Syracuse Common Council

Luke H. Gordon / Flickr

Some Syracuse Common Councilors still have no access to the city’s computers. The legislative body begins a new year with some new members, and their computer access still in the hands of the courts.

Common Councilors filed a second lawsuit asking the city to turn on computers in early December, and it has languished there since.

Common Council President Van Robinson says he is doubtful a local judge wants to rule on the case, which asks that computer access be restored to councilors, their staff and the city clerk’s office. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development is asking the Common Council to approve a year-long contract with a software company to monitor the hiring practices of the city’s contractors. The goal is to continually gather information on who is benefiting from city contracts.

The proposal would require new contractors to use the software to track information on who they employ. The information would include workers' gender, ethnicity, pay rate and where they live, something that Councilor Jean Kessner said is important.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Common Council voted to appoint Joe Nicoletti to fill the position vacated by Councilor Pam Hunter after she was elected to the Assembly. One of Nicoletti’s biggest goals is to create job training and placement programs in the city.

A week after Hunter resigned, the Common Council voted on her replacement, which caused controversy with some councilors who said there was not enough time spent vetting the candidates. But Nicoletti said he is eager to return to the council which he served on in the 1970s and 1980s.

Joe Nicoletti 2009 Campaign

Some Syracuse Common Councilors are upset that the council voted to appoint former Councilor Joe Nicoletti to fill the position vacated by Pam Hunter after she was elected to the Assembly. They say there was not enough vetting of other candidates.

The Common Council voted 5-3 to appoint Nicoletti, who previously served on the council from 1978 to 1991. He unsuccessfully ran against Stephanie Miner in a primary for mayor in 2009. 

Councilor Helen Hudson opposed Nicoletti’s appointment, not because she has anything against him.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A dispute over internet use at Syracuse City Hall is again headed to the courts. The issue over whether lawmakers should sign a city computer use policy hasn’t been able to be resolved through negotiations.

Councilor Kathleen Joy expects the Syracuse Common Council to file court papers in the next few days asking a judge to settle the issue of whether lawmakers should be forced to sign that computer use policy which is required of and agreed to by all city employees. A majority of councilors believe it would allow the Mayor’s office too much access to Council business. 

Syracuse Common Council gains a Republican

Nov 4, 2015
Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Common Council is gaining something new because of Tuesday night's election results -- a Republican. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A number of seats are up for election on Syracuse’s Common Council including one vacancy. Both new and familiar faces are challenging the establishment.

Two years ago, Republican Joe Carni lost to Democrat Jake Barrett by 38 votes for the 1st District seat. This year, 25-year-old Carni is back, continuing his door-to-door campaign and hoping he can edge out a win.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Common Council voted down a motion supporting Mayor Stephanie Miner’s decision last week to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour. Some Common Council members said there are still too many unanswered questions about the plan.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Many Syracuse residents came out to voice their support last night, for a proposed local hiring ordinance for the city’s construction and service contracts. One concern is to make sure contractors can connect with residents who have the right skill sets.

Last year, Charles Rivers of Syracuse was going to school full-time, working two part-time jobs, one seasonal job and struggling to make ends meet.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A recent study that ranks Syracuse number one in the country for concentrated poverty among blacks and Latinos has ignited activists, who want city government to do something about creating jobs for residents who live in poverty.

At a rally on the steps of Syracuse City Hall, Rev. Nebraska Carter, a vice president of the Urban Jobs Task Force, compared poverty to a cavity in a tooth. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci and Syracuse City Auditor Martin Masterpole spoke to Syracuse Common Council members on Monday about the audit they recently conducted on the Greater Syracuse Land Bank. The common council will soon hold a vote to determine how and when the land bank will receive $1.5 million in funding for their 2015-16 fiscal year. The audit reported the many successes of the land bank, which acquires tax delinquent properties and has resold 188 properties thus far.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

The developers of the former Hotel Syracuse are looking for a little help from city lawmakers, as they continue to redevelop the historic landmark.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Common Councilor-at-Large Kathleen Joy is negotiating with Mayor Stephanie Miner’s chief of staff Bill Ryan, to settle a lawsuit brought by a majority of common councilors who refused to sign a computer use policy. Those councilors have been without computer access since the beginning of July. A judge rejected a petition from Syracuse councilors to make city officials restore their computer access while the two sides negotiate a new computer use policy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner's administration sent letters to common councilors outlining a framework for changing the city's computer use policy. The majority of Syracuse common councilors sued the Miner administration for cutting off their Internet access after they refused to sign the administration’s computer use policy.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News


The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously in favor of the redevelopment of a grocery store on the city's south side. The vote comes after years of community organizers trying to entice the supermarket chain Price Rite, to open a new store on the property.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News


A majority of the Syracuse Common Councilors are suing Mayor Stephanie Miner's administration for shutting off their computer access on July 1 after they refused to sign a computer use policy. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in state Supreme Court.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News


The Green Party in Syracuse is running five candidates for office this year, on what they describe as a a progressive anti-poverty platform. The party says they want to give voters a choice that's different from the current Democratic-controlled common council.


