Category: Westchester County

Voting – Why Bother? Part Two

After the 2016 Presidential election, any enthusiasm people had about voting was torn away. How could Donald Trump still be president after it was exposed that the election was fraught with Russian meddling, and with the majority of votes —more than 3 million— being cast for Hillary Clinton? Many of us lived in denial up until the moment of the inauguration.

It was truly an election that made you wonder what the point was in voting.

But then reality hit like a ton of bricks. Yes, we’re living in the time of Donald Trump, and yes, we’re angry, but that doesn’t mean we give up control and let other people rule —  quite the opposite, in fact.

In times when it feels like so much is out of our control, voting is one of the few means we have to exercise decision-making power. The reality is that voter turnout is historically low in this country. In turn, when voter turnout is low, every single vote cast counts more. A single vote can make the difference.

Elections can be so close that they result in a tie, like in Irvington, NY[1] or in Virginia this year. One was decided by the flip of coin and the other by the drawing of one name out of a can[2]. NYS Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins lost by 18 votes in 2004[3], and then turned around and won in 2006.  In the 2016 New York State Senate race for the 8th district seat, Democrat John Brooks beat Republican incumbent Michael Venditto[4] by only 33 votes out of 128,965 votes cast.[5]

Even more recently, the 2017 Alabama Special Election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions showed the importance of individual votes. The unimaginable actually happened: Alabama voters elected a Democrat to the Senate. Doug Jones claimed victory over his Republican opponent, Roy Moore. Jones won by around 20,000 votes. That was the first time a Democrat won in Alabama in decades. If those voters had stayed home because they thought a Democrat could never win, a child molester would have been elected.

Still not convinced that going to the polls makes a difference? In September of 1975, the closest Senate election ever took place. After two separate recounts, the original win by Wyman of 355 votes was narrowed down to a two (2) vote margin.[6] This is the best possible example of why the votes of individual citizens matter. In this race every vote truly did count and matter.

A good time to sit out on an election is NEVER. Every election from school board to president matters. You have to start at the base to build a pyramid.

Granted, it’s impossible to know when your vote could change history. But do you really want to risk it? After all, if you sit out an election, you’re giving up control of your life to others. You’re letting go of the only control you have of who governs you and how.

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[1] https://www.irvingtonny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/54

[2] https://www.npr.org/2018/01/04/573504079/virginia-republican-david-yancey-wins-tie-breaking-drawing

[3] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E1DE163AF93AA35751C0A9639C8B63

[4]http://www.liherald.com/westhempstead/stories/Brooks-Venditto-tied-in-89th-District-senate-race,85449

[5]https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/new-york-state-senate-district-8

[6]https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Closest_election_in_Senate_history.htm

20-Week Abortion Ban – No Big Deal? THINK AGAIN!

If you’re a woman in your 30s or 40s, beware – the 20-week abortion ban is aimed at you.
Even though it was beaten back in the Senate in September, the 20-week abortion ban will be back. It’s been passed in the House and is already the law in 13 states. Anti-choice extremists in Congress want to make it the law everywhere.
These zealots are targeting your right to decide whether or not to have a healthy child. They want to force you to give birth to a child who is suffering from chromosome abnormalities and/or genetic disorders – whether you want to or not.
Those of us who get pregnant in our 30s and in our 40s are at a greater risk of giving birth to a child with a birth defect, because of our age. We know this.
I knew this so I had three Amniocenteses, one in each of my pregnancies. It’s the most accurate and the safest test you can have. An Amnio tests for chromosome abnormalities and genetic disorders, and also detects neural tube defects which are birth defects of the brain, spine, and spinal cord – the two most common of which are spina bifida and anencephaly.
But you can’t get it until the second trimester.
An Amnio is performed at 17-19 weeks, and it takes another 2-3 weeks to get the results. That will take you to 19 to 22 weeks.
You’ll be out of time to get an abortion if anti-choice extremists in Congress and in states
across the country have their way.
That means all of us women, who want to have children, will no longer be able to have accurate testing for chromosome abnormalities, genetic disorders, or neural tube defects,
and do something with the results.
The possible loss of this right is very real – and this is not to even mention, what if your life is at stake.

