Politics and Government

5:15pm

Mon March 17, 2014
Politics and Government

Schumer calls for more airline passport checks

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) during his visit to Syracuse Monday.

As the search continues for a missing Malaysian Airlines plane, Sen. Charles Schumer is proposing legislation that would close what he calls a "major gap" in airline security, exposed because of the incident.   
Schumer notes that two passengers on the plane got on board using stolen passports, apparently very easily. And he says most countries don’t require airlines to check the Interpol database to see if passports are stolen.

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5:34am

Mon March 17, 2014
Politics and Government

Education fights will dominate final weeks of budget talks

The state Senate and Assembly are scheduled to begin conference committee meetings on Monday, now that both houses have finished with their resolutions laying out their positions. 

Sticking points include funding for charter schools. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans want to restore changes made by  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to three charter schools. The mayor says the schools can no longer  have rent-free space in existing public school buildings.

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6:47pm

Sun March 16, 2014
Politics and Government

Senate public finance provision raises questions

The New York state Senate for the first time includes Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for public campaign financing in its budget resolution.  The sparsely worded proposal has left supporters and opponents trying to sort through the political tea leaves.

The inclusion of public campaign financing would seem to signal an abrupt change of policy for Republicans, who co-lead the Senate. The GOP has long maintained that a matching small donor plan using public funds is a waste of the taxpayers’ money, and would only lead to more annoying robo-calls.

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5:58am

Fri March 14, 2014
Politics and Government

Business groups knock Cuomo's tax freeze plan

Both houses of the legislature are making changes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax freeze plan in their budget proposals. And now small business groups are speaking out, saying the proposal favors some homeowners at their expense.

The state Assembly’s budget replaces Cuomo’s plan to distribute widespread rebate checks to homeowners with an alternative to benefit New Yorkers who can least afford to pay their property taxes. The Senate is also making changes, even though Republicans in the majority say they still want to reduce property taxes.

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8:30am

Thu March 13, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse lawmakers set to vote on comprehensive plan, after delays

After a year of delays and re-writes, Syracuse lawmakers are finally set to vote on a new comprehensive plan for the city.

City planners had been working on the vision for how the city should look in 2040 for two years. Then it went to the council, where lawmakers had a lot of questions and proposed changes, which caused them to continually delay voting on it.

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11:42pm

Wed March 12, 2014
Politics and Government

Assembly presents budget resolution

Education funding protesters outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office Wednesday.
Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Assembly Democrats say there should be more money for schools and the environment, and major changes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to freeze property taxes. It’s all part of a one-house budget resolution, the first step in reaching agreement on a final spending plan by the end of March.

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7:26pm

Tue March 11, 2014
Education

Three incumbent & one new Regent elected

The state legislature replaced one member of the State Board of Regents, but allowed three others to remain, in elections held for the state’s top educational policy board.  

The vote featured complaints from Republican Senators, who voted against all of the candidates  to demonstrate their displeasure with the state’s implementation of the new Common Core.

Senate Republicans, who attended the joint legislative vote for the first time in several years, voted against nearly all of the Regents candidates.  

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2:55pm

Tue March 11, 2014
Casinos

Oneida Nation begins sharing casino profits with New York state

O World of Photos via Flickr

The Oneida Indian Nation has begun cutting checks to New York state and county governments out of the profits from its Turning Stone casino. The profit-sharing will enable the Oneida to maintain its dominance over casino gambling in central New York.

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8:14am

Tue March 11, 2014
Politics and Government

Oswego city reporting app still a success, even with drawbacks

The home screen of Oswego's City Sourced app.
Credit Jason Smith / WRVO

It's been about six months since the city of Oswego launched a mobile app allowing residents to report problems directly to city departments. The app, which cost $5,000 to build and $2,000 to maintain, has had a reduced number of reports recently, but Common Councilor Eric VanBuren said it has still been helpful for the city.

VanBuren helped get the app passed by the city last fall and said there are more than 400 users of the program.  He said the app has been a good investment even though the winter season has reduced the number of reports received.

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3:08am

Tue March 11, 2014
Education

N.Y. Governor Says College For Inmates Will Pay Off For Taxpayers

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 10:28 am

Inmates at New York's Coxsackie Correctional Facility. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says reinstating state-funded prison college programs will ultimately save taxpayers money.
Mike Groll AP

America used to have a robust college education system for prison inmates. It was seen as a way to rehabilitate men and women behind bars by helping them go straight when they got out.

Those taxpayer-funded college classes were defunded in the 1990s. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would like to bring them back in the state, prompting a fierce new debate over higher education in state prisons.

