How Democrats Move Forward From Here

By:Michael Anthony Iasilli  With the election of Joe Biden to the office of the President, accompanied by the many grassroots organizers around the country succeeding in state and local races, Democrats are uniquely positioned to move forward on a “transitional agenda” that builds America toward a progressive future. As the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be making a resurgence along with a burgeoning economic crisis threatening the stability of working families, Democrats have the opportunity to work on a Universal Healthcare program and a community-safe infrastructure package. These two priorities, if put to the top of Democratic to-do lists across the country, will help solidify the relationship between the Democratic Party and the multi-racial, working class districts it recently recaptured in the 2020 presidential election.  The likelihood of states reinstituting lock-downs is highly likely. Moreover, the need for a national plan to combat the virus is more essential than ever. It is unlikely we will have a nation-wide plan during the remaining duration of Trump’s tenure. However, what the virus has illuminated is the need for our healthcare system to better manage health crises, present and future. Democrats must seek to work with the progressive community, who have been calling for a more robust and equitable healthcare system. President-elect Joe Biden has discussed the possibility of expanding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) by introducing a public option. The public option component of Biden’s plan will be a viable first step in transitioning to a Medicare for All-like system. Not only would the public option compete with the private marketplace, likely driving private care costs down, but it will also prevent the uninsured from falling between the cracks. In a society where having access to a doctor is more critical than ever, Democrats must fight to ensure that healthcare is a human right.  There are a number of options to help introduce this type of reform without radically overhauling the current system. Currently, Medicare is being assessed to be the locus of building on the public option. This could be achieved with a few tweaks to how Medicare qualifies beneficiaries. However, it’s important to point out that Medicare mainly functions as a healthcare plan for senior citizens, often requiring additional private supplement plans to satisfy what Medicare doesn’t cover; these supplement plans can become quite expensive and burdensome, especially since many of those who enjoy the program are already on a fixed income.  Lawmakers should be paying closer attention to Medicaid and its means testing functionality that is based on income instead of age. Medicaid can provide little to no cost insurance coverage to a significant percentage of the population, in particular those of low income and the special needs community. One of the often underestimated achievements of Obamacare was, in fact,  the expansion of Medicaid to states that offered it. If the federal government were to make it a nationwide expansion by enhancing coverage through the elimination of exclusive provider networks, increasing federal funding, and offsetting the involvement of the private sector in the delivery of care (while also allowing private healthcare companies to compete in the marketplace separately), access to Medicaid would be greater and the quality of care could be enhanced.  Funding for hospitals and clinics is also greatly needed. Of course, the federal government will first need to pass a stimulus bill that helps fund the crucial institutions that safeguard our health. Not to mention, many of them are staffed by essential workers who deserve financial security and proper work-safety standards.  Hence, we must fight for safe staffing ratios to become federal law. Too many states and private care facilities have varying discretion over safe-staffing ratios, which determine the number of nurses to patients. Democrats should push for a wider public funding stream to hospitals and clinics to help deal with the additional patient-load and future patient-doctor engagement that may come from an expanded public option or future health crisis. The reality of overburdened healthcare workers is real, and by ensuring these practical measures, we can ensure that our healthcare workers get the protection necessary to properly treat patients.   Furthermore, President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign message to “build back better” was a rallying call to the many blue-collar communities who have felt left out over the past decade due to failing trade agreements and Donald Trump’s broken promises. Putting forth a national infrastructure program will not only put union workers first, but it will put Americans back to work. Of course, politicians like to talk about “infrastructure” every presidential election year. However, with labor in a precarious position because of a post-Janus Supreme Court, Democrats can push toward a green-energy infrastructure plan that ensures we build our communities into the twenty-first century with unions as the backbone of our economic engine. Inviting environmentalists and labor leaders to the table should also be our first errand of business with regard to infrastructure and development.  What Democrats should do to appeal to a wide constituency is invest in “main streets” that have long suffered from the COVID-19 restrictions. Not only will it be necessary to ensure they stay afloat, but that they have the wherewithal to move ahead into the future. When the rates drop low enough for safe employment, Democrats should fight for a national rebuilding plan. The plan should focus on the revitalization of our nation's roads and buildings coupled with a beautification effort of our downtown areas. We should be seeking to ensure that small businesses can continue to operate and employee people living in their communities. Economic development must be linked to infrastructure as we seek a more equitable and sustainable way of doing commerce.  Democrats have a unique opportunity ahead to make good on their word of making the lives of average working people better. We can do this if we have the political will, the openness and willingness to listen, and the drive to get it done. As we look forward, we can “build back better” if we put working people first.  *** Iasilli is a Democratic Organizer and Committee Member for Council District One in Brookhaven Town. He has served as a Political Director for a number of campaigns and has long been a progressive activist fighting for change in our community.

