You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
Post-Star file photo  

The old Warren County jail sits vacant at the Warren County Municipal Center in Queensbury in June 2009. Warren County officials are considering a conversion of the old jail for use as a youth detention center.


Local
Need for more juvenile detention space leads to debate

The new state law that will result in 16- and 17-year-olds who are accused of crimes being prosecuted as juveniles instead of adults takes effect next fall, and will result in counties having more teens to put in juvenile detention centers instead of jails.

Warren County leaders are looking into whether the former county jail at the back of the county Municipal Center can be converted to a regional detention center, to save local police trips to and from the closest center in Albany and counties the up to $600 a day to house them there.

Warren County Probation Director Robert Iusi said cost and transportation issues aside, the Capital District detention center probably won’t have space for local detainees. Iusi said Warren County typically has up to five 16- or 17-year-old inmates at a time.

The state Office of Child and Family Services will visit the old jail on Dec. 7 to look at it and let the county know whether it could be converted.

Some ask whether the cost will be too high to convert the old asbestos- and lead-laden facility to usable space, particularly if the state favors a dormitory-like setting instead of cells.

“We’re not sure what type of the facility the state is looking for,” Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Ron Montesi said.

Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty said he doesn’t think the jail would be convertible to the type of space needed. He said supervisors will also have to keep in mind that the school district where the facility is located will likely be responsible for the costs of educating the teens who are held there, which can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“In my eyes, that is a huge question,” Beaty said.

He raised that issue again Tuesday at a joint meeting with Washington County, where officials assured him that the local school district would bill each juvenile’s original school district for their educational costs.

At the Tuesday meeting, Washington and Warren counties officials began to make plans for a joint facility for juveniles.

They did not decide which county or town they would choose for the facility, but a closed detention center in Queensbury is being considered, as well as the old Warren County jail.

Neither county needs much space. Washington County has two to three juveniles a year who would likely be detained. Warren County averages four juveniles, Beaty said.

Hebron Supervisor and Budget Officer Brian Campbell wondered if it would be worth it to build a facility.

“If you hire five people a day to watch someone, that’s not cheap either. That’s an awful expense if you have one (juvenile). It might be better to send them out,” he said.

But the state has only five juvenile facilities. The closest one, in Albany, is full, county Attorney Roger Wickes said.

Officials from both counties agreed that, if they create a facility, it would be small — perhaps fewer than 10 beds. They don’t want it filled with teens from across the state.

“One thing we might not like is if we build it, they might come,” Campbell said.

Beaty agreed. “We don’t build it big enough for others to come,” he said, although he suggested working with Essex County.

Supervisors decided a three-county proposal would be likely to get state funding and set up a subcommittee to create a plan.

“So that in two, three, four months, when things start happening, we’re more prepared than other counties,” said Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks.

They want to submit a grant request soon so they’re considered before other counties.

Queensbury resident Travis Whitehead said supervisors shouldn’t hastily reject the jail conversion idea, as the county will have to deal with the old structure at some point and converting it for use as a juvenile detention center may be cheaper than demolition.

County leaders found out this week it would cost about $400,000 to demolish the building, including removal of asbestos and 2 inches of soil under the building.

Iusi said a lot is still unknown about what will happen with the criminal justice system when the law changes, such as who will prosecute new juvenile cases in Family Court instead of in local and county courts.

“This will change how kids get arrested and how the county will deal with it,” Iusi said. “Regulations are still being developed. There are a lot of questions that still have not been answered.”


National
AP
Beyond leadership tiff, what's at stake at consumer watchdog

NEW YORK — Since the housing crisis and recession, consumers have been able to turn to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for help with problems with their financial institutions. That assurance could soon fade.

The CFPB is the federal government's consumer watchdog agency for all things financial: checking accounts, credit cards, payday loans, debt collectors, etc. It exists to make sure customers are not being exploited and that banks are complying with the consumer protection laws on the books. Proponents of the agency say that before the crisis there was no one regulator to turn to when things got bad in the mortgage market.

