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Compassion and awareness are the first steps in understanding autism

Last month, I read an article in The New York Times entitled “Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney,” by Ron Suskind (nytimes.com/2014/03/09/magazine/reaching-my-autistic-son-through-disney.html?_r=0). As the title suggests, the article chronicles Suskind’s experience with his son, Owen, a lover of Disney movies who was diagnosed with autism. At the time of his diagnosis, Owen, 3 years old, was non-verbal. But through memorizing the dialogue and inflections from the various Disney characters in the movies he loved, over the course of a number of years, he created his own language that he used for communicating and connecting with others. As a parent of a child with special needs, I found his story to be moving and very inspirational. The article is an excerpt from Suskind’s book that was released this month called “Life, Animated.” The timing seemed particularly apt since April is Autism Awareness Month in New York.

Complaint filed against Zambrano

According to a Cicero resident, Supervisor Jessica Zambrano has committed misconduct as a result of her relationship with the town engineer.

Trustees approve $5.2 million budget for North Syracuse

At its April 10 meeting, the North Syracuse Village Board of Trustees approved a $5.2 million budget for 2014-15. At a brief public hearing before the meeting, Village Clerk-Treasurer Dianne Kufel said that although the budget calls for a zero percent tax increase, village property owners who live within the town of Cicero will see a nominal increase of approximately $2 more than last year, while village taxpayers in the town of Clay will see a nominal decrease of less than $2.

Education aid and tax relief needed for CNY

Times are tough, and families are doing everything they can just to make ends meet. The particularly harsh winter didn’t help, driving utility bills through the roof and making the cost-of-living even less affordable. Central New York families have struggled for long enough. That’s why I fought for a state budget that includes funding for vital programs and initiatives to relieve the burden on hardworking families.

Tax incentives are being misused

It is no secret that New York’s residents and businesses are over taxed. For years, businesses and residents have been leaving New York for tax-friendly states. The fiscal problems the State of New York faces are no different than other states across the country; yet, New York continues to over spend and goes so far as to ask local municipalities to shoulder much of the financial burden from those decisions. Local representatives at the state and federal level are desperately trying to change the business climate in New York by offering tax credits and incentive packages for relocating businesses to New York, creating jobs, and improving the skill level of employees. As an advocate for the free market approach to business, I applaud the intent underpinning these programs (the encouragement of business activity in New York state), but I am apprehensive about the precedent and disparate treatment the tax credits and incentives are creating.

LETTER: Village services make taxes worth it

To the editor: I would like to respond to the article in the March 26 edition of The Post-Standard [“Cuomo: Curbing property taxes most important part of NY state budget”]. [The article quoted] Cuomo saying, “Do the hard thing,” and our county executive regarding consolidation. I am a lifelong resident of the village of Liverpool, because that is where I choose to live. Does it cost me more in taxes to live here? Yes. What am I paying for?

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JGB Properties plans three new mixed-use buildings on basin block

At the March 24 Liverpool Village Planning Board meeting, JGB Properties prepared to share details of its proposed development on the basin block bordered by First and South Willow streets and Lake Drive. Plans drawn up by Keplinger Freeman Associates, an East Syracuse landscape architectural firm, call for the construction of three buildings, two along lower First Street and one on South Willow.

OCC child care faces cuts

Community college students may soon have a harder time finding child care while they go to school. In his 2014-15 executive budget proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed cutting $653,000 from the state’s operating grant to the State University of New York’s child care centers. The cut would come in addition to a reduction in the federal Child Care Block Grant, which subsidizes care for children of needy student-parents. While the New York State Senate restored Cuomo’s cut in their budget proposal, advocates say the cuts faced by SUNY centers in the last several years are still devastating and need to be restored. And it’s community colleges that will likely see the most damaging consequences.

Liverpool’s proposed 2014-15 budget would hold property tax rate at $12.25 per thousand; public hearing set for April 14

Liverpool Village Clerk Mary Ellen Sims has presented a tentative 2014-15 budget of $2,437,648 to the Board of Trustees on March 17. That figure is $120,000 higher than this year’s budget of $2,306,565, but Sims said the tax rate should remain flat at $12.25 per $1,000 of valuation. “That’s the same rate we’ve had for the past two years,” she said.

Erie Canal Museum to be renovated

The Erie Canal Museum is the official museum of the Erie Canal, located in the only remaining weighlock building in America, on Erie Boulevard in downtown Syracuse. The weighlock building was originally built in 1850 and was saved from demolition in the 1950s. The weighlock building served as one of the five stopping points on the Erie Canal where the State weighed the boat’s freight and charged a toll. The building was converted to the Erie Canal Museum on Oct. 25, 1962. The museum is owned by Onondaga County, and at our recent legislative session, we unanimously approved a resolution that will advance the funding to upgrade and redesign the first floor of the exhibition.

Get rid of the GEA now

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York is looking at a $2 million budget surplus. Cuomo has talked a lot about the surplus and his plans for it. Unfortunately for him, it’s not his money to spend.

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NSCSD launches letter campaign to eliminate the GEA

In an effort to get rid of a state policy many school districts say is unfair to schools and taxpayers, the North Syracuse Central School District is asking residents to send letters to their legislators demanding the repeal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

OCC to host business conference

Onondaga Community College is more than just an asset for students seeking an associate’s degree in one of the numerous programs they offer. OCC is home to the NYS Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDC provides one-on-one advisement to start up and existing businesses. OCC staff at the SBDC consists of small business advisors who can advise an entrepreneur on making their business a success. The SBDC works with businesses of all varieties; home based, e-commerce, manufacturing firms — small to large. Services provided by the SBDC are free and confidential. Additionally, the SBDC partners with statewide agencies which provide a strong network of support. Some of the support the SBDC can assist with is business plan development, small business start-ups, organizational structures, exporting, cost analysis, marketing, financial management, financing strategies, training programs, business expansion, selling a business and research.

LETTER: Stirpe on proposed homeland security college

To the editor: A recent story in the Wall Street Journal made it seem that I do not support the governor’s plan to create a new college for homeland security and emergency preparedness. Nothing could be further from the truth. I simply stated that, to my knowledge, it has not yet been defined if this will be a stand-alone campus or a virtual campus, utilizing all the assets of SUNY and CUNY. Although the governor’s proposal is in its early stages, and we do not yet have all the details, I am committed to advocating for Central New York to host this new college.

LETTER: Stirpe calls on state senate to vote on women’s equality now

To the editor: Here we go again. It’s 2014 and the Women’s Equality Act is still nowhere. Our daughters, sisters, aunts and mothers are still facing the same discrimination in many aspects of society that they were facing more than 50 years ago. That’s why I voted in favor of the full Women’s Equality Act — all 10 points (A.8070). No woman should be considered 9/10s of a person. What New Yorkers are looking for is statesmanship. What we are left with is political theater. It’s time for the state senate to act to ensure complete equality for women.

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