Views From 90 Penn- Celebrating 10 Years of Progressive Politics

 

10 years of  Progressive Politics on Long Island

I recently found the program from the ten-year celebration of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, times have changed and maybe some names but the issues remain and we must continue to strive for results. There is work to be done still, in Affordable Housing, for Fair Elections, for developing Energy Efficient homes and Equal Education for all, in solidarity; we will make a better Long Island for the future.

March 15th is growing close and once again, it will be time to celebrate the Long Island Progressive Coalition. This year is our 35th year, as you, our members, our supporters, our brothers and sisters in the unions, our Board of Trustees, and my colleagues on staff both past and present, have worked so hard over the years in order to move Long Island Forward, let us celebrate our accomplishments.

I ask you to join us on March 15, 2014, to celebrate and honor those Long Islanders that have made a difference in the Progressive landscape that shape this island. If you cannot join us; I implore you to make a contribution to the LIPC, any donation allows us to grow and become stronger to fight for social, racial, and economic justice for you, our fellow Long Islanders and most importantly for the youth and the future.

I thank you all for your continued support and hope to see you in March: it is an event not to be missed.

Kind thoughts to all,

John Delaney
John H. Delaney

Administrative Director

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

 

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!

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

An Interns View: Local Elections Matter, but No One Votes

My name is Dan and I’m doing an internship with the Long Island Progressive Coalition. I currently attend classes at LIU Post as a Political Science major. Having an educational background on politics and political history, I figured that working with an organization dedicated to progressive, grass-roots agendas would be a great learning experience, both for myself and my studies.

An Interns View: Local Elections Matter, but No One Votes

Sobel Photo

My name is Dan and I’m doing an internship with the Long Island Progressive Coalition. I currently attend classes at LIU Post as a Political Science major. Having an educational background on politics and political history, I figured that working with an organization dedicated to progressive, grass-roots agendas would be a great learning experience, both for myself and my studies.

From my studies I have learned some very interesting facts about politics in general. Perhaps the most important thing I have come to realize is the importance of local governance, local elections, and the politics that surround them.

Recently, Thomas Suozzi won the Democratic Primary and is set to run against Edward Mangano for the seat of Nassau County Executive. The position of County Executive is an important responsibility that includes not-insignificant tasks like formulating county policy and creating the county budget. This Primary, like other local elections, can have a greater impact on people’s lives than many of the Federal elections. And yet, only 5% of registered Democrats in Nassau County actually turned out to vote. In essence, Suozzi represents a majority of 5% of Democrats.

My studies have also shown me that this is not even that unusual at all!

Voter turnout rates seem to have a positive relationship with the height of the elections: the higher the office being contested, the more people turn out to the polling booths. Our country’s voter pyramid is upside-down; the Presidential elections will get around 50-60% of voters and local elections will get maybe 15-20% of voters. The fact that this trend has largely been rock-solid is harrowing to say the least.

The thing is that, even knowing how important these elections are, I actually rarely vote in local elections. Most of the advertising is lost on me as I don’t really watch regular TV anymore (thank you Netflix). The billboards and lawn signs telling me to support this candidate or that candidate fall on deaf ears: if I cared about these guys I wouldn’t need a sign to tell me to vote for them, and if I didn’t care, how would a sign with some guy’s name in colored writing convince me otherwise? And so these elections just pass me by like cars on the road, seemingly unworthy of even a passing glance.

If I could I’d go back and kick myself for my apathy, then proceed to vote in my own stead. Every vote counts, as all the Presidential recount debacles should illustrate. Especially for the Primaries: wouldn’t I want my potential County Executive to be someone I personally support, rather than just some relatively nameless upwardly-mobile politician who may not even care about my interests?

Learning these truths about politics has only redoubled my efforts in working for the LIPC. Working for a progressive, grass-roots organization will put me in unique positions not too many people get to witness: interacting with Democrats across the Island, organizing meetings with like-minded organizations, collating relevant data about targeted communities. By the end of my internship, I intend to have a far more nuanced view of these kinds of organizations and the work they struggle for. And I think all of us, as ordinary Americans, can benefit from the continued efforts of organizations like the LIPC to better our lives against increasingly overwhelming odds.

Rashad’s View: Mastic Beach 7 Months after Sandy

Things I saw in Mastic Beach, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and the importance of Disaster Case Managers.

Rashad’s View: Mastic Beach 7 Months after Sandy

Rashad
In this blog, I wanted to talk about a recent project I had been working on in Mastic Beach to reflect on the things I saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the importance of Disaster Case Managers.

 

In June, The United Way of Long Island partnered with the Long Island Progressive Coalition to introduce a program that offered relief to homeowners who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.  The program offered energy saving improvements to the first 20 eligible homeowners in Mastic Beach, an area that did not receive nearly as much government aid as areas such as Long Beach or Lindenhurst, though Mastic Beach had incurred a large amount of damage. I wondered, however, how bad could Mastic Beach be 7 months after the storm hit?

 

The program was geared towards helping homeowners who were practically finished with their rebuild process.  By offering energy efficiency measures, homeowners would be able to save money on their energy bills for years to come after having spent so much piecing their lives back together.  Due to the amount of time that had passed, I believed the task would be easy in finding homeowners who were ready for the energy efficiency measures that included insulation and air-sealing.

