December Membership and Endorsement Meeting

The December Membership and Endorsement Meeting Elected Four VID Officers, Passed on a Presidential Endorsement and Introduced Two Resolutions and Three Letters

Full Meeeting Minutes Here

District Leader and State Committee Reports

Jen Hoppe, in her District Leader report, spoke of trying to form a progressive caucus in the NY Democratic party, and meeting twice to do so.  She has proposed meeting again in January to decide how to push a progressive agenda.  She is also working with Jumaane’s office to attempt securing paid vacation for NY workers.  She also urged members to call Senator Susan Collins at 207 622-8414 and urge her to vote “yes” on impeachment.

Arthur Schwartz, District Leader, gave his report , noting that Mount Sinai Beth Israel had filed a CON (Certificate of Need) to build a new hospital, and gave some statistics, noting that the emergency room, which had previously experienced 87,000 visits a year, had scaled down to 70,000, but the new ER was projected to only accommodate 40,000.  An article recently appeared calling the Mount Sinai ER a “war zone”–Arthur will provide more info re email.

He also discussed the East River Park Resiliency Plan, requiring the building of a ten foot wall over the current park, taking years and destroying trees.  Harvey Epstein and Brad Hoylman are opposed, and there may be a possible suit re “park alienation”.  Kathy Slawinski noted that Councilmember Carlina Rivera was in favor of this plan, and previously okayed the Tech Hub without the promised zoning restrictions.

Rachel Lavine, State Committeewoman, identified herself as the cofounder and chair of the NY Progressive Caucus.  She has been meeting with farmers to secure a minimum wage bill for farm workers.  She is also working with Corey Johnson’s office to create a pipeline for agriculture in New York schools.  Most of these school providers are huge contractors, not small family farms.

Club Officer Election

President Siffert now explained the rules for voting for President and three Vice Presidents of VID, and opened a speakers list.  A motion was made to reelect David Siffert as President by having the Recording Secretary cast one unanimous vote, which passed.  In addition, Allison Stowell, Sara Kimbell, and Cameron Krause were also elected Vice Presidents in the same manner.

Presidential Endorsement

The endorsement vote for the US Presidential candidate followed.  After much discussion, a ballot was taken.  The results:

Elizabeth Warren 11
Amy Klobuchar 2
Pete Buttigieg 5
Bernie Sanders 3
No Endorsement 24

As a result no endorsement was made.  A motion was made for Captain’s Choice, allowing members to campaign for the candidate of their choice, and this passed unanimously.  Tony made a motion to revisit the endorsement of a Presidential candidate at the March meeting and this passed with 33 in favor and one abstention,

Resolutions and Letters

Now David read a letter addressed to Senator Brad Hoylman asking him to organize opposition to the recommendations of the Public Finance Campaign Commission, which he deemed undemocratic, and bring them in line with the existing parallel Gold Standard legislation prepared in consultation with the Brennan Center.   Tony Hoffmann asked that the letter also be sent to Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and Jim Yates proposed sending a similar letter to the entire legislature.  After discussion, a vote was taken to send the Hoylman letter, with 30 to send, 3 opposed, and one abstention.  The letter will be sent to Brad, and another, shorter letter will be composed for the legislature, to be voted on later in the meeting.

Next, the PAWS Act Resolution was discussed, making it easier for veterans to obtain service animals.  After debate, this passed with 29 in favor and one abstention.

Now a resolution in support of A.1204-A (Peoples-Stokes)/ S.2279-A (Hoylman), reducing the transmission of HIV by making post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) available to minors who have experiencing sexual assault.  This passed unanimously, with 30 in favor.

Tony read the letter which Jim Yates had penned urging the rejection of the report of the Campaign Finance Reform Commission, to go to the legislature and Deborah Glick, in addition to the already approved letter to be sent to Brad Hoylman.  A vote was taken, and the letter to the legislature passed unanimously with 36 votes.  The Deborah Glick letter passed with 32 in favor and 3 abstentions.

