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Insight is an Emmy Award-winning weekly public affairs show co-hosted by veteran journalists, Susan Arbetter host of The Capitol Pressroom, and WCNY’s director of news and public affairs, and Jim Aroune, WCNY Vice President with 20 plus years of news experience. We explore the stories and most pressing issues impacting WCNY’s 19 county viewing region. From politics to community issues we give you Insight into the stories that matter to you.

Susan Arbetter is an award-winning broadcast journalist who brings more than 15 years of experience as an Albany correspondent. In 2013, she was honored by “City & State” for journalism in the news magazine’s “Above and Beyond” awards.

Jim Aroune is WCNY’s vice president of content delivery radio and television operations and has worked in the field for 28 years. Prior to joining WCNY, Aroune worked as a television news anchor and manager for Time Warner Cable’s news division in Rochester and Buffalo for 20 years. Aroune has earned Emmy, Edward R. Murrow, Associated Press, NYS Broadcasters, Telly and Syracuse Press Club awards for his work in television.

Airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on WCNY(24.1) and re-airs Sundays at 5:30 p.m. on WCNY.

All TV schedules

Insight 07/28/17


This outlines the cuts and how they would impact certain programs



Democrat and Chronicle

Article about what the tax cap is and how it impacts schools


 Syracuse City School District’s health services department website



How the Trump cuts will impact schools



USA News

Education spending. Where does your money go?

Insight 07/21/17

Syracuse Int’l Film Festival


Liverpool School of Cinema

The Liverpool School of Cinema – Home | Facebook


Landmark Theater

Landmark Theatre – Syracuse


Priest the Lost Son Film

Priest the Lost Son – IMDb

Priest-The Lost Son – Home | Facebook


Sushi Tushi Film

Sushi-Tushi The Movie/Home


Onondaga County Regional Film Commission:

Central New York / Onondaga County Film Commission | Association …

Insight 07/14/17

SU Citizen Academy:
F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse:

Insight 07/07/17

Insight 05/19/17

Juanita Perez Williams for Mayor:


Juanita Perez Williams for Mayor Facebook


Chris Fowler for Syracuse Mayor


Chris Fowler Facebook

Insight 04/21/17

Insight 3/3/17

Aurora of Central New York Inc.


WCNY Radio ReadOut

Read Out

Diane Chapple-Daly’s Firm,Immigration Clinic, Interfaith,City of Syracuse

Insight 02/03/17 Resource Links:


Diane Chapple-Daly’s Firm


Volunteer Lawyers Project : Immigration Clinic:

Phone for appointments: 315-471-3409


Interfaith Works’


City of Syracuse:

Onondaga County Parks, Historical Association,Cook’s Info Encyclopedia

Insight 01/27/17 Web Resources List

Onondaga County Parks Website:


Onondaga Historical Association Website:


Cook’s Info Encyclopedia:

Mohawk Valley Health System,Oneida County Health Department

Mohawk Valley Health System-Q&A Page:


Oneida County Health Department Site:


No Hospital Downtown Website:


No Hospital Downtown Facebook Page:


No Hospital Downtown Twitter:

SMG,Onondaga County Executive’s & Comptroller’s Offices, Lake View Amphitheater

  • SMG, Worldwide Entertainment & Convention Venue Management


  • Onondaga County Executive’s Office


  • Onondaga County Comptroller’s Office


  • Lake View Amphitheater Website

Montezuma, James Seaman

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Website:


James Seaman Artist Website:

EdBuild, Contact Community Services


Is a nonprofit organization focused on bringing common sense and fairness to the way states fund schools.




Contact Community Services, Inc.

Is a multi-faceted organization that supports the social, emotional, behavioral and mental health of children, youth, and adults. We deliver this support through

Defying the Nazis

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War-Film Site


Unitarian Universalist Association Web-page

A major revitalization in oswego

A major revitalization in oswego is set to begin. in july the state announced that oswego would be the winner of a $10 million dollar downtown revitalization initiative, first laid out in the governor’s 2016 state of the state address, it marks a comprehensive plan to transform local neighborhoods into vibrant communities. we’ll explore the plans oswego officials have to bring the central new york city into economic prosperity.

City of Oswego Website:


Oswego County Website:


Port of Oswego Authority:


I Heart Oswego:

The very first of it’s kind, is a comprehensive (CITY-zine) website for the citizens and visitors of Oswego. We provide positive, original information about our city and its people. We developed and maintain the only comprehensive local event calendar and business directory.


Oswego County Opportunities, Inc.

Inspires partnerships and provides services that

empower people, support communities, and change lives

Where is the rain?

Where is the rain? Ithaca and the Tompkins county area have been under the extremes of an almost unprecedented drought. The reservoirs are beginning to dry up as resident begin to worry. We talk to city and county officials to understand what measures being taken to conserve water, and learn how your community can get ready for conditions like these.

Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District


City of Ithaca Urges Water Conservation to Address Effects of Drought


Cornell Water Treatment Plant


Taughannock Falls State Park

The Officer Down Memorial, Black Lives Matters Movement

Officer Down Memorial Page:


The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc., (ODMP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America’s fallen law enforcement heroes. More than 20,000 officers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the United States and it is with great honor that the ODMP pays a lasting tribute to each of these officers by preserving their memories within its pages. All who visit the ODMP will be deeply moved by the countless stories of selfless courage and heroism exhibited by officers who lost their lives while serving and protecting the citizens of this great nation.



Black Lives Matters Movement:


Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life. We are working to (re)build the Black liberation movement.



National Bureau of Economic Research

Founded in 1920, the NBER is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to conducting economic research and to disseminating research findings among academics, public policy makers, and business professionals.

NBER-affiliated researchers study a wide range of topics and they employ many different methods in their work. Key focus areas include developing new statistical measurements, estimating quantitative models of economic behavior, and analyzing the effects of public policies.


An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force:


A Tiny Home for Good

A Tiny home for good Website:

A Tiny Home for Good, Inc. builds and manages tiny homes. Built on vacant city lots, the homes are 300 square feet and are equipped with all the amenities of a regular home. Each home is rented to one individual who has faced homelessness. Rent is determined on a sliding scale dependent on the resident’s income. Each resident is connected with a professional care manager through a partnership with one of the several care management organizations in the Syracuse area.


LeMoyne College:


Brady Faith Center:


American Tiny House Association


Goal is to support tiny house enthusiasts who are seeking creative and affordable housing as part of a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle.

Finger Lakes

Standing Stone Vineyards:


Americana Vineyards


Glenora Wine Cellars


Finger Lakes Wine Country:


Finger lakes Tourism Alliance:


Center State Cooperation for Economic Opportunity


Mid-Lakes Navigation

Young African Leaders Initiative and Mandela Washington Fellows at Maxwell

Young African Leaders Initiative

The YALI Network provides members with invaluable opportunities to connect with other leaders in their community and to learn from experts in their field. Network members have access to unique resources such as online training courses and special events in their area. Already, more than 220,000 young African leaders have joined. Explore this page to learn more about the YALI Network and all the ways you can be involved.


Mandela Washington Fellows at Maxwell

The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University is pleased to welcome the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows, who arrived on Thursday, June 16, ready to participate in a six-week public management institute led by Professors Stuart Bretschneider and John McPeak. The program is exclusively designed for them—exploring issues and topics that confront public sector managers on a daily basis. Academic study is augmented by workshops, mentorship, and networking opportunities with leaders in area businesses, government, and nonprofit organizations. Fellows hone their skills and learn best practices to propel their work and create lasting change in their communities.


