City of Syracuse

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Democrats in upstate New York say they may be down from the losses they suffered in the 2016 election, but not out. Party officials hope the pushback to the Republican administration in Washington, D.C., will sweep local Democrats to victory later this year. 

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Four diverse Democratic candidates are competing for a diverse, open district council seat in Syracuse. The district encompasses Syracuse University, a burgeoning downtown and some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the city.  

The candidates are all close in age, ranging from 29 to 31, but they are all bringing something different to the race. Jeremy DeChario runs a food cooperative in the Westcott neighborhood.

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Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed budget includes increases to schools and police, but also an $18.5 million deficit. Miner said the city’s fiscal problems are similar to what other upstate municipalities face.

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The city of Syracuse received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice last year to develop a pilot police body camera program. But the program still has not been implemented.

The issue is what kind of policy the Syracuse Police Department will have for their body camera program. First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile said their policy was ready to go when new guidelines from the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union made police go back to the drawing board and change it.

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Syracuse’s Youth Council, a group of young people learning how the city’s government works, sat in on their first Common Council meeting in March. The youth council is expected to recommend topics the Common Council should take action on.

Allana Moore is a freshman at the Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School in Syracuse. She said she joined the Youth Council because the problems in the city are critical. She lives on the west side of Syracuse and said she has seen a lot of violence in her area.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Law enforcement was forever changed after a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014. There are lessons to be learned from the incident, according to the police chief who played a role restoring peace after the police shooting of Michael Brown and the violence that followed.

At a seminar in Syracuse, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told police public safety leaders from across New York state that relationships between police and the community are key to keeping the peace in case something like Ferguson happens.

WRVO Public Media

Sean Kirst's stories about the people of Syracuse and the trials and tribulations of the area were a beloved feature of the local newspaper, and are still missed. Kirst has a new book out based on those columns, The Soul of Central New York. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Kirst to talk about the book, the news media and some of the challenges the city of Syracuse is facing.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Construction will begin soon on Syracuse’s Near West Side to create OnTECH, a charter school targeted towards helping refugees and at-risk students get their high school diplomas.

OnTECH founder Ellen Eagen describes the mission of the school as “dovetailing this child who’s on the cusp of falling off of the educational pipeline with an employable skill set and with this idea of reengaging them with their curiosity in education.”

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The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is once again a top earner of grant funding from the office of the New York state attorney general. The funding is awarded from mortgage settlements the attorney general’s office made with big banks after the housing crisis.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The New York State Fair will be a little friendlier for young families this year. Suggestions from fairgoers submitted in recent years have complained about the lack of areas for families to tend to their children.

Acting director of the fair Troy Waffner says that's why they have constructed new baby care centers that will offer privacy for nursing mothers and a place for families to change diapers in an air-conditioned and safe environment. 

business.syrgov.net

The city of Syracuse has developed a business web portal that allows users to access information to start or grow their businesses. The database application is meant to spur economic development in small businesses.

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Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick has joined other law enforcement officials across the state in recent days who are criticizing "raise the age" legislation that’s being debated in Albany.

Raise the age would take 16- and 17-year-olds accused of certain crimes out of the adult justice system and into family court. Advocates say dumping teens into the adult criminal justice system makes it much harder for them to get their life back on track.

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The Community Development Block Grant is funding distributed by the federal government to local governments and states to use on housing and economic and social development. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget eliminates CDBG funds. That means some programs in Syracuse could be hit hard, if not eliminated, by the cut.

The Syracuse Common Council recently approved the distribution of nearly $4.5 million in CDBG funding for this year. Syracuse Common Councilor Helen Hudson said that means the city’s community centers and housing partners can stay on track.

The Syracuse Police Department is updating the way they keep track of gangs and gang violence in Syracuse.

At the city’s common council meeting this week, the council approved the department’s request to purchase a new software system called Gangscope. The program is an online database that allows authorities to closely monitor gang activity. Syracuse Police Department Captain Richard Trudell said their current database is outdated and sees this new technology as a way to be more proactive against gang activity.

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Despite receiving an invitation, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) did not attend a town hall in Syracuse on Saturday organized by the CNY Solidarity coalition. Those who did attend are urging the central New York Republican to oppose the actions of President Donald Trump’s administration.

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Syracuse Democratic Councilor Khalid Bey is looking to expand his influence by running for an open at-large seat on the Common Council in November. Bey is the chair of economic development in a city where growth is lacking.

