On Saturday, April 14, we led a training on direct action, civil disobedience, and the causes of the economic crisis for more than 100 New Yorkers. Following this training, which we hosted with VOCAL-NY and National People's Action as part of the 99% Spring, we marched to the home of a Wall Street 1%er, Bruce Kovner, a hedge fund manager paying $0 in local and state taxes. At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and with the poverty rate at record levels, the training participants, including CVH members, went to send him a message that this is not acceptable.
CVH GAINS NATIONAL ATTENTION IN WALL STREET JOURNAL/ AP ARTICLE
Described in the Wall Street Journal as "two of New York's growing progressive groups... often associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement," we joined with our longtime allies at VOCAL-NY to criticize the role big money plays in NYS politics and how this distorts our public policy.
Last year we filed a complaint against "The Committee to Save NY" that got considerable public attention and this was our latest attempt to get a better understanding of the relationship between Governor Cuomo and his wealthy friends from the State Business Council and Partnership for NYC that run the Committee to Save NY.
Here's the Associated Press story that ran in the Wall Street Journal (and all over the country). You can also read our original complaint and watch the video of when we visited the home of one of the Committee's leaders. Contact Chris@CVHaction.org for more info.
CVH FIGHTING FOR FAIR ELECTIONS IN NY
We all know big money is what really drives our elections and what decisions get made by the officials once they get into office. That's why we've been fighting for Fair Elections in NYS, that would see support for candidates that do not have mega-rich donors to fund their campaign.
In April, the Poughkeepsie chapter held a press conference (pics on Facebook) saying "It's time to listen to us, Not big money." Gloria from the NYC chapter spoke on a panel with state legislators and allies (more Facebook pics) and Agnes spoke with researchers about how Fair Elections could benefit low-income communities and communities of color.
And, finally, Sheila in Poughkeepsie was featured in statewide media following her statement at an Albany press conference. As Gannett papers reported:
"Public financing and lower contribution limits would ensure that average New Yorkers who don’t have a lot of money have a voice in democracy," said Sheila Blanding of Poughkeepsie, a member of the group Community Voices Heard. “We might not have a lot of money to donate, but we do have a say,” said Blanding, 48. “It’s like they forget that little people count too.”
Last week, we rallied at the Newburgh City Hall to defend the 'Newburgh Builds Newburgh' program. As the Times Herald-Record wrote:
"Advocates demonstrated on Thursday in support of a program designed to create jobs for the poor in Newburgh. 'Mayor Kennedy, where are our jobs?' asked Dan Piwowar, reading from a statement as about a dozen members of Community Voices Heard, an organization that helps low-income people, stood with signs.
"Demonstrators want the City Council to approve a $75,000 contract with the jobs program Workforce Development Institute. The institute would complete the second phase of a program that aims to integrate poor residents into the work force. The contract calls for a variety of services, including job placement for more than 20 people."
PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING NYC REVIEWS YEAR 1, LOOKS TO EXPAND IN YEAR 2
In April, we joined with the "four trailblazing (NY) City Council Members" who participated in the PB process, along with other community leaders, funders from around the country, and other allies to review the first year of PB. We considered how it came together and explored how to expand it into other council districts, other city agencies, and entirely different cities. The presentations prepared by CVH, Participatory Budgeting Project and Urban Justice Center are on our website so everyone can learn more about PBNYC.
Building off the major success from the first year of PBNYC, we continue our advocacy efforts to expand PB into even more city council districts and to build on the first year's successful vote where low-income New Yorkers voted at even higher rates than is seen in NYC municipal elections!
CVH HOSTS GUESTS FROM EUROPEAN COMMUNITY ORGANIZING NETWORK
Over three weeks in late March and April, we hosted two fellows -- Ana Maria Suciu from Romania and Marton Gosztonyi from Hungary -- as part of the "Citizens Legislative Advocacy in Minority Communities" exchange program. Ana and Marton were two of the 16 fellows that were hosted by 7 organizing groups around the country. They joined us for smaller direct actions, larger mobilizations, strategy meetings, and even the more day-to-day work of staff meetings.
Ana and Marton were a pleasure to host and we learned a great deal from them both!
Later this summer, CVH's Public Housing Campaign Partnership Director Mo George will be traveling to Hungary for three weeks as part of the American exchange delegation.
Community Voices Heard is seeking an organizer to grow and facilitate the Poughkeepsie chapter. You can view the full description on our Jobs & Internships webpage. Desired start date in June, so get your application in ASAP! Contact Jenny@CVHaction.org for more info or send your resume to CVH@CVHaction.org.