Politics and Government

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A new school year is starting soon, and education officials say they will try to reverse a growing movement of parents having their children opt out of standardized tests.  The boycott could jeopardize a new system of teacher evaluations that are based on the exams and were supposed to begin later this fall.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

About 100 protesters rallied outside of the federal building in downtown Syracuse on Wednesday, calling on Congress to support funding of Title X, which subsidizes thousands of health clinics nationwide, including some Planned Parenthood clinics.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was in North Syracuse this week promoting a new bill that will help banks and investors loan more money to manufacturing businesses. The bill is meant to help keep manufacturers in the U.S. and New York state.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The New York State Board of Elections recently issued its final report on an experimental public campaign finance system that had no participants. Government reform groups say it’s another sign that the pilot program for one race in the 2014 election cycle was designed to fail, and that politicians in New York are not yet serious about real campaign finance reforms.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

New York state’s Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx native, has spent a portion of the summer touring upstate New York. The speaker replaced Sheldon Silver who was arrested on corruption charges earlier this year.

Heastie has been to Buffalo, Binghamton, Syracuse and Utica, the Thousand Islands and surrounding areas as part of a listening tour to familiarize himself with issues that might not be front and center in New York City.  

“I’m used to cement,” said, Heastie who said says he’s “gained an appreciation” of the beauty of upstate regions.

NY Assembly Video (file)

The speaker of the New York State Assembly says any talks about convincing General Electric executives to relocate their headquarters back to New York should include discussions on the company’s Superfund cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson River that’s about to end.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been talking to GE executives, trying to lure the company’s corporate headquarters back to New York, according to a report by Politico New York.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was in North Syracuse on Tuesday and she responded to Sen. Charles Schumer’s decision to vote against the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal, which would lift U.S., China, Russia and European Union sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits put on Iran’s nuclear program.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There are no issues too small for Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who is expected to become the next majority leader in the U.S. Senate. Schumer visited central New York Monday to put some heft behind the complaint one small town has against a big corporation.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

As the fourth anniversary of the devastating storms Irene and Lee approaches, the Cuomo administration says it’s more ready than ever for hurricanes, floods, and other adverse weather events .

Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office in 2011, there’s been a succession of severe storms, including hurricanes Irene and Lee that brought massive flooding to upstate and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that flooded beach front communities on Long Island and submerged portions of the New York City subway system in corrosive salt water.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) will conduct a statewide internet lottery that offers a chance for New Yorkers to see Pope Francis when he comes to Washington D.C. this September.  

Schumer will offer a single ticket to the joint meeting of Congress with the pope, as well as 100 pairs of tickets to the papal audience on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County and its biggest union are close to agreeing to a contract. As WRVO’s Ellen Abbott reports, the county and CSEA leadership have agreed to the terms within a fact-finding report from the New York State Employment Relations Board.

The deal includes modest wage increases over five years, and raises health insurance contributions from employees. County Executive Joanie Mahoney says that reflects a changing trend in contracts for government employees, who traditionally were paid less than private sector counterparts, but had better benefits packages.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

During summer vacation, many low-income kids depend on free lunch programs. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited a summer meal site in Elmira Thursday to talk up state support for such efforts, but programs in rural areas, lilke Chemung County, still struggle with a big challenge.

Kids who participate in the government’s free summer meal program must show up at a designated site during scheduled hours to get their food. That can be a problem in rural areas.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Common Councilor-at-Large Kathleen Joy is negotiating with Mayor Stephanie Miner’s chief of staff Bill Ryan, to settle a lawsuit brought by a majority of common councilors who refused to sign a computer use policy. Those councilors have been without computer access since the beginning of July. A judge rejected a petition from Syracuse councilors to make city officials restore their computer access while the two sides negotiate a new computer use policy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is urging the state to make changes in voting laws so it will be easier for people to go to the polls.  The mayor made her plea surrounded by several local lawmakers and candidates for office and says even she sometimes forgets its Election Day.

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New Yorkers will get their first chance in 20 years to vote on whether to hold a convention to change the state’s constitution in November of 2017. But groups advocating for an informed vote on the issue say it’s not too early to start getting the word out.

