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Weekend in review

Jan 30, 2017 5:00 am

Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jan. 27, through Sun., Jan. 29:

Mike DeBonis reported in The Washington Post a recording of Republican lawmakers meeting behind closed doors in Philadelphia included the voice of U.S. Rep. John Faso. Faso is quoted as being fine with cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood, just not in the health care bill. “We are just walking into a gigantic political trap if we go down this path of sticking Planned Parenthood in the health insurance bill,” he said. “If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem, but I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves....” In an interview hours later on WAMC, Faso said he does not favor defunding Planned Parenthood, and said his comments at the meeting were legislative shorthand. Faso's district offices have been the site of demonstrations in favor of keeping the Affordable Care Act. The most recent protest took place at his office and home in Kinderhook, on Sat., Jan. 28. Faso emerged at one point and spoke to the protesters. The full audio of those remarks, captured from Kathryn Beilke's Facebook feed, can be found on the WGXC Newsroom page.

Matthew Hamilton posted at Capitol Confidential New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has directed attorneys on his staff to provide whatever legal assistance they can to detainees at JFK Airport following President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting foreign entrance to the United States. “I will do everything in my power to help those who have been victimized by President Trump’s discriminatory and dangerous executive action,” Schneiderman said in a statement late Sat., Jan. 28. The attorney general said members of his staff has been in contact with attorneys for detained refugees. Protestors of the Trump immigration ban filled air terminals across the country Saturday, including hundreds at Albany International Airport. The American Civil Liberties Union successfully argued in front of a federal court in Brooklyn Saturday night that those detained must be released, but video being shared on Twitter showed some people were still kept all night, and only released late Sunday morning.

Rosa Acheson and Nick Olivari reported in the Register-Star Greenport-based contractor and road builder A. Colarusso and Son were cited last week for allegedly replacing a concrete and wood bulkhead on its loading dock property located on South Front Street in Hudson without the approval of the city planning board. An Order to Remedy was signed by city Code Enforcement Officer Craig Haigh on Tue., Jan. 24. The company must now submit an application to the planning board no later than the board's March 9 meeting. Following Haigh's action, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton said, “We hope to continue in the process related to the causeway and dock operations in a cooperative manner that will be beneficial to both the company and the citizens of the city.”

Keshia Clukey reported at Politico New York the state Department of Health announced Fri., Jan. 27, drinking water at the majority of New York schools is safe, with lead levels below the standard that would require action. School districts and BOCES statewide are now required by law to test their drinking water periodically for lead. To date, 96 percent of the schools outside of New York City, or approximately 2,940 schools, have conducted testing, and 88 percent have reported their results to the state. School districts in both Greene and Columbia counties were among the majority of districts reporting. The cost of testing, installation of filters and remedial work done before July 1, 2019, would be covered by BOCES reimbursable building aid. Officials have estimated testing water for lead can cost from $5,000 to $8,000 per school building.

Melanie Lekocevic reported in The Daily Mail the Athens Democrats, have nominated candidates to run for mayor and village board in the March election. The caucus attracted a standing room-only crowd at the Athens Community Center on Fri., Jan. 27. The incumbent mayor, Democrat Chris Pfister, will not seek re-election, and resident Catherine Censor hopes to take Pfister's place. Censor is a graduate of Columbia University and is currently the director of communications for a company that manages philanthropic foundations. She has lived in Athens since 2012. The caucus also selected Stephan Brandicich and Amy Serrago Goldberg as candidates to fill the two vacant seats on the village board. Bradicich moved to Athens permanently more than a year ago, but has been a visitor to the village “since I was 16 years old,” he said. His wife is a fifth generation Athens resident. Bradicich is a Marine Corps veteran, and now works in management at Global Foundries. Goldberg, who was unable to attend the caucus, is a musical performer, a writer and small business owner. She is also employed by the Crossroads Brewing Company.

Kyles Hughes reported for NYSNYS News on the increase to various state fees included in the state's proposed $162 billion 2017-18 budget. The fees are part of a package of numerous new taxes and charges the state Senate estimates will add $4.6 billion to state revenues within five years. Motor vehicle fees will increase. If you buy a car, the certificate of title fee is going from $50 to $75, and the duplicate title fee would double, to $40. To cost to reinstate a suspended license will increase from $70 to $105. If you are a nonresident who wants driving privileges restored, the fee will quadruple, to $100. Lawyer registration fees increase by $50 to $425, with the money to fund indigent defense. Cuomo has also proposed $250-a-year increases in SUNY tuition fees, increasing the yearly tuition to $7,580 in five years.

Karrie Allen reported in the Register-Star as expected, Columbia County Veterans Services Director Gary Flaherty went before the New Lebanon Board of Education last week in an effort to convince the board to enact the Alternative Veterans' Exemption. Flaherty unsuccessfully made the same appeal in 2015 and 2016. The meeting Wed., Jan. 25, was a public hearing, and Flaherty was joined by veterans and nonveterans alike. Opinions expressed by the public about the exemption varied. Administrator Michael Los said there are 3,100 real estate parcels in the school district, and 200 eligible veterans. Los said there could be more residents eligible, but they could be unaware of the exemption. Los said nine of the 22 component school districts that make up the Columbia-Greene-Rensselaer BOCES have adopted the exemption; town Supervisor Colleen Teal said New Lebanon is the only district in Columbia County not to opt in. New Lebanon School Superintendent Leslie Whitcomb said if the board chooses to enact the veterans' exemption for the next school year, it will have to take action in February.

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