Dunlea Calls for As. Speaker Heastie to Allow Vote on Bills to Increase Oversight of State Contracts, Economic Development

For immediate release: June 11, 2018

Mark Dunlea, the Green Party candidate for state comptroller, today called upon Assembly Speaker Heastie to bring to a vote several bills that would restore Comptroller oversight of state contracts and economic development programs that have been part of the recent corruption scandals involving the Governor’s office.

“The Comptroller is elected to be an independent fiscal watchdog to protect the taxpayers of New York from fraud and waste. It was wrong for the Governor and state lawmakers to have stripped away the Comptroller’s oversight over SUNY and CUNY contracts. DiNapoli should have fought harder against this. And with Cuomo raking in massive campaign contributions from special interests profiting from state contracts, it is critical to increase oversight and accountability over Cuomo’s multi-billion dollar corporate welfare programs,” stated Dunlea.

Cuomo and the Legislature approved a measure in 2011 that prevented DiNapoli from reviewing contracts at SUNY and CUNY ahead of time. Shortly afterwards, Cuomo announced a billion-dollar initiative to bring a solar power manufacturing facility to Buffalo. The head of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute is the key defendant in the corruption trial about to start over the alleged rigging of the Buffalo Billion contract.

“Cuomo opposes these common sense accountability reforms because they would disrupt his pay-to-play campaign financing machine, which is under scrutiny in trials and investigations related to contracts and regulatory favors awarded to campaign contributors like Competitive Power Ventures, COR Development, LP Ciminelli, and Crystal Run Healtcare,” said Howie Hawkins, the Green candidate for governor.

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Hawkins Calls for Property Tax Cut, Not Tax Cap

For immediate release: June 7, 2018

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, called today for a repeal of the state’s property tax cap. He called instead for cuts in property taxes by increasing state aid for schools and revenue sharing for local governments.

Hawkins blasted both Democratic candidates for governor for supporting the 2% property tax cap.

“Tax cap is a campaign sound bite, not a sound policy. There is nothing progressive in Nixon’s call for an easier voter override of the cap. The cap still freezes the inequities in funding schools and local government services between low- and middle-income communities and affluent communities. It still institutionalizes rising property taxes,” Hawkins said.

Democratic challenger Cynthia Nixon called this week for a 60% school board override followed by 50% voter override of the cap as a reform of Governor Cuomo’s tax cap, which requires a 60% override vote by both boards and voters.

“The progressive solution is to cut New York’s property taxes, which are the highest in the nation outside of New York City. The progressive solution is a tax shift from regressive local property and sales taxes to progressive state income and stock transfer taxes. Then the state should use those revenues to provide adequate and equitable school funding and to pay for the state’s unfunded mandates on local governments with increased revenue sharing,” Hawkins said.

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Hawkins, Green Party Candidates Support Enactment of Universal Single-Payer Health Care

For immediate release: June 5, 2018

(Albany, NY) Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins for Governor and Mark Dunlea for State Comptroller joined with other health care advocates in calling for single payer health care as part of their annual lobby day.

“Universal health care is a human right” said Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor. “The Green Party for decades has been calling upon the state to enact a single payer health care system to save money by providing universal health care while eliminating the enormous costs and waste associated with private insurance,” stated Hawkins.

Dunlea noted that he has called for years for the state comptroller to document the savings associated with a single payer healthcare system. NY Health would eliminate the need for counties to help finance the state share of the Medicaid program. Many counties say that their entire local property tax bill goes to pay for Medicaid, which is increasingly used to pay for long term care for senior citizens. Dunlea, the long-time Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network of NYS, was a co-founder of Single Payer New York.

While Governor Cuomo said last September that a state single-payer public health plan would be a “good idea,” he failed to include it in his proposed state budget. The State Assembly has passed single payer the last three years. However, it has not come up for a vote in the state Senate even though almost a majority of Senators sponsor the bill. While Hawkins faulted Cuomo for his failure to include single payer health care in his budget, he called upon Cuomo to push for a vote in the state Senate this year in order to get Senators on the record before they face voters this fall.

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New Teacher Evaluation Bill is all Smoke and Mirrors

MORE-UFT, June 4, 2018

by Jia Lee

Contrary to what its proponents claim, the New York bill on state assessments and teacher evaluations (A10475/S8301) does not eliminate using student scores on standardized tests to evaluate teachers. It just makes high-stakes testing for teacher evaluations subject to collective bargaining, while keeping the ranking of schools by test scores in place, a practice that is used to justify public school closures and privatizations as charter schools. The bill has passed the Assembly and is now in committee in the state Senate.

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Jia Lee, Green Lt. Governor candidate, calls on Senate to Reject Bill on Teacher Evaluations

For immediate release: June 4, 2018

Jia Lee, a New York City school teacher and the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor, called today for the State Senate to reject the bill (S8301 / A10475) on state school assessments and teacher evaluations that has already passed the Assembly. The bill, expected to be voted upon in Senate committee this week, has been promoted by the NYS United Teachers.

“This bill is all smokes and mirrors. It does not eliminate using student scores on standardized tests to evaluate teachers. Instead, it just makes the use of such scores subject to collective bargaining. It keeps the ranking of schools by test scores in place,” said Lee.

