2020 Officers; NYS Candidate Endorsements

VID Elects 2020 Officers; NYS Candidate Endorsements at January 9th Meeting.

Full Meeting Minutes Here

David Siffert opened the 2020 Officers; NYS Candidate Endorsements meeting with a discussion about how to handle endorsing civil judge candidates in light of the fact that the County’s panel will not report out approved judges until the day after our February meeting.  He suggested three options:

  • One, to hold a special meeting on the Tuesday after the regular meeting to address the endorsements.
  • Two, to leave the endorsements to the Executive Committee.
  • And three, to hold an extra long meeting on the normal date, February 13. and allow Exec to re-endorse for any candidate the club endorses but who does not get reported out of the panel

It was agreed to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, February 18th.

As petitioning has already started and we have not endorsed, he advised the members that there were petitions present and could be signed.  He also brought everyone’s attention to a demonstration at Judson Church on January 16th to protest the deportation of Jean Montreville, a member of the church.  He also noted problems in the use of new BMD’s in the election, and their vulnerability to hacking.  Lastly, he promoted a demonstration in Albany on the 21st, to stop the use of solitary confinement and support taxing the rich instead of slashing social programs.

VID 2020 Officer Elections

David outlined the election rules for Judicial Delegates, and their duties, and an election was held.  The delegates were:  Jonathan Geballe (30 votes). Alison Greenberg (30), Ed Yutkowitz (29), Rick Braun (27), and Allison Stowell (27).  The Alternate Delegates were Irene Kaufman (26), Linda Jacobson (25), Karla Moskowitz (24), Lauren Esposito (23), and Kathy Slawinski (22).  Three other candidates – Lois Rakoff, Judith Jacobson, and Kelly Grace Price received fewer votes.

The election of VID Treasurer was next, with Mar Fitzgerald winning with the Secretary casting one unanimous vote in acclamation.

Kathy Slawinski won the Recording Secretary position by acclamation with one unanimous vote.

And the two Corresponding Secretaries were won by Jonathan Geballe and Ed Yutkowitz unanimously by acclamation.

Last was the election of the Executive Committee.   The winners were Lois Rakoff, Susan Gottesman, Frieda Bradlow, David Saperstein, Nancy Shamban, Linda Jacobson, Nadine Hoffmann, Lauren Esposito, Nat Johnson, Keen Berger, Erik Bottcher, Melissa Carty, Patricia Laraia, Alec Pruchnicki, and Patrick Doherty.

NYS Candidate Endorsements

 Assemblymember Deborah Glick opened her presentation by wishing everyone a happy new year and thanking everyone for supporting impeachment.  She asked for the club’s endorsement, touting bills for the Reproductive Health Act, banning conversion therapy, protecting artists living in lofts, and an annual donation of $5 million to the Humane Society.  She also spoke of a state education discipline bill and the “gig economy” bill.  After Q & A, she was endorsed by 31 votes to 5 “no endorsement” votes.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman made his presentation, opening by saying VID was his home club, and it was a pleasure and an honor to be our State Senator for many years.  He spoke of his advocacy for voting reforms and Automatic Voter Registration, LGBTQ rights, battling child sexual abuse, removing dangerous chemicals from the environment, and banning ghost guns and robocalls.  He’s also taken the lead on tax equity, and passed legislation to require Trump release five years of his tax returns (in litigation), lead on tax equity, including carrying a pied-a-terre tax bill, and passed legislation to require affordable housing, and new tenant protection laws.  After Q & A, he won endorsement by 38 votes to one “no endorsement” vote.

Rachel Lavine, State Committeewoman gave her remarks, opening by saying she was a Warren delegate and had petitions to be signed.  She spoke of her history as a founding member of the progressive caucus in the State Committee, and the progress of the committee in leaving machine control.  The caucus proposals include a moratorium on fracking, marijuana reform, transgender rights, gender inclusive language, a minimum wage for farmworkers, ousting the IDC, and ethics.  She also mentioned the sexual harassment accusations against Jeff Klein.

Ben Yee, State Committeeman, now gave a capsulized version of his time on the committee.  It’s his third term and he’s written six resolutions which all passed, making him the most successful in that respect.  He spoke about promoting transparency and successfully getting bylaws and officers on the NY State website.  He also told of his resolution on how to choose DNC members, ethics reform for the State Committee, and efforts on handling sexual harassment.

