Good news: Once again, the Village, like in old times, is ground zero in the NYC battle against the Trump administration and its attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Rise and Resist (RAR), a grassroots, direct action political group, meets every Tuesday night at The Church of the Village (201 West 13th Street, at 7th Avenue) from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and is open to all. RAR organizes through affinity groups with a common interest. These circles bring actions to the main meeting and ask for endorsement. RAR has been very active in the streets here in NYC and in D.C. The topics that people are circling about include: Health care is a right, Steve Bannon, and The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC)—a group of rogue State Democrat senators who have aligned with the GOP to block the passage in the NYS Senate of bills passed by the NYS Assembly. They cast the deciding vote that stopped the passage of a single-payer health insurance plan in NYS. Please join me in attending the RAR meetings. For more information, visit: RiseandResist.org .
Corey Johnson is my City Council Member. He ran as an HIV-positive candidate. He won. Before being elected, Johnson depended on Medicaid for his health care. As an elected official in NYC, he now has health care coverage. Johnson knows well that many people like himself, those who are HIV-positive and others, including those with a medical disability will, under the proposed TRUMPCARE, lose their health benefits if passed. So, Johnson went to D.C., joined 375 other citizens with pre-existing conditions, and sat in at senators’ offices. Johnson blocked the entrance to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. He repeatedly shouted, “My name is Corey Johnson. I am gay. I am sober and clean. I am HIV-positive. I have a pre-existing health condition. I have health insurance today, but I stand with all those who have a pre-existing condition on Medicare and Medicaid.” He continued, “These people will lose their health insurance if this TRUMPCARE passes.” Johnson was arrested, handcuffed, and sent to a D.C. jail. Here is a copy of the live stream of his arrest: http://bit.ly/2u2VjZ8 . Please watch.
Quite frankly, I am proud of Corey Johnson. And yes, I do wonder where State Assembly Member Deborah Glick, the out lesbian and women’s health advocate, and State Senator Brad Hoylman, a gay father, were. Neither have been seen in D.C. adding their bodies and prestige to the demonstrators trying to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Seniors like me need health benefits. Why are they not publicly supporting the call for a federal single-payer health care system (Medicaid for all)?
Quite frankly, I am very proud of Corey Johnson’s actions around health care. And, yes, I do wonder where State Assembly Member Deborah Glick, the out lesbian and women’s health advocate, and State Senator Brad Hoylman, a gay father, were. Neither have been seen in D.C. adding their bodies and prestige to the demonstrators trying to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Seniors like me need health benefits. Why are they not publicly supporting the call for federal single-payer health care (Medicaid for all)? (When I say ‘supporting’ I am asking about actions they take, not words.)
I recently accompanied GAYS AGAINST GUNS (GAG), an inclusive group formed after the PULSE gun massacre to stand up to the NRA and call for sensible gun control, to our first action at a GUN SHOW in Philadelphia. There were 13 of us and we had decided that it would be a silent, educational action. We choose to highlight domestic violence and guns: Hate causes anger! Anger in action can kill. Putting guns into the hands of angry people, including domestic partners, causes people to be killed.
We had learned that, two weeks prior in Philadelphia, there had been five cases of domestic violence involving guns. We chose to silently confront the public going in and out of the show with our iconic, silent figures shrouded in all white. These “Human Beings” each held a card identifying a woman killed by a gun. While it was tense for us to confront the gun show organizers at a federal armory, we knew that we had a right under the Constitution to demonstrate on federal property. After 90 minutes, we packed up and left. As we were leaving, three police cars entered the parking lot. GAG meets every other Thursday at the LGBT Community Center (208 West 13th Street, at between 7th and Greenwich Avenues). For more information, visit: Gaysaganstguns.net.
I have also followed up on the Rudin Park questions I raised last month. While the signage at the entrance to the park implies that it is private property, given the street address as its name, it has been difficult to establish who has authority and responsibility over the park or to confirm its actual name. The AIDS Memorial group has finally completed its installation of the AIDS Memorial and placed the signage ‘AIDS MEMORIAL’ on the wall that surounds the actual structure. The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) website identifies it by that name and says it was given to the City by the Rudin Coporation. I have tried to confirm that the property, including the land, was given over to the City. I believe that had been stipulated in the City land use documents, giving a further height variance for the construction of what are called by many residents the ‘Blood Condos’ or ‘Ghost Condos.’
NYC Parks spoke to me of community input into the design of the park but there was little public input. What did happen was that a few NYC Parks committee meetings were sparsely attended by the public and dominated by Rudin representatives. I attended and came away feeling that the generic design could have been plopped anywhere in America and had no significance relative to where it actually stood. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation also seemed to have had little input, based on my understanding.
