Gender Requirements for Some Elected Offices Sparks Calls for Reform
Ever wonder why New York State has legal quotas limiting how many women can be elected as district leaders? Blame Eleanor Roosevelt. Some background: A district leader is an unsalaried, elected official who represents an Assembly District, and essentially ensures that a political party is being governed democratically. Usually, there is one district leader for every Assembly District. But the Democratic party mandates two district leaders per Assembly District: one male and one female.
This is due to a 1920’s rule spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt, which also had strong support from the League of Women’s Voters. At the time, women had only recently gained the right to vote, and the future First Lady wanted women to be on the ballot, rather than just in voting booths. Because the district leaders were ostensibly the lowest level of elected office, Roosevelt figured that the elementary nature of the role would encourage more women to break into the political sphere.
Unfortunately, the good intentions of this law have not kept up with a changing culture. While the measure sets aside a more active role for women in a field often dominated by men, it also enforces a rigid gender binary. It is because of this binary that non-binary individuals are, intentionally or not, often shut out of local politics. A mandate that originally set out to include women has devolved into excluding trans and non-binary people.
In early 2020, Emilia Decaudin, a district leader in the 37th Assembly District in Queens, set out to change this. Ms. Decaudin authored and passed a resolution in the Democratic State Committee to change the wording of its bylaws to allow elections of State Committee members to be more trans-inclusive. (The State Committee is a party organization that elects party leadership, and enacts party platforms.) The resolution was divided into two parts: the first was to change all pronouns in the law from “he” or “she” to the gender neutral “they.” The second (and more significant) plank was to change the law from electing one male and one female District Leader to electing two people of different genders, an organizational scheme that would include non-binary gender identification. The resolution took effect on July 1, 2020. In a 2019 interview with the Daily News, Ms. Decaudin, who was one of the first trans district leaders in New York, as well as being the youngest (she was 20 at the time of her election), said: “the gender binary, in 2019, in New York, ultimately is an outdated concept because it simply just doesn’t reflect reality…”
Ms. Decaudin is not stopping there. She is currently trying to pass another bill she authored through the State Senate: the Gender Inclusive Ballot Act. If enacted, the bill would remove gendered pronouns from election law and remove barriers for non-binary candidates seeking party offices. This bill would affirm non-binary New Yorkers’ rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Ms. Decaudin and the bill have garnered some criticism. In a three-part piece for the Velvet Chronicle, Claudia Lucas Robertson and her wife, Julia Diana Robertson, criticize Ms. Decaudin for her endorsements by various gay organizations and politicians, some of which, they say, are lesbian exclusionary. This, in their view, is part of a larger pattern to infringe on the positions of women in government.
Above: State Senate candidate Vittoria Fariello: “This is exactly the kind of change that makes us a more inclusive—and thus stronger—party. It is a natural next step to the progress that Eleanor Roosevelt set in motion.” Below: Lower Manhattan community leader Robin Forst: “We have seen a huge transformation in both the meaning and our understanding of gender over the past 20 years. It might just be the time to take gender designations out our political process and focus our selections on characteristics like honesty, competence, experience, and compassion.”
Downtown local leaders seems broadly supportive of updating the gender criteria for elective office. “In New York County, Democratic County Committee reformers are calling for the non-binary inclusive language that was adopted by the Democratic State Committee,” observes Lower Manhattan District Leader (and State Senate candidate) Vittoria Fariello. “This is exactly the kind of change that makes us a more inclusive—and thus stronger—party. It is a natural next step to the progress that Eleanor Roosevelt set in motion. We will keep fighting for changes that open the political door to all our neighbors, regardless of gender identity.”
“Historically, the requirement that there be one male district leader and one female district leader, was critically important to assure women a ‘seat at the table,’” notes Lower Manhattan community leader Robin Forst. “Women, at the time the law was enacted, had only shortly before gained the right to vote. They had been virtually absent from political office. But that was one hundred years ago! To my mind, the male/female requirement seems out of step with the current reality. Women play a very important role in the political process, and have made significant gains as elected officials. The current New York City Council is, for the first time in its history, majority female.”
“We have seen a huge transformation in both the meaning and our understanding of gender over the past 20 years,” Ms. Forst adds. “It might just be the time to take gender designations out our political process and focus our selections on characteristics like honesty, competence, experience, and compassion.”
The Gender Inclusive Ballot Act has been introduced in the State Senate and is currently in committee.
By Emerson Rhodes
Entry for the Gentry; Heave-Ho for the Hoi Polloi
Analysis By Housing Group Cites Threats to Affordability in Lower Manhattan
A leading housing advocacy organization has conducted an exhaustive look at threats to affordability in every community in the five boroughs, and has found that Lower Manhattan ranks among the top ten most at-risk neighborhoods by three pivotal metrics.
