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

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the curfew for bars and restaurants from 11 p.m. to midnight. While business owners welcome the change, some say it’s still not enough. 

Jon Page opened the vintage arcade bar Three Lives in downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square, in the summer of 2020.

“I’m a musician so I have impeccable timing with things,” Page said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s not impossible.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The city of Syracuse will resume its ShotSpotter program to detect where gunshots are being fired. The program was disbanded last year due to budget cuts. It comes at a time when violent crime is up in the city, with five homicides so far this year, including an infant who was shot and killed this week.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Syracuse city officials are wrestling with how they can hold the management of Skyline Apartments accountable, after years of significant problems. The city has been warning Green National, the management of Skyline, about the lack of security, problem tenants and drugs at the complex.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

New York state passed a law this year that allows personal caregivers to visit nursing homes, even during public health emergencies, like a pandemic. Some caregivers waited a year to see their family members in nursing homes because of COVID-19. Mohawk Valley Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) is trying to get similar legislation passed on the federal level.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Negotiations continue between Oneida County and the U.S. Department of Justice over a settlement agreement, after the Justice Department said it was suing the county for voter disenfranchisement in last year’s congressional race between Claudia Tenney and Anthony Brindisi. The county may be limited in what it can do.

Gary Colmey

Marijuana activists have waited years for New York state to finally make cannabis legal. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law last week. But some opponents have concerns with how the government will run the rollout.

Gary Colmey is a cannabis activist and the owner of Gary’s Indoor Garden Supply in Rome. He said watching the state Assembly and Senate debates on marijuana legalization last week, was historic and something he’ll always remember.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

This is one of a series of stories from WRVO on how the COVID-19 pandemic changed life in central and northern NY over the last year. Find all of the stories from our series here. 

Frank Malfitano Facebook

The Syracuse Common Council has approved extending a long-term lease for the Syracuse Tech Garden, which clears the way for a nearly $17 million expansion of the city-owned property. The council also approved a police detail at a notorious apartment complex, and the funding for a new downtown mural.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

A suspect has been charged in the murder of a 93-year-old woman in a notorious Syracuse apartment building. Police and the district attorney’s office say the suspect had a lengthy history of arrests and questioned if she should have been in jail sooner.

Victoria Afet, 23, was charged with the murder and burglary of Connie Tuori. Tuori lived in the Skyline Apartments, which the mayor has singled-out as having inhumane living conditions, and has attracted drugs and violence in recent years. Tuori’s nephew, Guy Tuori said Connie grew up on the north side and loved the area.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

There could be enough votes for the Syracuse Common Council to pass a new long-term lease for the downtown Tech Garden, the startup business incubator that wants to build a $16 million expansion. A new roof deck was a sticking point in negotiations between some councilors and CenterState CEO, which runs the Tech Garden.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The city of Syracuse is taking action against the owner of what’s being described as a filthy and dangerous apartment building. Skyline Apartments is also the location of the recent murder of a 93-year-old woman.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh went on an inspection of the building last week and what he saw and heard, he said, will stick with him forever; things no one should be subjected to.

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Facebook

It’s been one year since music concerts, theatrical performances and museum exhibitions came to an abrupt halt, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists and arts organizations in central New York have endured financial loss and were forced to adapt to new circumstances. But a generous community has helped cushion the blow.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse common councilors are questioning how effective the city's police reform plan will be. The Council passed it unanimously on Monday. But councilors are skeptical about the police department implementing the changes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

A $16 million expansion of The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse is on hold, as city councilors question extending a long-term lease for the nonprofit. Some councilors want The Tech Garden to split revenue with the city, if it ever makes a profit.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media File Photo

The Onondaga County Legislature unanimously passed a police reform and reinvention collaborative plan. Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated police departments across the state review their policies and procedures, following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. But not everyone thinks these review plans will bring significant change.

