Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County.  Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 

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Onondaga Citizens League

The Onondaga Citizens League is trying to get a sense of just how plugged in central New Yorkers are to their community with a year-long study that found some issues, and suggestions on how to improve things. Researchers found plenty of agencies and organizations that help a plethora of issues, but they also found many struggling. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SUNY ESF in Syracuse has a new interim president to replace Quentin Wheeler, who resigned earlier this year after disputes with faculty.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

The Syracuse Social Security field office holds a dubious distinction in New York. It has the largest backlog of any office in the state.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says it can’t keep up with requests because of a lack of resources, and a flood of new retirees.

"The Syracuse hearing office has a backlog of 9,000 claims," Schumer said. "That’s a lot of people in a city of 200,000. It takes 620 days for a hearing. So if they’ve not given you the money your entitled, you will wait two years, or one and three quarters.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is expanding a program meant to improve compliance with housing codes.

The Tenant-Owner-Proactive (TOP) program started last fall on the city’s northside. It makes the code inspection system more proactive. Code inspectors establish relationships with tenants and landlords before code violations get too bad, and the city is forced to take legal action.

"We’re shocked by the numbers we’re seeing with owner compliance without sending out violation letters," said Ken Towsley, head of code enforcement.

hiddenheroes.org

The city of Syracuse and Onondaga County have been designated as a Hidden Heroes community, which signifies support for Central New Yorkers who care for military veterans.

While many Americans will be watching fireworks and parades and lighting up barbecues at family gatherings this Fourth of July, the celebrations for some military veterans will be starkly different.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Starting this month, geriatrics becomes its own clinical department at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. The change reflects a societal change with more and more older people needing specific attention.

Geriatrics had part of the Department of Medicine. This move puts it on the same level as other specialties, such as Surgery, Psychiatry and Neurology. Upstate Geriatrician Dr. Sharon Brangman will be the new department's inaugural chair, and said the new department will change the way older patients are cared for.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro is putting ethics issues at the top of his campaign. During a stop in Syracuse Thursday, Molinaro has a list of proposals he thinks will make for better government in Albany.

Syracuse City School District

Thousands of children in the city of Syracuse recieve free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches during the school year. Now that summer vacation has started, however, those lunches go away. So the Syracuse City School Disrict is once again this trying to bridge the hunger gap this summer.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Central New York Democrats resoundingly chose Dana Balter over Juanita Perez Williams as their candidate to take on Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) in November. Balter won Tuesday’s primary with more than 60 percent of the vote and the enthusiasm of passionate supporters across the 24th Congressional District, despite being down in the polls.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

There is a record setting wave of candidates running for political office this year. Most are women, and most of them are Democrats. Two are running for the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District, which covers all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the western part of Oswego County. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

Upstate University Hospital is getting into the pharmacy business. A new pharmacy run by Upstate, has opened near the main entrance of the downtown Syracuse hospital. Pharmacy manager David Geloso said their goal is to fill all patients' prescriptions before they go home.

“Get them from sitting in a bed in the hospital and get them home to recuperate," Geloso said. "Once they are home and they want to stick with their pharmacy, they can have those prescriptions tranferred to their home pharmacy."

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Graduates from the Syracuse City School District this June will walk off stage with more than a diploma. The district is joining elections officials to make it easier for graduates to vote.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer than one in four New Yorkers between the age of 18 and 29 are registered to vote. Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said that’s why he’s happy the county and the Syracuse City School District are joining forces to make it easy for new graduates to register to vote.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Vice President Mike Pence was in central New York today for a fundraiser for Rep. John Katko, and to visit to a steel factory in Auburn.  But he was greeted by protesters as he arrived at a $1,000 per plate fundraiser at a Syracuse hotel.

Giorgio Quattrone / Flickr

Syracuse lawmakers  voted unanimously Monday to protect animals left outside in extreme temperatures. The legislation, called Adrian’s Law, passed at the city level, after Onondaga County lawmakers rejected it earlier this year.

Common Councilors unanimously approved the legislation, named after a pit bull that died after being tied up outside in below freezing temperatures in January.  

Jason Driscoll is the dog control officer who found him.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) has his first Republican opponent in eight years. Economist Janet Burman has decided to run against Valesky, in a district that stretches from the city of Rome in Oneida County into Cayuga County, and includes half of the city of Syracuse.

