Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown City Manager Rick Finn has decided to step down after an investigation was opened alleging he created a hostile work environment.

The complaint was filed last year. Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith said the investigation, which was run by an outside firm, was completed last week. Smith said after meeting for several hours, the Watertown City Council came to the conclusion that the allegations did not meet or rise to the level of a hostile work environment.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

The city of Syracuse this week begins the process of putting a law on the books that addresses lead poisoning. Officials hope it can make a dent in the city's high rate of lead exposure in children.

Currently, the presence of lead in rental housing isn’t a code violation. The city can’t force landlords to replace poisoned lead paint on walls, doors and windows. That would all change if a new ordinance is approved, according to Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll.

Marco Varisco / Flickr

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Public negotiations over New York’s budget are set to begin amid worries about another round of Medicaid cuts.

Heads of state agencies, lobbyists and members of the public will start to offer input on the governor’s proposed budget Monday, kicking off three weeks of budget hearings. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $178 billion proposed spending plan would increase state spending by 1.9%.

WRVO Public Media

In 2017, Ben Walsh assembled a diverse coalition of voters and won the race for mayor as an independent. He even managed to gether a majority of the vote in a race with three candidates. This week, Walsh talks with Grant Reeher about his time in office, and looks ahead to the second half of his term. 

Ellen Abbott

A spit test that can help doctors diagnose autism in young children, is now on the market. It was developed in part, by researchers in Syracuse.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh just started his third year in office, but he wants it known that he plans to run for a second four-year term.

WRVO News File Photo

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) announced Thursday that he plans to vote for President Trump in November. It's a stark change from 2016, when Katko did not support or vote for Trump. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Get ready for a longer New York State Fair this summer.  This year's state fair will be extended from 13 to 18 days. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the proposal as part of his annual budget message this week, Fair Director Troy Waffner was already at work.

"We immediately put in offers on four or five acts for the ten spaces we have to fill on Chevy Court, and the five spaces we're going to have to fill on the Experience Stage," he said.

Lance McCord / Flickr


Flu activity in New York is reaching higher levels than in previous years. It's the same case in Onondaga, Oneida, Oswego, and Jefferson counties.

In Oswego County, confirmed flu cases recently increased by 59 percent reaching a level that's more than double the amount from this time last year. Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said it's not just the uptick in flu activity that is concerning public health officials, it's also the type of flu that's being passed around.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a $178 billion budget proposal this week alongside a host of laws he wants to pass — from allowing e-bikes to a ban on single-use Styrofoam containers.

The Democrat has made it a practice of his to propose multiple new laws with budgets when he submits them to lawmakers in January. A notable law passed as part of a budget was the $15 minimum wage law in 2016.

The governor has said he uses his budgets to rally attention and support for his top annual legislative priorities.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a $178.6 billion budget proposal Tuesday. In it, he detailed plans of how to deal with a $6 billion budget deficit largely caused by increased costs for Medicaid, as well as plans to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis in New York.

The costs of Medicaid have been rising, partly due to more people receiving health care through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and increases in the state’s minimum wage, which has led to higher labor costs.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Board of elections commissioners in central New York met with federal cybersecurity officials to talk about what issues and vulnerabilities they face leading up to the 2020 election. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said New York is much further ahead in election cybersecurity than other states. 

In My Father's Kitchen Facebook

Groups of volunteers and human service professionals with the Housing & Homeless Coalition of Central New York will be canvassing Oswego, Onondaga and Cayuga counties Wednesday to get a count of how many people are homeless in the area. The count last year found nearly 600 men, women and children in central New York were experiencing homelessness, which includes emergency shelters and transitional living facilities. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A central New York high school student is one of 300 finalists in one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competitions for high school seniors. Max Du, a student at Fayetteville-Manlius high school, turned his love of science and fixing things into a project that could improve the connection between wind power and the power grid.

The 17-year old came up with his project after touring a wind farm.

Matt Ryan / New York Now (file photo)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A new Siena College poll released Tuesday found declining support for recent changes to New York’s bail law.

The new law, which eliminates cash bail for the wide majority of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, has come under intense scrutiny as courts have released people who would have remained in jail under the old rules. The bail reforms went into effect at the beginning of the year.

The poll found 49% of respondents said the changes were bad for New York while 37% said they were good for the Empire State.

azipaybarah / Flickr

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court upheld former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction Tuesday but ordered a resentencing after reversing the conviction on some charges.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means the Democrat may get a fresh chance to seek a reduction of his seven-year prison sentence, especially if prosecutors decline to seek retrial on three rejected counts.

His lawyer and prosecutors declined to comment.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

The White House announced late Monday that Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) will serve as a member of President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team.  She described it as an honor.

