East River Park project gets independent review

The East River park flood protection plan is getting a much-needed independent review by Hans Gehrels of the Dutch environmental group Deltares.

Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Carlina Rivera announced this week that they had secured funding for the review and that Gehrels’ report would be ready by September 23, when the City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the City’s plan to raise the park 8-9 feet for flood protection.

This is a huge win for community groups that have been pressing for third party expert review, including Grand Street Democrats. Brewer and Rivera deserve thanks for following through on this request.

With so much skepticism about the City’s plan to destroy the park in order to save it, as well as the optimistic 3-1/2 year timeline the City has attached to its proposal, this independent review should help settle some fundamental questions and guide Rivera and her colleagues on the City Council when the plan reaches them for final approval this fall.

Gehrels is accepting comments from the community and I encourage you to send him your questions and opinions so he has a full understanding of the project’s scope and human impact in the short time he has available: ESCR@manhattanbp.nyc.gov.

Tuesday 7/30: Democratic Debate Watch Party at Randall’s BBQ

Join us on Tuesday for the first night of the second round of 2020 Democratic debates. Randall’s BBQ on Grand Street will have a happy hour drink menu, plus their usual delicious meats and sides, available to Grand Street Dems members.

The debate doesn’t start until 9:00 8:00 but you’re invited to join us starting at 8:30 7:30 — come early to save a seat!

Monday 7/29: Housing Town Hall with Yuh-Line Niou

The Democratic State Legislature this spring pushed past decades of dominance by landlords to pass strong protections for renters in New York City and the rest of the state.

For too long, the real estate lobby has pushed legislators to weaken rent regulations with the result that thousands of rent-controlled apartments in NYC have been allowed to become market-rate, driving housing inequality, housing instability, and homelessness in the city. This year’s new laws dramatically reverse that trend and — importantly — make the new regulations permanent, instead of being subject to new rounds of lobbying every few years.

On Monday evening, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou is holding a Town Hall with representatives from GOLES, Legal Aid Society, and Mobilization for Justice to present an overview of the new rent laws and to answer any questions that community have.

Monday, July 29, 2019, 6:00 pm
Manny Cantor Center, 197 East Broadway

Wednesday: Help Elect Democrats In Virginia

When the Supreme Court decided last month that gerrymandering for partisan gain is fair game in this country, it finally dawned on everyone that the fight for the House of Representatives for the next decade starts with state legislatures.

We’ve been partnering with the Sister District Project to help give Democrats more leverage in the states where redistricting after the 2020 Census will have the most effect.

This year they are focused on two races in Virginia, and we have a chance to make some initial phone calls this week on Wednesday.

Wendy Gooditis won her seat narrowly in the 2017 Blue Wave, but faces a tough challenge for re-election.

Shelly Simonds lost her 2017 race in a coin flip after the recount ended in a tie. This year we don’t want to leave her election up to chance!

Early phonebanking builds name recognition for candidates and offers voters a chance to raise their concerns.

No phonebanking experience is necessary to participate! Please bring a mobile phone, plus a laptop or tablet. The hosts will provide instructions, talking points, and snacks.

Borough President requests 60-day delay for vote on East Side Coastal Resiliency plan

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Monday formally requested a 60-day delay for the City Planning Commission’s [CPC] hearing and final vote to approve the city’s preferred plan for East River Park.

Grand Street Democrats passed a resolution in May requesting a delay in the project so that several important aspects can be revisited. Since then we have been meeting with our elected officials, including Brewer, to encourage them to support community goals to improve the plan. Read GSD’s resolution on the draft Environmental Impact Statement here.

Local Community Boards and elected officials have all largely lined up in support of the city’s preferred plan to protect the East Village and Lower East Side from storm surges and rising sea levels, but with huge caveats, concerns, and still-unanswered questions about the accuracy of the city’s 3.5-year time table, contingencies for immediate flood protection, and more.

Brewer’s request indicates that one priority for the delay is to “consult with independent environmental experts” to make sure that the city’s preferred plan to level the park and pour 8-9 feet of landfill from Montgomery to 23rd Street has the support of experts in the field.

Brewer’s July 8 letter does not automatically trigger the delay she requests, but the City Planning Commission has announced that it’s vote on the City’s plan will come nearly at the end of its allotted 60-day review period in September.

Thank you for another chance to serve as your District Leaders

Hey neighbors, GSD co-founders, LES originals and newcomers,

It’s an honor and oh-so-welcome bright spot in our current events landscape to announce that we get to start our second term as your Democratic District Leaders TODAY.

Many of you stood outside, knocked on doors, and successfully collected more than enough signatures to get us on the ballot — thank you! And because we were unopposed this year, we have been low-key re-elected without the need for polling sites to materialize in the usual places. (It is Primary Day in some of NYC, but in AD65 Part A there are no contested races.)

We are so grateful for your continuing trust in us as your District Leaders, and for your enthusiasm and support for Grand Street Democrats, our not-quite-two-year-old neighborhood political club.

