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  • Writer's pictureBen Yee

More Policy, More Candidates, More...Measles

Hey everyone,

There’s a lot to cover.

Aside from the ever popular recap of the news, don’t miss the expanding section on policy proposals of the Democratic hopefuls. Expectations have been set and now more and more candidates are releasing long form policy ideas on the issue they think are the most important to Americans.

Also, there's two more Democratic Presidential candidates.

Finally, if you missed last week’s update on the State Committee, you should definitely check that out.


Assembly Speaker and Top Dems Get Big Money From Corporations, $50 or Less From Voters

Good government group Reinvent Albany reports that only 16% of funds raised for last year’s election year by Speaker Heastie and other Democratic leaders came from in-district donations, the rest from business and out-of-district interests. Heastie, who ran unopposed, collected $763,686 during the last election year, with a single $50-donation from a constituent of his district.

Speaker Heastie defends the donations he received from the likes of Anheuser-Busch and supermarket magnate John Castimatidis, saying he used them to help fellow Dems in the Bronx, NY state, and beyond. But Reinvent Albany’s Alex Camarda argues for statewide campaign finance reform that would put the power of influence in the hands of constituents rather than deep-pocketed companies and special interests outside a representative’s district.

Measles Outbreak Spreads to Two New Boroughs With 550 Total Confirmed Cases

The measles outbreak which started in Williamsburg has spread to Manhattan and Staten Island. There have been over 550 total cases since the outbreak began in October.

Last April the Mayor required mandatory vaccinations in six Williamsburg zipcodes with the penalty of a $1,000 fine. Since then, 123 have been fined for violation of the order and some schools have been temporarily shut down for non-compliance.

Cuomo Stops Short of Endorsing Drivers Licenses for Immigrants

On Friday during a radio interview, Gov. Cuomo stopped short of a full endorsement granting driver's licenses for immigrants stating “I want to make sure people on the road have a driver’s license and have taken a test and are qualified...From a state point of view, we don’t do immigration policy. Yes, I support it, it is very controversial. But people often overlook the public safety standpoint, especially with this immigration debate.” Democratic lawmakers are largely supportive of granting undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses.

Some critics of the bill have been able to change minor aspects of it, such as permitting law enforcement to perform background checks during traffic stops. Republicans have called for carve outs for county clerks who manage local motor vehicle offices to be exempt from issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants, essentially undermining the purpose of the bill.

Queens Community Board Begins Committee Focused on Immigrant Needs

Queens Community Board 3 launched a new committee focused on immigrant needs. Topics will include affordable housing, senior housing, public transportation, and adult English education. Community Board 3 represents Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, and North Corona, neighborhoods which are heavily concentrated with immigrant families.

The Committee for Immigration Affairs, as it’s officially known, held its first meeting May 9. Longtime board member and veteran, Lobsang Salaka, chairs the committee. Salaka is advocating to have more members of the community involved with CB3 by hosting cultural fairs, along with “Immigration Story Sharing.”

Cuomo Says He Will Run for Fourth Term

The New York state governorship has no term limits, so Governor Cuomo is welcome to run as long as can. But if Cuomo wins a 4th term, he will only be the second in the state’s history to do so (the other was Nelson Rockefeller). The governor declined to enter the 2020 presidential race, and he says he has had enough of serving in federal government. "I believe I'm making a difference in the state of New York. I believe that in my heart," Cuomo said.

MTA Metrocard Replacement OMNY System Goes Live

This Friday, MTA riders will see the new OMNY tap-and-pay system in 16 subway stations along the 4 5 6 subway lines and on all Staten Island buses. The new system scans a smart phone or contactless credit card and will be cashless until the entire MTA system is outfitted, which is expected to happen by 2023. Don’t worry, cash will always continue to be accepted by MTA.

Amazon Looks to Return to New York City

Contrary to the polemicists saying rejecting Amazon would destroy New York City, Amazon has already made an about face and is hunting for real estate in Manhattan. Amazon already employs 5000 workers in the city and now needs “at least 100,000 square feet or much more,” according the the NY Post’s sources. The company appears to be looking at new skyscrapers near Penn Station and could set up residence as early as this fall. Yet another demonstration that the tax-cut race to the bottom is a weapon of corporate strategy, not its motivation.


