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.
We 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.
Democracy for New York City applauds Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for their actions today in passing and signing the toughest gun control law in the nation. The memories of those children killed in Newtown have been honored.
There is a lot happening with regards to gun control.
-- President Obama is set to announce actions that he will take on Wednesday.
-- Our friends at Moveon are sponsoring more than 230 Community Committee Against Gun Violence gatherings around the country on Thursday, including several in the NYC area. Come meet with fellow progressives and lets discuss how to fight the epidemic of gun violence on the local level. More info is here:
-- The Brady Campaign, which is dedicated to promoting the fight against gun violence and gun deaths, has on their website links to many resources on these issues. They encourage everyone to write their representatives in Congress and demand action.
In response to the heartbreaking tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, DFNYC is joining with Democracy for America, Move On, Act Now and many other progressive organizations in calling for a nationwide ban on all automatic assault weapons
DFA has started a petition and we encourage everyone to sign it:
In addition we urge everyone to call their New York state lawmakers and demand that the legislature in Albany pass meaningful gun control laws in the new year. Measures that have been previously considered and not passed by the state senate, and need to be reintroduced include:
1. Micro Stamping-- This would require the casings of ammunition purchased in New York state to be marked, so that all bullets fired can be traced directly to the buyer. Were such a system in place in Connecticut, we would be able to know where this person got the hollow point bullets used. This legislation was brought up last year and killed by the GOP leadership in the state senate.
2. Limit gun purchases in the state by any individual to one per month.
3. (Most importantly) Ban the sale of assault weapons anywhere in the state except for use by the military, the police or at firing ranges in the presence of qualified instructors. Nobody needs these weapons at home.
There will be a lot more going on soon. We must press President Obama to call for federal legislation banning assault weapons so write the White House! We must do all we can to prevent further massacres! This is the way we can honor the memory of those children who were slain.
In addition, this Sunday, please join Brooklyn State Senator Eric Adams, noted civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, and concerned organizations around the city including DFNYC, as we participate in a special event in honor of the children of Sandy Hook Elementary. This event is "Hands Across the Brooklyn Bridge", and it is intended to show the community's commitment to end gun violence and get assault weapons off the street. New Yorkers from around the city will link hands on the Brooklyn Bridge in a strong and highly visible message to President Obama and our other elected officials. A message that we demand action and we demand it now.
This event will be just before sunset on Sunday evening, and we will inform of the exact time and location to meet as soon as it is announced.
Starting tomorrow, DFNYC leadership has meetings scheduled with the offices of federal elected officials to discuss the U.S. Fiscal Cliff. We want to see progressive, fiscally responsible solutions, and many of you have shared your ideas with us at events and by email. This is our draft agenda, and we want to hear from you, whether you agree, disagree, or have additional points or context. Please email us at info-at-dfnyc.org (replace -at w/@).
1. Bush Tax Cuts:
Raise the marginal income tax rate on income over $250K. This essentially means letting the Bush tax cuts expire, but only on income over $250K.
2. Tax High Frequency Trading:
A small financial transaction tax that would discourage high frequency trading, while also raising significant revenue from it. The tax could be just a small fraction of a penny per share so that it would not in any way discourage other investors from the stock market, only the computerized algorithmic high volume trading that has led to flash crashes. For more, click here to visit the HFT Tax page at our website.
Generally, we feel that eliminating deductions is not a good approach. It is politically unfeasible, will not raise as much revenue as simply raising the marginal rate, and non-profit organizations will suffer greatly. However, there may be a few deductions that should be reformed.
4. Capital Gains:
Capital gains is already going up in 2013. We plan to ask the elected officials if there are plans to raise it further. On the one hand, it seems fair as it is a tax on wealth, not work. On the other hand, there is compelling history that raising it may discourage investment, which is needed to get our economy on track. Thoughts?
5. Expiration of the Payroll Tax Cut:
Many DFNYC members and others in the progressive community are in favor of the idea of allowing the payroll tax cut for employees - enacted by President Obama for 2011 and continued through 2012 - to expire. Though we realize this tax cut has been most beneficial to the middle class and working poor, we also recognize that this tax is for the benefit of Social Security, and we want Social Security to be solvent.
Spending Cuts Side:
1. No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security:
Social Security and Medicaid are exempted from the Fiscal Cliff, so there less of a reason to negotiate here. As for Medicare, it is a huge benefit to seniors, a fiscally responsible health care plan (as opposed to private insurance) and there is no significant cost savings from proposed cuts. Howard Dean sent an email about this recently to Democracy for America members. (In case you're new here: Our organization, DFNYC is a local coalition group of DFA.)
2. Military Spending:
We plan to ask the elected officials what is being negotiated with regard to spending cuts in the defense budget. This is especially relevant in light of the war in Afghanistan, not starting a war with Iran, and the ballooning cost of the “War on Terror” domestically, as revealed in a two year investigation by the Washington Post: Click here for the 2010 article A Hidden World Growing Beyond Control.