After Q & A and discussion, both Rachel and Ben were endorsed by a vote of 36 in favor and 2 “no endorsement”.

District Leader Report

District Leader Jen Hoppe now gave her report.  She spoke of how she and Vittoria from DID had formed a progressive caucus in the County Committee and they were very opposed to the Chair being a lobbyist.  She spoke of how she and Melissa Carty were supporting Elizabeth Warren, and had a discussion about the Warren rally.

Committee Reports

David Siffert reported for the Animal Advocacy Committee, citing that Carlina Rivera and Corey Johnson had helped pass a suite of animal welfare bills with Erik Bottcher’s help, and the problem of city shelters not allowing pets.

Tony Hoffmann spoke for the Campaign Committee, reminding us that petitioning starts February 25 for Congress, State Senate, State Assembly, State Committee, Judicial Delegate, and Civil Court on the Congressional level.  He said he would inform members when to pick up petitions.  The Kickoff Breakfast will be February 29th at the clubhouse.

Tony also reported for the Out-of-District Elections Committee, saying they will be meeting to decide who to support, and getting other clubs and organizations involved.  He spoke of the difficulties in campaigning with this year’s demographics, requiring hiring two buses.  David noted the next meeting would be on January 11, followed by a clubhouse cleanup.

Rachel Lavine volunteered that there will be bakeoffs with volunteers to explain Ranked Choice Voting.  David solicited volunteers for the Gala Committee.

Mar Fitzgerald, of the Education Committee, said lots of things were in the works, with some resolutions coming.  She wants to meet at the end of the month.

Deb Sherman, of the Gun Reform Committee, said that Nick Smith, a Jumaane staffer, will speak on a more holistic approach to gun reform at a future meeting.  They want to raise awareness and funds for violence “interrupters”, and there will be two resolutions on ghost guns to include “80% receivers”, which are undetectable by metal detectors.

New Business

Katharine Wolpe spoke of an action on the 10th in front of the closed Nativity Church, sold for luxury housing–to protest luxury housing and instead promote affordable and senior housing.  Also, there will be an event on the 26th, an Evening of Interfaith Recitation and Music, involving thirteen different religious institutions.

David now synopsized the month’s events:

January 10, Nativity Church demo
January 16, the Judson Church demo
January 21, the Albany HALT/Solitary demo
January 22, DID will be hosting a forum on the Presidential candidates at the Gibney Dance School.

He reminded us that there were Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Young, and Amy Klobuchar petitions present.  Rachel said she will be petitioning at Abingdon Square for Elizabeth, and Cam Krause said he will have Andrew Yang’s petitions.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

Village Forum Focuses on Reducing Gun Violence

“Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough”
Village Forum Focuses on Reducing Gun Violence

Reducing Gun Violence

The following post is excerpted from an article written by Edward Yutkowitz

At a forum on reducing gun violence, coordinated by Gun Reform Committee co-chairs Deb Sherman and Allison Stowell and presented on Nov. 21st by Village Independent Democrats (VID) and several other Manhattan Democratic clubs, the focus was on what community groups in violent neighborhoods are doing to reduce demand for guns. Said Debra Sherman, one of the forum’s organizers,  “We want to spread the word on how all New Yorkers can support that work.”

The discussion, held at Lenox Health Greenwich Village, was moderated by Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, which is perhaps best known for fighting to regulate firearms.  But this forum emphasized that the answer isn’t more police, but rather public-health solutions to reduce violence of all kinds.

Dr. Rob Gore, an Emergency Physician and the founder of Kings Against Gun Violence, or KAVI, suggested that the problem of violence be reframed as one of trauma, not just guns.  “Environments that have a legacy of racism, poverty, violence, and lack of economic opportunities are constantly stressful and create long-term trauma.” 

Few are as close to the front lines of gun violence as Man Up, Inc., which operates in the East New York, Brownsville, and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods of Brooklyn.  Its representatives, known as “interrupters,” have their ears to the ground and are often able to intercede in volatile, potentially violent, situations and stop them before they escalate.  As former gang members, they have the respect of the community and have achieved great success in reducing gun violence.  As Man Up interrupter Jeremy Arse, who’s known by his street name, Brother Curley, put it, his community work emphasizes that, “Love is just as powerful as violence.”

