Brian Shields

Senior News Anchor

WAMC Senior Correspondent Brian Shields has been with WAMC for 23 years as senior news anchor, host and reporter.

Ways to Connect

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is on a national listening tour that brought her to SEMATECH at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering this morning. This afternoon, the Secretary will be in Wallingford, Ct.

The listening tour aimed at hearing the opinions of the public and private sectors and higher education on how to create jobs and boost the economy.

Dan Wolf wants to go from the cockpit to the governor’s office. Wolf is a state senator from Cape Cod, and one of the founders of the regional airline Cape Air. He is seeking the Democratic nomination in an increasingly crowded field of candidates who want to replace Governor Deval Patrick who is not seeking re-election next year. Speaking with WAMC’s Brian Shields, Wolf says he began Cape Air as a mechanic and pilot, which gives him the right experience for the governor’s job.

Robert Meeropol
Wikimedia Commons/Joe Mabel

Next Wednesday, June 19th, will mark 60 years since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed at Sing-Sing Prison after being convicted of conspiring to pass along U.S. atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union.  They became the first American civilians to be put to death for spying during peacetime. To mark the anniversary, the children and grandchildren of the Rosenbergs will take part in an event this Sunday, Fathers day, at New York City’s town hall. The Rosenbergs son, Robert Meeropol, spoke to WAMC news about the event called “Carry it Forward.”

After the 2000 presidential election which saw Al Gore win the popular vote, but George Bush win the White House, there was an outcry by some to get rid of the Electoral College.  A bill to change that system has just cleared the New York State Assembly.  

The measure is being supported by Albany area Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, a Democrat, who says the bill would have New York join an interstate compact in which states would give all of their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide. Fahy spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

Wikimedia Commons/Dismas

Along with the familiar “In God We Trust”, the next one, five, ten or twenty dollar bill you hold may include another message, "Stamp Money Out of Politics".

It is part of the Stamp Stampede, lead by Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founder, Ben Cohen. Ben Cohen says the Stamp Stampede, which he calls a petition on steroids, is about giving a voice to Americans who understand that unlimited campaign contributions are corrupting democracy. A rally by the group supporting the "Fair Elections Act" is scheduled for tomorrow. Cohen spoke with WAMC's Brian Shields.

SUNY Albany

A cure for cancer - it could well be the most invigorating , but frustrating goal for medical research, but the work at a lab in Albany may help to end the scourge of cancer one day.

Courtesy Voice of America

James Brooke will come home to the Berkshires this week. A native of Lenox, who attended Berkshire Country Day School and Yale University, has been a lifelong foreign correspondent, most recently covering Russia and the former Soviet Union for the Voice of America. 

James Brooke will be at the Lenox Library tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. for a free lecture on how Russia views the Boston Marathon, now that one Tsarnaev brother is dead, and another is in custody. He spoke today with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

It has cost the city of Saratoga Springs more than $61,000 to fire a city employee who earned $33,000 a year, and that employee in question is now suing the city for back pay.  

Lucian McCarty, city desk reporter for The Saratogian newspaper, has been following the story of Mary Zlotnick who was suspended for insubordination last august from the Saratoga Springs Accounts Department. He spoke today with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

Karen DeWitt

The city of Poughkeepsie is facing an $11 million  deficit in its general fund brought on, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, by unrealistic budgeting by city officials—including overestimating revenues. DiNapoli, in a new audit, says Poughkeepsie’s debt burden has gone up 45 percent over the past five years as its financial condition deteriorates.

More than 95 percent of the school budgets that went before the voters in New York on Tuesday were approved but, those that exceeded the two percent property tax cap did not fare as well. Only about 30 percent of those spending plans were approved. 

The executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, Tim Kremer, tells WAMC's Brian Shields the initial results show 630 school districts budgets were approved with 30 rejected.

Faced with the possibility of being expelled from the state legislature as soon as next week, State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a Democrat from Brooklyn, today said he would resign on June 20th at the end of the legislative session and run for a seat on the New York City Council. 

BSO

At the age of 34, Andris Nelsons will lead one of the most respected orchestras in the world. Nelsons, a native of Latvia, who has earned a distinguished reputation in European classical music and opera, has been named the new music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, filling the vacancy left by the departure of James Levine, who stepped down for health reasons two years ago. Mark Volpe, the managing director of the BSO, spoke with WAMC's Brian Shields.

(WAMC photo by Dave Lucas)

Twenty-four hours after Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings made public his letter stating that he will not run for another term after 20 years in office, the Albany County Democratic Committee gave its nomination to City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan in the race for mayor. The committee passed over former City Council member Corey Ellis, who ran against Mayor Jennings four years ago fir the Democratic nomination.

Wednesday on Midday Magazine, we heard from Sheehan. Today, we speak with Corey Ellis, who says the lack of the party's nomination will not affect his campaign.