ICE has detained yet another New Yorker. This time a Chinese immigrant who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen who was detained while attending his interview for a Green Card application. Though a judge reunited Xiu Qing You with his wife and children after a month of separation, ICE’s attempts to deport him continue.

There will be a rally against ICE’s underhanded deportation tactics and for You’s case on Monday, June 3 at 26 Federal Plaza (outside the courthouse).


Major Labor Union to Announce New Endorsement Policy for 2020

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will unveil a new endorsement process for the 2020 Presidential election. The plan will empower rank and file members to have more of a say instead of top brass making decisions behind closed doors as was done previously.

The new formula requires multiple steps, where members will first vote online for a candidate of their choice. The executive committee will then make decisions based on the outcome of the votes. The union along with their national executive committee, will then make an endorsement in the Republican and Democratic fields after Super Tuesday. Following the Super Tuesday announcement, the union will decide on a general election endorsement at their convention where union delegates will vote. That decision will be voted on in September 2020. Unions are historically in support of the Democratic candidate.

Sanders, Ocasio Cortez Propose 15% Cap Credit on Credit Card Interest

After lambasting mortgage banks as “loan sharks” Freshman Democrat Rep. Ocasio Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled new legislation proposing a federal limit of fifteen percent on credit card interest rates.

The legislation would also allow post offices to offer low-cost basic financial services, such as loans and checking and savings accounts. The plan would permit more than 30,000 post offices to provide banking services for low-income Americans who don’t have access to banks. The legislation is unlikely to make it through a Republican controlled Senate.

USDA Unveils $16 Billion Aid Package for Farmers

The Agriculture Department announced it would provide $16 billion in aid for farmers affected by the retaliatory tariffs. A majority of the aid package, $14.5 billion, will be direct payments to farmers producing a wide range of crops and produce. The Agriculture Department also plans to purchase $1.4 billion worth of surplus commodities and $100 million in programs promoting U.S. farm products overseas. Trump suggested using tariff revenue to fund the farmer support, but the USDA will instead use funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation.

While the administration paints a picture of small farmers around the country benefitting, almost all of the money from this package, as well as last year’s $12 billion relief program, has gone to large agri-business.

Weapons Package Worth $8 Billion Approved, Despite Objections

The Trump administration notified Congress it plans to sell $8.1 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates without its approval. The move is an attempt to deter Iran and Iranian backed forces in the region.

The Trump administration used a loophole in the Arms Export Control Act which allows it to bypass Congressional approval in case of an emergency. Even though Secretary of State Pompeo reiterated that “this would be a one-time event...The specific measure does not alter our long standing arms transfer review process with Congress,” the move was ultimately unpopular on both sides of the aisle.

Trump Offers Pardon to Alleged War Criminal

The saga of Special Operations Chief Edward “Blade” Gallagher is a long one. A decorated SEAL veteran, Gallagher’s troops in Iraq have stated that they witnessed his indiscriminate murder of civilians. After sustained and often stymied efforts to raise their concerns up the chain of command, Gallagher was finally arrested and his trial scheduled to begin May 28.

Many conservatives consider Gallagher a hero and have called for his release. Trump recently said that he was looking at pardoning two or three soldiers facing charges of war crimes. Though he would not say who, he hinted heavily that one of them was Gallagher.

Mueller Speaks

Robert Mueller spoke live for 10 minutes on Wednesday morning and said five things:

  1. Everything I have to say is in the report.

  2. I am choosing to reiterate in my very short speech that if we felt the President did not commit a crime, that would be in the report.

  3. I am also choosing to reiterate that we *could not* charge a sitting President. Only Congress can take action against a sitting President.

  4. I don't want to have to do this again. Congress, don't call me.

  5. The central allegation of our indictments was "there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American."

Intelligence Officer Who Leaked About Russian Hacking In Prison

Remember that time a whistle-blower leaked that Russia was hacking US elections and all anyone talked about was her name, Reality Winner?