Young African Leaders Initiative Facebook Page

Finger Lakes Musical Theater Production 'From Here to Eternity'

Farm worker rights in New York State

A lawsuit has been brought against New York State and Governor Cuomo on behalf of farmworkers. Currently farm laborers do not have the benefit of protection and the right to organize without fear of retaliation. A proposed New York State Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act regarding farmworker rights has repeatedly passed the Assembly but not the Senate. To learn more, visit the online resources below:

The New York Civil Liberties Union explains its lawsuit on the organization’s website.

Link to the complaint

Governor Cuomo responds to the filing of the lawsuit.

The worker involved in the lawsuit is from Northern New York where this public radio piece originated.

Workers’ Center of CNY website:

The Worker’s Center of Central New York is holding a march to urge passage of a Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act.

This site provides a historical perspective to pending legislation called the Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act.

A statement from the Hispanic Federation.

The legislation to create the NYS Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act has not become law after 15 years of trying, due, in part, to farmers in the state.

The New York State Farm Bureau issued this memo explaining why it is opposed to the Act.

Inspired by Robert F. Kennedy, a group of millennials advocate for farm laborers.


Farmworker videos Antonio  

Easter Uprising and Central NY

The Irish Uprising of 1916, also known as the Easter Uprising or the Easter Rebellion, was the subject of a recently aired PBS documentary narrated by Liam Neeson. The uprising was a planned rebellion against British rule in Ireland led by Irish Nationalists in April, 2016. The organizers’ goal was to throw off British rule and create a free Irish Republic. Failing to engage the country as a whole, the center for the uprising was Dublin. The British squelched the rebellion in which nearly 450 people lost their lives. 15 of the rebellion’s leaders were captured and all but one, Eamon de Valera, lost their lives in front of a firing squad. Eamon de Valera made his way to America, crossing paths with James Kennedy McGuire, a fervent Irish nationalist with ties to Syracuse.

As three-time mayor of Syracuse, McGuire built 38 of the 40 schools operating in Syracuse in 1908. He supported the creation of the first Everson Museum and the building of Syracuse’s first city-owned golf course in Burnet Park. He convinced Andrew Carnegie to construct Syracuse’s Carnegie Library near Columbus Circle. McGuire strongly embraced Irish independence and authored two books urging Irish Americans and America itself to support Germany in World War I. He, like many others, thought the defeat of Britain by Germany would lead to freedom for Ireland. McGuire hosted de Valera in his New Rochelle, New York home and helped raise funds for him. To learn more about the Irish Uprising of 1916 and Mayor McGuire visit:

Women of the Rising, by Mary House

An Irish Uprising timeline with video clips and more from the BBC.

A look at the Easter Uprising and its implications for Ireland today.

A brief overview of the Easter Uprising in Ireland in 1916.

In this article, learn about the connection between the Irish Uprising and James Kennedy McGuire, Syracuse’s youngest mayor and an Irish nationalist.

Q & A with author and retired Judge Joseph Fahey, about his book profiling Syracuse’s “boy mayor” who

Refugees and the American Dream

The issue of refugees has become a center of discussion and challenge globally. Whether or not refugees, including those from Syria, should be welcomed in America, has become part of the political landscape of this year’s race to the presidency. Insight talks with refugees from a variety of countries and diverse ages as well as those that help settle them, to learn about life in America for refugees.   In fiscal year 2014, a total of 4,085 refugees were resettled in New York State with 95% resettled in upstate New York. Erie, Onondaga, Monroe, and Oneida are the top four counties where refugees are being resettled. Most of the refugees have arrived from the following seven countries (prior to the Syrian refugee crisis): Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba.

WCNY has also invited the public, including refugees, to share their American dreams, part of a national “Re:Dream” project among American public television stations led by Kansas City Public Television. WCNY provided iPads to young adults in Syracuse and Utica refugee communities, so they could act as “citizen journalists” capturing the American dreams of friends and families. Some of these have been posted on WCNY’s Re:Dream web page, where you are invited to share your own American Dreams.

For more information about refugees in Central New York and the Re:Dream project, visit the online resources below:

This is the website for the national Re:Dream project, led by Kansas City Public Television, of which WCNY is a participant.

Visit WCNY’s Re:Dream webpage to see how people in Central New York are defining the American Dream in the 21st century as well as sharing challenges in pursuit of happiness…and to share your American Dream.

This is an overview of American refugee law and policy.

Onondaga Citizens League report regarding the experience of refugees in Onondaga County and how the community could be more welcoming.

The impact of refugees in the Syracuse area.

This links to the website of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica.

Syracuse has several organizations working with refugees including the Center for New Americans at Interfaith Works.

Another example of an organization that offers refugee services in Onondaga County.

This story recounts some of the challenges faced by Syracuse refugees.

Baseball Great: Jackie Robinson

On April 11 and 12, at 9 p.m. each evening, WCNY will broadcast the new Ken Burns production, JACKIE ROBINSON, a four-hour film from Florentine Films and WETA, about the life of Jackie Robinson.   The story of this baseball great is one that is relevant to today as our nation continues to struggle with issues of race. Mr. Robinson, when he crossed baseball’s color line, faced discrimination, including in places where he played baseball such as Syracuse. To learn more about the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, visit the online resources below:
A collection of resources – stats, videos, and other content – about Jackie Robinson, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

A profile of Robinson from the Society for American Baseball Research.

Sean Kirst writes about Jackie Robinson’s challenging experiences in Syracuse.

Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter, speaks about America’s relationship with Cuba the ability of baseball to impact the lives of others.

Learn more about Jackie Robinson on a website developed in conjunction with the Ken Burns television production, JACKIE ROBINSON.

A biography of Jackie Robinson.

Over the years, four Hollywood movies have been made about Jackie Robinson, including the most recent, 42. This article critiques that movie and others , commenting on the sometimes lack of political and social movement context to Jackie Robinson’s efforts to integrate baseball.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. shares a lesser-known aspect of Jackie Robinson’s life.

Chief and Author Irving Powless Jr.

Irving Powless, Jr., has been a chief of the Beaver Clan of the Onondaga Nation since 1964. He has been a key spokesperson for the Haudenosaunee nations as well as an actor, musician, and historian. He is also an author with a recently released book, Who Are These People Anyway? published by Syracuse University Press. WCNY’s Insight team spent time with Chief Powless talking about the stories he shared in the book.

Drinking Water Concerns in NYS Communities

Flint, Michigan is not the only community facing a water crisis. Concerns about possible pollutants in drinking water sources are on the rise in communities in New York State too. In Hoosick Falls, New York, a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been found in higher than advised levels in the town’s drinking water. High lead levels found drinking water prompted the shutoff of drinking fountains in two Ithaca-area schools. Issues like these are prompting closer looks at how frequently drinking water is being tested in communities, including Syracuse, which plans to test the water in each of the city’s public schools. For more information, visit the online resources below:

Information on water pollution from a plastic manufacturing operation in this northern New York town and its possible link to cancer.

Hoosick Falls plastic company, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, comments on the presence of PFOA in the town’s drinking water.

Elevated lead levels in school drinking water result in further testing and the shutting off of drinking fountains.

Syracuse announces its water department will conduct water testing in the city’s public schools.

A link to New York State’s Department of Health drinking water protection program.

Senator Schumer calls for federal dollars to support testing for contaminants in school drinking water.

Newark, New Jersey is testing the lead levels in children following discovery of high levels of lead in the city’s schools drinking water.

