Politics and Government

Political news

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been steering clear of public events at the state Capitol recently, after a second major party legislative leader, the head of the Senate was forced to resign over corruption charges.  But the governor is still finding ways to press for his legislative agenda in the last weeks of the session.

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A near record number of school budgets were approved around the state in Tuesday’s vote. Many are attributing the relative lack of controversy to the three year old property tax cap that limits tax levy increases, as well as an increase in state aid.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Assembly Democrats are approving a one-house bill to strengthen New York City’s rent regulations in favor of tenants. The rent law renewal and many other issues, including an education tax credit and the Dream Act, are in flux as the final weeks of deal making approaches.  

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President Barack Obama is calling on more public awareness and debate regarding military equipment that is distributed to local law enforcement agencies. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says she would welcome such discussions.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

By the end of 2015, the group Consensus CNY will release a full report on how to modernize government in Onondaga County.

Consensus CNY is a 19-member commission with former Rep. James Walsh serving as co-chairman, collecting data on local government to find areas to improve.

Melanie Littlejohn, one of the commission members, spoke with young professionals in Syracuse from the group 40 Below about the initial findings for Onondaga County.

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The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders; one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

Now that the state Senate has stabilized, after weeks of turmoil over corruption charges, legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are looking at what they can reasonably finish with just five weeks left in the session.

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With just a few weeks left in the legislative session, education issues continue to dominate. Some lawmakers want to fix a recently passed law that requires a fast turn around for new teacher evaluations, while others would like a tax break for donors that would help private schools.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has seen much of his ambitious legislative agenda for 2015 stall, as first the Assembly Speaker, and then the Senate Leader, were charged with corruption and had to resign their leadership posts.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The new leader of the New York State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On day two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Flanagan says he does not think that further ethics reform will be enacted in the remaining weeks of the legislative session, despite an ongoing corruption scandal that cost his predecessor his job.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is coping with the breast cancer diagnosis and impending double mastectomy surgery of his long time partner, and cooking show celebrity Sandra Lee. In a statement, Cuomo said he expects to take some personal time off to support her through her treatment.

John Katko/Facebook

Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko has his work cut out for him as co-chair of the Task Force on Terrorist, Foreign Fighter Threat. The Republican just returned from a trip to several countries in the Middle East to get a sense of where problems might lie.

Katko, as part of an eight-member congressional delegation, visited Israel, Iraq, Turkey and some European countries to get a better idea of the dangers posed by foreign fighters -- those Westerners recruited and trained by terrorist organizations.

nysenate.gov

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post, over a corruption scandal, and Republicans have elected Sen. John Flanagan, currently chairman of the Education Committee to be his successor.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, a GOP stronghold in the Senate, became the new leader of the Senate with a unanimous floor vote from his Republican conference.

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Dean Skelos has resigned his position as New York State Senate majority leader after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He becomes the latest leader to lose his power in a state government marred by corruption.

Sen. John Flanagan of Long Island was elected by his fellow Republicans, beating out Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

State Senate Republicans have been huddling behind closed doors, trying to resolve a leadership crisis now that Majority Leader Dean Skelos has lost the support of his GOP members, after being charged with six federal counts of corruption.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican who’s been running to replace Skelos, says first, the leader would have to resign, and that is not yet guaranteed.  

“I have not talked to Dean; not anybody that I’ve talked to has a clear answer on that,” DeFrancisco said.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested last week on federal corruption charges, is expected to step down from his leadership position later today, according to multiple reports. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s been just over a year since Onondaga County got out of the business of running a nursing home. And according to Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, the sale of the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing to the Upstate Services Group has been a good move.

When women run for office, they face closer and more negative scrutiny from the media, are more likely to get damaging coverage based on how they look and what they wear, and face other gender-based challenges, such as voter prejudice and difficulties raising money.  All sound true?  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with George Washington University Professor Danny Hayes, who argues that the evidence from congressional elections does not support these assumptions commonly made by both political observers and political scientists. 

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at a large union rally in New York City’s Union Square to raise the minimum wage, called out fast food chains McDonalds and Burger King by name and accused them of corporate greed for under-paying workers.