The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), an umbrella organization of 100 non-profit affordable housing and economic development groups that serve low- and moderate-income residents in all five boroughs of the City, has published the 2022 edition of its annual roundup, “How Is Affordable Housing Threatened In Your Neighborhood?” For this report, Lower Manhattan was defined as the catchment of Community Board 1, a collection of neighborhoods encompassing 1.5 square miles, bounded roughly by Canal, Baxter, and Pearl Streets, and the Brooklyn Bridge. To read more…
Last Type of Cancer Excluded from World Trade Center Health Program and Compensation Fund May Be Covered
The World Trade Center Health Program is considering expanding its list of covered conditions to include cancers of the uterus. The recommendation is now in the midst of a legally required 45-day public review and comment period, but the change could become official as soon as this month. To read more…
Public Comment Period for BPCA’s Plans to Build Flood Walls and Elevated Landscaping Concludes Friday
For several years, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has been working on a plan to rebuild and elevate Wagner Park and the areas to its north and south, from First Place and the Museum of Jewish Heritage to Pier A Plaza. This is the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project, currently in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement(DEIS) phase. Now through June 3, the public may submit comments on the design. To read more…
Where’s Their Memorial?
Unsettled Thoughts About Unsettled Debts
This is the weekend when we are called to reflect upon the incalculable debt owed to courageous men and women who gave their lives defending this country. True, like many other once-solemn occasions, this one has devolved somewhat into an excuse for revelry and consumption, but more than a bit of the original spirit endures.
One of the bitter ironies of war is that it disproportionately claims the young—people with decades of life in front of them. But what of those so young that uniforms aren’t made to fit them, and those so small that they are unable to take up arms?
Now that the NY State Senate passed our Battery Park City fair representation bill, we need NY State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office to give permission for it to be “brought to floor for a vote.”
Please take 2 minutes and call Carl Heastie’s office, at 518.455.3791.
* Express support for A10371, a bill to appoint BPC residents on the Battery Park City Authority Board.
* Request Speaker Heastie brings bill to floor for a vote.
* They may ask for your name, home zip code, email, etc. Your choice on whether to leave it.
Board member, BPC Neighbors Association
They strut, they kiss, they preen, they love. Click on the image to see the Pigeon Dance.
Downtown Boathouse Sees Half Millionth Kayaker
On Saturday, May 28, the 500,000th person to sign a waiver at the Downtown Boathouse did so, donned a life vest, and went kayaking. There she is above, with her friend, both of them in town from Buffalo, NY. “If one counts repeats visits, many more than half a million people have gone kayaking for free at the Downtown Boathouse,” noted Graeme Birchall, boathouse president. He acknowledged the people who make free kayaking possible at the Downtown Boathouse. “First and foremost, it is the hundreds of awesome volunteers who have enabled so many people to go kayaking safely,” he said. “The residents of Lower Manhattan have also been very supportive, as has the Hudson River Park Trust, and many elected officials.”
Waves of Woe
Jet Ski Accident Claims One Life, Injures Second Passenger, in Waters Off Battery Park City
A waterborne outing on the first summer-like weekend of the season ended in tragedy on Saturday evening in Battery Park City.
Playscape Performs will debut with a special collaboration with Parsons Dance and the talented fourth and fifth graders at Ballet Tech, the NYC Public School for Dance. The performance, entitled “About Sprouts,” kicks off The Battery’s summer activities, which are funded by The Battery Conservancy – the organization responsible for transforming the city’s birthplace park.
Their performances will be joined by an array of puppetry at ShowBox Theater. Wonderspark Puppets will perform classic fairytales with a twist and Playdate Puppets will put on an EGGcellent show with Humpty Dumpty and friends.
Singer/songwriter Terre Roche leads this weekly singing program with the beautiful backdrop of the setting sun in NY Harbor. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned crooner, the singing circle is perfect for mellow melodies and healthy harmonizing. Free
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
$2.00 per notarized signature.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturday 11:30am-5pm, May through Thanksgiving
Today in History June 3
Goodyear blimp pilot Jack Boettner lands the airship Pilgrim on the roof of the M. O Neil Co. roof in downtown Akron on June 20, 1928.
350 – Roman usurper Nepotianus, of the Constantinian dynasty, proclaims himself Roman Emperor, entering Rome at the head of a group of gladiators.
1083 – Henry IV of Germany storms Rome, capturing St Peter’s Cathedral
1540 – Hernando de Soto crosses Appalachian Mountain, first European to do so
1620 – Construction of the oldest stone church in French North America, Notre-Dame-des-Anges, begins at Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
1889 – The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed from coast to coast.
