Sep 182017
 

Though the NYS Constitutional Convention Referendum Enjoyed Much Debate at the September 14 Meeting, VID Votes No

NYS Constitutional ConventionAt its general meeting on September 14, Village Independent Democrats voted overwhelmingly to oppose holding a NYS Constitutional Convention in 2018. See the full minutes here

The proposition to hold a convention will be on the ballot in the New York State election that will be held this November 7.  The convention would be design to review and revise the state’s current constitution. 

The club voted after hearing a pro-convention speaker from an organization called the New York Peoples Convention and an anti-convention speaker from the Legal Aid Society.
 
The club fears that a NYS Constitutional Convention could be dominated by powerful right-wing interests which could eliminate the current constitution’s protection of the environment and the needy, public education, and even workers’ pensions. 
 
As Club President Erik Coler put it, “The dangers are too great, and the rewards too nebulous, for reasonable people to support this proposition.  We as a club will do all we can to defeat it.”  

 

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 Posted by at 10:46 am
Jul 102017
 

Tim Wu ReturnsTim Wu returns as guest speaker at General Membership Meeting on Thursday, July 13th, 6:30 pm
St. John’s Lutheran Church, 83 Christopher St.

 The meeting will open with reports from VID President, Erik Coler, Elected Officials and District Leader Keen Berger

At 7:00 pm,  Special Guest Speaker, Tim Wu returns to VID to discuss the future prospects for keeping the internet free from control.

Tim Wu is Professor of Law at Columbia, Former New York Lt. Governor candidate.   He is also a leading expert on the future of the internet and net neutrality, having authored three acclaimed books: Master Switch, The: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires , Network Neutrality, The Next Digital Decade.

Thursay’s discussion will center on protecting the Internet.

Following will be Committee Reports

  •   Voter Reform Committee – Laurie Hardjowirogo
  •   Environmental Committee – Nat Johnson
  •   Campaign Committee – Tony Hoffmann & Laurie Hardjowirogo
  •   Affordable Housing – Erik Coler

Tim Wu_Carlina RiveraAt 8:15pm – Carlina Rivera will provide an Update on the Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital
The future of Healthcare in Lower Manhattan and what is happening and what we will do to protect the village.

FULL MEETING MINUTES

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Jul 102017
 
gerrymandering_David Daley

David Daley talks Gerrymandering

Redistricting on Steroids is the gerrymandering model David Daley revealed in his June 8th appearance at VID

Erik introduced Dave Daley, author of “Ratf**ked;  the True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy”.  He delivered a riveting talk on how the Republicans took over in 2010 by using computer modeling to gerrymander and steal elections.  Gerrymandering, which can be traced back to at least 1788, has resulted in 69 of 99 state legislatures and both houses in 35 states to be controlled by Republicans in a country in which both parties are pretty evenly represented, with Democrats slightly ahead.  Dave called the new computer techniques, dreamt up by Karl Rove, “gerrymandering on steroids”.  He warned that the hard work is yet to be done to undo this catastrophe, the structural problems are deep and difficult to undo, and the usual electoral solutions may not be enough.

Dave recommended Dems should push voting rights, labor rights, and women’s rights.  He warned that the Supreme Court has ruled against racial gerrymandering but has never ruled on partisan gerrymandering.  Changes to the electoral college lose whenever they are brought before SCOTUS, because there is no precedent.  He also cautioned that there is no happy ending–winning elections will not redraw the lines.  He advocated concentrating on governorships to start the hard work.  This instigated a robust discussion.

You can read or  listen to an NPR interview with Mr. Daley here

Regular Business – State Politics, Petitioning, Housing and the Environment

President Erik Coler opened the meeting with a discussion of the 311 issues from the last meeting.  He proposed putting together “complaining blocs” –adding other complainants who live nearby and getting them to call 311 also.  May’s Trivia Night was a big success; Trivia Night will resume in July.  VID plans to sponsor a street festival June 17, with the opportunity to hand out literature and secure signatures on petitions.  There will be a Community Service Day in early July–Lois Rakoff will contact Washington Square Park to work out details.  

The Petitioning Kickoff Breakfast is scheduled for June 10th at the clubhouse, with appearances by Corey Johnson, Carlina Rivera, Scott Stringer, and Chris Marte.  And Keith Wright will be sent a letter regarding his new lobbying job.

gerrymandering_Keen Berger

Keen Berger at Trump Tower Protest in May. Photo: Nadine Hoffmann

Keen Berger opened her report with an anecdote about a homeless panhandler she encountered on the F train while she was with her grandson.  She makes it a policy not to give, but it made her think about Comey and a need to change the system.  She called for retaking Congress and working for impeachment.

