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Real-Time News for Syracuse and Central New York

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    A Siena College poll released today shows incumbent Democrat David Valesky leading Republican challenger Andrew Russo by 10 points in the 49th state Senate District race. Valesky has a 50 to 40 percent lead over Russo, according to the poll of 406 likely voters taken last week. Valesky is running for his fourth term. Russo, a concert pianist who lives...

    A Siena College poll released today shows incumbent Democrat David Valesky leading Republican challenger Andrew Russo by 10 points in the 49th state Senate District race.
    Valesky has a 50 to 40 percent lead over Russo, according to the poll of 406 likely voters taken last week.

    Valesky is running for his fourth term. Russo, a concert pianist who lives in Fayetteville, is seeking his first public office. Russo defeated East Syracuse Mayor Danny Liedka 66 percent to 34 percent in the Sept. 14 Republican primary.

    The district is made up of 62 municipalities in Madison, Onondaga, Cayuga and Oneida counties, including portions of Syracuse, Rome and Auburn.


    Richland, NY -- A Granby teen is being held in the Oswego County jail on a felony count of rape. Oswego County Sheriff's deputies arrested Michael J. Taylor, 17, of 37 Sharp Road, Granby, Friday and charged him with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, also a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. Deputies said he is...

    Richland, NY -- A Granby teen is being held in the Oswego County jail on a felony count of rape.

    Oswego County Sheriff's deputies arrested Michael J. Taylor, 17, of 37 Sharp Road, Granby, Friday and charged him with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, also a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

    Deputies said he is accused of having sexual contact and sexual intercourse with a female less than age 11, reportedly at a campsite in the town of Richland Sept. 18.

    Taylor was arraigned before Richland Town Justice Amy Pastuf and sent to the Oswego County jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bail bond. He will return to court Oct. 18.


    Of course we have video of his campaign ads.

    Brazil Elections.JPGView full sizeFrancisco Silva, a professional clown who is illiterate, won election to Congress with more votes than any other candidate.
    From Reuters:
    Sao Paulo -- Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, better known by his clown name Tiririca, received more than 1.3 million votes for Congress, more than any other candidate. ...

    Tiririca caught the attention of disillusioned voters by asking for their support with the humorous slogan: "It can't get any worse" and a promise to do nothing more in Congress than report back to them on how politicians spend their time.

    "What does a congressman do? The truth is I don't know, but vote for me and I'll tell you," the 45-year-old said in his campaign advertisements.
    » Read the full story: No joke! Illiterate clown triumphs in election [Reuters]
    » No joke as Brazil clown tops votes for Congress [BBC News]

    Also:

    » Did you see the streaker at the Ryder Cup? We love the expression on the face of the guy with the turban and cigar at the right. [Daily Mail]

    » Man shoots self in face during run-in with skunk [The Associated Press]

    » Banned Books Week: 5 books almost anyone might want to burn [The Christian Science Monitor]

    » Get creative with Jello shots [My Jello Americans]

    » Florida students' message in a bottle washes up in Ireland [Florida Today]


    Prosecutors say Ikeem Mitchell opened fire because Charles Carter Jr. gave him a 'hard look.' Defense says Mitchell feared for his life in 'war zone.'

    2010-03-30-mg-fowler1.JPGSyracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler stands on South Townsend Street, where Charles Carter Jr. lost his life in a shooting. Ikeem Mitchell is on trial for Carter's March 26 death.

    Syracuse, NY - A Syracuse man accused of fatally shooting a stranger on a South Side street earlier this year went on trial today in Onondaga County Court.

    Ikeem D. Mitchell, 19, of McKinley Avenue. is facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the killing of Charles Carter Jr.

    Carter, 22, of Parkway Drive, was walking in the 1100 block of South Townsend Street near East Taylor Street about 1 p.m. March 26 when Mitchell walked past him, turned and opened fire, authorities said.

    Mitchell was arrested a short time later with a handgun and spent shells in his pocket. Officials said the shooting appeared to be a random act of violence as the two men did not know each other.

    Before jury selection began today, defense lawyer Michael Spano asked Judge Anthony Aloi to agree to let the jury consider whether Mitchell acted in self defense.

    Spano argued that Mitchell "feared for his life" when he found himself walking alone in the Pioneer Homes housing development area because of a violent rivalry between residents of that neighborhood and the East Side.

    "He found himself in the middle of a war zone," the defense lawyer said, comparing Mitchell's situation to that of an American soldier serving in Iraq.

    Aloi took issue with that characterization and questioned what evidence there was that Mitchell had any reason to believe deadly physical force against him was imminent to justify what he did in shooting the victim.

    The judge noted the evidence indicates Carter did not have a weapon, made no threatening move to indicate he was armed and said nothing to Mitchell as the two men passed on the street.

    But Spano argued that Mitchell acted based on his belief that Carter had given him a "hard look" moments after a car drove by and the driver gave him a "hard look." There also had been a shooting in the area the previous night, Mitchell's friend was killed in a shooting linked to the neighborhood rivalry a year earlier, Mitchell himself had been shot at previously and Syracuse police were patrolling the area anticipating gunfire, the defense lawyer contended.

    When Aloi asked Senior Assistant District Attorney Robert Duncanson where Carter was shot, the prosecutor noted the victim had been shot in the back. The judge told Spano Mitchell wouldn't even be in court today if he had just kept walking after he passed Carter on the street.

    Aloi rejected Spano's request to have the judge rule before trial whether the jury would be allowed to consider a self-defense theory. The judge, noting he would make that determination after hearing the evidence at trial, said Spano was free to raise the issue as a possibility in his questioning of would-be jurors.

