Onondaga County Legislature

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney released her proposed budget for 2019. Mahoney highlighted a positive outlook for the county. She said her guess is it will be a pretty smooth budget process.

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Onondaga County lawmakers are considering a local law that would ban “aggressive soliciting” from panhandlers on the streets and sidewalks of central New York. 

Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon has been circling around this issue since he was a common councilor in the city of Syracuse more than a decade ago. He said the idea is to focus not simply on any panhandler, panhandling is protected by the First Amendment, but what he calls aggressive actions.

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The Onondaga County Legislature will vote on a resolution at their next session, that would promote awareness and acceptance of individuals with special needs. More than 100 communities have embraced the "Think Differently" initiative since it was launched by Republican gubernatorial candidate and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro in 2015.

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Questions still remain regarding a proposed law in Syracuse that would make it illegal to tether a dog outside in high heat or freezing temperatures for two hours without proper shelter. Wednesday’s public meeting on Adrian’s Law raised concerns from some Syracuse common councilors and dog owners.

Officer Rebecca Cosgrave, the animal cruelty investigator for the Syracuse Police Department, said she responds to hundreds of calls every year of dogs outside in extreme hot or cold weather, which can result in heat exhaustion or frostbite.  

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“Adrian’s Law,” the legislation meant to stop dog owners from tying up their dogs outside for hours in high heat or freezing temperatures, is getting new life in the Syracuse Common Council after failing to pass the Onondaga County Legislature in April.

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Updated at 8 p.m. Tuesday

County lawmakers voted 17-0 to override County Executive Joanie Mahoney's veto of a local law that would allow the county legislature chairman to consult outside counsel if there is a conflict between lawmakers and the county executive. 

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is hoping the third time is a charm in a back and forth with county lawmakers over letting legislators get their own legal counsel.

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Onondaga County lawmakers want to make it clear that a potential study that outlines the possibility of a beach along Onondaga Lake, doesn’t mean there will be swimming there anytime soon.

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As concert goers prepare to head to Onondaga County’s amphitheater for a third season, they’ll find it with a new name. County lawmakers Tuesday agreed to a $1.5 million naming deal, that creates the Saint Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview. 

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon said after the signs go up, both the county and Live Nation, the concert promotor for what’s been called ‘The Amp’, will each pull in about $700,000.

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The Onondaga County Legislature will vote Tuesday to fund a portion of the Loop the Lake trail around Onondaga Lake. At least one legislator said the money would be better spent elsewhere.

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Onondaga County and concert promoter Live Nation have found a sponsor for the naming rights of the Lakeview Amphitheater. Elected officials said they want to make sure the county gets the best deal possible.

Legislator Brian May, chair of the county legislature’s Ways and Means Committee, said it is Live Nation that is negotiating the contract.

“It’s very important for us to allow them to get their ducks in a row, internally, before we start discussing the details,” May said.

May said a deal with the sponsor could be reached next month.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Syracuse Common Council and Onondaga County Legislature will soon begin live-streaming their meetings to the public. The goal is give more residents the opportunity to see their government in action.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has started publicly making her case over how she would like to distribute the sales tax revenue collected in the county.

Mahoney said she is worried about potential anti-city sentiment ruling the day, in negotiations that create a formula to share sales tax revenue between the county and local governments. So, she turned a portion of this year’s State of the County speech into a primer about ways the county helps town and village governments.

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Onondaga County lawmakers will reconsider a proposed law that would punish people who leave their pets outside in sub-freezing weather conditions for a certain amount of time. 

Greg Craybas

Onondaga County lawmakers have agreed to go ahead and spend $1.5 million building a bike trail extension on Murphy’s Island as part of the Loop the Lake trail project. Legislators have one request - that the county make accommodations for bald eagles that roost in the area.

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Onondaga County lawmakers voted Tuesday to raise the age to buy tobacco products in the county from 19 to 21.

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Next month, the Onondaga County Legislature could vote on raising the age to buy tobacco products from 19 to 21 years old. The new law would not include an exemption for veterans.

