Onondaga County

There has been a resolution to a contract dispute between Onondaga County and its biggest union.

A majority of the 2,300 CSEA workers voted Thursday to approve the latest contract offer from Onondaga County. It follows months of negotiations between the two sides. During that time members voted down contracts offers three times and the union filed an improper labor practice charge against the county last month after the legislature voted to impose a three-year contract on workers 

For the last two weeks on the Campbell Conversations, you've heard from two proponents of the preliminary Consensus Report regarding government consolodation in the Syracuse region.  This week on the program, host Grant Reeher talks with two critics, Syracuse City Councilor Khalid Bey and Town of Clay Assessor Rob Bick.  Together, they raise concerns about the need for change, the cost and tax implications of the recommendations, political representation, the impact on education and school taxes, and the process for considering and implementing the report.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News file photo

Residents are being asked to offer up opinions about government consolidation tonight at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, the latest public forum about modernizing the way government runs in Onondaga County.  It’s the first session since Consensus CNY decided to take the public engagement portion of the process into mid-Spring.

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

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Residents of Onondaga County will have more time to have their say about reorganizing local government. There have been calls for more time to look at an 80-page report that includes 51 recommendations for changing the way government works in central New York.

The deadline for public comment had been March 16. But Friday morning, Consensus CNY extended the comment period by six weeks, to May 1.

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The Onondaga County Board of Elections is urging local villages to move their election dates to November.  

Currently, central New Yorkers who live in villages choose their mayors and all the other local elected officials in March or June. That could change if county elections officials have their way. Democratic Election Commissioner Dustin Czarny says the board is asking local governments to consider holding elections in November. Logistically, Czarny says this would be a good time to do it.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The majority of Onondaga County residents that came out to a public hearing Tuesday in Liverpool on government consolidation in the county were concerned about two issues: their taxes going up and having less access to public officials.

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It’s been a year since Onondaga County lawmakers approved the creation of a jail oversight committee, which would be an independent commission that would review serious incidents at the Justice Center and make recommendations if necessary. Now that committee members have been approved, the group can begin work in earnest.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Community activists in Syracuse are calling on Onondaga County to make changes in policies that prevent family members from seeing deceased loved ones at the medical examiner’s office in a timely manner. This often involves who are pronounced dead at a crime scene, instead of a hospital.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News file photo

There were more questions than answers at one of the first public hearings in Onondaga County on government consolidation since a report was released in January by Consensus CNY. Syracuse city residents spoke passionately and are concerned they will have less of a voice if city and county governments merge.

Consensus CNY

A series of public engagement meetings begins Monday regarding the Consensus commission's proposals to modernize government in Onondaga County.

One of those meetings will be at the Southwest Community Center. Executive Director Sharon Owens said this is the first of three meetings in February.

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Sales tax revenue is down for almost half of New York state’s 64 counties. Sales tax receipts were down across the state by 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to 2014.

Officials with the New York State Association of Counties say this is a troubling trend, because the fourth quarter includes holiday sales, which traditionally boost sales tax revenues. Officials don’t know exactly what’s causing the decline in spending. 

Courtesy Tom Dadey

Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey is endorsing Donald Trump for president. Dadey and Trump go back a few years to 2014, when he was part of a group that met with Trump to discuss a run for governor. Trump at one point came to Syracuse for a GOP fundraiser, and Dadey has been a fan ever since.

"Our economy is sluggish, we’re not respected in the world and we need somebody who is going to be a good strong leader, and I believe that is Donald Trump," Dadey said.

He said he’s not the only one in central New York with that opinion.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Change in the way government is organized could be on the way to Onondaga County. The first step towards a municipal government that includes both the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County has taken place with the release of the Consensus CNY commission’s preliminary report.

New York Invasive Species Information

Onondaga County’s ash tree management plan could be losing some momentum. The plan to take down or treat trees infected by the emerald ash borer could face cuts in its anticipated funding.

The Onondaga County Legislature Ways and Means Committee have balked at the $1 million bond that would pay for this year’s fight against the emerald ash borer infestation. They say $750,000 is a better figure in light of the county’s stagnant sales tax numbers. 


2015 was a banner year for kidney transplants at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. Surgeons performed 80 transplants, the most ever.