“I am proud to stand up for the Constitution, my constituents in New York’s 21st District, and the American people’s vote," Stefanik said.

In recent months, Stefanik - a member of the House Intelligence committee — has emerged as one of Trump's fiercest champions, appearing frequently in conservative media.

Jim Bowen / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ready to release his state budget plan Tuesday, and public school spending will likely once again be an area of contention, as the state faces a $6 billion budget gap.

It’s been a long standing tradition in Albany that the governor, whether a Democrat or a Republican, low balls the amount of money needed for public schools, while the legislature presses to increase that amount. In the end, the two sides usually agree to split the difference.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is announcing that an additional $10 million will be in his new state budget to help with the 2020 U.S. census, and to make sure that as many New Yorkers as possible are counted.

Cuomo said the additional money will be used to target traditionally hard to count populations, including immigrants. The governor said they may be wary of a federal government led by President Donald Trump, that Cuomo said has been “antagonistic” toward those born in other countries.

Mark H. Anbinder / Flickr

The attorney for Ithaca Police Investigator Christine Barksdale said his client is being used as a scapegoat.

Barksdale is accused by the city of mishandling dozens of cases, including sex offenses.

Ithaca attorney Edward Kopko said, “There was a dump of all of these cases on her with the expectation that she was to handle them without any help whatsoever.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A much needed inpatient psychiatric unit for teens is opening up this week in central New York at a time when suicide rates for children and young adults is skyrocketing.  Officials say this is only the first step creating better access to child and adolescent care in a time of crisis.

NYS Senate

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state Sen. James Seward announced Monday that he’ll retire at the end of his 17th term this year, citing his ongoing battle with bladder cancer.

The 68-year-old Republican announced in November that his cancer, first diagnosed in 2016, had returned. He said Monday that the cancer is responding well to treatment but will hamper his ability to maintain the rigorous schedule required for a re-election campaign.

Utica Municipal Housing Authority Facebook

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and in honor of the civil rights leader, the Utica Municipal Housing Authority is teaming up with AmeriCorps volunteers for a homeless outreach program. The goal is to get homeless people into shelters and eventually, permanent housing. 

Vaughn Golden for WRVO News

Women's Marches took place across New York and the nation this past weekend, including in Syracuse and Seneca Falls, which marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. Seneca Falls was also the site of the Convention on Women's Rights.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the leading suffragists at that convention in 1848. Her great-great-grandaughter, Coline Jenkins, marched on the same grounds 172 years later pushing people to exercise those rights.

Matt Ryan / New York Now (file photo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo releases his state budget plan Tuesday afternoon, and he’s expected to detail how he will close a $6 billion budget gap. With resistance in the State Legislature to new taxes and spending cuts, the governor may have to get creative to thread that needle. 

The budget gap is largely due to overspending on Medicaid beyond Cuomo’s self-imposed 2% per year spending cap. Factors include increases in the minimum wage, resulting in higher labor costs, and a spike in New Yorkers using Medicaid to pay for their health costs, as part of the Affordable Care Act.  

WRVO Public Media

Sean O'Keefe is a professor at Syracuse University and the Howard and Lousie Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He's also held a number of positions in previous Republican administrations. This week, O'Keefe joins Grant Reeher for a discussion on the Trump Administration, impeachment, the situation with Iran, and more. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The New York Counts 2020 Coalition, which is made up of a large number of community based organizations across the state, is preparing central New Yorkers with the plans they need to ensure an accurate count of the population is made for the 2020 census. Several challenges face organizers this year, including a citizenship question, which was blocked by federal judges last year. 

City of Syracuse / Twitter

It was a year ago in his State of the City address, that Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh introduced the idea of the Syracuse Surge, a massive development plan meant to lift parts of the city out of poverty. During this year’s address, Walsh said Syracuse is surging, but noted there are still things to be done.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s high school graduation rate continued to edge upward in 2019 ahead of a review and possible revision of diploma requirements, education officials said Thursday.

The overall graduation rate was 83.4%, up just short of a percentage point from the previous year, data from the state Education Department showed. The rate reflects slight increases across most racial groups, as well as improvement in each of the “Big 5” cities of New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers.

Brian Mann / NCPR

The fight over bail reform intensified again yesterday in Albany. Supporters of the controversial new policy rallied against efforts by Republicans and some Democrats to roll back or suspend many of its provisions.

Bail reform seen as civil rights issue in many neighborhoods

Gathered in the State Capitol, dozens of activists from criminal justice reform groups drew a line in the sand, chanting "Leave our bail reform intact, we will not accept rollbacks."