Rise and Shine: Nov. 14, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, CivMixers. We’ve reached the middle of the week somehow. Things sort of seemed to be dragging along there for a bit – maybe because it was so damn, bone-chillingly, record-breakingly cold?

If you feel like it was way too early for this sort of thing, you’re not alone. AND, there’s some good news…

It appears we’re getting a reprieve from the extremely low temperatures today, with highs heading into the balmy 30s. Lowers will be somewhere in the mid-20s, according to The Weather Channel, and there will be clouds but no rain. Tomorrow we might even hit the mid-40s! Time to break out those bathing suits.

OK, maybe not. But, it’s a good day to eat pickles and/or spicy guac in your pajamas.

Prince Charles is turning 70 today. Other high-profile birthdays include: Actor Josh Duhamel (46) and composer Yanni (64). Impressionist painter Claude Monet was born on this day in 1840, and died in 1926.

In the headlines….

The House held its inaugural open impeachment hearing yesterday, taking public testimony for the first time since endorsing the formal inquiry into allegations against President Donald Trump.

William Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy, both testified about Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden – one of his leading political rivals.

Kent caused a stir on social media by forgoing the standard single-use water bottle given to lawmakers and witnesses with an unconventional mode of hydration — a gigantic 48-ounce Nalgene bottle.

The next scheduled hearing is this Friday, and Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, is scheduled to testify.

Projecting unusual calm in the middle of a political firestorm, Trump pleaded ignorance about the first public impeachment hearing, unexpectedly insisting that he really wasn’t paying attention to sworn testimony in the House Intelligence Committee that could determine whether he serves out his term.

Trump did, however, dismiss the inquiry, calling it a “witch hunt” and “joke” while answering reporter questions at a White House press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik took on an active role as the first open hearing of the House impeachment inquiry started, asking two questions of Democratic Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, early on in the process and digging into the rules.

Millions of Americans likely saw the House’s first day of open impeachment hearings. The open question is how many actually heard it.

Retiring Long Island Republican Rep. Pete King’s staff has been working on a giant 40-pound rubber band ball for almost a decade.

Just over 20 years ago, King, broke from his party and voted against impeaching President Bill Clinton. King, now 75, plans to vote “no” on another impeachment right before he exits Congress.

Billy Joel’s ex-girlfriend Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, a Republican Town of Islip councilwoman and former TV news reporter, will throw her hat in the ring to replace King next year.

At a speech to the Economic Club of New York, Trump declared that his daughter, Ivanka, has personally created 14 million new jobs. The entire U.S. economy has created fewer than 6 million new jobs since Trump took office.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, was out sick yesterday due to a stomach bug and missed oral arguments. The Brooklyn-born justice and senior liberal on the bench underwent a three-week course of radiation treatment in Manhattan beginning Aug. 5, for a malignant tumor on her pancreas.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was allegedly briefed on the details of a closed-door vote by the state JCOPE last January, around the time the panel voted on whether to investigate Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to the governor.

The allegation — that someone in JCOPE may have illegally informed the governor or his staff about the voting breakdown of the panel’s non-public decision — was secretly investigated by the state IG’s office, according to former Essex County DA and JCOPE member Julie Garcia.

Former Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove’s personnel records and documents related to the state criminal investigation of him will be subpoenaed for the 2017 quadruple homicide case slated for trial next year, the defense attorney said Wednesday in county court.

At a meeting yesterday in Westchester, the nine-member Public Campaign Finance Commission voted to preliminarily adopt new donation limits for elections for the state Assembly and Senate. While those limits would be about half the current maximum amounts in New York, they would still be quite high by the standards of elections outside the state.

…more on the commission’s deliberations and controversy here.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has “no intention” of challenging the constitutionality of the Child Victims Act, a spokeswoman said a day after a downstate diocese (Rockville Centre Catholic Diocese in Long Island) filed a claim challenging the law.

