Category: Government

Is IDC behavior back in style?

After the IDC (Independent Democratic Conference) we all swore not to be fooled again. No matter whether there was a “D”,  “R” or “WFP” after the name, we were going to watch the actions, instead of simply listening to the words.

Choice Matters has been doing exactly that – and, unfortunately, our findings are not good.

1. Westchester County Government solicited and accepted a Trump Administration HHS grant for abstinence-only education targeted at the most vulnerable – teens – mostly of color, living below the poverty line & designated as “high risk.”  That’s a huge problem. We are balancing our budget on the backs of the most vulnerable, and we are doing it with lies and half-truths.

Choice Matters successfully got the County to reject the abstinence-only, anti-gay intervention curriculum provider but they are still taking the grant money. Choice Matters will work with the County to find a viable curriculum provider who will provide comprehensive sex education. If we cannot, we must demand that the County return the grant.

3.  Another man – this time a Westchester County Democratic leader – told a room full of Democratic committee chairs to ignore whether Choice Matters rates a candidate as pro-choice or anti-choice. Why? Because he does not want his Democratic candidates who are anti-choice to be adversely impacted. He clearly thinks the “D” is more important than women’s constitutional rights.

4. A male candidate for County Court judge lambasted Choice Matters for rating him anti-choice, after all he said he was “pro-choice.” Then he went on to make our point for us by coming out in total opposition to minors’ rights. This candidate has no place on the Bench.

There is no more important an office than that of judge. Choice Matters is the only organization that interviews and rates judicial candidates.

Choice Matters is your feet on the ground. Please contribute today.

Oh, and fyi – let’s not forget the male presidential contender who entered the Democratic field two weeks ago. He thinks campaigning for anti-choice candidates is fine – even those who have a track record of co-sponsoring bills to restrict abortion rights. According to this presidential candidate, “…you can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.”

Really??? Women’s reproductive right is just one issue?? According to the Roe v. Wade decision, that one issue is a woman’s constitutional right. Maybe this candidate is willing to forfeit other constitutional rights, maybe those protecting People of Color or LGBTQ folks. Or is it only women’s rights that are expendable?

When you are playing fast and loose with constitutional rights, you never know what might go next! 

40 NYS-Based Organizations Join Choice Matters Demanding Passage of RHA

Groups Call For Immediate Passage Of The RHA
January 2019

We, the undersigned, ask that you vote for the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) of 2019 during this legislative session. The RHA secures and protects our health and reproductive rights by updating New York’s outdated abortion law passed back in 1970, prior to Roe v. Wade.

According to current state law, New York regulates abortion as a homicide in the penal code. The law as it stands fails to meet the constitutional standard of Roe and is out of step with modern medicine. With the Trump administration determined to limit abortion access and a new anti-Roe majority on the Supreme Court, time is of the utmost importance. This is why we ask that you pass the RHA NOW.

The Reproductive Health Act is important because it:

Updates our laws, securing and protecting the right to abortion in New York. The RHA enshrines in state law the constitutional standard of Roe, affirms reproductive freedoms, and allows New Yorkers to get safe and legal abortions.

Protects health care professionals who provide vital care. The RHA ensures that qualified health care providers with appropriate training and expertise can provide abortion services. This improves access to health care, especially for low income women, women of color and women in rural areas.

Treats abortion as health care, not a crime. The RHA moves the regulation of abortion from the penal code into public health law and repeals a Civil War-era law that criminalizes women who terminate a pregnancy without a medical provider.

Nearly eight out of 10 New Yorkers support protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion. Additionally, one in four women will access abortion care in their lifetime. We want to make sure that New York offers the fullest protections when it comes to reproductive health care.

The policies of the Trump administration and the new Supreme Court make it unsafe and irresponsible for New York to rely on federal protections to ensure our basic rights. ​We need state protections, and we expect our elected officials to show real leadership in defending abortion access.

With your support, New York State can be a national leader when it comes to abortion access and the reproductive rights of women. We strongly urge members of both houses of the legislature to support the Reproductive Health Act of 2019.

WCLA – Choice Matters, the oldest ongoing pro-choice advocacy organization in the nation, proudly joins with the following forty (40) New York State-based organizations, together representing thousands upon thousands of NYS residents, to ask NYS Governor Cuomo, the NYS Senate and the NYS Assembly to pass the Reproductive Health Act into law NOW.

