Need extra bucks during the winter? Need your snow shoveled? CALL SUN!

This winter we are offering snow shoveling gigs and a place to call if you need your sidewalk or driveway shoveled!!

If you are a young person on the Southside or Westside of Syracuse that goes door knocking to shovel people’s walks for some extra cash, CALL EMILY at 476-7475. Emily will take your number and if someone calls needing someone to shovel, she will give you an address!

If you are elderly, disabled, or just don’t have time to shovel, CALL EMILY at 476-7475. Emily will send someone to shovel your walk and driveway! You will need to tell Emily how much you can pay so the shoveler knows how much to expect.

This is the first time SUN is offering this service so please let us know if you have ideas, suggestions, or comments!

Letter to Syracuse University Chancellor and Board of Trustees

Last week, we sent a letter to Syracuse University Chancellor and the Board of Trustees in regards to our solidarity with some of the demands of THE General Body, a group representing the various student groups at SU that are advocating for a more diverse and transparent university.

November 14, 2014

Dear Chancellor Syverud and the Board of Trustees at Syracuse University,

Syracuse United Neighbors has been prompted to write you after paying close attention to THE General Body and their demands. Our concern is in regards to the draft Vision and Mission Statement that has changed drastically from the previous version and our community’s experience in changes since Chancellor Syverud joined Syracuse University.

Particularly, we agree with section of THE General Body’s Needs, Solutions and Demands Document, “The new University Mission/Vision Statement”.

As a community organization that advocates for residents of the South and West sides of Syracuse, we are appalled that the Board of Trustees would consider removing:

  • “sustained engagements with our many constituent communities”,
  • “public and non-profit”,
  • “where collectively we address the most pressing problems facing our community”,
  • “Serving the public good in these ways pervades our daily decision making and connects us… with our immediate community”.

Our neighborhood has already seen a pull back of community support from the University, particularly funding for 601 Tully, listed in THE General Body’s document as section 1.7. The University announced that it would not contribute the yearly sum of $200,000 to 601 Tully any longer, in an area of the city that is one of the poorest areas in the country, which has provided a summer camp for youth since 2011. We are saddened and frustrated that in a city that provides a place for your students to live, learn, and thrive, that Syracuse University would take away this project that allows our youth to do the same.

We are extremely disappointed that the Board of Trustees would allow this to happen. Through the funding cuts to programs on the Westside and the removal of the language mentioned above from the Vision and Mission Statement, it appears that community support from Syracuse University will decrease.

We hope that the Board of Trustees will consider the larger Syracuse community and maintain your engagements with the city, especially through the channels of public and non-profit organizations. In order that we can collectively address the pressing problems facing our community, we encourage that you continue to allow your daily decision making to be influenced by the University’s supposed dedication of serving the public good within our immediate community. We hope that you will maintain the Vision and Mission Statement that once promised the greater Syracuse community that we too, are SU.

Please note, we have also signed the solidarity statement that was drafted by the Syracuse Peace Council.


Maria V. Johnson

Chairperson Board of Directors

Letter to Congressman Elect John Katko

Last week, we sent a letter to John Katko introducing ourselves and some of our expectations of him as our new Congressman Elect.

November 14, 2014

Dear Congressman Elect John Katko:

We are Syracuse United Neighbors, comprised of residents who live on the South, Southwest and West sides of the City of Syracuse. Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN) is a grassroots community organization, established in 1977 and dedicated to improving the lives of families living in the neighborhoods on the south, southwest and near-west sides of the city.

SUN members are active, knowledgeable and involved citizens, working for neighborhoods that have:

1) homes that are affordable and in good repair.
2) equal access to quality public services.
3) crime and drug-free streets.
4) access to fair credit and decent bank lending.

As our newly elected representative in Congress, we wanted to share a few of the things that we advocate for. We hope that you will consider our work and the conditions of the City of Syracuse during your term so that we may continue increasing the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

To begin, we encourage you to hire a diverse staff in Syracuse that is representative of our communities and to hold community forums in low-income neighborhoods to hear our breadth of concerns that we hope you will advocate for in Syracuse.

Of those things, we can tell you that Washington continues to short change Syracuse in Community Development Block Grant, HOME and other housing programs for low-income residents. We encourage you to strongly advocate for these benefits to our community in Congress.


Maria V. Johnson

Chairperson Board of Directors

SUN Victory!

During our South and South West Side Meeting, we demanded that Code Enforcement and the City of Syracuse start the process to demolish 259 W Matson. SUN made an original complaint in July for this house to be demolished but nothing occurred.

