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NY-21 constituents seek to extend Stefanik town hall time

SOUTH GLENS FALLS — A group of NY-21 constituents reserved the Moreau Community Center for the hour following a scheduled town hall meeting with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, on Thursday to assure those attending have enough time to discuss important issues.

“We as constituents would like her to have the decency of taking her time. It is her job and we are paying her salary. We want her to stay and not hurry out of there when we’re not done,” said Joe Seeman of Saratoga County who, along with several others, would like the congresswoman to take more than the scheduled one hour to interact with constituents.

“We’ll continue the conversation without her, but we would like her to stay,” Seeman said.

The Stefanik-hosted event, billed as a “Coffee With Your Congresswoman,” is scheduled to run for one hour, starting at noon, at the Moreau Community Center, 144 Main St., South Glens Falls.

According to a news release issued Wednesday by Stefanik’s office, it is an open, public forum.

Stefanik selected Mark Frost, the editor of The Chronicle in Glens Falls, to moderate the event, according to earlier information published in The Chronicle.

“The format is a traditional town hall format. The moderator will call on questioners. They are free to ask on topics of their choosing,” said Tom Flanagin, deputy chief of staff. “Congresswoman Stefanik will give brief welcome remarks and then take questions. We encourage press to attend this event and the ‘Coffee with your Congresswoman’ on Friday in Moriah.”

Nonetheless, there are size and parking limits at the Moreau Community Center.

According to Kelly Obermayer, director of development for the Moreau Community Center, the space holds 200 and doors open at 11:30 a.m.

As far as parking, Obermayer said Kilmer Funeral Home, two doors down from the center, is often used for the center’s overflow parking and will be available on Thursday.

“I will post a sign,” said Obermayer on Wednesday. “Look for a sign that says ‘event parking’ with an arrow.”

Since last year, constituents have been asking the congresswoman to hold an open public town hall meeting and, because of that, many would like more time with Stefanik.

“An hour is not enough time,” said Christopher Di Mezzo, director of communications for NY-21 Democratic congressional candidate Emily Martz of Saranac Lake, adding that a community group booked the space last week from 1 to 2 p.m. “We want to give people time to ask questions and we’ll be continuing the town hall for another hour with or without the congresswoman.”

There is an additional noontime town hall meeting with Stefanik scheduled for Friday at the Moriah Volunteer Fire Department.

Jenn March, Special to The Post-Star 

Andrew Simmons speaks about alligators as his assistant, Nicole Guyette, holds a young gator while presenting wildlife to children Wednesday at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls. Simmons, of Saugerties, has been studying, raising and lecturing about wild animals for more than 40 years. According to his website, he shows big cats, bear cubs, carnivorous reptiles and birds of prey. 

Democrats agree to heal schism in NY state Senate

ALBANY — Democrats resolved a longstanding internal rupture in the New York state Senate Wednesday that had empowered Republicans and prevented votes on liberal priorities including gun control, abortion rights and help for immigrants.

Under a deal negotiated by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the eight-member faction known as the Independent Democratic Conference will reunite with mainline Democrats. Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers will lead the combined group, with IDC leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx as deputy leader.

"Today what unites us is more important than what divides us," Cuomo said at a joint appearance with Stewart-Cousins and Klein in Manhattan.

The agreement ends a seven-year feud between the IDC and mainline Democrats that allowed Republicans to hold on to the Senate, their last bastion in New York state government. It also relieves a big headache for Cuomo, who has been accused by liberals of exploiting the schism for political leverage.

Actor and liberal activist Cynthia Nixon has made Cuomo's ties to the IDC a major part of her primary challenge to the two-term governor. Members of the IDC, meanwhile, face primary challengers who say the IDC has enabled the party of President Donald Trump.

Cuomo, Klein and Stewart-Cousins said the agreement stems from the need to work together to counter policies coming from Washington Republicans.

A spokesman for Senate Republicans dismissed the reunification as a "desperate attempt to avoid Democratic Party primaries."

"Let's be honest — the only reason that any of this is happening now is because Andrew Cuomo is scared to death of Cynthia Nixon," said spokesman Scott Reif.

Liberal groups said they would continue to support primary challengers against IDC members. Nixon showed no sign of backing off her criticism of Cuomo, either.

"If you've set your own house on fire and watched it burn for eight years, finally turning on a hose doesn't make you a hero," she said of Cuomo's role in brokering the agreement.

