Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Free Filing

Onondaga County libraries and AARP have partnered to provide free tax help for those who have yet to file for tonight's midnight deadline.  The libraries have served as a host site where volunteers, trained by AARP, can assist people with their taxes and help them file online.  The library is in charge of organizing the appointments for those who wish to take advantage of the service.  

However, with the deadline quickly approaching, many of the sites have already filled their appointments.  While their is usually an increase in calls during the last few days of the tax season, this year has seen an even greater increase due to the income tax stimulus program.  The program requires that people file their taxes in order to be eligible to receive money provided by the program.

If you have not yet filed your taxes you can apply for an extension through the IRS, however, if you owe money, you will still have to pay.  Those that are filing only for the stimulus program still have some time to file, so the libraries will be continuing their program through the end of the month.  For more information you can visit their website by clicking here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Syracuse Police Department's New Recruitment Ads

Seven Syracuse University student teams presented their advertisement campaigns for the Syracuse Police Department today. The purpose of the ads are to promote the Syracuse Police Department and to help them with the recruitment of new police officers, not just in Syracuse, but in other states across the country.

The City of Syracuse Deputy Police Chief Frank Fowler says their biggest problem is that they have a small pool to choose from and all law enforcement agencies in town are using the same recruitment list from Onondaga County personnel to recruit new officers.

In addition, another challenge that the Syracuse Police Department has to deal with is not only competing with all the other law enforcement agencies in town, but outside agencies, such as Rochester, New York City and Buffalo.

With a new marketing plan, they are hoping to be competitive on the job market. Now all they are waiting for is the funding to be approved by City Hall.

If your interested in becoming a police officer go here: http://www.syracusepolice.org/recruitment/recruitment_section.htm

Making the Most Out of Spring Break

Most families go on vacation this week-- but for those who stick around there's plenty for kids to do here in Syracuse.

One way a child can have fun, stay active, and at the same time make the most of spring break is by going to soccer camp.

About 20 kids-- ranging from ages four to fifteen-- are starting off a week of soccer camp at the Central New York Sports Centre. Instead of sitting around, watching television, and being lazy-- these kids are at camp.
Most kids are at this camp to stay busy and have fun. But one student, Skylar Hilton, is here looking to improve her skills. She wants to play on her high school team, so any extra practice helps.
While the kids enjoy kicking a soccer ball around all day-- the parents say soccer camp is a great idea too.

One parent says he is in full support of the extra activity and his daughter getting to physically play soccer all day.

The parents are happy. While the kids are at camp, they can still work, run errands, and have time to themselves.

And the best part, the kids aren't home with a baby sitter, spending spring break on the couch.
Instead the kids are out on the field.

A full week at this camp costs 90 dollars.

For more information go to http://www.cnyfamilysportscentre.com/.

Other spring break camps in CNY include:
- Rosamond Gifford Zoo Camp: http://www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org/

- Spring Adventure Week at Beaver Lake: http://onondagacountyparks.com/

Delta and Northwest to merge into mega airline

Delta and Northwest Airlines are close to a merger that would create the world's largest airline.

Anonymous sources close to the situation report the lone obstacle holding back the finalizing of the deal is ongoing negotiations with the pilots from both airlines. The Wall Street Journal reported online today that the dispute in negotiations stemmed from Delta working out a deal to give more flexibility to its pilots in a merger.

Northwest Airlines met with its pilots near its Minneapolis headquarters today. The Wall Street Journal reports the Airlines issued a statement today that it would only merge with Delta if it's sure that it's in the best interest of pilots, employees and its customers.

Northwest has lost nearly $1.6 billion in the last ten weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal. It was valued at $4.6 billion, but is now down to $3 million, due to high fuel costs.

Related Links:

Forbes.com reports airline stocks are rising as a result of the coming merger.

Here's the story on the Tampa Bay Business Journal

Airline Prices Could be Rising

Meeting Tonight Could Complete the Merger

Former SU Basketball Star Anthony Arrested for Suspected DUI

ESPN.com news services
Updated: April 14, 2008, 2:35 PM ET

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was arrested early Monday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence, Denver police said.

Anthony was driving south on Interstate 25 at around 4 a.m. when he was pulled over and taken into custody. Denver police said he was driving a silver Mercedes and was stopped for failing to drive in a single lane and failing to dim lights. Several Denver media outlets reported that he was given a Breathalyzer test.

"We are aware of the situation with Carmelo Anthony," the Nuggets said in a statement, adding that they are gathering information and have no further comment.
Anthony's lawyer confirmed that the forward was released on bond later Monday morning and a summons appearance was scheduled for May 14.
"He cooperated by consenting to a blood test, the results of which will not be available for approximately two weeks," attorney Dan Recht said. "There was no accident and no one was hurt."

Here's the story on the Denver Post's Website: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_8920507

Here's the story on Yahoo! Sports:

Here's the story on CNNSI.com (Sports Illustrated Website):

$500,000 cows

Today marked the final day at the Carousel Dairy Spring. The "Spring" is a cattle competition in which the top dairy cows compete for awards. Their are various different categories ranging from babies to adults, and the owners of the winning cows can expect to see the value of their animals increase quite significantly. Patsy Gifford, Executive manager of HolsteinUSA, says some cattle increase their value almost 100 fold up to around $500,000!

