Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
Minutes, March 4, 2017, 10:15am
The Following City Council Candidates Appeared before the Club:
13th City Council District – Bronx: Marjorie Valazquez
18th City Council District – Bronx: Elvin Garcia
18th City Council District – Bronx: Amanda Farias
13th City Council District – Bronx: John Doyle
14th City Council District – Bronx: Justin Sanchez
14th City Council District – Bronx: Randy Abreu
All Agreed they will not support anyone who is a member of the IDC or doesn’t commit to not becoming a member of the Independant Democratic Conference for election
Treasurer’s Report (Barry Weinberg):
The Treasurer reported that the Club has transferred from Citibank to Amalgamated Bank in large part because Amalgamated Bank has more familiarity with Club accounts.
Make the Road – (Daniel Altschuler, Managing Director)
Daniel discussed Make the Road’s 20 year history of providing educational (over 5,000 people each year); legal and survival services (over 10,000/year) and community organizing (from amongst it 20,000 members). Since the Presidential campaign, it has also increased its efforts to both assist and organizing undocumented residents, advising them of their rights and ensuring continued advocacy. He indicated they are currently the largest organization offering both services and organizing to the immigrant community. They were one of the leading forces in several large protests in NYC. In addition to this 501©3 nonprofit agency, Make the Road also has a political 501©4 arm that will be involved in supporting candidates who will assist immigrant communities.
Daniel indicated that ICE’s increased enforcement thus far has been focused on going to people’s homes and bringing people into court to deport them, rather than community wide efforts. However, he indicated Make the Road is preparing people in the event such community sweeps occur.
He also asked for the Jim Owles Club to work with Make the Road in supporting the New York State Liberty Act, which would limit the cooperation between Local Law Enforcement and Federal Immigration enforcement and limit the information that local law enforcement can collect that might be used by Federal enforcement. The bill is currently stalled given the likely difficulty in passing it in the Senate and the Governor’s silence on the proposal. He also raised concern that while the Governor’s proposal to provide legal assistance to any undocumented person who requires it is laudable, the budget does not provide the funding for additional attorneys to operationalize that commitment.
Upcoming Club Event:
Several upcoming events were discussed and members were encouraged to attend – these include a March 18 Birthday Party for City Councilmember Laurie A Cumbo; the March 19, Gay City Press Annual Fundraiser (Honoring Club President Allen Roskoff and other Community Leaders); and the June 11 Gay Pride March in DC.
Transpact (Mel Wymore, Executive Director) and United Through Action
Mel discussed the current crisis for Transgender Community, including the President’s recent Executive Order rescinding the policy of requiring states and local governments to permit bathroom use based on individual gender identity. The Executive Order and recent rhetoric coming from Republicans has also led to an increase in hate crimes against transgender people. Mel also provided an update on the effort to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) at the state level. He indicated that while it has passed in the Assembly, it has not passed the Senate. He also indicated that while several IDC members have supported the proposal, their support has not translated into the Republican/IDC majority to moving the legislation.
Mel also invited Jim Owles members to attend the United Through Action meeting this Thursday (March 9th) at 6pm.
Wrongful Conviction (podcast), Innocence Project, Legal Action Center (Jason Flom):
Jason discussed his long history of assisting wrongfully convicted people to get released. He discussed a current client, Jon-Adrian Velazquez, who was wrongfully convicted of the 1997 murder of an NYPD officer. He mentioned that DNA evidence exonerating Mr. Velazquez, the major witness’s recanting of their testimony, a Dateline report indicating the faulty evidence against Mr. Velazquez, and an active campaign by Blind-Justice.org has not moved District Attorney Vance to reopen the case. There was discussion about additional actions that could be taken, including identifying a candidate to run against the District Attorney to raise this issue or picketing in front of the District Attorney’s home. The Club and Jason discussed maintaining communication about Mr. Velasquez and other cases.
NoIDCNY.org (Professor Susan Kang)
Professor Kang discussed the recent formation and growth of her organization. Over 500 people have joined the facebook page and their continued actions against State Senators Jose Peralto and Jesse Hamilton. In addition events to publically challenge and embarrass IDC members, NOIDCNY.org is seeking to recruiting candidates to run against 8 IDC members in 2018. There was discussion about continued cooperation between NoIDCNY.org and the Jim Owles Club.
Manhattan County Leader Keith Wright –
Discussed recent Democratic County Club activities,, including its handling of the Doris Ling Cohen re-nomination, his being County Leader and Working for Government Affairs for Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron LLP Law Firm, challenging the Trump Administration, and judicial selection reform.
Ali Najmi (Treasurer and Co-Founder Muslim Democratic Club) Reported increased involvement and activity since Trump Executive Orders that impacted the Muslim community. He also discussed two issues that are of interest to the Muslim community – The first is a proposal supported by his club that would change an existing TLC rule that any taxi driver lose their jobs upon an arrest, with a several month wait for reinstatement even if they are not guilty. Given the high percentage of Muslim taxi drivers, the Muslim Democratic Club would like to see the policy changed. proposed TLC rule change to not have taxi drivers immediately lose their job upon arrest. The second issue is to seek the reversal of a recent NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA) rule change to require minimum 30% foreign language speakers before requiring a senior center to have translation services. Jim Owle Club members offered to assist in any actions on these issues.
Arthur Schwartz – (New York Progressive Action Network) will be having a town hall regarding the Closing of Beth Israel Hospital. He requested Jim Owles Club be a co-sponsor, which was approved unanimously. Also requested Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club become an affiliate of the New York Progressive Action Network, which was also approved unanimously.
Branden Hayward was introduced as a new member.
Dan Roskoff Reported on the results of the Club’s City Council Report Card – based on 18 votes in the City Council. There was some concern that several members had lower scores because of absences rather than because of their specific votes. It was noted that the report would include the specific votes and if they were absent. There was also discussion about the press release that might accompany the Report Card to increase visibility.
Two motions approved by unanimous vote:
Jim Owles Club to be a co-sponsor of the Town Hall regarding the Closing of Beth Isreal Hospital
Jim Owles Club to be listed as an affiliate of the New York Progressive Action Network
Meeting adjourned at 4:55pm