2014 New York City Civil Court Independent Screening Panel Report

On January 27th, 2014, the New York County Democratic Committee announced the formation of an Independent Screening Panel to report on candidates for the nomination of the Democratic Party for one (1) vacancy on the New York City Civil Court, 1st Judicial District (New York County), which will be filled in the November general election. The chief operating officer of numerous bar associations, community organizations and law schools designated the following members to the panel, which will be directed to report a total of no more than the three (3) most highly qualified candidates for the one (1) vacancy:

  • Andrea Kahn, Esq., New York Women’s Bar Association
  • Assistant Dean Victoria Eastus, New York Law School
  • Dawn Kelly, National Lawyers Guild
  • Eve Cho Guillergan, Esq., KALAGNY
  • Jonathan S. Damashek, Esq., New York State Trial Lawyers Association
  • Joseph French, Brehon Law Society
  • Lakeisha Spence, Association of Black Women Attorneys
  • Laura Russell, New York City Bar Association
  • Luwick Francois, Metropolitan Black Bar Association
  • Matthew Fernandez, Puerto Rican Bar Association
  • Mitchell Wong, Konigsberg Asian Americans for Equality
  • Nicole Arrindell, MFY Legal Services
  • Professor Degna Levister, The City University of New York School of Law
  • Steven Interrante, Esq., Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Susan Puder, Sanctuary for Families
  • William Wang, Asian American Bar Association of New York
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‘A June primary is sensible’ – Written by Keith L.T Wright and Susan Lerner

In New York state, the primary election for state and local representatives is always held the second Tuesday of September, right after Labor Day and the start of the new school year. If you blink you could miss it, and many New Yorkers do.

In 2010, New York ranked last in the nation for voter turnout, with only 32 percent of the 13.4 million eligible voters actually exercising their constitutional right. New York City’s turnout last year hit a record low, with barely 22 percent of registered Democrats, and 12 percent of registered Republicans.

The situation is similar across the state. Take for example, Rochester, where the new mayor won by a margin of 5,000 votes, with only 23 percent voter turnout.

There are many reasons why people don’t make it to the polls, but there is something the state can do to make voting more convenient and cost effective: consolidate all primary elections into a single June date. It’s a simple solution to increase voter engagement and save the taxpayers money.

Currently, New Yorkers vote in as many as five elections a year: there are local elections for towns and villages in March, school board in May, federal elections in June, then again in September for state primaries, and finally in November for the general election.

Elections are expensive. It costs millions of dollars to keep the polls open, maintain the machines, and make sure every vote is counted. The bill can really add up in the event of a recount, which can drag on for weeks.

So why should New Yorkers continue to foot the bill? If we consolidate our elections into a single primary it would save the taxpayers an estimated $50 million.

A June primary would also increase public engagement by giving voters an immediate opportunity to hold their representatives accountable. The state legislative calendar runs from January to late June, at which point lawmakers return home to focus on matters in their districts.

By streamlining the primary date, legislative business would be fresh in voters’ minds, and there would be no confusion about when the election is being held. Not to mention it would give candidates a better opportunity to make their case to voters, who typically tune out during the summer months and only re-engage two weeks before the September primary.

There is another reason to move the primary to June. Members of the military serving overseas are currently disenfranchised from state elections by the short turnaround between the deadline for mailing in their ballots and Election Day. We don’t even give the women and men who keep us safe a voice in the democratic process. That has to change.

Voting should be accessible, easy and efficient. A single June primary is an important first step to counteract voter fatigue and kick the democratic process back into high gear.

Although opponents may argue that it’s not in the public interest for elected officials to campaign during the legislative session, the long and short-term benefits of a more transparent and user-friendly process is ultimately paramount.

What matters most is to empower every New Yorker to participate in good, open government, and participation begins at the polls.

Every New Yorker who is concerned about the waste of taxpayer dollars and who wants to ensure that they are fully exercising their right to vote should contact their state and local representatives to voice their support for a June primary.

*This Op-Ed, written by County Leader Keith L.T Wright and Susan Lerner, appeared on timesunion.com today, January 30th, 2014.  Susan Lerner is executive director of Common Cause NY. Keith L.T. Wright is a state assemblyman who represents Harlem and serves as the co-chair of the state Democratic Party.

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Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension.
We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Democrats,

Today we commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As we look back on the tremendous gift Dr. King gave to America, we are reminded of a life not only filled with inspired words but also a life defined by formative actions. It is this legacy of action that has led America towards a brighter future.

