Commission urged to push for campaign finance reform

From Newsday: November 26, 2013 by LAURA FIGUEROA / laura.figueroa@newsday.com

Speakers at a forum on public corruption this week said the state’s anti-corruption commission should push for campaign finance reform when it reports to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Dec. 1.

At the event Monday organized by the Long Island Progressive Coalition, the League of Women Voters of Nassau County, Common Cause New York and MoveOn.org, more than a dozen speakers said public financing of campaigns would help curb corruption because candidates and public officials would not be beholden to large donors.

“We have watched year after year as the big money contributions drown out the voices of ordinary New Yorkers,” said Susan Schilling, a Huntington resident and member of the coalition.

Lisa Tyson, director of the Massapequa-based Long Island Progressive Coalition, said the group would to forward testimony to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. Cuomo convened the panel in July to probe public corruption following the arrests of several state lawmakers on corruption charges.

Tyson said the groups decided to organize a local public hearing after learning that the Moreland Commission had scheduled hearings only in New York City and Albany.

“While we are glad that the Moreland Commission is doing the work of investigating public corruption, we were upset that they decided not to come to Long Island to hear from Long Islanders,” Tyson said.

Emails and calls to Cuomo’s press office seeking comment were not returned Tuesday.

Jonathan C. Clarke, a Levittown Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Nassau County Legislature against Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown) on Nov. 5, told about 40 spectators he spent about $1,000 on his campaign, choosing to focus less on fundraising than on speaking to district voters.

“This is a plea to politicians: Don’t worry so much about the money, worry about the message,” Clarke said.

Felix Procacci, a Franklin Square Democrat who lost on Nov. 5 to Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, said municipalities should post contracts online and provide online videos of all public meetings to increase transparency.

“Ultimately, what it comes down to is people need to know what their government is doing,” Procacci said.

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An Interns View: Unequal Education for All

By Rita Iosefson

It’s true. Not every school district on Long Island gets the same funding from New York State. As an elementary education major, my education and sociology classes have exposed me to the large funding gap between school districts. A study conducted at Columbia University Teachers College in 2009 demonstrated the alarming disparities among Long Island’s school districts. Researchers studied five different Long Island school districts, each representing a different demographic, and interviewed 75 school administrators, teachers, students, parents and school board members of these districts.

It is a known fact that resources are more easily diverted to wealthier districts, allowing these systems to offer a wider selection of courses and higher experienced teachers. Students in these districts have a greater chance of moving onto college than students in poorer districts. Poorer districts are challenged to attract better prepared educators and provide other enrichment opportunities.

I went to school in one of the more affluent school districts on Long Island. It is important that I don’t take for granted the opportunities I was given because of where I live. I was able to broadcast on my district funded radio station in high school and I participated in after school activities in middle school. My teachers encouraged me to take advanced classes that would earn me credit towards my bachelor’s degree. These privileges are unavailable to many students within a short driving distance of where I grew up. The Uniondale School District is about a twenty minute drive from my town. This district, along with other disadvantaged school districts on Long Island, has fewer teachers who have earned a master’s degree, as compared to wealthier districts, where 90% of teachers typically have earned a master’s degree.

As a future educator, I would be thankful to teach in a disadvantaged school district, to help bring its reputation up, in hopes of gaining funds from New York State. This is not the same for every aspiring educator, because of district reputations. High income schools, such as Locust Valley and Syosset, spend about $26,000 per student. Low income school districts, such as Roosevelt and Wyandanch, spend about $18,000 per student. This trend exists because lower funded school districts, on average, have to spend more on ESL programs than wealthier districts, leaving fewer funds available for other programs.

I have learned that many students are disadvantaged because their school district is unable to provide the “perks” that others can on our Island. I firmly support the Long Island Progressive Coalition in its efforts to ensure quality education for all of Long Island’s students.

Click here to read more on the study referenced in this post: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news.htm?articleId=7175

 

We Must Speak Up To End Corruption

The People's Commission to End Public CorruptionThe people of Long Island have an opportunity to make a difference and help bring fundamental change in our state government so that it listens to us and serves our interests.

