Syracuse Common Council

The Syracuse Police Department is updating the way they keep track of gangs and gang violence in Syracuse.

At the city’s common council meeting this week, the council approved the department’s request to purchase a new software system called Gangscope. The program is an online database that allows authorities to closely monitor gang activity. Syracuse Police Department Captain Richard Trudell said their current database is outdated and sees this new technology as a way to be more proactive against gang activity.

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Syracuse Democratic Councilor Khalid Bey is looking to expand his influence by running for an open at-large seat on the Common Council in November. Bey is the chair of economic development in a city where growth is lacking.

The city of Syracuse is ranked last in economic growth out of the top 100 municipalities in the U.S., according to a new study from the Brookings Institution.

Bey said it is at the discretion of the mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner, to negotiate and enter business contracts and to decide how to spend the city's money.

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After months of speculation, Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Nicoletti announced his candidacy for mayor. With more than 30 years in public service and several attempts at running for mayor before, Nicoletti said he is the right guy at the right time.

Nicoletti’s Republican opponent for councilor-at-large in the 2016 election said Nicoletti was only in it to become mayor; that it was a lifelong dream of his. Republicans now looking towards the mayoral race say voters are sick of career politicians. Nicoletti said that's frivolous.

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The Syracuse Common Council has approved a $49 million renovation to the Syracuse Hancock International Airport. The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority has a goal of 30 percent local hiring for the project.

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The Syracuse Common Council unanimously approved a request that the city’s school board require new employees in the district live in the city. Currently, almost 60 percent of Syracuse City School District employees live outside of the city. The statistic is worse for teachers and administrators. School Board Chair Derrick Dorsey said it would be great to have high level employees living in the district.

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The Syracuse Common Council is expected to vote Monday on a request that the city’s school board require new hires to live in the city of Syracuse. Nearly 60 percent of all employees in the district do not live in the city.

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After an unsuccessful bid for the Onondaga County Legislature, Democrat Timothy Rudd is running for Syracuse's Common Council. Rudd said he is not opposed to the idea of one day merging the governments of the county and the city.

Rudd said he opposes the current Consensus proposal to merge the governments.

QPK Design

Changes will soon be coming to the Marshall Street area near the Syracuse University campus. The city of Syracuse approved the demolition and new construction of some iconic university hotspots.

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Local activist and musician Joe Driscoll is running Syracuse’s Common Council. Driscoll is hoping to win the Democratic nomination for an upcoming open seat.  

Driscoll helped organize a large protest at Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport Sunday night against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Driscoll livestreamed the protest on Facebook. He said he has progressive ideas that he wants to bring to the city council.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority is asking the Syracuse Common Council to approve a nearly $49 million renovation to the Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the promise of a new makeover of the airport at his State of the State address in Syracuse last month.

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There are going to be several changes in Syracuse City Hall next year. Because of term limit legislation, there will be a new mayor, and a new common council president.  But the next council president could be a familiar face in council chambers.

At-large councilor Helen Hudson announced Tuesday that she wants to run for the seat of council president.

“I am doing this because where people see a ceremonial role, I see an opportunity for action,” said Hudson.

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The Syracuse Common Council and the Syracuse City School District are looking for more applicants to fill the city’s newly created Youth Advisory Council. The goal is for the Common Council to receive recommendations from young people on proposed legislation.

Common Council President Van Robinson said the Youth Council will resemble the city’s council with various committees.

“What we’re looking for is a recommendation or suggestions from the youths themselves,” Robinson said. 

And he said those could be issues that councilors would not think of on their own.

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As she prepares to step down at the end of the year, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will give her state of the city speech on Thursday outlining her priorities for 2017. While the field is wide open for who will be the next mayor, some Syracuse Common Councilors are weighing in on what they would like Miner to focus on in the meantime.

Councilor Helen Hudson made her thoughts clear about running for mayor.

“Absolutely not, absolutely not,” Hudson said.

Syracuse Fire Department

The Syracuse Fire Department said it is in desperate need of two new fire trucks after two trucks reached the end of their useful life last year. The trucks will cost $1 million each and take one year to be built. Fire Chief Paul Linnertz said there are parts from the old trucks in great shape that can be reused on the new trucks. That could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Over the past several years, many central New York residents have debated passionately about what they think should happen to the Interstate-81 project through downtown Syracuse. 

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The Syracuse Common Council has approved a tax settlement agreement with the developers of Symphony Tower in downtown Syracuse. The deal brings developers one step closer to turning the property into a Hyatt Hotel across from the Marriott Downtown Syracuse.

