Reading Liberally Page Turner: What Book To Give Your Conservative Uncle This Holiday Season
Well, O'Reilly is getting even more ballistic than usual, so y'know what that means - the holiday season is upon us. With the first night of Hanukkah this evening, with Christmas and Kwanzaa only a few weeks away, some of our minds turn to gift-giving. Namely, what to give to that conservative uncle/aunt/friend who constantly e-mails you conservative spam and turns every family get-together into a political referendum. Figuring that knowledge is power, we asked some of our favorite activists what book to give our favorite conservative this winter. Happy Holidays!
Steve Perez, United Federation of Teachers: I'll recommend Singularity Sky by Charles Stross. Three reasons: first, it's fiction, and I prefer that to a polemic. Second, it's a good book, funny and smart. Third, there's a lot of progressive science fiction being written, and IMO it doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Bad News? We Don't Need No Stinking Bad News!
The New York City Department of Education web site has had a dramatic facelift, with almost every new whistle and bell you could want.
If you want information and data on a school, you type the name into the conveniently located search engine, and it will take you to what is called a NYC DOE portal for that school. We searched Stuyvesant High School, and we were taken here. On the left hand side of the page there is a category "Statistics," and if you click on it, it takes you to a page that has all of the DOE's statistical reports. You can read the Stuyvesant High School's Learning Environment Survey, its Quality Review Report, its School Report Card, its Budget, its Weekly Attendance, its Register, its Expenditure Report, its Galaxy Budget Allocations, its Table of Organization [with budget allocation], and its Building and School Facilities Report.
Everything you could want to know, right?
Not if graduation rate is what you're looking for.
. . .
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Also on the front page at Room 8, The Albany Project, Daily Gotham.
Teachers Union Endorses Hillary Clinton
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president:Acting on behalf of its more than 1.4 million members, the AFT executive council on Wednesday endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president, citing her proven ability to advance our nation's key priorities, and her bold plans for a stronger America.
"Our members have told us that they want a leader they can trust to strengthen public education, increase access to health care, promote commonsense economic priorities and secure America's place in the world," said AFT president Edward J. McElroy. "Hillary Clinton is that leader."
Chris Bowers at Open Left calls it, "the biggest endorsement of the campaign for me so far."I know AFT people, both the teachers and the organizers. They are friends, family and colleagues. They are smart, extremely hard working, and also very progressive. I trust the decisions they make. If they decide to endorse Hillary Clinton, that means a lot to me . . . The AFT endorsement of Hillary Clinton improves my image of Hillary Clinton.
Here's coverage from TPM Election Central:The drumbeat of good Hillary news just isn't stopping today: The latest is that she's picking up the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers.
Garance Franke-Ruta at Tapped offers this analysis:The move was long expected for three reasons: Clinton's historic commitment to and advocacy work around the education of children have given her deep relationships in the education community; the largest AFT affiliate is based in New York; and more than three-fourths of teachers are female.
Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic reports, "a union source says the vote for Hillary was 'overwhelming.'"
Liz Benjamin at Daily Politics looks at the timing:The New York contingent, which is the largest state organization in the AFT, lobbied hard on the part of its "favorite daughter" - a status the union conferred on Clinton back in April - while Illinois, the second-largest, did the same on behalf of its designated "favorite son," Barack Obama.
The argument, Ianuzzi said, was less about whether Clinton should be the AFT's candidate, since 45 percent of the union's likely voters favor her, according to a poll conducted by Peter Hart Associates (Obama got 21, John Edwards received 13), and more about whether it would be more appropriate to delay the endorsement altogether to see if some other frontrunner emerges.The Council isn't scheduled to meet again until February, Ianuzzi noted, by which point, at the rate things are going, the Democratic nomination contest could be good and over.
Additional coverage rounded up at Edwize.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Union Busting 101: A Look Inside Jackson Lewis
by Steve Perez
I want to urge everyone to read Unionbusting Confidential, the cover story from the latest issue of In These Times. For the low, low price of $1,595, article author Art Levine signed up for a seminar on staying union-free led by attorneys from Jackson Lewis. As labor laws weaken, companies are spending literally billions on union busting, and Jackson Lewis is one of the go-to law firms. Here's a sample of what their seminar is about:What if we felt like saying a lot of anti-union stuff to our workers? Lotito introduced a segment called "You Can Say It." Could we tell our workers, for instance, that a union had held strike at a nearby facility only to find that all the strikers had been replaced—and that the same could happen to the employees here? Sure, said Lotito. "It's lawful." He added, "What happens if this statement is a lie? They didn't have another strike, there were no replacements? It's still lawful: The labor board doesn't really care if people are lying."
But if everything failed, and we found ourselves negotiating with a newly formed union, then we still shouldn't lose heart. Instead, we could continue to undermine the union by rejecting all of its demands during negotiations. (In fact, in about a third of the cases after a union victory, employers don't even agree to a contract.)
We're familiar with Jackson Lewis here in New York.
Read this post on Edwize exposing a similar seminar, held in November 2005, on "union prevention" in New York state charter schools led by Jackson Lewis, with special guest Rod Paige as the lunchtime speaker.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Blinded me with Science
I am late out of the box on this one but, tardy or not, it's worth checking out. Jackie Bennett at Edwize points out the inconsistencies in this recent editorial from her hometown paper about NCLB and whether it promotes science instruction.
NCLB - It's Getting Serious
posted by SteveUFT
[I hope this post about the changes to No Child Left Behind proposed by Congress proves interesting. It was originally posted on Edwize and written by Edwize blogger Maisie.]
Lest you think that the debate over reauthorizing No Child Left Behind is hard-to-follow/wonkish/a tempest-in-a-teapot or anything like that, note that Jonathan Kozol today entered his 76th day of a partial hunger strike over NCLB.
In protest over that law, Kozol, the widely-published, passionate advocate of educational equality, has taken himself into the realm of serious danger.
He's sick of NCLB. Mandating math and reading tests and punishing schools and students who do not meet their targets is "turning thousands of inner-city schools into Dickensian test-preparation factories," Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page quoted Kozol as saying. It has "dumbed down" school for poor, urban kids and created "a parallel curriculum that would be rejected out-of-hand" in the suburbs.
. . .
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Odds And Ends
Off Message: New York wins the $1 million Broad Prize for education*, UFT head Randi Weingarten says, "It's a great day for New York" and joins city officials to accept the award but over at Edwize they're all grumbling and sourpuss. *I'm on the review board.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The NY Times, The Business Roundtable, and NCLB
posted by SteveUFT
[I hope this post about the changes to No Child Left Behind proposed by Congress proves interesting. It was originally posted on Edwize and written by Edwize blogger Jackie Bennett in response to a New York Times editorial.]
