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Save the Green Party of New York State. Cast Your Vote For Howie Hawkins.

If you are a NY State voter and you truly believe in democracy and having more ballot choices, I urge you to vote for Howie Hawkins and the Green Party today. The future of the Green Party in New York State is at stake.

Because of a hissy fit Gov. Cuomo had with the Working Families Party (WFP) over they’re nomination of Cynthia Nixon over him in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Cuomo and his conspirators in the state legislator pushed through a number of draconian changes to electoral law including a huge increase in the number of votes a party must receive for their gubernatorial candidate and now their presidential candidate. The number has risen from 50,000 to 130,000 making it much more difficult for smaller parties to obtain or keep a ballot line. Not only could this spell the demise of the GP in NY, it will also affect the WFP, Conservative Party, Independence Party, and the Libertarian and SAM parties (that only earned their respective ballot lines for the first time in 2018).

NY is a “safe state.” The Democrats have it sewn up; Trump cannot win here. Your vote for the Green Party however, will make a real difference. We need all voices to be heard. That’s true democracy. Don’t let Gov. Cuomo’s bruised ego and arrogance decide who you get to vote for.

Standing on the corner of activism & politics

AOC rally at Bicentennial Park in Throggs Neck

It’s been an interesting past couple of weeks.  On Oct. 19th at the monthly board meeting of the Hutchinson River Restoration Project (HRRP), I was elected to a two year term as president. I’ve served as chair (or in other capacities) for a few different organizations over the years but this one is particularly gratifying, and one for which I’m  quite grateful.  HRRP is a grassroots environmental 501C3 not-for-profit. I’ve taken on some serious responsibility with this position.

Last week, members representing HRRP (including me),  City Island Oyster Reef, City Island Civic Association, City Island Rising, City Island, Historical Society, and Save the Sound held a virtual meeting with some of the elected officials and their staff members who represent communities through which the Hutch flows — State Senators Alessandra Biaggi (SD34), Jamaal Bailey (SD36) and Mt. Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard — for updates and progress reports on what’s been accomplished and still needs to be done in cleaning up the Hutch.  Also on the call was the Mt. Vernon Commissioner of Public Works, Damani Bush, and City Engineer, Curtis Woods, who reported on the progress they’re making with repairs and replacements to the decaying sewage infrastructure that is discharging pollutants into the Hutch.

In my introduction, I mentioned my new position, and noted that this meeting — along with our previous in-person meeting at Sen. Biaggi’s office back in February — were two more meetings than we ever had with previous elected officials ( you’ll find a more detailed report on this meeting posted to the HRRP website in the coming days).

Community organization tables at the event.

Later in the week I received an invitation for HRRP to participate in a community event on Halloween at which we could distribute our brochures. The event turned out to be a combination campaign rally organized by Team AOC and a tabling event for local environmental and civic groups to promote their organizations and missions. I need to make clear that by law a 501C3 not-for-profit cannot engage in any political activity that either specifically supports or opposes any political candidate. It cannot accept or make any donations in their name. The organizers made sure that both activities were kept separated, and so we participated. Lobbying, by the way, is permitted and yesterday’s event was  an opportunity for us to lobby our elected reps.

HRRP display

Well, I got to meet Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. She’s short. She looks much larger seated in Congress. I wasn’t introduced to her. She was introduced to me! She expressed her appreciation to me for what HRRP is doing and wants to set up a meeting with us soon to learn more about the Hutch (it’s in her district) and see what resources she can provide to us . Sen. Biaggi was also in attendance and came up to me and said it was great to see me in person again and not on a Zoom call. She gave me a little bag of Halloween candy and I gave her a brochure. I told her humorously that I couldn’t really be seen taking gifts from an elected official and so the brochure was an even exchange. Local community activists and organizers David Diaz and John Doyle were also at the event and throughout were introducing me to various organizers and pols including City Council Member Brad Lander (CC39, Brooklyn) who is running for NYC Public Advocate for 2021. CM Lander was interested in our work as well. As an aside, Lander signed onto a NYC Council resolution in 2015  in support of closing the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant that was developed in part by the group Shut Down Indian Point Now! (SDIPN) for which I was Chair at the time.

All of this is a little strange for me. I’m beginning to remind myself of architect Reino Aarnio, my favorite design professor at the NY Institute of Technology where I studied architectural design. Prof. Aarnio, by the way,  designed the Hawaiian pavilion at the 1964 Worlds Fair in Queens (I found out by accident. He told me (with a smile) it was okay if I didn’t let people know). He always had a smile on his face and always encouraged and helped his students to do their best. He was outspoken in his criticism of the pettiness and stridency of the architecture department administration and, on occasion, butted heads with the department chair. But it was always done with grace, charm and humor on his part while standing firm in his position and defending his teaching style.

Hawaiian Pavilion, 1964 World’s Fair

I’m used to be being an outspoken, unflinching, uncompromising, unapologetic, full-time spokesperson, part-time gadfly, defender, advocate, and occasional attack dog for the Green Party, as well as a perennial Green Party candidate. That’s not going to change. But I may have to temper myself slightly now that I have new responsibilities…and what looks like a seat at the table. Certainly unexpected, but not entirely unwelcome. I’ll just need to ask myself once in a while, “What would Prof. Aarnio do?”