I first became aware of Yetta Kurland when she last ran for City Council because she focused on the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital, a huge mistake that has put New Yorkers' lives in danger because it reduces hospital coverage and it also puts additional financial burden on other hospitals which now have to take up the slack left in the wake of St. Vincent's closing.
Bloomberg doesn't seem to get that closing hospitals is a bad idea for New York. Yetta Kurland DOES get that and that was how I first became aware of her. She gets the complexities of hospital coverage in a city and how closing a hospital negatively impacts all other nearby hospitals.
Now she is running again and I heartily endorse her. Here is her latest campaign video:
Yetta Kurland has been endorsed by District Council 37, TWU Local 100, Amalgamated Transit Union International, CWA Local 1180, Metallic Lathers & Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 46, New York City Board of Education Employees Local 372 (DC37 AFSCME), New York Metro Area Postal Union, APWU, AFL-CIO, The Chelsea-Midtown Democratic Club, The Women’s Democratic Club of NYC, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and many others.
Last night was the first endorsement meeting of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID). Endorsements in three races were made: Brooklyn District Attorney and two City Council districts, the 33rd and the 39th.
In the 39th City Council race Brad Lander is running unopposed so it was between Lander and "no endorsement." Since CBID recently honored Brad Lander at their annual dinner, it is not surprising that CBID endorsed Lander for his re-election. This was a formality with Lander not making the meeting and no discussion on the endorsement.
In the 33rd City Council race Steve Levin is running unopposed. I was surprised how easily CBID endorsed Levin.
In the case of Lander, the previous differences between the club and the candidate had more to do with a previous CBID president running against Lander when he first ran. One of my main concerns about Lander was his involvement in the large-scale Working Families Party campaign finance fiasco where wrongdoing was clearly found but never prosecuted because the money was returned. This was a scandal that was largely swept under the carpet and WFP has aggressively attacked anyone who mentions it. However, CBID feels that Lander is showing considerable leadership on policy and he has basically won them over and the one scandal, which involved mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio as well, seems to have been successfully forgotten. I just hope Lander will be more careful with WFP and the campaign finance board keeps a better watch on WFP in the future. But as Lander shows himself to be a solid progressive and seems to have hit his stride on the council, CBID seems won over.
By contrast, Steve Levin was chief of staff for that by-word of corruption and sexual harassment, former Party Boss Vito Lopez, during the very time the corruption and sexual harassment were occurring. Levin was not a lowly flunky on Vito Lopez's staff...he was chief of staff. That is a position of some authority and responsibility. Steve Levin was at the heart of a very nasty, corrupt organization under Vito Lopez...yet he has in no way repudiated or sought to correct what happened under his watch. Steve Levin, like Brad Lander, is proving to be excellent on policy. Also like Lander, Levin has hit his stride on the City Council. For this reason CBID seems won over by Steve Levin as well. And yet while Vito Lopez's sexual harassment scandal and his various corruption scandals are still actively matters of discussion, CBID, the most reform-minded club in Brooklyn, didn't even raise the matter. Oddly, Vito Lopez was brought up when discussing the Brooklyn DA's race, but not when discussing the candidacy of Vito Lopez's actual chief of staff while sexual harassment was apparently rampant.
Steve Levin has discussed this issue in private and I am aware of where he stands. But a chief of staff HAS to bear some responsibility for what goes on under his watch and Steve Levin should not, in my mind, be allowed to pretend his connection with Vito Lopez never happened. The opportunity to discuss a "no endorsement" vote was offered at the meeting but no one (to be fair, including myself) took that opportunity. By the time I realized no one was going to speak up the discussion had moved on to the DA's race.
Steve Levin may well be a good guy...and he may well have been insulated from the corruption and thuggishness of the Vito Lopez staff he was chief of. But it is hard to reconcile an effective chief of staff with the level of blindness it would have taken for Steve Levin to be completely ignorant of what was occurring right under his nose. What disturbs me is the fact that Levin has in no way spoken publicly about Vito Lopez or repudiated what went on on his own watch. He wants us all to forget about it and that alone makes me unwilling to let it be swept under the carpet.
Severe wrongdoing was carried out under Steve Levin's watch and he should be willing and prepared to publicly address that and openly repudiate what Vito Lopez did. And CBID should hold his feet to the fire. But last night the name Vito Lopez was not mentioned in connection with former Lopez chief of staff Levin, but was mentioned several times when Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes was discussed.
In the Brooklyn DA's race three candidates spoke. Abe George, current DA Charles Hynes, and Ken Thompson.
The general consensus was Abe George lacked any real experience to run the Brooklyn DA's office. He seems mostly to be an extension of John Kennedy O'Hara's strange vendetta against just about everyone in Brooklyn politics. O"Hara's main target tends to be the very reform Assemblyman Jim Brennan and O'Hara and his backers have spent a great deal of time trying to portray an openly gay member of Brennan's staff as guilty of sexual assault on a woman, something that is so absurd it makes O'Hara and his supporters look ridiculous. Since Jim Brennan, despite some differences when it comes to endorsements over the years, is an ally of CBID's, it is not likely that CBID would endorse O'Hara's ally for DA.
