Albany activist Charlene Benton fought 'bomb trains,' air pollution

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago
The efforts she had led as president of the Ezra Prentice Tenants Association since 2011, however, resulted in the Department of Environmental Conservation monitoring air quality to measure the impact of diesel emissions. [...] her friend and ally, Sierra Club national President Aaron Mair, says a 2016 federal lawsuit filed in the Northern District of U.S. District Court against Global Partners for violating the Clean Air Act is moving forward. Colleagues say Benton was made into a warrior by her neighbors' worries that continuous diesel emissions were polluting air; that an oil train might have an accident like the one in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where a derailed oil train exploded and killed 47 people in 2013; that levels of the carcinogen benzene were higher than expected near Global's facility, according to DEC findings; and that lethal hydrogen sulfide gas might be created when crude oil was readied for transport. "There's just a wire fence between the residences and the Global facility," said Earthjustice attorney Christopher Amato, who joined with other environmental organizations including Riverkeeper to sue Global. Waltham, Mass.-based Global has operated a terminal at the Port of Albany since 2007, where it annually receives more than 1 billion gallons of crude oil, gasoline and ethanol by rail from North Dakota, Canada and other locations.

Senate Democrats met with Soares to seek lulu investigation

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago
A top state Senate Democrat and staffers met privately with officials from the Albany County district attorney's office last week to discuss an ongoing controversy surrounding stipends paid to members of the Republican and Independent Democratic conferences, according to a source. [...] questions have been raised about whether vice chairs are entitled to the lulus because state law explicitly defines the amount of taxpayer money that can be paid out for various leadership positions — of which committee vice chair is not one. The Republicans and the IDC have defended the practice as legal, saying that not only have the courts decided that the majority conference (the Republicans and IDC share power) can control its house and how its members get paid as it sees fit, the state comptroller's office has blessed the payments by signing off on checks that have been doled out to senators so far this year. [...] the Republicans said last week that documents submitted to the comptroller aligning the seven senators with the committee chair titles were not false payroll documents; rather, they say they submitted pay schedule documents lining up the vice chair senators with the money typically due to the committee chair position. In 2009, Soares' office prosecuted a case in which former state Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello pleaded guilty to a felony charge and admitted abusing her authority as commissioner, including using employees as personal servants to water her plants and drive her on personal errands.

Doubts raised on plan for jobs

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago
Just seven months into a seven-year contract, the Albany City School District has severed ties with a firm it hired to help diversify the construction workforce on an upcoming $180 million makeover of the high school. The abrupt termination of the contract with Dack Consulting Solutions prompted concern among members of Albany's black community, who told the Board of Education on Thursday that the decision could strain relationships it has tried to build with the city's minority communities. We need someone to be putting out brochures with information for people in the city to understand how they can get the apprenticeship work they need in various trades and how they can get certified through the Department of Labor and other state agencies. [...] that's all something that we really are able to handle ourselves. In seeking project approval, district officials and school board members touted plans to hire construction labor from within local minority communities. Final phases would have included helping unions identify eligible minority men and women applicants for apprenticeships, training and journeyman employment opportunities, and ensuring compliance with minority participation goals.

Albany seeks 83 percent reduction in value of Coeymans property

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago
While a lower assessment would save the city money going forward, it could jeopardize Albany receiving a sale price to make up for the $5 million it paid over the course of 1996 to 2006, according to a list of payments in the purchase agreement included in the recent appraisal. Back in 1993, Mayor Jerry Jennings' administration picked the Coeymans property to be home to a new dump, expected to provide relief ahead of the upcoming closure of the Rapp Road landfill. Opponents of the dump plan branded the sale price as a sweetheart deal that benefited prominent Democrats and Republicans. The owners' lawyer, John T. Biscone, was a Coeymans supervisor, Democratic town chairman, part-time county public defender and county Ethics Board member. Had Albany not agreed, it could have lost all the money paid if the owners refused to extend the purchase agreement, according to Times Union archives.

Capital Region religious, ethnic groups support victims of hate crime

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago

Faith community leaders are standing in solidarity with the Schodack family that was the target of a hate crime May 14.

Kitchen in a box arrives for new Saratoga brunch spot

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago

A brunch restaurant called Farmers Hardware, being developed for a June opening in a former bike store and garden shop in Saratoga Springs, has a unique, self-contained kitchen.

Four firefighters injured after fire truck rolls over in Queensbury

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago

QUEENSBURY — Four firefighters were injured Sunday afternoon after their fire truck rolled over on Clements Road, the Warren County Sheriff's Office said Monday.

Members of the Bay Ridge Fire Department were returning from an emergency medical services call when they crashed at 12:29 p.m., the sheriff's office said.

Schodack woman runs from officers twice, sets booking room on fire, police say

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago

SCHODACK — A 28-year-old woman with several outstanding warrants ran from officers twice  last week before setting a fire in the booking room on Saturday, town police said.

When an officer stopped a car May 14, a passenger — Krista Collandra of Schodack — jumped out and ran off, police said. She threw a small quantity of heroin into the woods as she took off, police said.

