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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Wednesday, March 30

Union and city officials instructed not to discuss contract provisions before council vote

The air of mystery around yesterday's contract vote by the city's two CSEA units will likely not be lifted until April 5.

My first indication that the public would not be privy to this information was yesterday when I walked into the vote as it was still occurring and was told by public safety employee and union rep Lisa Nolan that a vote was not going on, despite the ballot box, and publicly posted notice that a vote was indeed happening on the union bulletin board right down the hall.

My suspicions were confirmed by two phone calls today. The first was a message from Mayor Scott Johnson, who said he could not discuss specific provisions in respect to an agreement made with union officials that neither side would talk to the press until an agreement had been reached.

The second was a call from CSEA regional spokeswoman Therese Assalian, who said that she had been told by city union officials that both sides had been instructed by a mediator not to discuss provisions before an agreement had been finalized.

"I normally can give some details," she said, "but I didn't want to push it because I didn't want (the city union official she spoke with) to feel that they were violating this type of trust."

After my run in during the vote yesterday, I reached out to the New York State Committee on Open Government (COOG) to find out whether or not the provisions of the preliminary agreement was protected information under FOIL.

In a return call today, COOG Executive Director Robert Freeman said that because negotiations are over and both sides have the proposed contract, disclosing provisions would not "impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations," which is the legal benchmark for withholding the information.

He also said that because so many people had already seen the proposal, union members and city officials, that it could not confidently be considered a secret.

The City Council's next meeting is scheduled for April 5, where I'm guessing the contract will be put up for a vote.

Tedisco on VLT aid: "Sometimes the long shots win"

Just got off the phone with Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Saratoga/Schenectady, who was on the Assembly floor about to begin debate on the budget bill that is set to restore about $2 million in video lottery terminal host aid to Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County.

Sen. Hugh Farley announced last Tuesday that an agreement had been reached between the Senate, Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would restore VLT host funding to 17 upstate municipalities at a rate of 45 percent of the aid received in 2008.

Under the plan, approved in a Senate budget bill earlier today and expected to be approved by the Assembly, Saratoga Springs is slated to receive $1,496,000, and Saratoga County would receive $499,000, for a total of $1,995,000.

"Sometimes the long shots win," Tedisco said today from the floor, thanking Farley and Sen. Roy McDonald for their work and advocacy on the issue.

As he did when the agreement was announced, Tedisco referred back to a Feb. 8 breakfast meeting between Cuomo and the Assembly Republican Conference where he was joined by lawmakers from several other districts in vocal opposition of the cuts.

"We were convincing with the fact that you shouldn't discriminate," he said of that meeting, adding that Cuomo was "true to his word" that he would reexamine the cuts.

The release that Tedicso sent on the restoration of the funds seemed a little off to me because it referred to the action as being perpetrated by "the Legislature," not "Assembly Republicans" or "The Saratoga Three" or anyone in particular, but rather, everyone.

This whole sense of agreement and unity between the Assembly, Senate and Gov. during these budget negotiations seems a little off to me. Where is the yelling with the gridlock and the negotiation breakdown and secret conference committees that are canceled midday?!?! What happened to three men in a room?

"The conference committees do work," said Farley during Senate debate today.

"I think you've got an adult in the room, his name is Andrew Cuomo," Tesicso said, when confronted with my utter confusion.

"If imitation is the highest form of flattery, I'm very proud to be a Republican," he said, taking a partisan shot while also praising Cuomo's fiscally conservative approach.

"I've never seen anything go as smooth as this," he said of this year's budget process, comparing Cuomo to the extra blade added onto the razor.

"He brought that smoothness to the blade," he said, "Or at least he removed the roughness from around the edges."

Front page: City CSEA members vote on new contract, state ready to pass first early budget since 1983

Good morning!

