No critically ill patient in New York State should suffer needlessly from lack of medical access.

This Tuesday, April 28th will mark the 298th day since New York’s medical marijuana bill was signed into law. But not one patient has yet received medication.  

That’s wrong–and dangerous, too, since many people, including children with violent seizures, are dying or suffering without the medical aid a simple plant now safely and legally available can provide.

We’re asking you to join Greater NYC for Change and our colleagues inCompassionate Care NY in demanding emergency access to medical marijuana this Tuesday, April 28th. CCNY is a statewide group of patients, providers, and organizations working together to relieve the suffering of thousands of seriously ill New Yorkers by establishing a carefully regulated medical marijuana program in New York. While that program is developed and implemented, we need your help. 

Here’s what you can do this Tuesday:

In New York City: Call the State Legislature in Support of Emergency Medical Marijuana Access! Tell leadership and your local state representatives that New Yorkers suffering from life-threatening or terminal illness shouldn’t have to wait until the full medical marijuana program is implemented. Call the legislators below–and then tell your friends and family members to do the same.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (518) 474-8390
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (518) 455-3171
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (518) 455-4800
Chair of Senate Health Committee Kemp Hannon (518) 455-2200
Your local state senator and assembly member

In Albany: Take Part in Advocacy Day and a Press Conference in Support of Emergency Medical Marijuana Access at the State Capitol, 10 AM – 4 PM! Lawmakers in Albany need to hear from New Yorkers who care about medical marijuana. Join in a press conference and meetings with legislators to explain the urgent need for emergency access for critically ill patients and to voice your concerns with the limitations of the medical marijuana program being implemented by the Cuomo Administration. Experienced advocates will show the ropes to those new to advocacy. RSVP to VOCAL-NY Statewide Community Organizer (and GNYCFC Advisory Board member) Anna Saini.

Your calls take only minutes. Stand up for New Yorkers in need now!

This Year in Albany Budgeting

Albany Budgeting

Photo credit: Gili Getz

At 2:50 am on Wednesday, April 1st, the New York State Legislature approved yet another budget. And, just like in years past, there were some victories for progressive advocates, but also plenty of disappointments.

THE GOOD

This year’s budget includes $100 million in capital funds for NYCHA public housing improvements, as well as $4.5 million for new beds at youth homeless shelters. (Thank you, Miley Cyrus!)

The budget includes another $1.6 billion in education funding, including full funding of New York City’s universal pre-K. According to the New York Times, however, that funding is tied to major education reforms, “including changes to the teacher evaluation system, bonuses for high-performing teachers, and expedited procedures to remove teachers.”

THE BAD

Once again, the budget did not include funding for the DREAM Act, a devastating blow to immigration advocates and the thousands of undocumented children living in New York City. Low-wage workers were also left out in the cold, with no increase in the state minimum wage.

While some ethics reform provisions were included (such as mandatory reporting of outside income and stricter per diem regulations), there was no major campaign finance reform, nor did the legislature close the LLC loophole that allows wealthy corporations to skirt campaign contribution limits.

THE WTF?

Finally, according to the Times, “[t]hough the word “yacht” is never used, the budget contains a tax break for anyone in the market for a “vessel” valued at more than $230,000.” That’s right–if you’re an undocumented immigrant or a low-wage worker, you’re out of luck. But if you’re thinking about buying a yacht, no problem!

There’s still time left in the legislative session, and time for the Senate and the Assembly to take up these issues, though the chances of any major progressive victories in the next two months are slim with a Republican-led Senate.

But there is no rest for the weary: there will be a major battle coming up over New York City’s rent regulations, which are set to expire in June. Greater NYC for Change is committed to renewing and strengthening our rent laws, and we’ll be working with other advocates to lobby the legislature to protect tenants. We’ll also continue our efforts to increase the minimum wage and push for more transparency in campaign finance. We hope you’ll join us!

Women lead. Don’t be left behind!

Women Lead

Winning: It’s a woman thing.

Join us March 26th at Civic Hall – the new, beautiful co-working space for civic tech – for an evening of workshops and an engaging panel of women leaders.

Too often, women don’t see themselves running for office. Our speakers didn’t wait:Jane Swift, former Governor of Massachusetts, ran for State Senate (and won) at 25. State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic was elected at only 27.

Women Lead is an intensive evening that includes women who have run for office, are in office, and are leaders in the political arena.  We have teamed up with groups across the city to bring you a power-packed night with first-hand stories, practical tools and skills, and a great new space to network. After the panel, attendees will join breakout workshops on press/media, digital organizing, fundraising, and more.

Check out the full list of speakers below:

Jane Swift, Former Governor of Massachusetts
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, New York’s 25th District
City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, New York City’s 6th District
Nomiki Konst, Founder and President of The Accountability Project
and former Congressional candidate in Arizona
District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar, Lower East Side
Moderated by Heidi Sieck, Chief Operating Officer, Civic Hall

This event is organized with VoteRunLeadVeracity MediaCivic Hall, Republican Majority for Choice, Women’s Information Network NYC (WIN NYC), Greater NYC for ChangeRoosevelt Institute Campus NetworkEmerge AmericaShe Should Run, Rising Stars, and Manhattan Young Democrats.

