Episode 7: John Papanier on Staten Island’s Town Hall For Our Lives
Radio Free Bay Ridge
On March 31st, across the country, students orchestrated town hall meetings with their elected officials, asking them to join them for a dialogue about gun violence in American schools. The #TownHallForOurLives is a movement spearheaded by the students of Majorie Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland, Florida – but like a true grassroots movement, it involved students from around the country taking ownership and agency, and Staten Island and New York’s 11th Congressional District was no exception.
The #NY11TownHall that took place that night was an opportunity for the community to come together and was attended by local elected officials such as Councilwoman Debi Rose and State Senator Diane Savino. After learning that no local GOP would be in attendance (still hiding in that phone booth, Dan Donovan?), the students invited all the NY11 Congressional Contenders still left in our race, instead.
Radio Free Bay Ridge attended and live-tweeted the two-and-a-half-hour event. We’ll be uploading the full audio this weekend.
Today, in anticipation of more March for Our Lives Events centered on our neighborhood (including one this Saturday organized by local teens in Bay Ridge) we spoke to one of the organizers of the Staten Island Town Hall, John Papanier. We talked about how the local students are leading the way on this incredibly important issue.
Bay Ridge is a neighborhood of immigrants. Even when Bay Ridge was not much more than farmland on the Narrows, we have been a landing spot for numerous waves cultures and ethnicities. Bay Ridge doesn’t exist in a bubble, so today we are breaking our hyper-local-only format to discuss the international affairs that affect our neighbors. Today, were going to learn about the longstanding Yemeni community in Bay Ridge. With our guest Rabyaah Althaibani, we’ll get some background on what is happening to Yemenis across the world and how it affects their loved ones here in our community.
Update: After you listen to the episode, find a way to get involved. On March 20th, the Sanders-Lee-Murphy bill, which would have ended US Military intervention in Yemen, was tabled. Many senators called for it to return to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after intense lobbying from Saudi Arabia and the Trump White House. We urge you to call or email the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Comittee, and urge them to both inform their fellow Senators about the issue and bring the Sanders-Lee Bill (S.J.Res. 54) bill back up for a vote.
On our final Congressional Contenders episode, we are happy to present Radhakrishna Mohan, a civic leader and Executive Board member of the New York State Public Employees Federation. Mohan is running in the Democratic primary for New York’s 11th Congressional District, which represents Staten Island and South Brooklyn in the House of Representatives.
Mohan discussed his lifelong Union background, both in India and Staten Island, and his experience organizing on a state-wide level. We talked about the role Unions play in being a watchdog for dangerous federal policies, and how a Unionist congressman can bring together Unions to fight for more organizing power. We also discussed how investing in high-tech jobs and infrastructure can help balance our ballooning public debt and federal trade imbalances, how to combat the Opioid crisis on Staten Island, and how we can position Staten Island and Brooklyn to reinvent itself with new cultural institutions and tourism.
Finally, as always, we want to remind all our listeners and readers that petitioning season is nearly upon us, beginning March 6th. Registered Democrats will have one chance to sign a candidates petition to put them on the primary ballot for this year’s elections. You can only sign for one candidate, and if you sign for more than one, only your first choice counts. Be sure to get familiar with each candidate and get an idea of who you’ll be most willing to sign for as canvassers begin hitting the streets on March 6th… and consider volunteering to be a canvasser yourself by reaching out to the campaign that interests you the most.
Today on the show we’re welcoming Omar Vaid as we begin to wrap up our Congressional Contenders series. Omar is one of the seven Democratic primary candidates for NY11, our House of Representatives seat covering Staten Island and South Brooklyn. Also joining us today is our special guest host and local journalist Kadia Goba. Kadia is filling in for Rachel, who’s stepping aside for today’s interview since Rachel is currently employed as Omar’s Communications Director.
Omar spoke with us about the centrality of Unions to his campaign, as well as his core message of protectionism for American industry. We also spent time discussing how unions intersect with healthcare, social security, congestion pricing and education. Finally, we touch on the similarities between Omar’s use of social media and how he intends to use his Congressional seat to call out lobbyists and advocate for change.
Finally, Kadia and Dan spend a bit of time at the beginning of the episode talking about the upcoming Democratic Party petitioning process and how we can make it more equitable and fair by advocating for voter awareness early on in the primary season.
Swinging by the studio today is Max Rose on our sixth Congressional Contenders episode. We’ll sit down for a discussion with Max, who is running in the Democratic primary for NY11, the (for now) Republican controlled House of Representatives district covering Staten Island and South Brooklyn. Each candidate in the series had unlimited time to talk about their issues and ideas, but most importantly the facts, concepts and details that lay behind those ideas and their beliefs.
