Progressive Caucus Opposes Prop1 Ballot Initiative

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New York City Council Members in the Progressive Caucus announced their opposition to Proposal 1, a redistricting constitutional amendment that will be on the November 4th ballot in New York State.

Proposal 1 would create a 10-member Redistricting Commission where eight of ten members would be appointed by legislative leaders, the final 2 being chosen by the committee. The Caucus agrees the amendment offers cosmetic changes, which don’t protect voters affected by current unfair partisan redistricting practices.  If Prop 1 passes, NYC is stuck with what supporters admit is an inadequate system, and any attempt to augment it would require two consecutive votes from the legislature and another voter referendum.

If Prop 1 is defeated in November, other states and even some NY counties with impartial redistricting procedures can serve as models for New York. The Progressive Caucus looks forward to working with the Administration to craft and advocate for such model legislation. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:

“Caucus members understand that Proposal 1– if passed – would lock a flawed redistricting plan into the New York State constitution for decades to come,” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Donovan Richards. “We have a responsibility to communities to establish a process that is more equitable for New Yorkers without the weak principles and political controls that Prop 1 offers.”

“Proposal 1 sets up a system that will institutionalize into our state constitution the cracking and packing that has divided Latino and African American communities in New York, resulting in under representation in the State Senate,” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “To make progress on issues important to my community, like preserving affordable housing and stronger renter protections,  we need real redistricting reform, That’s why I am voting no on Proposal 1 on the back of the November 4th ballot.”

“New Yorkers have an important choice to make this year on Prop 1, which should not be adopted. Prop 1 would enshrine in the constitution a commission whose independence the courts have already questioned and a final loophole that would leave redistricting in the hands of the legislature,” said Caucus Vice-Chair for Policy, Council Member Ben Kallos, who served as founding Executive Director of New Roosevelt, a good government group that was an early opponent of the measure.

“Proposal #1 is a setback in the effort to achieve a redistricting process that is both fair and impartial,” said Caucus Vice-Chair for Budget, Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “This proposition does little to dilute the partisan grip of party leaders on how district lines are drawn, and fails to measure up to the kind of reform our public has asked for and deserves.”

“While Prop 1 may look like a step forward, it is really worse than the current system.  It sets a dangerous precedent by adding to our state constitution a committee whose rules change based on the party in power,” said Council Member Brad Lander, District 39.  “I am worried that this plan takes away the will of the voters to choose their elected officials.  We need a real redistricting reform plan, not Prop 1.”

“As a state judge rightly ruled last month, you can’t label these so-called redistricting reforms ‘independent’ when they do not eliminate the fundamental problem: legislators should not be allowed to draw their own districts. In fact, Proposal 1 is so weak that it would be a huge setback for our cause,” said Council Member Mark Levine, District 7. “We must demand better from Albany. I’m strongly urging all New Yorkers to go out and vote “No” on 1 this November 4th.”

IN THE NEWS

Capitol NY: Progressive Caucus opposes redistricting amendment 

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Electeds Call on MTA to Remove Anti-Islamic Ads

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Thirty-four elected officials including the New York City Council Progressive Caucus, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Council Member I. Daneek Miller, the lone Muslim member of the City Council, sent a Letter to Metropolitan Transportation Authority President Tom Prendergast (attached) calling for the removal of anti-Islamic advertisements which were recently placed and are currently displayed on MTA property. The three ads, which have been approved and paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, features headlines touting “Islamic Jew-Hatred”, slogans which seek to equate Muslim-American organizations to foreign terrorists and, previously, a caption reading “Yesterday’s moderate is today’s headline” while juxtaposing images of a young Muslim musician and an ISIS executioner standing over James Foley.

