Jul 172016
 

VID has endorsed a letter asking President Obama to veto the current GMO Labeling bill.

After years of bitter debate and legislative stalemate over the labeling of genetically modified ingredients, a compromise proposal sailed through Congress in breathtaking speed over the past three weeks.

Within a few years, consumers will be able to find out whether any food in the supermarket contains GMO ingredients. But they won’t necessarily see that information on the package. Instead, consumers may have to scan a “QR code” — those little square codes that you see on airline boarding passes — to get that information.

Dan Charles, All things Considered, NPR July 14, 2014

GMO-LABELING_VermontAccording to  EcoWatch,    “The bill would also nullify state-by-state GMO labeling mandates such as Vermont’s landmark law that took effect on July 1.”  They also report that:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also expressed concern that the Roberts-Stabenow bill is ridden with loopholes. In its technical comments, the FDA pointed out that the bill has a narrow and ambiguous definition of “bioengineering” that would exempt many foods from GMO sources.

The VID letter, signed by VID President, Nadine Hoffman states:

While we welcome the establishment of the first mandatory federal labeling requirement to help consumers know whether their food contains genetically modified ingredients, the mandate will not be as effective as it could and should be.  In fact, the bill will nullify a stronger measure just recently implemented by Vermont that ensures that labels are comprehensive and written in easy-to-understand English.

You can read the whole plea for veto to President Obama here.

A New York Times article of July 14th verifies consumer reactions which could force packagers to be more forthright regardless of the legislation:

The federal law renders Vermont’s law and other state labeling laws null and void, but companies will have to weigh the expense of taking text off labels, not to mention the risk of irritating consumers interested in increasing transparency about the foods they eat. A survey of more than 1,500 consumers by Label Insight, a research firm whose clients include major food companies and grocery businesses, found that 37 percent of consumers said they would be willing to switch brands if another brand shared more detailed product information.

According to The White House website, the most efficient way to express your opinion to The President is electronically.  Here’s the address for submitting your comments: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

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May 162016
 

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The May 12th Membership Meeting carried a full agenda AND a Civil Court Candidate Forum

Meeting Minutes_May-2016

President Nadine Hoffmann opened the May 12th Membership Meeting by noting how nicely the VID Gala was written up in The Villager by Lincoln Anderson.  There were also some nice pics from this event.  The March for a Clean Energy Revolution, which we endorsed, will take place on July 24 before the Democratic Convention.  Members agreed to spread the word regarding this event.

45 Rivington Letter to DeBlasio (see more details in our previous post), was unanimously passed for distribution.

District Leader Keen Berger said she had two good things to report.  Several CB2 members held a well-attended meeting with Jerrold Nadler regarding the dedication of Christopher Street Park to LGBT rights.  The second item was about some school district “carve out” blocks on 12 Street North–residents of these blocks were unhappy about being zoned out of PS 41.   CB2 is pushing for their re-inclusion.

Next came the election of the judicial delegates.  VID, DID and VRDC were each to contribute two delegates and two alternates.  This arrangement passed overwhelmingly, with one nay vote.  VID nominees were Nadine Hoffmann, Jen Hoppe, Cormac Flynn, Zella Jones, Erik Coler, and David Saperstein; the finally elected delegates were Jen and Cormac, with Zella and Nadine as alternates.

Tony Hoffmann, Campaign Committee Chair, now opened the Special Candidates Forum for Civil Court, co-sponsored by VRDC, DID, and the Jim Owles Club.

The Civil Court Candidates included:

Margaret Chan
Shahabuddeen Ally
Josh Hanshaft
Emily Morales Minerva
Nicholas Moyne
Phaedra Perry
Robert Rosenthal

Each candidate gave a four minute presentation followed by up to six minutes of questions from the audience.  All the candidates were impressive and the discussion was spirited.

The meeting was adjourned, with the reminder that the endorsement meeting will take place on May 23 at 8pm at Greenwich house.

 

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Apr 112016
 

rent-control-reformRent Control Reform Is Past Due

At a time when rent-stabilized tenants in New York City are enjoying a freeze in their rents, another group of regulated tenants — the dwindling minority in rent-controlled apartments — is facing an increase of up to 9.6 percent over the next two years. New York Times, 

Since December 2015  there has been a concerted effort for rent control reform to correct this inequity, which by the very nature of the rent-controlled legislation affects seniors who have lived in their apartments since the legislation began in 1970.  The 2014 Housing and Vacancy Survey found that the median rent for a rent-controlled unit was $1,020 per month on an average income of $29,000 per year…or 42% of their fixed income. (By comparison, rent-stabilized tenants pay a median rent of just $1,300 per month with average annual salaries of nearly $41,000…or 38% of annual income).

In the NYS Assembly, Linda Rosenthal, (Assembly District 67-Manhattan) introduced AOO398, co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Felix Ortiz (District 51-Brooklyn), Walter Mosley (District 57-Brooklyn), Richard Gottfried (District 75 – West Side Manhattan) , Maritza Davila (District 53 – Northern Brooklyn), Victor Pichardo (District 86 -Bronx) , Rodneyse Bichotte (District 42-Brooklyn), William Colton (District 47-Brooklyn), Latoya Joyner (District 77-Bronx), Guillermo Linares (District 72 – Northern Manhattan), Latrice Walker (District 55-Brooklyn).