Max Rose spoke with us about the centrality of public safety to a holistic social-services overhaul that threads through healthcare, Opioid addiction, gun violence, policing, infrastructure, and more. We also got into the weeds on criminal justice reform, especially the Conviction Review Unit that Max observed first-hand while working for the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
A quick reminder as well that all candidates will begin petitioning registered Democrats in the district this March, seeking to gain enough signatures to get on the ballot for the primary. You can only sign once, so start getting a feel for each candidate and if you are particularly impressed, reach out and help to engage more voters and help your candidate move forward past petitioning! Remember it isn’t just about the candidates… this is your opportunity to build experience in local politics as well, and making your voice heard!
Today we welcome Paul Sperling to the fifth episode of our Congressional Contenders series. In this continuing series, we sit down for a no-time-limit discussion with each candidate running in the Democratic primary this summer for New York’s 11th Congressional district, representing Staten Island and South Brooklyn. We asked each candidate to talk with us about their platform, their ideas, and most importantly the facts and issues that they think their constituents should know in the upcoming primary.
Paul Sperling swung by the studio to discuss his plans for improved rail infrastructure, workers cooperatives, bringing large employers to Staten Island, and improving healthcare in the district. We also touch on the green economy, cannabis legalization, and improving education in the district with debt forgiveness, free trade schools, and more school construction and hiring.
A quick reminder as well that all candidates will begin petitioning this March, seeking to gain enough signatures to get on the ballot for the primary. So reach out to the candidate that you’re rooting for and help with the petitioning drive to engage more voters for the upcoming primary and help your candidate move forward to the next round!
We’re pressing on with the fourth part of our Congressional Contenders series. We sit down for a no-time-limit discussion with each of the Democratic primary looking to represent South Brooklyn and Staten Island in Washington D.C. We asked each candidate to talk with us about the issues that most motivate them. Join us as we dive deep into their proposals and get to know more about them.
Our guest today is Zach Emig, an MIT engineering graduate and bond trader. Zach announced his candidacy all the way back in May of last year. We’ll discuss Zach’s long haul on the NY11 campaign trail and dig into his “Narrows Agenda” for improving the district. We’ll discuss corporate and income taxes, the opioid epidemic, technology, and immigration. We also touch on the partisan rancor that is affecting national and local politics, and how to solve it.
For progressives and activists in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and beyond, our local Community Board is an often overlooked vestige of community empowerment that is crying out for more engagement. In our wonkiest episode yet, we’ll introduce our local Community Board Ten and explore it from all sides. We’ll hear from political aides, long-time board members, and activists. Along the way, we’ll dive into the strange, bureaucratic history of the boards and help explain why they function the way they do.
There are many ways to get involved! For the brave, you can apply to be on the board (applications are due February 15th!), attend local committee meetings, and represent your local civic or activist groups at public meeting sessions. So get a taste of what’s involved by listening in to our brand-new episode!
In Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, our public schools are overcrowded. Lack of space, a mostly residential building stock, and little turnover… it has made the district a difficult place to build a school. There is hope, however. Our new City Councilperson-elect, Justin Brannan, campaigned on a single promise: to construct a new school in Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights within his first term. Can it be done?
In our newest studio episode, we dig deep into the weeds of educational policy and school construction with some guidance from our newest Radio Free Bay Ridge team member, Erik Shell. With Erik’s help, we’ll look at the demographics data that reinforces our need for a new school, counter some myths and raise some warning flags about co-location and charter schools claiming they can solve overcrowding, and discuss our most pressing and time-sensitive issue: finding space for the school. We are also joined in the studio by our City Councilperson-elect, Justin Brannan, who will give us a behind-the-scenes look at how he’s advocating for a new school and how he intends to keep his promise for a new school within four years.
Welcome to our series on Congressional Contenders for the Democratic primary nomination in NY Congressional District 11! Currently held by Rep. Dan Donovan (R) there is a wide field of challengers – and we’re here to bring you discussions with each and every one of them.
Our first guest is Major Boyd Melson, US Army Reserves, who recently withdrew from the race to volunteer for deployment to the Middle East – but met with us to discuss spinal cord injuries, stem cell research, the opioid epidemic, his non-profit work, and some of the problems in today’s politics. It’s the perfect starter to our series on the candidates vying for your primary vote in June 2018.
Breaking News: Listen to the very end of the show for our first Radio Free Bay Ridge exclusive…Boyd Melson tells us who he’s endorsing now that he’s out of the race!