Church - looking at new ways to use a building

Revitalization, membership recruitment, and revenue diversification are frequent topics of discussion among non-profit organizations including churches. One such church is St. Paul’s Syracuse, the Downtown Episcopal Church. Formerly known as St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which at different times has served as the Cathedral Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, the church is examining new ways to not only minister to the community but have the community utilize its historic buildings. The experience of St. Paul’s Syracuse serves as a counterpoint to those churches that have closed altogether or have sold or are trying to sell their buildings in the face of often rising maintenance costs and diminishing congregations. Visit the online resources below to learn more:

This letter to the editor updates the community on St. Paul’s Syracuse – its new name, mission, and desire to serve the community in broader ways including the use of its physical space.

This is the website for St. Paul’s, Syracuse, the Downtown Episcopal Church.

A look at the architectural history of St. Paul’s Syracuse.

This organization works with religious groups, particularly those with historic buildings, explore ways to save these buildings by also developing them as community assets.

The former West Genesee United Methodist Church was closed with the building purchased by a developer to create apartments.

Syracuse’s Assumption Church had converted its former school into apartments but announced the apartment building is being closed due to lack of funds to maintain the building.

Makers Awards 2016

March is Women’s history month, and for the fourth year WCNY has chosen March as the time to honor women in our region through our Makers: Women Who Make America awards. The awards were our local tie-in to the 2013 PBS national documentary by the same name. The stories and contributions of the award winners in the inaugural year prompted WCNY to continue the awards. This episode of Insight shares the stories of the 10 women who earned awards on March 4, 2016 during a ceremony at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. We were warmly welcomed by Ami Ghazala, Park Superintendent and treated to reflections by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as portrayed by Professor Melinda Grube from Cayuga Community College. We thank the Lockheed Martin Employees’ Federated Fund and the members of WCNY for supporting WCNY’s 2016 Makers Awards.

Additional information about the 2016 Makers Award winners can be found at . Visit the national Makers webpage at for more information on about the national documentary’s two seasons of episodes.

Proposed Heroin Safehouse Site

With the growing use of heroin and prescription opioids, communities across our region and the country are examining programs and approaches to dealing with this latest drug problem. Currently there are more than 27,000 heroin and prescription opioids (OxyContin, hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine and more) annual overdose deaths. In 2014, an estimated 1.9 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to use of prescription pain opioids and 568,000 people abused heroin. And the numbers continue to grow. Communities are trying to find ways to turn the numbers around, and Svante Myrick, the mayor of Ithaca, New York is one of them. Mayor Myrick wants to open the nation’s first supervised injection facility, a place where heroin users can inject heroin safely. It is belief that drug abuse should be treated more as a public health issue than a criminal justice one. To learn more about Mayor Myrick’s ideas and information on heroin injection facilities elsewhere, explore the online resources provided below.

Mayor Myrick’s interest in seeing a safe place for addicts to inject heroin is explored in this Boston, Mass. story.

Ithaca’s State Senator O’Mara opposed proposed heroin injection clinic.

A Long Island television station reports on Mayor Myrick’s heroin injection clinic idea.

Seattle has been contemplating establishing safe drug use sites.

A PBS Newshour story on a drug injection center in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A look at Switzerland heroin clinics.

Consensus and Modernizing Government

After 18 months of study, Consensus, the Commission on Local Government Modernization, released its report featuring recommendations for more effective and efficient government, to the Central New York community. One of the over 40 recommendations that has been garnering the greatest attention is the recommendation to create a municipal government. Comments about that and other recommendations in the report are being solicited through a series of public meetings as well as on Facebook and the Consensus web page. Following this public comment period, Consensus will release its final recommendations, expected in May. For more about the Central New York Consensus Commission and efforts to modernize government visit the online resources below:

2013 announcement by Mayor Miner and County Executive Mahoney about a 12 to 18 month plan to study local government consolidation.

The home page for Consensus, the Commission on Local Government Modernization

This links to the 80-page Consensus report, a 20-page summary, and a 2-page overview.

Consensus members explain why recommendations about schools were not included in the Commission’s report.

A Thursday Morning Roundtable presentation about Consensus by Dr. Neil Murphy and Rob Simpson.

Just a small sampling of some of the opinions of residents about the Consensus report.

$25 million of the $500 million awarded to Central New York by New York State is designated for the efforts to modernize local government.

Governor Cuomo stated that Syracuse won $500 million in Upstate Revitalization funds because it and Onondaga County agreed to merge.

Onondaga Lake Cap Issues

Recent reports about three instances of problems with the bottom cap being used for the Onondaga Lake surface has caused new discussion of the effectiveness of the Onondaga Lake clean-up plan. Honeywell is responsible for cleaning up the lake per a 2005 order from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. For a look back at key elements of the plan and statements regarding the efficacy of the cap portion of the plan, visit the online sites below.

A statement from the DEC regarding failures with the Onondaga Lake sediment cap.

An assessment of the Onondaga Lake cleanup plan, including the use of a pollution “cap”, by the Onondaga Nation.

The Onondaga Nation issues statement about the capping issue.

News of the Onondaga Lake capping issue reported on a Charlottesville, VA publication.

Press release outlining the Onondaga Lake clean-up plan.

Jenna's Law

Janice Grieshaber-Geddes advocated for passage of “Jenna’s Law” to end parole for first time violent felons after her daughter, Jenna Grieshaber, was murdered by a parolee in Albany. Jenna’s Law was passed in 1998, enacting some of the strictest sentencing for violent felons in America.   The law required that these felons serve all of their sentences, rather than receiving things like time off for good behavior. Since 1998, however, there have been changes in parole policies that are resulting in these individuals no longer having to serve their full sentences. It is no surprise that Grieshaber- Geddes is concerned about the weakening of Jenna’s Law parole parameters. In addition, Grieshaber-Geddes is involved in the NYS Legislature’s Spirit of 76 reform, sharing her story of the challenges in making Jenna’s Law a reality including the proposed law being held up for discussion by a legislative leader.

Overview of the components of Jenna’s Law.

Legislation to lengthen the time between parole hearings for people convicted of violent crimes.

Janice Grieshaber-Geddes is one of the leaders of the Spirit of 76 reform to change the way legislation in New York State makes it to the floor for discussion and to curb the control of legislative leaders over the process.

An account of Grieshaber-Geddes’s experience in getting the Jenna’s Law legislation passed and why she is supportive of the Spirit of 76 reform.

Chancellor Tisch and NYS Education

As stated on the NYS Board of Regents website, “the Regents are responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the State, presiding over The University and the New York State Education Department. The Regents are organized into standing committees, subcommittees and work groups whose members and chairs are appointed by the Chancellor.” The current Chancellor is Merryl H. Tisch, who has been a strong proponent for the Common Core standards in New York State. Her term of office expires in March, 2016 and she has announced she will not seek another term. To learn more, visit the online resources below.

The website for the NYS Board of Regents.

A profile of Chancellor Tisch.

Chancellor Tisch will not seek another term on the Board of Regents.

A recent statement from Chancellor Tisch in reference to the NY Common Core task force final report recommendations.

The website for the NY Common Core Task Force that released a final report with recommendations regarding the Common Core in December, 2015.

This is the NY Common Core Task Force final report, dated December 2015.

Discussion with Joannie Mahoney and Stephanie Miner

Below are a few informational links in reference to the discussion between Onondaga County Executive Joannie Mahoney and City of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. The first is a 2012 news article announcing the recommendation of COR Development Co. to develop the city’s waterfront. This is followed by links to the Onondaga County and Syracuse Industrial Development agencies that have been referenced as part of the bigger discussion. The last link is to the website of COR Development Co.