The Director of Education for NYAGV’s ReACTION Youth Program, Shaina Harrison, talked about working with high-school students to reduce gun violence.  “These are kids who often resort to violence because they feel they have no other means and don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with the difficult, often brutal, circumstances in which they live.”

First Deputy Public Advocate-Policy, Nick Smith talked about the work of The Crisis Management System, which helps oversee many of the community groups working to reduce violence in New York City.  Funded with $36 million from the De Blasio Administration and the New York City Council, CMS coordinates a network of non-profit providers in 22 police precincts that offer a range of services, from mediating conflicts on the street, to job training, employment opportunities, and mental health services.  The CMS programs coordinate and complement each other, working not just with kids but their parents. 

VID has long advocated for common-sense gun regulation, but stepped up its efforts two years ago, after the epidemic of mass shootings.  “We saw how the students organized after the Parkland shootings, and felt that we had to get involved,” says Allison Stowell, co-organizer of the forum.

In June of 2018, the club started a campaign to send postcards signed by members of the community to urge Governor Cuomo to support ERPO.  This “red flag” bill will restrict gun possession by potentially violent family members.  The campaign sent 1300 cards to the Governor, who signed the bill into the law in May of this year. 

“When we think of fighting for regulating guns, we often think of large organizations that already have big dollars behind them,” Sherman adds.  “We have to make sure that grass-roots organizations in our communities are recognized, appreciated, and most of all properly funded.”

VID provided attendees at the forum with a list of practical suggestions for New Yorkers to help reduce gun violence.  These include educational resources and information on grass-roots groups that are working on behalf of communities throughout New York City.  To learn more about these ideas, contact allison.stowell@gmail.com or drsconsulting.us@gmail.com

November 2019 General Meeting

The November 2019 General Meeting Gave Focus to NY County Committee, Surrogacy Legislation and the Productive Work of VID’s Committees

Full Meeting Minutes Here

President David Siffert reported that he had met with Keith Wright, who was nice and friendly, but not much concrete got done.  Keith said that Ben Yee wanted to activate the County Committee, but seemed hostile to Keith, so walls were built.  Keith said he doesn’t do anything without Barry Weinberg’s say-so.  David also said he was trying to set up a meeting with Greg Sumas, co-chair of the County Committee, and wondered if he should meet with Cynthia Dody of the Board of Elections.  A discussion followed.

District Leader Reports

District Leader Jen Hoppe reported that she had discussions with other District Leaders and club presidents, along with David and Ben Yee, about what we want the County Committee to be.  There definitely had to be a more progressive vision for the party.  To amplify, she suggested elected leaders need to adhere to a pledge.

On Election Day Jen went to all 16 poll sites, and was impressed with how seriously people take their jobs as poll workers.  She attended an early voting seminar and early voting went really well.  

She also mentioned that Jumaane was working on a bill, Intro 800, mandating paid vacation time for all NY workers.  She advised us to go the PaidTimeOff.NYC website to sign the petition.

District Leader Arthur Schwartz gave his report.  He touched on the County Committee anomalies, his lawsuit against the 14th Street busway, and the WBAI lawsuit.  He spoke of the City Council approval of the plan to shut down the East River Park for 5-7 years and said it should have been argued in court as “park alienation”.  He cited other lawsuits regarding Harvey the fruit man and a bike rider run over by a cab, in which the police did nothing.  His lawsuit regarding the removal of the 14th Street bus stops is still ongoing.  And he said if anyone was interested in being a Bernie delegate, please speak to him.  He explained the process of being a delegate for any candidate.

November 2019 General Meeting Speakers

Marc Solomon gave a report on surrogacy.  He said New York has virtually no laws regarding legal parentage or surrogacy, and NY laws needed to be modernized across the board.  He cited the bill S2071B/A1071C legalizing surrogacy agreements, and led a discussion on it.  President Siffert made an argument in for a resolution in support of the bill and it passed, with 30 in favor, 1 opposed, and 1 abstention.