Republicans will retain control of the Senate at least until April 24, when special Senate elections will fill two vacant Senate seats representing heavily Democratic areas of the Bronx and Westchester County. If Democrats win both seats they'll have a numeric majority and a chance to take over the Senate for the first time since 2009.

But math is seldom simple in the Senate. There are currently 31 Republicans and 30 Democrats in the Senate, though one of them, Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, supports the Republicans. Felder, who was not a member of the IDC, has not committed to returning to the Democratic fold.

"I don't care about political parties and more and more New Yorkers feel the same way," he said Wednesday.

The question mark surrounding Felder has prompted Democrats to look to the fall elections, when they predict opposition to Trump will trickle down to big victories in legislative races.

Democrats already have a big majority in the state Assembly and hold the offices of governor, comptroller and attorney general. Control of the Senate, too, would ease the way for Democratic bills currently blocked by the GOP, including ones to increase firearm restrictions, allow early voting, authorize state financial aid to students who entered the country illegally as children, and extend the statute of limitations on child molestation to allow victims to sue for decades-old abuse.

"I know that together, certainly with the governor, we will be able to do all of the things that we know are important," Stewart-Cousins said.

Klein, who wielded tremendous influence in the Senate as IDC leader, said members of his splinter group decided they had to work with mainline Democrats for the good of the state.

"Sometimes you have to take a step back before you take two steps forward," he said.

Local trainer banned from triathlons after positive test

QUEENSBURY — An athletic trainer from Queensbury has been banned from competing in triathlons for four years because he tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance before a race last fall.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced this week that Nicholas Gough, who operates Patriot Multisport in Queensbury, tested positive for erythropoietin, also known as EPO, before the Ironman Florida race last November.

The USADA announced Monday that Gough had accepted the suspension as of last Dec. 22, and it will run through Dec. 22, 2021.

The 32-year-old finished seventh overall in that race out of 2,181 participants but was subsequently disqualified when the positive test was confirmed.

Gough has been disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to Nov. 3, 2017, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes, according to the USADA.

A phone message left at his business was not returned Wednesday. No one was at the Main Street building that houses his business on Wednesday, a “for lease” sign posted in front. The company’s website indicates the business is still booking appointments, however.

Triathletes swim, bike and run against each other, with Ironman courses set at 140.6 miles in all.

EPO is a naturally occurring hormone, is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production.

An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen the blood can carry to the body’s muscles, which can aid athletes during competition.

EPO is prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the International Triathlon Union anti-doping rules.

Gough and his Main Street business were the subject of a feature article in The Post-Star in December 2014. He told how he had been injured by a fall in the military while serving as an Army Ranger.

He said at the time he was providing “high-tech, 3-D bike fitting, run gate analysis, high-altitude simulation training and other services for anyone interested in boosting their physical health, getting into competition shape or improving their race times.”

“It’s a boutique training center,” Gough said. “Everything is one-on-one or one-on-two, at most.”


Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro

Thunder fan allegedly made racist remark toward visiting player

GLENS FALLS — A fan of the Adirondack Thunder allegedly said a racially insensitive remark toward Worcester Railers player Woody Hudson, who is black, on Sunday during their game at Cool Insuring Arena.

According to Jeff Mead, the general manager at Cool Insuring Arena, fans who heard the remark, which came from Section N right behind the visitors’ bench, alerted management.

“We believe that something offensive was said to the player,” Mead said late Thursday morning. “The fan denies saying certain words. I’ve had several conversations with the fan and we’re hoping to wrap this up and we’re going to decide what the future is for this fan by (Thursday) afternoon.

“Obviously, any time there is behavior of that sort, it’s not the image we want to display,” Mead added.

No outcome was revealed in time for publication. Also, an email to the Railers’ vice president of marketing and communications about the incident was not returned.

The seats several rows up from the visitors’ bench in Section N have long been home to a group of fans unofficially known as the “Hecklers” for years. Their chants and remarks toward opponents are sometimes crude, but otherwise not offensive. There is no published history of any fan from that section being removed for an extended period of time for remarks.

A discussion of the incident on the Facebook group, The Real Adirondack Thunder Buddies, indicates that nearly all fans agree that if one of the hecklers made a racial remark, that’s inappropriate and the fan should be banned.

Unfortunately, racism directed at hockey players isn’t new on a larger scale. In February, four Chicago Blackhawks fans were thrown out of a game after chanting racist remarks toward Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly as he sat in the penalty box. The Blackhawks later told the four they would not be allowed to attend any home game for the rest of this season.