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An ex-convict who has spent about eight years in prison for burglary and drug sales says his criminal past makes him uniquely qualified to be a county sheriff.

James Caldwell, 56, the Green Party's candidate, is running almost exclusively on a platform of reform at the Monroe County Jail.

He said he has firsthand knowledge of the unmet needs of inmates, including the need for improved education, counseling and better rehabilitation programs.

The high school dropout and former heroin addict was last released from state prison in 1996.

Political leaders and even another third-party candidate have largely ignored Caldwell's candidacy. He was left out of a debate sponsored by the road patrol union of the Sheriff's Department.

"It's a loss for the (union) because James is bringing up issues that nobody else is bringing out," said Monroe County Green Party Chairman Jon Greenbaum.

Sgt. Daniel Finnerty, the union's president, said it would be hard for deputies to work under someone who, because of felony convictions, would not be allowed to hold their job.

Manure processing is now
protected farm activity

ALBANY (AP) -- Manure processing, increasingly common as farms acquire more animals in the quest for profitability, has been added to the list of protected agricultural activities in New York.

Gov. George E. Pataki has signed into law a bill sent him by the State Legislature to specify that animal waste processing is part of a "farm operation."

The distinction can be important. Both state law and the State Constitution contain provisions recognizing the existence of agricultural districts in New York State.

In those districts, activities related to commercial farming such as field plowing, crop planting, harvesting and fertilizing -- and now manure processing -- are deemed to be a necessary part of the farm operation and protected against unreasonable challenges by other residents.

HUD chief warns Syracuse
of shrinking federal funds

SYRACUSE (AP) -- While praising the city's efforts to revitalize housing in struggling neighborhoods, Housing Secretary Mel Martinez warned Monday that there may be less federal money for future programs.

Martinez strolled Syracuse's streets, extolling a local program he said was "bringing blighted areas back to life, residents back to the heart of the city."

But Martinez cautioned local leaders that the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative and similar programs can expect less money because of America's war on terrorism.

Since 1999, the federal government has provided $25 million for improvements in many of Syracuse's disadvantaged neighborhoods, where local officials have identified nearly 1,100 vacant homes needing demolition or refurbishment.

Meanwhile, local officials have raised more than $3 million in private donations to match federal dollars, said Rep. James Walsh, R-Syracuse, who escorted Martinez on his daylong visit.

Martinez said the Syracuse program has been used as a model by other communities attempting to improve housing.

Congressman to be buried
in cemetery he conceived

SARATOGA (AP) -- When former U.S. Rep. Gerald Solomon is laid to rest on Wednesday, he will be buried in the national cemetery he worked almost 20 years to create.

The 10-term congressman, a widely known conservative and staunch patriot, died Friday of congestive heart failure at age 71.

After an 11 a.m. funeral Wednesday in First Presbyterian Church in Glens Falls, Solomon will be taken to Saratoga National Cemetery to be buried at 1 p.m., the Glens Falls Post Star newspaper reported Monday.

He was the driving force behind the creation of the cemetery, which opened in 1999. In 1988, Solomon, then the ranking Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, won congressional approval of $1.45 million to buy a cemetery site in the Capital Region.

Solomon said at the time he couldn't think of a more appropriate resting place than near the Saratoga battlefield -- now the Saratoga National Historical Park -- which most historians agree represented a turning point in the American Revolution.

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