I want to introduce you to an amazing woman, Tish James, who is running in a very close runoff election in NYC on October 1st. She has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Gloria Steinem (who doesn't seem as influential as she was in my mother's "man the barricades" years) and the National Organization of women, among many other organizations including unions, reform Democratic clubs and the League of Conservation voters.

Here is Tish James speaking out at a Living Wage rally:

Here is Tish James on marriage equality (Note: a moment when she and her current opponent for Public Advocate stood strong together!):

Tish James opposing Stop-and-Firsk (which soon to be mayor Bill de Blasio first supported then swung to oppose...and I hope he stays in opposition!):

SOME BACKGROUND: Just what the hell is a "Public Advocate?"

NYC Public Advocate is a poorly understood, poorly appreciated, and poorly utilized citywide office. It has always been a bit of a vague position. I have talked one of the people who wrote the legislation that created the position (Paul Wooten, currently a NY Supreme Court justice) and he intended it to be a strong position that could balance out the power of mayor. I liked this because one thing that has always struck me about NYC is how powerful its mayor is, far more powerful than any other mayor of any other city I have lived in...and the City Council tends to just roll over. So a strong Public Advocate would be great.

Mike Bloomberg, wanting to further strengthen his dictatorial position as mayor, actually diluted the strength of the Public Advocate, but it still remains a potential position for a strong voice to use to direct political debate. Those who think the Public Advocate is powerless ignore the fact that the Public Advocate can propose legislation in the City Council...something that could really make a difference. Even if proposed legislation loses, it would force people to take sides on issues. Furthermore, the Public Advocate appoints members to various boards and commissions in NYC, including one member of the New York City Planning Commission, and serves on the committee which selects the director of the Independent Budget Office. The Public Advocate is also charged with investigating citizen complaints about city services.

Mark Green has so far been the ONLY effective Public Advocate we have had. Three times I supported former NYCLU head Norm Siegel for Public Advocate and he would have been ideal. But since big money opposed him every time (big surprise!) instead we had people who either had no idea how to use the position effectively or chose not to for their own political reasons.

Now we have a chance to elect an experienced firebrand, Tish James, who was first elected to Public office on the Working Families Party line (but is now a Democrat), and has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, National Organization of Women, Democracy for NYC, League of Conservation Voters as well as the Amsterdam News (one of the largest black newspapers in NYC) and El Diario/La Prensa (one of the largest Spanish Language newspapers in NYC). She is supported by an amazing coalition of liberals and when push comes to shove she stand up for liberals in the face of big money interests. For example, she was one of only FOUR NYC Council members to join in filing a lawsuit over the NY Police Department's treatment of Occupy Wall Street.

Her opponent, Dan Squadron, in the Oct. 1st runoff isn't bad. I know both of them fairly well. Tish comes from a true community organizer background and has always stood up to big money interests. Dan is just as smart and caring, but is far less experienced and comes very much from a corporate background. He is heavily backed by the hedge fund industry because of his strong support for charter schools (which in NYC are major investments for hedge funds, it seems). Much as I respect Dan, he is the Wall Street candidate while Tish is the OWS candidate, to somewhat exaggerate their differences.

Below I highlight the endorsements from many of these key organizations. Though it I already have you convinced you, please join me in supporting Tish James for Public Advocate in the Oct. 1st NYC runoff. Donate if you can!

Planned Parenthood has endorsed Tish James. Here is their endorsement quote:

The Planned Parenthood of New York City Political Committee today enthusiastically announced its endorsement of Letitia James for Public Advocate.

“Tish has committed her years in public service to fighting for many of the critical issues that impact a woman’s life. From access to reproductive health care, to child care support, to equal access to housing, and to fair pay, Tish James has been a champion for women and their families in New York City. We believe that Tish James is best positioned to use the office of Public Advocate to strengthen access to reproductive health care and to help woman and their families gain greater access to health care in general,” said Joan Malin of the PPNYC Political Committee.

“As a Council Member, Tish has been a fierce advocate for reproductive health and justice. She helped pass legislation to crack down on deceptive, limited service “crisis pregnancy centers” that deny reproductive choices to women. And in 2011 she led a drive to remove a billboard erected in SoHo which targeted African American women and their reproductive health decisions.”

