Rise and Shine: Feb. 12, 2020

Good Wednesday morning, CivMixers.

And Happy Birthday to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, who was born on this day in 1809. This is not to be confused with Presidents Day, which is celebrated on the third Monday of this month, (that happens to be next Monday, Feb. 20). Presidents Day is also known as Washington’s Birthday, (though he was actually born on Feb. 22, 1732), and it’s a federal holiday.

Since the Uniform Federal Holidays Act of 1971, the observance of Washington’s Birthday can occur any time from February 15th to 21st.

Got all that? Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense to me, either.

Anyway, back to Lincoln…

As we all know – or we should, assuming we recall anything at all from grade school history classes – Lincoln led the nation through what some would say was its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis: The American Civil War. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln was killed at the age of 56, five days after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War. He is consistently ranked among experts as one of America’s best presidents.

And that’s a fitting segue to the 2020 presidential contest news…

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as expected, finished first in the New Hampshire primary, followed by Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was a close second at 24 percent. The surprise of the evening was Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who surged to third, receiving 20 percent of the vote.

Things did not go at all well for former Vice President Joe Biden, who came in just behind Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (They finished with 8 percent and 9 percent of the vote, respectively).

The results raised immediate questions about how much longer Biden and Warren, onetime front-runners, could afford to continue their campaigns. Both had already cut back their advertising because of financial strain.

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur with roots in Schenectady, who had no previous political experience and mounted a long-shot presidential campaign that promoted a universal basic income and persisted well beyond expectations, dropped out of the race just as the New Hampshire results were coming in.

Shortly after Yang’s announcement, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet also ended his long-shot presidential bid after failing to break out of a crowded field dominated by other moderate candidates.

Not long after Yang dropped his long-shot presidential bid, Democratic consultants and other operatives throughout the Big Apple were buzzing about him potentially running for New York City mayor in 2021.

The next two states to vote: Nevada (Feb. 22) and South Carolina (Feb. 29).

Closer to home, we will see a mix of sun and clouds today, according to The Weather Channel. It will be breezy, with temperatures in the low 40s. Some rain and snow – and maybe even some sleet – will be moving in tonight.

Rapper Gucci Mane (ne Radric Delantic Davis) is turning 40 years old today. He shares a birthday with: Former Boston Celtic Bill Russell (86), actor Josh Brolin (52), actress Christina Ricci (40) and children’s author extraordinaire Judy Blume (82).

Also born on this day in 1809 was the biologist Charles Darwin, who is best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. He suffered from heart problems later in life, and is speculated to have had Chagas Disease – a tropical parasitic disease that is spread mostly by insects known as Triatominae, or “kissing bugs.” Darwin died in April 1882.

In the headlines…

As far as President Trump is concerned, banishing Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman from the White House and exiling him back to the Pentagon was not enough. If he had his way, the commander in chief made clear on Tuesday, the Defense Department would now take action against the colonel, too.

Less than a week after the Senate acquitted him on impeachment charges, the president bashed federal prosecutors for recommending a stiff sentence for Roger Stone, attacked the judge overseeing high-profile cases involving his ex-advisers, and suggested that the military could discipline Vindman, who was a star impeachment witness.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a tweet last night accused Trump of engaging in “political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone” and called for an investigation into the Department of Justice.

Trump abruptly withdrew the nomination for Jessie Liu, the former US attorney who headed the office that oversaw Roger Stone’s prosecution, to serve in a top Treasury Department position.

In a provocative early-morning tweet in which he charged, “WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!,” the president delivered to his millions of Twitter followers leaked audio from 2015 in which Mike Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential hopeful and former New York mayor, offered an unflinching defense of stop-and-frisk policing for which he has since apologized.

Two former Trump administration officials are back. Sean Spicer, former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the first White House chief of staff, will take new roles as members of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

The death toll from the coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, now exceeds 1,100 even as Chinese officials said the infection rate showed signs of slowing.

