Thank you so much for your interest in Saratoga Unites!
We are an activist group dedicated to uniting groups and individuals to uphold democratic values and advocate for equal rights, equal opportunity, a healthy environment, and a more peaceful world.
Week of December 17
New York State Legislative Sessions start on January 9 – before taking an end of year break, make a call to your State Senator and State Assembly member to remind them of your priorities for the coming year. Some of the legislation we hope to see in 2019 includes: (and very much cribbed from the NYCLU’s priorities)
- Updating New York’s old and outdated voting laws – address early voting, automatic registration, allow no-excuse absentee ballots.
- Pass the Reproductive Healthcare Act – remove abortion from our criminal code, expand access to contraception.
- Reform our criminal justice system – fix our bail system, address discrimination, eliminate the Blindfold Law (which allows prosecutors to withhold information from the accused), address barriers to speedy trials
- Pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) – ensure that gender identity and expression fall within New York’s anti-discrimination statutes
This is hardly a comprehensive list, but if any or all of these are important to you, make sure your representatives know where you stand!
Week of December 10
Friday, December 14 marks the anniversary of the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It’s a tragedy that is impossible to forget – I can tell you exactly where I was when I heard the news, and I know I’m not the only one.
This week, honor the heartbreaking memory of the children we lost that day by recognizing the amazing work being done by gun violence prevention advocates. Their work to advocate for better laws and better legislators are making a difference! Donate or volunteer:
- Sandy Hook Promise trains students and adults to know the signs of gun violence so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child.
- Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence The Brady Campaign works to pass and enforce federal and state gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support gun control legislation, and increasing public awareness of gun violence.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. CSGV is comprised of 47 national organizations working to reduce gun violence. Its coalition members include religious organizations, child welfare advocates, public health professionals, and social justice organizations.
Everytown for Gun Safety An umbrella organization coordinating the activities of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors against Illegal Guns.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Important grassroots activist organization formed by stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
Giffords PAC We are veterans, law enforcement officers, and gun owners standing together for a safer laws. We are faith leaders, business leaders, lawyers, parents, and educators fighting for safer communities. We are speaking up in courthouses, and statehouses across the nation.
Week of November 26
The administration published a damning climate report this past Friday, with sobering realities we are all going to be facing in the coming years as our climate continues to heat up. It is critical that we all start thinking about how our country will respond. Read the report here, and then CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES.
1. Contact your Senators and Congressperson and ask them to:
- Champion a Green New Deal that would create millions of good jobs to transform society over the next decade to stop climate change. This means creating a committee tasked specifically to write policy on creating jobs and moving our country off fossil fuels over the designated 12 years that the IPCC has given us. Let’s protect the lives of all working people — black, brown, and white — from the ravages of disaster and pollution.
- Mandate that any Democrat in leadership must take the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge and reject campaign contributions from fossil fuel executives and lobbyists and prioritize the health of people and planet over industry profits. Oil and gas executives profit off a business model that’s incompatible with the future of human civilization. It’s time for the Democratic Party to reject their influence wholesale.
Senator Chuck Schumer (202) 224-6542
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-4451
Congressman Paul Tonko (202) 225-5076
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (202) 225-4611
Not your Congressperson? Find other representatives here.
2. Call NY State Comptroller DiNapoli, Governor Cuomo, and State Senators and Assembly representatives and:
- Demand to divest the NY State pension funds from fossil fuel companies. New York State holds one of the largest valued pension systems in the world and needs to be a global leader in green investments and also in alignment with the NYS Attorney General’s office, which has litigated against Exxon Mobil’s climate change deception to shareholders on the effects of climate change.
Governor Cuomo (518) 474-8390
State Comptroller DiNapoli (518) 473-5960
Find your New York Senator here.
Find your New York Assemblyperson here.
Week of November 19
Giving Tuesday isn’t until next week, and there are a slew of well-deserving organizations to support. But this week, take a look at how you can give back in our own backyards.
Did you know? Shelters of Saratoga and Code Blue will accept home-cooked food. Make too much food on Thanksgiving? Drop off your extras at either location! Code Blue is now open and will be open every night throughout the winter season. Donations are always welcome – as well as volunteers to help serve meals and care for guests. Sign up to help and learn more here.
Shelters of Saratoga – 14 Walworth St
Code Blue – Soul Saving Station, 62 Henry St
And don’t forget – Small Business Saturday is coming up – support local Saratoga businesses as we gear up for the holiday season. Check out all the great activity happening in our town here!
Week of November 12
Did your representatives change? If so, make sure to add their contact info. Democrats may have won the House, but we all need to continue to hold our representatives accountable.
Look up your representatives on our website here. Note: we also need to update our listings of State and Federal representatives on the website, use the look up tool for the most current information while we get our site updated as well!
