Rise and Shine: Aug. 12, 2019

Good Monday morning, CivMixers. After a long and arduous weekend, I’m glad to be back with you all.

It’s going to be hot – in the mid-80s – and partly cloudy with rising humidity today. There’s rain in the forecast for tomorrow, according to the Weather Channel, so enjoy those clear skies while you can.

The biggest news over the weekend – that Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of trafficking girls for sex committed suicide while awaiting trial in a protective housing unit of the federal jail in Lower Manhattan – will likely continue to dominate the headlines for some time.

A few highlights…

The New York City medical examiner’s office said yesterday it had completed an autopsy of Epstein but that it needed more information before determining the cause of death, though suicide is the assumption and no sign of foul play has emerged.

Correctional officers who worked in a special unit inside the New York City jail that housed Epstein had worked extreme overtime shifts to compensate for staffing shortages.

The unidentified jailers at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center reportedly violated procedure by failing to check on Epstein every 30 minutes before he apparently committed suicide in his cell.

The FBI and and the Justice Department’s inspector general have devoted additional resources toward investigating Epstein’s death, with Attorney General William Barr taking a hands on role in the probe.

Epstein’s death reportedly has raised the pressure on prosecutors to pursue charges against associates who enabled his alleged sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

Prosecutors may target cronies who were set to testify against Epstein before his death – as the FBI investigates new claims by more than 200 women who say they were sexually assaulted by the wealthy pedophile, law-enforcement officials said.

Epstein’s death launched new conspiracy theories online in a saga that has provided fodder for them for years, fueled by his ties to princes, politicians and other famous and powerful people.

Online theorists Saturday quickly offered unsubstantiated speculation — including some retweeted by President Donald Trump — that Epstein’s death wasn’t a suicide, or it was faked.

Accusers around the globe have been left shocked by Epstein’s death and angered that they would never see him face a full reckoning for his exploits.

In other news…

Thousands of protesters in Hong Kong were packing the city’s international airport today as hundreds more were queuing to get in and express their outrage over another night of violent clashes between pro-democracy activists and riot police.

All flights out of the airport have been cancelled.

Several funerals were held over the weekend for people who died in mass shootings last weekend in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says when the Senate returns to Washington in September he’ll introduce legislation to require the FBI to regulate the sale of body armor across the nation.

Many of the 2020 Democratic contenders were stumping at the Iowa State Fair over the weekend, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Sixteen Democratic candidates in all passed through Saturday’s gun safety forum hosted by former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s group, Everytown for Gun Safety.

The state’s court system is bracing for potentially thousands of lawsuits to be filed starting Wednesday, when a one-year period begins that will enable victims of childhood sexual abuse to file previously time-barred claims against their alleged abusers and the institutions that may have harbored them.

Hundreds of lawsuits are expected to be filed in Western New York alone. The Buffalo Diocese is expected to be the biggest target. More than 100 Catholic priests who served in Western New York have been accused of sexual contact with children.

Robert Samson, the top official at the state Office Information of Information Technology Services, is quietly departing the position this month. He cited health issues as the major driver of the decision to depart Aug. 15.

Sergeant, Station Commander Jeffrey Cicora, of Baldwinsville, passed away Saturday due to an illness from his service at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, according to the New York State Police.

Cicora was assigned to work at the search and rescue effort in the rubble at Ground Zero.

Health insurance rates for New Yorkers will rise on average by nearly 7 percent next year, while small-group plans will rise 8 percent, according to state regulators. The increases will impact about 1.3 million New Yorkers who get their coverage from private insurers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed more than a handful of notable new bills into law last week that range from increasing the number of crimes that can be categorized as domestic violence, to banning discrimination in the workplace based on religious attire or facial hair.

Six weeks after new state GOP Chair Nick Langworthy nudged 10-year Chairman Edward Cox out of party leadership, he is discovering the grim realities of presiding over a party that Democrats now basically ignore. Yet he exudes optimism.

As the state continues its expansion of free pre-K for four-year-olds, there continues to be a dearth of access to high-quality child care and social services during those formative years.

Young, well-off, and increasingly elusive: More high-earning millennials are abandoning New York than any other state, according to a recent SmartAsset analysis of IRS tax documents.

Democrat Nate McMurray is giving it another go in New York’s 27th Congressional District, currently represented by embattled Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who has not actually announced whether he plans to seek his fifth term.

Whether former inmates are being supported or exploited by nonunion constitution firms that hire them after they get out of prison is at the center of a brewing fight between nonprofits, nonunion firms and major developers against New York’s influential but embattled construction unions.

An early morning fire on Watervliet Avenue in Albany has displaced six people.

Thirteen different police agencies responded to Crossgates Mall Saturday night to break up a fight.

Police say two officers were assaulted while trying to get a crowd under control at Get Air Trampoline Park in Crossgates Mall.

Union leaders representing Cohoes city firefighters say proposed changes to the promotional requirements for their department’s captains are being lowered to possibly assist members who are close to Mayor Shawn Morse.

Woodstock Democrat Jeff Collins is all in on a 2020 state Senate bid against Republican Sen. George Amedore after considering the possibility last year.

Brown’s Beach in Stillwater is closed until further notice for water quality testing.

What was known as Quail Street in Albany has been renamed “Aidala Way” in honor of the Aidala family and their service to the City of Albany.

The Albany Empire defeated the Philadelphia Soul 45-27 in ArenaBowl XXXII at Times Union Center Sunday to win the title in their second year of existence.

City of Schenectady police responded to a report of a suspicious package Sunday afternoon. Ultimately, the device was deemed non-explosive, police said.

The Schenectady City School District aims to increase the share of city residents who opt for a public school over private or charters school along with a litany of other goals the school board adopted last week.

The Johnstown Athletic Program will get a big donation today from Dick’s Sporting Goods to help save its sports program.

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District will be among the first districts in the state to install hundreds of bullet-resistant doors.

John Legend made a surprise visit to Dayton, Ohio, Sunday, a week after a shooting there left nine people dead and at least 31 others injured. (He’s a native of Springfield, OH, which is about 30 minutes away from Dayton).

A member of the Central Park Five who said in a June interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had dreamed of attending Syracuse University as a music student is set to be recognized by the university in September at a scholarship benefit dinner.

While plans for a big Woodstock 50 festival collapsed, the site of the 1969 show is hosting a long weekend of events featuring separate shows by festival veterans like Carlos Santana and John Fogerty.

K-pop superstar group BTS is taking an extended break to “enjoy the ordinary lives of young people in their 20s, albeit briefly,” their agency said.

Photo credit: Silvia Lilly.

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