regional news

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The New York state Senate met for the first time since two Democrats were successful in special elections held on Tuesday. Though the Senate now has 32 Democrats, the number required to form a majority, it was back to business as usual with the GOP in charge.

Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) is the lone Democrat remaining with the Republican caucus, and giving the GOP the one seat needed to keep the majority in the chamber.

Two feuding factions of mainstream and independent Democrats already reunited on April 5.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse University students are demanding changes to a system they say is oppressing marginalized groups on campus. This comes in the wake of racist and sexist videos from the Theta Tau fraternity, which got the organization expelled. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

New York state's highest court will hear arguments today about whether the man convicted of kidnapping Heidi Allen from a New Haven convenience store in 1994 should get a new trial. It could be the last shot Gary Thibodeau has to overturn his 25 years-to-life sentence.

New York State Senate

Democrats won two special elections for New York state Senate in the Bronx and Westchester County Tuesday, which will give them a numerical majority in the Senate, but Republicans will still control the chamber thanks to a lone Democratic Senator who will continue to caucus with the GOP.

Even before the results of Tuesday’s election were decided, Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) said in a statement that, with only 25 days remaining in this year’s legislative session, he wants to do what’s best for his constituents.

Griffiss Institute

Members of New York's Congressional delegation are trying to secure funding to build a fence around the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome. Without the proper security, they fear the "Rome Lab" is potentially vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s political opponents were at an Earth Day rally on climate change attended by hundreds at the state Capitol Monday, where they said the governor’s energy policies are far from adequate.

NYSenate.gov

Updated at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York state Senate will remain in Republican hands - for now.

A key Democratic state senator who has sided with Republicans said Tuesday that he will stay put - even if Democrats win two special elections Tuesday and win a numeric Senate majority.

Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder has long sat with Senate Republicans, to the frustration of members of his own party. Democratic leaders had hoped Felder might return if they win Tuesday's elections in Westchester County and the Bronx.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Everything is on the table, according to Syracuse University officials, including expulsion, for the 18 students involved in racist videos by the Theta Tau fraternity. SU officials said it will be a fair but expeditious disciplinary process.

The Daily Orange YouTube page

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse University expelled a fraternity over an offensive video that members say was intended as satire, but the controversy is continuing with the emergence of more video simulating a sexual assault of a disabled person.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown is applying for a federal grant to help pay for new firefighters, but officials are divided on whether it will ultimately save the city money.

Watertown Fire Chief Dale Herman will file the application on behalf of the city, hoping to bring on four new firefighters with the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. It would be the first time the fire department has hired since 2012.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County Democratic Committee member Diane Dwire made a general objection last week to the petitions collected by Democrat Juanita Perez Williams in the race for the 24th congressional district.

Perez Williams is challenging the designated Democratic candidate Dana Balter, after entering the race less the two weeks before the petitions were due.

Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said it is typical that campaigns will file general objections to their opponents' petitions, but it is difficult to get someone knocked off the ballot.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

 

The Surgeon General has issued a public health advisory urging more Americans to carry naloxone, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. It is not the only solution to the opioid epidemic, but experts say keeping people alive is the first step.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Students at more than a dozen school in central and northern New York are expected to take part in a national high school walkout today to demand action on gun control. The walkout is being held today, because it is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

The Daily Orange YouTube page

A fraternity at Syracuse University has been suspended after a video was released showing members engaged in extremely racist behavior.  Students on campus are shocked and angered by the video. 

University officials describe the Theta Tau video as anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist. Hundreds of students participated in a protest and dialogue on campus Wednesday. Student Association President James Franco said students expressed their feelings, shared their experiences, and discussed actions that could be taken.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where he offered remedies to fix the nation’s Democratic Party.

Cuomo railed against President Donald Trump and his administration, saying they are “anti-American” and opposed to everything that King preached about. But he said the Democratic Party got it wrong in 2016.

Mohawk Valley Health System

Officials with the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) say they are on schedule to break ground in downtown Utica next year for their new $480 million hospital. MVHS has gotten approval from the state to complete the hospital designs, and now has a pathway to use eminent domain so it can clear the way for the facility.

WRVO News / File Photo

Suspended Syracuse parks commissioner Lazarus Sims was charged with third-degree grand larceny after an audit from City Auditor Marty Masterpole found money missing from the department. The audit also revealed other areas where the department is at risk for errors and fraud.

