May 012015
 

Zephyr-TeachoutZephyr Teachout Addresses April 9th General Membership Meeting

Ms. Teachout started by announcing that she had just gained tenure at Fordham.  She finished her book, “Corruption in America“, and had just written a letter to the Supreme Court regarding the Citizens United decision.

She discussed how the Founding Fathers found corruption the biggest threat to democracy, although now over 50% of former congresspeople become lobbyists.  This profession was a felony in many states for over a hundred years of our history.  Zephyr Teachout also spoke of renewable energy, net neutrality, and a possible second book about effects of high-stakes testing for teachers.  She also seemed optimistic about the choice of Carl Heastie to replace Sheldon Silver, and discussed the corrupting influence of money in politics and the fate of the Moreland Commission.

For more about the April meeting, click here for the minutes

 

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Apr 032015
 
Awards Gala_Hoppe&LeBouf

Jenn Hoppe and Josh Duboff again spearhead Gala preparations this year.

VID Celebrates its 58th year with an Awards Gala

A highlight in the spring season of NYC politics, VID’s 58th Annual fête  promises no less in 2015.  The Spring Forward Awards Gala will take place on Thursday, April 30th from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Tio Pepe Restaurant, at 168 West 4th St.

Honors will go to Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu for bringing progressive values to the ballot and challenging the Democratic status quo.  Receiving honors for the fight for a living wage for all workers will be Shantel Walker, on behalf of Fast Food Forward.

Among those sponsoring the event are NYS Committee Member Rachel Lavine & Roberta Kaplan, Esq.; Hon. Keen Berger; Hon Tony Hoffmann & Hon Nadine Hoffman; Alec Pruchniki, M.D.; NYS Senator Brad Hoylman & David Sigal; NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick; Hon Katharine Wolpe; Sam Jacob & Marcus Andrews; Irene Kaufman & Daniel Neiden; Kate Linker & Bernard Tschumi; Lois Rakoff and Marti Speranza.  NYS Assembly Member Richard Gottfried; NYS Assemblymember Keith L.T. Wright; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; City Council Member Margaret Chin; City Council Member Corey Johnson; City Council Member Rosie Mendez; Hon. Arthur Schwartz; Frieda Bradlow; Jim Fraser & Katherine Hanson;   Hal Friedman; Jonathan Geballe, Esq. & Karin Coonrod; Eli HausKnecht; Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club; Ann Kjellberg; Al Lewis, M.D. & Ellen Petersen-Lewis; Burt Rosenberg and Annette Zaner.    The list is still in formation. 

If you’ve got any interest in progressive politics at all, you better grab your tickets quickly.
Click on the invite to purchase online Awards Gala-Invite

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Mar 252015
 

Candles-for ClemencyApril 18 Vigil Postponed, Clemencies on the Threshold 

We have good news to report.  After over four years without granting a single clemency to anybody in prison, the Cuomo administration has promised to begin a process of identifying viable candidates for clemency and to begin issuing clemency to those deemed worthy.  This change of heart can, in large part, be attributed to the dedicated work of the people and organizations that joined Candles For Clemency.   We held a rally and a candle light vigil in front of Governor Cuomo’s home last September.  We planned on having a similar, but much larger, vigil in front of his home on April 18.

But the Governor’s office heard of our vigil and asked us to meet with his representatives in hopes that we would postpone the Vigil for at least six weeks so that they could start a clemency process. After a very frank meeting, we have decided, in good faith, to honor that request.

We are eager to see whether clemencies start rolling in come mid-May. We will be monitoring very closely and, if not, we will hold our vigil on Saturday, June 13. So please hold the date, just in case!

We want to take this opportunity to thank everybody who is part of Candles For Clemency for your dedication to the cause.  It shows that people can have their voices heard if they organize and are willing to stick their necks out.

Candles for ClemencyWe especially want to acknowledge the six members of Congress, and our celebrity hosts, who stepped forward to support the incarcerated deserving of clemency.  Many of those listed on the attached list have long been lobbying the Governor’s Office, yet consented to also be part of the effort of Candles for Clemency. And thanks to the organizations and representatives who have been attending our planning meetings. They have made this all possible.

We will keep you informed of progress towards the issuance of clemencies. If you have any recommendations for people deserving of clemency, please let us know. Also, the administration has a created an internal workgroup and an external website to encourage applicants to apply: http://www.ny.gov/services/apply-clemency 

If you know of other organizations and individuals who want to join our list of supporters, again, please let us know. Here is the current list of supporters.

