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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Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A court ruling doesn’t seem to have quashed the bad blood between the Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci and County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s administration. Both sides are claiming victory following a lawsuit that accused county lawmakers of illegally giving themselves and other elected officials a raise last year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Surrounded by dozens of central New York firefighters in Syracuse on Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer launched a push to create a national firefighter cancer registry.  

The idea is to get a closer look at a cancer risk Schumer said can be double that of others because of exposure to toxic chemicals.

It used to be a badge of honor for a firefighter to come back to the station with a dirty, charred uniform. No more, according to Syracuse firefighter Mike Valenti.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The opioid epidemic claims more victims than those who die of an overdose. Families, friends and loved ones are left living through grief singed with shame and judgment. But there’s now somewhere they can go to get help in central New York.

Quinnika Ayers of Syracuse lost her son Drequan Robinson last year to a lethal cocktail of MDMA, Zanax and fentanyl. He was a student at SUNY Morrisville, and was found unresponsive at a friend’s home after a party. Ayers says Robinson had a troubled youth, but felt he’d turned a corner—or so she thought.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

An experiment in government consolidation has failed in central New York -- a victim of a difference of opinion over how to create jobs and promote economic growth in Syracuse and Onondaga County and the continued deterioration of the relationship between the mayor and county executive.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Nine central New York law enforcement agencies are supporting Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) in his re-election bid. Katko, a freshman Republican, worked with many police professionals during the years he was a federal prosecutor in Syracuse. 

At Forman Park in Syracuse Monday, Katko said there are ways he would like to support law enforcement at a time when racial issues surrounding police officers are widely reported.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

A bill vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month would have given Madison County some of the cash the Oneida Indian nation pays to state as part of a compact that’s been in place between the state and the nation since 2013. Madison County didn’t have gaming at that time, but it does now, and officials say it’s only fair that the county should get in on some of the gambling revenue. 

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) says a veto usually means the end of a story.  But he’s sees a glimmer of hope in this case, in the governor’s veto message.

Jason Lawrence / Flickr

Along with insurance issues, handicapped accessibility has become one of the roadblocks to getting ride sharing services in upstate New York.

State lawmakers expect to make expanding ride sharing services to upstate New York a priority this upcoming legislative season, including Uber and Lyft. But they’ll have to get past the insurance and taxi lobbies, and also may also find roadblocks from the disabled community.

Access CNY Executive Director Paul Joslyn says it’s a matter of making sure disabled riders aren’t left out.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Advocates for the disabled in central New York aren’t standing still for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of legislation that would have improved the working conditions of the professionals that take care of disabled New Yorkers. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The discord over the presidential election continues to filter down into a race for Congress in central New York. The question of whether freshman Republican Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) would support Donald Trump continues to dog the campaign for the 24th Congressional District.

The questions started coming this spring: would Katko, trying to win re-election in a district rated as a toss-up, support Trump, a controversial nominee.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature has approved a $1.3 billion budget for next year. The spending plan includes the lowest tax rate ever in Onondaga County, and lawmakers agreed on a water agency consolidation that will save money down the road. But lawsuits and early retirement offers hung over much of the budget decision.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will vote Tuesday on County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s $1.3 billion budget. Legislators have made some tweaks to the spending plan following budget hearings. But a dispute over staffing cuts in the comptroller’s department could be the most controversial issue.

WRVO News File Photo

New York State is touting online voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles this year, noting that more people then ever used the online system last month. However, with the deadline to register just days away, local Board of Election officials suggest potential voters be wary of it, and to make sure they get registered pick up or download a registration form and mail it in.

Onondaga County Republican Elections Commissioner Helen Kiggens has been skittish about the DMV system since last spring’s presidential primary.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

At a forum in Syracuse Thursday, members of the disabled community were able to explain to local, state and federal candidates the issues that mean the most to them during this election season.

Issues that impact people with disabilities run the gamut -- from access to housing, to the disabled sub-minimum wage, to making sure hearing impaired immigrants have support in their native language.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is hoping to establish a women’s suffrage commission that would help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.

The underlying effort of this commission would be education says Gillibrand. And the concept takes her back to 1976, when she was ten years old and the Freedom Train came to town to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial.

Colleen Deacon for Congress; Congressman John Katko

In each of the last three congressional elections in the Syracuse area, incumbents have been big losers. But that trend could change this year if results of the first independent poll for the 24th Congressional District race hold steady.