Hate Right Here in Westchester

– What we feared is indeed the new reality –
This White House is in the hands of
anti-Semitic misogynistic white supremacists.

Dear Pro-Choice Voters,

Donald Trump and his closest advisers have turned the clock back to a time where discrimination and hate were an accepted, common trait of American life. They began before the General Election with hate mongering intended to stir the base and intimidate everyone else. Beginning with the Muslim ban to reinstating and expanding the Mexico City Policy* to trampling on LGBT rights**, Trump was laying the groundwork for the resurgence of the KKK and Nazi demonstrations and violence we saw this weekend.

But make no mistake, this ideology of hate and the intimidation tactics the Trump administration employs are not limited to Charlottesville or the South. It is right here in Westchester County and being spirited forward by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

On August 17th,  Astorino vetoed the Immigration Protection Acta bill that was in total compliance with federal law and that had passed the Board of Legislators 10-5.  The goal of the bill was to stop local law enforcement from acting as federal immigration officials, thereby protecting county resources and building trust in our communities. 

Why did Astorino do this?

You need look no further than the praise Astorino’s veto received from Trump’s AG Jeff Sessions.

Remember this is THE Jeff Sessions who said the KKK is “OK”*** and used a Supreme Court case permitting the racial segregation of swimming pools to justify the Muslim ban.

This was not Astorino’s first attempt to please Trump. Back in the fall, when swastikas and racist graffiti started appeared around Westchester, Astorino blamed Obama and Clinton supporters, telling both leaders to calm their supporters – just as Trump blamed those who were demonstrating peacefully against the Nazis and KKK in Charlottesville.

Only you can put an end to this hate mongering by our elected officials here in Westchester.
And that is by VOTING – And if you are not registered, do so: Register Here


*Here’s What Donald Trump Did  Trump’s Mexico City Policy **Trump Tramples on LGBT Rights

***Jeff Session: Comments on Race

Trump Administration Cites Segregation

 

 

What They Think About Women

Please read our op-ed that appeared in the Journal News today. It takes a hard look at New York’s new Republican Party and its views on women. Sadly, there seem to be no Nelson Rockefellers.

Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed New York State’s abortion rights bill into law in 1970. When vetoing the 1972 attempt to overturn that law, he declared, “I do not believe it right for one group to impose its vision of morality on an entire society.”

That is, unfortunately, not the view held by anti-choice extremist gubernatorial candidate Astorino or his running mate candidate for Attorney General John Cahill.

Please read What’s at Stake (This is our op-ed.)

Astorino – NOT an Equal Opportunity Advocate!

A few simple words from Astorino about his family speak volumes on his views on women.

Astorino has called Albany a “cesspool of corruption” “where he’d never allow his two daughters to work.” (Click here to read Newsday, 3/7/2014)

What about his son? Astorino has two daughters and a son. Is he saying it’s okay for his son to work there but not his daughters? Does he think boys are stronger or smarter than girls? That girls can’t handle what life throws their way, but boys can? That girls should be sheltered but boys are tough?

No wonder Astorino opposes the Women’s Equality Agenda, and comprehensive reproductive rights including abortion – all of which help women have control over their own lives.

This statement was made on the statewide stage by a man who wants to be governor of New York State where we have been at the forefront of fighting for equal opportunity for all people.
_______________________________________
REMEMBER Astorino’s anti-woman record:
â–ªAstorino has opposed abortion under any condition.**
â–ªHe vetoed a law that would have given women safe access to reproductive health centers.
â–ªHe opposes comprehensive sex ed and cut funding to those programs.
â–ªHe supports abstinence-only education, and has won an award for it.
â–ªHe gutted all funding to community health centers that serve women and their families.
▪Astorino has called the reproductive health component of the Women’s Equality Agenda, which would bring abortion legislation in New York into the 21st century and take it out of the penal code, the equivalent of “infanticide.”

