Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Emergency Called Off in Albany

Snow Emergency Called Off;
Regular On-Street Parking Regulations Apply

ALBANY, NY – Officials in the City of Albany have called off the planned Snow Emergency given that snow accumulations will be less than previously forecast. This means that the normal, non-emergency parking regulations on Albany streets will continue to apply.

If you’d like to receive a text or email to find out when a future Snow Emergency has been declared, sign up at: www.albanyny.org/Government/Departments/PublicSafety/PoliceDepartment/Nixle.aspx

To find out whether a Snow Emergency has been declared, you can also follow these information sources:
·         The Snow Emergency Hotline at 476-SNOW (7669)
·         News Radio & TV
·         Electronic message boards & orange signs put up on streets throughout the city
·         City Hall’s Twitter Site: @AlbanyCityHall
·         www.nyalert.gov
·         For real-time weather information, visit the National Weather Service

Kopka and Sullivan-Teta issue second report on demolitions

City Council members Lynn Kopka and Erin Sullivan-Teta, both D-At Large, said they do not support the final city council report on the demolition and code hearings, and give other recommendations in another report.

Like the other report, supported by Council President Rodney Wiltshire, Council members Ken Zalewski (D-District 5), Bob Doherty (D-District 4) and Anastasia Robertson (D-District 2), this report does not comment on criminal fault. Kopka and Sullivan-Teta don't discuss the events investigated in the hearings -- demolition work at King Street and King Fuels, the code enforcement's eviction notice placed on 51 3rd Street -- just recommendations going forward.

Their primary recommendation is for the city the follow existing state law and procedures for demolitions.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cuomo Announces Travel Ban in 13 Downstate Counties Effective at 11 p.m. Monday

MTA Completely Closing all Public Transit Systems at 11PM

Ban on Tandem Trailers on Major Highways Remains in Effect

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this afternoon announced a travel ban on all state and local roads in thirteen downstate counties effective at 11 p.m. tonight. All MTA and Port Authority public transit systems will also be suspended beginning at 11 pm. until further notice. 

The Governor urged commuters and motorists to get home well in advance of the11 p.m. closures as the storm intensifies throughout the evening and travel conditions worsen. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the greater New York City metropolitan area effective today and through Tuesdaynight. The National Weather Service forecasts snow accumulation of at least 1 ½ to 2 feet combined with wind gusts of up to 70 MPH on Eastern parts of Long Island. People in the region should continue to closely monitor weather forecasts and advisories.

"This blizzard is forecasted to be one of the worst this region has seen, and we must put safety first and take all necessary precautions," Governor Cuomo said. "Commuters and drivers need to get home as quickly as possible before the storm completely cripples our transit networks and roads. The State will close all roads and public transportation effective at 11 p.m. and we urge all New Yorkers to prioritize safety and be patient as we wait for this storm to pass."

Details of the road and transit closings are as follows:
    · For all local and state roads, a travel ban will go into effect at 11 p.m until further notice in the following 13 counties: Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster, and Westchester. 
    · New York City subways and buses will operate only local service beginning at 8 p.m. and service will be suspended beginning at 11 p.m. until further notice.
    · Long Island Rail Road, Metro North, Staten Island Railroad service will be suspended beginning at approximately 11 p.m. until further notice. 
    · PATH service will operate on a weekend schedule beginning at 9 p.m. and be suspended at 11 p.m. until further notice.
    · A ban on tandem trailers on I-84, the Long Island Expressway, and the Thruway from Exit 17 to the New York City line, including on I-287 and I-95, went into effect at 4 p.m. and remains in effect until further notice.

On closed roads, only authorized emergency vehicles will be permitted. A violation of the travel ban is punishable as misdemeanor that includes fines of up to $300. The Governor today signed an Executive Order authorizing the State to institute the travel ban on local and state roads.

For more information or to keep up to date with the most recent information, New Yorkers can visit: http://ny.gov/blizzard2015

Metro-North and LIRR customers can visit MTA.info and monitor MTA email and text message service alerts, or @LIRR or @MetroNorth on Twitter for information about train resumption schedules. LIRR station waiting rooms will remain open around the clock through Friday, January 30.

For road updates, New York State provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and road conditions, which can be accessed by dialing 511 or online at www.511ny.org. Thruway motorists are encouraged to sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Motorists can sign up for TRANSalerts by following this link:http://www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visitinghttp://www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

Council's demolition and code report

After six hearings between April and September interviewing 23 people, the city council has issued a report with their findings of the King Fuels and King St. demolitions, and code enforcement actions at 51 King Street.

