Politics & Government

Political news

Perry-Castaneda library / lib.utexas.edu

The Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University says the full lifting of the arms embargo against Vietnam is long overdue.   WAER brings the unique perspective of a retired army colonel who served in South Vietnam.

Bill Smullen hopes the diplomatic overture is the first of many steps that could also lead to a stronger economic and defense relationship with the country.

"Having had two tours in Vietnam,  when I returned from my second tour, I never anticipated that any time soon we would have any kind of a relationship with Vietnam."

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Onondaga County Controller Bob Antonacci says state government is likely to negate any savings that might result from merging local governments.  One of the public’s main criticisms of the Consensus Commission’s draft report is that it did not include any savings estimates.

Antonacci has officially entered the continuing debate about the pros and cons of consolidation with a column published by syracuse.com. 


  Any followers of city politics in recent years know Mayor Stephanie Miner has long waved a flag - and anything else at her disposal - to bring more attention to the plight of failing infrastructure.  She's held press conferences at the spots of road sinkholes and  broken water mains, brought in outside politicians and national engineers to try and stir up more interest.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

The second of the state’s top three powerful politicians in two weeks was sentenced to prison in federal court Thursday. Dean Skelos got five years for corruption, along with his son, Adam who received six and a half years.

Despite pleas from two men and their lawyers that they did good works and were very sorry, Judge Kimba Wood told Dean Skelos and his son Adam that they “ caused immeasurable damage to New Yorkers’ confidence in the integrity of government”, and ordered prison terms. Dean Skelos must also pay over $800,000 in fines and restitution.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Advocates for farm workers  are trying a new route to gain the right to form a union and be allowed benefits afforded to other laborers in New York. They are suing the state government. Governor Cuomo says he agrees with the farmworkers and won’t be defending the law in court.

For decades, migrant farmworkers and their advocates have tried to get a law passed to place the laborers under the protection of the state’s labor laws, giving them the right to form unions, and collectively bargain with their farmer employers for better working conditions.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Common Councilors have approved a slightly revised version of the Miner administration’s $706 million budget for the coming fiscal year that starts July 1.  Like the mayor’s plan, there will be no increase in taxes or water rates.  Council Finance Committee Chair Nader Maroun says the option was there.

Forum Continues Dialogue About the Complexities of Poverty

May 3, 2016
Zhiyan Zhong, WAER news

  A number of Syracuse residents and neighborhood groups Tuesday shared their visions of poverty and what to do about it.  There was plenty of concern about lack of income and the violence that it brings. 

Syracuse’s areas of concentrated poverty are well documented and acknowledged.  What’s also pretty well known is there’s no magic bullet to pull those residents, especially children, out of poverty.  Mary Nelson, president and CEO of Mary Nelson Youth Center Program, says poverty is complex and not just a stereotype.

New York Now

  Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was  sentenced to 12 year in prison  and told by a federal judge that he must give back $5 million dollars that he stole from the public, as well a pay another $1.75 million dollars in fines.

Legislature Returns to Albany Amid More Scandals

May 2, 2016
Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

The New York State legislature has been on a three week break.  In their absences, federal investigations into aides close to Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor  Bill deBlasio have intensified, spurring even more calls for reform.

The legislature returns Tuesday for the final push in a session that ends in late June, as two burgeoning corruption scandals in both Governor Cuomo’s and New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio’s administration widen. Also, both former leaders of the legislature will be sentenced in the next few days on multiple felony convictions.


New York’s restrictive voter access rules came under scrutiny during Tuesday’s Presidential primary. And some are saying there’s a need for changes.