We hope that this effort results in many people behind bars being given a second chance. We hope those worthy of clemency are returned to their loved ones and offered the chance to be respected and productive members of society. 

Thank you for your support,

Allen Roskoff
Founder, and Co-Coordinator, Candles for Clemency
President, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

aroskoff@mac.com
Tony Hoffmann
Candles for Clemency Co-Coordinator
Former President, Village Independent Democrats
tonyhoffmann26@gmail.com
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Mar 242015
 

At VID’s March 12th  General Meeting Small Business Survival received more attention.

Small-Business-Survival_Steve-Null

Steve Null, Founder of the Coalition to Save New York Small Businesses

VID member Sharon Woolums, one of the organizers of the  March 5th Forum and Steve Null, Founder of the Coalition to Save New York Small Businesses spoke more about organizing communities on behalf of the Small Business Survival Act which has lingered in the New York City Council for more than two decades.

Since the well-attended forum, co-sponsored by VID and The Villager, small business survival has been featured in many headlines, the latest from Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, who recently released a study on the state of NYC small businesses and then held a Press Conference at the Halal Guys restaurant on the Upper West Side on March 23rd, to endorse a proposal that would mandate mediation between landlords and commercial tenants.  The Borough President’s proposal differs some from the Small Business Survival Act stuck in City Council chambers – in particular it would not include a 10-year lease requirement.

 

And then there is #SaveNYC, a campaign and website launched four weeks ago by  Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.  Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito seems to be a follower.

You can read The Villager’s coverage of the Forum at Judson Church here

Minutes of the full meeting


Small business survival_Glick
Also on hand at the March 12th meeting were Deborah Glick and Brad Hoylman who were able to take a break from budget discussions to update VID members on developments in Albany. 
Small business survival_Hoylman
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Mar 072015
 
Saving small business_Panel

Panelists (left to right): Jenny Dubnau, Alfred Placeres, Steven Null, Steven Barrison ,Esq, Lincoln Anderson, Robert Perl and Mark Crispin Miller

 

UPDATE:  On March 5th there was  a small business forum co-sponsored by The Villager and VID, at Judson Memorial Church

On Thursday, March 5th at 7 pm neighbors, local business people, and a panel of experts convened for a Small Business Forum to discuss means to save and protect small businesses.  It was held  at Judson Church, 55 Washington Square South. The forum was organized by Sharon Woolums, long-time VID member and the panel moderated by Lincoln Anderson, Editor-in-Chief at The Villager.

The Issues

Currently landlords determine the destiny of small business owners, their workers, and, ultimately, the character and culture of an entire community.  But two pending legislations, looking at the issue from opposite directions claim to be the solution to save our small businesses.

  1. A new resolution introduced January 22 at City Hall calls upon Albany to pass legislation establishing a property tax credit for commercial landlords who ”voluntarily” limit rent increases upon renewal as incentives to not rent gouge.
  2. In City Council committee: the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, (S.B.J.S.A.) regulates lease renewal process giving rights to business owners to arbitrate fair lease terms and 10 year leases.
  3. OR…is there a better solution?

Panelists:

Steven Null
Owner of three start up small businesses in Manhattan in mid 1970’s. Founder of Coalition for Fair Business Rents in mid 1986, the first citywide advocacy group to stop the high rent increases. Researched and wrote the original Arbitration Bill introduced by former Councilmember Ruth Messinger in 1986.  Appointed to first Mayoral Small Business Advisory Task Force by Mayor Dinkins. Founder of Coalition to Save Small Businesses in 2008 Co Founder of Small Business Congress in 1991.  Help rewrite the Arbitration Bill for Council Member Robert Jackson which became the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. 

Alfred Placeres
Founder NYS Federation Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and former member of USA Hispanic Chamber of Commerce chair of eastern US district; member of both City and State advisory committees on small business over the past 25 years.

Jenny Dubnau
Spokesperson for The Artist Studio Affordability Project – coalition of arts groups fighting to preserve our city’s arts and cultural organizations.

Steven Barrison , Esq.
Member of the Board of Directors of the New York Main Street Alliance since 1992.  President and founder of Bay Improvement Group, a local main street coalition based in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; Co-Chair Coalition To Save NYC Small Businesses; Attorney for 25 years representing both landlords and tenants in commercial lease negotiations, citywide.

