regional news

pickled newt / via Flickr

Late one night in 2011, Amber Canavan snuck onto a Foie Gras farm in the southern Catskills. Video camera in hand, she recorded what she saw and provided it to the Animal Protection and Rescue League, which published some of it in a video.

Julia Botero / WRVO

SUNY colleges across New York are asking that state legislators include more than $34 million for higher education in this year’s budget. They would like New York to close the growing gap between how much state aid a student receives and how much they are expected to pay each year.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

It was the charter schools’ turn to rally at the state Capitol Wednesday in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to allow 100 more charter schools in New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and New York State Fair officials have Gov. Andrew Cuomo squarely in their corner as they advance plans to make dramatic changes at the fairgrounds in Geddes.  

Rivers on drugs

Mar 4, 2015
Brian Caird / WRVO file photo

They're beautiful on the surface, but, our rivers are on drugs.

The scientists at the Cary Institute of Ecological Studies say their findings show human drug use is having an increasing impact on the amphibious environment.

PPCP’s are leaking into our waterways and changing the ecology.

PPCP'S stands for pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Associate scientist at the Cary Institute Emma Rosi-Marshall says people don’t fully metabolize most of the drugs they take and they’re coming out in our waste products which then seep into waterways.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking credit for the state budget’s turnaround from huge gaps to healthy surpluses, but a watchdog group says Cuomo is relying on future funds that have not yet materialized.

Cuomo often lists his achievements as governor when he gives speeches. He likes to recount how he turned the state’s finances around, as he did in his inaugural address earlier this year.

“We turned a $10 billion deficit into a $5 billion surplus,” Cuomo said then.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Onondaga County Legislature has put its support behind a so-called hybrid option to replace Interstate 81 through Syracuse, the same day the Downtown Committee put its weight behind the boulevard plan.

It’s another example of the suburban versus urban divide that has developed over this lengthy debate about the future of Interstate 81.

The Downtown Committee compared the two options the state transportation department is formally studying right now: a rebuilt viaduct, or the highway’s diversion around the city and replacing it with a boulevard.

Onondaga County

For the first time since Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed spending $50 million to update the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes, central New York is getting a look at some of ways that money could  be spent.

Mike Mozart

With spring approaching, gas prices are on the rise across the country and in central New York.  And the increase may be a little more dramatic at pumps in the Syracuse area.

According to the AAA Western and Central New York, this region watched  the price at the pump jump an average of 22 cents a gallon last month. And that’s pretty typical for this time of year, as oil companies make the expensive switch from winter to summer blend fuels, and take some refineries offline for maintenance.  

oliver_hine / via Flickr

A sharply divided city argues over whether to keep a major transit link running through downtown, or to route it around the outskirts of town.

It’s nearly the same debate going on today, but this was in the 1920s. Then, Syracuse was arguing over whether to build an elevated rail corridor through downtown, as Dennis Connors, curator of the Onondaga Historical Association explains.

"And there was a whole campaign, the pro-leave it downtown and elevate it, versus the move it out of downtown and put it around the north side of the city," he said.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Hundreds of teachers are rallied at the state Capitol late Monday, saying they are calling out Gov. Andrew Cuomo for what they say is his anti-public school agenda.

The teachers, including New York State United Teachers Union Vice President Andy Pallotta, say Cuomo has declared a war on students, parents, and teachers, and is advancing a “test and punish” agenda.

“He has no respect for public education,” Pallotta shouted, as the crowd cheered.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) stopped at college campuses across upstate New York Monday, continuing her push to get support for a bill that would combat sexual violence on college campuses. Her last stop was at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.

When Meaghan Greeley was sexually assaulted on a college campus six years ago, there wasn’t much help for her.

"There were no confidential advocates to turn to for support. The administrators or staff members I sought guidance from had never received any training in how to advise me or support me,” said Greeley.

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.

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