Join the League of Women Voters of Nassau County and the Long Island Progressive Coalition for a People’s Commission to End Public Corruption on Monday November 25th at 6:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church at Shelter Rock.

Gov. Cuomo created the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption with two assignments: shed light on the way big money distorts state government and make recommendations for reform. We must make sure that the Commission recommends the only campaign finance reform that will really change the way Albany works. That is public matching for small dollar donations so candidates can raise enough money to campaign without relying on big money; a limit on the amount of contributions so candidates can’t depend on a few big donors; easy to find reporting on all contributions and spending; and a tough watchdog to enforce the rules.

The Moreland Commission held a few public hearings, but none on Long Island. So we are holding our own to let the Commission know what Long Islanders want. Testimony and the views of Long Island residents will be recorded and submitted to the Moreland Commission.

Please attend and speak up to End Public Corruption.

For more information please click here or contact Dan Fingas 516-541-1006 x17 or dfingas@lipc.org.

An Intern’s View: First Time Voting

By Dan Sobel

I want to preface this blog by mentioning that this past election was not the first time I’ve voted. I’ve voted a number of times, largely in federal elections, but state and local elections as well. I’ve done my civic duty before, yet it feels like this is the first election I truly voted in.

Before this year, elections were just a ritual to me: I go to some place where people vote, I sign my name on some uninteresting paper, I walked to some booth I didn’t care about, and either flicked switches or filled bubbles for nameless, faceless Democrats, for the party my family has always been supportive of. The elections never really mattered to me all that much. While I liked politics (I still do btw) I wasn’t so invested as to actually care about the outcomes.

This election was different for me in a number of ways. My work learning about local issues on Long Island with the LIPC and time I spent volunteering on the Suozzi campaign had me invested in the process in a way I had never been before. Making calls to fellow Democrats to drum up support for the campaign was quite a bit eye-opening for me; I knew of the general apathy that comes with local elections, but seeing it face-to-face is another experience entirely.

I will be graduating after this semester, so my thoughts are far more hardened and focused than they were before. Now these elections have a certifiable impact on my future. The expected victory of Bill de Blasio will mean more affordable housing for people like myself trying to enter the workforce in the city. Ed Mangano’s victory means just the opposite: my future in Nassau County (and probably the rest of Long Island) has greatly dimmed.

Voting this year was an entirely different experience for me. I walked to the designated voting center. I signed my name on a paper that shows I took part in this election. I went to a booth that ensures some measure of privacy. I once again voted for the Democrats, but this time with the purpose of preventing Republicans from pillaging the county. I even voted on some propositions; I took my time and read each proposition carefully until I understood each of them and voted decisively. This was an entirely new experience for me and I expect elections like these will help to shape me into the well-rounded person I want to become.

Dan’s View: An Introduction to Long Island

 

Dan Fingus PictureIt has been a fast paced and fun last 3 months that has brought me from my 11 year career in union, political, and community organizing in the Midwest to Long Island. Over these past few months I started a new job as Organizing Director for the LIPC, moved east, pretty far east (I have been told repeatedly) to Medford, and began to get an introduction to Long Island.

Long Island is a different place from the State of Michigan where I have been living since I was 14. In Michigan, we only have one party that attempts to represent progressives, one set of sports teams, and progressive political scene that is far more dominated by Unions than anything else. We also had space, lots of space between cities and towns.

I am really enjoying my education in Long Island; it’s been a fun experience learning the towns, streets and highways by number much more than by name, the Shores, the Forks, and about that little city to the west. I am also learning a lot about the fierce pride in Long Island. Not in any specific town or region, but on the Island as a whole and as a fantastic place with lots of beauty and opportunities, but also as a place that has a lot of challenges.

I am excited by the passion I see for social justice with members and supporters ready to Move Long Island Forward on issues as diverse as affordable housing; equality in education; fair, publicly financed elections; green, sustainable energy; and international trade deals that support the people and not corporations.

I am also excited to continue to meet our supporters, work with other progressive groups doing good work and hopefully getting the opportunity to travel to all the sights and towns I have heard so much about.