Mark Crispin Miller
NYU professor of Media, Culture, and Communication. Known for his writing and activism on behalf of democratic media reform; a strong voice and organizer for the Village community’s fight against the proposed NYU expansion; an outspoken critic of overdevelopment and the social consequences of rapid gentrification of a community which follows aggressive unchecked speculation. 

Robert Perl
President of Tower Brokerage, and a real estate specialist in the East Village. Mr. Perl’s company has rented thousands of apartments and stores and have sold scores of buildings and development sites.  He has been active in civic matter affecting the community and appeared on several panels dealing with neighborhood development and has given an accurate assessment of the role real estate plays in changes to a community.

The Options Discussed

1. Small Business Jobs Survival Act
2. Tax incentives to landlords to not raise commercial rents 
3. The use of Zoning reform to stabilize a business strip
4. Create a Small Business Retail Retention Task Force  
 
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Feb 212015
 

Four letters anFour-Letters-and-a-resolutiond a resolution were approved at the February 12th General Meeting.

The membership approved letters, submitted by  VID President Nadine Hoffmann and introduced by Ed Yutkowitz, to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representatives Nadler and Maloney in opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s impending address to Congress.  The opening reads:

We are disheartened that House Speaker John Boehner has breached protocol by inviting Mr. Netanyahu to address Congress just before Israel’s elections and without consultation with the White House.  Further, having the leader of a foreign government attempt to influence a Congressional vote is offensive and dangerous.

You can read a recent rundown on the March 3rd visit at Talking Points Memo and read a letter from 23 Congressional Democrats to  Speaker John Boehner.

 

A resolution, proposed by Tony Hoffmann and introduced by Nat Johnson regarding further actions on the death of Eric Garner was passed after considerable semantic debate.   Here are the final conclusions:

  • Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Village Independent Democrats calls for the appointment of a state or federal prosecutor to investigate the death of Eric Garner, and
  • Be It Further Resolved, that VID calls for the New York State Attorney General to create a procedure to handle all investigations of police officers who kill or seriously injure unarmed civilians, and 
  • Be It Further Resolved, that VID calls on the Mayor and the New York City Council to strengthen the Civilian Complaint Review Board by giving it greater resources and more investigative power, and
  • Be It Further Resolved, that the VID calls on the NYC Police Department to develop policing strategies and tactics that protect and serve so that instances which alienate and humiliate poor and minority communities do not occur, and 
  • Be It Further Resolved, that the VID calls on the NYC Police Department to retrain the entire police force on tactics for dealing with minor crimes so that the chances of these incidents escalating into major confrontations are greatly reduced, and
  • Be It Further Resolved, that VID calls on the NYPD to monitor, retrain, or remove from service police officers with a history of unprofessional, abusive, or violent behavior, and
  • Be It Further Resolved, that the NYPD, the NYFD, and the Mayor of New York review the entire incident to determine whether police officers and Emergency Medical Technicians at the scene followed all necessary and proper procedures, and, if warranted, take appropriate disciplinary action,
  • Be It Further Resolved, that VID calls upon the Mayor of New York and our local public officials to hold town hall meetings and other public forums to allow communities throughout New York City to express their feelings and to offer suggestions on how to improve relations between the police and the public they are sworn to protect. 

The resolution has been distributed to Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bratton and additional relevant City officials.

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Feb 102015
 

UPDATE:  VID’s Feb. 12th meeting spotlighted a report from Councilmember Corey Johnson and a Forum on Rent Regulations

Councilmember Corey Johnson reported on his past year in the Council and what he looks forward to in 2015.

Forum on Rent Regulation

Marlene Nadle, Chair of VID Housing Committee

Marlene Nadle, Chair of VID’s Housing Committee added timely discussion, via a special guest speaker from Met Council on Housing, on this year’s legislative debates in a Forum on Rent Regulation.

New York State’s rent protection laws expire in less than five months, on June 15.

They almost certainly will be renewed. The question is how they might be amended by the state legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Tenants throughout New York City and the suburban counties of Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland have a huge amount of work ahead to win changes that will stem the hemorrhage of affordable housing—such as by repealing the 1997 vacancy-deregulation amendments—and prevent the addition of any more pro-landlord loopholes.   Michael McKee, Met Council on Housing.

Here are the minutes of the full meeting.

You can also read some extensive coverage on rent regulation from City & State

Closing the meeting was the introduction of a resolution on the death of Eric Garner, introduced by Nat Johnson and approval for two letters, to Congressman Nadler and to Senator Schumer, introduced by Ed Yutkowitz, addressing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s scheduled appearance before the US Congress pertaining tougher sanctions on Iran.

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