IDC & Cuomo Broker Reunification Deal + NYC’s Solidarity Economy

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Local News

  • State Senate Democrats and the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) have apparently agreed to unify. The deal, which would make Andrea Stewart-Cousins the Leader of all Democrats in the Senate, with now-IDC Leader Jeff Klein serving as her deputy, conveniently comes AFTER the State passed this year’s budget, but BEFORE this year’s elections, in which 7 of the 8 IDC members face Democratic challengers, and in which Gov. Cuomo’s challenger, Cynthia Nixon, has made his tolerance of the IDC a central campaign issue. This is also the second time the IDC has announced its intention to dissolve – a similar deal in 2014 was abandoned when Republicans won an outright majority in the State Senate.

  • The new State budget does not include any congestion pricing measures, even though the Governor claimed to support them. However, it does include a for-hire vehicle tax that some transportation analysts are calling futile.

  • After a sustained lobbying effort by Uber killed a similar proposal in 2015, Mayor de Blasio is again interested in capping the number of for-hire vehicles allowed on city streets, as the traditional taxi industry collapses and the outer-borough green cab program sputters. When de Blasio first attempted to regulate for-hire vehicles in 2015, they numbered 47,000 — that number has risen to over 100,000 in just three years.

  • A growing coalition of homeless people, tenants, and their advocates from around the state have joined together to form the Upstate/Downstate Alliance to bolster rent stabilization regulations set to expire in June 2019.

  • Mayor De Blasio  is considering a commercial vacancy tax to prevent landlords from hoarding empty storefronts while they wait to charge higher rents. Such a proposal would need to pass the State Legislature, and the goons at the Real Estate Board of New York are already sounding the alarm.

  • Residents in the South Bronx are objecting to plans to build a new City jail on a lot in the neighborhood, saying it ignores the needs of the community. City officials say the new jail is important to the City’s plan to close Rikers. ​

  • The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform (also known as the Lippman Commission) issued its one year report on progress made since it recommended closing Rikers one year ago. “Over the past year,” it declared,  there has been real and tangible progress that suggests that the Rikers jails can be closed within a shorter period even than the Commission projected just one year ago. But there is much farther to go.”

  • The City may cancel the BQX streetcar plan after it has become clear that the funding model will not pay for itself as initially promised, but De Blasio may ask the federal government for funding to keep the project alive.

  • The MTA’s $936 million cosmetic station renovation project was revealed to have run out of money after spending on only 19 of the 32 initially budgeted stations, and MTA chairman lied to the public about these cost overruns in order to avoid more criticism of this controversial project.

  • Crain’s New York detailed ten of the top lobbying firms in the City and highlighted some of their top clients.

  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a probe into the police murder of Saheed Vassell in Crown Heights.

  • State Senator Simcha Felder (District 17, Borough Park) successfully held the State budget process hostage until a measure was passed that weakened secular studies standards for private Yeshiva curricula. The dissolution of the IDC further strengthens Felder as the decisive vote in the Senate until at least the 2018 elections.

  • New York City’s Participatory Budgeting process is now open for voting through April 15th.


  • The New York State AFL-CIO endorsed three incumbent US Representatives for re-election including Democrat Joe Crowley (NY-14), who is facing a progressive challenger in the Democratic primary, and Republican Dan Donovan (NY-11), best known for declining to indict Eric Garner’s murderer while he served as Staten Island DA.

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon announced at a fundraiser that she supports the legalization of marijuana.

  • State Senate candidate Ross Barkan (District 22, Southern Brooklyn) released an article in Village Voice that highlights the numerous failures of Governor Cuomo’s budget deal to enact progressive reforms that Cuomo has paid lip service to in the past.

  • In an apparent attempt to discredit Cynthia Nixon’s primary challenge, the New York State Democratic Committee is directing resources to Governor Cuomo’s re-election campaign even though he has not yet been endorsed by the party or won the primary.

  • Area lawyer and self described “progressive Dem” Blake Morris will be mounting a Democratic primary challenge in the 17th State Senate District (Borough Park, Midwood) against Simcha Felder. Felder was elected as a Democrat but caucuses with Senate Republicans and is still a significant potential roadblock to plans to give Democrats control of the chamber.

  • Indicted State Assemblymember Pamela Harris (D. Coney Island, Bay Ridge) has chosen to step down prompting speculation that former City Council member from D. 43 (Bay Ridge) Vincent Gentile will run for the seat.

