Catherine Loper

Director of Regional News Content

Catherine comes to WRVO Public Media following a 20-year career as broadcast reporter, senior producer, newsroom manager, and, most recently, Director of News for the Washington Bureau of the Fox News Channel. From 2007 to 2010 she was Director of White House Coverage for the network. She has held similar positions at Canadian Television Network, ABC NewsOne and APTN.

Loper had a M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from University of Illinois at Springfield and a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and History from University of Southern California.

Ways To Connect

Tim Gee / Flickr

New York politicians are raising concerns that the sale of medical device manufacturer Welch Allyn could put central New York jobs in jeopardy.

When Hill-Rom announced Wednesday morning that it is acquiring Welch Allyn, it did not say that any jobs would be eliminated at the Skaneateles Falls-based company. But that's what was immediately on the mind of the lawmakers who represent the central New York in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Wednesday he had a “call in” to company representatives to find out more.

SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego is expanding to Syracuse.

The state university has had an extension site on Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse for a little over six years. Now the New York State Board of Regents just approved designating SUNY Oswego's Metro Center a "branch campus." That means starting in fall 2016, SUNY Oswego student will now be able to complete degree and certificate programs in Syracuse. Currently, students are required to take a course at the main campus.

Sean MacEntee / Flicr

 

A bill introduced this week in Congress tackles student privacy online. It would limit how educational technology companies can use the data they collect. In New York, similar rules are already in place, and they’re at work every day at one upstate school where technology is everywhere.

Sarah Latimer directs technology at Chenango Valley schools, and she thinks about privacy a lot.

“We’ve kind of had that conversation ongoing in New York for a little while now,” she says. “It’s been a very hot topic.”

Ken Teegardin / Flickr

Sen. Charles Schumer used this year's tax deadline to call for more help for the victims of tax refund fraud, which he said is the most common form of identity fraud.

The New York Democrat told reporters Wednesday that he is pushing legislation that would create a new resource at the Internal Revenue Service for the victims of refund fraud, which he says affected 70,000 New Yorkers and 2.3 million Americans last year.

Central New York will need to innovate and come up with new ideas about how to address the needs of its senior population. That was the message of a forum held to discuss how to shape an age-friendly region.

Ed and Eddie / Flickr

Education reforms were one of the most contentious parts of this year's state budget. But while most of the attention went to negotiations about teacher evaluations and standardized tests, new policies also were put in place for dealing with failing schools. 

Melinda Shelton / Flickr

The changes to the teacher evaluation system that the New York state legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted received much attention in this year's budget debate. The focus has often been on the role of standardized tests in teacher evaluations. But the way the new reforms will change how the classroom performance portion of the evaluation is conducted is now generating some concern as well. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

New York state Sen. Dave Valesky is among those who are calling this year's budget process a difficult one. The central New York senator and member of the Independent Democratic Conference says that's because of the numerous policy proposals that were included in the governor's original budget plan. 

Valesky says it's not surprising that many of the non-spending items were removed -- like the Dream Act, raising the minimum wage and property tax relief. And the senator says that's probably a good thing. 

www.co.oswego.ny.us

The Oswego County hearing in the case of Heidi Allen resumes Tuesday after a six-week break. Gary Thibodeau is seeking a new trial, claiming there is new evidence pointing toward his innocence. He was convicted of kidnapping Allen from the convenience store where she worked in New Haven more than 20 years ago. The defense wrapped its case last month, but Syracuse Post-Standard reporter John O'Brien, who has been covering the hearing, reports that Thibodeau's attorney has asked the judge if she can call new witnesses before the prosecution begins its case.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

The New York State Assembly and Senate are each rejecting key proposals in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. Both chambers are submitting what's called one-house budgets -- their counter proposals to the governor's spending plan.

In the Assembly, where Democrats hold the majority, the one-house budget does not include Cuomo’s education tax credit, which would allow donors to give money to the private or public school of their choice and receive nearly full credit for the donation on their state taxes.

NYSenate.gov

In the wake of the arrest of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges, many legislators and the governor have floated proposals for ethics reform. Republican State Senator Joe Griffo (R-Rome) is pushing for a change he started fighting for even before this latest scandal -- term limits.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

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.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Government watch dog groups say the arrest of one of the two most powerful men in the New York legislature on fraud and corruption charges highlights the need for better state laws against wrong doing. Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted that the charges against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are “a bad reflection on government."

Silver faces five federal counts, including bribery and conspiracy. He was released on $200,000 bail Thursday.

Auburn's First Presbyterian Church is in a dispute with city officials who say the church is operating a commercial business in a residentially zoned property.

The dispute started in July when the city cited First Presbyterian and told the church not to hold its annual summer glee camp at the church's historic Case Mansion, saying it’s a commercial enterprise being conducted in a residentially zoned area. The camp charges $100 dollars per child to help cover the costs of the program and materials.

Marie Cusick / Innovation Trail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will prohibit hydrofracking in New York state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said at a cabinet meeting this morning that he was recommending a ban. Cuomo had repeatedly said he would defer to Martens and acting health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in making the decision.

Republican John Katko, who beat incumbent Dan Maffei to represent the 24th Congressional District, has picked for his senior staff a mixture of familiar central New York faces, an experienced Capitol Hill staffer, and colleagues he has worked with before.