The bureau was thrust into a leadership crisis last week when the CFPB's outgoing director elevated Leandra English to interim director, while President Donald Trump chose his own person for the role — White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. A court ruled Tuesday in favor of the White House, declining to grant an emergency restraining order requested by English to stop Mulvaney from becoming acting director.

Mulvaney, and whoever becomes the permanent director, is almost certain to be friendlier to financial companies than previous director Richard Cordray. Trump says the CFPB under Cordray "devastated" the financial industry, although the nation's commercial banks and savings institutions reported solid earnings growth for the third quarter.

MORE HANDS OFF

The CFPB, at present, is a very active regulator of the major banks. CFPB examiners have permanent offices inside dozens of large institutions such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, going over things such as sales practices, overdraft fees, and mortgage lending. These examiners look for problems and start building cases for enforcement actions against banks, like in the case of Wells Fargo's fine for its sales practices.

While the examiners will stay put, what Trump's CFPB leadership chooses to do with their findings is another matter. They could choose to take a more relaxed approach to how banks operate, or even sweep aside issues that previously would have garnered attention from a director.

SILENCING COMPLAINTS

The CFPB currently runs a public, online website where consumers can submit complaints about their bank, credit card company or any other financial services company. Individuals can allow their complaint to be made public, with personal and confidential information withheld, which allows for a running tally of complaints against banks.

Banks dislike the public consumer complaint database, arguing that the complaints are no different than someone leaving a bad Yelp review online, and they are not vetted. The CFPB in the past has argued the public complaint portal is one way to hold banks accountable for wrongdoing. Also since it is public, the data — more than a million public complaints in all — can be used by public watchdog groups, news outlets and other organizations to look for trends or worry spots in the industry. The Associated Press keeps an in-house, constantly updated copy of the CFPB's running complaint database for news reporting purposes.

An industry-friendly CFPB director could significantly curtail or close entirely the public side of the complaint database. The database itself cannot be entirely removed, since it's required by law, just new complaints would likely be no longer public.

REGULATIONS

The bureau also looked to put significant regulations on the payday lending industry. The CFPB finalized a set of regulations earlier this year that are currently pending in front of Congress. If allowed to go into effect, payday lenders would be subject to significant restrictions on how they make loans and determine whether their loans can be repaid.

While Mulvaney or any Trump appointee could not rescind those rules entirely, they could delay the enforcement of the rules or even propose significant changes to the rules as well.

There are also other regulations currently in the works, including rules on how debt collectors can go after consumers, rules related to how banks disclose their mortgage-lending practices, as well as small business lending regulations. All those regulations could be halted while in the works, or rewritten entirely under a Trump director.

"From mortgage rules to small dollar lending, we think there are opportunities for the CFPB to improve Americans' access to financial services," said Jeff Sigmund, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association. "We're hopeful the Bureau will consider the practical implications of regulation and focus on enhancing consumer choice and product availability."


Local
Prosecutors seek DNA sample from suspect in Glens Falls double murder

Redden

QUEENSBURY — State forensic scientists have recovered DNA from an “unknown male” on the clothes and belongings of murder victim Crystal Riley, as well as the knife police believe was used to kill her, and prosecutors want to know if the DNA came from suspect Bryan Redden.

The Warren County District Attorney’s Office filed a request in County Court in recent days seeking a DNA sample from Redden, a request that will be argued Wednesday morning before county Judge John Hall.

Court records show that DNA from a male donor who has not been identified was found on at least 15 items that were seized, including clothes that belonged to Riley, her daughter, Lilly Frasier, and the knife that police recovered.

DNA was found on the blade and handle of the knife that police believe was used to kill the 33-year-old woman and her 4-year-old daughter in their Glens Falls home, according to the records.

The motion filed by acting Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone indicated that the unknown person’s DNA was found on a bracelet, coffee mug, shirt, socks and pants.

