AUBURN — Attorney David Thurston took on a new title this year as he was sworn in as Auburn's new city court judge on New Year's Day at Memorial City Hall.
Previously the associate justice at city court, Thurston was sworn in as the city judge at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Thurston is replacing Judge Michael McKeon, who is retiring after a 20-year career presiding over city court. Thurston won election to the 10-year term in a race against local attorney Steven Buschman last fall.
"This is a special day for the Thurston and Hutchinson families," said Earl Thurston, Judge Thurston's father.
"Our family has some connections with this building ... This is very special and we should be so proud to be here," Earl said.
Among the connections to the building, Earl said that David's next door neighbors are the Osborne family who gifted Memorial City Hall to Auburn. A plaque honoring David's uncle, John Pettigrass, also hangs in city hall's chamber. A long–time serving corporation counsel to the state, Earl said Pettigrass was dedicated to his job and David shares many of his qualities, including drive, intellect and passion.
Following his speech, Earl swore in David — accompanied by his wife, Stephanie Hutchinson, and two children, Leah and Ben — as City Court Judge David Thurston.
Nicholas V. Midey, Jr., a senior judge for the state's Court of Claims and a mentor to Judge Thurston also spoke during the ceremony.
"I was really pretty good until I got here," Midey said. "Then all of the sudden what do I do? I turn around and I look and see Judge (James G.) Cuddy. Now why would that bother me? I thought, 'Well, from now until the end of time, the caliber of the city court judge will be determined by the gold-standard of that position. And that's Judge Cuddy. Good luck, Dave," he said as the crowd of more than 100 people laughed.
Midey then passed on two pieces of wisdom to Thurston that were once shared with him, one by Professor David Siegel and another by his own father, Nicholas Midey, Sr.
Siegel, he said, taught him that patience is what makes a good judge. Not only patience in the courtroom, but also patience in chambers to find the right legal answer — especially when you are unsure of what to do.
His father, he said, taught him about respect. He instilled in him the importance of respecting all lawyers and litigants — "you are not above them, you are one of them in the legal process," his father once told him.
Midey then presented Judge Thurston with a gavel specially prepared by Thurston's family. Historically, the gavel has represented authority, Midey said, "use it wisely, or better yet, use it judiciously."
"I can't describe what an honor and privilege this is," Judge Thurston said at the closing of his swearing-in ceremony. "I have very, very large shoes to fill with Judge McKeon before me and Judge Cuddy before him. We've been very blessed in this community.
"I really consider myself to be very, very fortunate," he said, thanking all in the audience for their support, love and kindness throughout his life.
AUBURN — Two families found themselves in an unexpected race New Year's Day morning at Auburn Community Hospital to see who would deliver Cayuga County's first baby of 2019.
Sarah and Jason Dimari welcomed their second son, Jagger Charles, into the world at 6:03 a.m. Jan. 1, a few days before his Jan. 5 due date. Cassandra and Matt Roberts, however, expected to be induced later this week for their overdue baby, but Coraline Jane also made her grand entrance at 7:37 a.m. New Year's Day.
Sarah, of Locke, said she and her husband took to calling Jagger "our little holiday baby," because she found out she was pregnant on Mother's Day. Initially told by doctors that she wouldn't be able to have children, both Jagger and his 4-year-old brother Cylis came as gifts.
"Doctors said it wasn't going to happen," Sarah said of her conceiving.
Nearly everything was different about Jagger's birth, Sarah said. Cylis' name was picked out when she was 16 weeks pregnant, he arrived two weeks late and weighed more than 9 pounds.
Jagger, however, shocked everyone by being "a little peanut," Sarah said, as he was born 6 pounds, 5 ounces and 19 inches long.
On the way to the hospital the morning of New Year's Eve after her water broke, Sarah thought they would name their son Arlo. But when they saw he was "such a little guy" they opted for what they thought was more of a strong, cool name.
"It gives him a little edge," Sarah said.
"It's exciting, totally unexpected," she said of Jagger's early debut. "It made our new year, that's for sure."
Just about 1 1/2 hours after Jagger was born, a baby girl also made her way into the new year.
Coraline Jane Roberts was a surprise New Year's baby as well. She was overdue and doctors talked about inducing her on Jan. 2, but Cassandra said that Coraline clearly wanted to come on her own.
She entered the world at 7:37 a.m., weighing 9 pounds, 3.5 ounces and stretching 22.5 inches tall. Coraline was about 1 pound heavier and 1 inch longer than her 5-year-old brother Landen, Cassandra said.
"It's exciting," she said. "What better day — every time we say 'Happy New Year,' we can say 'Happy Birthday,' too."