Over 1200 animals from 21 different states, as well as Canada were at the New York State Fairgrounds for the competition, and people from all over the country came to see the show.
The animals from this competition are the cows that the entire dairy industry typically gets their
breeding stock from. Gifford said she wasn't very concerned about the effect that economy was having on the dairy company because she was only celebrating the success of the competition.

For live and archived coverage of the Spring Dairy Carousel go to http://www.holsteinworld.com/NYCarousel08/.

Gas Prices Rising...again

NEW YORK (AP) - Gas prices fluctuated over the weekend but appear poised to move toward a record high milestone of $3.50 a gallon. Forecasts call for gas to peak as high as $3.65 within a month.
Oil prices, meanwhile, rose to within a dollar of last week's record of $112.21 a barrel as the dollar fell and oil supplies were disrupted in the U.S. and overseas.
At the pump, the national average price of a gallon of gas edged lower overnight to $3.373 a gallon, 0.1 cent shy of a new record set yesterday. That's according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
The Energy Department recently predicted gas prices could average as much as $3.60 a month this summer, and said the daily national average could rise as high as $4 at times. Prices are already over $4 in some parts of the country.
A growing number of analysts, however, don't believe the national average will rise that high unless something unanticipated occurs.
Here in Central New York, these are some of the latest figures from local gas stations (unleaded prices):

KWIK FILL (3331 S. Salina St.) $3.409
HESS (400 Erie Blvd. E) $3.419
DELTA SONIC (3439 Erie Blvd. E) $3.429
SUNOCO (200 N State St.) $3.459
CITGO (1825 Teall Ave.) $3.459
VALERO (1131 N. Salina St.) $3.499
MOBIL (6325 Thompson Rd.) $3.519

To find the cheapest gas in your area, use either this application through mapquest.com, or here on the AAA website.

Schumer: No Relief for Summer Flights

WASHINGTON (AP): Lawmakers plan to increase pressure on the Federal Aviation Administration and the industry
by holding a hearing on the economic costs of widespread flight

Delays cost the U.S. economy an estimated $9 billion a year,
according to Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York City,
which has seen some of the worst of the flight delays at its three
major area airports.
"The U.S. economy can't afford to have one of its major
airlines just shut down for days," said Schumer, adding: "The
ripple effect is tremendous, it's like putting a vise on

Senator Schumer passed through Onondaga County Monday--just one day after calling for an overhaul of the the aviation system.

Newsday.com: Caps on Kennedy Flights Not Expected to Ease Delays

My Fox NY: Schumer Blasts FAA Flight Plan

Having a Cow at the State Fairgrounds

It was the last day of the of the Spring Carousel today at the New York State Fairgrounds, the biggest cattle show and competition in the world. The event allows cattle owners not only to showcase their animals, but also to increase their cows' value.

Winners of the biggest competitions at the show can increase their value by as much as $500,000, according to Patsy Gifford, the executive director of Holstein U.S.A.

The showcase featured more than 1,200 cows from 21 states and Canada. Gifford says these cows supply some of the largest dairy companies in the country.

Despite the economic hardships throughout the country, today was a day to celebrate for the dairy industry. Gifford was not especially concerned about the plight of the dairy industry.

Onondaga County Public Library Helps File Taxes

If you're under pressure to get your taxes filed before tomorrow's deadline, the Onondaga County Public Library might be able to help. For the past five years, the Library has been taking appointments to help people file their taxes, free of charge.

At the Petit Branch of the library today and tomorrow, people have booked up appointments to meet with representatives of AARP to have their taxes filed in appointments that take no longer than one hour. However, most appointments last between 30-45 minutes.

The library is buzzing with people today, and library representatives told NCC News it's normal to have the place all booked up. There are currently three representatives working today. However, those still in need of help should stop by the library in case there are extra representatives that can help.

One reason library representatives believe the program has been more successful this year is the benefit of the economic stimulus package. According to the Internal Revenue Service's website, more than 130 million households are benefitting from the $600 minimum tax break for qualified taxpayers.

The program cannot help those with complex filings, but they are willing to help students, seniors, and anyone from any income level in between. Middle to low income families are encouraged to attend.

The AARP also provides a three week training course in advance of the tax deadline.

Chamberlain leaves Yankees to be with ailing father

Associated Press
Updated: April 14, 2008, 12:36 PM ET

NEW YORK -- Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain left the team after his father collapsed at his home in Lincoln, Neb., the Daily News reported Monday on its Web site.

Joba Chamberlain's father Harlan, left, has had a myriad of health problems. He had polio when he was 9 months old, uses a motorized scooter, is deaf in one ear and doesn't have the full use of his left arm.

Harlan Chamberlain was hospitalized Monday at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. Hospital spokeswoman Jo
Miller said the family requested that no further information be released. The Daily News said he was in critical condition, according to a nursing supervisor.
Joba Chamberlain's sister called the Yankees during the eighth inning of New York's 8-5 loss at Boston on Sunday night. The newspaper said the reliever spoke with his sister after the game and broke into tears, and manager Joe Girardi tried to console him.

Chamberlain, the Yankees' primary setup man, planned to return to Nebraska rather than accompany the Yankees to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a series against Tampa Bay starting Monday night.

Harlan Chamberlain had polio when he was 9 months old, and uses a motorized scooter. He is deaf in one ear and without full use of his left arm.