    Mitchell faces a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted of the murder charge.


    From the Memphis Commercial Appeal: A Memphis man angered by two teenagers who would not pull up their sagging pants shot one in the rear and faces aggravated assault charges. Police on Saturday charged Kenneth E. Bonds, 45, with two counts of aggravated assault, according to a court affidavit. Bond was held in Shelby County Jail on $25,000 bond....

    Saggy_Pants_NYR103.JPGA "Stop the Sag!" billboard is seen on the side of a building in Brooklyn, bearing a message from New York State Sen. Eric Adams asking people to stop wearing their pants sagging below their waistline.

    From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

    A Memphis man angered by two teenagers who would not pull up their sagging pants shot one in the rear and faces aggravated assault charges.

    Police on Saturday charged Kenneth E. Bonds, 45, with two counts of aggravated assault, according to a court affidavit. Bond was held in Shelby County Jail on $25,000 bond.

    » Read the full story: Memphis man shoots teen who refuses to pull up saggy pants [Commercial Appeal]


    In other saggy-pants news:

    » Couple Leading Effort To Ban Sagging Pants [WXII 12]

    » Minn. court says hoisting pants not illegal search [The Associated Press]

    » No more pants on the ground in Dublin, Ga. [Creative Loafing]


    Cortland, NY – A Cortland man has been charged with two counts of felony reckless endangerment and several misdemeanor charges after a shooting incident early Saturday in Cortland. Cortland police said Aric M. Sirowatka, 30, of 6 ½ Park St., Apt. 7, was among several people who got into an argument with a resident of 60 E. Court St.,...

    2010-10-04-jgm-Sirowatka.JPGAric M. Sirowatka

    Cortland, NY – A Cortland man has been charged with two counts of felony reckless endangerment and several misdemeanor charges after a shooting incident early Saturday in Cortland.

    Cortland police said Aric M. Sirowatka, 30, of 6 ½ Park St., Apt. 7, was among several people who got into an argument with a resident of 60 E. Court St., left the house, returned, got into another argument and left again.

    The second time, shortly before 5:26 a.m. Saturday, Sirowatka fired several rounds from a .22-caliber rifle from a car, police said. Bullet holes were found at 60 E. Court St., 58 E. Court St. and in a car parked at the second home, police said.

    Police said they found Sirowatka at home and found live rounds and spend shell casings in his car and a .22-caliber rifle, a shotgun and ammunition in his home.

    Besides the reckless endangerment counts, Sirowatka was charged with prohibited use of a weapon, criminal possession of a weapon and three counts of criminal mischief, all misdemeanors, police said. He was arraigned Sunday in Cortland City Court and ordered held at the Cortland County Jail on bail of $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond, a jail deputy said.


    Earl "Rocky" Devereaux, 59, died today, two days after assisting at a Geddes fire.

    2010-10-02-ll-fire1.JPGFirefighters battle a fire Saturday at 363 Lakeside Road in Geddes. A former Lakeside firefighter, who suffered a heart attack while helping out at the fire, died today.

    Geddes, NY -- A former Lakeside firefighter died around noon today after suffering a heart attack while helping at the scene of a neighbor's fire Saturday.

    Earl "Rocky" Devereaux, 59, died at 11:58 a.m. at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, said Lakeside Fire Chief Timothy Wolsey.

    Devereaux, who had been a firefighter for 15 years, collapsed during the fire at 363 Lakeside Road.

    Devereaux had responded to the scene after smelling heavy smoke from his garage down the street, Wolsey said.

    When the first fire engine arrived, he helped hook the hose up to a fire hydrant, about 150 feet away, Wolsey said. Then he watched the fire from the street.

    Within a minute, Devereaux collapsed on the front lawn. Firefighters on the second engine saw him fall and provided CPR, Wolsey said.

    They tried to restart his heart three times -- once on the ground and twice more in the ambulance, Wolsey said. Devereaux was eventually revived, but arrived at the hospital in critical condition.

    Homeowner Janet Klock said she first met Devereaux, who lived five houses away, while buying baby furniture during his garage sale this summer.

    "I feel so terrible about it," Klock said. There's a personal connection: Devereaux was a close friend of the boyfriend of Klock's daughter, she said.

    Klock discovered the fire while doing laundry. She grabbed her two grandchildren, ages 2 and 5, and escaped. Her two sons, ages 20 and 26, also escaped without injury.

    The 1940 house had a wooden addition in the rear that was destroyed by the fire. The front of the house, built with block, was gutted by the blaze, which took 40 minutes to extinguish.

    Devereaux, who retired from New Process Gear, in DeWitt, had helped out at fire scenes in the past after leaving the department, said Wolsey, who is Devereaux's nephew.

    In the winter, Devereaux would shovel around fire hydrants on his street, Wolsey said.

    "Anybody who knows Rocky Devereaux knows that this is in his demeanor," the chief said. "He loved the fire service."

    Read our story about the fire.


    Witness: BP wasted time calculating how hot burning rig was before seeking to stop oil.

    2010-10-04-ap-Gulf-Oil-Spill.JPGView full sizeDoug Martin, of Smit Salvage, testifies during Deepwater Horizon joint investigation hearings held by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Management Regulation and Enforcement in Metairie, La., on Monday.

    METAIRIE, La. — BP interfered with critical efforts to lower an undersea robot to try to close the device that failed to stop the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill because of concerns over heat buildup from the burning rig, a salvage firm executive said Monday.

    The testimony came from Doug Martin, president of Smit Salvage Americas, which was hired to help try to save the Deepwater Horizon after it exploded. He told a federal investigative panel that in the hours after the April 20 disaster, he thought it was important to quickly get the robot into the water so engineers could choke off the oil.

