Long Island Progressive Coalition

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Long Island Progressive Coalition

History

Founded in 1979, "the LIPC has grown and prospered in spite of the right-wing tide that swept across the United States".

The LIPC was born at the initiation of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (since become Democratic Socialists of America) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, seeking to realize DSOC Chair Michael Harrington's vision of being "the left-wing of the possible."

Harry Fleischman and Jack Maisel were among the founders, as was Democratic Party activist and Democratic Socialists of America member Hugh G. Cleland. [1]

Initially the LIPC was an entirely volunteer effort, with a handful of activists supported by a nominal coalition of some 60 progressive organizations. In those early years, while the Coalition supported a range of progressive causes, lacking staff, money, or resources, the primary focus of its activity was essentially determined by the interests, commitment, and efforts of those activists. Thus our organizing tended to focus on one or two issues, most particularly, the promotion of a democratically elected public utility to replace the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO), in connection with the campaign against the Shoreham nuclear power plant.

Over the years, the LIPC's scope has broadened, its funding expanded, and it has moved away from the coalition structure to becoming a grassroots membership organization. It has developed a staff, a series of projects generally directed by citizen activists, and most recently an emerging network of neighborhood-based chapters. Around 1990 the LIPC affiliated with Citizen Action of New York-a local of Citizen Action, becoming an autonomous regional affiliate. In 1994 a house was donated to it (technically, to our tax-exempt sister organization, the Research and Education Project of Long Island (REP-LI)) by Katharine Smith, a long-time socialist and human rights activist who hosted Norman Thomas and James Farmer, among others. Katharine Smith died in 1997 at the age of 104[2].

Labor-Religion Coalition

In the mid 80's, Democratic Socialists of America member Gary Stevenson proposed a Labor-Religion Coalition , chaired in 1990 by Sister Rose Sheridan of the Rockville Centre and DSAer David Sprintzen, who was then also LIPC chair.[3]

Affiliation to Citizen Action

Around 1989, the LIPC became affiliated to Heather Booth's Citizen Action.[4]

Executive

In 1990, LIPC executive director was Warren Goldstein.[5]

Electoral success

Around 1990, Marge Harrison, a long time Long Island Progressive Coalition leader was the state vice chair of the Democratic Party. Thanks to LIPC support Suffolk County , once a Republican "fiefdom", elected three "progressive" Democratic Reps., Tom Downey, Robert Mrazek and George Hochbrueckner, as well as a liberal Democratic County executive, Patrick Halpin.[6]

All have been supported and helped by the LIPC, which enjoys good relations with all of them and many other local office holders, such as Republican County legislator Fred Thiele...

PACs

Under the leadership of DSAer Mark Finkel, LIPC set up two PACs. One to raise money from LIPC members and one from the "broader progressive community".

this enabled LIPC to play a "prominent role" in the Long Island Jesse Jackson presidential primary campaign, which was led by LIPCers Madge Kaplan and Jean Duncan.[7]

Program

Under the motto, "Think Globally, Act Locally," the LIPC's goal has been to create a multi-issue, non-electoral party of the democratic left. It seeks to become the "legitimate opposition" to the established structure of corporate power. It has sought to build an effective progressive movement by avoiding unnecessary duplication of activities and resources, particularly through facilitating the work of single-issue and locally-based civic groups. It has assisted with networking, coordination, and mutual support. And it has then taken the initiative in developing projects that address fundamental issues of power and strategy that are either not being addressed, or being addressed in ways we find inadequate.

LIPC has five major project initiatives:

  • The Campaign for affordable, accessible, and high quality Health Care For All, as our long-term goal, while we actively promote Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, an improved and effectively monitored Managed Care Bill Of Rights, the inclusion of prescription coverage for Medicare recipients, and the preservation and strengthening of Medicare and Social Security
  • Clean Money, Clean Elections state legislation that will get money out of politics and restore electoral democracy
  • Building effective labor-community cooperation through the Coalition to Save Long Island Jobs (& its companion project, the Labor-Religion Coalition);
  • Promoting sustainability, environmental protection, and downtown revitalization
  • The development of a network of neighborhood-based local LIPC chapters[8].

Working Families Party

In addition to these grassroots, issue-based campaigns, LIPC played a key role in successful efforts to create a new political party that could give "electoral expression to the concerns of working men and women across the Island and the State". That Party, the Working Families Party, on whose decision-making bodies we (and our statewide affiliate Citizen Action of New York) serve now functions as the primary vehicle for our political action[9].