Every corner of the educational community has protested the consequences of No Child Left Behind, including that the law has narrowed the curriculum and unfairly penalized schools already making progress.
In spite of that, an editorial in the NY Times defends the status quo. Referring to proposed NCLB revisions, the Times complains that the changes will "allow schools to mask failure in teaching crucial subjects like reading and math by giving them credit for student performance in other subjects."
Yet, just one paragraph earlier the Times has this to say: "Faced with poorly educated workers at home — especially in science — American companies are increasingly looking abroad."
. . .
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Also, a front page quick hit at Blogs United
Numbers Don't Lie, But . . .
posted by SteveUFT
[I hope this post on the recently-released Learning Environment Survey proves interesting. It was originally posted on Edwize and written by Edwize blogger CitySue.]
. . . those who attempt to explain them often do. The so-called Learning Environment Survey released by the city of New York is a case in point.
For teachers the results were gratifying. Nobody -- not even Mike the Master of Spin -- could do anything to diminish a statistically astounding 90 percent approval rate!
Curiously, although the DOE apparently wanted to know what parents thought about "the quality" of their child's teacher, it didn't ask parents what they thought of the school principal. Though maybe it's not so surprising considering the fact that Klein is betting the farm on them to bail him out of the first and second reorganizations.
. . .
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
A Labor (Not Labored) Reading Selection
With all the leisure time on beaches and in backyards, Labor Day weekend was a good time to read...but chances are you didn't read about Labor itself. Honestly, we don't blame you. Pick up the wrong book and you'll find something either too dry or way over your head in wonkishness, neither of which makes for a fun time.
That's why it's great that David Sirota put together a reading list -- worth checking out for anyone who wants to find a fulfilling route into the firmament of the movement.
Today, on Open Left, Reading Liberally posted in the same spirit: with a guest essay by UFT blogger Steve Perez on the new biography of teachers' union leader Al Shanker, entitled Tough Liberal. Shanker's powerful role in shaping the union in the 60s resonates to today:...Education is still in the public sphere and a function of government. Contrast this to our deregulated energy system and the rampant union busting of the 1980s. Shanker's reform proposals have guided the changes in American schools for the past 25 years. The right's push to privatize schools and their opening salvo in that fight, private school vouchers, has failed to gain traction.
But it was a mixed victory. Even Shanker felt that many of his proposals were distorted in an attempt to make schools more like assembly lines and teachers like cogs in charge of quality control. Witness No Child Left Behind, where national testing goes from being a yardstick to help schools discover what they could be doing better to being the sole focus in the classroom.
Tough Liberal isn't a general introduction to Labor...but for today's progressive, Perez contends its a relevant and riveting read.Al Shanker operated on a public stage. He wasn't afraid to engage in public fights for what he believed in: protecting teachers and improving schools, as well as the larger ideas of democracy and school as a place where children learn how to be full participants in democracy. He constantly wrestled with how best to do that, and how best to make his argument to teachers and the broader public.
Bloggers face the same challenge of how to influence public debate and public policy.
Thanks to Steve Perez and David Sirota for suggesting some non-laborious labor reading...there has to be more to read than John Grisham on the free day union's won for all of us.
Reading Liberally Page Turner, Labor Edition: Tough Liberal
By Steve Perez, Edwize
When Al Shanker began teaching in East Harlem in the early 1950s, he could have made more money washing cars. But if you really want a sense of how poorly teachers were treated 60 years ago, before the rise of teacher unionism, then consider this: Pregnant teachers were forced to leave the profession - without pay - for two years.
In honor of Labor Day and the start of school, I want to take a minute of your time to recommend a new biography: Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard Kahlenberg.
Tough Liberal tells the twin stories of Al Shanker and modern teacher unionism. From the time he helped found the UFT in the 60s through his tenure as President of the AFT up until his death in 1997, Shanker was a force in every important debate over public education.
We often talk about teacher unions as having formed in the early 1900s. But it wasn't until the 1960s that teachers won collective bargaining rights. What stood in the way? The law barred public employees from striking, and so school boards refused to negotiate with teachers unions.
Shanker and his union brothers and sisters decided to force the issue by striking. He bet that the public would side with teachers when they weighed how badly teachers were treated - the low pay, the lack of dignity on the job, the poor working conditions - against the inconvenience a strike would cause, and that the New York City school board would be forced to negotiate.
This was a big gamble. Win and the school board would be forced to the table; lose and the teachers at the core of the union would lose their jobs and the union would lose its credibility. From Tough Liberal:In 1960, when collective bargaining for teachers was generally thought impossible because it was illegal for public employees to go on strike, Shanker and a handful of other teachers in New York City convinced several thousand colleagues to break the law and risk being fired. Because the school board could not dismiss all the striking teachers, it backed down and eventually recognized the right of the UFT to bargain on behalf of teachers. Other teachers joined on, and from 1960 to 1968, union representation grew from 5 percent of New York City's teaching staff to 97 percent. With collective bargaining came a huge change in the culture of teaching. Teachers were accustomed to being pushed around: they were poorly paid, forced to eat their lunches while supervising students, and told to bring a doctor's note if they were out sick. Collective bargaining brought them higher salaries and also greater dignity.
. . .
The influence of Shanker and his colleagues was felt far beyond New York City, as the UFT's example caught fire and teachers pushed for collective bargaining in Detroit, Philadelphia, and city after city. The nation's largest teachers' organization, the National Education Association (NEA), was adamantly opposed to collective bargaining. But as NEA leaders witnessed the AFT's dramatic gains in membership, the NEA was forced to reverse its position or risk losing its preeminent status.
Al Shanker went to jail for the strike, but he won the bet.
Skip ahead to 1983. Ronald Reagan had appointed a National Commission on Excellence in Education to look at America's schools. The report they released, A Nation at Risk, painted a bleak view of an education system threatened by "a rising tide of mediocrity."
This report was a shot in the battle to privatize public schools. Shanker could have responded by threatening a showdown. He wasn't shy about striking, and he would have been in good company digging in his heels.
Instead, he chose to subvert the right's attack with reform proposals that would give teachers more say in improving schools. From Tough Liberal:When unions were attacked for protecting incompetent teachers, Shanker backed a controversial "peer-review" plan, in which master teachers would evaluate incoming and veteran teachers, weeding out those not up to the job. He also astounded critics when he proposed a rigorous national competency exam for new teachers, a concept anathema to the NEA. When unions were attacked for opposing efforts to reward talent through "merit pay" of teachers, Shanker devised a plan to recognize superior performance with greater pay without leaving the decisions open to favoritism by principals. He proposed what would become the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which provides for teachers what board certification does for doctors. Each of these policies was offered not merely as a defensive maneuver against critics of teachers' unions but as part of an affirmative vision to make teaching not just an occupation but a true profession.