Familiar to many in Syracuse is Tom Connellan, who has worked for the Syracuse Police Department for 25 years. Connellan will become Katko's district director, leading the local staff here in central New York. Connellan has most recently been the press spokesman for the Syracuse police.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Congressman-elect John Katko is finding out more about what his responsibilities will be when he is sworn in to the House of Representatives in January.

It won't become official until next week, but preliminarily it appears that Katko will serve on two committees, Homeland Security and the Transportation and Infrastructure committees. The first plays to the Republican's experience as a former federal prosecutor, as Katko dealt with border issues while working in El Paso.

Office of the Attorney General (file photo)

New York state finds itself with a five billion dollar surplus -- something that hasn't happened in a while. It's thanks in large part to bank settlements orchestrated by the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In a recent interview, Schneiderman said the money should be put in a special infrastructure fund. The attorney general says regions with economic problems hardest hit by the housing crash should be targeted to receive some of the funds.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Evacuation plans are being prepared and the Red Cross is setting up shelters as rising temperatures begin to melt seven feet of snow that piled up in some parts of the Buffalo area, causing a risk of flooding.

Temperatures approached 50 degrees in Buffalo on Sunday and are expected to be near 60 today. The National Weather Service said street flooding should be expected in urban areas where storm drains are blocked by the heavy snow.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse-area Congressman-elect John Katko is heading to Washington, D.C. today to begin a week-long orientation session for freshman lawmakers.

The Republican has named a 12-member transition team, which includes former GOP Rep. Jim Walsh.

The team will hire staff and create an agenda for Katko’s first 100 days in office. The transition committee draws from the public and private sector, including Ryan McMahon, chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature, former House of Representatives staff members and a personnel recruiter.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

After Tuesday's election, gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins declared that the Green Party is now the "third party" in New York state politics.

Hawkins, who is from Syracuse, earned about five percent of the vote statewide, but did the best in Tompkins County where he received more than 16 percent of the vote.

Opposition to the natural gas drilling process known as hydrofracking is a big part of the Green Party's platform. Hawkins says in the months to come the party plans to build on the momentum of what he called a big Green vote.

New Channel 9 WSYR

Democrat Dan Maffei and Republican John Katko met for their sixth and final debate of a race that has been contentious and full of attacks.

The News Channel 9 debate Sunday night saw both candidates make accusations, beginning with the race's many negative campaign ads and the fundraising needed to pay for them. The moderator asked both candidates whether or not they would need to answer to those who donated to their campaigns from outside the 24th Congressional District.

Katko pointed out that Maffei has had more money to spend in this race.

Ryan Delaney/WRVO and Katko for Congress

Republican John Katko and incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei largely stuck to the issues in their latest television debate Tuesday night. The two candidates took stands on the economy, Common Core and U.S. military action in Syria on the half-hour debate on CNY Central.

But on the issue of what to do about the aging span of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse, neither candidate had a definitive answer.

Katko said the options that have been presented are good ones, but he needs more information.

Will O'Leary / NPR

Fans of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday know that host Scott Simon is more than just a radio host. As an author of a variety of books from novels to very personal non-fiction, Simon was invited speak to the Friends of the Central Library's 20th season of the Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series. WRVO News Director Catherine Loper spoke with Simon about his upcoming visit.

Catherine Loper: So you're coming to Syracuse to talk to the friends of the Central Library's, part of their author lecture series. What are you going to talk to them about?

David Sommerstein/NCPR

The green party candidate for Congress in the North Country's 21st district, Matt Funiciello, is coming under fire for his opinions on the September 11 terrorist attacks. Earlier this week, it was reported that Funiciello has questioned whether or not the U.S. government has told the truth about why the World Trade Center was destroy and Pentagon was damaged.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says he believes President Barack Obama would get bipartisan support if he comes up with a strong plan to deal with the militant Islamic group ISIS, which has taken responsibility for beheading two American journalists.

While in Plattsburgh Wednesday, Schumer said the execution of the second journalist sent shockwaves around the world.

NYS Democratic Party

Aaron Woolf, the Democratic candidate in the North Country's 21st Congressional District, released his first television ad today.

Woolf, a documentary filmmaker, is running against Republican Elise Stefanik and Green Party candidate Matt Funicello to replace retiring Democratic Congressman Bill Owens. Woolf's television commercial says that if elected, he would be willing to work with Republicans to get legislation passed.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo/Flickr

Election Day is less than three months away, and despite a recent scandal that gained national media attention, Gov. Andrew Cuomo still is leading the race. That's according to the latest Siena college poll. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with pollster Steven Greenberg, who explained why. 

Catherine Loper: What are the main findings in this latest Siena poll about the governor’s race?

Michael Johnson / Flickr

An attempt by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's supporters to get his Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, off of next month's ballot has been thwarted.

Teachout has been declared eligible to run on the ballot next month. A Brooklyn judge issued the decision Monday afternoon, quashing arguments made by Cuomo supporters who say Teachout did not met New York's five-year residency requirement. They argued that she had a Vermont driver's license until this spring and spent the majority of her time there.

A new report recommends that New York simplify its organ donation process, because 18 people die per day in the state awaiting a transplant. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield conducted the study. The company's medical director, Dr. Martin Lustick, says they found that just 22 percent of New Yorkers are registered donors, compared to 48 percent nationally.

"Unlike states that have a high rate of registration, our process for registering is somewhat more cumbersome than the average across the country," Lustick said.

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