Regional Briefs – September 17, 2014

NYC Gets Its Own Foreign Minister

NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday set up an Office for International Affairs, to be headed by Penny Abeywardena, the current director of a Clinton Global Initiative program that advocates for the empowerment of girls and women. She’ll start the new position on Oct. 1 and will be the primary liaison between the city and the diplomatic community, foreign governments, the United Nations, and the State Department.

NYPD’s First Deputy Police Commissioner to Retire

NEW YORK – The NYPD’s highest-ranking Hispanic and first deputy police commission is retiring at the end of October. Rafael Pineiro joined the agency in 1970 and has served as its second-highest-ranking official since 2010. He had been a candidate for police commissioner before Mayor Bill de Blasio selected William Bratton.

Booker Says He’ll Do Just One Debate in Senate Race

TRENTON – Sen. Cory Booker agreed Tuesday to just one debate in his re-election race against Republican Jeff Bell, who recent polls show within 10 points of the New Jersey Democrat, The Associated Press reported. Bell responded that Booker has now dropped out of two debates and will back out of this one as well. Booker’s campaign said he never agreed to the events so he didn’t back out of them.

NY Court Weighs Fate of Reluctant Witness

ALBANY – New York’s top court on Tuesday began considering the legal fate of a man who got immunity from prosecution by testifying against his brother in a stolen property case and then refused to follow through at trial, The Associated Press reported. When prosecutors tried to charge him with criminal contempt, lower courts called it double jeopardy.

NY: Wal-Mart Levied Fictional ‘Sugar Tax’ on Soda

ALBANY – New York’s attorney general announced Tuesday a settlement and fine for false advertising at Wal-Mart, saying some store personnel were citing a nonexistent 50-cent “sugar tax” on Coca-Cola 12-packs that were to have been sold for $3. Consumers at 117 stores in New York who were routinely charged $3.50, were told that the state has a “sugar tax.”

Another Atlantic City Bust: Trump Casino Closes

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed its doors Tuesday, the fourth Atlantic City casino to go belly-up so far this year as the East Coast market becomes saturated, The Associated Press reported. About 8,000 casino workers have lost their jobs this year, and another 3,000 could join them if the Trump Taj Mahal Casino closes in November as promised.

Jersey City to Lower Speed Bumps

JERSEY CITY – New Jersey’s second-largest city will lower its speed bumps because they are causing vehicles to bottom out, the Jersey Journal reported. The bumps will also get reflective markers.