I stand today with 32BJ SEIU and many of New York County’s finest Democrats to protest increasing low wages for airport workers. The Port Authority of NY and NJ has the power to impose minimum baseline wage and benefit standards that would lift airport workers out of poverty. Democrats everywhere say this can and should be done.

We must continue Dr. King’s legacy by fighting for equal justice for all. This means standing up for fair wages not just for some workers but for all workers. It means demanding affordable housing and access to basic human services not just for some New Yorkers but for all New Yorkers.

Join me in continuing Dr. King’s march towards justice. We celebrate his life and his legacy as we too take action to make America truly a country “with liberty and justice for all.”

Sincerely,

Keith L.T. Wright
Chairman
New York County Democratic Committee

20140120_115655

New York County Democrats in Action at LaGuardia Airport on MLK Day 2014. In the photo (from left to right): NYC Councilman Ben Kallos, NYC Councilman Mark Levine, and County Leader Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez were also in attendance at the event.
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2014 Civil Court Independent Screening Panel

The New York County Democratic Committee has announced the formation
of an Independent Screening Panel to report on candidates for nomination by the Democratic Party for one (1) New York County-wide Civil Court vacancy, which will be filled in the November general election. The heads of numerous bar associations, community’s organizations and law schools have been invited to nominate members of the panel, which will be directed to report a total of no more than the three most highly qualified candidates for the Civil Court vacancy.

Candidates for the Courts may obtain applications, via mail, from the Judiciary Committee of the New York County Democratic Committee, 108 W. 39th Street, New York NY 10018 or by email: manhattandems@gmail.com. Questions concerning this year’s panel should be directed to Ms. Cathleen McCadden, the Interim Executive Director of the New York County Democratic Committee office at (212) 687-6540.  The applications should be submitted no sooner and no later than January 27th, 2014 between the hours of 8am and 2pm.

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Congrats to OUR New Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito!

I am pleased to congratulate my friend and local colleague, the new Speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, on her historic win today. New York County has once again proven that it is at the forefront in cultivating dynamic leaders that bridge communities across the entire city.

I am sure that Speaker Mark-Viverito will lead the City Council in an independent and fearless way. Her stewardship will reflect the principles of fairness and reform that are the hallmark of New York County. Our new Speaker will undoubtedly face many challenges, but her ability to make decisions based upon a total landscape and to push past special and singular interests will be of collective benefit to us all.

I would also like to commend Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who was an exemplary statesman in his withdrawal from consideration. I could not be more proud of New York County’s legislators than I am today. They have shown the entire city that New York County is willing and able to continue carrying the mantle of progressive leadership in the greatest city in this nation.

Keith L.T. Wright
Chairman, New York County Democratic Committee

 

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PLEASE JOIN US for January 15, 2014 Cocktail Reception

County Leader Keith L. T. Wright invites you to a Cocktail Reception and Superbowl Kickoff!

WHO:
You & the Manhattan Democratic Party

WHAT:
A community event and great excuse to start of the year celebrating with fellow Democrats!

WHEN:
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
From 6PM to 8PM

WHERE:
W Hotel Union Square
201 Park Avenue South
New York, New York

1.15.14_InviteWP

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Letter to Mr. Joseph Lhota

October 25th, 2013

Mr. Joseph Lhota
Joe Lhota for Mayor
51 East 42nd Street
Suite 1502
New York, NY 10017

Re: Commercial Attacking de Blasio’s record on crime

Dear Mr. Lhota,

As an organization dedicated to enhancing the democratic process, the Executive Committee of the New York County Democratic Committee would like to express its displeasure with your most recent commercial and refute the claims made therein. Our mission is to help elect candidates who share our progressive views and ideals, but we also strive to increase the electorate. Every political season, the District Leaders in New York County talk to eligible voters and many are apathetic and turned off by the dirty tactics candidates use to disparage their opponents. In a City of more than eight million people, it is rather telling that only seven hundred thousand New Yorkers cast a ballot in this year’s Primary Election.  The next Mayor will face incredible challenges and the voters deserve a vigorous debate on the City’s most pressing issues.

Instead, this commercial distorts Mr. de Blasio’s positions on crime and it preys on people’s darkest fears and prejudices. It is very reminiscent of the Willie Horton ad used by the George Bush campaign during the 1988 Presidential Election. The images chosen elicit memories of a tense and difficult time in the City’s history but as you know, New York is the safest big city in the world. We’ve come a long way but there are still inequities in our approach to policing and Mr. de Blasio cannot ignore the impact “Stop, Question, and Frisk” has on communities of color. It is indeed possible to protect and preserve personal liberties while keeping the City safe.