Burman said she and her husband almost decided to leave New York for a lower taxed state two years ago, but decided against it, because they loved Syracuse. Now she says she’s going to try to do something about those taxes, by running for state Senate.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Primary Day is less than two weeks away for two women who want to be the Democratic candidate in the race for the central New York congressional seat currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus). As their campaigns sprint toward the finish line, they face one factor beyond their control: the calendar. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Two to three women a week who walk into the Upstate Cancer Center in Syracuse with a diagnosis of hormone driven breast cancer will be affected by news this month that says it’s okay to safely skip chemotherapy in certain cases.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Organizations that help impoverished central New Yorkers get an education, find jobs or decent housing are getting a boost from a pot of state money meant to help the poor. 

Wayne O'Connor, of the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection of Syracuse, said the extra cash will help expand his organization that focuses on workforce development, starting in the middle school years.

"It will enable us to hire five youth advocates, and some support for those advocates,” said O’Connor. “Every time we add more students, we grow the culture, we grow the program, so it’s significant."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Supporters of the family of Selena Hidalgo-Calderon, an undocumented farm worker found dead on a farm in Wayne County last month, met with reporters in Syracuse Tuesday. 

It was emotional for immigrants’ rights advocates to talk about a family they knew well.

“We wish we weren’t here today. Three weeks ago a horrible nightmare began that was dear to us, an immigrant family,” said Rebecca Fuentes of the Workers Center of CNY.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Updated at 8 p.m. Tuesday

County lawmakers voted 17-0 to override County Executive Joanie Mahoney's veto of a local law that would allow the county legislature chairman to consult outside counsel if there is a conflict between lawmakers and the county executive. 

Our original story

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is hoping the third time is a charm in a back and forth with county lawmakers over letting legislators get their own legal counsel.

WRVO News File Photo

Concern about access to health care is an issue that both candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District are concentrating on as the June 26 primary date approaches.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have been operating in Syracuse for less than a year, but the local taxi business has lost substantial business. Now, local taxi drivers are going to city hall with the hopes of leveling the playing field with the ride sharing giants.

Ramona Bellavia of Bellavia Transportation has been working in Syracuse’s taxi industry for almost 30 years.

“I loved going out on weekends and having the university kids and the younger crowed," Bellavia said. "But now, they live with technology."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

One of the side effects of the opioid epidemic in central New York is the explosion of the number of Hepatitis C cases. Onondaga County now has one of the highest rates of the disease in New York State.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There will be more deputies patrolling local lakes and rivers this summer according to Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway. The department will hire a dozen retired men and women from law enforcement on a part-time basis to augment the Navigation Patrol already in place.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Designated Democratic candidate for the 24th Congressional District Dana Balter has brought abortion into the conversation as a June Democratic primary looms. Balter is questioning Juanita Perez Williams, her Democratic opponent, on the issue. Perez Williams’ participation in the “March for Life” two years ago, according to published reports, is what Balter is concerned about.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

Passengers are flying out of Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport in numbers the airport has not seen in a decade. The passenger traffic at Hancock this past April was up over 18 percent compared to April of 2017. It is the highest number the airport has seen in over ten years according to Airport Executive Director Christina Callahan. It punctuates a 10 percent increase in traffic the first four months of 2018.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County lawmakers want to make it clear that a potential study that outlines the possibility of a beach along Onondaga Lake, doesn’t mean there will be swimming there anytime soon.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York is taking the next step in the fight against climate change with something called Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA.  It’s going to be one of the major topics at a regional Climate Solutions Summit in Syracuse this weekend, as the city hopes to take the lead on an energy supply model that uses renewable energy.

Common Councilor Joe Driscoll said it’s a fairly simple solution. Because of its population, the city uses its buying clout to purchase renewable energy like solar or wind power, and provides it to residents at a lower cost.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

More cameras, both on the bodies of police officers and on the streets, could be coming to Syracuse soon. A new trial could put body cameras on 100 police officers for a year at no cost.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The lone Republican on Syracuse’s Common Council is the latest candidate to announce plans to run for the 50th State Senate district seat that's being vacated by longtime State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse).

Surrounded by family and friends in front of the family business, Joe Carni said he has unique qualifications that make him the best candidate for the job.

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