Will Westchester Medical Center Be Forced To Ban Abortions?

I didn’t know who to vote for… so I didn’t vote.

 I have heard these words repeated over and over again since the November 5th Election. Why?  Because the over 85,000 voters in our database who have relied on finding the bright yellow ProChoice Voting Guide in their mailboxes every year – the guide that explained both who to vote for and what Choice means on a County level – did not receive it! This year, there was no ProChoice Voting Guide mailed out to our Westchester voters because we simply did not have the money.

The results are clear and Westchester has paid the price. In 2013, pro-choice candidates lost in astonishing numbers. County legislative seats that should have been wins for pro-choice candidates were losses. In District 10, (part of New Rochelle and Eastchester), the pro-choice challenger who took on the incumbent who opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman, lost by 485 votes. In District 14, (part of Yonkers and Mount Vernon), the pro-choice challenger who took on an 18-year incumbent who votes against women at every opportunity including her historic vote to deny women safe access to reproductive health care, lost by 890 votes. And there are more districts just like these two. These are races in which our ProChoice Voting Guide would have made the difference between winning and losing!

2013 stands in sharp contrast to 2012, when our support for pro-choice candidates resulted in unprecedented victories, and we elected our endorsed candidates at all levels of government. Ninety-one percent of the candidates WCLA – Choice Matters endorsed, won! Those wins could not have happened without you or our ProChoice Voting Guide. (Please make a contribution today!)

 Did you know that in odd year elections like this one, approximately seven out of every nine voters are women, and of those seven, five are over the age of 50? Not your typical internet and social media users. Reaching this target population requires more traditional avenues of communication – yes, snail mail – the U.S. Postal Service. And the postage costs just keep going up.

Anti-choice extremist County Executive Astorino said repeatedly, “County elections have nothing to do with abortion.” That could not be farther from the truth, but people believed him because there was no voting guide to refute him. County government plays a very significant role in reproductive rights and the implications can be huge. Just look at Albuquerque, New Mexico. That municipality just voted on an initiative to ban abortions after 20 weeks. That could happen here.

Reproductive rights is absolutely a County issue.
▪The people we elect decide the County budget. Departments relating to women and families comprise a large portion of that budget. ▪The County Executive nominates and the County Board of Legislators (CBL) confirms appointments to the Westchester Medical Hospital Board; thus the Board’s elected officials ultimately control whether the hospital will continue to provide abortions. ▪The CBL decides whether inmates will get pregnancy tests, abortions, and prenatal care on request and without delay. ▪The County Health Department decides which clinics will provide services and whether they will provide reproductive health services, counseling, and referrals for abortions. ▪The County Executive appoints, and CBL votes to confirm commissioners important to the pro-choice issue including Health, Social Services, and Corrections.

Last year, those elected officials gutted all funding to the community health centers which directly impacted women. Funding for comprehensive sex education is gone, and instead, the County Executive, who is winning awards from abstinence-only organizations, vetoed a bill giving women safe access to reproductive health centers.

Sadly, WCLA – Choice Matters forecasted election night results. We put our voting guide on line but that only reached a limited number of people. In contrast, our mailed bright yellow ProChoice Voting Guide reaches the all-important target audience – women – who are rushing between work and other responsibilities, and those that do not live on the internet. The mailed voting guide provides, literally, an  in-hand education that can and does go from the mailbox to the voting booth.

Make a gift to Choice Matters to support our work.

In 2014, all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and New York State government are up for election: Congress, Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, and the New York State Senate and Assembly. This election matters. Last year, we watched as a turncoat Senate Democrat turned his back on his constituents and aligned himself with the anti-choice Republican leader. Together, they blocked the Women’s Equality Agenda from coming to the floor for a vote. They made us realize how much New York has in common with Texas.

