About Democracy for NYC

Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.

EndorsedLogo PlasticWe work both locally and nationally to ensure that fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates are elected at all levels of government. We develop innovative ways to advocate for the issues that matter to our members and support legislation which has a positive effect in our communities.  We promote transparency and ethical practices in government.  We engage people in the political process and give them the tools to organize, communicate, mobilize, and enact change on the local, state, and national level.

You can download our bylaws here.

About Democracy for New York City

 

Articles

Ed Hartzog Answers to DFNYC 2013 Endorsement Questionnaire

1. Money in NYC Politics. Large donors, specifically real estate developers and landlords, have a huge amount of influence in NYC politics due to their campaign contributions. While NYC’s matching funds programs is seen as one of the most innovative public funding campaigns in the country, many DFNYC members feel that big money donors still have too much influence and candidates still spend too much time fundraising. Would you support a change to full public financing of campaigns, similar to the Clean Money Clean Elections programs in Arizona, Connecticut and Maine?

Yes. I would strongly support full public financing of campaigns. There can be no question that on the Upper East Side, developers, landlords and institutions are limiting the political debate. This is one of the reasons why I am running for City Council – so I can be an advocate for my community and the proliferation of smart development, as opposed to the pell-mell over-development that exists now. The forces of the status quo have thus far been able to prevent real political engagement or community conversation about either over-development or the shameful lack of open and green space in our neighborhoods. Members of the public can’t even get information about what projects are being considered, when they will start, when they will finish or the benefits the community can expect to receive when they are completed. With full public financing there would be more opportunities for people to join the debate and advocate for these and other issues. As a candidate for City Council, I am proud to be taking part in the campaign finance program, without which I would be financially excluded from the race. Even with the campaign finance system, running for office is often prohibitively expensive and raising money is extremely time-consuming. I welcome the idea of an even playing field where anyone with good ideas, a strong community base and a willingness to work hard is given an equal opportunity to serve his or her community.

2. Tenant Protection & Cost of Housing. Do you support rent stabilization and rent control laws? What will you do to crack down on landlords that break the law? Would you call on the state legislature to repeal vacancy decontrol and more generally, the Urstadt Law, so that New York City – and not Albany – can enact its own housing laws?

Yes, I support rent stabilization and rent control. As a resident of one of the most expensive communities in New York City, I recognize that without rent control and rent stabilization, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, primarily seniors and young families, would be forced to move out of their neighborhoods and communities. Rent control and rent stabilization are the only viable means of keeping neighborhoods like the Upper East Side affordable and maintaining the diversity and vibrancy of our community. I also strongly support the repeal of vacancy decontrol and the Urstadt Law. New York City’s housing situation is nuanced and complex. Like ripples from a stone thrown into a pond, seemingly minor adjustment in rent control can have massive impacts on families, economies, and neighborhoods. It just doesn’t make any sense to have legislators who live hundreds of miles away making decisions for our local communities. Beyond simply having a better sense of the consequences of adjustments to rent control, local elected officials can be held accountable for their decisions regarding New York City rent control in a way that upstate politicians cannot.

3. Paid Sick Leave. There is currently a bill in the city council that would require companies in NYC with 5 or more employees to give 5 paid sick days per year to each employee (if they do not already). While many councilmembers support this, it has not been brought to a vote. Supporters feel this is much needed public health legislation that would only minimally raise labor costs, while opponents say that it would be an unfair financial burden to small business. Do you support the bill and will you actively work to get it passed?

Sources: ~For~  ~Against~

Yes. I would gladly and wholeheartedly support Intro. 97-A, the current paid sick day legislation. The failure of the current New York City Council to pass sick day legislation is unconscionable. When employees are forced to come to work sick, we are all at greater risk. The minimal cost of 5 paid sick days should simply be considered the cost of doing business.

4. Fair Police Practices & Occupy Wall Street. The New York City Police Department has been highly criticized for its Stop & Frisk policy, which disproportionally affects racial minorities and poor and working class New Yorkers. The NYPD has also been criticized for its treatment of activists in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Do you support ending or modifying Stop & Frisk? If running for mayor, will you keep Ray Kelly or appoint a new police commissioner? Do you think Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD should have handled events in the OWS movement differently and what measures will you take to protect political demonstrations?

