Category Archives: New York City

#RememberOrlando on June 26.

#RememberOrlando

For years, New York City’s Pride March has been a celebration of difference and community. At times, as after last year’s Supreme Court victory for Marriage Equality in Obergefell v.Hodges, it has been a joyful affirmation in a procession toward justice and universal rights.

This year, New Yorkers will march in solidarity with our 49 LGBTQ brothers and sisters, almost all Latino, who were slaughtered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12th. While recognizing the outrage of yet another deadly homage to America’s romance with violence and its tolerance for shamelessly lax gun laws, we will walk and dance in a processional of love, not hate.

Members of Greater NYC for Change will be marching with some of our most dedicated public representatives and advocacy organizations. We encourage you to join in. We will also join our friends at New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, allied this year with LGBT4GVP, and the Gender and Family Project. Staging locations for the march, which kicks off at 12 noon, can be found atNYC Pride.

#LoveNotHate #ForOrlando #InSolidarity

#DemandDemocracy

Demand Democracy New York

Today, 89% of New Yorkers say that corruption in Albany is a serious problem. Only 31% of eligible voters vote. It’s time to stand up and #Demand DemocracyNOW.

New Yorkers, like all Americans, are raised to believe in the fundamental right to vote and to have their vote represented in political decision-making. It’s the cornerstone of participatory democracy and representative government. Yet widespread voting irregularities in recent elections and low registration and turnout have illuminated how hard it is for New Yorkers to vote and to have their votes count.

Then there’s money, which effectively determines that the rich and powerful—the new “billionaire class”—count more in our political system than average New Yorkers.

Faced with our two legislative leaders in Albany sentenced to prison for corruption and voting irregularities that denied the right to vote to numerous qualified New Yorkers, a coalition of community, labor, faith, and advocacy organizations has put forward a plan to resolve the crisis of democracy in New York State.

Under the name “Demand Democracy,” the groups have united behind a platform of bold changes to voting, ethics, and campaign finance laws. If enacted, these changes would limit the influence of the wealthy over our government and break down barriers to voter participation. The coalition is insisting that Governor Cuomo and the Legislature act on these changes NOW, before the end of this year’s legislative session.

Here’s the platform:

  • Publicly funded elections, with small-donor contributions matched with public dollars to elevate the voices of everyday New Yorkers
  • Comprehensive campaign finance reform that limits big money and its influence over elections. Measures include closing the LLC loophole, lowering contribution limits for candidates and committees, and limiting transfers, while supporting the federal call to overturn Citizens United.
  • Modernization of voting to strengthen democracy through automatic registration, online registration and updating, and flexible voting opportunities, including early voting, to reduce the hurdles that prevent people from getting to the polls
  • Expansion and protection of voting rights by restoring the right to vote to some 40,000 New Yorkers currently on parole, investigating purges of voter rolls, and instituting support, training, and oversight by non-political, non-partisan boards of election
  • Meaningful ethics reform that restores faith in democracy. This entails eliminating pension benefits for convicted officials and creating a full-time legislature with strong conflict-of-interest rules, full disclosure of outside income, and bans on personal use of campaign funds.

In short, we’re demanding that voting be easy, that all votes count, and that politicians work for #allofus, not just the few.

You can find out more about this effort (including the names of the huge and growing coalition) at DemandDemocracy.org. But here’s what you can do right away:

SIGN THE PETITION to #DemandDemocracy–then share!

ATTEND THE PRESS CONFERENCE in New York City this Thursday (TOMORROW):
WHAT:     NYC Kick-Off Press Event
WHEN:   Thursday, May 26, 11:00 AM
WHERE: Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street, NYC 10007

PARTICIPATE IN THE WEEK OF ACTION, June 6-13, with house parties, protests, rallies, forums, social media actions, and much more. Hit the streets! Watch the Demand Democracy website and Facebook for more information.

New York City has a housing emergency–and everyone knows it.

Record-high homelessness, vacancy decontrol, and scarce affordable housing units are only the most visible signs. According to the Citizen’s Budget Commission, one in five households in our city pays more than half its income in rent, with 94 percent of them low-income families. Over one million families struggle to grapple with stagnant wages and the rising cost of living.

