GBI News

Election Day - Shelley Mayer

Today is election day and as always, GBIndivisible urges you to vote. We are non-partisan so we have had to research our endorsement carefully. We found that:

  • Shelley Mayer aligns with our Core Issues statement.
  • We attended two debates and found Shelley persuasive in both.
  • Independent reporting has supported Shelley’s record.

We found these articles particularly cogent:

Polling locations in the Village of Bronxville are open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

  • Districts 18, 19 & 21, The Reformed Church of Bronxville
  • Districts 16 & 17, Concordia College
  • District 20, Christ Church Bronxville
  • District 22, NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital

join us at www.gbindivisible.org

GBI Endorses Shelley Mayer for State Senate

Today GBI endorses Shelley Mayer for New York State Senate in the special election on April 24th. Please see the excellent PRESS RELEASE on the GBI web site.

This is our first formal endorsement. Three of us attended a debate between the candidates sponsored by the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce on March 20th. We scoured the internet for information on the candidates. Most important, the steering committee found that Shelley's positions aligned with the CORE ISSUES that were approved by our membership when we were founded. They cover topics such as education, climate change, immigration, women’s and minority rights, gun safety, voting rights, and reproductive rights. 

Shelly's experience representing Yonkers in the State Assembly shows nuanced grasp of the controversies and the tenacity to have impact in the State Senate, a body that has blocked important legislation for too long.

We are surprised and distressed by the highly negative campaign being waged by the opposition candidate, Julie Killian. Television ads and mailers imply that Shelley Mayer supports accused sexual abusers. In fact, Shelley was one of the first to call for reform. She helped lead the fight for Sheldon Silver's resignation after allegations of corruption came to light.

March For Our Lives

We were delighted to see the Bronxville student body standing silently in front of the school last week. They were protesting gun violence and showing their support for their fellow Parkland students.

That movement will go national on Saturday, March 24th when MARCH FOR OUR LIVES  protests will take place across the country. 

March For Our Lives is a movement dedicated to student-led activism around ending gun violence and the epidemic of mass shootings in our schools today. On March 24, concerned Americans will take to the streets to demand that our safety become a priority.

You can locate the thousands of marches worldwide at this finder.  So far, marches in Westchester County will take place at Rye Neck High School, White Plains Library, and Manhattanville College. The larger New York City March centers on West 72nd street. 

Article on the Impact of Indivisible in Westchester County

Mark Lungariello has an excellent article, Indivisible Westchester Rides Anti-Trump Wave... on the impact of Indivisilble groups on the local elections. The article does an excellent job of parsing our impact. Here are some highlights:

  • George Latimer likens Indivisible to a "cavalry charge."
  • Republican campaign member admires Indivisible's, "...constant presence on the campaign trail."
  • Indivisible Westchester, also positions itself as non-partisan. The details are interesting.
  • Like GBIndivisible, other groups are loosely organized but intent to have long-term impact: “There’s a short game and a long game and we’re in it. We’re in it to the end," says one Indivisible member.

The article is focused on the next big electoral challenge. Democrat Shelley Mayer will run in a special election to fill George Latimer's State Senate seat against the Republican Julie Killian. Their political philosophies generally follow those of George Latimer and Rob Astorino.

  • Shelley Mayer was born and raised in Yonkers. She is Assembly Member from the 90th District in Yonkers. Prior to her election to the Assembly, Shelley was a Senior Counsel at the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School, where she focused on health care and labor law rights. For more than seven years, she was Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Continuum Health Partners, one of New York City’s largest teaching hospital systems. She lives in Yonkers with her husband, Lee Smith. They have three adult children and three grandchildren.

  • Julie Killian was a Rye City Council Member. She co-founded RyeACT (Rye Action for Children and Teens) to fight youth drug and alcohol abuse. After earning a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from New York University, Julie spent more than a decade working on Wall Street in the financial services industry.  She and her husband Gary have five children.

 

LOCAL PROTEST AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE
WE WERE THERE at a pop-up protest February 18 in front of the Mamaroneck GOP Headquarters, White Plains, NY

One interesting aside on this issue is that Russian bots apparently flooded social media after the Parkland shooting. Troll and bot-tracking sites reported an immediate uptick in related tweets from political propaganda bots and Russia-linked Twitter accounts in an apparent attempt to spread pro-gun messaging and political discord. It's more important than ever to take intelligent, heartfelt action.

