Rise and Shine: Sept. 10, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, CivMixers. It’s a little on the chilly side, (in the 50s), as I write this, but it’s going to be just shy of 80 degrees and humid today as the sun comes up.

The Weather Channel says to expect clouds and some sun this morning, with more clouds as the day progresses and showers developing after midnight.

A nine-member commission created by state lawmakers and the governor to establish a statewide public campaign finance system holds the first of four public hearings on the subject today. The location: the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Lower Manhattan.

The NYT editorial board is hoping that this effort doesn’t get scuttled by the powers-that-be in Albany, and also says the commission should not muddy the waters by taking up fusion voting – a practice that allows multiple parties to appear on the ballot and direct votes to a single candidate.

Meanwhile, the Government Justice Center, a group with ties to the fiscal watchdog organization The Empire Center, filed a lawsuit seeking access to records generated by the commission after it failed to act on its Freedom of Information Law request.

In the news…

President Trump held a campaign rally in North Carolina ahead of a special election for two House seats, one of which has become a test case for national Democratic and Republican observers looking for clues to guide their messaging in 2020 campaigns.

At the rally, the president urged North Carolina voters to “take the first steps” toward removing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and “winning the back the House in 2020.”

Trump sought to tamp down a growing controversy over a stay at the resort by United States military personnel who were traveling through the airport in Scotland in March.

The president also defended the optics of his decision to secretly host members of the Taliban, the brutal militant group, at Camp David just days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. (The meeting is now scuttled, and peace talks with the Taliban are “dead“).

Speaking of 9/11, a recent study shows that beams of light that shine annually in tribute to the attacks in Lower Manhattan can lure birds to veer off their normal migratory flights, putting them at risk of starvation or injury.

Coast Guard rescuers pulled four trapped men alive from a capsized cargo ship, drilling into the hull’s steel plates to extract the crew members more than a day after their vessel overturned while leaving a Georgia port.

U.S. emergency workers found five bodies in the debris left by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, and they said they expected to find more victims a week after the devastating storm hit.

The number of people worldwide who die from suicide is declining but one person still kills themselves every 40 seconds, according to new figures from the World Health Organization, which said countries needed to do more to stop these preventable deaths.

New York reportedly ranks among the “happiest” states in the nation thanks in part to a low suicide rate and high life expectancy, a new study shows.

With Congress back in session, Democrats say the first item on their agenda is gun control.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed bills to crack down on doctors who write fraudulent medical exemptions for school children’s vaccinations.

British lawmakers, capping what may be one of the most abysmal starts any British leader has ever endured, rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid to hold a new national election.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg called in a NYT oped for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, accusing tobacco companies of “turning millions of young people into addicted customers, all the while insisting that they aren’t targeting kids at all.”

More than 200 New York bar associations are competing for a shrinking pool of potential members, forcing them to sell their assets, take out loans, share expenses, reduce their staffs, and cease operations, according to interviews with more than two dozen bar leaders, legal experts and New York lawyers.

Long Island’s Hofstra, the only university to have hosted three consecutive presidential debates, won’t be on a list of locations for the 2020 presidential debates when they’re announced next month. (University officials chose not to apply this cycle).

A group of environmentalists rolled out a special vehicular toolkit for municipalities across the state. It features model laws and plans for getting the state’s thousands of city, county or other government-owned vehicles running on electricity rather than gasoline or diesel fuel.

Prosecutors urged New York lawmakers to provide more funds to district attorneys’ offices or delay the rollout of discovery reforms set to take effect Jan. 1.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could make it easier for New Yorkers to order wine online and have it delivered to their home.

In a 27-12 vote, Albany County lawmakers defeated a proposal to limit themselves as well as the county executive and comptroller to 12 years in office.

Some Albany County legislators have revived a proposed local law that would ban flavored tobacco products. After being tabled this summer, the legislation could now be brought to a vote again.

