5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: May 26, 2020

Happy Tuesday, CivMixers! I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend, even though it looked different than what we as a society are used to seeing. No, there were no significant events or parades, but it was a beautiful four-day weekend and a great way to usher in summer, unofficially. 

Memorial Day, as we’ve mentioned, is officially a day to remember all those who have given their lives in the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Though many places did not hold the traditional parades or ceremonies that usually mark this moment, many veterans still donned masks and went to pay their respects to their fallen comrades.

Going back to our state and where we stand in reopening, the Regional Monitoring Dashboard, it looks slightly different then it did when we last considered together on Thursday. The Mid-Hudson Region has now hit 7 out of 7 required benchmarks and, as a result, began the Phase I process today.

Long Island and New York City are now the only parts of the state that have not yet embarked on reopening. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Long Island should be there tomorrow, leaving the Big Apple as the last holdout.

Now, Long Island is reading 5/7 on their benchmarks, but their tracers are marked “expected,” so that will likely be green tomorrow, depending on the amount of training that took place today. It also appears that they will hit their last remaining benchmark for a 14-day decline in hospital deaths OR fewer than five deaths over a three-day average tomorrow as they are sitting at 13/10 in that column right now.

Shall we get down to it?

1) As the country starts to reopen, millions of the unemployed Americans who, mere weeks ago, were panicking about being furloughed, laid off, RIFed, or straight-up fired are now worried about losing revenue as a result of going BACK to work.

For many, the additional $600 in pandemic stimulus cash from the federal government has made being unemployed more lucrative than actually clocking in every day.

One section of the workforce that, in general, is making out better than usual are teachers. Many of them, between state and federal unemployment payments, have seen a pay increase as a result of not working. So the thought of going back to work with kids – who let’s face it, are germ factories – for less than they are making while at home and safely quarantined is not a necessarily welcome one. 

Though teachers are one of the most straightforward examples of this phenomenon, they are not the only unemployed Americans who are weighing this issue as the country is chomping at the bit to start returning to any semblance of normalcy. 

As an employee at a Cracker Barrel Gravel Switch, KY, Avery Adams is not ready to return to work, and though the unemployment payments are indeed a factor, he says his main concern is that he doesn’t feel the crisis has fully passed. He lives with four elderly family members, and noted that some states have seen an increase in infections as reopening efforts get underway.

There are also business owners unhappy with the CARES Act’s generosity, as that additional $600 is making it harder than ever to find people to work for them. Some workers are not coming back to places trying to recall them, and others are only not looking very hard to find a place to go to end their unemployment.

According to a study by economists at the University of Chicago, over two-thirds of the people currently on unemployment are making more money now than when they were working.

The economists acknowledge an inherent unfairness in the stimulus fund allocation, as many low-paid workers employed by essential businesses have worked throughout the crisis and are making less than many of those sitting safely at home. These issues are being echoed in the halls of Congress, as senators debate the HEROES Act passed by the Democratic-controlled house that looks to extend the CARES Act benefit through January.

This issue is also very much on the radar of the White House. Larry Kudlow, an economic advisor to the president, said it’s unlikely in his view that the Senate will pass the pending relief bill as is.

According to Kudlow, they are weighing the possibility of “back to work bonuses” to encourage people to return to the workforce.

2) There is a multi-agency search going on right now for 23-year-old Peter Manfredonia, a University of Connecticut student who is believed to have committed a double murder.

While the Connecticut State Police are warning that Manfredonia is considered armed and dangerous and should be avoided by members of the public, his family has issued an appeal through the media for his surrender.

Manfredonia was seen in the state of Pennsylvania. Police there believe he has been using – and may continue trying to use – ride-share companies as a form of travel. On Sunday night, Manfredonia was last seen exiting an Uber in front of a Walmart in East Stroudsburg.

According to video footage, he still had a duffel bag full of guns obtained in a Connecticut home invasion.

It all started Friday morning when it is believed Manfredonia killed one man, 62, and injured another, according to Connecticut State Police, which also suspects him in the murder of 23-year-old Nicholas J. Eisle, who was found dead in Derby, Conn. Sunday.

Allegedly, Eisle was an acquaintance of Manfredonia, and it appears that there was a black Jetta taken from Eisle’s home. A person found in Paterson, NJ, is thought to have been at the Eisle home as well and has identified Manfredonia as the one responsible for the murder, car theft.