Harlan Chamberlain raised Joba as a single dad. He attended New York's season opener earlier this month, and was at last week's series in Kansas City.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press, Image: Icon SMI

Losing Faith on the Home Front

April 14, 2008
1:15 P.M.

A recent Associated Press-AOL Money & Finance Poll says homeowners are becoming more pessimistic about the housing market and won't be looking to move anytime soon if they can avoid it.

Break Down: The Associated Press-AOL Money & Finance Poll

60% of homeowners say they definitely won't buy a home in the next two years. That's up 7% since 2006.

11% are likely to buy soon. That's down from 26% two years ago.

25% of homeowners worry their home will lose value over the next two years.

One in seven mortgage holders fear they won't be able to make monthly payments over next six months.

The Post Standard Reports Syracuse Not Affected by Subprime Mortgage Crisis
Post-Standard, The (Syracuse, NY) - March 15, 2008
Author: Rick Moriarty Staff writer
Many other markets, including Syracuse, did not experience huge run-ups in prices, never bothered with subprime mortgages and are not seeing price declines or rising foreclosures now, two economists said.

"The big declines are all about these super-overheated markets in California, Florida and Las Vegas," said Robert Denk, assistant staff vice president for forecasting and analysis at the National Association of Home Builders. "Most other markets, they're not marching to the cliff and diving off."

Ken Fears, manager of regional economics for the research division of the National Association of Realtors, said the meltdown in subprime mortgages - loans to people with poor credit ratings - has even helped places like Syracuse. As banks have redirected mortgage money away from subprime loans to safer conventional mortgages, interest rates have fallen, making homes more affordable, he said.

In Onondaga County, sales of single-family homes fell 10.9 percent between 2005 and 2007, but median prices rose 6.5 percent, from $123,000 in 2005 to $131,000 in 2007. The two economists said 2005 was a particularly strong year nationally for home sales, making the sales from just about any other year look poor in comparison.

Men's Lacrosse Stays at Number 2, Women move up a slot

Despite another convincing win for the SU Men's Lacrosse team, the Orange stayed put at #2 in the country in the most recent poll. InsideLacrosse.com still has the Cuse one slot behind top-ranked Duke.
That's likely because the Blue Devils toppled #3 Virginia 19-9 Saturday afternoon. The Orange beat unranked Rutgers by a 17-9 count. Syracuse attackman Dan Hardy lead the team in scoring with a career-high four goals, and also added an assist in the win.

Also, SU Attackman Mike Leveille has been nominated for the Lowe's Senior Class Award.

He is one of ten finalists for the award. Qualifiers for the award must show great on-field success, as well as performance in the classroom, community service and character.
To vote for Leveille, click here.

Gary Gait's SU women's lacrosse team moved up a spot in the most recent poll. The Orange is now ranked 4th in the country.
SU crushed Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J. 18-6.
Katie Rowan broke the Orange's single-season scoring record (86), which she had previously set, by scoring 7 points in the win. She scored 86 points in 19 games last season, and to date this season has already scored 87.

Syracuse Tries to Recruit More Cops

April 14, 2008
12:36 P.M.

The Syracuse Police Department is struggling to recruit more police officers. The city is partnering with Syracuse University to devise a better marketing strategy. NCC's Maite De La Rosa will have a full report on NCC News at 4:30.

Interested in being a police officer in the city of Syracuse? Click the link for an application.
Syracuse Police Application

Staying Fit: What's Expected of Men and Women in the Force



New York Time's Reports Recruitment Problem in City

Battle for Keystone State Heats Up

April 14, 2008
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are
continuing to hammer at each other, after a weekend of criticism
stemming from Obama's comment that some small-town voters are
bitter over their economic situation. Obama today questioned
Clinton's opposition to free-trade agreements and mocked her
weekend visit to an Indiana bar.
April 14, 2008
Obama mocks Clinton 'throwing back a shot and a beer'
Posted: 11:25 AM ET

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Barack Obama furthered his recent criticisms of Hillary Clinton Monday by mocking the fact that she recently "threw back a shot and a beer" in front of the media.
After first saying too many candidates are only giving voters "rhetoric," the Illinois senator said, "They'll promise you anything. They'll even give you a long list of proposals. They'll even come around with TV crews in tow and throw back a shot and a beer."
Video: Watch Clinton Sip a Shot of Whiskey

Politico: What Clinton Wishes She Could Say

Spring Break in CNY

This week marks spring break for all the schools around Central New York. While some kids and their families might be vacationing outside Syracuse, those staying home have plenty of activities in which they can participate.

Some Central New York kids are spending the next three days at the Spring Break Soccer Camp. According to the camp's website, participants will learn the basic skills and techniques of soccer so they can become proficient at an early age.
Coaches will teach dribbling, passing, receiving, and finishing. A special goalkeeper camp will focus on footwork, covering angles and shot stopping, among other techniques.

The camp is being taught by former Syracuse University soccer star Jeff Knittel. He was a 3-time All American between 1995-1998. He was also named to the All-Big East team in 1998. He will be assisted by Darren Wynne, an Ireland Native who currently coaches the CNY United soccer club. Knittel will also be assisted by CNY United coach Jon Ramin.