The officials, include Progressive Caucus co-Chairs (Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards), the Chair of the Council’s Jewish Caucus (Mark Levine), and the co-chairs of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus (Rosie Mendez and Andy King), note that the “ads sow hate, create discord, and promote violence against Muslims and those who appear to be Muslim”. Citing the MTA’s viewpoint-neutral advertisement policies, the officials claim that “the MTA is well within its legal authority to remove the ads in part, and reject additional advertisements.” Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:

“We as a City Council, while we recognizing first amendment rights, absolutely demand zero tolerance when it comes to these provocative advertisements. It is appalling that these messages have been allowed and continue to remain posted.” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “As the lone Muslim member of the Council, I find the ads particularly offensive and not a true representation of the Muslim community, which continues to be a great contributor to our City. We hope that the MTA will meet this challenge and remove these ads, which only seek to incite and provoke, and are not in the best interests of our great City.”

“A platform as visible as the MTA is no place to propel hate speech. The Progressive Caucus condemns AFDI’s islamophobic ads that perpetuate dangerous stereotypes and threaten New Yorkers,” said Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Donovan Richards and Antonio Reynoso. “Residents, commuters and tourists should experience a positive and inclusive environment, not the hostile one that these ads provoke.”

“No religion or faith should ever be subject to attack ads, and I’m appalled by this latest attempt to divide our city,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. 

“Hiding behind the veil of the first amendment to spew hate is pure cowardice,” remarked Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Jewish Caucus. “It’s shocking and upsetting that the MTA’s policies force them to allow for such an incendiary anti-Muslim ad on our busses and in our subway stations. These types of propaganda only divide us and ratchet up already increasing animosity. The ads must come down.”

“As one of the most diverse cities in the country and the world, it is incredibly important that we do not spread or promote hatred in any form. The slanderous and bigoted ads that have been plastered on subway stations and on buses have no place in our city,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “I will continue to speak out against racism and religious discrimination in all its forms.”

IN THE NEWS

Huffington Post: As Hate Crimes Increase, Officials Condemn ‘Vile’ Anti-Islam Ads In New York Subway

NY Observer: NYC Rallies Against $100K Anti-Islam Ad Campaign

Queens Chronicle: James, Council call MTA ads anti-Muslim

New York Immigration Coalition: Response to the Anti-Islamic MTA Ads

JP Updates: Jewish, Citywide Elected Officials Denounce Pamela Geller’s Anti-Islam Hate Ads

Updated News: Mark-Viverito criticize anti-Islam ads due to run on buses 

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Council Members to Commissioner: Cablevision bad on labor

The Progressive Caucus was among the 42 Council Members who recently penned a letter to the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Anne Roest.

Led by Progressives I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee and Brad Lander, City Council Deputy Leader for Policy, the letter highlights concerns regarding a recent Request for Proposal (RFP) for citywide Internet hotspots and Cablevision as a potention bidder.

“The provisions of this RFP, like other RFPs for franchises from the City of New York, contains language requiring the ‘franchisee [to] recognize the right of its employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing in accordance with applicable law. Franchisee shall recognize and deal with the representatives duly designated or selected by the majority of its employees for the purpose of collective bargaining…Franchisee shall not dominate, interfere with, participate in the management or control of, or give financial support to any union or association of its employees.’

There is strong reason for concern that Cablevision, Inc. may not meet the terms of these requirements. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a sweeping complaint against Cablevision in April, 2013, finding that the company had illegally fired 22 employees for engaging in protected union activity; had engaged in illegal “bad faith bargaining”; had put union employees under illegal surveillance; had illegally promised raises to workers who voted against unionization in the Bronx; and had otherwise coerced and discriminated against pro-union workers. A trial on this complaint was concluded in December 2013, and briefs from the parties were submitted on February 28, 2014. A ruling from the Administrative Law Judge is expected in the coming months.

