I got covered! Join me before Monday’s health care deadline!

Posted by paulnewell on March 27, 2014
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PN MetroPlus


I’m proud to report that after several years without health insurance, I recently got covered under the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.  It’s a weight off my shoulders, and is surprisingly affordable.  Given that District Leader is an unpaid position, that was a relief.

And I’m not alone.  Despite the mixed headlines, ObamaCare has been a resounding success.  In the first few months, over five six million Americans have gotten covered under the law – about 750,000 of them here in New York.  You can join us.

BUT THE OPEN ENROLLMENT DEADLINE IS JUST A FEW DAYS AWAY!  This Monday, March 31, at midnight is the deadline for most of us to sign up this year.  I know this can be a daunting process.  But as long at you start the process by Monday night, you’ll be able to finish it in time.  In New York, the place to start is at https://NYStateOfHealth.ny.gov/.  If you’re not in NY, start your search at HealthCare.gov.

To be clear, this is not the last day anyone can sign-up for ObamaCare. It’s the last day for “open enrollment” this year.  If you have a “life event” that requires you to change you coverage – moving to a new state, changing/losing a job, marriage, divorce or having a child – you will be able to sign up then.  But for most of us, this Monday’s deadline is an important one.

Lack of insurance is the number one cause of bankruptcy (by far) in America.  It’s also a leading cause of severe illness and death.  Living uninsured puts you, your family, and our communities at risk.  Please take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity before the deadline.

To your health!


Happy Holidays from Lower Manhattan!

Posted by paulnewell on December 24, 2013
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Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays and a joyous, healthy and prosperous new year.  As our city enters an exciting new era, I look forward to working with you to build our neighborhoods in 2014 and beyond. 

Peace on Earth,

Sombrero xmas 2013 web

Photo by Lower East Side photographer, Vivienne Gucwa.  Check out her work at www.nythroughthelens.com.

VOTE Tomorrow: NYC Voter Guide 2013!

Posted by paulnewell on November 04, 2013
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vote grafitti

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th, is Election Day in New York.  This year, we’ll be choosing a new direction for New York City after 12 years of the Bloomberg era.  Polls will be open from 6:00AM – 9:00 PM.   You can find your poll site at http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com.

We’ll be electing all NYC offices, and voting on 6 ballot proposals.  Below are my endorsements in some key races.

Bill de Blasio for  Mayor – For the first time in a generation, NYC can elect a mayoral candidate who will prioritize making New York City a thriving, affordable city for working and middle class New Yorkers.  That candidate is Bill de Blasio.  De Blasio will bring the issues of affordable housing, universal quality public education, and livable streets to the center of our city’s agenda.  After 20 years of Republicans in City Hall, Bill de Blasio’s pragmatic, progressive, Democratic vision is the right direction for NYC.

In addition to Bill de Blasio for mayor, I encourage you to join me in voting for Democrats Letitia James for Public Advocate, Scott Stringer for Comptroller, and Gale Brewer for Manhattan Borough President.

On the Lower East Side, we have a chance to reelect our champion Rosie Mendez to the City Council.  I’ll also be voting for two of our neighborhood’s heroes running for Civil Court Judge – Kathryn Freed and Adam Silvera.

In the rest of the city, there are a couple of competitive races worth highlighting.

Ken Thompson for Brooklyn District Attorney – Few public offices impact so many families so directly as D.A.  Ken  Thompson promises to make law enforcement in Brooklyn about safeguarding both our neighborhoods and our civil rights.  He has good ideas on reforming our insane drug war and more.  In addition, scandals around the 23-year incumbent, Charles Hynes, – including letting politically-connected accused child-molesters off the hook – disqualify him.  Vote for Thompson.

Ben Kallos for City Council, District 5 (Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island) – Ben Kallos has dedicated his career to fighting against corruption and for a more open and honest government in New York.  He’s exactly the kind of committed good-government progressive New York needs more of. Vote for Kallos.

