Dear Activist,  

We kicked this week off with more action days at the Capitol, and the start of petitioning to get candidates on the ballot for the June 23 primary. We’re still fighting to protect bail reform, and to ensure that the funding our communities need is prioritized in the final state budget due on April 1. We expect one-house budgets from the Assembly and Senate during the second week of March.  

Paid sick days have been another hot-button topic in Albany. An estimated 1.3 million New Yorkers still lack access to a single paid sick day. That’s unacceptable. We’re urging state leaders to include the Governor’s proposal for paid sick days in the budget. You can send a message to your state representative to support paid sick days here, and here to help protect New Yorkers from convoluted medical billing processes with hidden fees and unaffordable interest rates.

We’re also still rolling out our lists of endorsements for the 2020 elections. Our New York City chapter wrapped up endorsement interviews last week. For more information, contact your local Citizen Action office here. Now, let’s get into some of the ways we showed up this week.

Leader Spotlight

Rose Belfort has been a member at our Hudson Valley chapter for only a month, and previously worked for the Human Rights Commission in Kingston. Rose participated in this week’s education lobby day. Rose is the last person on the left holding the Citizen Action banner in the picture below.

“She is an enthusiastic speaker on our issues; she knows how to organize and do outreach like a boss, and she is tireless.” – Fanon Frazier, Citizen Action Community Organizer

Rose talking to Senator James Skoufis during an office visit with students from Kingston High School.

Around the State

We rallied at the Capitol to reject any bail reform rollbacks on Tuesday, February 25! This action included office takeovers, lobby visits and a press conference with hundreds of impacted people, community advocates, leading civil and human rights organizations, our allies in government and Akeem Browder, the brother of Kalief Browder. He said bail reform would have saved his brother, who tragically died by suicide after being detained for three years before on Rikers pretrial, because his family could’t afford his bail of $3,000. Kalief was just 16 years old at the time of his arrest, and the charges he faced were later dropped.

Akeem Browder and Legacie, Citizen Action member

Thanks to our new pretrial laws, which we are fighting tooth and nail to defend, more New Yorkers are home with their families, can return to work and get to the root of causes harm rather than languish in jail because they can’t afford their freedom. Click here to read more about the rally

We also rallied to demand a NY Homes Guarantee, including passage of the Good Cause eviction bill. The bill was dropped from the historic tenant protections package enacted this summer, leaving 5 million New Yorkers at risk for abuses by predatory property owners. Click here to send a letter to your representative to tell them to stop unjust evictions this year.

Activists from Binghamton in Albany for Good Cause Day!

Members from Utica were in Albany for Good Cause, too! Activists stopped by Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon’s office!

“We have a housing crisis in Binghamton. We have an eviction problem in Binghamton. We have landlords and rental property businesses who say they are in the eviction business and not the housing business in Binghamton. I have people who come into my office in distress every week that are facing evictions sacred about their future with the threat of being homeless on their back and the backs of their families – most of them at no fault of their own…” – Amber Johnson, Citizen Action Community Organizer

Senator Julia Salazar, Community Organizer Amber Johnson and Assemblymember Pamela Hunter. Amber’s full speech is available here.

Tuesday was also the first day of petitioning in New York! Our Capital Region candidates – Thearse McCalmon for Senate District 49, Sam Fein for Assembly in the 108th District and Matt Toporowski for Albany County District Attorney – joined activists for the bail rally and then held a press conference to promote their progressive platforms. You can watch the press conference here.

Community Organizer Amy Jones announces Capital Region Progressive Candidates

 

Our Western New York chapter hosted a Report to the People event on Tuesday, February 25, with community leaders to discuss the issues that affect our everyday lives. The group consisted of the chapter’s Education, Men of Color, Women of Color and Endorsements committees and special question speakers.

And on Wednesday, February 26, our Hudson Valley chapter was in Albany for an Education Day of Action! Activists meet with lawmakers to demand the $15 million owed to Kingston Schools, and millions more to Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Ellenville, New Paltz and Saugerties! We’re also fighting for a culturally informed curriculum and ending the school-to-prison pipeline!

