ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Catch up on the last week in local news, in just a few minutes!
Rochester Rundown, a new digital exclusive brought to you by News 8 WROC, recaps the past week’s top stories with everything you need to know, or might have missed.
It’s official: Marijuana is legal in New York.
Gov. Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act into law Wednesday morning after it was passed by the New York State Assembly and Senate Tuesday.
According to the governor’s office, the legislation, known formally as S.854-A/A.1248-A:
- Establishes the Office of Cannabis Management
- Expands New York’s existing Medical Marijuana Program
- Establishes a licensing system
- Creates a Social and Economic Equity Program encouraging individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement to participate in industry
- Tax collection projected to reach $350 million annually and potentially create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced an initiative to explore a reparations program, including the possible establishment of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), as well as a home ownership program in the city.
City officials say the initiative will seek to use tax revenues from future marijuana sales, and other funding, to “close the wealth gap between Black, brown and white residents.”
In a letter to the Ibero American Action League president Thursday, Warren says marijuana legalization presents an opportunity to enact reparations through Universal Basic Income or a home ownership mortgage program. The mayor’s letter does not provide any details about how either proposal would work.
“We have an opportunity to make it right and how we invest these dollars to me matters. The people, the neighborhoods and the communities that were most affected by the criminalization of marijuana deserve to be the first ones to receive and also be invested in as we start to distribute those dollars,” Mayor Warren said in a press conference on Friday.
The city is forming an exploratory committee to see how similar programs have worked elsewhere in the United States.
Another woman came forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday, and she’s from the Rochester area.
High-profile women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred said the governor suddenly grabbed her client, 55-year-old Sherry Vill, by the face and kissed her in front of her home a few years ago.
Vill is married, a mother, and a resident of Greece, New York. The governor toured her home while he was in the area surveying some of the historic flood damage along Lake Ontario’s shoreline in 2017.
Vill says the governor kissed her on both of her cheeks during the encounter. She described the encounter as “sexualized.” She said it took place in front of her son, who took a video of the incident.
A photo of the governor kissing Vill was also shared at the press conference. It was a screen shot from the video her son was recording, along with other photos of the encounter. Governor Cuomo’s attorney sent a number of photos from that day in response, many showing the governor shaking hands and kissing faces.
“I felt shocked and didn’t understand what had just happened, but I knew I felt embarrassed and weird about him kissing me,” Vill said. “I am Italian and in my family, family members kiss. Strangers do not kiss, especially upon meeting someone for the first time.
At least eight additional women, including several current or former staff members, have publicly alleged Cuomo either sexually harassed them or acted inappropriately toward them. The New York State Attorney General’s office is investigating these claims.
Rochester police responded to three fatal shootings within 24 hours this week on the city’s northeast side.
Police responded to the area of Kappel Place and North Clinton Avenue around 2 p.m. Monday where officers discovered a man who had suffered a gunshot wound to the upper body. He was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital where he ultimately succumbed to his interviews.
Later Monday, officers responded to the area of Clifford Avenue and Arbutus Street around 11:30 p.m. for the report of a shooting.
Upon arrival, police located 16-year-old Jordan Coleman who had had suffered a gunshot wound to his upper body. He was declared dead at the scene.
Rochester police responded to First Street around 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Police say 59-year-old Roger Palermo Jr. was shot in the upper body and transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police continue to investigate these three incidents and ask anyone with information to call 911.
New York state is expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in a major way, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
All New Yorkers 30 years and older will be eligible to begin scheduling vaccine appointments starting Tuesday at 8 a.m. Most recently, the age cutoff was for the 50-plus age group.
Furthermore, the governor says universal eligibility will go into effect for all New Yorkers over the age of 16 on April 6, nearly a month ahead of President Joe Biden’s nationwide deadline.
New York has launched a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
The “Excelsior Pass” will be accepted at major entertainment venues like Madison Square Garden and Albany’s Times Union Center.
The app is similar to a mobile airline boarding pass and uses a secure QR code that can be stored in a smartphone or printed out.
Officials said the technology doesn’t store or track private health data within the app.
Beginning April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment and event venues, according to the governor’s office.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer visited the Bug Jar in Rochester Wednesday to say “help is on the way” for small businesses and entertainment venues.
“Help is on the way — for our live and independent venues, which have suffered,” Sen. Schumer said. “The arts is a major part of the Rochester economy and yet they were all closed. Any industry where people gathered together always created problems during COVID. Now they will be under the Save Our Stages grant — a six-month grant, so all the arts venues here in the Rochester are can survive, and god willing by September when these grants expire, and some expire in January — we will have beaten COVID and the Bug Jar will be back in business.”
“No one is quite touring yet, but once that gets going, we’re going to move fast as humanly possible and get it back going,” Gibalski said. “We have a lot of local talent that’s just itching to perform.”
Schumer outlined details of changes to the Save Our Stages fund, which is designed to improve access to funds for independent live venues, performing arts organizations, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions struggling to stay afloat.
“The Bug Jar is an iconic place here in Rochester,” Sen. Schumer said. “It brings people to downtown, the arts are so important to us here. It’s a really famous place, but without this program this place would have gone out of business. It probably couldn’t have lasted another couple of months. What this program, this Save Our Stages program does, is give Larry and all our other independent arts and venues a grant for up to six months to pay their expenses. The PPP program didn’t work so well for them because you had to have employees and they didn’t have employees.”
The Senate Majority Leader referenced a community effort to save the iconic venue, where a GoFundMe for the Bug Jar raised more than $23,000 since last year, but he says this grant program will help the Bug Jar even more.
Since 1991, the Bug Jar has been a mainstay in the Rochester music scene, giving many local bands their first chance on stage, as well as hosting major touring acts such as The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Mac Demarco, and many, many more for nearly 30 years.
The Bug Jar hasn’t been open since the pandemic and shutdowns hit.
The world watched as a giant container ship was stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal. It’s since been freed, but not before a local man turned the event into a video game.
Eric Wilder, from Rochester, created an online game where you can play as the lone bulldozer tasked with moving the ship. The Game Boy Style graphics coupled with the nostalgic music have been a hit online. But, much like the real deal, little can be done to move the boat.
Authorities have failed at new attempts to free the vessel. But, maybe you’ll have better luck.
You can play the Suez Canal game on Eric’s website.
It’s not his first venture into video game creation. Late last year he developed a GameBoy game based off of the hit TV show, “The Mandalorian.”
He’s also quite skilled at recreating famous portraits, by using only a type writer.
Dave Kane, midday host on 96.5 WCMF, is retiring at the end of the week, capping off 40 years at the classic rock station.
Kane has been a fixture in local radio for decades, and in 2019 was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame.
He announced his retirement, and said that his last show would be Friday, April 2. It followed the decision to renew his contract just long enough to make it to the incredible milestone.
That’s it for this week, we’ll see you next time on Rochester Rundown.