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.