There are also a number of local representatives that we have less frequently contacted – but as we’re organizing for the coming year, it’s important to make sure you know ALL of your representatives. Take some time this week to make sure you have contact information for everyone from your mayor to your board of education. Trust me, you’ll use it!
Week of November 5
VOTE – There’s really not much more to say than that! Check out our handy info sheet for details you can share on finding your polling location in Saratoga Springs, but hopefully all of you already have a plan to vote.
Remember, as of today, absentee ballots are only available to complete for a few more hours, and you’ll have to get to your local Board of Elections in person to make it happen.
If you can, encourage voting with your friends and family, make sure everyone you know has a ride, etc. People are offering to give rides, share the need on Saratoga Unites Facebook page to connect with those volunteers.
Check out our Voter Guide and share!
Week of October 29
With the tragic murders and bomb threats in the past week, I struggle with staying focused on the elections – but while different leadership won’t stop radical actions of extremists, it is critical to have progressive leadership to demand more accountability from the executive branch. Now more than ever, we need to work towards a balanced government, with Congress and Senate in a position to investigate impropriety, to demand stronger responses to tragedies, and to be positioned to successfully strive to enact legislation and protections for ALL members of our society.
- If you haven’t already, check in with any of the progressive candidates on anything you can do to help campaigns in this last week.
- Make your voting plan! Do you know where to vote, do you need an absentee ballot? Make sure to check with your local Board of Elections to get those answers.
- Get out the vote! You don’t need to be campaigning for any particular candidate to share your plan for voting with friends and family. Socialize the need to vote, do what you can to make sure your circle is ready to show up alongside you!
Many are saying that this election is a turning point for our country – one of checks and balances versus unbridled conservatism. That may very well be true; let’s get to the polls, and be ready to take on our next set of challenges, no matter the outcome.
Week of October 22
As Election Day bears down on us – I’ll keep repeating, find that one hour that you can spend on fighting for a candidate or issue on the ballot that is important to you. If we all step up, we can have the representation we want and deserve!
Don’t forget: there is a Democratic campaign office located in downtown Saratoga at 267 Broadway. Drop in Monday-Friday 9-9, or weekends from 9-7, see what they need and how you can help. If that isn’t convenient for you, fill out the contact form at your preferred candidate’s website and let them know what you’re available and interested in doing.
Gun Safety in our Schools – recently, the Saratoga Springs Board of Education voted 5-4 to ban grounds monitors from carrying weapons while on school property. Since that vote, local groups are continuing to fight to reverse the ban.
- THANK the board for voting for safer schools by banning grounds monitors from carrying weapons on school grounds.
- Reinforce the fact that there are no data showing that weapons on campuses provide any additional security and safety for students.
- Despite the concerns of others, there is still an armed resource officer on school grounds; the increase of weapons on campus carried by other school employees also increases the risks of accidents and injuries.
- Everyone in our community wants to have safer schools for our children: there is no proof or reason to assume that arming employees would help us achieve that goal.
Contact the Board of Education members and Supervisor:
- Brad Thomas email@example.com
- Dr. Stephen C. Verral firstname.lastname@example.org
- John Ellis email@example.com
- Anjeanette Emeka firstname.lastname@example.org
- JoAnne Kiernan email@example.com
- Jennifer Leidig firstname.lastname@example.org
- Patricia Morrison email@example.com
- Dr. Heather Reynolds Reynolds.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jim Wendell email@example.com
- Dr. Michael Patton, Superintendent M_patton@saratogaschools.org
Attend and speak up during the public comment period at the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, October 23rd at 7pm, Saratoga Springs High School Public in the Project Based Learning Center.
Be vocal! Our local Saratoga Today newspaper had an article on the vote and only one voice was quoted: for arming the grounds resources. Send a letter to the editor, contact the newspaper and let them know that there IS support for the BOE’s decision.
Week of October 15
COMMIT. Right now, if every one of us on this mailing list were to dedicate 1 hour of time between now and election day, we’d make a difference. I know some of you are already doing way more than one hour, but if you haven’t – don’t feel that because you can’t commit all your free time that even one time isn’t worth it. IT IS. Pick one event, one activity, one time – between now and November 6. It might end up being your first of many!
Read last week’s action items for suggestions on how to get involved!
Week of October 8
Get involved TODAY. Campaigns offer a variety of ways to volunteer, and local groups and individuals are stepping up to help support progressive candidates.
Issues from climate change, economic inequality, immigrant rights, protections for people of color and women – if these are important to you, check out some of the local and national candidates that have the same progressive values you do – and then sign up to volunteer!
Locally, there is a Democratic campaign office located in downtown Saratoga at 267 Broadway. Drop in Monday-Friday 9-9, or weekends from 9-7, see what they need and how you can help.
Would you rather work on campaigns from home? If there’s something to be done – phonebanking from home, postcard writing, you name it – the campaigns will advise you. Fill out the contact form at your preferred candidate’s website and let them know what you’re available and interested in doing.