In 2012 COR Development Co. was unanimously chosen by an advisory committee to redevelopment the City of Syracuse’s waterfront.

This is the link to the website for the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency.

This links takes you to the webpage for the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency.

Uber in Central New York

When you have travelled you may have encountered Uber as a transportation option. Uber is a ride-sharing service that users request transportation from using an app on their smartphones or other devices. The company currently operates in many countries and cities around the world, including New York City, but not in upstate New York. Mayors from communities like Syracuse and Utica have signed a petition stating that it would like to bring Uber to their cities. New York State insurance regulations have proved to be a barrier to the ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft and some taxi services have opposed their expansion. To learn more explore the online resources below:

Syracuse Mayor’s support for Uber’s expansion into Syracuse.

Insurance regulations in NYS have kept groups like Uber and Lyft from offering their services in Central New York.

A link to the Uber website.

A link to the Lyft website; Uber considers Lyft its major competitor.

An account of one person’s experience as a Uber driver.

A look at the differences between a ride-sharing service like Uber and a taxi service.

Utica mayor is eager to bring Uber services to the city.!6fDVsg6wkoMoI85ofNPnxA/

Taxi services voice their opposition to Utica in Syracuse.

$500 Million to Central New York

Holiday gifts came early to three New York State areas selected as recipients of three New York State’s 2015 Upstate Revitalization Initiative awards of $500 million distributed over five years. The Central New York, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier regions were selected for the awards out of the seven eligible state regions. These awards are patterned after the Buffalo Billion economic development award in 2012 that many claim is transforming that upstate city. For information about and reaction to the award, visit the online resources below.

Formal announcement from the Governor’s office of the Central New York’s award of $500 million for five years in REDC funding.

Central New York’s submitted plan does not include many of the names of the companies involved.

What some leaders are saying about the Central New York big win.

Information on one of the projects to be funded under the Upstate Revitalization Initiative award.

Drone-related work included in Central New York project.

Local opinion reaction to the award.

Southern Tier announcement of its award.

The Rochester Democrat Chronicle

Three Democratic Challengers

There are three declared Democratic candidates vying for the right to challenge Republican Congressman John Katko in the 2016 24th Congressional district election. If necessary, there will be a Democratic primary on June 28, 2016. The 24th District consists of all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties, and the western half of Oswego County, including the cities of Fulton and Oswego. To learn more about each of the three Democratic candidates, visit the online resources below.

Colleen Deacon announces her intention to challenge Congressman Katko in the 2016 elections.

Senator Schumer, like Senator Gillibrand, endorses Democrat Colleen Deacon in the 24th Congressional district race.

Deacon campaign website.

Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson announced his intention to mount a Democratic challenge to Republican Congressman Katko in the 2016 congressional election.

Kingson campaign website.

Democrat Steve Williams is the third declared Democratic candidate in the 24th Congressional district, a seat currently held by Republican freshman Congressman John Katko.

Steve Williams earns the endorsement of Long Island Democratic leader.

Williams campaign website.

Reflecting on San Bernardino, Terrorism, and Geopolitical Issues

Everywhere one turns, on any sort of media platform, discussion is ongoing over fears of terrorism; strategies to keep America and Americans safe; speculation on the root causes of terrorism including the debate over religious or geopolitical origins; whether or not refugees, particularly those with ties to the Muslim world, should be admitted to the United States; and more. Below are a sample of online resources around many of these topics as the concerns and discussions continue.

This opinion writer focuses on gun control as a lesson learned from the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

An example of a community – Newport News – working to be prepared to handle terrorism.

Governor Cuomo announces ways to fight terrorism.

Advice about things families can do to be safe against terrorist attacks as well as tips on how to recognize terrorism.

The debate about Syrian refugees coming to Syracuse.

The process of refugees seeking asylum in Syracuse.

A SU professor co-authors this article about how anxiety about terrorist attacks could change politics.

A look at the geopolitical context of terrorism.

The author believes the origins of the current terrorism are not religious but geopolitical.

Commentary about the effect of the Paris attacks on international political issues.

John Katko

The terms of office for U.S. Congressmen are brief – just two years – which means that campaigning for reelection is never far from the minds of those who hold the office.  The added interest that a presidential year campaign brings increases the intensity level and the scrutiny.  Several Democrats have already declared interest in challenging Congressman Katko for his Congressional seat.  To learn more about his positions on issues,  his level of success in introducing legislation, and what polls and pundits are saying about his chances for election to a second term, visit the online resources below.

Congressman Katko’s website provides an overview of his positions on a wide range of issues including defense and homeland security.

Early predictions indicate that Central New Yorkers would  favor John Katko for a second term.

Congressman Katko issued a 100-day report on his efforts to represent Central New York needs and interests during the first four months of his term in office.

Congressman Katko was part of the political team seeking passage of a House of Representatives bill to provide funding for federal highways including I-81 in Syracuse.

The Central New York district Congressman Katko represents, has flip flopped between Republican and Democratic candidates, which has some pundits saying that the freshman congressman’s seat could be up for grabs.

Hotel Syracuse Restoration

The Hotel Syracuse was once Syracuse’s largest and grandest hotel.  Constructed between 1922 and 1924, it opened in August, 1924.  The first guest that day – August 14, 1924 – was  then 10-year-old actor Jackie Coogan, who went on to achieve fame as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family!   The Onondaga Historical Association has the guest register from that day as well as other memorabilia from the hotel in its collections.  The first hotel dinner entrée was salmon, and the day’s drink in the Prohibition era was Deep Rock Ginger Ale.  The hotel originally had 612 rooms, rooms that would be considered small by today’s hotel guests.  The hotel became the largest in New York State outside of New York City.  The hotel had been closed for several years, and since the 1990s had been struggling.  The pubic, however, retained fond memories of the hotel and hoped for a turnaround.  Ed Riley, the new owner, is overseeing a $70 million renovation project that will result in the Hotel Syracuse reopening in 2016 as the Marriott Downtown Syracuse.  It will have 261 guest rooms, three ballrooms, and two restaurants.   Art work, including a 40 foot mural celebrating Syracuse’s centennial and a commemorative painting of George Washington’s inauguration have been found and will be retained. For more information about the hotel and its history as well as renovation plans, visit the online sites listed below:

This website features a gallery of images, brief historic information, media stories about the hotel renovation and directions for people to upload memories of the hotel.

Ed Riley, owner of the former Hotel Syracuse, was guest speaker at a September 2015 Thursday Morning Roundtable meeting recorded by WCNY.

Brief historical background as well as a feature about John Lennon and Yoko Ono visiting Syracuse and the hotel in 1971.

Announcement of the Marriott designation for the Hotel Syracuse in an industry publication.

A Marriott Downtown Syracuse blog with information about the past, present, and future of the property as it is restored.

A story about the Hotel Syracuse’s first guest when it opened in 1924.

A job fair held by the hotel was attended by over 1000.

Fitzpatrick Plant Closure

The announcement that the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant facility is to close by 2017 has sent shock waves through the city of Oswego, where it is located, and beyond.  Nuclear power plants  in other parts of the country are also being closed, most of them prematurely – before their age-out dates – partly due to the low cost of natural gas and the lack of current profitability for the plants.  Entergy, which owns the Fitzpatrick facility, cites public policy as a problem, claiming that other forms of power generation, such as wind, are the beneficiary of subsidies that nuclear power plants do not receive.  Those in the energy industry are concerned by the closure of nuclear power plants, sources of renewable energy, as without them, reducing reliance on fossil fuels may be more difficult.  The impact of the plant closure – the loss of 600 high-paying jobs –  is devastating to the city of Oswego.  To learn more  visit the sites below:

Entergy’s decision to close the Fitzpatrick plant in Oswego but retain its two plants downstate angers Governor Cuomo.