259 W Matson has been abandoned since 2006 and suffered from a fire in 2012.

The property has been on the city’s “worse” properties list and has been on the Deputy Commissioner’s “demo pipeline” for almost a year now.

The taxes have been accumulating since 2006 and to date have reached $27,665.

The morning after, Code Enforcement Director Ken Towsley, wrote SUN an email explaining that the city would start the seizure process immediately and we should expect a demo mid-march!

Thanks for the residents of Matson St coming out and sharing how it impacts your neighborhood. And thanks to all the SUN members who advocate to bring down unlivable homes!

Lets hope that the coming year brings more demolishings and even more repair of vacant homes so that we can fill them with people!

259 w matson


#REV & #EnergyDemocracy: today’s tweets from the NYS Public Service Commission Technical Conference on utility reform.

The conversation on twitter today as the #REV technical conference went down with the NYS Public Service Commission & Co.

Mostly the #EnergyDemocracy working group calling out the lack of public participation… among other insights!


What’s REV and Why Does It Matter?

Originally posted at

What’s REV And Why Does It Matter?

“Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) is a major decision-making process underway now to transform the retail electricity market and overhaul New York’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The stated goal of the proceeding is to create a cleaner, more affordable, more modern and more efficient energy system in New York, through the increased development of distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and battery storage.

The REV proceeding was initiated by New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) in April, 2014.

While the goals of REV are laudable and supported by many organizations across New York, including those in the Energy Democracy Working Group, there is growing concern over the emerging policy proposals and the lack of opportunity for public input and participation.

The fight for Energy Democracy

REV could be an opportunity to improve state environmental and energy policies and push for major changes we all know need to happen to accelerate the transition to a cleaner, safer, more democratic, and more affordable energy system. However, the proceeding has lacked involvement of most of New York’s public interest community, particularly groups working at the grassroots level for a sustainable energy transition, for environmental justice, for affordable electricity rates, for consumer protection, and to overcome the barriers people and communities face in accessing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

At stake in the proceeding are questions such as:

  • What will the state’s renewable energy goals be for the next decade?
  • Will competitive markets or subsidies best help the state reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals?
  • Who will design and oversee the New York’s reformed retail energy system (the public, utility companies, or selected technocrats)?
  • Will communities, individuals, competitive businesses or utilities own the state’s renewable energy systems?
  • What will be the role of community ownership and community organizing in meeting the state’s energy goals?
  • Who will benefit from energy efficiency retrofits and weatherization?
  • How and to what extent will the environmental, health and societal costs and benefits of clean energy be incorporated into energy prices?
  • What consumer protections will be put in place to protect people from deceptive marketing and predatory lending?
  • Will the state ensure energy affordable basic energy service for all?

Heavy Corporate Influence
The development of REV has been highly influenced by New York’s investor-owned utility companies (like National Grid, ConEdison, RG&E, etc), which have a lot to gain or a lot to lose in the outcomes of the proceeding. The opportunity to reform the way investor-owned utilities operate in the New York is welcome, but this reform should be guided by the public interest, not the companies that stand to gain or lose financially from the outcomes.

The details of REV are still emerging,
As a result of the domination of this proceeding by well funded corporations, the PSC is poised to hand design of and responsibilities for our renewable energy and energy efficiency programs over to the for-profit investor-owned utilities, with relatively little public input. Through a related proceeding on the Clean Energy Fund, New York policy makers are preparing to phase out subsidies for energy efficiency and renewable energy in favor of a more market-oriented approach to development of these resources. These proceedings have yet to set clear goals and benchmarks for getting New York on a path to substantial greenhouse gas reductions, nor have they set clear goals for energy affordability or for ensuring inclusion of all of New York’s communities in the economic and health benefits promised by a transition to a cleaner energy system.

Reclaim the Energy Vision
The Energy Democracy Working Group is made up of groups across New York to promote energy democracy, energy affordability, environmental protection and consumer safeguards in the REV proceeding, as well as the goals of reversing the social, racial and economic inequity exacerbated by our current energy system. We have argued that the inclusion of these goals from the outset will create a process that can light the way to a just, inclusive, and swift transition to the affordable, efficient, renewable, and resilient energy system envisioned by the REV proceeding.

There are still many opportunities to change the course of REV, but it will take an organized public, with a strong demands for democratic participation, fairness and equity to counter the power of the utility companies and other for-profit actors involved in the proceeding.

To take action, please visit

Groups Call for Public Inclusion in Energy Reform Effort in New York State

Contact:  Jessica Azulay, (315) 480-1515

Groups Call for Public Inclusion in Energy Reform Effort in New York State

New York, NY – Today, while the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) held a technical conference regarding major proposed changes to New York’s energy policy, organizations across New York called on the agency to quickly provide avenues for better public input and participation in these proceedings.

The Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process represents a major shift in the way New York approaches energy policy. The PSC intends to transform our current energy system to one that encourages and accelerates the deployment and penetration of energy efficiency measures and distributed renewables, storage and microgrids.

The REV proceeding offers an opportunity to drive an innovative and inclusive 21st century approach to reforming New York State’s energy system that builds on community participation, advances in technology, and views residents not just as consumers but as active participants and potential producers.  Yet, the PSC process falls short of achieving this goal.

Across New York State, environmental advocates, public interest organizations and community groups welcome the idea of building a cutting edge, resilient, smart and distributed power system to replace one of the world’s oldest and antiquated energy systems. But, they also point out that the PSC process for stakeholders is extraordinarily complex and difficult to participate in, and thus, is dominated by for-profit utilities and other well-resourced companies and organizations. To date, most New York residents have not had meaningful opportunity to engage in this transformative process, including at today’s technical conference.

“How can we build a new energy vision in New York, when the major and engaged stakeholders resemble the old-school centralized power players that have relied heavily on fossil fuels and antiquated energy systems?” asked Betta Broad, Energy & Climate Program Manager at Catskill Mountainkeeper, “Our incumbent utilities may play an important role in moving New York’s energy future forward. But they cannot, and should not, be dominating that role.” 

In comments filed by residents of Buffalo, New York organized by PUSH Buffalo, one resident said, “REV will have a huge impact on who has control of renewable energy – the public needs to know more about this. We cannot let these important decisions being made by a select few when they impact a much broader base.”

In a letter submitted on October 24th 2014 to the PSC, 57 organizations and elected officials called on the agency to slow the process down, engage in meaningful public education around REV and make itself available to answer questions and hear comments from communities all over the state.

“If REV is conducted with New York’s residents at the center of attention, we can better curb the climate crisis, prevent health and safety threats posed by slipshod and dirty energy development in our communities, and achieve electricity affordability for all New Yorkers to live comfortably and work productively,” states the letter.

PSC staff immediately responded to the groups’ letter by inviting them to discuss the concerns and recommendations further. Today, the groups are calling on the PSC to take more meaningful action to slow down the process and open up public participation in the proceeding.

“We are pleased to be invited to discuss these very important issues, many of which have been pointed out for months by concerned organizations attempting to participate in REV,” said Jessica Azulay, Program Director for Alliance for a Green Economy. “We hope the Commission will immediately open this process up so that those New Yorkers who are most vulnerable to changes in energy policy and those who are already attempting to build a renewable, efficient, affordable and distributed energy system in their own communities will be included in the critical decisions being made about New York’s energy future.”

The groups have called on the PSC to adopt the following goals to ensure that this process is done with the right intentionality and public participation that it deserves:

  • The REV proceeding itself should be conducted over a longer time period and comment deadlines should be extended by at least 90 days.
  • The Commission should proactively seek input from New York residents, particularly constituencies that are underrepresented in the proceedings.
  • Proposals and orders should be written in plain, simplified language, with a minimal use of technical terms, acronyms and in multiple language learning formats.
  • Free, accessible, open and well publicized information sessions and public hearings should be held across the state at accessible locations and accessible times, and should prioritize communities that are on the frontlines of climate change and environmental injustice.
  • A full schedule for the various Tracks, staff proposals, Commission orders, comment deadlines, and public input opportunities for the REV proceeding should be published and continuously updated in a prominent place on the Public Service Commission website.
  • Intervener funds for research and the development of alternative proposals should be made available to Parties to the proceedings.

The groups state that their call for energy democracy, environmental sustainability, affordability, consumer protection, and the inclusion of all of New York’s diverse communities in REV is urgent. Many New Yorkers are unable to afford their energy bills, global climate change already threatens New York City and Upstate regions, fossil fuel-related air and water pollution plagues multiple communities and most New Yorkers lack the power to choose more sustainable and affordable energy options.

“A public process is necessary to include New York residents’ voices, attend to community needs, and ensure that the 21stcentury energy future of New York is equitable for all communities,” said Anthony Giancatarino, Director of Policy and Strategy at the Center for Social Inclusion. “What we are asking for is energy democracy, and the power to address these concerns and gain community control and oversight over how New York moves forward on these important policy goals.”

About the Working Group:

Working Group members include the Alliance for a Green Economy, the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Center for Social Inclusion, Center for Working Families, the Solutions Project, Syracuse United Neighborhoods, Pratt Center for Community Development and PUSH Buffalo.