Syracuse Common Council


Tue June 10, 2014

Syracuse nixes smoking in parks; approves alarm fee

The Syracuse Common Council has snuffed out the right to smoke in city parks and publicly-owned downtown gathering areas, like Clinton Square.

The council also formally added the dropping of cigarette butts on sidewalks to its anti-littering ordinance, punishable by a $50 fine.

The laws were written by councilor Bob Dougherty and Khalid Bey, who said they will shift the habits of smokers and protect people in public who don't want to be near second-hand smoke.

Read more


Mon June 9, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse lawmakers to vote on smoking ban in city parks and other gathering places

Sudipto Sarkar Flickr

The Syracuse Common Council will vote Monday on a proposal to ban smoking in city parks and other areas.

The ban would limit smoking in any areas the city parks department manages, so that includes parks where little league games are played, but also the site of many of the festivals that take place in the city, such as Clinton Square, Cathedral Circle, Hanover Square. 

That’s why Councilor Khalid Bey, one of the sponsors of the measure, says they’re putting off implementation of the ban until October, to give festival organizers a heads up.

Read more


Fri May 30, 2014
Politics and Government

Veto override means Syracuse will get small property tax increase

A 1.5 percent property tax increase will stand in the City of Syracuse after the Common Council overrode Mayor Stephanie Miner’s budget veto today.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Kathleen Joy says the city can’t continue to cut it’s way out of yearly budget deficits, so lawmakers felt the time was right for this increase.

Read more


Fri May 30, 2014
Regional Coverage

City of Syracuse short on lifeguards heading into summer season

Syracuse Parks commissioner Baye Muhammad stands next ot the Thorndon Park pool, one of eight in the city.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The city of Syracuse parks department has a big "help wanted" sign up, because there aren’t enough lifeguards to staff the city’s eight outdoor pools this summer.

The pool at Thorndon Park is filled and ready to go, but a shortage of lifeguards could put parts of the upcoming swim season in peril. Parks commissioner Baye Muhammad says the city still needs to hire 53 lifeguards to open all pools in the city.

And if they don’t find lifeguards?

Read more


Tue May 27, 2014

Syracuse moves to ban smoking in city parks

Dale M Moore Flickr

Syracuse lawmakers are moving to ban smoking in city parks. And that includes some popular downtown hangout spots.

An ordinance brought up by the Common Council’s new health committee would prohibit smoking on any land managed by the Syracuse parks department. That includes around the fountains in Columbus Circle and Clinton Square and Hanover Squares.

The committee is also putting forward a measure to discourage smoking on sidewalks.

Councilor Khalid Bey says the city won’t be able to stop everyone from smoking in parks, "but the effort, I think, is warranted."

Read more


Tue May 27, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council wants nonprofits to be accountable for city funds

Syracuse common councilors will be asking for more information from not-for-profits that get funds from the city budget.  The city contracts with several agencies to provide various services to city residents every year.

But Councilor Pam Hunter says there needs to be more accountability about what these nonprofits are doing with city funds.

Read more


Thu May 15, 2014

Miner vetoes council's tax increase in Syracuse budget

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. (file photo)
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has vetoed a last-minute property tax hike the Common Council added to the city's spending plan because she says councilors didn't bring it up for public discussion first.

"When you don’t allow that process to happen, you create cynicism and you allow people to get turned off from the process," Miner said Wednesday.

Read more


Thu April 10, 2014

Common Council begins work on Syracuse budget

The Syracuse Common Council is getting its hands on the mayor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which doesn’t call for a tax increase.

More than half of the city’s $660 million budget goes to the school district.

For the rest of the budget, on the upside, the mayor’s office expects to see increased revenue from sales tax, parking fees and property tax collection -- thanks to the land bank, the agency tasked with handling the cities massive list of vacant properties.

Read more


Tue March 18, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse has a comprehensive plan for three decades of planning

The city of Syracuse now has a document to base its urban planning decisions on for the next three decades.

Read more


Thu March 13, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse lawmakers set to vote on comprehensive plan, after delays

After a year of delays and re-writes, Syracuse lawmakers are finally set to vote on a new comprehensive plan for the city.

City planners had been working on the vision for how the city should look in 2040 for two years. Then it went to the council, where lawmakers had a lot of questions and proposed changes, which caused them to continually delay voting on it.

Read more


Thu February 27, 2014
Politics and Government

Fine dead, Syracuse looks for another sidewalk shoveling answer

People shovel snow along East Fayette St. following a February snowstorm. (file photo)
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Since Syracuse lawmakers handily defeated the idea of fining property owners who don’t clear snow from their sidewalks, they’ve begun discussing a bigger picture solution for snow-filled walkways.