By contrast Ken Thompson was viewed as well experienced and capable. He has worked on several important cases including investigating the David Koresch cult raid for the Clinton Administration and locally prosecuted the case against the police officers who tortured Abner Louima.
However, no matter how CBID's members looked at it, it was hard not to endorse Charles Hynes, the man who has repeatedly been considered the most progressive DA in the country and whose alternatives to prison programs are models for the whole country. Charles Hynes is not the most endearing of people. And he has been justly criticized for turning too much of a blind eye to sexual abuse among the Hasidic communities in Brooklyn. But his overall record on reducing recidivism, taking a liberal approach to drug offenses, prosecuting corruption in Brooklyn politics (even if he has perhaps been too gentile on Vito Lopez!), and in addressing domestic violence in Brooklyn. Both Abe George and Ken Thompson portrayed Charles Hynes as being a poor leader and the Brooklyn DA's office as being rudderless. There were some of us in the audience who could attest to the fact that this is not true. I for one served two weeks on Grand Jury service in the Brooklyn DA's office and saw a very impressive organization clearly led effectively from the top by Charles Hynes. Ken Thompson's platform often focused on issues that had nothing to do with the DA's office: expanding after school programs and ending stop and frisk. Ken Thompson's platform sounded more like John Liu's very progressive platform for mayor rather than a platform appropriate to the DA's office. Both Abe George and Ken Thompson came off as unrealistic and often inaccurate in their criticisms of Hynes.
In the end CBID endorsed Charles Hynes for re-election because whatever his flaws, he runs THE most progressive and one of the most effective DA office in America. In contrast to Steve Levin, who was endorsed with hardly any discussion, the good and bad aspects of Charles Hynes were discussed in detail and overall, contrary to the portrayal made by Abe George and Ken Thompson, the good was seen to far outweigh the bad. I should note that I was not a fan of Charles Hynes back in 2005 when he last had a serious primary challenge, though in that case his main challenger was a lackey of the Clarence Norman machine, John Sampson whose one main plank in his platform seemed to be to get Clarence Norman off the hook for his corruption. Since then I have to admit that the more I learn of Charles Hynes the more I have to admit he seems the man for the job and CBID overwhelmingly agreed despite liking Ken Thompson.
I have been a supporter of Yetta Kurland since she tried standing up for keeping St. Vincent's Hospital open (see bottom of page for this issue). I think she was right when she took that stand and I think she gets a lot of issues better than most candidates out there. AND she is getting a lot of good union endorsements.
Here's the latest from Yetta Kurland for City Council:
Local 46 Officially Endorses Yetta Kurland for City Council;
Calls Her a “True Friend of the Working Class”
Today, Terry Moore, Business Manager of Metallic Lathers Union Local 46, announced his union’s endorsement of Yetta Kurland, a progressive Democrat running for City Council in New York’s 3rd Council District (West Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen). The seat is currently held by Christine Quinn, who is running for Mayor.
“There are many candidates who claim to support labor and the working people of our City but who, in the end, don’t deliver. It’s with great pride that we support Yetta, someone who has a long history as an ally of labor and a true friend of the working class. Yetta will be a voice for all of us, someone we know will fight for us,” said Moore.
Local 46, 2500 members strong, is one of the City’s most established building trades unions, serving the metropolitan area since 1897. Members work on concrete structures including bridges and skyscrapers; they are at work on the new World Trade Center tower. They also work in commercial and residential construction, performing work on suspended ceilings and architectural lath and plaster.
Kurland is a civil rights attorney, educator, small business owner and community activist who has been empowering her community for over two and a half decades. A lifelong New Yorker, she currently resides in Chelsea. She is also the host of Yetta Kurland LIVE!, a popular weekly progressive talk radio show on WWRL1600 AM.
Local 46 adds its endorsement to a growing list that includes many labor unions: TWU Local 100, Amalgamated Transit Union International, CWA Local 1180, District Council 37, Local 372, the NYS Machinists District 15, IATSE Local One Theatrical Stage Employees, New York City Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549 (DC 37 AFSCME), as well as others.
NEW YORK METRO AREA POSTAL UNION ENDORSES YETTA KURLAND FOR CITY COUNCIL
The Executive Board of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, APWU, AFL-CIO has unanimously endorsed Yetta Kurland for City Council in District 3.
"Yetta Kurland is the kind of person we need to have in elected office. Her experience as a civil rights attorney means that she knows the struggle of the poor, the disenfranchised and the middle class. Yetta fights the good fight with everything she has, and understands the power of working in coalitions with community groups and labor", said President Jonathan Smith.
"I am honored to receive the endorsement of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, the largest local in APWU. I am deeply inspired by the hard working clerks, motor vehicle operators and maintenance workers in Manhattan and the Bronx who serve millions of New Yorkers every day and keep our city running smoothly", said Yetta.
