While You Were Out: June 25, 2019

Primary Tuesday is not quite over yet, civic-minded CivMixers. If you’re eligible to vote and enrolled in a political party that is engaged in primary battles and have not yet cast your ballot, there’s still time. Polls are open until 9 p.m.

Get out there and engage in some democracy. We’ll still be here when you get back. And you don’t even need to bring an umbrella, because the rain has cleared out (for the moment; it might be back tomorrow, but tomorrow is another day).

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said that the White House has a “mental handicap” and vowed that Tehran would not be intimidated by American sanctions — drawing a blistering threat of “obliteration” from President Trump.

First Lady Melania Trump announced that her longtime spokeswoman and confidante Stephanie Grisham will succeed Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary.

The Customs and Border Protection agency’s acting commissioner, John Sanders, will step down in early July as the government’s primary border enforcement executive – a development that comes as the agency faces continuing public fury over the treatment of detained migrant children.

U.S. Kirsten Gillibrand said she has corralled a veto-proof 60 votes to extend the Sept. 11 Victims Fund that would aid emergency responders and other victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. That means the bill would pass if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell puts it on the floor.

Illinois’ new governor delivered on a top campaign promise by signing legislation that makes the state the 11th to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use and the second to approve it through the Legislature rather than the ballot box.

For the first time, a person of color will be the face of the nation’s largest LGBTQ lobby. The Human Rights Campaign announced civil rights lawyer Alphonso David had been officially hired as its seventh president.

The HRC’s gain is the Cuomo administration’s loss. David has been counsel to the governor for the past four years. Before that, he was deputy secretary and counsel for civil rights during the first four years of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tenure.

Robert Freeman, the longtime head of a state committee that fought for government transparency, was fired late yesterday amid an investigation that found he behaved in a “sexually inappropriate manner” toward a female reporter earlier this month and had sexually explicit photos on his work computer.

A letter sent to Secretary of State Rossana Rosado by state Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro says Freeman “admitted to many of the allegations.” The female reporter who filed a complaint against him on June 31 worked for the Journal News, a Westchester-based newspaper.

No decision has been made about a permanent replacement for Freeman. Longtime committee employee Kristin O’Neill “is currently managing the committee and its operations continue unabated,” a Department of State spokesperson said.

A pickup truck driver accused of colliding with a group of motorcyclists, killing seven of them, pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to negligent homicide.

The FBI raided an Old Gick Road building that houses Turbine Services, a business connected to local businessman Ronald Riggi, the husband of Saratoga Springs socialite Michele Riggi.

A picnic cooler, camouflage cap, towel and hoodie are this year’s giveaways at Saratoga Race Course.

The electric scooter mania sweeping many big cities hasn’t motored through Buffalo yet. But that could potentially change under new legislation passed in Albany, which will soon allow cities and towns across the state to set their own rules for the devices.

Tree-cutting crews have already started clearing scrub from the 115-acre site where Amazon is planning a $100 million warehouse that would be the largest of its kind in New York state.

Drivers in Buffalo are the worst among five big cities across New York, according to a report from Allstate insurance. The report analyzed auto claims data from the 200 most populous cities across the country. Syracuse fared best with 9.3 years between accident claims, though it’s still worse than the national average and ranked 85th out of 200 cities.

Tim McCormack, the pilot who fatally crashed a helicopter atop a Manhattan skyscraper, mistakenly thought he had a “20-minute window to make it out” of the city amid heavy rain and fog, federal investigators said.

Summertime Black Friday is almost here. Amazon’s popular Prime Day – a two day parade of epic deals – will take place July 15 and 16.

Photo credit: Fred Coffey.

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