    But, Martin said, BP officials discussed calculating how the heat from the fire would impact the boat that was to launch the robot. He said he believed that it was a waste of time and that BP was interfering.

    “When they wanted to calculate the heat load on the boat, I said, ’How do you know how hot the fire is?’ ” Martin told the joint U.S. Coast Guard-Bureau of Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement investigative panel. “I had a hard time believing there was data available at that time to do that. That’s why I felt it was better just to keep the boat cool and use commonsense tools to get the ROV in the water.”

    Martin said several hours went by before the undersea robot was lowered into the water. Martin said he didn’t arrive at a Transocean command center until seven hours after the explosion.

    Engineers were unable to close the so-called blowout preventer that failed to stop the spill, and the rig eventually sank. Eleven workers were killed in the rig explosion, and some 206 million gallons of oil spewed from BP PLC’s undersea well, according to government estimates.

    The federal panel meeting this week at a hotel near New Orleans is trying to determine the cause of the blast and massive oil spill that followed. Besides figuring out a cause, the panel, which is holding its fifth series of hearings, is examining how to improve safety and oversight. At least one more series of hearings is expected before the panel members begin collaborating on their report.

    Also at the hearings Monday, a U.S. Coast Guard official testified that the fact that more than 100 people escaped the Gulf of Mexico rig explosion alive is a sign the evacuation effort went fairly well. But oil industry partners, because of their expertise, are currently needed to help the government during such a disaster, the official said. Except for the workers who died, the rest of the 126 people on board the rig survived.

    Capt. James Hanzalik, chief of incident response for the Coast Guard’s 8th District, told the investigative panel there was nothing more his agency could have done to prevent the rig from sinking. Hanzalik also said the Coast Guard currently relies on oil industry partners for help in rescuing so many people.

    “Typically we don’t have the assets to do that,” Hanzalik said. He added that he would expect owners and operators of vessels at sea to have their own evacuation plans.

    Fighting the fire on the rig is largely the responsibility of the industry, Hanzalik said. “We never exercised our control over the firefighting efforts,” he said. “We’re not trained firefighters.”

    Among the witnesses scheduled to testify later this week are key workers for BP and Transocean, an expert on mobile offshore drilling units, an expert on maritime alarm systems and a deepwater well equipment expert.

    Perhaps the most critical testimony is expected to come from two BP officials who were familiar with the company’s decision to use only six centralizers during the cementing of the well that blew out. Halliburton had recommended the use of 21 centralizers, which are devices that make sure the casing is running down the center of the well bore. If the casing is cemented off-center, there is a risk of an imperfect seal that could allow oil and gas to escape.

    BP said in its internal report on the disaster that it released last month that its centralizer decision probably did not contribute to the cement’s failure. But federal investigators are still asking pointed questions.

    BP’s well gushed for three months before being capped in July and then permanently sealed in September. The British oil giant owned the well but was leasing the rig from owner Transocean Ltd.


    Syracuse, NY - Less than two weeks after the Onondaga Nation land claim suit was dismissed by a federal judge, the year-long Onondaga Nation land rights lecture series continues at 7 tonight at Syracuse Stage. Talking about the Great Law of Peace will be Onondaga Clan Mother Audrey Shenandoah; Tom Porter, spiritual leader of the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community; and Jack...

    Syracuse, NY - Less than two weeks after the Onondaga Nation land claim suit was dismissed by a federal judge, the year-long Onondaga Nation land rights lecture series continues at 7 tonight at Syracuse Stage.

    Talking about the Great Law of Peace will be Onondaga Clan Mother Audrey Shenandoah; Tom Porter, spiritual leader of the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community; and Jack Manno, associate professor of environmental studies at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

    On Sept. 22, District Judge Lawrence Kahn dismissed the Onondaga's case against New York, ruling that the Onondaga waited too long to sue.

    The Onondaga Nation's suit, filed in 2005, asked the court to declare that New York violated federal and state laws when it acquired a 10- to 40-mile wide swath of land that stretches from Pennsylvania to Canada and includes the cities of Syracuse, Oswego, Fulton, Cortland, Binghamton and Watertown. The suit asked the court to declare that the Onondagas still hold title to that land.

    Contact Mike McAndrew at mmcandrew@syracuse.com or 470-3016.


    Oswego, NY -- An appellate court has upheld the decision of Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner that dismissed all felony charges against the town of Oswego couple accused of starving their toddler twins. Katherine Graham, 26, and Richard Graham, 29, now will face only misdemeanor charges of assault, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment. They will...

    Oswego, NY -- An appellate court has upheld the decision of Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner that dismissed all felony charges against the town of Oswego couple accused of starving their toddler twins.

    Katherine Graham, 26, and Richard Graham, 29, now will face only misdemeanor charges of assault, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment. They will be in Oswego County Court at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

    Hafner dismissed the felonies against the Grahams after a hearing in April. The Oswego County District Attorney’s office appealed Hafner’s decision.

    But in a ruling dated Oct. 1, justices in the Supreme Court Appellate Division Fourth Judicial Department ruled in favor of Katherine and Richard Graham and dismissed the felony charges.

    In the hearing before Hafner, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bell used a previous case involving parents who starved and beat their child as a basis to prove the case against the Grahams. Courtney Radick, lawyer for Katherine Graham, and Tim Kirwan, lawyer for Richard Graham, told Hafner the case cited by Bell didn’t fit the Graham case.

    The Grahams originally were charged with two felony counts each of assault and reckless endangerment and two misdemeanor counts each of assault, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment.

