Campbell Conversations

Last week, Campbell Conversation host Grant Reeher spoke with former Congressman Jim Walsh and CenterStateCEO President Rob Simpson about the Commission on Local Government Modernization’s Consensus Report regarding government consolidation.  Their conversation continues this week, with a focus on the objections that have been raised about the report’s recommendations, and how those recommendations might impact taxes, schools, and other important aspects of life in Central N

It’s called the Consensus Report, but so far it’s generating anything but.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with two contributors to the Commission on Local Government Modernization’s report. Commission co-chair and former Congressman Jim Walsh, and CenterStateCEO President Rob Simpson. This is the first of a two-part series, and this week the focus is on the problems with the region’s current government structure, and the process for moving forward based on the Commission’s Report.

When columnist Sean Kirst announced he was leaving The Syracuse Post-Standard, there was a public outpouring of appreciation and loss.  Described as the heart and soul and the face of the paper, Kirst had chronicled the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the city and its people.  On this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Kirst about his decision to leave, the place of writing in his life, his future plans, the newspaper, and some pressing local issues.

This week on the Campbell Conversations two local political analysts engage in a lively exchange with host Grant Reeher about the Iowa caucuses, the upcoming New Hampshire primary, and the remainder of the nomination process.  They also look ahead to the general election, and discuss whether the fundamental dynamics of presidential politics are changing. Chris Faricy is a political science professor at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and has prior experience as a field director in a Democratic congressional race.  Michael Backus is the Clerk of Oswego County, a former staffer for

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The 24th congressional district, a seat currently held by first-term Republican John Katko, promises to provide a lively and competitive race this coming November.  Three Democratic challengers have emerged, each emphasizing different strengths of background and expertise. 

This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with two veteran Syracuse area lawmakers about the upcoming legislative session, and about the governor's influence over the legislature--and what his overall political agenda has been.  State Senators John DeFrancisco and Dave Valesky offer contrasting views about the governor's use of executive orders, and the need for legislative reform, but largely agree on what the session is likely to focus on, and share an optimistic view of the state budget being passed on time. 

Matt Coulter / Syracuse University

The conflict between the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County over tax abatements for the development of the Inner Harbor of the city has raised questions about the working relationship between the mayor and the county executive.  On this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher discusses this conflict with both Mayor Stephanie Miner and County Executive Joanie Mahoney, in their first joint appearance to discuss the issue.  In a spirited but respectful conversation, the two executives set forward their views of what was done, what should have been done, and why.

Matt Coulter / Syracuse University

After listening to WRVO's Friday news excerpt from the Campbell Conversations interview with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, the Post-Standard's Chris Baker wrote that it embodied a "a more civil approach to the dialogue than previous exchanges."  I want to expand on that impression.  

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The 24th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), is already attracting a lot of Democratic hopefuls, with nearly a year to go before the 2016 election. One of those hopefuls is Colleen Deacon, a former aide for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Before that, she served as press secretary for former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll. 

The city of Oswego faces many of the same economic challenges facing cities all over upstate New York, including plant closings and the flight of you, educated adults from the area. One young adult who has stayed in Oswego is Billy Barlow. At 25, Barlow was elected mayor of Oswego and will be the youngest mayor in the state when he takes office in January. 

This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher has a wide-ranging political discussion with Matt Bennett, a vice president of a centrist Washington think tank.  Bennett argues that the Democratic Party is in the worst shape it’s been in, in over 80 years, despite holding the White House for two terms and enjoying what appears to be a growing demographic advantage among the population.  They also discuss the current presidential field and Hillary Clinton’s potential to be a genuine agent for change in Washington.

How did avowed socialist Jeremy Corbyn recently win election as Labour Leader in Britain, on an anti-war, pro-refugee platform?  Are there lessons from that election which might apply to the U.S., and to the presidential run of Bernie Sanders?  Are these rumblings of potentially more far-reaching political revolutions in the West?  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher explores those questions with Jon Trickett, the first Member of Parliament to nominate Corbyn for Leader, and now one of his closest advisors.  

Many political observers have expressed deep concerns about how America’s response to the threat of terror has affected our democracy, and the rights that secure it.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Cornell professor Sidney Tarrow, who has written a new book that takes an expansive, historical look at how war, state authority, and democracy interact.  They explore the effects of the creation of a new American “security state” post 9-11, what lessons we might draw from other nations’ past experiences, and what’s different about our current situation. 

Local elections were held around the country last Tuesday, and while the Syracuse region did not contain the drama of the Kentucky governor’s race or the Houston equal rights ordinance, there were nonetheless some local results of note, and some tea leaves embedded in the details of expected outcomes.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher mines those with two local political reporters, Teri Weaver of the Syracuse Post-Standard and Ellen Abbot of WRVO Public Media. 

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Offices like city auditor are essential for good governance, yet they tend to received very little attention.  In their only joint media appearance, host Grant Reeher questions the two candidates for Syracuse City Auditor, Democrat incumbent Marty Masterpole and Green Party challenger Howie Hawkins.  They debate whether the office has engaged in enough audits, audits of appropriate significance, the quality of the office staff, and the role that the office plays in trying to address the challenges facing the city.

