regional news

4:10pm

Fri October 31, 2014
Politics

Cuomo: Democrats need to get out the vote

Gov. Andrew Cuomo with his running mate former Rep. Kathy Hochul speaking to reporters after a rally in Syracuse.
Ellen Abbott WRVO News

Heading into the last weekend before election day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is crossing upstate New York encouraging Democrats to get out the vote. His first stop was a rally in Syracuse.

"We vote, we win," Cuomo said. "We vote when we work and we knock on doors and we make phone calls... We do it 24 hours a day and we out work the other side."

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7:39am

Fri October 31, 2014
Politics

Voters to decide fate of Oswego's property tax cap proposal

Members of the Oswego Dept. of Public Works wait to see if the 2014 budget is passed. The department was prepared for major cuts to its staff, but the jobs were saved.
Gino Geruntino WRVO

On Tuesday the city of Oswego will decide whether it wants to bring back a five percent property tax cap, but many of the city's elected officials warn that it could come with some unintended consequences.

The proposed property tax cap would force Oswego to keep any tax increases to less than five percent. If the city raises taxes more than that, Oswego residents would have to vote to approve the budget. If that fails, the city must reduce the budget to keep the increase below the threshold.

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7:06am

Fri October 31, 2014
Politics

Maffei, Katko talk ISIS, minimum wage in latest debate

Democrat Dan Maffei (left) and Republican John Katko (middle) debate the issues at the Thursday Morning Roundtable..
Ellen Abbott WRVO

With less than a week to go until Election Day, candidates in one of the highest profile races in central New York are in the midst of a debate blitz. Democrat incumbent Dan Maffei and his Republican challenger, John Katko, are both running to represent the 24th Congressional District, and outlined their stands at the Thursday Morning Roundtable in DeWitt.

The candidates offered up views on foreign policy to kick off the latest debate, specifically whether American troops should be used to deal with the advancement of ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, in the Middle East.

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6:47am

Fri October 31, 2014
Politics

Failed public campaign finance experiment hampers comptroller's race

Republican candidate for state comptroller, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci, says he still believes in campaign finance reform.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

An experimental public campaign finance system for the state comptroller’s race has fizzled, after the lone candidate who applied for the program failed to meet the minimum threshold to obtain public monies.

The pilot public campaign financing program was limited to just the state comptroller’s race as part of a state budget deal.

It was widely condemned at the time by reform groups as fatally flawed. Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group called it cynical.

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6:34am

Fri October 31, 2014
Politics

John Katko, prosecutor and political neophyte

Former U.S. Attorney John Katko working a crime scene. Katko is the Republican candidate for Congress in the 24th district.
John Katko for Congress

As WRVO profiles congressional races in central and northern New York this week, we turn to the 24th Congressional District. It features a well-known Democrat who has struggled to hold onto the office, and a political neophyte. Today, we profile John Katko.

When John Katko decided to quit his job as a federal prosecutor in January to run for Congress, his sister was surprised.

"I’m like really, are you serious,” Cindy Hoyne said. “He’s like yeah. He’s not your typical politician; I think that’s what floored me the most.”

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6:21am

Fri October 31, 2014
Politics

Hawkins slams Cuomo for calling public education a monopoly

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor in Syracuse Thursday.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins is joining the growing criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a comment Cuomo made about teachers. The governor said the public education system is a monopoly.

Earlier this week, Cuomo told the New York Daily News the state’s public education system is the last great public monopoly. He says he’ll try to push for a new round of teacher evaluations if reelected.

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5:44pm

Thu October 30, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse's Tipp Hill residents fighting to keep halfway house far away

An empty property on West Fayette St. in Syracuse a Boston non-profit has bid to turn into a halfway house.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

West side of Syracuse residents are again fighting to keep a halfway house for felons re-entering the community out of their neighborhood, saying the current facility is just fine where it is, far away.

The federal Bureau of Prisons' contract with non-profit Firetree, LTD. to operate a re-entry facility on the eastern edge of downtown Syracuse is up. Firetree, which is from Pennsylvania, has submitted a bid to have the contact to run the three-dozen bed facility renewed.