    The Grahams, of 208 Furniss Station Road, town of Oswego, were accused of failing to supply adequate food to their twins, who were 14 months old when the parents were arrested last summer.


    Indicates ramp or road restrictionsIndicates ramp or road closures Onondaga County Interstate 81: View I-81Roadmap in a larger map Click map markers for details on the following construction news: • Northbound onramp from Almond/Harrison streets closed. All times until Saturday, Oct. 16. Detours: To northbound I-81: Follow Almond Street to Erie Boulevard East. Turn left and follow to State Street....

    Indicates ramp or road restrictions Indicates ramp or road closures

    Onondaga County

    Interstate 81:


    View I-81Roadmap in a larger map

    Click map markers for details on the following construction news:

    Northbound onramp from Almond/Harrison streets closed.

    All times until Saturday, Oct. 16.

    Detours:

    To northbound I-81: Follow Almond Street to Erie Boulevard East. Turn left and follow to State Street. Turn right on State Street and go to Willow Street. Turn left on Willow Street to Pearl Street. Follow to I-81 ramp.

    To westbound I-690: Follow Almond Street to Erie Boulevard East (Route 5). Turn left and follow signs for Route 5 through downtown (Erie Boulevard does not go through). At Franklin Street, turn left and follow to Erie Boulevard West. Follow to West Street Arterial north and follow signs for westbound I-690.

    To eastbound I-690: Follow Almond Street to Erie Boulevard East. Turn left and follow to McBride Street. Turn right on McBride and follow to eastbound I-690.

    Reduced to one lane northbound from Adams Street to I-690.

    Until Saturday, Oct. 16.

    Reduced to one lane southbound from Adams Street to Castle Street.

    Until Saturday, Oct. 16.

    Southbound closed to all traffic at Adams/Harrison streets.

    7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 2. Detour: Exit at Harrison Street, follow road under bridge (Almond Street) to I-81 south entrance ramp.

    Reduced to two lanes in each direction over Oneida Lake outlet.

    Until Nov. 30. For bridge repairs.


    Interstate 690:


    View I-690Roadmap in a larger map

    Click map markers for details on the following construction news:

    Eastbound reduced to one lane at Liberty Street in Syracuse.

    9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5.

    Westbound reduced to one lane at Catherine Street in Syracuse.

    9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6.

    Eastbound ramp to I-81 south closed.

    All times until Oct. 22. Detour: Take West Street exit, follow to Shonnard Street. Turn left on Shonnard Street to Adams Street, follow to I-81 south.

    Westbound onramp from Farrell Road/Route 48 closed.

    All times until Oct. 15. Detour: Take State Fair Boulevard to Jones Road. Follow to entrance ramp to I-690.


    West Street bridge reconstruction:


    View ErieBoulevardbridge in a larger map

    Click map markers for details on the following construction news:

    Erie Boulevard bridge over West Street closed.

    Until Nov. 15. For bridge reconstruction. Detour: Going westbound, take West Genesee Street (Route 5) to Geddes Street, turn left and follow to Erie Boulevard. Going eastbound, turn left of Plum Street and follow to West Genesee Street (Route 5) and follow to Franklin Street.

    Northbound West Street offramp to westbound Erie Boulevard closed.

    Until Nov. 15. For bridge reconstruction.


    West:


    View OnondagaWestRoadmap in a larger map

    Click map markers for details on the following construction news:

    • Benson Road in Skaneateles closed between Lacy Road and Route 38A.

    All times from Wednesday, Sept. 8 to Friday, Oct. 22. For culvert replacement. Detour: Going southbound, turn left on Lacy Road to Route 359. Turn right and follow to Route 38A. Turn right again and follow Route 38A back to Benson Road. Reverse the route for northbound traffic.


    Cayuga County


    View CayugaCountyRoadmap in a larger map

    Click map markers for details on the following construction news:

    Route 90 reduced to single lane for both directions.

    Until Oct. 16. For bridge replacement.


    Other traffic links:

    Check out area real-time traffic cameras.

    Compare the lowest CNY gas prices online.

    Route 298 closed through Cicero Swamp due to flooding


    Also, Jordan-Elbridge school board to meet tonight, and Army considers giving free smart phones to new recruits.

    From CNN:

    Fewer crowds and pleasant weather make autumn a great time to explore Europe, but for many Americans the destination has suddenly become fraught with worry and potential danger.

    A day after the United States issued a general travel alert for Americans in Europe amid concerns that al Qaeda is planning attacks similar to the 2008 massacre in Mumbai, India, many travelers may be trying to figure out what to do next.

    » Read the story: U.S. tourists ponder Europe travel alert [CNN]
    » Japan, Sweden issue European travel alerts [CBC News]
    » Students in Europe face terror alert [The Daily Pennsylvanian]
    » Poll: Have you changed your daily routine over concerns of a possible terror attack in Europe? [The Wall Street Journal]

    In other news:

    » California high court upholds Schwarzenegger's state worker furloughs [The Associated Press]

    » J-E School Board to discuss litigation, 'employment matter' [WSYR-TV Channel 9]

    » Five Auburn High School students charged in fight [The Auburn Citizen]

    » Legislators Are Among Seven Arrested in Alabama Corruption Scandal [The New York Times]

    » Talks continue about airport authority [centralny.ynn.com]

    » Vatican official criticizes Nobel win for in vitro fertilization pioneer [BBC]

    » Johnson City school administrator put on paid leave [pressconnects.com]

    » Army mulls giving smart phones for signing up [Watertown Daily Times]


    Fishermen have returned, and engineers are working on plans to fix the retaining wall protecting the village's sewage pump station.

