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

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