Former Howard Johnson eyed for hotel, shopping

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago

The dilapidated former Howard Johnson restaurant and hotel on Route 9W in Albany is being eyed once again for redevelopment.

This time, the 10-acre site is being considered for a hotel and retail shopping complex.

Race, gender, fame all issues as Cosby jury selection starts

Times Union feed - 14 hours 28 min ago

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Thirteen years after a Temple University basketball team manager went to famous alumni Bill Cosby's nearby home for career advice, her complaint that Cosby drugged and molested her that night will soon be a task for a Pennsylvania jury.

Lawyers this week hope to find a dozen jurors and six alternates willing to spend two weeks or more sequestered nearly 300 miles from home.

Information Withheld from Florida's Nursing Home Inspection Reports - Law Firm Newswire (press release)

Home Inspection - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 05:01

Information Withheld from Florida's Nursing Home Inspection Reports
Law Firm Newswire (press release)
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 22, 2017 - Advocates for nursing home residents have raised concerns about the amount of information that the state of Florida is withholding from nursing home inspection reports, including dates, places and pivotal ...

Albany-owned Coeymans property worth "significantly less" than touted

Times Union feed - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 03:10
"Multiple independent appraisals confirmed that the value of the property is significantly less than the price paid by the prior administration," said Brian Shea, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan's chief of staff. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which had plans to purchase the property for a wildlife management area, denied a Freedom of Information Law request for completed appraisals because it "would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations." The move was poised to be the saving grace to Albany's pending Rapp Road landfill closure, but it was foiled amid residents' opposition and the federal government confirming that some acreage was protected by wetlands. Sheehan in 2016 again budgeted the sale — cut to $3.6 million — but the transaction was stalled after the state Dormitory Authority, which was facilitating the sale with a grant through the State and Municipal Facilities Program, said a formal appraisal was necessary for the transfer to move forward. Port of Coeymans owner Carver Laraway had considered purchasing the property for commercial development, but later determined it wasn't appropriate for what was planned, Crandall said.

Lake George Elvis fest features Graceland tribute artists

Times Union feed - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 03:10

All 10 of Graceland's Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists will gather in Lake George village for the community's annual Elvis Festival.

FBI probing Tanski again

Times Union feed - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 03:10
FBI agents also are reviewing flight records for a private plane that Tanski either owns or leases that is kept at the Schenectady County Airport, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. In recent weeks, subcontractors who have done work for Tanski's company, Bruce Tanski Construction & Development, have been interviewed or served with federal grand jury subpoenas by FBI agents, according to people familiar with the matter. In 2014, following a two-year investigation by the FBI and state attorney general's office, Tanski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in Saratoga County and admitted using six accomplices, including his employees, to conceal large political donations to a former Halfmoon supervisor. A loophole in state election law allows individuals who control LLCs to multiply the force of their political donations to candidates and campaign funds. Seven months ago, an LLC called The Ridge at Duncan Meadows, which is named after Tanski's residential project in Brunswick, made a $1,000 donation to the Friends of Phil Herrington campaign fund, according to records on file with the state Board of Elections. In prior interviews with the Times Union, Tanski has said he supports political candidates who foster interests in business and economic development, and that he does not believe he has ever received preferential treatment on his multitude of development projects as a result of a campaign donation. The FBI's investigation of Wormuth and other political figures in Halfmoon was prompted by a series of articles in the Times Union that raised questions about Wormuth's private land deals and connections to developers.

Local High School Musical Theatre Awards winners take a bow

Times Union feed - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 03:10
SCHENECTADY — The lights were bright on Broadway — OK, maybe it was State Street, but Broadway's only half a block away — as thespians, musicians, dancers, masters of stagecraft and many other young denizens of the stage gathered Saturday at Proctors for the inaugural High School Musical Theatre Awards. The awards, organized and presented in partnership with the Times Union, were created to recognize and encourage the work of student performers, crew members and their teachers and mentors in musical and theater departments throughout the region. Snagging Best Musical from an original field of 16 competing high schools was "Phantom of the Opera," staged by Niskayuna High School, which also won awards for technical execution and set construction. Saturday's awards ceremony was marked by the flair and fizz of musical theater, with students performing nuggets from the competing schools' productions. Excerpts from the productions nominated for best musical then followed, dotting the night with hoofing and harmonies: I'd Do Anything from Albany High School's Oliver!, Jitterbug from Bethlehem High School's The Wizard of Oz, One Day More from Queensbury High School's Les Misérables, Masquerade from Phantom and Step in Time from Poppins. Two medleys showcased the singing prowess of nominees in the best actor and actress categories, and the closing number, "Brand New Day" from "The Wiz," once again rounded up players from all 16 schools. Choreography is an extension of the personalities that inhabit the musical and complete the world that it creates," Asked Albany Pro Musica artistic director Jose Daniel Flores-Caraballo, extolling the importance of choral singing in the award for best ensemble: "Can you imagine 'The Wizard of Oz' without Munchkin?
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