WCLA – Choice Matters stands with the following 40 NYS-based Organizations
Action Together – Northern Westchester
American Muslims Indivisible
Briarcliff Ossining Indivisible
CCoHope Indivisible (Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill)
CD17Indivisible
Coalition New York
Concerned Citizens for Change
Cortlandt Democratic Committee
Croton Democratic Committee
Croton in Action
Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee
Indivisible New Rochelle
Indivisible Pawling
Indivisible Districts 6 & 7
Indivisible New York
Indivisible Rivertowns
Indivisible Scarsdale
Indivisible Westchester
Indivisible Yorktown NY
Irvington Activists
LarchForward
Left of Main Street
Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network
March on Peekskill
New York Progressive Action Network
Northern Westchester Indivisible
Philipstown Women Are Watching
Progressive Women of New York
Progressive Women of Pelham
Putnam Progressives
Rockland Citizens Action Network
Rockland United
Up2Us
Uptown Progressive Action
WE PERSIST
Westchester Black Political Conference
Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus
Westchester for Change
Westchester Young Democrats
Westchester Women’s Democratic Alliance

“After 242 years, a woman is in charge of the State Senate”*

On Wednesday, January 8th, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins was voted Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader by her colleagues.

This is the official end of the “3-men-in-a-room” NYS governing process!

AND – In the newly-elected NYS Senate, now 20 of the 63-member body are women – (Still not an accurate reflection of the State’s gender make-up but a heck of a lot better!)

The changing demographics of New York State are more clearly reflected by this Senate body than any before it. Among the newly-elected senators are the first Muslim, first Iranian American, first Chinese America, first Salvadoran American, first Costa Rican American, first Indian American and two Colombian Americans.

And in the NYS Assembly, For The First Time EVER

For the first time in the State’s history, a woman, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, was named Assembly Majority Leader. Surrounding Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes were 50 women which is a record number for the Assembly.

Approximately 32% of those serving in the NYS Senate and Assembly in 2019 are women. Nevada has the highest percentage in the country of women serving in its State legislature, with 51% being women.

Assembly Majority Leader, Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes said, “I’m not sure I can put into words how insurmountable I think the significance of this day is. It’s exciting. It’s to some extent overwhelming. It’s humbling.”

Governor Cuomo did not attend the opening session of either the NYS Senate or the NYS Assembly.

*For more information, read The Buffalo News, After 242 Years, a woman is in charge of the State Senate.

Witness Herstory in Albany!

Herstory in the Making!

Join us on Wednesday, January 9th, to witness the swearing-in of NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins to be the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate. (The Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus has a bus going to Albany. Click here for Details.)

Senator Stewart-Cousins will be the first female Majority Leader in the her-history of the New York State Senate.

Senator Stewart-Cousins will also be making her-history as the first female leader of either house in Albany.

Senator Stewart-Cousins’ historic mark is as an African-American woman assuming the mantle of a position until now only held by men.

With the support of the voters of NYS, Senator Stewart-Cousins is putting an end to “three men in a room”!

AND this could not happen at a more important time!

We are returning to the time of total states’ rights which means that the individual states will determine whether abortion is illegal, or not.

Congratulations to Majority Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and to the voters of NYS!

Onward!

Judges

The role personal perspective plays in judicial decisions is seismic, in all courts and at all levels – not just the US Supreme Court. Personal opinions do matter. Temperament, previous decisions and prior actions tell exactly what kind of judge a candidate will be. Personal bias affects how a judge treats those who come before her/him, the sentence imposed, the bail required, and more.

That is exactly why Donald Trump has been appointing only judges who the ultra-reactionary Federalist Society selects.

Every time you vote for judicial candidates, you are voting for someone with a personal history. That is exactly why WCLA – Choice Matters and WCLA PAC interview each judicial nominee, and if the nominee refuses to be interviewed, we rate accordingly. If someone wants to serve in the courts, we all need to know more. Saying, “I will follow the law” or “it is established law” generally means that the candidate does not want to share his/her view with you.

