May 12: Volunteer at Corlears Hook Park

Corlears Hook Park

Saturday, May 12
8:30 am – 2:00 pm

Corlears Hook Park
Cherry Street & Jackson Street

RSVP by May 5

Join the New York Junior League’s Playground Improvement Project to help beautify and improve Corlears Hook Park.
Lunch provided if you RSVP by May 5.

Corlears Hook Park — our neighborhood’s entryway to East River Park — has undergone significant upgrades over the past five years thanks to local organizing by Friends of Corlears Hook Park.

This year, the park has been selected as the subject of an intense month-long volunteer project by New York Junior League’s Playground Improvement Project. Working weekends since April 14, volunteers are gardening, landscaping, and renovating the park and playground.

We will join them during the final weekend of park improvements, on Saturday, May 12. Volunteers should be ready to start working at 8:30 am. Lunch will be provided only if you RSVP below.

Corlears Hook Park is a vital outdoor space for our community, with playground, outdoor grills, baseball and soccer field, a dog run, and one of the most vibrant displays of Chinese magnolias in New York City. It’s important that we do our part to make sure this park has the local resources necessary to keep it looking its best.

May 7: State Candidates Forum

State Candidates Forum

Monday, May 7
Doors open 6:30 pm
First speaker 6:45 pm

PS 41
116 W. 11th Street

This year’s state primary is heating up! Hear from Democratic candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller. Open to the public.

We are grateful to Village Independent Democrats for arranging the event. GSD and other downtown clubs are co-sponsoring the event to make sure members of our community have a chance to hear directly from all these Democratic campaigns.

PS 41 is close to the West 4th Street subway stop (D, B, F, A, C). From our neighborhood you can also take the M14A to 6th Ave. and walk down just three blocks.

May 3: GSD Spring Meeting

GSD Spring Meeting

Thursday, May 3
6:30 – 9:00 pm

Seward Park Coop Meeting Room
387 Grand Street

At our next regular meeting we will:

  • Discuss and vote on endorsements for NYS Assembly and NYS Senate elections.
  • Nominate and select delegates to the NYS Democratic judicial convention.
  • Discuss and vote on resolutions regarding the MTA’s current contingency plan for the L Train shutdown.

The meeting is open to the public. Only members with voting privileges* will be allowed to vote on endorsements and resolutions. (Members with voting privileges who cannot make the meeting may designate in writing any other member to vote on their behalf.)

* A member has voting privileges if they meet the following conditions:

  1. is a registered Democrat;
  2. has been a member for at least 90 days;
  3. has completed a participation requirement as defined by the Executive Committee.

If you are unsure if you meet these requirements, please email hello@grandstreetdems.nyc.

Community Leaders continue to push for more information from DOT

Following a letter from local elected officials last week urging NYC DOT to address the ongoing traffic problem in our neighborhood, Grand Street Democrats District Leaders and other community leaders involved in January’s Traffic Town Hall have sent their own letter to DOT Commissioner Trottenberg asking for the release of traffic study data that was promised in 2017 and for the development of a strategy to address the traffic.

With new retail opening this fall at Essex Crossing, and especially the L Train shutdown starting in 2019, we need to develop a better plan to handle cars now so that the problem doesn’t get out of control.

Below is the letter we sent out today:

Commissioner Trottenberg,

We write to you about the intersection of Clinton Street and Grand Street on the Lower East Side. Significant traffic congestion at this intersection continues to impact the surrounding streets and neighborhoods. We urge the Department of Transportation to release data, progress, conclusions, and recommendations from any traffic study at this intersection conducted in 2017 or that is underway, and to commit to developing a comprehensive plan for community review that will route bridge traffic to wider streets with more capacity.

The conditions at this intersection and nearby streets continue to worsen.
• Narrow streets that approach the Williamsburg Bridge here are inadequate for the number of cars leaving Manhattan by this route.
• Gridlock at Clinton and Grand creates a backlog of cars in two directions, impacting East Broadway and extending up the FDR Drive as far as Houston Street.
• This bottleneck creates a safety hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists over several blocks.
• Incessant honking from frustrated drivers, often late at night, is a serious aggravation for residents.
• New construction of several high-rise buildings with active retail will compound the congestion problem within this traffic zone.
• The L Train shutdown starting in 2019 will have a big effect on these same streets, as non-HVO cars are diverted from the Williamsburg Bridge.

We must make plans now to help this neighborhood accommodate its rapid growth. It is not appropriate to use this residential area as an on-ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge.

Sincerely,

Caroline Laskow
Lee Berman
Daisy Paez
Democratic District Leaders

Sandra Strother
President, Grand Street Guild Residents Association

Doron Stember
President, Seward Park Cooperative

Vaylateena Jones
Lower East Side Power Partnership

Naama Laufer
President, PS 110 PTA

Jeremy Sherber
President, Grand Street Democrats

[View PDF]

Update: Howard Stern has also signed the letter for the Hillman Board of Directors. [PDF]

Local elected officials pressure DOT for more action on Grand Street traffic

Local elected officials this week petitioned DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill about the ongoing traffic problem at Grand and Clinton Streets.