Committee Reports

David announced that the Campaign Finance Committee met last week and was working on how to move forward.  They will investigate finances and present the report to the club for approval.  The Gala Committee will start to be formed, and David asked for volunteers.

Mar Fitzgerald of the Education Committee was not present, but John Bredin gave a speech on the importance of education and asked to join.

Nat Johnson gave a report for the Environmental Committee, announcing that the 45 day comment period for the Brownfield Cleanup Project (250 Water Street) had been extended, thanks in part to a write-in campaign by the club.  The committee will be passing out 10 point fliers urging people to recycle during the holiday season and use less wasteful materials.  State Senator Todd Kaminsky has sponsored legislation against PFAs (used in “compostable” bowls) and other pollutants

Allison Stowell of the Gun Reform Committee, reported on the Gun Violence Forum, which was well attended and had a great panel.  Ed Yutkowitz wrote a great article on it for The Village Sun.  The aim was partnering with other communities to mitigate gun violence.  Also, Nick Smith has been invited to the next meeting, and the committee will be submitting 1100 signed postcards for gun reform.

Tony Hoffmann, of the Campaign and Out-of-District Committees, reported on organizing to send buses to important states–this will start earlier, probably around the end of July.  David interjected on the need for money to pay for the buses, and some details on the scheduling.


Now a presentation was made by two members of RAPP (Release Aging People in Prison).  Jose Saldana and David George gave a history of the organization, begun by three formerly incarcerated people, Mujahid Fareed among them.  Jose spoke of the Elder Parole Act, making those of 55 years or older, with 15 or more years in prison, eligible for parole.  He also spoke of the Fair and Timely Parole Act, mandating that the parole board evaluate release based on the present person rather than the crime committed.  He urged everyone to join him in Albany January 14–RAPP is seeking to mobilize 500 people.  David added that they will also coordinate with HALT/Solitary and True Blue on January 21.  He urged people to visit to join or donate if unable to attend.

DACA First

DACA First…Contact Your Elected Leaders

Village Independent Democrats urges support of DACA first.   We stand with elected officials, law enforcement professionals, faith and civic leaders in supporting Dreamers and DACA recipients.  We recognize their enormous positive and productive role in our communities, and their contributions to our schools, workplaces, and shared prosperity as a nation.

Here’s our message.  Copy and send,liberally, to: 
Congress Member Jerold Nadler 
Sen Charles Schumer, 
Congress Member Carolyn Maloney
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Dear Congressman Nadler,

Village Independent Democrats stands with elected officials, law enforcement professionals, faith and civic leaders in supporting Dreamers and DACA recipients.  We recognize their enormous positive and productive role in our communities, and their contributions to our schools, workplaces, and shared prosperity as a nation.
Since June 2012, nearly 800,000 young people who came to the United States as children have passed background checks and received permission to live and work in America.  Through DACA, they have advanced their education, started businesses, and established themselves as integral members of our society.
Ending DACA would put these young people at risk of deportation and separation from their families and our communities.  Not only would this would be senselessly cruel, it would remove hundreds of thousands of young men and women from our workforce.  It would cost the country an estimated $460.3 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product over a decade and tens of billions more in contributions to Medicare and Social Security.  It would force businesses to incur $3.4 billion in turnover costs.
In late June, attorneys general from ten states threatened to sue the Trump Administration if it does not end DACA; but twice that number wrote to encourage the administration to maintain and defend the initiative
We urge President Trump, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and our members of Congress to keep their political and moral commitments to preserve DACA.  We also encourage President Trump and Republicans and Democrats in Congress to enact legislation that replaces fear and uncertainty with permanent protection for Dreamers. The recently introduced stand-alone Dream Act of 2017 would do that and we support it.
Dreamers and DACA recipients have enriched and strengthened American cities, states, schools, businesses, and religious institutions.  It is a moral imperative that the the country recognize them, value them, and stand with them.  Let them fulfill their destiny in the United States of America.  

