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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.

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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.

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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.

The Justice Department has named a veteran prosecutor from Philadelphia as the new leader of its pardon office, which is trying to review more than 9,000 petitions in the final year of the Obama presidency.

Robert Zauzmer, 55, has worked since 1990 at the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Justice Department leaders said Zauzmer represented a "natural choice" for the pardon job, in part because of his experience training prosecutors all over the country in how to evaluate prisoners' requests for early release.

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued "an urgent call to action" Tuesday to overhaul the nation's federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade.

For months, FBI Director James Comey has been warning about a troubling spike in homicides in some of America's biggest cities.

On Tuesday, the bureau released preliminary crime statistics that back up some of his concerns. The FBI reported that violent crime rose in the first six months of 2015, with murders increasing by more than 6 percent over that same stretch the year before.

It's not every day the White House and Republican leaders in Congress have a meeting of the minds.

But before he left for the holidays, the president singled out an issue he considers ripe for compromise next year. "I still want to work with Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to reform our criminal justice system," President Obama said.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has been sounding a hopeful note, too, telling an audience recently: "I do believe that there are things where we can find common ground on next; criminal justice reform is a good example."

The Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania unanimously ruled Wednesday that a state law that prevents convicted criminals from getting full-time jobs in nursing homes or long-term-care facilities is unconstitutional.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The jurors who will be chosen to hear the first case against a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore will be anonymous, at least for now.

A judge has ruled that their identities can be shielded from the public. That practice is controversial, but not unheard of in high-profile cases.

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