The council also recommends several policy and procedural changes in regard to demolitions, code enforcement, and communication within the city.

Mayor Lou Rosamilia said this afternoon he hasn't yet read the report, pointing out it was issued months later than expected. He said there had been conversations to make changes in demolitions procedures, but nothing formal. He wouldn't yet comment on any details or recommendations in the report.

In the report, the council doesn't comment on criminal charges: they said they'd leave that up to law enforcement agencies. The report does criticize the administration for lack of communication, which led to breaches of public safety.

"...we uncovered a systemic and integral set of failures and patterns that have led to the three events which were the topics of the hearings," the report reads. "The first step toward improving processes and avoiding recurrences of these breaches in public safety is the admission and acknowledgement of mistakes."

On the council's website, you can find the audio files and transcripts of the testimony. The last three links, one for each of the issues investigated, include relevant photos, videos, letters and other documents.

James R. Stellar Appointed University at Albany Provost

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 26, 2015) -- The University at Albany has named James R. Stellar as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.  Stellar, who was appointed after a national search, will join UAlbany on February 2, 2015.

Stellar most recently served at Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) as vice president for academic innovation and experiential education, and as provost and vice president for academic affairs for four years prior. Before joining CUNY, Stellar spent 22 years at Northeastern University in Boston, where he served for a decade as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He began his academic career at Harvard University as a professor in the department of psychology and social relations, and as a biochemistry researcher in the Harvard Medical School.

Stellar earned his doctorate in biological psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed his post-doctoral studies. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa.

(Stellar, from LinkedIn)

"James Stellar possesses the research, scholarship, and administrative experience to guide our esteemed UAlbany faculty to further expand the University’s academic portfolio and strengthen our reputation as an innovative leader in the SUNY system, nationally and beyond," said University at Albany President Robert J. Jones.

Stellar's appointment comes at a time of extraordinary growth for the University, with significant advances in biomedical research from the RNA Institute, the creation of new academic programs in computer engineering, digital forensics, and the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, and establishment of the statewide NYS Mesonet, the nation's most advanced weather observation system, under the stewardship of the University's Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences.

Stellar will take over from R. Timothy Mulcahy, who has served as interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost since September 2014.

County Executives Statewide Elect Albany’s Dan McCoy As First Vice President

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy has been elected to serve as 1st Vice President of the New York State County Executives’ Association, a statewide bipartisan association comprised of county executives from across the state.

The County Executives’ Association includes the chief elected leaders of 18 county governments with charter forms of government that include a county executive, plus the mayor of the City of New York. Under the Association executive leadership succession process, County Executive McCoy will serve as president for one year beginning in December of this year.

“I am pleased to serve the association and provide a stronger voice for Albany County,” said McCoy. “My administration has advanced several initiatives that I believe will help other counties in New York.  Just last week, I announced that my administration has been working to craft state legislation requiring the state to take over funding of the 18-b program, by which the county pays to support indigent criminal defendants..  By working together we can share programs that work and maximize efficiencies for taxpayers.”      

These county executives from across the state meet on a quarterly basis to discuss critical issues facing counties in New York. Chief among the issues are the 2015 Legislative Session and the 2015-16 state budget, which has a significant impact on county operations and funding. The group also discusses concerns surrounding state and federal mandates, home rule authority, the implementation of shared services programs and state tax reform proposals.

Albany County has been leading the way in protecting residents who live and work near the rails from the potential danger posed by increasing numbers of oil trains carrying volatile chemicals The administration has also been in the forefront of protecting the public by enacting a law banning the use of Styrofoam in food containers and banning kids’ toys and other products made with toxic chemicals.        

In July, McCoy was elected the Northeast Region Vice President of the County Executives of America at their annual conference in New Orleans. That conference coincided with the annual conference of the National Association of Counties.

County Executive McCoy was first elected to the position of Albany County Executive in November 2011. He is a strong advocate for counties’ role in strengthening public safety, ensuring fiscal responsibility, and shoring up core infrastructure assets.

The counties participating in the County Executives Association include: Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Chemung, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Montgomery, Nassau, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster, Westchester, and the City of New York.

The New York State County Executives Association is an affiliate of the New York State Association of Counties, a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.

