Politics and Government

Political news

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney took a page out of recommendations made by the government consolidation group Consensus for one of the cornerstone proposals in her 2017 proposed budget. Mahoney wants to merge the agencies that deliver water to taps across Onondaga County.

The way things work now, the county-run Metropolitan Water Board is in charge of bringing water to Onondaga County. Then OCWA, the independent Onondaga County Water Authority, sells it to businesses and homeowners.

Mahoney’s plan would fold the operations of the county-run department into OCWA.

Ryan Lawrence, the man accused of kidnapping and murdering his 21-month-old daughter, Maddox Lawrence, has pleaded guilty to first and second-degree murder in Onondaga County Court. As part of a plea deal, Lawrence will be sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

New Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain maps for Onondaga County will go into effect November 4. Protesters on Syracuse’s south side are upset that some of the poorest homeowners in the city will be required to buy flood insurance.

CREDO.fracking / Flickr

A group of state lawmakers is teaming up with environmental groups to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to ban the use of wastewater from hydrofracking and other oil and gas extraction from being spread on public roadways.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Colleges and universities in central New York are reaching out to ITT Technical Institute students after the school announced it would be closing all of its campuses across the country.

University College at Syracuse University will waive its admissions deadline and provide assistance to former ITT students in transferring credit and applying for financial aid.

Rosemary Kelly is an assistant dean at University College and said they will hold information sessions with prospective students.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Utica Common Council is moving forward with a plan to re-pave every road in the city after they voted last week to override the mayor's veto. The 15-year project will cost $75 million.

Mayor Robert Palmieri opposed the plan because it could require Utica to borrow more than $48 million. He said locking the city into long-term debt is ill advised. Councilman David Testa is also skeptical about the cost, noting that the plan already calls for an annual .74 percent property tax increase. 

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Religious and labor advocates rallied Monday at the New York state Capitol as part of a nationwide movement, known as Moral Mondays, urging state lawmakers to take more progressive stances on issues.

The Rev. Emily McNeill, who heads the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, said her group is not as concerned about the topics promoted by the evangelical right, including opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

Instead, she said, the groups are focusing on helping the poor, battling global warming, increasing voter participation, and rights for immigrants.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Common Council voted against requiring interior inspections of rental properties, either by consent or warrant, every two years. The measure failed by a 5-4 vote.

NY State Assembly

A well-known state assemblyman from the Rochester area has died in an apparent suicide. A police officer saw Bill Nojay shoot himself near his family’s cemetery plot about 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Nojay, a 59-year-old radio talk show host, had served in the Assembly since 2013. The conservative Republican was facing a primary challenge in next Tuesday’s primary for re-election to a third term. His Democratic opponent has suspended campaigning for now.

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb expressed sadness and shock.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Utica Common Council has rejected a plan to build an asphalt plant on the north side of the city that many residents said threatened the community's progress. 

At a standing-room only meeting at Utica city hall Wednesday night, the restless crowd waited for the committee meeting to end ahead of the full council session.

Impatience eventually boiled over after they got wind that the council was considering tabling the vote on the sale of the property. So, they stormed into the adjacent room where the council committee meeting was taking place.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner faced an intense grilling from lawmakers Wednesday at a joint hearing on how the administration handled water contamination in the eastern New York village of Hoosick Falls.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

At the Hemlock Haven Christmas tree farm in Sandy Creek, Oswego County, frail, burnt orange pine trees stand out in sharp contrast to their emerald green neighbors. Owner and operator Michele Forsyth said with combined drought and sustained heat this summer, she's lost more than 10 percent of the trees on her farm. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri has vetoed a plan from the Utica Common Council to re-pave every city road over the next 15 years. Palmieri said the $75 million project would place a "substantive burden" on the city's residents. 

Utica's charter currently requires the city to invest $2 million a year in paving. Under the common council's plan, residents would be asked in a referendum this fall to increase that amount to $5 million.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Democratic congressional candidate Kim Myers toured the Fenner Wind Farm in Madison County on Thursday calling for more renewable energy. Myers said she would support more tax breaks and incentives for renewable energy if she is elected.

“It’s a matter of not waiting until we’re at the cliff," Myers said. "We have the opportunity now to get more communities and companies to bring this type of renewable energy to our communities.”

Myers also said she supports nuclear power because it is cleaner than fossil fuels.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said there is no political agenda behind a series of audits critical of some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs. The democrat said the auditors in his department are simply calling shots as they see them.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Fire Department is making a change from using EpiPen auto-injectors to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. More than 460 agencies statewide are participating in the Check & Inject NY training program to use syringes rather than the EpiPens.

