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Weekend in review

Nov 09, 2015 5:00 am
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Nov. 6 through Sun., Nov. 9

Michael Ryan reported in the Windham Journal the town of Jewett's 2016 budget will increase and the town has little saved to help absorb the difference. The town board, at a public hearing last week, unveiled the $1.02 million spending plan, which reflects an increase of $64,000 over the previous year. Spending has increased in both the highway and general sections of the budget. “Expenditures are low, if you compare them to last year, but we had no leftover balance to carry over,” town supervisor James Pellitteri said. The tax levy is expected to increase 6.7 percent, more than the state-mandated tax cap. Because of this increase, Jewett residents will not be eligible for the state tax rebate next year. The board is expected to adopt the spending plan this week.

Emilia Teasdale reported in the Columbia Paper the Valatie Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a setback variance requested by Habitat for Humanity. This clears the way for the organization to build a new two-family house on Main Street in the village. The lot that Habitat plans to use for the project presently has a two-family house on it that does not meet village requirements. Habitat plans to demolish the existing building and replace it with a new, two-family home set back further than the current house but not far enough to meet current village set-back regulations. The variance grants Habitat an exception from the setback distance. Brenda Adams, the executive director of Columbia County Habitat for Humanity, said the organization will push to have the the old structure demolished by this fall.

The Mid-Hudson News Network reported Assembly member Didi Barrett has asked a state Public Service Commission Judge David Prestemon to terminate the Energy Highway AC transmission upgrade proceeding. The Hudson Democrat has pushed for the end of the project because, she argues, it would have a negative impact on the Hudson Valley, its economy and more. In her letter to Prestermon, Barrett said said the project’s proposed towers “would destroy bucolic view sheds that inspired the Hudson River School painters just as they thrill today, and would cut deeply into Columbia County’s growing farming, craft beverage and agri-tourism industries, which generate $115 million and approximately 1,400 jobs.”

Chris Bragg reported at Capitol Confidential Democrat Shaun Francis is requesting state Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Council Risa Sugarman look into state Senator Kathleen Marchione's alleged acceptance of donations given through the so-called "LLC loophole" in the state's election law. Francis is looking to unseat the Halfmoon Republican in 2016. He is a union official and former AAA minor league umpire. Francis submitted a complaint to Sugarman in mid-October, alleging Marchione "knowingly accepted contributions in excess" of limits that were not made in the donors' true name, in direct violation of election law. A spokesman for Marchione said the donations were legal, and then slammed Francis for a ”breathtaking ignorance of state law.”

Josefa Valesquez reported at Politico New York federal prosecutors, Thu., Nov. 5, filed a 164-page letter detailing the application for a wiretap in the corruption case against state Senator Dean Skelos and his son, Adam. In an affidavit filed with the court, a special agent with the FBI wrote a grand jury investigation into Dean Skelos’ employment with a Uniondale law firm began in April 2014, roughly a month after the governor's Moreland Commission was disbanded. After Cuomo closed down the investigation, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara took possession of the commission's files. During the investigation of the elder Skelos, the government learned that Adam Skelos was receiving regular payments from Arizona-based environmental company AbTech Industries. AbTech Industries was eventually granted a $12 million contract from Nassau County, where the Skeloses reside. The Skeloses, both of whom pleaded not guilty, are due in court Nov. 16.