Rise and Shine: June 9, 2020

It’s Tuesday, CivMixers. Good morning.

We’re headed for a veritable heat wave today, with temperatures flirting with 90 degrees. I thought that might be a record, but actually…no. Last year alone, for example, the mercury hit 95 on this day.

And the hottest day on record for the Albany area was 103 degrees, and we hit that on THIS day back in 1936. So.

Tomorrow, the forecast calls for us to break the 90-degree barrier altogether. Remember to stay hydrated, wear loose, light-colored clothing and keep your pets indoors.

I haven’t done celebrity birthdays in this space for a long stretch. It has just seemed too…frivolous. It still seems too frivolous, but today happens to be the birthday of both Johnny Depp (57) and Natalie Portman (39), who resonate with me for very different reasons. So, I’ll just leave that here for now.

In the headlines…

Thousands of mourners attended a public visitation yesterday honoring George Floyd at the The Fountain of Praise church in his hometown Houston, TX.

Floyd’s funeral is scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. today, followed by burial, where he will be laid to rest next to his mother, Larcenia Floyd.

Bail has been set at $1.25 million for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who pinned Floyd to the ground with his knee for nearly nine minutes as the unarmed black man pleaded for air.

Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president and presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, was in Houston yesterday to meet privately with Floyd’s family.

Biden showed compassion that “meant the world” to Floyd’s family, according to a lawyer for relatives of the black man who died in police custody.

Congressional Democrats unveiled a sweeping package of legislation to combat police violence and racial injustice after two weeks of protests across the nation sparked by Floyd’s death.

…The House Democrats’ bill would make it easier to prosecute officers for misconduct, collect national data and establish new training programs to counter racial bias. The bill doesn’t provide any new federal funds for police departments, except where constitutionally mandated for data collection.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led House and Senate Democrats in a moment of silence at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall after reading the names of Floyd and others killed in police custody. They kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds – the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under Chauvin’s knee.

Inspired by the protests sweeping the state and nation, New York legislative leaders began to approve an expansive package of bills targeting police misconduct, defying longstanding opposition from law enforcement groups, including police unions.

…The measures range from a ban on the use of chokeholds to the repeal of an obscure decades-old statute known as 50-a that has effectively hidden the disciplinary records of police officers from public view, making it virtually impossible for victims to know whether a particular officer has a history of abuse.

Cuomo said that he would sign the bills as soon as they are passed. He said they put New York at the front of a national movement that erupted after Floyd’s death. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, invoked Floyd’s name during a press conference.

Large spending cuts to schools and hospitals as a result of the pandemic-induced recession would be difficult for the Democratic-controlled Assembly to swallow, Heastie said, even as lawmakers in Albany hope their colleagues in Washington will send billions of dollars in aid to shore up the state’s budget.

As the outcry over police abuses after Floyd’s killing has crescendoed in the past two weeks and given new momentum to critics who have been demanding systemic reforms at the state level, Cuomo’s response to the conflicting pressures of protest politics and the desire to keep order has been erratic.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is committed to cutting funding to the NYPD as part of an overhaul of the agency amid a wave of protests, but the amount hasn’t been determined yet.

Hundreds of current and former de Blasio administration staffers took to City Hall to slam the mayor for his handling of recent protests and to call for drastic changes to the NYPD.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan signed an executive order instituting a number of police reforms, including banning city police officers from using chokeholds or “knee to neck” restraints on people, at the urging of the Common Council.

Cuomo doubled down on his criticism of NYPD leadership when asked about rumored departures of the top brass, saying he “didn’t know” anything and “had no information” about the job status of Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan.

Both Shea and de Blasio yesterday shot down rumors of Shea’s resignation as part of a massive shake-up just over six months after he was named top cop, with Shea calling that speculation “absolutely false.”

“Not imminently, but give me a few days,” said Shea when asked whether the mayor might give him the ax amid the unrest and calls for police reform. “I think we have a great relationship. Like any good New Yorkers, we have some differing opinions at times, but we all want the same thing, and we’re working solidly together to take New York City out of this as quickly as possible.”

The Brooklyn cop who shoved a woman to the ground during a Floyd protest is expected to be arrested and charged today, police sources said.

Gotham’s tally of break-ins quadrupled last week as looters took advantage of Floyd protests to ransack portions of Manhattan and Brooklyn — but crime still remains down for the year, new data shows.

Daily News editorial board member Robert George says Cuomo needs a “history lesson” when it comes to his “list of deaths” of black individuals at the hands of police.

Seven people were wounded in three shootings just 10 minutes apart last night in different Brooklyn neighborhoods, police said.

Companies from Adidas to Estée Lauder face pressure from employees to do more to confront racism and promote diversity, as social activism over the killing of George Floyd moves deeper into the workplace.

New Jersey law-enforcement officials released video footage showing a state trooper shooting and killing a black man, 28-year-old Maurice Gordon Jr., of Poughkeepsie, during a traffic stop last month.

