The Friday Five Heatwave Edition By Pete Herr

In terms of news weeks, this has been a busy one. George Zimmerman not guilty, Boston bomber on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, international hero, Nelson Mandella turns 95, the filibuster was saved(without Mitch McConnell) and Detroit files bankruptcy. Locally, Gaughan announces for the Erie County Comptroller race, former FBI agent Bernie Tolbert opens his headquarters as he challenges Mayor Byron Brown in a primary contest, and a heat wave grips the northeast and kills my wife's new shrubs. (In my world that is probably the worst news story) With all of the things above going on. Here's a few things you may have missed.

1. New York Cities and Towns Not Selling As Many Bonds

Good news or bad news? Throughout New York State, the cities and towns have sold a staggering 37% less securities than the same period last year. The entire municipal market, which runs at $3.7 trillion is trending down 10%, so the 37% is significant. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli attributes it to the financial stress that municipalities are under. Of the five most populous states, Illinois had the second steepest drop at 13%.

2. New York's Unemployment Rate Drops Below National Average

While it isn't a by a lot, New York's unemployment rate slipped below the national average. The Empire State has a 7.5% jobless rate, while the national average is 7.6%. It's the first time in a year and a half where NY's rate was below the national number. What's driving the number? Seasonal construction jobs are strong. Continued improvement in the housing market will continue to drive better unemployment numbers and better consumer sales. When it comes to our economy improving, housing is definitely in the driver's seat.

3. Gropez Favored

Wait...what? The guy sexually harrasses his female staffers, loses his NY Assembly seat and now is favored to win another elected seat on the New York City Council. Sadly, Spitzer is leading in polls as well. What the hell is the matter with voters? Anyone who votes for Lopez OR Spitzer is not allowed to complain about corruption or dysfunction in government ever again.

4. Health Insurance Rates Will be 50% Lower in NY Due to Obamacare

As the battle over the Affordable Care Act continues and the House of Representatives votes for a 38th time to dismantle the law, New York joins the states that set up exchanges will save consumers big bucks next year. Not only will the rates fall significantly for the people who purchase insurance on their own, but the same exchanges will be an outstanding resource for small businesses who provide healthcare for their employees. Now, small business owners will have an excellent resource to compare plans and get the best deal for their employees. Ever wonder why health insurance is a mess? There are currently 15,000 health insurance plans available in New York State alone. That explains a lot.

5. Buffalo Guy Becomes Labor Secretary

After a deal that ended Republican obstruction of Presidential nominees, Buffalo native, Tom Perez , was approved as President Obama's Labor Secretary. Perez, a 1979 Canisius High School grad, went on to a career working for many different government agencies. The irony of the confirmation of Perez is that his biggest critic, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was cut out of the deal that saved the filibuster and fast tracked the Perez confirmation and those of other Presidential nominations. Tired of McConnell's "obstruction only" plan for the Senate minority, a group of GOP Senators, led by John McCain went on and forged a deal without the leader. McConnell tried to get in on it once it was apparent the deal would happen, and Harry Reid rebuffed the leader.

Honorable mention - What would it look like if New York City was dropped into the Grand Canyon? I'm glad you asked.

Stay cool, everyone. See you next week.

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