An analysis of the whys as well as the implications of the Fitzpatrick facility closure.

This industry publication cited Entergy’s negotiations with the state to address some of the economic issues contributing to the Fitzpatrick power plant closure.

This technology writer explains why New York State and America need nuclear power plants.

Politicians express displeasure and a desire to change Entergy’s mind about the closure of Fitzpatrick.

Click on this link to download a fact sheet about nuclear energy in New York State.

Entergy closed its Massachusetts facility.

This piece from a Scranton, PA publication reflects the concern over nuclear plant closures not only in New York State but beyond.

The author proposes the New York State Power Authority purchase Fitzpatrick and operate it.

Regional Native Issues

Native American nations are frequently in the news, often with items associated with casinos.  But the collection of resources below reflect wide-ranging Native American news and issues.  Recently, the Onondaga Nation hosted the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship, fitting since the roots of lacrosse lay with the indigenous people.  Near Rochester, a new Seneca Art and Culture facility opened this fall.  Native Americans struggle to keep their Native languages alive, as one website illustrates.   The debate over the use of Native American imagery and phrases (think Washington Redskins) for sports teams but also in other places, including a Central New York village seal, has been and continues to be in the news.  Read about some of the many treaties enacted between Native peoples and federal and state governments.  The Seneca Nation hosts a tourism website.  And yes, there are also links related to Native American casinos.  Explore this sampler of Native American information sources to learn more.

This main focus of this website is about the languages of the indigenous people of New York State, but it has additional information, from the addresses of New York’s Indian reservations to recommended books and teaching and learning activities.

This is the website of the Onondaga Nation, the people of the hills.

2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship held at the Onondaga Nation in Syracuse.

Official tourism website for the Seneca Nation.

Official website for the Seneca Nation.

This webpage describing each of New York’s Indian reservations was developed by the Native Heritage Project, an ongoing effort to document the Native American people as they obtained surnames and entered recorded history in the continental United States.

Recently opened, new Seneca Art and Cultural Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site.

A list of Native American nations in New York State operating casinos.

Native Americans and gambling in New York State on the NYS Gaming Commission website.

Village of Whitesboro  questionable village seal.

Some Native American groups are looking beyond casinos for future revenues.

This is a list of treaties between the Federal Government and the Iroquois over several years with active inks.

A detailed overview of the Treaty of Canandaigua and terms of the pact still in place today.

Syracuse City School District

Syracuse City School District (SCSD) school superintendent Sharon Contreras has had her hands full leading  a school district buffeted by high poverty rates, 18 schools named to a NYS Education Department list of 144 struggling schools that leads to a receivership edict; teachers still adapting to Common Core standards, a student code of conduct defining disciplinary measures,  and new teacher assessments;  low high school graduation rates that now may been moving upward;  and the possibility of adopting a year-round school calendar as a step to improve student performance.  Visit the online resources below to learn more about some of the challenges and successes of the SCSD.

A list of the 18 schools in the SCSD determined to be “struggling” by the NYS Education Department.

NYS Education Department press release listing 144 schools statewide, including 18 in Syracuse, that are struggling or persistently struggling and the receivership approach to turning those schools around.

This article attempts to answer some of the questions SCSD parents have about the district’s receivership.

Could year-round school be part of the solution for SCSD struggling schools?

The high school graduation rate for SCSD Class of 2015 students is expected to be 60%, a nearly 9% jump over the rates for the class of 2014.

2015 state report about failing NYS schools released by Governor Cuomo.

Congressman Katko comments about the relationship between poverty and education.

Poverty and Segregation in Syracuse

A recently released report showed that Syracuse tops the list of America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas – but not for jobs, government efficiency, scenic attractions, health or any number of other positive community facets.  According to Paul A. Jargowsky’s national report on segregation and poverty in major U.S. cities, Syracuse has the highest rate of extreme poverty concentrated among blacks and Hispanics.  Fifty percent of Syracuse’s children are living in poverty, according to Census data, and a significant number of those children receive a sizeable portion of their food from the schools they attend.  Governmental leaders and political candidates, non-profit organizations and social service agencies are discussing this issue.  What can be done?  What policies are needed?  The list below contains links  to recent studies and press about poverty in the Syracuse area.

This link takes you to Jargowsky’s study.

An in-depth local look at Jargowsky’s study.

A look at how poverty affects children in Syracuse.

This link takes you to an Onondaga County poverty report prepared by PEACE Inc.   At this website you will find poverty reports for counties across New York State.

Reaction to the Jargowsky study by LaLiga (the Spanish Action League), which serves the Hispanic community in Central New York.

Another look at the Jargowsky report.

David Rubin, moderator of WCNY’s Ivory Tower, shared his opinion about poverty in the Syracuse community in a September opinion piece.

128th NYS Assembly Race

With former Assemblyman Sam Roberts appointment as Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, his 128th NYS Assembly seat in Syracuse is up for grabs.  Three candidates are seeking election to the position:  Pamela Hunter, Democrat; John Sharon, Republican; and David Stott, a Republican running on the Conservative line.  Susan Arbetter introduces us to the candidates to discover their perspectives on a number of issues.  Listed below are resources to discover more about the candidates, including Ballotpedia that provides a political history of each candidate.

The candidates weigh in on an important issue in the Syracuse area – what to do about Interstate 81.

Candidate interviews reveal their views regarding a $15 minimum wage.

Pamela Hunter’s Facebook page that promotes her political campaign.

A look at why Pamela Hunter, a Syracuse City Councilor, won the 128th NYS Assembly primary election.

Ballotpedia entry for Pamela Hunter.

This article offers information on the candidacy of John Sharon.

Sharon campaign site.

Ballotpedia entry for John Sharon.

Stott YouTube message.

Ballotpedia entry for David Stott.

Medical Marijuana

As of July, 2015 there were 23 states and the District of Columbia who now permit the growth and sale of medical marijuana, with at least 11 other states contemplating legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.  Each state has its own rules.  New York State, in 1977, was one of the first states in America to “decriminalize” marijuana use.  It now permits its regulated growth and sale to those with medical reasons to use it.  For more information, visit these websites:


This article examines the change in popular opinion regarding the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and additional states contemplating legalization.

This article provides information about the top five things the author believes you need to know about the availability of medical marijuana in New York State.

New York awarded licenses to five businesses to grow and sell medical marijuana in New York State, with three of the companies planning to open sites in Onondaga County.

Compassionate Care NY, an organization that advocates for the use of medical marijuana, provides information on support for the sale of medical marijuana and the process for being able to purchase it.

A brief statement from the American Medical Association summarizing its opposition to legalizing marijuana.

A research-based look at public opinion regarding legalization of marijuana.

This site provides information on state health regulations in regards to medical marijuana.

