June General Meeting

The June General Meeting covered NYC funding of abortion access, NYS support for gestional surrogacy, prostitution legislation and the Green New Deal. And, a thank you to Jerry Nadler for a very informative forum.

Party Leaders

District Leader Keen Berger’s report opened with a thank you for re-electing her for the last fourteen years.  She will be super-ceded by a new District Leader, Jen Hoppe, after the Primary on June 25th.  Keen mentioned two issues important to her:

  1. Social justice issue:  the fact that the 75 Morton Street middle school provides less after-school programs than any other school in District 2.  She hopes that VID can write a letter or do some other action to help rectify this. 
  2. Measles epidemic.  Keen mentioned that Dick Gottfried was sitting on the fence on this issue of requiring everyone to be inoculated and doing away with religious exemptions.  This is a public health issue, and since the Hell’s Kitchen Dems had written a letter on the issue she suggested perhaps VID could, too.  (Later in the meeting it was announced the bill had passed.)

District Leader Arthur Schwartz reported the County Committee meeting would be in the first part of July–within 3 weeks, and the Judicial Convention would be on August 12.  Arthur followed this with an update on The Beth Israel suit; it has been argued in court before Judge Hagler, who was totally on our side.   He said added that he would shortly be filing suit on the 14th Street plan.

Guest Speakers

Prostitution Legislation

Sanctuary for Families made a presentation in favor of partial decriminalization of sex workers–criminalizing users and not sellers.  They offer extensive services for those who wish to leave the sex trade, and Melanie spoke of her experiences of being trafficked at age 12.  They urge reform of the criminal justice system and provide medical, dental, and psychiatric services to their clients.  Member Grace Price provided a handout of statistics regarding prostitution arrests in New York, and a discussion ensued.

Green New Deal

Sunrise Movement made a presentation about the Green New Deal (GND).  They were inspired by a sit-in at Nancy Pelosi’s office last year demanding people get serious about climate change, and social and economic justice.  Justine emphasized getting fossil fuel money out of politics, and alerted us that Hakeem Jeffries, Chuck Schumer, and Max Rose are not on board with the GND.  She said Cuomo was cautiously optimistic about passage of the Climate and Community Protection Act.  Justine said the GND seeks to provide good-paying union jobs and restore economic inequities along with providing help for natural disasters.  Q and A followed.

Decriminalization of Sex Work

Jared Trujillo and Nina Luo of Decrim NY, a group which advocates for full decriminalization of sex work,  are pushing the Trafficking Victims Record Relief Bill, which has passed the Assembly.  Jared,  spoke of a package of bills called Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act which would decriminalize consensual sex acts, trafficking, or children.  He emphasized that there were consequences to the way sex workers were treated and wished to make these workers safer.  Some additional bills were mentioned:  Brad Hoylman’s bill, ending “loitering for prostitution”, also known as walking while trans, and Dick Gottfried’s bill, to decriminalize buying, promoting, and engaging in the sex trade.  

Letters and Resolutions

David Siffert introduced a vote on the Resolution Supporting City Council Funding of Abortion Access.  This passed unanimously.

He then read a letter to Assembly Members O’Donnell and Glick urging their support for S2071B (the Modern Family Act) regarding gestational surrogacy.  This passed with 18 in favor and 2 opposed.

Jim Yates brought up the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and the loophole deeming police officers telling lies outside the jurisdiction of the Board and asked the Executive Committee to consider a resolution addressing this.  A motion was made and was passed unanimously,  22 in favor.

Committee Reports

David Siffert mentioned the possibility of moving the annual Gala date to earlier in the year because of the judicial calendar, and noted we garnered about $20,000 net this year, which is excellent considering fewer judges attended.  He said the postcarding for Dustin Reidy was very successful, with over 500 postcards signed, and reminded everyone of the July 19 fundraiser for Andy Kim.

Deb Sherman gave a short report on the Gun Reform Committee, recounting last week’s Brooklyn Bridge march garnered about 660 postcards, even though the turnout was disappointing.  That brings the postcard number to about 1200.

Tony Hoffmann of the Campaign Committee reminded everyone there would be no primary in the 66 AD.  The County Committee needs people who live in the 66 AD to volunteer.  Jerry Nadler will have a fundraiser at the Grand Soho Hotel Monday.

Mar Fitzgerald of the Education Committee was next, saying she attended a protest at the headquarters of the Education Department which targeted segregation in public schools and it went great.  There was also a smaller rally to increase diversity in PTAs.  DeBlasio provided a $2M fund for school districts to develop diversity plans, and 64 of his 67 recommendations were adopted.  Mar also wrote a story for Westview News on the 75 Morton Street middle school.

David Siffert spoke for the Animal Advocacy Committee, saying they had sent a letter advising spaying and neutering for sold pets at four months.  Linda Rosenthal had an anti-declawing bill with exceptions. The declawing bill passed without exceptions. VID is planning to propose that the legislature add a narrow exception for individuals who are diagnosed with an illness after getting a cat such that they would have to choose between declawing the cat or turning the cat over to a shelter — this is true of some people with diabetes, for example. The anti-fur bill was very controversial, and Carlina has a bill banning foie gras.  Mike Gianaris sponsored a bill making it illegal to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores in New York State.

New Business

David mentioned articles in the Villager on the Gala and Nadler.  He announced that the club will hold two debate watch parties for the Democratic presidential candidates, on June 26 and 27, at two location, to be determined.  There will be ten candidates on each night. 

On July 17 there will be a VID picnic at a park to be determined.

Sharon Woolums mentioned the passing of Ben Green, former chair of CB2 and neighborhood activist, with an obituary in the Villager.  She wants to do a memorial for him at Judson in September and needs volunteers to participate.

Jen Hoppe said Ranked Choice Voting was passed by the NYC charter commission and would likely be on the ballot of charter proposals.  Susan Dess, a VID member, would be hosting a talk on Anti-Semitism and How To Combat It Tuesday at Phillips Nizer LLC, admission free.

Grace Price, a 9/11 survivor, was having trouble getting psychiatric help from the Victim Compensation Board and needed help.

Jen brought up a Saturday demonstration at Foley Square by Move On to Impeach Trump.

Cameron Krause advised us the Carolyn Maloney bill to extend funding for the 9/11 survivor fund passed after John Stewart appeared before Congress.  He advised people to call Mitch McConnell to facilitate passage in the Senate.  David also advised approaching Chuck Schumer.

Katharine Wolpe noted that every Thursday for the next two months there will be free concerts at 12:30 at 10th Street and Second Avenue, St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery.

FULL MEETING MINUTES HERE

May General Meeting

President David Siffert opened the May General Meeting by thanking everyone for their efforts to help in the Gala, especially congratulating Melissa Carty and Sara Kimbell.

At the May General Meeting on Thursday, May 9th four resolutions passed; six committees gave progress reports and guest speaker, Emily Arsenault, from  Kirsten Gillibrand’s office spoke on gun control.

 

Party Leader Reports

District Leader Keen Berger’s three conclusions:

  1. Support elected officials who are doing good work, mentioning especially Jerry Nadler and Brad Hoylman. 
  2. The importance of the little organizations that are working on good goals like electing good people and correcting gerrymandering. 
  3. She agreed that the 14th Street situation is a mess and she’s glad that Elissa Stein wrote her great resolution in response. 

This sparked a discussion regarding support for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, working on the “double jeopardy” law, pushing to get Trump’s tax returns, and support for Planned Parenthood in the light of the anti-abortion campaign.

Rachel Lavine, State Committeewoman, urged support for the upcoming delegate selection in the State Committee and the need to approve a resolution addressing NY election laws, especially regarding the time frame in which you can register or change your party affiliation. 

She also spoke on local transportation issues and the lack of inclusiveness with the community.   Rachel also said it was imperative that the House impeaches Trump, and that we should have a conversation and inform Nadler.

Ben Yee, State Committeeman spoke of the upcoming vote on the delegates for candidates.  He’s having an event to gain donations to cover the expenses of his Public Advocate campaign.

Arthur Schwartz, the male District Leader offered details on his ongoing case regarding the 14th Street changes, and how changes in the bus routes will affect the elderly and disabled.  He will be bringing another case regarding the vehicular traffic rerouting.  The Beth Israel project is at a standstill.  Then Arthur discussed the Board of Elections knocking people off the ballot.  

Guest Speaker

Emily Arsenault, of Kirsten Gillibrand’s office, gave a Gun Control update.  She expressed frustration at seeing zero progress on this issue, but said it has become a young people’s movement.  She discussed a bill, S730, regarding prior gun trafficking, which Gillibrand re-introduced in March as she does every year.  Emily discussed S42 to expand background checks, co-sponsored with Senator Murphy, and S506, the Extreme Risk Prevention Order Act, which allows family members to petition the court to prevent people with mental illness from acquiring guns.  She also emphasized Ed Markey’s bill to study the effects of gun violence.  

Resolutions

The Resolution Urging Trader Joe’s to Resume Deliveries, by Marlene Nadle with one amendment came to a vote.  Marlene thanked everyone for their help, especially Jumaane Williams, Corey Johnson, and Erik Bottcher, and urged people to call and write and express their opinions.  The reso passed, with 18 in favor and one abstention.  

