regional news

Colleen / via Flickr

Teachers have been holding rallies all around the state protesting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education proposals, and hundreds are expected to converge on the Capitol late Monday to protest over reliance on standardized tests, and other issues. Cuomo has called the teachers unions part of a “bloated bureaucracy” that he says needs to be broken. He wants teacher performance reviews to rely more on standardized test results, and he’d like 100 more charter schools in New York.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

This is the third year in a row family planning advocates are lobbying for passage of the Women’s Equality Act in Albany. Supporters say they are optimistic about its future, despite some opposition.

Three years isn’t a long time to get legislation passed, says M. Tracey Brooks, president of Family Planning Advocates of New York State.

"That’s young in legislative years,” she said.

The package of ten bills has failed in the past, because of point number ten, which would bring the state’s legislation on abortion in line with the federal standard of Roe v. Wade.  

Chris Kreussling / via Flickr

Central New York’s public transit system is facing a sizeable budget gap and it's proposing a major reduction in service if more funding isn’t provided.

This is not the first year Centro has spent more money running buses in its four central New York county service area than it’s taken in to do so, but according to the public transit authority’s executive director, Frank Kobliski, they’ve run out of one-time funding streams to fill the hole.

Lorianne DiSabato / via Flickr

As this seemingly never-ending winter of record cold temperatures and stubborn snowstorms drags on in central New York, it seems hard to believe that a new season is around the corner. But, spring is lurking beneath the snow pack.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

  Onondaga County lawmakers will again be able to weigh in on the decision about the future of Interstate 81. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon will ask lawmakers to stand behind the option he believes is the best compromise among the plans being discussed.

Gillibrand targets college sexual assault

Feb 27, 2015
Credit Andrew Dallos / via Flickr

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would hold colleges accountable for sexual assaults.

She says that under the current system, colleges have incentives to hush up assaults. They’re bad publicity and scare away prospective students. Her bill aims to change that. It creates a national anonymous survey for students to report sexual assaults. Results for each college would be public online.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Cayuga Indian Nation will have to continue to sort out a leadership dispute on its own, as the federal government has declined to make a ruling.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has decided that on an interim basis, it will continue to recognize the 2006 leadership structure of the Cayuga, which places Clint Halftown as the federal representative for the nation.

More Fort Drum soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan

Feb 27, 2015
Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

More Fort Drum troops got official orders to ship off to Afghanistan. They will leave this spring and summer. 

Over 1,600 soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team will do one of three things in southern Afghanistan: One, protect U.S. forces on bases; two, serve as staff with the Train Advise Assist Command unit; or three advise the Afghan National Army and police.

Catherine Loper / WRVO News file photo

The cities of Syracuse, Oswego, Watertown and more than a dozen towns and villages in Jefferson County are urging residents to run a trickle of water through a faucet to keep pipes from freezing. One of them is the village Mannsville, south of Watertown. David Sommerstein spoke with the village Mayor Lori Cashel. She says she can’t remember freezing pipes being this much of problem in decades.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Newly-elected Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie made clear one of his top priorities in his first news conference, where he called for passage of the Dream Act, which would offer college aid to children of undocumented immigrants.

Heastie says when it comes to helping young New Yorkers with paying for college, there’s a double standard.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The freezing weather continues around central and northern New York and that's causing problems for homeowners dealing with frozen pipes. The problem has gotten so bad in the city of Oswego, that Mayor Tom Gillen has declared a state of emergency in the city.

In a news release, Gillen says that at least 25 homes in several neighborhoods have no water due to frozen pipes. Without water, some residents are left with no heat as well. Gillen says it could be several days before all the pipes are thawed and residents have their water running again.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Budget talks began Wednesday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo met behind closed doors with legislative leaders to discuss school aid, economic development proposals and ethics reform. Cuomo’s push to reform practices in the legislature comes at a time when his nearly $1 million book deal is coming under closer scrutiny.
 

Erin Gardner

A Syracuse lawmaker is back with a third attempt to penalize people responsible for impassible sidewalks because of snow.

City councilor Bob Dougherty tried twice last year to impose fines for residents and businesses that didn’t shovel their sidewalks after a snowfall, but both were defeated. 

Now, Dougherty wants to go after private plow drivers. "I haven’t been able to pass the stuff about clearing sidewalks, but at least this will address mainly the business owners that have the snow plowed up onto the sidewalk, boxing intersections," he said. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Syracuse school district could be down a million dollars because of an unintended consequence of vacant properties being sold to the land bank.

Property tax collection is a major source of funding for public schools, but there are thousands of properties in Syracuse that the property taxes aren’t being collected on – either because they’re vacant or the owner isn’t paying. For those properties, the city has been covering the portion that would go to schools out of its own pocket.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly threatened to hold up the state budget over ethics reform and other issues, like education policy.