She’s in jail for five years after pleading guilty to releasing a single document detailing the Russian hacking of US voting machines. Winner is the first whistle-blower arrested in the Trump era.



Sanders Releases Education Platform

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders released his ten-point education platform on Saturday, calling for a massive reform of the current education system.

Sander’s plan, revealed on the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, would triple Title I funding for schools that serve a lower-income demographic. The plan would set a national salary for teachers at $60,000 a year and provide universal school meals year round.

The plan also calls for a ban on for-profit charter schools, and current nonprofit charters would be subject to the same government oversight as public schools. Sanders would require that half of a charter school’s board be comprised of parents and teachers, and he also wants charter schools to disclose certain funding and student data.

Also in the plan, Sanders would provide federal funding towards a desegregation effort. His administration would invest $1 billion annually towards magnet schools, establish a per-student spending floor, increase funding for teacher trainings, and rethink the connection between property taxes and school funding. The current funding system nominally creates disparities in favor of wealthier neighborhoods.

Biden Releases Education Plan

Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden unveiled his plan for education on Tuesday as his first major policy proposal of the campaign. Biden takes a more centrist approach towards education.

A Biden administration would triple Title I funding, which is designated for school districts where a majority of students are living below the poverty line. Biden also promises to reform the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program providing educators an easier path to pay off their student loans.

Biden wants to double the number of school psychologists, guidance counselors, and health professionals. Federal funding for students with disabilities would be guaranteed and assault weapons with high-capacity magazines would be banned from schools.

Biden also supports universal pre-kindergarten for 3 and 4-year-olds.

Castro Unveils Education Reform Plan

Former Obama HUD Secretary and Texas Rep. Julian Castro unveiled his plan for education reform Monday. The plan calls for guaranteed universal free college and pre-kindergarten education for 3 and 4-year-olds. He is calling the plan “People’s First Education,” and it would be funded by a grant program to state and local governments.

Castro also proposes to eliminate tuition at public colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical and vocational schools. Incentives would be provided to reduce other outstanding fees. Castro plans to address student loan debt by capping monthly payments at $0 with no interest exceeding three years of debt. Students would be exempted to pay the debt until they are earning at least 250% of the federal poverty line.

The “People’s First Education” plan would allocate funds to Historically Black Colleges and institute reforms to radically diminish demographic disparities among students.

Castro would make a $150 billion investment in schools from elementary to high school.

A federal tax credit would also be instituted increasing teachers’ pay by up to $10,000.


Harris Unveils Abortion Platform

As former Vice President Joe Biden released his education platform at a UFT town hall on Tuesday, California Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled her plan for abortion simultaneously. As states throughout the south and midwest continue to ban abortion, Harris makes it clear her plan would require states to pre-clear any new reproductive health laws with the Department of Justice, essentially treating abortion as a civil rights issue.

Specifically, Harris would provide patients and healthcare providers the ability to sue the DOJ if abortion rights laws are not upheld under Roe v. Wade and the Women’s Health Protection Act. Women’s rights advocates proclaim that her unique proposal is particularly bold.

Warren Releases Abortion Platform

Massachusetts Senator Warren released her campaign platform for abortion rights. The plan calls on Congress to allow for guaranteed abortions around the country. Not only is Sen. Warren calling on Congress to federally guarantee abortion rights, but her platform also calls for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment is known for banning federal funding for most abortions and also bans federal legislation preventing states from passing medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion clinics. The reversal would allow programs like Medicaid to cover abortion expenses.

Warren is also calling for a reversal of the Trump administration’s gag rule, which prevents providers who receive federal family planning funds from recommending or providing abortions. The gag rule disallows federal funding for abortion clinics under Title X, which serves as a funding stream for low-income Americans, and also strips funding from Planned Parenthood. The rule is currently blocked by the courts, but Warren’s plan calls for it to be permanently banned.

