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Politics and Government

Next big agenda on Syracuse Common Council: mandatory city hiring ordinance

Tom Magnarelli
Verizon workers on strike visit City Hall as the Syracuse Common Council votes to support their protest.

The Syracuse Common Council has approved changes to two busy streets on the Syracuse University campus. The council is also preparing for a potential vote on requiring a certain percentage of contract workers to be hired from within the city.  

The council chambers were packed Monday afternoon with striking Verizon workers who cheered when the council passed a resolution supporting their protesting efforts against outsourcing and other issues.

The council also passed a reconfiguration of Waverly and Comstock avenues on the Syracuse University campus as the university goes through with plans to turn a road used for buses and delivery trucks into a pedestrian walkway. The move is expected to increase traffic along Waverly Avenue, already a busy street, that is likely to see more buildings constructed on it in the near future. Councilor Nader Maroun said big changes are coming to the university landscape over the next ten years. He acknowledged some faculty are opposed to this plan.

“I hope that they feel and understand that we have done our due diligence on this project and I believe that the university has heard the concerns of the faculty," Maroun said. "I’m grateful for the vetting process. I’m encouraged and I’m very optimistic as we go forward [with] other proposed changes, not only to the university but in the university hill area, we will have a very public vetting process.”

The university will pay for the reconfiguration, which will include more concrete bus pads to handle the additional 130 bus trips per day expected to be made on Waverly.

Local hiring

The next major legislation on the council’s agenda is Councilor Khalid Bey’s proposal that Syracuse city contracts and services require 20 percent hiring of city residents.

“This is the smart thing to do, on top of the fact that it is the right that to do," Bey said. "We always talk about, from the local level to the federal level, the need for  jobs and sustainability. We talk about strengthening our urban cores to bring cities back, to bring our states back, to bring our nation back.” 

Bey said the proposal has the support of corporation counsel, which is the city’s legal advisors, and he has not had pushback from Mayor Stephanie Miner.

“The trickle down Reaganomics certainly haven’t worked and they still won’t work," Bey said. "Even if we depended on them in the future, we would be destined for the same type of failures we’ve experienced. I’m very happy about the movement. While it’s not a perfect document I think we’ll have the opportunity to improve it as time goes on.”

The ordinance would apply to contracts worth at least $100,000. A committee meeting will be held on Thursday to discuss the issue further. Bey said he wants the item on the council's next agenda. The vote could be held on June 6th.