While You Were Out: July 9, 2019

Another Tuesday has (almost) come and gone, and what a busy one it has been – for early July, especially. Lots of headlines to get to, CivMixers, so let’s jump to it, shall we?

Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, renowned patriot and two-time independent candidate for U.S. president, has died at the age of 89 after a five-month battle with leukemia.

Billionaire Tom Steyer officially entered the presidential race today, making his announcement via video and saying he would seek the Democratic nomination for president despite having previously ruled out a run in January.

President Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account because they criticized or mocked him, according to a court ruling that could have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to the social-media era.

Financier Jeffrey Epstein is entangled in two legal fights that span the East Coast, challenging his underage sexual abuse victims in a Florida court hours after he was indicted on sex trafficking charges in a separate case in New York.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta faced mounting calls from top Democrats – including New York’s senior U.S. senator, Chuck Schumer, the chamber’s minority leader – to resign over his involvement in a controversial plea deal years ago for Epstein, as the Trump administration fought back and the secretary himself defended his handling of the case.

Trump told reporters at the White House that Acosta has been a “very good” Labor secretary and that Acosta probably wished he had handled the Epstein plea deal “a different way.”

The president said his administration will look “very carefully” at Acosta’s handling of the Epstein case.

Trump on Epstein himself: “I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him…He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago, I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn’t a fan.”

After consulting Justice Department ethics officials, U.S. Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing the Epstein sex-trafficking case.

Progressive lawmakers, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Sen. Berne Sanders, are pushing a resolution to declare a climate emergency in the U.S., demanding “a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address” climate change.

Trump’s administration will be “more aggressive” in pursuing information on undocumented immigrants, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned, as federal immigration officers have sought to use facial recognition technology in other states has part of an effort to find people living in the U.S. illegally.

The Northway is finally getting its Exit 3. For decades, there was no exit between exits 2 and 4, but the new exchange that is being built to directly link the Northway to Albany International Airport will be called Exit 3.

The multi-million dollar project was originally going to be completed in 2020, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it will be finished ahead of time by the end of the year.

The state Public Service Commission decided it would not extend the public comment period for its $12 million settlement agreement with Charter Communications, paving the way for the commission to approve the deal at its meeting Thursday.

Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced $7,999,226 in federal funds for the Research Foundation for SUNY.

This year’s state budget came with a hidden asterisk: In the final throes of negotiations with legislative leaders, the govenror quietly postponed a month’s worth of Medicaid payments from the last week of March to the first week of April – shifting $1.7 billion in spending from one fiscal year to the next.

Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol says Woodstock 50 should take place in August 2020, not next month, explaining: “No matter how good the plan looks on paper, to implement this plan in 39 days, is impossible to ensure the safety of the public.”

Because Woodstock 50 does not include camping, or overnight accommodations, the DOH says a “mass gathering permit” isn’t necessary. But, the event must meet sanitary codes requirements for public functions with an attendance of 5,000 or more, and obtain a permit for that.

Raw, a takeout juice bar and vegetarian/vegan cafe on Schenectady’s Jay Street for the past three years, is expanding into the building next door and will more than double in size, allowing for table dining for the first time.

Now that there is no longer a religious exemption to mandated vaccines for admission to school, a handful of small, specialized institutions in the Capital Region are grappling with parents who haven’t vaccinated their kids.

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, a registered Democrat, on his legal challenge to the Green Light law: “Basically what we said is the Green Light Bill that was passed by the New York State Legislature, one, was unconstitutional according to the Supremacy Law in the Constitution. Federal law always trumps state law and that’s fact.”

Reporters visited South Troy’s shuttered pool for the second time this summer, two more times than city residents have. And the tour of the on-going work still did not yield a clear opening date for the $1.4 million project.

Shannon Wong, director of the Lower Hudson Valley chapter of NYCLU, sent a letter to Westchester County Executive George Latimer last week urging the county to observe its own laws to make sure county law enforcement resources aren’t used to assist in any local ICE raids.

The Niagara Parks Police Service says a man was swept over the Horseshoe Falls. Crews rescued the man and took him to a hospital for assessment and treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy did not rule out backing a registered Democrat in the race for Queens district attorney, but said the issue was ultimately up to the local party committee.

The Queens DA race is getting pricey now that it’s in overtime, with the two Democratic candidates both seeking to raise additional cash.

For the third year in a row, the New York City Ballet and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center will be releasing a series of locally-shot videos to promote the ballet company’s upcoming season.

A Fiber Forum event featuring fiber art demonstrations and live sheep shearing is scheduled for Saturday in the Spa City’s Beekman Street Arts District.

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