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8:10am

Mon March 10, 2014
Politics and Government

Fate of estate tax provision uncertain in state Assembly

On Wednesday, both houses of the legislature are due to release their one-house budget proposals, which they will then use to negotiate a final spending plan with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, in an interview with PBS's New York Now and public radio stations, says Assembly Democrats are not yet on board with part of Cuomo’s plan to cut the estate tax.

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7:27am

Mon March 10, 2014
Politics and Government

Assembly, Senate budget plans due

Budget negotiations are expected to get serious at the state Capitol this week, with the spending plan due at the end of the month.

The Senate and Assembly are due to put out their one house budget resolutions Wednesday, the first step toward reaching a final deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

There are a number of unresolved issues, including how to pay for and structure a plan to provide universal pre-kindergarten to New York’s four-year-olds, and a multi-step plan proposed by Cuomo to freeze property taxes has faced skepticism.   

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7:47am

Fri March 7, 2014
Politics and Government

Gillibrand's military sexual assault bill rejected in Senate

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaks with reporters following an event. (file photo)
Joanna Richards WRVO

After a year of lobbying her colleagues, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill to change how the Pentagon handles sexual assault cases was rejected by the Senate.

Gillibrand isn't looking at her legislation's defeat as a failure, just a temporary setback in her effort to remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. Although 55 senators supported it, that wasn't enough to overcome a bipartisan filibuster.

Gillibrand says her work isn’t over.

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7:28am

Fri March 7, 2014
Politics and Government

Growing unease over Cuomo's tax freeze plan

There’s growing unease over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax freeze plan.

One hundred local government officials have signed a letter opposing the plan, including Syracuse Mayor and state Democratic Party Co-Chairwoman Stephanie Miner, and there are signs that the legislature may modify what critics have called an overly complex proposal when the Senate and Assembly release their one house state budgets.

Lobby groups for the state’s counties, cities, and school boards are voicing numerous concerns. Tim Kremer, with the New York State School Boards Association, is one of them.

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2:29pm

Thu March 6, 2014
Politics and Government

Schumer calls for new heroin abuse tracking database

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in a file photo.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

With heroin abuse raging among young adults and in rural communities, New York's senior senator is calling for a new state-wide database to be created so local law enforcement agencies can better track the drug's use.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says a database for heroin hospitalizations and arrests would be the first in the nation. 

"The problem is that the increase in heroin abuse - it was going down for a long time, now it’s going up - so we have to catch up," Schumer told reporters Wednesday.

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3:50pm

Wed March 5, 2014
Politics and Government

Mahoney says Destiny hotel may benefit from new duty-free rules

Mahoney at her State of the County Address Tuesday
Ellen Abbott

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) is getting to work on the latest request from the developer of Destiny USA for a tax break to build a 252-room hotel across the street from the mall.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says OCIDA needs to consider Canadian tourism before granting tax breaks to Destiny. Many of the out-of-town visitors to Destiny are Canadian and, with new duty-free Canadian rules, Mahoney says more visitors are coming to town for more than a day.

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7:39am

Wed March 5, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo, de Blasio speak at dueling education rallies in Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at an educational rally in Albany on Tuesday.
Karen Dewitt WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at dueling rallies on education at the state Capitol, highlighting the two politicians’ differences over education issues.   

A rally to promote de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-K had been planned for weeks. The mayor spoke to around 1,500 union members, urging them to put pressure on lawmakers to approve in the state budget the mayor’s plan to provide classes for thousands of four-year-olds starting in September.

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7:39am

Tue March 4, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo spends on ads to promote budget priorities

A screenshot of Gov. Andrew Cuomo during an ad for his upstate New York budget plan.
Cuomo Committee Vimeo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is dipping into his multi-million dollar campaign war chest to run ads promoting his state budget priorities.

The ads, which begin with Cuomo speaking directly into the camera, focus on the governor’s pitch for his tax cut plan and an ethics package that includes public financing of political campaigns and a crack down on bribery.

Karen Scharff, with Citizen Action, says the ethics ads are a good sign.

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7:27am

Tue March 4, 2014
Politics and Government

Advocates say lack of money at core of New York school struggles

The state budget deadline is approaching and education issues are taking center stage. Only one day before massive rallies for universal pre-K and charter schools, other advocates say they’ve gathered evidence for potentially another lawsuit for more state aid for schools.

The Alliance for Quality Education has been touring schools around the state to document what they say is the erosion of districts in economically depressed areas.

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4:58pm

Mon March 3, 2014
Government

Syracuse airport is out of city control and flying solo

mrsmecomber via Flickr

Syracuse's Hancock International Airport, the region's major passenger airport, is now under the control of a private authority after an official handover from the city of Syracuse.

The hope is the airport will be more cost-efficient and creative.

Hancock airport was the last in the state to transfer to private control. It was a long process, said Mayor Stephanie Miner.