The camp started today and runs through Thursday, at the CNY Family Sports Centre. It's located at:

CNY Family Sports Centre
7201 Jones Road
Syracuse, NY 13209

They can be reached by phone at: 638-8866. Fax: 638-2882. There is a $90 fee for the full week camp. For a half week session (Monday-Tuesday) or (Wednesday-Thursday), it costs $50 dollars.

Each session lasts three hours, from 9 a.m. until noon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The West Kennedy Street Housing Initiative

The Syracuse Common Council approved $500,000 dollars to construct five single-family homes on West Kennedy Street in the South Side today. The homes will be built and sold by HomeQuarter Inc.

Before the Common Council meeting started at 1 p.m., I went to West Kennedy Street to talk to people who live in area about the renovations the city is planning on making. Many of the people living in the area, did not even know the city was spending lots of money on their neighborhood.

One resident I spoke to, Marilyn Akins has lived in the neighborhood for more then 10 years and lately she said she has been thinking about buying elsewhere, and if she does not move she will be putting up a fence around her house. Akins said she thinks it is a good idea that the city is spending money to build single-family homes and believes it will help increase property values as well as upbring the neighborhood.

Another resident I spoke to, Tommie Brandon, who lives next to one of the vacant lots the city will be using to build one of the new homes said he believes the homes will help decrease drug activity in the neighborhood.

Construction is expected to start soon.

Go here to see the agenda the Syracuse Common Council approved on the housing initiative: http:/www.syracuse.ny.us/viewCcAgenda.asp

More Green for State Parks

People were out enjoying the sunshine at Fayetteville's Green Lakes State park today, and there could be more to enjoy at all New York State Parks. Governor Patterson said this year's state budget will include a record $95 million for state parks.

Many Central New Yorkers have their own ideas of how they would liked to see the money used at Green Lakes. From using the money to keep the pathways clean to putting more fish in the lake it seemed that there was no consensus among those who visited the park today.

Green Lakes is part of the Central region of State Parks, but Regional Coordinator Jean Egenhofer was unavailable to comment on what plans for the money might already be in the works. Central New York will also benefit from money that will be designated to improving the State Fairgrounds.

For more information about State Parks click here.

Airline Satisfaction? Not This Year...

Today the Airline Quality Ratings came out for 2007. The results for this year represent the worst year in the 18 year history of the study. According to the ratings, complaints about airlines were up 60% from last year. In addition, one out of every four flights across the country faces some kind of delay. 2007 makes the fifth straight year that on-time arrivals have dropped.

The study is conducted each year by independent researchers at the aviation departments at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Wichita State University. The results come from month-by-month ratings for the sixteen largest airlines in the United States. This year, Air Tran jumped two spots to secure the number one ranking of any airline in the country. Jet Blue, Southwest, Northwest, and Frontier Air round out the top five. Out of the sixteen airlines evaluated, Hancock International Airport only offers flights for seven of these airlines. Jet Blue, the highest rated airline available at Hancock, only offers about six flights in and out of the airport per day.

Deanna Stevens flew into Hancock today from Columbus, Ohio on Delta, the 10th ranked airline this year. Stevens said she didn't find out about the hour delay until the plan was supposed to start boarding. Another Delta customer, Tori Skilmon, was almost kicked off of her flight due to overbooking. Despite all these problems, Skilmon has no intention of stopping flying. "I want to see my grandchildren, so I'll definitely fly," she said.

If you would like to take part in this study for next year, click here.

Long lines for Nas tickets

Tickets went on sale this morning at 11 a.m. for the Nas concert at Syracuse University, and students started lining up several hours earlier than that. The first person in line got their around 8:30 a.m., and he said the lines started getting long around 9:00 a.m.
Although the rapper Nas has a controversial album, titled, "The 'N' Word"(except it's the actual word) coming out on April 22, students seem to be all for it. Many students said they have no problem with Nas using the album title because they believe he is proving a point, and has a right to freedom of expression.

Syracuse Schine student box office did not originally limit the number of tickets each student could buy and many people took advantage of it. The first five students in line bought, 10, 20, 40, 5, and 10 tickets respectively. Immediately after that, the box office supervisor implemented a 10 ticket limit, and then five minutes later changed it to four tickets.

Many students said they planned on reselling the tickets for a profit, and they might just be able to do so. The box office sold all 1500 tickets by 2:00 p.m., and the line was still wrapped all the way around Schine student center.

The concert takes place on April 18, and will kick off the weekend for Greek Unity Fest, which will also include a step show featuring historically black sororities and fraternities on April 19.

Princess Diana Verdict In

A coroner's jury has ruled today that Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed were unlawfully killed by reckless actions of the driver and the paparazzi in 1997.

A decision of unlawful killing means that the jury believed the reckless behavior of the driver and the paparazzi led to manslaughter. It was the most serious verdict available to the jury.

The couple and their driver died in Paris when their speeding car crashed while being chased by photographers.

The jury of six women and five men began deliberating last Wednesday after hearing six months of testimony from more than 240 witnesses.

They decided by a vote of 9-2 to blame the driver and the paparazzi for Diana's and Al Fayed's death

Olympic Torch Halted in Paris

The final run of the Olympic relay through Paris today has been cancelled due to protests. The chaotic protests caused the snuffing out of the torch on several occasions, and forced crews to put the torch aboard a bus.