Shanker also proposed innovations to restructure schools and in 1988 popularized the idea of charter schools, public schools that would be set up by groups of teachers and be permitted to experiment with different educational approaches.
. . .
Shanker's greatest impact on education reform came with his decision to embrace a system of education standards, testing, and accountability comparable to what most leading European and Asian nations had. There was enormous resistance to standards from the left (civil-rights groups, education professors, the NEA) and from the right (advocates of local control and states' rights). But Shanker broke with the education establishment and joined with governors and business leaders to push what today, remarkably, has become the leading education reform in the United States.
As a result, education is still in the public sphere and a function of government. Contrast this to our deregulated energy system and the rampant union busting of the 1980s. Shanker's reform proposals have guided the changes in American schools for the past 25 years. The right's push to privatize schools and their opening salvo in that fight, private school vouchers, has failed to gain traction.
But it was a mixed victory. Even Shanker felt that many of his proposals were distorted in an attempt to make schools more like assembly lines and teachers like cogs in charge of quality control. Witness No Child Left Behind, where national testing goes from being a yardstick to help schools discover what they could be doing better to being the sole focus in the classroom.
I hope these two stories have whetted your interest for Tough Liberal. Reading the book, I think you'll often find yourself nodding in agreement. But Shanker was a controversial figure, and you won't always agree with his choices (I didn't). That's part of why I think you should read it.
Al Shanker operated on a public stage. He wasn't afraid to engage in public fights for what he believed in: protecting teachers and improving schools, as well as the larger ideas of democracy and school as a place where children learn how to be full participants in democracy. He constantly wrestled with how best to do that, and how best to make his argument to teachers and the broader public.
Bloggers face the same challenge of how to influence public debate and public policy. Reading Tough Liberal and debating Shanker's choices is an opportunity to look into the past and use it to guide our future. I hope you enjoy the book, but, even more, I hope it spurs debate on the challenges we face today.
* * *
Steve Perez is the Web Outreach Coordinator at the United Federation of Teachers and blogs regularly at Edwize. The opinions expressed are his own and not necessarily those of the UFT.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
New Orleans and the Future of American Education
posted by SteveUFT
[I hope this post by UFT President Randi Weingarten on Hurricane Katrina and its continuing impact on New Orleans schools proves interesting. It's crossposted from Edwize and Eduwonk, where it originally appeared.]
Today we mark the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The images of widespread destruction and needless suffering and death that flashed across our television screens two years ago remain fresh in our collective memory, if only because they were so stark and terrible. For a moment, the reality of the "other America," living in poverty and shut out of the American dream, became real for all Americans. We were shamed by the knowledge that thousands of people, many of them poor or of color, were left for days and days without essential food, water, shelter, medicine and health care as a result of the catastrophic failure of our government. In the wealthiest and most powerful nation of the world, such a failure was a monumental travesty.
. . . .
Also, front page quick hits at The Albany Project and Blogs United
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
NYC Rallies for a Child's First Teachers
Mark your calendars: tonight at 7pm is the next step toward bringing New York City's home child care providers into the same union as New York City's public school teachers.
For many New York City families, their child's first teacher is one of the 28,000 home child care providers caring for kids today. Home child care providers take care of kids from low-income families in pre-school and after-school settings, helping them with reading and learning colors and numbers.
But home child care providers aren't protected by a union. Their average salary is $19,000 a year in New York City with no pension, no health insurance and no paid sick days. That makes home child care providers among the lowest-paid workers in the region. Something needs to be done to make sure they get the respect and wages they deserve.
You can help. The UFT, which represents New York City teachers, is launching the largest organizing drive New York has seen in decades to unionize home child care providers. We're holding a kickoff rally tonight, August 28th, and we want to fill the room with 500 supporters. Can you come?When: Tuesday, August 28th, at 7pm
Where: Alhambra Ballroom at 126th and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (directions)
We have the opportunity to work with a child's first teachers. Home child care providers work with kids before they come into the school system. Early grade teachers are familiar with the skills and background experiences that will give these kids the best preparation possible when they do start school. Let's work to bring providers and public school teachers together so we can create a seamless transition for kids that starts them off on the right foot.
Friday, August 24, 2007
The Teacher Voice in Data-Driven Accountability
We hear a lot these days about what I call "3-D reform," — data-driven decision making and about using tests to improve teaching and learning. Sadly, in this respect, too often, testing has replaced instruction; data has replaced professional judgment; compliance has replaced excellence; and so-called leadership has replaced teacher professionalism.
. . . .
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Odds and EndsAlso in the print edition of the New York Press and the New York Post
Did DOE spokeswoman Julia Levy seek to rig on-line polls on behalf of her boss, Chancellor Joel Klein?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Odds and EndsAlso, front page quick hits at The Albany Project and Daily Gotham
The UFT explains why it supports the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
UFT Hails New Middle School Initiative
Submitted by SteveUFT on 14 August 2007 - 4:05pm.
UFT President Randi Weingarten joined City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg to unveil a new initiative to improve academic performance and provide more resources to middle schools.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Also, front page quick hits at Daily Gotham and Blogs United
Major Union Drive in NYC
(The story of these home health care workers has been one of the most inspiring stories in recent memory. Great diary. - promoted by phillip anderson)
28,000 home day care workers in New York City are one step closer to joining the United Federation of Teachers.
Home day care workers in New York receive government subsidies to watch, care for, and educate children from low-income families in pre-school and after-school settings. They provide meals and snacks, direct safe play, and change diapers. They also play a role in educating the children in their care, helping with reading and helping young kids learn colors and numbers and older kids with homework.
Pretty important work, right?
In New York City, home day care workers make an average salary of less than $19,000 a year with no pension, health insurance or paid sick days. That makes them among the lowest-paid workers in the region.
Read more to find out what we're doing about it.
The UFT and the community group ACORN have been working together to unionize home day care workers for about two years. Why is this significant? It's the largest organizing drive in New York in decades. Why the United Federation of Teachers? I'll let UFT Vice President Michelle Bodden explain, in this quote from a guest post at Firedoglake:"What does this mean for the UFT? Our union undertook the drive to unionize home child care providers for two main reasons - educationally, this is an extraordinary opportunity to work with children's first teachers. Providers see children before they come into the public school system, and many of them want to prepare those children for success. Early grade teachers have a good sense of the skills and background experiences that make the most difference with young children. It is a natural mesh to combine the providers with the public school teachers and create a seamless transition for youngsters with the best preparation possible.
