regional news

Abortion opponents protest with prayer in Watertown

3 hours ago
Julia Botero / WRVO

Opponents of abortion have been gathering around the nation this month. They are protesting the January 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Thousands of protesters converged in D.C. last week as the House of Representatives passed a bill baring federal spending on abortions.  But anti-abortion activists also come together to pray on this issue every January all over the country.

Fletcher6 / Wikimedia Commons

For the first time since the 1970s, New York state will issue permits for new liquefied natural gas storage facilities. The new regulations will require a permit for every new facility, with each one capped at 70,000 gallons.

That’s enough to fill six or seven fuel tankers, says Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Haven says capping them at a small size is a good way to keep out heavy industrialization, but the limit can be removed after five years.

One hundred forty central New Yorkers learned first hand what it's like to live in the grip of poverty this week. Visions for Change shined a light on the issue through it's poverty simulation.

Ashlee Hines works at the homeless shelter at the Salvation Army in Syracuse. You’d think she’d be aware of some of the issues people living in poverty face, but playing the role of a mom, going to school, working, and taking care of children was an eye opener.

"What I had to do was really hard. I kind of panicked,” Hines said. “And I know how to do day-to-day stuff.”

-JvL- / Flickr

The legislature continued about its business in Albany Wednesday, despite the leadership crisis in the Assembly. Lawmakers held the first in a series of public budget hearings. Meanwhile, several Assembly members officially declared their candidacy to succeed Speaker Sheldon Silver, who will leave the office on Monday.

Senate Democrats / Flickr

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says there is a shortcoming in health insurance for disabled veterans that’s depriving their children of coverage.

Family members of disabled military service members are allowed to receive health coverage under a Veterans Administration program called CHAMPVA. But Schumer says that program needs to be amended to be in line with the rest of the health care world under the Affordable Care Act.

Creative Commons [BY-SA 3.0]

A central New York organization that tries to poke a cynical Syracuse mindset into something more positive is now two years old. The founder of the group Believe in Syracuse says they’ll be getting their message across in more ways as they continue to grow.

John DeSantis started the group two years ago when he found himself continuously watching friends leave central New York after graduating from college.

Julia Botero / WRVO

President Barack Obama officially declared the war in Afghanistan over at the end of 2014, but he also promised to send more U. S. troops to the country to train Afghan security forces. The Army has not identified who those soldiers will be, but leaders with Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division are confident they will be among the first to head back to Afghanistan.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

The quality of roads and bridges in upstate New York is a concern for the state’s largest farming organization.

If a bridge isn’t sturdy enough to support a heavy tractor or dairy tanker, say Farm Bureau policy director Jeff Williams, it creates a major hassle for farm hands, such as added time and detours onto more traveled routes "which isn’t particularly safe on the highway, and it leads to more diesel fuel costs and the like," he said.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will end his long reign as the head of the Assembly on Monday, say the Democratic members of the Assembly who announced they will hold a new election for speaker on Feb. 10.

After two long days of closed door meetings, as Assembly Democrats reacted to the mounting fallout from Silver’s arrest on federal corruption charges, the Democrats now say Silver will leave his post.

But Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, who will serve as interim speaker for about a week, was cryptic when describing how the speaker will actually exit.  

Public Domain

Syracuse common councilors agreed this week to accept more military hardware for the police department through a state grant program, but not every lawmaker is on board with accepting the equipment.

Among the items on the list of equipment the $100,000 grant will obtain are: entry rams, tubular assault equipment and a Bearcat Ram-Cam four-way monitor. Democrat Jean Kessner wonders why police need it.

"We're a city. We're not a war zone," Kessner said. "I don't know what they are. I can't pretend to know, and that's kind of a problem."

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Updated, 7:46 p.m.

Democrats in the state Assembly have emerged from two days of closed door discussions on whether, then how, to remove and replace the leader of their conference, who has been charged with corruption.

Assemblyman Joe Morelle, the majority leader from Rochester, told reporters Tuesday evening that Sheldon Silver will be removed from his post.

"On Monday, there will be a vacancy in the office of speaker," he said.

azipaybarah / Flickr

Update: 9:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27 --

Assembly Democrats are planning to huddle behind closed doors again in Albany today, trying to decide their next move.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

In last week's State of the State Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour across the state and $11.50 in New York City by the end of 2016. The increase isn't a done deal though.

State business leaders criticize the measure they say would force them to slow hiring and cut hours.

Sharon Stiller, a Rochester-based employment law expert, says any change will affect state businesses.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2015 spending plan includes a sizeable amount of money for upgrades to the Port of Oswego.

In his recent combined State of the State agenda and budget plan, Cuomo pledges $65 million to upgrade the state’s infrastructure network, part of what helped build upstate’s economy decades ago.