The next stop for the torch is San Francisco on April 9th, and the protests have already started here with three people scaling the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge and putting up a Tibetan flag.

Gas Prices Up...Again

Average gas prices have risen to $3.325 a gallon, from $3.330, according to gasbuddy.com, a group of websites that offer an online method to view recent gasoline prices.

One week ago prices averaged three cents cheaper at $3.293 a gallon, and one year ago they were 52 cents cheaper at $2.802 a gallon.

The map below (click to expand) shows several gas station prices around Central New York. You can find the cheapest gas station near you, as well as tips on how to conserve gas on gasbuddy.com.

Stock Update

Stocks generally are up at the 2 o'clock hour:
Nasdaq is up 4.4
DJIA is up 60.65
S&P 500 is up 8.52

Will State Park Funding Reach Syracuse?

Governor Paterson has announced that the state's budget will include $95 million for improvements in state parks.

It is the largest-ever commitment of resources for parks in state history.

The $95 million will fund a variety of projects in parks all across the state.

Representatives from Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville say that they will receive some some of the funding, though they haven't been told exactly how much they will get.

Reporter Joe Mauceri will report later with more on what Central New Yorkers would like to see for the park.

Controversial Rapper Comes to Syracuse

This year's Greek Unity Fest at Syracuse University will be featuring controversial rapper, Nas.

The rapper's newest album, scheduled to be released April 22nd, is entitled the "N-word," except he uses the actual word.

The album name has caused strong reaction from civil-rights activists ever since news of the title broke in October of last year.

But the possible negative connotations of the album didn't seem to stop students at S.U. from grabbing all the tickets they could get when they went on sale at 11 a.m. this morning.

One student snatched up 45 tickets, another took 20, one took 10, until the box office put a limit of four tickets per student.

Student feelings on the album title were split, but many cited freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and his right to prove a point.

Dr. Boyce Watkins,a black Finance professor at S.U. and a frequent social commentator says Nas has proven himself and is trying to promote progress.

The concert will take place April 18th at 9 p.m., following a performance from comedian Tony Roberts.

New Discount Card Will Make Drugs More Affordable

Nearly half a million New Yorkers will soon be able to buy prescription drugs at a more affordable price. A new pharmaceutical card, included in this year's health budget, will allow people between the ages of 50 and 64 to buy generic medications at a 30 to 60 percent discount.

Those who are 65 and older already have comprehensive drug coverage through the state's Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program. These new cards will assist some of those who have fallen through the cracks.

State Budget Now a Week Late..

Lawmakers are back to work in Albany today, attempting to pass a state budget that is already a week late.

Budget bills were printed over the weekend so they are ready to be presented before legislators in preparation for this afternoon's sessions.

Leaders in both chambers hope to have the 124 billion dollar spending plan in place by the end of the day.

Union Attempting to Block Police Merger

The merger of police departments in the town of Clay and the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office seemed well on its way to a reality. But not so fast.

The Clay Police Benevolent Association, Clay's union for police officers, says that town officials violated a state labor law by not talking with the union before reaching a merger decision.

The state's 40-year-old "Taylor Law" states that all public employers must make agreements with public employee organizations regarding their employees' terms and conditions of employment.

Clay Town Supervisor Jim Rowley says he believes the town is within its rights to make the merger.

Under the plan, all of Clay's 16 full-time officers would be absorbed into the county Sheriff's office. Clay officials say the town will save $1 million in the first year, and as much as $17 million over 10 years.

Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative Vote Today

The Syracuse Common Council will vote today on spending $600,000 for housing initiatives in Eastwood and the South Side.

Most of the money, $500,000, comes from the sale of the Trolley Lot from the city to Onondaga County. This money is proposed to be used for the construction of five residential properties by Home Headquarters, Inc. According to the Syracuse Common Council agenda, these properties are located at 111, 135, 152, 217, and 229 West Kennedy Street.

This project is part of the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative, which "is working to improve the quality of life in Syracuse neighborhoods by involving residents in efforts to make their communities better, healthier environments."

Reporter Maite De La Rosa will have the results of the Common Council meeting, and what this means for neighborhood, later this afternoon.

Airline Quality Complaints on the Rise

Lost baggage, bumped passengers, and flight delays - a recipe for disaster; and it continues to get worse.

The annual Airline Quality Rating survey released today found that overall, the industry did a poor job last year, and consumer complaints were up 60 percent.

This past year "was the worst year ever for the U.S. airlines," said Brent Bowen, a study co-author and professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Aviation Institute. "Overall operational performance and quality declined once again to the lowest level that it's ever been."

AirTran and Jet Blue have taken the top spots, and were followed by Southwest, Northwest, and Frontier airlines. At the bottom of the list sat Atlantic Southeast Airlines. US Airways had the most complaints out of all airlines.

The study, compiled annually since 1991, is sponsored by the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and by Wichita State University.

Reporter John Thompson will have an update from Syracuse Hancock Airport with more from the Department of Aviation and Central New Yorkers on airline quality.

Yahoo Wants Better Deal

Internet giant Yahoo Inc, officially opposed a deal today with the world's largest software maker, Microsoft. This decision comes after a statement by Microsoft over the weekend, warning Yahoo that if a deal isn't reached by April 26th, it will begin a hostile takeover at a less attractive price.

