Rise and Shine: Sept. 24, 2019

Welcome to Tuesday, the second day of fall, CivMixers.

It’s going to feel more seasonally appropriate out there today, with temperatures barely getting out of the 70s. There will be a mix of sun and clouds, and a slight chance of a shower, according to The Weather Channel. It will be a bit on the humid side, still, with about 68 percent humidity, and also windy.

It’s National Voter Registration Day, which gives me a chance to get up onto my soapbox and urge everyone who is eligible to vote and isn’t already registered to get out there and prepare yourself to exercise your small-d democratic rights and do your civic duty.

New York, as you might be aware, routinely posts some of the worst voter turnout numbers in the nation. Even when turnout is good – like it was in the 2018 midterms – there are still under 50 percent of registered voters participating.

Though it’s true that the state’s election system is not great, the all-Democrat state Legislature has made steps to try to address that problem, passing bills in the 2019 session to allow early voting, preregistration by minor voters and voting by mail.

Voters themselves bare some responsibility here, too. Even the best, most progressive election system possible cannot force you to get off the couch and cast your vote, however you chose to do that. That requires some motivation on your part. And if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice. The more people vote, the more elected officials have to pay attention to the issues those people care about.

OK, lecture delivered. On with the regularly scheduled programming. In the news this morning…

President Donald Trump ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine a few days before a phone call in which he pressured the Eastern European nation’s leader to investigate the family of political rival Joe Biden – a new revelation that comes as more Democrats move toward impeachment proceedings.

The last time he was accused of collaborating with a foreign power to influence an election, Trump denied it and traveled the country practically chanting, “No collusion!” This time, he is saying, in effect, so what if I did?

Trump defended his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over his appearance last week on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show in which the former NYC mayor first denied that he’d mentioned Biden’s son Hunter to Ukrainian officials only to admit seconds later that he had.

Giuliani yesterday accused Ukraine of laundering $3 million to Hunter Biden and questioned how former President Barack Obama could have allowed that to happen.

On Oct. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether an existing federal law guarantees nationwide protection from workplace discrimination to gay and transgender people, even in states that offer no protections right now.

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg condemned global leaders at a UN climate change summit for failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, repeatedly asking, “How dare you?”

An New Rochelle man taped a bunch of wires to a broken radio, and then tried to detonated it by flicking a flashlight at cops — setting off a panic at the local train station.

Michael Mann, the operator of a now-closed Clifton Park-based payroll company, has been charged with committing a $70 million bank fraud. Prosecutors say the scheme goes back to 2010 or 2011.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined the New York Islanders, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, local leaders and hockey fans to break ground on the New York Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park, the centerpiece of the $1.3 billion Belmont Park Redevelopment. (Two lawsuits have been filed challenging the project).

The Albany County Legislature will hold another public hearing today on the sale of all flavored tobacco and vaping products in the county after postponing a vote on the measure earlier this month.

Activist and community board member Emily Gallagher launched a campaign against Assemblyman Joe Lentol, giving the Brooklyn Democrat his first primary challenge in a decade.

A Russian man pleaded guilty to taking part in a global, multiyear hacking operation that involved cyberattacks on a dozen American companies and an elaborate scheme to use stolen information to manipulate stocks and run illegal online-gambling businesses.

A judge’s ruling against a Queens landlord who threatened to report a tenant to ICE and recommendation that she pay $17,000 in a fine and damages could set a new standard for how immigrant tenants are treated.

To obtain tens of millions of dollars worth of tax credits from New Jersey, 12 companies all threatened to leave the Garden State for the same office complex in New York called Blue Hill Plaza. None followed through.

Chris Churchill notes three upstate cities – Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse – are seeing downtown highways come down, and calls on the governor to tear down “Albany’s mistake along the water, the land-sucking disaster known as Interstate 787.”

Cuomo and his administration’s top insurance and banking regulator blasted the $34 million in bonuses to employees at Purdue Pharma.

There will be a referendum on the ballot in November for voters in the Town of Argyle to decide whether to turn the dry community wet. Alcohol hasn’t been served there since 1933.

With more than 10 months remaining in the Child Victims Act look-back window, activists hope the state Legislature may pursue additional measures to support survivors, including a private-public victims’ fund to support those who can’t pursue a case under the current law.

Cease and desist orders were issued by state Attorney General Letitia James’s office to 16 websites that manufacture and sell firearms or firearm components for selling nearly complete assault-style firearms in the state.

James and a coalition of 21 attorneys general from around the country backed a bill that would allow cannabis-related businesses operating legally to access the banking system.

Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano’s imminent retirement has set the stage for what might be the state’s craziest political contest in this election cycle.

A top state court official told Chief Judge Janet DiFiore that more funding is needed to provide civil legal representation for the poor, including relatives caring for the children of opioid-addicted parents.

Over a six-year period, $1 billion will be spent at the Marcy Nanocenter, a spot on the SUNY Polytechnic Institute campus located near Utica, New York, by Cree Inc., a LED light manufacturer from North Carolina. The company has promised to generate more than 600 high-paying jobs, and the state is giving up $500 million in incentives.

Long Island Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, is pushing for a new law to bar ex-pols convicted of felony crimes from running for office for at least 10 years.

Donald Urbano of Westerlo, who served with the Albany Fire Department for 36 years and was a first responder at the World Trade Center on 9/11, died of cancer in 2016. His name has been added to the International Firefighter’s Wall of Honor in Colorado Springs.

Albany police are investigating two shootings that occurred early yesterday morning.

Four city residents were arrested and three handguns were recovered after a report of shots fired Sunday on Clinton Avenue, Albany Police said.

DeMaranville Farm & Gardens, a proposed Saratoga Springs wedding venue that neighbors thought was divorced from its controversial location, is back.

Airbnb is offering a handful of people concerned about the environment a chance to participate in scientific research on how to help preserve it during an all-expense paid trip to Antarctica.

A rabid fox attacked a woman in Columbia County.

The DEC and its partners will be undertaking additional efforts as part of a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of motorists and hikers while managing use around the some of the busiest trailheads this Columbus Day holiday weekend.

The Food and Drug Administration has recalled multiple drugs used as medication to treat high blood pressure.

A mysterious illness that hit dozens of American and Canadian diplomats in 2016 in Havana, Cuba, is likely connected to insecticides sprayed to fight Zika virus, according to a new study from a team of scientists in Canada.

Animal rights activists, appearing in Bronx court yesterday, argued that the Bronx Zoo pachyderm Happy is an “autonomous being” whose “liberty is being violated” by her cramped lonely quarters, and they want her moved to a sanctuary. Zoo attorneys disagree.

WNY native Jason Zuffranieri, who now lives in New Mexico, has won his 16th Jeopardy! game and is looking to keep the streak going. He is now third in all-time regular season winnings.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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