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This week marks the 150th anniversary of the first in a series of Civil War battles during which New York regiments would suffer thousands of casualties.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

According to historians at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, the first of the Seven Days Battles occurred on June 25, 1862 when New York's Excelsior Brigade spearheaded an attack against Confederate forces outside Richmond, Va.

Governor Cuomo is telling the legislature to ‘take it or leave it’ over a new bill he’s released new bill outlining how to make teacher evaluations public.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…  

Governor Cuomo says he introduced legislation on the publication of teacher evaluations just before his own self imposed deadline of midnight Monday in order to clarify his position on the issue.  He says it’s up the Assembly and Senate whether they want to pass it, exactly as is, or not.  

Andrew Cuomo

A bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana appears dead for the legislative session , now that Republicans in the Senate say they won’t be acting on the bill.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports… 

Governor Cuomo says it’s “highly unlikely” that his bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana will be taken up by the Senate before the legislative session ends on Thursday, and Senate Leader Dean Skelos confirms that. 

“I’ve said all along that I was not in favor of further decriminalization of marijuana,” Skelos told reporters. 

A new study shows that opponents of President Barack Obama's health care plan clearly beat supporters in getting their message across through the media. More from WAMC’s Dave Lucas…

The study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that opponents won because their positions were sharper and easier to understand. The critics also more frequently drove coverage, particularly when Tea Party demonstrations came to the fore.

Pew director Tom Rosenstiel said the competition wasn't even close.

Governor Cuomo says he no longer thinks settling the issue of making teacher evaluations public “urgent,” and will allow the legislature to leave later this week without an agreement on the matter.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…  

Cuomo, speaking on former Governor David Paterson’s radio show on WOR, says the legislature will end its session for the summer without acting on a plan on how to make public teacher evaluations public, saying that the evaluations do not have to be completed by schools until January, anyway.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they have agreed on a sweeping reform of the state's system of caring for the disabled that has been marked for years by abuse and death.  WAMC’s Ian Pickus reports…

For Cuomo, the deal announced Sunday fulfills a major legislative goal.

Recent governors have been dogged for years by outcry from whistle blowers and a chilling New York Times series was published this year about abuse within the massive bureaucracy caring for 1 million people.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Chesapeake Appalachia has agreed to let more than 4,400 landowners renegotiate old gas leases for more favorable financial and environmental terms. More from WAMC’s Dave Lucas…

Chesapeake also agreed to pay $250,000 to cover the state's investigation costs. The agreement was announced Thursday. 

NY Lawmakers Back Parental Consent for Piercing

Jun 14, 2012

New York lawmakers have passed legislation that would require minors to get parental consent for body piercings other than their ears.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

Sponsors say that about a third of people with piercings get them before they turn 18, and complications like allergic reactions, skin infections, scars and discomfort are common.

Some piercing studios currently require written consent for minors. The law would require owners or operators to get a signed parental consent and keep that on file for a year.

Religious leaders rallied at the State Capitol to push for an increase in the state’s minimum wage. They urged Governor Cuomo to get off the fence and advocate for passage in the legislature.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Singing “We Shall Not Be moved”, clergy from a variety of religious faiths gathered at the Capitol’s million dollar staircase to urge Governor Cuomo to use his influence to convince the Senate to approve an increase in the state’s minimum wage before the session ends next week.

New York conservation officials have updated the advice they give people about the safety of eating fish from the state's waterways.

Among this year's changes is the addition of the Lewiston Reservoir in Niagara County and part of the Beaver River in Lewis County to the advisory list. And there are changes in the fish species included in advisories for four Adirondack waters: Fall Lake in Hamilton County; Francis Lake in Lewis County; Schroon Lake in Warren and Essex counties; and Cumberland Bay on Lake Champlain.

New York legislators say the state's important apple crop took a beating this spring.

Lawmakers are proposing the Family Farmers and Apple Growers Relief Act. They say apple growers have lost as much as 75 percent of this year's crop, a major commodity in New York.

Assemblymen Jim Tedisco, George Amedore and Pete Lopez are joining in the measure with Senators Hugh Farley and Patty Ritchie, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The Republicans say New York is the second largest apple growing state with 694 farms that employ more than 10,000 people.

A court in New York says it's no longer slander to falsely call someone gay because it's not something society sees as negative anymore.

The mid-level appeals court says that although falsely calling someone gay or lesbian has for decades been grounds for slander, that's no longer the case.

The decision Thursday by the mid-level appeals court involves the case of a Broome County man who sued a woman who called him gay in what he says was an effort to get his girlfriend to leave him. He says it hurt his relationship.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is attempting to revive New York’s iconic ‘I Love New York’ tourism promotion campaign with some new ads.  The governor says the state not been aggressive enough in its promotions in recent years.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Occupy Albany demonstrators in the Capitol insist the movement to increase the minimum wage is unstoppable. About 40 protesters wound throughout the building Tuesday, chanting and refusing to accept that the measure is politically dead. WAMC’s Dave Lucas has more…

The Occupiers targeted Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying their refusal to push the Assembly bill is "shameful." Neither Cuomo nor Skelos was in Albany.

Police: NY Car Assist Leads to Wire Fraud Arrest

May 29, 2012

State police say a trooper who stopped for a disabled car in Westchester County discovered the driver was wanted by the Secret Service for an alleged $1 million wire fraud.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

The arrest occurred Sunday evening on the Sprain Brook Parkway in Yonkers.

Darrin Foster, of the Bronx, is accused of stealing the money from his former employer, an investment firm in Westport, Conn.