You have a formidable professional resume and a strong base of support in the City’s Republican Party. It is unwise and unnecessary for you to resort to tactics used by your counterparts in Washington. I ask that you cease running the ad and issue an apology for the offensive images and conclusions expressed in the commercial. The New York County Democratic Committee supports Democrats exclusively but we are dedicated to expanding the electorate and making sure all New Yorkers have a voice in the political process. Commercials like yours do not help this cause and actually exacerbate voter apathy.

Regards,

Keith L.T. Wright
County Leader

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Thank You!

Dear New York County Democratic Committee,

On Thursday, September 16th, we held our Annual Meeting of the County Committee for 2013 in Chelsea. I want to thank all of the district leaders and the active members of the party for recruiting and filling a large number of vacancies throughout the County. We emerged from the meeting stronger than ever, and I look forward to working with the District Leaders to mobilize the County Committee’s support of grassroots Democratic efforts.

During this meeting, members of the County Committee selected the following officers:

Chair: Domenico Minerva
Vice Chair: Maria Luna
First Vice-Chair: Louise Dankberg
Second Vice-Chair: Bob Botfeld
Third Vice-Chair: Benjamin Yee
Treasurer: Darrell Pastor
Vice-Treasurer: Tom Schuler
Sergeant of Arms: Earl Scott

I am honored and humbled that you voted to re-elect me as the County Leader at the September 2013 Executive Committee meeting. Please know how excited I am to serve you again, and how ready I am for any challenges ahead. New York County sets the standard for excellence. I ask for your support as I do my best to promote progressive values and to engage voters all across the borough.

Congratulations to our new district leaders Pedro Cardi (65th AD Part B), Arthur Schwartz (66th AD Part A), Theresa Richardson (68th AD Part A), Julia Torrence (70th AD Part C), Gabriela Rosa (72nd AD, Part B), Maria Morillo (72nd AD Part A), and Carolina Rivera (74th AD Part A).

Further congratulations to the newly elected officers of the Executive committee. The officers are:

Chair: Louise Dankberg
Vice Chair: Jenny Lam Low
Secretary: Maria Luna

This election season has been quite dynamic; from the sensationalism of the Mayoral race to the hard fought victories garnered by our future Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. I am immensely proud of her historic win! Now, we must focus our efforts to elect Bill de Blasio as the next Mayor of this incredible City. Thank you again to everyone who made my re-election and the county committee meeting such a huge success!

With appreciation,

Keith L. T. Wright
County Leader
New York County Democratic Committee

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Judicial Convention

Dear Democrats,

On September 17th, the New York County Democratic Committee held its 2013 Judicial Convention. We pride ourselves in selecting the most qualified and diverse judicial candidates. This year there were fourteen candidates for Supreme Court:

Hon. Arlene Bluth
Hon. Raymond Bruce
Hon. Arthur Engoron
Hon. Kathryn Freed
Hon. Marcy Friedman
Hon. Barbara Jaffe
Hon. Debra James
Hon. Tanya Kennedy
Hon. Kelly O’Neil Levy
Hon. Andrea Masley
Hon. Peter Moulton
Hon. Robert Reed
Hon. Lori Sattler
Hon. Anil Singh

All judicial candidates go through by an independent screening panel comprised of bar associations and local civic and community organizations. The 2013 independent screen panel found all of the fourteen candidates to be highly qualified. This made the selection process difficult for our Judicial delegates, but the they selected Debra James, Anil Singh, and Peter Moulton. The New York County screening panel process has ensured that only qualified candidates with the right judicial philosophy are deemed appropriate for selection, and this successful group will prove the panel proud.

I would like to thank this year’s panel members and it’s administrator for their hard work and dedication. The nomination of members of the judiciary is one of the most important responsibilities of the County organization, and I take pride in the integrity of the process and will continue to ensure that the candidates are as diverse as our great city.

Sincerely,

Keith L.T. Wright
County Leader
New York County Democratic Committee

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The Demmy Awards 2013

Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (133 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (123 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (122 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (117 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (118 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (126 of 135)
Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (131 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (119 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (130 of 135)Demmy Awards shot by Andres Bohorquez (128 of 135)

The Demmy Awards 2013, a set on Flickr.

A big thank you to Andres Bohorquez for photographing the first annual Demmy Awards 2013! To see more of Andres’ amazing work, please visit http://bohorquez.org/photography/.

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