Masterpole said the Syracuse Common Council came to him with an initial red flag about the parks department that turned out to be nothing. But in the process of conducting the audit, Masterpole said they found something else.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Smokers who visit Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse will be able to get their nicotine fix while on the no-smoking campus. But they won’t get it through smoking or vaping.

The hospital will begin offering nicotine replacement therapy lozenges to smokers who visit campus, according to Upstate respiratory therapist Theresa Hankin.

“We need to acknowledge that people are under a lot of stress, and they’re going to what is comfortable to them at the time, and we want to keep them comfortable,” said Hankin.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

New York's new budget sets aside money to combat harmful algal blooms that have closed some of the state's lakes and threatened the municipalities that use them for drinking water. The funding would be a welcome relief for several communities in central New York that have been battling the blooms for years.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The Working Families Party split up over the weekend, with some of the last remaining major unions leaving the group. The progressive political party announced it is backing Cynthia Nixon for governor, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo withdrew from consideration, saying he’s sticking with the major unions, for now.

The choice seems a safe bet for the incumbent governor.

Syracuse’s suspended parks commissioner Lazarus Sims was arrested and arraigned in court this morning, charged with third-degree grand larceny, a felony. Sims is accused of stealing property worth more than $3,000.

The Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office started an investigation after an audit by City Auditor Marty Masterpole revealed discrepancies in the parks department’s permitting process.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he is saddened for the city and for Sims. Walsh said Sims has done a lot of good for Syracuse, particularly for young people.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hawley Markets on Syracuse’s northside gets a lot of business from a nearby elementary school, as well as neighborhood folks who don’t have access to cars so they have to do food shopping at cramped corner stores. It’s been six months since co-owner Rita Algattas started offering more healthy options than the candy bars and chips that crowd many corner store shelves.

"Having fresh fruit and vegetables, having it all the time visible on the counter," Algattas said. "Trying to have healthy choices."

New York State Senate

Monday marked the first day that the former breakaway Democrats in the New York State Senate were working with the mainstream Democrats after they agreed to reunify earlier this month.

Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said so far, it’s all proceeding smoothly, but she dampened expectations that major new legislation would get done before the session ends in June.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Monday that now is the time to get Canada to end a program hurting upstate’s dairy industry, as President Donald Trump's administration renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Actor and education advocate Cynthia Nixon won the endorsement of the minor party Working Families Party at a meeting in Albany Saturday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is running in a Democratic primary against Nixon, dropped out of contention for the party’s nomination Friday night, after delegates were leaning toward Nixon.

“I am so proud to accept the endorsement of the Working Families Party,” Nixon told the enthusiastic crowd of progressive and activist groups.

Quadrant Epigenetics LLC

Researchers at Upstate Medical University are almost ready to send a test to market that would use saliva to help determine if a child is autistic.

The average age a child is diagnosed with autism is 4.5. But researchers at Upstate say testing the microRNA found in the saliva of a toddler can help doctors determine if a child is autistic sooner than that. Principal investigator Dr. Frank Middleton says that’s important because earlier treatment can help the outcomes of children facing an autism diagnosis.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The response to arming teachers as a way to combat school shootings sounds like any other debate about guns. Proponents say it's a practical way to stop shooters, while opponents argue that it will actually increase the risk of danger. But among some educators, the debate doesn't fall along those same lines.

Timothy Vollmer / Flickr

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An unknown number of students taking the statewide English assessment by computer encountered delays when a security feature in the system “inadvertently activated” and prevented them from logging in, New York education officials said on Thursday.

The problem on Wednesday originated with test vendor Questar Assessment Inc., which eventually fixed the issue, Education Department spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said.

Testing continued on Thursday without any additional interruptions.

Howie Hawkins for Governor / Facebook

Syracuse's Howie Hawkins announced Thursday that he is running for governor on the Green Party line for the third time. Hawkins said a victory does not necessarily mean winning the race.

Payne R Horning / WRVO News File Photo

The federal government is filing a lawsuit against an Oswego landlord accusing him of severe, pervasive and unwanted sexual harassment against female tenants and potential tenants. It's the second such suit that the property owner is facing.

The justice department lawsuit alleges a longstanding pattern and practice of sexual harassment from landlord Doug Waterbury, who owns about 50 rental properties in Oswego County and the Sterling Renaissance Festival, Sylvan Beach Amusement Park and Santa's Workshop in North Pole.

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