The city of Syracuse is ranked last in economic growth out of the top 100 municipalities in the U.S., according to a new study from the Brookings Institution.

Bey said it is at the discretion of the mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner, to negotiate and enter business contracts and to decide how to spend the city's money.

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Snow showers and freezing temperatures did not stop protesters in Syracuse from rallying to end the deportation of immigrants on Wednesday. Members of the Workers' Center of CNY demonstrated in support of one of their own.

Dolores Bustamante, a Workers' Center board member, faced an immigration hearing in western New York Wednesday. Some feared Bustamante could have been detained and deported. Minnie Bruce Pratt, of Syracuse, said Bustamante is a linchpin in the fight for humane conditions for immigrant workers.

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Syracuse’s Rescue Mission has been busy in the wake of a two-day storm that dumped upwards of two feet of snow on parts of central New York.

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The city of Syracuse wants to spend $3 million less on road reconstruction than it did last year. That has some councilors worried about road conditions.

The city’s budget office said Syracuse has been posting deficits for a number of years now. That’s one reason why the mayor's administration asked the Common Council to approve $2.5 million to improve streets, rather than $5.5 million like they did last year.

The measure passed, but Councilor Nader Maroun said roads need to be more of a priority.     

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Public debate continues in Syracuse about President Donald Trump's policies, including his newly ordered travel ban. The executive action temporary suspends the visa process for six majority-Muslim nations and refugees.

Wayne Marshall / via Flickr

After three years of rejection, the city of Syracuse is again applying for federal funding to reduce childhood lead poisoning. The money would be used to eliminate the hazards in a home that can result in lead poisoning. Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development Paul Driscoll said this year’s application will also include inspecting homes for other potential dangers.

"It could be mold, radon, asbestos or pest infestation that leads to asthma," Driscoll said. "We’re trying to address all the health hazards in a house with one visit, one application."

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Republican candidate for mayor of Syracuse Laura Lavine said she would turn the city around like she has with the Lafayette School District. Lavine has spent 40 years in public education and is in her third year as the district’s superintendent. Lavine said she would use her administrative skills as mayor.

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Every week, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner hosts a protest against President Donald Trump focusing on how Trump’s actions affect local residents. Each rally deals with a specific issue like healthcare, climate change, and most recently immigration. A few Trump supporters have been coming to the protests and Miner has defended their right to speak up in favor of the president. After last week's rally, two central New York women, Tina Higgins of Syracuse and Carol Puschaver of Liverpool, have very different points of view but started having a conversation.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Democratic committee members in the city of Syracuse started interviewing candidates this weekend, as they decide who to support for an open mayoral seat. And over the weekend, one more mayoral hopeful has joined the crowded field of Democrats hoping to get the nomination.

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The Syracuse Common Council has voted to pay for the technology that will allow police to hear gunshots fired in the city in real time. The ShotSpotter program is expected to cost around $200,000 annually. The council approved $300,000 for its first year.

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After months of speculation, Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Nicoletti announced his candidacy for mayor. With more than 30 years in public service and several attempts at running for mayor before, Nicoletti said he is the right guy at the right time.

Nicoletti’s Republican opponent for councilor-at-large in the 2016 election said Nicoletti was only in it to become mayor; that it was a lifelong dream of his. Republicans now looking towards the mayoral race say voters are sick of career politicians. Nicoletti said that's frivolous.

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Immigration activists in Syracuse say no undocumented immigrant is safe under President Donald Trump’s executive order to speed up deportations.

Aly Wane of Syracuse said Trump’s order widens the definition of a criminal alien to include anyone who is undocumented.

“Like, for example, someone who is a visa-overstay is considered a criminal alien now or someone who crosses the border for the first time is now considered a criminal alien whereas before it was simply a civil offense,” Wane said.

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The Syracuse Common Council has approved a $49 million renovation to the Syracuse Hancock International Airport. The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority has a goal of 30 percent local hiring for the project.

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The Syracuse Common Council is expected to vote Monday on a request that the city’s school board require new hires to live in the city of Syracuse. Nearly 60 percent of all employees in the district do not live in the city.

Joe Nicoletti campaign

Three Democrats are already in the race to replace Stephanie Miner as Syracuse's next mayor. Now, a fourth has declared their candidacy. 

Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Nicoletti announced Thursday that he is running for mayor. He joins Andrew Maxwell, Alphonso Davis and Marty Masterpole in the race for the democratic nomination. Another Democrat, Juanita Perez Williams, is also considering a run. 

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