In-Depth: NYC’s Solidarity Economy


‘Solidarity Economy’ refers to economic activities that meet human needs while reinforcing values of social justice, ecological sustainability, cooperation, mutualism, and democracy. Solidarity economy practices often overlap with, or are grounded in indigenous knowledge and practice including collective ownership and consideration for ecosystems and communities. The term originally comes from Latin American academics naming economic practices they observed in social movements, providing context for ‘third way’ socialism espoused by populists in the global justice movement.

In NYC the solidarity economy is visible in low-income housing cooperatives, community land trusts, credit unions, worker co-ops, food co-ops, community gardens, community supported agriculture, producer co-ops, time banks, barter networks, and susus, to name a few. These organizations are represented by the Cooperative Economics Alliance of NYC. CEANYC (pronounded scenic) offers marketing and visibility support, technical assistance and training, political education, and advocacy for its members.  NYC also is home to federations of specific kinds of co-ops, and all are actively building economic democracy with little support from the state or labor. The solidarity economy primarily serves low and moderate income people, people of color, immigrants, and women.

As socialists, we can use solidarity economy strategies to build economic democracy and foster mutual aid for those most harmed by capitalism. Here are some ways groups are currently using these strategies in NYC:


Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) co-ops sell buildings directly to tenant or community groups to provide accessible housing to low-income people. Mitchell Lama co-ops, based on a previous generation of union-sponsored housing cooperatives, have income guidelines for new purchasers and limited return of equity investment of departing residents. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers live in these buildings. They are currently threatened by an unresponsive city bureaucracy and gentrification that pressures and incentivizes residents to ‘sell out’ rather than maintain affordable housing. You can learn more by visiting Urban Homesteading Assistance Board or Cooperators United for Mitchell-Lama.

Community Land Trusts

A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a nonprofit organization formed to own land and maintain control of buildings located on the land.  The CLT sells the buildings to qualified buyers but retains ownership of the land to preserve the long term affordability of its housing resources. Recently, NYC Housing Preservation and Development has awarded $1.65 million to 5 groups, and CLTs were part of the NYC DSA Housing Working Group’s efforts to make the Bedford Union Armory affordable. Learn more by visitingNew York City Community Land Initiative.

Worker Coops

A worker coop is an enterprise democratically-controlled and owned by the workers. Over 90% of worker cooperatives in NYC are run by immigrant women of color and 90% source directly from their communities. The City has awarded over $3 million to nonprofits that incubate worker co-ops this year. Learn more by visiting New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives.

Community Gardens

Community gardens are democratically-controlled spaces used for agricultural production, recreation, and cultural purposes. Many are housed under the NYC Parks GreenThumb program or through CLTs. Due to rezoning and gentrification, many community gardens are threatened .  Gardens Rising Campaign, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, and 596 Acres work to secure space for gardens. Learn more by visiting New York City Community Gardens Coalition.

Food Coops and Community Supported Agriculture

Food co-ops are grocery stores owned and operated by the members who shop there. CSA members provide no-interest mutual aid loans to farmers early in the season when they plant, in the form of an advance payment, and later farmers deliver agricultural products to members. There are 7 food co-ops in NYC and over 100 CSAs. Food co-ops once got a boost from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn but do not currently receive financing or assistance from the city.  CSAs are threatened by internet grocery services, making the priority preserving existing CSAs rather than forming new ones. Learn more about CSAs by visiting Just Food.

Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs)

CDCUs, like all credit unions, provide financial services to members and are governed by a member-elected Board of Directors. CDCUs specifically serve low-income populations, especially immigrants pushed out of mainstream banking, and lend to small businesses, individuals, and other co-ops. CDCUs face a hostile regulatory climate and in NYC specifically are primarily affiliated with faith communities of color that are struggling to remain viable with few resources and an aging population. NYC partners with some of them to offer free tax preparation services. Learn more by visiting National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.

Most of these specific sectors have political relationships with City Hall or Albany, and they frequently can use the support of DSA members to protect these projects that are regularly threatened by those who seek to convert community ownership to private wealth. CEANYC is building capacity among these groups to pursue a common political agenda, and the groups are currently mulling a campaign for a municipal Office of Cooperative Economics that would serve to protect and support solidarity economy work. While this shouldn’t replace other efforts to build working class power, such a campaign holds the promise of uniting working class activists across generations, neighborhoods, cultures, and solidarity economy models for a vision of community-controlled economic development that is feasible in the current political climate.\ For more information about NYC’s solidarity economy, or to set up a workshop, email us at And catch us talking with Jessica Gordon-Nembhard on Season of the Bitch in May!

(Illustration by Annie Zhao)

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