New York News

 It was a bizarre story that captivated the Capital Region today: a herd of buffalo on the loose. Hours after they broke free, all of the animals were dead.

Senator Chuck Schumer says dairy farmers in New York and across the country need help contending with falling milk prices.

The board governing New York’s thoroughbred racing industry met earlier this week and revealed that the harsh winter had a big impact on betting.

  Less than a month after it was enacted, Governor Cuomo’s new teacher evaluation plan seems to be in jeopardy, with the Regents Chancellor calling for a year’s delay and a key Senator saying the legislature needs to revisit the issue.

When Cuomo convinced the legislature to approve a new teacher evaluation system that relies more on standardized tests, his administration said that the State Board of Regents would have very limited power to make any changes including compliance with a November deadline to come up with new performance reviews.

Howe Caverns

Howe Caverns in New York’s Schoharie Valley has been a tourist destination since it first opened to the public in 1843, but for more than a century tourists have been unable to access a significant portion of the original discovery. A new tour opening in May will allow guests to see another side. WAMC’s Lucas Willard got a sneak peak…

State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch wants to give school districts another year to implement the state-mandated teacher evaluation system. The controversial evaluation plan has already been a motivating point for students to opt-out of the state Common Core testing. Tisch said Cuomo’s deadline of November 15th for districts to approve of the new teacher rating system is unrealistic. Tisch wants to move the date back until September 1st, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is reportedly investigating Deborah Lee, former Rockland County Public Employees Federation council leader, who’s accused of misusing a union debit card to run up thousands of dollars for questionable purchases. The Times Union reports a federal subpoena was issued seeking bank statements, audits, and expenditures related to Lee’s case. PEF, New York’s second largest state-employee union, is headed by Susan Kent, who has been criticized for her handling of allegations related to the case. Lee was cleared of any wrongdoing last year by a union ethics panel appointed by Kent.

The New York Racing Association reorganization board has ratified its new chairman. 

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

  Earth Day 2015 is also the first day that the New York State Assembly is transitioning to a paperless system. Assemblymembers have been given I Pads to read bills electronically, and supporters say it will save millions of dollars, and trees.

Majority Leader Joe Morelle announced the change on the Assembly floor.

“Today we begin officially with tablets,” Morelle said.

Getting rid of the piles of paper that clutter members’ desks each day required a constitutional amendment, which voters approved last fall.  

Karen DeWitt

The Speaker of the Assembly is defending himself against a newspaper report that he profited from his late mother’s embezzlement crimes.