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The Reformer


About Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation

Citizens Union of the City of New York is an independent, non partisan force dedicated to promoting good government and political reform in the city and state of New York. For more than a century, Citizens Union has served as a watchdog for the public interest and an advocate for the common good. We work to ensure fair elections, clean campaigns, and open, effective government that is accountable to the citizens of New York. We do so by informing the policy debate and influencing the policy outcomes that affect the lives of all New Yorkers. Believing that an informed citizenry is the cornerstone of a thriving local democracy, Citizens Union Foundation – the non profit research, education, and advocacy organization affiliated with CU – publishes Gotham Gazette, a front row seat to New York City policies and politics.

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Welcome from Dick Dadey, Executive Director

With a month to go before the Primary Election, Citizens Union is soon to conclude its evaluation of candidates for office and will announce which ones it will be supporting in the September primary. For the first time in its history, CU will be supporting candidates for the statewide offices of Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller. Look for your copy of our highly regarded Voters Directory to be in your mailbox and available online soon after Labor Day.

Though activities tend to slow down in the summer months, our new Gotham Reformers group held a successful launch event last month attended by well over 100 young civic leaders.

Enjoy this edition of The Reformer and learn about what is keeping us busy this summer.


Election Day Interpreters and Poll Worker Recruitment Program

Council Member John Liu addresses a press conference calling attention to the need for bilingual poll workers.

On July 27th, Citizens Union Foundation held a press conference to highlight the need for more election day poll workers to serve as language interpreters for those voters who need assistance. (Click  here  to read the press release.) This effort reflects CU’s historic objective of eliminating barriers to voting, including those presented by language difficulties, by ensuring that the Board of Elections provides qualified and well trained poll workers to assist voters in exercising their right to vote. The federal Voting Rights Act requires the City Board of Elections to provide language assistance in Chinese, Korean and Spanish throughout parts of the city. Civic and city leaders were on hand to emphasize the importance of providing this service to some of the city’s newest New Yorkers. Speakers included:

  • Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union Foundation
  • John Ravitz, Executive Director of the NYC Board of Elections
  • Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Citizens Union Board Member
  • John Liu, Member of the New York City Council;
  • Taehyo Park, Executive Director of the Korean American League for Civic Action.

Click here to read NY1’s coverage or here to view a video clip (real media player file).

Midway through the recruitment drive, Citizens Union Foundation (CUF) doubled its recruitment goal and has now received over 2,000 poll workers applications, of which 400 are for language interpreters. The 2006 Poll Worker Recruitment Program may be our most successful campaign to date of the four recruitment drives CUF has conducted since 2001. Our efforts are generously funded by the New York Community Trust and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation. In addition, CUF has received a one time special grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to recruit college students as poll workers.

Please help spread the word by telling interested friends and colleagues to apply to be a poll worker, by visiting our website, or calling us at 212-227-0342 ext. 46.


Citizens Union Files Amicus Brief on “Members Items” Disclosure

Citizens Union, along with a coalition of other good government and political reform organizations, submitted an amicus brief earlier this month in support of the Albany Times Union’s lawsuit against the New York State Legislature for failure to disclose details about the hundreds of millions of dollars in “member items” it annually dispenses.

The Albany based newspaper had submitted a Freedom of Information Law request for information about what legislators were responsible for securing specific projects and at what amount. The request was denied by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and the newspaper has sued for the information. With the assistance of the law firm, Morgan, Lewis, & Bockuis, the friend of the court brief filed by CU and its colleagues, The Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens Budget Commission, Common Cause/NY, League of Women Voters of New York State and New York Public Interest Research Group, stated that keeping such information secret was a breach of the public trust and allowed elected officials not to be accountable for the ways in which decisions are made about the public’s money.

The filing of this brief marks the fourth amicus brief filed by Citizens Union in the past few months as the organization expands its efforts to influence the outcome of important public policy issues. A judicial hearing on the case is scheduled for August 11, 2006.

Click here to read the brief (pdf file).