We have expressed previously our concern that these actions may place Cablevision in violation of its current franchise agreement to provide cable TV service to sections of Brooklyn and the Bronx. In late February, 2013, the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a hearing to investigate the question of whether Cablevision was complying with the collective bargaining provisions of its cable TV franchise agreement with New York City, in the aftermath of the company’s illegal firing of 22 workers for protected union activity.” Full Letter

IN THE NEWS

Crain’s NY: City Council fires warning shot at Cablevision

FierceCable: NYC council moves to block Cablevision from hot spot project …

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Progressive Members Introduce Waste Equity Bill

IMG_4841On October 7th, Council Members, environmental justice advocates, and community-based organizations rallied for waste equity legislation in advance of Intro 495 at the New York City Council. The legislation, sponsored by Progressive Members Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso, will more equitably distribute the responsibility of solid waste management throughout our city by 1) decreasing permitted capacity for waste processing in overburdened communities, and 2) capping permitted capacity for each community district to ensure that no other community will take on more than its fair share.

New York City creates 35,000 tons of garbage every day.  Under the current system, waste transfer stations are concentrated in just a few neighborhoods – North Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, and the South Bronx, which together process about three quarters of all of the city’s solid waste.  Garbage trucks needlessly travel thousands of miles throughout New York City polluting our air, clogging our streets, and damaging our roads, and impacts are greatest in the three communities. This system exposes these communities – predominately low-income communities of color – to significant health risks. Read more

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY

Council Member Stephen Levin said, “For communities like the one I represent, there is no truth to the saying, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. North Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Southeast Queens have been forced to bear the burden of the majority of the city’s waste for too long and have only suffered its consequences. This bill will promote a more equitable waste system in New York City and will ensure that no community becomes the next North Brooklyn, South Bronx, or Southeast Queens. I am proud to sponsor this legislation and to fight for a more equitable New York City with my colleagues in the City Council.”

Council Member Antonio Reynoso said, “My community in North Brooklyn, and other communities of color in Southeast Queens and the South Bronx, have been suffering the effects of high concentrations of waste transfer stations for too long.  Our children have asthma and other associated health problems, and our streets are dangerous and in disrepair.  But this isn’t just about ‘not in my backyard.’  As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, I support this bill as a major step toward promoting the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan and as a demonstration of the City’s commitment to borough equity for processing waste.”

“Here in Southeast Queens, as in parts of North Brooklyn and the South Bronx, we have been disproportionally impacted by poor waste management policies. This legislation provides an opportunity to bring justice to this unjust situation and to clean up our communities,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “I look forward to working on this bill as it moves through the Council and thank Council Members Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso for their leadership on this important issue.”

IN THE NEWS

Metro NY: Community groups, council members call for waste equity in outer boroughs

National Resource Defense Capital: Time for Trash Equity in New York City

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Participatory Budget Process in full swing for Progressives

Districts throughout NYC have embarked on civic engagement projects where residents work together to designate public funds to community projects.

This fall Progressive members enter the second phase of Participatory Budget NYC which entails collecting ideas through Neighborhood Assemblies. At these events, district organizers will host and facilitate community forums for residents to brainstorm potential projects valued at least $1,000,000 to improve their neighborhoods.

Please find upcoming opportunities to collaborate in public projects with your Progressive Council Member below. Visit the PB NYC Events page for the full calendar!

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Progressive Caucus and electeds file brief to end union stalling on NYPD reforms

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 24, 2014

Contact: 914.610.0942, cprnymedia@gmail.com

New York, NY – New York City elected officials joined Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and a number of law enforcement and advocacy organizations to demand that NYPD unions stop using frivolous legal maneuvers to block the court-ordered reform process to stop-and-frisk and decouple the issue from their contract negotiations with the city. Police unions recently filed a new appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals after being denied intervening status in the federal stop-and-frisk lawsuit by Federal Court Judge Analisa Torres.

Amicus briefs opposing the police unions’ efforts to intervene and impede the process are being filed by Communities United for Police Reform with over 50 organizational signatories, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James with other elected officials including the New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus, law enforcement associations, and legal experts.

