regional news

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

As budget season nears for the city of Syracuse, councilors are asking where the police and fire departments stand with overtime and staffing. Both departments are understaffed, but are also making efforts to reduce overtime pay.

Syracuse is spending around $10 million a year in overtime for police and fire. Fire Chief Michael Monds said staffing is at the bare minimum and overtime is the lowest it’s been in recent years.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As central New York continues to wait for a state study on the future of Interstate 81 in downtown Syracuse, a group that wants to keep a high speed Interstate running through the city is sharing some three-year old data it says supports it’s view.

Southern Arkansas University / Flickr

Gambling casino companies are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature to allow them to open gaming centers in New York City as part of the new state budget. There are a number of obstacles to overcome, but the proposal may seem tempting to lawmakers, who are strapped for cash this year.

Jason Smith / WRVO News File Photo

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of the U.S., a trend likely to bring more extreme storms while also degrading water quality, worsening erosion and posing tougher challenges for farming, scientists reported Thursday.

Brett Levin / Flickr

The chance to include the legalization of adult recreational marijuana in the state budget is fading, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to be backing away from the proposal.

Legislative leaders have already said it might be better to create a plan for adult use of recreational cannabis outside of the time pressures of the state budget, which is due at the end of the month. There are still many unanswered questions about who would be permitted to grow marijuana, distribute it and sell it.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Tensions between Syracuse’s new police chief and the head of the police union have spilled out into the public discourse in recent days. But Chief Kenton Buckner isn’t backing down from previous comments he’s made or his desire to bring change to the department.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has criss-crossed the state over the last several weeks sounding the alarm that the state's two percent tax cap, which limits local government and school district spending, is more important now than ever and should be made permanent by the state legislature.

"This year because of the uncertainty out of Washington, and knowing that our taxpayers are taking it on the chin because of the loss of the state and local tax deduction (SALT), we think we need to come out even stronger and enshrine this two-percent tax cap and make it permanent," said Hochul.

New York State Police

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — A jury has found a former Army sergeant guilty of murdering his wife and a state trooper answering a domestic violence call in northern New York.

Justin Walters showed no reaction when the verdict was read Wednesday morning in Jefferson County Court. WWNY-TV reports friends and relatives of victims Nichole Walters and Trooper Joel Davis clapped and hugged as Walters was led out in handcuffs.

woodstock.com

NEW YORK (AP) — Jay-Z, Dead & Company and the Killers will headline one of the 50th anniversary shows commemorating the groundbreaking Woodstock festival this summer.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

A push to enact a statewide system of public campaign finance for political races appears to be floundering in New York. But advocates have not given up on a proposal that they say would change the culture of a state Capitol where many lawmakers have grown dependent on donations from special interest groups.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A new state law that goes into effect soon will impact some homeowners across New York.

After April 1, you won’t be able to buy a smoke detector with removable, nine volt batteries in New York State. Instead, smoke alarms will be powered by a sealed, lithium battery that last 10 years.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The city of Oswego may start notifying residents when there are issues affecting city services around where they live. The city has received a number of complaints from people regarding a lack of notification.  

After three years in office, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the issue is one the city continually has to address.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

This month, the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese hopes to release a report on how its settlement program for people who have been abused by clergy has gone.

It’s called an independent reconciliation and compensation program, or IRCP. The Syracuse Diocese covers part of Central New York and the Southern Tier including Binghamton and Cortland.

WSKG looked into how this program went for the diocese and those who participated. A listener note: this story contains graphic details of sexual abuse.

Remembering Abuse

Payne Horning / WRVO News

With Lake Ontario's water levels about a foot above average, communities along its shoreline are trying to get help in preventing the flooding that devastated the area in 2017.

WRVO News (file photo)

In response to a state requirement, the city of Watertown will be placing a second courtroom in its City Hall. The Watertown City Council unanimously agreed to the decision last week after much debate with the state over what many council members and citizens say is an unfunded mandate.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

White, suburban men are reaping the benefits of public construction projects in the Syracuse area, despite the city's demographics, according to a new report. Advocacy groups are sounding the alarm, before a decision is made regarding the future of the Interstate-81 viaduct in Syracuse.

