January 2019 Membership Meeting

The January 2019 Meeting Covered Immigrants Rights; a Resolution Covering State Prosecution Notwithstanding a Federal Pardon; Albany Lobbying for the People’s Platform; Officer Elections; Gun Reform; Campaigning and VID’s Environmental Agenda.

The January 2019 Membership Meeting opened with new President David Siffert introducing Senate Bill S8236.  This bill relates to State prosecution of certain offenses when a Presidential pardon has been granted.  It is intended to close any loopholes and dispense with any possible double jeopardy offenses.  David asked for a resolution in support of this bill, but Jim Yates, former judge and member of JCOPE, made some objections, saying the bill was overbroad and other versions were being considered.  After some discussion, the resolution failed, with 25 against, 3 in favor, and 2 abstentions.  Jim provided an alternate resolution:

Be it resolved:

VID supports carefully crafted legislation that permits state prosecution notwithstanding a federal pardon.

This passed overwhelmingly, with 28 in favor and 1 abstention.

January 2019_VID Delegation_People's Platform

Sara Kimbell, Livvy Mann, Jonathan Geballe, David Siffert, Tony Hoffmann among the hundreds of TrueBlueNew York lobbyists for the People’s Platform in Albany, Jan. 15.

David also reminded us that True Blue NY was sending a bus to Albany on Tuesday, January 15 to lobby for progressive legislation and solicited volunteers.  

District Leader Keen Berger opened her report by stating she had been DL for fourteen years and she would not run again.  She said it was time for someone else, another woman, to run, and urged a female VID member to step up.  She also said the club should support Jerry Nadler for Person of the Year.





January 2019_Stowell and Siffert on ImmigrationThe keynote of the January 2019 meeting was an extensive report on the realities of defending immigrants rights.  David recounted his recent experiences at the Dilley Detention Center Pro Bono Project in Texas, working with CARA, an organization that provides legal services for immigrants requesting asylum.  He was joined by Allison Stowell, who spoke of the seven families she represented who were seeking reunification, and her work with the ACLU to reach this goal.  The presentation was very moving and provoked strong emotions.

Committee Reports

Nat Johnson, of the Environmental Committee, spoke of the agenda for the next year, which  will include renewable energy, organic collections, and the plastic bag bill.

Erik Coler, of the Affordable Housing Committee, noted the feature article in the Villager  that highlights one of the tenant lawsuits he’d pursued last year.  It resulted in a class action and those tenants stand to gain a substantial award.  He announced that the Affordable Housing Committee will re-activate this year to pursue more pro-tenant action.

Allison Stowell and Deb Sherman made a presentation for the Gun Reform Committee, saying they are researching their next big project and contacting other political groups to form a coalition.  They met with GAG, Gays Against Guns, in this effort.  Deb mentioned House Bill HR 8, sponsored by Jerrold Nadler, to expand background checks for gun sales.  Adding to this is a campaign against Wells Fargo, the biggest investor in guns, with Morgan Stanley second.

Tony Hoffmann and Laurie Hardjowirogo, of the Campaign Committee, opened by congratulating VID on the success of Sunday’s Forum for Public Advocate, which included 17 candidates and nine co-sponsors.  He commended Erik Bottcher, Laurie, Sarah Kimbell, Allison, Ed Yutkowitz, Elissa Stein, Zella Jones, and David for their efforts in its success.  VID endorsed Ben Yee for Public Advocate, and Tony related the petitioning schedule.  There was a discussion about potential variations in the NYS Primary schedule.

Officer Elections

Erik Coler ran unopposed for Treasurer, so one unanimous ballot was made by the Secretary, Kathy Slawinski.

Kathy ran unopposed for Recording Secretary, so another unanimous ballot was made for that position.

For the two Corresponding Secretaries, Ed Yutkowitz and Jonathan Geballe ran unopposed, so again a unanimous ballot was placed.

For the Executive Committee, nineteen candidates were nominated and made statements.  Those elected were: Frieda Bradlow, Melissa Carty, Susan Gottesman, Laurie Hardjowirogo, Tiffany Hodges, Nadine Hoffmann, Jennifer Hoppe, Linda Jacobson, Nathaniel Johnson, Irene Kaufman, Cameron Krause, Alec Pruchnicki, Lois Rakoff, Deb Sherman, Elissa Stein.


See also 

Notes from VID’s New President

Notes from VID’s New President

VID’s New President, David Siffert Presided Over the First Meeting of the New Year

Here’s his meeting wrap-up…

VID's New President_David SiffertFirst

I would like to congratulate our new officers — Erik Coler as Treasurer, Kathy Slawinski as Recording Secretary, Ed Yutkowitz and Jonathan Geballe as Corresponding Secretaries.  The 2019 Executive Committee includes Frieda Bradlow, Melissa Carty, Susan Gottesman, Laurie Hardjowirogo, Tiffany Hodges, Nadine Hoffmann, Jennifer Hoppe, Linda Jacobson, Nathaniel Johnson, Irene Kaufman, Cameron Krause, Alec Pruchnicki, Lois Rakoff, Deb Sherman, and Elissa Stein.