If we are not able to distribute our ProChoice Voting Guide to our database of over 85,000 Westchester County residents, November 5th, 2013 will serve as a precursor of elections to come.

But you can stop that from happening by contributing to WCLA – Choice Matters today.

Choice Matters has been standing strong since 1972! That’s 40+ years!
Choice Matters has interviewed hundreds of thousands of female voters, identified those who are pro-choice, and added them to our database. We do this every single week, each and every year. It’s our amazing database and our mailed ProChoice Voting Guide that make us victorious. We’ve always understood this.  But we just didn’t have the money to print and mail out our voting guide this year – and pro-choice candidates lost across the County. We cannot afford to let that happen again next year.

Your support today will make it possible for us to send our ProChoice Voting Guide and newsletter which informs the public about Choice, elected officials’ reproductive rights actions, challengers’ positions, and our critical endorsements. This voting guide newsletter scares some candidates and elected officials, and rewards others, because it holds them accountable for their actions.

 Your generous contribution of $25, $100, $250 or more will help Choice Matters’ ProChoice campaign continue to identify and educate households across the county and state.

 Choice Matters is a mighty pro-choice organization with a proven strategy. That’s because you, our donors, have given us extraordinary support. We hope you will continue to do so because we need your help now more than ever. Your contribution, whatever you can afford – large or small – will make a difference.  Every dollar truly counts.

 Please mail your contribution today or you may securely contribute on line at www.choicematters.org.

 Supporting Choice Matters is the most valuable action an advocate for Choice can take.

 Thank you!

 

300 Bills working to ban abortion & we’re talking zumba… Why?

There are 300 bills out there, across the country, that would ban or severely limit access to abortion at a state level, and North Dakota’s Governor just signed into law a ban on all abortions as early as six weeks.

And I’m talking to you about zumba…why?

Because to fight back, we need to reach a broader base of people, people who don’t consider themselves political, but definitely believe women should have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare – that includes abortion.

Newspaper articles tell us about these women: they don’t identify with the label “pro-choice,” but definitely support comprehensive reproductive rights.

These women vote and they are crucial to the protection of our rights.

So how do we reach them?

By going to them! We need to get up and go to them.
We need to involve people where they are, not where we are.

Choice Matters has decided to take on that challenge — of reaching out and involving the pro-choice public that does not come out to marches and rallies, and in turn stay under the radar.

Choice Matters is hosting Cardio Dance for Choice with Zumba Fitness, on Saturday April 6th at the YWCA in White Plains.

Why? Because people really do want to have a fun, and Zumba is the rage across the country, with women of all ages and demographics.

I invite you to look at our facebook page Cardio Dance for Choice with Zumba Fitness. Most of the people registered so far would never think of going to an event to hear a speaker or attend a rally.

We are focusing on where people are and they happen to be doing something that’s both fun and good for their health. Maybe that’s the key. After all, isn’t reproductive rights about healthcare and being able to make safe healthy choices?

What Zumba can teach us about healthy choices & reproductive rights

How many times have you been part of the handwringing conversation lamenting the lack of involvement in the fight for reproductive rights by a particular group of people –  the “why don’t _____ care” conversation? (Fill in the blank with whomever you want: young people, college students, young professionals.)

But isn’t that assuming it’s their fault, not ours? Maybe that’s wrong. Maybe we haven’t been thinking outside of our own little boxes.

The newspapers are full of articles about the decrease in the number of people who identify as “pro-choice,” but not in the number who believe a woman should have access to full comprehensive reproductive rights.

So, just maybe, we need to involve people where they are, not where we are.

Choice Matters has decided to take on that challenge — of reaching out and involving the pro-choice public that does not come out to marches and rallies, which results in them staying under the radar.

Choice Matters is hosting Cardio Dance for Choice with Zumba Fitness, on Saturday April 6th at the YWCA.

