April 7, 2014
NY state teachers union picks first woman head
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York state teachers union has elected its first female president.
Karen Magee, an elementary and special education teacher, is the new head of the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers. She was elected Saturday by a majority of about 3,000 union delegates.
Magee succeeds Richard Iannuzzi for a three-year term.
The 54-year-old Magee is a lifelong resident of West Harrison, in Westchester County. She started her career there as an elementary school teacher and has been president of the Harrison Association of Teachers for 11 years.
She says she will defend public education while crisscrossing the state in the coming weeks.
NY gun owners expect few to register under new law
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Many gun owners expect the deadline for registering assault weapons under New York's strict new law to be largely ignored.
The state law passed soon after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in neighboring Connecticut immediately banned New York sales of semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazines and one military-style feature.
For an estimated 1 million older guns already owned by New Yorkers, including popular AR-15s, the law requires registration by April 15.
State police have established simple online registrations but refuse to say how many they've received.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the gun law. When asked recently about registration, he said he didn't know.
Critics say hardly anyone is signing up. A few thousand people gathered in Albany last week to protest the law and registration.
NY budget contains help for organic farmers
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Those hoping to become organic farmers in New York can take advantage of a new state program intended to support agriculture.
The Beginning Farmers Fund will provide new farmers with grants of up to $50,000. Organic farmers and those who plan to grow specialty crops will be given priority for the grants.
The initiative is part of the nearly $140 billion state budget signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The spending plan increases funding for agricultural programs by $8 million overall.
NY funds police training on mentally ill
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's new budget allots $400,000 for a pilot program to train police officers in dealing with the mentally ill.
Mental health advocates proposed the training to help officers assess and de-escalate confrontations when called to incidents involving psychologically troubled people.
The so-called Crisis Intervention Team model is already used in some form by 2,700 jurisdictions nationwide.
It teams police officers with mental health professionals.
The program includes guidance for 911 dispatchers on gathering information on mental health and addiction issues.
It also includes 40 hours of training for patrol officers on topics like maintaining a safety zone while assessing the situation and avoiding the temptation to immediately answer a crisis with force.
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