Action this Week – June 28, 2019

IMV Plans Big July Progressive Potluck Picnic July 9th

Tuesday, July 9, 6:30-8:30 pm, IMV will hold its July Progressive Potluck Picnic, at Sherrilbrook Park in New Hartford,  You’ll meet Dem candidates for Nov. 2019 elections, and connect to their campaigns.  Plus lots of food and fun outside with fellow progressives from across the Mohawk Valley.

The picnic was first held in 2017 so that IMV members and other local progressive activists could meet the many new candidates running for local office that fall, It’s been two years, and now we have even more progressive and Dem candidates running.  We want to hear from them why they are running and why they are progressive, and then, we want to create some buzz around them and support them to win.

Remember, odd year elections are focused on local (town, city, county boards) campaigns, and for IMV, that means both electing more progressives in our own backyard AND practicing our activism skills (fundraising, canvassing, GOTV) for the congressional and other big elections.

Bring whatever you like: main dish, veg, dessert, drinks. IMV is firing up the grill for some summer fun.  There will be kids activities and a fun night for all.  Rain or shine because we have the Birch Pavilion!

Sen. Rachel May (NY 53) Meets with IMV members in Clinton

Rachel May spent the afternoon and evening in Clinton (Town of Kirkland) on Monday, June 24 following an invitation from IMV, which supported her in a 2018 primary and, along with the Kirkland Town Democrats, helped her to defeat IDC member Dave Valesky.

Sen. May met for an hour and a half with about 10 IMV members and shared her experiences as a first time Senator during the 2019 legislative session.  Following the conversation, she walked with IMV members to the Kirkland Town Library.  She also viewed flood zones along the Oriskany creek and met with local elected officials and the Kirkland Town Democratic Committee while she was in the area.

A longtime environmental activist and water and land conservation expert, May was a lead force behind the CCPA and worked for the success of the bill.  She also championed women’s, the NY Health Act, and immigrant rights in the Senate, and secured an upstate provision about mobile homes in the tenant (renter) protections bill that was passed in Albany.  She is the only Democratic Senator between Albany and Buffalo, and has found that her most important contribution so far in Albany is helping her downstate colleagues understand upstate issues and concerns.

Rachel’s election, her powerful upstate Dem voice in Albany, and her close connection to grassroots progressives is one the best stories yet about the impact that IMV has had on local politics.  The lesson is: the more doors we knock for progressive candidates, the bigger the difference that we make.

IMV Issue Groups Continue to Meet

IMV’s Women’s Issues Group met in June with a local activist currently working on strengthening NY State laws against Female Genital Mutilation.  The Women’s Issues Group will continue to hold meetings at the UU Church in Utica that are part “Salon” (to engage in discussions to increase the knowledge of participants) and part activism planning.  New members are always welcome.  The group plans to stay vigilant on issues that impact women, following a successful “Stop the Bans” rally last month when reproductive rights came under attack in many states.

Voting Rights Group Encourages Summer Voter Registration Events

Tuesday night IMV’s Voting Rights and Election Reform Issues Group met. The first item of discussion was a review of the voting rights legislation passed and considered this year thanks to Let NY Vote grassroots activists and coalition partners.  A link to this review can be found here: https://letnyvote.org/ 

The group also discussed Voter Registration outreach.   A couple members of the group already have a registration table at the Clinton Farmer’s Market and another is working with the League of Women Voters registering voters.  The next effort is to organize a table for the Rome Farmer’s Market.  If you can volunteer, email IndivisibleMohawkValley@gmail.com.  The group will reconvene again in September, share results on summer voter registration, and move forward on advocacy for 2020 legislation.

