Tom Magnarelli

Reporter, Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York. 

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As budget season nears for the city of Syracuse, councilors are asking where the police and fire departments stand with overtime and staffing. Both departments are understaffed, but are also making efforts to reduce overtime pay.

Syracuse is spending around $10 million a year in overtime for police and fire. Fire Chief Michael Monds said staffing is at the bare minimum and overtime is the lowest it’s been in recent years.

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Tensions between Syracuse’s new police chief and the head of the police union have spilled out into the public discourse in recent days. But Chief Kenton Buckner isn’t backing down from previous comments he’s made or his desire to bring change to the department.

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The city of Oswego may start notifying residents when there are issues affecting city services around where they live. The city has received a number of complaints from people regarding a lack of notification.  

After three years in office, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the issue is one the city continually has to address.

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White, suburban men are reaping the benefits of public construction projects in the Syracuse area, despite the city's demographics, according to a new report. Advocacy groups are sounding the alarm, before a decision is made regarding the future of the Interstate-81 viaduct in Syracuse.

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Onondaga County lawmakers are asking Amazon to consider a site in the town of Clay for its next headquarters. But some Democrats spoke out against the resolution at a meeting last week.

Onondaga County Legislature

A resolution to form an independent commission to make recommendations on how to redraw the Onondaga County Legislature districts, was defeated last week. But there may be other plans to open up the process.

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The Onondaga County Democratic Committee selected Tony Malavenda as its candidate to run for county executive this year. Malavenda is a businessman, born and raised in central New York. 

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A number of former refugees are running for office in Syracuse this year. One of them looks to challenge the city’s only Republican councilor.

Jay Subedi was born in Bhutan and became a refugee at the age of 12. Before coming to Syracuse in 2008, he spent 17 years at a refugee camp in Nepal.

“But that taught me so much,” Subedi said. “I’m here today to give back. My experience as a person who live in a refugee camp, very under poverty, where there is no better education, no good sleeping nights, no good water to drink every day.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature is asking New York State to approve a school for Onondaga County, focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM). It would be a partnership between the county, the state, the city of Syracuse, the city school district and OCM Boces.

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A voting, campaign finance and ethics reform bill known as the For the People Act or H.R. 1, is scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives this week. Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he supports many parts of the bill, with one big exception.

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A program that trains entrepreneurs how to improve their small businesses in central and northern New York, is looking for its next class. So far, 130 businesses in the region have participated in the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program.

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As advocacy groups continue to pressure Albany on various causes ahead of this year's state budget, a statewide educational equity tour made a stop in Syracuse, last week. A collection of local officials and other advocates said New York’s schools are underfunded by $4 billion.

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Next week, the Onondaga County Legislature will vote on requesting Amazon to consider a location in the town of Clay for its new headquarters, after the company pulled out of its project in Long Island City. But a meeting took a political turn as legislators debated the merits of such a request.

Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell for Syracuse 3rd District Councilor Facebook

The Syracuse Common Council appointed Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell this week to replace Councilor Susan Boyle, after Boyle stepped down to work for Onondaga County. But the council’s only Republican continues to take issue with the process leading to Lovejoy-Grinnell’s appointment.

Councilor Joe Carni said it’s not a question of Lovejoy-Grinnell’s character, as to why he voted against her appointment.

“I did not agree with the process,” Carni said. “I think it became overly political and did not allow for members of other parties to participate in the process.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Poverty, infrastructure and economic development was the agenda Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon laid out during his first State of the County address Tuesday night. McMahon emphasized his accomplishments so far, like signing a new sales tax agreement with the city of Syracuse, and outlined his vision for the future.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Updated at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

The House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday evening to block President Trump's national emergency declaration. 13 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the resolution. One of them was North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville). In a statement, Stefanik said "While I continue to be a strong supporter of securing our border, I believe the President declaring a national emergency that will take funding from our country’s military construction projects is the wrong decision. For this reason, I voted in support of today’s resolution disapproving of the national emergency with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle."

Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) was unable to be in Washington for the vote due to the death of his father on Sunday. In a statement, he said he supports the resolution. 

"I strongly believe we must act to strengthen our nation’s border security," Katko said. "But Republicans and Democrats in Congress need to come together as legislators to implement these types of policies. Presidents, from either party, should not legislate from the executive branch.  Doing so dangerously expands the authority of the office and sets poor precedent."

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Law enforcement officials are describing a deadly car accident involving Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim as a horrible, sad tragedy. Boeheim hit and killed a man who was fleeing a disabled vehicle on Interstate 690 in Syracuse.

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As Democrats in Onondaga County put together their petitions to collect signatures for candidates, the party still has yet to find a designated challenger to Republican County Executive Ryan McMahon. He was appointed by the legislature last year following former County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s departure. 

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Central New York nonprofits, focused on human services, are calling for $100 million in funding for nonprofit infrastructure improvements, to be included in New York State’s budget. Some nonprofits are faced with the challenges of being located in older buildings.

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The village of Sackets Harbor is losing one of the only stores where residents could get groceries, and its owner is blaming the opening of a nearby Dollar General as one of the reasons for its closing. Residents are divided between wanting to support local businesses and keep a small town charm, with the convenience and lower prices big corporations can offer.

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Advocates for increased funding of mental health housing programs rallied in Syracuse and across New York State Thursday. They said there has not been a substantial increase in funding for more than 10 years.

Palmieri2019.com

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri announced he is running for a third term, this week. Palmieri is highlighting the city's successes over the last eight years, while he tries to deflect a challenge from a member of his own party.

Palmieri and a narrow majority on the Utica Common Council passed an extension of the term limits for mayor, comptroller and council from eight to 12 years in 2017. But the issue has been divisive in the community and attempts have been made to reverse the extension.

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The city of Syracuse is losing what could have been some extra income, with the implementation of small cell 5G technology on street poles. The federal government is dictating how states and municipalities can regulate the deployment of 5G.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Central New York’s Republican state representatives and some local gun owners have reacted negatively to some of the new gun safety measures that passed the legislature last week. Republicans said they were left out of negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Business owners and representatives from the trucking industry spoke out in Auburn Monday at Rep. John Katko’s (R-Camillus) first of four town halls regarding the future of the Interstate 81 viaduct in Syracuse. They say they want the viaduct to remain where it is today, rather than replace it with a street-level community grid. 

E-Z Acres

New York State’s suicide rate has increased by almost 30 percent since 1999, following a nationwide trend, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last year. For upstate counties, particularly in rural areas, the suicide rate can sometimes be double or even triple the rate of New York City counties. The upstate farming industry has been struggling in recent years, but there is help for farmers who need it.

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Utica Councilman Joe Marino announced Wednesday that he is running for mayor of the city of Utica, this year. The current Utica mayor, Robert Palmieri, said he would make an announcement about his future in the coming weeks.

Both Marino and Palmieri are Democrats, but Marino has been critical of Palmieri in several areas. If elected, Marino said one of the first things he would do is reverse the extension of term limits from eight to 12 years, approved by the Utica Common Council and Palmieri in 2017.

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Syracuse Common Councilor Susan Boyle is stepping down to take a job working for Onondaga County, and the process of replacing her is getting some blowback. A majority on the Democratic-controlled council said they will vote to replace Boyle with the district candidate chosen by the Democratic committee.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Local elected officials are reacting to voting reform measures passed in the Democratic-controlled New York State Legislature last week and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday. While some Republicans supported the efforts, others said the changes are too costly and could disenfranchise voters.

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Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) have introduced legislation that would pay transportation security officers during the partial federal government shutdown. It is an example of the bipartisanship and compromise Katko, a Republican, and Brindisi, a Democrat, say is needed to end the shutdown.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump offered a deal to Democrats to reopen the government: a three-year extension of DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in exchange for more than $5 billion for a wall along the Southern Border.

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