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Democrats in Onondaga County are assessing their losses in this year's election. They flipped only one seat in the Onondaga County Legislature, and were beaten by an independent candidate in the Syracuse mayoral race. But issues remain for the Onondaga County Republican Party as well, largely because of feuds between some of its leaders.

Onondaga County Board of Elections

Today is Election Day and more than 200 offices are on ballots in Onondaga County, from the county legislature to the mayor of Syracuse.

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While the race for Syracuse mayor is getting much of the attention in central New York this election season, politicians say don’t ignore the contests for the Onondaga County Legislature. Candidates aligned with three distinct political factions are all jockeying for votes, and results could ultimately have an impact on the fiscal future of the city of Syracuse.

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Onondaga County lawmakers passed a $1.3 billion budget Tuesday amidst an afternoon of political theater. The political posturing was evident in debate over issues ranging from funding for libraries, to detailing county cars.

A two-year-old political feud between Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and county comptroller Bob Antonacci simmered beneath the surface of a more than two hour budget debate Tuesday.

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Onondaga County lawmakers last week approved the bonds the county needs to update the aging War Memorial in downtown Syracuse. The $4.5 million will be supplemented with some state funds and ticket surcharges to pay for the $9 million project that will includes a new scoreboard and marquees. 

The War Memorial opened in 1951, and it doesn’t look much different now than it did then. The hulking gray structure with jutting marquees is home to several displays honoring veterans and the area's military history from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Onondaga County lawmakers are looking at a trio of packages targeting ethics reform. Two spring out of an ethics proposal put forth by County Executive Joanie Mahoney in June and a third targets the Mahoney administration. At the root of this flurry of reforms is a long simmering feud between the Mahoney administration and County Comptroller Bob Antonacci.

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who sits on the county’s ethics board, says Antonacci’s outside income officiating basketball games and doing bookwork for personal clients creates ethics questions.

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Onondaga County has firmed up plans for an $8.5 million renovation of the downtown Syracuse War Memorial, and taxpayers will be on the hook for about half the cost.

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Onondaga County lawmakers are considering legislation that would ensure that juveniles are not thrown in solitary confinement in any of the county’s criminal justice facilities in the future.

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The Onondaga County Legislature is in the process of hiring legal counsel to sue opioid manufacturers and distributors over the costs of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Some legislators say opioid manufacturers lied about the addictive nature of their products.

Although they do not have a number yet, Onondaga County Legislative Chairman Ryan McMahon said whatever amount they end up suing opioid manufacturers for will never be enough.

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Big changes could be coming to the Onondaga County War Memorial if the county legislature gives its approval. County officials are keeping veterans in the loop as the county looks to sell the naming rights to the War Memorial arena.

The arena is where the Syracuse Crunch hockey team plays and Deputy County Executive Bill Fisher said selling the naming rights could bring in revenue for renovations to areas like the bathrooms which Fisher called a disgrace.

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s government reform package looks like its going nowhere fast. Mahoney needs county lawmakers to start moving soon on an initiative that includes term limits for legislators and countywide office holders, and clarifies salaries and a ban on outside employment.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

While the idea of merging the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County isn’t getting much traction, a special legislative committee has begun work that could lead to some other kinds of government consolidation.

The Consensus Commission proposal to create one large metropolitan government is dead on arrival, according to county lawmakers, but some of the 49 other proposals in the Consensus report could have legs.

A special subcommittee is now looking over those ideas, first by identifying consolidations that could be easy to accomplish, according to chairman Kevin Holmquist.

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Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci has embarked on an audit strategy that focuses on economic development. The first target is the Onondaga County Film Commission.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s administration created the one-person film commission about the same time Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to build the Central New York Film Hub. The commission is part of the county’s Economic Development Department, with the goal of attracting moviemakers to Syracuse, who could also use the $15 million film hub facility in the town of DeWitt.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Republican majority of the Onondaga County Legislature is coming out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for government consolidation and the Consensus plan to merge the city of Syracuse and county governments. Some legislators said the governor and the Onondaga County executive are alone in their support for a merged government.

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