City of Syracuse

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Syracuse City Hall is fine tuning an open data policy, after a two-week public comment period.

The policy is expected to launch later this month, and offers residents an easy way to access to public information involving the work of city government. Mayor Stephanie Miner says so far, the city has gotten good feedback about the proposed policy.

Tom Magnarelli

The Syracuse Common Council has passed a budget that includes some controversial changes to what Mayor Stephanie Miner had proposed. Miner said she will veto the changes.

The council has cut overtime from Syracuse’s fire and police departments by $1 million each. But Councilor Steven Thompson said the money cut for police overtime has been shifted to hire new officers.

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The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins is officially in the race for mayor of Syracuse. 

Hawkins last ran for the office 12 years ago, on a “Sustainable Syracuse” platform. He’s retrofitting that same slogan for 2017. 

“What I’m talking with sustainability -- and this is the vision we want to go in the next four to eight years -- is a city that has a sustainable prosperity," Hawkins said. "Sustainable fiscally, economically and ecologically.”

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The Syracuse City School District is asking for $10 million less than what it initially requested for the next fiscal year. This comes after New York state decided which additional aid requests it would grant and which ones it would reject from the district.

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Dozens of alleged members of one of Syracuse’s most notorious gangs are off the street following Operation Bricktown, the first series of arrests in an initiative from the New York state attorney general’s office to get drugs off the streets.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman came to Syracuse Thursday to announce the arrest of more than 50 individuals with 370 crimes, ranging from drug dealing to murder conspiracy charges. Many of the individuals are allegedly members of the Bricktown Gang.

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A deficit of more than $18 million currently exists in the proposed budget of the city of Syracuse. About $13 million dollars is being allocated in overtime to the police and fire departments. Some councilors say the way to reduce overtime is to hire more staff.

Syracuse Fire Chief Paul Linnertz said the department has 28 firefighters in training.

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Democrats in upstate New York say they may be down from the losses they suffered in the 2016 election, but not out. Party officials hope the pushback to the Republican administration in Washington, D.C., will sweep local Democrats to victory later this year. 

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Four diverse Democratic candidates are competing for a diverse, open district council seat in Syracuse. The district encompasses Syracuse University, a burgeoning downtown and some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the city.  

The candidates are all close in age, ranging from 29 to 31, but they are all bringing something different to the race. Jeremy DeChario runs a food cooperative in the Westcott neighborhood.

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Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed budget includes increases to schools and police, but also an $18.5 million deficit. Miner said the city’s fiscal problems are similar to what other upstate municipalities face.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The city of Syracuse received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice last year to develop a pilot police body camera program. But the program still has not been implemented.

The issue is what kind of policy the Syracuse Police Department will have for their body camera program. First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile said their policy was ready to go when new guidelines from the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union made police go back to the drawing board and change it.

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Syracuse’s Youth Council, a group of young people learning how the city’s government works, sat in on their first Common Council meeting in March. The youth council is expected to recommend topics the Common Council should take action on.

Allana Moore is a freshman at the Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School in Syracuse. She said she joined the Youth Council because the problems in the city are critical. She lives on the west side of Syracuse and said she has seen a lot of violence in her area.

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Law enforcement was forever changed after a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014. There are lessons to be learned from the incident, according to the police chief who played a role restoring peace after the police shooting of Michael Brown and the violence that followed.

At a seminar in Syracuse, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told police public safety leaders from across New York state that relationships between police and the community are key to keeping the peace in case something like Ferguson happens.

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Sean Kirst's stories about the people of Syracuse and the trials and tribulations of the area were a beloved feature of the local newspaper, and are still missed. Kirst has a new book out based on those columns, The Soul of Central New York. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Kirst to talk about the book, the news media and some of the challenges the city of Syracuse is facing.

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Construction will begin soon on Syracuse’s Near West Side to create OnTECH, a charter school targeted towards helping refugees and at-risk students get their high school diplomas.

OnTECH founder Ellen Eagen describes the mission of the school as “dovetailing this child who’s on the cusp of falling off of the educational pipeline with an employable skill set and with this idea of reengaging them with their curiosity in education.”

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The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is once again a top earner of grant funding from the office of the New York state attorney general. The funding is awarded from mortgage settlements the attorney general’s office made with big banks after the housing crisis.