It’s Getting Warmer

Countdown to Paris

Climate Change is Here.

Superstorm Sandy left an indelible mark on our city, our neighbors, and our lives.

Yet, in the months since, as the waters receded, homes were rebuilt, and we returned to our daily routines, its warnings of the devastating impacts of our warming climate were often forgotten or pushed to the back of our minds as more immediate needs overtook us.

Neglected or ignored, climate change is still here, and we still must take drastic steps to avert more severe and frequent local and global impacts. This is why the next Global Climate Summit to be held in Paris in December 2015 is so crucial to achieving international consensus and finding a path forward to lowering our reliance on fossil fuels.

Our friends at 350NYC have organized a timely panel discussion titled “Countdown to Paris: Update on Global Climate Treaty Negotiations.” The panelists include:

  • Jeffrey Salim Waheed, Deputy Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations
  • Reinhard Krapp, Minister, Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations
  • Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, Associate Research Director at Corporate Accountability International
  • Sean Sweeney, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy
  • Helen Rosenthal, Council Member for District 6 in the New York City Council

Come hear about the progress already made toward a treaty, what’s left to do, and what we can realistically expect from the negotiations this December.

When: Thursday, March 19th, 7 to 9 pm
Where: New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street at Central Park West

Wanted: Clean Government

New Yorkers deserve better.

Hedgeclippers just published an important report showing that in the last 15 years, hedge fund managers and senior executives contributed over $39.6 million to influence New York State elections. Topping the list of recipients is Governor Cuomo, who received more than $4.8 million during his time as Governor and Attorney General, much of it from the same hedge funders now trying to privatize New York schools.
In the 2014 election, a small group of billionaires fronting as “New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany” spent a whopping $4.2 million on ads aimed (successfully) at swinging state senate races toward a Republican majority. While the group claimed an interest in “education reform” (the term of charter school advocates), many of their attack ads against progressive candidates also focused on undercutting public campaign financing, which would limit the outsized influence of the wealthy in Albany.
Like all investors, these contributors expect a return on investment. But the problem isn’t just individuals; it’s the system–the same system that has seen 32 state legislators indicted or removed from office for criminal or ethical issues in the same 15-year period.
 
It’s time to get money out of politics and restore transparency to our democratic traditions.
What can a good government advocate do? First, read the full Hedgeclippers series, available here. Next, join faith and labor leaders, voters, and community members in a Moral Mondays Anti-Corruption Rally and Vigil in front of the Governor’s New York City office. Then, you can listen to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and expert panelists discuss what you can do as a New Yorker to help fix Albany’s corruption problem. And take out your phones, pens, and computers to let your representatives know you demand honesty and fairness from all elected officials.
Our elected officials are negotiating an ethics reform package in Albany in advance of the March 31st budget deadline. It won’t resolve everything, but it’s a start.The time to be loud and clear is NOW. 

MONDAY, MARCH 9TH, 12 noon: Moral Mondays Anti-Corruption Rally and Vigil. Governor Cuomo’s Office, 633 Third Avenue (between 41st and 42nd Streets). Sponsored by Common Cause and other groups. RSVP here.
MONDAY, MARCH 16TH, 6 pm (keynote) to 8 pm: Can New Yorkers Fix Albany’s Corruption Problem? A Discussion on What Changes Are Needed for Lawmakers to Earn Back Our Trust. New York Law School, 185 West Broadway (at Leonard Street). With AG Eric T. Schneiderman (keynote), Ellen Biben, Richard Briffault, Hon. Richard Brodsky, Jennifer Rodgers, and Dick Dadey (moderator). Sponsored by Citizens Union and Gotham Gazette. Info and RSVP here.

March Madness

Coming up in March:

MARCH 4THWASHINGTON, DC RALLY FOR THE ACA 

Greater NYC for Change fought long and hard for the Affordable Care Act, and we’re not going to see its vital promise of universal access and well-being for Americans go down. Doctors for America and other groups will be traveling to our nation’s capitol to rally outside the Supreme Court during oral arguments for King v. Burwell, the case that will decide whether vitally important tax credits will be stripped from Americans in states with federal marketplaces under the ACA. Join physicians, nurses, medical students, and healthcare providers in a King v. Burwell Healthcare Providers Rally. RSVP here; there’ll be a bus or van traveling to DC from NYC, too. For more information, email kateplinker@gmail.com.

MARCH 11TH: ALBANY PARADE FOR EDUCATION AND LOBBY DAY 

10:30 am, Albany Armory and State Capitol Building. Organized by Alliance for Quality Education of New York. Info on Facebook.

MARCH 23RD: ALBANY MORAL MONDAY TO RAISE THE WAGE 

11 am-3 pm, State Capitol Building Grand Concourse and War Room. Join the Fight for $15 and a true Living Wage! Organized by Citizen Action of New York. Info and sign up here; bus information later!