I hope this email finds you and your loved ones in good health. As we adjust to social distancing, our community of activists and organizers have been finding creative ways to stay connected to the movement and each other. From starting book clubs to gathering donations online, this community knows how to come together when times get rough.
One of my favorite quotes says: “Love for family and the love of friends are the greatest wealth, and the tragedy of true poverty is that it strips those away.” The state budget is being finalized (due Wednesday) and Governor Cuomo is insisting on cutting funding for Medicaid during a global health crisis, and warns of more education cuts. He took executive action to cancel mortgage payments, but left relief for renters in the air. And while emergency benefits are available to some New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19, many workers are left out. There are tens of thousands of people without permanent housing and out of work.
Everything we’ve been fighting for has come down to this moment, and this moment will go down in history. New York must raise the revenue we desperately need right now by taxing the wealthiest in our state! We have a few more days to impact the budget – look below to see how we’re showing up virtually to demand a fair one! Oh, and check out our new website
Brigitte Arduin has been a member of the Capital District’s Demand Justice Committee since 2018. Brigitte said she sees her role in organizing as being there “to support, especially the efforts of Women of Color, and not necessarily to be out front.”
“I am very motivated around worker/gender justice and education equity, but I try to show up for as many events as I can. All of the issues we work on are interlocking.” – Brigitte Arduini, Capital Region Demand Justice Committee member
Around the State
In addition to the continuation of our regional programs (virtual committee meetings, etc), our Political Education Program Managers, Sam Rini and Ravi Mangla, will be hosting weekly virtual trainings. This week, the team hosted The Global City Digital Workshop. Participants discussed how the current economy has given rise to extreme inequality. Do you have a program idea in mind? Take our survey here.
Yesterday, our Capital District chapter members and supporters rallied in their vehicles outside the state Capitol to protect bail reform. During the No Bail Rollbacks Parade, activists drove parade style down Central Avenue and parked on Washington Avenue near the Capitol where they honked their horns as lawmakers convened. There’s been a massive push to reduce local jail and prison populations to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Citizen Action Capital Region Community Organizers Shawn Young and Amy Jones. Photos by Aidan Faiella, Citizen Action Operations Coordinator.
We hosted or participated in several virtual meetings and online engagements this week. The Citizen Action State of the Budget Digital Meeting went live on Thursday, March 26 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. Citizen Action staff and board members participated to provide an update on the status of our fight for a fair New York State budget, including executive directors Rosemary Rivera and Jessica Wisneski. Our Stantley Fritz, our political director, moderated the meeting.
“Governor Cuomo can take action to get our state through this moment of crisis by raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires.” – @StanFritz, Citizen Action Political Director
“Governor Cuomo is doing a good job in crisis response to #COVID19. However, he’s created 10 years of austerity budgets that have underfunded everything from health care to schools. Now he’s trying to cut the Medicaid budget.” – @jesswisneski #MakeBillionairesPay
“It’s totally irresponsible to roll back bail reform now.There’s a massive humanitarian crisis unfolding in jails and prisons across NY state as people are getting sick. We must release aging people & other vulnerable populations.” –@Rockierivera
The Rochester City School District Virtual Budget Proposal went live at 6:30 p.m. More than 100 teachers received pink slips during the 2019 holiday season, and the district is planning to make more cuts, meanwhile New York owes Rochester schools $86 million. In a video [here] captured during one of Rochester’s big education days at the state Capitol, a sixth-grader talks about the moment she found out that her favorite teacher was being laid-off.
There’s been a rise in COVID-19 infections in Erie County where three Sheriff’s Office employeesand a deputy at the Erie County Holding Center have tested positive for the virus. In response to this, our Western New York chapter members and supporters rallied in their cars outside of the Holding Center to demand that people be released.
Christian Parra, the chapter’s community organizer, also joined Adam Bojak – the candidate we endorsed from the 149th Assembly District – on the Jim Anderson show on Power 96.5. Jim is a Citizen Action State Board Member. They spoke about the crisis at the Holding Center and the issues impacting low-income communities and solutions.
“Employees have tested positive and people need to be released.”- Chrisitian Parra
Our Southern Tier chapter members also rallied outside of the Broome County Jail in their cars to demand the release of incarcerated people who are at-risk for infection, as well as those being held on non-violent charges.
March 29, Sunday, 4:30-7:30 p.m. – Workers Rights Social Media Blast: COVID-19 has made it clear that essential workers are underpaid, overworked and generally mistreated by an elite corporate-friendly system that gleefully puts profits above workers health and security. Read more here.
Everyday until March 31 – 6-9 p.m – No Bail Reform Rollbacks: In the wake of COVID-19, we must continue to fight any changes to bail reform in the final budget. Call your state legislators at (855) 963- 1546 between 6-9 p.m.and tell them to protect bail reform. Click here for more information.
Thursday, April 2 – Virtual Community Gathering: Join us for a Zoom chat as we make space to be in community together and discuss our plans to move forward with our advocacy in this new reality of social distancing. RSVP here.
Everyday Until April 2 , 5-8 p.m – Tax the Rich: The COVID-19 pandemic reveals how decades of underfunding have left our schools exposed and under-equipped. New York State currently owes public schools $3.8 Billion–enough is enough! Call state leaders between 5 – 8 p.m. and demand fully funded schools this year! RSVP here.
March 26 – April 27 – Virtual Phone Bank for Bernie Sanders for President: Join the New York team to call voters! If you’re new to phone banking, don’t worry. There will be brief demos at the start of each shift. Click here to RSVP. Access the video link here.
March 28 – April 25 , Tuesdays, 7-9 p.m. & Saturdays, 11 a.m – 1 p.m. -Statewide Virtual House Party for Bernie: Click here for more information.
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