Please note: These Proposals will be on the BACK side of your ballot.  So you’ll have to turn over the ballot paper to vote on them.

In addition to candidates, there are 6 ballot proposals we’ll be asked to weigh in on.  These are all technically amendments to the NY State Constitution.  Most of them shouldn’t be done through this broken process, but nonetheless here they are.

NO on Proposal 1 (Authorizing Casino Gambling) – Casinos in urban areas bring blight, invite massive corruption, and destroy families.  While they already exist in Atlantic City and Connecticut, this bill would permit casinos in the heart of New York City.  This would undoubtedly be a net negative for our economy.  Casinos in cities do not bring surrounding development. They are inclusive one-stop shops with restaurants, entertainment, dedicated on-site transit, and impossible-to-locate exits. They shut down surrounding businesses by drowning them out and replacing them with illegal businesses.  While I can imagine a role for casinos in certain upstate locations, this proposal does not specify that.  The proposal is also dishonestly worded, alone a reason to oppose it.  Vote NO on Prop. 1.

YES on Proposal 2 (Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities) – This has no business being a ballot measure, but it’s a laudable policy goal.  Vote YES on Prop. 2.

YES on Proposal 3 (Exclusion of Indebtedness for Sewage Facilities) – This will enable smaller NY State communities to issue debt to build needed sewage facilities if they so choose.  Vote YES on Prop. 3.

YES on Proposal 4 (Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve) – Another one that shouldn’t be on a statewide ballot.  It will help a few families in remote upstate New York get title to the land they’ve lived on for generations.  Probably won’t impact a single reader of this post, but it’s the right thing to do.  Vote YES on Prop. 4.

NO on Proposal 5 (Land Exchange in State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals, Inc.) – This would allow a multi-national mining company (NYCO Minerals) to expand a mine into 200 acres of the “Forever Wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve in exchange for a larger tract added to the preserve.  It is a complicated and not-all-bad exchange.  But the precedent of allowing strip-mining in one of the country’s oldest wild preserves (and a true gem of NY State) is too dangerous.  Also, the idea of writing the name of a mining company permanently into the NY State Constitution is thoroughly distasteful.  Vote NO on Prop. 5.

YES on Proposal 6 (Increasing Age Until Judges can Serve) – This overturns an ageist mandatory retirement age for certain judges written in 1869 (when 70 seemed older than it does today).  That costs us experienced judges and generally makes no sense.  This is a good (if incomplete) fix.  Vote YES on Prop. 6.

To recap: Vote NO on Proposals 1 and 5.  Vote YES on Proposals 2, 3, 4, and 6.

So there you have my picks for this important election.  Whomever you support, please be sure to vote.  Our city needs your voice.

Thank you

VOTE Tomorrow – Oct. 1st – Daniel Squadron for Public Advocate

Posted by paulnewell on September 30, 2013
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UPDATE: Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 1st , is the runoff election for NYC Public Advocate. Please join me in voting for Daniel Squadron again in this second round.

The turnout is expected to be extremely low – likely less than 5%.  So there will be no lines, and your vote really makes a difference.  Polls will be open tomorrow from 6AM – 9PM.  You can find your poll site at http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com.

Below is my original endorsement of Squadron from the Primary election.  Since then, he has been endorsed by the New York Times, the Daily News, and many others.

squadron runoff small
Public Advocate is a weird job.  The office’s direct mandate is unclear, other than in appointing members of various boards and succeeding the mayor in the event of a mid-term vacancy.  That said, it can do a great deal of good for New Yorkers.  The Public Advocate’s impact depends to large degree on the individual’s vision for the office, and their ability to achieve results with little actual power.

By these measures, State Senator Daniel Squadron is the clear choice.

Daniel Squadron is one of the most intelligent, effective, and tireless public servants I have ever seen.  He has been my State Senator for five years.  In that time he has accomplished a remarkable amount.  With little seniority, and most of the time in the minority, Squadron has passed important legislation, helped to improve the seemingly hopeless culture of failure in Albany, and been on the ground for our neighborhoods every time he was needed.  His office staff is effective, responsive, and everywhere in the district.