The UFT Teachers Center offers free classes for providers on infant/toddler development through preschoolers. The classes are extremely popular because providers want to learn more about creating high quality educational environments — they want their youngsters to succeed. Eventually, we can create a real leveling of the playing field — making a pathway for low-income students to gain the kind of rich vocabulary and other prerequisites that bode for success in school and in life.
The other reason is exactly the same as the reason why this is a great event for the union movement in general: It is our mission to improve the lives of working people, not just the members we have now, but all working people. Many of the gains of labor, from the minimum wage to a defined workweek, extend to millions of workers who are not in unions."
After counting union cards from more than 12,000 home day care workers, the New York State Employment Relations Board has certified that the UFT and ACORN have surpassed the margin required for the workers to hold an election to join a union. In the words of UFT President Randi Weingarten, "This is a critical milestone in the journey to get New York City's 28,000 home day care providers the respect and wages they need and give the children in their watch the care they deserve."
The next step is for the State Employment Relations Board to schedule an election; we expect that election to take place in late August.
The key to this election will be getting the word out so people know when they need to vote. Rallies, phonebanking and door-to-door campaigning will all play a part, but sites like The Albany Project can help by talking about the election to raise its profile and get more people talking. So let's get the word out!
Friday, July 6, 2007
Mark Schmitt on How People Can Organize and Aggregate Power
Yesterday, Mark Schmitt commented at TPMCafe on two other posts, one by Nathan Newman on campaign finance reform, and another by Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party on fusion voting (The Working Families Party is also included in our report on contributions to progressive strategy, "Finding Strategy").
He is not just agreeing with both of them, but uses his commentary to argue that they represent an important and new way ofthinking about the political process, and steps toward reform, that puts people back in -- people, and the possibilities of organized power.His emphasis on how to enhance the capacity of people to organize and aggregate power is very relevant for our project. The question of how to aggregate power is of particular interest for our project, because most strategies rarely address it. How can progressives accumulate power over time?
I have included the below excerpts to illustrate his approach, and have annotated them from the perspective of our project:
Money, organization, collective debate and action is not bad for democracy but precisely what makes it work:It's the fundamental hostility to politics that reformers of democracy are prone to. They tend to hold an implicit view of democracy as a process of isolated rational decision-making that must be shielded from bad influences -- money, organized groups, passion.Schmitt hopes that progressives will manage to build broader coalitions to move beyond "single-issue politics." But he cautions that such coalitions are fragile, whereas a party is "the ultimate coalition," with the ballot line being a key asset. Fusion voting appears to be an effective way of using that asset:
But those are the very things that make democracy work: participation, and the ability of people to exercise power collectively, to debate and act together. If you see the question in those terms, then things that enhance people's ability to organize and aggregate their power -- whether it is the Wisconsin Right to Life committee or ACORN or a union or the Sierra Club or a political party or moveon.org -- become the solution, not the problem.There will be issue groups, of course, on the right and left, trying desperately to use money and/or membership to be heard, and sometimes being effective. And there will be attempts at broader coalitions, like moveon.org and USAction, and I think (hope) the trend is toward broader progressive coalitions and away from single-issue politics. That's long overdue. But such coalitions, especially at the state level, are fragile, they demand continued energy and there are always as many forces pulling people away as pulling them together. But over time it becomes apparent that the ultimate coalition is a political party. A party is not a letterhead alliance; it's a substantive ongoing operation with a significant asset: a line on the ballot. With fusion, it can share that line or use it for its own purposes. The party can exist both within and outside of the other major parties, as the Working Families Party does in New York. It is a way of organizing people's political passion and power that, for a change, does not depend completely on money.At the end, he makes a very important suggestion:The first thing we should ask about any reform is, does it help or hurt the ability of citizens to organize themselves in a political context?So the challenge for progressive strategy is to generate reforms that not only achieve their substantive goals, but do so in a way that enhances peoples' collective capacity for political organization. Strategy in this sense is as much about process as it is about objectives. This indeed appears to be crucial when it comes to aggregating power in the long run.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
There's a common theme to Nathan Newman's post, "Campaign Finance Reform is Dead; Long Live Clean Money," and Dan Cantor's welcome visit to the "Table for One" to talk about fusion voting and the Working Families Party in New York, and it's not just that I agree with both of them.
Rather, both are pointing toward a new way of thinking about the political process, and steps toward reform, that puts people back in -- people, and the possibilities of organized power.
There's a reason that purely limit-based campaign finance reform will inevitably run into a dead end, as it did in the Supreme Court last week when the Court effectively (and quite predictably) overturned the McCain-Feingold regulation on broadcast ads that mention a candidate for office in the weeks before the election. It's that reformers view the problem as money, particularly "big money," and set out to protect elections (but only elections) from this corrupting force. But in trying to shut out money, they have to go chasing after one loophole after another, and after a while, everything starts to look like a loophole. Yes, an anti-abortion group in Wisconsin running ads calling on Senator Feingold not to oppose Bush's judicial appointments might be -- and in part is -- sending a message to vote against Feingold. But it is also doing what it claims to be doing, which is an expression by an organized group of citizens of a view on an issue -- which is fundamentally protected expression. And that expression can't be neatly separated from elections. If the goal of reform is defined as chasing down big money wherever it is to be found, it will inevitably end up chasing money down rabbit holes where regulation doesn't fit -- and shouldn't. It's a stale, limited, airless way of looking at the problem that doesn't have any room for the complexity and flux of real politics.
(It is telling that reformers denounce the WRTL decision on the grounds that it would put "corporate" money back into politics. Which it would. But what is the "corporation" involved here? It's not Wal-Mart or Halliburton; it's the Wisconsin Right to Life organization itself, an incorporated entity. As are most political or social organizations. Yes, money from for-profit corporations could flow through these organizations, and organizations could be created that are shells. But the WRTL case shows that from fighting "corporate" or organized money, it is very hard to avoid fighting political organization itself.)
This is not just the logical fallacy of limits-based campaign finance reform. It's the fundamental hostility to politics that reformers of democracy are prone to. They tend to hold an implicit view of democracy as a process of isolated rational decision-making that must be shielded from bad influences -- money, organized groups, passion.