    Gallery preview

    Pulaski, NY -- Fishermen are on the river, businesses are open and life is pretty much back to normal in Pulaski. But Mayor Ernest Wheeler said the village’s sewage pump station still is in danger of being damaged if more rain pushes the Salmon River levels up again.

    Engineers are working on plans to fix the retaining wall in Pulaski that collapsed Friday after the heavy Thursday rains. He said engineers also are coming up with the amount for how much the fix will cost.

    He also is continuing to reach out to state and federal officials to get money to pay for weekend expenses to shore up the wall area and pay for the upcoming construction of a new wall. He said he should have the cost firmed up by the end of the week.

    "We called our engineering firm and I've called the Army Corps of Engineers. They're working together and I'm calling to see what progress they've made," he said.

    The huge concrete retaining wall and part of the soil bank that runs along the bank of the Salmon River collapsed when water levels reached flood stage. The fear was with more erosion of the soil now that the wall is gone, the village’s pump station that pumps 90 percent of the village’s sewage to the treatment plant also would be flooded or damaged.

    Wheeler said if the plant or the sewage pipe beneath the river were damaged, then thousands of gallons of sewage would go into the Salmon River -- one of the most prized fishing areas in Upstate New York that draws hundreds of tourists and fishermen to Oswego County.

    The state of emergency that Wheeler declared for the village Friday still is in effect. He said it will remain in effect at least through Wednesday because the forecast calls for rain in Pulaski Monday through Wednesday.

    Officials at Brookfield Renewable Power’s Redfield Reservoir up river assured Wheeler they would not release any water down to the Pulaski area through the end of the week. “But they’re in the same jam as I am,” Wheeler said. “They are getting a lot of water from runoff from the Tug Hill.”

    Businesses and houses in Pulaski were affected by the high water only by having flooded basements, Wheeler said. He said businesses were open for business during the weekend.

    Anglers Sunday and Monday were fishing the Salmon River again following last week's flooding. However, many were focusing on the river's lower, more fishable tributaries, said people on the river.

    "We’re running now at about 2,000 cubic feet per second in the main river," said Mike Stone, owner of Stoney’s Pineville Campground Monday morning. "You don’t want to be fishing the main river over your knees, you could be swept away."

    He said the river is fishable and many are trying, but it’s still problematic because of the high flow, which normally is between 350 to 700 cubic feet per second this time of year.

    Wheeler said there was 26,000 cubic feet of water per second in the river during the height of Friday’s flooding. In 1984, the Salmon River flooded in Pulaski with 29,000 cubic feet of water per second rushing through the village.

    Fran Verdoliva, the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Salmon River director, said the 2,000 cubic feet per second flow is the amount of water coming the Redfield Reservoir. He said the river current is even stronger, noting that water flowing in from the river’s tributaries is contributing to force of the river.

    "Right now the water is coffee-colored," he said Monday afternoon. "There’s still dangerous conditions. You can’t see where you’re stepping."

    He said anglers need to be careful around the river’s banks, many that could be loose from being undercut from last week’s floods. "There’s lots of fish in the river, but I would be surprised at the levels this river is flowing that fish are being pushed back downstream into the estuary, There’s a lot of debris coming through," he said.

    Stone said several of his campers left early Saturday because of the high waters, but that they’ve since come back. He said he’s currently booked solid through the Columbus Day weekend. "We’ve had no cancellations," he said.

    About 320 tons of rock from the King Quarry in Rodman, Jefferson County, were brought to Pulaski over the weekend to help stabilize the shoreline, Wheeler said. Village Department of Public Works employees worked throughout the weekend to keep the soil from eroding more and damaging the sewage pump station.


    The Cayuga Indian Nation today won another court victory in its bid to continue selling tax-free cigarettes at its LakeSide Trading stores in Union Springs and Seneca Falls. The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a request by Cayuga and Seneca counties to overturn a recent ruling in which the state Court of Appeals sided with the Cayugas, lawyers for...

    cigarette raid 005.JPGView full sizeCayuga County sheriff's deputies raided the Cayuga Indian Nation's LakeSide Trading store outside Union Springs on Nov. 25, 2008, seizing untaxed cigarettes.

    The Cayuga Indian Nation today won another court victory in its bid to continue selling tax-free cigarettes at its LakeSide Trading stores in Union Springs and Seneca Falls.

    The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a request by Cayuga and Seneca counties to overturn a recent ruling in which the state Court of Appeals sided with the Cayugas, lawyers for both sides said.

    The decision settles once and for all the question of whether the nation’s stores are on a qualified reservation, said Lee Alcott, a Syracuse lawyer who represents the Cayugas.

    “The (Supreme Court) decision essentially affirms not only the Court of Appeals ruling … but also that the nation has a reservation and that the taxpayers of Cayuga and Seneca counties will no longer have to bear the costs of another futile attempt to prove otherwise,’’ Alcott added.

    Last May, the state Court of Appeals ruled the counties could not prosecute the Cayugas for selling tax-free cigarettes to non-Indians at its stores because the stores are on qualified reservation land under state tax law.

    In its ruling, the appeals court also sided with the Cayugas because there was no state system in place to collect the tax.

    Rochester lawyer Philip Spellane, who represents the counties, declined comment on the today’s Supreme Court decision because he had yet to talk to the counties.

    The Cayugas say they don’t have to collect the cigarette tax because their stores are on sovereign reservation land, which lies in their ancestral homeland around the north end of Cayuga Lake.

    The state is trying to implement a tax-collection system but several Indian nations, including the Cayugas, have taken legal action to enjoin the state from forcing Indian businesses to collect the tax.

