TGIF, CivMix mavens. I don’t know about you, but it has been a week and a half on this end. I’m glad to finally have the weekend in sight.
Unfortunately, today looks like the best of the next three days, weather-wise, according to The Weather Channel. So if you could maybe sneak out a little early, or just get outside for lunch, that would be great. Because it’s going to be sunny all day, and HOT, with light winds and temperatures reaching into the upper 80s or even the low 90s. HELLO SUMMER.
The forecast for tomorrow and Sunday calls for scattered thunderstorms, with the temperature slowly dropping into the mid-70s. Meh.
So, let’s get the national politics out of the way first.
Part II of the first debate between the 2020 Democratic contenders took place last night, and not surprisingly, the frontrunner – former Vice President Joe Biden – was the main focus, as his opponents sought to take him down a few pegs in the polls.
The most searing moment of the night, and the primary campaign to date, came when California Sen. Kamala Harris, who some have floated as a possible running mate for Biden, confronted him over his comments on working with segregationists in the Senate.
Harris also recalled that Biden, 76, had opposed school busing in the 1970s, saying: “There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”
Biden called Harris’ attacks “a mischaracterization of my position across the board,” and then returned fire at the senator, who has faced criticism from the left for her record as a prosecutor in California. It appeared, however, that he wasn’t entirely prepared for this moment, which critics suggest he should have known was coming.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the 2016 primary, and has seen many of the progressive ideas he has been pushing for years – particularly universal health care – become mainstream for Democrats. But he failed to really mix it up last night, and was largely overshadowed by Harris.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, meanwhile, tried to break out of the pack and improve her woefully low poll position by forcefully putting forward what could be an appealing proposal for a Family Bill of Rights and emphasizing her defense of women and the importance of having a woman in the room as major decisions are made.
Gillibrand interrupted her way into the debate in her first two comments, condemning “greed” of the National Rifle Association and health insurers as issues that must be addressed, and talking about her role in writing a section of Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” bill this year.
Meanwhile, rising star Pete Buttigieg the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made history just by stepping onto the stage in Miami, FL last night, as the first openly LGBTQ candidate take part in a presidential debate.
Buttigieg also spent some time in the hot seat when, in the aftermath of an officer-involved shooting in South Bend, Indiana, he was asked by one of the moderators, Chuck Todd: Why is the city’s police force so white? His response: “Because I couldn’t get it done.”
President Donald Trump, who is in Japan to attend the G20 Summit, had his say about the second night of the debate, taking to Twitter to blast the contestants when they all declared their support for health care coverage for undocumented immigrants.
While in Japan, Trump met with Vladimir Putin and jokingly waggled his right index finger at the Russian president and scolded, “Don’t meddle in the election” when a reporter asked if he planned to make that warning concerning the 2020 race.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who impressed many with his performance in Part I of the debate Wednesday night, started off his first post-debate day on a high note, but by the end of it, was backtracking and apologizing for quoting Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary who is persona non grata in much of South Florida, appearance with striking Miami airport workers.
As the political focus increasingly turns to 2020, a policy debate over immigration continues to rage on Capitol Hill, where Congress voted to send Trump a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package after Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated to Republicans and Democratic moderates and dropped her insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in overcrowded border shelters.
Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, 70, limped into Manhattan court yesterday to plead not guilty to mortgage fraud charges — but he still doesn’t know where he’ll be cooling his heels as the case winds through the justice system.
Liberal activists energized by the apparent victory of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s protégé Tiffany Cabán in the Queens DA Democratic race are threatening to set up primary challenges against long-serving Assembly Democrats if they don’t pass a slate of progressive laws in the next session.
At the local level…
Steve Napier, a Democrat who is on the Independence and Working Families party lines in the Cohoes mayor’s race, endorsed his primary opponent ahead of the November elections, further securing retired State Police Maj. Bill Keeler’s campaign to unseat incumbent Mayor Shawn Morse.
Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner and more than 30 county clerks across the state are asking Trump to instruct the U.S. Justice Department to review a new law giving undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses and determine whether it should be challenged in federal court.
City Police Chief Eric Hawkins met with the NAACP and the public last night to discuss the rising number of marijuana arrests of blacks in the Capital Region, but it brought up a larger issue — policing in black communities.
Saratoga Hospital closed on a 16-acre parcel of land that it hopes to develop in order to expand its services and allow doctors to more easily collaborate. The land has long been of interest to the hospital and was the site of the controversial 75,000-square-foot medical office building that in 2016, neighbors successfully blocked.
The societal reckoning surrounding sexual misconduct and abuse has reached the ears of state lawmakers in Albany, and advocates hope changes in the law will lead to a change in culture.
The city of Albany unveiled its new summer mapping tool – an easy way to find fun summer activities organized both by the city itself and a variety of community organizations.
The Vermont Attorney General filed lawsuits against DuPont, 3M, and other chemical companies. The state is seeking damages for contamination of groundwater and drinking water with PFOA, which is also a problem for a number of New York communities.
If you’re feeling up for a trip to the Big Apple, a weekend of New York City Pride events begins this evening with 50th-anniversary commemoration of the Stonewall uprising outside Greenwich Village’s historic Stonewall Inn, now a nationally designated landmark.
…but there’s a lot to do closer to home, too.
This Saturday and Sunday are among six free fishing days offered by the DEC to get more people involved in the sport.
Fans of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” can re-create some of the show’s 1950s Catskills experience at a resort where the show was shot. Scott’s Family Resort on Oquaga Lake in Delaware County is hosting “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Weekend” from July 4-6.
Chad Brown, a Mechanicville native and accomplished horse trainer, is slated to address Mechanicville High School’s graduating seniors Saturday, but some students are “outraged” over Brown’s ties to recent labor violations and track-related horse deaths over the years.
A settlement has been reached to reopen Graney’s Stout, an Albany bar shut down in May following allegations of underage drinking.
In the time she spent working with young girls from around the Capital Region yesterday’s basketball clinic at the Schenectady YMCA, former WNBA player and UConn star Barbara Turner hoped to leave them with more than improved jump shots.
The City of Kingston, which was the state’s first capital, is having a moment – particularly when it comes to its dining scene – and is drawing visitors from NYC.
The Fourth of July is less than a week away, and it might be a good idea to plan ahead with all the fireworks displays painting the sky. Fireworks displays around Scotia, Troy and Saratoga Springs will kick off the holiday tonight.
Photo credit: Fred Coffey.