The city's two CSEA units, City Hall workers and DPW workers, voted on a new contract yesterday afternoon. [Srtgn]

Local environmental advocates echoed the call of nation groups for a moratorium on nuclear power plant licensing and construction. [Srtgn]

Troy party officials are canvassing for candidates in preparation for city elections this November. [Record]

Stillwater Supervisor Ed Kinowski urges transfer of fire tower land in Corinth. [PstStr]

The Saratoga Lake Association is recruiting volunteers to check the lake level every day amid flooding fears. [TU]

In Albany; legislators are poised to pass their first early state budget since 1983. [DN]

budget bills hit the legislature floor last night, with debate opening and some votes in the Senate. (Second link includes video of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos opening the budget debate.) [CapCon, @NYSenate]

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver framed the budget as a win for Democrats. [NY1]

In honor of the pending budget approval, here's Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue," a hit in 1983.

Tuesday, March 29

Front page: SSPD bestows honors, state budget on track for on-time approval

Good morning!

The Saratoga Springs Police Department awarded several officers and civilians with departmental honors yesterday afternoon. [Srtgn]

Former-Rep. Scott Murphy is now invested in a downtown Glens Falls redevelopment project. Also, he was not one of the highest congressional spenders last year. [PstStr, CapCon]

The state's general joint budget conference committee, AKA the "Mothership" chaired by Speaker Silver and Leader Skelos, met for the last time yesterday. [LoHud]

Special interest groups and advocates are reacting differently to the tentative budget deal. [TU]

A powerhouse legislator for decades, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's influence has been diminished after this year's budget negotiations. [NYT]

The Senate's Independent Democrats joined Republicans to approve rules changes that Democrats are calling "dangerous." [CH]

Friday, March 25

Second petition redelivered by Saratoga Citizen, Comm. Franck says action may be delayed by legal battle

Patrick Kane, of charter change group Saratoga Citizen, delivered the following letter to Accounts Commissioner John Franck's office this afternoon.

Mr. John P. Franck
City Clerk of the City of Saratoga Springs
City Hall
474 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866
Re: Filing of Local Law to amend the City Charter
Dear Mr. Franck:
As you know, on November, 19, 2010 and pursuant to Section 37(7) of the New York Municipal Home Rural Law
(“MHRL”), Saratoga Citizen submitted to you an additional petition proposing a local law to amend the Charter of the
City of Saratoga Springs. On December 8, 2010, you issued a Certificate stating that the additional petition did not
comply with all requirements of law. Saratoga Citizen subsequently challenged that determination in Supreme Court,
Saratoga County. On March 8, 2011, the Court issued a Decision and Order stating that the additional petition was
prematurely filed and could be filed with your office only after March 15, 2011.
Without waiving its right to appeal the Court’s determination, Saratoga Citizen hereby resubmits the additional petition.
Since your office remains in possession of the original additional petition, please treat the additional petition as being
resubmitted to you as of the date of this letter. The proposed local law is attached to the petition, and the petitioners
request that this local law be submitted to the voters of Saratoga Springs at the next general election.
The additional petition in your possession contains the signatures of 964 qualified electors of the City of Saratoga
Springs, which number is greater than five percent of the total number of valid votes cast for governor in the City of
Saratoga Springs in the last gubernatorial election. Please examine the additional petition and transmit a certificate
of compliance to the City Council. Please also send a copy of such certificate as required by MHRL § 37(5) to my
address at 19 Marion Place, Saratoga Springs, New York 12866.
Although Saratoga Citizen believes no fiscal note is required under MHRL § 37(11) for proposed local laws to
reorganize the functions of city government, I am enclosing for your reference a copy of the Preliminary Estimate of
Fiscal Impact on City of Proposed Charter prepared by Saratoga Citizen.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Patrick V Kane
Saratoga Citizen Inc,
Saratoga Springs NY

While he did not personally get a chance to meet with Kane, Franck said Friday he now has 20 days to certify the signatures, but that isn't the end of the story.

"The only question is whether the stay that the court has put on with the appeal stays me from certifying those," he said.

Because the city has filed an appeal in their case against Saratoga Citizen an automatic stay has been issued, the details of which Franck said he would have to consult attorneys to determine.

