5/22/16 Executive Board Meeting Recap

This past Sunday, May 22, the County Executive Board met to endorse candidates in the primary election for Civil Court Judge and approve the Party Call.

Civil Court Endorsements
Josh Hanshaft Esq. and Emily Morales-Minerva Esq. have received the endorsement of the NY County Party for the Countywide Civil Court vacancies.

They will run in the upcoming primary with the support of the Democratic Clubs and county organization which will help them petition and turn out voters for their win.

Should they win the primary, they will then proceed to the general election as the Democratic candidate.

The Party Call
The “Party Call” lists all of the available Judicial Delegate, Judicial Delegate Alternate and State Committee positions.These party positions will be elected during the Primary in September.

Judicial Delegates are proportional to the Democratic voter turnout (how many ppl vote for the Dem) in the last Gubernatorial election by district.

State Committee is two per Assembly District (Male and Female).

Meeting Live Tweets

Democratic Clubs III: It’s That Easy

Last time, our friend Keiko decided to get involved with a local Democratic Club. But there are two Clubs in her Assembly District — which one represents her?

To be an official Club, the Club has to be affiliated with an elected Democratic District Leader. You can find a list of the district leaders elected in Manhattan County HERE.

Each District Leader represents a neighborhood which is called an Assembly District Part. Figuring out the Part lines can be a bit tricky, so it may make the most sense to e-mail our County Secretary at manhattandems@gmail.com and ask which Part you live in.

In Keiko’s District, there are four Leaders representing two Parts: Kim Moscaritolo & Adam Roberts, and Jill Eisner & John Halebian. Remember, each district leaders’ job is to engage with the Democrats in their district, so you should never feel hesitation in reaching out.

Keiko, lives in the Part jointly represented by Kim Moscaritolo and Adam Roberts. She remembers Adam — when he was gathering signatures last year, she bumped into him and traded e-mails. Now it’s as easy as reaching out! She finds his information on the District Leader page (or, if it’s missing contacts manhattandems@gmail.com) and send hims a note.

“Dear Adam,” Keiko writes, “I’m a Democrat and I live on 80th & 2nd. Am I in your district? Which club am I in? I want to get more involved, what should I do next?”

Now, we just wait for Adam to write back — and then we take it from there.

How a Judge Becomes a Judge Part 1: Civil Court

One of the most honorable duties of the New York County Democratic Committee is to endorse candidates in the Democratic Primary for Civil Court Judge races. Since Judicial races are often under most peoples’ radar, these endorsements can be very important.

In Manhattan, we have a marquee process. The Judicial Committee, a sub-committee of the County Committee composed of a District Leader from each Assembly District (AD), creates an independent screening panel, attended by representatives from third party organizations. The panel proceeds with a thorough review of all applicants and endorses between two and three candidates for each open seat; some of which are County wide and some of which fall within specific districts (but we’ll get into that another time).

Next, the County Executive Board (composed of all the District Leaders and the elected County Leader) votes on which of these candidates will be the endorsed candidate in the Primary. The winner of that, of course, goes to run in the general election. The winner of that, is a judge.

Sound complicated? Here’s a handy graphic.

Civil Court Infographic 3


#TransparencyTuesday Summary

The Democratic Party is the party of The People. We fight for inclusivity and demand solutions to the inequities that plague communities big and small. Here in Manhattan, we’re using our platform to emphasize the importance of getting involved.

This #TransparencyTuesday we have so much we have to do it over two weeks! This week:

  • Watch a quick video of our Secretary, Ben Yee, explaining how County Committee selected a Democratic nominee for the special Assembly race on the Lower East Side.

Next time:

We’ll update manhattandems.org, with all of the State Committee members – democratic voters’ representatives to the State Party. We’ll also publish an article explaining the importance of their role in the democratic process.

A new map with electoral information everyone needs to know, but many don’t! And who doesn’t love maps?

Yes, It’s #TransparencyTuesday!

It’s  #TransparencyTuesday once again and we have some great stuff for you this week.

First, we’ve updated our website with the photos of most of the District Leaders in Manhattan. The District Leaders are  one set of YOUR elected representatives to the County Party, along with your County Committee members. You can think of them sort of as the County Party Senate. All District Leaders site on the County Executive Board so go check out who your DL is; with the new photos, now you’ll know who to harass at the supermarket!