Jim Yates, former judge and member of JCOPE, made a presentation on the repeal of Section 50-a of New York Civil Rights Law, providing confidentiality for personnel records of police officers maintained by the NYPD.  He provided a history of the law and the fact that until 2016 these records were publicly available and argued they should be again, especially because this new interpretation of the law was used to shield Officer Pantaleo after the death of Erroll Garner.  After this speech, a resolution in favor of repeal of Section 50-A was passed with 29 in favor and one abstention.

Committee Reports

Nat Johnson, of the Environmental Committee, gave a report on a letter President Siffert had written to the Draft Remedial Investigation Work Plan of the Brownfield Cleanup Program at 240 Water Street.  This letter, to Project Manager Rafi Alam, asked that the public comment period be extended to March 1st to allow the community more review time.  (250 Water Street is the former site of three mercury thermometer factories, a mercury warehouse, and a gas station.  The proposed luxury tower could expose the community to the toxic chemicals currently underground.)

After this report, it was decided that VID would send the letter, with 22 in favor and none opposed or abstained.

Nat then gave a report on the Environmental Committee, saying the committee will be discussing the NYS Green New Deal bill S2878B at their next meeting and will ask the club to support it.  He also distributed a ten point holiday statement flier advocating a more eco-friendly recycling plan.  Deb Sherman advocated for Tru-Earth, an eco-friendly laundry detergent, available on Amazon or the Tru-Earth website.

David Siffert gave an update on the Animal Adocacy Committee, noting that the bill banning foie gras in NYS passed.

Tony Hoffmann of the Campaign Committee stated that the VID visibility campaign went really well on both the east and west sides, and it will resume in the spring.  He also gave a calendar of the elections and endorsements of the next three VID meetings.  

Grace Price, of the Campaign Finance Committee, said she was focusing on Cy Vance and had sent out a draft of egregious campaign violations.  She said Vance had run out of money but had created 12 new positions, and she asked if anyone was interested in writing a letter to the Comptroller.  This spurred a discussion.

Mar Fitzgerald of the Education Committee spoke on bills for lead testing and diversity plans.  A schools diversity advisory group was formed and Jumaane wanted to make it permanent.  She noted that CB2 had passed a resolution for screening for dyslexia, and said she would introduce a school bus resolution to make mileage shorter for buses to qualify.

Allison Stowell and Deb Sherman started their Gun Reform Committee report by speaking on the shooting in Santa Clarita in which two students were killed.  They reminded everyone of their upcoming forum in which Rebecca Fischer of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence would appear along with a panel of community activists devoted to mitigating gun violence.  They also said their post card campaign was going well.

New Business:

David noted that State Committeewoman Rachel Lavine was hosting a fundraiser for Amanda Farias, running for City Council, on December 10.

Libby (last name?) spoke on the Commission on Campaign Finance Reform with a deadline of December 1.  She said activists were coming to meetings to get action and get the Commission to change course.  She said a phone relay would launch Monday to get it done in 2019.

Keen Berger cited her book launch–a book on grandmothering–at Judson on Sunday the 24th.

Grace Price said Close Rosies is suing the mayor.

Our new members, Analise, Barbara Good, Liz Crotty, and Carol Yost, announced themselves and their reasons for joining.

And Jen Hoppe announced a candidate forum for all women running for office sponsored by Amplify Her.

May General Meeting

President David Siffert opened the May General Meeting by thanking everyone for their efforts to help in the Gala, especially congratulating Melissa Carty and Sara Kimbell.

At the May General Meeting on Thursday, May 9th four resolutions passed; six committees gave progress reports and guest speaker, Emily Arsenault, from  Kirsten Gillibrand’s office spoke on gun control.

 

Party Leader Reports

District Leader Keen Berger’s three conclusions:

  1. Support elected officials who are doing good work, mentioning especially Jerry Nadler and Brad Hoylman. 
  2. The importance of the little organizations that are working on good goals like electing good people and correcting gerrymandering. 
  3. She agreed that the 14th Street situation is a mess and she’s glad that Elissa Stein wrote her great resolution in response. 

This sparked a discussion regarding support for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, working on the “double jeopardy” law, pushing to get Trump’s tax returns, and support for Planned Parenthood in the light of the anti-abortion campaign.

Rachel Lavine, State Committeewoman, urged support for the upcoming delegate selection in the State Committee and the need to approve a resolution addressing NY election laws, especially regarding the time frame in which you can register or change your party affiliation. 