Why? Because people really do want to have a fun, and Zumba is the rage across the country, with women of all ages and demographics.

I invite you to look at our facebook page Cardio Dance for Choice with Zumba Fitness. Most of the people registered so far would never think of going to an event to hear a speaker or attend a rally.

We are focusing on where people are and they happen to be doing something that’s both fun and good for their health. Maybe that’s the key. After all, isn’t reproductive rights about healthcare and being able to make safe healthy choices?

But it won’t work without you!

We are the broke relative, the one willing to do the heavy lifting but without the funds to do so.

If everyone who reads this email contributed $25 we can make it!

Please click here and support this event.

If this event is as successful as it looks like it’ll be, we could do a Salsa dancing event later this summer, or a networking event at the new fondue restaurant in White Plains. We’re open to suggestions.

All I know is that if we are going to capture those that believe a woman should have access to full comprehensive reproductive rights, but don’t call themselves ‘pro-choice’, we must start thinking outside the box!

Contribute today! Let’s make it happen!

Calling All Women for Westchester

We are proud to announce the formation of Women for Westchester (a.k.a. Women 4  Westchester.)
And we need you!

Women for Westchester (W4W) is an alliance of our county’s residents committed to advancing legislative bills, social policy, and actions that enable women to participate more fully and equally in society.

W4W’s first focus will be the Women’s Equality Agenda.

Introduced by Governor Cuomo, on January 29, 2013, the Women’s Equality Agenda will “break down barriers that perpetuate discrimination and inequality based on gender.”  The Women’s Equality Agenda will help ensure that all of New York’s 10 million women, including Westchester’s 496,016, get a fair deal.

The Women’s Equality Agenda’s 10-Point proposal is:

  • Equal Pay for Equal Work
  • Stop Sexual Harassment in All Workplaces
  • Ensure Just Restitution for Victims of Discrimination
  • Strengthen Laws Against Human Trafficking
  • End Discrimination Against Families
  • End Discrimination Against Tenants
  • Stop Housing Discrimination
  • End Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Protect Domestic Violence Victims Seeking Orders of Protection
  • Protect Reproductive Health Care Decisions

Women are discriminated against in almost every aspect of their lives and, sadly, these inequalities only increase throughout a woman’s life. Did you know that women are twice as likely to live out old age in poverty than men?

Click Here to Read More Details about the Agenda

Join Women for Westchester as we move forward.

W4W will ask every elected official and candidate for office throughout Westchester to sign our petition in support of the Women’s Equality Agenda 10-point proposal. The principles are clear.

As Lt. Gov. Duffy said, “Over the years, New York has fallen behind on important women’s issues, and for this reason, it is essential for the Women’s Equality Act to become law this year. With the commitment and support of passionate advocates like all of you,”… “our voices will be heard and we can make New York a fairer, more equal state for women in 2013.”

W4W is looking for volunteers from throughout the County.

Please email us at: Catherine@WomenForWestchester
so that we can get organized!

Women for Westchester is affiliated with WCLA – Choice Matters.

It’s not the snow-the ground is moving under your feet

Do You Feel the Ground Moving?
That’s the safety net being ripped out from under your feet
right here in Westchester County.

The Bad News
County Government at its Worst

Westchester’s present County Executive, Rob Astorino, and his gang of nine are playing fast and loose with the county budget, borrowing money to pay for tax certiorari – a practice that led in part to Nassau County’s huge financial difficulties – while simultaneously launching a full fledged attack on our county’s intricate support system that took decades to build. The results of Astorino’s callous actions are unimaginable, and they are happening right here to Westchester’s women and our families.

