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 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

Yetta Kurland for City Council (District 3)

Posted by paulnewell on September 08, 2013
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Photo by Jon Reznick,

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:, 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

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
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:

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

F/M Train to 2nd Avenue.

Reserve your spot at
On Facebook at:

If you cannot join us next Thursday, please consider making a contribution at

Thank you,

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

Walking the Walk

Posted by paulnewell on April 22, 2013
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AWNY with Banks

On Sunday, May 19th, I will walk in AIDS Walk New York to support GMHC and Ubuntu Education Fund.  In many ways, this is one of the defining struggles of my life.

I grew up in downtown Manhattan in the 1980s.  It was a community beset by a plague.  Watching our neighborhood respond – the birth of GMHC, ACT-UP and AIDS activism – taught me what it meant to organize communities.  And continues to inspire and instruct me today.

Please help me fight AIDS in NYC by clicking:

In 2001, I traveled to South Africa to help build Ubuntu Education Fund.  I worked with Ubuntu for six years, in NYC and South Africa.  In a community where 1 in 4 adults is HIV positive, Ubuntu works with over 25,000 orphans and vulnerable children and their families.  Whether it’s getting a mother onto life-saving drugs, or enrolling a child who’s lost their family in school, Ubuntu is committed to long term, intensive interventions. 12 years on, Ubuntu’s model is working. Many of the most vulnerable children I worked with in South Africa are graduating university and moving on to careers.

I have seen Ubuntu Education Fund turn around lives.  I have seen mothers brought back to life and children re-enrolled in schools.  And I have learned that determined, community-based solutions can have dramatic and inspiring results.

Please help me support Ubuntu Education Fund by clicking:

As an organizer and activist, I’ve believed that access to healthcare is a vital social justice goal.  Whether it was organizing support for Obamacare, fighting the closure of hospitals like St. Vincent’s and Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital, opposing cuts to Medicare, or working with Ubuntu Education Fund to create futures for our neighbors around the world, I have always known that a healthy society is key to the success of our communities.

I have lost more friends to HIV and AIDS than I care to count – across three decades and two continents.  Thirty years on, this struggle continues.  Millions still lack access to life-saving drugs, new infections are on the rise here in NYC, and a cure remains elusive.  On Sunday, May 19th, I will walk with Team Ubuntu in AIDS Walk New York. I have pledged to raise $5,000 to support the work of GMHC and Ubuntu Education Fund. I ask for your help.
Even the smallest gift makes a huge difference.

Thank you.

P.S. Please join me on Team Ubuntu. It’s a great time, a beautiful walk, you get a cool T-Shirt and it makes a difference.  Sign up here:

Ubuntu pic 2013

You can’t do anything without the f***** money

Posted by paulnewell on April 02, 2013
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“That’s our politicians in New York. They’re all like that, all like that. And they get like that because of the drives that the money does for everything else.
You can’t do anything without the f—— money.”

That’s what a Queens Republican politician recently said into a Federal wiretap.  He’s been arrested, but illegal bribes are not the real problem.  Legal bribes are.

Money – from wealthy individuals, corporations, PACs and more – dominates New York State politics.  NYS Candidates can take contributions as much as 20 times the amount a candidate for US President can.

And it hurts us every day.  Our legislators just passed another $135 Billion budget.  Despite overwhelming support for stronger tenants’ protections, saving LICH Hospital in Brooklyn, adequate funding for mass transit, NYCHA  and NYC schools were left out. Also skipped was Campaign Finance Reform. This is not a coincidence.

We can change this.  The Campaign for Fair Elections in New York has outlined four proposals that will go a long way to reducing our political leaders’ dependence on wealthy and corporate campaign contributors.  And with the stated support of the Governor, this year is the best chance we’ve seen to get this done in New York yet.  They are kicking off their campaign tomorrow afternoon.  I hope you can join us:

Fair Elections community rally
SEIU 1199 Auditorium
310 West 43rd Street, New York City
Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 3rd, 5:30 p.m.

And for folks who want to join us on the Lower East Side, I’m hosting a Fair Elections House Party at my apartment on Sunday, April 7th at 5:30 PM.  Please join us, or consider hosting one yourself (they’re fun).