See the article here on Wired at https://www.wired.com/story/pro-gun-russian-bots-flood-twitter-after-parkland-shooting/

 

Russian Election Meddling - What To Do?

We noticed an excellent article by Tim Malinowski on Russian election meddling. He was assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor under the Obama administration and is running for congress in New Jersey's 7th district. He provides a common sense prescription for dealing with the crisis saying:

"Astoundingly, neither the administration nor Congress has taken a single step to close the vulnerabilities that the Russians exploited, and that other adversaries will surely exploit in the future. It is time to safeguard our democracy."

In a time of fuzzy thinking and partisan bickering, Malinowski lays out a prescription for action that seems self evident, sensible, and essential. This is a summary. See the rest on Politico. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/11/russia-whistleblower-running-congress-216269

"First, secure our elections. In 2016, Russia launched cyberattacks against at least 21 state election systems, and tried to compromise a U.S. voting software company. Yet many Americans, including in my state of New Jersey, still vote on outmoded, hack-able machines that produce no paper backup of results in case tampering is suspected..." 

"Second, keep foreign money out of our politics.We already ban foreign donations to political candidates, and we should strengthen that ban with closer scrutiny of credit card donations. But we need to go further, and make sure foreign individuals and companies can’t use shell corporations to keep their identity and nationality secret while funneling millions into our country. Amazingly, we hardly have any laws to stop that..."

"Third, combat online propaganda.This is the most important challenge we face, and the hardest to meet responsibly. At the State Department, where I oversaw our human rights diplomacy, Ioften confronted dictatorships like China about their censorship of the internet, which they justified by claiming they were merely filtering out lies. Our government cannot and should not take that path. Our Constitution enshrines Americans’ right to freedom of speech. But we can encourage social media companies like Facebook to take action on their own, which theyare starting to do, including by providing more information about the reliability and origin of news sources..." 

 

The Second Women's March - Saturday January 20.

Bronxville Train Station at 9:45AM for the 9:51 train to NY.

Here it is, one year after the First Women's March... an event that galvanized this organization and constructive political action across the nation.

Let’s raise our voices again and show our support for tolerance, measured leadership, cooperation between parties, justice — and importantly our right to demonstrate peacefully.

More information and registration at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-womens-march-on-nyc-tickets-39150171216

Tax Bill = Cut to Medicare

The tax bill is quite new and the vote is this week. We'll try to keep this short. We're surprised to learn that the CBO expects the tax bill to result in a $25 billion annual cut to Medicare.

Sarah Kliff reports, "The Medicare cuts aren’t part of the tax bill itself. Instead, they are mandatory spending cuts that would occur because of the tax bill’s $1.5 billion increase to the deficit. These spending cuts are known as a sequester — and we know what happens to Medicare in a sequester, because it happened just a few years ago... The last sequester in 2013 unexpectedly caused cancer clinics to turn away thousands of Medicare patients."

Tara Golshem reports, "It all comes down to the “pay-as-you-go,” or PAYGO, rule — a 2010 law that says all passed legislation cannot collectively increase the estimated national debt. In other words, if Republicans want to pass a tax cut, they have to pay for it with mandatory spending cuts — or, inversely, if Congress boosts funding for entitlement programs, it has to increase taxes.

If Congress violates this law, the Office of Management and Budget, which keeps the deficit scorecard, “would be required to issue a sequestration order within 15 days of the end of the session of Congress to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 by the resultant total of $136 billion,” the CBO said in a letter to Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)."

 

Six Senators to Call

The tax bill is largely in the hands of six senators. We suggest that you contact them all directly. You might let them know if you own land, pay taxes, invest or have family in any of these states but please don't hesitate to call.

It’s not too late. The Senate has not voted, and these senators can still stand up for their principles. But this is the time to do so. If they vote to pass the tax bill in exchange for vague promises, they will have forfeited their leverage — and betrayed their stated ideals.

