Rise and Shine: Sept. 26, 2019

Good Thursday morning, CivMixers. I can safely say it’s likely going to be….wet.

Showers are forecast to start this morning, changing over to steady rain in the afternoon. The chance of precipitation is 90 percent, according to The Weather Channel. Temperatures will be in the low 70s.

Some high-level relationship news broke yesterday (just as the whole Ukraine/Trump mess was reaching a fever pitch) when Gov. Andrew Cuomo and celebrity lifestyle personality Sandra Lee made official what many political observers have suspected for some time: After 14 years of dating, they’re no longer a couple.

The now-former couple released a joint statement, saying: “Over the recent past, we have realized that our lives have gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship. We will always be family and are fully supportive of each other and dedicated to the girls. Our personal lives remain personal and there will be no further comment.”

Speculation that the relationship between the governor and the state’s “first girlfriend” had ended kicked into high gear when Lee put the Westchester home she had long shared with Cuomo, Lily Pond, up for sale.

At the time, Lee insisted the two were still together, but didn’t need so much space because the governor’s three grown daughters were all out of the house.

The breakup was first reported by Zack Fink of NY1, who tweeted that a source close to Lee and Cuomo told him, “Over the last several weeks the gov and Sandra have told friends that they’ve decided to be best friends but are no longer a couple.”

Fink also quoted anonymous sources who said the two have been living apart for months, adding: “Cuomo’s official schedules show he has been living full time at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany.”

A person with knowledge of the couple’s relationship told the NY Times that Lee’s more public profile — and recent embrace of a more political role in her personal life — had caused friction with the governor. The governor’s office denied this account.

In recent months, the Times noted, Lee had been spending much of her time in Los Angeles, where she started her first successful business enterprise in the 1990s, caring for her ailing aunt and uncle.

In non-breakup news…

The acting director of national intelligence, under pressure from Congress to release the full complaint of a whistle-blower who touched off the Ukraine impeachment furor, handed over the document to the House Intelligence Committee.

Trump’s suggestion that American law enforcement be directly involved and in contact with Ukraine’s government marks the first evidence that the president personally sought to harness the power of the United States government to further a political investigation.

In a series of public appearances yesterday that veered from bristling with anger to uncharacteristically subdued, Trump insisted that he did nothing wrong and was once again the victim of “a total hoax.”

Trump reportedly reached out to Speaker Nancy Pelosi to ask about a compromise on releasing the whistleblower complaint that has fueled a renewed impeachment inquiry, an offer that was quickly shot down by the Democratic leader.

Cuomo voiced support for the impeachment inquiry into Trump, saying Pelosi “has no choice.”

The number of House members supporting an impeachment inquiry has reached 218 – a critical milestone that indicates there is a majority in the House willing to at least consider drafting and voting on articles of impeachment.

Lawmakers today will grill spymaster Joseph Maguire over his weeks-long delay in turning over a whistleblower complaint to Congress, leading once-cautious House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry and igniting a political firestorm.

The gap between the haves and have-nots in the United States grew last year to its highest level in more than 50 years of tracking income inequality, according to Census Bureau figures.

The mother of the woman killed when a white supremacist crashed his car into counter protestors in Charlottesville in 2017 was in the nation’s capital, urging lawmakers to pass the “Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act,’ named for her daughter, Heather Heyer.

Cuomo will unveil by January a plan to legalize the recreational use of marijuana — a blueprint he then intends to include in next year’s state budget negotiations.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has proposed a monumental overhaul of New York’s judiciary structure in an effort to streamline an antiquated system she said is far too cumbersome for judges, lawyers and the people they serve.

Two vaping chain stores and a national trade group are asking a judge to overturn New York’s ban of flavored e-cigarettes.

The Working Families Party says Cuomo created the state Public Campaign Financing Commission — a group ostensibly concerned with getting money out of politics — as a backdoor tool to dismantle fusion voting, and handpicked an opponent of fusion voting – state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs – to sit on it.

SUNY will offer in state tuition for students in the Bahamas displaced by Hurricane Dorian and who can’t return home.

University at Albany Prof. Siwei Lyu is working with Facebook and other tech companies to battle altered online videos and images known as “deep fakes” and is slated to testify today before a U.S. House subcommittee on just how easy it is to forge convincing counterfeits using a commercially available computer, the internet and software.

Schenectady police said there did not appear to be any signs of foul play after a woman’s body was found yesterday morning in a charter bus that was parked at a motel parking lot in the city.

…Police were still trying to identify the woman as of yesterday evening, saying she appeared to be in her 30s.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan responded to a letter sent by the Albany Police Officers Union President about a shortage of 911 dispatchers in the city, saying: “I could not agree more, our residents need to know dispatchers are on duty.”

Nurses donned red shirts and chanted slogans outside Albany Medical Center yesterday, seeking public support in their protracted contract talks with the region’s largest hospital.

A 17-year-old Bethlehem Central High School student was arrested and charged with falsely reporting an incident after replying to an email chain with an internet meme that contained false, threatening information, according to police and school officials.

The city of Troy and a patrol sergeant who fatally shot an unarmed DWI suspect in 2016 will appeal a federal magistrate’s ruling that there were “material questions of fact” about the shooting that should be resolved by a jury trial.

A three-car crash on Ushers Road near Northway exit 10 sent three people with injuries to Albany Medical Center, according to Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo.

Local apple orchards say rampant theft of their products is forcing them to change cover fees for people who want to enter to pick their own.

Traffic backed up on the Northway late last night as firefighters responded to a trailer fire near exit 7.

The man who pleaded guilty to multiple robberies in Troy while using a baseball bat, Darren French, Sr., has been sentenced to 14 years in jail followed by five years of probation.

Two girls, 10 and 11, face criminal charges of harassment and assault of a 10-year-old girl on a school bus in the small upstate village of Gouverneur, in St. Lawrence County, in an episode that the local police are treating as a racial hate crime.

Officials have announced an end to the measles outbreak that infected 312 people since last October in Rockland County in New York City’s northern suburbs.

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos wants to require almost every school bus in the NYC to carry a camera on the stop signs that swing out when kids are picked up and dropped off. There are about 10,000 school buses in the city.

The MTA’s hasty decision to retain 500 new police officers will exacerbate its already dire financial situation, growing its deficit to $1 billion in the coming years, according to a new analysis.

The MTA’s five-year, $51.5 billion capital plan inched closer to reality yesterday thanks to endorsements from both Mayor Bill de Blasio and the transit agency’s board.

Thieves made off with $300,000 in cash from JFK Airport in a heist that’s now being investigated by the FBI, law-enforcement sources said.

Mattel, the company that conquered the doll world by dividing it into idealized Barbies and Kens, is introducing a new line of gender-neutral dolls for boys, girls and children in between.

Say hello to “Nutella squirrel.”

Photo credit: Colleen Ryan.

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