 

Mastic’s Green Energy Initiative was introduced during a Town Hall meeting in the newly incorporated village of Mastic Beach. Seated next to a Disaster Case Manager (Groups dedicated to assisting disaster survivors with their recovery), we were able to obtain a substantial amount of leads and felt confident that we were going in the right direction.  I believed the project would be over in about a week and I would return to my regular position as an organizer for PowerUp Communities, the LIPC’S energy efficiency program.

 

A week after the Town Hall meeting, I made my first visit to Mastic Beach to get a map of the area that was affected by the storm to obtain more leads.  As a Nassau resident, the furthest I had ever ventured into Suffolk County was Huntington, which was practically on the border between the two counties.  I was pleasantly surprised by the different atmosphere that Suffolk had to offer.  Whereas Nassau County was more of a suburban area, Suffolk County offered a much more rural feel with its tall grass and expansive wildlife.  For the first time, I witnessed wild deer grazing and interacting and found myself enthralled by the simple beauty that nature had to offer.  Moments later, as I crossed into the flood zone, I was taken aback by the devastation that same beauty had caused.

 

Large dumpsters lined driveways as homeowners worked to gut their own houses.  Tarps replaced what was once a sturdy roof.  Trailers were now on properties because the home itself was uninhabitable. I saw plenty of red stickers in windows, indicating that these homes were no longer livable, if the homes were even left.  Some homes were nothing more than beams and floorboards.  I knew then that the task I had set out to complete would not be as easy as I had expected.

 

7 months after and the half of the community was still in shambles.  Everyone needed assistance, often times more than what our program had to offer.  The majority of homeowners needed to have their homes raised after the flood since the flood plane had changed.  Problem was, that component of rebuilding would cost about $40,000, well above the means for most working class families in the area.  A lot of homes would not qualify for our program, but these homeowners still needed assistance…How could I help?

 

Disaster case managers became the lifeline for homeowners in Mastic Beach.  Unlike FEMA representatives, Disaster case managers are local entities/charities that help with disaster relief.  Case managers are able to secure funds for issues that insurances wouldn’t cover and at times, are even able to secure FEMA funding from a case that may have initially been turned down.  Anyone who was unable to go through the Green Initiatives program was referred to a Disaster Case manager, all of whom had a plethora of options when it came to solving homeowner issues.

 

I realized how truly naïve I had been by the beginning of August. I had found the 20 eligible homeowners for the Green Initiatives program, setting up almost 3 times as many homeowners with DCMS.  I thought 7 months was more than enough time for people to get back on their feet, for the proper amount of aid to have been dispersed, and for some sort of normalcy to have returned. But 7 months could not repair a lifetime of memories and belongings, washed away one stormy night in October.  Without DCMS and the United Way, many homeowners would still be unsure of how to move forward or how to apply for aid that they are qualified for.  I am thankful that I was able to work with the United Way and the various Disaster Case Managers to help homeowners in Mastic Beach on their road to recovery since Hurricane Sandy.

 

An Intern’s view: Media on Long Island

An Intern’s view: Media on Long Island
Rita
Hi! My name is Rita and I’m an intern here at the Long Island Progressive Coalition.  This is the first of a number of blogs we’ll be posting on our site. Currently, I am a childhood education major with a concentration in sociology at LIU Post on Long Island. I am an avid tweeter and lover of pop-culture blogs. Now that I have properly introduced myself, I’d like to get to writing about what I have been thinking about since I started interning here two weeks ago.
I have journal entries to write as a part of this internship, and one of the questions I am currently answering is about the mass media and how it affects LIPC. When speaking with Dan, our organizing director, he raised an interesting point that had me thinking- how and what does the media report to us “consumers” as we sit and watch the news during dinner or as we read our daily newspaper? In one of my sociology classes, I learned that the media tells us what they want us to know. It’s obvious of course that we do not get the whole story, and sometimes what we’re told is misconstrued, but we listen anyway because, we think, what choice do we have?
I watch News 12 in the morning while I enjoy my blueberry muffin, and it being Long Island’s local news station, I expect to hear news relating to my community. I am informed about what is going on, but what do newscasters typically report? When perusing the Long Island homepage on their website, I realize I am only being told about the assaults, violent robberies, and chemicals in my drinking water. Why is it that nothing on the homepage is positive? I know for a fact that the students at the local schools are constantly receiving awards and the student-run groups at local colleges are doing community service to try to make Long Island a better place. Why is this not on the homepage? Does media think we only want to be bombarded with the negatives? I encourage Long Islanders to explore the websites of your local news stations to discover the good that is happening in your community. There is information about education, and there are family friendly events in your town that may not be on the front page online or in the breaking news segment on the television.
The mass media has a huge affect on our society and how we work here at LIPC. Currently, an issue that we’re working on is that of fair elections. There are many facets of an election process that we, as media consumers on LI, do not see. We don’t go behind the scenes, and we trust our media providers do this for us. I think it is so important to read up on the issues that we care about, especially those affecting us here on Long Island.