Important Mail In Ballot Info

    The Board of Elections office is open Saturday 9am to 3pm. Voters who want to vote-by-mail can still do so even though the mail-in date has passed. The first step is to submit an Absentee Ballot Application, (see instructions below). You can get one at the BOE when you arrive. It takes 24 hours to receive the actual ballot back  So, the ballot can be picked-up Monday 9 to 4:30 pm, and the voter can take the ballot to their car, fill-it out and go right back and put it into the drop-box in the lobby.  Monday is the last day to apply for a mail in ballot. That means you can pick the ballot up on Election Day and vote. The BOE office is open until 9pm election day. The Board of Elections on Yaphank Ave., Yaphank NY 11980. For some crazy reason if you look up their address on-line it says 700 Yaphank Ave. (their PO Box number) but if you are using your GPS put in 335 Yaphank Ave. Yaphank NY 11980. They do have a sign posted out front that has 700 on it.  Below is the application for those who can download and print. --------------- In filling out the form be sure to do the following.  Box 1, check box "temporary illness...” this is the covid excuse.  Box 2, check box “General Election only” Box 3, the name you are registered to vote under.   Box 4, Your Date of Birth and "Suffolk County";  Box 5, the street address where you are registered to vote from in Suffolk Co. (No PO Box number).  Box 6 (skip, the primary election has past) Box 7, check box "deliver to me in person at the Board of Elections"  Then Sign and Date (Ignore the request below your signature for witness to mark, etc.) The actual ballot will be available for you to pick-up 24 hours later, but not on Sunday.  When you do receive the actual ballot in the mail be sure to sign and date the OUTSIDE of the supplied envelope where indicated before sending it back. (no witness signature necessary). Put your filled out ballot in that envelope, seal it and put it in the self-addressed envelope supplied. Do not write anything additional on the ballot or it may be disqualified. The deadline for returning the filled out ballot is it must be postmarked no later than Election Day.    ---------  