Local Candidate Committee

Across the city, members of Citizens Union’s Local Candidates Committee are interviewing candidates for State Assembly and Senate this summer. Our interview teams are focusing on the open seats in this year’s election and several other races that are shaping up to be competitive. Citizens Union is also, for the first time ever, interviewing candidates for the statewide offices of Attorney General, Comptroller, and Governor.

Citizens Union will release its list of “preferred candidates” later in August and will mail our highly regarded Voters Directory to members in time for the Primary Elections. To view that list as well as candidate evaluations and questionnaires visit the Voters Directory section of our website.


Candidate Debates

Citizens Union will host later this month two candidate debates to help inform and engage New York City Voters. The debate series includes:

Assembly District 74
(This district includes the Lower East Side, East Side, Midtown East, and Murray Hill. Click here for a detailed map.)
Monday August 14, 2006 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM
At the St. Nicholas Church, 288 East 10th Street, (between 1st Ave. and Ave. A)
Participating Candidates: Hon. Sylvia Friedman, Brian Kavanagh, Esther Yang, and Juan Pagan (Invited)
Presented in partnership with Our Town Downtown and City Hall.

Assembly District 13
(This district includes Flushing and surrounding areas. Click here for a detailed map).
Monday, August 21, 2006 at 6:15 to 7:45 PM
At the Flushing Library—Main Street at Kissena Blvd.
Participating Candidates: Julia Harrison and Ellen Young
Presented in partnership with Queens Civic Congress and cosponsored by: North East Jewish Community Council, NAACP-Corona East Elmhurst, Mid Queens Community Council; Queens Chronicle; NAACP-North-East Branch, and Flushing Jewish Community Council.

Senate District 13
(This district includes Corona, Jackson Heights, and East Elmhurst. Click here for a detailed map.)
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 6:15 to 7:45 PM
At the Langston Hughes Cultural Center/Library, 101-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona
Participating Candidates: Hon. Hiram Monserrate and Hon. Jon Sabini
Presented in partnership with Queens Civic Congress and cosponsored by: North East Jewish Community Council, NAACP-Corona East Elmhurst, Mid Queens Community Council; Queens Chronicle; NAACP-North-East Branch, and Flushing Jewish Community Council.

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Who is Citizens Union?

This is the third in a series of profiles of civic leaders among Citizens Union’s board of directors and members.

Gena Lovett, Vice Chair, Citizens Union

Gena Lovett is a Partner and the Chief Operating Officer of Alexandra Investment Management, LLC (AIM). With over 18 years of financial services experience managing front, middle, and back office operations, Ms. Lovett brings a plethora of expertise and knowledge to AIM which she joined in 1998. Currently, the firm manages assets in excess of $1.1 billion.

As COO, she manages, plans, and organizes all the firm’s day-to-day business activities for over 30 people, overseeing such functions as Administration, Client Relations, Fund Accounting/Treasury, Human Resources, Legal/Compliance, and Operations. As a Partner, she serves as the Secretary for the Board of Managers of the Alexandra Investment Management, LLC and Corporate Secretary of Board of Directors for the Companies – Alexandra Global Investment Fund I, Ltd., Alexandra Global Investment Fund II, Ltd., and Alexandra Global Master Fund, Ltd.

Prior to joining Alexandra Investment Management, Ms. Lovett managed a Trade Support unit at NatWest Capital Markets. Ms. Lovett began her financial services training in 1987 with PaineWebber, Inc. She moved up the ranks quickly, and later joined BT Securities Corporation in 1991 starting in Corporate Finances and moving to Global Equities as Assistant Treasurer.

Within the investment community, Ms. Lovett is a member of the MFA Pension & ERISA Task Force and an Angel and Member of the CFO COO Advisory Council of the 100 Women in Hedge Funds.

Ms. Lovett has generously contributed her financial savvy and marketing capabilities to the community through active Board and Committee involvement. She presently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Prison Association (WPA); Member of the Board of Directors of the Associated Junior Leagues International, Inc.(AJLI). In addition, she is on the NYU Women’s Initiative Steering Committee; and a Member of the Audit Committee for the Junior League of New York City (NYJL). In 2002, as a dedicated leader in community service, Ms. Lovett was honored by the Junior League of New York City with the “Outstanding Volunteer Award.” In addition, she has received recognition from the Women’s Prison Association with the prestigious Isaac T. Hopper Award in 2005. She is also Member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.

