City of Syracuse

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In addition to tax cuts, the recently passed federal tax overhaul includes a measure to encourage the private industry to invest in low-wealth areas. The program offers tax discounts and other incentives for people to put their profits from stocks and other holdings to work in so-called Opportunity Zones. Those resources can then be invested in businesses and other economic development projects in rural and urban districts that are plagued by high levels of poverty.

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A federal judge has ordered the city of Syracuse to pay a judgment of more than $100,000, following a lawsuit from a protester of the city’s annual LGBTQ pride parade. The ruling states the protester’s free speech was violated.

James Deferio, a self-described ‘Christian evangelist,’ who preaches and protests events like the CNY Pride Parade with a banner and “personal voice amplifier,” brought a lawsuit against the city after police ordered him to move across the street from the festival’s entrance in 2014 and 2015.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The quality of trees in the City of Syracuse is on the decline, which has prompted tree enthusiasts to launch a new initiative to ensure the future health of trees in the city.

City Arborist Stephen Harris says it’s not the number of trees in Syracuse that tells the tale.

"Since the Labor Day storm, which was almost 20 years ago, canopy cover has remained the same, at about 27 percent," said Harris. "But when you look under the hood you see a decline in tree quality."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Another spike of synthetic marijuana overdoses has the law enforcement and health communities looking for answers. 

VIP Structures

The Post-Standard building in downtown Syracuse will undergo a $30 million renovation by VIP Structures, the architecture and engineering company that recently purchased the building. Developers are seeking tax breaks from the city.

VIP Structures will relocate its offices into the building that was the former headquarters of The Post-Standard. The newspaper is still printed in the space. Nora Spillane, the executive director of the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, said construction includes three new stories with 40 luxury and premium apartments and ten affordable units.

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Syracuse hospitals had 10-15 overdoses coming in almost every day last week, believed to be from synthetic cannabinoids or “spike.” The number of overdoses from spike are up significantly and health officials worry about another potential threat.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released action plans for 12 waterbodies affected by harmful algal blooms. The state is partnering with local communities to reduce and eliminate the blooms.

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The problems facing the city of Syracuse are widely discussed, but what about the city's suburbs? This week, grant Reeher talks with Town of Dewitt Supervisor Ed Michalenko, and Dewitt Town Planner Sam Gordon. They discuss some of the issues facing the suburbs and the relationship between the city and suburbs. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Officials in Syracuse say they are still waiting for safety information from the federal government on all railroad bridges in the city. 

City of Syracuse

The 500 block of Clinton St. in Syracuse remains closed Friday after the sidewall of an elevated railroad track in downtown Syracuse collapsed Thursday afternoon. No one was injured, but the debris did knock over a streetlight. 

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The Syracuse Social Security field office holds a dubious distinction in New York. It has the largest backlog of any office in the state.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says it can’t keep up with requests because of a lack of resources, and a flood of new retirees.

"The Syracuse hearing office has a backlog of 9,000 claims," Schumer said. "That’s a lot of people in a city of 200,000. It takes 620 days for a hearing. So if they’ve not given you the money your entitled, you will wait two years, or one and three quarters.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is expanding a program meant to improve compliance with housing codes.

The Tenant-Owner-Proactive (TOP) program started last fall on the city’s northside. It makes the code inspection system more proactive. Code inspectors establish relationships with tenants and landlords before code violations get too bad, and the city is forced to take legal action.

"We’re shocked by the numbers we’re seeing with owner compliance without sending out violation letters," said Ken Towsley, head of code enforcement.

Syracuse City School District

Thousands of children in the city of Syracuse recieve free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches during the school year. Now that summer vacation has started, however, those lunches go away. So the Syracuse City School Disrict is once again this trying to bridge the hunger gap this summer.

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Syracuse lawmakers  voted unanimously Monday to protect animals left outside in extreme temperatures. The legislation, called Adrian’s Law, passed at the city level, after Onondaga County lawmakers rejected it earlier this year.

Common Councilors unanimously approved the legislation, named after a pit bull that died after being tied up outside in below freezing temperatures in January.  

Jason Driscoll is the dog control officer who found him.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have been operating in Syracuse for less than a year, but the local taxi business has lost substantial business. Now, local taxi drivers are going to city hall with the hopes of leveling the playing field with the ride sharing giants.

Ramona Bellavia of Bellavia Transportation has been working in Syracuse’s taxi industry for almost 30 years.

