Ski Lines: Bringing sports competitions into your home

The FIL World Luge Championships will take place later this month in Germany, and broadcast live throughout the United States from the new sliding center at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid. The color commentator will be ex-racer Kate Hansen, working remotely from Los Angeles.

And, where will all this television production come together for the event’s Jan. 30 broadcast?

In Saratoga Springs, in the offices of Carr Hughes Productions, which for some time now has been one of the world leaders in providing sports content to television networks.

In the past year, television has been the only portal for most of us to see sports. Many events have been canceled, while others have been cut way back. Watching an event in person these days is a rare experience.

You don’t need to tell Jim Carr about this. His firm is now rebounding from a tough 2020.

No events. No TV.

Carr Hughes now is a mainstay of network television, mainly NBC these days, but also CBS, Fox, and ESPN over the years. What events do they produce?

“Just anything that doesn’t involve a stick and a ball,” said Carr, a Saratoga Springs native.

The firm’s resume includes 14 Olympics, including the Alpine events at every Winter Games since 2002, track and field in the Summer Games, a plateful of world championships, including Alpine, the Tour de France, and the Breeders’ Cup last fall for which Carr Hughes recently won an Eclipse Award that adds to the five Emmys the firm had previously won.

What Carr says is “producing content” is much more than just flipping a switch.

For instance, at the Breeders’ Cup, there were 144 camera feeds on location.

By comparison, the Super Bowl typically has about 125.

Obviously, this is not a one-man operation. Carr Hughes currently has 10 full-time employees, including Rotterdam native and former Daily Gazette sportswriter Don Krone who, as an operations expert, has more than 20 years of experience organizing event coverage throughout the world.

Need 10 cameramen in Oslo, or hotel rooms for 20 in St Moritz, or catering for your crew in Sapporo?

Chances are Krone has a contact who can get the job done.

Carr got his start as an intern at WPTZ in Plattsburgh when he was a college student. He parlayed that into a full-time job at the station and an assignment to cover the 1988 Winter Olympic in Calgary, Alberta.

His timing turned out to be perfect. In the 1980s, the appetite for television sports was expanding with ESPN and other cable outlets, and there were a growing number of competitions held in Lake Placid in the post Winter Olympics years.

At first, the television production there was handled by AMPS — Adirondack Media Production Services — a start-up founded in the early 1980s. It was an ambitious undertaking. While it lasted only a few years, the quality of work done by those involved, and the contacts made as a result, led to opportunities that evolved into regular national and international assignments.

Jim Carr Productions, based in Saranac Lake, was established in 1992. Two years later, he moved operations to Greenfield Center, then bought the editing equipment needed to package programming in 1998. He teamed up with Bob Hughes in 2002. Hughes, a former luge athlete, had worked with Carr since the 1990s hustling to get television coverage for his sport. He was the outside guy for Carr Hughes until he retired in 2017.

That year, Carr took a major leap and purchased a TV studio on wheels, a 40-foot, double-expandable box truck that serves as an on-site broadcast center at events. Its debut was at the Travers Stakes that summer.

This was a healthy, seven-figure investment. Since networks have just a limited number of these mobile broadcast centers, Carr Hughes’ ability to go on location has become an important part of the business. And it packs on the mileage; it was in Kentucky for the Breeders’ Cup in the fall, and it can be leased to other production companies.

It was an especially tough time for all television production companies between last February and June.

“Everything was shut down,” Carr said. “We were expecting to produce coverage for the Olympic Trials and there was nothing for us. Canada wasn’t an alternative once the border closed down.”

But racing at Saratoga helped, and there were ventures outside sports, like some work for QVC, the home shopping network.

Everyone is eager for life to get back to normal, and much that reflects normalcy is what is seen on television — and Jim Carr is ready to play his part. He knows the broadcast landscape around the world after delivering major coverage now for a quarter-century.

And Saratoga Springs is where it all starts.

MAJOR HONORS FOR GORE PATROLLERS

Three veteran Gore Mountain ski patrollers won major regional and national awards recently.

Amy Reinink of Saratoga Springs received the Eastern Division Outstanding Outdoor Emergency Care Instructor award for her leadership of first aid training for the 700 member Eastern New York Region.

John Beach from Niskayuna won the Eastern and National Outstanding Alpine Patroller Award for his leadership of a unique training program for 13-15 year olds.