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7:25am

Thu October 30, 2014
Regional Coverage

Amphitheater project's future relies on upcoming vote

The Onondaga County Legislature meets to talk about the proposed $100 million amphitheater project.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The future of an amphitheater project on the western shore of Onondaga Lake comes down to a vote by Onondaga County lawmakers next week. 

The amphitheater is part of a $100 million project to revitalize the communities on the western shore of Onondaga Lake. The state will pay for infrastructure improvements and housing projects in Solvay and Geddes but Onondaga County will have to pay for the $50 million amphitheater, by way of a 30-year bond.

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6:56am

Thu October 30, 2014
Politics

Attorney general race closest of all statewide races

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (right) stands next to Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his 2010 run for office. (file photo)
citizenactionny via Flickr

The race for attorney general is the closest of all the statewide contests. Democrat Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he wants another four years to continue what he says have been numerous successes, while his Republican opponent, John Cahill, says the incumbent has not been aggressive enough and is too cozy with the political establishment in Albany.  

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6:07am

Thu October 30, 2014
Politics

Dan Maffei, the cerebral Democrat and perennial candidate

Rep. Dan Maffei, D-Syracuse, at an infrastructure roundtable. (File photo)
Ryan Delaney WRVO

As WRVO profiles congressional races in central and northern New York this week, we turn to the 24th Congressional District. It features a well-known Democrat who has struggled to hold onto the office, and a political neophyte. We begin first with our profile of the incumbent, Rep. Dan Maffei.

Maffei has spent the better part of the last decade running for Congress. He’s lost, won, lost, won and now, at 46 years old, he’s running for re-election.

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11:04pm

Wed October 29, 2014
Politics

Katko and Maffei debate infrastructure, Wayne County jobs

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) and Republican John Katko in their debate Monday. (file photo)
Sarah Jean Condon The Citizen

A week busy with debates for the 24th Congressional District candidates continued last night with their first live televised debate.

The Democratic incumbent and Republican challenger fielded questions on infrastructure, and cuts to carbon emissions, taxes and the Affordable Care Act.

Gas tax

In the Syracuse Media Group/WCNY debate aired live, neither Rep. Dan Maffei nor Republican challenger John Katko supported raising the gas tax, which the federal government uses to fund bridge and road repair.

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4:35pm

Wed October 29, 2014
Regional Coverage

Rock salt supplies are down, and prices are up

A scene from last winter in Syracuse.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Last year's long winter is still fresh in the minds of many upstate New Yorkers. But for local governments, the above average snowfall left behind a bigger problem than bad memories -- depleted supplies of road salt.

When Oswego County started looking for rock salt for this upcoming winter season, purchasing director Daniel Stevens says the county discovered it would have to pay more than normal in order to replenish its stockpile.

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7:26am

Wed October 29, 2014
Politics

In North Country, Republican candidate Stefanik says "people want a new generation of leaders"

Elise Stefanik, 21st Congressional District Republican candidate at her campaign headquarters in Watertown.
David Sommerstein/NCPR

This week, WRVO is profiling candidates for Congress in central and northern New York. Today we take a look at Elise Stefanik, the Republican running for the open seat in 21st district in the North Country.

Stefanik hopes to return the North Country’s seat in Congress to the Republican side of the aisle as it had been for decades before Democrat Bill Owens won three times. She would become the youngest member of the House at 30 years old.

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7:01am

Wed October 29, 2014
Environment

Gillibrand wants plastic microbeads removed from personal care products

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) discusses the impact of microbeads on the environment. Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen (left) and Port of Oswego Board Chairman Terry Hammill (right) attended.
Gino Geruntino WRVO

They are in products people use every day to help get grime off their hands, keep their faces acne free and even make their teeth pearly white. But environmentalists and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) say plastic microbeads are polluting the country's lakes and streams.

While standing in front of Lake Ontario, Gillibrand announced her push to get companies to remove microbeads from personal care products like hand soap, facial scrubs and toothpaste, citing the harmful effects they have on the environment.