Some Syracuse city councilors sat down Wednesday with public works, school district and parks department officials. They also talked to heads of community groups that organize sidewalk shoveling teams in the winter.

Read more


Thu February 20, 2014

Cathedral Square residents want neighborhood to be smoke free

Sudipto Sarkar Flickr

The Syracuse Common Council’s new health committee used its first meeting to discuss a smoking ban in the city’s Cathedral Square neighborhood.

The Cathedral Square Neighborhood Association has been looking to push out smoking for about three years. Now it sees a possible way to do that with the council’s newly formed health committee. The neighborhood includes the blocks surrounding Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse.

There are a lot of questions left to be answered, like legality of such a ban and enforcement of it, said councilor Khalid Bey.

Read more


Thu February 20, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse sidewalk shoveling fine may not be dead

A fine for not shoveling sidewalks after big snowstorms for Syracuse residents may not be dead, despite being handily defeated in the Common Council a few weeks ago.

When councilor Bob Dougherty proposed fining residents $100 for not clearing walkways after snowfall, he found little support. Only fellow councilor Khalid Bey voted for the law with Dougherty.

Read more


Fri February 7, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council proposes fines for unshoveled sidewalks

A homeowner in Adams plows the sidewalk, following heavy snowfall that hit the region in early January.
Sarah Crisafulli

The snowiest city in America is debating whether to make property owners pay fines if they don’t clear the snow from their sidewalks and parking lots. Syracuse common councilors will vote Monday on whether the city should impose a fine on property owners who don’t shovel their sidewalks.  

District Councilor Bob Dougherty is the lawmaker behind the proposal. He lives near several schools in Syracuse’s Valley Neighborhood, and says it’s a matter of safety.

Read more


Tue January 14, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council revises disorderly houses ordinance

The nuisance property proposal was discussed at a Syracuse Common Council meeting in October.
Ellen Abbott WRVO file photo

Syracuse lawmakers have made it easier for police to get involved with problem properties. Common Councilors agreed to revise the old disorderly houses ordinance into a modern day tool for police.

Common councilor Khalid Bey says he’s heard frustration from constituents who don’t see action when they complain about problem properties.

“I had a constituent who had an ongoing problem with a gambling house," Bey said. "Six months of complaints with no real recourse. Now police have an adequate tool to deal with such a compliant.”

Read more


Tue December 31, 2013
Politics and Government

Syracuse elected officials sworn in, look to challenges ahead

Syracuse Common Council members just before they were sworn in
Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

Two Syracuse City Council members and three city school board members were sworn in at city hall on Monday. The new and returning office holders acknowledged there will be many tough issues for them to face in their terms.

Friends and family members cheered on as their elected officials took the oath of office in the packed Common Council Chambers.

President of the Syracuse Common Council Van Robinson was sworn in for a second term. He says it's his job to assure the people that Syracuse will not go down the road of bankruptcy, and that the city needs to grow.

Read more


Wed November 6, 2013
Election 2013

GOP hoping to edge out a spot on Syracuse's Common Council

Republican Joe Carni trails Democratic Common Councilor Jake Barrett by just a few dozen votes in Syracuse's First District.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Syracuse Republicans are just a few dozen votes shy of winning back a city office as a race for Common Council will come down to absentee ballots, but the rest of city hall remained solidly Democratic after Tuesday's election.

The two new faces we know of for sure on the Common Council are Chad Ryan in the Second District and Pamela Hunter in an at-large spot. Ryan won Pat Hogan’s old seat, who was term-limited, by beating Republican Alex Walsh with 59 percent of the unofficial vote.

Read more


Fri November 1, 2013

Election day could bring youth to Syracuse Common Council

The four candidates competing for seats on Syracuse's Common Council. From left: Joe Carni, Jake Barrett, Alex Walsh and Chad Ryan.
Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

A new generation of politicians in the city of Syracuse are following in their families' footsteps and running for office.

Barring an election day surprise, Syracuse's next common councilor from the 2nd district will be under 30. These candidates say their youth will benefit the city.

Democratic nominee and funeral director Chad Ryan is 28 years old and the son of former Onondaga County Legislator Ed Ryan.

The younger Ryan said the best way to improve the city is to get more residents involved, like by attending neighborhood meetings.

Read more


Tue October 8, 2013

Syracuse council delays vote on airport authority transfer

Syracuse is in the process of transfering control of its airport over to a private authority.
mrsmecomber via Flickr

The Syracuse Common Council says it has delayed fully turning over control of the airport to a private authority in order to get the deal right.