Mike McClure of Brant Lake won the Eastern and National Outstanding Patrol Director awards for his leadership of the Gore patrol.

The National Ski Patrol has more than 31,000 members nationally, more than 9,000 of those in the Eastern Division.

TWO YEARS AND COUNTING

The World University Games, the largest winter sports competition in our region since the 1980 Winter Olympics, is now less than two years away.

Scheduled for 11 days in January 2023, the games will features more than 2,600 athletes in 12 sports.

The competition will be based in Lake Placid, but events will be spread across northern New York, from Potsdam to North Creek.

NO. 1 AGAIN

The U.S. Women are again leaving their mark on the international cross country skiing scene.

Jesse Diggins, who lives in Boston, just won the Tour de Ski, a championship that is awarded for overall results in a grueling eight World Cup races held over 10 days. In 2018, Diggins,with teammate Kikkan Randall, won the women’s team sprint event, the first gold medal won by Americans in Olympic Cross Country competition.

For an inside look at how the U.S. Women have emerged in international competition, read “World Class,” by Rutland, Vermont-based author Peggy Shinn.

Phil Johnson can be reached at [email protected].

Cuomo proposes $193 billion budget, says details depend on federal dollars

ALBANY — The 2021-2022 budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would continue the state’s fight against COVID-19 and begin its rebuilding after the pandemic.

Exactly how big the budget is, and who pays for parts of it, remains to be seen.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday presented a $193.3 billion spending proposal and would include $103.4 billion in state funds.

Cuomo repeated his demand for $15 billion in federal aid, but the budget is written as though it will get only $6 billion. The governor said he’d sue the federal government if it doesn’t send $15 billion.

After all the pain the Trump administration inflicted on New York, Cuomo said, the new government is legally, ethically and politically obligated to fix it.

New York, as other state and local governments, suffered substantial loss of revenue and increase in expenses amid the pandemic. Cuomo puts the difference between increased costs and decreased revenue at $15 billion.

“Don’t ask states to pay the cost. That’s not right. That’s not justice,” he said.

He said President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal contains $350 billion for state and local government finances. He said $15 billion is a reasonable request as is just 4.3% of $350 billion while New York has 6% of the nation’s population.

That math assumes apparently that New York’s counties and cities get nothing, that all $15 billion goes to the state.

Cuomo’s presentation was devoted heavily to how badly New York was treated by the Trump administration and how much it now deserves a big pile of federal dollars.

“New York has been consistently assaulted by the incompetence, fraud, and illegality of the federal government and the fiscal crisis is legally and ethically their liability,” he said.

The budget briefing book notes that the state already received $27.1 billion in federal funding for COVID-related purposes in 2021.

DETAILS

Some details contained within the executive budget:

  • Eliminate the $2.33 million Saratoga Springs receives and the $775,198 Saratoga County receives for hosting Saratoga Casino Hotel. Video lottery terminal aid would be eliminated for every other host community, as well, except Yonkers, which dedicates that aid strictly for education. The reason: The economic benefits of hosting a casino have outgrown any additional costs associated with it, so the host communities no longer need the aid.
  • Establish a casino tax rate petition process through which the state’s four non-tribal casinos could ask to cut the tax rate on slot machine revenue — by far the biggest part of their business — as low as 25%, which is the tax rate on slots in Massachusetts casinos. The tax rate has been a sore spot for Rivers Casino in Schenectady, which pays a 45% tax on slot revenue, compared with 37% or 39% at the three other New York casinos.
  • Allow the Gaming Commission to start the process of gauging interest in the three casino licenses that were authorized but not awarded.
  • Temporarily suspend the legal requirement that Rivers Casino make payments to the horsemen and breeders at Saratoga Casino Hotel. This would continue as long as there are any COVID-related restrictions imposed on either facility and end after both facilities operate six full, consecutive calendar months without COVID restrictions.
  • Allow more locations to offer Quick Draw and allow 18- to 20-year-olds to play Quick Draw in locations where alcohol is served.
  • Decrease the state workforce under the executive branch from 118,193 in fiscal year 2020 to 114,721 in fiscal 2022.
  • Pause for one year the phase-in of the middle-class income tax cut begun in fiscal 2018, so it is complete in fiscal 2026 instead of fiscal 2025.
  • Establish three new tax credits totaling $130 million to help smaller businesses in the restaurant, accommodation and arts/entertainment industries.
  • Expand crossbow hunting season and allow 12- and 13-year-olds to obtain big-game hunting licenses.
  • Add a $1 fee for each license and registration transaction to maintain and improve the Department of Motor Vehicles’ technology systems and infrastructure.