WRVO News (file photo)

Local government elections in New York state are several months away, but the membership of the Oswego County Legislature is already changing.

At least six of the 25 members of the Oswego County Legislature have announced that they are not running for re-election. The reasons for their departures are seemingly unrelated. Two legislators are leaving to run for another office, three are choosing to retire, and one is leaving to focus on family and business.

NYS Senate / File Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Supporters of a bill to require schools to offer education on sexual abuse awareness are returning to Albany to make another push.

The bill, known as Erin’s Law, would mandate age-appropriate lessons to help children understand the difference between inappropriate and appropriate touching, as well as how to report abuse to a trusted adult.

Carol / Flickr

Another plot of land on the site of the former Nestle plant in Fulton has been sold.

Fulton officials have been working overtime in recent years to get the 24 acres of land where the Nestle factory once stood back on the tax rolls. The city took another step toward that goal this month when its Common Council approved a resolution to sell a 9,000-square-foot parcel to Construction Design and Management, Inc., a Cicero-based business.

Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward says Construction Design and Management plans to lease the building to Charter Communications.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Onondaga County lawmakers are asking Amazon to consider a site in the town of Clay for its next headquarters. But some Democrats spoke out against the resolution at a meeting last week.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

In a changing climate, people living on Lake Ontario may be more at risk for flooding and extreme weather, so what compels them to stay?

Carol Rodas has being living on the south Shore of Lake Ontario for 55 years.

"It's hypnotic," she said about the waterfront. "I joke with people, I tell them they’re going to have to carry me out feet first."

Like a lot of people along the south shore, Rodas experienced flooding in 2017 that dumped water into her home, compromised the sewage system, and damaged her property.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hearings are underway in Syracuse that could lead to more charter schools in the city. There are four charter schools in Syracuse right now, and New York State is considering proposals for two more.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some drug users in central and northern New York are using tiny test strips to determine if the heroin or cocaine they are about to shoot up contains fentanyl, a powerful opioid that is often mixed in with street drugs. 

Fentanyl is responsible for an uptick in drug overdoses and deaths in recent years. ACR Health in Syracuse is distributing the strips as part of its syringe exchange and overdose prevention programs in a nine-county area. Roberto Gonzalez, director of ACR Health's syringe exchange program, said it’s been well received so far. 

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

With just a little over two weeks to go before the state budget is due, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top budget officials say they have to revise their spending proposal, now that President Donald Trump has released a budget plan that they say could devastate New York’s health care system.

They’re pressuring the Legislature to rein in their spending proposals as well.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Budget talks are intensifying in Albany as the deadline nears, and they are revealing tensions and divides between Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the all-Democratic State Legislature.

Cuomo began the week with a list of items that he said he needs in the state budget in order for him to agree to it.

They include a property tax cap, criminal justice reforms and a congestion pricing plan for parts of Manhattan to help pay for fixing public transit.

Onondaga County Legislature

A resolution to form an independent commission to make recommendations on how to redraw the Onondaga County Legislature districts, was defeated last week. But there may be other plans to open up the process.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr (File Photo)

New York Attorney General Tish James said she’s reached an agreement with the state legislature to amend the state’s double jeopardy laws to make it easier to go after people accused of crimes in New York, even if a president pardons them.

The measure is aimed at holding associates of President Donald Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, accountable for crimes they may have committed within New York’s boundaries, even if the president pardons them of federal crimes that they have been convicted of.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Onondaga County Democratic Committee selected Tony Malavenda as its candidate to run for county executive this year. Malavenda is a businessman, born and raised in central New York. 

FINGER LAKES PERFORMING PROVIDER SYSTEM

The number of people without health insurance in Steuben County has been cut in half since 2014. That should mean more people have access to the health care system. But that’s not always the case, according to Erin Bankey, who manages funds from a state program aimed at reducing hospital visits in the Finger Lakes.

"The story starts there, with trying to get people insurance, but then we found even people who have insurance don’t necessarily have the relationship with a primary care provider, or transportation, or healthy food,” Bankey said.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

 

With three weeks to go until the April 1 budget deadline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is drawing some lines in the sand on items that he said must be in the spending plan, like a permanent property tax cap.

But Cuomo said a proposal to legalize the adult use of marijuana likely will not be finished in time.

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