Councilor Nader Maroun was the only one who voted against the agreement. He said it is not good policy to be giving Symphony Tower what he describes as a precedent setting deal.

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The Interstate-81 project to replace the current viaduct in downtown Syracuse is down to two options. But regardless of whether a community grid or new viaduct is built, common features are proposed for another section of I-81 north of the viaduct. Those features include a new I-81 and I-690 interchange known as flyovers. It will also expand lanes and reconstruct several bridges.

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The Syracuse Common Council will create a youth advisory council to get more young people involved with local government. The youth council will also give councilors the chance to hear what problems young people face in the city.

Common Council President Van Robinson said the youth council will help young people learn more about city hall.  

“I have run across many of our students, who have absolutely no idea what government is all about and are totally oblivious to the fact that we live in a Democratic society,” Robinson said.

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The Syracuse Common Council may soon request a pilot program from the state to bus all students living one mile or further from schools. Currently, the Syracuse City School District transports students that live one and a half miles away of further from schools. The new change could affect more than 1,100 students.

The pilot program would fund the cost plus remove a penalty the state assesses for transporting students who live closer to school. Councilor Susan Boyle said there is an immediate need and action needs to be taken quickly.

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The city of Syracuse will enter into a three-year agreement with a company it has been using to boot cars with unpaid parking tickets. The contract was held up over questions about how aggressive the company has been in booting vehicles.

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A number of items came up on the Syracuse Common Council agenda at a recent meeting. The Syracuse Police Department will be training officers and detectives on how to obtain video footage from corner stores and other businesses. The training was approved by the Syracuse Common Council and will begin in December.

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The Syracuse Common Council has voted to ban housing discrimination in the city based on source of income, such as public assistance. Critics of the ban said it will create a more cumbersome system but supporters said it is a step forward.

Activists from ARISE, the independent living and resource center for disability rights in Syracuse came to the Council in favor of the ban. Agnes McCray said the measure will require landlords to take another look at an applicant beyond whether they are on public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.

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Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Nicoletti is running to retain his seat after being appointed last year when former Councilor Pamela Hunter was elected to the Assembly. Nicoletti, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Norm Snyder, who said Nicoletti is using his position to further his own political career.

Nicoletti has not said if he will or will not run for mayor of Syracuse next year when current Mayor Stephanie Miner’s term ends. But Snyder said he thinks Nicoletti’s intentions for returning to the Common Council are clear.

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The Syracuse Land Bank has been operating for about four months without a contract with the city. The result is the Land Bank has had to slow down acquiring foreclosed properties.

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The Syracuse Common Council is urging New York state to allow a property tax exemption for low-income homeowners in the newly redrawn federal flood maps. Starting in November, affected homeowners must have flood insurance, which can cost up to $2,500 a year.

The proposed tax exemption would be on a sliding scale. Those making a little more than $37,000 a year could get a five percent break, while those making less than $29,000 a year could qualify for a 50 percent break. All the common councilors support the resolution, but Councilor Joe Carni does not think it goes far enough.

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The Syracuse Common Council has passed legislation regulating how property owners can boot cars parked illegally on private property. Until now, property owners could charge whatever they wanted to have the boot removed.

Any property owners, who are booting in the city of Syracuse, will now have to get a license. They can charge $100 and the booter has to come and release it within 30 minutes from when they are called and the fine is paid.    

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The city of Oswego cut 17 firefighter positions this year, due to a budget deficit. But six of those firefighters have now been hired by the Syracuse Fire Department. Some Syracuse common councilors are upset that Syracuse residents were not considered for the positions.

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The Syracuse Common Council unanimously passed funding for a police-community dialogue project organized by InterFaith Works of Central New York. Police officers and community volunteer facilitators will hold dialogue circles with city residents. The goal of the dialogues is to strengthen understanding between residents and police.

The funding of $30,000 was initially objected by Councilor Khalid Bey and the measure was held. Bey told the police department and InterFaith Works that he was skeptical these dialogues were improving police relations with city residents.

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The Syracuse Common Council voted against requiring interior inspections of rental properties, either by consent or warrant, every two years. The measure failed by a 5-4 vote.

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The city of Syracuse has adopted new floodplain maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than 600 properties in Syracuse have been added, bringing the total to more than 1,600 properties that could be required to have flood insurance.

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner said the city needed to adopt the maps so affected residents can get a discount on flood insurance. That discount is about 15 percent. Kessner also said residents can appeal the decision if their property is now on the flood maps.

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