THE Q&A

After Cuomo finished, his budget director, Robert Mujica, gave a follow-up presentation that focused more on details of the spending plan. He also took questions from reporters.

Q: What about the ideas bandied about by progressives in the state Legislature — a tax on stock transactions, a tax hike on millionaires, an estate tax, a wealth tax?

A: “A lot of these ideas, people talk about them but they haven’t been fleshed out,” Mujica said. The wealth tax may not even be constitutional; New York already has the second-highest tax rate in the nation on the super-wealthy and doesn’t want to drive them out of the state; and in the computer age, stock transactions can be done anywhere. “You mobilize people to move their transactions and their servers to another part of the country.”

Q: Are you betting too heavily on the feds allocating $15 billion to New York?

A: “Fifteen is the state’s fair share. I’m confident that we’ll be treated fairly. … But again, what we’re counting on is six.”

Q: What if the federal aid is somewhere between $6 billion and $15 billion?

A: The governor and the Legislature would work on a solution. All of this, by the way, assumes the federal aid is appropriated by the April 1 start of the state fiscal year, which may not be a safe assumption.

Q: What is the time frame for the anticipated $350 million in revenue from taxes on legal recreational marijuana sales and $500 million in revenue on electronic sports betting?

A: It will take three to four years to develop a mature cannabis industry and less time for sports betting.

Q: Why is a millionaires tax hike in your proposed budget if it’s such a bad idea?

A: Because it’s been bandied about as a solution, and is part of a dialogue that needs to start on reconciling spending and revenue. The governor’s office also wants everyone to know that the super-wealthy in New York City will face the highest combined state-local tax rate in the nation if the state hikes its tax on them. New York City relies heavily on taxes paid by the wealthy and does not want to make them tax exiles. “We do need to compete economically with other states.”

Capital Region COVID-19 Tracker for Tuesday, Jan. 19, by county

State COVID-19 Tracker numbers for Capital Region counties as of Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 19. Testing data as of midnight Monday night.

Sources: New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Tracker / Fatalities by County

Schenectady County

  • Number tested:224,931 – 801 new (1,154 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:8,660 – 73 new (107 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:9.11 percent (9.27 percent day before)
  • Deaths: 127 residents (3 new); 115 place of fatality (3 new)

Saratoga County

  • Number tested:272,315 – 1,444 new (1,729 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:9,267 – 127 new (156 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:8.80 percent (9.02 percent day before)
  • Deaths:82 residents (2 new); 57 place of fatality (2 new)

Albany County

  • Number tested:389,657 – 2,056 new (1,963 new day before)
  • Tested Positive: 16,343 – 175 new (187 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:8.51 percent (9.53 percent day before)
  • Deaths:257 residents (2 new); 390 place of fatality (2 new)

Fulton County

  • Number tested:56,955 – 261 new (305 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:2,113 – 43 new (31 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:16.48 percent (10.16 percent day before)
  • Deaths:53 residents (1 new); 40 place of fatality (1 new)

Montgomery County

  • Number tested:61,510 – 187 new (435 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:2,230 – 33 new (30 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:17.65 percent (6.90 percent day before)
  • Deaths:75 residents (1 new); 68 place of fatality (1 new)

Schoharie County

  • Number tested: 28,945 – 87 new (83 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:897 – 8 new (7 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive: 9.20 percent (8.43 percent day before)
  • Deaths:5 residents (0 new); 0 place of fatality

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Rensselaer County

  • Number tested:220,549 – 1,078 new (1,477 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:6,874 – 102 new (79 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive: 9.46 percent (5.35 percent day before)
  • Deaths:104 residents (0 new); 88 place of fatality (1 new)

Warren County

  • Number tested:78,803 – 595 new (618 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:2,062 – 17 new (41 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:2.86 percent (6.63 percent day before)
  • Deaths:40 residents (2 new); 52 place of fatality (2 new)