When Susan G. Komen for the Cure defunded Planned Parenthood’s vital breast health programs, Tish led the charge of New York City officials protesting that decision. At the time she said, “All of our lives have been touched by breast cancer. My mother had breast cancer, my grandmother has breast cancer. When I needed information I went to the website of Planned Parenthood. For me this is personal. For me we cannot involve politics and use politics to make any decisions.”

She has also been a leading voice in calling for action to combat the HIV/AIDS crisis among African American men, and in advocating for more social services for sexually exploited youth, and for stronger laws to protect them.

In 2012, Tish James called upon all medical professionals to treat and provide appropriate health care services to transgender persons because, as she said, “…it is imperative that we treat LGBTQ persons with dignity and respect in all areas of society…” In a similar vein, she has been an important ambassador for connecting communities of color to reproductive health care.

“I’m honored to earn the Planned Parenthood endorsement in our campaign for Public Advocate because access to women’s health is a critical issue for all New Yorkers,” said Letitia James. “One of my proudest accomplishments in public service is helping pass legislation to crack down on deceptive limited-care health clinics that denied women the right to choose. I’ve consistently stood up to anti-choice extremists whose action range from putting up hateful billboards – which we helped take down – to intimidating women outside abortion clinics. I’ll continue my fight for women and families as the next Public Advocate of our great city.”

“We believe that Tish James will bring the same passion and effectiveness to the Office of the Public Advocate and stand up for women and their families throughout New York City,” said Malin.

Donate to help Tish James become the next Public Advocate of NYC!

The National Organization of Women has endorsed Tish James. Here is their endorsement quote:

Councilwoman Tish James Endorsed by NOW

Today, the Public Advocate Campaign of Councilwoman Letitia “Tish” James announced the endorsement of the National Organization for Women (NOW) NYC.

In endorsing James, NOW-­‐NYC praised her unique background and standing as the most qualified candidate for Public Advocate.  "Councilmember Tish James will be  a  remarkable Public Advocate," said Sonia Ossorio, President of NOW-­New York City. “Her exceptional track record as a lawyer and legislator mixed with her experience as a tenacious and spirited community activist make her the best person for this job hands down.  NYC‐NOW is thrilled to support her because we know she will continue to be a strong champion for women and families across New York and will help move  our city forward."

NOW‐NYC is the largest NOW chapter in the country and serves as a key voice in advancing women’s rights in New York and throughout the U.S.

James continues to build a powerful coalition of New Yorkers in her bid to become the next Public Advocate. She has been earned endorsements ranging from progressive grassroots groups to labor unions, elected officials, and

In addition to NOW‐NYC, James’ endorsements include: SEIU 32BJ, TWU Local 100, CWA 1180, UAW, DC 1707, Local 802 (musicians), Local 831 (sanitation workers), Working Families Party (WFP), Brooklyn County Democratic Party, Bronx County Democratic Party, Democratic Organization of Richmond County (DORC), Bay Ridge Democrats, Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan, Bronx County Democratic Committee, New York Communities for Change, Broadway Democrats, Three Parks Democrats, Vanguard Independent Democrats, Muslim Democratic Club of New York (MDCNY), Coalition for a District Alternative (CoDA), Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club, Democracy for New York City, Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez, Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito, Staten Island Assembly member Matt Titone and others.

The League of Conservation Voters endorsement:

A fighter for a greener, cleaner New York City

The New York League of Conservation Voters, which works to make environmental sustainability a top political and policy priority in New York State, has announced its endorsement of Letitia James for New York City Public Advocate.

James currently represents District 35 in the New York City Council, where she chairs the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management. During her tenure as committee chair, she has overseen major improvements to the city's solid waste and recycling efforts. She has also introduced and sponsored legislation supporting cleaner air and water. She earned a perfect 100 score on NYLCV's most recent New York City Council Environmental Scorecard.