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6:29am

Wed October 29, 2014
Politics

Candidates running for 24th Congressional District spar on I-81, campaign finance

Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei (left) is running for the 24th Congressional District against Republican John Katko.
Ryan Delaney/WRVO and Katko for Congress

Republican John Katko and incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei largely stuck to the issues in their latest television debate Tuesday night. The two candidates took stands on the economy, Common Core and U.S. military action in Syria on the half-hour debate on CNY Central.

But on the issue of what to do about the aging span of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse, neither candidate had a definitive answer.

Katko said the options that have been presented are good ones, but he needs more information.

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5:56am

Wed October 29, 2014
Government

Syracuse council renews call to change residency laws for cops, firefighters

Ken Hawkins Flickr

Syracuse city councilors are hoping to convince state-level lawmakers to change a law that allows police, firefighters and sanitation workers to live outside the cities they work in.

A non-binding resolution issued by the council comes after they learned only about three dozen of the city’s roughly 450 police officers actually live in the city. Firefighters and sanitation workers are also exempt, though a higher percentage of those employees live in the city.

That results in tens of millions of dollars in city salaries leaving the city, the council estimates.

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5:43am

Wed October 29, 2014
Politics

Cuomo pushes for education bond act, skeptics remain

Katie Keier Flickr

The Nov. 4 ballot includes an amendment to borrow $2 billion to buy new technology for school children, like iPads and other tablets. Fiscal watchdogs are against it and the reaction of the education community has been lukewarm. But with one week left to go before Election Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who came up with idea, has finally started to push for it.

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9:15am

Tue October 28, 2014
Politics

Siena poll shows Republicans leading in 21st and 24th Congressional Districts

MemphisCVB Flickr

With only a week left until Election Day, the Republicans running in two of upstate New York's historically more contested districts lead their Democratic opponents, according to newly released polls.

The 24th Congressional District showed the most dramatic shift in favor of the Republican. A Syracuse.com/Post-Standard/Siena College poll released early Tuesday, shows Republican John Katko with a ten point lead over Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei. Katko was down eight points when the last poll came out Sept. 21.

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6:57am

Tue October 28, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse councilors are against changes to redistricting process

NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

Syracuse lawmakers want to make the state’s redistricting process less political. City councilors are calling for the defeat of a statewide proposition on the ballot next week.

Proposition One, which voters will decide on next Tuesday, would amend the state constitution for how congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts are drawn.

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6:47am

Tue October 28, 2014
Politics

Maffei vows to protect Social Security benefits for seniors

Dan Maffei, center, talks with supporters Saturday as he opened his campaign headquarters in Syracuse.
Ryan Delane WRVO file photo

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) is courting senior voters as Election Day approaches. He stood with some local seniors in Syracuse, promising to protect Social Security. He admits there are some changes that could be made to the federal program.

“But it’s not in crisis," Maffei said. "It’s a program that continues to make sure that seniors can continue to live a dignified life, even if their private savings didn't work out, or something like that. And that’s the whole point of the program that Roosevelt put in.”

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6:36am

Tue October 28, 2014
Politics

Maffei, Katko participate in first of several televised debates

Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei (left) is running for the 24th Congressional District against Republican John Katko.
Sarah Jean Condon The Citizen

The first of a series of televised debates in the race for the 24th Congressional District kicked off last night. Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei and Republican challenger John Katko sparred in the studios of Time Warner Cable News.

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6:22am

Tue October 28, 2014
Politics

In North Country, Democrat candidate Woolf wants to "tell a new story" for change in Congress

Democrat Aaron Woolf is seeking the NY-21 House seat.
NYS Democratic Party

This week, WRVO will profile candidates for Congress in central and northern New York. We begin with Aaron Woolf, the Democrat running for the open seat in 21st district in the North Country.

New York's North Country Democrats surprised everyone when they chose Aaron Woolf to try to succeed Bill Owens after he announced his retirement. Woolf is running against Republican Elise Stefanik and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello.