Gena Lovett joined the Board of Citizens Union in 2002 and now serves as Vice Chair. As an important leader of CU, she has provided strong financial support, stewardship over the organization’s finances, and strategic guidance on how to position the organization to take the next big steps in its development. Her many contributions to CU and her other interests have helped make New York a better place to live and work.


Annual Dinner

On the evening of October 24th at the Waldorf=Astoria Citizens Union will honor four great New York City leaders at our Annual Dinner:

  • Our Business Leadership Award will be presented to the Partnership for New York City, which has strengthened the economy of New York City and contributed mightily to maintaining the city as the center of world commerce, finance and innovation.
  • Elizabeth Stribling, who heads one of the most prestigious residential real estate firms in the country, will receive our Civic Leadership Award for her many contributions to improving the fabric and landscape of life in New York.
  • Peter F. Vallone, Sr. will receive our Public Service Award which acknowledges his work as the first Speaker of the City Council after the 1989 charter revision, where he molded the Council into a more effective legislature that better serves New Yorkers.
  • And, the Robert F. Wagner Jr. Award will be presented to Richard Kahan, Chair of the Urban Assembly, for his contributions to the city both as a public official and civic leader.

If you are interesting in supporting the Dinner by making a sponsorship level gift, please click here for Dinner Committee form. Click here to request an invitation and more information.


Gotham Reformers Committee Launch

Borough President Scott Stringer addresses Gotham Reformers event.

On July 19th at the top floor of New York University’s Kimmel Center, more than one hundred young leaders from the worlds of business, government, non-profit and civic affairs joined event chairs, Helena Durst, Mark Foggin, Jennifer Mercurio and Edward Swenson, for a sunset reception to support Citizens Union and launch its Gotham Reformers Committee. These new members of Citizens Union will take part in the work of the organization, join committees, help to organize programs for members and provide a venue for young civic minded New Yorkers to network. We thank them for joining the thousands of other New Yorkers since 1897 who have come together to fight for good government concerns

Gotham Gazette News and Highlights

The Aging City
Gotham Gazette covers the story behind the Queens black out and explores why NYC’s infrastructure (electrical service, sewers and water pollution, subways, high speed internet and more) is lacking. Filled with useful links, this article is a good read and a valuable resource on key issues. The Aging City has received considerable attention and was linked to by more than half a dozen major news websites and blogs, some of them national.

Taking the Public Pulse
If New York officials really want to know how good city services are, maybe they should ask the real experts – the people who send their kids to public schools, go to the local park and ride down city streets. Part of our Measuring Up series on performance assessment, includes articles by experts on how government can learn what citizens really think – and want.

Community Gardens
A 2002 agreement saved hundreds of community gardens, but many others still face an uncertain future with New York’s development boom and need for housing.

Summer Internship Program

CU and CUF summer Interns and Staff on the steps of the Tweed Court House after a special tour focused on the history and architecture of this remarkable building.

Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation offer internships to young people, who are interested in politics, advocacy, journalism, marketing, web design and more. This summer we welcomed a dozen young people who wrote articles for Gotham Gazette, researched legislative redistricting issues, staffed the Local Candidates Committee and researched marketing opportunities. While our offices are crowded, we are very fortunate to have them with us and have benefited from their intelligence, talents, and contributions. Many thanks to the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, the Century Foundation and the Korean American League for Civic Action for sponsoring some of our valuable interns.

Join Citizens Union

As the elections approach, now is an important time to spread the word about our work and to help build our membership. Please forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues using the ‘Email a Friend’ link near the top of this e-newsletter and encourage them to become members. To receive our 2006 Primary Election Voters Directory, members must have paid their dues by August 20th. If your membership has lapsed, please renew your support for the oldest, active good government organization in the City and help us bring greater political reform to New York.

If you would like to forward an html email membership invitation to people in your network, contact [email protected] for more information.

Citizens Union In the News

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