Hamilton County

  • Number tested:6,358 – 17 new (9 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:146 – 0 new (1 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:0.0 percent (11.11 percent day before)
  • Deaths:1 resident (0 new); 0 place of fatality

Washington County

  • Number tested:67,715 – 509 new (629 new day before)
  • Tested Positive:1,502 – 29 new (35 new day before)
  • Today’s Percent Positive:5.70 percent (5.56 percent day before)
  • Deaths:24 residents (0 new); 15 place of fatality (0 new)

New York State

  • Number tested:29,342,972 – 177,269 new
  • Tested Positive:1,258,087 – 12,512 new
  • Today’s Percent Positive:7.06 percent
  • Deaths:33,224 (172 new)

Sources: New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Tracker / Fatalities by County

 

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Schenectady man charged in Capitol riot released on bond

ALBANY – A Schenectady man arrested last week for alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riot of supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol can be released on bond on condition of home confinement, a U.S. district judge decided Tuesday.

Brandon Fellows, 26, faces two federal misdemeanors — entering a restricted building or grounds, and violent entry or disorderly conduct. The charges will actually he heard in federal court in Washington, D.C., but a detention hearing following his arrest was held in Albany before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Daniel Stewart.

Stewart ruled that Fellows can be released on an unsecured $25,000 bond, on condition of home confinement with electronic monitoring. For now, he will be living with his mother, at a rented property in Schenectady.

To date, Fellows is the only Capital Region resident arrested in connection the assault on the Capitol. The charges indicate he was illegally in the Capitol, but isn’t accused of any theft or property damage. He faces up to a year in prison if convicted.

Fellows was arrested Saturday night, one of more than 100 people who have been charged to date, as the FBI continues to investigate the attack in which hundreds of Trump supporters disrupted Congress while it was counting the presidential Electoral College votes. The rioting left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer, and at least 50 officers injured.

Fellows was among the hundreds who entered the Capitol building, and he posted about it on Instagram and other social media, including pictures of himself with his feet up on the desk in a U.S. senator’s office. “We took the Capitol and it was glorious” was posted on the Brandon Craig Fellows Facebook page.

Fellows was also interviewed after the riot by a Bloomberg News reporter he met at the rally before the riot, in a story picked up by the New York Post. At that rally, Trump spoke about his belief he won the election — he didn’t — and is accused of inciting the crowd of supporters to attack the Capitol.

Fellows is a 2012 graduate of Niskayuna High School, where he was on the wrestling team. Information provided in court said that for the last four years he has been living in a converted bus or van, working in the Capital Region and western Massachusetts as what Stewart termed a “chimney-sweep” — though Fellows told the judge that was a “derogatory” term for what he does.

Fellows was taken to the Rensselaer County Jail after his arrest and appeared by video link from that location. He appeared clean-cut, though at times he appeared to smirk when the camera was on him. He is being represented for now by Gene Primono, senior public defender in Albany, but his case is expected to be transferred to the Washington, D.C., public defender’s office.

Fellows told Bloomberg he drove to Washington after seeing a tweet from the president and said he went just to hear the president speak.

Bloomberg then wrote that Fellows not only went into the Capitol with the rioters, but propped his feet on a senator’s table while smoking a joint, heckled officers and posted videos online. It appears he was in the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon. A photograph also shows him sitting on a police motorcycle outside the Capitol wearing a fake red beard.

“I have no regrets,” Fellows told Bloomberg in the story. “I didn’t hurt  anyone, I didn’t break anything. I did trespass though, I guess.”

Stewart allowed Fellows to be released on an unsecured bond — in effect, on no bail — after being told Fellows’ financial situation meant he couldn’t afford a secured bond. The judge ordered Fellows to remain in the jurisdiction of the Northern District of New York, refrain from drug or alcohol use, and avoid arrest as conditions for remaining free. He must also agree do any counseling ordered for him.

He was specifically cautioned he couldn’t go to Washington except to appear for future court proceedings.

He replied, “I guess,” when asked by Stewart whether he understood all the conditions of his release.

Prior to that, Fellows had asked the judge if he could go to western Massachusetts — outside the 32-county Northern District of New York — and Stewart said no, and warned Fellows to take the proceeding seriously.

“I want to be sure you understand the seriousness of what is happening here,” the judge said to Fellows, who broke into the proceeding several times to ask questions, including about the location of his phone, vehicle and his wallet.

