* Rep. Charlie Rangels narrow lead over his challenger state Sen. Adriano Espaillat increased slightly to 945 votes as the New York City Board of Elections began counting absentee and affidavit ballots, the New York Times reports:

* Nearly half the 8,500 ConEd workers locked out of their jobs protested contract negotiations that have dragged on precipitously for almost a week, the Wall Street Journal records:

* A state judge blocked Mayor Michael Bloombergs attempt to strip City Comptroller John Liu of the authority to set wages for about 10,000 city workers, the Journal reports:

* Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers expect to return to Albany later this year to prevent a scheduled tax increase for hundreds of thousands of city co-op and condo owners, the Times reports:

* The soft drink industry is moving its campaign against Mayor Bloombergs soda ban to beaches and movie theaters to appeal to sympathetic New Yorkers who imbibe the sugary drinks, the Times examines:

* The state released details about how hundreds of economic development projects were scored in 2011, showing how some projects did not gain traction with local judges, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle notes:

* A railroad company is reopening a 30-mile stretch of rail near the source of the Hudson River and the highest peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, in the hope of bringing an economic boost to towns along the route, the Associated Press reports:

* Former senate candidate Carl Paladino is suing incoming Buffalo superintendent of schools Pamela Brown because her hiring lacked transparency, the Buffalo News writes:

* Retiring Rep. Ed Towns received two sweetheart loans from defunct mortgage giant Countrywide totaling almost $400,000, according to a congressional report, the Post learns:

* The City Council has added $2-million for street pruning to the mayors budget, after a series of expensive lawsuits stemming from deaths or injuries caused by falling tree limbs in city parks, the Times notes:

* Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer argues that his way of doling out discretionary funding, setting up independent panels to evaluate cash pleas, is better than City Council Speaker Christine Quinns, the News writes:

* Owners of the Albany Aqua Ducks sold the amphibious tour bus company, leaving a hole in the Capitol regions growing tourism industry, the Albany Times-Union reports:

* Mayor Bloomberg credits a summer job in high school with setting him on a career path that led him to found his billion-dollar company and eventually become mayor, the Post catalogues: