The Membership Meeting of June 11 Passed Four Resolutions Addressing Voting Rights, Medical Aid in Dying, Police Reform and Definding the NYPD
President David Siffert brought the meeting to order, and a motion to adopt the agenda passed.
Melissa Carty read her Resolution to Eliminate the 20% Matching Requirement for State Elections and led a discussion. (This resolution eventually passed by email.)
Amanda Cavanaugh and Keen Berger debated the debated the Medical Aid in Dying Act. Amanda, who is pro, said she had been on this campaign for 4 1/2 years, having been a witness to her partner’s death from cancer after brain surgery and radiation. She highlighted her partner’s suffering and desire to maintain her independence, and quest for a comfortable death. Chrissy considered moving, where there was an option for doctor-assisted suicide, but she didn’t want to leave her family. She ultimately entered hospice, where Amanda helped administer the morphine that ended her life. Amanda ended with a plea to pass the Act, which would give those in Chrissy’s position an option for a dignified death.
Keen spoke against the Act. Her four points were: (1) this is a distraction for VID, which should not be involved in such personal topics; (2) the Act contradicts the medical establishment, which should be involved in healing and not death, and she discussed the double effect of morphine, which can be used for pain alleviation but also to stop breathing; (3) a philosophical point, which is that all individuals are part of a community and family, and should not make this decision on their own; and (4) Big Pharma’s goal to sell drugs to solve a social problem, and how expensive drugs and hospice are only available to wealthier people.
The Medical Aid in Dying Resolution eventually passed by an email ballot.
David Siffert read the comprehensive Police Reform Resolution, and led a general discussion of its many recommendations. Keen Berger then introduced a resolution promoting diverting funds from NYPD in favor of education and other services for affected communities. Keen noted the City was planning cuts to education, which would have long-term negative effects, and VID should pressure the City to cut NYPD and leave education budgets intact. Both resolutions later passed by email ballot.
District Leader Reports
Jen Hoppe gave her District Leader Report, saying she met with Assembly member Deborah Glick, who’s been getting together with small groups to take the temperature of the public regarding reforms. Jen reminded everyone that early voting starts Saturday, and that voting sites had been changed. Some new sites include the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, the Clinton School, and the Campos Plaza Center. She urged everyone to vote early and vote absentee–the ballot must be postmarked by the 22nd, but even if you received an absentee ballot, you can still vote in person. More information will be on the Board of Elections website.
District Leader Arthur Schwartz now delivered his report, outlining three lawsuits he brought. The first, to un-cancel the primary, was successful. In the Nat McMurray v. Chris Collins campaign, he sued for early voting sites to force BOEs to make voting easier. The third suit involved the AOC contingent fighting against challenging petitions for petty reasons. He said he hoped the law he helped establish would make it harder to cancel elections in the future.
State Senator Brad Hoylman made some remarks regarding the push for police reform legislation and VID’s input. He thanked everyone for their comments regarding repealing 50a, the police shield law, and how getting it done was a direct response to everyone in the streets. He sponsored the Police Stat Transparency Act because information was never available on statistics in policing–number of arrests, number of people killed or injured by police, amount of brutality complaints, etc. He supports a separate division in the IG’s office for police brutality complaints, and making the choke hold illegal. He said he received so many emails on these topics that Google had to restrict replies. He said there was more work to be done, and mentioned getting rid of funding for police and “qualified immunity”, and thanked everyone for the club’s input.
A short discussion followed, including reporting statistics in a timely fashion, stats on the LGBTQ community, and the possibility of the Governor’s insertion of amendments.
Tony Hoffmann now introduced Greg Speed, the President of America Votes, promoting every American’s right to vote.
Greg began his talk by saying that America Votes is the permanent campaign infrastructure in the U.S., partnering with nearly 80 national organizations. He launched a slideshow demonstrating the dramatic shift in power between Rs and Ds, the importance of vote-by-mail despite Republican demonization of the process, and the impact of the covid pandemic on voter turnout. He then did an analysis of how all these factors affect the vote through the Electoral College, and what could go wrong. He stressed that vote-by-mail is popular, with those aged 18-29 80% in favor. Those interested can help by contributing, volunteering, or being poll workers. He urged contacting Evan Kost at firstname.lastname@example.org. A short discussion followed.
Tony Hoffmann, for the Campaign Committee, reported that they got out a 14,000 piece mailing for the Nadler and Maloney districts. He had no doubt they would win, but hoped it would be helpful for John Wang and Rachel Lavine, also on the ballot. He said the VID ad in the Village Sun looks great. He also added that although VID is not palmcarding at polling sites, any individuals who want to do so can approach the candidate’s campaign they choose, and if the candidate is doing so they can help. Tony also volunteered that the club had a lot of extra palm cards, and if anyone wanted to distribute them (in their building, for instance), they should contact Ed Yutkowitz.
David reminded us that VID has one more texting and postcarding event next Thursday. About 15-20,000 people have been texted twice–a really good job. David also urged everyone to go to votebluenyc.com to donate.
Mar Fitzgerald, chair of the Education Committee, made her report, saying she had a resolution in favor of SYEP ( Summer Youth Employment Program) not being cancelled–Chairman Carranza made some agreement to resume. She wants to do resolutions to get cops out of schools and get counselors into schools.
Allison Stowell, of the Gun Reform Committee, opened by thanking her co-chair, Deb Sherman, for her dynamism for 2 1/2 years–Deb is stepping down. The committee is working on a package of gun reform laws, developing relations with NYAGV, and creating crisis management teams, providing the ability to defund the police.
Jonathan Geballe of the Housing Committee had three items. Brad’s Tenants Safe Harbor Act is up for signing, and the Rent Control Guidelines Board is pushing for a rent freeze. Also, Frieda Bradlow is doing well–she has been advised to take a 1/2 block walk daily–and she sends her warm wishes.
Under New Business:
David mentioned three out-of-district candidates who are important: Diane Richardson, who is being primaried by a former IDC member, Yuh-Line Niou, who is being challenged by Grace Lee, and Dan Quart, who is being primaried by a wealthy 22-year-old Yale grad. He said there would be an on-line fundraiser Friday for all three, and he would post the link.
Jen said she is working on Yuh-Line’s campaign–she’s been endorsed by Bernie, Liz Warren, and AOC–the only candidate to receive all three endorsements. (DID endorsed Lee.) She also mentioned Mr. Gugino, the 75-year-old attacked by the Buffalo Police. He is a member of the Buffalo Peace Center and has many pre-existing conditions–she thought the club may want to send something. David advised her to circulate a letter to the Executive Committee.