News from the Associated Press - January 20, 2014

Associated Press
January 20, 2014

King's legacy celebrated in free event in Albany

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. will be honored in Albany on Monday.

The free public observance will be held Monday morning at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center near the state Capitol. It will include theatrical and musical tributes to King from local and regional performers.

The Rev. Nicholas Stuart Richards, an assistant minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, will be the keynote speaker.


Universal pre-K backed by NY gov won't come cheap

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Sending more 4-year-olds to school has support from the White House to many statehouses, including in New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed universal prekindergarten in his State of the State address this month.

Now advocates are hoping for funding to support it.

It won't come cheap. The Citizens Budget Commission estimates expanding pre-K throughout New York could cost $1.4 billion to $2 billion a year - at least triple what the state now spends.

Districts are hoping for increases when Cuomo releases his 2014-15 budget proposal Tuesday.

Of New York's 700 school districts, 449 now offer prekindergarten. But most are half-day programs that advocates say don't go far enough in times of higher standards.

Nationally, about 28 percent of 4-year-olds attended publicly funded pre-K in 2012.


NY plans to establish central police database

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to spend $10 million to help establish a new database of police information that departments across the state could share online.

An administration official said Saturday the governor will detail the initiative when he unveils his proposed state budget on Tuesday. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the proposal in advance and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The database would make it easier for police to share crime information and coordinate responses across jurisdictions without having to request information and then wait for a reply.

Local authorities are expected to join the so-called New York State Protection Cloud over the next four years with collective savings estimated to reach $12 million annually.

Civil libertarians say to prevent misuse or abuse, safeguards should be in place.


China-themed project in upstate NY draws critics

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — It's an audacious plan that seems out of place for the Catskills: a $6 billion China-themed cultural, business and amusement park to be built on 2,200 acres nearly two hours from New York City.

China City of America has been pitched as a showcase for the country's traditions, a boon for the distressed former Borscht Belt region and an opportunity for foreigners to invest money through an immigration program that would grant them visas and a path to citizenship.

Local reaction when the project was announced in 2012 was puzzlement and anger in the Sullivan County towns of Thompson and Mamakating.

The people behind China City have since dialed back the pace, proposing at first a for-profit college.

But they say they still intend to pursue the entire project.


NY shareholder proposal withdrawn at lumber giant

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has withdrawn a shareholder proposal at Universal Forest Products with the lumber giant agreeing to amend its company policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The holding company, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., says management will recommend the board approve amending existing personnel policies that already prohibit discrimination and harassment based on race, religion, age, sex, color, disability, veteran status, national origin or genetic information.

DiNapoli is sole trustee of New York's $160 billion pension fund for state and municipal workers.

The fund has shares in the company whose subsidiaries make lumber and other building materials.


NY agency proposes 10-year bear management plan

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - State wildlife officials have drafted an updated black bear management plan to cover the next decade.

The plan is posted on the Department of Environmental Conservation's website and the agency is accepting public comments until Feb. 21.

State biologists estimate New York's bear population at between 6,000 and 8,000 bears, with about 50 to 60 percent of them in the Adirondacks, 30 to 35 percent in the Catskills and the rest in central and western New York.

The agency's goal under the plan is to stabilize the bear population in most areas, reduce population in a few areas and prevent them front getting established in areas where conflicts with people would be likely.

Population reduction by expanded hunting is recommended in the Catskills and southwestern Hudson Valley.

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