    For years the counties have tried to block the Cayugas from selling tax-free cigarettes to non-Indians at their stores. The counties say that gives the nation an unfair competitive edge over non-Indian businesses that have to collect the tax and charge steeper prices.

    You can reach Scott Rapp at srapp@syracuse.com or 289-4839.


    Oswego, NY -- Two Oswego women were arrested for a September burglary, but police think they may be responsible for other, similar crimes. Amber L. Wheeler, 19, and Stephanie N. Burnett, 20, both of 145 West Van Buren St., were arrested Friday by Oswego police and charged with burglary in the second degree and fourth-degree grand larceny, both felony charges....

    Amber L. Wheeler.JPGAmber Wheeler
    Stephanie N. Burnette.JPGStephanie Burnett
    Oswego, NY -- Two Oswego women were arrested for a September burglary, but police think they may be responsible for other, similar crimes.

    Amber L. Wheeler, 19, and Stephanie N. Burnett, 20, both of 145 West Van Buren St., were arrested Friday by Oswego police and charged with burglary in the second degree and fourth-degree grand larceny, both felony charges.

    The two were sent to Oswego County jail in lieu of $5,000 bail and are due back in Oswego City Court Tuesday.

    “We believe that these two suspects are responsible for a number of other daytime burglaries in the City of Oswego,” said Police Chief Michael Dehm. “These two females have been reportedly observed knocking on doors in area neighborhoods, specifically, in the area of West 8th Street near Tallman or Erie Streets.”

    Dehm asked anyone who may have seen the women knocking on doors to call his department at 342-8130.

    The investigation remains open, he said.

    Contact Charles McChesney at cmcchesney@syraucuse.com.



    Aubertine, Ritchie gain financial support from outside their 48th Senate district

    Syracuse, NY - A new poll showing state Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, leading Republican Andrew Russo by 10 points may be closer than it appears, the pollster said.

    Siena Institute pollster Steven Greenberg noted that both candidates in the 49th Senate District had similar favorability ratings, and that 11 percent were unsure for whom they would vote. And, Greenberg noted, while Valesky’s fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo led by 20 points in the district in the race for governor, Valesky has only half that lead.

    “I think this race is a long way from over with four weeks to go,” Greenberg said.

    In the Siena poll, released today, Valesky holds a 50-40 percent lead. The poll of 406 likely voters was conducted last week and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

    Valesky, the third-highest ranking senator, is running for his fourth term. Russo, a concert pianist who lives in Fayetteville, is seeking his first public office.

    The race is important for both parties because the balance of power in the state Senate is fragile – 32 Democrats and 30 Republicans. Russo, a political newcomer, is running on a platform of reform and has already received $9,500 from the campaign of Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and $36,500 from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

    “We feel Andrew Russo is within striking distance,” said Scott Reif, spokesman for the Senate Republican committee.

    Russo defeated East Syracuse Mayor Danny Liedka 66 percent to 34 percent in the Sept. 14 primary.

    Another Central New York race, the 48th Senate District, is also getting statewide attention. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has given $92,250 to Sen. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent.

    Aubertine is in a neck-and-neck race with St. Lawrence County Clerk Patricia Ritchie. A poll released Sept. 28 by the Siena Institute had Ritchie leading 48 to 45 percent. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

    Austin Shafran, spokesman for the DSCC, noted that Republicans hold a bigger enrollment advantage in the 48th Senate District — which includes Oswego and Jefferson counties, and part of St. Lawrence County — than in any of the 62 Senate districts. Only 29 percent of the district’s active voters are enrolled Democrat.

    “So obviously it’s always one of the targets of the GOP,” Shafran said.

    Aubertine spokesman Drew Mangione said, “The senator is in a tough race. He has reached out for support and he’s receiving it.”

    In the 49th District race, the latest campaign filings show that Valesky has a 5-to-1 advantage in cash on hand. He has $378,000 in the bank compared to Russo’s $72,000. Valesky didn’t have a primary, but he has spent about $253,000 on polls, television advertising, strategists and other staff since July.

    Since January 2009, Valesky has raised about $681,000. Russo has raised about $260,000 and has loaned his campaign $19,000.

    Russo downplayed Valesky’s fund-raising advantage.

    “We’re very confident from this point on we will have the resources we need,” Russo said.

    Valesky could not be reached for comment. His campaign spokeswoman, Jessica DeCerce, issued a short statement that read, in part: “The fact that the polls show that the voters recognize Dave’s work is encouraging, but Dave knows that there’s still a lot of work to do.”

    The 49th district includes all of Madison County and parts of Onondaga, Cayuga and Oneida counties, including portions of Syracuse, Rome and Auburn.

    Documents filed with the state Board of Elections give a rundown of campaign donations in other Central New York state races:

    48th Senate District: Aubertine has raised $334,877 in 2009 and 2010. Ritchie has raised $154,580 since she began raising funds in March.

    Ritchie and Aubertine — who was first elected senator in 2008 — are both getting the bulk of their large donations from outside the 48th Senate District. Only two of Ritchie’s 30 biggest campaign contributions came from donors inside the district.

    Ritchie has raised $154,580 this year and has $42,493 left. Her campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

    54th Senate District: Democrat Ed O’Shea is trailing far behind in fund-raising compared to Republican incumbent Michael Nozzolio. Nozzolio has raised a total of $359,950 in 2009 and 2010. O’Shea started fund-raising in June, and has received $6,451. At the end of the most recent filing period, O’Shea reported a balance of $1,181 while Nozzolio had $243,830.