A constitutional convention, dry as it may sound, has the potential to make big changes to New York’s government. Delegates could decide to switch to a unicameral legislature, or require that lawmakers be full time. They could also tighten what critics say are lax campaign contribution laws.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A program that provides a book a month to impoverished pre-schoolers in the city of Syracuse could be expanding. This comes after research that shows that the thousands of books that have been sent to 6,000 youngsters in the city have made a difference.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library program run by the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County has been sending books to children for five years now. And LeMoyne researcher Frank Ridzi says they have tested children who have been part of the program in that time and found success.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature approved the creation of a jail oversight committee in January. The legislature appointed Barrie Gewanter to be the commission’s new executive director. Gewanter has been working as the director of the central New York chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union since 2003.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner's administration sent letters to common councilors outlining a framework for changing the city's computer use policy. The majority of Syracuse common councilors sued the Miner administration for cutting off their Internet access after they refused to sign the administration’s computer use policy.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

The Designated AIDS Center at Upstate University Hospital has won a state grant that will expand treatment programs. 

The idea is to make sure people infected with the HIV virus continue treatment that keeps the virus at bay.

Program director Kelley Flood says they will target people who might not follow up on the care they need to corral the virus that can lead to AIDS.

Monica Sandreczki / WSKG News

Rep. Richard (R-Barneveld) Hanna paid a visit to an urban farm in Binghamton on Monday to meet with representatives from organizations that try to address food security.

Randi Quackenbush works with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. She asked Hanna to consider supporting the new Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act.

"There’s two options. For some families, they could get a summer EBT card, which they would get $30 up to $100 per household," said Quackenbush. "They would just get a little extra food stamp money in the summer, which would be the simplest thing.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New Yorkers who are opposed to the Iran nuclear deal are urging others who don’t agree with the policy to make some noise.  Randy Potter, of Syracuse, has been calling senators from across the country explaining his position and he wants others to do the same.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says leaders need to go back to the table to renegotiate the Iran deal, making his first public remarks about his decision not to support the agreement during a visit Monday to the Rochester area.

Schumer says the Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran has too many flaws. He says a 24-day delay for inspections doesn't offer complete security against nuclear development in Iran, and he's concerned about categorizing the country as a nuclear threshold state in ten years.

RichardHannaforCongress.com

A central New York congressman, who has long supported Planned Parenthood, is calling for an investigation into the agency, in light of the videos showing Planned Parenthood officials apparently discussing how the group provides researchers body parts from aborted fetuses.   

Rep. Richard Hanna, the 22nd District representative, says the videos are disturbing.

“I’ve asked for an investigation into this, and I think Congress will do one.  My hope is that it’s deliberate, fair, thoughtful and inclusive.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’ll try to get the state legislature to broaden an increase in the state’s minimum wage beyond fast food workers, but the newly appointed deputy majority leader of the state Senate is throwing some cold water on that plan.

Cuomo, who used his executive powers through a wage board to phase in a $15 an hour rate for fast food workers, says next he wants to try to get a similar increase through the state legislature next year. Earlier, he spoke about his desire to increase the minimum wage for all workers.

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

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A packed house at Syracuse City Hall last night told the New York State Public Service Commission that Syracuse and central New York needs more choice, better service and lower prices when for their cable and internet service. More than 100 people crammed into the Syracuse hearing, one over several being held across the state this summer.

Helen Dewey, runs a business strategy company on Syracuse’s near west side. But she told commissioners it’s a technical struggle.

NY state announces new bans on synthetic marijuana

Aug 7, 2015
Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The governor says vendors and producers of synthetic marijuana try to “skirt the law” by creating new chemicals that aren’t currently banned. The New York Department of Health announced Thursday emergency regulations broadening the ban on synthetic marijuana to try to keep up with drug makers.

The governor calls synthetic drugs “an alarming public health risk.”

That’s why the Public Health and Health Planning Council unanimously expanded the list of banned substances.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Republican House Speaker John Boehner traveled across upstate New York on Thursday, attending private golf fundraisers for upstate Republicans in Congress. About a dozen protesters came to downtown Syracuse to voice their disapproval with Boehner, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and legislation left on the table while Congress is away on August recess.

 

This year, the House of Representatives passed four bills sponsored by Katko including some to improve airport security.

 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) wants to raise awareness about Lyme disease. And he’s hoping some federal legislation can provide relief for victims of the tick borne ailment.

“I would doubt if anyone who hears this doesn’t know somebody affected by it,” said Hanna.

“It” is Lyme disease, a tick borne illness that is affecting more and more people across the country and in upstate New York. Hanna’s hoping that a bill called the 21 Century Cures Act, can make a dent into discovering the mysteries of Lyme disease.

stgermh / Flickr

A fiscal watchdog group says it’s uncovered what it calls a “secret slush fund,” used by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to fund pet projects around the state, but the governor’s budget office says the grants are subject to oversight.  

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