regional news

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is encouraging certain city employees to buy tax delinquent homes that have been sold to the city.

Last year, police officers and fire fighters employed by the city, and teachers who worked for the city school district, were offered a 10 percent discount if they bought one of the land bank properties. Nobody did. So the land bank’s board has okayed raising that discount to 50 percent.

The Land Bank’s executive director Katelyn Wright says they’ll push the program more aggressively this year.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he supports a plan that would keep teenagers out of New York's adult prisons. A commission appointed by Cuomo released a scathing report yesterday that found too many young people in state prisons are being assaulted or victimized.

Right now 800 teenagers are held in adult jails and prisons across New York. The vast majority -- 82 percent -- are black and Hispanic, according to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued the roll out of his 2015 agenda Tuesday with details of an infrastructure plan that includes upgrading New York City region airports to providing broadband for upstate rural areas.

The governor also offered clues to another key item, education, where he seems determined to take on the status quo.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Governments in Onondaga County spend an average of $3,900 per resident each year. And spending on each of the 468,000 people in the county is rising.

Those are some of the findings in a new report out on government consolidation.

Center for Government Research president Joseph Stekfo says municipalities that go through consolidation typically see noticeable savings but that’s if governments and residents are willing. He says any change in municipal services pulls at people expectations of community.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The online MBA program at Syracuse Univeristy’s Whitman School of Management has its biggest class ever signed up this year. Officials say it’s a reflection of a growing trend in higher education.

At the start of the semester this January, a new cohort of Syracuse University MBA students got together for a happy hour. The difference? They were having their party online.

Whitman School assistant dean Amy McHale says this semester’s class set enrollment record. Distance learning master’s programs have been at SU since the 1970s, when students sent in their papers by mail.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spent the days leading up to this joint State of the State and budget message rolling out a number of new programs and proposals, including an anti-poverty agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, and tax cuts for small businesses.

Cuomo says as part of his budget, he’ll include a new phased-in increase of the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by the end of 2016. In New York City, the rate would rise to $11.50 an hour. The governor says New York City is arguably “the most expensive market” in the U.S.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The man who finished in third place for governor of New York last fall has still issued his own state of the state in hopes of a continued push for his vision.

Howie Hawkins, a Syracuse resident, has been a constantly more progressive voice than the state’s liberal leaders. He’s pushing for programs that go a step beyond what Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will lay out in his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon.

Community colleges say free tuition won't cut it

Jan 20, 2015
Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama said he wants to give all students, regardless of income, two free years of community college.

“Right here, right now, I’m going to announce one of my most important State of the Union proposals,” he said in a speech at Pellissippi State Community College on January 9. “And that’s helping every American afford a higher education.”

The plan caused a stir, even though it was a little short on the details. More information is expected in Obama’s State of the Union address.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

More than two-thirds of residents in Onondaga County live in one community and commute to another one to work each day.

The town of Otisco has the most mobile residents. Eighty-nine percent -- 89.3 percent, to be exact -- of them work in a different town. They also have the longest commute from their homes in the southwest corner of the county, at 29 minutes.

Spafford residents were a close second, with 88.8 percent of them also driving an average 29 minutes each morning and evening.

Raising awareness of North Country human trafficking

Jan 19, 2015
Julia Botero

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced new efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking in New York. It's an underground crime that traps men, women and children against their will. Many are forced to work hard labor without pay, or become prostitutes.  Last week, state experts on human trafficking spoke at a taping of a discussion on the topic at the WPBS studios in Watertown.  

Sudipto Sarkar / Flickr

More central New Yorkers are apt to smoke cigarettes, than anywhere else in New York State. This comes at a time when most private health insurance plans, as well as Medicaid and Medicare cover smoking cessation strategies. So why the disconnect?  Experts say getting people to quit comes down to education.

According to the New York State Health Department, just over 22 percent of central New York adults smoke. The state smoking rate is 10 points below that.  

Inergy

The next fight in a long battle over storing liquefied petroleum gas along the western shore of Seneca Lake is an issues conference next month. Opponents to the facility are trying to get a seat at the table along with environmental officials and the gas company.

Storing the liquefied gas, or LPG in an expansive network of empty salt caverns along the southwestern shore of this finger lake was first proposed five years ago.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) continues to make her case for legislation that would help ease the burden of child care costs, which the senator says add up to $10,000 a year per child for the average central New York family.  

At a day care center in East Syracuse Friday, the Democrat calmed an infant before explaining her proposal to use tax breaks to make child care more affordable. The three-pronged plan takes into account different income levels. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his budget address next Wednesday, the state will begin the year with a $5 billion surplus -- a big change after years of budget deficits.

When Cuomo first came into office, the state was facing a $10 billion budget gap. Now, in 2015, the state has a $5 billion surplus, the largest since the 1940s.  The money is a one time windfall from various bank settlements over charges of improprieties during the financial crisis.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Another drone resistance trial is taking place in DeWitt Town Court. The latest protester to go to trial participated in a staged die-in outside the front gate of Hancock Air Base last spring and wants to defend herself by telling the tales of the effect of drone warfare on everyday people.

Bonny Mahoney and the group Code Pink visited Pakistan in 2012 to express their opposition to the U.S. drone strikes in that country. Mahoney says she will tell jurors in her trial about the fear that she felt among the people of that country.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Going in to 2015, there is more confidence in central New York’s economy to be found in an annual business survey.

Last year, there was only limited optimism among economists and business leaders for economic growth in the region. But CenterState CEO president Rob Simpson says he has much more confidence for 2015.

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