Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jan. 6 through Sun., Jan. 8:
Claire Hughes reported at Capitol Confidential the number of New Yorkers purchasing health plans through NY State of Health has already surpassed last year’s total by 22 percent, with nearly a month to go before the enrollment period ends on January 31. Figures released Fri., Jan. 6, show enrollment at nearly 3.5 million, compared to 2.8 million last year. Of the 3.5 million who have signed up so far, more than 2.3 million signed up for Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded program for those who income qualify. Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, the rate of uninsured New Yorkers has dropped from 10 percent in 2013 to 5 percent in 2015, the lowest rate in decades, according to state officials.
Paul Grondahl reported in the Times Union activists are planning a companion protest in Albany, Sat., Jan. 21 to those planned in Washington D.C. and New York City. The "Inaugurate Resistance" protest will include a workshop, a march down Washington Avenue, with a demonstration and speeches in front of the Capitol. "We realize we all can't go to New York City or Washington, D.C. We wanted our voices heard as we stand up to the Trump agenda. It's an echo response to the other marches taking place," said Jamaica Miles, lead organizer for the Capital Region of Citizen Action of New York, a grass-roots activist group.
Diane Walden reported in The Columbia Paper Ancram Town Board member Christopher Thomas announced his resignation at the regular meeting of the full board last month. Thomas has served as a member of the board for seven years. He is the lone Republican and has often found himself in the minority on board votes. Thomas's resignation was effective Fri., Jan. 6, when the sale of his house was expected to be finalized. He is moving to Connecticut. Thomas is an area manager for Sunoco. In a phone interview with Valden, Thomas said Town Supervisor Art Bassin “has done a good job being financially and fiscally prudent. We’ve done a lot, by paying off the new town highway garage and highway equipment upgrades.” Thomas said he was most proud of having advocated for making the town’s summer kids’ camp free to town residents. The board will discuss how to fill the vacated seat at its January meeting.
William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman the sale of Hudson Valley Mall has now been completed. The buyer, Hull Property Group of Georgia, announced the sale, saying it will not invest any further in the property until assessment issues are resolved. The property was sold to Hull for $8.1 million, but it is assessed at $66 million. Hull hopes to use the purchase price as leverage to get the property’s assessment lowered, resulting in a smaller tax burden. Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley said last month he was told by the company it would spend $10 million on improvements. Quigley said nothing about any assessment-related conditions being attached to the promise. The mall was placed in receivership last year after the former owner defaulted on almost $50 million in debt related to the property. Concerns about the mall’s devaluation come as the town of Ulster is also facing an assessment fight with the owner of the TechCity business complex, a former IBM plant. TechCity already receive one substantial reduction, but wants its current $27.8 million assessment cut even further.
Roger Hannigan Gilson reported in the Register-Star Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood last month received a $5,000 award from the AT&T Foundation for its afterschool program. The program provides tutoring and homework help for students in pre-K through 12th grade. “It’s is an afterschool program, but it’s also a drop-in space for kids and older teens … our doors are always open,...” said Joan Hunt, the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood project director. Between 20 and 40 students attend the after school program each day, Hunt said. Hunt said the grant funds will be used for “engaging some of our older kids... and giving them leadership skills and responsibility.”
Marie J. French reported at Politico New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce a proposal to install 500 new electric car chargers at workplaces as part of his State of the State agenda. Cutting emissions from transportation is part of Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision. To help achieve that goal, the state has offered toll discounts for electric cars, built public charging stations and provided tax credits to defray the cost of charging stations. Businesses will receive incentives to construct the new workplace chargers, according to the governor's office. Both public and private employers are expected to participate in the program, which is separate from the income tax credit set to expire Dec. 31. There are nearly 16,000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the state's roads as of November 2016, according to the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority. The governor's goal of 3,000 charging stations by 2018 was designed to support an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 electric vehicles.
Daniel Zuckerman reported in The Daily Mail Work on the progress of the Jefferson Heights sewer project. Although work has halted for the winter months, at least one resident is talking about the side effects of the construction. Nick Corrado, a 17-year resident of Country Club Estates, said that while he believes the project is necessary, it has not been without hiccups. Trucks were rolling through the neighborhood too fast when work started, he said. He called Delaware Engineering and the trucks slowed down, Corrado said. A letter containing details of the sewer project was handed out to residents in October, but Corrado didn’t see it until December, he said. "It would be nicer if those things were proactive, not reactive," he said. "It would have answered a lot of questions." Corrado praised Catskill Town Supervisor Doreen Davis for being readily available to hear from him, even when she was on vacation. He also touted Town Highway Superintendent Shawn Beers and his crew for cleaning up the street. Delaware Engineering representatives have been present in the neighborhood, but there have been few visits from Catskill town officials, Corrado said. The project began August 15 and no completion date has been set, but it was estimated to last approximately one year.