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. 

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. 

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. 

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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. 

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A political newcomer and former Syracuse University football player announced his candidacy to challenge state Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse). Republican Sam Rodgers, 28, said May consistently aligns and votes with a downstate coalition.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul highlighted some of the big proposals outlined in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech, while in Auburn this week. Hochul also addressed some of the more controversial challenges facing Cuomo’s administration. 

Montante Construction LLC

Another warehouse distribution center is being proposed in central New York, this time in the Town of DeWitt. That’s in addition to a giant facility approved for the Town of Clay, with the promise of 1,000 new jobs. But one local expert said there are reasons to be concerned.

Sutphen Corporation

Syracuse officials described a crisis and critical shortage of snow plows and firetrucks at a common council meeting on Wednesday. New vehicles could cost the city millions of dollars. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is supporting the creation of a countywide STEAM high school in Syracuse, focused on science and technology, in his State of the State speech Wednesday. The $75 million project will transform the former Central Tech High School into an education and workforce training center. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

More anti-Semitic incidents happened in New York City over the weekend. This comes after a stabbing at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York, injured five people in December. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a hate crime and terrorism. He said he’s going to encourage the legislature to pass a domestic terrorism law. Central and northern New York State Sen. Joe Griffo introduced a bill last spring that would make anti-Semitic attacks a hate crime. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

A deer and tick management plan that involves culling deer, is underway in the city of Syracuse. The program started this month and is meant to reduce an overpopulation of deer. It involves federal sharpshooters shooting deer from various locations. But some residents have expressed concern that they can hear the gunshots. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

The Syracuse Common Council has changed the way it will select a new councilor when there is a vacancy. The process has caused confusion with councilors and applicants in the past, with vacancies sometimes sitting open for months. 

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At the request of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration, the city council withdrew legislation on a four-and-a-half year contract with the police union. That’s because, councilors said, the measure was going to be voted down. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse common councilors questioned if the city can afford a new police union contract that will cost nearly $20 million extra by 2022. Police and city officials said the contract is needed to move the police department forward. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh issued his first veto on Monday, rejecting legislation that gives the mayor, councilors and city auditor pay raises. But the council had the final say and over-rode his veto. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

This is the third year a SUNY Oswego professor is collecting holiday cards, hand written by students and other volunteers, for kids who lost family members to mass shootings across the country. 

Will Johnson, a senior political science major at SUNY Oswego checks off the names on a list of 74 children impacted by shootings in Las Vegas, Parkland and Aurora. Scattered across a table are colorful Christmas cards with images of winter scenes. 

WRVO News File Photo

The Green Light law allows for undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in New York State, and it goes into effect Saturday. Some county clerks say their offices are not ready, and it’s been a significant challenge for them to get more information from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Syracuse Common Council passed legislation meant to clarify a tax exemption for projects that convert non-residential property into mixed use. Councilors admit, that exemption has done some good developing vacant or under-used properties. But some councilors said a change to the law is needed, because some developers are taking advantage of it. 

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Syracuse University student protesters walked out of classes Thursday, demanding the resignations of the chancellor, public safety chief and others. Protesters said they do not have confidence in those officials to carry out the changes they said are needed, after racist graffiti, vandalism and other incidents occurred on campus last month. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Some Syracuse councilors are receptive to a police union contract, already agreed to by the mayor and the union. The council is expected to vote on the contract in two weeks. 

Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene said the biggest benefit is a provision that requires all new members of the police union to live in the city of Syracuse for their first five years.

“I think that it’s an important thing that we’ve heard from a lot of constituents is having a better connection between the police officers and the community,” Greene said.


There were five overdoses in Jefferson County in a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday morning and one person died. Opioids are suspected to be the cause of the overdoses. First responders are now using a software system that allows the county’s health department to track the overdoses in real time.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The salaries of Syracuse councilors, the mayor, council president and city auditor will likely be going up, after the council approved the pay raises on Monday. Those positions, with the exception of the mayor, also get 2% annual increases until 2023.

It has been 16 years since councilors had a salary increase. They will go from $21,000 to $30,000 a year. Councilor-at-Large Tim Rudd said they should be paid at least a living wage for a job some councilors work at full time.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media File Photo

The city of Syracuse has reached a tentative agreement with the police union over a four-and-a-half year contract. It still needs to be voted on by the union and Syracuse Common Council. The proposed contract includes a residency requirement, pay raises, and a potential change in officers’ shift schedule. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul joined local elected officials at the Spanish Action League in Syracuse Tuesday to give away 200 turkeys to needy families for Thanksgiving. Some of those families settled in Onondaga County after being displaced by Hurricane Maria, when it hit Puerto Rico in 2017. 

Congressman John Katko Facebook

Bipartisan legislation, recently introduced in Congress, would increase funding for local domestic violence and sexual assault service agencies. Workers with those agencies said it would help keep the lights on, enhance certain services and reach underserved communities.  

WRVO News File Photo

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said so far, the evidence laid out in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Katko said it all goes back to a July phone call, where Trump asked the Ukrainian president for an investigation into his political rival, Joe Biden. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Law enforcement officials and district attorneys from central New York joined in an effort across the state, to voice concern over criminal justice reforms, set to go into effect in January. They’re upset that they were kept out of the process when the reforms were passed by the state legislature, earlier this year, as a part of the budget. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

New York State Republican Chair Nick Langworthy joined Republican congressional candidate Claudia Tenney and Trump supporters in Utica Wednesday, calling on Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) to denounce the impeachment inquiry against the president. Brindisi voted to open the impeachment inquiry last month.

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Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud has responded to a list of demands from a student sit-in that has been going on for a week, over racist incidents that have occurred recently on campus. In the past two weeks, SU has been rocked by at least 10 incidents including racist graffiti, yelling racial slurs and hateful emails. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse common councilors are reviewing a change to a property tax exemption that some say, is being exploited by developers. The amendment is meant to tighten the exemption.