Franck also that without the complication created by the litigation, the measure would have the required signatures to supersede a council vote of approval. Because of the legal battle, there is some question of whether or not the 60 days the council has to act on the first set of signatures has expired or if the clock stopped after the city filed their notice of appeal.

"The question is, did the 60 days go by yet? I don't know if the clock stops there," he said, adding that the issue was one the council may need to take a position on.

"My assumption is that the signatures are good and the signatures are sufficient," he said of the second set, which will not be reviewed by attorneys before action is taken.

Thursday, March 24

Document: Saratoga Spring Police Department 2010 Annual Report

Saratoga Springs Police Department 2010 Annual Report

Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth on the restoration of VLT host funding

City Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth returned calls late for print the other day on the VLT host community funding preliminarily approved as part of the 2011-12 state budget.

"I'm thrilled to hear that," Wirth said of the agreement, which would restore nearly $2 million in state aid to the city and the Saratoga County (about $1.5 mil to city, about 500K to the county).

"I would be more than happy to receive that amount of money and I'm sure the rest of the council would be thrilled," he said, calling the city and county "well deserving" of the funds, part of which would likely be used to cover public safety services.

He went on to thank Senators Roy McDonald, Hugh Farley and NYS Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for their work on the agreement.

Wirth is a former resident of Long Island, where Skelos is based.

Front page: City planners consider workforce housing propsal, Gibson still likes nuclear energy option

Good morning!

City planners last night continued discussion on a proposed zoning overlay that would provide density bonus to developers who choose to build workforce housing. [Srtgn]

In Malta, Congressman Chris Gibson says nuclear power is still an option for the Capital Region, despite the crisis in Japan. [Srtgn]

In Albany; Sen. Roy McDonald says he may be willing to support an extension of the "millionaire tax" in the state budget. [CapCon]

Gov. Cuomo released a video yesterday reaffirming that the budget will be passed with his proposed cuts on time, or a shutdown may be in order. [TU, Gannett]
Here it is:

33 protesters were arrested outside Cuomo's office yesterday. [CapCon]

The "mothership" joint conference committee met yesterday, accepting the reports of three other conference committees, including the General Government and Local Assistance report which contains a proposal to restore VLT host funding to 17 municipalities. [LoHud, Srtgn]

Wednesday, March 23

Front page: VLT aid proposed to be restored in state budget, state leaders remain optimistic a budget will pass on time

Good morning!

As you may have heard yesterday, state budget negotiations have resulted in a deal to restore about $2 million in video lottery terminal host municipality aid to Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County. [Srtgn]

Check back here and at for updates on this story.

NYRA plans upgraded luxury boxes, drainage, and wiring improvements at Saratoga Race Course. [TU]

Also in Albany; up to 2,000 protesters swarmed the capital yesterday to protest proposed cuts to education funding. [Record]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver remain hopeful a state budget will pass on time, perhaps even early. Cuomo also mentions extenders as a way to avoid the previously seen "Groundhog Day" scenario of leadership gridlock. [Cap Con, Lo Hud]

Opponents of Cuomo's proposed deep cuts are balking at the idea of a government shutdown in lieu of a passed budget, which Cuomo said he will allow to happen. [CH]

Cuomo repeated his stance yesterday that the Indian Point nuclear plant should be shut down at a press conference yesterday after a meeting with federal nuclear regulators. [DN]

Tuesday, March 22

Republican campaign committee takes shot at Murphy on health care vote, claims he may run again

The following just came in from the National Republican Congressional Committee:

As Scott Murphy is being courted by Washington Democrats to run for his old seat, we can remember that it was exactly one year ago today that he voted for the big-spending, job-crushing healthcare bill that has since become law. Although Murphy lost his job, many ObamaCare supporters are already having regrets as new burdens are being placed on small businesses and the national debt continues to skyrocket. Having fired him once, New York voters won’t forget Murphy's support for the big-spending, job-destroying status quo that his fellow Democrats continue to defend to this day.