Stewart said Fellows could be jailed if he violates any of the conditions of his release.

Fellows was released even though the government considers him a flight risk, based on his having no stable residence and his behavior after the FBI contacted him.

On Saturday night, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rosenthal said Fellows had agreed to surrender to the FBI, but then didn’t, and lied about his location, turned off his cellphone and wrapped it in foil to hide its signal. He was tracked down anyway, and apprehended at a local motel. Despite the evasive behavior, Rosenthal said the government agreed to Fellows’ release.

Unprompted, Fellows said he only broke his agreement to surrender because he said a “constitutional counsel” he didn’t name had told him he didn’t have to surrender if he hadn’t been presented with a warrant for his arrest.

The federal District Court in Washington, which will be handling most if not all the cases involving the Jan. 6 attacks, has yet to set a date for Fellows’ first appearance.

 

 

 

 

 

Cuomo budget proposal withdraws threat of 20 percent school aid cut

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday appeared to remove the looming threat of 20-percent reductions in school aid this year as he outlined a plan to rely on federal funding to maintain the state’s school funding levels.

Cuomo and his budget officials said funds withheld earlier this year could be converted into permanent cuts of around 5 percent, but that 20 percent reductions would not be necessary this year, effectively eliminating the worst-case-scenario that Schenectady City School District officials have said drove their decision to lay off over 400 teachers and school staff. District leaders indicated in the past weeks they still believed a 20-percent reduction in aid this year was possible. 

“We now expect as a result of the revised revenue picture, instead of 20-percent withholds, we will reduce that to 5 percent of the current year,” state Budget Director Robert Mujica said Tuesday, referring generally to reductions in state aid to local governments, including school districts. 

But education policy analysts left the governor’s budget presentation, and Mujica’s follow-on conference call with reporters, with many unanswered questions about how the specifics in the proposal would affect school districts.

“We just don’t know what the details are yet,” Brian Cechnicki, executive director of the state Association of School Business officials said Tuesday after the governor presented his proposal but before more detailed legislative language was released.

The governor’s budget proposal for next school year, which he presented Tuesday, relies on around $4 billion in already-approved federal aid to boost overall school aid in New York by about $2 billion, even as the proposal called for some major state aid reductions. 

The governor’s plan, which assumes the state will receive about $6 billion more in federal aid, eliminates various categories of districts expenses that qualify for state reimbursement, saving nearly $400 million during the 2021-2022 school year and establishing a new block grant for districts that covered the previously-reimbursable costs. Education advocacy groups have fought to kill similar proposals in the past.

The proposal includes another state reduction of $1.35 billion in “local district funding adjustments,” but does not specify how the reductions would work. The district reductions would be offset by the federal money.

While the governor’s formal proposal is based on $6 billion in new federal aid, he said the state really needed $15 billion in new federal aid to make up for recent policies Cuomo argued have disproportionately harmed New York. If the state received the full $15 billion, Cuomo and Mujica said, no state reductions in school aid would be necessary.   

“If we get the $15 billion [in federal support], we can avoid an education reduction and actually do increases,” Mujica said.

With $3.8 billion of the federal aid approved in December, which states are authorized to spend over three years, earmarked in the 2021-2022 budget, the state’s overall contribution to school aid is reduced about $1.7 billion, under the plan.

The use of the one-time federal aid to cover budget gaps and offset state aid reductions could set up budget difficulties in future years as the federal money disappears and state aid levels start out at a lower baseline. 

Bob Lowry, who analyzes state education policy for the state Council of School Superintendents, said it was a positive sign for districts that the governor’s proposal did not offset all of the federal money with state reductions — as he did with around $1.1 billion in federal aid approved last spring. Lowry, who also highlighted the need for more specifics to understand the proposal’s impact on school districts, said the state’s budget challenges will continue to play out over multiple years.

“It’s not the case that we get through one or two bad years and everything is going to return to normal,” Lowry said Tuesday.

Minden man charged with felony arson, animal cruelty, sheriff says

MINDEN – A Minden man set fire to his Minden residence, causing the deaths of two cats at the home,  Montgomery County Sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Adam J. Prime, 32, of 571 Salt Springville Road, was arrested and charged with one count each of third-degree arson and aggravated cruelty to animals, felonies.