If you are interested in coming up to Albany on Tuesday, January 15, to lobby with True Blue NY for the People’s Platform, you can sign up here: https://goo.gl/forms/U8i1DKWmu186Z6ex2.  There is a bus leaving from 14th St. and 4th Ave. at 7am, and Jonathan may be driving.  Please get in touch if you are interested.


If you are interested in participating in postcard writing events, there are a few campaigns to encourage Florida voters to sign up to vote by mail: 

  • Sunday, Jan. 13, 2pm-4:30pm,  near Washington square (Sarah O’Neill) – email for address: sqoneill@mac.com
  • Monday, Jan. 14,  9am-11am, Le Pain Quotidian, Bleecker & 6th Ave (Downtown Nasty Women)

There are also some campaigns to flip the Virginia legislature (RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sister-district-ny-12-13-14-postcards-to-virginia-tickets-54533754929)

  • Sunday, January 20, Lower East Side, 2-5pm
  • Sunday, January 20, Upper East Side, 3-6pm
  • Thursday, January 24, Chelsea, 6:30-8:30pm
  • Saturday, January 26, East Village, 2-4pm


For more events and actions, I highly recommend you sign up for the weekly United Thru Action (UTA) list — it’s put together by VIDers!: 


On the Dilley Pro Bono Project:  If you were inspired by the work being done there, here are some things you can do to help:

  1. Volunteer, or encourage your friends to volunteer, by emailing volunteer@caraprobono.org.
    • If you are a lawyer who speaks Spanish, this is a required trip, both for you and for the cause.  If you know any lawyers who speak Spanish, tell them that they have to sign up for this program — as much for themselves as for their clients.
    • Data entry team.  If you are willing to do simple data entry, you can be of assistance!
    • Remote Spanish-English Interpretation Provide remote Spanish-English interpretation for volunteers on the ground who don’t speak Spanish!
  2. If you do not have time, you can donate by clicking here: https://secure.everyaction.com/BS6Q9eElpEuRBxDyh9WxiA2?ms=CARA-Dilley_Artesia-OTG.  The project is severely underfunded, and basic office supplies are often purchased by staff and volunteers out-of-pocket.  You can also directly purchase items off the DPBP Amazon Wish List here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2NM5FBYOV8T4X.
  3. If you have neither the time nor the money, spread the word on social media!
  4. If you are an experienced immigration attorney, and you are really ready to dive in, DPBP is hiring a Managing Attorney: https://aic-1.jobsoid.com/j/16977/managing-attorney-dilley-pro-bono-project.
  5. If you’d rather work more locally, Liane’s organization has many volunteer opportunities available.  You can start by checking their website here: https://www.catholiccharitiesnyvolunteer.org/.

Thanks to all of you, and see you at our next meeting, on February 14.


The L-Train Reprieve

Cuomo Announces an L-Train Reprieve


Stemming from a Report by Engineering Experts from Columbia and Cornell Engineering Schools, the L-Train Reprieve Involves  a Series of Recommendations  that Would Employ Innovative Techniques to Streamline the Scope and Timeline of the Tunnel Repair Project 

The MTA has confirmed that the recommendations can be achieved with full operation weekday service and closures on weekends and nighttime – one tube at a time.  It is estimated that the project could be completed in 15 to 20 months.  

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today accepted the recommendations of a panel of engineering experts that determined a complete closure of the L-Train Tunnel is unnecessary. The report – which followed weeks of extensive review and analysis by the deans and faculty of the Columbia University and Cornell University engineering schools – presents a series of innovative engineering methods to streamline the required repair work and limit the impact on l Train service, which provides 400,000 daily rides. Work could be completed on nights and weekends only, with a single tube providing continued service in both directions during work periods. 

The plan has been presented to and reviewed by the MTA, and it has been confirmed that the report’s goals are achievable within a 15 to 20-month timeframe. The MTA still plans to implement additional subway service where needed, including on the G  M and 7 Trains.

Read the whole announcement

And VID’s Resolution of March 2018


December 2018 General Meeting

The December 2018 General Meeting called for establishing issue priorities for 2019,

heard District Leader reports, reviewed the particulars for the Tech Hub with Councilmember Rivera…and elected a new President and three Vice Presidents for 2019.

The December 2018 General Meeting opened with President Erik Coler announcing that the next Executive Committee meeting would be held on December 17 rather than Christmas Eve, the usual last Monday of the month.

District Leader Keen Berger gave her report, stating that the club had spent a lot of money on the election and it worked.  She talked of the Trump meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and said possibly the negotiation over immigration could be conducted differently.  This sparked a general discussion on the topic.