As with all new challenges it is all fresh and new and a little bit intimidating, but 2 months into Long Island I am excited for the challenge!

Recommended Reading: “Winning The Peace: The Post-Shutdown Challenge”

Richard Eskow

by Richard Eskow

Article reposted from the Campaign for America’s Future

 

It’s a major victory. The shutdown has ended, the government isn’t defaulting (at least not yet), and Democrats didn’t yield in the face of threats and bullying. But what happens next could shape our fate for many years to come.

Congratulations are in order. President Obama vowed not to negotiate over the debt ceiling, and he was as good as his word. He stood up to the closet ideologues of the artificial “center,” the ones who unwisely argued that being the “adult in the room” meant surrendering to the tantrums of children.

Sen. Harry Reid’s tough talk was matched by equally tough action. (Reid also deserves credit for coining the phrase “banana Republicans,” as pithy a summation of their approach to governance as we’ve seen.)

Once and Future Losses

But the celebrations are premature. Yes, the public is furious at Republicans – Tea Partiers and plain-vanilla GOP extremists alike – for causing so much damage in pursuit of an ideology so far outside the political mainstream. Most Americans have rejected the things Republicans stand for: their values, their priorities and their apocalyptic economic vision.

And yet, unless something changes, this deal will bend the next few months’ deliberations along the same misguided lines that have guided our political discourse for years now. House and Senate members will be encouraged to come up with a “deficit reduction plan” – in other words, to impose another round of cuts just like those which have already wounded the economy and shredded millions of jobs.

That’s hardly cause for celebration. The conservative Peter G. Peterson Foundation estimates that the “crisis driven fiscal policy” of the past several years has resulted in the loss of 900,000 jobs. Discretionary cuts of the kind that will be urged upon Congress have already cost us 1.2 million jobs, according to the study, and have resulted in a loss of 0.7 percent from the GDP.

Remember, these estimates are on the conservative end.

Continue reading…

http://ourfuture.org/20131016/winning-the-peace-the-post-shutdown-challenge

Intern’s View: Progressivism as a norm

Intern’s View: Progressivism as a norm

Orre Headshot
My name is Elin and I am an intern here at the Long Island Progressive Coalition. I was born and raised in in Norway, but decided to move to the United States for my undergraduate degree two years ago and I am currently a senior in international studies at LIU Post. The internship at the Long Island Progressive Coalition interested me because I wanted to learn more about local politics and develop an understanding of Long Island communities. Moving here has been life changing in several ways. I have learned a lot about political theories from my studies and I have learned a lot about how politics affect individuals from the people I have met.

It is nearly impossible for me to not make comparisons about the vastly different life I have in Norway and the one I have here on Long Island. While Norwegians value minimal differences and maximum welfare aid, most Americans seem to value just the opposite. When talking to Americans about what it’s like to live in a social democratic country they repeatedly ask about taxes, and sure, in Norway there is a higher tax level, but one way of looking at it is as a long-term investment in our well-being. We pay taxes to ensure benefits for ourselves and for others who might be worse off, we recognize the possibility of one day being in a less fortunate position ourselves, and the necessity of having a safety net. A variety of rankings demonstrate that Norwegians are capable of being happy and prosperous despite a higher tax level and government intervention. Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a very high standard of living, have one of the most functioning and stable governments in the world, high hourly wage, high level of equality and low unemployment. I believe that Norway is one of the best countries to live in because of what Americans would call progressive policies, but what we consider to be political and social norms. Our comprehensive welfare system provides us with among other things free universal health care and a free quality education. We fundamentally resent gross social inequality.

The level of inequality, distrust among people, and the necessity to put up borders to clearly mark social standing here on Long Island is shocking to me. I don’t understand the purpose of gated communities or how it is acceptable to let someone live in a bad school district that will likely lead to a worse education. I absolutely support what the LIPC stand for and the issues they work on. My wish is that America will in the future consider and implement more progressive policies to truly make it the greatest country in the world. I hope to live in this country for many years to come because this land of opportunity infatuates me, no matter how flawed or messy its politics can be at times.

