Thursday, May 25, 2017

New York State of Resistance


Last night, I attend an event called State of the Resistance, an update from the Frontliners with New York Attorney General (AG) Eric T. Schneiderman (D) and New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-28th District), my State Senator, introduced by New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick (D-4th District), my Councilman.

The event took place at the CUNY Graduate Center, Porshanksy Auditorium, Manhattan. The site was full of Activist and filled the Auditorium to capacity.

The conversation between Krueger and Schneiderman included an AG update about his efforts to protect New Yorkers from the regressive actions of the Trump Administration

New York Attorney General (AG) Eric Schneiderman (D) was Elected the 65th AG on November 2nd, 2010. Since November of2016, Eric has led the fight to protect New Yorkers from the most harmful policies of the Trump Administration. He successfully sued, along with other State AG's, to block the President's Unconstitutional and Un-American Muslim Ban. He leads a coalition defending the Clean Power Plan, our Country's historic effort to limit Carbon pollution from Power Plants. He's taking the Trump Administration to Court over its illegal delay of Cost-Saving, Pollution-Cutting Energy Efficiency Standards. He's defending the right for Cities to determine their own law enforcement priorities deportation agenda. He's worked with Law Enforcement and School Administrators on guidance making clear that Discrimination and Hate have no place in New York. He successfully collected a $25 million Settlement with a $1 million Court Fee from Trump University.

Exercising his power to introduce Legislation, Eric put forth progressive Bills to tackle some of our most important challenges. On the eve of President Trump's inauguration, Eric introduced Legislation that would protect and enhance New Yorkers' access to cost-free contraception currently provided under the Affordable Care Act and threatened by Congress. He proposed Reforms that would expand Voting Rights for all New Yorkers, with provisions including Automatic and Same-Day Registration. And to fundamentally Reform the State Government, rooting out Corruption, Eric authored the most sweeping Ethics Bill in State history.

New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-28th District) - was first Elected to the New York State Senate in 2002, after Eric suggested she run. I have carried her Ballot Petitions until 2014. She is the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Finance Committee. A Champion of Woman's Rights, she is the Co-Founder of the NYS Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislature Caucus. She is a strong Advocate for Tenants' Rights, Affordable Housing, Improved Access to Health Care, Social Services, Environmental Sustainability, and more Equitable Funding for Public Education. She has made Reforming and Modernizing New York State's Governmental Processes, Electorial System, and Tax Policy Central Goals of her Legislature Agenda.

New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick (D-4th District) - is the author of New York City's first Green Energy Code, the Tenant Protection Act, and 48 other Bills passed into Law over the course of his eleven year tenure. I have carried his Ballot Petitions until 2014. Dan's term ends this year under our Term Limits system. In 2015, Dan negotiated the biggest Housing Preservation deal in New York City's history, 5,000 Middle Class Housing units in Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, where he grew-up, and still lives in that neighborhood with his family. He recently delivered an unprecedented $220 million to improve Mass Transit in and around Grand Central, seizing the opportunity to Rezone the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor of East Midtown to not only promote growth but also to Improve Subway Service. He has been praised for his Independent streak and a fighter for increasing funding for the City's Public School Students.

A Lawyer with a background in Civil Rights, Dan has represented Same-Sex couples seeking Marriage Equality, the Partnership for New York City in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit, and directed the New York Civil Rights Coalition's Unlearning Stereotypes: Civil Rights and Race Relations Program in 42 New York City Public Schools. Dan has raised a considerable Campaign War Chest for a potential Statewide run. “I’m term limited and keeping my options open for now,” Garodnick said when asked about future plans. Campaign Finance Rules allow City Funds to be easily transferred to a state Account, and could help Garodnick finance a potential statewide run for in 2017. Both Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli are expected to seek Re-Election unless Governor Andrew Cuomo decides to not Run for a Third Term, opening the field for either Democrat to possibly succeed him and clearing the way for Garodnick’s run for either position.

After taking questions from Liz and from the Audience cards, he explained that Voting wasn't the end of a Citizen's Civic Duty. Especially in these times, we have to become Pro-Active to let our Representatives know how we feel about Issues and supporting our preferred Candidates with Get-Out-the-Vote efforts.

Message from Liz...

An Update From The Frontlines". The event was an opportunity to address the role of state attorneys general in challenging Trump administration policies on a host of issues from immigration to the environment to civil and voting rights. Attorney General Schneiderman has been at the forefront of many of these efforts. We talked about his important work so far, and what more can be done to protect New Yorkers' fundamental rights and democratic institutions.

Over 300 people attended the event at the CUNY Graduate Center, including many long-time community activists and those involved in recent "resistance" efforts in response to the election of President Donald Trump.

Topics of discussion included immigrant rights and the President's travel ban, climate change, women's reproductive rights, and the Affordable Care Act. Attorney General Schneiderman described working together with attorneys general around the country as part of what he called "the legal resistance," a reaction from the legal community to what they perceive as a total disregard for the rule of law on the part of the Trump administration. When asked about ongoing lawsuits challenging President Obama's Clean Power Plan, Mr. Schneiderman said, "if the federal government is not going to defend a federal law, then we need to intervene so that there's someone watching out for our environment." Pointing out that the US Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA must regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Schneiderman said of Republican attacks on the Clean Power Plan, "if they repeal it, they have to replace it. We will insist that they follow the law."

The need for resisting the Trump administration’s attacks on the environment is even clearer in the wake of his announcement that the United States will join Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not participating in the Paris Climate Agreement (and Nicaragua’s objection to the agreement was that it didn’t go far enough). Since Trump can’t actually withdraw from the agreement until 2019, this doesn’t change the landscape in the short-term, but it does make it even more important that states show leadership in addressing climate change. I was extremely pleased that the governors of New York, California, and Washington immediately announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance to lead continued efforts to combat global warming (they were joined the next day by the Republican governors of Massachusetts and Vermont). The legislature also needs to push Governor Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli to go further in these efforts by passing the Climate and Community Protection Act and my Fossil Fuel Divestment Act.

Mr. Schneiderman also addressed the issue of women's reproductive rights, pointing out the importance of codifying Roe v Wade into state law through the Reproductive Health Act, which I carry in the Senate. Of the Trump administration, Mr. Schneiderman said there's a "deep strain of misogyny in a lot of their policies. Women's rights are something that seems to rub these guys the wrong way, and women’s reproductive rights in particular." But of Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Schneiderman noted, "we're going to challenge any health care bill that interferes with a woman's constitutional rights."

The interview was followed by a discussion of what New Yorkers can do to leverage their own power to protect democracy, including fostering partnerships between citizens, advocates, and elected officials. Mr. Schneiderman emphasized the importance of resistance at the state level. "States have to model smart, progressive governance," he said. "The states are where the action is right now." But, Mr. Schneiderman noted, "we're not going to succeed in taking the country back just by being in opposition - we have to stand for something. We have to show how we are going to make people's lives better."

Ending the evening on a hopeful note, Mr. Schneiderman acknowledged the efforts of many of those in attendance. "The American people are rising up," he said. "It makes a tremendous difference if you speak up." I am pleased to know that those of us resisting the Trump agenda have an important ally who is ready and willing to fight that agenda in the courts.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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