Microsoft's initial offer for Yahoo, made on February 1st, was valued at $44.6 billion, 62 percent above Yahoo's market value. As of Friday, the deal dropped to just under $41 billion.

Yahoo's executive board formally rejected Microsoft's bid on February 11th, saying that it undervalues the company.

"We are not opposed to a transaction with Microsoft if it is in the best interests of our stockholders," said Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and Chairman Roy Bostock in a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "Our position is simply that any transaction must be at a value that fully reflects the value of Yahoo, including any strategic benefits to Microsoft, and on terms that provide certainty to our stockholders."

Since rejecting Microsoft's bid, Yahoo has looked at exploring alliances with Google Inc., MySpace.com, and AOL, but no offers have surfaced.

Ballmer acknowledged the other negotiations, but wondered why Yahoo was still dragging its heels when they have another offer on the table.

"This is despite the fact that our proposal is the only alternative put forward that offers your shareholders full and fair value for their shares," Ballmer wrote in the letter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bringing Life Back to Neighborhoods

Congressman Jim Walsh and Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll have announced a plan to spend $1 milllion to restore rundown parts of six Syracuse neighborhoods. The neighborhoods include the Valley, Westlawn, Eastwood, the Near West Side, Prospect Hill and Tipperary Hill.
The money comes from federal funds Walsh funnels into Syracuse from Washington through his federal program the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative. Since SNI began seven years ago, Walsh has brought nearly $50 million to Syracuse to help renovate rundown, abandoned buildings and build new homes. Before Walsh retires at the start of 2009, he will bring two more rounds of federal money to the city's neighborhoods. A portion of this round of $1 million dollars will be used to provide home improvement grants to people who can't afford to make necessary home repairs.
Amanda Pascall works for Home HeadQuarters--a non profit agency that distributes home improvement grants and provides housing advice. Pascall says making these home repairs is often necessary to avoid the abandonment of another building in Syracuse. But there are strings attached to the federal money. Only people who have homeowners insurance and who are paid up on their taxes and water bill qualify for the federal aid. But Pascall says those who don't qualify need the money the most. Many peoples' homes are so rundown they can't get insurance until repairs are made.
Pascall says federal money is a huge help, but since it can't help everyone other investors need to be considered. The Gifford Foundation is a private, charitable organization in Syracuse that gives out home improvement grants from an endowment left by the late Rosamond Gifford in the amount of $27 million. Rosamond Gifford was the only child of one of the most prominent families in Syracuse and left her inheritance to the city.
Pascall says it takes money from Congressman Walsh's Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative and private investors to help fix up rundown neighborhoods.

Monday, March 31, 2008

SU Softball Takes 3 of 4

The SU Softball team started Big East play with a bang this weekend by taking three of its first four games in conference play. The team swept a doubleheader at Rutgers on Saturday, winning both games by a score of 7-2.

The first two innings of Game 1 were an offensive explosion of sorts for the Orange. The offense tallied five runs on ten hits in the first two innings alone. Junior shortstop Nicole Miller highlighted the scoring with a two-run homerun to leftfield. Altogether, the Orange had 27 hits and scored 14 runs in the two games against Rutgers.

The Orange followed up the sweep of Rutgers by splitting a doubleheader with Villanova on Sunday. The Orange won Game 1 behind the solid pitching of Senior Chanel Roehner. Junior catcher Amy Kelley started the scoring with a monster solo homerun, which put the Orange up for good as they took the game 4-1. Kelley led the Orange with three homeruns on the weekend.

Syracuse dropped Game 2 of the series 2-0. Sophomore Brittany Gardner put together a solid outing on the mound, but the offense was unable to produce any runs in support. Next, the team is scheduled to play its first home games of the season when Providence comes to town on Friday for a doubleheader, followed by another two game set with UCONN on Sunday.

SU Lacrosse Reaches #1

The SU Men's lacrosse team moved up to number one in the latest Nike/Inside Lacrosse DI Media Poll today after getting off to a 7-1 start. This comes a week after the formerly number one Virginia Cavaliers lost to Maryland while the Orange beat the 18th ranked Loyola Greyhounds 13-8 on Saturday. Syracuse barely edged out Duke for the number one spot, getting nine out of eighteen first place votes.

Junior midfielders Dan Hardy and Pat Perritt led the way for the Orange offense with three goals each. Senior attackman Mike Leveille also tallied three goals and two assists in the game, but the veteran says that just because they are winning doesn't mean that they can relax. "It's exciting, but at the same time, we're more satisfied being 7-1, working hard and feeling like every game we can go out there and win. We want that to keep going. Like I said, we aren't satisfied here and we aren't done yet. We're focusing on our goal and week by week the opponent coming up," Leveille said.

This marks the first time since 2003 that the Orange has been ranked number one during the regular season. Next up, Syracuse takes on Princeton in the Dome on Saturday.

The Start of Trout Season

Tomorrow is a big day for fisherman in New York State, it's the start of trout fishing season. With only one day left, last minute preparations are being taken by local hatcheries, fishermen, and stores across Central New York.


Today was a typical March morning at the Carpenter's Brook Fish Hatchery. Hatchery staffers loaded fish into special tanks on trucks to finish stocking creeks, brooks, and streams before tomorrow. They plan to get 20,000 fish out before the opening day of trout season.

