regional news

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A presidential pardon won’t be enough to clear someone associated with the commander-in-chief of similar state charges under legislation approved by New York state lawmakers Tuesday.

The bill, which now moves to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, revises the exceptions to the state’s double jeopardy law in an effort to ensure the state’s ongoing investigations into the Republican president and his associates can’t be derailed by a White House pardon.

WRVO News (file photo)

OLCOTT, N.Y. (AP) — New York officials have declared a state of emergency for the counties along Lake Ontario as water levels continue to rise.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday directed state agencies to assist local governments and residents in responding to potential flooding in the coming days and weeks. Rising lake waters caused extensive damage in 2017, and work crews are fortifying flood-prone areas with barriers to avoid a repeat.

A state of emergency has been declared in eight counties: Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence and Wayne.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

5G wireless technology from Verizon is coming to the city of Syracuse, which would make it one of the first cities in the country with the new facilities for faster connectivity. But the vote to pass the measure did not go smoothly.

At a council meeting to approve the deal, Davy Campbell and other Syracuse residents voiced their opposition to the new technology to councilors, because of health concerns and risks from radiation.

Mohawk Valley Health System

The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) has started closing on privately owned properties in downtown Utica to make way for its new hospital. Officials hope to break ground on the $480 million facility by the end of the year. But MVHS will first have to deal with a lawsuit filed by a group that's opposed to the project.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon issued an executive order, which holds public assistance payments to multi-family properties if lead is detected in any of the units. It’s part of the county’s plan to get property owners to fix the problem, in some of the area’s older housing stock.

The International Joint Commission, the joint U.S.-Canadian body that helps determine regulatory decisions about the Great Lakes, has a quorum again. That’s something the agency has not had due to vacancies since late last year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County is putting the finishing touches on the latest improvements to the St. Joseph’s Health Ampitheater at Lakeview as the summer concert season begins. It’s year four for the Amp, which has found its footing after a controversial start, according to County Executive Ryan McMahon.

"Look at our 2018 season. We had over 200,000 tickets sold. We had over a $25 million economic impact," said McMahon. "The facility itself made almost $300,000. The majority of parks don’t make money, this made money."

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

A Norwich City School District bus driver is being called a hero for saving a student from a car last week that illegally passed the bus. The district released a video of the incident, which went viral and was shared around the world. Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) honored the bus driver and is pushing legislation to improve school bus safety.

The video shows Samantha Call, the bus driver, grab the back of a student who was exiting the bus, just as a car passed along the right-hand side.

stgermh / Flickr

Advocates for a bill that would allow terminally ill New Yorkers to end their own lives say the legislation has its best chance yet for passage in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature. 

The bill would permit physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of pills to patients who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and who ask for the drugs. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The number of veterans and military-related students at Syracuse University continues to grow. And SU officials believe the construction of the new National Veterans Resource Center will do more to help the 5% of the campus population that’s currently connected to the military.

Katy Quartaro spent eight years in the Marines before choosing a college, and SU hooked her right away.

Katherine Long / Catholic Sun

Nearly 18 months after the four churches in the city of Oswego announced their decision to unite, a consensus has been reached to move to St. Paul's Church.

Deacon Nick Alvaro, administrator of St. Joseph and St. Stephen the King churches in Oswego, says it was not an easy path as committees made up of members from each of the parishes initially came to a stalemate. St. Paul's ultimately won out because of its size and proximity to Oswego's lone Catholic school, Trinity Catholic School.

New York State Senate

The New York State Senate Wednesday passed measures that they say will improve safety on the state’s roads, including adding cameras to the stop arms of school buses.

Sen. Tim Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat who is chair of the Transportation Committee, said an estimated 50,000 drivers per day in New York pass a stopped school bus. He said that happens despite the buses’ red flashing lights and a stop sign arm.

-JvL- / Flickr

Two bills that challenge President Donald Trump and his policies are advancing in the New York State Assembly.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Democrats in his house are ready to act on a measure to amend New York’s double jeopardy laws. It would give state prosecutors the right to pursue cases against potential crimes committed in New York, even if the person is pardoned by the president.  

“There’s enough support to pass double jeopardy,” Heastie told reporters Tuesday. “It will be on the agenda next week.”

Brett Levin / Flickr

After the failure to include legalized recreational marijuana in the New York state budget earlier this year, sponsors of the legislation say they are introducing a new bill that they hope stands a better chance at becoming law.

Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who is a longtime supporter of legalizing the drug, said the new bill incorporates some of the ideas the governor and Legislature came up with when they talked about the issue during budget talks.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

ACR Health in Syracuse is trying to get more businesses to complete training on how to administer Narcan, to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The training can help save lives, as one downtown business found out firsthand.

NYCLU / Twitter

Progressive groups, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, say they’re frustrated that action on left-leaning issues has stalled in New York in the final weeks of the legislative session.

They held a rally Monday to get Democrats who lead the state Senate and Assembly to move faster on items like granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and workers’ rights for farm laborers, and they are hopeful those measures will pass before the session ends on June 19.