State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, US Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Gale Brewer, and Councilmember Margaret Chin all signed the letter, writing, “It is critical that your agencies work swiftly with the community to find solutions to this ongoing traffic problem.”

The letter indicates that DOT will present findings of its traffic study at a Community Board meeting in May. No date for such a presentation has yet been announced.

Elected officials wrote to Commissioner Trottenberg almost 1 year ago, after a Community Board resolution, to ask for a traffic study of the area. On June 1, 2017, Trottenberg promised the study would begin, but no results have been released.

Earlier this year, Grand Street Democrats convened a Traffic Town Hall with elected officials to help make sure DOT officials understood the seriousness of the growing problem.

Click for PDF.

April 15: Canvass for Shelley Mayer in Westchester

If Democrats have any hope of gaining control of the New York State Senate this year — gaining an upper hand on progressive priorities like expanding voting rights, campaign finance reform, promoting reproductive justice, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and gun control — then we have to win the April 24 special election in lower Westchester.

Volunteer with GSD President Jeremy Sherber in Westchester on Sunday, April 15 to canvass for Shelley Mayer. This will be classic campaign door-knocking: after a brief orientation, volunteers will be sent out in pairs with a list of target voters. (If you’ve never done this before, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.)

April 7: Pop-up exhibit and silent auction for gun safety

After the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, local artist and GSD member Kim Sillen organized the Senator Portrait Project — images of the US Senators who take NRA money and vote against gun safety laws. Artists from around the country contributed to the project, and the images are clarifying: here are portraits of Senators with actual blood on their hands.

Senator Richard Shelby, by Janice McDonnell
Senator Mike Lee, by Elizabeth Berdann
Senator Ted Cruz, by Kate Kretz

This week, the paintings are being shown at nearby BestWorld Gallery at 219 Madison Street. And on Saturday evening at 6:00 pm there will be a reception and silent auction to benefit the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Kim says, “The NRA knows how easy it is to buy a senator. So we wanted to offer everyone the same opportunity.” She suggests the portraits would make great protest signs (or gifts for your NRA-supporting uncle).

Also included in the silent auction is an anti-NRA leather jacket by street artist Hektad.

April 12: Cynthia Nixon fundraiser in Seward Park

Actor and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon is challenging Andrew Cuomo for Governor of New York this year. Grand Street Democrats has not yet had a chance to make an endorsement in this important race, but two GSD members in Seward Park are opening their home for a fundraiser and meet & greet for candidate Nixon this month. If you want to get a head start on understanding the issues and personalities that will dominate this year’s NYS political news, consider coming by.

Thursday, April 12
6:30 – 8:00 pm
at the home of Ella & Brett Leitner
417 Grand Street, Apt. D1704

RSVP and donate on ActBlue.

To endorse or not to endorse?

As an official Democratic club, Grand Street Democrats has been asked over the past couple months to endorse upstate Congressional Democratic candidates and outer-borough State Senate No-IDC challengers. The GSD Executive Committee met recently to discuss our process of providing endorsements. After much discussion, we realized that the best use of our time and attention would be to focus our efforts on races in which our members can actually vote.

To officially endorse any campaign, we would need to follow the rules we established in our bylaws for fairness to all candidates: we need to invite candidates to meet with our members, then give members a chance to vote on an endorsement. We will go through this process for all important races that affect us directly, but to do it for every campaign looking for support is not logistically practical.

Nor is it effective — what does a GSD endorsement really mean for a Democrat not looking to represent the Lower East Side? Let’s face it, they’re looking to talk to local Democratic activists outside their district mainly for one reason: money. We can’t vote for them, but we can contribute, and they probably need all the help they can get. “Endorsed by Grand Street Democrats” is not really what they need, so we’re not going to waste your time trying to give it to them.

But contributions are important; so is awareness of races outside our corner of Manhattan. GSD wants to encourage this kind of political engagement. How can we give candidates the attention they deserve?

We will try to do this in a few different ways. First, we’re partnering with Sister District, a national organization whose goal is to direct volunteer energy from deep blue districts like ours toward competitive races around the country. Secondly, we are working with other local Democratic clubs to sponsor a No-IDC forum where you can meet these progressive challengers all at once. We’ll let you know when the details have been nailed down, but we think it will be an exciting, thought-provoking event.

And third, we will help promote events hosted by GSD members for progressive candidates. So if you really care about that race in Brooklyn/Columbia County/North Carolina, and you want to help raise some money for it, host a meet-and-greet and let us know about it — we’ll tell GSD members about it through our growing email list and our active Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts.

Promoting an event for GSD members to meet a progressive candidate is not an endorsement — but for those campaigns, it’s probably better than an endorsement; it’s definitely more effective and meaningful.

If you have other ideas, please let us know.

GSD rallies to end gun violence in NYC and DC

Grand Street Democrats made it to rallies in NYC and Washington, DC on Saturday. District Leader Caroline Laskow and her family and GSD President Jeremy Sherber and his family joined other members and neighbors on a bus to Washington. GSD Treasurer Daria Segalini with her family lead locals uptown to join the NYC rally.