I have been an opponent of the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk policy, as it is currently being implemented. As a member of Community Board 8, I introduced a resolution endorsing the Father’s Day March in 2012, and then proudly marched with friends and neighbors from our community and beyond. The NYPD needs to ensure that the Stop & Frisk policy is brought into compliance with the Constitution and ceased to be enforced in a discriminatory manner. I attended the Occupy Wall Street protests several times, adding my voice to the call for a progressive economy and the recognition that we live in a city of residents, not corporations. Whether or not the current City Council passes legislation giving an Inspector General oversight over the NYPD, I believe that the Council should take a proactive approach to questioning NYPD leaders and demanding accountability.

5. Mayoral Control of Education. Mayoral Control of NYC schools is set to expire in 2016, but the state legislature can renew it. If elected to city government, you will not directly vote on mayoral control, but you will have a ‘bully pulpit’ as renewal is discussed in the next 3 years. Do you support keeping Mayoral Control as is, letting it expire, or making changes, for example to the hearing process for controversial decisions? (Examples: Co-locations of multiple schools in one building, providing district school space to charter schools, phasing out schools that have been labeled as “failing” due to high dropout rates, low test scores, or other factors.)

Questions about education are some of the most complex and the most important faced by city government. How we educate our children is a direct measure of how our economy, our community and our city will fare in the future. There is nothing more important. Mayoral control as it currently stands is in need of change. By giving full and complete control of all of the structures of education to a single individual, all the players that should be central to educational decisions are rendered powerless, including teachers, administrators, parents and community members. The oft-quoted expression that “it takes a village to raise a child” seems appropriate. As the parent of a five year old son, I recognize that there are many individuals involved in his educational success – his mother and myself, his teachers, his school administrators, and his friends and neighbors. Educational decision making should include inputs from this diverse collection of voices. If elected to the City Council, I envision my role in the 2016 debate on Mayoral Control as one to primarily amplify the voices of parents. In the political debate between unions and the mayor, I often feel that it is the parents, who know their children best, who are lost in the shuffle.

6. Teacher Evaluation. A key area where the mayor has influence in public education is in the negotiation of a contract with NYC’s public school teachers. Please give your opinion on the following proposed ways to evaluate teachers for the purpose of tenure, salary and other job benefits: Improvement in student test scores, observations by other teachers, student surveys, whether the teacher has an advanced degree, a principal’s evaluation of a teacher. Should principals be allowed to do unannounced observations of teachers? Do you have any experience negotiating labor union contracts?

As I noted before, the failure of Mayoral Control is that it gives the power over every decision to a single individual who works in an office and doesn’t know any of the individuals involved. Of course, objective measures must be used but, as in any other field, no single tool can effectively and fairly be used to judge the totality and complexity of a teacher’s work. Teachers do not teach in a vacuum where all other things are equal. Objective measures of a teacher’s work must be mixed with human understanding. I would favor a teacher evaluation process that took all of the above suggested measures, and others, into account. As a young lawyer I was supervised and mentored by more experienced attorneys who helped teach me the way to navigate legal issues and problems. They reviewed my work to ensure that I was providing an appropriate level of service to clients, but also to give me guidance and advice. I believe that principals, school leaders and parents should not only be allowed to do unannounced observations of teachers at work, they should be encouraged to do so.

7. Co-location of charter schools. City officials do not decide how many charter schools can exist, or grant requests to be a charter school. However, the Department of Education - currently controlled by the Mayor - may decide to provide charter schools with space, usually by "co-location" with district public schools. While more than half of NYC schools (not just charters) are co-located, it is a controversial topic when a charter school is involved. Critics argue that cash-strapped district schools should not be forced to share resources with charter schools and that co-location creates a morale problem when students and parents see the contrast. Co-location advocates argue that charter schools are public schools and should have an equal right to publicly owned resources such as buildings, charter schools do not receive funding for space and therefore operate at a severe financial disadvantage if they have to find private space, and that differences between co-located schools result from decisions the principals make about how to spend their per-pupil funding. Do you support the DOE giving public school space to charter schools?