Don’t have a specific candidate in mind? There are many organizations currently providing opportunities to match you with candidates from around the country that align to your values. I’m going to recommend my personal favorite: Postcard to Voters. Tony the Democrat has been coordinating postcard writing for campaigns since early 2017.
There is no more time to lose before the midterms – and it is time for EVERYONE to get involved in any way you can!
Week of September 24
National Action This last week has been a frustrating exercise in debating who deserves presumption of innocence – the accused or the accuser. It is disappointing to see how many different ways sexual assault can be justified and excused by people.
So CONTINUE TO CALL! Make sure that our senators know how important this is, encourage them to work to ensure their counterparts on the Judiciary Committee know where their constituents stand.
Call Senator Schumer (202-224-6542) and Gillibrand (202-223-4451). And then call again the next day.
If you read this in time – don’t forget to participate in today’s National Walk Out – wear black, and at 1pm, walk out of wherever you are. Show solidarity for survivors of assault like Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Post a picture of yourself to social media with the hashtag #believesurvivors.
Local Action Saratoga Springs School District is considering re-arming school resource officers (article). The board is holding on their decision until another presentation on the issue is made – but they need to hear from community members on this! Join us on Thursday, September 27 at 7pm in the Robert S. Meade Auditorium – High School, to speak up in the public comment time.
Suggested talking points:
- Arming school resource officers has no track record in deterring incidents in schools – and if anything, increases the potential risk by introducing a firearm into the mix.
- Saratoga Springs would be the only school district locally considering arming resource officers – and while it still wouldn’t be a good idea if everyone else were doing it, it’s telling that the decision would be an outlier.
- While historically Saratoga Springs allowed resource officers to be armed, that doesn’t justify changing our approach going forward. We need to be able to protect our students without resorting to using firearms. It can and should be done.
We need to let our school board know where the community stands on this issue, hope to see you on Thursday night!
Week of September 17
Delay the vote! The judiciary committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination this Thursday, September 20, we must ask our Senators to delay the vote, ensure there is sufficient time to review the allegations.
Call Senator Schumer (202-224-6542) and Gillibrand (202-223-4451). Use the following script if you’d like:
Encourage your friends to call! If you know anyone in states with Senators on the Judiciary Committee, encourage them to call:
Chuck Grassley – IA
Dianne Feinstein – CA
Orrin Hatch – UT
Patrick Leahy – VT
Lindsey Graham – SC
Dick Durbin – IL
John Cornyn – TX
Amy Klobuchar – MN
Ted Cruz – TX
Christopher Coons – DE
Ben Sasse – NE
Richard Blumenthal – CT
Jeff Flake – AZ
Mazie Hirono – HI
Mike Crapo – ID
Cory Booker – NJ
Thom Tillis – NC
Kamala Harris – CA
John Kennedy – LA
Lookup legislator contact info here.
Week of September 10
Please share with your friends and family, through social media or other means, why you will be voting, why it is important to you and to our community. Voting in primaries is a valuable way to send a message on what issues within the spectrum of your political party are most important to you. And of course, to help get the best possible candidate on the general election ballot!
Post about the New York primary being on THURSDAY. It’s unusual to have voting on a Thursday instead of Tuesday, so make sure no one misses out. Post a reminder tomorrow on your personal Facebook page on when and where to vote. Polls are open from noon – 9pm in all counties in upstate New York. Share the following link to find polling stations: https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/votersearch.aspx
Post about candidates in the primary. In New York, this is for state elected officials, the federal primary was back in June. On the Democratic line, there are multiple candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and many of the State Senate and Assembly races. Make sure you’re encouraging friends to learn about all their options.
Ballotpedia provides a sample ballot lookup: with your address, you can get all the information on available candidates for the primaries. Go to https://ballotpedia.org/Sample_Ballot_Lookup and see what your options will be!
Once you put in your address (email is optional), select ‘Primary Election on September 13, 2018’ and then hit Continue:
On the next page, narrow down your candidates by party (I selected Democrat), and follow links on the individual candidates to learn more.
It’s a really easy tool to pass on to your friends, and a great way to make sure people are ready to participate!
And of course, don’t forget to vote!
Week of August 27
I’ve been debating what actions to suggest for this week, given the ongoing concerns about Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearings coming up on September 4, the fact that the federal government has not yet reunited all of the separated immigrant families, that we had yet another mass killing in Florida yesterday. How do we pick?
The truth is – in order to see significant improvements in policy and action in any of these cases, we must change the balance of power in the government.
So please – Call your senators! It doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to call and remind Senators Schumer and Gillibrand that you support their No stance on Kavanaugh’s nomination. You can take an extra minute and also encourage them to push for legislation on better gun safety, and establishing rules that ensure families receive better treatment at our borders.