GOP Tax Bill Will Probably Pass

Jonathan Chait is often a centrist, attacked from both sides. He's very often right about political developments. He thinks the GOP Senate tax bill will pass (see below). The bill will:

  • increase the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the first 10 years
  • raise taxes on the middle class
  • make graduate school virtually impossible for all but the very wealthy
  • decimate real estate values in our area by limiting mortgage deductions
  • target New York (and other Democratic states) by eliminating the state and local tax deduction
  • create a health care crisis by repealing the public option

Jonathan Chait: “The party has been organized for more than a quarter-century around the dogma of tax-cutting. Whatever hatred Republicans were able to build up against Obamacare starting in 2009, it cannot match the cumulative effect of 30 years of voodoo-economics dogma. The party’s entire governing class believes both that rich people are unfairly targeted by progressive taxation, and that tax-cutting will absolutely and necessarily generate prosperity. A handful of conservative dissidents question this theology, but they remain marginal to conservative thinking.”

“Cutting taxes for the affluent is truly what Republican politicians got into this business to do. In this way, it is more like the struggle to pass Obamacare than the struggle to repeal it. Democrats were willing to take risks to pass the law in 2010 because helping people get insurance is a core of their public mission.”

We need to flood the switchboards once again. You don't have to live in the relevant state. You just have to have a stake... be a tax payer, own land, or own stock in a local company. 

Call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Or use this list of every Senate office: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

 

Insurers See Jump in Sign-Ups for Affordable Care Act

We've reminded our families that ACA signups started November 1 and end December 15th.

The Wall Street Journal reports,  that ACA insurers are so far seeing significantly increased sign-ups compared with last year’s enrollment period."

“You couldn’t have paid for that kind of advertising,” said Steve Ringel, president of the Ohio market for CareSource, which sells ACA plans in four states. “It doesn’t matter what the story line is, it’s drawing attention to the marketplace.”

SMALL RACES ARE BIG RACES

On November 7th we VOTED. Bronxville resident Ruth Walters ran a spirited campaign but lost to the incumbent. We expect to hear more from Ruth in the future. George Latimer will be our next county executive, unseating Rob Astorino by a 14 point margin. 

A smaller race in Rye caught our attention. Taegan Goddard (noted political blogger) wrote in Political Wire about the birth of a candidate. Election night, 2016 his wife, Sara Goddard texted "I THINK I'M GOING TO RUN." Yesterday she won election to the Rye City Council.

The impulse is familiar to everyone in Bronxville Indivisible. We want to have impact. We want to correct our course. 

Sara Goddard's story is only available to subscribers to Political Wire (a worthy online publication) but you can see Sara's picture and resume at http://www.myrye.com/my_weblog/2017/11/r-2.html. We honor her commitment and effort.

 

Greater Bronxville Indivisible Presents Speakers on Westchester County Government 

In anticipation of Westchester County elections on November 7th, Greater Bronxville Indivisible (GBI) is sponsoring a series of four presentations on important local issues in Westchester. The goal is to promote public understanding, foster constructive discussion and enhance civic engagement. The four topics include:

Closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Reactor
Functions of Westchester County Government
Environmental and Public Health Impact of Developing the Tuckahoe Toxic Waste Site
Fiscal Condition of Westchester County Government

The first presentation took place on July 25th at the Reformed Church. Michael Dulong, Staff Attorney of Riverkeeper, discussed the impact of the planned closing of Indian Point. For more than 20 years, controversy has swirled around the nuclear reactor’s environmental risks, its numerous operational problems, the potential consequences of losing 25% of the region’s electricity production and the economic impact of closure.

Governor Cuomo and Entergy recently agreed that the two operating reactors will be shut down in 2020 and 2021.  Westchester County will lose several hundred jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue.  Alternative energy sources must be identified and implemented.  Thousands of gallons of radioactive water that has already leaked from the facility and spent fuel rods must be safely remediated and stored, potentially for generations.  Decisions about the future of the property must be addressed. 

Mr. Dulong discussed these issues and the complex legal challenges ahead, including a lawsuit filed by County Executive Rob Astorino to delay or block the closure.  People tend to downplay the importance of local government, yet this issue, among others, brings to the fore the importance of decisions that are being made at the local level.

