State Senator Accused Of Sexual Harassment Expects To Be “Vindicated”

ALBANY (WSKG) - State Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, spoke publicly for the first time since an investigation has begun into allegations that he sexually harassed a female staffer. Klein, who has denied that he forcibly kissed a former female staffer in 2015, says an investigation has begun by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE. The leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate says he’ll fully cooperate. “I expect to be vindicated,” Klein said. Klein spoke after Governor Cuomo’s budget presentation, where Cuomo proposed giving more money to JCOPE to set up a unit to investigate charges of sexual harassment and issue conclusions  quickly.

Cuomo Proposes New Taxes, Tax Restructuring In New Budget

ALBANY (WSKG) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $168 billion budget plan that would close an over $4 billion gap by reducing some spending and imposing tax increases on health insurers, big businesses and prescription opioid users, among others. Cuomo said he also wants to look into legalizing marijuana in New York. “This is going to be challenging, my friends,” Cuomo told lawmakers gathered at the state museum for the budget presentation. He said he’s holding the line on state agency spending, and he’s eyeing additional revenues by taxing health insurance plans and deferring corporate tax credits. He said both received big tax breaks in the federal tax overhaul, so can afford it.

Ithaca Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Focuses On His Poor People’s Campaign

People packed the gym of Beverly J. Martin Elementary School in downtown Ithaca to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They also were there to further his vision of a Poor People’s Campaign. 

It was a movement to “revolutionize” the country’s attitude toward the poor and rally them to advocate for better living conditions. After a buffet lunch and brief presentations, those attending the celebration divided into smaller groups to discuss issues and solutions to current societal problems.

Fabina Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center and one of the organizers of the Ithaca event, said it was important to spend time talking to each other about problems the community faces today. "If we want different solutions we must create different processes. That is, looking at some of the work that the Poor People’s Campaign is doing and being in alignment with that," said Fabina Benitez Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center and one of the organizers of the Ithaca event. Nationwide, organizers are trying to bring about a revival of the Poor People's Campaign with an emphasis on systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.

Self-Driving Cars And Reclaiming Time Spent Behind The Wheel

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - People organize their lifestyles around access to transportation, so the advent of autonomous vehicles is important for their economic, social and environmental impact. That's from one of the authors of a new paper on the subject. Assistant professor in sustainability at RIT, Eric Williams, says they looked at a number of ways people could reclaim all the time they spend behind the wheel. "Anything from okay, we need to bring our kids to the sports team, well let's have the vehicle do it instead of doing it ourselves.  You know, thinking of taking a lot more trips, overnight in your car, because your car can drive you rather than having to stay up yourself," he said. Williams says the top 20 percent of people who drive or take public transit everyday could benefit from such vehicles.

Cuomo’s Budget Expected To Be Grim

ALBANY (WSKG) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his budget Tuesday, and the news is not expected to be good. The state faces an over $4.4 billion budget gap, as well as funding cuts and policy changes from Washington that could cost New York and some of its taxpayers billions of dollars. The governor set the tone in his State of the State speech earlier this month, saying, “2018 may be the toughest year New York has faced in modern history.”

“We have unprecedented challenges ahead on every level,” Cuomo said. Cuomo, in his speech, said President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress in Washington are responsible for many of the state’s challenges, including $2 billion in cuts to hospitals and health insurance programs for the working poor. He called the cuts “an arrow aimed at New York’s economic heart.”

While he warned of the dark times ahead, the governor did not name any spending cuts that might have to be made, and even said he wants to increase some education programs. Those details will come in the budget address on Tuesday afternoon.

To Ward Off Mass Shooters, New York Church Encourages Congregation To Bring Guns

SYRACUSE (WRVO) - When the parishioners at one Oswego County church gather for worship each week, many of them are armed. And it's no secret. The Lighthouse Mexico Church of God even advertises that its not a gun-free zone - a response to the frequent mass shootings in the country that's the subject of some debate. Walking into the church on a Sunday morning is more like joining a family reunion than attending a mass. Music plays for the first half of the service as the parishioners move about the church greeting one another and joining in community prayers. The pastor Ron Russell says his church is like a family, and it's his responsibility to ensure their safety.

Judge Fines Environmental Attorneys $52,000 For ‘Frivolous’ Injection Well Suit

A federal judge has ordered a pair of attorneys for an environmental group to pay $52,000 in legal fees to an energy company because, the judge said, they filed a “frivolous” legal challenge to a fracking waste injection well in Indiana County. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter of the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled the attorneys, Thomas Linzey and Elizabeth Dunne, should pay part of Pennsylvania General Energy’s (PGE) legal fees for advancing a “discredited” legal argument that had already been defeated in prior decisions. In addition to the fine, the judge referred Linzey to the state Supreme Court Disciplinary Board for additional discipline. Read full story here. 

A Surge, Then A Fade For Pennsylvania’s Wind Industry

While the wind power industry booms across the United States thanks to favorable federal and state policies, the development of new wind farms has stalled in Pennsylvania. More than two dozen wind farms popped up across the state leading up to 2012, but only one in the years since. Read full story here.