Tag Archives: Zephyr Teachout

42 Days to Go — Taking Down Members of Bronx-Born IDC (Independent Democratic Conference)

2 Aug

8.2.18 – I wrote about Bronx politics and critical local issues for almost 20 years, when I was reporter and editor of the Norwood News (in Community Board 7) and the Bronx News Network. One thing I rarely witnessed were Democratic incumbents (all were Dems except for Guy Velella during my tenure) facing primary challengers with a good shot of winning. During my time on the job, except when corrupt incumbents were defeated or stepped down (State Senator Pedro Espada, Councilman Pedro G. Espada, State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Councilman Larry Seabrook, Nelso Castro, Eric Stevenson, Israel Ruiz, etc., etc.) few if any vets of the City Council, state Assembly, or state Senate, faced significant challengers.

But times have changed. If there’s one thing to be grateful to Trump and his seemingly corrupt victory for, it is this: excellent and energized freshmen progressive candidates are taking it to the streets along with big teams of dedicated volunteers. They are acting on the fact that state and local elections are as – and even more in many cases – critical to democracy and local issues as presidential elections. What happens – or doesn’t happen – locally has a dramatic impact on national politics as well. Even big-shot former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.”

And it is not just local in terms of issues affecting Bronx residents and neighborhoods, but residents and towns of the entire Empire State.

And that’s because of the IDC, a team of eight “Democrats” who sided with Republicans in the State Senate, handed over all of the real power of Democrats to the GOP. That’s blocked every essential bill on critical issues like voting rights, school funding, a Health Care Act, and the DREAM Act from passing in the State Senate and joining forces with the Assembly, vastly controlled by Democrats.

State Senator Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, formed the IDC in 2011. It wouldn’t have existed without him. (Technically, it no longer exists since Cuomo made them shut it down earlier this year, but Klein and his team are being told to pay $1.4  million they received from the Independence Party. Like almost all other IDC incumbents, Klein faces a strong challenge from Alessandra Biaggi, who already has 400 volunteers on her team taking it to the streets, knocking on doors, phone banking, writing post cards, contributing whatever they can. Here’s her recent video.

Bronx Democrats (including me) have moaned and groaned for years that our votes don’t  count for much, particularly in presidential elections. But this is a Democratic primary with epic issues (local, state and national) at stake. Your vote – and participation – matters. Big time.

So learn more and volunteer for Biaggi (or any of the other challengers to IDC incumbents ) right now! There are only six weeks to go! The primary is on Thursday (yes, Thursday!) September 13.

Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about the IDC, check out this excellent, brief video Zephyr Teachout did last year.

 

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How So-Called Bronx Democrat Jeff Klein and Colleagues Have Handed Over the State Senate to Republicans

30 Jan

The IDC (Independent Democratic Conference) is a group of 8 “Democratic” state senators who have fled their former party colleagues in Albany to work with Republicans and give them full power of the legislative body, thereby blocking critical progressive legislation. It especially gives Bronxite State Senator Jeff Klein, the IDC’s founder and leader, the power to join his pal, Senate Republican and “majority leader” John Flanagan, in disabling Democrats from passing critical bills. (Simcha Felder of Brooklyn isn’t part of IDC, but is essentially a Democrat who works closely with Republicans nonetheless, so he, too, is a GOP pal.)

This critical political reality has been in city and state newspapers and websites a little bit lately, but hasn’t yet sufficiently spread among New Yorkers statewide, like say, how Trump’s attacks on Obamacare or DACA have done all over the planet. Time to change that. A couple of months ago, Zephyr Teachout, a law professor and Democratic activist who ran for governor against Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary (snatching a significant 36% of the vote) posted this excellent brief video explaining just what’s going on and what we need to do to change it. Check it out below. (And check out the sites of two Democratic candidates challenging Klein in the 34th Senate District: https://www.biaggi4ny.com and https://www.lewiskny.com.)