But…VOTING. In the next 70 days, we each need to convince at least 5 people to vote. We need to have great turnout across the board, but particularly in elections that matter for the issues that matter to us. Here’s how you can make this happen!
1. Volunteer with a campaign. The most direct impact you can have on encouraging voters is to help with a campaign. There are usually many ways to help, look up the candidate’s website and see what’s available!
2. Volunteer indirectly. Maybe there isn’t a candidate that you’re passionate about. That’s okay, there are a lot of ways to get involved! The Postcard to Voters program is a favorite of mine (and we’ll be restarting postcard parties soon!); register voters through a variety of organizations (League of Women Voters, When We All Vote, Headcount); sign up with groups coordinating volunteers with activities leading up to the election (The Last Weekend, Vote Save America).
3. Share your plans to vote with friends. Use social media and other traditional means of letting your circle of friends know that you’re planning to vote – conversations about voting can and will encourage others to step up and do the same!
Week of August 20
I don’t like to think of a single person having the power to hurt our country as much as that one Supreme Court justice could – but based on his record, it’s starting to feel like it’s truly possible.
Hearings for Kavanaugh are slated to start on September 4 – and I’m borrowing this week’s actions from Celeste Pewter, a former political staffer and activist who provides an excellent checklist:
1. Call your senators! If you haven’t already, and even if your senators have publicly stated they will be a No vote on Kavanaugh, let them know where you stand and how important this is to you.
2. Convince at least five other people to call. This step is key. Bonus if you have friends and family in Alaska, Indiana, Maine, West Virginia, or North Dakota (Senators in those states are considered to be on the fence).
3. If they ask why they should care, and why it matters to them? Speak from your heart, or use a couple of these talking points:
- There has been very little disclosure of Judge Kavanaugh’s standing on key legal rulings, his conduct and ethics in office, and his employment track record. He’s up for a lifetime appointment, it’s only right to provide the same level of visibility into his past as has been expected of Supreme Court candidates before him.
- What is known about Kavanaugh: he is anti-choice, he’d remove protections for pre-existing health conditions, he doesn’t think Presidents can be investigated, and he would erode LGBTQ rights.
- Maybe none of those things affect an individual directly – but I’m betting it’d affect their friends and family – both now and in the future.
Contact info for representatives here!
Week of August 13
Hearings for Kavanaugh are slated to start on September 4 (call your Senators!), persistent threats to healthcare, reductions to safety net programs, loss of protections for asylum seekers…the list goes on and on. I get continually frustrated by my inability to find the magic bullet that will fix these problems! The closest thing we have to that magic bullet is VOTING. And not just us, the engaged populace, but all citizens.
This week’s action: engage at least 5 people in your circle about voting. It could be a Facebook post, a conversation over coffee, an email – anything to make sure we are reaching out and encouraging others to vote, to register, to participate.
Tell your friends to register to vote! The New York State deadline, if you want to participate in primaries, is August 19. Just six days away!! But never fear – if that deadline is too soon to get a friend registered, you have until October 12 to register in time to vote in the November general elections!
We don’t make it easy for someone to register in this state – a person has to want to take action! Below are a list of ways to obtain and submit registration from the BOE website:
- You can register in person at your county board of elections or at any New York State Agency-Based voter registration center.
- You may also submit your voter application form at the Department of Motor Vehicles, either in person or on their web site if you already have DMV-issued identification.
- You can request a New York State Voter Registration form by mail by entering your name directly into our mailing list database
- You can call our 1-800-FOR-VOTE hotline to request a voter application.
Share this information widely – awareness of options is everything!
Check your own registration. There have been numerous articles and warnings about states removing voters from the rolls for a variety of reasons. You may think you are registered, but CHECK! Use this online tool, or contact your local Board of Elections.
Why do you vote? I often see posts on social media about how horrible the other side is, or campaign specific information. Take a moment to share why you vote. Tell your story, why you think voting is important, and why you think it’s valuable for everyone to be involved. When we can highlight the positives, oftentimes people will be more inclined to listen – and hopefully, consider voting!
Why do I vote? Because I want the doctors of tomorrow to have the education and support system to be able to care for me in my old age. Because I appreciate that while not everything I believe in is enacted by any one politician, I get the satisfaction that I stepped up – and that through voting I deserve to continue challenging my representatives to address more of the issues I think are important.
Learn from a non-voter. For those of us who see voting as paramount to the success of our democracy, it’s hard to understand why someone wouldn’t vote. It’s a no-brainer, right? I’ve heard a lot of reasons: I never have time on election day, I forget, it doesn’t matter anyway, all politicians are evil so why bother, I don’t want to be called for jury duty (yes, I’ve heard that more than once). It’s time for us to engage in discussion over our different perspectives, show respect for the non-voter perspective, and share our thoughts on the benefits of voting with hope of changing their mind. We won’t change everyone’s mind, but if we don’t have respectful dialogue, we won’t change anyone’s.