1925 – Goodyear airship “Pilgrim” makes first flight with enclosed cabin.
The Goodyear Blimp was a small airship built in the United States in the mid-1920s. The first example, christened Pilgrim, was Goodyear’s first civil airship, and their first airship to use helium as its lift gas. Originally intended for pleasure cruising, it soon found its value as a promotional vehicle as the first “Goodyear Blimp” in a line that has continued for over eighty years.
Pilgrim was retired on December 30th 1931, having completed 4,765 flights and having carried 5,355 passengers. In that time, she remained aloft for 2,880 hours and covered 95,000 miles. Her gondola is preserved in the National Air and Space Museum. Goodyear blimp pilot Jack Boettner lands the airship Pilgrim on the roof of the M. O Neil Co. roof in downtown Akron on June 20, 1928.
Normandie reached New York after four days, three hours and 14 minutes, taking away the Blue Riband from the Italian liner, Rex.
1935 – Normandie’s maiden voyage was on 29 May 1935. Fifty thousand saw her off at Le Havre. Normandie reached New York after four days, three hours and 14 minutes, taking away the Blue Riband from the Italian liner, Rex. Under the command of master Captain René Pugnet, her average speed was around 30 knots and on the eastbound crossing to France, she averaged over 30 knots, breaking records. An estimated 100,000 spectators lined New York Harbor for Normandie’s arrival.
1938 – German law on “Entartete Art”. Translated “Degenerate art” it was a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art. Banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature. Artists sufferd by being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art entirely.
A large amount of ‘degenerate art’ by Picasso, Dalí, Ernst, Klee, Léger and Miró was destroyed in a bonfire on the night of July 27, 1942, in the gardens of the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris.
1939 – Beer Barrel Polka hits #1 on the pop singles chart.
1946 – First bikini bathing suit displayed in Paris
The history of the bikini can be traced back to antiquity. Illustrations of Roman women wearing bikini-like garments during competitive athletic events have been found in several locations. The most famous of them is Villa Romana del Casale. French engineer Louis Réard introduced the modern bikini, modeled by Micheline Bernardini, in July 5, 1946, borrowing the name for his design from the Bikini Atoll, where post-war testing on the atomic bomb was happening.
1961 – John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev meet in Vienna
1970 – First artificial gene synthesized
1976 – US presented with oldest known copy of Magna Carta
1808 – Jefferson F Davis, Ky, Pres of Confederate States of America (1861-5)
1853 – William Matthew Flinders Petrie, English Egyptologist (d. 1942)
Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie commonly known as Flinders Petrie, was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and
preservation of artifacts.Educated at home, he was tutored in Latin, Greek and French. At the age of eight, he ventured his first archaeological opinion, when friends
visiting the Petrie family were describing the unearthing of the Brading Roman Villa in the Isle of Wight. The boy was horrified to hear the rough shovelling out of the
contents, and protested that the earth should be pared away, inch by inch, to see all that was in it and how it lay. When he died in 1942, Petrie donated his head (and thus his brain) to the Royal College of Surgeons of London while his body was interred in the Protestant Cemetery on Mt. Zion. World War II was then at its height, and the head was delayed in transit. After being stored in a jar in the college basement, its label fell off and no one knew who the head belonged to It was identified however, and is now stored, but not displayed, at the Royal College of Surgeons of London.
1864 – Ransom Eli Olds, auto (Oldsmobile) & truck (REO) manufacturer
1877 – Raoul Dufy, France, Fauvist painter
1906 – Josephine Baker, dancer/Parisian night club owner
1926 – Allen Ginsberg, Newark, New Jersey, American beat poet
1928 – Donald Judd, US, sculptor
1937 – Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII) weds Mrs Wallis Warfield Simpson in France
1937 Wedding day of King Edward VIII “David” (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David) (1894-1972) Duke of Windsor UK and his new wife Wallis Simpson
1881 – Japanese giant salamander, dies in Dutch zoo at 55; oldest amphibian
The Artis Zoo in Amsterdam, the Netherlands has owned two giant Japanese salamanders (Andrias japonicus), both of whom reached 52 years – the oldest documented age for an amphibian, and indeed the oldest for a salamander. The first giant Japanese salamander was brought to Europe in 1829 and given to the Zoo in 1839 where it lived until 1881; the second arrived in 1903 and died in 1955.
1924 – Franz Kafka, Czech writer (Trial, Amerika, Metamorphosis), dies at 40
1989 – Ruhollah Khomeini, Iranian ayatollah, dies at 89
2011 – Jack Kevorkian, American pathologist, right-to-die activist (b. 1928)