Just about two years ago, we launched this club and our district leader campaign, determined to encourage and enable accessible, progressive political engagement from the grass roots on up.
Since then has been kind of a fairy tale: working together with so many of you on local issues; bringing candidates and elected officials to the Lower East Side to listen to your concerns; joining forces with organizations like Sister District and Planned Parenthood to campaign, march, and lobby; and getting out the vote for new Democratic majorities in the N.Y. Senate and the U.S. House.
And now, with sincere gratitude for the indefatigable support you’ve given us since day one, we’d like to officially announce that we are running for re-election as your district leaders, with the endorsement of Grand Street Democrats.
The election calendar this year is somewhat accelerated: We begin petitioning for signatures on Tuesday, February 26 to get on the ballot. (Yes, that’s the same day as the special election for Public Advocate.)
We’d love your help for our re-election campaign. If you’re ready to collect signatures to get us on the ballot, or will pledge to sign our petition at the end of February, please sign up here:
With appreciation for all you’ve done, and all we will continue to do together,
Caroline Laskow & Lee Berman Democratic District Leaders, AD65 Part A
Grand Street Democrats voted this week to endorse Ben Yee for Public Advocate.
Ben is a “traveling civics superhero” who has brought workshops in civic engagement to groups throughout the five boroughs. His platform is aimed directly at engaging citizens, empowering community groups, and punishing bad actors who degrade our civic institutions.
We made our endorsement last night after a heavily attended candidate forum at Manny Cantor Center where we heard from 14 candidates running in the February 26 special election. (Many thanks to the other downtown political clubs and community groups that supported the event.)
We will let you know more about Ben in the coming weeks. For now, if you are so inclined, you can contribute to Ben’s campaign. With public matching funds, your small donation is multiplied nine times to make a big contribution to this short campaign:
Councilmember Carlina Rivera has called a City Council hearing for Wednesday, January 23 at 1:00 pm to discuss the East Side Coastal Resiliency project that would completely rebuild East River Park for flood protection.
There are many unanswered questions about the current plan. Anyone interested in the fate of our local park is encouraged to attend and to testify.
Following superstorm Sandy in 2012, federal funds were allocated for flood protection along this stretch of NYC shoreline. Much of the East Village is built up on a flood plain, and, as we learned that fall, is particularly susceptible to rising sea level and tide surges that we should expect more of as climate change makes an impact.
A design process over four years produced a plan that would maintain the park’s primary recreational facilities and protect residential areas with berms and flood walls along the FDR Drive.
Last fall, the Mayor presented a revised plan that would also protect the park itself from flooding by raising the entire park with landfill above the flood line. As presented, the project would close the entire park for the duration of construction, estimated at 3.5 years. This new plan was designed to take less time but cost more money, and for many people in the neighborhood the radical nature of the park reconstruction finally hit home. (The headline in this weekend’s New York Times neatly summarized the crux of the problem: “To Save East River Park, the City Intends to Bury It.”)
The city council hearing on Wednesday is an opportunity to let the City know how vital this park is to East Village and Lower East Side residents, and raise questions about how the project will impact our lives. Is such a dramatic rebuild really necessary to protect the neighborhood from floods? Is complete closure of the park necessary for construction? How can we believe the City’s accelerated timetable when all other construction projects along the waterfront have been many years behind schedule?
If you are able to come out on a workday for this important hearing, please do.
We’re pleased to announce that Educational Alliance President & CEO Alan van Capelle has agreed to moderate our forum on 1/29 with candidates for NYC Public Advocate.
Alan runs one of the most significant community organizations in the city, lives right in our neighborhood, and has participated in many important progressive movements in New York and nationally.
As president of Bend the Arc, Alan launched that Jewish action organization to the forefront of the national progressive movement. As executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, he helped pave the way for marriage equality in New York State.
Update: Alan was not able to make it on Tuesday, but Joanna Samuels, Executive Director of Manny Cantor Center, stepped in and did a fantastic job moderating the candidate forum.
In order to keep things moving along as efficiently as possible, we are asking for questions in advance of our candidates forum on Jan. 29. Please submit your question below and we will do our best to put it to the candidates.
Sunday, January 13 11:00 am Gouverneur Health Auditorium Clinton Street entrance, between Madison and Henry
This weekend, as the current government shutdown officially becomes the longest in U.S. history, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) will join with affected workers, labor leaders, and other advocates to discuss how New Yorkers are being personally affected by the Trump Shutdown.
In addition to hearing from furloughed workers and those reporting to work without pay, the event will showcase how nutrition, housing, and other programs are being impacted by the Trump Shutdown.
Two important neighborhood initiatives have moved steadily through the process of community input over the past few years only to have plans upended recently by our elected executives. For the upcoming L Train repairs and East River Park rebuild, what we are left with right now are a lot of questions.
East River Park
After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, federal funds were allocated to build flood protection for lower Manhattan. Because of the vulnerability of Con Ed at East 14th St, and flood-prone neighborhoods of the East Village, the waterfront from East 23rd St. to Montgomery was prioritized and plans were developed over years with plenty of community involvement.
But at the end of last year, the Mayor’s office announced some significant engineering changes to the plan and, for the first time, proposed a real timetable for the project, which included the entire park being closed for the duration of new construction, estimated to be three years.
The immensity of this project is finally hitting home, and community members are demanding more answers. Council member Carlina Rivera has pushed for a hearing a City Council hearing on the project on January 23, starting at 1:00 pm at City Hall.
L Train shutdown
Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared there will be no L Train shutdown, instead proposing repairs take place on nights and weekends. New York City Transit president Andy Byford told CB3’s Transportation Committee this week that Cuomo’s plan needs to be vetted through independent engineers and a full safety review before getting approved. So the fate of the shutdown is still unknown.
If Cuomo’s plan does go through, a lot of local questions will have to be answered again. Will the Williamsburg Bridge still be limited to HOV and bus traffic? Will the Clinton Street approach to the bridge still be closed?
With Letitia James becoming New York State Attorney General on January 1, there’s an opening for her old job, NYC Public Advocate.
A special election will be held on Tuesday, February 26 for this city-wide position. The list of candidates may be long and turnout will be low, so your interest and involvement in this race carries a higher degree of consequence than usual.
Grand Street Democrats will be hosting a candidate forum at Manny Cantor Center on Tuesday, January 29 (after which our voting members will decide whether or not to endorse any candidate for the special election).
If you would like a preview of the race this week, you can attend another candidate forum hosted by Village Independent Democrats on Sunday, January 6 at 2:00 pm. You can RSVP for that event here.
Thanks to everyone who came out Tuesday night to Eastwood — you made our first holiday party a big success!
We were so proud to be able to honor Linda Jones and Michael Marino, two local heroes who have donated countless hours on the Community Board and in the neighborhood. We particularly wanted to acknowledge their contributions to Seward Park and Corlears Hook Park, which have never looked better and are in store for more improvements thanks to their hard work.
Thanks also to our Hosts for the evening, who contributed more than absolutely necessary to help us close out our first year:
Councilmember Margaret Chin
District Leader Caroline Laskow
District Leader Paul Newell
We were honored to be joined by elected officials from our neighborhood — Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — plus a few not from our neighborhood, along with many of the judges and candidates for civil court and supreme court we were able to meet during the year.