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. 

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The Onondaga County Legislature will vote Tuesday to fund a portion of the Loop the Lake trail around Onondaga Lake. At least one legislator said the money would be better spent elsewhere.

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More than nine million New Yorkers had their personal data exposed last year according to a new report from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. That is more than four times the number of New Yorkers impacted in 2016. The vast majority of the exposed data in 2017 came from the breach at consumer reporting agency Equifax.

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Parents and teachers shared concerns on school safety at a forum held this week by the Syracuse City School District and Syracuse Police Department. Several recurring issues were raised to administrators and law enforcement. The forum was held in response to the high school shooting in Florida last month. 

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Onondaga County and concert promoter Live Nation have found a sponsor for the naming rights of the Lakeview Amphitheater. Elected officials said they want to make sure the county gets the best deal possible.

Legislator Brian May, chair of the county legislature’s Ways and Means Committee, said it is Live Nation that is negotiating the contract.

“It’s very important for us to allow them to get their ducks in a row, internally, before we start discussing the details,” May said.

May said a deal with the sponsor could be reached next month.

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The Syracuse Common Council passed legislation expanding its rental registry to require interior inspections of all rental properties, including one and two-family dwellings. But some councilors said the law is overreaching, ineffective and a possible cash grab.

Requiring interior inspections of rentals has been two years in the making for Councilor-At-Large Khalid Bey. He said there were no requirements for interior inspections of one and two-family rentals, where most complaints come from.

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More than a thousand people flooded onto the streets of downtown Syracuse in solidarity with the “March for Our Lives” protests across the country on Saturday. 

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The Syracuse Common Council and Onondaga County Legislature will soon begin live-streaming their meetings to the public. The goal is give more residents the opportunity to see their government in action.

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Medical professionals at Upstate University Hospital are urging the New York State Assembly to pass legislation that would require skiers and snowboarders under the age of 14 to wear helmets. Experts say injuries on the slopes can be more severe than accidents on bicycles.

Upstate Pediatric Trauma Medical Director Kim Wallenstein said every year, the trauma center sees about 10-20 children admitted following an accident from snow sports, and many more are seen as outpatients for things like concussions.

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The State Assembly is proposing an additional statewide surcharge on ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft in its spending plan. The funds collected would be used on transportation services.

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Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) joined elected officials and activist groups in Syracuse Monday to protest the Republican tax overhaul passed by Congress in December. Demonstrators fear the tax cuts will be paid for by cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

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Local criminal justice advocates are trying to put pressure on Albany to reform the justice system. 

A local coalition is trying to build support for proposed legislation in Albany that, among other things, eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors or low-level felonies.  Syracuse attorney and activist Herve Comeau said the inequalities of the cash bail system really hit home for him last December.

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The New York State Public Service Commission has approved of National Grid rate hikes. Over the next three years, the monthly electric and gas bills of residential customers could increase by about $16 dollars. The plan includes a discount program for low-income customers.

A spokesperson for National Grid released this statement.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has started publicly making her case over how she would like to distribute the sales tax revenue collected in the county.

Mahoney said she is worried about potential anti-city sentiment ruling the day, in negotiations that create a formula to share sales tax revenue between the county and local governments. So, she turned a portion of this year’s State of the County speech into a primer about ways the county helps town and village governments.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

As part of National Walkout Day on Wednesday, high school students in Syracuse organized a rally to remember the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting and support more gun control. Some educators hope the movement will create more politically engaged students.

Saoirse Murphy-Collins, a junior at Nottingham High School, helped organize Wednesday's protest in the school’s gym.

“The problem with gun violence is a really big issue in this nation and we’re trying to get it under control so more students don’t die and people get hurt,” Murphy-Collins said.

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High school students in Syracuse are calling for more gun control in solidarity with student walkouts across the country to honor the victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Ana Kreidler-Siwinski is a junior at Nottingham High School and helped organize a rally in the school’s gymnasium.

"I believe we shouldn’t stand by and be silent," Kreidler-Siwinski said. "Better late than never. Gun laws should be stricter in the future. If there were less easy ways for people with mental illnesses to grab guns, people with criminal records, then it would be better for society."