She also spoke on local transportation issues and the lack of inclusiveness with the community.   Rachel also said it was imperative that the House impeaches Trump, and that we should have a conversation and inform Nadler.

Ben Yee, State Committeeman spoke of the upcoming vote on the delegates for candidates.  He’s having an event to gain donations to cover the expenses of his Public Advocate campaign.

Arthur Schwartz, the male District Leader offered details on his ongoing case regarding the 14th Street changes, and how changes in the bus routes will affect the elderly and disabled.  He will be bringing another case regarding the vehicular traffic rerouting.  The Beth Israel project is at a standstill.  Then Arthur discussed the Board of Elections knocking people off the ballot.  

Guest Speaker

Emily Arsenault, of Kirsten Gillibrand’s office, gave a Gun Control update.  She expressed frustration at seeing zero progress on this issue, but said it has become a young people’s movement.  She discussed a bill, S730, regarding prior gun trafficking, which Gillibrand re-introduced in March as she does every year.  Emily discussed S42 to expand background checks, co-sponsored with Senator Murphy, and S506, the Extreme Risk Prevention Order Act, which allows family members to petition the court to prevent people with mental illness from acquiring guns.  She also emphasized Ed Markey’s bill to study the effects of gun violence.  

Resolutions

The Resolution Urging Trader Joe’s to Resume Deliveries, by Marlene Nadle with one amendment came to a vote.  Marlene thanked everyone for their help, especially Jumaane Williams, Corey Johnson, and Erik Bottcher, and urged people to call and write and express their opinions.  The reso passed, with 18 in favor and one abstention.  

Rick Braun’s Resolution for a Law Prohibiting the Use of Campaign Contributions for Personal Expenses.  This led to a discussion about what donations can be used for, and a friendly amendment was made and accepted to change some language.  The resolution passed unanimously, 22 to zero.

Rick Braun introduced another resolution calling for the creation of adequate space in Housing Court for clients and attorneys to have private communications, a problem at least since the 80’s.  This passed unanimously, with 16 in favor.

Elissa Stein introduced a Resolution on Proposed Changes to 14th Street .  After discussion, this passed unanimously, with 15 in favor.

Committee Reports

Mar Fitzgerald, chair of the Education Committee now spoke on the first City Council hearing on school segregation, in which Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza spoke for hours.  There was a discussion about the SHSAT and the protocols for admissions for Gifted and Talented students, and the disparities with race and equity.  She said there was a right-leaning faction in danger of taking over the Community Education Council, with anti-inclusive candidates and has a list of the candidates for District 2.  Mar also said she’s the Education Editor for Westview News.

Elissa Stein gave a report on the Gala Committee, saying it was a great success, netting approximately $20,000.  She gave credit to Sara as the workhorse.

David Siffert delivered the report on the Out of District Elections Committee, as Laurie Hardjowirogo was not present.  He said they were in the process of selecting candidates to back.  There will be an upcoming Dustin Reidy fundraiser.  And he mentioned Erik Bottcher’s birthday party on Saturday.

Deb Sherman and Allison Stowell of the Gun Control Committee spoke of their coming postcard campaign to advise Governor Cuomo on what legislation he should back.

Tony Hoffmann of the Campaign Committee was not present, but David commended him on his great work.

David and Deb reported on the Animal Advocacy Committee’s work –they’re working on a letter regarding spaying and neutering of pets which will be sent out in the next few days after approval.  The legislation status regarding puppy mills is unclear.  Corey is involved with banning fur and Carlina Rivera is trying to ban foie gras.

New Business

Katharine Wolpe distributed fliers for the rent control lobby in Albany on the 14th.  She also mentioned that on Memorial Day weekend  Theater for the New City will be hosting the LES Festival of the Arts.  She advocating putting a small ad in the literature, which David will bring to the Executive Committee for a vote.

Alec Pruchnicki brought up the fact that the fourth Monday of the month would fall on Memorial Day, and proposed possibly rescheduling.  He also said the renovation status of the White Horse Tavern was unclear.

David reminded everyone about the upcoming Nadler Forum to be held at the Little Red Schoolhouse with himself and Richard Corman of DID to appear with Jerry.

READ THE FULL MEETING MINUTES HERE