Next, Rachel Lavine, State Committee Member in the 66th AD, gave a report.  She outlined the two functions of the Democratic State Committee–electing candidates for statewide office in case of a vacancy, and putting forward resolutions to shape the party platform.  She asked for the VID to support their resolution to remove Jeff Klein from leadership of the IDC.  He will be asked to find another party and another line to run on.  All members of the IDC will have their clubs approached to request that they either run as Dems or on another party line.  

gerrymandering_IDC Protest

VID members participated in May protest at Trump Tower. Photo: Nadine Hoffmann

There is also a plan to request that Governor Cuomo share money with state Dem candidates–at least $1M should be redistributed to local races.  In addition, the Committee wants to amend rules so they have 25 days instead of 10 for petitioning–and to encourage more progressive members.   The NYS Progressive Caucus wants to make the State Committee more democratic and more progressive.  They will urge a vote to support these resolutions at the next meeting at the end of July.  Jim Yates proposed no party funds should go to the IDC, and Ben Yee is also very supportive.

On Saturday (6/10), Brad Hoylman will be at the clubhouse to deliver a talk on the IDC.  

Laurie Hardjowirogo has been working in NY’s 19th CD.  She’s been door knocking and getting out the vote.  On Saturday, Brad Hoylman will be at the clubhouse to deliver a talk on the IDC.  

Nat Johnson and his team have been working on shutting down Indian Point and composting.  Frieda had a screening of a film on Indian Point at her house, which was very successful.

Tony Hoffmann gave a report on petitioning–He said he has never seen such enthusiasm, and he asked for volunteers.

Erik gave a report on Affordable Housing.  He’s going after bad landlords–those getting J-51 tax breaks and illegally destabilizing tenants.  He said there has never been a club which has created affordable housing, and promised a class action lawsuit by the end of the month.

You can read the full Meeting Minutes of June 8th here.

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May 252017
 

At the May 11th meeting, VID endorsements for City-Wide candidates were voted upon after reports from the Voter Outreach, Environment, Affordable Housing and Gala Committees.  

VID Endorsements for City-Wide Candidates_JamesThe VID endorsements for City-Wide candidates followed a highly successful and well-publicized Candidates Night at the LGBT Center on May 2nd [read The Villager’s coverage]and the general meeting’s focus on Club committee work and community issues. 

You can read the full meeting minutes here.

The meeting began with a request from President Erik Coler to the membership to itemize a list of community concerns.  The responses included tax issues, civil rights protections, parks, after school programs, a new bathroom in the Jefferson Market Library.  Also mentioned were bike racks, broken sidewalks, potholes, “curb cut” ramps, less stop and frisk, noisy clubs, mental health care, more mom and pop stores and small business in general.  Also traffic congestion, lack of coordination at construction sites, participatory budgeting, and fair wages for service employees, eliminating tipping.  There was, additionally a big discussion about the coming work on the L train, and how that would affect the neighborhood, along with the need for more benches, elevators and escalators in the MTA.

Laurie Hardjowirogo, chair of the Voter Outreach Committee reported on their work to support Democratic candidates in Republican held Congressional Districts.  CD 19 currently held by John Faso has been a target of their efforts.  John Patrick Maloney’s Town Hall in Faso territory attracted over five hundred people, along with members of the activist group Indivisible.  More of these will be held, with Kirsten Gillebrand, Chris Murphy, and others.  The object is to raise money and attract volunteers to organize voters to overturn such Republican seats.

Nat Johnson’s Environment Committee reported on progress in curbside composting pick-up.  Community Board #2 approved a resolution calling for this type of curb-side pick-up.  He also reported that Deputy Commissioner Bridget Anderson had set goals for recycling, with zero waste going to landfills by 2030.  Single stream recycling is targeted for 2020, but organic compost is contaminated with plastic bags and must be separated.  But, for every ten buildings that commit to curbside composting, the city will send a truck for pickup.  Already StuyTown is committing to organic recycling.  This summer, on July 25, there will be a Food Waste Fair at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

VID Endorsements for City-Wide Candidates_galaNadine Hoffman, co chair of the Gala Committee, announced that the event grossed $37,170.00, with over 150 attendees.  Dr. Alec Pruchnicki donated $150 by selling 15 copies of his book for $10 each and donating the money.  

In the Affordable Housing arena, Erik Coler gave an update on the 421a tenants initiative.  You can read about in The Villager.  In early June, he will be going to buildings where units have been illegally destabilized, and advise them to sign onto a lawsuit on a contingency basis.

And the winners of VID City-Wide endorsements were:

Borough President – Gale Brewer
Comptroller – Scott Stringer
Public AdvocateLetitia James
Mayor – Bill DeBlasio

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