NYS Senator Rachel May Facebook

Syracuse-area state Sen. Rachel May said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and whoever else was involved, should resign immediately if a New York Times article published Thursday, which says Cuomo’s top aides changed a state Health Department report on nursing home resident deaths, is true. The Wall Street Journal also published its own story, which said the report undercounted the number of nursing home deaths by thousands. The initial report counted more than 9,200 deaths, but the one published in July had just 6,432.

Tom Reed Twitter

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will not resign despite ongoing investigations against him and his office. He's up for re-election next year and Republicans from across the state and considering getting into the race.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is being endorsed by the Independence Party as he kicks off his re-election campaign. Walsh, who is an independent, said the party specifically cited his ability to work across the political spectrum.

The Independence Party no longer has an established line on the ballot. Walsh said his campaign will start passing petitions and collecting signatures in April to get back on the ballot.

SUNY Oswego

A SUNY Oswego professor has co-launched a new academic journal focused on mass violence research. The authors say the various topics they cover can be difficult to get into major publications. 

Jaclyn Schildkraut, an associate professor of criminal justice at SUNY Oswego, specializes in mass shootings and school shootings. She said there can be some bias against mass violence research, which can be viewed more critically and harder for publishers to assess.

Loretto

Nursing homes in New York state can now allow more visitors in their facilities, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, expanded the guidelines for visitations. Some state legislators say long-term reform of the nursing home industry is also needed.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

It took three months after Election Day for Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) to be declared the winner, but the 22nd Congressional District now finally has representation in Congress. Tenney is serving her second term in office, after being unseated in 2018. She reflected on the frustrating legal process over the last few months, as well as the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Onondaga County paid its two elections commissioners more than $15,000 each in unused vacation time. That’s because the county Legislature created new positions for the elections commissioners, in a class that won’t receive any cost of living or step increases. This came after the county executive vetoed an attempt by the Legislature to dock the pay of the commissioners by $7,000 in December. One legislator said it started as political retribution by the Republican-controlled Legislature against the Democratic elections commissioner.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Oneida County elections commissioners are stepping down, after an extremely close election for the 22nd Congressional District revealed significant errors on behalf of the Oneida County Board of Elections.

Carolanne Cardone, the Democratic elections commissioner, submitted her resignation on Tuesday, according to the Oneida County Legislature clerk. The Republican elections commissioner, Rose Grimaldi, is expected to submit her resignation Wednesday.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

SUNY Upstate Medical University is using drone technology to transport COVID test kits across its campus. It could lead to the university using drones to carry other medical materials in the future.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Salt City Market, Syracuse’s first food hall in the heart of downtown, has been years in the making but will finally open to the public Friday. The timing is not great, in the middle of winter, during a pandemic. But the vendors and organizers say they are excited and hopeful.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse lawmakers are dropping plans to change zoning laws that would affect development of what are called “care homes,” which include group homes, homes for the disabled and homeless shelters. There was a push to require a special permit review of the homes. It’s already required for most residential districts, but not for commercial and industrial zones. Some nonprofits oppose the change.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

In the 22nd Congressional District race, the last undecided congressional race in the nation, a judge has ordered the Oneida County Board of Elections to review more than 1,000 rejected affidavit ballots. Republican Claudia Tenney has a lead over incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi of just 29 votes.

Senator Chuck Schumer Facebook

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), soon to be the majority leader, said he specifically raised the Interstate-81 reconstruction project in Syracuse with Pete Buttigieg, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. transportation secretary. In a virtual meeting, Schumer told Buttigieg it’s one of his top priorities for New York state.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Syracuse Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Greene kicked off his campaign last week at an abandoned KFC restaurant on the city’s north side. The 33-year-old city councilor said it was the perfect context to highlight the problems facing the city.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in the last of four speeches outlining his 2021 plans, detailed billions of dollars in new and ongoing infrastructure projects that he hopes can provide jobs in the post-pandemic economy.

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