Councilor Pat Hogan, who chairs the airport committee, says several union representatives and employees still had questions about the deal, which would be a 40 year lease.

Read more


Mon October 7, 2013
Politics and Government

Syracuse lawmakers will rewrite drone ban language

Joe Kummer, president of Propulsive Wing in Elbridge, N.Y. demonstrates his prototype unmanned aerial vehicle.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Syracuse lawmakers are re-working their proposed ban on the use of surveillance drones over city skies.

A draft of regulations were introduced on the council agenda at a study session last week, but were quickly withdrawn.

New draft federal guidelines out on drone use prompted the re-write. The federal rules will be incorporated into the city's, according to councilor Jake Barrett, who chairs the public safety committee.

Read more


Thu September 12, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council considers beefing up noise nuisance laws

Members of the Syracuse Common Council are considering beefing up fines for residents accused of disturbing the peace.

These are the kinds of complaints lawmakers hear a lot, according to northside Syracuse councilor Jake Barrett. He says these types of complaints affect the quality of life of city residents, and can be big or small.

Read more


Mon September 9, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council approves more foreclosures

Syracuse Common Councilors have agreed to begin foreclosure proceedings on more than two dozen addition tax delinquent properties, that will be turned over to the land bank. This is the third round of foreclosure decisions by lawmakers in the last month. But, there is an end game in sight.

Read more


Mon August 12, 2013
Politics and Government

The Campbell Conversations: Syracuse Common Council Candidates

(Editor's note: Common Councilor Jean Kessner was invited to participate in the panel, but was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict)

Read more


Wed August 7, 2013
Politics and Government

Common Council votes to turn properties over to Land Bank

Syracuse Common Councilors started the process of turning over tax-delinquent properties to the new Land Bank of Syracuse and Onondaga County on Monday, beginning a new era as the city tries to get rid of many dilapidated or abandoned properties that have been a blight on some neighborhoods, and a burden for tax collectors.

Read more


Thu August 1, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse weighs options for taking over delinquent owner-occupied properties

The city of Syracuse is cracking down on property owners who don't pay taxes. But, as lawmakers prepare to vote on whether the city should seize over 100 tax delinquent properties, there are some concerns about those properties that aren't vacant.

Read more


Thu June 27, 2013

Privacy vs. economic benefit, as Syracuse weighs drone use

Dan Pacheco, a professor at Syracuse University, demonstrates a small drone equipped with a camera.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Syracuse lawmakers have begun weighing the economic benefits and potential uses of drones with the surveillance and privacy concerns that arise simultaneously.

Read more


Tue June 25, 2013
Politics and Government

Councilor accuses mayor of misleading about planning merger

Syracuse Common Councilor Lance Denno questions Andrew Maxwell, head of planning for Syracuse, about his department's merger with the county.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

An increasingly disgruntled Syracuse common councilor accused the mayor's office of misleading taxpayers about the city and Onondaga County's merger of their planning departments.

Just as Monday's routine pre-meeting study session was wrapping up, councilor Lance Denno called the mayor's press secretary, Alexander Marion, before them.

Read more


Tue June 11, 2013

Syracuse lawmakers take up the I-81 debate

Arleen Fordock told the Syracuse Common Council I-81 should be rebuilt through downtown, but wider.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Just a handful of Syracuse residents turned up to the Common Council's first public hearing on the lengthy and divisive debate over the future of Interstate 81 through the city's core.

Previous public forums hosted by transportation planners brought out hundreds of people and generated an equal number of comments and different opinions.

Read more


Mon June 10, 2013
Regional Coverage

Lawmakers block vote on Connective Corridor maintenance

The Syracuse Common Council tabled a vote on instituting a fee for Connective Corridor maintenance.
Connective Corridor

Concerns over tax increases for businesses along the Connective Corridor in Syracuse have derailed plans to keep the new infrastructure maintained.

When it was time to vote on creating a new Special Assessment District for the businesses on the eastern end of the Connective Corridor, Councilor Lance Denno tabled the resolution, essentially blocking a vote at today's meeting. He says some businesses would see their city tax bill double if this new district is created.

Read more


Fri June 7, 2013

Deal announced to keep The Sound Garden in Syracuse

The Sound Garden, a new and used music shop, as been a staple of downtown Syracuse for several years.
elh70 via Flickr

It looks like The Sound Garden, a popular new and used music and videogame store in downtown Syracuse, will be staying put after all.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner Friday afternoon announced a deal has been reached on proposed legislation that would exempt games, videos and music from the provisions of the city's new secondhand dealer law.

Those provisions had forced the owner of the store to make plans to close down the Armory Square fixture. The Sound Garden has a second location in Baltimore, Md.

Read more