Week of August 6
Support our Backstretch Workers
Saratoga Immigration Coalition has launched another petition to secure funding for the clinic for backstretch workers at Saratoga Racecourse. The last campaign succeeded in getting funding restored for this year only. With this petition, they are urging NYRA (New York Racing Association) to build adequate, continuing funding into its annual budget, to avoid more uncertainty and more battles year after year. Sign the petition ASAP, in order to present the petition at a NYRA board meeting on August 8.
Sign the online petition here.
Zero Tolerance on Family Separation
A member of our community has drafted a letter requesting hearings on the Justice Department’s Zero Tolerance policy, which drove the separation of children from families at our borders. A copy of the letter is available here; please print, date, sign, and mail! Contact info for the representatives cc’d can be found on our How To Contact Your Representative page.
Week of July 30
End Family Detention and Separation! A disappointing number of families are still separated, some seemingly indefinitely as parents were deported without their children.
Contact your legislators: They must continue to hear from constituents that it is unacceptable for families to be indefinitely detained and that the remaining separated children must be reunited – whether parents have already been deported or not. Demand that your representatives hold the Trump administration accountable to fix the problem they created!
Local help: We have 330 immigrant detainees at the Albany County Jail, and local volunteers have stepped up to provide legal and translation services. One of the volunteers, Robyn DeSantis Ringler, is looking for our help to create an asylum seekers library at the jail.
If you can, PLEASE order from Robyn’s Amazon wishlist at the link, or mail or deliver to 12 Citation Drive, Latham NY 12110. Books must be PAPERBACK and in GOOD, solid shape with NO WRITING in them. They must be in other languages, NOT English. Please send: Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin and Cantonese. (Majority of detainees are Spanish-speaking.) Remove book from the wish list once you’ve purchased it.
Order or deliver books by end of this week August 3. Thank you for helping make the lives of detainees close to our own homes a little easier.
Vote NO to Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh! Our New York Senators are clearly going to vote No on Kavanaugh’s nomination, but as Senate Minority Leader, we can ask that Senator Schumer do everything he can to get fellow Democratic senators to vote no as well. It was reported in the Washington Post on July 27 that he was not going to pressure red-state Democrats to vote no.
CALL Senator Schumer and demand that he continue to push for the release of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush administration AND to do everything in his power to get ALL Democratic Senators to vote NO to Kavanaugh.
Week of July 9
Say NO to Trump’s Supreme Court Nomination!
U.S. Senate Democrats and Independents should oppose all Trump’s nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court. A sitting president who is under criminal investigation should have no standing to nominate candidates to the Supreme Court whose tenure will last half a century or more. Roe, and other vital established precedents are at stake!
Saratoga Unites will provide a more detailed response following the announcement of Trump’s nominee, but in the meantime:
- CALL Senator Schumer (contact info) and demand that he do his job and ensure that no Democratic Senator will vote for a Trump nominee before the mid-terms.
- CALL Senator Gillibrand and your Congressional representative (contact info) to let them know where you stand on the nomination.
There is a generation of rulings at stake with this nomination, it’s truly an ALL HANDS ON DECK situation.
Follow us on Facebook to learn about other actions throughout the week.
Week of July 2
To Do List for our Children Following up from the Families Belong Together march and rally, Linda LeTendre of the Saratoga Peace Alliance kindly put together a to do list, with guidance on what actions you can take going forward. We still don’t know when and if kidnapped children will be reunited with their families, and we don’t have confirmation that this practice isn’t still occurring.
Take a look at the suggested actions below – and share widely to encourage others to follow through!
Week of June 25
Saratoga Unites, in collaboration with Saratoga Immigration Coalition, Saratoga Peace Alliance, Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church and others, are hosting a Families Belong Together March and Rally on June 30th in Congress Park at 11am.
While we’re waiting on Saturday to take to the streets, there are several things you can do:
- Contact your representatives! Ensure that they continue to apply pressure to the administration to truly end family separation and push for the Keep Families Together bills (S3036, HR 6135).
- Support immigration organizations! ActBlue has created a tool to allow you to donate to 8 organizations involved in protection of children and families separated at the border. Donate to support: Human Rights First, We Belong Together, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Womens Refugee Commission, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), United We Dream Action, La Union Del Pueblo Entero, and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Donate here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kidsattheborder
- Sign petitions! There are numerous petitions online, I’m recommending you sign on to ACLU’s petition to end family separation. ACLU of course is doing a great amount of work on family separations and will continue to help: https://action.aclu.org/petition/separating-families
- Spread the word! These atrocities do not seem to have an end in sight, and over this past weekend it was suggested that the president is still interested in using separated families as hostages to his immigration agenda. We need to share articles, generate discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and even…face to face with our families and friends. Do not let this issue fall to the wayside!