Second, one of our District Leaders is opening up his expertise in a mini-series for #TransparencyTuesday. Did you know that our Democratic Party is broken up into local clubs in the different Manhattan neighborhoods? Well, Cory Evans is letting everyone know exactly how that works. Check out the first installment in his series, Size Matters.

Last but not least, continuing the #tTransparencyTuesday theme of busting open campaign finance to the public, our County Secretary Ben Yee how to do your own Independent Expenditures (i.e., BE A SUPERPAC) with step-by-step instructions.

Oh wait, we’re also adding all these events to our public Google Calendar (but man, it takes a while).

(Almost) Everything You Need To Know About Grassroots Campaign Finance Compliance

FEC Logo

Ever wonder how a PAC becomes a PAC? Our friends at blog.shiftspark.com, where our Secretary Ben Yee also writes, have posted up a great transparency piece about the different requirements and levels of activity that must be reported by the FEC.

If you’re thinking about getting involved in supporting a Presidential candidate with your own, independent activities, this is a must read.

A lot of spending by individuals and small groups gets lost because it isn’t reported. Each time we fail to report, the hard work and commitment of individual donors is lost, depriving them of a voice, and politicians of the real picture of American activism.

Worse yet, people are turned off from participating because the laws to help make our system transparent scare them off.

If you’re raising or spending more than $250 you need to report.

But don’t be intimidated, you don’t have to do very much and this post breaks it own with step-by-step instructions.

Democratic Clubs Part I: Size Matters

By Cory Evans

Want to get involved in the Democratic Party at the hyper-local level? I don’t mean Congress, or even the City Council — I mean really, really local. If you do, and you live in Manhattan, you should consider getting involved with one of the many party clubs organized throughout the City.

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of Democratic Party clubs in New York City. The first category is called district clubs, the second category is called city-wide clubs. Today we’ll talk about these two categories and explain the differences.

District clubs represent the Democratic Party within a certain geographic area. For example, my Democratic Club — called the Lexington Democratic Club — represents the Democratic Party throughout the 73rd Assembly District.

You can be a member of as many district clubs as you want, and there are dozens throughout the City. But, by courtesy and tradition, you can vote in one. That club is called your voting club or home club, and you are said to be a voting member of that club.

Citywide clubs focus on advocating for an issue or cause within the Democratic Party. Examples include the Manhattan Young Democrats, the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Muslim Democratic Club. You can join as many city-wide clubs as you like and you can vote in all of them if you wish to.

But how do you know which district club covers your neighborhood? And how are the geographic borders decided anyway? I’ll try to answer both those questions next time when we focus on district clubs and district leaders.

The Top 10 Political Money Terms Everyone Should Know

Welcome to our second #TransparencyTuesday! Today we’re going to start digging into the the mechanics and specifics of our political system. In honor the Executive Committee’s presentation on Campaign Finance last week, let’s cover the basics of money in politics. Here we’ll define, in plain language, some of the most common terms in the ultra complex alphabet soup of political campaign finance.

Want a sneak peek of upcoming topics? Check out my report in the minutes of the last County Committee Executive Committee.

Have topics you’d like to see covered? Let us know on twitter or Facebook with #TransparencyTuesday


Here are the Top 10 Political Money Terms Everyone Should Know. They’re presented in order of utility. So, number 3 will be a lot easier to understand if you know number 2.

*DISCLAIMER: To make our lawyers happy, I must disclose I am not a lawyer and nothing here should be construed as definitive or taken as legal advice. However, it is well researched.

1. Cycle
The time between the end of one election and the the end of the next one. For example, the 2016 Presidential Cycle is the time since Barack Obama was re-elected (in 2012) until the next President is elected in 2016.

It’s in this period that candidates are preparing for the next election (even as currently elected ones work to pass laws and govern the country).

2. PAC (Political Action Committee)
A PAC is nothing more than a political bank account. It’s filled by donations from people and other PACs. The amount each contributor can give is limited by campaign finance law which varies based on Federal, State and local laws.

PAC status is determined solely by raising and spending money for political purposes; such as supporting or opposing candidates, parties or ballot initiatives (referendums).Once a bank account either raises or spends enough money (based on Federal, State or local law), it becomes a PAC and must report who has contributed and what it bought.

