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There is plenty of campaigning going on within the state Assembly from members hoping to become the next speaker. This after the long-time leader of the chamber faces criminal corruption charges.

Two of Onondaga County's lawmakers in the chamber say they haven’t picked sides yet, while one announced his choice Friday.

Assembly members Joseph Lentol and Keith Wright have dropped their candidacies to become the new leader of the state Assembly. Majority Leader Joseph Morelle did so as well on Friday:

Watertown is hosting the first Snowtown Film Festival this weekend. It's one of the few indoor events in a series of winter activities that are part of this month’s Snowtown USA festival. Fourteen films with winter themes will be screened in a full day marathon this Saturday. A majority of them are written and directed by local filmmakers.

Helping victims of trauma

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EMDR is a controversial kind of therapy meant to help patients get over different kinds of trauma. It stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” And while some doctors don't believe in it, others, and survivors of accidents, natural disasters and sexual assault, swear by this kind of treatment. And the Defense Department sanctions it to help veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. This week on WRVO's health and wellness show "Take Care," hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen speak with Dr. Francine Shapirom, who developed this therapy.

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Maneuvering for the next speaker of the state Assembly is going on largely behind the scenes and government reform groups say that’s the wrong way to begin a new era in what’s been called the people’s house. They’ve asked the announced candidates to commit to an open process, and want an answer before the weekend.

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Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner has laid out her agenda for 2015. It focuses on the fundamentals of local government and recurring themes from her.

Miner, a Democrat, is entering her fifth year in the city's top elected office. In an address at the studios of public broadcaster WCNY, she talked about the successes the city saw in 2014, such as its high school graduation rate finally rising above 50 percent. 

Then she touched on the tension within the Syracuse school district that has embroiled it for much of the past year.

Julia Botero

In the wake of the downfall of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, North Country Assembly woman Addie Russell says she stands by the presumption of innocence until you are proven guilty.

Russell, a Democrat from Jefferson County, was part of the long two-day of meetings in Albany that ended with a decision to oust longtime Assembly speaker.

Silver will be out of office by Monday. He was arrested late last week on charges of corruption, including taking about $4 million in kickbacks.

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This weekend’s Super Bowl won’t only be showcasing the NFL’s top football teams. It will also show off a new stadium lighting system that was created in Syracuse.  

  Ephesus Lighting founder Joe Casper is amazed at the publicity his company’s high-performance LED lights have been getting in the run-up to the Super Bowl. There’s been mention of the semi-conductor based technology in Forbes magazine, USA Today and the Washington Post.  And the enhanced lighting fixtures have even made their way into deflate-gate conversations.

Abortion opponents protest with prayer in Watertown

Jan 29, 2015
Julia Botero / WRVO

Opponents of abortion have been gathering around the nation this month. They are protesting the January 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Thousands of protesters converged in D.C. last week as the House of Representatives passed a bill baring federal spending on abortions.  But anti-abortion activists also come together to pray on this issue every January all over the country.

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For the first time since the 1970s, New York state will issue permits for new liquefied natural gas storage facilities. The new regulations will require a permit for every new facility, with each one capped at 70,000 gallons.

That’s enough to fill six or seven fuel tankers, says Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Haven says capping them at a small size is a good way to keep out heavy industrialization, but the limit can be removed after five years.

One hundred forty central New Yorkers learned first hand what it's like to live in the grip of poverty this week. Visions for Change shined a light on the issue through it's poverty simulation.

Ashlee Hines works at the homeless shelter at the Salvation Army in Syracuse. You’d think she’d be aware of some of the issues people living in poverty face, but playing the role of a mom, going to school, working, and taking care of children was an eye opener.

"What I had to do was really hard. I kind of panicked,” Hines said. “And I know how to do day-to-day stuff.”

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The legislature continued about its business in Albany Wednesday, despite the leadership crisis in the Assembly. Lawmakers held the first in a series of public budget hearings. Meanwhile, several Assembly members officially declared their candidacy to succeed Speaker Sheldon Silver, who will leave the office on Monday.

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Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says there is a shortcoming in health insurance for disabled veterans that’s depriving their children of coverage.

Family members of disabled military service members are allowed to receive health coverage under a Veterans Administration program called CHAMPVA. But Schumer says that program needs to be amended to be in line with the rest of the health care world under the Affordable Care Act.

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A central New York organization that tries to poke a cynical Syracuse mindset into something more positive is now two years old. The founder of the group Believe in Syracuse says they’ll be getting their message across in more ways as they continue to grow.

John DeSantis started the group two years ago when he found himself continuously watching friends leave central New York after graduating from college.

Julia Botero / WRVO

President Barack Obama officially declared the war in Afghanistan over at the end of 2014, but he also promised to send more U. S. troops to the country to train Afghan security forces. The Army has not identified who those soldiers will be, but leaders with Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division are confident they will be among the first to head back to Afghanistan.

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The quality of roads and bridges in upstate New York is a concern for the state’s largest farming organization.

If a bridge isn’t sturdy enough to support a heavy tractor or dairy tanker, say Farm Bureau policy director Jeff Williams, it creates a major hassle for farm hands, such as added time and detours onto more traveled routes "which isn’t particularly safe on the highway, and it leads to more diesel fuel costs and the like," he said.