A black Manhattan health care worker filed a formal human rights complaint against the white socialite who called the cops on her in an Upper West Side park.

The NYPD released new surveillance photos of two women being sought for spray-painting graffiti at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during Floyd-related protests in the city.

A soldier stationed at Fort Drum, who was among a groups of armed men detained by police during Sunday’s Troy Rally for Black Lives, was arrested for possessing a loaded handgun just blocks from the city police station, police said.

Traffic on Route 146 in Clifton Park crawled to a halt yesterday afternoon when at least 500 Black Lives Matter marchers crowded the road in yet another peaceful protest highlighting the unequal treatment of black people at the hands of police.

After five years without a police oversight board and the day after a civil rights rally, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden named eight new members to the reconstituted Police Objective Review Board.

Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections.

Europe and Asia have so far avoided a significant resurgence of Covid-19 cases even though most countries have emerged from lockdown and restarted chunks of their economies, a possible sign the coronavirus pandemic can be held in check by less stringent means.

New Zealand appears to have completely eradicated the coronavirus – at least for now – after health officials said the last known infected person had recovered.

President Donald Trump plans to start holding campaign rallies again in the next two weeks, a Trump campaign official said, ending a three-month hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rode the New York City subway yesterday as the city entered Phase I of its reopening plans amid the coronavirus outbreak. “Today, I took a ride on the 7 train,” the governor said during his daily press briefing. “The subways are cleaner than they have ever been in my lifetime.”

“If it wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t ask anyone to go on the subways,” Cuomo said. “For me, it’s very simple, I just assume I’m making the decision for myself and for my children.”

Cuomo wore a face mask, but no gloves, during his subway ride.

Cuomo urged people excited about the reopening of New York City to remain smart and vigilant in their social distancing practices to guard against a potential spike in the number of positive Covid-19 cases.

Cuomo declared that New York has its “mojo” back 100 days after the first coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the state, as positive test results dropped to near-record lows and New York City entered the first phase of reopening.

Now, as Cuomo decides what sectors and functions of society can reopen, a question is increasingly being asked: When does the state of emergency he declared on March 7 come to an end?

Hundreds of police officers, firefighters, emergency responders and construction workers who spent time on the smoldering pile in lower Manhattan nearly 19 years ago are getting sick — again — this time with coronavirus, and at a rate higher than others in their age bracket, doctors say.

Many New York Nursing homes — now in their third round of COVID-19 testing of staffers — still haven’t received the results back from their first tests three weeks ago because the research labs are so overwhelmed.

Parts of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and sections of other major streets in New York City soon will become bus-only corridors to increase transit service, alleviate overcrowding and combat the spread of the new coronavirus.

Retail businesses that had been closed or had severely reduced services since March began opening last week in the face of two devastating, yet distinct, nationwide crises: the coronavirus pandemic and protests in all 50 states against the mistreatment of black people by law enforcement.

NYRA announced that its opening week of the delayed, 25-day spring/summer meet generated an all-sources handle of $76,264,891. That is an 84 percent increase over the first five full days of the 2019 spring/summer meet at Belmont.

New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel scolded firebrand lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for backing his progressive primary challenger — going so far as to accuse her of acting like a dictator.

Manhattan federal prosecutors investigating enablers of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme have filed a new formal request to interview Prince Andrew, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney ripped Prince Andrew after the royal’s lawyers claimed that their client has been offering to talk to the feds about Epstein, to no avail.

Adam Rapoport, the editor in chief of Bon Appétit magazine, stepped down after photos of him wearing brown face surfaced.

The MAAC Council of Presidents voted to prohibit all student-athletes, including basketball players, from doing offseason conditioning on campus in June or July because of the coronavirus pandemic, the conference announced.

The US Women’s National Team is demanding their employer, US Soccer, end a policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem.

A former part-time employee of Proctors’ School of the Performing Arts alleges in an online video that she witnessed or was subjected to racism from colleagues, including when teaching acting and dance to middle-schoolers. Proctors CEO Philip Morris posted an online apology and vowed to implement changes.

As the summer approaches, state parks as of yesterday are now taking reservations. There will be no walk up reservations, and only members of your household can join you.

…The earliest reservation window for check-ins and arrivals is June 22, with campground density restrictions and social distancing measures in place.

Cuomo’s executive order allowing voters an additional week to return their school budget and board ballots by mail is causing more confusion.

Mohammed Hossain, jailed for nearly 15 years after his conviction for money laundering in an FBI terrorism sting that took place in 2004, will leave federal prison early after a federal judge granted his request for early release on medical grounds.

Two men were hospitalized last night after being shot on Central Avenue near Lexington Avenue, police said.

Ric Orlando, one of the Capital Region’s most visible chefs for more than 30 years, is no longer affiliated with New World Bistro Bar, for which he was the executive chef since its opening in March 2009. The change was effective Sunday. New World will be closed temporarily until a new head chef is hired.

RIP Bonnie Pointer, who rose to fame as a member of the Pointer Sister, who has died at age 69.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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