Going forward, James has a robust plan to make New York a greener, healthier city. Her plan starts with advocating for incentives for neighborhood markets to carry affordable healthy foods. She sees public housing as an ideal place to advance green building and energy-efficient practices. And she is calling for a major study to reduce traffic fatalities and expand sustainable transportation options.

"Tish James has played a major role in New York City's sustainability efforts - and she is just getting started," said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn. "As New York City's next public advocate, she will be a fighter for clean air, sustainable and fresh food, environmental justice and a smarter transportation system. We are proud to endorse Tish James for Public Advocate."

Tenants PAC Endorses Councilwoman Letitia James for Public Advocate:

"We are proud to support Tish James because she has shown exceptional bravery in standing up to power on behalf of tenants and communities, and also because of her vision of how she would use the office of Public Advocate to advance progressive and community causes. She will truly be the people’s Public Advocate," said Michael McKee, treasurer of Tenants PAC...

James has been endorsed by a growing coalition of grassroots organizations, Democratic clubs, and almost every major labor union in New York City.

The Amsterdam News (probably the oldest black-targeted newspapers in the Country) endorsed Tish James for Public Advocate:
“The job of public advocate is probably one of the most important post in the city, yet one of the least understood and funded. The office of the public advocate has a budget of less than $2 million a year, but it is charged with being the ombudsman for New York to the city, its services and agencies...

James is a scrappy Brooklyn fighter. She came up in the political arena almost by accident. She never expected to run for public office but was thrown into a race after the murder of Council Member James Davis. She ran on the Working Families Party and won. She has been a voice for the underdog and has fought the good fight in the City Council. One thing for sure is that James does not take “no” for and answer...

As for James, this job was made for her. Public Advocate is her calling. She has always fought the good fight, and with the position of public advocate, she will be able to do it not just for the constituents of her current district, but also for all those in the City of New York. She is a fighter and a good one at that. And that is why we endorse Tosh James for Public Advocate.”

El Diario La Prensa, New York’s oldest and most read Spanish language publication, has endorsed Tish James:
A los neoyorquinos se les ha prometido un cambio en cada ciclo electoral. Los cambios han pasado, pero muchos no han sido favorables para las comunidades que más lo necesitan. Letitia James es una de esas líderes que demuestra su intensa lucha en contra de injusticias y ha logrado cambios que sí han favorecido a los neoyorquinos.

Su integridad, ética y moral son hoy día características por las cuales no se pueden describir a todos los políticos. Las combinaciones de sus posturas y su experiencia profesional la cualifican para ser la Defensora del Pueblo.

Una exlitigante, James ha defendido a las personas mas vulnerables, incluyendo las víctimas de violencia doméstica. Ella pasó a trabajar en la legislatura estatal y como asistente del fiscal general en Brooklyn.

Como miembro del Consejo Municipal, introdujo y logró que se pasara La Ley de Vivienda Segura, para mejorar las condiciones de vivienda de los inquilinos que viven en los peores edificios y condiciones de la ciudad.

Cuando la Ciudad no veía ningún problema con CityTime, un programa que enriqueció a unos pocos a cuesta del bolsillo de los contribuyentes mediante un fraude rampante, James encaró la movilización para pedirle cuentas a la administración de Bloomberg.

Durante el debate sobre el desarrollo del Atlantic Yards, fue una ardua oponente en contra de los intereses de la industria inmobiliaria. Desde su puesto presionó por obtener 30% de viviendas asequibles en varios proyectos en su distrito, un aumento de la estructura tradicional 80%-20%. Aseguró vías transitables para los peatones en el área y salvó la biblioteca de la comunidad.

James presentará un proyecto de ley para restaurar el presupuesto de la oficina del Defensor del Pueblo para servir mejor a la comunidad y tomar medidas legales si es necesario. También está en su agenda crear una oficina para asuntos del inmigrante.

Como Defensora del Pueblo, James trabajará en otros asuntos de importancia para la comunidad latina como vivienda asequible. Ella trabajará para cambiar la distribución 80%-20% para la construcción de viviendas asequibles.

En las primarias...vote por una verdadera defensora del pueblo — Letitia James.

Please join me in supporting Tish James for Public Advocate in the Oct. 1st NYC runoff. Donate if you can!
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