On the NYS Senate, Adriano Espaillat (Senate District 31-Upper West Side Manhattan) has introduced SO5040, the same legislation as the Assembly bill, co-sponsored by Senators Brad Hoylman (Senate District 27 – Mid Manhattan) and Bill Perkins (Senate District 30-Harlem).

The Village Independent Democrats have taken up the cause of rent control reform with a letter to Governor Cuomo from VID President Nadine Hoffmann and Executive Committee Member Tom Connor, urging his attention.

“At this point, the MBR system is well beyond the point of repair. It is antiquated and clearly is not reflective of the economic realities faced by tenants and landlords alike. In order to save rent control, and in the process, the lives of just about 30,000 seniors who have built their communities and this city, we must end the MBR and instead pass into law my bill, A.398. Any increase is an unwarranted one,” says Assemblymember Rosenthal.

 

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Mar 302016
 

VID’s March Meeting featured reports on the gun violence forum, the Congressional primary, an early voting bill in the NYS legislature and the Algonquin Pipeline.  It ended with Club endorsements for Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton.

See the full meeting minutes here.  [Revised ]

VID's march meeting_Gun-violence-panel

Forum on Gun Violence Panel: Richard Aborn, Leah Gunn Barrett, Joel Vatsky (CRDC), Nadine Hoffmann (VID),Scott Stringer (not pictured) and Assemblyman Keith Wright

President Nadine Hoffmann opened VID’s March meeting by welcoming Congressman Jerry Nadler, who is up for reelection.  He soon left, as he could not speak at the meeting. She then reported on the March 1 Women’s Issues forum at the Red Room, participated in by VID, DID, CODA, Manhattan Young Dems, and Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.  There had also been a forum on gun violence the day before, sponsored by the VID and VRDC, and featuring Keith Wright, Richard Aborn, Leah Gunn Barrett, and Scott Stringer, among others.  And she reminded the members about the upcoming Candidates Night on April 7.  See April Announcement

District Leader Keen Berger discussed campaigns in other states and candidates she was supporting like Donna Edwards, Catherine Cortez Masto, Russ Feingold and Maggie Hassan. [A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Keen Berger was supporting Chris Van Hollen who is Donna Edwards opponent.  Keen is strongly supporting Donna Edwards.]

Nadine commended Erik Coler for meeting with Assemblyman Brian Kavanaugh on the topic of early voting–the Assemblyman thinks Republicans are in agreement on this issue and it may pass in the Assembly and State Senate.  Jonathan Geballe explained what’s involved in getting this legislation passed.

VID's March Meeting_Petitioning

Jonathan Geballe, Congressman Nadler, Nadine Hoffmann, Erik Coler, Congresswoman Maloney, NYS Senator Brad Hoylman join the petition-launching breakfast at the VID Clubhouse.

Tony Hoffmann spoke about the upcoming Congressional primary on June 28 and the necessity for petitioning.  A Campaign Breakfast, paid for by Congressman Nadler, would take place at the clubhouse on Saturday.

Nat Johnson updated everyone on the environment–on February 29, Governor Cuomo sent a letter to FERC about the Algonquin Pipeline, requesting this dangerous project be suspended until a full environmental study is completed.  Nat described a circular firing squad involving FERC, NRC, DEC, and the EPA diffusing the blame by saying the others had approved the project.  There was a discussion about Int. 446, a bill introduced to prevent fracking and its byproducts from traveling through the city–26 City Council members were needed to sponsor the bill. ( Pipelines leak methane at much higher rates than previously understood, and methane is much more dangerous to the environment than carbon dioxide.)

FERC had not responded to the Governor’ s letter, so Keen proposed sending a statement to the Villager and Cuomo’s office, which was unanimously approved.  It was also proposed to send letters to Councilmembers Corey Johnson and Rosie Mendez (copied to the Villager) thanking them for supporting the initiative to suppress fracking.  This too was unanimously passed.

Tom Connor, a rent-controlled tenant who is a chair on the advisory board of Greenwich House, a senior center, read a letter to Governor Cuomo regarding the unfairness of the rent raises to rent-controlled tenants, the majority of whom are senior women.  Rachel Lavine, a State Committee Representative, asked about SCRIEE having a role.  It was proposed that Nadine, Rachel and Tom meet to collaborate on the letter, and this was unanimously passed.

Next Jen Hoppe updated us on the Gala, set to take place on Thursday, April 28 at the newly renovated Tio Pepe.  The Committee is soliciting sponsors, and invites are to go out next week.  Honorees will be Ben Yee, former leader of the Manhattan Young Dems and current VP of the National Young Dems, someone (as yet undecided) from the Cooper Square Committee (addressing homelessness), and Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of the Correctional Association of NY (regarding prisoner’s rights).  Nadine said the committee had wanted to honor Susan Lerner of Common Cause, but she was unavailable.

Nadine reviewed the VID rules for endorsement of political candidates; after much discussion regarding the candidates–

  • Jerry Nadler was unanimously endorsed by acclamation.
  • Carolyn Maloney was endorsed by 23 in favor, with 3 no endorsement votes and one invalid ballot.
  • Chuck Schumer was endorsed by 19 in favor and 7 no endorsements.
  • Hillary Clinton received 19 votes, Bernie Sanders received 9 votes and one no endorsement.

And now, the pictures:

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