Every June the affordability of over one million rent-regulated apartments is determined by nine individuals appointed to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB). The mandate of the RGB is to establish rent levels for one- and two-year leases that apply to all units subject to the city’s Rent Stabilization Law.

For years the RGB approved higher rent adjustments, despite evidence that increases in landlord income and decreases in operating costs didn’t warrant them. The data produced annually by the RGB staff pointed to 10 straight years in which landlord income outpaced expenses. It wasn’t until 2015, with a new board made up of members selected by Mayor de Blasio, that tenants saw a rent freeze and relief for working families.

This year the data is even more firmly on the side of tenants. The RGB staff has released its 2016 Price Index of Operating Costs (PIOC) report. Landlords spent 41.2 percent less on fuel, thanks to low fuel oil prices and a mild winter. (Natural gas and steam fell 31.6 and 31.2 percent respectively.) Tenant advocates argue that this drop should offset increases–all substantially below 10 percent–in taxes, labor costs, insurance, and other expenses carried by landlords.

Still, the Rent Stabilization Association–the landlord lobby–is already using media ad campaigns and other pressures to push for rent increases as high as 7 percent, despite the willingness to extend the freeze evident in the RGB’s preliminary vote.

Consider what’s at stake for New Yorkers if the landlord lobby succeeds.

What can you do? Come out and testify! Demand an outcome that won’t imperil millions of your fellow New Yorkers. The RGB is holding hearings in all five boroughs, and you can join tenant advocates and elected officials for an informational housing rights forum on the Upper East Side on Thursday, May 19th at 6pm. Click here to RSVP.

 

Economic Justice: A Real Living Wage for all New Yorkers

In 2011, we joined faith coalitions like the Micah Institute in the Living Wage NYC Campaign, and we continue to support the Fight for $15. Still, we know that even a substantial increase in the minimum wage is no substitute for a real living wage.

According to a 2014 report by the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement titled Overlooked and Uncounted: The Struggle to Make Ends Meet in New York City, over 940,000 New York City households lack enough income to cover the bare necessities of life. Women and people of color with higher levels of education still struggle with income inadequacy. In even our least expensive neighborhoods, the wage a mother needs to support herself and one child without public assistance is several dollars more than $20 per hour. A higher percentage of NYC households survive on an insufficient income than in Mississippi and several other states.

A Faith-Rooted Response 

The Micah Faith Table, a coalition of multi-faith leaders from across New York, is launching the Real Living Wage NYC Campaign to address these and other unjust economic issues. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that all workers in New York City receive at least $20 an hour–the wage required to meet basic needs without government subsidies. In other words, the aim is to trans­form the minimum wage in our city into a Real Living Wage.

Religious communities play a vital role in establishing economic justice for the whole society. Scriptures of every time, place, and faith cry out on behalf of the poor, seeking justice as well as mercy. In a critical sense, houses of faith form a unified moral body in our city, and aim to make that unity manifest by transforming a faith-based vision into reality. That is why the foundation for the Real Living Wage Campaign is being built in the interfaith religious community.

Join in Solidarity

As a secular progressive organization that builds coalitions with faith-based groups on behalf of economic justice, we encourage you to read more about the campaign here. Help make New York City a leader as a Real Living Wage City!

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On Endorsements and Priorities

As we move toward the 2016 presidential election, we’re often asked to commit to candidates and engage in campaigns. We think it’s important to state our position:

Greater NYC for Change is an issue-based, grassroots organization focused on promoting everyday social and political change. While we have always supported candidates who share our commitment to progressive change, we do not issue formal endorsements, nor do we actively engage in primary elections. Individual members of our organization are, of course, able to support candidates of their choice, but such support should not be seen as representative of the organization as a whole.

We look forward to a robust debate of ideas that will sharpen positions and produce more effective national candidates in 2016.

Meanwhile, we’ll be working at city and state levels on the issues that matter to us:
  • The Fight for $15 and a union. A real living wage.
  • Reducing income inequality.
  • Ending the influence of accumulated power and wealth in elections.
  • Concrete solutions to a looming climate crisis.
  • Full funding for public eduction.
  • Affordable and supportive housing.
  • Passing GENDA and insuring statewide rights for trans people.
  • Campaign Zero.
  • Prison reform- and clemency for the many who deserve a second chance.
  • Recognizing and dismantling our nation’s systemic racism. #BlackLivesMatter.