Weekend forum designed to remove IDC 'roadblock'

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There’s a meeting Sunday all about the state senate’s Independent Democratic Conference. But its leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, isn’t invited.

Not that he can’t show up to Lehman College at 3 p.m. — he’ll just have to sit with all the other observers.

“If he were to show up, he is more than welcome to sit and listen,” said Jack Marth, one of the organizers of the forum. “We feel the senator has many forums to talk about what he does. And this is an opportunity for us to educate people, and to form a different perspective.”

Marth is a member of the IDC Action Group, a subcommittee of the liberal political advocacy group NY CD16 Indivisible. The group is hosting the forum beginning at 3 p.m., on Nov. 12, at Lehman College’s music building, 250 Bedford Park Blvd. W.

Among the scheduled speakers is Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic minority leader in Albany who says she’s in the minority because of Klein’s breakaway IDC. Klein and seven other senators caucus with the Republicans, helping that party maintain majority control over the chamber.

“We’d love to get Sen. Klein to change his mind, that would absolutely be the best option,” said Liz Manning, one of the forum’s organizers. “But we don’t think that’s the most realistic one.”

Many people who cast their ballots for Klein and IDC members simply don’t realize all the progressive legislation the group blocks, another organizer, Andrew Mutnick, said. 

“I’ve been engaged in this effort to educate people around who and what the IDC is exactly,” Mutnick said. “Because there is just a tremendous amount of lack of knowledge on what the conference is, first and foremost. And then beyond that, what is it that they are doing.”

Stewart-Cousins will be joined by Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, a two time political candidate herself both for governor and Congress. Also scheduled to attend is Michael McKee, leader of Tenants PAC, who says Klein and the IDC have thwarted progressive rent legislation.

“Klein likes to talk about his record in a way that’s not always totally forthcoming,” Marth said. “For example, when he talks about immigrantion rights, he’ll talk about the $10 million he got to fund legal services for immigrants. That’s great, nobody disputes that.

“But if we passed more laws, and the right laws, it would do a heck of a lot more for immigrants than just funding for attorneys.”

Through a spokesman, Klein said he had no intention of attending the forum, especially over Veterans Day.

“While Sen. Stewart-Cousins will be outside of her district promoting Democratic disunity, I will be busy in my district honoring the local veterans who bravely fought for our country’s freedoms,” Klein said in a statement.

While Klein may have escaped major scrutiny in the past, today’s political environment no longer makes that possible, Manning said.

“The Trump election generated the Indivisible movement, which taught people that politics really starts at the local level,” she said. “I’ve voted for Klein in the past having no awareness that he wasn’t on the Democratic ticket. I am not really angry, but I am one of those responsible for keeping him in power, and I want to change that.”

For free tickets, visit tinyurl.com/IDCForumTickets.

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