Friday, June 9, 2017

Rockland County New York Democrats: "No IDC" by Jake Jacobs


An anti-IDC resolution was overwhelmingly approved Thursday evening at the annual convention of the Rockland County Democratic Committee of New York. Following candidate nominations and typical convention business, a motion was circulated calling for all Democrats to unify to end Republican control of the New York State Senate.

It was overwhelmingly approved.

Since 2011, the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of Democratic NYS Senators has prevented mainline Democrats from controlling the chamber, choosing instead power-sharing agreements and back room negotiations with Republicans, an arrangement the IDC claims is the best way to “get things done”. In recent months, an IDC protest movement has been growing in size and intensity, insisting that all Democrats come together to show firmer opposition to the Trump agenda by taking the gavel away from the GOP.

Rockland County Democratic chairwoman Kristen Stavisky acknowledged the presence of local grassroots organizations Rockland Citizens Action Network and Rockland United who introduced the resolution as a response to Trump's “onslaught” against democracy. Mentioning recent comments made by NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and DNC chair Keith Ellison who echoed the call for Democrats to act swiftly to take back control of the NYS Senate, the resolution found strong support in the room from Rockland County committee members.

Though not named, the measure was aimed at Rockland County’s State Senator David Carlucci, a founding member of the IDC whose New City and Ossining offices were protested repeatedly by constituents in recent weeks.

One committee member sought a separate resolution tabling the action until after the November elections. Although he said he actually agreed with the call for the IDC to fold, he felt the contention would muddle party unity in down-ballot races. Other speakers noted that the opposite was true, citing the sustained IDC protests as proof that much of the new energy locally was directed against the status quo in Albany.

Another speaker took the podium to remind members how Senator Carlucci has supported local candidates over the years, but he also disclosed he was a paid Carlucci staffer. Several speakers followed, with only those supporting the resolution receiving applause from the hall.

When the chair called for the members to vote on the resolution, almost every hand in the room went up. Carlucci’s staffer then called for a roll call vote. This elicited audible groans from the committee members. Chairwoman Stavisky asked Carlucci’s staffer if he really wanted to go through with the lengthy procedure, noting he might as well just get a copy of the sign-in sheet as just about everyone present voted for the measure. He eventually withdrew the request, but Chairwoman Stavisky pointedly reminded attendees that this action was a result of Carlucci’s broken promises.

In 2014, Senator Carlucci pledged to leave the IDC in order to secure the Democratic nomination from the county committee and prevent a primary challenge. After he won re-election, however, he shocked Democratic committee members by completely reneging, saying at the time:

“The people of my district care about results, they care about governing, and they care that their elected officials are motivated by ideas and not politics. I will continue to work with with my colleagues in the IDC to help the people in my district”, adding “[t]he time for politics ended on November 4th. It is now time to govern.”

The resolution adopted Thursday night ncludes language pledging support only for candidates or incumbents who “commit themselves to caucusing with the mainline Senate Democratic Conference”. This suggests the committee might not carry petitions for Carlucci unless he leaves the IDC.

Just this week, the NY BAT teachers, a grassroots group of educators joined the “No IDC” call with a press release describing the IDC’s withholding of funding for impoverished schools. This followed on the heels of a new report by Alliance for Quality Education called “Pay to Play: Charters Schools and the IDC” which shows how $677,000 from charter school supporters and PACs preceded the IDC’s support for increased charter school funding in the recent budget negotiation. This privatization of tax dollars, diverted away from needy public schools mirrors in New York exactly what Trump and DeVos want to do to across the US.

Other groups protesting the IDC around the state include the WFP, TrueBlueNY, Justice League NYC and Indivisible Harlem. The IDC has responded with a series of promotional ads, some paid for by Republican-backed entities who support the IDC’s alliance with GOP leadership. But back in his hometown of Clarkstown, Democratic Committee members spoke about "Democratic values” being more important than wealthy backers. On her way out of the convention hall, Chairwoman Stavisky said resolutely “this has been a long time coming”.IDC-resolution-June7-2016.jpg

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