December 2018 General Meeting_Rosenthal

Judicial candidate Robert Rosenthal thanks VID for working so hard toward his election …in spite of his loss this time arund.

Next, Robert Rosenthal expressed his thanks to the club for its help in his losing campaign.  He noted that the VID palm cards devoted 50% of their space to him and he was deeply grateful.

Environmental Committee Report

Nat Johnson of the Environmental Committee made four announcements.  First was that Manhattan SWAB had a brochure online on recycling and organics collection.  Second was that, because of Corey Johnson, there would be a new composting site on Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street.  Third was that the Public Advocate had proposed a law to provide an organics collection depot in all city buildings.  And fourth was the December 4 rally for a radical bill to lower the carbon footprint.

Treasurer and Campaign Committee Reports

Tony Hoffmann delivered the Treasurer’s Report, stating that the club’s finances are quite healthy.  Switching hats, Tony, also a Campaign Committee Chair, spoke of the successful VoteBlue 2018 campaign, of which VID was the principal club participant.  This involved 18 buses and numerous volunteers sent to four out of six CDs, resulting in the winning of six State Senate seats.  He also reminded us there was a Public Advocate election in February, and that VID, along with 7 or 8 cosponsors, would hold a forum on this on Sunday, January 6, at the LGBT Center.  Erik Bottcher will co-chair, and after the forum, VID would make an endorsement.

Arthur Schwartz, male DL, (and Jumaane Williams’ lawyer) reminded us that petitioning starts December 4 and lasts only 12 days.  Tony discussed the nomination process and said if no clear winner, petitioning would be done by Captain’s Choice.  There was general discussion.

Councilmember Carlina Rivera

December 2018 General Meeting_RiveraCarlina Rivera, City Councilmember began by commending the work VID did to oust the IDC and for the big wins in the State Senate.  She said the Council had passed a really great budget under Corey Johnson, a really great supervisor.  She cited Fair Fares, and stated Corey had been very good to her for funding.  The Councilmember talked of school funding, food pantries, the Merchant’s House win, community gardens and the Village Alliance.  And continued by itemizing legislation she helped pass:  taking on Airbnb, rents, preventing bird trafficking, the “state of the storefront” bill, the L-pocalypse, and air quality monitoring.  Ms. Rivera said she was heated attending monthly meetings regarding landmarking in District 2, and the renovation of water mains in Manhattan.

The Tech Hub

The conversation then segued to the Tech Hub, the positive aspects of the project, and the benefits of Tech Hub training, reporting that CB3 is also highly in favor of the Tech Hub because of the opportunities it provided.  In reply to criticisms for not securing Landmarking for the broader area, the Councilmember recounted her LPC asks during the course of the Tech Hum negotiations including reconsideration of the St. Denis Hotel, slated for demolition.  In the end seven buildings were approved for Landmarking as opposed to the 193 originally proposed.  Ms. Rivera talked of the benefits of the developer’s plan:  more students and $200,000 in scholarships every year for 99 years, with 20% of the trainees to be district based.  She explained the original asks, for more landmarking and zoning restrictions, were “off the table” according to the mayor and real estate interests, but she would continue to meet with the mayor and the LPC to fight for more preservation.  There was a heated discussion prompted by several members of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation with some VID members able to ask questions as well.

Officer Election

Next came the election for club President.  David Siffert, the only candidate, was not present because he was at the Mexican border trying to help immigrants, so Jen Hoppe read his statement.  The vote was 39 for Dave, with 2 invalid and 1 for Jen.

Following was the election for the three Vice Presidents.  There were three candidates– Erik Bottcher, Sara Kimbell,and Allison Stowell, and each candidate made a statement.  All were elected through acclamation, with the Secretary casting one unanimous ballot.

After the election, Frieda Bradlow, VID member since 1982, proclaimed the club had had no greater President than Erik Coler.  Tony echoed this sentiment, with one caveat–Erik was second best after Nadine, Tony’s wife.  He led the club in a standing ovation for Erik.

December 2018 General Meeting_SchwartzBetween the two elections Arthur Schwartz, District Leader, gave a report in which he said he had rejoined VID and voted for the first time since 1998.  He said he had been involved in a number of things in the district, among them a suit he filed a year ago to stop the closure of Beth Israel Hospital.  After nine to ten months, the judge decided not to dismiss the suit.  Mount Sinai Beth Israel wanted to sell the hospital building for residential use but there was a problem with zoning–the site was not zoned for residences–so they were over a barrel.

There was also a suit over the L train stoppage, with discussions continuing over the 14th Street bus situation, and Arthur advocating for some cutouts for certain traffic.  He said VID had done a great job on the elections, with some issues needing to be pushed.  He said voting reform should be easy, campaign finance reform is needed, and the NY Health Act may get passed, but has some opposition from unions and the government.  He noted that as of now there are 21 people running for President and we should get them to come to VID.