  • Squadron wrote legislation that banned military-style assault weapons and helped ban high capacity gun magazines and require background checks for gun and ammunition purchases.
  • Squadron has fought for and won major improvement to NYCHA housing.  His work secured one-time federal funding of about $400 million and an annual $75 million in federal funds in perpetuity.
  • Squadron is the Senate sponsor of GENDA (the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act) – a key piece of civil rights legislation for New York.
  • Squadron mediated between advocates and the administration to end the outrageous policy of charging rent to homeless families in City shelters.
  • Squadron has led the charge to end the worst practices of Stop-and-Frisk. He sponsors the bill to undo the racist disparity in New York’s marijuana laws.
  • Squadron organized community pressure to get the MTA to conduct “Full Line Reviews” for the first time in the NYC Subway’s history.  This has resulted in dramatic service improvements to the F, L, and G trains.
  • Squadron is the leader in the NYS legislature on traffic safety, passing “Haley and Diego’s Law” to crack down on reckless driving.


All of that (and more) is what he did in Albany.  Here in the city Squadron was just as tireless.  This was most clear during and after Superstorm Sandy.  When we were without power for days on end, Squadron and his office were organized, effective, and accessible from the start.  When we needed information or resources, Squadron’s office was the best place to call every time.  He organized a huge relief effort in the Lower East Side, and helped tens of thousands of homebound residents in a time of need.

Daniel also has the most compelling vision for the Public Advocate’s office – as a voice for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.  His priorities include child welfare, the juvenile justice system and protecting the rights and safety of detainees in city jails.  It is all well within the limited confines of the Public Advocate’s office, and all very important to New Yorkers.  You can read his full plan for the office here: http://squadronfornewyork.com/plan.
Daniel Squadron is a leader.  Not of the sort who gives speeches (not his strong suit) or holds press conferences.  Daniel Squadron is a leader who identifies problems, works collaboratively to find solutions, and then makes them happen.

The New York Times recently endorsed Squadron, writing “He promises to fight for the city’s ‘overlooked orphans in our political system’ — just what a public advocate should do.”

I will be proudly voting for Daniel Squadron for Public Advocate on Tuesday, October 1st.  I ask you to join me. 
Thank you.


September 11th, 2013

Posted by paulnewell on September 09, 2013
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September 11th is a difficult day for Lower Manhattan, our city and our country.  You do not need me to tell you so.  Below is some information on commemorative events, as well as the details on the traffic and transit changes to expect.  Special thanks to Community Board 1 and the Broadsheet for assembling some of this information.

Peace on earth,

The 9/11 commemoration for families of those killed in the attacks will be held at the World Trade Centre site Memorial on Wednesday from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  There will be a citywide moment of silence at 8:46 AM.  The names of the victims will be read, accompanied by music, with additional moments of silence throughout the program.

Parallel Stories: The World Trade Center and Battery Park City – The Museum of Jewish Heritage, will commemorate the 12th anniversary with free admission and a community-focused program at 7pm.  The free presentation features panelists Clifford Chanin from the National September 11 Memorial Museum, Carol Willis from The Skyscraper Museum, and Matthew Fenton, editor-in-chief of the Broadsheet.

Lower Manhattan Community Remembers 9/11 – 7PM at Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center (120 Warren Street).  You are invited to share your memories and experiences of September 11, 2001, including the event’s impact on our community and the rebuilding effort that followed. Reserve a free ticket at: https://remembering9-11.eventbrite.com/.

ResoNations 2013: A 9/11 Concert of Remembrance, Healing & Creating Peace – 7PM at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Art Center (199 Chambers Street).  It features renowned Jazz and international musicians in premieres works composed and performed in the name of peace. Tickets are $10. http://tribecapac.com/.

9/11 is now also known as a national day of service.  You can find many worthwhile projects to get involved with at: http://www.serve.gov/?q=site-page/september-11th-national-day-service-and-remembrance.

