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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An aide to Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi of New York was charged by state police with patronizing a prostitute Friday, New York State Police announced.

The aide, John Stemen, was fired from his position as a caseworker Thursday when Brindisi’s office learned of the allegations, according to a statement emailed to reporters.

"As soon as we were made aware of the charges, John Stemen was immediately terminated," according to the statement.

Stemen did not immediately return a phone message left for him Friday.

The threat of high water along the Lake Ontario shoreline is often felt first in low-lying places like Sodus Point.

Village Mayor Dave McDowell said that right now, Sodus Point is about as prepared as it can be.

"We have 40,000 sandbags, give or take, deployed around the low spots of the village, they’re holding; we’ve got National Guard back shoring up a couple of spots on the south side with this heavy south wind, but our streets are all dry, the businesses are all open and thriving," McDowell said.

stgermh / Flickr

New York City’s rent laws expire June 15, and tenant advocates and some state lawmakers think a renewal of the laws should include cities outside of New York, including upstate.

A hearing held by the state Assembly sought input on that proposal and eight other rent reform bills introduced in both houses of the Democratic-controlled legislature.

WRVO News File Photo

SUNY ESF in Syracuse is ready to use the community grid option for replacing the Interstate 81 viaduct as a research opportunity. Interim President David Amberg said the proposal, which the state supports, offers more than 100 ways for students and staff to use their expertise.

"And not merely the aspects of where the community grid is, even as they expand 481 to become the new 81, a lot of wet lands a lot of forests," Amberg said. "There’s just a lot of touchpoints for our faculty to weigh in on and help make sure that we get the most out of this project."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is joining a movement calling on New York state to divest $13 billion from its public pension fund currently invested in fossil fuel companies.

Specifically, a majority of Syracuse Common Councilors want State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who is in charge of the state’s $200 billion retirement fund, to divest the largest 200 fossil fuel companies from the state’s portfolio over the next five years. Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll said it’s a win-win proposition.

New York State Senate / youtube

Two bills approved Wednesday in the state Senate could affect President Donald Trump and his associates.

One would permit the state tax department to give the president’s New York tax returns to congressional committees. The other would ensure that anyone the president pardons for federal crimes could still be prosecuted for crimes committed in New York state. 

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins predicted the measures will have a "major impact both nationally and in New York state."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the recently passed state budget makes an unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years, some of which will go to fix upstate's highways, bridges, and tunnels. But many local government leaders, like East Syracuse Mayor Robert Tackman, say that's not enough.

City of Syracuse YouTube

The city of Syracuse is delaying a vote to deploy 5G wireless technology from Verizon, a priority of Mayor Ben Walsh. One common councilor said it’s to make sure they are doing all they can to protect the workers installing the new facilities.

Sam Edelstein, chief data officer with the city of Syracuse, said 5G has the potential to allow new technologies, like autonomous systems.

“The kind of connectivity, the low latency and the high bandwidth 5G offers is what enables that," Edelstein said. "Certainly, being one of the first cities to enable 5G is exciting.”

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

More than 100 sex workers came to the Capitol on Tuesday to lobby for two bills that they say would help keep them safe and end some of the stigma associated with their jobs. 

The workers, joined by lawmakers who back the bills, told stories of what led them to the work.

Jessica Raven, a mother and community organizer with the group DecrimNY, is a former sex worker. She said she needed to earn money to survive when she became homeless at age 15 after being sexually assaulted in the foster care system.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A mobile mammogram van will soon hit the road in eight counties in central and northern New York as part of a partnership between Upstate University Hospital and the state to increase access to breast cancer screenings.

The 45-foot long pink and blue van is an all-in-one clinic complete with a reception area, dressing rooms, and the same type of state-of-the-art 3-D Mammography equipment that's used at Upstate. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says that technology can now reach a much wider range of patients.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Supporters hope that their efforts to change an 80-year-old law that excludes farmworkers from many of the protections afforded to other workers in New York, may finally meet with success in the all Democratic-led State Legislature.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse homeowners will continue to get their STAR rebate checks, now that the city’s common council has approved a budget that keeps a property tax increase below the state’s tax cap. But to make up for the lost revenue, the city is going to raise the parking meter rate.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University is establishing an institute that will devote itself to questions about autonomous technologies and the impact they have on everything from cities to individuals. 

Autonomous systems are those where no human is directly involved in an activity, like self-driving cars, drone delivery and smart home technologies. David Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse, said these technologies are developing faster than the policies and rules that govern them.

Shinichi Sugiyama / Flickr

The cap on charter schools in New York is unlikely to be raised this year because of changing political dynamics in the Democrat-led New York State Legislature and opposition from the teachers union.

A 2015 law restricts how many new charter schools could open in New York City to 50, and the city reached that cap earlier this year. The limit under that law for the entire state is 460 schools. Proponents of charter schools would like to see the cap lifted, saying there are already long waiting lists of lower-income children who want to attend the schools. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Syracuse Youth Advisory Council made presentations to the city’s common councilors on two issues they say are important to young people. The topics this year, focused on their education and well-being in city schools.

