Asking a Genie for More Wishes and Other Thoughts from the MTA Reinvention Commission

If you could change one thing about transit in New York City, what would it be?

Last week, the MTA Reinvention Commission, the panel of transit superstars convened by Governor Cuomo to make recommendations for the future of the MTA, took a break from private discussions and expert testimony to let the public weigh in.

Expectations for the Commission are muted. For one thing, it’s unclear how the group is expected to make tangible, realistic recommendations for “the next hundred years” of the MTA, as they’ve been charged. For another, the Commission’s purpose and influence are murky- is this just a pre-election year spectacle for Gov. Cuomo? Or is this a genuine opportunity to prepare New York for the myriad of challenges ahead.

At a minimum, at least the Commission provides a forum for an open airing of ideas which can intrigue minds and move policy forward. Even if short-term results are limited, the Commission has the potential to add momentum to many important longer-term initiatives. Most probably, the Commission’s recommendations will play a role in creating the MTA’s next Five Year Capital Plan, which will certainly set the course for the city’s future.

Representing the generation that will feel the largest impacts of New York City’s investments decisions today, MYD attended and testified at the Commission’s Public Comment session, putting forth our values, ideas and priorities for NYC’s transit system moving forward.

MYD Supports MOVE NY’s Fair Plan. The proposal, championed by transit legend Sam Schwartz, would adjust bridge and tunnel tolls across the city, raising some and lowering others according to the availability of public transit. This would encourage people in transit rich areas, namely downtown Manhattan, to use public transit rather than a personal vehicle. The plan will reduce congestion on the Central Business District’s overburdened streets, improve the pedestrian environment, and raise 1.4 billion dollars in revenue for the MTA.

We recognize that passing the Fair Plan will take significant political courage, but believe it would be inherently beneficial for New York, as well as provide the funds to move forward with other critical projects. In some ways, this plan is like asking a genie for more wishes- upfront, it’s a significant request but it would open doors to many new, exciting opportunities. For those opportunities, we hope this wish comes true, and believe voicing support now will help move the MTA in the right direction on this important issue.

Spending Priorities: The best thing the MTA can do is invest in repairs to the existing system. Bridges and tunnels need reinforcements and tracks must be inspected, repaired and replaced to assure the system we have continues to serve its growing needs.

As far as improvements, the MTA should have two focuses: climate proofing, and public transportation. Hurricane Sandy revealed to us how vulnerable our transit system really is. From severe delays to damage to critical components and stations, we know that our current transit system is vulnerable to extreme weather events and climate change. From raising station entrances to help prevent flooding, to protecting electrical equipment, we must make sure the system is prepared for the impending environmental changes we know are coming.

Beyond that, we are strong advocates for investment in public transportation, including supporting subway improvements, new bus rapid transit corridors, and using public funds to support Citibike. These will help improve life in the city for everyone, and must be prioritized above road and highway expansions.

The MTA Reinvention has been charged with a Herculean task. Setting the course for an organization as complex and vast as the MTA will take strong wills and clear vision. But with experts from a variety of fields, with the political weight, transit prowess, and planning experience, the Commission may have a real shot to improve conditions, protect our system and get something done.

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Young Gets It Done 2014

It’s that time of year, our 6th Annual Young Gets It Done!

On WEDNESDAY August 13th join us at NYC’s hottest spot, Up & Down to celebrate fellow young progressives with 500 of your friends and elected officials!

Talk to our Finance Director Alex, finance(at)gomyd(dot)com, about joining our host committee starting at $125!

Tickets starting at $20 can be purchased here

Let us know your’re coming here

And don’t forget to get dressed up because Guest of a Guest is coming to take your photos!

See you there!


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Talking About Race

Our YDA award winning Learning Labs are back at MYD for 2014! 
Join MYD as we team up with our friend Jamie-Jin Lewis, Executive Director at BorderCrossers, for a 4-week learning lab on recognizing and addressing structural racism in “post-racial” America. We’ll discuss history, share stories, examine bias and power structures, then develop and action plan.
Classes are only $20 (TOTAL) and will be held WEDNESDAY nights from August 20th – September 10th from 7:00PM to 8:30PM by Union Square.
Click here to join the class. To find out more information contact our Learning Labs Director, Megan: classes(at)gomyd(dot)com.
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William Smith- July Member of the Month

WilliamPSmith Photo

Aside from having a fantastic name, William has been an active member of MYD for the last year. Last year, William became an elected member of the New York County Democratic Committee after petitioning on his own and collecting over 100 signatures in his election district! This past May, he represented MYD at the New York State Young Democrats (NYSYD) Convention in Yonkers.