    50th Senate District: Veteran Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse, holds a towering fundraising advantage over his Democratic challenger, Syracuse Common Councilor Kathleen Joy. DeFrancisco, who has served nine terms in the 50th district, had more than $728,000 in campaign funds as of Sept. 27, compared with just over $15,000 for Joy.

    “This is a sweat-equity campaign,” Joy said. “People in the community don’t have the extra resources to donate to a campaign. So they’re donating with their time and their energy.”DeFrancisco, who ended last year with almost $750,000 in campaign funds, has raised an additional $97,136 this year compared with $29,264 for Joy, according to campaign finance reports.

    Contact Glenn Coin at gcoin@syracuse.com or 470-3251. Staff writers Mike McAndrew, Tim Knauss and Scott Rapp contributed to this report.


    NEW YORK — A patron at the Stonewall Inn, a powerful symbol of the gay rights movement since protests over a 1969 police raid there, was tackled to the floor and beaten in an anti-gay bias attack over the weekend, authorities said Monday. Two men were arrested in the early Sunday beating, which came little more than a day...

    2010-10-04-ap-Stonewall-Inn.JPGView full sizeAn exterior view of the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, in seen in this photo from May 1994. Prosecutors say a man has been beaten in a recent anti-gay attack at the New York City bar where a 1969 riot became a defining moment in the gay rights movement.

    NEW YORK — A patron at the Stonewall Inn, a powerful symbol of the gay rights movement since protests over a 1969 police raid there, was tackled to the floor and beaten in an anti-gay bias attack over the weekend, authorities said Monday.

    Two men were arrested in the early Sunday beating, which came little more than a day after a group of male friends bidding an affectionate good night to each other were attacked in another anti-gay assault elsewhere in Manhattan, prosecutors said.

    The attacks came amid heightened attention to anti-gay bullying following a string of suicides attributed to it last month, including a New Jersey college student’s Sept. 22 plunge off the George Washington Bridge after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly streamed online.

    But the attack prosecutors described at the Stonewall Inn especially galled and saddened gay rights advocates, some of whom wondered whether a place known for a defining moment in the history of gay rights might spur a new push for tolerance.

    The victim was using a restroom at the Greenwich Village bar around 2 a.m. Sunday when a man at the next urinal, Matthew Francis, asked what kind of an establishment it was, prosecutors said. On being told it was a gay bar, Francis used an anti-gay slur and told the victim to get away from him, assistant district attorney Kiran Singh said.

    “I don’t like gay people. Don’t pee next to me,” Francis added, according to the prosecutor.

    Francis, 21, then demanded money, punched the victim in the face and continued beating him after a co-defendant blocked the door, tackled the victim and held him down, Singh said. The victim was treated at a hospital and was released, she said.

    Francis said nothing at his arraignment Monday. A defense lawyer said that Francis wasn’t the aggressor and that the episode wasn’t motivated by bias. “Mr. Francis is not a violent person. Nor did he try to rob anyone,” said the attorney, Angel Soto. “There may have been a fight, but it certainly wasn’t a hate crime.”

    Francis was held on $10,000 bond. His co-defendant was awaiting arraignment.

    Just before midnight Friday, several male friends hugging and kissing each other good night in Manhattan’s gay-friendly Chelsea neighborhood were confronted by a group of more than five people who used an anti-gay epithet and told them to go home because “this is our neighborhood,” according to a court document filed by prosecutors. Two other men lashed out with fists as Andrew Jackson hurled a metal garbage can into one victim’s head, prosecutors said.

    Jackson, 20, was arraigned over the weekend on hate crime assault and other charges. His lawyer, Anne Costanzo, declined to comment Monday.

    The Stonewall Inn became a rallying point for gay rights in June 1969, when a police raid sparked an uprising in an era when gay men and women were often in the shadows. Stonewall patrons fought with officers, and several days of demonstrations followed, in an outpouring that became a formative moment in the gay rights movement.

    “The riots at Stonewall gave way to protests, and protests gave way to a movement, and the movement gave way to a transformation that continues to this day,” President Barack Obama said at a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month reception at the White House in June 2009. The Stonewall riots’ legacy also is reflected in the names of some gay resource organizations, including student groups at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

    For the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which works to combat attacks on gays and others, assaults like this weekend’s remain all too common problems. But the attack at the Stonewall Inn reverberates with a particularly disturbing resonance, executive director Sharon Stapel said.

    “Even in a bar like the Stonewall Inn, which started a huge part of the gay rights movement — even the Stonewall Inn is not immune to this sort of violence, despite all of the work that they do to create a safe and tolerant atmosphere,” Stapel said. “It’s incredibly sad.” But she said she hoped the incident and the atmosphere of concern about anti-gay harassment would spark new conversations about how to respond.


    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A gunman driving around Gainesville in a red pickup truck went on a shooting spree Monday afternoon, leaving two people dead and five others wounded, police said. Police originally told The Gainesville Sun that the gunman was among those shot but later would only tell The Associated Press that he was no longer at large. The gunman...

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A gunman driving around Gainesville in a red pickup truck went on a shooting spree Monday afternoon, leaving two people dead and five others wounded, police said.

    Police originally told The Gainesville Sun that the gunman was among those shot but later would only tell The Associated Press that he was no longer at large.

    The gunman shot seemingly unrelated people, starting around 4 p.m., Gainesville police Cpl. Tscharna Senn said. Five people were shot within city limits, while the other two were shot in Alachua County, Senn said.

    There was no immediate motive for the shootings. “We have no idea right now, absolutely none,” Senn told the Gainesville Sun. “It appears to be random.” Senn would not tell the AP whether the suspect was dead, wounded or arrested.