The Schenectady City Council tabled a controversial resolution to pay Police Chief Eric Clifford $8,175 for unused sick time he earned before his promotion to chief.

The abrupt shutdown of a Capital Region payroll company last week left thousands of people around the nation with negative bank balances and several looming questions: How did this happen, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again?

Since the MYPayrollHr scandal broke, customers have been hit not once, but in some cases three times by the company attempting to withdraw funds.

A 67-year-old Duchess County woman died Saturday after being attacked by a dog in her home, the State Police said.

An Albany woman was horrified to find a bullet hole in her front window while her children were inside the home sleeping.

The city of Albany is renaming a portion of New Scotland Avenue in honor of retiring Albany Medical Center President and CEO James Barba.

The New York Civil Liberties Union is arguing in a recently filed “friend-of-the-court” brief that the state’s law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses is valid.

Members of the state Assembly Haitian Caucus are soliciting donations to aid Bahamians impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

Casinos across New York boasted big turnouts for football betting at their new sports betting lounges.

Legendary local author Herman Melville will forever be remembered in Troy. The corner of 114th Street and 1st Avenue in Lansingburgh is now “Herman Melville Way,” remained to coincide with the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have reportedly opened an investigation into possible lending fraud in the NYC taxi industry, the most significant action taken so far in response to widespread practices that trapped thousands of cabdrivers under crushing debt.

The state Legislature recently passed a law that aligns the state primary election, which for years had been in September, with the federal one in June, making the process better for voters but more complicated for candidates – especially sitting state lawmakers.

Long Island police are investigating three threats made against Suffolk County schools in the space of just two days in the first week of the new academic year.

A fiery explosion in 2015 tore through a block in Manhattan’s East Village, destroying several buildings and killing two men. At issue in a trial that started yesterday: whether the blast was a tragic accident, or the result of an illegal natural-gas hookup.

A Rochester classroom is trying something different for the new school year — chairs that allow students to fidget in place while allowing them to remain focused and engaged in their learning for a longer period of time.

…also in Rochester: A new cereal bar.

Democrat Jen Lunsford is expected to officially announce her 2020 campaign for state Senate this week. She’ll be making her second run in a blue-leaning district she lost last year by 4 percentage points to incumbent Republican Sen. Rich Funke.

An upstate foundry, Polich Tallix, has been retained to repair the “Charging Bull,” the iconic bronze bull sculpture near Wall Street that was damaged over the weekend when a man smashed a metal banjo over its head. (The cost has been estimated at $15,000).

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio staunchly defended his administration’s plans for shelling out another $43 million in ferry purchases for its money-losing fleet, saying “this is an investment in the future.”

Forty-seven percent of New Yorkers said that they’ve had an “unpleasant interaction” with a costumer character or street hustler in Times Square over the past year.

An embattled NYC helicopter-tour company announced it would no longer let passengers bring their dogs on its controversial “doors off” flights.

A notorious inside trader who was slapped with a then-record, 11-year prison term in 2011 was quietly released to home confinement in his swank Upper East Side apartment this summer — thanks in part to Kim Kardashian.

As of yesterday, Amazon said it had 30,000 open positions in the United States, including full- and part-time jobs at headquarters offices, technology hubs and warehouses.

A conservative television network, One America News, sued MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for more than $10 million for calling it “paid Russian propaganda.”

A New Jersey Uber driver has been banned from using the rideshare app after kicking a couple out of the car because they are gay.

A Nieman Lab study found that despite the economic hardships that local newspapers have endured, they remain, by far, the most significant providers of journalism in their communities.

Squirrels are nosy. They eavesdrop on the casual chitchat of birds to figure out when it’s safe enough to be out in the open and foraging for food, researchers say.

The Saratoga Automobile Museum has announced a commemorative evening with David Hobbs, Bob Varsha, and Judy Stropus on Sept. 19, starting at 6 p.m. in the Hall of Springs in the Saratoga Spa State Park.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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