While You Were Out: Feb. 18, 2020

A plethora of headlines today…sort of feels like all of us are playing catch up after yesterday’s holiday. Let’s get to it.

President Trump commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of trying to essentially sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat for personal gain, and pardoned the financier Michael Milken and former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Trump renewed his attacks on law enforcement, denouncing the prosecutors, the judge and the jury forewoman in the case of his longtime friend Roger Stone only days after Attorney General William Barr warned the president’s criticisms were making it “impossible” for him to do his job.

A federal judge refused to delay Stone’s sentencing, setting up a crossroads moment later this week in an extraordinary case marked by a mini-revolt inside the Justice Department and allegations of interference against Stone’s longtime ally Trump.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg qualified for the Nevada Democratic presidential primary debate at the last minute, notching 19 percent support in a Marist, Newshour and NPR/PBS poll, the fourth national poll to put him above the 10 percent mark since Jan. 15.

Bloomberg has conscripted top staffers to play the parts of his fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls in mock debates as he preps for his real primetime debut tomorrow night. Howard Wolfson is standing is as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Matthew T. Albence, the acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, is scheduled to visit Rensselaer County jail Thursday for a news conference at which law enforcement officials will continue their push for changing a New York law that blocks federal immigration and border enforcement agencies from accessing the state’s motor vehicle database.

Two dozen state lawmakers have signed a letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to no longer bar New Yorkers from applying or re-registering for trusted traveler status.

Inundated with lawsuits alleging decades of sexual abuse, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in the middle of the night, raising questions for the dozens of New Yorkers who have lodged cases against the more than century-old organization.

Shareholders of Trans World Entertainment, the Albany company that founded the chain of music and entertainment stores that eventually became FYE, have approved the $10 million sale of the FYE brand to Sunrise Records of Canada, which also owns the iconic UK-based HMV stores.

David R. Hill, a former energy official in the administration of George W. Bush, has been elected to the board of the New York Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s electric grid and wholesale market for power.

Democratic state lawmakers have introduced a pair of bills meant to curtail the proliferation of so-called “ghost guns” — firearms that lack serial numbers and can’t be traced by law enforcement agencies.

The impending REAL ID deadline is causing unprecedented crowds – and longer-than-usual wait times – at DMVs across the state, which already weren’t exactly the easiest of places to navigate.

Harvey Weinstein’s fate is now officially in the hands of the jury. The seven-man, five-woman Manhattan Supreme Court panel in the rape trial of the disgraced Hollywood moviemaker began considering the sex crimes charges against him today.

Over the weekend, Weinstein’s lead defense lawyer, Donna Rotunno, wrote an opinion piece imploring jurors “to do what they know is right.” This infuriated the Manhattan DA’s office, the lead prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, called it tantamount to jury tampering.

The city of Troy’s economic development boards have a new leader as Mayor Patrick Madden appointed Justin R. Nadeau to chair the agencies.

People, providers and organizations who rely on Medicaid will have a chance to weigh in on New York’s plan to redesign the program at a public forum planned for Friday in Albany.

The state DEC has released final regulations to govern the single-use plastic bag ban that starts March 1.

Assailants shot and stabbed a 43-year-old man in a robbery attempt that ended with the victim hospitalized, police said.

Pioneer Bank CEO Thomas Amell faced questions from shareholders and upset business owners about how the bank responded to the collapse of MyPayrollHR following Pioneer’s first shareholder meeting as a public company today.

The Fashion Institute of Technology apologized for its “racist” alumni fashion show that had models strutting the runway in giant prosthetic ears and lips and bushy eyebrows.

New Siena College President Chris Gibson is a longtime fan of Siena basketball.

New York City taxpayers picked up the tab for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s security detail to watch a Boston Red Sox game with him 2,500 miles away in Los Angeles amid his floundering and ultimately failed presidential bid last year.

Guilderland Police officers will soon be stationed at Crossgates Mall thanks to a collaboration between the police department, the mall and Pyramid Management Group.

Professor Java’s Coffee Sanctuary, a mainstay of Wolf Road in Colonie for 25 years, had planned to re-open today after moving from its original site, at 217 Wolf Road, to a spot in Shoppers Park, at 145 Wolf Road, but the re-opening has been delayed slightly.

Comedians are making their return to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner after last year’s hiatus. Kenan Thompson of “Saturday Night Live” and Hasan Minhaj of Netflix’s “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” will headline this year’s dinner, which takes place April 25.

Officials in Albany announced a new music program coming to the city later this year. The week-long Pro Musica International Choral Festival will bring together students from all across North America to participate in workshops, master-classes, rehearsals and performances.

RIP Rocco G. Verrigni, who educated thousands of young chefs during a nearly 40-year career teaching in the culinary program at SUNY Schenectady. He died Monday at home in Saratoga Springs at the age of 68 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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