While You Were Out: July 29, 2019

Monday has come and (almost) gone, CivMixers. I hope you remember all those strategies you employed to beat the heat during the last heat wave we experienced not too long ago, because it’s about to get very hot and humid all over again.

Another heat advisory has been issued for tomorrow in the Capital Region, Mid-Hudson Valley and NYC.

It was another busy day, news-wise, in the Capital Region, as well as across the state and the nation. So let’s get to it.

In the news today…

President Donald Trump today signed an act into law which authorizes the extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

During the Rose Garden signing ceremony, Trump revived an old – and exaggerated – claim that he spent time at ground zero alongside firefighters and police officers.

He also did not invite the bill’s lead author and sponsor, New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, to the signing ceremony.

New York today decriminalized recreational marijuana use, meaning possession of small amounts of the drug will be punished with fines rather than jail time, a step short of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal of legalizing pot.

“By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also signed into law new measures banning devices that increase the firing capacity of semi-automatic weapons and establishing a 30-day waiting period to purchase a firearm while background checks are completed.

A measure meant to tighten anti-discrimination provisions against immigrants in the workplace by blocking employers from threatening to call immigration enforcement authorities was signed into law by Cuomo over the weekend.

Trump leaned into the controversy sparked by his attacks on Baltimore and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, this time targeting another prominent black leader (the Rev. Al Sharpton) and a potential 2020 rival (Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders).

Trump denounced Sharpton as “a con man” who “Hates Whites & Cops!” He seemed to be responding to a Twitter post in which Sharpton showed himself at an airport “headed to Baltimore,” presumably a reference to the president’s attacks on Cummings.

Trump and Sharpton have a history of using each other for their own purposes – whether as foes or friends.

White House hopeful Andrew Yang announced that he has reached the thresholds to qualify for the third and fourth Democratic primary debates, which kick off tomorrow night in Houston at Texas Southern University – an historically black school.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sanders will share the debate stage for the first time.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter has been identified as Santino William Legan, 19. Officers who were patrolling the park during the event shot and killed Legan after the rampage.

A New York resident – Trevor Irby, 25, of Romulus – was identified as one of the three people killed in the Gilroy shooting. He was attending the festival with his girlfriend, Sarah Warner, who managed to escape unscathed.

Legan used a legally purchased “AK-47-style” rifle to slaughter his victims, authorities said.

The New York Racing Association will remember the legacy of thoroughbred owner and breeder and philanthropist Marylou Whitney by naming the Clubhouse entrance at the Saratoga Race Course in her honor.

Ahead of the upcoming 150th Runhappy Travers at Saratoga Race Course, NYRA recently announced a slate of events and activities that are meant to create a community-wide celebration.

The NYC Board of Elections declared that Queens Borough President Melinda Katz narrowly topped her Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-backed challenger, Tiffany Cabán, in the Democratic primary to become the county’s next district attorney by a margin of just 60 votes.

…But the fight for the party’s nomination will continue Wednesday in Queens Supreme Court, where public defender Cabán plans to argue the BOE improperly excluded hundreds of ballots that could once again tip the scales in her favor.

A new law that went into effect last month drastically changes the rules for evictions across the state. Tenants who once had to beg for mercy from their landlords are now guaranteed a list of specific rights that give them weeks, and sometimes months, more time before they can be kicked out.

A herd of roughly 75 buffalo have been wreaking havoc on local farms in Otsego County since late last week, when they broke through the fencing on a local ranch and started wandering across the countryside — and eating everything in sight.

Albany County will saturate ESPN broadcasts and local television newscasts with a tourism advertisement to attract interest during the inaugural August run of the Aurora Games at the Times Union Center.

An Albany police officer’s widow is suing the city for breach of contract after her claim for her husband’s death benefits was denied.

While members of IUE-CWA Local 301 at General Electric Co.’s steam turbine and generator plant in Schenectady await their next move after voting down a new four-year contract, some union members in Schenectady and at GE’s research center in Niskayuna are moving forward with a new labor deal.

A Niskayuna school rowing program is reeling after a tree toppled by yesterday’s severe thunderstorm crushed a boat rack and destroyed seven boats — the middle school’s entire fleet.

The Williams Pipeline may still have a future in New York Harbor. In May, the Cuomo Administration denied a permit to build the controversial natural gas pipeline, but allowed the company to resubmit its application, which is currently pending.

An audit released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found errors in a half dozen MTA New York City Transit capital projects have led to delays and increased costs.

Martin Scorsese’s big-budget mafia epic “The Irishman” will premiere as the opening night film at the 57th New York Film Festival, Film at Lincoln Center announced.

Photo credit: Sharon Kollar, from the “Looking Good, Albany!” Facebook page.

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