The DNA profile or profiles are being compared to those on record in state databases. Redden has no prior criminal record in New York that would have resulted in his giving a DNA sample, which prompted the prosecution’s request.

Police said Redden, 21, led them to a trash receptacle in Glens Falls where he allegedly tossed the murder weapon shortly after the Aug. 11 killings.

Redden’s lawyer, Martin McGuinness, said the DNA request had been expected by the defense under the circumstances.

He said there have not yet been any plea talks.

“We are waiting for a pre-plea report to come back and then we are going to conference with Judge Hall,” McGuinness said.

The motion is to be argued before Warren County Judge John Hall at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Redden was arrested hours after Riley and Frasier were found dead in their South Street apartment. He was found driving Riley’s car, and confessed to numerous police officers after he was taken into custody and to at least two friends before his arrest.

He has pleaded not guilty to eight counts, including two counts each of first-degree murder and second-degree murder and numerous lesser charges in connection with the theft of Riley’s Toyota sport-utility vehicle, possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence in connection with disposing of the knife.

He told police he had used heroin beforehand, was “high” and “didn’t know what he was doing,” police said in court records.

Police said he and Riley were believed to have been involved in a short-term romantic relationship, but a motive for the killings has not been released.

Redden is being held in Warren County Jail without bail, pending a trial scheduled to start Feb. 5. He faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.


Redden


International
AP
World economy growing faster than in years, but not for long

PARIS — The world economy is growing faster than it has in seven years and more and more people are working, but the high growth isn’t expected to last long, and wages remain stubbornly stagnant.

That’s according to forecasts Tuesday from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which urged governments to do more to ensure longer-term growth and better living standards across the board.

The group, which recommends policies for leading economies, predicts sustained growth in the U.S. this year and next and a sharper-than-expected increase in the countries that use the euro currency.

For 2019, however, the OECD forecasts “a tempering of growth rather than continued strengthening.”

Chief Economist Catherine Mann urged faster re-training of workers amid drastic technological changes, extending retirement ages, investing in renewable energy and simplified tax rules to reduce risks of a new downturn.

“We’ve got wind under the wings but we’re flying low,” she said at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

The agency slightly raised its global growth forecast to 3.6 percent this year — the highest since the post-crisis upturn in 2010 — thanks to rising industrial production, trade and technology spending.

But that “remains modest by past standards,” the OECD said.

Globally, it forecasts 3.7 percent growth next year with a slight drop to 3.6 percent in 2019.

In the United States, the OECD inched up its outlook, predicting 2.2 percent growth this year and 2.5 percent in 2018 thanks to “buoyant asset prices and strong business and consumer confidence.” It expects U.S. growth to fall back to 2.1 percent in 2019.

The OECD cautioned that its forecasts are clouded by uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s tax policies and risks of protectionist trade moves. Trump campaigned to protect manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and renegotiate international trade deals he sees as unfair.

The long-troubled eurozone enjoyed another boost as the OECD became the latest group to raise its forecasts for the 19-country region. Tuesday’s report foresees 2.4 percent growth this year and 2.1 percent for next year, but predicted growth will sink back below 2 percent in 2019.

The main trouble spot is Britain, whose economy will continue to be hobbled by uncertainty surrounding its exit from the European Union. Economic growth “will continue to weaken” and be just above 1 percent in 2018 and 2019, it said.

Another big concern of the OECD: employment is rising across most rich economies, but people’s wages aren’t.

“It’s against intuition, it’s against basic principles of economics, and normally it should have been otherwise,” OECD chief Angel Gurria said. “Clearly growth has to be made more inclusive.”

“The ongoing digital revolution should be unlocking efficiencies and allowing workers to produce more,” he said. But “nobody will be able to produce more if they don’t have the skills to get the most out of the machine.”

The report also warned of the risks of high corporate debt in China and spiking housing prices in some U.S. cities and rising household debt.