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6:14am

Tue October 28, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo defends Ebola quarantine policy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (left) enacted several precautionary measures on Friday to prevent the spread of Ebola.
governorandrewcuomo Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended his decision to quarantine travelers and health care workers returning from West Africa through New York City airports if they’ve been in contact with Ebola patients.

Cuomo has faced intense criticism since the policy was announced over the weekend, but says he’s doing what he thinks is necessary to keep the public calm and safe.

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3:08pm

Mon October 27, 2014

6:43am

Mon October 27, 2014
Politics

Katko sets sights on addressing Syracuse's poverty problem

Republican congressional candidate John Katko stands with community leaders in front of Syracuse's Southwest Community Center.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

In the waning days of the election, Republican congressional candidate John Katko is focusing on poverty.

Katko, a former federal prosecutor in Syracuse, says he’s seen up close the poverty plaguing the 23rd poorest city in the country.

"I remember many times walking up a dark stairway, trying to find a witness with one of the agents, knocking on the door, not knowing what’s going to happen when the door happens," Katko said. "But when that door opens, you see unbelievable living conditions in the city of Syracuse. Where is the outrage? Where is the concern?”

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6:15am

Mon October 27, 2014
Veterans

Through pen and paper, veterans find a way to cope

Doug D'elia, who served in the Air Force in Vietnam, reads a writing prompt at a veterans writing group.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Andrew Miller had finished his second tour in Afghanistan for the U.S. Army, but he didn’t have a lot of time to think about it before being thrown back into the world, now labeled a veteran.

"Nobody gave us the time or the room to figure out what it meant to us," he said. "We caught planes, hipped and hopped and skipped and jumped. And the next thing we do, we were having a parade shoved down our throat."

Miller had a bad experience being asked to headline a Veterans Day parade he didn’t feel he earned for the right reasons.

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6:04am

Mon October 27, 2014
Waste removal

From TVs to toilets, what can and can't be tossed to the curb

A broken, old television sits on a curb in Syracuse.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

An old television sitting on a curb in Syracuse has been there so long weeds are starting to grow through it. Trash scrappers already came and smashed it in two to remove the valuable items inside, like copper wiring. All that’s left is the plastic frame and glass screen. 

"TVs are not supposed to be out on the curb anymore," said Syracuse Public Works Commissioner Pete O'Connor. "However, the dilemma we have in the city of Syracuse is, we all know they’re out there."

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5:30am

Mon October 27, 2014
Politics

Maffei, Katko make last-minute efforts to get voters to the polls

Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei (left) and Republican John Katko (right) are running to represent the 24th Congressional District, which includes four counties.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

The race to represent the 24th Congressional District has been marked largely by negative campaign ads, character attacks and a variety of powerful politicians coming to central New York. With eight days before Election Day, Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei and Republican challenger John Katko are now making their final pushes to attract prospective voters.

The national political parties have invested money and sent party leaders to stump for their candidates in the district, which has flip-flopped between going Republican and Democrat in recent elections.

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6:43am

Fri October 24, 2014
Politics

Despite lack of interest, Onondaga County sheriff race has strong candidates

Republican Gene Conway, left, and Democrat Toby Shelley are the candidates in the race for Onondaga County Sheriff. They spoke with Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher.
WRVO

For the first time in two decades, Onondaga County will have a new sheriff next January. The two men vying for the opportunity to succeed longtime sheriff Kevin Walsh, who’s retiring, are making the rounds across the county this fall, trying to convince voters to pay attention to the race.  

The candidates are Republican Gene Conway, currently the police chief in the town of Dewitt, and Democrat Toby Shelley, a 16-year veteran of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, who retired in 2011.

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6:27am

Fri October 24, 2014
Education

Utica City School District rejects state funding for extra classroom time

Ed and Eddie Flickr

The Utica City School District's Board of Education unanimously rejected $4.1 million in state funding to extend the school day in five city schools.

The grant would have allowed the the school district to increase classroom time by 25 percent. An additional hour and a half would have been tacked onto the end of the school day from Monday through Thursday, and summer classes would have been added. District officials hoped extra learning time would raise Common Core test scores.

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