When Staten Island Republicans tried to come after Councilmember Debi Rose and the Working Families Party with a "junk" lawsuit their real goal was simple: to throw a wrench in New York's resurgent progressive movement.
Our opponents - Republican operatives and corporate lobbyists - know they can't beat progressive ideas at the ballot box, or in the battle for public opinion. So they dragged us into court.
The good news is, it didn't work. The settlement announced earlier this week ends the Republicans' frivolous suit. Just as importantly, it will let the Working Families Party return to the critical work of electing progressive candidates, and holding politicians accountable to working people.
Here's what's first on our list:
Fixing the MTA: Facing an ever-widening budget gap, the MTA has proposed massive service cuts, fare hikes, the elimination of student MetroCards, and dramatically scaling back paratransit for the disabled. All of it is unacceptable. The WFP and transit advocates are pressuring the MTA to do everything it can to restore the cuts, and keeping the heat on Mayor Bloomberg and Albany to come up with new sources of funding for the cash-strapped agency.
Paid Sick Days for All: Nearly 50% of the city's workforce - over 1.5 million people - does not have a single day of paid sick time where they work. When that many people can't take a day off when they're sick, it's more than a personal inconvenience. It's a serious threat to the city's public health. Working with a broad coalition of business leaders, public health experts, and dozens of members of the City Council, we're pushing for a law that would allow all workers citywide to earn paid sick time on the job.
Restoring Dignity to the State Senate: In March, voters in Queens will have the chance to promote a true progressive leader and community advocate, Assemblyman Jose Peralta, to the State Senate seat that was held by Hiram Monserrate. With so much at stake, the WFP will launch a major grassroots campaign to help push Peralta's campaign across the finish line.
Balancing the budgets: Both New York City and State face yawning budget deficits and must decide where to cut and who to tax. Our goal must be to limit painful cuts to healthcare, education, and critical public services, and look for progressive ways - like a tax on Wall Street bonuses - to close the gap.
The WFP's core mission - to fight relentlessly for progressive solutions to the issues facing working New Yorkers - is as important day as it ever was.
And it's time to get back to work.
Follow Dan Cantor on Twitter: www.twitter.com/workingfamilies