Albany County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Horn Receives 2015 Robert Morgenthau Award

Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares announced Monday that Legal Affairs Bureau Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher D. Horn has received the 2015 Robert M. Morgenthau Award from the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY). ADA Horn was given the prestigious award at DAASNY’s annual Winter Conference in Manhattan last week.
The award is named after legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Each year the award is presented to four assistant district attorneys from four designated regions of the state, each of whom exemplify Morgenthau’s high standard of honesty, integrity, and commitment to justice.

“Chris Horn has demonstrated an unbroken dedication to the ethical standards and principles of our profession for over 20 years,” said DA David Soares. “He is an advocate for the citizens of Albany County, and a champion of the institution of district attorney.  Those qualities, and his involvement with advocating for state policy, made him an obvious choice for this prestigious award.”
Christopher D. Horn, a 47 year-old Albany County resident, has served the People of Albany County as an assistant district attorney for 21 years.
ADA Horn graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.  He received his Juris Doctor degree from Cardozo Law School in Manhattan in 1993.  After interning with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office from 1991 thru 1994, Mr. Horn was hired as an Assistant District Attorney in the Appeals Bureau upon his admission to the New York State Bar in January of 1994.  In 2001, Mr. Horn was promoted to Chief of the Appeals Bureau.  In 2005, Mr. Horn was named Bureau Chief of the newly formed Legal Affairs Bureau.  In 2007, in addition to his role as Bureau Chief, Mr. Horn was asked to serve as Special Counsel to the District Attorney.
In addition to managing the operation of the Legal Affairs Bureau and advising the District Attorney on legal and policy matters, Mr. Horn currently represents the office on the DAASNY Legislative and Appellate Committees.  As part of his work with DAASNY, Mr. Horn has recently been contributing to Amicus Briefs filed on behalf of the association.  Mr. Horn has also served on the New York Prosecutors Training Institute’s (NYPTI) advisory panel for development of a statewide Prosecutor’s Case Management System (PCMS).  He has also taught courses for NYPTI at its annual Summer College for prosecutors.  
As part of their In-Service Training programs, Mr. Horn has provided training for the Albany Police Department and other local police agencies.  For many years, Mr. Horn has actively participated in the Legal Lives program, where members of the office teach 5th and 6th graders about the criminal justice system and help them to make responsible life decisions.  

“Chris has been an invaluable resource in the office for decades.  Whether it is providing his guidance during our trials, or protecting our verdicts at the appellate level, his expertise is unparalleled.  I’m happy to see his value recognized state-wide,” commented Chief Assistant District Attorney David Rossi.

Tuesday's Screening of "The Neighborhood That Disappeared" Postponed due to Weather in Albany

The planned free screening of the local film will be rescheduled due to inclement weather; new date to be determined

ALBANY, NY – Due to predicted inclement weather, tomorrow’s free screening and discussion of the film The Neighborhood That Disappeared at Albany City Hall will be postponed. A rescheduled date for the screening will be determined and announced shortly. For more information on the City of Albany’s community programming, visitwww.albanyny.org

Friday, January 23, 2015

Local Church Service in Cohoes to Focus on U2 Music

COHOES - U2charist - Join us Friday, February 27th, 2015 at 7:00 PM as we celebrate a special church service using music from the band U2.
The emphasis of the service will be on increasing awareness for Aids, poverty and child sex slave trafficking. All money collected during the offering will be donated to the RED Campaign and Love146. 
More information about these organizations will be available at the event. 
All are invited to attend.Vineyard Community Church, 121 Remsen Street, Cohoes. Both street and off-street parking available.

Schaghticoke Bridge Demolished Friday Over Hoosic River

The state Department of Transportation demolished the old Route 40 bridge over the Hoosic River in Schaghticoke Friday, with dozens of local spectators. The new bridge, adjacent to the old one, was opened in November. 

Debris from the demolished structure is expected to be cleaned up before the spring thaw, officials said.

Residents had been told to stay indoors from 10 a.m. to around 11 a.m. Friday.

While the road was blocked for 1,000 feet on either side of the structure, residents went to nearby Lewis' Tavern and the American Legion to get a view of the event.

Schaghticoke resident Darcy Connolly said the demolition, when it did happen, scared the *expletive* out of her since she and her friends at the American Legion did not hear a warning that the bridge was coming down. She described it as loud.