“Scott Murphy's former constituents in New York won’t soon forget how he marched right alongside the Democrats’ spending spree that preceded the record deficit we now face, and his vote for ObamaCare exactly one year ago today is no exception,” said NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay. “This makes Murphy's potential comeback attempt doubtful at best, since debt is still being piled onto middle-class families and burdens are still being placed on small businesses throughout New York as a result of the harmful Democrat policies he supported before he was fired.”

One year ago today, Scott Murphy helped pass ObamaCare in the House. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #167: Passed 220-211: D 220-33; R 0-178, 3/21/10; H.R. 3590, Roll Call Vote #165: Passed 219-212: D 219-34; R 0-178, 3/21/10)

The release goes on to cite a post from the Washington Post's The Fix blog about an "alumni association" organized by Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel to take back the House made up of "roughly 90 percent" of the Democrats defeated in 2010. Murphy is not mentioned by name in the WaPo report.

Front page: Tedisco calls for enhanced animal cruelty measures, chip-fab planned for Albany

Good morning! Sorry for the late posts recently, I'm still getting over the DST shift.

Assmblymn Tedisco pushes for enhanced animal cruelty prevention measures as a Schenectady man is charged with starving three cats, two that died. [Srtgn]

The Malta Planning Board have given GlobalFoundries conditional approval to being construction of their planned 221,000-square-foot administrative building at the Luther Forest Tech Park. [PstStr]

In other chip-fab news, a new manufacturing facility at SUNY Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering was announced by Gov. Cuomo yesterday. [CapCon]

Legislators walked away from the table yesterday before resolving disagreements with Cuomo's plan to take control of $130 million in capital spending funds. [TU]

The operators of Indian Point nuclear energy plant say some regulatory changes are expected as the crisis in Japan continues. [NYT, USA Today]

Upstate lawmakers introduce a bill to ask voters whether or not New York should be separated into two states. [Gannett]

The state Senate approved a ban of legal psychedelic drug salvia. Check out the Daily News' Irving DeJohn, who I worked with while he was an editor at the Albany Student Press, copping some "salv" and toking on the street. Grooovy... [DN]

Monday, March 21

Gibson on Libya: "Now is not the time."

The following statement was released by Congressman Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, this afternoon.

"Certainly I empathize with the Libyan people who desire to live free; however, I am deeply concerned with President Obama’s decision to intervene militarily in their civil war. Our country is currently facing a myriad of challenges, including working to complete our objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, protecting our cherished way of life from extremist terrorist networks, and struggling here at home to address a skyrocketing deficit that poses a tremendous threat to our national security. Now is not the time to take on new missions. The Libyans must decide their own fate and we should stop our military operations immediately."

Front page: Saratoga County officials say public, private partnership likely in ownership of Luther Forest Tech Park

Good morning!

Saratoga County officials say a partnership between the county, state and private investment is a likely solution as negotiations on the ownership of Luther Forest Technology Park continue. [Srtgn]

A report from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says home foreclosures have dropped in NY while still trending up nationwide. [AP via Record]

Special interest groups have spent millions on ads and lobbying this budget season, with those supporting Gov. Cuomo's cuts outspending opponents. [TU]

Cuomo will meet with members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission tomorrow to discuss Indian Point in the wake of Japan's nuclear disaster. [LoHud]

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be asked by marriage equality advocates to lobby state Senate Republicans, who he donated over $650,000 to this past election cycle, in support of a same-sex marriage proposal. [CH]

Congressman Hinchey is asking for an amendment to Medicare policy he says makes seniors in rural areas unfairly pay out of pocket for ambulance service. [Gannett]

Thursday, March 17

Front page: Officials expect (relatively) peaceful St. Patrick's Day celebration in Saratoga Springs today, state leaders meet on budget negotiations

Top o' the morning to ya and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A year after tragedy marred St. Patty's Day festivities in the Spa City, city public safety officials say there will be an increased police presence in town today. While a riot ala 'Kegs 'n' Eggs' is not expected, officials say they are ready for anything. [Srtgn]