A group convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to identify $2.5 billion in Medicaid savings met for the first time yesterday, providing some insight into how the panel intends to arrive at its recommendations, despite the fact that its deliberations were interrupted by protestors.

Albany School Superintendent Kaweeda Adams wants state lawmakers to amend a 2019 law that enabled hundreds of school employees to miss work on Election Day and also provide funding to support an influx of at-risk students the district absorbed due to recent criminal justice reforms.

The state is providing 40,000 gallons of fresh water to the town of New Paltz after residents reported smelly drinking water. The scare caused all classes to be canceled at SUNY New Paltz, and the university is directing all students — except international students — to vacate the campus by noon today.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading a coalition of 20 state attorney generals strongly urging Congress to take steps towards ratifying an Equal Rights Amendment.

The Green Island community held a vigil for Brandon Sylvester, 17, who was killed on Saturday night as he ran across I-787 at Tibbitts Avenue, and five others who were with him at the time, three of whom were seriously injured.

City of Albany police and fire companies were investigating a suspicious package at the downtown campus of UAlbany last night.

A bus passenger attacked and injured a town police officer responding to a disturbance at a Central Avenue stop, Colonie police said.

The Glens Falls Hospital and Crandall Public Library said they’ve received word from the executor of the estate of a lifelong city resident and attorney that they will each receive an endowment of about $2.2 million.

The Schenectady fire department is launching a campaign to attract new recruits.

Yeming Shen, 24, an RPI who was found dead at his apartment in Troy, did not die from the coronavirus.

New York City spends about $400 million a year to fix water mains that have been underground for decades.

Manhattan’s top sex crimes prosecutor — who came under fire for how she handled a 2015 claim against Harvey Weinstein — decided to retire days before a jury weighs charges against the fallen movie mogul.

Cuomo announced that New York’s state parks, historic sites, campgrounds, and trails welcomed a record-breaking 77.1 million visits in 2019.

Criminal justice advocates are releasing a new television ad criticizing Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder for what they call “misleading the public” about New York’s new criminal justice policies and the death of a homeless man.

State Sen. John Liu ripped NYC schools chief Richard Carranza in Albany for the chancellor’s treatment of Asian New Yorkers.

Cuomo’s budget includes a call to impose stiff penalties, including jail time, on truck drivers who violate height and weight restrictions on parkways.

Former longtime CNBC correspondent and anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera has launched a challenge in the Democratic primary against freshman firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

One of John F. Kennedy Airport’s terminals is set for a $3.8 billion renovation and expansion — while another is on the chopping block, officials announced.

A lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein’s estate claimed in a hearing that the attorney general of the US Virgin Islands is blocking the multi-millionaire perv’s estate from paying his victims.

A news photographer was arrested by police for allegedly refusing to stand on the sidewalk while filming an arrest in Chinatown last night, authorities said.

SUNY Brockport’s diversity recruiter has resigned.

SUNY officials yesterday celebrated a $60 million anonymous donation to Binghamton University that will be used to build a “state-of-the-art” baseball stadium complex and represents the largest gift in the school’s history.

A private funeral was held in California for Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who died along with seven others when the Lakers icon’s chopper crashed last month.

A federal judge ruled in favor of T-Mobile’s planned takeover of Sprint. The long-in-the-works merger would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers, creating a telecommunications giant to take on AT&T and Verizon.

Siba, a black standard poodle with a meticulously groomed coat and a taste for chicken, won best in show at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last night, defeating a final group of contenders that included a wildly popular golden retriever and two repeat best in show contestants.

After more than 50 years with SUNY New Paltz, a distinguished political scientist and director of the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives – my dad, Jerry Benjamin – will retire.

He is a great man who has forgotten more about New York and its government than most people will ever know. He is my hero and my role model and my biggest cheerleader. I wish him the best in this next chapter of life. He doesn’t read this, I don’t think, but if he gets the message to check in: Love you, pop. Good luck.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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