Structure

In trying to "effectively realize democracy in vision and practice", the LIPC has long struggled not only with the usual differences among its constituencies, as well as those with single-issue or locally focused organizations, but also with those generated by efforts to create a cooperative work environment that merges staff with project activists and board.

Staff participate on all committees -- except in matters of personnel -- including the Steering Committee, with voice but no vote. (Though staff may be members of the board -- & vice versa.) Staff or board serve as liaison-coordinators for each chapter or project, while seeking to cultivate leadership from within the activist group. Projects and chapters are urged to have representatives participate in board meetings, and all have been invited to our planning retreat[10].

The LIPC, through the dedication and time-consuming hard work of its volunteers and staff -- has established an effective progressive presence on Long Island from which activists across the country can take heart.

Research and Education Project of Long Island

The Research and Education Project of Long Island (REP-LI), is the "non-profit" wing of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. It was founded in 1984, and is certified by the Internal Revenue Service under Section 501C3 of the IRS Code as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation.

It is committed to promoting the enhancement of the quality of life of all Long Islanders through research, public education, and community assistance.

REP-LI has sponsored numerous public forums, often in cooperation with the Long Island Progressive Coalition, including the Environmental Leaders Network, the Center for Workers Rights, the “Long Island: A New Vision” conference, and the Our Times Coffee House. It has engaged in research resulting in publications such as the one on the environmental consequences of pelletization of sewage sludge, and published Long Island 2020. For several years it has been operating the Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program.

For more than a decade REP-LI published the bi-annual magazine The Long Island Progressive, and currently sponsors bi-monthly meetings of the Social Theory Study Group and monthly classical book discussions in cooperation with the Huntington Chapter of the LIPC. It has served as a Fiscal Agent for several local non-profit community organizations, including The Justice Project and Prison Families Anonymous -- providing legal, practical, and counseling assistance to those involved in the Criminal Justice System.

REP-LI owns the Katharine Smith House which has provided a home for the Long Island Neighborhood Network, the Association of Tenants and Neighbors, ACES, as well as the LIPC[11].

Staff

As of January 2018;[12]

REP-LI board

The REP-LI board of directors in 2009 consisted of[13];

Arlene Baum, Treasurer; Dr. Joan Beder, Laurel Coston, Co-Chair; Lyn Dobrin, Professor James Edwards, Mark Finkel, Gordon Greenfield, Rosanne Helden, MSW; Stephen Helden, Co-Chair; Dr. Jeffrey Isaac, Professor Steven Kraft, MSW;, Daniel Sprintzen, Dr. David Sprintzen.

Board Members 2015

Richard Berkenfeld, Elaine Calos (Treasurer), Diana Coleman (Co-Chair), Lauren Corcoran-Doolin, Ken Feifer (Co-Chair), Sue Feifer, Jeffrey Friedman, Carol Gordon, Claudia Hanover, Barbara LoMoriello, Michele Lynch, Susan Shilling, Ruth Silverman (Officer), David Sprintzen (Secretary), and all full time staff.[14]

Board Members 2018

KC Alvey, Richard Berkenfeld, Elaine Calos (Treasurer), Lauren Corcoran-Doolin, Jeffrey Friedman, Claudia Hanover, Michele Lynch, Paul Merkelson (Chair), Benjetta Miller, Ruth Silverman (Officer), David Sprintzen (Secretary), Luis Valenzuela, Tammie Williams and all full time staff.[15]

References

  1. Democratic Left, Jan./ Feb. 1990, page 17
  2. http://www.lipc.org/index800x600.html
  3. Democratic Left, Jan./ Feb. 1990, page 17
  4. Democratic Left, Jan./ Feb. 1990, page 17
  5. Democratic Left, Jan./ Feb. 1990, page 17
  6. Democratic Left, Jan./ Feb. 1990, page 17
  7. Democratic Left, Jan./ Feb. 1990, page 17
  8. http://www.lipc.org/index800x600.html
  9. http://www.lipc.org/index800x600.html
  10. http://www.lipc.org/index800x600.html
  11. http://www.lipc.org/index800x600.html
  12. [1]
  13. http://www.lipc.org/index800x600.html
  14. ]http://lipc.org/about-our-staff/, Long Island Progressive Coalition staff, accessed jan.18, 2015]
  15. [2]