A Day At the Polls

Early voting has started! I voted this morning. The lines are long. I was at Brookhaven Town Hall at 7 AM and did not vote until 9:33 AM. The line was wrapped around Town Hall: - - Early Voting Information - - You can go to any of the above polling places at the times specified. I have attached the above flyer to this email as well.  Early voting is super convenient if you work in a different area than you live in Suffolk!  For those who haven't taken advantage of early voting, here was my experience this morning: Once you get inside, they ask for the first three letters of your first and last name and ask you to confirm your address then you sign on an iPad. You will then receive a nice little receipt with your name and ED that looks like this: - - Then, you wait in line for a BOE worker to print out your ballot using this receipt. Next, you wait in line for a ballot station and then you fill in your ballot. Lastly, you walk over to the voting submission machines and submit into one of the black ballot machines. I stood by the machine until I saw "vote cast" on the screen. Easy and out! Take advantage of the early voting opportunity. Bring a coffee in case the line is long, I sure wish I had! - GOTV Candidate Events Some candidates and their campaigns have sent their events as GOTV pushes ahead. Check them out below:  - Nancy Goroff For Congress Goroff is neck and neck with Zeldin, register for any of these events to put her over the top! GOTV events - calling and texting for Nancy to get out the vote. To volunteer during the week, any and all general sign ups can be made and found here: Click each link to pick a shift: 10/31 Saturday: Shifts: 10-12,12-2,2-4,4-6,6-8 11/1 Sunday: Shifts at 10-12,12-2,2-4,4-6,6-8 11/2 Monday: Shifts at 10-12,12-2,2-4,4-6,6-8 11/3 Tuesday: Shifts from 8-10,10-12,12-2,2-4,4-6,6-8:30 - Monica Martinez for State Senate (SD-3) - - Monica Martinez is in one of the most talked about races in Suffolk. She needs some support to put her over the top for re-election! Her last fundraiser is tomorrow, 10/27 at Butterfields. There is a special committee rate that is much lower than the advertised price! Contact Adina Beedenbender at 631-433-9126 for more info! - Laura Ahearn for State Senate (SD-1) We are on the cusp of having the SD-1 seat blue for the first time in ten decades. Volunteer info below: Saturday, October 31, 11am-2pm: GOTV Phone Bank with Laura Ahearn: Register in advance for this meeting:  Sunday, November 1, 12-3pm: GOTV Phone Bank with Laura Ahearn:  Register in advance for this meeting:  - Laura Jens-Smith For State Assembly (AD-2) AD-2 is an open seat, her last fundraiser is 10/28/20 at 6:30 PM at Clovis Point Vineyard. Register by clicking the link below:   Laura Jens-Smith Fundraiser 10/28/20 (631) 965-8867 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM [email protected] - Steve Polgar for State Assembly (AD-3) AD-3 is ready to flip back blue like a pancake on a skillet! Volunteer here: GOTV Phonebank: Tonight: Oct 26, 2020 06:30 PM  Register here:  To Volunteer for Lit Drops: Pushing For Polgar Volunteer Form - Fred Ianacci for State Assembly (AD-5) Fred has Doug Smith on the ropes, help him GOTV tomorrow! October 27, 2020 "No Contact Lit Drop" Event 7:30-9:30 PM Meet at BTDC HQ at 7:30 PM. MInivan codes will be distributed at the time specified. Canvassers are instructed to leave the literature at the doorstep. These are literature drops, not voter outreach! No need to register just show up on 10/27.  - - Thank You For your Generous Contributions!  Tony and I thank EVERYONE who has contributed to the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee thus far!  We are seeing many generous contributions and it shows the faith you have as we steamroll toward 2023!  If you haven't had a chance to donate yet, below is the link for the BTDC, please give what you can. Every dollar brings us closer to a bluer Brookhaven!  Donate Today BTDC Act Blue Link Onward to Election Day. Your Vote Is Your Voice!

Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 on the Ballot

Dear Committee Members: Tony and I have been getting repeated emails, texts, and phone calls regarding the two proposals on the ballot and how to vote. As an initial matter, Tony and I would like to make clear that the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee takes NO POSITION  on the initiatives. We do not believe it is right or fair for a political organization to place its collective thumb on the scale regarding important issues of democratic principles when we are an organization with hundreds of members where opinions will vary as will support thereof. Where matters of democratic principles that invoke issues of societal advancement, our organization has shown to move quickly to condemn behavior or principles go against the grain of the Democratic party as we did last week where Chairman Speelman was swift to condemn President's Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacy. In short, we are sending this email with an attempt to assuage concerns regarding the Ballot Proposals and hopefully provide some information.  PROPOSAL ONE: Resolution No. 442-2020, "A Charter Law To Change The Legislative Term Of Office From Two (2) Years To Four (4) Years" Shall Resolution No. 442-2020, Adopting a Charter Law toChange the Legislative Term of Office for County Legislatorsfrom Two (2) Years to Four (4) Years be approved? The link to review the text of the  PROPOSED Statute is here: Proposal One Text Of PROPOSED Statute Proposal One is a familiar proposal that we all know in Brookhaven. The difference here is that unlike Brookhaven's initiative in 2018, which tried to cryptically tie term limits that were already on the books to an extension of terms from two years to four years.  Here, the proposal is to extend the term of office from from two years to four years while maintaining the 12 year term limit.  Political campaigns are expensive and require a significant amount of time spent calling donors for contributions. I know this personally because I ran two unsuccessful races against the Dan Losquadro Highway $500k juggernaut. I raised roughly $25k from family, friends, and our generous committee members. The corrosive power of money in politics cannot be denied. When a local Highway Superintendent and a Town Supervisor candidate have hundreds of thousands of dollars at their disposal, making a challenge difficult, it makes democracy feel futile. On the other hand, the time to gear up, get organized, and create an effective challenger campaign is not something that can be done in two years.  This proposal comes down to one issue for the voter: do you think it is more effective from a governance standpoint to have county legislators have four years to plan and develop long term solutions to issues like water quality, land use, and infrastructure or is the ability to vote for your representatives every two years more important?  Long term planning requires representatives to be able to look ahead, rather than look behind for challengers every two years. But, to the same token, there is something to be said about the corrosive power of incumbency with longer elected terms in a system where elected officials win 95% of the time. This is why the BTDC does not take a position. It is up to you, the voter, to think long and hard about which principle is more important to you: voting every two years on your representative or whether long term planning is a reasonable compromise for elected officials to work with the many layers of government to solve the problems facing our region. You have to make that choice.   Should you wish to know Tony or my position, we will be more than willing to discuss this Saturday for a few minutes.  PROPOSITION TWO:  Resolution No. 547-2020, "A Charter Law to Transfer Excess Funds in the Sewer Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund to the Suffolk County Taxpayer Trust Fund and to Eliminate the Requirement that Interfund Transfers Be Made from the General Fund to the Sewer Assessment Stabilization Fund" Shall Resolution No. 547-2020 be approved? The link to review the text of the  PROPOSED Statute is here:  PROPOSAL TWO: Text of Proposed Statute Proposal Two is more complicated. It boils down to Should the County be able to take money specifically earmarked in a referendum for one purpose to be able to be repurposed and put into the general fund? The County's finances are heavily dependent on sales tax revenue, a problem for all sixty two (62) counties in New York. Despite what the Suffolk GOP tells you, every county in NY has the same problem because sales tax funds operations for every county in New York, even my most hated county, Herkimer! Sales tax is highly volatile.  In good times, there are surpluses to be had, but in bad times, when no one is buying cars, clothes, and other consumer goods, deficits are huge. We saw the $500 million hole that Steve Bellone and the Democratic County legislature inherited in 2011 and it took a lot of hard decisions to stave off that financial albatross. But, they were successful and have paved the way for a better future in Suffolk.  The County is looking to build a bridge to the future while preserving the services that have made our County a great place to live and work without resorting to drastic remedies like job layoffs and eliminating/pausing capital projects that will rebuild our infrastructure.  On one hand, the County being able to have the flexibility to move money around to preserve taxpayer resources in fiscal crises is an important tool to have. On the other hand, why put up a referendum for issues such as sewer quality if the fund is going to be raided and treated like a piggy bank? Is there a guarantee that the money will be put back if it is taken?  Lastly, the referendum seeks authority to forego the required  $29 plus million deposit into the existing fund that was required by Court Judgment dated December 12, 2019 due to the fact that there already is a surplus in the fund.  Personally, I am not a fan of the  tax "general fund" game. NYS does this every year and picks "winners and losers" in the budget reconciliation process every April that deprive school districts of revenue, local towns with monies for water quality and municipalities with winter recovery paving funds [which is why we need to elect and re-elect our democratic candidates to the State Senate and State Assembly so they can fight for Suffolk's piece of the tax pie]. However, the ability to give the county the flexibility to push and move levers in financial crises is an important consideration.  We should have had a sewer system built long before I was born on Long Island, but here we are.  For a brief overview of why we don't have sewers check out Newsday's Special Report here: Here's Why We Don't Have Sewers As a voter, you need to decide if it is worth it to give the County authority to move funds when they face budget problems (a "Yes" Vote) or should we ensure that voter approved referendum funds are only spent on what they are approved for (a "No" Vote). We hope that this makes the proposals more clear. We hope you will be able to make decisions easier.