Emergency medical technicians will now draw out the drug and inject it rather than using the EpiPens which are spring-loaded injection tools. Lt. Brian Falise of the Syracuse Fire Department said the reason for the switch is because there has been a steady increase in the price of EpiPens over the past few years.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney wants to offer a voluntary, $10,000 buyout for eligible county workers to retire this year. The Onondaga County Legislature would have to approve the program.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes legislation signed last week meant to tighten campaign finance rules is a step towards fighting the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, which has allowed political spending by groups like corporations and unions to grow dramatically. The new legislation includes restrictions on independent group expenditures, which Cuomo says cuts to the core of who’s giving money to what candidate.

Duffy proposes state lawmakers form upstate caucus

Aug 26, 2016
Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

State lawmakers in upstate New York should form an "upstate caucus." That idea was floated this week by Bob Duffy, the former lieutenant governor, who is now president of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

Duffy says upstate lawmakers should join in a bipartisan way, to help advance the interests of the region.  As an example, he points to the recent bills approved raising the minimum wage, which did address the different economic needs of upstate and downstate.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

After cutting the ribbon yesterday to open this year’s edition of the New York State Fair, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the $50 million renovations that have gone into the New York State Fair this year is just the beginning. The Democrat says he will be asking state lawmakers to help with more changes at the more than century old fairgrounds.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A solar project planned for Utica will now be built in the town of Lisbon in St. Lawrence County. The city of Utica can still receive all of the power from the site.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is leading a commission that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State next year. In advance of that, she’s holding roundtables around the state to talk about female empowerment.

Joining her in Syracuse Wednesday, powerful women from central New York with stories about how they pushed beyond the stereotypes and barriers that often keep women out of the board rooms and legislative chambers across the state. Hochul believes mentorship is one way that women who are successful already, can reach the younger generation.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

In addition to cutting more than a dozen jobs from Oswego's fire and police services at its Monday meeting, the city's common council also eliminated the entire planning and zoning department. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse has been awarded a grant of more than $100,000 for a pilot police body camera program. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said she hopes the cameras will improve accountability and community relations among police and the public.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse has adopted new floodplain maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than 600 properties in Syracuse have been added, bringing the total to more than 1,600 properties that could be required to have flood insurance.

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner said the city needed to adopt the maps so affected residents can get a discount on flood insurance. That discount is about 15 percent. Kessner also said residents can appeal the decision if their property is now on the flood maps.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Despite pleas from a passionate crowd, the Oswego Common Council approved a budget Monday night that will eliminate 16 firefighter jobs and a city department next year. The city was facing a major budget deficit because a contract with the Onondaga County Water Authority for the sale of a water tunnel connected to Lake Ontario, which had provided the city with an annual  $1 million payment for 20 years, has expired.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is applying for $136,000 in state funding for surveillance cameras in Skiddy and Kirk parks. Skiddy Park was where the party that resulted in the Father’s Day shooting in Syracuse started. An armed man was shot and killed by a police officer during a shootout where at least four to five semi-automatic weapons were shot a total of 30 times. That officer was cleared by a grand jury of any wrongdoing. Surveillance footage at an adjacent public housing complex showed some of what happened that night.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The town of Geddes is floating the idea of imposing a $1 surcharge on every Lakeview Amphitheater ticket sold, to cover expenses created by visitors to the new music venue on Onondaga Lake.

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says he does not dismiss the idea out of hand.

“I’m willing to have conversations.”

But McMahon quickly adds that the town would have to demonstrate how the amphitheater has created a financial burden. So far town officials have expressed concerns about costs related to visitors from a public safety angle.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Oswego has just won two New York state water fund grants that the city's mayor said is a huge breakthrough in their effort to tackle a major infrastructure project. The awards are worth a combined $3.6 million on two projects that will cost more than $14 million to complete. It's the next phase in the $87 million consent decree, a water and sewer separation project that is mandated by the state and federal governments to prevent future sewage runoff into Lake Ontario.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

An Onondaga County Court judge has ruled that statements made to police by a father accused of murdering his baby daughter can be used at his trial. Ryan Lawrence was charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping of his 21-month-old daughter Maddox in March. While in custody, Lawrence allegedly described to police how he killed his daughter and brought police to the location of her body.

Michael Vavonese, Lawrence’s attorney, said the issue will be Lawrence's mental state.

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