Category Archives: New York State

Let’s flip Long Island Blue!

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Organizer Dale in front of Sen. Kaminsky’s office. Our volunteers helped make it happen!

While we’re on the ground in Pennsylvania, there’s work to be done in New York. Democrats have three terrific, progressive candidates in key districts in Long Island’s Nassau County, which has long been dominated by GOP elected officials far out of touch with today’s constituencies:

  • District 7 (North Shore): Adam Haber has a good shot at this seat, but turnout will be key.
  • District 9 (South Shore): Todd Kaminsky won the Special Election in April by running an effective ground game, with the help of ourvolunteers! Now the state GOP is propping up the same opponent.
  • District 6 (Mid-Island): Ryan Cronin can edge out the incumbent this year!

#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.

Let’s Make It Easier to Vote.

Last Tuesday, New Yorkers cast their votes in the Presidential primaries, as well as some special elections for Assembly and State Senate. And just as in years past, there were problems–so many that Comptroller Scott Stringer and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have opened investigations.

Problems at poll sites are nothing new, but New York is way behind many other states in enacting basic election reforms that could increase turnout and reduce errors. That’s why election reform advocates will be descending on Albany on May 3rd to implore legislators to pass a trio of laws:

  • Early Voting, so we have more than one day to cast ballots
  • The Voter Empowerment Act, to modernize our voter registration system so that everyone who wants to participate, can
  • The Voter Friendly Ballot Act, to create easier-to-read ballots

We New Yorkers like to think of our state as a progressive beacon, but the truth is we’re one of 27 states that do not have any form of early voting, and one of 20 states that require an excuse for absentee voting.

So what can we do?

  1. Sign the #VoteBetterNY petition.
  2. Follow NYCVotes on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
  3. Sign up to go to Albany on May 3rd and advocate for reform.

When only 30% of eligible voters show up to cast a ballot, that tells us there is something fundamentally wrong with our election system. We must do everything in our power to bring New York to the forefront of voter access and enfranchisement.

Help Turn the NYS Senate Blue.

Greater NYC for Change advocates on behalf of progressive causes and stands behind politicians and elected representatives who share our values. This year, the best chance to pass legislation that benefits the people of New York State is by flipping our state senate from “R” to “D.”

That’s why we’re urging you to canvass and make calls for Todd Kaminsky before the Special Election on April 19th.

April 19th is not only the date of the New York State Presidential Primary, but also of the Special Election to fill the seat formerly occupied by disgraced Republican Senator Dean Skelos in District 9, located in southern Nassau County on Long Island. Once the Majority Leader of the Republican-led Senate, Skelos was recently convicted of “conspiracy, extortion, and solicitation of bribes.” What better way to replace an unsavory pol than with a former federal prosecutor known for fighting corruption and upholding the rule of law?

Todd Kaminsky has a strong track record as a prosecutor and a current Assembly member representing Long Beach. He has prosecuted Democrats and Republicans alike, from Sen. Pedro Espada to Rep. Michael Grimm. Todd supports clean government and investment in public education, and he has stood with local residents recovering from Hurricane Sandy. He’s a great candidate—that’s why we’re supporting him with calls and canvasses to get the word out throughout his district. 

After this crucial election, we’ll be supporting candidates in key November Senate races so as to give Democrats a reliable majority. Currently the Assembly is overwhelmingly Democratic, while Republicans hold a thin Senate majority, thanks to the dissident IDC. Flip only a few seats—NY-9 among them—and a progressive Senate is within sight, opening a clear path to achieving the promise of our state

CANVASSES FOR KAMINSKY
All canvasses meet at and return to Penn Station. We’ll take the train to Long Beach, where we’ll coordinate with the campaign to door knock. A limited number of free train tickets are available, first come, first served!   

Saturday, April 9th, 9:30 AM: RSVP here

Saturday, April 16th, 10:30 AM: RSVP here

PHONE BANKS FOR KAMINSKY

Sponsored by CItizen Action and the Working Families Party. All are held at the WFP office at 1 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201. For more information or to RSVP, email Dgordon@citizenactionny.org or Eabbott@workingfamilies.org.

Wednesday, March 30th, 5 to 8 PM

Wednesday, April 6th, 5 to 8 PM

TENANTS PAC FUNDRAISER FOR KAMINSKY

Many South Shore residents live in rent-stabilized housing, and Tenants PAC is helping secure a pro-tenant Senate with a low-$$ fundraiser. Come meet the candidate and listen to jazz courtesy of Local 802! At Local 802 (American Federation of Musicians), 322 West 48th Street. Donations can be made online at www.tenantspac.org.

Friday, April 15th, 6:30 to 9 PM

It’s about the future of our children.

Public Education

Public education is the government’s promise of a hopeful future for children everywhere. It’s the stepping stone, the shining light, the leg up out of poverty and into prosperity.

But in New York State today, with the most economically and racially segregated classrooms in the nation and a 50% child poverty rate, our governor says there is “no appetite” for the fiscal measures that would fulfill that promise and fairly fund our schools.

Shocking, isn’t it?

According to a lawsuit filed by parents with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, New York State has systematically discriminated against districts with black, Latino, and poor students by inadequately funding their education. And, according to a landmark settlement in 2006, the state owes New York City schools alone over $2 billion out of a total $5.9 billion. (Find out how much your district is owed.) But the state still refuses to pay up, and the Republican-led senate majority continues to prefer to aid private schools rather than pay what it owes to public, non-charter schools.

Today, a 1% tax on the 1%—those earning $665,000 or more annually—would raise over $2 billion in funding for education.

It’s time to #StandUp4Kids. Our children’s futures shouldn’t be determined by skin color, pocket book, or zip code—or the “appetite” of legislators whose election campaigns are funded by hedge fund CEOs or billionaires.

Here’s what you can do, right now:

We urge you to stand with the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, savvy egalitarian groups like the Hedge Clippers, and others in demanding that all our kids get the fair shake they deserve.

Climate activism is yielding results, but there’s more to do. 

Back in February, we brought together activists, politicians, and business interests to discuss local climate action in the age of big fossil. Much of the forum focused on the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS), the city’s $160 billion pension system, and the potential impact of its divestment from targeted fossil fuel companies and investment in renewable energy.

On October 27th, New York City announced that the Trustees of NYCERS passed a resolution calling on the board “to begin the process of developing a long-term investment strategy that takes into account the realities and risks of climate change.” While this falls short of the goals of 350NYC and other organizations that call for full divestment from fossil fuel companies, it’s a vital first step.

More recently on the national front, TransCanada withdrew its permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline, leaving them the option to re-apply in future.  In short order, instead of giving TransCanada that option, President Obama denied the permit! This is a victory for progressive activists and climate economists who have long opposed the pipeline.

Props to our partners at 350NYCUnited for Action and other groups for these positive results. We’ll stay vigilant as the NYCERS Board develops its strategy, and we continue to support the call to prevent the development of the Port Ambrose Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility. State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and State Senator Brad Hoylman are spearheading the effort to bring their fellow legislators on board to demand that Governor Cuomo veto Port Ambrose.

You can help today: Call your NYS Senator and Assembly Member to tell them you oppose Port Ambrose LNG and ask them to sign on to the Rosenthal/Hoylman 2015 Port Ambrose Opposition Letter. Then call Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390 and ask him to veto the project.

And don’t forget to ask that all public officials help make New York a renewable, fossil-free state.

350NYC's Divestment Rally. February 2015.

350NYC’s Divestment Rally. February 2015.