Supervisor Travis Stanek and the other workers have been stocking the streams for about a week now-- dumping one and two year old trout fish from bridges at various locations in Onondaga County. But-- Travis says today they're working on their last load.

Preparations are also being taken by local fish stores. Mickey's Bait and Tackle was busy all day with customers coming in to get their basic trout fishing supplies. One customer-- Mike Grimshaw has been trout fishing for about fifty years. He say's its become a tradition.

Mike is out today getting all the basics-- bait, worms, minos, and of course night crawlers.

"Hopefully all these will turn into trout, but if not it's still opening day," says Grimshaw.

Mike says he's not sure what to expect tomorrow-- his day depends on the weather. If it rains he says he'll go home, but good weather means he'll be out fishing all day.

To find out the best fishing locations in CNY go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7936.html.

Average gas prices reach all time high

According to a AAA survey, the average price of a gallon of gas has reached a record high. Just one year ago the average price of regular gas was only $2.67 a gallon. But today, the average price of regular rose to $3.28 a gallon.

Experts blame the rising gas prices on the constant increase of the price of crude oil. The current price of a barrel of crude oil is $101.04 , not far from its record high of almost $112 a barrel.

The most expensive state for gas is Hawaii, where regular gas costs an average of $3.65 a gallon. New Jersey drivers on average have the least expensive gas, with a statewide average of $3.05 a gallon. To find the average cost of gas near you, visit http://www.gasbuddy.com/.

Drivers of vehicles that use diesel fuel are getting hit the hardest. The national average price of a gallon of diesel is $4.33 a gallon. The American Trucking Association says they are working to solve this national problem.

To calculate how much gas you will use on a trip, or just on your drive to and from work, visit http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com/.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Learning On The Go (Or At Home)

iTunes has partnered with universities and colleges throughout the country to make higher learning accessible to everyone.  People can download lectures from schools throughout the country and view them on their computer or iPod.  There are currently more than 40 schools participating in the program, with one in Central New York.  Broome Community College currently offers downloadable lectures in science, math, and english.  
While Syracuse University is not one of the schools currently participating in the program both professors and students think their are benefits to using the iPod and iTunes as an educational tool.

According to Bill Gibbons, Professor of Information Studies, podcasting lectures could help professors draw on more resources for teaching.  "I think professors could use it to supplement there classroom material and take advantage of on-site lecturing through video" says Gibbons.
And SU student Mark Geyer thinks the online classes could help him satisfy his intellectual curiosity.  "If they're offering free lectures on-line I can at least get a taste of what I am interested in" says Geyer.
That access to individual interests could spark the interest of adults at home, which might bring them back to the universities.
To find out more about iTunes U click here and visit the website.

Pushing Weight

The Syracuse men's lacrosse team move up to No. 2 in the latest Inside Lacrosse/Nike Media poll rankings after a 5-1 start. SU head coach John Desko often talked about how his team's rededication to strength and conditioning helped the team.

Hal Luther, the Orange's strength and conditioning coach, says he sent every player a summer work out plan. He tested them as soon as they arrived on campus. 

"I wanted to set the tone that this is for real," Luther says. "I think a lot of times guys will hear, 'Wer'e going to have a new strength program this year, whatever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to make sure when they came in, they knew it was for real."

Only 10 of 50 lacrosse players passed the test, which included gassers up and down the Carrier Dome field four times a rep in under 60 seconds. Luther says many threw up, causing Desko to wonder Luther's intention. But he pleaded with Desko to see him through.

When the team returned in the winter, 40 of the 50 players passed the run test.

"When we all came back, we did real well on the run test, which was real hard," Syracuse defenseman Kyle Guadagnolo says. "He demanded a lot from us and I think we did as best as we could, too."

Syracuse's four wins have been decided by one goal, two of them in overtime. 

"They might get down but they're never out," Luther says. "They're coming. People around the country are talking about them. They're talking about the way it has changed."

Literacy Push by OCPL

The Onondaga County Public Library system is making a push for children's literacy in the Syracuse area. In a new policy being enacted by the library, the fine for overdue children's material is 10 cents per day, down from the original 25 cent per day fine. There is also a maximum five-dollar limit for each fine. Administrators at the library said that simple measures, like decreasing the fine for late books, will encourage more book borrowing.

"We want to remove as many barriers as we can for the people using the library for children's materials especially," said OCPL Youth Services Coordinator Roz NaPier. NaPier said many parents and children in the Syracuse area don't have the resources to return books on time. Because of this, many families build up heavy fines for overdue books. The idea is that lesser fines will encourage people to keep borrowing, even if it means returning books a few days late.

Rachel Cullivan and her four year old son Keith visit the library several times a week. As a student, she gets her school work done while Keith plays and reads books with friends. Because they don't check books out very often, Cullivan said the lower fines will have little effect on her and her family, but she can she how it might affect people. "If you spread the word about that, then I guess more people might be less afraid to take out library books. In case they kept them out too long and had a whole bunch of fines."

The library also has other programs that encourage literacy among children. The OCPL's summer reading program not only gives children a place to go during vacation, but it encourages learning even when kids are not in school. According to NaPier, any child who signs up for the summer program and reads more than five books will have all fines waived from his or her account. This is an incentive for parents who have accrued fines to enroll their kids in order to get rid of fines and it helps the kids as well.