Two years ago, we didn’t know if GSD would be able to emerge from the shadow of the political machine we defeated. It turns out that AD65-A is a hotbed of political activism and community leaders brimming with experience, energy and a thirst for progress. You all have taught and inspired us so much in such a short time. And now that we have put down roots, we’re ready to grow and branch out, with your ideas, questions, problems, and solutions guiding us.

So, to recontextualize a quote from Hamilton: What Comes Next?

We’ll get our first glimpse of the 2020 presidential candidates tomorrow night with our Democratic Debate Watch Party, 8:30 at La Flaca. And with monthly debates on the horizon, we hope to make this a recurring event (want to coordinate our next GSD watch party? EMAIL US!)

We will continue to bring in city & state officials to our GSD meetings (mark your calendars for our Summer Meeting on August 14). Importantly, we want to give you all plenty of chances to meet the candidates for city-wide elections in 2021 (Mayor! City Council! Borough President! District Attorney!).

And what do you want to do, see, and discuss? Please catch us on the street or on email and speak up. We wouldn’t be here without you!

In solidarity,
Carole Laskow & Lee Berman, Democratic District Leaders

6/26 at 8:30 pm: Democratic Debate Watch Party

Is it 2020 yet?

Booker, Castro, de Blasio, Delaney, Gabbard, Inslee, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Ryan, and Warren make up the ten candidates selected for the stage Wednesday. (Another ten candidates who qualified will have their chance the next night.)

The first debate of the Democratic primary is airing Wednesday, June 26 — join GSD members at a debate Watch Party at La Flaca on Grand Street at Suffolk.

Democratic Debate Watch Party
Wednesday, June 26
8:30 pm
La Flaca, Grand Street and Suffolk

Monday 6/3: East River Park Town Hall

The City has a $1.4 billion plan to bulldoze East River Park and add 8-10 feet of landfill in order to protect the East Village and Lower East Side from rising sea level and storm surges. The park would be closed for at least 3-1/2 years starting in 2020.

  • Existing landscape bulldozed.
  • Amphitheater razed.
  • Entire park raised 8-10 feet with landfill.
  • Playing fields and facilities rebuilt.
  • New pedestrian bridges.

In order for residents to learn about the plan and possible alternatives, and to ask questions directly of the City officials in charge of the project, Grand Street Democrats is hosting a Town Hall next week:

Monday, June 3, 7:00 pm
Manny Cantor Center, 197 East Broadway

If you have time, there is material available online for you to review before the Town Hall:

Please try to make it. This project will have a huge impact on our neighborhood.

GSD Resolution on Party Registration Deadline

Adopted at regular meeting 5/16/19.

Grand Street Democrats supports New York State Committee Members in their efforts to move the deadline for Democratic party registration for voters to 25 days before any primary.

Update: One of our State Committee Members, Chris Marte, let us know this morning that he will be voting for the “Let All Democrats Vote Amendment” at today’s State Committee meeting. He sent us a fuller explanation of the rules change, which is included below:

This amendment would change the “Primary Participation” section (Part Two, Section A, 2) of the NYSDC 2020 Delegate Selection Plan and would guarantee that all New York voters who apply to join the Democratic Party at least 25 days before the 2020 Presidential Primary get to vote in that Primary. As currently written, this section states that participation in the Presidential Primary will be limited to New York voters who have enrolled in the Democratic Party by October 11, 2019, which is over six months in advance of the Presidential Primary, and the longest waiting period in the entire nation. 

It is critical that we pass this amendment for several reasons:

  • The draft delegate selection plan does not comply with the DNC Delegate Selection Rules.
    • The “Primary Participation” section of our delegate selection plan does not meet the requirement that State Parties are to do everything in their power to guarantee a change of party enrollment deadline no earlier than the voter registration deadline of 25 days in New York.
    • DNC Rule 2, Section J requires State Parties to ensure “an open and inclusive process” in the selection of convention delegates by “revising State Party rules and encouraging administrative rules, legislation, or considering litigation to… allow voters to switch parties at least as late as the deadline for registering to vote.”
    • DNC Rule 2, Section C requires State Parties to take “all feasible steps” to eliminate excessively long waiting periods for voters to change their enrollment status, including revising Party rules.
  • If the State Committee does not amend its delegate plan and fix this problem, it could cost NY delegates and money.
    • DNC Rule 21, Section C(6) states that the DNC may take action against State Parties that have “failed or refused to comply” with the DNC rules by reducing the size of the NY Delegation to the National Convention, diminishing the voice of New York Democrats in the nomination process.
    • DNC Rule 22, Section C gives the DNC the power to force non-complying State Parties to pay for a private selection of delegates, which could cost the party millions of dollars.

The “Let All Democrats Vote Amendment” not only brings New York in compliance with the DNC, but also meets the national average time required to change Party enrollment and matches New York’s new-voter enrollment deadline (of 25 days before the Primary). For the 2020 Presidential Election, it is critical that we pass this amendment and not miss the opportunity to capitalize on the energy of the Primary to build Party enrollment and to demonstrate the Party’s commitment to fundamental democratic values and fairness.