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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According to 911 data, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said there have been a total of 50 calls related to social distancing complaints. At their Friday news briefing, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said the city had to take down the rims of basketball hoops at city parks because young people were playing basketball. 

Rescue Mission

The Rescue Mission of central New York, which provides shelter and meals to the homeless, has had to lay off 285 employees from its thrifty shopper stores and other departments, as all nonessential workers have to stay home and businesses have had to close. Dan Sieburg, CEO of the Rescue Mission, said its stores account for 60 percent of its annual revenue. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

For the first time, the Syracuse Common Council held its study session online with video conferencing. The council’s legislative priorities may have to wait as the city deals with the fallout from the coronavirus. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County has reported its first death due to the coronavirus. Health Commissioner Doctor Indu Gupta said the individual was an elderly, hospitalized patient and there was no risk of exposure to the public. This comes just eight days after the county had its first case. The number of people with the coronavirus in Onondaga County rose again to 60 on Tuesday. Eight people are in the hospital and three are in critical condition. 

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On Monday, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said it is a good trend that there were three straight days of declines in coronavirus testing at a triage test site in Syracuse.

“Our hope is that people who are symptomatic with respiratory illness are getting testing and we’re getting to the point where we’ve started to get ahead of all those cases in our community,” McMahon said. 

Besides workers being laid off in the restaurant and bar industry, musicians that play at those venues are also dealing with a huge loss of revenue. But some local musicians, like others across the country, are getting creative with keeping the music going.  

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Onondaga County has three more positive cases of coronavirus bringing the total, so far, to six. Of the three new cases one person traveled from New York City, another person traveled from Spain, and the third person is in their 20s. 

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The Central New York Community Foundation announced the start of a fund to help local nonprofits and charities working with vulnerable people and those who have been economically hurt by the coronavirus outbreak. It will focus on safety net issues like food security, housing and child care. 

Child Care Solutions

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announced more than 250 child care slots prioritized for parents working in hospitals, nursing homes and first responders. Some who work in child care say it's a safer choice than being in schools, which are closed in New York State for at least two weeks. 

City of Oswego

Although there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Oswego County yet, the county declared a state of emergency on Sunday, closing all K-12 schools until Tuesday, April 14. Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow announced the city will step up and offer free child care at the Oswego YMCA and Little Lukes while school is closed  

Barlow said the free child care is being offered first to parents that work in the medical field, first responders and city employees, before the general public. He expects about 110 slots to be filled .

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SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley said she was somewhat surprised when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that all SUNY and CUNY campuses were switching to online classes for the remainder of the semester. 

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Student protesters at Syracuse University would not say if they will continue occupying Crouse-Hinds Hall during spring break next week. This comes as the university has suspended on-campus classes for the rest of the month due to concerns about the coronavirus. 

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The Central New York Crime Analysis Center is getting a $700,000 expansion and will about triple its size in Syracuse. The center provides real-time intelligence and data sharing and will serve Oswego, Onondaga and Cayuga counties. 

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New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to penalize companies that send jobs overseas, by denying them federal grants and tax benefits. Legislation Gillibrand is proposing, would also incentivize companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Two Oneida County residents, who are both physicians, have tested negative for the coronavirus. After returning from a trip to Italy, one of the physicians had flu-like symptoms. They are currently at home in self-isolation for 14 days. 

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The Syracuse Common Council voted to seize more than 20 rental properties that are behind on their taxes, many of which have code violations and are owned by nameless LLCs, or limited liability companies. One councilor said it’s one of the most important phases of cleaning up neighborhoods and eliminating absentee landlords. 

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The Hire Ground program in Syracuse picks up panhandlers and the homeless and pays them $50 for five hours of manual labor, like cleaning up litter. The program also connects the homeless with services like Medicaid, housing and addiction treatment. But there is a story behind every sign. 

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Some convenience store owners in New York State are worried about the new plastic bag ban going into effect this weekend. Their concerns are over the possible cost increase and limited availability of paper bags, as stores make the switch. 

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Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will lead a review of Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety. SU Chancellor Kent Syverrud made the announcement Monday. 

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Advocates for mental health housing rallied in downtown Syracuse last week. It was part of a statewide push to lobby the governor and state Legislature, to increase funding for community-based programs.

Justin Hladik with the Association of Community Living said one of the biggest issues facing mental health housing is a shortage of workers.

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Democrat Roger Misso is staying in the race for central New York’s 24th Congressional District. Three candidates will compete for the Democratic nomination in a June primary. The winner will take on Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) in November.

Misso, a navy veteran, who was raised in Red Creek, said the district is more than 50% rural and his campaign stands with communities that feel left behind.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Updated at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday

Syracuse University officials have taken a noticeably tougher stance against protests by #NotAgainSU, a group of students that says the administration hasn't done enough to address racist and anti-Semitic incidents on campus in the last few months.

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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration said if the city’s Common Council does not give specific changes, then the administration will submit a police union contract for council approval in two weeks. It’s the same contract, agreed on by Walsh and the union, that the administration asked to withdraw from the council agenda in December, because there were not enough votes to pass it. Some councilors have set a specific threshold of what they could support. 

Ellen Abbott/Angi for State Senate/Facebook

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a special election to fill a state Senate seat in central New York, vacated by Republican Bob Antonacci, after he was elected to the state Supreme Court, last year. But the Onondaga County Republican Chair is calling the special election rigged in Democrats’ favor.

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At a public meeting Wednesday night, Syracuse residents spoke overwhelmingly in favor of a proposed lead ordinance in the city that would make the presence of lead a code violation in rental housing. 

Genius NY

Five teams are competing for $1 million in investment funding through the Genius NY competition, a one year, in-residence startup accelerator for businesses involved with drones and other technology. The startup companies come from around the world to Syracuse. But one finalist is a former middle school science teacher from central New York.

Wayne Marshall / via Flickr

The city of Syracuse has started a public comment period on an environmental impact study regarding a proposed law that would make the presence of lead a code violation in rental housing. One of the intended goals of the more than 200-page report is to try to cover the city from any lawsuits. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

County fair administrators said they were blindsided by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement to extend the dates of the New York State Fair from 13 to 18 days. It’s a concern because now the state fair will overlap with eight other fairs, including Erie County. Officials were worried those extra five days could conflict with ride commitments, vendors and competitions. 

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United States Census officials say there is a dire need for temporary workers in Onondaga County, who will go and knock on the doors of those who have not completed the 2020 census by May. Another challenge is to find workers that live in hard-to-count neighborhoods.

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. 

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