"We thought there would be sirens to let us know when it was going to be and then there was a big blast, it scared us," she said. "It was loud. Really, really loud."

Following the blast, one of the rear windows of the American Legion was broken, officials said it was likely from the air blast.

Engineers at the scene said that a siren was sounded to warn people of the blast.

Albany Public Library Opens New Room for Kids and Teens

ALBANY, NY—Albany Public Library officially unveils the new Youth Services Room at the Washington Avenue Branch (161 Washington Ave.) on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 10 am.

The public is invited to this special celebration which will include:
  • A welcome from APL Executive Director Scott Jarzombek and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
  • Tours of the new space
  • Story time and craft activities for children
  • Light refreshments
 The new youth space at the Washington Ave. Branch features:
  • A fresh, colorful, modern look with improved lighting and furnishings
  • Separate areas, along with computers and iPads, for children and teens
  • Comfortable spots to sit and read, work on homework, and use technology
  • Plenty of room for programs, including story times, arts and crafts, and STEM activities
  • A daycare-quality play kitchen and LEGO table
  • Puzzles, games, building sets, and toys to enjoy in the room
  • An expanded picture book collection with titles arranged by themes
  • An “express checkout station” right in the room for young patrons and their families to check out materials
“Every day, Albany Public Library nurtures a love of reading and learning in our community’s children and teens,” said Jarzombek. “The new space for youngsters at our Washington Avenue Branch enables us to do this in a more welcoming environment that includes great technology, books, toys, and other materials kids need to learn and grow.”

Thursday, January 22, 2015

County Executive Daniel P. McCoy Calls On State to Take Over Funding of Indigent Legal Defense

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced Thursday that he has had his staff prepare legislation and has asked Albany County’s state representatives to introduce same at requiring the state to pay the cost of legal representation for poor defendants. This would ensure that poor New Yorkers who cannot afford to mount a legal defense receive the best representation possible. 

“The state’s indigent legal defense system is broken,” said McCoy. “Public defenders are overburdened, face overwhelming caseloads and are provided inadequate resources to conduct investigations. It is well past time for the state to take over the full cost of indigent legal defense in order to reform the system, for all New Yorkers.”

"Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must provide lawyers to those who can’t afford it, and the State of New York implemented this by mandating counties to pay for these defense services but without providing the resources. A 2006 report chaired by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye labeled the state of public defense as an ‘ongoing crisis.' Phasing in state funding with strict standards and oversight is the best way to meet this need and provide equal access to legal representation for all New Yorkers, thereby reducing the burden carried by Albany County and counties across the state," said Assemblymember Patricia A. Fahy (D-Albany)

The legislation requires the state to reimburse counties and cities for the cost for providing legal representation to indigent defendants, authorizes the state Office of Indigent Legal Services to provide caseload relief for attorneys and to implement measures to improve the quality of representation. McCoy said this bill would bring meaningful reform to a patchwork system of justice in New York for those least able to afford a lawyer.       

The issue is timely due to the fact that in October 2014, the state settled a lawsuit filed against five New York counties. In the settlement the state acknowledged its responsibility and pledged aid and reforms for indigent defendants in those counties. While Albany County was not named in the suit, the County Executive determined that this issue needed a top to bottom review and brought on Judge Larry Rosen to serve as the county’s first Assigned Counsel Administrator to study the issue and provide potential solutions.

“Judge Rosen has taken on this challenge, made recommendations, and I have decided that in fairness to the interests of poor defendants and to provide high-quality defense equality throughout the state, this state takeover legislation is the answer,” said McCoy. “Rosen concluded a state takeover of funding of indigent legal services is needed now and should be implemented to help relieve the state-mandated costs for counties and more importantly to provide quality legal defense for those who stand accused of crimes.”

“It is said that justice is blind. This principle can only be sustained if all people, regardless of economic status, receive adequate legal representation. We must ensure that indigent defense is no longer treated as an unfunded mandate that the county must provide but rather one in which the state is fully prepared to support,” said Shawn Morse, Chairman of the Albany County Legislature.

“The county executive’s proposal has great promise,” said Majority Leader Frank Commisso. “The state already funds and operates the court system, by funding the indigent legal services, the state would have an opportunity to coordinate the services and administer them uniformly across the State.”

"This reform is an important social justice issue that will help the indigent get proper legal representation in court," Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "and will also help taxpayers in the City of Albany and throughout the entire county."