Rick Braun’s Resolution for a Law Prohibiting the Use of Campaign Contributions for Personal Expenses.  This led to a discussion about what donations can be used for, and a friendly amendment was made and accepted to change some language.  The resolution passed unanimously, 22 to zero.

Rick Braun introduced another resolution calling for the creation of adequate space in Housing Court for clients and attorneys to have private communications, a problem at least since the 80’s.  This passed unanimously, with 16 in favor.

Elissa Stein introduced a Resolution on Proposed Changes to 14th Street .  After discussion, this passed unanimously, with 15 in favor.

Committee Reports

Mar Fitzgerald, chair of the Education Committee now spoke on the first City Council hearing on school segregation, in which Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza spoke for hours.  There was a discussion about the SHSAT and the protocols for admissions for Gifted and Talented students, and the disparities with race and equity.  She said there was a right-leaning faction in danger of taking over the Community Education Council, with anti-inclusive candidates and has a list of the candidates for District 2.  Mar also said she’s the Education Editor for Westview News.

Elissa Stein gave a report on the Gala Committee, saying it was a great success, netting approximately $20,000.  She gave credit to Sara as the workhorse.

David Siffert delivered the report on the Out of District Elections Committee, as Laurie Hardjowirogo was not present.  He said they were in the process of selecting candidates to back.  There will be an upcoming Dustin Reidy fundraiser.  And he mentioned Erik Bottcher’s birthday party on Saturday.

Deb Sherman and Allison Stowell of the Gun Control Committee spoke of their coming postcard campaign to advise Governor Cuomo on what legislation he should back.

Tony Hoffmann of the Campaign Committee was not present, but David commended him on his great work.

David and Deb reported on the Animal Advocacy Committee’s work –they’re working on a letter regarding spaying and neutering of pets which will be sent out in the next few days after approval.  The legislation status regarding puppy mills is unclear.  Corey is involved with banning fur and Carlina Rivera is trying to ban foie gras.

New Business

Katharine Wolpe distributed fliers for the rent control lobby in Albany on the 14th.  She also mentioned that on Memorial Day weekend  Theater for the New City will be hosting the LES Festival of the Arts.  She advocating putting a small ad in the literature, which David will bring to the Executive Committee for a vote.

Alec Pruchnicki brought up the fact that the fourth Monday of the month would fall on Memorial Day, and proposed possibly rescheduling.  He also said the renovation status of the White Horse Tavern was unclear.

David reminded everyone about the upcoming Nadler Forum to be held at the Little Red Schoolhouse with himself and Richard Corman of DID to appear with Jerry.

READ THE FULL MEETING MINUTES HERE

Thanks to Our True Blue Supporters

VID’s True Blue Supporters Highlighted Our 62nd Annual Awards

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Among many illustrious attendees were Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Borough President Gale Brewer, Senators Brad Hoylman and Robert Jackson, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and Councilmember Carlina Rivera.  Of course, we owe a special thank-you to our awardees: our incredible Speaker and Councilmember Corey Johnson, grassroots allstars True Blue NY and No IDC NY, and VID legend Frieda Bradlow.  Lastly, we need to thank the Gala Committee — Sara Kimbell, Elissa Stein, Nadine Hoffmann, Tony Hoffmann, Lois Rakoff, Nancy Shamban, and Jen Hoppe.  The BIGGEST thanks go to Sara Kimbell and Elissa Stein, the Gala Co-Chairs — the amount of work they did was jaw-dropping, and they managed to make an incredible event go off without a hitch.  And we haven’t forgotten our long list of sponsors.

April 11 General Meeting

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Jan 6, 2019 at the LGBT Center, Public Advocate Candidates Forum – Jumaane Williams

The April 11 General Meeting Celebrated a Birthday, Two Unapposed District Leader Nominations and an Endorsement for Jumaane Williams

The April 11th General Meeting also welcomed State Legislators Brad Hoylman and Deborah Glick and heard updates from seven committees.

FULL MEETING MINUTES

The meeting opened with President David Siffert blowing out the candles on his vegan birthday cupcake–Happy Birthday, Dave!   Then the agenda was unanimously adopted.

State Legislation

Assemblymember Deborah Glick gave a speech on the passage of legislation in the Assembly, including the plastic bag ban, and a panel to determine the details on congestion pricing, with funds going to the MTA.  Funding for electronic pollbooks passed, and funding for early voting sites, mostly upstate.  Most importantly, some significant criminal justice reform was passed, including measures to ensure speedy trials and bail reform.  Unfortunately, the pied-a-terre tax did not pass, but the millionaire tax was extended, and a mansion tax, with funds going to the MTA.  The MTA made a commitment to 50 new accessible stations to be built over the next ten years.