William’s love for politics began at an early age. A lifelong resident of East Harlem, William wrote his Congressman (Charlie Rangel) every year since he was 6 years old. After majoring in political science at the City College of New York, William yearned to further his knowledge and experience in public service. He decided to serve as an Intern Staff Assistant in Congressman Rangel’s office, and at the conclusion of the internship, he decided that he wanted to become more involved politically. Since then, William has certainly lived up to that goal: he served as the Manhattan Field Organizer for Bill Thompson’s 2013 mayoral campaign, he ran for and became an elected member of the NY County Democratic Committee, and he now currently serves as the Community Liaison to NYS Assembly Member, Keith Wright.

An issue that is near and dear to William’s heart is the efficient use of public capital in improving our infrastructure:

The efficient use of public capital in improving our infrastructure is a vital component to the success of NYC, NYS and our nation as a whole. We have seen how this issue has evolved over the past few years. With the Obama administration making infrastructure one of its main policy initiatives, we must examine this issue further. With the push in emerging markets for the privatization of ports, airports and core transportation assets, I believe it is time to examine how it could work in the United States specifically with major municipalities. With municipalities’ fiscal outlook not improving and the federal government appropriating less money, the only way to maintain and enhance our infrastructure is by privatizing certain assets and sourcing private investment. The use of public-private partnerships to ensure our infrastructure needs are met is imperative to our economic and hurricane sustainability. We must also put in place stronger safeguards to ensure any private sector partners have stricter MWBE requirements. We must have stronger federal and state government support in subsidizing vocational training to ensure that our citizens have the necessary skills and experience to compete for potential job opportunities that would arise from enhanced infrastructure spending.

William’s favorite thing about being a young New Yorker is living in a city that is both vibrant and filled with possibilities.

The greatest part about being young in New York is that there are so many professional opportunities available to you if you work hard, have a vision for your career and are ready to put in the work to accomplish your goals. New York is the most diverse place, and it helps foster economic and social advancement like no other place in the country. I would not say there’s a worst part about being young in New York. Being young in New York teaches you the value of hard work, patience and the understanding that you have to earn respect through perseverance. Therefore I wouldn’t say there’s a “worst” part about being young in New York, you are just able to learn many valuable life lessons sooner than in other states or cities.

You can meet William and other active MYD members tonight at the 2nd Annual Demmy Awards and at MYD’s 6th Annual, Young Gets It Done event.

Learn more about how you can become involved in MYD on our membership page.

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MONDAY NIGHT: The Demmy’s!

Join the NY Democratic Party celebrate in style with Comedian Gary Gulman from Last Comic  Standing, Dougie Fresh, Dance Theater of Harlem and more!

THIS Monday July 14th at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem! 


The 2nd Annual Demmy's

The 2nd Annual Demmy’s

Enter the code ‘MYDGO’ tickets are $40.60 TOTAL Buy your tickets HERE:
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Hobby Lobby

You’ve also probably spent the past week shaking your head. Last Monday, SCOTUS ruled that a corporation can be exempt from the Affordable Care Act contraceptive mandate. So women who happen to work for a company such as Hobby Lobby will not be able to get birth control pills.

These are women who likely work lower wage jobs and have fewer employment opportunities.

These are women for whom restricting birth control access can mean an incredibly burdensome pregnancy on numerous levels.

These are women whose interests and well-being are important to shed light on as we fight for a more equitable and (honestly) humane United States of America.

How you might ask, especially considering the fact the ACA was upheld by the Supreme Court, was a company able to circumvent a federal mandate?

Well my friend, a little thing called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. It’s federal law which is meant to prevent laws that burden a PERSON’s free exercise of religion.


A PERSON? NOT a corporation?

Sadly, you read right. A privately held company with reported revenues of nearly $2.3 billion (2011) has religious rights! Restricting women’s rights Monday through Saturday, but closed on Sundays!

If you’re not upset- think about THIS:

Now that companies have religious rights, they can restrict other medical mandates they disagree with- think blood transfusions or vaccinations.

Remember when we saw companies gain personhood back in 2010 with the Citizens United ruling? (Companies have first amendment rights- who knew!) Well we all know the outcome from that ruling hasn’t been pretty.

IT’S TIME TO FIGHT BACK! We cannot stand to watch the rights of women, the disenfranchised and the non-billionaire get drowned out!

We’re Democrats, We’re real people doing really great things and MYD is here to channel your anger and your fury into action:

Come rage at our next General Meeting on TUESDAY July 15th!

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