Just imagine the impact a judge’s view on reproductive rights can have in a state that requires parental notification/consent. To avoid informing her parent(s), a minor may apply for a judicial bypass, which means a judge can allow the girl to terminate the pregnancy if she/he deems the girl mature and capable of making the decision. If the judge is anti-choice, what are the chances he/she will permit the abortion? They can outright deny the abortion or simply draw out the decision until the window for a termination has passed. In Alabama, some judges even appoint an attorney to represent the fetus.

This year, for NYS Supreme Court Justices in the 9th Judicial District (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties) you can choose to vote for 6 qualified attorneys who have experience and great understanding of the issues confronting women and their families, or you can vote for their anti-choice opponents. Use your vote wisely.

Presidential Elections 2016

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. But my personal story is not so unique. That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it.

Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. I get it.

But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence.

More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. The men and women who gathered there could’ve heard many things. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq.

Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk.

We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.

Senate confirms judicial nominees

The Senate unanimously confirmed four of 38 pending judicial nominations Thursday evening, the first of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to be approved since September.

The nominees—Catherine Eagles, Kimberly Mueller, John Gibney, and James Bredar—are the longest delayed district court nominees, who were each reported out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously. The nominations for Eagles, Mueller and Gibney were sent to the full Senate in May and Bredar was reported out of the committee in June.

The White House hailed the confirmations but said the Senate must continue to act.

“We’re pleased that these four nominees have been confirmed, but urge the Senate to take action on the 34 nominees who remain on the calendar – particularly the 19 who would fill judicial emergencies,” said spokesman Josh Earnest.

Regan Lachapelle, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the four confirmations Thursday are “just a start” to clearing the backlog during this session.

“We are still working through the list and are committed to confirming as many judges as we can,” said Lachapelle. “We’ll take them when we can get them.”

This week, Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have negotiated a deal that could potentially break the bottleneck of Obama’s “uncontroversial” federal court nominees during the dwindling lame duck legislative session. These included most of the nominees who had been reported out of the Judiciary Committee by unanimous votes before November elections.

Still, there are a handful of circuit court nominees — whose nominations are rarer and typically receive greater scrutiny — still waiting for votes on the Senate floor, though they had been nominated as far back as November 2009.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy praised the confirmations and called on more to be confirmed to address districts facing judicial emergencies, including vacancies and backlogged dockets, across the country.

“These confirmations are long overdue,” Leahy said. “For months, these nominations have languished before the Senate, without explanation and for no reason. I hope these are the first of many confirmations by the Senate before we adjourn.”

GOP lawmakers have flagged three other nominees, including California law professor Goodwin Liu, as too liberal and inexperienced to be parceled with the rest of the non-controversial judicial candidates set for Senate confirmation.

“We’re pleased that these four nominees have been confirmed, but urge the Senate to take action on the 34 nominees who remain on the calendar – particularly the 19 who would fill judicial emergencies.”

Cutting Risk by Disclosing Political Donations

In politics, it often pays to be ahead of the curve. That holds true for corporate governance too, even more so when politics enter the equation.

That is why a small number of the nation’s largest corporations have voluntarily agreed to report their share of trade association outlays that go to fund political activities. Together, these firms encompass a virtual who’s who in the microcosm of corporate America. In doing so, this corporate vanguard has yielded to pressure from shareholder activist groups that targeted them as prime candidates for greater accountability and transparency.

But this trend also reflects the altered political climate in Washington — a climate personified by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the liberal chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and an advocate of what he calls “shareholder democracy.”

“Some companies get it, some don’t,” said Bruce Freed, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit and non-partisan shareholder advocacy group that is playing a key behind-the-scenes role in orchestrating the recent run of voluntary disclosures. “The ones that don’t get it,” he added, “are headed for a (shareholder) proxy vote.”

Veterans’ advocates hit the Hill

A group advocating the rights of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are on the Hill this week to press lawmakers on issues ranging from disability care to high rates of unemployment.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the largest organization for veterans of the wars, will host a series of events as a part of their Storm the Hill campaign this week, culminating in Thursday’s release of their legislative agenda for 2010.

Top priorities include improving the claims processing system for disabled veterans, addressing the suicide epidemic among service members and improving the Veterans Affairs Department’s health care services for women.

This is the fifth annual trip for the group, which was founded in 2004. Starting Monday, the veterans will form teams named for the military alphabet — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc. — and will meet with more than 100 lawmakers to discuss their issues.

The veterans were originally scheduled to meet with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, who died Monday.