The variance permission agreement, as I understood it, (The Community Board 2 (CB2) administrator could not find a copy of it) was to include a 20-year commitment to maintain the park as well as a fund of no less than $200,000 from the Rudins. I, and others, were concerned for a number of reasons. 11th Street’s Evette Yenta told me that she worried because if they did not give the land to the City, they could take it back at anytime and build on it. I am hoping that State Senator Hoylman can answer these questions for us. NYC Parks told me to submit a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for a copy of the agreement between the City and the Rudin real estate company. I made that request but, as of the date of this WestView online edition, I have not received the agreement.
Meanwhile, people are happy to have somewhere to sit outside. LuLu tells me that the park has now been invaded by Amazon Prime delivery bike people. She is concerned because they take over a section of the park and leave their debris and trash all over that area. I had seen this myself but I also observed that they now sit on the public benches bordering the park, on the outside, to keep an eye on their bikes. The park sometimes goes days without being cleaned. There also appears to be no security in the park. Dogs relieve themselves on the small patches of green where people lie out and children play. The ‘No Dogs Allowed’ signs are ignored.
One Saturday morning, I did see a truck pull up with a maintenance crew. I asked if they were NYC Park employees and the supervisor said, “No, we are a private company.” It is also hard to tell if the drug dealing has stopped because the Amazon delivery people have taken over the same area. LuLu insists that it still goes on, however, I can’t confirm it. Already, there are broken benches unrepaired and people stretched over the stationary benches sleeping. To be continued…
Update: Finally, after six months, the official signage designating the Rudin Park as City-owned and City-named appeared three days after WestView went to press. City Council Member Corey Johnson stopped the Rudin corporation from naming the Park ‘The St Vincent’s Memorial Park’ when he heard about a dedication plan eight months ago. Johnson reminded the Rudin people that only the NYC Parks Commissioner can name a park after input from the community. He offered the compromise to the Commissioner which acknowledged the original, planned name ‘AIDS MEMORIAL PARK’ and added ‘St Vincent’s Triangle’ to honor the hospital that served Greenwich VIllage for over 150 years.
The NYC Campaign Finance Act seems to be working if one is to judge it by the number of candidates who showed up at a three-district candidates’ debate sponsored by the New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN) and the 504 Democratic Club. All were Democrats running in the primary for City Council Districts 1, 3, and 4. The packed room at the Seafarers International Hall (123 East 15th Street, at Irving Place) was filled with members of the public, candidate supporters, and the candidates themselves—21 candidates in all. The most surprising candidate was in District 3: Mary Silver, a mother and experienced tenant and school organizer. Let her introduce herelf to you: http://bit.ly/2uGByaj. Silver was, for me, the most effective of all the first-time candidates present. She effectively defined why she was running and what she hoped to accomplish. The race was expected to be a shoo-in for Rosie Mendez’s pick Carlina Rivera—her well-liked and qualified Chief of Staff. Meet Carlina here: carlinarivera.nyc. Early on, prior to the the entrance of other candidates, and through true machine politics led by the Village Independent Democrats (VID), the downtown clubs and electeds endorsed Rivera. While there are six candidates in the race, including longtime political operative Ronnie Cho, the real race seems to me between two women, each of whom will make a good City Council Member for District 3. I will watch this race closely.
District 4, which includes part of Chelsea, the Flatiron District, and extends to the East Side, has a wealth of articulate candidates including Marti Speranza. She is well known and liked because of her political work for the community. Speranza has also worked in the City government and knows how it is organized. Voters in District 4 are very lucky and will have to think hard to decide on the best candidate. To my mind, this is how democracy works.
In District 1, incumbent Margaret Chin was attacked viciously by the three other candidates. One refused to even say her name and kept angrily pointing at Chin yelling “Her!” What was most evident was that her three opponents seemed to have no idea how the City Council actually works. They blamed her for things that she really did not have the power to change. Most disappointing was the VID-endorsed candidate Christopher Marte, a biracial candidate who speaks Mandarin, (Note: Cantonese is predominantly spoken in Chinatown). I won’t go into the specifics of the nastiness here, but voters should verify the facts behind the mud being slung at Chin.
Note: No one brought up Chin’s approval of the NYU Expansion Plan (under pressure from both former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg) or her proposal to build senior housing on City-owned land that the rich women of SoHo have squatted on and built a garden. Chin has proposed a mixed use of the land for both senior housing and an intergenerational garden. All of the electeds supported the garden over senior housing—a shameful turning of their collective backs on low-income seniors. There is no affordable/low-income senior housing in CB2. Imagine what would have happened if the poor mothers in public housing (mostly women of color) who live in District 1 had squatted on public land and demanded that it not be turned into senior housing!
That’s all the space I have for this issue. But, I will leave you with one question I hope you will answer for me: What is your definition of ‘transgender?’ The term is used often but does not seem to have a fixed meaning. Email me your definitions at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your name will be held in confidence and will only be used with your permission. Please keep on chattering.