Thank you,


Erik Coler                                                                               
Village Independent Democrats

Executive Committeee
Village Independent Democrats

GMO Labeling

VID has endorsed a letter asking President Obama to veto the current GMO Labeling bill.

After years of bitter debate and legislative stalemate over the labeling of genetically modified ingredients, a compromise proposal sailed through Congress in breathtaking speed over the past three weeks.

Within a few years, consumers will be able to find out whether any food in the supermarket contains GMO ingredients. But they won’t necessarily see that information on the package. Instead, consumers may have to scan a “QR code” — those little square codes that you see on airline boarding passes — to get that information.

Dan Charles, All things Considered, NPR July 14, 2014

GMO-LABELING_VermontAccording to  EcoWatch,    “The bill would also nullify state-by-state GMO labeling mandates such as Vermont’s landmark law that took effect on July 1.”  They also report that:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also expressed concern that the Roberts-Stabenow bill is ridden with loopholes. In its technical comments, the FDA pointed out that the bill has a narrow and ambiguous definition of “bioengineering” that would exempt many foods from GMO sources.

The VID letter, signed by VID President, Nadine Hoffman states:

While we welcome the establishment of the first mandatory federal labeling requirement to help consumers know whether their food contains genetically modified ingredients, the mandate will not be as effective as it could and should be.  In fact, the bill will nullify a stronger measure just recently implemented by Vermont that ensures that labels are comprehensive and written in easy-to-understand English.

You can read the whole plea for veto to President Obama here.

A New York Times article of July 14th verifies consumer reactions which could force packagers to be more forthright regardless of the legislation:

The federal law renders Vermont’s law and other state labeling laws null and void, but companies will have to weigh the expense of taking text off labels, not to mention the risk of irritating consumers interested in increasing transparency about the foods they eat. A survey of more than 1,500 consumers by Label Insight, a research firm whose clients include major food companies and grocery businesses, found that 37 percent of consumers said they would be willing to switch brands if another brand shared more detailed product information.

According to The White House website, the most efficient way to express your opinion to The President is electronically.  Here’s the address for submitting your comments:

May 12th Membership Meeting

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The May 12th Membership Meeting carried a full agenda AND a Civil Court Candidate Forum

Meeting Minutes_May-2016

President Nadine Hoffmann opened the May 12th Membership Meeting by noting how nicely the VID Gala was written up in The Villager by Lincoln Anderson.  There were also some nice pics from this event.  The March for a Clean Energy Revolution, which we endorsed, will take place on July 24 before the Democratic Convention.  Members agreed to spread the word regarding this event.

45 Rivington Letter to DeBlasio (see more details in our previous post), was unanimously passed for distribution.

District Leader Keen Berger said she had two good things to report.  Several CB2 members held a well-attended meeting with Jerrold Nadler regarding the dedication of Christopher Street Park to LGBT rights.  The second item was about some school district “carve out” blocks on 12 Street North–residents of these blocks were unhappy about being zoned out of PS 41.   CB2 is pushing for their re-inclusion.

Next came the election of the judicial delegates.  VID, DID and VRDC were each to contribute two delegates and two alternates.  This arrangement passed overwhelmingly, with one nay vote.  VID nominees were Nadine Hoffmann, Jen Hoppe, Cormac Flynn, Zella Jones, Erik Coler, and David Saperstein; the finally elected delegates were Jen and Cormac, with Zella and Nadine as alternates.

Tony Hoffmann, Campaign Committee Chair, now opened the Special Candidates Forum for Civil Court, co-sponsored by VRDC, DID, and the Jim Owles Club.

The Civil Court Candidates included:

Margaret Chan
Shahabuddeen Ally
Josh Hanshaft
Emily Morales Minerva
Nicholas Moyne
Phaedra Perry
Robert Rosenthal

Each candidate gave a four minute presentation followed by up to six minutes of questions from the audience.  All the candidates were impressive and the discussion was spirited.

The meeting was adjourned, with the reminder that the endorsement meeting will take place on May 23 at 8pm at Greenwich house.