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Trump's army battles for New York

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Darrin Ball was at his day job at an upstate fire department last summer when the phone rang.

“One of my relatives had called me and said ‘Hey, did you check your mail yet?’ And I said, ‘No, why?’ And she goes, ‘Well, there’s a very interesting piece of mail in there with your photo all over it,’” Ball said.

When he got home he found a glossy mailer with his face on it, rendered in somewhat sinister black and white.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Sidewalk snow removal was a top concern among Syracuse residents who attended the city’s recent Snow Safety Summit. The city asked residents to weigh in on solutions to snow removal problems. 

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New York state has released a concept plan that closes the gap in the Erie Canalway Trail System between Camillus and DeWitt. It would extend the recreation trail through an urban area.

From the start, bridging the 14-mile gap has been the most challenging part of creating a seamless trail that closely follows the path of the Erie Canal.

"This segment of the trail goes through the most heavily urbanized areas of Onondaga County," said Town of DeWitt planner Sam Gordon.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica is getting a new home to improve and expand its services.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Some Democratic lawmakers in the New York State Legislature are pushing for a measure that would make anonymous political ads on Facebook and other social media illegal. They say the ads are being abused to falsely represent their positions on issues.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat, said there’s been a lot of publicity about Russian operatives using Facebook and other social media to influence the 2016 presidential race. But he said it’s also happening in New York races, and it needs to stop.

“It’s undermining our democracy,” Kaminsky said.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The Syracuse City School District is facing a $24 million deficit in it’s 2018-2019 budget. It hopes to close the gap using savings and more funds from the state.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown is forming a commission to review its city charter. The goal is to determine if the city would be better served by a different form of government.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting $7 million into his 30-day budget amendments to fund poll sites for early voting in New York by the 2020 presidential race.

The funds would be used to set up at least one polling site in every county 12 days before Election Day so that voters can have several weekdays and two full weekends before elections to cast their ballot early.

Cuomo’s budget director, Robert Mujica, made the announcement on Monday.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham hopes a new program offering reconciliation and compensation to victims of clergy abuse can move the church past a scandal that has dogged it for years.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — The Syracuse diocese of the Roman Catholic Church is establishing a reconciliation program for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

Bishop Robert Cunningham announced the voluntary program Wednesday. It’s aimed at promoting reconciliation and healing, and possibly compensation, for those who have been harmed by members of the diocese’s clergy.

In announcing the program, Cunningham admitted the church will never fully make amends for the harm caused by the church.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Smartphone users can download a new app to receive public safety alerts from the Syracuse Police Department. The app has more features than a previous version.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will detail his proposals to help New Yorkers affected by changes to the federal tax law. But Republicans who rule the state Senate are cool to the ideas, including one that creates a payroll tax instead of a state income tax.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget director said 30-day amendments to the governor’s spending plan, which is due out later this week, will include an overhaul of the state’s tax code. It will include plans to ease the effects of the loss of the state and local tax deductions in the new federal tax overhaul.

Robert Mujica said the governor will propose a payroll tax credit program that businesses could use instead of the state and local income tax system.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

The flu epidemic is hitting the corruption trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, with proceedings delayed for a day and a half because a key defense attorney has come down with the virus.

The judge and the prosecution and defense attorneys in the bribery case of Percoco and three upstate businessmen met Monday to discuss when the trial can resume.

Part of the proceedings focused on telephone calls to attorney Daniel Gitner, who was sick at home with the flu, to inquire what medications he is taking and whether he is running a fever.   

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The public and private groups behind a new hospital in downtown Utica are offering additional assistance to the property owners who are located within the proposed footprint of the project. It comes amid criticism and confusion about what will happen to the affected properties.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is promoting legislation that would expand access to Pell grants for short-term job training programs. The federal subsidy for students to go to college currently can be used for 15-week job skills training. But Gillibrand said that does not help people who cannot go back to school full-time.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Young Women's Christian Association or YWCA of Syracuse, along with churches and other community groups in the area, have been working to help the people of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. Some Puerto Ricans, displaced by the hurricane, have made their way to Syracuse, to stay with family and friends and start new lives.