There’s also an online petition at, which I encourage you to sign.  This is a winnable battle, and it’s winnable this year.  I look forward to working with you for a better Albany and a better New York.

February 27 Deadline for FEMA Registration

Posted by paulnewell on February 25, 2013
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UPDATE: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has again extended deadlines for post-Sandy assistance.

Sandy survivors now have until Mar. 29 to apply for federal assistance, including FEMA grants and low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration, which are available to businesses, homeowners, and even renters.


This Wednesday, February 27th is the deadline to register for FEMA disaster recovery plans.  I strongly encourage everyone impacted by Superstorm Sandy to register – as damages sustained may not yet be known, and insurance payouts may be less than predicted.  Wednesday is the last day for Sandy survivors in the 13 New York counties designated for federal disaster assistance to register with FEMA and complete and return low-interest Small Business Administration disaster loan applications, an important step in the FEMA grant process. Designated counties include: All of New York City, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties.

Individuals also can register with FEMA online at or calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). People who use 7-1-1 Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS) should call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. EST, seven days a week until further notice.

For more information on FEMA’s New York Sandy recovery programs, visit,, and

Survivors who register may be eligible for federal grants to help cover various disaster-related expenses including rent, essential home repairs, personal property losses and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.

By returning the SBA disaster loan application, homeowners may be eligible for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their storm-damaged primary residence. Homeowners and renters may be eligible for up to $40,000 for replacement of personal property. Businesses and private nonprofits may be eligible to borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace storm-damaged property.

Project Hope:
I also wanted to let you know about Project Hope.  Also funded by FEMA, Project Hope provides one-to-one or group counseling services wherever you wish to have them: in your home, place of work, community centers, schools or houses of worship.  In additiuon to counseling, Project Hope staff help find people or agencies that can assist with any disaster-related problems.

In Lower Manhattan, services are being administered through:

Other Project Hope providers can be found at

And of course, neighborhood stalwarts like Good Old Lower East Side, CAAAV, and several other local organizations continue to coordinate responses as we rebuild.

Happy Holidays from Lower Manhattan!

Posted by paulnewell on December 23, 2012
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Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays
and a joyous, healthy and prosperous new year.
I look forward to working with you to build and rebuild
our neighborhoods in 2013 and beyond.

 Peace on Earth,


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

Two post-Sandy events this weekend

Posted by paulnewell on December 06, 2012
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I just wanted to give you a heads up about two important events related to our communities’ continued recovery form superstorm Sandy.  Details are below.

1) Friday and Saturday, December 7th and 8th, join us for Rally Downtown, a two-day effort to reboot Lower Manhattan and the Lower East Side’s small businesses – many of which have taken a huge hit from the storm.  We’ll be encouraged to shop, eat, drink and attend events across Lower Manhattan.  Tomorrow, Friday, December 7th, they’ll be hosting a Rally Downtown Scavenger Hunt.  On Saturday, December 8th, there will be the Rally Downtown Food Crawl – a tour through some of Lower Manhattan’s most fantastic eats.

For more info or to RSVP, go to:

2) Our State Senator, Daniel Squadron, is hosting New York After Sandy: Resource Fair and Community Conversation this Sunday, December 9th.  There are actually two events, one in Lower Manhattan and one in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

For residents and businesses in need, he is bringing together representatives from city, state, and federal agencies, utility companies, volunteer groups, and others who can help in Sandy’s aftermath. From disaster assistance (which has December 31st deadlines in many cases) and utility restoration, to legal and social services, this will be a good opportunity to have your questions answered. Think of it as a one-stop post-Sandy shop for all New Yorkers.

I’ll be at the event in Manhattan.  For more info and to RSVP, go to

Senator Daniel Squadron’s
New York After
Sandy: Resource Fair & Community Conversation

Sunday, December 9, 2012

11:00AM to 2:00PM
Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main Street (DUMBO)

3:00PM to 6:00PM
Murry Bergtraum High School, 411 Pearl Street

In addition, Senator Squadron’s maintains an invaluable Post-Sandy resource page at The page has detailed information on where to get help on any number of issues.

From what I’ve seen this month, I am certain that our community will come back stronger than ever.  I’m proud to be there with you.