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The New York State Fair will be a little friendlier for young families this year. Suggestions from fairgoers submitted in recent years have complained about the lack of areas for families to tend to their children.

Acting director of the fair Troy Waffner says that's why they have constructed new baby care centers that will offer privacy for nursing mothers and a place for families to change diapers in an air-conditioned and safe environment. 

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The city of Syracuse has developed a business web portal that allows users to access information to start or grow their businesses. The database application is meant to spur economic development in small businesses.

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Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick has joined other law enforcement officials across the state in recent days who are criticizing "raise the age" legislation that’s being debated in Albany.

Raise the age would take 16- and 17-year-olds accused of certain crimes out of the adult justice system and into family court. Advocates say dumping teens into the adult criminal justice system makes it much harder for them to get their life back on track.

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The Community Development Block Grant is funding distributed by the federal government to local governments and states to use on housing and economic and social development. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget eliminates CDBG funds. That means some programs in Syracuse could be hit hard, if not eliminated, by the cut.

The Syracuse Common Council recently approved the distribution of nearly $4.5 million in CDBG funding for this year. Syracuse Common Councilor Helen Hudson said that means the city’s community centers and housing partners can stay on track.

The Syracuse Police Department is updating the way they keep track of gangs and gang violence in Syracuse.

At the city’s common council meeting this week, the council approved the department’s request to purchase a new software system called Gangscope. The program is an online database that allows authorities to closely monitor gang activity. Syracuse Police Department Captain Richard Trudell said their current database is outdated and sees this new technology as a way to be more proactive against gang activity.

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Despite receiving an invitation, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) did not attend a town hall in Syracuse on Saturday organized by the CNY Solidarity coalition. Those who did attend are urging the central New York Republican to oppose the actions of President Donald Trump’s administration.

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Syracuse Democratic Councilor Khalid Bey is looking to expand his influence by running for an open at-large seat on the Common Council in November. Bey is the chair of economic development in a city where growth is lacking.

The city of Syracuse is ranked last in economic growth out of the top 100 municipalities in the U.S., according to a new study from the Brookings Institution.

Bey said it is at the discretion of the mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner, to negotiate and enter business contracts and to decide how to spend the city's money.

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Snow showers and freezing temperatures did not stop protesters in Syracuse from rallying to end the deportation of immigrants on Wednesday. Members of the Workers' Center of CNY demonstrated in support of one of their own.

Dolores Bustamante, a Workers' Center board member, faced an immigration hearing in western New York Wednesday. Some feared Bustamante could have been detained and deported. Minnie Bruce Pratt, of Syracuse, said Bustamante is a linchpin in the fight for humane conditions for immigrant workers.

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.

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The city of Syracuse wants to spend $3 million less on road reconstruction than it did last year. That has some councilors worried about road conditions.

The city’s budget office said Syracuse has been posting deficits for a number of years now. That’s one reason why the mayor's administration asked the Common Council to approve $2.5 million to improve streets, rather than $5.5 million like they did last year.

The measure passed, but Councilor Nader Maroun said roads need to be more of a priority.     

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Public debate continues in Syracuse about President Donald Trump's policies, including his newly ordered travel ban. The executive action temporary suspends the visa process for six majority-Muslim nations and refugees.

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After three years of rejection, the city of Syracuse is again applying for federal funding to reduce childhood lead poisoning. The money would be used to eliminate the hazards in a home that can result in lead poisoning. Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development Paul Driscoll said this year’s application will also include inspecting homes for other potential dangers.

"It could be mold, radon, asbestos or pest infestation that leads to asthma," Driscoll said. "We’re trying to address all the health hazards in a house with one visit, one application."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Republican candidate for mayor of Syracuse Laura Lavine said she would turn the city around like she has with the Lafayette School District. Lavine has spent 40 years in public education and is in her third year as the district’s superintendent. Lavine said she would use her administrative skills as mayor.

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Every week, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner hosts a protest against President Donald Trump focusing on how Trump’s actions affect local residents. Each rally deals with a specific issue like healthcare, climate change, and most recently immigration. A few Trump supporters have been coming to the protests and Miner has defended their right to speak up in favor of the president. After last week's rally, two central New York women, Tina Higgins of Syracuse and Carol Puschaver of Liverpool, have very different points of view but started having a conversation.

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.

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