Kathy Sheehan

The race for Mayor of Albany has undergone a major change now that Mayor Jerry Jennings says he will not run for another term. A number of candidates want the job, including the City Treasurer, Democrat Kathy Sheehan, who stopped by the WAMC studios just before Jennings' formal downtown announcement.

Peter Taksøe-Jensen

The term "welfare state" is a pejorative for many in the U.S., a system that many elected officials would distance themselves from, but the term is used with pride by Peter Taksøe-Jensen, the Danish Ambassador to the U.S., who will be visiting Vermont next weekend, at the invitation of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. The ambassador, who spoke to WAMC today, will meet with the public in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier to discuss the Danish form of government.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

WAMC's Brian Shields speaks with Nippertown's Greg Haymes about his weekend music picks:

1. Rick Rourke & Lost Wages' "Rose-Colored Glasses" from his album Three Sides to Every Story,   performing at the Albany Tulip Festival on the Lakehouse Stage in Washington Park at 3:30 on Saturday.

2. Eastbound Jesus' "Waitin' On the Sun" from their new album Northern Rock, performing at the Albany Tulip Festival on the Lakehouse Stage in Washington Park at 4:45 on Sunday.

Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman has sent an invitation to the Speaker of the U.S. House Representatives, John Boehner, challenging the Republican to a debate over a bill that would require intern retailers to collect state sales taxes. Boehner has expressed reluctance about the bill, which Grossman, a Democrat, says would not only generate revenue, but level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Courtesy NYS OSC

Industrial development agencies across New York granted $1.5 billion in tax breaks to companies that promised to expand, and create new jobs, in 2011. In a new audit, state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the IDA’s, which operate at the local and country level, have improved their overall performance but some say there are still reasons to be concerned.

Trying to make the pain of divorce a little bit easier is the goal of a divorce mediator. The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation is meeting in Saratoga Springs today through Saturday. WAMC's Brian Shields spoke with the group's president, Bobbie Dillon.

Parks & Trails New York

This Saturday is “I Love My Park Day” in New York, a statewide event organized by the group Parks & Trails New York. It’s a day for volunteers to clean up and preserve the many miles of trails, bike paths and greenways that cross the state from New York City to the Adirondacks and from Albany to Buffalo. 

Forty years ago, Richard Burns was a high school senior, getting ready to begin college at Hamilton in the fall. Today, he is the executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York City. This afternoon, Richard Burns returns to Hamilton to speak on “LGBTQ Rights, Past and Present” at the Red Room in the Kirner-Johnson building. He spoke to WAMC about what it was like 40 years ago to be gay and in college

There have been a number of ideas and suggestions on how to improve the New York State Legislature, especially after the recent arrest of two lawmakers on corruption charges. One of the ideas is changing the job from part-time to full time. That’s not a new thought, in fact it was suggested more than 100 years ago, in 1910, by then newly-elected State Senator Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

(WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas)

Republicans in the New York state Assembly have a plan they say will help to root out the corruption scandals that have tainted the state legislature in recent weeks. They are calling for a constitutional amendment to allow recall elections in New York for all statewide elected officials, and members of the state legislature. Assembly Republican Jim Tedisco from the Capital Region joined in the announcement Wednesday morning.

For a constitutional amendment to become law, it must pass the legislature in two consecutive sessions , and be approved by the voters.

New York's top law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, spoke with WAMC about the recent corruption scandals in Albany and Wednesday's failed U.S. Senate vote on background checks for gun sales.

You won’t find Inspire magazine on your local newsstand, but an article in that publication may have been the blueprint for the bombings in Boston. 

For more on the events today in Boston, WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke with Rick Mathews, the director of the National Center for Security and Preparedness at the University at Albany. He began by asking him if at this early stage he believes the explosions were the work of domestic or foreign terrorists.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

Nippertown's Greg Haymes stopped by to share some spring music picks with WAMC's Brian Shields:

Tonight marks the local premiere of the film The Place Beyond The Pines, starring Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta and Ryan Gosling, which was filmed in several Capital Region locales and takes place in Schenectady.

WAMC's Brian Shields spoke with Don Rittner, head of the Schenectady Film Commission, who helped bring the film to town and who has a bit part in the movie.

Margaret Thatcher, the first and only woman prime minister of Great Britain, left a personal style and political legacy that will be debated for years to come. Like her American ally and friend, Ronald Reagan, she took power at a time when her nation was seen by many to be in economic and international decline.

Professor Roy Ginsberg, chair of the department of government at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, spoke today with WAMC’s Brian Shields on the Thatcher-Reagan alliance.

Times Union

Could last week’s arrest of New York State Senator Malcolm Smith of New York City revive a somewhat dormant investigation of possible wrongdoing in the awarding several years ago of a license to operate a racino at the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens? Several years back when Smith and several other Democrats had control of the senate, a bidding process was underway for the racino, a process that led to accusations of pay-to play by the Inspector General Joseph Frisch.

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