When it comes down to it though, NaPier said that all of these library programs and policies are about one thing. "The main emphasis is to get children exposed to books so the easier we can make that for people the better."

Community Development Week Comes to CNY

Today at the City Hall Commons Atrium in downtown Syracuse, Mayor Matt Driscoll tried to reassure the people in attendance that community development was a priority for the remainder of his time in office. This morning at 11am, the mayor and various other community leaders joined together for the kick-off to National Community Development Week. The main message handed down by the mayor was patience. He said that large-scale community redevelopment projects take a long time to go into effect.

"We have 22 months left to go and I pledge to this common council and all of you: we're going to work very hard and be very aggressive," Driscoll said. He continued, "We've rolled out some very aggressive items which we think are gonna help continue that trend and really allow this community to take back neighborhoods and to really continue the great successful work that you've all done."

Commissioner Fernando Ortiz, Jr., the head of the Department of Community Development was delighted to see so many of the people that help reshape the community in attendance today. To close out his address to those in attendance today, Ortiz borrowed a famous line from the late Fred Rodgers, "It's a beautiful day in our neighborhood."

For more information on the Department of Community Development, click here.

Dyngus Day in Syracuse

Never heard of Dyngus Day before? Don't worry, chances are you're not the only one.

The Syracuse Polish Home is working to change that though - with a celebration of traditional food, drink, and entertainment tonight.

The holiday, celebrated in Poland and some parts of the Czech Republic, dates all the way back to the 15th century. Traditionally, boys would run to the home of the girl whom they had a crush on and wake her up by pouring a nice cold bucket of water over her.

Thankfully, this practice never took hold here in the United States, but what did take hold, is partying. Buffalo, NY, in the Western most part of the state, has one of the largest Dyngus Day celebrations complete with dancing, singing, and of course...drinking.

President of the Polish Home Robert Synakowski says his organization can't compete with what Buffalo has to offer, but he does promise a good time.

"We do welcome anybody to come in. We've got a great lounge area I could say, and we've got some great products from Poland - unfortunately, you have to be 21 or older to partake in those wonderful things," Synakowski said.

And those wonderful things include a spread of nearly a dozen Polish beers, as well as an array of Polish vodkas and other hard liquors.

The Polish Home is almost a century old, and it shows. From the dusty pictures dating from the early 1900s hanging on the walls, to the artifacts, maps, and old records lying around - it rivals a historical museum.

The Dyngus Day celebrations will take place at the Polish Home from 6pm to 10pm tonight. Tickets are $12 at the door.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Economic Decline Hits Home in Central New York

While the value of the dollar reached an all time low and the stock market began the day down 200 points Central New Yorkers found it tough to pay for their necessities.  A gallon of milk averaged around $2.33 and gas prices rose as high as $3.49 causing residents to find their wallets a little lighter.  
Some experts, however, believe it is still too early to panic.  According to Don Dutkowsky, Professor of Economics at the Maxwell School, the dip in the market is part of a pattern that should be expected.  Doutkowsky says he would not be surprised if the market still came out ahead at the end of the year.  Right now, it seems that other countries are wasting no time in taking advantage of the shrinking US dollar as many tourists from Europe and Canada are spending their money across the nation.

In the mean time Central New Yorkers are being advised to avoid overextending themselves and, for those that do play the market, make sure they have a diverse portfolio.  
Today's low stock market opening can be attributed to JPMorgan's buyout of investment bank Bear Stearn which added to concerns about the
state of credit in the U.S.  The dollar continued its decline due to low interest rates that make the dollar less appealing as an investment for the future.

Click here for more information about what other economic influences might have an effect on the dollar in the near future.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Local DJ Personality Doesn’t Let His Disability Deter Him From Doing What He Loves

Geoff “Deaf Geoff” Herbert is a local DJ personality at HOT 107.9 in Syracuse, New York. At the age of two he was diagnosed as being “mostly deaf,” which means he has lost 90 percent of his hearing. Deaf Geoff said he loves the challenge of being able to do something people wouldn’t expect him to be able to do.
“People are really surprised and shocked when they meet me and realize that I’m really deaf.”
While growing-up Deaf Geoff said one of the most difficult decisions that he has ever had to make was whether to attend school for kids with hearing disabilities or do something called mainstreaming, where he would attend school with kids that don’t have disabilities. He decided to mainstream.
“I think a lot of people have the wrong impression of people with disabilities. I’m myself am hard of hearing and I work in radio. It just goes to show you that even though I have a disability it hasn’t stopped me from doing my job properly.”

Courtesy of HOT 107.9 web site

In high school, Deaf Geoff decided he wanted to be a radio DJ, when he joined the school’s radio station. He went on to graduate from the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in 2002.
Like our new New York State Governor Patterson, Deaf Geoff knows what it’s like to live with a disability and overcome everyday obstacles to do his job.
“We shouldn’t discredit Patterson because he is legally blind. I think he is 100 percent qualified and capable of doing the job and I don’t think his disability hinders what he can do”

Courtesy of HOT 107.9 web site
Deaf Geoff sees himself as a role model for others. In his spare time he talks to students at local middle and high schools in the community. He shares with them what it’s like to live with a disability and how being different is always difficult for anyone. He encourages them to never allow challenges to stop them from trying to achieve their future goals.

Check out Deaf Geoff on
the Marty and Shannon in the Morning Show on HOT 107.9