But those are the very things that make democracy work: participation, and the ability of people to exercise power collectively, to debate and act together. If you see the question in those terms, then things that enhance people's ability to organize and aggregate their power -- whether it is the Wisconsin Right to Life committee or ACORN or a union or the Sierra Club or a political party or moveon.org -- become the solution, not the problem. As Nathan points out, voluntary full public financing -- which has never yet lost a constitutional challenge and grows more popular by the election in Maine and Arizona -- is one way to enhance speech. These systems require some way to prevent the limited public funds from being overwhelmed by outside money, so they often provide extra funds to candidates who face attacks such as the Wisconsin Right to Life committee's. These provisions might be constitutionally vulnerable on the same basis as the BCRA law, but they are very different and so far they have not been overruled. But systems that use public funds to match small contributions -- small donor democracy -- are a little more flexible and probably have less need for disincentives to outside money, because candidates are not asked to accept a strictly limited and relatively low level of spending. These systems are not just second-best to McCain-Feingold-type limits-based reforms, they are morally and practically superior -- because they retain a greater role for human passion, intensity, and organization -- and we should be grateful to the Court for drawing a line under limits-based reform and quickening the arrival of a new era in which reforms seek to expand the ability for candidates to run and new voices to be heard, rather than restrict it.
Similarly. fusion voting is a modest question on its face: Can a political party sometimes endorse candidates from another party and sometimes run its own candidates, or must it always run its own candidates exclusively? Most people would say, "why not?" to the first part, which is why fusion has some hope of attracting broad support and as a neutral rule, it doesn't obviously advantage any faction. But it has major implications. Without fusion, the only political organizations that can have the clout that comes with a line on the ballot are the broad and clunky coalitions that are the two major parties, or third parties that will usually be symbolic and transient. There will be issue groups, of course, on the right and left, trying desperately to use money and/or membership to be heard, and sometimes being effective. And there will be attempts at broader coalitions, like moveon.org and USAction, and I think (hope) the trend is toward broader progressive coalitions and away from single-issue politics. That's long overdue. But such coalitions, especially at the state level, are fragile, they demand continued energy and there are always as many forces pulling people away as pulling them together. But over time it becomes apparent that the ultimate coalition is a political party. A party is not a letterhead alliance; it's a substantive ongoing operation with a significant asset: a line on the ballot. With fusion, it can share that line or use it for its own purposes. The party can exist both within and outside of the other major parties, as the Working Families Party does in New York. It is a way of organizing people's political passion and power that, for a change, does not depend completely on money.
The first thing we should ask about any reform is, does it help or hurt the ability of citizens to organize themselves in a political context? Limits-based campaign finance reform fails that test. But public financing, especially open-ended matching systems, pass the test, and so does fusion.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Fusion VotingWe have run 3,000-plus candidates on our line since our founding in 1998, and have a solid field and local chapter operation in most parts of the state. But none of it would be possible without the “rules of the game” that make for a more hospitable environment for third parties.
Here is a response from the blog A New America.If I read this right, this method sounds like a demographic tool to inform the winning candidate which supporters voted under which platform of importance. This is all fine and good, but the cynical part of my brain is asking how this would affect anything.
Here is an old blog post from MyDDOne system I've always been a huge fan of is New York's fusion voting. For those of you unfamiliar, candidates in the state can run on multiple party lines. The state's Conservative and Working Families Parties typically endorse the Republican and Democratic candidates, respectively, but have also been known to shake up elections by endorsing their own candidate.
Here's an interesting discussion on Fusion Voting from the Working Families Party blog:I don’t mean to be a bore, but third parties without fusion (remember – it was once legal in EVERY state) are just writing themselves out of politics. Run in a close election, and you spoil. Run in a safe Dem district, and you might as well run in the Democratic primary instead.
Liberal Arts Dude sez:Fusion Voting has intrigued me since I read the book Spoiling for a Fight by Micah Sifry. The book gives significant attention to the Working Families Party and how the party has made successful use of the strategy of Fusion Voting in New York State.
I'd like to learn more, especially if there are any efforts to bring Fusion Voting to other states. Anyone out there have any suggestions on good sources of info?
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
TODAY'S NEWS HEADLINES for INDEPENDENT VOTERS
- New York Working Families Party executive director Dan Cantor talks about fusion voting and why it's a good thing.
- Independent Voters Revealed as Anti-War Extremists (Talking Stick Rules blog)
- Poll: Who Are the Independents? Study of Politically Unaffiliated Bodes Poorly for GOP (TRANSCRIPT - Washington Post)
- Disconnect Between Candidates And Voters (Internet Financial News)
Back To The Old Drawing Board..
If the last few elections have taught me anything, it’s that we still need to revisit how we handle elections in this country. Voting fraud aside (save that for another post), I have never been convinced that our monolithic two-party system serves us best. How many times have friends or family members spoken about “choosing the lesser of two evils,” or “choosing either is the same as choosing both?” Regardless of majority or minority, neither party ever has anything to lose because they are always represented on the Hill, in one branch or another. As wacky as he might have been, I remember when Ross Perot really shook things up when he dove into the race. I rather liked the idea of shaking up the establishment, because the perception of power loss really whips these people into shape. Our ace in the hole, as it were.
But, how do we buck the system without feeling like we’re throwing away votes that would otherwise ensure an assclown doesn’t get elected?
What is fusion? Also known as open ballot voting or cross-endorsement, fusion allows a candidate to run for office as the standard-bearer of more than one party. Suppose the WFP decides to cross-endorse the Democrat. That candidate will show up twice on the ballot, and voters will get to choose to support him or her on the party line of their choice. The votes will get counted separately but then added together to determine the final outcome of the race.
So why does it matter? Scott Shields put it well in a MyDD post:Well, by supporting Eliot Spitzer as a Working Families Party candidate rather than as a Democrat…voters send the message that the issues Working Families champions – universal healthcare, a living wage, strong labor protection – are very important to a significant segment of their base. It also gives independent voters an excuse to vote for major party candidates that they might not otherwise vote for.
If I read this right, this method sounds like a demographic tool to inform the winning candidate which supporters voted under which platform of importance. This is all fine and good, but the cynical part of my brain is asking how this would affect anything. Even if a candidate wins by overwhelming endorsement from WFP voters, why would that fact provide any impetus for the candidate to address WFP’s issues with a higher priority over the candidate’s own party? I’m not seeing how the end result is different than what we already have.
What other election/voting ideas have you come across?
Friday, June 15, 2007
Employee Free Choice Act Vote Next Wednesday
(This is a really important vote. - promoted by lipris)
The Employee Free Choice Act is headed toward a Senate vote next week on Wednesday. The bill has already passed overwhelmingly in the House. Almost all of the New York House delegation voted for it - Tom Reynolds (R-NY 26) and John Kuhl (R-NY 29) were the only New York Reps in opposition - and New York's Senators support the bill. But whether the bill will pass the Senate is in doubt. Find out more about the opposition.