Sources: Against - funding and space arguments  In Favor - Funding  Space (pdf)

No. I do not support the co-location of charter schools and public schools. I believe that co-locations, particularly when they involve charter schools, inherently highlight the divisions in our educational system. I also do not support the idea of making single public school spaces available to charter schools. New York City’s public schools are almost universally over-crowded because of a lack of affordable, appropriate school locations. Almost any potential school space provided to a charter school is done at the expense of public school students. Charter schools are public schools, but they are also exempt from many of the rules and requirements of public schools, including union contract obligations. The price of these exemptions is that charter schools must manage their own financial struggles rather than use city tax resources to support their educational ideologies.

8. The City Wage Tax. New York City’s budget depends in large part on the city wage tax, which is only paid by residents, not everyone who works in NYC. Would you call on the state legislature to allow NYC to collect the tax from people from the suburbs who work in NYC and benefit from our services (police, fire, etc.)? Would you support efforts to collect the tax from people who actually live in New York City but use a second home (a loophole not available to middle class New Yorkers with just one home) to avoid the city wage tax? If these efforts work, would you be willing to reduce the city wage tax so that workers would have more take home pay, and there would be less incentive for people to move to the suburbs, reducing our tax base?

Yes. New York City is a regional, national and international city, but our government structures should be designed to serve the needs of New York City residents. Subjecting commuters to the city wage tax would both increase New York City’s tax revenue and discourage high-income individuals from moving to the suburbs where they would have to pay additional local taxes. If New York City were to expand the city wage tax to commuters, it would certainly reduce the overall tax burden on individuals so that they could enjoy more of their take home pay, but I would also divert some of that revenue to increasing city services. All of our city services, including education, health care, police, fire, libraries, parks, etc., have struggled financially in the last few years. If we have the ability to do so, I believe that it is imperative that we support those services to the fullest extent possible.

9. Other Taxes. Do you support progressive taxation? Do you support Governor Cuomo’s approach to the marginal tax rate on high incomes? What is your opinion on the current property tax in NYC? Would you support a federal financial transaction tax to either raise revenue, reduce the practice of high frequency trading, or both?

Yes, I support any and all progressive taxes. I strongly oppose the Mayor's attempts to balance our budget on the backs of working New Yorkers and their families. Those that have the most to give, including corporations and individuals, must support the programs and services on which our entire community depends.

10. Poverty & the Social Safety Net. According to a 2012 report by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, many struggling New Yorkers are eligible for welfare, but have not been able to obtain it due to onerous application requirements, and the excessive and arbitrary use of “sanctions” by the City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA). These obstacles have caused very little increase in welfare cases during the recent recession, as contrasted with large increases in Food Stamps and Medicaid. Would you change HRA to make it easier for eligible families to obtain cash assistance, connect them to jobs or meaningful job training, and reform the improper use of sanctions? How would you manage New York City's social safety net programs to ensure that people get the help they need, while at the same time preventing fraud? Report: http:/www.fpwa.org/cgi-bin/iowa/policy/article/218.html

In this turbulent and ever-changing economy, I support providing job training and placement assistance to almost everyone. As the son of Depression era parents, I know how important it is to have a strong social safety net and cash assistance programs. We have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that all of the members of our community have access to a basic level of care. As an elected official, I will do everything I can to ensure that everyone who needs assistance is granted it. At the same time, I am not an expert on HRA policy, their use of sanctions or welfare fraud. Before I made any commitments to changes in HRA policy, I would hope to have an opportunity to question HRA leaders regarding their use of sanctions and their outcomes. In preparing for that hearing, I would seek the counsel of expert organizations whom I trust, including Community Service Society, Community Voices Heard and United Neighborhood Houses and ask them to provide me with the background information I need to ask meaningful and fruitful questions.