New Year's Day also marks seven years of Cassandra and Matt being together, Matt said. The couple moved to Aurelius around August soon after they found out they were expecting — which came as a surprise as the couple originally only planned to have one baby.
While Cassandra's pregnancy "was pretty spot on" to her pregnancy with Landon, she said that the delivery was different. For one, the couple chose to be surprised by the gender. And instead of 36 hours of labor, Coraline was born after about eight hours.
Cassandra's water broke mid-evening New Year's Eve, and they eventually arrived at the hospital at 1:53 a.m. New Year's Day.
"We're happy because we're healthy," Cassandra said to Coraline, who was named after the "Coraline" film.
Following several shifts in the make up of the Cayuga County Legislature at the end of 2018, the annual reorganization meeting set for Thursday is likely to result in big changes for the body as it begins 2019.
At 6 p.m. Thursday at the Cayuga County Office Building, the Legislature will make its annual appointments for the legislative chairperson, vice chairperson and majority and minority party leaders.
Who is seated into those positions is still up in the air, but could be different than 2018 for a number of reasons.
First, current Chairman Patrick Mahunik, and independent from Auburn, promised when appointed last year — and again reiterated that commitment at the last meeting of 2018 — to only remain in the Legislature's leadership position for one year.
The reasoning behind that decision, Mahunik said, was to give then-incoming County Administrator J. Justin Woods time to adjust to the position and get a chance to make some headway in county government.
With that accomplished, Mahunik has said he will not seek the chairperson's seat again, leaving that position, and likely the vice chairman position currently held by Legislator Timothy Lattimore, R-Auburn, up for grabs.
The end of 2018 also saw a shift in the balance of power between political parties, as both Mahunik and Legislator Joseph Bennett, R-Auburn, switched affiliations.
Both self-described lifelong Democrats, Mahunik and Bennett made the switch in part due to what they have previously said was dissatisfaction with the way the local Democratic Party is run.
Bennett, in particular, was displeased with having to face a primary election challenge from his own party. Bennett faced political newcomer Mike Zank in the primary after his brief resignation and subsequent reappointment to the Legislature — needed to qualify for his retirement pension — prompted a special election.
Although party officials repeatedly said they did not endorse Zank or seek him out to run, saying the announcement of the special election came after the scheduled endorsement meeting, Bennett expressed a feeling of having been "back-stabbed" by the party.
The change in affiliation by both Bennett and Mahunik switched the Legislature from a Democratic to Republican majority. Legislators Michael Didio, R-Auburn and Elane Daly, D-Auburn, were both reappointed to lead their respective parties, resulting in little change for the end of 2018, but the new dynamic will have a chance to take full effect in 2019.
Several other yearly procedural actions are also scheduled to be taken, including the adoption of legislative rules of order and the re-appointment of the clerk of the Legislature.
NEW YORK — Sounding like the presidential candidate he insists he is not, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unleashed an energetic attack against President Donald Trump's policies Tuesday, pledging New York will lead the nation forward with the most progressive agenda in state history.
The Democrat began 2019 and his third term with the inaugural address on Ellis Island, saying "America's only threat is from within."
Cuomo said that within the first 100 days of his new term, he will propose "the most progressive agenda this state has ever seen, period."
"We will make history and New York will move forward, not by building a wall, my friends, but by building new bridges," he said, apparently making a reference to the political fight over a wall on the Mexican border.
He faulted the federal government, saying politicians had exploited fear and frustration that many Americans feel to deepen divisions among the population "for their own political purpose." He said some of the nation's leaders had demonized diversity to "make our differences our greatest weakness instead of our greatest strength."
He made clear that he chose to deliver the nearly 30-minute speech from a famous landmark linked to immigration that remains open, along with the nearby Statue of Liberty, despite a partial federal government shutdown because of money supplied by the state.
"They will never close our harbor. They will never close our hearts," Cuomo said.
Ellis Island was the nation's busiest immigration station for decades, welcoming millions of immigrants from around the world. Cuomo calls it an "enduring symbol" of America's core values of hope and opportunity.
With the battle over immigration policy raging nationwide, the speech's location is likely to encourage speculation that Cuomo may run for president, though the 61-year-old has said he has ruled out the idea.
He became emotional as he recalled that his father, a former New York governor who also rejected those who urged him to run for president, died on inauguration day four years earlier, but he said he knows that Mario Cuomo's "spirit lives."
"I can hear his voice and I can imagine his pain and anger if he could see his beloved country today," the son said.
Cuomo won re-election last fall. He has listed legalizing recreational marijuana, codifying abortion rights and fixing New York City's subways as three priorities for the new year.