Police also discovered that Foster allegedly had a suspended license for failure to pay child support.

Stockholders of Texas-based oil giant ExxonMobil are set to vote Wednesday on a proposed company policy to ban discrimination against gay or transgender workers, a resolution pushed by New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The comptroller's office says it has used the influence it has from investing the $150 billion state pension fund's stock portfolio to help persuade 27 other big corporations to adopt new anti-discrimination policies. Previous attempts with ExxonMobil have failed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a rousing speech at a meeting of the State Democratic Party, but stopped short of endorsing a democratic take over of the State Senate. At the meeting, the new co chairs of the party, chosen by Cuomo, were introduced.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports...

The State’s second most powerful Democrat, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was among the warm up acts for Governor Cuomo’s address before a meeting of the State Democratic Party.

Differences remain over increasing the state’s minimum wage. While the Assembly Speaker is persevering, Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans remain negative about the bill’s chance of success.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

For weeks, there’s been a stalemate in Albany over the issue of raising the state’s minimum age, with Assembly Democrats backing the idea, Senate Republicans opposing it, and Governor Cuomo remaining neutral in the middle, saying he generally backs the measure, but feels that the GOP can’t be convinced.   

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says the state’s pension fund has “successfully weathered” another economic storm. He reports returns are the highest since global market meltdown of 2008.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says despite another volatile year in the markets, the pension fund for the hundreds of thousands of state worker retirees performed at a rate of 5.96%. The total fund is valued at $150.3 billion dollars, the highest since before the Great Recession.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is endorsing Bob Turner in the three-way Republican primary to take on Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. WAMC’s Dave Lucas has details…

Giuliani said Wednesday the New York City congressman whose district will disappear next year due to redistricting is the only candidate who can beat Gillibrand in the November general election.

Governor Cuomo has taken the reigns of the troubled New York Racing Association Board, saying he needs to “restore the public trust” in a rapidly changing gaming industry.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports… 

Police say three Bronx men have been arrested in connection with a January home invasion in Westchester County. WAMC's Dave Lucas has more...

Brandishing weapons, the trio burst into the home of a Hastings restaurant owner and tied family members' hands behind their backs. One robber claimed they were the police and flashed a badge.

They got away with about $5,000 in cash.

Hastings Police Lt. David Dosin tells the Journal News that the May 9 arrests were not made public at the time because the investigation is continuing. More arrests are expected.

A kung fu grandmaster has been sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing girls during martial arts lessons in the New York suburbs. WAMC's Dave Lucas reports…

Frank DeMaria of Ossining was convicted in February of sexual abuse, sexual conduct with children and endangering children.

Four girls aged 6 to 11 claimed that DeMaria had them grab and pull his genitals during lessons at his school in Croton-on-Hudson between 2009 and 2011.

Some New York farmers look across the Susquehanna River, see the flares of Pennsylvania gas wells and think of the money they're losing as heated debate keeps hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, out of New York.

Others worry that the natural gas drilling process that blasts wells with chemical-laced water could ruin rich farmlands and dramatically harm growers.

New York state has blocked Marcellus Shale gas development for four years while it completes an environmental review. Meanwhile, thousands of wells have gone into production in Pennsylvania.

U.S. Senate

Senator Charles Schumer says it's a "grave injustice" that the Libyan man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was allowed to die in freedom rather than behind bars.   

The plane crash in Lockerbie, Scotland, took a heavy toll on New York, with 35 Syracuse University students among the 270 victims. Susan Cohen, the mother of one of those students, says the death of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi is no reason to stop investigating who was behind the blast. Al-Megrahi's death was announced Sunday.

Governor Cuomo announced Thursday that he’s rescinding a state regulation that requires food stamp recipients be fingerprinted, saying the poor and hungry are not criminals.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports… 

Governor Cuomo, speaking by phone to a gathering of advocates for the poor, says he’s rescinded a 14-year-old state regulation that required food stamp recipients be subject to fingerprinting before receiving benefits. 

“Poverty and hunger are not crimes,” said Cuomo. “So we shouldn’t treat the poor or the hungry as criminals.”

A panel of federal judges says the new election district lines drawn by the Senate and Assembly majorities will be used in the fall elections. WAMC's Dave Lucas reports…

The decision is a critical win for Senate Republicans hoping to secure their slim majority in the chamber despite a Democratic voter advantage of nearly 2-to-1 in the state.

Good-government groups have criticized the Senate GOP redistricting plan. They say it continues a tradition of twisting district lines to protect the power of the majority parties.

Former New York State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. has been found guilty of embezzlement charges. WAMC’s Dave Lucas has more…

A jury delivered the partial verdict Monday in federal court in Brooklyn.  It was the 11th day of often tumultuous deliberations. The jury is still deliberating on charges against Espada's son and on four remaining counts against him.

NYS Ethics Commission Pursues Complaint against Libous

May 15, 2012

On the heels of former New York State Senate leader Pedro Espada’s conviction, the state’s ethics commission is pursuing a complaint against one of Albany’s most prominent lawmakers.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...  

The Albany-Times Union reports (http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Libous-the-target-of-ethics-inquiry-3558178.php) that the recently-created Joint Commission on Public Ethics has sent a letter to Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous.   

Opponents of natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing are planning a big day of action in Albany, culminating with a star-studded concert at the Empire State Plaza.  WAMC's Ian Pickus reports...

New Yorkers Against Fracking, a new coalition of organizations calling for a fracking ban, plans a rally and multi-media concert Tuesday afternoon and evening. The event features actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo acting as hosts of the concert at the Egg Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $40 to $150.

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