Rise and Shine: June 21, 2019

It’s Friyay! OK, usually, I think that whole substitution of “yay” of “day” thing is kind of trite. But it really has been a week, CivMixers, has it not?

The weather has not made things any easier. Rain for days, hot muggy air. The bad news is, there’s rain in the forecast today, too, according to The Weather Channel, with temperatures somewhere in the mid-70s.

The good news? The weekend looks spectacular: Clear, sunny and warm, with temperatures reaching into the low 80s on Sunday.

Hang in there, folks. We just have get through today’s cloudy with a chance of occasional rain showers, and then it’s off to sunny smooth sailing…until next week. But let’s not dwell on what might be, because there’s lots to do tomorrow and Sunday.

Also, Happy Solstice! Summer is officially here.

As for the news…

The 2019 state legislative session has almost lurched to a close, after going briefly into overtime. (It was supposed to end Wednesday).

The so-called “slim ugly,” “little big ugly” or “baby ugly,” if you prefer – the collection of unrelated bills all rolled together that marks the end of voting (more or less) – came out last night.

The state Senate passed it in the wee hours of the morning, and wrapped up its work for the summer – perhaps even the year.

The Assembly, which has a lot more members, is lagging somewhat behind the upper house in slogging through the remaining bills, and is still at it as I write this.

Usually, this omnibus bill has a lot more in it, and is traditionally referred to as the “Big Ugly.” But so much got done on a stand-alone basis this year, with the Legislature really flexing it muscles for the first time in years, that there wasn’t all that much left in the end to handle.

Things were getting little crazy at the Capitol as overtired lawmakers sought to amuse themselves while waiting for their leaders and the Cuomo administration to wrap up the final talks, and for the resulting deals to print.

In the Assembly chamber, the entertainment was a chamber-wide rubber band fight. Nope. Not a joke.

Apparently, there was a problem with the automatic voter registration bill, which was hailed by good government advocates as a significant reform effort. Lawmakers are going to have to address that next year, but the glitch won’t address implementation, because the measure doesn’t take effect until 2020 anyway.

Also, the marijuana decriminalization measure that is the compromise stand-in for full legalization, which failed to muster sufficient support to pass, was approved.

Also dead: An effort pushed by the governor to impose higher wage rates for construction workers on private projects funded with government money. Upstate developers and business groups said it would have depressed historic rehabilitation and new commercial and affordable housing projects.

Another gubernatorial proposal – a plan to permit paid surrogacy arrangements – fell off the negotiating table, too. Its demise was announced by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on WAMC talking about what he felt the end-of-session priorities should be. (Ouch).

Final action on legislation to place new safety regulations on the limousine industry in the wake of last October’s multi-fatality crash in Schoharie won’t come before January, with the state Assembly and Senate having passed different packages of bills.

Meanwhile, at the local level…

After more than a year of community conversations, the Niskayuna Town Board unanimously approved a special use permit for the redesigned Holocaust memorial on Troy-Schenectady Road. The project will now go back to the Planning Board for final approval.

The 131-member Troy police department is months away from launching its pilot program for officers to test wearing body cameras after nobody volunteered to participate, the chief told the City Council last night.

The Saratoga Springs Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of a zoning change that would enable Saratoga Hospital to pursue a controversial development in a residential neighborhood. The board’s vote was an advisory opinion only; the City Council gets the final say.

Albany County officials are defending two employees, including the brother of county Executive Daniel McCoy, whose work and time-and-attendance records are the subject of a broader payroll investigation by the office of County Comptroller Michael Conners.

Less than a week away from Tuesday’s primary election, Albany County District Attorney David Soares cautioned residents to be vigilant about potential absentee voter fraud and report any malfeasance or possible illegal activity at the polls or at any time in the election process.

The Rensselaer Environmental Coalition has joined with BluePrint Geneva to use an online reporting system to file complaints about odors and other issues at the Dunn Construction and Demolition Debris Landfill, the local environmental group announced.

Police patrolling the state park in Saratoga Springs found a badly injured person in the woods near the SPAC Route 50 West Lot last night.

Town of Glenville officials have received dozens of calls and emails since last week when town residents’ monthly Spectrum cable bills turned out to be higher than usual. The company admits the billing error, and will be making amends.

Former Saratoga Springs Mayor Ray Watkin celebrated his 90th birthday. Mazel!

At the national level…

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them last night after a day of escalating tensions.

Walmart used middlemen to make dubious payments to governments around the globe in order to open new locations, U.S. prosecutors and securities regulators said in a settlement agreement. The company will pay $282 million in fines, capping one of the biggest investigations ever under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Former VP Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, allegedly has a love child.

The Rolling Stones are back on stage after frontman Mick Jagger, 75, has recovered from a medical issue.

Here’s more proof that reading to young children is good.

If you have an extra $44 million kicking around, Matt Lauer’s Hamptons mansion is up for sale.

The Catskills are having a comeback…again.

(Photo credit: Fred Coffey).

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