American Graduate 2015

WCNY is a participant in the Corporate for Public Broadcasting public media national initiative, American Graduate.  Studies show that high school graduation rates are at an all-time high – over 81% – but some communities and some students still struggle.  This initiative challenges citizens to “champion” the cause of helping ensure academic success for every student and suggests seven steps to become a champion:  read with a child, become a mentor, volunteer with a youth program, reach out to someone with special needs, take a child to a science exhibit, donate school supplies, or talk to students about your career.  As part of this year’s initiative, WCNY chose four champions from our community who are introduced on this episode of Insight.  The story of one of them, 100 Black Men of Syracuse, Inc. will also be featured live in WCNY’s studios as part of the national American Graduate Day broadcast on October 3, which will air on WCNY.  For more information about American Graduate – Let’s Make It Happen and the WCNY champions visit the online resources below.

This is the national American Graduate website.

View WCNY’s Stories of Champions video profiles on the WCNY website.

This is the website for 100 Black Men of Syracuse, Inc. and includes descriptions of the programs and mentoring assistance the members of this group provide to students in Syracuse and beyond.

Dick Ford has dedicated much of his life to music, and in 1993 founded Signature Music which provides free musical instruments, lessons, performance opportunities at places like WCNY as well as support to area teens, all described on this website.

Huntington Family Centers is a WCNY Near Westside neighbor who has had children in their programs participate in WCNY literacy and kids programming.  This website describes their work in the community.

The high school graduation success rates for those students who participate in the Utica’s Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program are high, as described on the program’s website.

Cornell Professor talks natural gas and climate change

Professor Robert Howarth and colleagues including Anthony Ingraffea have been studying the greenhouse effects from natural gas production for a number of years.  Their 2011 paper on the subject was considered groundbreaking; Time Magazine named Howarth and Ingraffea to their list of the 100 most influential people in 2011. Howarth is also an outspoken critic of hydrofracking; proponents of fracking called his work “garbage science.”  Howarth and Ingraffea have continued to research the topic and its effect on climate, recently releasing an updated analysis based on new studies and reports.   The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who is visiting the United States, has even issued an encyclical on the topic of climate change.  For more information, visit these online resources:

An April, 2015 climate change-related presentation by Cornell professors Howarth and  Ingraffea.

Howarth and Ingraffea present further evidence about the need for reducing natural gas use for climate stability.

An interesting look at the Environmental Defense Fund and its industry-collaborative study of methane leaks in natural gas drilling, which excluded the work of Howarth and Ingraffea, strong industry critics.

Links to some of the published work of Robert Howarth.

A look at Cornell University’s Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, including the research focus of his lab at Cornell and a list of some of his  publications.

Roman Catholic Pope Francis’s recent published views on climate change.

The Craft New York Act and craft beverage business

The Craft New York Act, designed to encourage the growth of the craft beverage industry in New York State, was signed by Governor Cuomo on Nov. 13, 2014, and became effective December 14, 2014.  The Act reduces regulations the industry has found to be burdensome, allows for the direct sale of beverages to consumers, and increases production caps.  The law also includes $3 million in beverage promotional and tourism-related grant funding.  For more information about the law and reaction to its passage, as well as information about the craft beverage industry in Central New York, visit the online resources below:

Governor Cuomo’s office press release regarding the Craft New York Act along with $3 million in promotional beverage funding grants.

This legislation page of the NYS Brewers Association includes brief notes about the Craft Act Legislation and information about the Beer Trail.

An overview of how alcohol sales in New York State has been handled and how the Craft New York Act impacts alcohol sales.

A Wall Street Journal piece exploring the effects of the Craft New York Act on craft distillers.

This article provides a look at the changes that different states have made in alcohol regulations as well as some notes of caution from other players in the beverage industry.

This website provides news and information related to brewing and the production of other “spirits” in the Central New York region.

The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance not only promotes the over 100 wineries in the region but also craft breweries, cideries, and distilleries, along with designated beverage trails.

This link will bring you to information about the beverage summit.

Governor Cuomo Revisits Common Core

Governor Cuomo announced that he plans to convene another panel that will examine the state’s Common Core program and ask the panel for recommendations by January.  The Governor has been critical of the program’s rollout by the NYS Department of Education and is sympathetic to parents who have chosen to have their children “opt out” of state testing.  With a recently appointed NYS Commissioner of Education, next year’s budget discussions looming,  and lower test scores, discussion around this issue is sure to intensify.  A look at some of the news coverage regarding the Governor’s recent comments, as well as links to NYS Department of Education websites, can be found below.

Governor Cuomo to appoint a panel to take another look at the Common Core program.

Critique of NYS Governor Cuomo’s recent statement about “taking another look” at NYS Common Core learning standards.

NYS Education Commissioner Elia tells group that parents having their children “opt out” of testing is not reasonable.

An interesting look at some of the facts and figures surrounding the employment of NYS Education commissioners.

This is the New York State website for information about NYS education including reports about recent school testing, a parent’s guide to Common Core Learning Standards, and much more.

This is the website for the NYS Department of Education that features information not only about preK-12 education in the state, but adult learning, licensing of professionals, vocational programs, and much more.

This is a look at some positive aspects of the Common Core in reference to math.

Rome NY Mayoral Debate

All Five candidates, Democrats and Republicans, vying to be elected mayor of Rome, NY participated in a debate at Rome’s Capitol Theatre before an audience of approximately 600 people.  The debate occurred on Wednesday, September 2, barely a week before the September 10 primary.  The debate was sponsored by the Utica-Rome League of Women Voters.  For a sample of news coverage regarding the debate, explore the links below:!nIIG98PVoyWrBGUm9XAxw/

The Rome Sentinel’s report on the mayoral debate held before the upcoming primary.

Coverage of the debate by the Utica Observer Dispatch.

Candidates running for the position of mayor in Rome, NY define positions during local debate.

A look at the five candidates, including incumbent Joe Fusco, prior to the mayoral debate.

Nano Utica Initiative

SUNY Poly Quad C website and Information of the construction for the New Quad C facilities


NYS State Website Info on the Governors Announcement


AMS Website the company that has invested to utilize the Quad C site for distribution for tech products.


GE Global Research, will also utilize the Quad C site along with the perspective Marcy Site located on SUNY Poly Campus.

Underground Gas Storage Revisited

Protecting our natural resources, especially water, is a topic that has drawn a lot of attention across New York State.  This Insight program revisits the issues – and strong feelings – around a proposal to create or expand underground storage of propane and natural  gas in the Finger Lakes, principally near the Watkins Glen area, not far from the shores of one of New York State’s Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake.  The websites below provide history to the discussion, a discussion that has resulted, in the past, with protestors of the proposals being arrested.  Many of the concerns about underground gas storage are similar to those associated with hydrofracking, which was recently banned in New York State.

This piece looks at the safety and environmental concerns associated with Crestwood’s gas storage business.

A look at the continuing controversy about Crestwood’s plans to expand natural gas storage and add propane storage as well in caverns along Seneca Lake.

This article alludes to informal support from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to the Crestwood Midstream plans.

What is the DEC position on this issue?

Healthcare workers pass a resolution opposing liquid propane gas storage along Seneca Lake.

Winery owners explain why they are fighting gas storage plans for the Finger Lakes area.

The process for approving a gas storage facility moves one step closer to approval.

The Ithaca Common Council passed a resolution opposing propane gas storage near Seneca Lake.

This is the website for a coalition of citizens and organizations opposed to Inergy LP’s proposal to store propane gas in the Watkins Glen area.

A look at the issue of storing gas in salt caverns.

This piece takes a look at the company who wants to store propane gas in unusable salt caverns near Seneca Lake and some of the issues surrounding their plan.

Information about Crestwood (which merged with Inergy LP) which favors the storage of gas in underground salt caverns.

Watkins Glen village board votes against gas storage plans.

