Joanie Mahoney

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Onondaga County lawmakers passed a $1.3 billion budget Tuesday amidst an afternoon of political theater. The political posturing was evident in debate over issues ranging from funding for libraries, to detailing county cars.

A two-year-old political feud between Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and county comptroller Bob Antonacci simmered beneath the surface of a more than two hour budget debate Tuesday.

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The Onondaga County shared services committee approved a county-wide shared services plan Wednesday, and local governments could be in line for $5 million in savings, plus a $5 million match from the state. 

The just over two month timeline to get something done that was required by the New York forced towns, villages, school districts and city of Syracuse to spend a lot of time communicating this summer. 

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Onondaga County lawmakers passed an ethics reform law during its meeting Tuesday. The new law stems from a simmering political back and forth between county officials, which has led to the law that will limit outside income for certain elected officials.

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Onondaga County lawmakers are looking at a trio of packages targeting ethics reform. Two spring out of an ethics proposal put forth by County Executive Joanie Mahoney in June and a third targets the Mahoney administration. At the root of this flurry of reforms is a long simmering feud between the Mahoney administration and County Comptroller Bob Antonacci.

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who sits on the county’s ethics board, says Antonacci’s outside income officiating basketball games and doing bookwork for personal clients creates ethics questions.

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Can local governments in New York better share the services they provide in order to improve quality and to save taxpayer dollars? A provision in this year's state budget calls for counties to develop proposals for greater sharing of services. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, about the process of sharing services across municipalities.

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There was a light turnout last night for the first public hearing regarding Onondaga County’s shared services proposal.

The first of three public hearings on Onondaga County’s shared services proposal will be held this evening at the East Syracuse Minoa High School. It appears there could be some keepers among a list of 95 ways to share services among governments and school districts.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney turned over a report on shared services to the county Legislature this week, as required by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s shared services initiative. The ideas range from sharing things as divers as pesticide applicators to IT services.

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The first draft of Onondaga County’s shared services plan calls for creation of a BOCES-like entity intended to help local governments efforts to become more efficient.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says it was learning the way BOCES facilitates sharing services among local school districts that inspired the proposed Greater Syracuse Shared Services Consortium.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s government reform package looks like its going nowhere fast. Mahoney needs county lawmakers to start moving soon on an initiative that includes term limits for legislators and countywide office holders, and clarifies salaries and a ban on outside employment.

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Onondaga County has been able to reduce the amount of water that rushes into Onondaga Lake through the Save the Rain Program. The county’s next goal is to get litter out of the lake.

Onondaga County has started a joint initiative with the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency called “Block Litter.” It encourages people to take a pledge to pick up litter in the street, or volunteer to recruit neighbors to help clean up trash.

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School districts across Onondaga County have met with County Executive Joanie Mahoney to discuss a county-wide effort to share government services. It’s a follow up to a meeting with local municipal leaders, in the effort to save taxpayer dollars through a state-mandated shared services plan.

Mahoney says a recent meeting with school districts was very positive, with officials immediately coming up with suggestions for saving money by sharing services.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is proposing what she calls a government redesign package, which would create term limits, and clarify salaries and outside income rules for elected officials in Onondaga County government.

Onondaga County

The Lakeview Amphitheater begins it’s second season this weekend, with a sold out Zac Brown Band concert on Saturday and Bob Dylan playing Sunday. There will be a few more amenities for concert-goers this year, as work continues on the venue.

For the first time, concert-goers will be able to arrive at the amphitheater by boat. A 25-slip dock now juts into Onondaga Lake.

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The principal recommendation of the final report of the Consensus Commission on Local Government Modernization is to establish a new municipal form of government for Onondaga County, with a single executive and a 33-seat legislature. There has been much debate on the issue, including a recent debate on the issue at Syracuse University's Maxwell School. 

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / via Flickr

The future of the much maligned gondola proposed for the New York State Fair is in flux. It’s a matter of money.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said it all comes down to priorities. Building an Expo Center that would attract events, especially horse shows, is the most important project stemming from a task force deciding how to spend $70 million in state dollars earmarked for state fair renovations. And Mahoney said initial plans for an 80,000-square-foot facility, were apparently not big enough.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney launched a new website to correct what she calls bad information regarding the Consensus recommendations on government consolidation. This comes after a debate was held at Syracuse University last week regarding the proposed city-county government merger.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / via Flickr

More renovations will continue at the New York State Fairgrounds now that $70 million was recently approved in the state budget for changes. But not everyone is happy with the proposed ideas.

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Items in the New York state budget that affect central New York were highlighted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo while he was in Syracuse Wednesday. The budget includes a continuing push for government and service consolidation.

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In a wide ranging State of the County speech last night, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney went on the defensive, saying many economic development projects, proposals and plans are often unfairly represented by critics across Central New York.

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Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci has embarked on an audit strategy that focuses on economic development. The first target is the Onondaga County Film Commission.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s administration created the one-person film commission about the same time Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to build the Central New York Film Hub. The commission is part of the county’s Economic Development Department, with the goal of attracting moviemakers to Syracuse, who could also use the $15 million film hub facility in the town of DeWitt.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney continues to be one of the only public officials willing to let the Consensus Commission proposal to create a municipal government play out. Mahoney suggests opponents are drowning out many of the facts in the debate over government consolidation.

Mahoney is on a political island locally, when it comes to the Consensus Commission proposal to create a new metropolitan government if a public referendum warrants it.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Republican majority of the Onondaga County Legislature is coming out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for government consolidation and the Consensus plan to merge the city of Syracuse and county governments. Some legislators said the governor and the Onondaga County executive are alone in their support for a merged government.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci is being considered for a job in the Trump administration. The Republican says he was approached by members of the Trump transition team to consider a job as the U.S. attorney for New York’s Northern District.

It’s a job in the past that generally goes to someone with experience as a prosecutor. Antonacci is a civil attorney, but says it’s more than the experience in the courtroom that counts.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

Onondaga County lawmakers on Tuesday will ask the state to consider eliminating tolls for local travelers on the New York State Thruway.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $30 million dollar airstrip that will test unmanned aircraft or drones will be built in central New York. The flight traffic management system is part of an overall push to drive the drone industry into the region.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney rolled up her sleeve this week, not to work, but to show central New Yorkers how easy it is to get a flu shot.

"This took me less than a minute, and if you get the flu, you are down for a couple days and you’re making everybody around you sick,” Mahoney said. “It is a much better use of your time to take one minute and get your flu shot.”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named a committee to come up with proposals for another big state investment in the New York State Fair.

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Onondaga County almost wiggled out of a multi-million dollar budget deficit with no layoffs, because of an early retirement buyout plan.

But after all the numbers were counted, the county is still looking at a half a million dollar hole for next year. County Executive Joanie Mahoney is proposing cuts that include 12 layoffs to close that gap. That means lawmakers have to go back to the budget drawing board.

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A court ruling doesn’t seem to have quashed the bad blood between the Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci and County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s administration. Both sides are claiming victory following a lawsuit that accused county lawmakers of illegally giving themselves and other elected officials a raise last year.

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An experiment in government consolidation has failed in central New York -- a victim of a difference of opinion over how to create jobs and promote economic growth in Syracuse and Onondaga County and the continued deterioration of the relationship between the mayor and county executive.

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