Why is this bill so important? Workers routinely face intimidation from employers when they try to form a union. In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union. Passing this law will restore American workers' freedom to join unions. And that will help workers improve their lives.
Don't think that's an issue? Listen to Greg Mendez's story.
Greg Mendez is an office systems coordinator at New York's Pace University. In 2004, Mendez and his co-workers sought to form a union with the New York State United Teachers/AFT. They wanted a transparent salary structure and grievance procedure in place of the university's arbitrary system of pay raises and promotions. In response, the university hired anti-worker consultants to run meetings several times a day. Union supporters who tried to speak up at these meetings were publicly attacked. "People got nervous, really nervous," says Mendez. "You would have thought we were trying to overthrow the government." Three years later, Pace University workers still are fighting the administration's campaign of intimidation.
And there are plenty more workers with stories just like Greg's.
In the end, it's all about workers making better lives for themselves and their families. Tell your U.S. Senator to pass the Employee Free Choice Act - and then, even more importanly, tell your friends in other states to take action.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Not That Anyone Needed Reminding
Everyone has a favorite example of how the Legislature's dysfunction leads to inaction, with little ability on the part of New Yorkers to hold their individual legislators accountable. From the Working Families Blog, which has been particularly focused on paid family leave this week:
There's no better example of Albany dysfunction than a Republican State Senate that says they support giving paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives, but then not actually passing the bill.
More to the point: there's no better example of Albany dysfunction than a majority of members of a chamber saying they support a bill, but never actually voting on it.
Albany Common Council Votes To Support Paid Family Leave
(Excellent. Have YOU signed the petition yet? - promoted by lipris)
With Republicans in the State Senate delaying passage of a paid family leave bill, the Albany Common Council has weighed in and passed a resolution in support of the Working Families Time to Care Act. The resolution urges the local legislative delegation to do all they can to make sure this bill becomes law.
Ward 3 Councilmember Corey Ellis explains her support:"Time off to care for a newborn shouldn't be a luxury that only some families can afford - it should be a basic cornerstone of our society."
Ward 4 Councilmember Barbara Smith added:"[The Working Families Time To Care Act would] bring a little bit of much-needed peace of mind to working people across the state."
Sounds right to me. If you agree, sign on in support of paid family leave!
Working Families Time to Care Act on the Anvil
It's about time! The New York State legislature is considering a piece of legislation, the Working Families Time to Care Act, that would allow workers as much as 12 weeks paid leave to care for family members in need (like newborns, the sick or elderly, children and grandchildren, among others). Only two other states have similar laws, making New York the third state to consider such a plan. And Governor Eliot Spitzer, who fully supports the Act, is working to garner the necessary support for its passage.
As the Working Families Party suggests, even under the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers are forced to "choose between their families and their jobs," as they cannot always afford to take time off to care for family members. The Working Families Time to Care Act would alleviate this problem.
What's most appealing about the Act, though, is its availability to all workers; under the Act, women and men can take time off to care for a newborn child, allowing dads to play a larger role in caring for their children.
Here's what the New York Times had to say about the Act last week.
Or check out the Working Families Party website for further information about the Act.
Yes to Family Leave!
As the legislative session ends in Albany, the most significant piece of social legislation being debated is paid family leave.
The "Working Families Time to Care Act" would give 12 weeks of paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives. This bill is high on both Governor Spitzer's and Speaker Silver's agenda. Senator Morahan (R-Rockland) is sponsoring a near-to-identical bill in the State Senate. As expected, Senator Bruno is the sticking point, with conflicting signals on what he plans to do.
C'mon Senator Bruno! Support Family Leave!
The issue has recently been covered by the Empire Zone: "they appeared to be close to an agreement that would offer workers up to 12 weeks of family leave to care for newborns or seriously ill family members." The Working Families Party was created to fight for commonsense reforms that will make a positive difference in the lives of working New Yorkers. This is the kind of policy reform that really is good for all of us, especially newborn babies. The bonds that get made in the first weeks of life are enormously important later on, and this policy will make such bonding more likely and stronger. If you have questions, please feel free to check the Working Families Time to Care Act FAQ: You can read continuing coverage of the issue on the Working Families Blog. http://wfpjournal.blogspot.com http://www.newyorkisourhome.com/ http://www.workingfamiliesparty.org/
Thursday, June 7, 2007
TAKE ACTION: Help the Working Families Party Pass Paid Family Leave Legislation
Last year, I wrote a San Francisco Chronicle column about the Working Families Party, and how fusion voting in general has led to a real populist powerhouse in New York State. Now, as the Albany Project reports, the party is on the verge of passing paid family leave legislation through the New York legislature. If you live in New York, use this form to get in touch with your state lawmakers today to tell them to support this bill. This is what family values REALLY looks like.
State Senate Stalling Paid Family Leave?
(Surely Uncle Joe would never do such a thing... - promoted by lipris)
Paid family leave was the first topic on the agenda of yesterday's 6-way Leadership Meeting between the Governor, Lt Governor, and majority and minority leaders of the Assembly and Senate. This is the first time the Working Families Time to Care Act has been on the agenda at a public leadership meeting. Today's elevation of the issue came hot on the heels of a less-than-optimistic report that the Republican State Senate wouldn't pass paid family leave.
So how did we do at the leadership meeting?
Initial reports are promising. The talk was overwhelmingly positive. From the Empire Zone:"they appeared to be close to an agreement that would offer workers up to 12 weeks of family leave to care for newborns or seriously ill family members."
But we're not there yet. Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno warned everyone not to jump to any conclusions about whether the bill would pass, and admitted that some Republican Senators were, in his words, preening for the cameras. The Daily Politics described it this way:"Everyone made nice noises about family leave"
There's no better example of Albany dysfunction than a Republican State Senate that says they support giving paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives, but then not actually passing the bill. Everyone says they support it. Let's get it done.
As a bonus, here's an editorial in favor of paid family leave by Karen Schimke, President and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, and Carol Saginaw, Executive Director of the NYS Child Care Coordinating Council, in the Albany Times-Union.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
A Shortage of Time, but Not of Ideas
Elana from DMI has a great post over at The Albany Project, pointing out that while New York's legislators are debating ticket scalping and whether sweet corn should be the official state vegetable, quite a few more weighty concerns -- from welfare policy to predatory lending to to family leave (see also Steve WFP's excellent report from the Family Leave Roundtable in Schenectady) -- are waiting to be addressed. She also puts in a plug for DMI's new report:Some of the issues New York is struggling to handle -- subsidy reform, what to do with criminals when they are released from prison, providing universal access to preschool and the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs -- are real challenges but they aren't insurmountable. In fact four localities around the country did tackle these battles with great success. Want to know more?