“It’s one step closer to make sure we can do those things, live freely like our brothers and sisters in the same community without fear, without anxiety, that really creates trauma within family dynamics. – Stevie Vargas, Citizen Action Community Organizer in Rochester

Upcoming Events

Albany

Tuesday, March 3 at 6-7:30 p.m. – Demand Justice Committee Meeting – Join our committee to work towards justice in the Capital Region. Contact Sam Rini at srini@citizenactionny.org for more information.

Every Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. – Pardon the Interruption – Join our support group for formerly incarcerated individuals. Meetings will take place at our Albany office at 94 Central Ave. Contact Community Organizers, Amy Jones (ajones@citizenactionny.org) and Sam Young (syoung@citizenactionny.org) for more information.

Binghamton

Saturday, February 29 – The Truth About Bail Reform at 3-5 p.m. & Thursday, March 5 at 6-8 p.m. – Broome County Public Library, 185 Court St., Binghmton, 13901. Come learn about bail justice! Let’s talk about the positive impacts of our new pretrial laws. RSVP on eventbrite here.

Sunday, March 1 – Voter Registration Canvass at 12:30 p.m. Join us as we go out into the community to help register new voters and update the addresses of current voters ahead of their April 3 deadline for the New York State Democratic Presidential Prima. RSVP here.

Thursday, March 12 – Bing Tenants United March at 5:30-7 p.m. – Join us to learn All are welcomed to join our Binghamton Tenants United Meeting this Thursday 3/12 at 5:30 pm at the Citizen Action Office on 477 State st (behind the CVS). If you have any questions or need a ride, please contact (607) 723-0110 or email ajohnson@citizenactionny.org.

Buffalo

Tuesday, March 3 at 5:00 a.m.- 4 p.m. – Education Action Day in Albany – Join us as we travel to Albany to advocate for full funding of Foundation Aid. We’re departing at 5 a.m, from LaSalle Bus Station, 3030 Main Street, Buffalo, and will return around 7 p.m. Lunch and Snacks/Refreshments provided. RSVP here.

Tuesday, March 10 at 6 p.m. – Women of Color Committee Meeting – The Women of Color committee is about taking action to support women of color and their families. The committee will meet monthly in order to discuss what issues women of color in Buffalo are facing and what we can do to stand up against it. The will take place at the Citizen Action office at 1439 Main Street. RSVP here.

Kingston

Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m, – Kingston Common Council Meeting – The results of Kingston’s vacancy rate study, at first look, disqualified the city from establishing local rent guidelines. Although there will not be a public comment period at this meeting, we’re showing up to witness and support Kingston moving forward with verifying the study. The meeting will take place at City Hall Conference Room 1, 420 Broadway Kingston, NY.

Tuesday, March 17 at 6 p.m. – Structural Racism in the Criminal Legal System: Cash Bail, Judicial Discretion, Risk Assessment Tools – In coalition with NYCLU (ACLU), join us for a visual presentation at the Everett Hodge Community Center, 15-21 Franklin Street, Kingston. The official flyer will be available here soon.

 

 

Rochester

Sunday, March 1 at 2:45 – 5:45 p.m. – “Just Mercy” Screening and Panel at the Cinema Theatre. The movie is based on lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson’s acclaimed memoir about his relentless quest for justice. Admission is $5. Learn more here.

Saturday, March 7 at 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Fund Our Schools Workshop – Join us for a workshop on Foundation Aid and education inequities in New York State. We’ll discuss the problem and how we can build enough power to transform our public schools. RSVP here.

Become a sustaining member

Citizen Action of New York is building power in communities across the state. Join us by becoming a sustaining monthly member today. Click here to support.

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Closing message

“I didn’t break the rules, but I challenged the rules.” – Ella Baker, 1977

In Solidarity,

Tanique