VID’s October 2019 Meeting Covered the County Committee, Early Voting, the New York Health Act and a Vote on the Five Ballot Proposals for NYC Charter Revisions.
President David Siffert opened the October 2019 meeting with an account of the recent County Committee meeting, saying the acting chair had refused to count votes, upsetting Arthur Schwartz, the law co-chair of the County Committee and our District Leader, who tried to make the process fair. There will be no elections for two years, so David warned us we must get our ducks in a row.
The New York Health Act Forum was a fabulous success, organized by Alec Pruchnicky and featuring Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Senator Gustavo Rivera. Other panelists included: Dr. Mary O’Brien with Physicians for a National Health Program; Kim Behrens, RN with Physicians for a National Health Program and New York State Nurses Association and Dr. Margaret Flowers with Health Over Profit.
There will be a Gun Reform Forum on November 21st. The November General Meeting will be about court reform. The December meeting will cover endorsing a Presidential candidate and electing a VID President and three Vice Presidents.
District Leader Report
Jen Hoppe gave the District Leader report, repeating that the County Committee meeting was a mess and commending those who attended. A group led by VID and DID attempted to get a rule change on the agenda to prohibit County Leaders from lobbying going forward. (Keith Wright, the current County Leader, is a registered lobbyist.) DID President Richard Corman and Vittoria Fariello, District Leader, will be meeting with Kyle Ishmael, First Vice Chair of the County Committee, to discuss this goal. A discussion followed.
Tiffany Townsend, the Democratic Commissioner of the Board of Elections in Manhattan and a District Leader with the Eleanor Roosevelt Club, led a talk on the new early voting schedule. Early voting starts October 26 through November 3, with November 5 as the regular voting day. She said early voting is meant to give people more access to voting. There is also the option of using an absentee ballot. Currently nine early voting sites are establlished, with possibly more in future elections. The Board of Elections is building a new website with more information.
State Senator Brad Hoylman announced that today we celebrate the passage of a plan to improve safety on the West Side Highway with a new lower speed limit, from 35 to 30 mph. He emphasized that the Hudson River Park is the most visited park in the Northeastern U. S., and visitors must be protected. He’s also pushing a ban on floating billboards, with support from the courts. The Governor recently signed legislation that he pushed with Assemblymember Deborah Glick directing that State Liquor Authority licenses be published online. And legislation mandating vaccination has already been introduced and hopefully will pass in 2020. He urged us to ask every legislator to pass this.
Indiana Porta, Director of Outreach, spoke on the five Charter Revisions which will appear on the ballot this election. On the First she gave a detailed explanation of Ranked Choice Voting and the other provisions covered. After her talk, a vote was taken on all five proposed revisions, and all passed.
New York Health Act – Vote to Endorse
Alec Pruchnycki led a discussion on the New York Health Act, with members expressing the pros and cons of the legislation. At one point Dr. Gil Horowitz made a motion to revisit endorsing the resolution within 60 days. After discussion, this was defeated with 9 in favor and 25 against.
State Senator Brad Hoylman spoke up for the resolution in favor of the NY Healthcare Act, saying health care is a human right, and we have let down our fellow humans for decades. He said there will be cost savings, and implored Democratic clubs to be very outspoken in their support. Now that the Dems are in control of the State Legislature, we have to stand up for the poor. Brad made the point that he was a co-sponsor of the bill, and urged a vote to support. The vote was taken, and was successful, with 26 in favor, 6 opposed, and 5 abstentions. Resolution
Tony Hoffmann, of the Campaign Committee, announced that there will be a full Committee report at the VID clubhouse on October 15. On October 19, there will be visibility events at Abingdon Square and St. Marks Church.
Jon Verbalis gave an introduction to his new Enforcement Committee, saying it will address the lax to non-existent enforcement of city laws and codes.
For the Environmental Committee, Nat Johnson reported that there was a forum on October 7 on recycling sponsored by Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman. Organics collection will be available in all of Manhattan, with pickups three times a week. On October 20 there will be a tour of the Staten Island compost facility and a meeting with Robert Politzer of the Citizens Compost Lobby. The committee is working on a resolution against Federal bill HR 763, a carbon tax legislation which will be detrimental to the environment.
Cameron Krause spoke for the Gun Reform Committee, saying there will be a forum on November 21 featuring New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.