“Providing legal assistance to those deemed eligible by the Court costs taxpayers in Rensselaer County over $2 million a year. While I am proud of our ability to adhere to the mandates set forth by the state as to the level of legal service we must provide at the lowest cost possible it would be welcome relief if this mandated cost was lifted off the backs of our taxpayers.  Additionally, as the state seeks to expand the level and therefore cost of the legal service that must be provided I expect that the costs of these services will only become a greater burden in the future," stated Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen M. Jimino.

Former NYS Assembly Majority Leader "Will Stand By Shelly Silver"

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested Thursday on public corruption charges and accused of using his position as one of the most powerful men in Albany to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.

(Silver, speaking, with Canestrari behind him. From the NYS Assembly site)

Former State Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari has voiced his support for Silver:

"It’s all very upsetting. I've known Shelly for about 30 years. He's very bright and very smart. He must be given his day in court. We all sometimes rush to judgement. Let the facts come out and let the other side present its case. Just because the U.S. attorney said something does not mean it is criminally or legally true.

"I don’t believe it. I don’t think he would do anything criminally wrong. He is a brilliant attorney.

"We’ve been through this before in the Assembly with Mel Miller. I remember he was indicted around holidays. I stood by Mel Miller. He was subsequently convicted and, of course, resigned from the Assembly. Then the conviction was overturned on appeal. In the meantime, he lost everything - his seat, the speakership, and he accrued millions of dollars in debt. But he was vindicated legally."

"I will stand by Shelly Silver as his friend and let events take their course."

Center for Economic Growth President Plans to Step Down by Year End

F. Michael Tucker announced Thursday that he plans to step down as President and CEO of the Center for Economic Growth (CEG) by the end of the year.  Tucker has served as President and CEO since March 2007.  Guiding CEG, one of the state’s preeminent economic development organizations, through a period of immense change and growth, Tucker helped to usher in a new era for the region while strengthening the organization.
(From the CMOST page)
”We are extremely thankful for Mike’s service to CEG, its members and our region as a whole.  Mike has been a tremendous champion of Tech Valley and a dedicated servant to CEG and its membership. We respect his decision and are grateful for the opportunity he has afforded us to make an appropriate transition through the calendar year.  Our Board of Directors will immediately begin the process of forming a search committee and commencing the search process,” said Michael J. Hickey, CEG Board Chair and Executive in Residence and Executive Director, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Siena College.
“Economic development is a perpetual relay race,” Tucker said. “Tech Valley has no finish line, and so the torch must be continually passed as the region strives to achieve ever greater heights.”
“We have generated strong momentum and are well positioned, as a region and an organization, for the next big success. It’s an ideal time to transition to new leadership, and for me to take on new opportunities.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience to work with CEG’s members, partners, stakeholders, and talented staff to advance Tech Valley. I am proud of my accomplishments and look forward to being a positive part of the transition and CEG’s future success.”   
Under Tucker’s eight-year tenure:
·     CEG played a key role in leveraging state and local efforts to land GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ Fab 8 in 2008.
·     With that transformative accomplishment secured, CEG led a shift toward regionalism and cross-sector collaboration in economic development through partnership building and engagement.
·     CEG has helped steer the region to further economic diversification, focusing on high-tech industries that offer broad, long-term economic impact potential.
·     CEG has promoted the Tech Valley brand on the global stage, helped shape an environment conducive to high-tech investments and innovation, and directly boosted the competitiveness of many local manufacturers and technology companies as the Capital Region’s designated Regional Technology Development Center.
·     CEG has expanded its role when it comes to growth factors like the region’s workforce pipeline, entrepreneurship ecosystem, and infrastructure needs through its work with the Greater Capital Region Workforce Investment Boards; its joint STEM initiative with GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the Tech Valley Connection for Education & Jobs; the Capital Region Creative Economy Study; Accelerate518; the new Innovate518 incubator program; and its joint initiative with National Grid, "Tech Valley & Beyond: Growing Sustainable Infrastructure at the Speed of Life."
·     CEG played a leadership role in developing the region’s economic development priorities and securing funding awards with regional impact under Governor Cuomo’s Capital Region Economic Development Council.
In a related matter, CEG has retained Convergent Nonprofit Solutions to assist the organization in securing stakeholder feedback, implementing its strategic plan and identifying new opportunities for economic development focus. 
Before joining CEG, Tucker, an attorney and real estate broker, served as President and CEO of the Harriman Research and Technology Development Corp. and was a principal for more than 25 years at Mercer Companies, Inc., an Albany-based energy and real estate development firm.
About the Center for Economic Growth
CEG is the leading economic development organization in New York’s Tech Valley and serves as the Capital Region’s designated Regional Technology Development Center (RTDC). A private, non-profit, membership-based organization, CEG drives economic growth by working with partners in business, government, and education on strategic initiatives to grow local companies, attract new industry and investment, and prepare communities for future growth.
CEG receives significant financial support from Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation, which works to facilitate the integration of innovation and technology throughout New York’s economic development efforts, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) / Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and National Grid. CEG  assists local manufacturing and technology companies generate new sales, create stronger operational infrastructure, and overcome barriers to growth. Visit www.ceg.org