State Senator Brad Hoylman appeared to speak on the budget.  He opened by saying he was happy to be back at VID.  Hoylman said the outcome was better than last year’s:  a $100M program for nurse-family partnerships, services for homeless youth and LGBT organizations like the Center and GMHC, and transgender legal defense and education funds.  The Senator was disappointed with the lack of improvement in the public financing of elections.

Criminal justice reforms in discovery, bail reform and speedy trial guarantees are areas of improvement.  Sen. Hoylman spoke of subway funding and the lack of a pied-a-terre tax.  On a happier note He spoke of a process bill, with Liz Krueger chairing the Finance Committee.

On Trump’s taxes–he introduced legislation to authorize the NY State Tax Department to provide the tax returns as soon as requested.  A spirited discussion ensued when he spoke about the measles epidemic.

In his President’s Report, David mentioned that Jen and the County Committee candidates were running unopposed and had the required signatures.

Committee Reports

Sara Kimbell of the Gala Committee reported they were in the final planning stages, with Honorees being Corey Johnson, TrueBlueNY and noIDCNY, and longtime member Frieda Bradlow.  The event will be held at Tio Pepe and Sing Out Louise will perform.

Nat Johnson of the Environmental Committee announced the next meeting on April 24 at Frieda’s house, with issues to be discussed for the next year.  Anne Heaney announced a rally on April 18 to oppose the Williams Pipeline, an entirely unneeded project.  There was a discussion about the bag fee.

The Gun Reform Committee, with Sara and Deb Sherman, started their report by quoting statistics–last year there were 772 gun-related deaths in New York State.  In the nation, 100 people a day die, with 262 schoolchildren killed.  Comptroller Tom DiNapoli agreed that NY State will divest from companies that invest in guns.  He sent letters to Wells Fargo and the credit card companies explaining the risks in investing in guns.  Six anti-gun bills were not signed by the Governor, making it important to pass ERPO in more states in order to pressure him.  The next general meeting will have a speaker from Gillibrand’s office on gun issues.

Tony Hoffmann of the Campaign Committee congratulated everyone on their petitioning efforts.  The club got 1600 signatures, which is fabulous.  He especially commended Ed Yutkowitz and Jen.  There was a discussion about this year’s primaries.  Jen thanked everyone for carrying her name on petitions and announced her engagement to Cameron Krause!

Mar Fitzgerald, of the Education Committee, said she had created an agenda and will notify members about a venue.  She discussed dyslexia, asserting that it’s a social justice issue, where many children who have it are labeled disruptive.  She outlined some future events regarding schools.

David Siffert spoke for the Animal Advocacy Committee, saying that Linda Jacobson had provided lots of information regarding neutering and spaying.  Fur and foie gras are issues coming up.

David Siffert made the report for the Out-of-District Campaign Committee, as Laurie Hardjowirogo was not present.  Two candidates being considered were Jahana Hayes and Dustin Reidy.  Sara made a list of possible candidates and spoke briefly.

District Leaders

District Leader Keen Berger opened her report saying she was happy the club got many signatures on the petitions and that Jen (Hoppe) will be the next DL.  A presentation on dyslexia was made to CB2, and the Community Board will pass a resolution.  

Arthur Schwartz, male DL, was next, announcing that even though he was not endorsed by the club he had carried petitions for Jen, Jumaane, and about a dozen County Committee candidates.  The lawsuit against the closure of Beth Israel Hospital prevailed, with the hospital to file a new plan in June.  They have already closed their maternity, cardiac, and neo-natal departments.  He will be in court Thursday, and there will be a Town Hall sometime in May.  The coalition is currently working with Harvey Epstein.

Someone is trying to stop the Halloween parade, and Arthur will be representing the parade.  He’s working for Bernie, and expecting to petition next year in the Presidential primary–delegates must petition also.  Arthur will also get involved in Trader Joe’s stopping its delivery service.

Public Advocate Endorsement

Jumaane’s Campaign Manager, Trip Yang, gave a history of Jumaane, and outlined issues for the Public Advocate like affordable housing and providing a constituent services desk–he’s currently hiring more people.  There was a discussion about the SHSAT test and the problem of providing more diversity.

An election was held on whether to endorse Jumaane for the next Public Advocate term, and he won the club’s endorsement, 30 to 2.

New Business

Marlene Nadle distributed a flyer urging the members to take a strong stand against Trader Joe’s decision to no longer deliver groceries, which will negatively impact seniors and the disabled.  She urged members to write the CEO Dan Bane, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Trader Joe’s Company, 800 South Shamrock Avenue, Monrovia, Ca. 91016.  Call 626 529-4629, or go their web site, traderjoes.com.  Through the help of VID member Erik Bottcher, Corey Johnson has sent a protest letter to the CEO, and the Villager has written about it, but more is needed.

Sharon Woolums mentioned her new article on the SBJSA in the latest Villager.