For the last 25 years, doctors at Upstate averaged about 30-40 kidney transplants a year, according to transplant chief Rainer Gruessner.

“The institution made a commitment to transplantation," Gruessner said. "More people came on board in terms of faculty and staff. New York State is underserved in terms of transplant facilities. And, that all contributed to the fact that last year the most kidney transplants were done at upstate.”

Consensus CNY

The discussion over consolidating government in Onondaga County will begin in earnest in the coming days.  And, it should be a lively debate.

The starting point for this discussion is Consensus CNY, the commission on local government modernization that was formed two years ago by the city of Syracuse, Onondaga County and some non-profit groups. It’s expected to issue preliminary recommendations by the end of this month.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department is starting up a couple of new programs in response to the opioid abuse epidemic in Central New York. 

Addicted inmates at the Onondaga County Justice Center will have an option to help start the process of kicking the habit, with a dose of a drug called Vivitrol. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick wants to give the youth in the county the opportunity to join law enforcement in a new four-year program. The program is designed to be a deterrent from young people joining a gang.

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.  

Matt Coulter / Syracuse University

WRVO Public Media will air the first joint interview with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney this weekend during "The Campbell Conversations." This is the first joint interview between Mahoney and Miner since a public dispute (and lawsuit) over county tax breaks given to a developer the city of Syracuse alleges it had previous arrangements with.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 agenda includes more spending on transportation infrastructure and a plan to ease tolls on the the New York State Thruway for some New Yorkers.

Cuomo unveiled the latest peek into his plans for the coming year in Liverpool yesterday, proposing $22 billion for fixing roads and bridges upstate over the next five years, in what he calls the biggest ever transportation capital plan.

Sidsel Overgaard / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon was already in the midst of learning about the connection between deer and Lyme disease last summer, when he noticed a bulls-eye rash on his son’s back.

"And I freaked out and I went to urgent care and I knew more what I was talking about than some of the folks did there. So I’ve seen on all ends of the spectrum how this can impact from a concerned parent, to talking with parents who’ve had their children with this issue, to talking with adults who’ve been bitten and have Lyme disease,” said McMahon.

The third time wasn’t a charm for Onondaga County CSEA workers, as members of the county’s largest union have again rejected a contract offer.

The vote wasn’t close: 1057 workers were opposed to the agreement, only 747 agreed with it. 

This is the third negotiated deal between Onondaga County and employees of several departments, including the district attorney’s office, the Department of Social Services and OCC.   

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An attempt to reverse pay raises for some Onondaga County elected officials is still alive, but barely. Republican Legislator Kevin Holmquist railed against the 15 and 30 percent raises for legislators and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney when they were voted on last month. Now, he's trying to get those raises rescinded.

Holmquist couldn’t get the votes to consider it at the Legislature’s organizational meeting this week and had to settle for potentially taking it through the committee process.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County legislators and County Executive Joanie Mahoney will be getting raises in January.

It will be the first raise for everyone since before the recession, when they took a break from pay increases. And, that’s been part of the problem. Because there haven’t been pay increases in such a long time, the current proposal raises pay for the county executive by almost 30 percent, and for lawmakers by 15 percent.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Raising the pay of elected officials can often be a prickly political endeavor. Onondaga County lawmakers now find themselves in the midst of it while considering potential raises for themselves and other elected county officials, including the county executive.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has not had a raise in the eight years she’s been in charge of county government. Neither have members of the county legislature. All agreed in the wake of the recession in 2008 that raises would be inappropriate. But now, the politically hot topic is coming up again.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative award to central New York signals a turning of the tide for the area. The region's economic development plan was one of three big winners in Cuomo's competition to invest $1.5 billion in upstate. At a ceremony in Syracuse Sunday to commemorate the region's success, Cuomo said this investment in upstate rights a wrong.

SU professional and technical writing / via Flickr

A six-year highway funding bill passed by the House of Representatives last week would remove $564 million from New York's current federal transportation funding.

A last-minute amendment to the House bill would move $1.6 billion in funding from seven Northeastern states to a general discretionary fund for use by the entire nation. Current law allows these high density areas to receive the extra funding because they account for half of all transit in the country. Sen. Charles Schumer said the loss of funding for New York is a travesty for the state's transit system.