Yetta has already received labor endorsements from TWU Local 100, Amalgamated Transit Union International, CWA Local 1180, District Council 37, Local 372, the NYS Machinists District 15, IATSE Local One Theatrical Stage Employees, New York City Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549 (DC 37 AFSCME) as well as endorsements from national and local groups including Emily’s List, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, McManus Democratic Club, The Chelsea-Midtown Democratic Club, the Women’s Democratic Club of NYC, Voterbook NYC, and others.
Yetta Kurland, 44, is a civil rights attorney, radio host, and community activist. She is a progressive Democrat running in New York’s 3rd City Council District. The district includes the West Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen and is currently represented by Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
For more information, go to Yetta Kurland's website.
And for those interested in why I started supporting Yetta, here she is in 2011 fighting for St. Vincent's:
Earlier this month I highlighted City Council candidate Yetta Kurland's efforts to protect NYC hospitals from the epidemic of closures as well as her endorsement for City Council from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). You can read their endorsement here.
Yetta Kurland has picked up another endorsement for City Council, this time from the Amalgamated Transit Union. From their press release:
New York, NY – Civil rights attorney and radio show host Yetta Kurland announced yet another labor endorsement today, this time by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International.
ATU’s Local 1181 is currently on strike in New York City demanding better conditions for their workers.
“I am honored that at a time when the members of Amalgamated Transit Union are busy fighting for their members on the frontlines, that they would take time to support me in my run for City Council. It shows the level of commitment these workers have to making this City a better place for all working New Yorkers.” said Yetta Kurland.
International ATU President Larry Hanley said “We are proud to endorse Yetta Kurland. Yetta has been there for us on the picket line, and she will be a voice for us in City Hall. Just as she courageously stands up for working men and women, we at the Amalgamated Transit Union proudly stand behind her in her candidacy for City Council.”
Kurland has already received early endorsements from TWU Local 100, CWA Local 1180, DC 37, Local 372, the NYS Machinists District 15 along with several elected officials and clubs including the Women’s Democratic Club of NYC.
Yetta strikes me as the kind of activist that this city lacks in its government. The City Council is one of the tamest (and lamest) I have seen in any city, seldom standing up to anything the mayor does. I think Yetta would make things at least somewhat more interesting. Some background from her website: read more »
Looks like Daily Gotham is up again. And this seems like a good test post.
I remember Yetta Kurland from the fight to keep St. Vincent's Hospital (which happens to be the hospital where Jacob was born) open. And let's remember that closing of St. Vincent's coupled with the closing of NYU's Tisch Hospital, Bellevue Hospital and the VA hospital meant that emergency room coverage was critically low in Manhattan for some time after Sandy. In fact the NYU Medical Center's emergency room remains down today, though I believe their Urgent Care center is now open.
Sadly few people have been championing keeping hospitals open. The dynamic is a complex one. Hospitals almost all run at a loss. This is not because of mismanagement usually but because the cost of care in emergency rooms and ICUs is so hugely expensive that it tends to lose money at a huge rate...in order to save lives. The more people who don't have health insurance, the more people who have to depend on emergency rooms for basic care...and the more money it costs the hospitals. Reduce the number of uninsured people and spread emergency visits over more hospitals and the burden on each hospital is reduced. But leave lots of uninsured and close hospitals and each remaining hospital gets an even higher burden on their emergency rooms...driving them deeper into a financial hole.
Closing St. Vincent's just increased the burden on every other hospital. Of course Healthcare reform is a key way to improve the financial strength of our hospitals, but closing hospitals really isn't. Yetta Kurland gets that.
Yetta is running for City Council again in Manhattan (for the seat Christine Quinn is vacating) and hospitals is one of her main issues. And this morning the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has endorsed her. From their press release:
40 blocks. That's the distance from the lower tip of Manhattan to the nearest trauma-treating hospital. In a city like New York , that distance could mean the difference between life and death.
That's one of the top issues Yetta Kurland, proud progressive, has been leading the charge on. She fought the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital and has been working hard to ensure that Lower Manhattan has the medical facilities it needs, especially with so many hospitals closed due to Sandy damage.
Now, Yetta Kurland is campaigning for New York City Council in your area, as a next step in serving the community. We are proud to endorse Yetta, the bold progressive in the race.
Yetta doesn't just talk the talk. She organizes for progressive change. Recently, she's helped lead local efforts to coordinate volunteers and relief efforts for Sandy victims. This Saturday, she's asking her team to take a break from campaigning and instead join her in the National Day of Service in the Rockaways.
Can you join Yetta this Saturday(January 19, 9:00am - 5:00pm) while she helps Sandy victims clean up and rebuild their community? Click to see details and RSVP.
We were proud to work with Yetta as we organized a New York event for Elizabeth Warren. Yetta Kurland is from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party, and we see Yetta as a rising progressive star who will do big things for New York .
Whether or not you can make it on Saturday, you should still take time to learn about Yetta's campaign.
-- Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Kayla Wingbermuehle, and the PCCC team