Tom Magnarelli

Reporter, Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Not since 1984 has Syracuse missed its annual Jazz Festival, but it was announced last week the event will not take place this year. The festival’s organizer said he needs to develop a more long-term, sustainable financial model to keep the festival going for years to come.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci has won the Republican designation in the race to fill retiring central New York state Sen. John Defrancisco’s seat. The 50th district, which includes parts of Onondaga County, has been in Republican control for decades. Antonacci won over Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Carni, who Antonacci said has agreed to support him and not challenge him in a primary. Antonacci said he has the best balance of business and government experience to fix Albany.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

A new $62 million Exposition Center at the New York State Fairgrounds is on schedule to be completed and open in time for this year’s fair. The expo center could help the fair recruit larger shows to the region.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

In a 4-3 split, the Syracuse Common Council rejected a waiver item to allow the parks department to buy bulk food and paper products from Walmart. Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene said Walmart is not the ideal corporate citizen, in terms of how much employees receive in wages and benefits.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Last week, demonstrators in Syracuse marked the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic, which refers to the migration of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the independence of Israel. The Syracuse rally was held the day after the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces at the Gaza border.

Ashley Bohrer, a member of the Syracuse chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, said President Donald Trump’s decision to move the embassy was horrifying.

Concerned Citizen YouTube Page

A top official at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse has resigned amid allegations he fabricated stories about his service with the U.S. State Department. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media File Photo

Disciplinary hearings were held last week for 15 students involved in a racist and sexist fraternity video at Syracuse University. An SU professor advising three of those students at the hearings said it was not an open and fair process.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said this week that the tax reform law passed last year is helping companies and employees in the region. Katko said the economy is on a path of sustained growth. 

Syracuse University

Syracuse University is investing $118 million dollars in renovations to the Carrier Dome as part of SU’s 20-year Campus Framework plan of projects. The renovations include a new roof for the dome, which will change what has been an iconic part of the Syracuse skyline for the past several decades.

Airbnb

The village of Cazenovia is considering regulating short-term online rentals like Airbnb, after complaints from residents pressured the village board to do something. The board is trying to find a balance between bringing in outside visitors and protecting the quality of neighborhoods.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Local Republican members of Congress are united in supporting President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. Rep. John Katko, Rep. Elise Stefanik and Rep. Claudia Tenney said the deal was flawed and gave too many concessions to Iran.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse’s new corporation counsel said she is looking forward to the creation of a Municipal Violations Bureau to lighten the law department’s workload. The new bureau would be responsible for taking on less serious cases of code enforcement.

Syracuse Corporation Counsel Kristen Smith said the bureau would consist of administrative law judges who could review violations and issue fines. 

Allyn Family Foundation

A public market and food hall is being planned in downtown Syracuse by the Allyn Family Foundation, which was associated with the medical device manufacturer Welch Allyn.  The new building is supposed to fit into the foundation's mission of community development.

Meg O’Connell, the executive director of the foundation, said the idea of a downtown public market has been floating around for years, but it has been difficult to get one organization to take the lead. 

Former-Syracuse parks commissioner Lazarus Sims pleaded guilty to stealing money from the city. Sims, who was suspended in March, resigned from his position earlier Monday.

In an apology letter, Sims admitted to taking $5,400 after falling on hard times financially. He apologized to those he hurt, including young people who looked up to him as a role model. Sims said he hopes to someday regain the trust of the community.

Sims was hired as parks commissioner in 2015, and was a Syracuse University basketball player in the 1990s.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse Schools Superintendent Jaime Alicea said the district has made significant progress in the last four years, while they have been complying with an agreement known as the Assurance of Discontinuance with the state attorney general’s office. The agreement is in its last year and was originally put in place because the district had one of the highest suspension rates in the country.

Sheila Sicilia

Immigration activists in Syracuse have been filming federal border patrol agents questioning the citizenship status of travelers at the Regional Transportation Center. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection said those agents are following the law.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is pushing for legislation that would provide more access to funding for employee-owned businesses. Gillibrand said there is an urgency to create more opportunities for retiring baby boomer business owners.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Hearing officers with the New York State Board of Elections have ruled that Democratic congressional candidate Juanita Perez Williams has enough signatures, by a slim margin, to be on the primary ballot. This comes after more than half of the signatures collected by Perez Williams in the 24th congressional district race were invalidated by the board of elections.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The New York State Department of Labor is holding hearings across the state to gather input on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to eliminate minimum wage tip credits. Many restaurant workers who attended a hearing in Syracuse said they are against the plan.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Monday is the last chance for Syracuse residents to attend a public meeting where they can offer their input on what criteria they want for a new chief of police. Some at the meetings said they hope the next chief will bring change to the department.

A group of women sit around a table at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse. There are surveys with questions asking what experiences and qualifications should a new police chief have in order to be successful. Anna Morris said she wants to know the person’s character.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon said Gov. Andrew Cuomo could be doing a lot more to protect undocumented immigrants in New York State. This comes after last week’s raid on a dairy farm in Rome by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Standing outside an ICE field office in Syracuse, Nixon said Cuomo’s fiery words on threatening to sue the agency are welcoming.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse University students are demanding changes to a system they say is oppressing marginalized groups on campus. This comes in the wake of racist and sexist videos from the Theta Tau fraternity, which got the organization expelled. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Emotions ran high at a “Stop the Violence” prayer rally on Syracuse’s south side yesterday, where in the past three days, three people have been killed in separate incidents in the area. Caroline Battle said her niece was one of the people murdered.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media File Photo

Everything is on the table, according to Syracuse University officials, including expulsion, for the 18 students involved in racist videos by the Theta Tau fraternity. SU officials said it will be a fair but expeditious disciplinary process.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County Democratic Committee member Diane Dwire made a general objection last week to the petitions collected by Democrat Juanita Perez Williams in the race for the 24th congressional district.

Perez Williams is challenging the designated Democratic candidate Dana Balter, after entering the race less the two weeks before the petitions were due.

Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said it is typical that campaigns will file general objections to their opponents' petitions, but it is difficult to get someone knocked off the ballot.

The Daily Orange YouTube page

A fraternity at Syracuse University has been suspended after a video was released showing members engaged in extremely racist behavior.  Students on campus are shocked and angered by the video. 

University officials describe the Theta Tau video as anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist. Hundreds of students participated in a protest and dialogue on campus Wednesday. Student Association President James Franco said students expressed their feelings, shared their experiences, and discussed actions that could be taken.

WRVO News / File Photo

Suspended Syracuse parks commissioner Lazarus Sims was charged with third-degree grand larceny after an audit from City Auditor Marty Masterpole found money missing from the department. The audit also revealed other areas where the department is at risk for errors and fraud.

Masterpole said the Syracuse Common Council came to him with an initial red flag about the parks department that turned out to be nothing. But in the process of conducting the audit, Masterpole said they found something else.

Syracuse’s suspended parks commissioner Lazarus Sims was arrested and arraigned in court this morning, charged with third-degree grand larceny, a felony. Sims is accused of stealing property worth more than $3,000.

The Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office started an investigation after an audit by City Auditor Marty Masterpole revealed discrepancies in the parks department’s permitting process.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he is saddened for the city and for Sims. Walsh said Sims has done a lot of good for Syracuse, particularly for young people.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Monday that now is the time to get Canada to end a program hurting upstate’s dairy industry, as President Donald Trump's administration renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA.

Howie Hawkins for Governor / Facebook

Syracuse's Howie Hawkins announced Thursday that he is running for governor on the Green Party line for the third time. Hawkins said a victory does not necessarily mean winning the race.

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