Lee said that the ranking of schools by test scores is used to justify public school closures and privatizations as charter schools. Lee said that the main reason why schools fail is poverty and a lack of adequate education funding. 82% of schools closed are in high poverty communities. 59% are in predominantly Black and Brown communities while only 4% are in predominantly white communities.

“If the goal is to improve the quality of our education system, we should address the systematic underfunding of our schools by $4.2 billion. This underfunding has led to the loss of veteran, experienced educators; custodial staff and basic supplies, leaving us with crumbling infrastructures. We have lost physical education, arts and libraries, special education, and English as a New Language programs. While more resources are devoted to administration," Lee added.

"If we want to improve public education, we have to address our policies that results in income inequality and segregation, including access to affordable housing, healthcare, and a livable wage," Lee concluded.

Hey, Cuomo, Leave Those Kids Alone

The Indypendent (New York City), June 4, 2018

by Peter Rugh

“As teachers, we’re trained to look at the entire child, but as soon as we enter the institution of the Department of Education, we’re suddenly compliance managers,” says Jia Lee. An opt-out parent and a teachers union activist, Lee has worked as a special education instructor at various New York City public schools for 17 years. She is running for lieutenant governor as a Green Party candidate. “The pressure is on the teacher and the administrators to make sure test scores are high,” she says....

“Really, the test scores are indicating where there are high pockets of poverty and inequity,” says Lee, rather than how well students are being instructed. She notes that there are no state standards for how charter schools evaluate their instructors. They are not compelled to use SGP. 

And yet students at charter schools tend to outperform their public school peers. The reason for this, Lee argues, is because tests are often charter schools’ primary focus of instruction and because charters, which typically enroll students through a lottery system, use disciplinary measures to weed out problematic pupils. Forty-two percent of all student suspensions in New York City occurred at charter schools, although they contain only 7 percent of the city’s overall student population, according to an analysis conducted by the Atlantic based on 2014 data....

Public schools, Lee says, “are not in the business of pushing students out. We work really hard to educate all of our students, no matter what.” 

... “You can’t say you believe in public schools when you aren’t funding them equitably,” Lee said. 


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Hawkins Releases Statement on Fiscal Policy; Continues Fast in Solidarity with Displaced 85 Bowery Tenants on a Hunger Strike

For immediate release, May 31, 2018

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor of New York, is fasting again today with tenants displaced from 85 Bowery who are on a three-day hunger strike outside City Hall in New York City.

Hawkins was disgusted yesterday to see the city, which gave the tenants a permit to conduct their hunger strike on the sidewalk outside City Hall, revoked its permit to allow a couple of port-a-potties the tenants paid for to be placed on the sidewalk during the three-day hunger strike.

“It just shows the De Blasio administration has no respect for working-class tenants who are being driven out of the city by the conversion of affordable housing to luxury units in buildings like 85 Bowery. De Blasio is more concerned to please the real estate landlord and developer interests who finance his political campaigns. He’s no progressive,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins also released his unpublished response to Richard Brodsky’s Albany Times Union column asking gubernatorial candidates for their proposals on fiscal policy in light of higher than expected state tax revenues:

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Video: Green Party Gov Nominee Says ‘We Have More Leverage’

City Limits, May 31, 2018



Hawkins, a Syracuse resident, is making his third bid for governor.

Between April 2014 and April of this year, the number of active registered Democratic voters in New York State grew 3.6 percent. Registration in the Republican party edged up about three-tenths of a percent. The Conservative and Working Families Parties both shrank, as did the Independence Party.

The Green Party, meanwhile, saw its registration leap 22 percent.

It’s hard to say why the Green Party’s membership—at 26,500, it’s still very small in the context of the state’s 11.3 million active voters—has increased that much since the last state election cycle. Maybe the Bernie Sanders candidacy made the Green’s brand of “ecological socialism” more popular, or maybe the matchup of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made the major parties more toxic.

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Why Our Green Parties Haven't Taken Off

Black Agenda Report, May 30, 2018

The biggest thing it gets right is its adamant insistence on independence from the two ruling class parties. They know you cannot ride to freedom on Pharaoh's chariot. That’s vitally important. The best among them, like Howie Hawkins, the current Green candidate for NY governor have also preached for years that a sustainable Green Party has to be built on a dues-based membership, with all officers directly responsible to the members who pay those dues.

by Bruce Dixon

why our green parties don't grow
With most Americans agreeing with Greens on most issues, why doesn't the Green Party grow?
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Killian to run for Lt. Gov.

Yonkers Times, May 30, 2018

A recent Quinnipiac poll has Cuomo with a 57 to 26 percent lead over Molinaro, but Cuomo will have to deal with a Democratic primary challenge from actress-activist Cynthia Nixon. Cuomo leads Nixon among Democrats by a 50 to 28 percent margin. If Nixon, who has received the endorsement from the Working Families Party, decides to run in November regardless of the outcome of the September Democratic primary, a three-way race between Nixon, Molinaro and Cuomo currently polls at: Cuomo – 40 percent, Molinaro – 23 percent, and Nixon – 20 percent, with 17 percent undecided.

Four years ago, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino lost to Cuomo by a 54 to 40 percent margin, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins getting 5 percent of the vote.

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