Our new report "Lessons from the Marketplace: Four Proven Progressive Policies from DMI’s Marketplace of Ideas
(And how New York can do them even better)" reveals how it all was achieved.
This should be a fruitful time for New York's progressives, with the political wind at our backs. But that means we have more responsibility than ever to stay informed about innovative new policy ideas and opportunities to address longstanding problems. If you haven't already, you should also read the Fiscal Policy Institute's "One New York: An Agenda for Shared Prosperity," which offers a comprehensive analysis of how to make New York's economy fairer and more productive.
We're already late in the 2007 session and there will be a lot of bills competing for attention as the window closes. All the more reason to get our priorities in order -- and also to come back with a clear wish list in the next session.
corn & ticket scalpers vs. policies you care about
As the New York State legislature wraps-up their 2007 session some interesting bills have come to light, like the bill to make sweet corn the official state vegetable and a bill that will help ticket scalpers. Clearly this is the kind of legislation that keeps New York State residents up at night asking existential questions like "what role does sweet corn play in my life?" or "how far from a stadium can I buy re-sold Yankees tickets?". Well I guess if you are involved in the racing industry that scalpers' bill is a big deal but what about the rest of us? What's in the state's legislative hopper?
Last week DMI Fellow Maureen Lane wrote about a sensible welfare policy bill that has the potential to help move people out of poverty. So far it hasn't been introduced by the State Senate. DMI Fellow Mark Winston Griffith blogged about model anti-predatory lending legislation that New Yorkers for Responsible Lending is working to call attention to. The city is now waiting to see if the legislature will approve Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030 including its congestion pricing proposals. The Working Families Party has been doing amazing work around the Working Families Time to Care Act which is their legislative priority this year. And as always, The Albany Project has been doing an incredible job keeping track of the legislative goings-ons.
Yet at the end of the day while the legislature is wrestling with the question of who gets to make a whole bunch of money selling tickets there really are serious problems that need to be addressed by the state government. Some of the issues New York is struggling to handle -- subsidy reform, what to do with criminals when they are released from prison, providing universal access to preschool and the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs -- are real challenges but they aren't insurmountable. In fact four localities around the country did tackle these battles with great success. Want to know more?
Our new report "Lessons from the Marketplace: Four Proven Progressive Policies from DMI's Marketplace of Ideas (And how New York can do them even better)" reveals how it all was achieved.
Now I know it's a cliche that the state legislature "doesn't do anything" and that's not even my point here. Simply that as they go about the business of the state not all issues are equally urgent and a lot of other parts in the country have implemented policies that New York can learn a lot from. Is that too much to ask? But in the meantime, "Gentlemen, behold! Corn!"
Monday, June 4, 2007
Family Leave Roundtable in Schenectady
(Great report from this event. - promoted by lipris)
Last Thursday, Legislator Gary Hughes; Legislator Ed Kosiur, Vice Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature; Schenectady County Legislator Vince DiCerbo and Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton listened to Mia Puertas, working mother to Jada Puertas, and Doug Williams, working father to Maya and husband to Marie, talk about why they support the Working Families Time to Care Act.
When Mia was pregnant with Jada, her employer didn't offer any form of family leave. Mia had to choose between taking time off to care for Jada or going back to work right away. Mia took unpaid leave, and ended up leaving her job because of the inadequate benefits. Here's why Mia Puertas supports the Working Families Time to Care Act:"This is crucial bonding time for the parent to have with the child, which no mother should be denied. . . However, my job did not provide me with any paid leave, and I had to take unpaid leave. . . I am willing to take a stand for the mothers that are facing this obstacle, so they don't have to go through the struggle that I was faced with at the time. . . After Jada's birth, I was feeling the same emotions that every new mother feels: exhaustion, overwhelmed, stressed. Adding financial worry was the last thing I needed at the time.
I have first hand experience in needing this benefit, and, when it was not available, I had to make choices that new mothers should not have to make in an already stressful time. This legislation should be passed because it will help working families, like mine, take care of each other in the times they need it most."
When Doug's daughter Maya was born, he was offered 4 weeks of paid leave. Doug used that time to bond with his wife and new daughter. Here's how Doug describes his experience:"I was grateful to be able to spend four weeks of paid time with my wife and new daughter. I didn't get a vacation that year, but it was worth it to be able to spend time with them. But, somehow, four weeks just doesn't seem like enough time. With the Working Families Time to Care Act, I would have been able to spend up to 12 weeks with her!"
Then, Doug's wife, Marie, suffered a heart attack last year. Doug once again struggled to balance family and work:"I was able to take the time off, but it meant exhausting all my vacation time and sick leave. Because this didn't add up to enough time, I did have to take a few unpaid days off. I needed to take care of my wife, even if it meant giving up my vacation time that year."
You couldn't help but be moved listening to Mia and Doug, and Legislator Gary Hughes gave us the good news that:"The Schenectady County Legislature supports the Working Families Time to Care Act and we will be introducing a resolution in support of the bill at our next meeting [on June 12th]. It is time for us to make it easier for working families to take care of each other"
But we still need action in Albany. That's where you can make a difference.
The world's most important job should be a paid position (at least for a few weeks)
I'm a stay-at-home-dad. I love it. I don't think that there is a more rewarding job anywhere on the planet as taking care of your wee one. Go ahead and judge me if you want. I'm a bit too progressive to care. Raising our daughter is something that I want to do, and I take great pride in her perpetual happiness. And because my wife is a veterinarian, we are afforded the ability to have a stay-at-home-parent, though just barely. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most families. Here are some rather embarrassingly regressive statistics.
- Less than ten percent of American workers get paid time off to take care of family members at times of extreme need.
- Seventy-eight percent of people who need family leave can’t afford to take it.
- Roughly half of all personal bankruptcies result from health care-related crises.
In my home state of New York, we have a political party called the Working Families Party, whose main goals are to promote better and more affordable health care, higher wages for the lower and middle classes, and better education for our young ones. They usually endorse the most progressive major candidate. Through the use of open-balloting, you can choose to vote for the candidate that the party endorses to show how important these issues are to you without wasting your vote.
The Working Families Party is sponsoring legislation called the Working Families Time to Care Act. Here's what it does in the proverbial nutshell:
- The Working Families Time to Care Act would expand New York's existing Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program to also cover family needs (e.g., leave for either parent to care for newborns or newly adopted children or for seriously ill family members).
- Workers would receive up to 12 weeks of benefits with a maximum of $17o a week, funded through a modest (43 cents a week) increase in premiums paid within the existing TDI program.