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A divided crowd got into a heated debate at a recent Syracuse school board meeting over whether the district should change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Some said changing the name takes away a part of the history of Italian-Americans.

Last year, after requests from some students, the Syracuse City School District changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day / Columbus Day. Now, Andy Mager with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation and others are appealing to the board to drop Columbus altogether.

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A school safety task force met in Syracuse recently to discuss procedures that can prevent or reduce the damage of a school shooting. Teachers and students want to know how safety in schools can be improved immediately, before a longer list of recommendations is made in August.

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Experts on harmful algal blooms in bodies of water across upstate are developing plans and informing the public on solutions to the problem. The blooms can negatively affect drinking water quality and recreational use of lakes. A series of summits, including one recently in Syracuse, are part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to reduce the blooms.

City of Syracuse Facebook page

The U.S. Small Business Administration in Syracuse offers a free program to help local business owners grow their companies. The SBA wants 15-20 new participants for the program this year.

The production facility for Recess Coffee in Syracuse is where all the roasting, baking, cold brew and administrative needs take place. Co-owner Jesse Daino said participating in the Emerging Leaders program helped them buy the facility.

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Many school districts in central and northern New York have faced threats following the Florida high school shooting last month. It has resulted in school shutdowns and arrests of some students for making terroristic threats. As law enforcement aggressively investigates these incidents, some experts say it is a lack of emotional skills that is causing them.

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Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he wants to address the issue of mass shootings, especially in schools., and there are some measures Katko is signaling he could support.  

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Residents in the city of Syracuse recently weighed in on what they want the city to do about snow covered sidewalks. Now the city has outlined options to address the problem.

Corey Driscoll Dunham, Syracuse’s director of operations, said the feedback from the city’s snow safety summit shows people want the city to take a more active role in sidewalk snow removal and they said they are willing to pay a fee for it. Dunham said the city has three options: citywide municipal sidewalk snow removal, priority area snow removal, or an enhanced ordinance and city approved contractors.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Deputies with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office have been going through active shooter training for the past few months. Officials said they are also open to training civilians on how they should react to such an event.

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Legislation that would require interior inspections of rental properties in the city of Syracuse is being held. Some on the Syracuse Common Council are divided on the issue.

Councilor Khalid Bey said Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration asked him to hold the legislation so the new corporation counsel could become versed on it over the next two weeks.

“The next agenda, we’ll be right back talking about it," Bey said. "We’ll gage where the administration is. By then, I would think that they will have determined if they need three months, six months to prepare.”

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Over the weekend, the Onondaga County Democratic Committee chose Syracuse University professor Dana Balter as their congressional candidate in the 24th District.

Balter won overwhelmingly with 73 percent of the vote. She also carried the designation for Oswego, Cayuga and Wayne counties earlier this month. The district seat is currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who has an advantage of about $1 million over Balter in fundraising. Balter said she will not accept money from corporate PACs and she said she is interested in small dollar donations.

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Protests outside of central New York Republican Rep. John Katko’s Syracuse office have been ongoing this week, including a rally on gun control. Following last week's high school shooting in Florida, some of the protesters were teachers who said Katko is doing nothing to fix the problem.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Facebook Page

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is hosting public classes known as C.R.A.SE. or Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events, which teach how to survive an active shooter situation. The curriculum, adopted from Texas State University, is a mix of training videos and case studies of prior active shooter incidents.

Dpt. Sheriff Carrie Mangino said there has been a reignited interest in the classes among the community following last week’s high school shooting in Florida.

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The Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse is celebrating its 90th anniversary. The theater has recovered from financial troubles it has had in previous years.

Landmark Executive Director Mike Intaglietta said 2017 was a breakout year for the theater with 145,000 people walking through the doors.

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Sidewalk snow removal was a top concern among Syracuse residents who attended the city’s recent Snow Safety Summit. The city asked residents to weigh in on solutions to snow removal problems. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Smartphone users can download a new app to receive public safety alerts from the Syracuse Police Department. The app has more features than a previous version.

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