Zephyr, fracking, mom-and-pops…what a year!

Nadine Hoffmann.

Nadine Hoffmann.

BY NADINE HOFFMAN    |  The Village Independent Democrats had a hectic 2014 leading into an exciting 2015.

V.I.D. was the first Democratic club to endorse, and campaign for, the Zephyr Teachout-Tim Wu ticket in the 2014 Democratic primary for governor. Although losing to Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul, Zephyr and Tim romped in Greenwich Village and did astonishingly well statewide. Many in the community believe that Governor Cuomo’s decision to finally ban fracking in New York State was influenced by Teachout’s strong opposition to it, as well as her surprising strength in the primary.

In March, V.I.D. co-sponsored, along with The Villager, “Solutions to Save Our Small Businesses,” a forum to discuss strategies for saving small businesses in the East and West Village. Sharon Woolums, a V.I.D. member, has been pursuing this issue for more than two years, and after coverage by The Villager and the success of the forum, the issue has gathered even more momentum. V.I.D. members will be out on the streets collecting signatures in support of the Small Business Job Survival Act, currently stalled in the City Council. Hopefully, other organizations and Democratic clubs will join in the effort. Will the bill get passed?  Who knows? But our efforts are a prod.

V.I.D. is a signatory in the campaign to veto a bill that would create a liquefied natural gas facility at Port Ambrose, off the coast of Jones Beach, and close to our three major airports. It is scheduled to be constructed in an area originally slated be a wind farm.

Liquified natural gas is natural gas that has been super-chilled, turning it into a liquid, so that large volumes can be shipped in tankers that are as long as the Empire State Building is tall. As a result of the Marine Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard receiving more than 62,000 letters from environmental groups, there will be a longer period of review before a final Environmental Impact Statement will be released. That’s a good start. In order to stop Port Ambrose, pressure must be exerted on Governors Cuomo and Chris Christie to veto this project.

V.I.D. took part in a rally, “Veto Port Ambrose,” on Mon., April 13, outside of the Harvard Club, where Cuomo will be speaking. Will it help? Who knows? But 62,000 comments had an impact.  Maybe a rally will add another step.


PROGRESS


V.I.D. District Leader Keen Berger was a founding member of the 75 Morton St. Task Force, the group that plodded along for seven years to finally turn 75 Morton St. into a middle school for the neighborhood.

And now the task force is looking at plans for a wonderful new school, currently planned to enroll its first class in September 2017.

Does community involvement help? It sure did!

V.I.D. is a co-sponsor of Candles for Clemency, a campaign to pressure Cuomo to begin issuing clemencies for carefully vetted people in prison. Working with the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, several political clubs, progressive organizations and celebrities were encouraged to join the campaign. The cornerstone of the effort was a rally and candlelight vigil in September on the front lawn of the governor’s home in Westchester. Almost 200 people holding candles walked quietly to Cuomo’s home and stood there solemnly for 15 minutes.

If clemencies are not initiated in May, another, larger rally and candlelight vigil will take place on June 13. Will these actions help? Who knows? But it is a step forward.

Over all, it has been a productive time for the Village Independent Democrats.

If you would like to learn more, follow us on www.villageindependentdemocrats.org .

Hoffmann is president, Village Independent Democrats

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