The first problem, the youth council said, is a lack of minority representation of teachers and other professionals in schools. Brynn Murphy-Stanley, a senior at Nottingham High School, said only seeing white people in positions of power, restricts her and others that look like her, from seeing themselves in those positions.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to hammer the organization that controls water levels on Lake Ontario as water levels continue to rise.

Cuomo was in Oswego Sunday to tour the Oswego harbor, which like other parts of the shoreline, is seeing higher water. The International Joint Commission has increased the amount of water its letting out of the lake and into the St. Lawrence River, but it can't release too much because of flooding downstream across parts of Canada.

Cuomo said it should never get to this point.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Businesses that have grown up in the footprint of I-81 north of Syracuse, could be affected by the state Department of Transportation’s selection of the community grid as the preferred alternative to replace the I-81 viaduct in Syracuse. Business leaders and elected officials in the town of Salina are speaking out against the DOT’s decision.  

stgermh / Flickr

A bill that would create a backdoor method to release President Donald Trump’s taxes is moving through the state Senate and could be voted on as early as next week.

Several congressional committees have been seeking Trump’s tax returns in connection with a number of investigations. The committees say they have the legal right to see the documents.

But Trump has refused to release them, saying he is in the process of being audited. And his Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, has declined to hand over the papers to the committees, setting up a potential court fight.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

As New York prepares for potential flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is encouraging communities to take some long-term steps to prevent flooding in the future. 

Cuomo wants to see some long-term investment into flood prevention that he believes is caused in large part by climate change.

"These changes in climate are going to continue, and I can’t tell you how many times this is a 100 year flood event.  It seems like we have a 100 year flood event twice a year," Cuomo said earlier this week while in Sodus Point.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse paid out nearly $11 million on 79 claims of child sexual abuse during its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

The program began in early 2018. People with what the diocese deemed credible cases of child sexual abuse were invited to take part. It was run by independent mediators, Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros, they also ran programs for dioceses in Ogdensburg, Brooklyn and Rockville Centre.

Morning Edition / NPR

The historic theme you hear on "Morning Edition" each and every day debuted in 1979. The original BJ Leiderman composition and subsequent arrangements by musician Jim Pugh have been heard for decades. Beginning on May 6, listeners will hear a new theme -- one that will be fresh and modern, while also referencing the show’s historic music and honoring its legacy.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Democrats in the State Assembly say they plan to move ahead with a bill to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in New York. But the Assembly speaker said he wants to educate people about the benefits of the measure first.

Speaker Carl Heastie said Democrats, who are in the majority in his house, have the votes to pass what’s known as the Green Light Bill to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a standard driver’s license.

“We are supportive of moving the driver’s licenses for all (legislation),” Heastie said.

Rohanmkth / Wikimedia Commons

Verizon Wireless wants to deploy 5G smart cell technology in the city of Syracuse. City officials describe the potential of 5G as huge, doing things like enabling autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and enhanced broadband. But some are questioning whether there are any potential health risks from the new technology.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

Attorney General William Barr is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Watch the proceedings in the Republican-led committee live, below:

[Note: Testimony is expected to begin around 10:30 a.m. If it is after 10:30 a.m. and the video below does not display, please refresh your page.]

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

Public access to Onondaga Lake will take a big step forward this fall. A public boat launch will open up the cleaned waterway for the first time in decades.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Residents in Syracuse spoke out against a 3.5% property tax and a 4% water rate increase in Mayor Ben Walsh’s proposed budget, at a public hearing Tuesday evening. The proposed tax increase goes over New York State’s 2% tax cap, and homeowners could lose the STAR property tax credit, which some at the hearing called a lifesaver. Syracuse resident Jason Zeigler encouraged councilors to vote down the increases.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO Public Media

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of measles cases has grown to over 700 and is the worst outbreak in decades.

New York’s Rockland County has more than 200 of those cases, and state legislators are calling for the immediate passage of a bill to mandate vaccinations unless a person has a medical exemption.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The International Trails Symposium is being held in Syracuse this week. The biennial event brings together all types of trail enthusiasts from across the country. This comes as more new trails are being planned for the central New York region.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State officials say they are on alert and ready for potential Lake Ontario flooding in the coming weeks.

In Sodus Point Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of steps the state is taking to prevent flooding in the event of a rain storm later this week.

"We have the National Guard on call, we are starting to deploy a structure called an Aquadam, which is basically a temporary dam that can be put in place along properties," Cuomo said.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

People who live along the Lake Ontario shoreline are nervously watching lake levels.

The level of Lake Ontario currently is more than a foot above its long term historic average, and while high, it’s not all that unusual.

That’s according to Bryce Carmichael, he is the U.S. Secretary of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which helps manage lake levels.

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