The second presentation will take place Tuesday, September 26th in the Yeager Room of the Bronxville Library at 7:00 PM.   Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni will speak about the functions of county government and how its decisions affect our community.  

 On Saturday October 4th at 2:30 in the Yeager Room of Bronxville Library, Donald Hughes, P.E., Ph.D., President of Hughes Environmental Consulting, will discuss the environmental and public health risks posed by hotel development currently underway on the grounds of the defunct marble quarry on Marbledale Road in Tuckahoe.  The 3.5-acre lot has functioned as an open “mixed industrial waste dump” and automobile storage and repair site since the 1930s.   

 The final presentation will be on Tuesday October 17th at 7:30 PM in the Visual Arts Center at Sarah Lawrence College.  David McKay Wilson, Finance Reporter and Tax Watch columnist for the Journal News, will speak on the impact of County Executive Astorino’s strict “No Tax Increase” policy on the county government and its long term financial outlook.  The Journal News is sponsoring the event.

These events are free of charge and all are welcome.  Free parking is available.  For further information contact Bruce Anderson at bruceanderson99@icloud.com or 630-542-9393

Regular Order

John McCain made a statement worth noting today (Tuesday July 25). 

"Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.

Climate Change - The Stakes are High

We are especially concerned about Climate Change. Whatever our individual intensity of concern, I suspect that we all want to lessen the potential effects and improve our chances of success as parents, farmers, city planners, etc. 

We found the recent quote from Jim Hansen useful. Hansen is a retired NASA climatologist and author of the book Storms of My Grandchildren. If you're going to read a book on Climate issues (finally!)... this may be the one.

As you might imagine, Hansen receives a great deal of criticism. The rage against scientists has always puzzled me. Here's what Hansen said in a recent radio interview on that subject.

“How did I get dragged deeper and deeper into an attempt to communicate the gravity and the urgency of this situation? More grandchildren helped me along. Jake is a super positive, enthusiastic boy. Here at age 2 and a half years, he thinks he can protect his two and a half day old little sister. It would be immoral to leave these young people with the climate system spiraling out of control."

"So now you know what I know that is moving me to sound this alarm. Imagine a giant asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth. That is the equivalent of what we face now, yet we dither taking no action to divert the asteroid. If we'd started in 2005, it would have required emission reductions of 3 percent per year to restore planetary energy balance and stabilize climate this century. If we start next year, it is 6 percent per year. If we wait 10 years, it is 15 percent per year - extremely difficult and expensive, perhaps, impossible. But we aren't even starting.”

 

Our Mission

Bronxville area residents have formed a non-partisan group with the goal of becoming more politically impactful. The group, known as Greater Bronxville Indivisible, was founded on a shared sense of alarm over the current administration of the country.

“Our top goals are to keep people informed of the issues and to create an organized outlet for activism,” said Ellen Blais, a member of the Steering Committee of the organization. “The turnout at our meetings has been amazing. At our first meeting, we had a standing room-only crowd. It shows how concerned our community is over the tone and tenor of the prevailing political agenda. People are looking for ways to make their concerns known and their voices heard,” she continued.

“Indivisible groups are forming across the country. These are grass roots organizations and each is distinct. Greater Bronxville Indivisible is multi-partisan and diverse, including people from various walks of life and political parties,” said Bruce Anderson, another member of the Steering Committee.

“We intend to provide support and outlets for members to take action on the issues of importance to them. There are so many issues—education, climate change, immigration, health care, gun safety, voting rights, and reproductive rights, to name just a few—and our aim is to aid in making voices heard on these important issues of the day,” said Annette Adamiyatt, also a member of the Steering Committee.

Greater Bronxville Indivisible’s principles and purposes center on protecting the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment, on resisting efforts to erode civil liberties, and on upholding the positive spirit of tolerance and mutual respect embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

“While individual members do not necessarily agree on every issue—and, in fact, many times do not agree on a particular issue, we are united in our goal of preserving our democracy,” said Viji George, a Steering Committee member.

The Steering Committee members include Annette Adamiyatt, Bruce Anderson, Maureen Barton, Ellen Blais, Pat Drew, Anna Foley, Viji George, Eleanor Gustafson, Jean Hanson, and Chris Zufelt.