Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Sat., Dec. 31 through Sun., Jan. 1:
Matthew Hamilton reported at Capitol Confidential Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Sat., Dec. 31, vetoed the indigent legal services bill. That legislation would have shifted the cost of expensive legal services for the poor from counties to the state in the coming years. Cuomo wrote in his veto message the measure ultimately would require the state to spend more than $800 million a year to fully reimburse counties for the expenses associated with non-criminal legal defense work, including legal services in family and surrogate court. The legislation called for the state to assume control of all indigent legal service costs by 2023, with the state assuming 25 percent of costs beginning April 1. In his veto message, Cuomo promised to introduce a plan in the coming months aimed at ensuring “that counsel at arraignment, caseload standard reform, and quality improvements are extended throughout the state, with appropriate tools to ensure accountability and results.”
The Daily Freeman reported work on the sidewalk along the Rip Van Winkle Bridge will begin Mon., Jan. 9. The $5.4 million project is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's statewide infrastructure investment plan. The makeover is also a part of the Hudson River SkyWalk project, a scenic pedestrian trail linking the Olana State Historic Site in Greenport to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill. In December, the Hudson River SkyWalk project was awarded $875,000 as part of the state's Regional Economic Development Council Initiative. Beginning next Monday, pedestrians will not be permitted to cross the bridge on the sidewalk from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Construction of the look-out points will require a full 24-hour closure for up to four days per look-out. Those closures will be announced in advance. The New York State Bridge Authority will provide updates on the bridge project via its Twitter feed, [[at] NYSBridge](https://twitter.com/NYSBridge).
John Ferro reported in the Poughkeepsie Journal a recent McClatchy-Marist poll found that one third of Americans surveyed make just enough money to pay the bills or they do not have enough money to meet their basic needs as the new year begins. That figure has remained unchanged since the same question was asked in July 2012. This despite labor statistics that indicate both job prospects and wages have improved in the past four years. Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said the policies that Americans want run counter to the changes coming out of Washington, DC. "People would rather see a raise in the minimum wage than cuts of corporate taxes and fewer business regulations,” he said. Those concerns also surfaced in a November report from the United Way that found many households in the Hudson Valley struggle financially. The McClatchy-Marist poll found 61 percent of those responding believe, despite hard work, that people still have a hard time maintaining their standard of living. Thirty-eight percent see their finances improving next year, compared to just 28 percent in July. The poll surveyed 1,005 adults between Dec. 1 and Dec. 9.
The Daily Freeman reported the state labor department has established a new hotline for workers to call if their employers do not comply with New York's new minimum-wage law. The law went into effect Dec. 31, increasing the minimum wage to $9.70 for locations outside of New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. State officials agreed in March to increase the hourly rate to $15 per hour by the year 2021. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has encouraged workers to call 1 888 4 NYSDOL with any issues they encounter.
The Troy Record reported the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service was dissolved Friday, following four years of litigation. It will be replaced by a new service operated by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors. Greater Capital purchased the assets of the service for an undisclosed price at a court-ordered auction, Fri., Dec. 30. . In a news release, Greater Capital said it will immediately begin the new Eastern New York Regional Multiple Listing Service, including listings from more than 3,400 professional realtors around the region. “This is welcome news heading into 2017 for real estate professionals, sellers and home buyers throughout the Capital Region,” the group wrote in a press release.
Mid-HudsonNews [dot] com reported as one of his final acts of 2016, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo commuted the sentence of the woman who drove the getaway car in the 1981 Brinks armored car robbery in Rockland County. During the course of that robbery, the armored truck guard and two Nyack police officers were killed. Judith Clark, now 67, was a member of the Black Liberation Army. She was convicted of murder and robbery in 1983. Clarke has served more than 35 years of her 75 years to life sentence. She received one of the longest sentences of her six co-defendants, the majority of whom are now either dead or no longer in custody. Former police officer and current Rockland County Executive Edwin Day called Clark “a domestic terrorist." He blasted Cuomo's decision to commute her sentence as “a vicious slap in the face” to law enforcement, the victims’ families and every person touched by the murders. Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois, who attended police academy in Rockland County at the time of the holdup, called the decision "a travesty of justice.” Cuomo said while at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Clark made “exceptional strides in self-development.” She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Mercy College. Clark has an extensive prison programming record, including teaching a pre-natal parenting course in the nursery program, founding an HIV/AID education program, training service dogs in the Puppies Behind Bars Program and serving as a college tutor.
Lorna Cherot Littleway reported in The Columbia Paper the Hillsdale Town Board last week unanimously passed resolutions that seek to reduce speed limits on County Route 21 and state Route 22. On County Route 21 from Hunt Road to Route 22 the limit would be reduced to 35 mph, and from Hunt Road into Harlemville the limit would be 45 mph. State Route 22 from Schutts Road to Old Town Road would become a 45 mph zone. The speed limit from Old Town Road through Hillsdale to the Copake town line would be lowered to 30 mph. The requests will first go to the county Highway Department for review, and then onto the state Department of Transportation. The state DoT will inspect the locations before the speed changes are authorized.