March 14th General Meeting Introduces Five Resolutions
…and Hears Six Speakers
President David Siffert opened the March 14th General Meeting with a reminder that Primary petitions must be turned in by March 28. He also noted the Assembly must be urged to adopt public financing of elections, and mentioned that there was a push to primary certain Assembly members. He spoke of the article in the Villager about Jen Hoppe’s candidacy as District Leader and the party honoring Keen Berger’s fourteen year legacy in that office. He mentioned the elected officials present at Keen’s party, including Jerry Nadler, Deborah Glick, Brad Hoylman, Scott Stringer, and Carolyn Maloney.
Keen gave her report, saying she was stunned at how happy everyone was with her, and stating the electeds know VID is an important club because we have petitioned for them all. She said instead of getting a golden parachute, she received a golden clipboard! She spoke of how great both candidates running for her position were, and how close the vote was, but now it’s time to choose a President.
David spoke of the Public Advocate race, saying we were lucky that Jumaane had a good plurality.
Nat Johnson made his report for the Environmental Committee, discussing the waste collection project for the High Line, which has some problems. The city may revert to single stream, meaning all waste will be thrown out together and then sorted after pickup. Nancy Anderson will be at the next meeting to talk about sustainability in NYC, and all are welcome.
There was a discussion about recyclables in the Village, and where to turn in books, electronics, and other stuff. There will be a Green New Deal Forum on March 20, which is free but requires an RSVP.
Tony Hoffmann, of the Campaign Committee, said we must get our candidates on the ballot. Once we get Jen on the ballot, she will win, but we need 750 signatures. He made another plea for volunteers.
President David Siffert followed up, saying we need public financing of state races. He went with Kate Linker and two others to speak to Deborah Glick, who supports it, but Carl Heastie does not. It’s in the Executive and State Senate budgets, but the Assembly pulled it. David said now that the IDC is gone, we know who to blame, and urged members to speak to their Assembly members. There was a general discussion about the details of the proposed legislation.
Ranked Choice Voting – Councilman Brad Lander
Brad Lander, City Councilmember from the 39th District in Brooklyn, delivered a talk about ranked choice voting for primaries or special elections. It is already being done in Miami, Santa Fe, and San Francisco and many states, and was once done in New York as well. It is one way to insure that the winning candidate is really voted for by a majority, and it encourages more campaigning and cooperation between candidates. In addition, it’s popular with the voters. The software and machines capable of doing it already exist, and candidates with less than 51% of the vote can be chosen in an instant runoff.
Arthur Schwartz, Male District Leader, opened with the hope that we could work together even though he didn’t get the endorsement of the club. He is petitioning on his own, but has Jen and Jumaane on his petitions. He’s not sure if anyone else is running for Public Advocate.
He attended Bernie’s kickoff in Brooklyn, which was well-attended. He noted that there are a lot of people registered as Independents or with no party–40% no party in New York State. He is attempting to get 100,000 of these voters to register as Dems–a very important project. Because of the 14 or 15 candidates running in the Primary, he said VID can wait until petitioning in January or choose early. DSA will support Bernie. He said things will change with the Board of Elections because of decisions by Corey Johnson.
As for the 14th Street Coalition, the lawsuit has been dropped because of Corey’s insistence. The L train will not shut down, and there will be a meeting with the DOT. The County Committee will have a meeting in mid-July–the rule changes have made it easier to get items on the agenda.
Next up was Ben Yee, State Committeeman. He thanked everyone who supported him in the Public Advocate race. He said he was appreciative and grateful and would buy any supporter a drink at the Gala. He said the Chair of the State Party, Byron Brown, resigned and was replaced by Jay Jacobs. Because of rules changes, anyone who wants to run can submit a page on why they want to run. Votes are now done by division instead of voice vote, which was highly subjective. Rachel Lavine, State Committee Member and President of the NYS Progressive Caucus introduced a resolution against fusion voting, which passed at the last State Committee meeting. Ben is very optimistic about the new Chair and the new rules.
Mar Fitzgerald, head of the new Education Committee, now spoke on her list of most urgent obstacles for public schools. #1–homeless students; 47% of PS 188 students are homeless. #2–support for the LGBTQ community. #3–economic equity; 74% in District 2 are economically disadvantaged, and may have trouble getting info and materials in their language. #4–affordable pre-K and child care; pre-schools are extremely expensive. #5–class size; the umbrella is equity and diversity. She mentioned the current debate over the SHSAT and the scandal of wealthy people buying their children into prestigious schools.
There was a discussion about the three school districts in Manhattan and where they are. She made an appeal for volunteers for the committee.
David announced the Animal Welfare Committee, and asked for volunteers. He also brought up the Gala on May 2; members will pay $125, non-members $200, and there are sponsorship tiers. Anyone with financial issues will be accommodated. Corey Johnson and Frieda Bradlow will be honored.
- David read the Resolution to Fund Early Voting and Electronic Pollbooks, written by Judy Jacobson. This passed, with one amendment, 30 in favor, no opposed or abstentions.
- Next was the Resolution to Oppose the Lowering of the Lobbying Registration Threshold from $5,000 to $500. This passed 28 in favor, no opposed and no abstentions.
- The Draft Resolution in Support of New York State Climate and Community Protection Act also passed, with three amendments–27 in favor, no opposed or abstentions.
- The Resolution in Support of Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (S2126 Liz Krueger/ A1536 Felix W. Ortiz) passed, with two amendments–24 in favor, none opposed and no abstentions.
- Lastly, the New York TRUTH Act Resolution passed with 17 in favor, 6 opposed, and no abstentions.