11. Homelessness. When Mayor Bloomberg first ran, he promised to introduce policies to drastically reduce the numbers of people who are homeless in our city. But during the twelve years of his administration, the numbers of homeless have increased dramatically each year. This is in addition to the approximately 50,000 people sleeping in shelters on an average night, according to a recent report by the Coalition for the Homeless. What would you do to deal with this sad situation? Sources: http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/pages/state-of-the-homeless-2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/20/nyregion/20homeless.html

The problem of homelessness is exacerbated in New York City by the chronic over-inflation of the housing market. The sky-rocketing rents, combined with the strict limits on rent-controled units, makes it almost impossible for a family that losses their home to procure any other alternatives within the city. One of the primary means to address homelessness in New York City is the development of truly affordable, stable housing. In recent years, the process of granting tax-abatements and other financial perks to developers of commercial interests and luxury housing has become almost common-place. In exchange, developers usually promise either affordable housing or open space, although neither is usually built. The first, and easiest, step that the city can take to create below-market rate housing is to hold developers of already existing projects accountable for their promises. A second step to alleviating the housing shortage, which is ultimately responsible for the inflation of housing costs, would be to stop allowing either banks or landlords to warehouse housing stock. Finally, in future transactions with developers, New York City should prioritize the development of moderate and low-income housing by providing tax breaks and other benefits to individuals who develop properties that will serve all New Yorkers, and, as to council district 5, the creation of more open and green space.

12. Hurricane Sandy & Environmental Protection. The devastating impact that Hurricane Sandy had on New York City poses short term and long term challenges: immediate support for those who lost their homes and businesses, and climate change, respectively. What measures do you support for helping Sandy recovery efforts, as well as energy conservation and reducing the carbon footprint of New York City? What is your position on hydraulic fracturing and the Spectra pipeline?

One of the main reasons that I am running for office is the abysmal lack of green space on the Upper East Side and the need for meaningful environmental care-taking by the City of New York. As such, I strongly oppose hydraulic fracturing and the Spectra pipeline. For a major metropolitan area, New York City already has a relatively small carbon footprint, although, of course, more needs to be done. The best thing that we can do to continue to grow as a green city is to reduce the use of cars by improving our public transportation network and keeping service fast, reliable and affordable. Hurricane Sandy taught us a number of important lessons. Primarily, given the incredible physical destruction, the very limited loss of life was nothing less than incredible. New York City has a professional and trained Office of Emergency Management and written evacuation procedures. Continuing to practice those procedures, particularly on low-lying areas is crucial.

13. Gun Control. While DFNYC members have long supported gun control, the December 14th shooting in Newtown, Connecticut seems to have changed the debate on the national level. Do you support the proposals President Obama made to (a) renew and fix the assault weapons ban, (b) ban high capacity magazines (limit the number of bullets that can be shot before reloading), and (c) improve the background check system? Please indicate any other methods you would support to reduce gun violence, including how you would implement them, for example: gun buy-back programs, training programs for gun owners, improved access to mental health care, and involving the business community in gun safety.

I strongly support any and all proposals, including those recently made by President Obama to renew and fix the assault weapons ban and have been a part of all of the recent gun control rallies in New York City. Unfortunately, while I would be pleased to use the bully pulpit of the New York City Council to bring attention to this issue, I also recognize that it is well outside of the purview of the New York City Council. The reality is that New York City already has strong gun control legislation, including an assault weapons ban. In general, individuals who own guns in New York City don’t buy them here. This is a national issue. While I disagree with Mayor Bloomberg on many, many things, I believe that he has taken the right path on this issue, which is using the prominence of the New York City Mayoralty to effectively lobby legislators around the country for tougher gun control legislation in their areas.

14. Choice & Marriage Equality. Please briefly state your position on the following three issues: marriage equality for gays & lesbians, a woman's right to choose, and access to birth control. (25 words or less)

Only 25 words?! Overwhelmingly, yes, yes, and yes! I strongly support all of the above and look forward to the opportunity to prove it.

Contact Information

Email: info -at- dfnyc.org
   
   
   

 

A local coalition group of Democracy for America since 2004

Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.

Read More...