As always, there will be significant parking changes and street closures.  Details are in the PDF below.

Rosie Mendez for City Council (District 2)

Posted by paulnewell on September 08, 2013
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Paul and Rosie 1
On September 10th I plan to vote for Rosie Mendez in the Democratic Primary.  I ask you to join me. 

For more than 30 years, Rosie Mendez has been an advocate for the low and moderate income residents of New York.  Since being elected to the City Council to represent District 2 (the east side of Manhattan below 35th Street) in 2005 Rosie has accomplished a great deal for our community and for New York City.

  • Rosie has limited over-development of the district by passing major rezoning plans that curb highrise buildings, encourage affordable housing and cap dormitories;
  • Rosie has preserved our community’s character by establishing landmark districts and buildings to prohibit the destruction of our history;
  • Rosie is a leader on tenants’ rights – fighting to strengthen rent regulations and to preserve public housing;
  • Rosie has fought for and delivered better, less crowded schools with quality libraries, play areas, and science labs for all students – fairly distributed to regular, special education and charter schools;
  • Rosie has championed civil rights, working hard to pass marriage equality, to reform stop & frisk, and end bullying and anti-gay violence
  • Rosie passed the Bicycle Crash Data bill, creating safer streets by requiring that police report accidents involving bicycles;
  • Rosie allocated over $10 million to renovate public parks and community gardens, including East River, Tompkins Square, Stuyvesant, and Union Square Parks;
  • Rosie has fought to improve the quality of life of her constituents, cutting down noise from bars and working to reduce after-hours construction.

Our neighborhoods cannot afford to lose Rosie’s tireless advocacy.  On Tuesday, I’ll be voting for Rosie Mendez for City Council.  I ask you to join me.

P.S. – Do you have time tomorrow or Tuesday to help Rosie win?  Supporters will pass out lit at polls, make phone calls, and get out supporters to the polls! Email lkaplan23@nyc.rr.com or 212-260-7353 to volunteer

Polls will be open Tuesday from 6:00AM – 9:00 PM.   You can find your poll site (many of them have changed) at http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/Search.aspx.

Yetta Kurland for City Council (District 3)

Posted by paulnewell on September 08, 2013
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Photo by Jon Reznick, http://www.jonreznick.com/

Tuesday, September 10th, is election day in New York City.  In the 3rd City Council District, covering the West Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Clinton, Flatiron, and West SoHo, Democrats have the chance to vote for one of NYC’s most outstanding progressive leaders.  I’m writing to ask you to take that opportunity, and vote for Yetta Kurland for City Council.

I have worked with Yetta Kurland, most notably in working to restore hospital service to the West Side after the closure of St. Vincent’s.  In that fight, and in countless others, Yetta proved to be a principled, organized, effective and fearless advocate.  I have been consistently impressed by Yetta’s ability to work with diverse people with differing views and bring them together for community results.  The West Side is lucky to have her.

As a Civil Rights Attorney and neighborhood organizer for over 25 years, Yetta has lifted her strong voice on behalf of ordinary New Yorkers many times, working effectively with neighborhood groups to organize against overdevelopment on the West Side, end the abuses in the stop & frisk policy, and to restore hospital service to our community.  Yetta’s accomplishments over two decades of work for our neighborhoods are too many to list, but here are a few more recent examples.


  • Yetta founded the Coalition for a New Village Hospital, leading the fight to restore this vital part of our healthcare infrastructure, and winning important victories.
  • Yetta is a founding board member of Marriage Equality USA, and helped to win that important right.
  • Yetta organized our communities in response to senseless gun violence.
  • Yetta has fought for more park space in one of the city’s densest areas.
  • Yetta has won important legal battles for LGBT rights, free speech, for New York women facing workplace discrimination, for tenants fighting eviction, and more.
  • Yetta organized hundreds of volunteers to deliver assistance to vulnerable seniors during and after Superstorm Sandy.