Secretary of Homeland Security: email: DHSSecretary@hq.dhs.gov, tel: 202-282-8495 (comment line), mail: The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. 20528
Senators and Congressperson: Contact information and helpful hints on our How To Contact Your Representative page.
Week of June 18
End Family Separation!
It was great to see so many people in front of Congresswoman Stefanik’s office on Thursday, including congressional candidates Emily Martz and Patrick Nelson, as part of the End Family Separation March and Rally. But the fight is clearly far from over. While both Senators from New York have signed on to S.3036, Keep Families Together Act, we need to show our Senators that we support them in this – and demand that they do not capitulate to the demands of the administration. The Trump administration has made it clear they are holding these children hostage to their desire for broader immigration reforms and that wall. We cannot let the children continue being used as pawns.
In addition to contacting your representatives, also contact the Secretary of Homeland Security and demand she be a voice for policy change. She is claiming via Twitter that we do not separate families at the border. That’s clearly a lie, and it’s time to hold them all accountable.
Secretary of Homeland Security: email: DHSSecretary@hq.dhs.gov, tel: 202-282-8495 (comment line), mail: The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. 20528
Senators and Congressperson: Contact information and helpful hints on our How To Contact Your Representative page.
There are rumblings online about additional protests and marches to End Family Separation, stay tuned!
Week of June 11
Monday, June 11 – NY Congressional District 21 Candidate Forum
As we head into the final stretch to the primaries on June 26th, here’s one of the last chances to hear from all of the candidates and make your decision! The Wilton Dems are hosting this forum (tonight!) at 7pm at the Maple Ave Middle School, 515 Maple Ave.
Thursday, June 14 – Families Belong Together March and Rally – Glens Falls and Albany, NY
On June 14th, 2018, Glens Falls NY will join cities across the US hosting marches, rallies, and vigils to protest the current administration’s callous treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers (see https://familiesbelong.org/).
Join Saratoga Unites, along with Citizen Action of NY, NY Civil Liberties Union, Saratoga Progressive Action, and New Resistance USA to show our opposition to this terrible practice! The public is invited.
In Glens Falls, a march will begin 5pm, outside Rep. Elise Stefanik’s office, 136 Glen St. Citizens are calling on Rep. Stefanik, a close ally of Trump and the GOP leadership, to take action to stop this atrocity. If you’re closer to Albany, a rally will begin at 4:30pm at the Leo O’Brien Federal Building, 1 Clinton Sq., where Senators Schumer & Gillibrand have offices.
Week of June 4
Primaries. There are several key primaries coming up on June 26th for New York State. There are always different ways to get involved and help campaign. Take time this week to check out upcoming races and see if there’s a candidate you’d be willing to help out! Engagement in voting, in getting others out to vote – it’s important!
Find your local races here.
Deny Sinclair and Tribune merger. A free and open press is a constitutional guarantee that will be taken away from millions of people if this merger is allowed. Tell the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice: Block the Sinclair deal!
Sign this petition to let your concerns known!
Make sure you are following us on Facebook to learn about other actions throughout the week.
Week of May 28
1. Domestic Gag Rule. Contact HHS Secretary Alex Azar to share your opposition to enacting the Domestic Gag Rule, which changes Title X provisions to prevent healthcare providers from providing comprehensive medical services to women.
Contact: email: Secretary@HHS.gov, tel: 202-690-7000, mail: 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201
Learn more about the Domestic Gag Rule here.
2. Family Separations at border. The administration’s policy of separating children from parents when seeking asylum is horrific. Contact DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and demand the administration end this cruel practice, causing families in crisis to suffer in the name of deterrance.
Contact: email: DHSSecretary@hq.dhs.gov, tel: 202-282-8495 (comment line), mail: The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. 20528
Also consider signing the ACLU petition here.
For both of these issues, please also contact your Senators and Congressperson to urge them to hold the Trump administration accountable on these matters – and if legislation is possible, ask them to push for it! Contact information and helpful hints on our How To Contact Your Representative page.
Week of 3/26/18 –
New York State
1. Early voting. Call or tweet Governor Cuomo [(877) 235-6537/(518) 474-1041; @NYGovCuomo], Senate Majority Leader Flanagan [(518) 455-2071; @LeaderFlanagan], Assembly Speaker Heastie [(518) 455-4812; @CarlHeastie], and IDC [Independent Democratic Caucus] Chairman Klein [(518) 455-3595; @JeffKleinNY] on Monday (3/26) or Tuesday (3/27) to urge them to support funding for early voting in this year’s state budget. For more information on early voting in New York, go to www.letnyvote.org. To follow the course of the petition we delivered to the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and Senator Kathy Marchione, see http://chn.ge/2FwA75e.