Warren’s plan also calls for a ban on TRAP (Targeted Regulation on Abortion Providers) laws. Many states have TRAP laws that require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Anti-abortion activists say these regulations are necessary to protect women’s health, but doctors say otherwise. Warren is calling for the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act which bans states from passing restrictions on abortion clinics that do not provide a guaranteed safety net for women’s health.

None of this legislation is likely to pass with the current makeup of Congress.

Biden Releases ‘Middle of the Road’ Climate Plan

Former Vice President Joe Biden released his climate plan which attempts to appeal to both climate activists and blue-collar workers.

The plan will call for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord while also preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency. The policy, still in the works, could also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options such as natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limits emissions from facilities such as coal plants.

Biden has already received criticism from activists on the left like the Sunrise Movement and fellow candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Jay Inslee who have referred to Biden’s approach as incrementalism. Specifically, Inslee said in a statement, “The times and science have changed. We cannot simply go back to the past; we need a bold climate plan for our future.” Sen. Sanders released a similar statement on Twitter: “There is no middle ground when it comes to climate policy.”

Warren Releases Legislation to Fight Opioid Addiction

Ahead of her campaign stops to the Appalachian region, an area heavily affected by the opioid crisis, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has released updated legislation to combat the problem. The plan, released in conjunction with Rep. Elijah Cummings, would permit Congress to fund over $100 billion over 10 years to combat the crisis.

The plan is heavily influenced by the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act, which serves as the biggest federally funded AIDS initiative. The plan would be paid for by a wealth tax, applying to those earning $50 million or more.

Warren’s legislation focuses on evidence-based treatments for substance abuse, training additional treatment providers, and creating a grant program to help individuals find and keep jobs while undergoing treatment.


Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Enters Presidential Campaign

Montana Governor Steve Bullock officially launched his presidential campaign last Tuesday. Bullock successfully won three statewide campaigns in multiple years where a Republican presidential nominee captured the state. Trump won Montana by 20 points in 2016. Bullock previously served as Attorney General in Montana and ran the Democratic Governors Association in 2015.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet Announces Presidential Campaign

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet announced his presidential campaign on Thursday, becoming the seventh sitting Senator in the crowded field. The Colorado Senator was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer but was declared cancer free shortly thereafter. Bennet plans to embrace his more pragmatic, blue collar Democrat qualities. His boss, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, is also running for the nomination.


Drinking Liberally Anniversary

Thursday, May 30⋅6:00 – 8:00pm

Rudy's 627 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036, USA

James Felton Keith Universal Basic Income Town Hall

Thursday, May 30⋅6:30 – 8:30pm

Kat Brezler Fundraiser for White Plains Commons Council

Friday, May 31⋅6:00 – 8:00pm

No New Jails Letter Writing Night

Saturday, June 1⋅6:00 – 9:00pm

Rally for Xiu Qing You at 26 Federal Plaza

Monday, June 3⋅11:00am – 12:00pm

26 Federal Plaza

Mark Levine Fundraiser

Monday, June 3⋅6:00 – 8:00pm


James Felton Keith for Congress Kickoff (NY-13)

Tuesday, June 4⋅6:30 – 8:30pm

50 Sutton Pl, New York, NY 10022, USA

More info:

Dare to Run Official Launch Party!

Thursday, June 6⋅7:00 – 10:00pm


Dare to Run officially turns 2 this year! Join us as we celebrate our 2nd birthday and everything we've accomplished thus far. Also, join us as we kickstart our training programs for August of 2019! Information about classes/training schedules will be available! This is a fundraiser for the first cohort of Dare to Run.

Dan Quart Fundraiser

Monday, June 10⋅6:00 – 7:00pm

517 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10017, USA

County Committee & Parliamentary Procedure 101

Wednesday, June 12⋅6:30 – 8:30pm

73 Wave St, Staten Island, NY 10304, USA

Village Independent Democrats Monthly Meeting

Thursday, June 13⋅6:30 – 9:00pm

Monthly on the second Thursday

83 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014, USA


In the St. John's Lutheran Church Annex

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