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CORRUPTION COMMISSION-CUOMO

Corruption probe poses NY Gov's biggest test

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Allegations that his administration meddled with a state anti-corruption commission are posing the greatest political test of New York Gov. Andrew Coumo's tenure - and producing some verbal gymnastics.

The New York Times reported last week that a top Cuomo aide pressured the commission to stop subpoenas to a media-buying firm that Cuomo used and to a real estate organization whose members financially supported his campaign.

The Democratic governor says the commission's ultimate rejection of his administration's request shows there was no interference. He also says the commission acted independently, though he's said before that it was firmly under his control.

With Cuomo ahead in polls and fundraising, SUNY New Paltz political scientist Gerald Benjamin said Tuesday that unless something changes, the episode is unlikely to alter Cuomo's re-election chances.

CHEMICAL PLANTS

Govt fails to vet chemical plants for terror risk

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional investigators say the government has failed to inspect virtually all of the chemical facilities that it considers to be at high risk for a terror attack and has underestimated the threat to densely populated cities.

A year-long investigation by Republican staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee paints a picture of inspection delay, government errors in risk assessment and industry loopholes in a $595 million terror prevention program. A copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press.

The report said the Department of Homeland Security failed to conduct security inspections on 3,972 chemical facilities, or 99 percent of those deemed higher risk.

Roughly half of the higher-risk facilities are in 10 states: California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey.

RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS

NY announces $250M in green energy investments

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state is setting aside $250 million to invest in wind farms, hydropower and other renewable energy projects.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the funding Tuesday. It's available to businesses and groups looking to build wind farms, fuel cells or biomass generators or upgrade small to medium-sized hydroelectric facilities.

Cuomo, a Democrat, says the money will encourage new projects and help diversify the state's power grid while creating jobs and economic activity in the energy sector.

BUFFALO-ENERGY INDUSTRY

New York agrees to buy land for energy complex

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - New York state has reached an agreement to buy the rest of the land needed for a solar-energy manufacturing complex planned for Buffalo.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $2.8 million purchase from the city on Tuesday.

The state's already bought 88 acres of former brownfields from the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. for $2.5 million. The latest purchase adds 96 acres.

The site once housed a steel plant but is now targeted to become the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub. As part of an economic development initiative, the state will invest $225 million to build facilities that will be used by clean-energy manufacturing companies. Two California companies, Soraa and Silevo, which has been acquired by Solar City, have signed on as the first two tenants.

COCAINE RING

2 plead guilty in cocaine investigation

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York authorities say two Hudson Valley men have pleaded guilty to drug charges following an investigation into cocaine trafficking allegedly run by a couple from an apartment building in northern Manhattan with profits funneled to the Dominican Republic.

According to the New York attorney general's office, two of the eight people indicted in May now face prison time, while three others who were arrested are facing charges.

Authorities say Michael Novick of Wappingers Falls has pleaded guilty in Dutchess County Court to drug possession, has been promised a five-year prison term and remains out on bail pending sentencing Sept. 16.

They say Richard Bernal, also from Wappingers Falls, has pleaded guilty to a charge of selling drugs and faces two years in prison at sentencing.

VILSACK-RURAL FUND

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to visit upstate NY

BRIDGEPORT, N.Y. (AP) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is headed to central New York to promote the government's new Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund.

Vilsack and Colorado-based Co-Bank CEO Bob Engel will meet Wednesday with leaders in Bridgeport, New York, to discuss the $10 billion private sector fund announced last week by the White House. They'll discuss how this fund can promote local infrastructure upgrades.

The Agriculture Department will help identify needed projects, such as rural health care and educational facilities and wastewater systems.

Vilsack says he hopes private investors will follow with additional dollars for the fund, which will be managed by private partners.

The secretary has made revitalizing rural America a priority as small towns have lost people and political clout in recent years. He says leveraging private money is a new approach.

ROCHESTER ORCHESTRA

Rochester Philharmonic names Ward Stare director

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has chosen native son Ward Stare to be its new music director.

Stare's appointment, effective Sept. 1, was announced Tuesday at City Hall.

The 31-year-old played trombone in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra at age 11 and went on to study at the Juilliard School in Manhattan.

Stare says the RPO is the first great orchestra he ever heard live.

His four-year appointment comes after an 18-month search following the firing of Arild Remmereit (ah-REELED' REHM'-ur-ite).

TURKEY SURVEY

New York officials seek help counting wild turkeys

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York environmental officials are seeking help counting wild turkeys this summer.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation conducts the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey each August to estimate the number of new offspring per female. Participants record the sex and age composition of the wild turkey flocks they observe.

The count helps predict fall turkey season potential.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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