2. Monday, March 26 or Tuesday, March 27 – Call to Include Gun Violence Prevention Legislation in this Year’s State Budget. Contact Governor Cuomo [(877) 235-6537] and your local State Assembly and Senate representatives to urge them to include improved gun violence prevention measures in this year’s budget, including options such as passing an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law (also recently passed in Florida as a “red flag” law), restricting domestic abusers’ access to guns, banning bump stocks, and closing a loophole that enables a gun to be sold after 3 days – even if the background check hasn’t been completed.
The Assembly passed a package of gun violence prevention bills in early March. Former Congresswoman and gun violence prevention advocate Gabby Giffords has endorsed the Assembly’s bill package. See https://giffords.org/2018/03/ny-assembly-package/. NYS’s “ERPO” bill authorizes “families and law enforcement to seek court issued orders restricting access to guns for individuals who are likely to harm themselves or others.” For more information on the bill (S.7133/A.8976) and the ERPO Coalition, see https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/brian-kavanagh/statement-new-york-erpo-coalition-proposals-include-gun and a fact sheet at http://nyagv.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ERPO-Fact-Sheet-FINAL-5-2017.pdf.
Sign a petition urging the NYS Senate to pass ERPO at http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5610/c/209/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=25365.
Find your NYS Senator at https://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator
Local Senators (by District)
43 Kathleen Marchione (518) 455-2381
45 Betty Little (518) 455-2811
46 George A. Amedore, Jr. (518) 455-2350
47 Joseph A. Griffo (518) 455-3334
48 Patty Ritchie (518) 455-3438
49 James Tedisco (518) 455-2181
51 James Seward (518) 455-3131
53 David Valesky (518) 455-2838
Find your NYS Assembly member at http://nyassembly.gov/mem/search/
Local Assembly members (by District)
108 John T. McDonald III (518) 455-4474
109 Patricia Fahy (518) 455-4178
110 Phil Steck (518) 455-5931
111 Angelo Santabarbara (518) 455-5197
112 Mary Beth Walsh (518) 455-5772
113 Carrie Woerner (518) 455-5404
114 Dan Stec (518) 455-5565
115 Billy Jones (518) 455-5943
116 Addie Jenne (518) 455-5545
3. Speak out at the Upcoming Sub-Minimum Wage/Tip Credit Hearings. Do you support eliminating or keeping the wage tip credit? Governor Cuomo has asked the NYS Commissioner of Labor to hold hearings in the coming months to “evaluate the possibility of ending minimum wage tip credits.” The first hearing will be held in Long Island on Friday, April 20, 2018. The hearing in Albany is currently scheduled for Friday, May 18th, at 10a.m. Pre-registrants will be given 3 minutes to speak. To PRE-REGISTER for a hearing, go to https://www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/subminimumwage.shtm.
The wage tip credit applies to workers who, because they receive tips, are paid a “sub-minimum” wage from their employer. To see how employers in NYS currently must calculate the wage tip credit, go to https://www.labor.ny.gov/legal/counsel/pdf/tips-frequently-asked-questions.pdf. For information on how Maine’s experience with repealing the minimum wage tip credit led to the credit being recently re-instated, go to https://www.pressherald.com/2018/01/11/maine-voices-after-success-in-getting-tip-credit-restored-in-maine-its-time-to-go-national/.
Week of 3/5/18 –
Stop Sinclair Broadcasting from scripting local news anchors, including ours at CBS 6. Call Sinclair Broadcasting at (410) 568-1500 and ask for their News Department. Tell them you don’t want their company putting words into the mouths of our local newscasters. Then call CBS 6 News at (518) 346-6666 to tell them you don’t want their newscasters parroting Sinclair scripts and talking points, and that you assume their newscasters don’t want to either.
For more information on this issue, please see http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/07/media/sinclair-broadcasting-promos-media-bashing/index.html.
New York State
Advocate for early voting and automatic voter registration in NYS. Contact Senator Marchione at (518) 455-2381 to urge her to support $7million in funding for early voting and automatic voter registration in the Senate One House Budget. In addition, sign Saratoga Unites’ petition (before 7 a.m. on Tuesday, March 13th), at http://chn.ge/2FwA75e. We will deliver it to Senator Marchione that day.
For a summary of the meeting on February 27th and to see local news coverage, please go to http://chn.ge/2FwA75e.
Stop Congress from de-regulating the big banks that caused the 2008 Recession. Call Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to tell them to vote NO to S.2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.” You can also sign CREDO’s petition to Senate Democrats at https://act.credoaction.com/sign/bailout_caucus?t=5&akid=27032%2E6742866%2E23Ajzz.