This remains an anxious time for people who live near the Lake Ontario shoreline. There will be a lot of watchful eyes on water levels in the coming weeks.

While there hasn’t been any widespread flooding yet, like residents saw two years ago, the level of Lake Ontario has been rising, due to a number of factors.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Opponents of bills to decriminalize prostitution in New York say it will only strengthen the worldwide sex trafficking industry and increase incidents of abuse in New York. Anti-sex trafficking groups and their allies spoke out at the state Capitol. 

Attorney Dorchen Leidholdt has represented hundreds of women who were abused by domestic violence and sex trafficking. She is co-chair of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

Leah Landry / WRVO News

This month, an art exhibition at Baltimore Woods Nature Center in Marcellus doesn't showcase the work of esteemed photographers or classically-trained painters. The exhibit features the work of students from area schools, specially chosen for display.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The number of people who applied to work as a corrections officer in Oswego County dropped from 221 in 2012 to 49 this year and those applying to be a patrol officer dropped from 171 in 2012 to 108 in 2019. Oswego County Sheriff Don Hilton says it's consistent with a nationwide decline in candidates for law enforcement jobs. So he petitioned the legislature to remove the requirement that corrections and patrol officers lives in Oswego County.

Emily Russell / NCPR

The Thousand Islands is a major tourist destination, but right now it's flooding. Water levels in the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario are higher than average and they’re expected to keep rising.

Like stepping back in time

Plenty of places along the St. Lawrence River cater to summer tourists, but the community of Thousand Islands Park boasts a special kind of charm.

“Oh it’s wonderful," said year round resident Holly Pelland. "It’s like stepping back in time."

WBFO (file photo)

There could be a major shakeup in the leadership of the Republican Party in New York state this summer. Onondaga County Republican Party Chair Tom Dadey is among those calling for a change atop the party leadership in the state.

Ed Cox, a 72-year old Wall Street lawyer and son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon, is facing a spirited race from Nick Langworthy, who heads the Erie County Republican Party. Cox has held his position for the last decade, and Dadey said no Republican has won a statewide race during that time.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An aide to Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi of New York was charged by state police with patronizing a prostitute Friday, New York State Police announced.

The aide, John Stemen, was fired from his position as a caseworker Thursday when Brindisi’s office learned of the allegations, according to a statement emailed to reporters.

"As soon as we were made aware of the charges, John Stemen was immediately terminated," according to the statement.

Stemen did not immediately return a phone message left for him Friday.

Wayne County has declared a State of Emergency on Sodus Bay, East Bay, Port Bay and Blind Sodus Bay due to high water levels on Lake Ontario.

As of early Saturday morning, motor boats must operate at these speeds:

Sodus Bay– idle speed only causing no wake within 1000 feet of shore.

Port Bay, East Bay and Blind Sodus Bay – idle speed only causing no wake.

Authorities say that although recent boat traffic has been minimal, increased boat traffic would create a hazardous situation, property damage and shore line erosion. 

The threat of high water along the Lake Ontario shoreline is often felt first in low-lying places like Sodus Point.

Village Mayor Dave McDowell said that right now, Sodus Point is about as prepared as it can be.

"We have 40,000 sandbags, give or take, deployed around the low spots of the village, they’re holding; we’ve got National Guard back shoring up a couple of spots on the south side with this heavy south wind, but our streets are all dry, the businesses are all open and thriving," McDowell said.

stgermh / Flickr

New York City’s rent laws expire June 15, and tenant advocates and some state lawmakers think a renewal of the laws should include cities outside of New York, including upstate.

A hearing held by the state Assembly sought input on that proposal and eight other rent reform bills introduced in both houses of the Democratic-controlled legislature.

WRVO News File Photo

SUNY ESF in Syracuse is ready to use the community grid option for replacing the Interstate 81 viaduct as a research opportunity. Interim President David Amberg said the proposal, which the state supports, offers more than 100 ways for students and staff to use their expertise.

"And not merely the aspects of where the community grid is, even as they expand 481 to become the new 81, a lot of wet lands a lot of forests," Amberg said. "There’s just a lot of touchpoints for our faculty to weigh in on and help make sure that we get the most out of this project."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is joining a movement calling on New York state to divest $13 billion from its public pension fund currently invested in fossil fuel companies.

Specifically, a majority of Syracuse Common Councilors want State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who is in charge of the state’s $200 billion retirement fund, to divest the largest 200 fossil fuel companies from the state’s portfolio over the next five years. Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll said it’s a win-win proposition.

New York State Senate / youtube

Two bills approved Wednesday in the state Senate could affect President Donald Trump and his associates.

One would permit the state tax department to give the president’s New York tax returns to congressional committees. The other would ensure that anyone the president pardons for federal crimes could still be prosecuted for crimes committed in New York state. 

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins predicted the measures will have a "major impact both nationally and in New York state."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the recently passed state budget makes an unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years, some of which will go to fix upstate's highways, bridges, and tunnels. But many local government leaders, like East Syracuse Mayor Robert Tackman, say that's not enough.