The 24th Congressional District seems to be a district that defies convention. According to Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg, voters tilt slightly to the left of center on the issues. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans, and district voters are solidly behind Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

22nd Congressional District hopeful Kim Myers is making a push to become more well-known in the most populous part of the district that stretches from the eastern part of Oswego County, to the Mohawk Valley, to the Southern Tier.

Flanked by several local politicians and supporters in Utica Monday, Myers, who’s a county legislator from Broome County, at the other end of the sprawling 22nd District, promised to be very visible in the Mohawk Valley, if she’s elected to Congress.

Anna Stewart Ibarra / Upstate Medical University

One Upstate Medical University scientist continuing to study the Zika virus is taking a socio-ecological approach to a virus that has caused major outbreaks of disease in the Americas.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

A study of how individuals in the region travel the area shows a shift could be coming away from the traditional car-centric culture.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Republicans are hoping to put the divisiveness of a primary in the 127th Assembly District race behind them.

When all the ballots were counted, only 40 votes separated winner Vince Giordano, and Michael Becallo in the Republican primary for the seat that’s currently held by Democrat Assemblyman Al Stirpe. Becallo’s name will still be on the ballot on the Conservative and Reform Party lines. But he’s asking his supporters to ignore that.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Tax breaks from New York state are helping Welch Allyn add jobs to it’s Skaneateles Falls factory, and ensure that the company stays in central New York.

Nine hundred people currently work at Welch Allyn in Skaneateles Falls, creating the medical technology found in many doctor’s offices. The company’s been a central New York mainstay for a century, but when Hill-Rom Holdings of Chicago bought Welch Allyn 18 months ago, there was concern it would leave the area.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s been a week since a federal corruption investigation exploded in New York state, bringing fraud and bribery and charges against developers and state officials for allegedly running a pay-to-play scheme involving upstate economic development projects.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo admits it’s been an emotional time for him personally because one of the accused, Joseph Percoco, is a former top aide and a longtime Cuomo family friend.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

One top Republican New York state lawmaker doesn’t think there is any kind of new law that will end the public corruption in Albany.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who is deputy Senate majority leader, says he hears all the time from New Yorkers who say state laws should be changed to stop public corruption in Albany. But DeFrancisco notes that recent cases of corruption all involved elected officials or aides breaking the current laws.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Libertarian Party is trying to make a name this political season, which has disaffected some voters from the major political parties. Alex Merced believes a Libertarian option gives him an edge in a race against incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Merced jumped in the race against Schumer in what he calls a “weird political year.” And he points to the ease of getting signatures to get on the ballot as a sign that this year will work to his advantage.

City of Syracuse

The city of Syracuse is hoping a civic “hackathon” can make some sense of all the data it’s collected about its streets.

The city is partnering with AT&T and Syracuse University’s iSchool, to look for ways to use all the information to create new apps or analysis which can be used to help city government improve roads. Syracuse Information Technology officer Sam Edlestein says there is a lot of information out there.

COR Development / QPK Design

The rejuvenation of Syracuse’s Inner Harbor could be a victim of a federal public corruption case that centers on economic development projects funded by the state across upstate New York. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse Jazz Fest will celebrate its 35th year next year. And it will do that at Onondaga Community College, it’s home for the last several years, and with the expected full support of Onondaga County government. That didn’t seem like a sure thing after several days of controversy over a budgetary move.

Ed and Eddie / Flickr

The Syracuse City School District has launched an attendance initiative, urging the community and families to make sure children to go to school every day.

School officials estimate that, depending on the school, between 25 and 40 percent of students miss at least 18 to 20 days of classes a year in the district. That’s 10 percent of the total number of days in a given school year. Chief Academic Officer Linda Mulvey said it is the definition of chronic absenteeism.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

With a little less than two months before election day, Onondaga County’s Republican Party is hoping to move forward with a united front. A potential challenger to Chair Tom Dadey’s leadership was brought into the fold after a weekend of intense discussions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Visitors to Onondaga Lake Park have always been able to rent bikes. But now a new bike share program makes the whole process a lot easier.

Big white and orange bikes are attached to bright orange bike stands at the park, available for anyone who wants to take them for a spin on the seven miles of trails that hug the shore of Onondaga Lake.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There seems to be plenty of interest from Onondaga County employees in an early retirement program. County officials hope that interest is real, because if not enough employees take advantage of it, there will have to be layoffs.

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