Now, a poll finds that voters would rather that the budget be on time. The spending plan is due March 31 and lawmakers return to Albany Wednesday to begin several weeks of negotiations.

shawnzrossi / Flickr

A state wage board has agreed to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from $5.00 to $7.50 an hour. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the change at a rally with union leaders.

Cuomo, speaking to the union members, renewed his call to raise the state’s minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $10.50 an hour in the state, and $11.50 in New York City. Cuomo says businesses are making record profits .

“Business is doing well, God bless them,” Cuomo said. “But it is time that they share. We are looking at a polarization of income in this country like we’ve never seen before.”

Doug Kerr / Flickr

The city of Utica has climbed its way out of near bankruptcy to post a sizeable budget surplus.

Utica’s government is smaller, shedding about 100 jobs in recent years. "Fire had cuts, police had cuts, city hall employees, we had cuts," said Mayor Robert Palmieri in an interview. "So we really had to do some soul searching and employees now are doing two and three different jobs."

A program that paired college students with military researchers at the former Griffiss Air Base in Rome will now move on to other military bases across the country. The Commercialization Academy has helped students get a feel for what it’s like to be an entrepreneur by using patents, developed by the military, that currently aren’t being used.

Corey Templeton / via Flickr

This part probably isn’t news: It’s been really, really cold all month.

There are a few days left in February, but looking at the forecast  -- where temperatures aren’t supposed get any higher than the mid-teens, it’s safe to make some assumptions.

Gillibrand advocates for more comprehensive food programs

Feb 24, 2015
bookgrl / Flickr

It may be the dead of winter, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is thinking about summer. At Binghamton High School Monday, Gillibrand touted her new bill that would expand access to meal programs for students during summer vacation.

The move comes ahead of congressional debate on nutrition standards at schools and would ensure needy students three meals a day during the summer.

Matthew Snyder / via Flickr

There is plenty of snow on the ground, but frigid temperatures are keeping people away from upstate New York’s ski mountains.

With schools out for winter break last week, President’s Day week is usually a key money-maker for ski slopes. But temperatures barely got into the double digits last week and despite good conditions, many skiers stayed inside.

Jim Hickey, who owns Toggenburg Ski Resort south of Syracuse, says it was “crazy” how cold it was last week.

Wallyg / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has outlined his plan for greater transparency of state lawmakers’ outside income, and has made it part of his budget proposal. Good government groups say they wish he had gone farther.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York state is among the bottom in the nation for residents signed up to be organ donors. Only about a quarter of New Yorkers have consented to being organ donors, according to the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network.

That ranks the state 49th in the country. But it has the third highest need for organs.

The low statistic has prompted a new advocacy campaign, hoping to improve those numbers, called Pass Life On.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

 

The deadline to file your tax return is just under two months away. As many Americans file, they’re finding there are more questions about health insurance on the annual tax forms than ever before based on changes in place because of the Affordable Care Act.
 

In New York, and several other states, people who find they owe a penalty on their 2014 tax return will now have a special enrollment period to sign up for health coverage.

comedy_nose / Flickr

  The final number of New Yorkers who signed up for health insurance through the state exchange this year tops a half a million.

New York State of Health Marketplace is claiming more than 564 thousand new enrollees for 2015. Add that to last year’s numbers and more than 2.1 million people have used the state exchange for health insurance in the first 2 years of the Affordable Care Act.

Donna Frescatore is the Executive Director of the state marketplace. She’s says a close to 90 percent renewal rate for people with private health plans points to stability.

Destiny USA

  The sixth largest shopping mall in the country says it's taking a recent call to attack Western shopping centers by a terrorist group "very seriously."

Destiny USA, in Syracuse, was not formally named by Al-Shabab, as was The Mall of America and malls in England and Canada, in a video released over the weekend. The video calls on sympathizers to the terror group to carry out the attacks. 

Nazareth College

 

It all began with one Gorbel employee, says President Brian Reh, who was going through physical therapy with her daughter.

"The idea came originally from one of our employees who had experienced first-hand how tough it was to go through gait rehabilitation with the current lack of technology," Reh says. "We had a lot of great things we were doing in the industrial technology sector, and she came forward and said, What if we could apply this to the health field?"

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As workers begin the job of demolishing much of the dated interior of the Hotel Syracuse, the historic parts of the hotel are being preserved -- including one piece of artwork that once dominated the lobby of the landmark hotel.

NYSenate.gov

In the wake of the arrest of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges, many legislators and the governor have floated proposals for ethics reform. Republican State Senator Joe Griffo (R-Rome) is pushing for a change he started fighting for even before this latest scandal -- term limits.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle says real ethics reform is coming to Albany.

Morelle, a Rochester-area Democrat wouldn’t say whether he thinks former Speaker Sheldon Silver is guilty of a crime. But Morelle said that Silver should have been forced to disclose the source of his outside income.

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