Prime is accused of setting a fire at his residence Saturday morning, officials said.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies and South Minden firefighters responded to Prime’s residence just before 7 a.m. Saturday for a report of a fire, officials said.

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Firefighters got it under control. No people were hurt, but two cats died.

The South Minden fire chief soon called in the county fire investigation team. Investigators made an initial determination that the fire was incendiary and officials brought in the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control’s investigation unit.

“After an extensive investigation and a confession from the suspect/homeowner, the owner, Adam J. Prime, was subsequently arrested,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.

Prime’s two cats were left inside of the residence and the fire caused their deaths, officials said.

Prime was arraigned and released to return to court later.

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Townsquare Media confirms Goslowski’s departure from 104.5 The Team; Voelker to fill in as Levack’s co-host

Townsquare Media Albany confirmed Tuesday that Tom Goslowski, former brand manager for ESPN Radio 104.5 The Team (WTMM-FM), is no longer with the company.

Goslowski, who was co-host of “Levack and Goz” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays, was let go on Monday. Charlie Voelker will fill in as Levack’s co-host while the company searches for Goslowski’s full-time replacement.

In a statement emailed to The Daily Gazette, Townsquare Media Albany market president Kevin Rich wrote, “I can confirm that Goz is no longer working for 104.5 The Team. Providing great local sports talk is very important to us and we are looking forward to hiring a new Brand Manager and co-host to entertain the Capital Region alongside Jeff Levack in afternoon drive. Charlie Voelker, former UAlbany Athletics Administrator and host of “Sunday Sports Buzz” will be co-hosting 3 p.m.-7 p.m. with Levack in the interim.”

On Monday, Goslowski said he thought that the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor in Townsquare’s decision to let him go.

“I can’t say I was too shocked,” Goslowski said. “It’s been a tough year, a tough stretch for radio companies. I wasn’t too shocked by it because it’s been a brutal year for the sports media business.”

In a Monday email, Rich said that “while we do not comment on any particular person’s situation or performance, what I can share is that the decision was specific to Goz and not related to COVID nor any economic backdrop. To that point, we have already been recruiting for a replacement and we are already receiving strong interest in the opportunity to serve the local sports community in the Capital Region. 104.5 The Team is the only Albany radio station with great daily local sports content, rather than just being fully syndicated.”

Levack, who was not on the air Monday, returned to airwaves Tuesday. He issued a brief statement at the start of the show.

“Before we get the show started today, I wanted to let you know that ‘Goz’ is no longer with us at 104.5 The Team. I’m bummed that he’s gone. I really enjoyed turning on the microphone and doing a show with ‘Goz’ every day. Obviously, [I] can’t share the details on these things, but it happens in radio sometimes, just like in sports. But for sure, we wish ‘Goz’ the best and we move forward.

“[We] always want to give you the best local sportstalk. That’s always very important to all of us here at 104.5 The Team.”

Neither Levack nor Rich responded directly to questions from The Daily Gazette regarding why Levack was not on air Monday.

The first half-hour of what would have been Monday’s “Levack and Goz” was plagued by dead air, sprinkled with commercials and station promos. The final hour of ESPN Radio’s “The Max Kellerman Show” came on around 3:30 p.m.

Promos for Monday’s “Levack and Goz” played during various breaks on Kellerman’s show, as well as “Chiney and Golic Jr.” that followed Kellerman.

In a follow-up email Tuesday, Rich said the dead air was a result of “a minor technical issue that was fixed as quickly as possible.”

Levack will have his fourth co-host for the show. Besides Goslowski, Armen Williams and Bob “Wolf” Wohlfeld have shared the mic with Levack.

McConnell said Trump ‘fed lies’ to mob about Biden election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate on Tuesday saying the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol was “fed lies” by the president and others in the deadly riot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden election.

McConnell’s remarks are his most severe and public rebuke of outgoing President Donald Trump. The Republican leader vowed a “safe and successful” inauguration of Biden on Wednesday at the Capitol, which is under extremely tight security.

“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of branch of the federal government.”

McConnell said after Biden’s inauguration on the Capitol’s West Front — what he noted former President George H.W. Bush has called “democracy’s front porch” — “We’ll move forward.”