The bill would make New York State the most progressive in the country in terms of medical and maternity leave. According to the New York Times:
Mr. Spitzer's plan would be more expansive than the paid leave in Washington State, which is limited to caring for newborns and newly adopted children, and in California, which covers workers caring for a seriously ill child, parent, spouse or domestic partner. Mr. Spitzer's plan would also cover workers who take off to care for grandchildren, foster parents and parents-in-law.
Critics say the benefits are far too low. While I agree with that, this is an important first step in getting family leave to where it should be. It has passed through the State Assembly but has temporarily stalled in the State Senate. But with a little help from us, they'll come around. Governor Spitzer has already dipped his pen and is ready to sign. So hop on over to the Working Families website to sign their letter to New York State legislators so that others can afford to raise their newborns and help sick family members. And maybe they can even avoid having to file for bankruptcy protection.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Sept 18 is the New Primary Day - Dates to Know
(Good stuff here. - promoted by lipris)
Now that the Governor has signed legislation moving New York's Primary Election to September 18, here are some new key dates:
- June 12: First day to sign petitions
- July 16 - 19: Days when petitions can be filed
- July 23: Last day to file "Wilson Pakulas"
- September 18: Primary Election
- September 20 - 28: Judicial District Conventions
The Board of Elections has an election calendar (pdf) with more of the dates candidates will need to know.
Here's a quick explanation:
Candidates need to petition their way on to the ballot. Those petitions need to be collected within a specified time period that starts June 12th and ends July 19th. If a candidate wants to be cross endorsed by a party that they're not a member of, the appropriate committee of that party needs to issue a "Wilson Pakula" to that candidate (this is what allows fusion candidates). Then the primary election happens on September 18.
Supreme Court Judges, interestingly enough, aren't nominated directly. Instead, delegates are elected on primary day, and those delegates nominate the party's candidate for Supreme Court Judge at the party's Judicial District Convention, which now takes place between September 20 and September 28. This process for nominating Supreme Court Judges has been challenged in court, so there may be more changes next year.
Working Families Party Chapters are interviewing candidates now. More information on the WFP nomination process here.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Family Leave Roundtable on Long Island
(Very cool. - promoted by lipris)"We don't live in the 1950s anymore. With both parents working, we need policies in place that support couples when they decide to start a family or need to take time off to care for an ailing parent. That's what the Working Families Time to Care Act would do."
That's Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning (D-WFP), speaking at last Friday's Family Leave Roundtable in Mastic on Long Island. The roundtable was put together by the Working Families Party to give working parents who have wrestled with the decision of how soon to return to their jobs after having a child the chance to talk about the need for better state family leave policies to care for new kids and ailing relatives.
Here's retired probation officer Regina Corby-Graham of Mastic speaking at the roundtable:
Ann Seifried of South Huntington, an economic development officer for manufacturing jobs, added,"I shouldn't have to choose between my responsility to my job and my responsbility to my daughter. I have to do right by both, and our policies should reflect that."
Here's more from Ann:
The Working Families Party supports the Working Families Time to Care Act, which would allow working families to take care of each other in times of need without risking financial hardship.
Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning (D-WFP) spoke about her own experiences and about the Working Families Time to Care Act:
Show your support by signing our card with a message. This is your chance to tell your state legislators it's time to give paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Report Back: 5/23 New York Is Our Home Rally and March
An estimated 7,000 people from dozens of community oganizations rallied and marched from Stuy-Town to Union Village on Wednesday.
By Matt S
On Wednesday, May 23rd, and estimated 7,000 people, representing over 90 community and tenant organizations tenant rallied outside of Stuyvesant Town for the launch of the New York is Our Home Affordable Housing Campaign.
On Wednesday, May 23rd, and estimated 7,000 people, representing over 90 community and tenant organizations tenant rallied outside of Stuyvesant Town for the launch of the New York is Our Home Affordable Housing Campaign.
The rally started at 5pm with groups taking positions in the streets surrounding Stuyvesant Town and Peter Copper Village (14th Street to 23rd Street, between 1st Avenue and Avenue C). The goal of the “Hands Around Stuy Town” rally was to gather enough people to form a human chain around the housing complex. I stood with a group on 18th Street and Avenue C, where there was a shortage of demonstrators until 5:30 or so. At approximately 5:45, the demonstrators joined hands, achieving the human chain.
Demonstrators then marched across 14th Street to Union Square Park. Signs reading "Save Our Homes" were plentiful as well as chants of "Affordable Housing Now!" and "Si Se Puede" (Yes We Can!). The range of groups represented at the event became much more clear during the march, as the participating groups intermingled. Groups representing each borough and dozens of neighborhoods were present: the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, GOLES, ACORN, the Working Families Party, and many, many more.>
The scene was relatively calm as marchers filed down 14th Street, with two lanes of the north side closed to car traffic. The police were, as far as I saw, well behaved and only interfered with demonstrators who seemed to wander toward the south side of the street. I reached the end of the march, at 17th Street and Union Square East, at 6:30pm.
The New York is Our Home Campaign website ( http://newyorkisourhome.blogspot.com) includes a summary of the event and details some of the Campaign's upcoming actions including a project to map rent hikes across the city and a trip to Albany on June 5th to lobby for statewide housing reform legislation.
Friday, May 25, 2007
RING OF IRE
Activists surround Stuy Town to save affordable housing (but where's the media on the HIV rent-cap demand?); HASA for All campaign keeps on going
What a shame! What a pity! We can't live in New York City!
So cheered some 5,000 to 7,000 New Yorkers at the "Hands Across Stuyvesant Town" rally that launched the New York Is Our Home affordable housing campaign on Wednesday, May 23. It's not clear whether the rally's gimmick—forming a human chain around the massive middle-income Stuyvesant Town complex—really happened — but the event attracted a diverse crowd of passionate tenant's rights, housing, and homeless advocates, including HIV/AIDS organizations like Housing Works and the New York City AIDS Housing Network. A handful of pols turned out, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Comptroller William Thompson, HIV-positive State Senator Tom Duane and State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.
The march called attention to the problem of the shrinking supply of affordable housing in New York and demanded a handful of reforms, including ending rent destabilization and protecting and expanding Section 8 and Mitchell-Lama housing. Unfortunately, mainstream press failed to mention one of the campaign's other demands: a statewide cap of 30 percent on the amount of money low-income HIV-positive people must put toward their rent. (Then again, the New York Times didn't even cover the demo.) New York is Our Home hits Albany on June 5 to push for Mitchell-Lama reform and is creating a map of rent increases (help 'em out with it).
[post edited for length; read the rest here]