After Hurricane Maria, Dorothy Huertas and her husband, who live in Syracuse, received a call from a friend they have known for 20 years, Jorge Luis Rodriguez Malave, who lives in Puerto Rico.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s transition team released a report highlighting the priorities of the Walsh Administration, including recommendations on how to improve the city’s finances. Some team members said the financial crisis is real, and there is a limited amount of time to fix it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for governor last week. That leaves one fewer obstacle for gubernatorial hopeful John DeFrancisco, but he’s not ready to take on the mantle of front runner yet.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is opening up data it collects about snow removal to the public and is hoping it can lead to smarter ways to clear city streets after a snowstorm. 

The city is partnering with AT&T and Syracuse University’s iSchool for a hackathon called Plowing Through the Data.

Rich Mitchell / Flickr

Republicans are seeking political advantage in the federal corruption trial of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former closest aide.

One of the governor’s opponents is pressuring Cuomo to answer some of the revelations in the trial about how state business was conducted, and whether a pay-to-play “atmosphere” was created.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

After staying below the 2 percent property tax cap for several years, Utica's mayor is proposing a budget that would raise taxes by 7.8 percent.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney have voiced that collaboration between city and county governments is close at hand.

After being in office just over a month, Walsh said cooperation between governments is one of the key elements of his Syracuse Rising agenda.  In his state of the city speech, he said work has already started finding ways the city can collaborate with Onondaga County.

sam_churchhill / via Flickr

Remsen native Erin Hamlin will carry the American flag during the opening ceremonies Friday at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

According to Team USA, Hamlin was chosen after a vote by other members of Team USA. 

“Being named to an Olympic Team is an amazing accomplishment, and making four teams and winning the bronze medal is so much more than I could I have imagined I would accomplish. Now being voted flag bearer is a whole new level,” Hamlin said in a statement.

NYS Assembly

In the midst of a national debate on immigration, the New York State Assembly this week passed a bill to give children of undocumented immigrants access to financial aid for college.

The measure, which is separate from federal legislation and would apply only to New York state, would allow undocumented students to be eligible for funds from the state’s Tuition Assistance Program if they attended high school in New York state or received a general equivalency diploma and have applied to a college or university within the state.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The Syracuse Metropolitan Area gained more than 3,500 private sector jobs in 2017. But there are some weak spots in the local economy. 

Karen Knapik-Scalzo, an associate economist with the New York State Department of Labor in Syracuse, said the region’s 1.4 percent growth rate is a little below the national growth rate, which is normal for the area.

“For Syracuse that is a decent growth rate," Knapik-Scalzo said. "We’re close to where we were in terms of our total number of jobs prior to the last recession. We’ve made progress in terms of improving our economy.”

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Testimony at the trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, has highlighted some practices inside the governor’s office that government reform groups say is at the very least questionable, and possibly even illegal.

Percoco, often described as Cuomo’s right-hand man and a “brother,” is accused of engaging in two separate bribery schemes with companies doing business with the state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will reconsider a proposed law that would punish people who leave their pets outside in sub-freezing weather conditions for a certain amount of time. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Officials in the city of Syracuse said snowplows will be out Wednesday and Wednesday night, keeping roads safe as heavy snow is expected to fall in much of central New York. Six to ten inches of snow is possible in some parts of the Syracuse area by Wednesday night.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

New lawmakers on Syracuse’s Common Council are trying to tackle problems with rental properties by starting up an interior inspection program of the city’s one- and two-family rental properties.

Councilor At-Large Khalid Bey tried to enact changes in the city’s Rental Registry two years ago, but fierce pressure from landlords stopped the bill in its tracks. Bey said he hopes that new lawmakers will be more receptive to the idea.

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