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“We must honor Judge Scheindlin’s landmark decision that unreasonable and discriminatory searches are unconstitutional,” said New York City Council Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards. “Caucus members serve under the principle that partnership with communities and police accountability will lead to greater public safety therefore this obstructive appeal must be stopped. We look forward to starting the Joint Reform Process as this step, along with court ordered monitoring, will launch the collaboration necessary to right this institutional wrong.”

“The foundation for moving towards equality has got to be that the tools and the procedures police use to promote public safety be the same regardless of neighborhood,” said Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair Helen Rosenthal. “That is why it is critical this appeal by the NYPD Unions be abandoned and a community-driven conversation be allowed to move forward immediately because you can’t combat inequality when law enforcement is applied inequitably.” Full Release

IN THE NEWS:

NY Observer: Pols Bash Cop Unions for Stop-and-Frisk Appeal 

NY Daily News: Stop and Frisk rally at City Hall – but this time against unions, not NYPD 

The Objective Opinion: “Stop and Frisk” Update, Youtube Video

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Join Progressives to Stop NYPD Unions from Appealing Stop-and-Frisk Reforms

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City Leaders, Law Enforcement Associations & Advocates to Call for NYPD Unions to End Obstruction on Stop-and-Frisk Reforms, Stop Holding New Yorkers’ Rights Hostage to Contract Negotiations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 23, 2014

Contact: Mandela Jones, 646.200.5316, Mandela@berlinrosen.com

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

Groups will file briefs to oppose police unions’ endless legal efforts to continue Bloomberg administration’s stalling on reforms to protect New Yorkers’ fundamental civil rights

New Yorkers to stress need for court-ordered reform process inclusive of affected communities and other stakeholders to enact lasting reforms beyond drop in number of stops

WHAT:           Press conference to demand NYPD unions stop obstructing stop-and-frisk reforms and separate their contract negotiations from moving forward to protect New Yorkers’ rights, as groups announce legal filings to oppose NYPD unions’ blocking of reform process

WHEN:           Wednesday, September 24 at Noon

WHERE:         City Hall steps, Lower Manhattan

WHO:

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader of NYC Council

Council Member Brad Lander, Deputy Leader for Policy of NYC Council

Council Member Andy King, co-chair of NYC Council Black, Latino & Asian Caucus

Council Member Rosie Mendez, co-chair of NYC Council Black, Latino & Asian Caucus

Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Vice-Chair of NYC Council Progressive Caucus

Charles B. Billups, Chairperson of the Grand Council of Guardians

Anthony Miranda, Latino Officers Association

Kirsten John Foy, Northeast Regional Director of National Action Network

Djibril Toure, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Shelby Chestnut, NYC Anti-Violence Project

Center for Constitutional Rights

Communities United for Police Reform

WHY:             Under the previous Bloomberg administration, the use of stop-and-frisk increased by more than 600 percent. Nearly nine in ten of those stopped were neither arrested nor issued a summons, and nearly 90% of those stopped were Black or Latina/o. New Yorkers were stopped by the NYPD over half a million times in 2012 and over 5 million stops were made throughout the Bloomberg administration. The NYPD’s own data showed its exploding, discriminatory use of stop-and-frisk failed to make a notable impact on gun violence.

In August of 2013, a Federal court ruled that the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional. The Bloomberg administration and police unions sought to appeal the ruling and delay the implementation of the court’s joint remedy process. The de Blasio administration reached an agreement with plaintiffs to drop the city’s appeal and move forward with the process, but police unions continue to seek legal maneuvers that delay the development and implementation of lasting reforms. After the lower court denied the unions’ motions to intervene in the case, they are once again going before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, this time to request intervening status in the case. Their efforts only delay the beginning of a collaborative process uniting communities with law enforcement and other stakeholders in developing reforms and solutions to stop-and-frisk abuses that violated New Yorkers’ civil rights. That process is critical to ensuring there are lasting reforms, beyond the decrease in the number of stops conducted, to protect the fundamental civil rights of New Yorkers.

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