Cuomo, in an animated speech, says fast food chains make huge profits while relying on taxpayers subsidies, like food stamps, to make up for the low pay they give their workers.

The governor says he’ll bypass the legislature and create a state board to examine increasing the state's minimum wage for fast food workers.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Disagreements that have roiled the state’s education community in the wake of new teacher evaluation laws approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature as part of the budget were highlighted at a day long summit called by education officials.

Principals, teachers and school boards have objected to the tight deadline in the law, as well as the greater reliance on standardized tests, a component that Cuomo has insisted upon.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) says she is in full support of the way the military is handling sexual abuse cases. Her comments in support of the military justice system are in opposition to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) accusations that the Pentagon refuses to acknowledge the scope of the crisis. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says he would be shocked if the uncertainty over the leadership of the New York State Senate lasts another week.  Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos was arrested Monday on federal corruption charges.  

Initially, lawmakers agreed to support Skelos. Since then, there has been a growing number of Republican senators publicly calling for him to resign his leadership post.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Common Councilors have unanimously approved Mayor Stephanie Miner’s $674 million budget, with a few minor changes. Lawmakers added some cash to deal with some perennial problems.

The extra spending amounts to less than $1 million, and covers more water and sewer maintenance and repair, and demolition of hazardous buildings.  

Stefanik campaign

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) was in Lewis County Wednesday to hear concerns from residents in Lowville. The biggest issue on the minds of people there was the price of milk.  

Coffee and boxes of donuts were passed around the Lewis County Municipal Building for an event Stefanik calls “Coffee with  your Congresswoman."

Steve Craiger is a retired airman. While sipping on a cup of coffee with cream, he said he came to ask the Congresswoman what she plans to do to help farmers who are struggling with the drop in milk prices.

Max Klingensmith / Flickr

A large number of New York’s students refused to participate in state tests this year. Now, their cries may have been heard in Albany.

Advocates estimate the so-called “opt-out” movement had almost 200,000 students, and all those test booklets sat empty for a lot of different reasons. Some opt-outers dislike New York’s new teacher evaluation system that ties ratings more closely to student test scores. Others say kids just take too many tests these days.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Manure lagoons help farmers manage their manure, but one planned lagoon in Tompkins County caused a neighbor to look for a way to fight it.

Heather Gowe is not sure where exactly the proposed manure storage lagoon will be built. It will be somewhere in a small stand of trees, up a hill from the intersection where she lives.
 
Beck Farms is a dairy producer who will build the lagoon. It has about 2,000 cows in Freeville in Tompkins County. It wants to store 3.2 million gallons of manure on this hill, and build a pipeline to transport the manure.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since the leader of the New York State Senate was charged in an extortion and bribery scheme, says if true, he finds the accusations “disturbing.”

Cuomo, speaking at an event in Syracuse, commented for the first time since Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was charged with six counts of public corruption.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Central New York Republicans are weighing in on the scandal surrounding the New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos scandal.  

Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey is calling for Skelos to resign, so state government can get back to the people’s business, instead of what he calls wasting tax dollars and time defending the Long Island Republican.  

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Major newspapers in New York state have posted editorials calling for Senate Leader Dean Skelos to resign after the senator and his son were accused of running a corruption scam. But so far, Skelos is hanging on and Republicans are trying hard to carry on business as usual.

Senate Democrats / Flickr

A report released by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) finds a large number of military spouses and civilians living near military bases have reported being a victim of sexual assault. Surveys conducted by the Defense Department only document sexual assaults among service members. Gillibrand, a member of the armed services committee, says those numbers are misleading.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who turned himself in to federal authorities on corruption charges Monday, will remain as the head of the Senate, his republican members announced after a more than three hour closed door meeting Monday night.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New federal rules about the safety of rail cars that carry crude oil through upstate New York towns like Syracuse don’t go far enough according to Sen. Charles Schumer. He says it’s now time for Congress to get involved.

Schumer doesn’t like the long-awaited Department of Transportation regulations meant to improve the safety of the train cars carrying flammable substances, which he calls "TNT on wheels.”

"There are serious holes in the regulations the DOT commissioner put out, and we’re going to fill those holes, and fill them immediately,” said the senator.

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