Gov. Cuomo's Executive Order

Gov. Cuomo, via executive order, named state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to serve as a special prosecutor to handle cases where unarmed civilians die at the hands of police officers.  The Governor believes, in the face of the deaths of civilians like Eric Garner, that this will build flagging confidence in the fairness of the criminal justice system.  Some critics point out that local police and district attorneys have to work so closely together, that to question fairness might be a reasonable conclusion.  The appointment is for one year.  Cuomo had proposed this to the NYS Legislature as part of a series of reforms to the criminal justice system, but the NYS Senate and Assembly did not approve the proposals. State Attorney General Schneiderman is now responsible for prosecuting cases that involve the shooting deaths of civilians by police officers.  See more about this issue by visiting the sites below:

Some journalists believe that local prosecutors should not be involved in cases of the deaths of civilians involving police officers.

Governor Cuomo appoints Attorney General as investigator of cases that involve civilians killed by police officers.

District Attorney Fitzpatrick notifies the Attorney General regarding the death of a civilian.

The importance of rebuilding trust between police and the community is the focus of this article.

Not everyone agrees with the Governor’s executive order.

District attorneys in Herkimer and Oneida County will obey but oppose Governor’s Cuomo’s order that a special prosecutor – the state Attorney General – must prosecute cases where unharmed civilians are killed by police officers.

The State District Attorneys Association believes the Governor’s order puts” politics over public policy.”

Legislative Correspondents Association Dinner

The Legislative Correspondents Association of New York State, for 115 years, has hosted an annual dinner show.  Those shows, over the years, have featured many famous moments.  Insight takes a look at the show with WCNY’s own legislative correspondent, Susan Arbetter.

Visit , the online home of the Association where you can find news bulletins as well as contact information for those in the media who report on New York State government.

Today's Erie Canal

Most residents of New York State are familiar with the Erie Canal, the world’s most successful canal, which continues to operate today.  Barges loaded with “lumber, coal, and hay” plied the four foot deep ditch that opened in 1825, but today you’ll find tour boats, kayaks, and rental “narrowboats” on the canal, with cyclists, walkers, and runners using adjacent  canal trails.  Today’s Erie Canal System, which includes the Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals, has evolved into a recreational waterway that draws visitors from around the globe.  In addition to tourism, New York’s Canals also stimulate economic development in canalside communities.  For more information regarding the Erie Canal, visit the online resources noted below.

The famous Erie Canal is a world-class tourism attraction.

Erie Canalway tourism itineraries combine canal sites with national parks located within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

The Erie Canal is more than a waterway.  Adjacent trails are becoming popular with cyclists who bike and sightsee at the same time.

This is the website for the National Park Service’s Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Boating on the Erie Canal.

A look at the Erie Canal’s trail system.

Buffalo’s development of its historic canal harbor means big business.

New York State Constitutional Convention

The New York State Constitution calls for the possibility of a constitutional convention every 20 years.  Voters decide whether or not they want a convention by casting their votes in a statewide referendum.

A constitutional convention is a way for voters to address questions about NYS government and to review and potentially update this governance document.  On November 7, 2017 voters will have a chance to decide whether or not they wish to have a constitutional convention held.  In some circles, there has been discussion about this for nearly a decade, with some favoring a convention and others concerned that if a convention is held and changes made to the Constitution, that they made lose benefits they currently enjoy.  Listed below are some sites to explore, including one where you can read the Constitution yourself.

This website provides an overview of what a constitutional convention involves, the 1967 convention, and an overview of what is involved in having a convention.

The New York State Teachers Union weighs in on a possible 2017 constitutional convention.

This organization, formed to promote civic engagement and political reform in NYS, is advocating for a constitutional convention in 2017.

An opinion piece on why NYS should hold a constitutional convention.

This pro-convention site includes a flowchart timeline should New Yorkers vote to hold a convention.

The Siena College Research Institute will help measure New Yorkers’ interest in a Constitutional Convention.

The New York State Constitution, including amendments, is posted here.

Veterans as Farmers

Programs at all levels of government are helping military veterans to become “agricultural entrepreneurs”, pursuing farming as a post-military career option.  This episode of Insight takes a look at this movement in Central New York.  The 2014 Federal Farm Bureau made special mention of military veterans as “beginning farmers” and included funding for veterans trying to buy equipment and animals for farming as well as support for programs helping veterans enter the agricultural field in all parts of the country including Central New York.  Life as a farmer appears to be a therapeutic employment field for veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  To learn more, visit the online resources below:

Cornell, through its Cornell Small Farms Program, provides outreach and services to the veterans involved in agriculture.

A story of a Vetfarms program, begun in Oswego, to introduce veterans to farming.

The Binghamton, New York Vets Center promotes farming to veterans, especially those who saw service in Afghanistan and Iraq as a peaceful and healing career choice.

Madison County Farm Bureau proud to showcase veterans as farmers in parade float.

Veteran farmers and 2014 Farm Bill benefits.

Overview of efforts at the federal level for former military personnel to turn to farming as a post-war/service career option.

As evidenced by the website of a group in California, the “military feeding America” movement is nationwide.

Listed below are organizations contacted for this episode of Insight with a link to their respective websites.

AgrAbility–  The vision of AgrAbility is to enable a lifestyle of high quality for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities, including but not exclusively, disabled veterans, so that they, their families, and their communities continue to succeed in rural America.

Beginning Farmers Program– First launched in September of 2008, is a comprehensive compilation of information resources on farm financing, finding land, business planning, agricultural production and marketing, and much more available to all, including veterans.  Beginning Farmers provides content relevant to new, experienced, and aspiring farmers, as well as farm educators, activists, and policy makers.

Cornell Cooperative Extension – Cornell Cooperative Extension puts knowledge to work in pursuit of economic vitality, ecological sustainability and social well-being.   The organization brings local experience and research based solutions together, helping New York State families and communities thrive in our rapidly changing world.  The organization works with veterans interested in farming.

Heroic Food– The mission of Heroic Food is to prepare and train military veterans for careers in sustainable farming, agricultural trades, and food entrepreneurship in a veteran-supportive environment.

Institute for veterans and military families– The IVMF, located in Syracuse, is the first national center in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service.

Veterans & Farmers Coalition–  This organization is committed to cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders, and develop viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities.  Their efforts are found on the belief that veterans possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems and that agriculture offers purpose, opportunity, and physical and psychological benefits.

The 2015 New York State Legislative Extension

The 2015 New York State Legislative session, originally scheduled to end June 17, still had many unresolved issues to face, forcing a session extension.  This year saw a change of leadership in both the Assembly and Senate, due to federal corruption charges levied against Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos. For a look at last-minute legislative issues and negotiations, click on the resource links below.

An overview of the last hours of the 2015 legislative session and comments on what this year’s session accomplished.

Tensions rose as the New York State legislature was winding down, although the prospect of a session extension loomed large.

A look at key issues that faced the New York State legislature and decision-making around them.

More perspective on what might be accomplished in the rush to close out the 2015 legislative session.

This online source focuses on the ramifications to education embedded in NYS legislation passed in the 2015 legislative session.

Legislation proposed by Senator DeFrancisco to make the wood frog the New York State amphibian is not without opposition.

