While You Were Out: Oct. 18, 2019

A short and sweet goodnight and good riddance to this Friday, CivMixers. It was a long week. Hope you get a chance to unplug and recharge this weekend. I’m looking forward to some down time.

Here’s what’s news…

The world’s first all-female spacewalking team made history high above Earth today, replacing a broken part of the International Space Station’s power grid.

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign threatened to sue CNN over what they allege is biased reporting, a move opponents denounced as an attempt to intimidate the media in general.

The president has selected Dan Brouillette, deputy to departing Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to lead the Energy Department, calling him a “total professional” with unparalleled experience.

The state Department of Health has shut down the motel owned by the family at the center of the Schoharie limousine crash, saying the Route 9 business was not sanitary enough for human habitation.

State Supreme Court Justice Michael Melkonian, a local judge who once sentenced New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress to prison in a weapons case, has died, according to a judge and head of the Rensselaer County Legislature.

NYC Transit president Andy Byford, an outsider hired two years ago by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to save New York City’s troubled mass transit system, abruptly resigned last week, and then reversed course, opting instead to remain in his $325,000-a-year job.

The MTA, which initially refused to confirm Byford’s resignation, said his letter had been rescinded.

In a statement, Byford said he and Cuomo “are on exactly the same page about the need to dramatically improve the transit system.”

So far, eight Republicans and three Democrats have filed to run for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s seat in the Bronx and Queens. Two of the Republicans have each raised more than $420,000, even though no Republican has represented the Bronx in Congress in at least 50 years.

New York’s interim education Commissioner Beth Berlin will leave her role for a new opportunity next month, the state Education Department announced.

Spending growth should once again be held at 2 percent for state agencies and departments in the coming 2020-2021 fiscal year, Division of Budget Director Robert Mujica wrote to state commissioners in a letter today.

The state Comptroller’s Office is evaluating how a deal between two local counties – Montgomery and Fulton – fell through, costing some taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

State lawmakers next year are expected to debate legislation meant to provide new protections to workers who are in the so-called “gig economy.”

A coalition of construction and business groups this week launched a renewed effort to push for infrastructure investments in New York, including an ad campaign highlighting the potential job creation and environmental and health hazards that need to be fixed.

The parent of Capital Bank reported it was setting aside $4.2 million to provide for losses from a commercial loan in which it participated. While Elmira-based Chemung Financial Corp. didn’t identify the customer in its third quarter earnings statement, it’s believed to be MyPayrollHR, the Clifton Park firm that collapsed at the beginning of September.

The Civil Service Employees Association, one of the largest public worker unions in the state, is continuing to press forward with an effort opposing the New York Health Act, a bill that would create a single-payer health care system in the state.

“The Laundromat,” a new Netflix movie about the Panama Papers scandal, begins with a re-creation of the deadly 2005 sinking of the Ethan Allen, the doomed tour boat that was underwritten by a phony insurance policy when it sank in Lake George, killing 20.

New York pharmacies will now be required to inform patients whenever a Class 1 recall has been issued for a prescription drug they’re taking.

Kate Spade New York will open next month at Lee Premium Outlets in Lee, Mass., Simon Property Group announced, joining other shops including Michael Kors and Coach at the outlet, which is off Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on the White House to release money for the Low Income Heating Program, or LIHEAP, which helps seniors and low income families pay their winter heating bills.

Supporters of legalized adult use of cannabis products in New York are hoping a summit of regional governors yesterday will help advance legislative efforts that fell short this year.

The state DEC wants the public’s input on ways to improve the fisheries at New York’s great lakes.

The fate of flavored e-cigarettes in New York State remains up in the air.

A highly anticipated study from the New York State Gambling Commission has been delayed until next year.

Johnson & Johnson must pay New York more than $5.2 million as part of a $117 million, multistate settlement over deceptive marketing of its transvaginal surgical mesh devices.

We’ve heard of pre-nuptial agreements — those legal documents people sign before getting married. But what about a baby pre-nup? Apparently, it’s a growing trend.

Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda, known for her 1970s-era opposition to the Vietnam War, said she is returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.

If you’re looking for some spooky historical fun, the Capitol Hauntings Tour is a good bet.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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