    Gainesville Police Capt. Ed Book told the Sun earlier that the suspect had been pulled over and shot himself. “We believe we’re with the suspect and the vehicle, and there is no one out there running around,” Book said earlier.

    The wounded were being taken to Shands Hospital, where family members were gathering.

    Gainesville, which is in the north-central part of the state, is home to the University of Florida. There was no immediate link between the school and the shooting.


    Suspended high school principal says there is no reason to conduct the meeting behind closed doors.

    2010-09-26-mjg-JE2.JPGAbout 200 residents of the Jordan-Elbridge school district attend a meeting Sept. 26 in the Elbridge Fire Department to express concerns about the district and the school board. Monday, a group of citizens from the meeting demanded that several suspended and terminated employees be reinstated.

    Elbridge, NY -- The Jordan-Elbridge school board met behind closed doors Monday night to talk about pending lawsuits and to address personnel issues.

    Board president Mary Alley announced to the 40 people who showed up that the board was going into executive session to discuss two matters under litigation and one that’s pending along with personnel issues. Alley also announced the board would not conduct any business after the session.

    A judge has ruled against the district twice in the past two weeks, criticizing the board and the district for operating secretly.

    David Zehner, the Jordan-Elbridge high school principal suspended two weeks ago, said there is no reason why the public should not know that the board is talking about whether to appeal his case and another case.

    Zehner filed a lawsuit against the board, charging it violated the state Open Meetings Law when it met improperly talked about the appointment of an interim superintendent. State Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood agreed, ruling against the district.

    In another case, Greenwood ruled on Sept. 24 that a severance agreement between the district and outgoing school Superintendent Marilyn Dominick, who leaves at the end of the month, must be made public. Dominick had refused to release the document to William Hamilton, the district’s suspended assistant superintendent of business and finance.

    The district has been embroiled in an administrative shake up that’s been marked by suspensions and lawsuits. The board has suspended Zehner and Hamilton with pay, transferred another principal involuntarily to an other job and negotiated the superintendent’s retirement with two years left on her contract.

    Rochelle Hubbs, a member of community group J-E Community One Voice, stood up at the start of the meeting and presented the board with a list concerns and demands that the group wants the board to address at the next school board meeting on Wednesday. The demands came from a meeting of 200 residents who met on Sept. 29.

    The group asked for the following:

    • The resignation of Sue Gorton, who the board talked about naming the interim superintendent, and that she not be considered for the superintendent’s job.
    • The immediate reinstatement of the following administrators and employees: Zehner, William Hamilton, Anthony Scro and Janice Schue. Zehner was suspended two weeks ago. Hamilton was suspended in July. Scro, the district’s treasurer, was fire last month from his job. Schue was reassigned last school year from her job as elementary school principal to a new job as special project administrator.
    • The resignation of Paula VanMinos, the district’s director of operations. She could not be reached for comment.
    • Stop using Danny Mevec, the district’s lawyer, because of his poor legal advice to the board and the superintendent. The group criticized his legal fees and his personal relationship with a school board member. The board has acknowledged he is dating board member Jeanne Pieklik.

    Two Jordan-Elbridge high school students — seniors, Kathryn Alonso-Bergevin and Tory Bush and junior, Christie Smith — handed out blue and white ribbons (the school’s colors) in support of Zehner and “in support of the end of corrupt school board.”

    The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the high school auditorium, 5721 Hamilton Road, Jordan.


    Oswego, NY -- Workers at nuclear power plants — including the three in Oswego County — will face beefed up background screening and training aimed at identifying potential terrorists as part of a new national crackdown by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday. Schumer visited Oswego Monday to announce the commission’s recommendations to secure nuclear plants....

    Oswego, NY -- Workers at nuclear power plants — including the three in Oswego County — will face beefed up background screening and training aimed at identifying potential terrorists as part of a new national crackdown by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday.

    Schumer visited Oswego Monday to announce the commission’s recommendations to secure nuclear plants.

    The commission released an audit requested by Schumer after officials discovered a suspected Al-Qaeda member worked at nuclear plants in New Jersey from 2002 through 2008.

    The suspect, Sharif Mobley, moved to Yemen where he was arrested earlier this year and accused of having ties to Al-Qaeda. Mobley is an American citizen who was hired by several contractors to do maintenance work at nuclear power plants. He satisfied federal background checks as recently as 2008, Schumer said.

    Schumer said NRC Inspector General’s audit recommended improving employee training so that workers can better identify potential terrorists and allowing the NRC direct access to background-check databases, as opposed to relying on information provided by third parties.

    The audit also said nuclear plants should increase the frequency with which employees are re-screened and possibly require employees to declare their foreign travel.

    Schumer, D-NY, said the first three recommendations must be acted on within 30 days. The NRC will have the discretion to decide whether employees should be required to disclose details of overseas travel.

    "The Mobley arrest showed that we had to devise and implement a much tougher security system to protect our nuclear plants from infiltration," Schumer said. "The NRC stepped up to the plate and provided concrete, actionable recommendations that can be put in place immediately.

    "This security plan will protect all New Yorkers and is a victory for nuclear power plants and their workers, who will not have enhanced protections," Schumer said.

    Neil Sheehan, speaking for the commission, said the NRC security staff already had begun work on issues staff recognized needed enhancing even before the Office of Inspector General started its review. Other changes will be implemented in the future, he said.

    He also said the access authorization requirements for U.S. nuclear power plants "are already quite robust." The plants are required to have comprehensive programs and procedures in place to ensure that those with access to sensitive areas have been properly screened and checked. "That said, the NRC is constantly re-evaluating plant security measures and when we determine revisions are needed, we won't hesitate to require them," he said.


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