3. The Affordable Care Act:
While Obamacare is mainly market-driven legislation that puts more responsibilities on insurance companies and employers than on the government, there are certain important government expenditures in it, and those should be protected. The high risk pool for people with pre-existing conditions, a temporary measure until insurance companies are required to not discriminate on this basis, is a program that is saving and improving the lives of many Americans. For example, the ACA has been a huge benefit to people living with HIV/AIDS (Click here for details.)
4. Unemployment Insurance:
No cuts to unemployment insurance. If we go over the Fiscal Cliff, an estimated two million people will stop receiving unemployment insurance, a necessary source of income while jobs are still scarce.
Cuts & Revenue:
Chained CPI: This is one idea that has been proposed to both raise revenue and decrease spending. Chained CPI is a way of determining the gradual social security payment increases and tax bracket increases that would be an alternative to the current method of calculation, which involves various inflation figures. You can read more at the links below and share your opinion with us. Essentially, proponents of Chained CPI state that it is a more accurate way to determine actual cost of living increases. Opponents state that Chained CPI will decrease payments to social security recipients over time, and is not an accurate reflection of the real expenses of seniors, such as food and healthcare.
Atlantic Monthly: Article in favor of Chained CPI.
AFL CIO Blog: Article against Chained CPI.
Election Day on November 6th of this year, where we voted for U.S. President along with many other races, was an absolute mess at many NYC poll sites, with long lines and mass disorganization. There were many factors making election day challenging: Turnout is especially high in presidential contests every four years, Hurricane Sandy's aftermath changed some poll sites, many voters were in new districts and with new poll sites due to 2012 redistricting after the 2010 Census. Nevertheless, many of the problems could have been anticipated, managed and solved much better than they were on Election Day.
Today, Wednesday, December 5th, the New York City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations, chaired by Gail Brewer, held a hearing on problems, and possible solutions. I was in attendance. A few key points:
• Attendance: Not counting the council members, the staffers gathered sitting in the right hand corner, or the press, I counted between 96 and 102 people in attendance, at about 10:45am. Some people filtered in and out, more out, but there was still a solid group of attendees 2 hours into the hearing.
• Agreement: One thing I noticed, along with another good government activist I spoke to in the hall, is that of all the various groups/agencies/officials speaking in the room, there was a whole lot of agreement on what the problems were, and even the possible solutions. In fact, nearly everyone in the room, including Speaker Christine Quinn, voiced their support for early voting. (Whether that will get past the Republican-ish State Senate is another question...)
• The Republican: The one Republican Councilmember who spoke, Don Halloran from Queens raised some issues about fraud. On the one hand, this seemed like the typical Republican talking point we've heard this election cycle, despite very limited reports of in person voter fraud. However, I think he had some valid points, even if I might disagree regarding the nitty-gritty of some proposed changes. For example, Dan Kellner suggested we could save a lot of time at poll sites by getting rid of the voters cards, the thing you hand to the person at the optical scanner when you put in your vote. He made the point that since our ballots are so low-tech they can be photocopied, it could be easier for someone to turn in 12 ballots if they don't have to turn in one of those voter cards with their name on it; essentially it's an extra step in the process to prevent fraud. While it may be easy to dismiss the idea of someone trying to steal an election with 12 ballots, as seasoned campaign volunteers, we've seen elections come down to less than 100 votes several times and often it's in a primary where there is party pressure to not question "official" results after election day.
• Format: The hearing had a very unique format that I think was a great idea. They had the City Board of Elections speak last, instead of first. I don't want to guess on strategy, but I've been to a few hearings, and I'd rather see a government agency go last and answer all the complaints raised in the hearing, as opposed to going first and saying "we did a great job under the circumstances, blah, blah, blah." Speaker Quinn spoke briefly, then the State BOE testified first, represented by Doug Kellner. Several elected officials spoke next, including Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Brian Kavanaugh, Councilmmeber Inez Dickens, Assembly member Joann Millman, and several others. People from good government groups spoke after the elected officials.
• Groups in Attendance: There were several advocacy groups in attendance at the hearing, including: Democracy for NYC, Common Cause, Citizens Union, League of Women Voters, NYPIRG, and AALDEF, the Asian American legal Defense Fund. (This list is not inclusive.)
For the last eight+ years, DFNYC has hosted the first Wednesday of the month Democracy of America linkups in New York City. It is our tradition. These linkups started in 2003 as the monthly organizing meetups for volunteers of the Howard Dean presidential campaign, and have continued ever since as a place/time where progressives around the country can meet and share our ideas and concerns.
This year's election is now over but the real battles are just beginning. The future of this country is in the balance. It has never been more important for progressives to be united in pursuit of our causes and in support of those elected officials who stand with us.
Please join DFNYC for our December DFA linkup/meetup and lets talk about finding the ways to keep fighting the good fight! We will be having linkups in both Manhattan and Brooklyn this month. The Manhattan linkup details are below. The Brooklyn linkup details will be announced shortly.
What: Manhattan DFA/NYC Monthly Meetup/Linkup
When: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Where: Peculier Pub
145 Bleecker St. (at Thompson), in the W. Village, near Washington Square Park
Or you can just show up! We have much to discuss. The battles are ongoing in D.C. and Albany, and city elections are coming up here next year. See you next Wednesday!