Khalid Bey

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The race for mayor in the city of Syracuse is becoming clearer. Mayor Ben Walsh, an independent, will at least face a Democrat as he runs for reelection.

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Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner is asking for more time to review Right to Know legislation, which has been drafted by the Common Council. The law is meant to provide more transparency in police practices and inform people of their right to privacy. But during an online committee meeting, one councilor pushed back strongly against the chief.

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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. 

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A proposal to raise the salaries of Syracuse councilors and the mayor is already causing tension at city hall. During Wednesday’s council meeting, Councilor-at-Large Khalid Bey took issue with a Syracuse.com article about the pay raises and comments made by Mayor Ben Walsh. 

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The city of Syracuse is entering into an agreement with a cybersecurity company to test the city’s network vulnerabilities, free of charge. This comes after the city school district and county libraries suffered cyberattacks last month. The agreement passed the Syracuse Common Council unanimously, but some councilors were skeptical. 

Tom Magnarelli

The city of Syracuse is entering into a data sharing agreement with Syracuse University. But some on the city’s common council are skeptical. 

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Residents in Syracuse spoke out against a 3.5% property tax and a 4% water rate increase in Mayor Ben Walsh’s proposed budget, at a public hearing Tuesday evening. The proposed tax increase goes over New York State’s 2% tax cap, and homeowners could lose the STAR property tax credit, which some at the hearing called a lifesaver. Syracuse resident Jason Zeigler encouraged councilors to vote down the increases.

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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is proposing tax increases in the next budget to avoid cuts to staff and services, the first since 2011. But some councilors question if savings can be found to avoid raising taxes.

Walsh presented his budget to the Syracuse Common Council, saying the 3.5% property tax and 4% water rate increases were decisions not made lightly.

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The Syracuse Common Council passed legislation expanding its rental registry to require interior inspections of all rental properties, including one and two-family dwellings. But some councilors said the law is overreaching, ineffective and a possible cash grab.

Requiring interior inspections of rentals has been two years in the making for Councilor-At-Large Khalid Bey. He said there were no requirements for interior inspections of one and two-family rentals, where most complaints come from.

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Legislation that would require interior inspections of rental properties in the city of Syracuse is being held. Some on the Syracuse Common Council are divided on the issue.

Councilor Khalid Bey said Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration asked him to hold the legislation so the new corporation counsel could become versed on it over the next two weeks.

“The next agenda, we’ll be right back talking about it," Bey said. "We’ll gage where the administration is. By then, I would think that they will have determined if they need three months, six months to prepare.”

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New lawmakers on Syracuse’s Common Council are trying to tackle problems with rental properties by starting up an interior inspection program of the city’s one- and two-family rental properties.

Councilor At-Large Khalid Bey tried to enact changes in the city’s Rental Registry two years ago, but fierce pressure from landlords stopped the bill in its tracks. Bey said he hopes that new lawmakers will be more receptive to the idea.

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The developers of two historic buildings in downtown Syracuse are seeking tax breaks from the city. The Whitney Lofts project would feature 16 new apartments, a restaurant and a speakeasy bar.

The tax breaks total more than $200,000 on sales and mortgage taxes. Deputy Commissioner for Business Development Nora Spillane said the redevelopment would add new excitement to the 300 block of S. Salina St.

Tom Fazzio / Syracuse University

The race for mayor and the choice of whether or not to hold a constitutional convention have dominated the political headlines in Syracuse, but there are other important decisions facing voters in this November's election. Among them, are two at-large seats that are up for grabs on the Syracuse Common Council. This week, Grant Reeher talks with the four candidates vying for those two spots, Democrat Tim Rudd, Democrat Khalid Bey, Republican Norm Snyder and Green Party candidate Frank Cetera. 

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Syracuse common councilors and their challengers are defending their records and offering new ideas ahead of the upcoming election in November. A recent public forum for all the council candidates focused on jobs, the city's finances and police.

The two women running to be the next council president debated the importance of city contractors hiring Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises or MWBEs. The Democrats’ designated candidate, Councilor Helen Hudson, said she has been strengthening MWBEs. 