Astorino is a Tea Party extremist who is advancing an anti-woman, anti-family agenda similar to that voiced by GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and former Senator Rick Santorum. His focus is on gutting programs that serve working families, and borrowing money when he needs to, so that he can claim he isn’t raising taxes. Astorino has little regard for the working families of Westchester and the services we rely on. Further, as County Executive, he has a great deal of power to adversely impact women’s health care – and he’s determined to do just that. He has already vetoed a bill that would have allowed women the most basic of rights – safe access to reproductive health centers – while cutting funding for childcare, food pantries, afterschool programs, health centers, and much more. Please keep in mind that Astorino is making these cuts that have a horrific impact on living, breathing children while, at the same time, is adamant in his opposition to safe access to reproductive health centers and to abortion even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

To compound things, if that’s possible, at a time when we know that the mentally ill need treatment and care, not guns, Astorino and his seven minions closed all of Westchester’s mental health centers, without even implementing a transition plan for the clients.

The Good News
2013 is Election Year for all elected offices in Westchester County Government.

 

Three candidates for County Executive and one for the Board of Legislators have already stepped up to the plate to take on Astorino and his anti-choice right-wing legislators who are out of step with Westchester’s women and families.

The three candidates – Noam Bramson, Ken Jenkins, and Bill Ryan – are vying for the opportunity to defeat Rob Astorino and, once again, make Westchester a county were women are treated as equals and all people – regardless of economic circumstance – have the opportunity to succeed. (See below for information on Bramson, Jenkins, and Ryan.)

The candidate for the Board of Legislators, and truly a friend to Choice Matters, is Rachelle “Rocky” Richard, a real fighter that everyone would want in their corner.

Rocky is telling traitor Bernice Spreckman it’s time to pack her bags and go home. Spreckman used Choice to get elected, seeking and getting our endorsement for more than a dozen years; but then, the first time we needed her support, Spreckman voted against women of all ages – she voted against safe access to reproductive health centers for the women of Westchester simply because Astorino told her to. For political expediency, she turned her back on all of us who voted for her, slamming the clinic door in our faces.

In sharp contrast to Spreckman, Rocky is an accomplished professional in government, community and public affairs with more than 25 years of experience. Rocky has successfully organized and managed community engagement as well as grassroots advocacy throughout Westchester. For the past seven years Rocky has served as the Chief of Staff to the Yonkers City Council President.

For those of us who truly care about Choice, Rocky is what we want every candidate to be – proud to stand up for comprehensive reproductive rights.

Meet the Good Guys
Noam Bramson, Ken Jenkins, and Bill Ryan

Three candidates with distinctly different backgrounds

Noam Bramson has served as the Mayor of New Rochelle since January 2006 and was reelected most recently in 2011 with a record-breaking 79% of the vote. Prior to becoming Mayor, Noam served for ten years on the New Rochelle City Council. Since 1992, Noam has worked as an aid to Congresswoman Nita Lowey on both government and political challenges. Noam describes the election as a contest of fundamental values, and on his literature he prominently displays, he stand[s] confidently for a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, inclusion, and Westchester’s mainstream values.

Ken Jenkins is Chairman of the County Board of Legislators. He won his 16th District legislative seat for a second full term on November 4, 2009. Vowing to restore funding to county programs he called vital and to find creative solutions to the problems the county must face, Ken has pointed out that property taxes and fees for county services have gone up, while our quality of life has gone down, making the point that, Our county government is not doing more with less; it is doing less with less and shifting the burden to you in other ways.

Bill Ryan has served as the County Board Legislator from the 5th District for 15 years, including six as Chairman of the Board. Prior to he County Board, Bill served in the New York State Assembly (91st A.D.). In July, Bill was appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counties, and continues to serve on NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus where he is one of 35 officials representing over 140 million people in America’s 100 largest counties, on matters before the federal government. Bill is running for County Executive because Westchester has always been a great place to live, [and] for the past three years, the flawed plans, policies and decisions of the county executive have put that greatness in jeopardy. Bill has always been a vocal supporter of comprehensive reproductive rights, declaring he believes a woman’s right to choose is absolute and should not be subject to legislation.

National News

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