"From Albany to Oswego to Syracuse to the Port of Ogdensburg to the Binghamton rail yard, you have to be able to move goods in and out," Cuomo said. "And this investment will help make it possible."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse lawmakers have gone on record calling on the New York State Department of Transportation to replace the Interstate-81 viaduct that runs through the city with a street-level boulevard. The move further defines the debate over what to do with the aging highway, which is reaching the end of its lifespan.

Common councilors have voted unanimously to support the option that would tear down I-81 and force traffic around the city, using Interstate-481.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Upstate University Hospital has won a “comprehensive stroke center” designation by a national health care accrediting agency. But what does that mean for central New York stroke victims?

Catherine Stephens, the administrator of the Upstate Stroke Center, likes to say “time is brain” when emphasizing how important it is for stroke victims to get fast treatment. So as soon as Upstate is alerted of a patient with a possible stroke, the team goes into action.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Charter schools across New York State could be getting a boost, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of State address last week, proposed adding another 100 slots to the state’s charter school cap and lifting the regional limit on the schools. One non-profit charter school operator in the Syracuse area is already bursting at the seams and looking to expand.

Dennis van Zuijlekom / via Flickr

The sheriff of Fulton County, which rests in the southern Adirondacks, is no fan of New York's fairly new gun control laws, but he  is causing a stir by telling residents there to ignore part them.

A provision of the SAFE ACT, passed in the early days of 2013, requires pistol owners to renew their permits every five years, beginning in 2018. But Fulton County is part of a pilot program to get people to register early. Sheriff Thomas Lorey says he signed up for the pilot program to know what it’s about.

Azi Paybarah / via Flickr

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is expected to present a plan to Assembly Democrats Monday, in which he would temporarily relinquish his power as Speaker to a small group of Assembly Democrats.  

smoooochie / Flickr

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank will continue to use deconstruction as they demolish dilapidated properties across the city of Syracuse in the coming year. The results of a year-long experiment in the deconstruction process have proved fruitful so far.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Government watch dog groups say the arrest of one of the two most powerful men in the New York legislature on fraud and corruption charges highlights the need for better state laws against wrong doing. Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted that the charges against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are “a bad reflection on government."

Silver faces five federal counts, including bribery and conspiracy. He was released on $200,000 bail Thursday.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

There will be another competition for state economic development dollars, if the state legislature approves spending $1.5 billion for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed Upstate New York Economic Revitalization Competition. At least one Central New York Economic development official is ready for the challenge.

azipaybarah / Flickr

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested Thursday morning and $3.8 million in eight different bank accounts held by Silver have been frozen, as federal prosecutors accuse the speaker of running two fraudulent and corrupt schemes.

Silver was released on $200,000 bail Thursday afternoon.

azipaybarah / Flickr

Updated, 11:45 a.m.:

The Democratic Speaker of the New York State Assembly was arrested early Thursday morning by federal officials on corruption charges.

The investigation and pending arrest was first reported by The New York Times. It was later confirmed by the FBI. 

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out a series of proposals for reforming the state’s criminal justice system, in response to heightened tensions over the death of an unarmed Staten Island resident after an encounter with police, as well as the recent murder of two police officers

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his joint State of the State and budget message, proposing a $141.6 billion spending plan that in part sets up a show down with teachers and education advocates.

The governor wants 100 more charter schools and an overhaul of teacher evaluations, which he says are “baloney,” because virtually all teachers are rated as adequate.

“Ninety-eight percent of the teachers rated effective,” Cuomo said. “Who are we kidding, my friends?”

Zack Seward / WXXI

The Syracuse Common Council is taking a formal stand on what should be done with the aging infrastructure of Interstate 81. The lawmakers will tell the state they want the viaduct gone.

The future of the mile and a half of elevated highway cutting through downtown has become a urban versus suburban divide. Man city residents and elected leaders say the highway is just that: a divide through the middle of the city, which blocks economic growth and isolates communities.

Dougtone / Creative Commons License

Early on in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address, he took a few moments to  thank  the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. The soldiers received  the longest applause and the only standing ovation during his speech.

"The 10th Mountain Division is the most deployed force since 9-11. Just think about that -- 323 soldiers have been lost by the 10th Mountain Division defending our freedom," said the governor.

Cuomo called Fort Drum  a great North Country asset.

Office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Many upstate New York representatives shared their thoughts after President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) applauded Obama for focusing on the middle class and economic opportunity in a statement.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Freshman Republican Rep. John Katko isn’t backing the president’s plan for free community college, but he says it’s a discussion worth having.

President Barack Obama proposed a free Associates Degree for community college students in his State of the Union address last night.

"Can we afford that? I don’t know. But should we talk about the affordability of college for people on a general matter? Absolutely. And I think there’s something there we can work with," said Katko, the congressman for central New York, afterward.

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