The October Meeting also featured reports from Tony Hoffmann of the Campaign Committee, Nat Johnson of the Environmental Committee, District Leader Keen Berger, Deb and Allison Stowell of the Gun Reform Committee and Alison Greenberg reporting on the SBJSA bill. Topping this off were endorsements for Judicial candidates and the ballot Propositions.
Discussions began with the Campaign Committee with Tony Hoffmann speaking of buses scheduled for swing districts, with VID the leading sponsor among many downtown clubs. Jerry Nadler is a major participant, and Scott Stringer wants to be part of the effort. Tony also asked for volunteers at Abingdon Square for fund raising for the buses.
District Leader Keen Berger expressed optimism and exhorted people to get on buses and campaign. She also mentioned the upcoming County Committee meeting, which she said was unprecedented, and said we could make a difference as half the club was on the Committee. Benjamin Yee has since written about the October 29th meeting in his latest report.
Andrew Berman, Executive Director of GVSHP, addressed the October meeting about the Tech Hub and clarified his position in opposition to City Council’s Carlina Rivera. He spoke of Carlina’s past support for landmarking protections and Rosie Mendez’s enthusiastic support for them in order to control gentrification of the neighborhood. He faced three members of CB3, among them Susan Stetser, and Pedro Carillo of Carlina’s office, with questions. There was a general discussion.
Gale Brewer, Borough President, spoke on the Tech Hub and the three Charter Proposals, urging a “no” vote on Proposals 2 and 3. She claimed that even though the Tech Hub had been okayed with zoning and landmarking protections, there was still leverage to negotiate them.
State Senator Brad Hoylman spoke for Andrew Cuomo, emphasizing that it was time to unite. He spoke of the State Senate having an operational Democratic majority and Andrea Stewart Cousins poised to be the first African-American leader. He spoke of upcoming legislation and the need for environmental laws, subway funding, congestion pricing, and closing corporate loopholes.
Nat Johnson, of the Environmental Committee, reported on the September 20 visit to the Sims Recycling Center. The Sanitation Department has suspended its organics collection program because of plan inefficiencies. Deb Sherman touted the reusable VID bags, $3 for members and $5 for non-members.
Deb and Allison Stowell made the report for the Gun Reform Committee. They said that after meeting with Brad Hoylman’s chief of staff, they were assured that ERPO would pass as part of the budget process. In addition, issues like 3D guns, ghost guns, raise the age and bump stocks would possibly be addressed by legislation. A letter to Joseph Popcun, of Governor Cuomo’s office, was passed around for signatures. Allison and Deb also met with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, who were going to college campuses to ask students to sign pledges to vote.
People spoke for the three Supreme Court nominees, Lynn Kotler, Alex Tisch, and Mary Rosado and they were all endorsed unanimously.
Jim Yates spoke against Charter Proposals #2 and #3, calling them a transparent attempt by City Hall to take power from the Community Boards and the City Council. Proposition #1 was endorsed 17-6. Proposition #2 was not endorsed, 0-19. Proposition #3 was not endorsed, 1-18 with 2 no endorsements.
There was a discussion for and against endorsing Governor Cuomo. He was endorsed 19 to 4 no endorse ballots.
On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today. March with us in Washington DC or march in your own community. On March 24, the collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard. OUR RALLY AND SPEAKERS WILL BEGIN AT 11 AM. We are asking you to begin arriving at 10 AM.
Want to do it in DC? Here’s your chance:
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.
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.
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.
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.