A majority of Senators agree that the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) needs to be revised to reduce the regulatory burden it imposes on small community banks. However, S.2155 deregulates larger banks, such as those similar in size to Countrywide, which was one of the banks responsible for creating the 2008 Recession. Under S.2155, banks with up to $250B in assets will no longer be subject to the strictest regulations, whereas under current law, only those banks with $50B or less in assets receive such relaxed treatment. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/05/the-senate-is-moving-to-ease-major-banking-regulations-this-is-how-they-will-do-it/?utm_term=.f5363e0ea897, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/06/elizabeth-warren-banking-bill-congress.
In addition, S.2155 promotes institutional bias against communities of color, as described more thoroughly at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/opinion/mortage-minority-income.html.
To listen to Senator Warren explain her concerns in a brief interview, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2roG2L8bqAc.
Prevent off-shore drilling. Tell the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) what you think of the Trump administration’s plan to drill for oil and gas off the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. To submit a comment using the NRDC’s automated tool, go to https://act.nrdc.org/letter/af-ocs-5-year-180105?source=WBLOCSPETAI, or submit a comment directly at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=BOEM-2017-0074.
BOEM develops the leasing program for off-shore drilling. The program specifies the “size, timing, and location of potential leasing activity that the Secretary of the Interior determines will best meet national energy needs for the five-year period under consideration.” Trump has ordered the BOEM to develop a new schedule of oil and gas lease sales for the U.S. for 2019-2024. BOEM released its draft proposal on January 4, 2018 and is accepting public comments on it until before midnight tomorrow, Friday, March 9th.
To see the draft proposal, go to https://www.boem.gov/NP-Draft-Proposed-Program-2019-2024/. To
For more information on this issue, see https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/23/climate/trump-offshore-oil-drilling.html.
Week of 1/29/18 –
1. Defend the Clean Power Plan: call Senator Kirsten Gillibrand before Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will testify at the Senate Environmental and Public Works (EPW) Oversight Hearing this Tuesday. Senator Gillibrand is a member of the EPW Committee. Call her at (202) 224-4451 or (518) 431-0120 before Tuesday’s hearing to urge her to challenge and expose the lack of evidence underlying the bases for Pruitt’s proposed repeal.
In August 2015, Barack Obama’s administration issued the Clean Power Plan. This was the first time the U.S. had adopted national standards to address carbon pollution from power plants. At the time, the EPA said the regulations resulted from “unprecedented outreach to states, tribes, utilities, stakeholders and the public, including more than 4.3 million comments EPA received on the proposed rule. The final Clean Power Plan reflects that input, and gives states and utilities time to preserve ample, reliable and affordable power for all Americans.” See the EPA’s Fact Sheet at https://archive.epa.gov/epa/cleanpowerplan/fact-sheet-overview-clean-power-plan.html.
But then in March 2017, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (E.O. 13783) calling for, among other things, the rescission of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). In October 2017, Pruitt announced plans to repeal the CPP. As detailed by the Environmental Defense Fund, the proposed repeal 1) uses faulty science to downplay public health risk, 2) ignores the immediate presence of climate change, 3) uses accounting gimmicks to inflate costs, 4) benefits Pruitt’s political supporters, and 5) ignores broad support for the CPP. See https://www.edf.org/blog/2017/10/09/trumps-epa-making-reckless-and-damaging-decision-heres-what-you-need-know?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=ggad_cleanenergy_upd_dmt&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=1513935518&gclid=Cj0KCQiAhrbTBRCFARIsACY7MW16WK4zj-lUvGd12twVH8-twukS91ro5fTm8Wyc9GYfNIOXlcpR3eoaAiArEALw_wcB
The comment period for the repeal plan closed on January 16, 2018. On January 9, 2018, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman held a “people’s hearing” on the proposed repeal in NYC, because the EPA ignored his requests to hold a hearing in New York. The Attorney General’s office pledged to compile and submit the comments received at the hearing to the EPA before the comment deadline.
2. Defend the rights of workers to keep their own tips: submit a comment to the Department of Labor (DOL) before Monday, February 5, 2018 – DOL seeks to repeal regulations that stop restaurant owners from taking their employees’ tips. To submit a comment to DOL about this proposal, go to https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/05/2017-25802/tip-regulations-under-the-fair-labor-standards-act-flsa
In 2011, the Obama administration issued regulations making tip income the sole property of the employee that received it. The Trump administration now wants to repeal the rule to allow “wage pooling” with other workers who do not receive tips. However, DOL’s proposal gives employers control over all tips and does not specifically prohibit employers from taking the tips and using them for their own purposes. According to a report in the Washington Post, “Allowing employers to distribute tips as they see fit . . . would end the Labor Department’s practice of treating gratuities as the property of workers, a custom that dates to the 1974 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2017/12/07/the-trump-administration-proposes-allow-tip-pooling-in-restaurants-critics-call-it-stealing-workers-wages/?utm_term=.0aa159ad9f6d The Post also indicates that “critics say the new rules could invite trouble. The rules, they say, would allow employers to distribute the pooled tips to anyone, including salaried managers or even themselves.”