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.

April 11 General Meeting

April 11 General Meeting_Williams

Jan 6, 2019 at the LGBT Center, Public Advocate Candidates Forum – Jumaane Williams

The April 11 General Meeting Celebrated a Birthday, Two Unapposed District Leader Nominations and an Endorsement for Jumaane Williams

The April 11th General Meeting also welcomed State Legislators Brad Hoylman and Deborah Glick and heard updates from seven committees.

FULL MEETING MINUTES

The meeting opened with President David Siffert blowing out the candles on his vegan birthday cupcake–Happy Birthday, Dave!   Then the agenda was unanimously adopted.

State Legislation

Assemblymember Deborah Glick gave a speech on the passage of legislation in the Assembly, including the plastic bag ban, and a panel to determine the details on congestion pricing, with funds going to the MTA.  Funding for electronic pollbooks passed, and funding for early voting sites, mostly upstate.  Most importantly, some significant criminal justice reform was passed, including measures to ensure speedy trials and bail reform.  Unfortunately, the pied-a-terre tax did not pass, but the millionaire tax was extended, and a mansion tax, with funds going to the MTA.  The MTA made a commitment to 50 new accessible stations to be built over the next ten years.

State Senator Brad Hoylman appeared to speak on the budget.  He opened by saying he was happy to be back at VID.  Hoylman said the outcome was better than last year’s:  a $100M program for nurse-family partnerships, services for homeless youth and LGBT organizations like the Center and GMHC, and transgender legal defense and education funds.  The Senator was disappointed with the lack of improvement in the public financing of elections.

Criminal justice reforms in discovery, bail reform and speedy trial guarantees are areas of improvement.  Sen. Hoylman spoke of subway funding and the lack of a pied-a-terre tax.  On a happier note He spoke of a process bill, with Liz Krueger chairing the Finance Committee.

On Trump’s taxes–he introduced legislation to authorize the NY State Tax Department to provide the tax returns as soon as requested.  A spirited discussion ensued when he spoke about the measles epidemic.

In his President’s Report, David mentioned that Jen and the County Committee candidates were running unopposed and had the required signatures.

Committee Reports

Sara Kimbell of the Gala Committee reported they were in the final planning stages, with Honorees being Corey Johnson, TrueBlueNY and noIDCNY, and longtime member Frieda Bradlow.  The event will be held at Tio Pepe and Sing Out Louise will perform.

Nat Johnson of the Environmental Committee announced the next meeting on April 24 at Frieda’s house, with issues to be discussed for the next year.  Anne Heaney announced a rally on April 18 to oppose the Williams Pipeline, an entirely unneeded project.  There was a discussion about the bag fee.

The Gun Reform Committee, with Sara and Deb Sherman, started their report by quoting statistics–last year there were 772 gun-related deaths in New York State.  In the nation, 100 people a day die, with 262 schoolchildren killed.  Comptroller Tom DiNapoli agreed that NY State will divest from companies that invest in guns.  He sent letters to Wells Fargo and the credit card companies explaining the risks in investing in guns.  Six anti-gun bills were not signed by the Governor, making it important to pass ERPO in more states in order to pressure him.  The next general meeting will have a speaker from Gillibrand’s office on gun issues.

Tony Hoffmann of the Campaign Committee congratulated everyone on their petitioning efforts.  The club got 1600 signatures, which is fabulous.  He especially commended Ed Yutkowitz and Jen.  There was a discussion about this year’s primaries.  Jen thanked everyone for carrying her name on petitions and announced her engagement to Cameron Krause!

Mar Fitzgerald, of the Education Committee, said she had created an agenda and will notify members about a venue.  She discussed dyslexia, asserting that it’s a social justice issue, where many children who have it are labeled disruptive.  She outlined some future events regarding schools.

David Siffert spoke for the Animal Advocacy Committee, saying that Linda Jacobson had provided lots of information regarding neutering and spaying.  Fur and foie gras are issues coming up.

David Siffert made the report for the Out-of-District Campaign Committee, as Laurie Hardjowirogo was not present.  Two candidates being considered were Jahana Hayes and Dustin Reidy.  Sara made a list of possible candidates and spoke briefly.

District Leaders

District Leader Keen Berger opened her report saying she was happy the club got many signatures on the petitions and that Jen (Hoppe) will be the next DL.  A presentation on dyslexia was made to CB2, and the Community Board will pass a resolution.  

Arthur Schwartz, male DL, was next, announcing that even though he was not endorsed by the club he had carried petitions for Jen, Jumaane, and about a dozen County Committee candidates.  The lawsuit against the closure of Beth Israel Hospital prevailed, with the hospital to file a new plan in June.  They have already closed their maternity, cardiac, and neo-natal departments.  He will be in court Thursday, and there will be a Town Hall sometime in May.  The coalition is currently working with Harvey Epstein.

Someone is trying to stop the Halloween parade, and Arthur will be representing the parade.  He’s working for Bernie, and expecting to petition next year in the Presidential primary–delegates must petition also.  Arthur will also get involved in Trader Joe’s stopping its delivery service.

Public Advocate Endorsement

Jumaane’s Campaign Manager, Trip Yang, gave a history of Jumaane, and outlined issues for the Public Advocate like affordable housing and providing a constituent services desk–he’s currently hiring more people.  There was a discussion about the SHSAT test and the problem of providing more diversity.

An election was held on whether to endorse Jumaane for the next Public Advocate term, and he won the club’s endorsement, 30 to 2.

New Business

Marlene Nadle distributed a flyer urging the members to take a strong stand against Trader Joe’s decision to no longer deliver groceries, which will negatively impact seniors and the disabled.  She urged members to write the CEO Dan Bane, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Trader Joe’s Company, 800 South Shamrock Avenue, Monrovia, Ca. 91016.  Call 626 529-4629, or go their web site, traderjoes.com.  Through the help of VID member Erik Bottcher, Corey Johnson has sent a protest letter to the CEO, and the Villager has written about it, but more is needed.

Sharon Woolums mentioned her new article on the SBJSA in the latest Villager.

 

March 14th General Meeting

March 14th General Meeting_Schwartz

Arthur Schwartz, David Siffert and Kathy Slawinski

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.

March 14th General Meeting_Brad Lander

Brad Lander discusses proportional voting

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.

District Leadership

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.

State Committee

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.

March 14th General Meeting_Education Committee

Mar Fitzgerald, head of the new Education Committee

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.

Resolutions

FULL MEETING MINUTES