Ben Walsh

Syracuse Common Councilors Monday unanimously approved Mayor Ben Walsh’s first city budget.  The $245 million spending plan didn’t stray much from Walsh’s original proposal.

Majority Leader Steven Thompson said aside from some changes in school spending prompted by the state budget, lawmakers agreed to Walsh’s budget blueprint. It is a spending plan that includes an $11 million deficit, something that was an accomplishment for the first-year mayor. Early projections showed the city facing a more than $25 million deficit.

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.

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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.

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.

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Syracuse Common Councilors began budget hearings this week over Mayor Ben Walsh’s proposed $245 million spending plan, and anyone can watch. It marks the start of live streaming of council activities, offering residents the chance to watch what happens on the city website, or YouTube channel.

Council President Helen Hudson says it’s about time it's easier for residents to watch government in action.

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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s first proposed budget asks lawmakers to use $11 million from the city’s savings account to cover a budget gap. It’s a deficit Walsh says is less than originally anticipated, after asking individual city departments to change their budget requests.

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Experts on urban design and public policy offered their insights on replacing the elevated portion of Interstate-81 in Syracuse at a recent forum at Syracuse University. Some of the speakers favored a community grid option over a larger highway or tunnel.

The state Department of Transportation said the elevated viaduct has reached the end of its useful life and they will select a preferred alternative when a draft environmental impact statement is made available early next year.

syracuselandbank.org

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is hoping the city of Syracuse comes through with some funding to keep the non-profit agency afloat. 

Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright said without some help, the organization that buys dilapidated tax delinquent city properties with the goal of selling or demolishing them, will be out of savings soon.

“If things keep going the way they’re going, we’ll deplete our fund balance by the first quarter of 2021,” said Wright.

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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.

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In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, local leaders are convening a task force that will create a blueprint for school safety in central New York.

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says a massive government failure played a part in the Parkland tragedy.

“Parkland was a blueprint for government disaster," FitzPatrick said. "Ineffectiveness of almost every institution in Parkland that was designed to protect children in Parkland failed."

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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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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. 

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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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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s transition team released a report highlighting the priorities of the Walsh Administration, including recommendations on how to improve the city’s finances. Some team members said the financial crisis is real, and there is a limited amount of time to fix it.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney have voiced that collaboration between city and county governments is close at hand.

After being in office just over a month, Walsh said cooperation between governments is one of the key elements of his Syracuse Rising agenda.  In his state of the city speech, he said work has already started finding ways the city can collaborate with Onondaga County.

A relic from the Matt Driscoll mayoral administration in Syracuse is going by the wayside as Mayor Ben Walsh institutes new ways of making government more accountable.

The city of Syracuse started using SyraStat in 2002. At the time, the program was meant to analyze performance of city departments by the numbers and find savings. There is even a SyraStat room near the mayor’s office.

City of Syracuse

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh placed the future of the Interstate 81 viaduct at the center of his first State of the City speech Wednesday night.

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Parts of central New York received a significant amount of snow over the weekend. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said the city is stepping up its efforts to plow streets and clear sidewalks after receiving complaints from residents in recent weeks.

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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he wanted the best and brightest people from the public and private sector in his new administration. Some of the diverse leaders on Walsh’s team have deep roots in the community.

At his swearing-in ceremony, Fire Chief Michael Monds, a 17-year veteran, said as a young man growing up on Syracuse’s south side, one of the poorest areas of the city, Monds never thought about becoming a firefighter.

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Today is the first official day at the office for Syracuse’s new mayor Ben Walsh. He has much of his staff in place - a mix of newcomers from outside government, and many city hall holdovers from the Miner Administration.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse has a new mayor. Ben Walsh officially became the Syracuse’s 54th mayor at midnight, and Walsh’s swearing in ceremony Sunday was a family affair.

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Syracuse Mayor-elect Ben Walsh said he will authorize a new class of 25-30 police officers this spring. Walsh also announced he is holding a nationwide search for the city’s next police chief.

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Four Syracuse councilors with decades of experience are stepping down at the end of the year, mostly because of term limits. The councilors reflected on their time in office, and the challenges still ahead for the city.

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Syracuse Mayor-elect Ben Walsh is hosting events to hear residents’ concerns before he takes office. Walsh has also organized a transition team and has begun hiring his administration.

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In January, Syracuse Mayor-elect Ben Walsh will become the first mayor of Syracuse not affiliated with any political party. When it comes to governing, that lack of a party label shouldn’t make it more difficult for Walsh to navigate City Hall.

Tom Fazzio / Syracuse University

On November 7, voters in the city of Syracuse did something they hadn't done since 1913: elect an independent mayor. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Syracuse Mayor-elect Ben Walsh. They discuss Walsh's transition, his priorities for the new administration, the relationship between national and local politics, and what he learned on the campaign trail. 

Members of the CNY Solidarity Coalition brought their anti-Trump agenda to Syracuse's independent Mayor-elect Ben Walsh Wednesday. The activist group wanted to know if they could rely on Walsh’s support on a number of issues. 

Barb Lane is a Democrat who voted for her party’s mayoral candidate in the past election, Juanita Perez Williams. She came out to the meeting to make peace and move forward.

“I think he did well but he’s got to prove to me that he’s not a Republican,” Lane said.

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Former Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Maxwell is leading the transition between Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration and the newly elected independent mayor, Ben Walsh. As the different departments at city hall prepare briefings on their operations, Maxwell, who will act as a liaison between the two administrations, said there is a reoccurring theme.

“How do you continue to provide effective community services with ever more challenging budgets?” Maxwell asked.

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A week after being elected Syracuse’s first independent mayor in 100 years, Ben Walsh is getting to work. Walsh met this week with the outgoing Miner Administration, as he begins crafting the first mayoral administration without the backing of a political party.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse independent Mayor-elect Ben Walsh’s decisive win on Tuesday could be seen as an opening for more independent candidates to successfully run for office in the future.

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