Congressman Chris Gibson has a new website. [Srtgn]

Rensselaer County Legislator Peter Grimm has called for the creation of a bipartisan redistricting commission to make recommendations to the County Legislature. [Record]

In Albany; the 'millionaire's tax' supported by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has hit a dead end in budget negotiations. [AP via PstStr]

Silver, Gov. Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos began the annual ritual of 'three men in a room' budget talks to try and make the April 1 deadline. [TU]

After the nuclear crisis in Japan, Gov. Cuomo cited "concerns" with the Indian Point nuclear plant near NYC. [TU/CapCon]

The recently formed Independent Democratic Conference is pushing for historic building rehabilitation tax credits. [LoHud]

In Washington; legislators have found a way around the self-imposed earmarks ban - lobbying federal agencies for funds directly. [NYT]

Wednesday, March 16

In response to your comment...

A response to a comment by Saratoga Springs resident Kyle York on my story today on the City Council's vote to appeal the decision in the Saratoga Citizen case. Both comments, which are also attached to the story online, are re-posted below.

Kyle York wrote on Mar 16, 2011 4:52 AM:

"In fairness to all readers, I believe the article as written suggests that the City is gaining momentum. While that may be the "spin" desired by the three Council members who voted to spend more money, it is poor journalism... albeit written in a hurry to make deadline.

FIRST, it is disingenuous to report that any Court had looked at the second stack of petitions submitted by Saratoga Citizen and "ruled on behalf of the city." The Judge ruled that it's TOO SOON to look at the second set of citizen signatures, not while the FIRST stack of petitions are being challenged... AGAIN... by the City.

The "Round Two" petitions were returned to Saratoga Citizen due SOLELY to the CLOCK, not any fault or flaw in CONTENT.

SECOND, it was with great enthusiasm and drama that the Mayor announced "the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM) had voted at its Feb. 28 meeting to join the city in the appeal." That's true-- There was a VOTE.

The VOTE has no legal bearing NOR is it "news" unless Mr. Donges makes it clear that NO JUDGE has yet ruled on whether NYCOM will be welcome NYCOM to the City's $200/hour legal fight. In fact, the Court may find NO sufficient cause to afford NYCOM ANY status as intervenor.

The Court may choose to grant NYCOM amicus curiae status... or the Court may elect to leave NYCOM by the curb... but always welcome to post a comment on any news story in Saratogian blogs.

I was hoping the reporter might have asked the Mayor if NYCOM was willing to back their rabid "vote" of enthusiasm for litigation with any offer of financial support when the bills come in.

-Kyle York
Fan of the hard-working City Desk,
Stickler for spin-free Accuracy."

patrickhdonges wrote on Mar 16, 2011 7:58 AM:

"Kyle, as always, thanks for the input. Some responses I hope you will consider.

On your first point; I believe your concern is addressed at the end of the second paragraph, which states, ' was ruled (the second set of petitions) had been submitted too early and would therefore need to be resubmitted to the city.'

Both Mayor Johnson, publicly last night, and Pat Kane, in a phone message earlier this week, characterized the ruling on the second set of petitions as being 'in favor of the city.'

Second; NYCOM is only mentioned as having voted to join the city in their appeal. You are correct that a judge may choose whether or not to afford them any input at all, as was the case before Judge Nolan with briefs filed by Eliot Masie and Saratoga SUCCESS. The news here, in my estimation, is that the mayor mentioned the group's vote in his appeal proposal, indicating they may be a factor in the appeal process.

I hope you will trust that the financial impact of this appeal on the city budget will be reported on (likely at length) in both print and the City Desk blog as proceedings... proceed.

-Patrick 'Spin-less in the All-Spin Zone' Donges

583-8729 ext. 219

I always post my contact info at the end of these comments because, as those of you who have called me already know, I will entertain any and all calls or emails on the content or context of my stories. In fact, I'll go so far as to say I can be a pretty nice guy, even while being berated for being an awful writer or accused of being in the pocket of politician or party x, y, and/or z.