“I loved going out on weekends and having the university kids and the younger crowed," Bellavia said. "But now, they live with technology."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York is taking the next step in the fight against climate change with something called Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA.  It’s going to be one of the major topics at a regional Climate Solutions Summit in Syracuse this weekend, as the city hopes to take the lead on an energy supply model that uses renewable energy.

Common Councilor Joe Driscoll said it’s a fairly simple solution. Because of its population, the city uses its buying clout to purchase renewable energy like solar or wind power, and provides it to residents at a lower cost.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Monday is the last chance for Syracuse residents to attend a public meeting where they can offer their input on what criteria they want for a new chief of police. Some at the meetings said they hope the next chief will bring change to the department.

A group of women sit around a table at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse. There are surveys with questions asking what experiences and qualifications should a new police chief have in order to be successful. Anna Morris said she wants to know the person’s character.

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New York's new budget sets aside money to combat harmful algal blooms that have closed some of the state's lakes and threatened the municipalities that use them for drinking water. The funding would be a welcome relief for several communities in central New York that have been battling the blooms for years.

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Hawley Markets on Syracuse’s northside gets a lot of business from a nearby elementary school, as well as neighborhood folks who don’t have access to cars so they have to do food shopping at cramped corner stores. It’s been six months since co-owner Rita Algattas started offering more healthy options than the candy bars and chips that crowd many corner store shelves.

"Having fresh fruit and vegetables, having it all the time visible on the counter," Algattas said. "Trying to have healthy choices."

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Syracuse Common Councilors began budget hearings this week over Mayor Ben Walsh’s proposed $245 million spending plan, and anyone can watch. It marks the start of live streaming of council activities, offering residents the chance to watch what happens on the city website, or YouTube channel.

Council President Helen Hudson says it’s about time it's easier for residents to watch government in action.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s first proposed budget asks lawmakers to use $11 million from the city’s savings account to cover a budget gap. It’s a deficit Walsh says is less than originally anticipated, after asking individual city departments to change their budget requests.

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Gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon brought her campaign to Syracuse this week to talk with community leaders about their concerns in a closed-door session.

Nixon, a Democrat hoping to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a primary this fall, called the 15 or so attendees of a private roundtable in Syracuse local heroes. Afterward, she told reporters the issues brought up by these community leaders are the same she’s hearing from others across the state - like more funding for education.

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The city of Atlanta is starting to get some online services back up after a massive cyberattack last week. It’s an attack that has the city of Syracuse paying close attention.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco has been found guilty on three counts of bribery and conspiracy to commit honest service fraud by a federal jury in Manhattan today.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

By next winter, residents of the city of Syracuse could log on to the internet and find a map with brightly colored lines, telling them the last time a snow plow visited their street. It’s one potential application of ideas springing from the city’s latest hackathon.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Fees could be rising for some programs run by the city of Syracuse Parks Department. The last time the City of Syracuse increased fees for Recreation Department programs, George W. Bush was president.

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Residents in the city of Syracuse recently weighed in on what they want the city to do about snow covered sidewalks. Now the city has outlined options to address the problem.

Corey Driscoll Dunham, Syracuse’s director of operations, said the feedback from the city’s snow safety summit shows people want the city to take a more active role in sidewalk snow removal and they said they are willing to pay a fee for it. Dunham said the city has three options: citywide municipal sidewalk snow removal, priority area snow removal, or an enhanced ordinance and city approved contractors.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Legislation that would require interior inspections of rental properties in the city of Syracuse is being held. Some on the Syracuse Common Council are divided on the issue.

Councilor Khalid Bey said Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration asked him to hold the legislation so the new corporation counsel could become versed on it over the next two weeks.

“The next agenda, we’ll be right back talking about it," Bey said. "We’ll gage where the administration is. By then, I would think that they will have determined if they need three months, six months to prepare.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Sidewalk snow removal was a top concern among Syracuse residents who attended the city’s recent Snow Safety Summit. The city asked residents to weigh in on solutions to snow removal problems. 

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New York state has released a concept plan that closes the gap in the Erie Canalway Trail System between Camillus and DeWitt. It would extend the recreation trail through an urban area.

From the start, bridging the 14-mile gap has been the most challenging part of creating a seamless trail that closely follows the path of the Erie Canal.

"This segment of the trail goes through the most heavily urbanized areas of Onondaga County," said Town of DeWitt planner Sam Gordon.

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