Intern’s View: LIPC is helping me understand the inequalities around us

Intern’s View: LIPC is helping me understand the inequalities around us

My name is PJ Lydon and I am a senior in LIU POST.  I have been yearning for a calling in my life and I love to try out different things. Presently, I have four jobs and I am taking 18 credits this semester, my senior year.  My major is sociology with a minor in criminal justice.  My professor and I have been searching for the right internship for me since the spring, when I explained to her that I wanted to be able to help people in need.  My professor, knowing of LIPC’s desire to help Long Islanders with programs such as Power Up Communities, helped guide me to this internship.

I have been an intern in LIPC for just a under a month, here, I work Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.  I have been greeted by a wonderful staff and their diligence to the job inspires me, they are quite passionate about being able to help others. My supervisor is John Delaney, the Office Administrator.  Mr. Delaney is quite the well rounded gentleman, he is constantly working on various projects, is a pleasant speaker, as well as an enthusiastic mentor. With Mr. Delaney’s  guidance, I am doing research to help ensure further development of the organization, as well as making phone calls, which is one of the fundamentals of organizing the principles upon which the LIPC was founded upon.

My main goal is to be a College Professor, one who is able to recognize the social inequalities that face many Americans daily. It is a goal of mind to have the ability to have a job working with emerging adults; I truly enjoy working with people, this has led me to volunteer on campus for a program in which I mentor and guide fellow students studying here from aboard.  The youth are the key in solving inequalities, by learning about the different inequalities of intersectionality.

One area I hope to learn more about and research is gangs.  Their social structures fascinate me; in researching different gangs; I could focus on the reasons why people join them, what draws them to this way of life, and learn about what happens when members leave the gang and rejoin society.  I want there to be a sense of justice in our political system and show people with my research that there needs to be more awareness of the consequences of these need to more aware of the consequences of gangs.

I want a vast knowledge of the inequalities that communities face, the LIPC has been able to show me that working as a whole we could slowly eliminate inequalities and help save people’s money and improve the lives of Long Islanders.  My goal is to improve myself one day at a time; I want to grow my mind, body and soul.

John’s View: Long Island is My Future; will you help Move It Forward?

John’s View: Long Island is My Future; will you help Move It Forward?

johndelaneyheadshot

What does Long Island mean to you? Does it mean a place with a quality education for your children and grandchildren? Does it mean being able to afford a home or apartment in the town you grew up in? Or, perhaps it means breathing in fresh ocean air, having clean water to swim and fish in; an Island where you can live to dream of the future?

Growing up on Long Island, I have seen so much change in the last thirty years. My apprehension is that  the concrete wave of New York City is slowly engulfing the suburbs and the remaining woods and farmlands once dominate on this island will soon be gone. There are many worries I have for this Island.  I fear the brown tide that wreaks havoc on our coastal line; I fear our children are being left behind and I fear that building has become a priority and restoration as all but been forgotten.

But alas, as I fear for our future, I can still visualize the possibility of what is to come.  River otters that have disappearedfrom our rivers and streams will return once again to make their homes.  Farmer markets will thrive in multiple towns and parents, families, and activists will work together to ensure our children will receive the good quality education they deserve. Take a stroll around Stony Brook Campus, once a maze of concrete, it has become beautiful and sustainable, a place where an island resurgence has begun. Our island is set for a revitalization, one of social, economics, and sustainability.

My future is Long Island and it is why I work at the Long Island Progressive Coalition, this is why the LIPC fights for the future of this island, to move Long Island forward.
To continue this necessary work, the LIPC needs your help.
Your donations are our lifeblood, our way of organizing, creating jobs for the future, and helping act as a leader for the Long Island progressive landscape.

I ask that you to become a sustaining member; a $10 a month donation can give LIPC the opportunity to grow stronger, create jobs, and fight corruption that occurs on this island daily, to make sure you and future generations of Long Islanders can continue to call this island home.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of LIPC for $10 a month.  Together we can Move Long Island Forward.

John H. Delaney, Office Administrator