Edward Lockhart served almost six years in prison for selling cocaine and he's been struggling to find a job ever since he's been out.


Doug Kerr / Flickr

Syracuse Common Councilors have gone on record opposing the idea of resurrecting a junk yard along the shores of Onondaga Lake, near Destiny USA and the Inner Harbor development.  But they are at odds with the mayor’s office over how to do it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Common Councilors have unanimously approved Mayor Stephanie Miner’s $674 million budget, with a few minor changes. Lawmakers added some cash to deal with some perennial problems.

The extra spending amounts to less than $1 million, and covers more water and sewer maintenance and repair, and demolition of hazardous buildings.  

The quiet councilor: Chad Ryan's style in city hall

Apr 15, 2015
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse city councilor Chad Ryan has served in the chamber for a fraction of the time as some of peers but he’s also asked a fraction of the questions, in public at least.

Councilor Chad Ryan sits at the end of the table during council study sessions or committee meetings, he’ll often wave off his chance to ask a question. It’s not shyness, he says in an interview, but maybe a little humility.

"I guess I wouldn’t say I’m shy," he said. "Certainly tentative about what you say in the chambers."

Michael / via Flickr

Syracuse residents say the way the city is proposing to update billing for ornamental street lights goes way beyond just nickel and diming taxpayers.

After decades of not collecting fees or updating billing on more than a hundred special lighting districts, Syracuse is trying to update its regulation of ornamental street lights, but it means bills for thousands of city resident could skyrocket.

Michael / via Flickr

The ornate metal street lamps that line downtown or some Syracuse city streets aren’t free to keep on. Property owners are supposed to pay the electric bill, but for decades the city has been. Now, city hall wants to change that.

Business districts and neighborhoods in Syracuse that have upgraded or ornamental street lights are in what the city calls "special lighting districts." Problem is, many of them were put in place decades ago and the city either hasn’t been fully collecting those fees, or hasn’t increased them in decades either.

Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

There is disagreement between the Syracuse city council and its school district over just how much of an impact the land bank is having on the district's budget.

The Syracuse public school system projects it will collect nearly a $1 million less this year because of properties acquired by the city’s land bank.

Carlet Cleare / WXXI (file photo)

A Syracuse lawmaker has finally won over the support of his colleagues to toughen city laws on snow removal.

Common Councilor Bob Dougherty had a visible grin on his face when two ordinances he had sponsored were unanimously approved by the council.

"Knock me over with a feather," he said. Earlier bills never came close to passing and he didn’t think his third try would sail through.

Dougherty has made sidewalk snow removal the focal point of his time on the council. Previous attempts to fine property owners who didn’t shovel were shot down.

Onondaga County Comptroller

The Syracuse city council has approved a 20-year contract for garbage disposal, just two days after it voted the deal down.

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. 

SU professional and technical writing / via Flickr

Syracuse residents packed Syracuse’s city hall last night to voice their opposition to proposed service reductions on the public bus system. Councilors summoned the head of the Centro bus service to explain the transit agency’s gaping fiscal accounts. 

The council chamber at city hall was packed on a freezing and snowy evening. A testament, many said, to the importance of Centro bus service to city residents. 

Public Domain

Syracuse common councilors agreed this week to accept more military hardware for the police department through a state grant program, but not every lawmaker is on board with accepting the equipment.

Among the items on the list of equipment the $100,000 grant will obtain are: entry rams, tubular assault equipment and a Bearcat Ram-Cam four-way monitor. Democrat Jean Kessner wonders why police need it.

"We're a city. We're not a war zone," Kessner said. "I don't know what they are. I can't pretend to know, and that's kind of a problem."

Syracuse city council calls for I-81 to be torn down

Jan 22, 2015
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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The city of Syracuse has joined Rochester and Buffalo in approving "Ban the Box" legislation. This was the third attempt by city common councilors to pass the legislation.

The new ordinance would prevent the city, and any contractors doing business with the city, from asking a job applicant about criminal convictions unless that person has received a job offer.