Yetta Kurland has been unafraid to ruffle feathers to stand up for us.  In the City Council, I know that she will be an effective legislator, but one who will never forget her principles or who she is there to represent.  Yetta is both a principled progressive and a great coalition builder.  And that is a rare thing.  It’s why she’s been endorsed by Citizen Action of New York, Emily’s List, the National Organization for Women, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for New York City, numerous labor organizations, Democratic Clubs, and many others.

I have learned more from Yetta Kurland than I have from any other organizer or activist I have ever worked with.  She inspires me, and gives me hope that a better city is possible.  I hope you will join me in supporting Yetta Kurland for City Council this Tuesday.  Thank you.

P.S. – Do you have time tomorrow or Tuesday to help Yetta win?  Sign up here: http://www.yettakurland.com/volunteer, or call Lenni at (646) 801-8190!

Polls will be open Tuesday from 6:00AM – 9:00 PM.   You can find your poll site (many of them have changed) at http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/Search.aspx.

Photo by Jon Reznick Photography, 2012.

John Liu for Mayor

Posted by paulnewell on September 01, 2013
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John Liu headshot

For twelve years, our city has been dominated by the perspective and policies of Michael Bloomberg.  His legacy is decidedly mixed.  Though he has proven effective on issues from curbing smoking to surface transportation, the city has become a much more difficult place to be working or middle-class.  This is clear in Lower Manhattan, where skyrocketing rents and massive, ill-conceived development projects are pushing us out and threatening what we love about our neighborhoods.  It is urgent that the next mayor take another direction.

John Liu is the best candidate to build a post- Bloomberg city for all New Yorkers.

Liu has consistently been the most progressive and community-oriented candidate in the field.  On stop and frisk, the corporatization of our schools, improving mass transit and affordable housing, Liu has been a voice for a more livable New York.  He is the only candidate who has consistently opposed massive projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the West Side Stadium and others.  After 12 years of mega-development besieging our neighborhoods, we need a mayor who views communities and development holistically.  Liu was a champion of raising the minimum wage and a fairer tax structure long before it became the fashion.  More recently, he has proposed sensible and long-overdue reforms to our insane marijuana laws.

John Liu has also been a leader on environmental issues.  He categorically opposes hydrofracking, and the building of pipelines to bring that gas into our neighborhoods.  Liu has also supported retrofitting city buildings – including NYCHA – for solar power. This would not only reduce costs and our carbon footprint, but would be a vital emergency power source for the next storm.  That’s why he’s been endorsed by the Sierra Club.

While all the major Democratic candidates for mayor are clearly qualified, John Liu has the most impressive public record of accomplishment.  Liu has been the best Comptroller the city has seen in recent memory.  His audits and investigations have saved the city nearly $4 billion taxpayer dollars – mostly on hastily bid outsourcing contracts like CityTime.  With every single municipal labor contract expired, budgets will be tight over the next four years.  A skeptical, watchful eye like Liu’s can make a big difference.

More locally, Liu has been an advocate for Lower Manhattan neighborhoods.  His recent audit of the Howard Hughes Corporation at South Street Seaport exposed that deal for what it was.  He’s been with us on issues from NYU to St. Vincent’s to Petrosino Square.  Liu would also be the first Asian-American mayor of a major American city.  The Chinese community is rightly proud of John Liu, just as my grandmother was of Herbert Lehman.  As home to America’s greatest Chinatown, Lower Manhattanites should celebrate this opportunity to make history.

There are, of course, concerns.  Recently, Liu’s treasurer and a fundraiser were convicted on campaign-finance violations.  While the charges only amount to a pittance in terms of the millions spent on campaigns, they are serious.  However, this too has an upside.  Liu is now the most investigated candidate for mayor in our history.  After 3 years of wiretaps and a massive federal investigation, not one charge has been leveled against Mr. Liu, and no evidence links him to any malfeasance.