Trump’s last full day in office Tuesday is also senators’ first day back since the deadly Capitol siege, an unparalleled time of transition as the Senate presses ahead to his impeachment trial and starts confirmation hearings on President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet.

Three new Democratic senators-elect are set to be sworn into office Wednesday shortly after Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol, which is under extreme security since the bloody pro-Trump riot. The new senators’ arrival will give the Democrats the most slim majority, a 50-50 divided Senate chamber, with the new vice president, Kamala Harris, swearing them in and serving as an eventual tie-breaking vote.

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer are set to confer Tuesday about the arrangements ahead, according to a person familiar with the planning and granted anonymity to discuss it.

The start of the new session of Congress will force senators to come to terms with the post-Trump era, a transfer of power like almost none other in the nation’s history. Senators are returning to a Capitol shattered from the riot, but also a Senate ground to a halt by the lawmakers’ own extreme partisanship.

Republican senators, in particular, face a daunting choice of whether to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection, the first impeachment trial of a president no longer in office, in a break with the defeated president who continues to hold great sway over the party but whose future is uncertain. Senators are also being asked to start confirming Biden’s Cabinet nominees and consider passage of a sweeping new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

In opening remarks at his confirmation hearing, Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, vowed to get to the bottom of the “horrifying” attack on the Capitol.

Mayorkas told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that if confirmed he would do everything possible to ensure “the desecration of the building that stands as one of the three pillars of our democracy, and the terror felt by you, your colleagues, staff, and everyone present, will not happen again.”

Five of Biden’s nominees are set for hearings Tuesday as the Senate prepares for swift confirmation of some as soon as the president-elect takes office, as is often done on Inauguration Day, particularly for the White House’s national security team.

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Biden wants the Senate to toggle between confirming his nominees, considering COVID relief and holding Trump accountable with the impeachment trial, a tall order for an institution that typically runs more slowly and with bitter confrontations.

Trump’s impeachment is forcing Republican senators to re-evaluate their relationship with the outgoing president who is charged with inciting a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol as Congress was counting the Electoral College votes to confirm Biden’s election. A protester died during the riot and a police officer died later of injuries; three other people involved died of medical emergencies.

The House impeached Trump last week on a sole charge, incitement of insurrection, making him the only president to be twice impeached. He had been impeached in 2019 over relations with Ukraine and was acquitted in 2020 by the Senate.

Schumer, who is poised to become the majority leader, and McConnell are set to meet Tuesday to discuss the power-sharing agreement and schedule ahead — for Trump’s trial, confirming Biden’s nominees and consideration of the incoming president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Three Democratic senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California, are to be sworn into office Wednesday, according to the person granted anonymity to discuss planning.

Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican incumbents in this month’s runoff elections. Georgia’s secretary of state is expected to certify the election results Tuesday. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to fill the remainder of Harris’ Senate term.

The Senate leaders also must negotiate a power-sharing agreement for the Senate that was last split so narrowly nearly 20 years ago, as they divvy up committee assignments and other resources.

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Police search for 2 children forcibly abducted from foster home outside Rochester

GREECE, N.Y. (AP) — A pair of men in ski masks broke through a window of a suburban Rochester home, duct-taped a woman and two of her foster children and then fled with two other children: a 5-year-old boy and his 3-year-old sister, police said Tuesday.

Police issued an Amber Alert for Dimitri Cash Jr. and Shekeria Cash after they were abducted in suburban Greece at about 8:40 p.m. Monday, police said.

“They were forcibly removed and we are gravely concerned for their well-being,” Greece Police Chief Andrew Forsythe said at a news conference.

The homeowner told police her seven foster children were upstairs when two men broke through a front window. Two children rushed downstairs when she screamed. She held the children and the men wrapped all three of them in duct tape, putting tape over the woman’s mouth to keep her from screaming, Forsythe said.

The two men went upstairs and forcibly removed the young children, who were in their pajamas. They fled in the homeowner’s van, eventually ditching the vehicle at a nearby apartment complex.

Forsythe called it a “planned, targeted abduction” and pleaded with the public for help in finding the children. He said police want to speak to the children’s father and are trying to locate him.

The foster family has had custody of the children for about two years, the chief said.

“We’re acting with that sense of urgency,” Forsythe said, “and we’re trying everything we can to locate them.”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget presentation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget presentation

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