Front page: Council votes to continue legal battle in charter case, Sen. McDonald calls for hearing on state-run home abuse reports

Good morning!

The City Council voted 3-2 last night to continue legal proceedings against charter change group Saratoga Citizen. [Srtgn]

Schuylerville voters dismissed the proposed village dissolution. [Srtgn]

A new report says the Capital Region has lost nearly 10 percent of it's workforce in the form of state government employees. [TU]

In Albany; Students rallied on the Capitol steps against cuts to higher education funding in Gov. Cuomo's budget. [Record]

Both the state Assembly and the state Senate passed budget resolutions yesterday. Check out full text of the proposals here, and here. [NYT, DN/DP, LoHud]

Joint budget subcommittee meetings will begin today. [LoHud]

Sen. Roy McDonald and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz called for a hearing on reported abuse at state-run health group homes. [TU/CapCon]

WAMC's Alan Chartock and the Post's Fred Dicker fire shots in a radio war. [GthmGztte/Wonkster]

Friday, March 11

T.G.I.F. - Sen. McDonald talks health, government, Sen. Kruger and Asmblymn Boyland charged in federal indictment

Good morning, and happy Friday!

State and county officials discusses pension and health care costs, consolidation of services and VLT revenue with Sen. Roy McDonald at the first of six roundtable discussions on the 2011 budget. [Srtgn]

An audit by the NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office says Mechanicville Department of Public Works improperly logged hours worked by DPW employees. [Record]

Wilton Deputy Supervisor Ray O'Conor will not seek re-election. [PstStr]

Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. and Sen. Carl Kruger, both Democrats, were charged yesterday in federal court with taking money in exchange for official favors. [TU]

In response to this latest corruption scandal, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said a legislative ethics package it almost ready. [LoHud]

The potential closure of up to 100 nursing homes as part of Gov. Cuomo's budget has stoked the fears of some health services professionals. [Gannett]

NY U.S. Rep. Peter King is defending his support of the Irish Republican Army as his hearings on radical Islam get started this week. [DN]

Thursday, March 10

Front page: Siro's outdoor hours limited by Planning Board, state Sen. Carl Kruger to turn himself into federal authorities today

Good morning!

The city Planning Board voted last night to restrict the hours Siro's restaurant will be allowed to host outdoor entertainment during the 2011 track season. [Srtgn]

U.S. Sen. Schumer is pushing promotion of a website that connects veterans looking for work to local businesses. [Record]

Statewide; NY Sen. Carl Kruger will surrender to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn today on a host of unknown charges. [CapCon, NYP]

Gay rights advocates were upbeat after their meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on enacting a same-sex marriage policy. [GCN]

Those advocating for state ethics reform could take a page from the medical profession's policies on gift giving. [WNET]

Wednesday, March 9

Front page: Senators clash over redistricting petition denial, Cuomo to meet today with gay leaders on same-sex marriage plan

Good morning!

Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino called state legislators to implement mandate reform measures during her annual State of the County address. [Record]

Gov. Cuomo's agency consolidation plan is drawing some criticism from lawmakers. [TU]

Cuomo is set to meet with gay advocates today to discuss a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. [NYT]

State senate floor action was held up for about an hour yesterday as members argued over the Rules Committee's rejection of a Democratic petition for a hearing on the Gov.'s independent redistricting bill. Post-session video here. [SoP, CapCon]

NY U.S. Rep. Peter King is getting a lot of press coverage for his hearings on Muslim radicalization being held this week. [Observer]

Ex-Gov. Spitzer may make a run for NYC Mayor. [NatJo]

Tuesday, March 8

Front page: Searching continues for Alexander Grant, decision on Siro's permits expected Wednesday

City and state officials and volunteers will continue the search today for Alexander Grant, the 19-year-old last seen early Sunday morning. Officials are asking anyone who may have seen Grant after 2 a.m. Sunday to contact the Saratoga Springs Police Department by calling 584-1800. [Srtgn]

