. Rose I came down to see LarkFest on a whim and The Dandy Warhols were playing. I couldn't believe that one of the recent bands I downloaded from LimeWire was playing on the block! This was the first thing that established Lark Street as the cool place to be. From there I came down every week to grab a bite or pop into shops. I ended up living on the block in a few apartments. I ultimately opened up a shop here because I really do think that Lark Street can be what it was 10 years ago.
People just have to let it be. Lark Street is not a suburb. If certain individuals want to dilute Albany's culture then the businesses will move. ...
The topic of what the Lark Street commercial corridor is, and should be, has come up a lot in the last year or so as some people have said the stretch is in decline and others say it's just going through some cyclical change. The question of what LarkFest should be in the future fits right in with all that.
So, we're curious about your take on the future of LarkFest -- whether it should change, and if so, in what ways?
Noted: You can now be buried with the cremated remains of your pet in New York State. The Cuomo administration announced Monday the governor had signed legislation allowing such burials at not-for-profit cemeteries. (Cemeteries aren't required to offer this... accommodation... and the law doesn't apply to cemeteries run by religious organizations.)
The popular Capitol Hauntings tours at the New York State Capitol start back up again next Monday, October 3 and run (weekdays) through Halloween. And registration is now open. The tours are free.
Does the night watchman who died in the Capitol fire of 1911 still make his rounds?
Which two United States Presidents visited the Capitol after they died?
What happened to the "lost" Capitol murals and their eccentric artist?
Does the secret demon carved in stone hold a Capitol curse?
Come to the New York State Capitol for a special tour that explores these questions and other legends connected with this historic building.
There are two tours each day, at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm. These tours are very popular and fill up quickly -- especially the 5:30 pm slots. So if you'd like to go, grab your spots soon.
image: NYS Office of General Services
The annual FilmColumbia film fest returns October 22-30. And again the festival will be showing films in both Chatham and Hudson.
As usual, the festival schedule includes a bunch of films that are already getting attention because of screenings at other festivals and/or they're eagerly awaited because of stars or directors involved.
This year's festival starts with a "James Ivory Tribute and Kickoff Celebration" screening of Howard's End, introduced by Ivory. There will also be a cocktail party with hosts that include Julianna Margulies, Parker Posey, Richard Dreyfuss, Lauren Ambrose, Gaby Hoffman and many other actors. (Tickets for that event are $150 each.)
There's also the annual unnamed "sneak preview" screening that's a surprise until it's screened. (Last year's surprise film was Spotlight.)
A few of this year's selections that caught our eye are after the jump.
Tickets for the general public go on sale October 15 at 10 am. They're $12 for day films, $16 for evening films. There are also festival passes for all films ($225) and all films + events ($250).
Many of these screenings do sell out, so if you spot a film on the schedule you'd like to see, it's worth getting tickets sooner rather than later.
You might remember that recent appeal from the state Department of Enivoronmental Conservation for people to consider some of the less-popular hikes in the Adirondacks this fall because of increased hiking traffic on some of the High Peaks... Over at the Times Union, Rick Karlin looks at the big increase in the number people using the trails and the question of how to handle the crowds. [TU]
Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!
The Capital Craft Beverage Trail is bringing back the Drink Albany event October 15 at Quackenbush Square in Albany. It's a celebration of the growing local craft beverage scene, with drinks, food, entertainment, and games.
We have a pair of VIP tickets for the event and we're giving them away. To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:
If you could make up your own Capital Region-theme beer/cider/spirt, what it would and what would you name it?
It could be something that's actually possible -- like, say, cider from the tree in your backyard -- or something more fanciful and out there. We'll draw one winner a random. That person gets the pair of tickets.
Drink Albany is Saturday October 15 from 2-6 pm at Quackenbush Square. Tickets are available online. General admission tickets are currently $15 until September 30, after that they're $20. There's also a $5 designated driver ticket.
VIP tickets are $50 each. And they include a special cocktail session with open bar from noon-2 pm that day in the Albany Visitors Center courtyard.
Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon am on Thursday and must respond by noon on Friday, September 30.
Cuomo comments on string of corruption charges, rally against violence on Schenectady street, next LarkFest to be alcohol free?
Cuomo on allegations against Percoco, Howe, Kaloyeros, developers
Said Andrew Cuomo of the string of charges filed last week alleging corruption tied to his administration during a public appearance in Buffalo Friday: "I had no idea about anything that was contained in that complaint." He also said the RFP process mentioned in the allegations was "tainted" and called it a "systemic issue." [TU] [Politico NY]
Cuomo also said he's looking to push ahead with a second phase of the Buffalo Billion initiative. [TWCN]
Columbia Development CEO Joe Nicolla pleaded not guilty Monday morning to the charge against him in the allegations made by the state Attorney General's office regarding alleged rigging of the request for proposals process for student housing near SUNY Poly's Albany campus. [TWCN]
Here's a rundown of the many recent tax breaks and incentives Columbia Development has gotten from Capital Region economic development agencies in recent years. [TU]
SUNY Poly president Alain Kaloyeros -- who's been suspended without pay -- pleaded not guilty Friday to the state charges against him. [Biz Review]
The Cuomo admin says the state economic development projects Kaloyeros was overseeing have been shifted to Empire State Development. [TU]
Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (it's fall), to drama, to politics, to science, to cooking, to music...
Looking for more? Check out the archive. Or try searching for it: