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

While the idea of merging the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County isn’t getting much traction, a special legislative committee has begun work that could lead to some other kinds of government consolidation.

The Consensus Commission proposal to create one large metropolitan government is dead on arrival, according to county lawmakers, but some of the 49 other proposals in the Consensus report could have legs.

A special subcommittee is now looking over those ideas, first by identifying consolidations that could be easy to accomplish, according to chairman Kevin Holmquist.

Lindsay Fox / Flickr.com

According to a recent study by the New York State Health Department, the number of teens lighting up cigarettes in New York state has dropped dramatically in the last 16 years.

When Chris Owens, who runs a tobacco health program at St Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, saw figures showing an 84 percent drop in the teen smoking rate since 2000, he was ecstatic.

"That made me feel so good when I saw it, that drastic decrease in cigarette use by adolescents, because that’s really the key to long term tobacco abstinence,” said Owens.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As negotiations on the state budget head toward an April 1, advocates for more spending on infrastructure are keeping up the pressure on lawmakers in Albany.

Rebuild NY Now, a statewide advocacy group, is calling on state leaders to make sure infrastructure gets its due in the state budget. Infrastructure spending is a part of the current budget discussin, with $2 billion proposed in the governor’s budget and an extra $5 billion in the GOP Senate proposal.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County could soon be the latest county in the state to follow a trend that puts animal abusers on a comprehensive list.

Stephanie Heath, of the Cuse Pit Crew in Syracuse, says right now there’s nothing stopping someone who’s been convicted of animal abuse from adopting an animal from her shelter.

“When an adopter comes to a shelter, they have to do an application. And we can only go so far with an application process, and a home check and a reference check and a vet reference.”

So she is all for creating an animal abuser registry in Onondaga County.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse’s Rescue Mission has been busy in the wake of a two-day storm that dumped upwards of two feet of snow on parts of central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A youth mental health task force has identified some of the largest gaps in mental health services in central New York. The lawmakers who launched the study say they will now look for ways to fill those gaps.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

In a wide ranging State of the County speech last night, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney went on the defensive, saying many economic development projects, proposals and plans are often unfairly represented by critics across Central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Upstate Medical University is launching a program targeted at treating youth and young adults at risk for suicide or other self-harming behaviors. This comes at a time when central New York has a suicide mortality rate greater than the state or national average.

Finding psychiatric help for teens or young adults in central New York is often very hard. Families often run into medical roadblocks -- referrals, long waiting lists and simply not enough services to go around.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Democratic committee members in the city of Syracuse started interviewing candidates this weekend, as they decide who to support for an open mayoral seat. And over the weekend, one more mayoral hopeful has joined the crowded field of Democrats hoping to get the nomination.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci has embarked on an audit strategy that focuses on economic development. The first target is the Onondaga County Film Commission.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s administration created the one-person film commission about the same time Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to build the Central New York Film Hub. The commission is part of the county’s Economic Development Department, with the goal of attracting moviemakers to Syracuse, who could also use the $15 million film hub facility in the town of DeWitt.

Courtesy: The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is hoping to create a climate resilient forest on the Tug Hill Plateau.

The Tug Hill Plateau is the third-largest forest landscape in the New York state -- a critical link between the Adirondacks and the Allegheny and Appalachian mountains. Its headwaters pour clean water into Lake Ontario, and the area is home to a variety of wildlife, ranging from black bears to forest birds.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO File photo

It’s not official yet, but Syracuse Green Party stalwart Howie Hawkins expects to join the crowded field running for the mayor of Syracuse. Hawkins hopes the third time could be the charm in his races for mayor; this will be the third decade in a row if he chooses to enter the race.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO File Photo

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney continues to be one of the only public officials willing to let the Consensus Commission proposal to create a municipal government play out. Mahoney suggests opponents are drowning out many of the facts in the debate over government consolidation.

Mahoney is on a political island locally, when it comes to the Consensus Commission proposal to create a new metropolitan government if a public referendum warrants it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse Jazz Fest is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. It will be held June 9 and 10 at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse. Jazz Fest founder Frank Malfitano says this anniversary is actually an impressive milestone.

"There are very few festivals in the country that have reached age 35 and they’re all in markets larger than us,” said Malfitano.” Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey[California] Jazz Festival, that’s been around 60 years. Chicago, Detroit, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and that’s it.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The latest Trump Tuesday rally in Syracuse had a decidedly academic feel. Dozens of Trump opponents, as well as a group of Trump supporters, met in Perseverance Park to discuss the Trump administration dealings with Russia. Syracuse University Professor Emeritus, and former US Ambassador Goodwin Cooke brought some historical perspective.

Cooke says he’s not very impressed with Trump’s foreign policy acumen at this point.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

The Green Party in central New York likes the idea of creating a new government structure, just not the one put forward by Consensus CNY.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As the race for mayor fills out in Syracuse, one potential candidate continues to wait in the wings. A group of citizens is campaigning for Juanita Perez Williams, although she has yet to announce her intentions.

WRVO News / File Photo

Syracuse City Auditor Marty Masterpole is among several Democrats looking for enough party support to be the democratic nominee in the race for mayor of Syracuse. 

Masterpole, 43, has one thing other declared candidates for mayor of Syracuse don’t have: legislative experience in both the Onondaga County Legislature and the Syracuse Common Council. And he suggests that, along with six years as city auditor, makes him a candidate who can make deals with anyone from developers to other governments.

Ellen Abbott

Researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University continue to work on ways to better diagnose, and treat, ALS, a deadly neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord.

Upstate ALS Research and Treatment Center Director Eufrosina Young says studies center on something called transcranial magnetic stimulation. It helps doctors connect what’s happening in the brain with what’s happening in other parts of the body, in a disease that can often be difficult to diagnose and treat.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

At a time when refugees are mired in political debate, one Syracuse elementary school held a rally to support for its refugee population.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner isn’t backing down from her opposition to a proposal to merge the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County into a metropolitan government. The mayor doesn’t see any benefit to city residents in the 50 proposals included in the final report of the Consensus Commission on government consolidation.

Miner says if followed through, the recommendation to create a metropolitan government, would leave the city in a weak position on a couple of fronts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The Syracuse chapter of the NAACP has concerns about the potential appointment of Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci as a U.S attorney.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Consensus Commission’s final report on government modernization for central New York is in. There are 50 recommendations that propose government consolidation in the areas of infrastructure, public safety, municipal operations and economic development. 

Upstate Medical University

Low-wage workers in Syracuse continue to face physical and mental health issues, according to the latest Upstate Medical University report on the issue.

Over the past three years, the Low-Wage Workers Health Project has talked to more than 500 workers in Syracuse making less than $15 an hour. Director Jeanette Zoeckler says their stories show the same kinds of physical issues are faced in all kinds of jobs -- from retail, to health care, to administrative support.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

“Buy American” has been the rallying cry on a number of fronts this month, from President Donald Trump in his inaugural address to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Buy American” plan in his legislative agenda for 2017.  And boosters of manufacturing in central New York say the Syracuse-area could benefit from the attention.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

Today is the open enrollment deadline for anyone who wants to sign up for private health insurance through New York’s marketplace program called the New York State of Health. Navigators with ACR Health in Syracuse continue signing up individuals for health care plans, in the shadow of a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

A Syracuse agency that resettles refugees in Syracuse is beginning to deal with the fallout of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees from entering the U.S. over the next four months.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Human service agencies from across central New York have joined the fight to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase funding in the state budget for the non-profits that help disabled New Yorkers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Republicans believe they have a candidate in place that can put Syracuse City Hall back in GOP hands. Laura Lavine, currently the superintendent of the LaFayette School District announced she’s running for mayor Thursday.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a Made in America proposal in his state budget, but a group of breakaway Democrats in the State Senate has its own idea about promoting goods manufactured in the United States. 

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