The missing Volkswagen Jetta was found on the NJ/PA border. Another car was also found to be abandoned in a state park in CT. It is believed to have been stolen from the same home from which Manfredonia took the guns.

There is no clear motive for Manfredonia’s alleged actions over the past several days. He has been a UConn Engineering student, but wasn’t enrolled in any summer classes or living on campus at the time of the attacks. UConn is cooperating with the investigation, and has expressed its deepest sympathies and condolences for those affected by Manfredonia’s actions.

Michael Dolan, an attorney representing Manfredonia’s family, has publicly pleaded for the young man to surrender and bring this mess to a peaceful conclusion. He also expressed the family’s deepest sympathy and heartbreak for those affected by the actions of the young man they say has struggled with mental health issues.

3) Amy Cooper is the woman who was videoed calling the police on a bird watcher who asked her to abide by the leashed dog regulations of Central Park’s Ramble. Cooper is white, while the bird watcher, identified to be Christian Cooper (no relation), is black.

Christian Cooper said he started recording Amy Cooper’s response when asked to leash her dog. In the video (since uploaded to social media), Christian Cooper is calmly recording her as she comes at him because she is recording him. He calmly asks her not to go near him repeatedly. She then says she is calling the cops to say that an African-American man is threatening her and her dog.

He encourages her to call. So she does, with her dog still unleashed. When the dog starts whining and twisting to get away, she becomes frantic, screaming on the phone that an African-American man is threatening her and she needs the cops.

She then leashes the dog, and Christian Cooper thanks her and shuts off the camera. There’s a lot more to the story, but you get the general idea.

Shortly after the story broke, Amy Cooper’s employer, investment firm Franklin Templeton, stated that she had been placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated. Today, the company announced she had been terminated, effective immediately, because they “do not tolerate racism of any kind.”

Amy Cooper has apologized in the face of significant online backlash. Christian Cooper has pointed out that many minorities have had encounters like this.

Amy Cooper’s dog has also been voluntarily surrendered according to the rescue organization from which she initially got him – the Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue. The dog is happy and healthy, and the organization declined to comment further.

4) Earlier this month, Saratoga County deputy director of Human Resources, Adam Kinowski, sent out an email asking department managers to see if any employees were willing to volunteer to take an unpaid leave.

In the May 15 email, Kinowski said the pandemic had struck the county hard, and unpaid leaves were necessary for the sake of financial stability. Department heads were asked to get the names and numbers of people willing to participate. As of today, it is still unclear how many – if any – employees volunteered.

There was no expectation outlaid as to how long these furloughs would last. According to Saratoga County Deputy Sheriffs PBA President Ryan Mahan, there has been no information passed onto his members of any such offers – or even of any staff reductions – as of now.

Michele Madigan, commissioner of Finance for Saratoga Springs, attempted to save $3 million earlier this month by suggesting city employees be furloughed (involuntarily) for 90 days. She stated it was a necessary move to counteract the $17 million budget deficit the city is expected to suffer due to a lack of tourism because of the COVID crisis.

The City Council rejected this idea, and instead approved a voluntary furlough – only having enough people volunteer to save the city $277,000. Saratoga County also relies on sales tax throughout the year, which accounts for 38 percent of its $336.6 million budget. The sales tax for the county was up by 27.6 percent for the first three months (average) of the yea, and down by 26 percent in April.

Saratoga County has not yet projected the hit expected to its total annual finances as a result of the crisis. Recently, there has been a lot of criticism over how the county administration and Board of Supervisors’ have dealt with the pandemic. Much of this is attributed to the initial proposed plan to pay its employees time-and-a-half for every hour worked during this time. This plan is not in effect and is currently being investigated both internally and externally.

5) Albany Police responded to a shooting last night at approximately 11:15 PM. The shooting was on Elizabeth Street in the 4th Avenue area of the block. There they found a woman, 46, who had a gunshot wound to her ankle. 

The woman has not yet been identified but was transported to Albany Medical Center. The investigation is currently ongoing and if you have any information you are asked to call the Albany Police Detective Division (518) 462-8039

Anyone with information is asked to call the Albany Police Detective Division at 518-462-8039.

That’s all for tonight, guys! Have a beautiful night, and onto tomorrow.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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