Not Too Late to Sign Up for Indivisible NY State Convening

Sarah Reeske and her NY Indivisible leader colleagues are holding a Convening for Indivisible groups across the state on Albany on July 27 and 28.  The goal of the convening is strengthening relationships among Indivisible activists. During this Convening, activists and organizers will be laying the framework to collaborate and build collective power in New York and prepare for 2020.  IMV wants to be well represented at this event, so please sign up now.

https://indivisible.org/register-new-york-state-indivisible-convening

Is Marianne Buttenschon Your Assembly Rep?  She Shortchanged the Utica Schools; Call Her TODAY

CNY Citizen Action has released a statement in collaboration with the Alliance for Quality Education  about Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (NY119th), decision to shortchange Utica schools in her distribution of discretionary school aid, after she announced Tuesday that Utica City School District will not receive any of the more than $400,000 in discretionary state education funding that is being directed to schools within the 119th Assembly District this week.

One of the neediest school districts in New York State, Utica is presently owed $46 million in operating aid from New York State. Eighty-five percent of Utica students are economically disadvantaged and 18 percent are English language learners. In recent years the district has been forced to make cuts in teaching staff and after school programs, and lacks the resources to provide sufficient opportunities for English language learners due to under funding.

The discretionary funding, called bullet aid, is allocated post-budget to districts that need it based on the priorities of the local legislator. Assembly Member Buttenschon failed to prioritize Utica even though it is the neediest school district she represents and despite her assertion in a press conference Tuesday that she “fought hard” to secure the additional discretionary funding.  Local parents active in grassroots activism for public education in Utica were critical of Buttenschon’s failure to deliver even a dollar of bullet aid to help the Utica schools, although they had met with her to ask for her support.  .

IMV members and supporters who live in the 119th (most of Utica and Rome), are urged to express their disappointment with the Assemblywoman directly by calling her office at 315-732-1055.

When you make the call, be sure also to express your view on her vote against the Green Light bill.  And mark your calendar for Wednesday, July 17th, when IMV is co-sponsoring a Citizen Action Town Hall with the Assemblywoman (6 pm at  DeSales Center in Utica) to hear about her work in the legislative session and share citizen concerns and priorities with her. 

Be on Indivisible’s Next National Activist Call

If you want to know what Indivisible is working on for policy priorities, organizing efforts, and planning for 2020 elections, then the best way to find out is to join the monthly National Activist Call.  Because of Fourth of July holiday, July’s call will be the second Thursday of the month, so sign up now for the Zoom call on Thursday, July 11th at 8:00 pm.

Lights For Liberty Vigil

Mark your calendar for a local Lights for Liberty Vigil to end human concentration camps on July 12th.  This national action is now co-sponsored by The Women’s March and Move On, among other groups. Location is TBA, but we know the vigil will be at 9 pm.  If you would like to volunteer or know of a local group that would like to co-sponsor with IMV, please email IndivisibleMohawkValley@gmail.com.

Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

Last weekend, many of us gathered on World Refugee Day at Hanna Park (Utica City Hall) to watch a group of immigrants and refugees participate in their citizenship ceremony.  It was a powerful event with speakers who told stories of incredible journeys and deep passion America’s vision and values.  The new citizens took an oath in which they pledged their lives to this country, even to the point of defending by taking up arms or in other non-combatant roles.

Our republic is built on a set of laws enshrined in a constitution, a commitment to the rule of law.  Our democracy is premised on the idea that power rests with the people and that power changes hands again and again through non violent means.  We believe that citizenship is based on birth or oath and not race, ethnicity, gender, or religion.

One of the best ways to put the focus on the day is to tune into NPRs Morning Edition (WRVO or another station) and listen to the NPR staff reading every word of the Declaration of Independence (a 30 year tradition).  Then be sure to attend one of our many local parades.  When you see all those flags, recall these words that we heard spoken in more than a dozen accents at Utica’s citizenship ceremony last weekend:

“I pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We enjoy the benefits of living in a democracy under the rule of law, and we can’t let it slip through our fingers because we’re too distracted to do the work of active citizenship. Anyone can wave a flag  or watch the news, but it won’t save democracy, preserve freedom and civil rights, or ensure justice for all.  We must continue to organize, mobilize, speak out, hold our representatives accountable, and vote.  Because…

Democracy is not a spectator sport.