The Onondaga Nation occupies a unique place among the many groups making up an increasingly diverse Central New York--it's the oldest and most traditional of all peoples, still governed through processes handed down for centuries.  How does the Nation fit with these other newer groups?  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher talks with Joe Heath, the general counsel of the Nation since 1982.  They discuss that topic, as well as land claims and how the Onondaga fit with the other Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. 

The problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been widely reported.  But for a long time, there was just one journalistic voice crying in the wilderness, the National Catholic Reporter.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Tom Fox, editor of the publication during those early years of exposure.  They explore the experience of trying to cover the problem when others wouldn’t touch it, and how it is being dealt with today.  They also discuss the worldwide phenomenon of Pope Francis.

The departure of State Assemblyman Sam Roberts for a cabinet post in state government created the need for a special election this November.  Two of the candidates vying for the 128th district seat are Democrat Pamela Hunter, a Syracuse Common Councilor and Republican John Sharon, an attorney.  On this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations, the two share their views on Syracuse's poverty problem, the proposed increase in the minimum wage, the Common Core, and I-81, among other topics. 

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Congressman John Katko has tried to position himself as a moderate within the Congressional Republican Party.  One local Democrat who’s not convinced about this is Eric Kingson, the Syracuse University professor recently announced his candidacy for Katko's 24th district seat.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with the Democratic challenger, and explores his views about Katko’s voting record, and Kingson’s own plans for expanding the Social Security program. 

Note: This conversation took place before House Speaker John Boehner announced his intention to resign from Congress at the end of October.

When the House of Representatives voted recently to defund Planned Parenthood, central New York Republican Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he voted to stop funding the organization temporarily while the House investigated a series of videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal body parts for research -- which is illegal.

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This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher is joined by first-term Congressman John Katko, who represents central New York’s 24th district.  The wide-ranging discussion covers the funding for Planned Parenthood, poverty in Syracuse, Katko’s effort to be moderate and bi-partisan, his campaign support from the Republican Party’s Patriot Program, and the Republican presidential field.

Note: This interview was recorded before Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of October.

Last time on the Campbell Conversations, we heard from the North Country's first-term Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.  This week, host Grant Reeher talks with the Democrat who wants to unseat her in 2016, retired Army Colonel Mike Derrick.  Derrick is getting an early start and is trying to build what he calls "a start-up" campaign.  Their conversation probes for the most important differences between the two likely candidates in the general election, and Derrick's reasons

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Elise Stefanik, New York's first-term congressional representative for the North Country's 21st district, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.  At issue in her campaign last year was just how moderate the young Republican would be when she reached the chamber.  Host Grant Reeher talks with her about her record so far, what she views as her most important accomplishments, and how well Congress is currently functioning. 

The synthetic marijuana problem has been particularly severe in Syracuse. The drug even got its own name here:  Spike.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Steve Featherstone, a journalist who has recently written a piece on the drug for the New York Times Magazine.  The two discuss what Spike is, the reasons for its appeal among users, its dangers, and why it’s so hard for law enforcement to combat and control it. 

This week on the Campbell Conversations, the discussion returns to millennials—how are their lives and views different from the generations that have preceded them, especially the Baby Boomers?  Are these differences permanent, or will millennials begin to act and think like previous generations as they age?  Host Grant Reeher talks with Paul Taylor, author of The Next America:  Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Show

Missing from the Campbell Conversations recent series on poverty was a discussion focused on rural poverty.  In this edition of the program, host Grant Reeher fills that gap with a conservation with Lindy Glennon, director of the Cortland County Community Action Program.  They discuss the particular challenges and prejudices facing rural poor people, and how best to help them.

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The Republican party has a demographics problem, which extends beyond Donald Trump's recent comments on immigration. Front and center in this problem is the party's appeal among millenial voters. This week, host Grant Reeher speaks with Kristin Soltis Anderson, a republican pollster and author of "The Selfie Vote."

As an entertainment franchise, the Syracuse Chiefs, Syracuse’s Triple-A professional baseball team, are in a challenging situation—trying to generate attendance and fan loyalty when the performance of the team is a byproduct of the decisions made by its parent organization, the Washington Nationals.  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher talks with Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol about dealing with that challenge, and others, including finances.  We also learn what a cowboy monkey is. 

Baldomero Fernandez

  What has been the role, not of liberalism, but of the genuine Left, in recent American politics?  What is its agenda, and its future?  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with The Nation's editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, on the magazine's 150th anniversary.  They cover domestic politics and policy, inequality, and America's role in the world.  They also look at the curre

This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with the internationally acclaimed Oneida Nation singer and songwriter Joanne Shenandoah.  They discuss music, peacemaking, and politics, as well as her recent work to reduce violence among Native American children.  Their political conversation touches upon the tensions among the Nations of the Iroquois when it comes to policies like casino gambling. 

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