SUNY officials and representatives of private colleges, appeared before state lawmakers yesterday to talk about the environmental footprint of schools across the state. They all agreed that SUNY has an outsized role in lowering greenhouse gases because of its research initiatives and its sheer size.

State lawmakers also held a hearing on Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s proposal to reform and consolidate New York’s unwieldy and outdated court system.

The Rensselaer Land Trust will honor one of Rensselaer County’s leaders in farmland preservation – Teri Ptacek, executive director of the Agricultural Stewarship Association – Sunday when it marks 32 years of conserving land and protecting resources in the county.

Many nonprofit leaders have to ask themselves in a consolidating market, is it better to compete or collaborate with each other? Numerous studies seem to be in favor of collaboration, but local experts say both are necessary for survival.

Utica Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi turned up the heat this week on Spectrum cable, unveiling a plan that would force the federal government to examine the company’s price hikes and business practices.

The wife of the limo driver involved in the deadly limousine crash in Schoharie pleaded guilty to a felony charge of welfare fraud in Warren County.

The Schoharie County Jail, which was badly damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, is one step closer to reopening.

A precocious 9-year-old and the aunt of a teen killed by a stray bullet grilled NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio about crime, homelessness and public transit at a Queens town hall yesterday.

Douglaston Development, a major contributor to de Blasio’s shuttered nonprofit — which critics labeled a “slush” fund to boost the mayor’s political ambitions — has agreed to pay $10,000 to settle charges it violated state ethics laws.

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson criticized the recent arrest of a subway churro vendor, saying she should have never been placed in handcuffs, a sharp contrast from de Blasio, who defended the NYPD.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the longtime leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, sexually abused an 11-year-old altar boy during his tenure as a young priest in Jersey City in the 1970s, according to a lawyer who helped unleash Boston’s priest abuse scandal. DiMarzio vehemently denies this charge.

Jeffrey Epstein’s estate has fielded so many lawsuits from the dead pedophile’s victims that it is considering establishing a “claims resolution program” so they can be settled out of court, according to court papers.

As of yesterday, New York has now raised the minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarettes to 21 years old, from 18.

University at Albany students are calling for “cultural competency” on campus while police continue to search for a man arrested three times last week.

An audit of Troy’s proposed budget shows the city’s spending plan is reasonable, thanks to an increase in the garbage fee.

Under a new policy implemented at Albany Med, nurses can be terminated within 7 days if they refuse to get a flu shot.

The average salary for a superintendent in 25 school districts in 10 Capital Region counties is $170,438 according to the districts’ 2019-2020 budgets. That’s $1,914 below the state average according to Salary.com.

Hospitality and tourism has a $1 billion annual impact on the county economy, thanks to the track, SPAC, the Saratoga Springs City Center and even Saratoga Battlefield which has seen a major spike lately driven in part by the popularity of the Broadway show “Hamilton.”

One of the Capital Region’s biggest milk distributors – the Garelick Farms brand in Rensselaer – said it is not impacted by the news that the nation’s largest milk producer has filed for bankruptcy.

Utilities are reminding customers in New York that enrollment for heating assistance is open for this winter.

This week, longtime Suffolk County district attorney, Thomas J. Spota, goes on trial along with one of his top deputies, Christopher McPartland, in a case that could expose the inner workings of a law enforcement culture on Long Island that has been plagued by longstanding accusations of corruption.

The Country Music Association Awards almost fully honored and highlighted the women of country music – whose songs have been heavily dismissed on country radio over the years – until two words were uttered when they named its entertainer of the year: Garth Brooks.

Pete Davidson and Kaia Gerber were spotted holding hands at a supermarket in Hillsdale, New York, not far from the Massachusetts border. At the time, he was wearing a regionally appropriate Albany Fire Department t-shirt.

New Jersey has announced a plan to remove some of the aggressive wild turkeys that have been wreaking havoc in one of its communities.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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