There is also the matter of polls.  While voting for the “lesser-of-two-evils” is often the only course of action, we are not forced to make that choice.  New York’s runoff primary system ensures that we’ll have another bite at that apple.  On September 10th, we can vote for the candidate who best represents our values.  If Mr. Liu does not make it past the first round, we can make another choice in the runoff on October 1st.

This year’s mayoral race has often been a circus.  But it is a serious matter.  With neighborhoods becoming unlivable and working and middle-class New Yorkers struggling to stay here, we need a competent mayor with genuine pragmatic, progressive principles.  John Liu is that candidate.

John Liu Pride

Testify to Save NYCHA – Wed. 7/24 at 4:30PM

Posted by paulnewell on July 23, 2013
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Almost half a million New Yorkers live in NYC Housing Authority Public Housing.  Throughout the city, and in particular in Lower Manhattan, NYCHA is a key component in preserving the affordability and dynamic diversity of our neighborhoods.  We must preserve and expand it.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 24th at 4:30 PM, the NYCHA Board will be holding hearings on its “Draft Annual Plan”.  The hearing will be held at Pace University’s Schimmel Center on Spruce Street in Lower Manhattan.  I will be joining GOLES and others to testify against parts of this plan that threaten the long-term viability of Public Housing – and proposing more sensible solutions.  I hope you will join us.

Some of the key issues are:

STOP the NYCHA Infill Plan – This hasty, ill-conceived plan would lease open spaces in NYCHA developments to build luxury housing.  It was proposed a few months ago, and is being railroaded through the process with little to no concern for residential or community input.  While in theory, some infill of NYCHA land could create more housing and more community-oriented retail, this is not that plan.  Until NYCHA works with residents to create a community-based approach, this plan should be shelved.  There is no need to rush through a 99-year plan in a few months.

Address the Backlog in Repairs – NYCHA residents often wait over a year for basic, vital repairs.  Here in the Lower East Side, Aixa Torres and the Smith Houses Residents Association recently proved that this can be changed when communities organize.  We must improve conditions throughout the city.

End the Draining of NYCHA’s Budget – Some of this is beyond the scope of this hearing, but NYCHA has been chronically underfunded for years by the Federal, State and Local governments.  NYCHA, alone among NYC communities, pays the City $75 million dollars annually to the NYPD for “special services” and millions to the Sanitation Department for services that every other New Yorker gets for free.  This makes no sense, and must end.

There are many other issues to address.  I hope you will join me in this discussion tomorrow afternoon.  Details are below.

Thank you,


 Testify: Public Housing Residents & Workers
Join the People’s Hearing & Mass Demonstration
Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 4:30pm
Pace University, Schimmel Center, Enter at 3 Spruce Street,
one block east of City Hall Park, Manhattan
(Map: http://goo.gl/maps/cjvgO)
For more information contact GOLES at 212-358-1231/Ask for Julian or Ginger


RESCHEDULED — Celebrate my Big Three-Eight! – TUESDAY, MAY 28TH!

Posted by paulnewell on May 16, 2013
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Orchard Alley Sign


Please join me next Tuesday May 28th, as I celebrate my birthday in one of the Lower East Side’s most beautiful community gardens.  We’ll have music, a few drinks, great company and celebration.

Please get your tickets now at: https://www.wepay.com/events/newellnyc-birthday-38

It is an incredible honor serving these wonderful neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan, and our city.  It would not be possible without your support.  I hope to see you there.

The Big Three-Eight! – Paul Newell’s LES Birthday Garden Party
Tuesday, May 28th, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
At The Orchard Alley Community Garden
450 East 4th Street (between Avenues C and D)
Lower East Side, New York City

Map: http://goo.gl/maps/ELa3Q
F/M Train to 2nd Avenue.

Reserve your spot at https://www.wepay.com/events/newellnyc-birthday-38
On Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/588020721232927

If you cannot join us next Thursday, please consider making a contribution at http://NewellNYC.org/Contribute.

Thank you,

Photo by Lower East Side photographer, Laura Goggin.  Check her out on Etsy and Flickr.