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Syracuse Common Council Approves Budget; Passes Comptroller's "Stress Test"

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. "There was the ability to increase taxes by up to $1.6 million, which we opted not to do," Maroun said. "We opted to go the route of moving the funds in concert with the administration...
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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.

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Chris Bolt / WAER News

The finalists for the "Elevating Erie" project were unveiled at the Erie Canal Museum Thursday Night. These cutting edge designs to transform parts of Syracuse and Dewitt could spark change in city infrastructure. 

For many people there's little connection between Erie Boulevard and the Erie Canal.  But a design competition - and some creative future thinking - are trying to change that.

cdc.gov

It appears New York State and Onondaga County have been a few steps ahead of federal law after news Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration was extending its oversight to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.  Turns out local laws restricting youth access have been in place for years. 

www.greeningusa.org/12traits/

  Central New York has a number of environmental groups working on a range of issues, from climate change to alternative energy, pollution in the environment to solid waste reduction, green building to alternative transportation.  The group plans to use its annual meeting Thursday, May 12th, to try and do some speed dating and see if groups might have more impact by working together.

Scott Willis / WAER News

About 100 Syracuse middle school students made their voices heard Thursday at a first-ever symposium designed to collect feedback on their educational experience.  Most were candid with their answers on sensitive topics, including this panel of students who were asked if they felt their peers were treated differently based on race.

This was one of many groups of mixed students at the event who discussed the varying perceptions of race among students and faculty.

Many of the middle school students also see their peers regarded differently when it comes to discipline.

John Smith / WAER News

Walking into the Hotel Syracuse is like witnessing a rebirth of historic tracings of the past.  The man responsible for rescuing the hotel was honored today.  The Onondaga Historical Society presented the Owner, Ed Riley with the OHA Medal Award recognizing outstanding and meritorious service to local history.

Scott Willis / WAER News

A confirmed case of the Zika Virus in Oneida County has prompted Senator Chuck Schumer to urge his congressional colleagues to approve nearly two billion dollars in emergency funding to fight the epidemic.  He made his plea Wednesday at SUNY  Upstate, which has already done significant work with mosquito-borne illnesses.

Provided photo

The administrator of board tasked with investigating allegations of police misconduct is stepping down Friday to take a related position in New York City.  WAER News caught up with Joe Lipari, who came to Syracuse in 2012 when the Citizen Review Board was trying to regain its footing after years of obscurity and inactivity.

GETTING STARTED

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Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Inmates challenging their confinement in special prison units where their communications are monitored non-stop will get one more chance to revive their case against the Federal Bureau of Prisons Tuesday.

Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights will try to convince a three-judge panel that placement in a "Communication Management Unit" represents a "fundamental disruption" to their clients' liberty interests, a fate far more troublesome and stigmatizing than the typical response to inmates who misbehave.

The legal world has a new blogger: former constitutional law professor and current President Barack Obama.

The president took to SCOTUSblog, the leading online chronicle of the Supreme Court, on Wednesday to offer some "spoiler-free insights" into what he is seeking in a justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

A federal judge said he will allow a conservative watchdog group to take steps to find out whether the State Department and former Secretary Hillary Clinton "deliberately thwarted" an open records law by using a private email server.

The Obama administration has made "virtually no progress" to increase transparency and accountability for its lethal drone program, a new report has concluded, with only months left to spare before the White House hands control of the targeted killing apparatus to a successor.

The report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center said the administration is failing to release fundamental information about the program or to significantly overhaul it — even after a 2015 strike mistakenly left American contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto dead.

The unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the looming face-off between the White House and the Senate over his replacement have revived proposals that would limit the tenure of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Legal scholars from both political parties renewed a call Tuesday to reconsider how much time justices spend on the high court. Many of them cited, with disapproval, a bruising and protracted clash building between President Obama and the GOP-controlled Senate over when and how to fill Scalia's vacancy.

The director of the federal government team that interrogates key terrorism suspects has a message for people who want to see a return to waterboarding and other abusive strategies: They don't work.

Frazier Thompson, who leads the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, said research demonstrates that "rapport-based techniques elicit the most credible information."

In an interview at FBI headquarters this week, Thompson added: "I can tell you that everything that we do is humane, lawful and based on the best science available."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to file court briefs by Wednesday explaining why some portion of the remaining Hillary Clinton emails, subject to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Vice News, cannot be produced by Feb. 18.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras said after a 30-minute hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C., that the government "has put me between a rock and a hard place" with respect to 7,000 pages of yet-to-be-released Clinton emails from her tenure at the State Department.

The decision by Hillary Clinton to use a private email server as secretary of state has spawned an FBI investigation, multiple congressional inquiries and dozens of private lawsuits that demand copies of her messages. It's also become an issue in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republicans on the campaign trail have raised the prospect that Clinton could be charged with a crime — even as she downplays the FBI probe and asserts she wants voters to be able to see all of her messages from that time.

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