Anyone raising or spending enough money is automatically considered a PAC and should file with their local regulator. There are specific types of PACs, with varying limitations, depending on its owners role in the political process including:

Candidate PACs
Political Party PACs
Unauthorized (i.e. some random person or group like yourself) PACs

(Next week we’ll delve into what PACs do, Super PACs, and how to start one)

3. Political Contribution
As the name implies, political contributions are money given by individuals or PACs* to candidates and other PACs. Simple!

Political contributions are capped so that only a certain amount can be given to a candidate or PAC per cycle.

*Contrary to popular belief, corporations may not give to Federal candidates. Only individuals, and PACs which get contributions from individuals, may give. State rules may be different.

However many incorporated entities, have PACs to which their employees or members give. These PACs fight for the interests of the corporation. Banks and Unions do this a lot.

4. In-Kind Contribution
Instead of giving money, people can give other things of value to politicians and PACs. This can be office space, food, a website, a mailing list – whatever it is, the market value of this good/service must be counted towards the individual or PACs contribution limit.

Notably, volunteer time, volunteer commuting costs and homemade items do not count as in-kind contributions.

5. Contribution Limit
The maximum value an individual or PAC may donate to a candidate or PAC. This may in the form of financial contributions or in-kind contributions which must be counted at the market rate.

6. Campaign Expenditure
Money spent by a Candidate Authorized Committee (A PAC specifically for a candidate’s campaign) on winning an election.

7. Independent Expenditure (IEs)
Money spent by an individual or PAC to help a candidate’s campaign without without its knowledge or input.

8. Coordinated Expenditure
Money spent by an individual or PAC to help a candidate’s campaign without with its knowledge or input. This may include sharing strategies, data and resources to amplify the work of the allied spending.

9. Electioneering Communication (Federal Only)
Any broadcast, cable or satellite communication that:

  • Refers to a clearly identified federal candidate;
  • Is publicly distributed by a television station, radio station, cable television system or satellite system for a fee (legally this means can be received by at least 50,000 people);
  • Is distributed within 60 days prior to a general election or 30 days prior to a primary election to federal office.

10. Super PAC
A PAC which makes only Independent Expenditures (see 7). These IEs may include Electioneering Communications (see 9) openly supporting or opposing specific candidates for office.

Before the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, Corporations and Labor Unions were barred from making, or supporting PACs making, Electioneering Communications. Post Citizens United, they are allowed.

There are no Contribution Limits (see 5) for IEs and therefore for Super PACs.

Have a question? Comment? Topic idea?

Let us know on Twitter at #TransparencyTuesday. You can get me directly at @yben or @manhattandems.

You can also reach us on Facebook at facebook.com/manhattandems.

Introducing #TransparencyTuesdays

Hi, I’m Ben Yee, the new New York County Party Secretary.

New York County is a leader in a lot of ways. Today, we’re becoming a leader in transparency. Politics in America, especially party politics can be complicated and opaque. But it’s also how our cities, states and our country are governed. So, we want to help you understand the role that you play, and how that impacts the role of the New York County Democratic Committee.

On Tuesdays we’ll be highlighting  important information on this site and posting about the decisions your representatives in the Democratic Party are making. We’ll also be posting about how the party system works, what it does and how you have a say.

Why Tuesdays? Well, I was going to do it on Sundays but #TransparencySunday doesn’t have the same ring.

So tune in on Tuesday for some information on how American parties and politics really work. And be sure to follow us at facebook.com/manhattandems and on twitter with the handle @manhattandems.

Highlighted this Tuesday:

  • We’ve started posting our minutes online! Notes from last two meetings can be viewed here. They contain the election of the County Committee Executive Board Leadership and a vote to select a Democratic Nominee for Civil Court Judge.

  • Our District Leader  and Democratic Club lists have been updated since the election last September. Don’t know your District Leader or Club? Find them and get involved!

  • We’ve been tweeting! Part of transparency is letting you know what’s happening when it’s happening. Check out what went down at the 66th Assembly District Division Meeting and Downtown Independent Democratic Clubs last Sunday. Also check out my twitter @yben for live-tweeting of important county events.

We’re just getting started. Over the coming weeks and months we hope to make our website a resource for New Yorkers to learn not just how to get involved in the Democratic Party, but why it’s so much more important than people think.

Questions or comments? Reach out to the party’s Executive Director Cathleen McCadden at manhattandems@gmail.com or me at manhattandemssecrtary@gmail.com.