5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: Aug. 19, 2020

Wednesday is in the books, CivMixers. I hope you all had a good one. Two more days in the week left, and only a couple of weeks left until September. I even heard from a Starbucks barista that Pumpkin Spice should be back by the end of this month.

I must admit I don’t get the whole pumpkin spice thing, in fact, for me, just…NO. But many people really are all about it so – there ‘ya go.

With how 2020 has gone so far, don’t be surprised if there’s a sudden national pumpkin spice shortage.

For anyone who loves them some Girl Scout cookies, there is going to be a new flavor added to the roster in 2021: French toast. It’s going to be shaped like a piece of bread and topped with an icing-like frosting.

As a result of the pandemic, the Girl Scouts have – like pretty much all of us – shifted their efforts online. Next year, the organization plans to try to add a personal touch to sales by adopting virtual cookie sales with parental supervision.

On to our 5 Things…

1) When pressed on how President Donald Trump plans to react when the election results come in this November, the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to commit either way. She waffled, saying that Trump has been clear that he’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Reporters were dogged in their attempt to get a clear answer to that question following the president’s comment earlier this week that the only way he’ll lose is if the voting is rigged – a statement that seemed to indicate he does not plan to accept the results if Democrat Joe Biden emerges as the winner.

McEnany basically restated the president’s claim that all will depend on his confidence in the honesty and integrity of the vote. She went on to criticize those states that have adopted mass mail-in voting practices.

Again, there is absolutely no supporting evidence for this claim. Even a commission established by the president himself found minimal evidence to support the idea of mail-in voter fraud, leading him to disband the body altogether.

2) We are now on Day 3 of the DNC’s first-ever almost all-virtual convention. So far, the Democrats have highlighted a mix of big names and some of its youngest and brightest members.

The first night, former First Lady Michelle Obama was the star, speaking beautifully and sounding a mighty rallying cry about the need to oust Trump. Last night, the DNC gave time to a number of new and energetic rising stars, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, though she only got to speak for about 90 seconds and spent much of that nominating Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and touting his progressive ideals.

There has been a concern that the Democratic establishment is largely controlling the DNC message, which frustrates young people who are eager for change and want to be included in the process – or subvert it altogether.

One area of agreement among Democrats – and a few of their GOP allies – is that voting should be free, transparent and without the threat of repercussions or accusations of fraud months before most ballots are cast.

Several Republicans, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Cindy McCain, wife of the late Sen. John McCain, were given more time to speak than AOC.

The Democratic power structure is clearly trying to reach out to moderates and disaffected Republicans, but doing so also risks alienating the progressive base.

The remainder of the convention holds the chance for the Democrats to demonstrate they are members of a party that opposes Trump, yes, but also a party that is looking to represent people who need to be heard and to govern with compassion and empathy towards a brighter future.

3) National Grid wants its upstate customers to be aware that there is a scam underway targeting their customers.

In a statement released today, National Grid said that the scammers are misrepresenting themselves as working for the company and promising refunds for overpayments or issuing fraudulent discounts – all in an attempt to get the bank information of the person on the phone.

The scam number will display as originating from somewhere in your neighborhood or a surrounding one, and once answered, you will hear a recorded voice tell you that it is possible you were overbilled by the utility company and have a discount or refund coming your way.

The phone call will tell you to press 1 to learn more, and you will then be transferred to a live operator who then probes for information like your zip code and your billing account. They will lead you down the path of trying to get you to disclose financial information. This can give them what they need to access your account or steal your identity.

According to National Grid, scammers are getting better at cloning their automated system and making it harder to determine fraud. If you think the scam has targeted you, National Grid encourages you to contact them by using one of their toll-free numbers.

They also have offered the following tips to avoid falling prey to scammers:

  • Never give out personal or financial information to someone you cannot identify.
  • Never provide your account information to any caller. National Grid representatives who call you will know your account number.
  • Verify that you are speaking with a National Grid representative by asking the caller to provide the last five digits of your National Grid account number.
  • If the caller does not know your account number, hang up the phone.

 

4) As someone who is a huge movie fan, the fact that theaters are still not open is killing me – metaphorically speaking.

Cinemas have been closed throughout the state since mid-March, and they are now wondering if and when they will receive guidance from the state on how and when they can get back to business. This morning, theater owners from around the Capital District met with local officials asking about reopening with contactless service, social distancing, and limited capacity.

All but eight of the 50 states have allowed theaters to reopen. New York is not one of them. Now the National Association of Theater Owners is asking to be allowed to follow gyms and malls to make the changes need to get back to business. The association states that approximately 10,000 people have been laid off, and if not reopened soon, many smaller independent theaters may collapse.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that theaters should be next to open.

5)T he East Greenbush Police Department is asking for help finding a person that took items out of the Walmart in East Greenbush without paying for them. According to Officer Nicholas Liuzzi, the incident occurred on July 15. The woman is pictured here.

If you have any information, please call EGBPD at (518) 479-2525.

Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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