Snowmobiler from Clifton Park Involved in Lewis County Accident

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the backcountry.
“DEC Forest Rangers’ knowledge of first aid, land navigation and technical rescue techniques are often critical to the success of their missions,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Search and rescue missions often require Rangers to function in remote wilderness areas from rugged mountainous peaks to white-water rivers, and through vast forest areas from spruce-fir thicket to open hardwoods.”
Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks include:
Hamilton County
Town of Indian Lake
Injured Hiker:  DEC Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 at 3:00 p.m. on January 17 advising of an injured Boy Scout hiking on the Blue Mountain hiking trail.  The Boy Scout Group secured the 17-year-old boy and began bringing him down the mountain.  DEC Forest Rangers and the Blue Mountain Fire Department located the group on the trail at 4:57 p.m., and placed the injured boy in a Stokes Litter, brought him down Blue Mountain to a waiting Blue Mountain Lake Ambulance Squad at the trailhead.  He was transported to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for treatment. The incident concluded at 6:15 p.m.

Town of Indian Lake
Injured Snowmobiler:  DEC Forest Rangers responded to a snowmobile accident in the Moose River Plains area on January 19 at 1:44 p.m. A member of a snowmobile party called DEC Ray Brook Dispatch, informing them that a 30-year-old man from Hamilton, NJ, struck a tree while riding a snowmobile trail.  Indian Lake Fire & Rescue Department also responded.  Responders, including Indian Lake Fire & Rescue Department, reached the injured man at 2:30 p.m. and administered first aid.  Crews brought him out to the nearest trailhead by rescue toboggan behind a snowmobile.  The Indian Lake Ambulance Squad transported him to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment.  The incident concluded at 3:44 p.m.

Lewis County
Town of Watson
Injured Snowmobiler: On January 17 at 12:30 p.m. a caller notified DEC Ray Brook Dispatch about a snowmobile accident three miles east from the intersection of McCarty Road and Stillwater Road. Three DEC Forest Rangers and Lewis County Search and Rescue responded to the location.  They discovered an injured 45-year-old female from Clifton Park, NY who they assessed and stabilized for transport via rescue toboggan behind a snowmobile to a waiting ambulance at the intersection of Stillwater Road and Number 4 Road.  The injured snowmobiler was taken by ambulance to a helicopter and then flown to Syracuse Hospital for treatment at 3:30 p.m.  Town of Webb Police Department snowmobile patrol assisted in the rescue.

 Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28708.html) and Adirondack Trail Information (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7865.html) web for more information.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Albany Woman Stole $34,000 in Day Care Benefits

District Attorney P. David Soares announced that LEONA JOHNSON, 31, of Albany, pleaded guilty to (1) Count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a Class E Felony, before the Honorable Peter A. Lynch in Albany County Court Tuesday morning.

Between April 9, 2012 and April 30, 2014, JOHNSON applied for and qualified to receive public assistance in the form of Day Care Benefits.  During this time period, JOHNSON fraudulently submitted records indicating that a woman known to her was acting as a legally exempt day care provider, which was later determined to be false.  JOHNSON would take the checks that were supposed to be paid to her child care provider and instead deposit them into her own bank account.  As a result of her conduct, JOHNSON stole $34,271.73 in benefits to which she was not entitled.

JOHNSON faces up to 1 to 3 years in State Prison when sentenced on March 7, 2015.  

JOHNSON will also be ordered to pay full restitution back to the Albany County Department of Social Services.  

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Peluso of the Financial Crimes Unit is prosecuting this case.  