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4:12pm

Mon March 3, 2014
Government

Syracuse's water main breaks get attention from Albany

Crews work to repair a water main break on East Fayette Street in Syracuse.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is touring the state, talking with cities about aging infrastructures, hoping the state can come up with some help for communities plagued by collapsing streets and broken water mains.

It’s been a really horrible year when it comes to water main breaks in the City of Syracuse, said water department superintendent Paul Trovato.

"Between the cold and being old that’s what the problem is,” he said.

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7:34am

Mon March 3, 2014
Politics and Government

Westchester County Executive expected to become a GOP candidate for governor

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speaks with reporters in Albany.
Karen Dewitt WRVO

It’s expected that Republicans will have an announced candidate for governor as early as this week. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has formed an exploratory committee and has expressed interest in what most believe will be an uphill climb against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking reelection.

Astorino, a former radio executive, has twice won the county executive’s seat in Westchester County on the Republican line, in a region where Democrats now dominate.

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6:01pm

Sun March 2, 2014
Politics and Government

Eleanor Powell on The Campbell Conversations

Eleanor Powell
politicalscience.yale.edu

What effects do campaign contributions and independent expenditures really have on the way that Congress works?  On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks with Yale political scientist Eleanor Powell, an expert on money and Congress.  Powell describes the complicated web of money’s influence, and considers what could realistically be done to change the system.

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7:56am

Fri February 28, 2014
Politics and Government

Eight potential Maffei challengers attend GOP forum to make their case

Eight Republicans are vying for the chance to run against Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei in this November's election.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The race for Congress in the Syracuse area's 24th District is heating up. Republicans in the district that includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties, and part of Oswego County, will decide who gets the party nod at a convention this weekend in Syracuse. The eight Republicans who want the chance to run against incumbent Dan Maffei got to make their case in front of a roomful of conservatives Thursday night.

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7:20am

Fri February 28, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo begins new push for tax freeze proposal, counties have alternative plan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is starting a new push for his property tax freeze plan, while counties in the state say they have a better idea which could result in lower property taxes in New York for even longer.

Cuomo has begun a new campaign to promote his multi-part property tax freeze plan. It’s aimed at enlisting the aid of the public to help convince the legislature. A video features average homeowners and advocacy groups endorsing his plan.

“Lower our property taxes,” say various people identified as homeowners and standing in front of suburban looking homes.

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11:41am

Thu February 27, 2014
Public Radio Presents

Intelligence Squared U. S.: Was Snowden Justified?

Illustration by Thomas James
intelligencesquaredus.org

Has Edward Snowden done the U.S. a great service? There is no doubt that his release of highly classified stolen documents has sparked an important public debate, even forcing what could be a major presidential overhaul of the NSA’s surveillance programs. But have his actions—which include the downloading of an estimated 1.7 million files—tipped off our enemies and endangered national security?

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7:39am

Thu February 27, 2014
Politics and Government

Fine dead, Syracuse looks for another sidewalk shoveling answer

People shovel snow along East Fayette St. following a February snowstorm. (file photo)
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Since Syracuse lawmakers handily defeated the idea of fining property owners who don’t clear snow from their sidewalks, they’ve begun discussing a bigger picture solution for snow-filled walkways.

Some Syracuse city councilors sat down Wednesday with public works, school district and parks department officials. They also talked to heads of community groups that organize sidewalk shoveling teams in the winter.

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7:05am

Thu February 27, 2014
Politics and Government

State Senate ruling coalition gains a new member

The ruling coalition in the state Senate has grown by one member. Sen. Tony Avella, of Queens, has left the minority Democrats to join the governing coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats.

Avella is a progressive-leaning Democrat who’s been called a maverick. He says he’s become convinced he can get more accomplished by joining the Senate’s ruling coalition, which includes all of the Republicans and a few break away Independent Democrats.  

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7:29am

Wed February 26, 2014
Politics and Government

New Siena Poll finds New Yorkers divided on Common Core

A new poll finds New Yorkers remain confused about the worth of the new Common Core learning standards, which schools in the state are in the process of adopting.

The Siena College poll finds voters are divided over the program, with around the same amount saying they are not confident that Common Core will result in better preparing students to be college or career ready, as those who say that the new learning standards are on the right track.

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7:18am

Wed February 26, 2014
Politics and Government

Assembly leader urges Senate to pass Dream Act, says no consensus on free college for prisoners

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver discusses the Dream Act while in Albany.
Karen Dewitt WRVO

Assembly Democrats passed a one-house version of the Dream Act, a bill to give college aid to the children of undocumented immigrants, and urged the Senate to follow suit.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who calls the Dream Act a top priority, blamed opposition among Senate Republicans for the measure’s failure to advance in the upper chamber. And he says the breakaway Independent Democrats in the Senate, who are in a coalition government with the GOP, need to work to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

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