The city Planning Board will likely make a decision Wednesday on permits needed to allow track season favorite Siro's to remain open this year. [Srtgn]

In Albany; state Senate Democrats have petitioned for a public hearing on independent redistricting. [AP]

Reform advocates will convene a 13-member 'NY Citizens Redistricting Committee' to critique new district lines regardless of how they are drawn. [City Hall]

Gov. Cuomo said he will set the date for a special election to replace "Craigslist" Congressman Chris Lee in NY-26 sometime this week. [Cap Con]

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver appears to be again backing the "millionaires tax." [LoHud]

2010 was a record year for NY lobbyists. [Gannett]

Cuomo: "You think I'm a softy?" [LoHud]

Monday, March 7

Front page: Saratoga Cty Judge Harry W. Seibert to retire, state Senate Dems plan to force hearing on redistricting bill

Good morning, and welcome to the working week!

Saratoga County Surrogate's Court judge Harry W. Seibert will retire in December; seven Republicans are already vying for the spot. [Srtgn]

State Senate Democrats will try to force a hearing on Gov. Cuomo's independent redistricting bill, which is currently stuck in committee. [AP via Record]

After criticizing them during his candidacy, Gov. Cuomo has recently made concessions for two large unions. [TU]

Recent numbers show that government employment is no longer a secure career path in New York. [Gannett]

About 1,000 protesters demonstrated in Times Square Sunday to decry NY Rep. Peter King's upcoming hearings on radical Islam as a "witch hunt." [DN]

Friday, March 4

T.G.I.F. - Gas prices still rising, more time for special elections approved by Senate

Good morning!

Gas prices keep going up around the country, and local drivers are feeling the pinch. [Srtgn]

Prosecutors say more people may be charged in Troy's ballot fraud case. [Record]

In Albany; Gov. Cuomo's 30 day budget amendments suggest spending through 2013 on education and Medicaid. [CapCon]

Cuomo is expected to sign into law his bill, recently passed by the Senate, that would double the time campaigners have for special elections. [TU]

Pols criticized, examined Cuomo's health care reform agenda at a hearing. [WXXI]

Thursday, March 3

Front page: Spa City sales tax collections highest ever in 2010, Clinton tells students to keep learning

Good morning!

Saratoga Springs collected over $9 million in sales tax receipts in 2010, an all-time record. [Srtgn]

Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton tells UAlbany students to continue learning throughout their lives during a Wednesday lecture. [Record]

A handful of protesters were arrested at the capital yesterday while protesting for an extension of the "millionaires' tax." Video here. [TU, LoHud]

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky calls Gov. Cuomo's budget a "blank canvas." [Capitol]

Municipal officials, businesses leaders and even some who authored the preliminary mandate relief team report are criticizing the findings. [IthacaJo]

State Sen. Eric Adams (a familiar face to horse racing advocates) is pushing for a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines with hidden camera footage shot in Rensselaer and Colonie. Check out the video below. [UPI, DN/DP]

Wednesday, March 2

Front page: City water and sewer rates rise, unions rally in Albany

Good morning!

The Saratoga Springs City Council voted last night to increase water and sewer rates 2 percent in 2011. Also, Mayor Scott Johnson has been speaking with city business leaders and the owners of the Broadway storefront soon to be vacated by Borders books to ensure the building will be filled quickly. [Srtgn]

Public union members descended on Albany yesterday for two rallies, vowing to continue the fight against cuts proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. [Record]

Cuomo's proposed 2 percent property tax cap got a cool reception from state Assembly Democrats during a day-long hearing on the measure. [TU]

Moments after a similar measure aimed at NYC was passed in the state Senate, Cuomo introduced a bill that would cease "last in, first out" firing policies for state teachers. [WXXI]

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver indicated the house will include an extension of a tax surcharge on the state's wealthiest residents in a budget bill, a move opposed by Gov. Cuomo. [NYT]

Cuomo's Mandate Relief Redesign Team has released a preliminary report. Not everyone is happy with the findings. [DN/DP, LoHud]