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will end his long reign as the head of the Assembly on Monday, say the Democratic members of the Assembly who announced they will hold a new election for speaker on Feb. 10.

After two long days of closed door meetings, as Assembly Democrats reacted to the mounting fallout from Silver’s arrest on federal corruption charges, the Democrats now say Silver will leave his post.

But Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, who will serve as interim speaker for about a week, was cryptic when describing how the speaker will actually exit.  

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Syracuse common councilors agreed this week to accept more military hardware for the police department through a state grant program, but not every lawmaker is on board with accepting the equipment.

Among the items on the list of equipment the $100,000 grant will obtain are: entry rams, tubular assault equipment and a Bearcat Ram-Cam four-way monitor. Democrat Jean Kessner wonders why police need it.

"We're a city. We're not a war zone," Kessner said. "I don't know what they are. I can't pretend to know, and that's kind of a problem."

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Updated, 7:46 p.m.

Democrats in the state Assembly have emerged from two days of closed door discussions on whether, then how, to remove and replace the leader of their conference, who has been charged with corruption.

Assemblyman Joe Morelle, the majority leader from Rochester, told reporters Tuesday evening that Sheldon Silver will be removed from his post.

"On Monday, there will be a vacancy in the office of speaker," he said.

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Update: 9:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27 --

Assembly Democrats are planning to huddle behind closed doors again in Albany today, trying to decide their next move.

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In last week's State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour across the state and $11.50 in New York City by the end of 2016. The increase isn't a done deal though.

State business leaders criticize the measure they say would force them to slow hiring and cut hours.

Sharon Stiller, a Rochester-based employment law expert, says any change will affect state businesses.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2015 spending plan includes a sizeable amount of money for upgrades to the Port of Oswego.

In his recent combined State of the State agenda and budget plan, Cuomo pledges $65 million to upgrade the state’s infrastructure network, part of what helped build upstate’s economy decades ago.

"From Albany to Oswego to Syracuse to the Port of Ogdensburg to the Binghamton rail yard, you have to be able to move goods in and out," Cuomo said. "And this investment will help make it possible."

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Syracuse lawmakers have gone on record calling on the New York State Department of Transportation to replace the Interstate-81 viaduct that runs through the city with a street-level boulevard. The move further defines the debate over what to do with the aging highway, which is reaching the end of its lifespan.

Common councilors have voted unanimously to support the option that would tear down I-81 and force traffic around the city, using Interstate-481.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Upstate University Hospital has won a “comprehensive stroke center” designation by a national health care accrediting agency. But what does that mean for central New York stroke victims?

Catherine Stephens, the administrator of the Upstate Stroke Center, likes to say “time is brain” when emphasizing how important it is for stroke victims to get fast treatment. So as soon as Upstate is alerted of a patient with a possible stroke, the team goes into action.

Captain America, the superhero, may not be the guy most people associate with health insurance, but Sherry Tomasky of New York State of Health says he can still help their cause by catching the attention of people of all ages.

"They remember these from when they were kids and now their own children are enjoying a resurgence of these characters," said Tomasky.

Captain America is just one of many masked heroes that have been spotted at shopping malls around the state. Thanks to a partnership with Marvel, Tomasky says they've been able to reach a whole new demographic.

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Charter schools across New York State could be getting a boost, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of State address last week, proposed adding another 100 slots to the state’s charter school cap and lifting the regional limit on the schools. One non-profit charter school operator in the Syracuse area is already bursting at the seams and looking to expand.

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The sheriff of Fulton County, which rests in the southern Adirondacks, is no fan of New York's fairly new gun control laws, but he  is causing a stir by telling residents there to ignore part them.

A provision of the SAFE ACT, passed in the early days of 2013, requires pistol owners to renew their permits every five years, beginning in 2018. But Fulton County is part of a pilot program to get people to register early. Sheriff Thomas Lorey says he signed up for the pilot program to know what it’s about.

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is expected to present a plan to Assembly Democrats Monday, in which he would temporarily relinquish his power as Speaker to a small group of Assembly Democrats.  

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In his annual budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to make changes to the state’s power grid.

The changes to utility regulation are meant to make it easier for local, small-scale producers to get their power to customers. In Cuomo’s budget is a 10-year $5 billion investment in a Clean Energy Fund.

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Breast cancer is the deadliest cancer for women in the United States. So what are the risk factors for this kind of cancer? And can anything be done to minimize them?

This week on “Take Care,” Dr. Ann Partridge discusses how to decrease the risk in the development of cancer. Partridge is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, the founder and director of the Program for Young women with Breast Cancer and the director of the Adult Survivorship Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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A tooth has been bothering you for a couple of days now, maybe for the first time – but maybe not. Tooth pain can be just that, a pain, but with new options in the field of dentistry, you could be pain free and chomping at the bit in no time.

This week on “Take Care,” Dr. Phillip Sheridan explains how dental implants work. Dr. Sheridan is an associate professor of dentistry in the Mayo Clinic’s dental specialties department.

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