TV Show "Gotham" Castmates to Host 55th Annual Center for Disabilities Telethon Sunday in Albany

 A trio of stars from “Gotham,” Ben McKenzie who plays Jim Gordon, Donal Logue who plays Harvey Bullock and Robin Lord Taylor who plays Oswald Cobblepot,  also known as the young Penguin in the Batman saga, will host the 55th Annual Center for Disability Services Telethon on Sunday, January 25, live from the Holiday Inn Albany on Wolf Road. 

McKenzie played Ryan Atwood in “The O.C.” on FOX, and was in“Southland,”  and the feature films “Junebug,” and “88 Minutes,” as well as the video “Batman: Year One.” Logue is a character actor known for roles on “Law & Order: SVU,” “Vikings,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Terriers,” and “Grounded for Life,” as well as the films “Zodiac,” “The Patriot,” and “Just Like Heaven.” Taylor  has appeared in “The Walking Dead,” "Law & Order," "Law & Order: SVU," "The Good Wife,"  "Person of Interest,” the comedy “Accepted,” and a number of independent films and projects.

Members of the News 10abc on FOX23 team, including Christina Arangio, Trishna Begam, Liana Bonavita, John Gray, Lydia Kulbida and Steve Teeling will host with the three actors.

The telethon broadcast airs from noon to 7 p.m., on WXXA/FOX23 (cable channel 8 in the Capital Region; check local listings), and is the largest fund-raiser for the Center for  Disability Services and its divisions, Prospect Center in Queensbury and St. Margaret’s Center in Albany. Call (518) 944-2120 or go to www.cfdsny.org for more information on this community event.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Critics of Red Light Cameras Respond to City's Request for Proposal

Albany, NY, January 16, 2014 – Since the Common Council passed the ordinance to pursue the installation of red-light cameras at up to 20 intersections in the city, the next anticipated step in the process has been the solicitation of vendors to provide the equipment. This solicitation was made this week, when the City of Albany released their RFP (Request for Proposal) for red-light cameras.
With red-light cameras ostensibly coming to Albany, N.A.R.C. sees the RFP as a last means to protect the residents of Albany from the corruption that has plagued these cameras in numerous cities nationwide. The RFP, as it was released this week, falls short of doing this on many counts.

Yellow Light Durations
While Section 5.3, ‘Site Design’, Part A states, “The contractor shall not have any control over traffic signal operations”, this language is not clear enough to prevent vendors from influencing traffic signal operations in more passive ways. Vendors of red-light cameras have a long reputation for demanding or otherwise influencing shorter yellow light times in order to increase or maintain the profitability of the cameras. We’re calling for a revised RFP to state yellow light durations explicitly or preclude any vendor from demanding or requesting deviation from the Federal Highway Administration’s standard for yellow light duration of one second for every 10mph.
“The people of Albany were promised four second yellow light times by Deputy Cox and the City Council.  If Cox is serious about this promise, four second yellow light durations should be explicitly included in the RFP,” said Jesse Calhoun on behalf of N.A.R.C.

Equipment Ownership
Section 5.1-T lists “Equipment Ownership” as “TBD” (To Be Determined). This opens us up to a scheme where the vendor owns the equipment, and would take a cut of every ticket doled out. N.A.R.C. has long been warning that if we do not directly own or lease the cameras, this fact alone invites a third-party special interest to be forever influencing our municipal business. Direct lease or ownership of equipment should have been stated in the RFP.

Stricter Qualifications for Vendors
We are calling for stricter qualifications for vendors, based on questionable history in other municipalities, such as:

  •          No legal history involving class action lawsuits
  •          Never been engaged in financial impropriety with elected officials and/or public officials administratively responsible for traffic signal operations
  •          No contributions to any political campaign or political party in New York
  •          No interference with ballot referendums regarding deployment of red-light cameras
  •          No precedent for erroneous citations in other deployments

“We are demanding a revised RFP be released to include these concerns, or else a guaranteed commitment by our administration to include these qualifications in any contract signed,” said Calhoun.

The collective voices of N.A.R.C. have presented vocal opposition to the installation of red-light cameras in the City of Albany, ever since the State Legislature first proposed to grant the city permission to do so. N.A.R.C. still ultimately maintains disapproval of use of these devices for traffic enforcement due to the issues they arise, regarding due process rights and a history of corporate manipulation.