Auburn Hometown History

Auburn, New York, a small city rich in historic and cultural sites and organizations, is billed as History’s Hometown.  Recent books and a major film on Abraham Lincoln focused attention on William Seward, former New York State governor and Lincoln’s Secretary of State, whose home is in Auburn.  Just down the street from the Seward site is the Harriet Tubman Home, with a pending National Park Service designation.  Tubman’s role as an abolitionist, humanitarian and even a Union spy during the Civil War is well-documented.  Tubman was a regular visitor to the Seward home and in fact, purchased property in Auburn from Seward.  Add to this the Willard Memory Chapel, the Case Research Lab Heritage at the Cayuga Museum of History and Art, and the Ward O’Hara Agricultural Museum and much more and it is clear that heritage and cultural tourism brings visitors from out-of-town, which in turn means economic development for the community.  To assist you in learning more about Auburn and its strong ties to history, explore the online resources below:

Website for the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, NY.
Harriet Tubman Day in Auburn, NY.

Senator Schumer is pushing for an upcoming film about Harriet Tubman to be shot in Auburn.

Movement afoot to have Harriet Tubman replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Update on progress regarding the naming of the Auburn Tubman site as a national park.

National Park Service brief story about the Harriet Tubman home and her purchase of property from William Seward.

A look at the Harriet Tubman – Seward Family connections.

Website for the Seward House Museum, Auburn, NY.

Auburn is billed “History’s Hometown” and historic sites and organizations are important part of the economic development of the community.

Auburn, NY website focused on Auburn’s historic and cultural sites, events, and even lesson plans for teachers to utilize.

Utica Mayor and State of the City

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri delivered is 2015 State of the City address this month. He reviewed how life in Utica has improved since he was elected as mayor in 2012.  Today, credit rating institutions look favorably on Utica and there have been 1300 jobs created.  He wants to develop a “recovery plan” for the city’s over 200 miles of roads while announcing that the city is installing solar panels on city buildings, a move that will save Utica at least $8 million over the next 25 years.

You can watch the address right here:

For more about the speech and Mayor Palmieri, please visit the online resources below:

A brief overview of the 2015 State of the City speech by Utica Mayor Palmieri.

The theme of Utica Mayor’s State of the City address focused on “the comeback” story that is Utica today.

Background on the Mayor of Utica, Robert M. Palmieri from the Mayor’s office website.

Hockey – in the form of the Utica Comets – is big in Utica and this story recounts the wager between mayors of the opposing teams.

Creating more affordable housing is a commitment of Mayor Palmieri.

Senator Dave Valesky

Senator David J. Valesky, an Oneida, NY native, was first elected to the New York State Senate in November 2004.  He represents the 53rd Senate District, composed of Madison County and parts of Oneida and Onondaga counties, including the majority of the City of Syracuse.

As indicated on his Senate webpage, Senator Valesky is the Deputy Leader of the Independent Democratic Conference. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. He is a member of the Senate Aging; Agriculture; Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business; Education; Finance; Higher Education; Local Government; Rules; and Transportation Committees. He is also a member of the Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Rural Resources Commission, as well as the Senate Select Committees on Libraries and on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship.

This episode of Insight profiles Senator Valesky and his reflections about corruption in the NYS Legislature.  In 2011, Senator  Valesky joined three other Senators to form the Independent Democratic Conference as a way to help resolve the partisanship and arguing in Albany government and to make it more responsive to the needs of the public.  Visit the online resources below for additional information about the Senator and some of the initiatives in which he is involved:

Senator Valesky’s New York State Senate home page.

The Senator discusses the 2015 NYS Legislature budget process.

Bi-partisan support for the creation of Consensus, the commission on government modernization in Onondaga County includes a $250,000 state grant secured by State Senator John A. DeFrancisco, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and supported by State Senator David J. Valesky.

2015 policy agenda for the Independent Democratic Conference, of which Senator Valesky is a member.

Senator Valesky and others respond to student letters regarding New York State aid.

Congressman John Katko

John Katko, the 24th District Congressman from Central New York, has been in Washington, D.C. now for over 100 days.  Some are viewing the Republican as more of an independent, based on his albeit brief history of not always voting along party lines.  But the freshman congressman had stated during his campaign that he would try to do what was right for Central New York, to work for a healthier dynamic in Congress through collaboration, and to be an independent voice.  The online resources below provide more information:

Congressman Katko reflects on his first 100 days as a Congressman.

An interview with John Katko regarding his first 100 days as a Congressman.

Congressman Katko comments on the first 100 days of GOP Congressional leadership.

A look at a Katko staff appointment that raised some eyebrows.

An account of how Congressman Katko chose to not to follow Republican leadership when it came to votes on two recent bills.

The Fulton Republican Committee chairperson explains why, after viewing Congressman Katko’s voting record thus far, he can no longer support the Congressman.

Considered by some to be vulnerable in the 2016 election, Congressman Katko learned that a possible strong Democratic opponent has decided against running for Congress.

A summary of a speech on forensic science and national security that Congressman Katko delivered at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in April.

Congressman Katko released a statement in reference to the NCAA charges levied against the Syracuse University basketball program.

A brief profile of Congressman Katko in a Q&A style Alumni Spotlight piece on the website of his alma mater, Niagara University.

Onondaga Lake

Insight takes a fresh look at Onondaga Lake.  Claims the nation’s most polluted lake is now clean enough to permit swimming has area residents talking. For succinct historical information about the lake to reports and assessments of its status as a reclaimed body of water, visit the online resources below:

This Onondaga County webpage provides a very general look at the County’s involvement in the cleanup process, the declaration of the lake as a Superfund site, and a link to a 2012 FOCUS report that collected input from the community and its stakeholders about the future of the lake.

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website with a wealth of information about the past and current status of Onondaga Lake as well as numerous links to addiitional online resources.

This is the website for a visitor’s center built by Honeywell to share the research and technology associated with the Onondaga Lake cleanup project.

This site offers information about the Onondaga Lake cleanup, from document about the process, to reports about water quality, restoration of bird and fish habitats, and more.

Press release from Governor Cuomo in regards to $30 million in state funding for the proposed project.

A scientific report sets the record straight recording three popular myths about Onondaga Lake.

A 2014 assessment of the quality of Onondaga Lake fishing.

This page details the results of a 2014 “bioblitz”at Onondaga Lake, which found over 450 species of plants and animals in and around the lake.

“The” site for current Onondaga Lake conditions including a live stream from their lake buoys.

New NYS Senate Leader Chosen

In less than a year’s time, the top leaders of the NYS Senate, Dean Skelos, and NYS Assembly, Sheldon Silver, have been accused of crimes and resigned their leadership posts.  Most recently corruption charges were brought against Skelos, who resigned as the majority leader of the Senate, triggering speculation and ultimately a Senate vote, regarding who would replace Skelos.  Very quickly, the name of Senator John DeFrancisco, a long-time Republican senator from upstate New York, surfaced as a candidate for the majority leader post.  Senator John Flanagan, a state senator from Long Island, was also interested in the post – and ultimately was chosen in a vote among senators.  Explore the online resources cited below to learn more about both senators as well as their bids to become NYS Senate Majority Leader.

Details on why some upstate New York senators chose not to vote for Senator DeFrancisco for NYS Senate leader.

This piece explains why Cayuga County senators supported Senator John Flanagan as new NYS Senate leader.

A number of news outlets report that NYS Governor Cuomo lobbied for Senator John Flanagan in his bid to become leader of the NYS Senate.

One report classified the contest between Senators DeFrancisco and Flanagan, Dean Skelos’s preferred candidate for the post he vacated as a “war.”

A profile of Senator DeFrancisco.

This article profiles new Senate leader, Senator John Flanagan.

A look at what brought NYS Senator Dean Skelos to resign from his Senate leadership post.


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