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Weekend in review

Jan 18, 2016 12:02 am

Some of the stories that made the news from Fri., Jan. 15 through Sun., Jan. 17

Chris Bragg reported at Capitol Confidential an outside spending group was formed last week to support Republican Chris Gibson, who is mulling a gubernatorial run in 2018. Empower New Yorkers heavily features Gibson, who currently holds the 19th Congressional District seat, on its new website. In its mission statement, the group says it supports "people like Chris Gibson who are leading on the challenges of our time...Economic prosperity. Government reforms. Protecting personal freedoms....New Yorkers deserve to know more about citizen servants like Chris from its diverse communities ready to help revitalize our state.” The group also has a Twitter account and a Facebook page. Empower New Yorkers does not disclose online much information about its backers. However, in the state Board of Elections filings the group listed Cabell Hobbs of Arlington, Virginia as its treasurer.

John Mason reported in the Register-Star that Columbia County Planning and Economic Development Commissioner Ken Flood is, “moving on sometime in midsummer.” Flood said Jan. 18 that he has not decided what he will do next, but his wife is retiring from the Schodack Central School District this year. Flood was hired by then-Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Art Bear in 2008.

Keshia Clukey reported at Politico New York New York State Allies for Public Education is now hoping to have a say in the makeup of the New York State Board of Regents. The group made public last week its support for Regents board member Betty Rosa as the board's next chancellor, and board member Beverly Ouderkirk as the next vice chancellor. Rosa represents the Bronx; Ouderkirk, the North Country. Two seats will be open on the 17-member board this year as incumbent chancellor Merryl Tisch and vice chancellor Tony Bottar have said they will not seek re-election. New York State Allies for Public Education is a coalition of more than 50 grassroots parents and educator groups statewide. The efforts of its parent-led coalition resulted in the one of the nation's highest test refusal rates last spring.

Emilia Teasdale reported in the Columbia Paper the Chatham Town Board on January 7, appointed John Wapner to fill an open seat on the board for one year. Wapner will fill the vacancy created when board member Maria Lull was elected supervisor. Wagner must run for election in November If he wants to fill out the remainder of Lull's term, through the end of 2017. In addition to Wapner, the board also interviewed Julia Veronezi and Wayne Coe for the position. Wapner is a clinical psychologist and served as president of the Chatham Board of Education for a number of years. He is the consulting psychologist for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, and has a contract with the health care wing of the state Department of Civil Service. He also maintains a private practice at his home in Old Chatham. Wapner is a not registered with any political party. Wapner said he was thrilled to be chosen. "I'm going to work hard," he said.

John Mason reported in the Register-Star Assembly member Didi Barrett, announced in a press release Fri., Jan. 15, that she is not a candidate for the 19th Congressional District seat, which includes Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer and Dutchess counties, and parts or all of seven other counties, as well. Barrett was among 10 candidates reportedly under consideration by the district's 11 county Democratic leaders. Barrett said, “I am honored and humbled to have been asked and encouraged to run and I am truly flattered that after less than four years in office, I have been recognized as an effective public servant who could successfully represent the sprawling 11-county district in the U.S. Congress," she said.

Charlie Holmes reported in The Daily Mail that Catskill joined Athens and Coxsackie in sending a second round of letters to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation asking the DEC to head the environmental review of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project, rather then share the regulation with the Thruway Authority. “We have sent our letter in asking that the DEC, as we had originally requested, maintain sole lead,” Catskill Town Supervisor Doreen Davis said. In November, the New York State Thruway Authority proposed that the Thruway Authority be the lead agency, then the DEC proposed the two share jurisdiction. Iris Bloom, a Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines organizer, said 29 other towns also sent letters asking for the DEC to decide on the environmental issues.

Melanie Lekocevic reported in The Daily Mail the town of Athens has sworn in a new slate of town officials. Republican Robert Butler last week took the oath of office, beginning his first term as Athens town supervisor. Butler replaces Joseph Iraci, who chose not to run for a second term. Three council members and several other town officials were also sworn in, all but one of them Republicans. All officials were sworn in by Town Justice Connie Pazin.

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