October 2019 Meeting

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.

Health Care ForumThe 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.

Speakers

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

Committee Reports

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.

Full Meeting Minutes Here

July 2019 General Meeting

The July 2019 General Meeting covered planning for Primaries, affordable housing, the recount in Queens, the proposed 45 story prison construction at 124 White Street…and pidgeon kidnapping.

VID at Lenox Hill Greenwich Village Healthplex

VID’s July Meeting held at Lenox Hill Greenwich Village Healthplex

Full Meeting Minutes Here

President David Siffert opened the July 2019 General Meeting by citing the successful Primary, in which Jen Hoppe won the District Leader position unopposed, and the Judicial Delegates also won unopposed.  Among his announcements:

  • A Judicial Candidates Forum in Soho on August 5,  set up for the delegates, but anyone is welcome to attend. 
  • A call to attend  the July 12 protest of the border camps, at Broadway and Reade Streets
  • The VID picnic on July 17 at Hudson River Park
  • The Andy Kim fundraiser on July 19 at Frieda Bradlow’s house.

Our new District Leader, Jen Hoppe announced she had been in Queens helping with the Tiffany Caban recount.  She said Democratic Socialists of America and other groups had done a tremendous job with data mining and that supervising the recount was costing money, recommending donations online.  Jen also asked VID members for issues needing her attention; among the mentions were tenants rights, the census, and problem landlords. On a similar note, David Siffert mentioned he had met with Andrea Shapiro of Metropolitan Council on Housing and was trying to set up a forum on the tenant legislation already passed and possible future legislation. 

District Leader Arthur Schwartz‘s lawsuit obtained an injuncion with DOT on the 14th Street busway.  

Guest Speaker

Chris Marte on new PrisonChris Marté, State Committeeman, gave a talk on the proposed 45 story prison construction at 124 White Street.  He brought a model of the prison and emphasized that Chinatown already has three jails, and more jail beds than any other borough outside of Rikers.  The community feels it is being taken advantage of, and the Community Board voted no.  Neighbors United Below Canal Street is an organization leading the fight against the project.

Committee Reports

Nat Johnson, Chair of the Environmental Committee, opened with a discussion of the NYC Council Resolution 0864A-2019, which declares a climate emergency and calls for immediate mobilization for restoring a safe climate.  He proposed sending a letter to the sponsors expressing gratitude and support; the letter passed unanimously with 26 in favor. 

Also, Nat reported that the committee met last month with Brad Hoylman and Deborah Glick and expressed concerns about three issues: 

  • the Williams Natural Gas Pipeline, previously stopped by the Governor, which needs to be stopped permanently; 
  • the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which passed but failed to include labor provisions; 
  • HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, which pretends to be climate positive but subverts the process of climate change.

Additionally, Anne Heaney and Nat met with Grace Lee of Children First, which is fighting to clean up a toxic waste site at the Seaport.  Grace would like to speak at VID in September or October.

David gave the report for the Out-of-District Campaign Committee.  In a nutshell, Dustin Reidy and Grace Park won, Tiffany Caban’s election is in a recount, and he reminded us about the Andy Kim event.

Cameron Krause spoke for the Gun Reform Committee. They’re working on a Gun Reform forum for next year.

July 2019 Meeting_Campaign CommitteeTony Hoffmann reported for the Campaign Committee along with Erik Bottcher.  The Presidential Primary will be at the end of April, and petitioning starts December 31.  There will be a forum downtown with the downtown clubs.  There was a discussion about the calendar and when to endorse.  Anne Heaney emphasized the need for a climate discussion.  The state elections are in June, with petitioning beginning in February; VID will hold an endorsement meeting in January.  The Judicial Convention is August 12 and the County Committee will meet in October.

David reported for the Animal Advocacy Committee, with the latest on the declaw bill, the fur bill, banning foie gras and pigeon kidnapping.  

New Business

Jon Verbalis again emphasized a need to enforce the laws and rules currently not being enforced by city agencies.

David said he was waiting to hear from the Christopher Street Pier for the VID picnic.

Katharine Wolpe mentioned the Elissa Stein Guest Editorial in the Villager, which prompted a discussion about the Gay Marches.

Alec Pruchnicki announced an October 6 Healthcare Forum on the NYC Healthcare Act, to be hosted by Richard Gottfried and Gustavo Rivera.  He will get the details out to the membership.

Keen Berger Day

March 2, 2019 Proclaimed Keen Berger Day

It is hard to imagine gathering petitions, pamphleting outside poll locations, hearing reports from the grassroots of the 66th Assembly District, Part A or marching into a County Committee Meeting without the presence of Keen Berger, who announced last month her wish to hand the batton to new talent.  Though we don’t expect her to abandon her fervor or presence in marches and sit-ins for women’s rights, immigration reform, voting rights or any of the other issues she has championed with and for VID.

Saturday’s celebration came first among some very special and much-in-demand elected leaders who didn’t want the moment to pass without expressing their appreciation…and among 50 or more VID members who crowded into the small, but highly efficient, VID Clubhouse at 26 Perry St., picking up their petitions for the next primary candidates as they left.  

See the definitive momento that Ed Yutkowitz wrote in The Villager

Among many special momentos offered was a presentation by NYS Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick officially citing that March 2, 2019 was Proclaimed Keen Berger Day in New York State.

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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.

Second

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.

Third

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

Fourth

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!: 
https://unitedthruaction.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=5d39856e5e769397f8feaaa33&id=2db91abf42

Fifth

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.

Best,
David