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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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After an unsuccessful bid for the Onondaga County Legislature, Democrat Timothy Rudd is running for Syracuse's Common Council. Rudd said he is not opposed to the idea of one day merging the governments of the county and the city.

Rudd said he opposes the current Consensus proposal to merge the governments.

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As she prepares to step down at the end of the year, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will give her state of the city speech on Thursday outlining her priorities for 2017. While the field is wide open for who will be the next mayor, some Syracuse Common Councilors are weighing in on what they would like Miner to focus on in the meantime.

Councilor Helen Hudson made her thoughts clear about running for mayor.

“Absolutely not, absolutely not,” Hudson said.

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A number of items came up on the Syracuse Common Council agenda at a recent meeting. The Syracuse Police Department will be training officers and detectives on how to obtain video footage from corner stores and other businesses. The training was approved by the Syracuse Common Council and will begin in December.

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The Syracuse Common Council unanimously passed funding for a police-community dialogue project organized by InterFaith Works of Central New York. Police officers and community volunteer facilitators will hold dialogue circles with city residents. The goal of the dialogues is to strengthen understanding between residents and police.

The funding of $30,000 was initially objected by Councilor Khalid Bey and the measure was held. Bey told the police department and InterFaith Works that he was skeptical these dialogues were improving police relations with city residents.

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The Syracuse Common Council voted against requiring interior inspections of rental properties, either by consent or warrant, every two years. The measure failed by a 5-4 vote.

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Proposed legislation in Syracuse which would require periodic interior inspections of rental properties, either by consent or warrant, every two years, is being put on hold. The Syracuse Common Council is reviewing information it has received from lawyers representing the Syracuse Property Owners Association.

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Proposed legislation in central and northern New York would require inspections of rental units. Lawmakers are receiving pushback from landlords.

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Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters in Syracuse marched at two separate rallies throughout downtown Syracuse on Monday. Elected and law enforcement officials met with angry, yet peaceful demonstrators to listen and acknowledge injustice.

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Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has signed a Syracuse resident hiring ordinance into law. Officials have high hopes that this legislation can cut into the city’s high poverty rate.

The law will require contracts in excess of $100,000 dollars issued by the City of Syracuse, guarantee that at least 20 percent of the hours worked on a job will be done by city residents.

Miner signed her name to the legislation at Syracuse’s Southwest Community Center, saying these opportunities will go a long way in attacking poverty, and its side effects.

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The Syracuse Common Council has voted in favor of an ordinance that will require contractors working on city projects to hire 20 percent of their workforce from within the city. Proponents of the regulation say it is one tool to help reduce unemployment.

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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.

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The Onondaga County District Attorney’s office has confirmed that it is investigating the city of Syracuse. The investigation revolves around affidavits signed by two common councilors supporting a lawsuit the city brought against the COR Development Company.

The affidavits, signed by councilors Helen Hudson and Khalid Bey, claim that Steven Aiello, president of COR Development, promised not to seek tax breaks, called a PILOT agreement, on the Inner Harbor project in 2012.

“I can’t comment on that business happening with the DA,” Bey said.

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The city of Syracuse’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development is asking the Common Council to approve a year-long contract with a software company to monitor the hiring practices of the city’s contractors. The goal is to continually gather information on who is benefiting from city contracts.

The proposal would require new contractors to use the software to track information on who they employ. The information would include workers' gender, ethnicity, pay rate and where they live, something that Councilor Jean Kessner said is important.

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Two shootings in Syracuse on Monday and two more shootings on Sunday all occurred about a mile from each other. A majority of the shootings that have happened recently are in a certain area of the city’s south side.

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A number of seats are up for election on Syracuse’s Common Council including one vacancy. Both new and familiar faces are challenging the establishment.

Two years ago, Republican Joe Carni lost to Democrat Jake Barrett by 38 votes for the 1st District seat. This year, 25-year-old Carni is back, continuing his door-to-door campaign and hoping he can edge out a win.

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