In Albany, it’s “three men in a room” – or four men – who meet behind the scenes to negotiative the state budget and hash out other big legislative proposals.
In New York City, for one evening, it was “four women in a room.”
Four prominent female progressives gathered at the Cooper Union on Tuesday to discuss the role of women in New York state government for a panel called “Four Women in a Room,” The panel, moderated by Politico New York reporter Gloria Pazmino, featured former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout, who previously challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 primary and is now treasurer for Cynthia Nixon’s insurgent gubernatorial campaign, and political strategist and recent Nixon campaign appointee L. Joy Williams. The event did not include anyone who had served in state government, but did include women less favorably inclined towards Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Here’s a quick recap of the event through a series of tweets by City & State’s Grace Segers.
Certainly not — Have never met Zephyr or Joy — @MMViverito is a trailblazer and @MinerNYS held the job of Chief Executive to a major upstate city. My only point is, if you’re going to have a discussion about women in NYS Gov, maybe include a few https://t.co/14yy2v4xXS— Melissa DeRosa (@melissadderosa) April 30, 2018
The title was a play on the much-maligned reference to “three men in a room,” referring to the traditional grouping of the governor, state Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker gathering to negotiate budget policy. In recent years, that slogan has expanded to “four men in a room,” with state Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference, evening out the number of men making critical policy decisions. The event also, prominently, featured opposition to the IDC, including a table for the activist group No IDC NY, and an appearance from Jessica Ramos, who is challenging former IDC member Jose Peralta in a Democratic state Senate primary.
Pazmino began the event by noting the tweet by Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, criticizing the panel’s choice of women.
.@MMViverito says that "we are recipients" of policies coming from Albany, so they have a right to have an opinion as constituents. She says that she felt De Rosa's tweet was dismissive of her as a woman and a Latina, and the first Latina speaker of the city council.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
.@ZephyrTeachout says New York is "woefully behind" in representation in government, in part because party bosses have an idea of what they think a candidate looks like, and who they think can raise money. "Money has a gender. Money has a race."— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
The panelists then called for voting reforms in New York.
.@ljoywilliams says New York can't claim to be "the progressive mecca on the hill" when it has some of the worst voting laws in the country. Says that constituents should be calling elected officials to ensure that voting reform passes before the end of the legislative session.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
.@MMViverito talks about voter participation. In 2014 gubernatorial race, only 10% of eligible voters voted. "Those who have control want to limit the level of engagement because it suits their interests, and it suits the interests of donors."— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
"One of the things that we have to do as citizens is watch what they do, not what they say." - @ZephyrTeachout, saying that it is unacceptable that voting reform is never included in final budgets.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
The conversation segued to campaign finance, and the difficulties female candidates face.
.@MinerNYS says of raising money: "I've done it. It's terrible." Says voters need to put their money where their mouth is and make small donations, as well as volunteer.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
.@MinerNYS says that the three concerns for women considering running for office are the coarseness of modern culture, difficulties raising money, and the fear that they are not qualified.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
.@ZephyrTeachout says that she had "hilarious" experiences with donors when running for governor and Congress. "Somebody in New York City real estate openly laughed for me."— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
.@ljoywilliams says that there is also a disparity in how donors treat candidates. Donors will give less to women or people of color than a candidate who fits their traditional conception.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
Mark-Viverito sharply criticized the Independent Democratic Conference, accusing Klein of preventing state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins from becoming majority leader by allying his breakaway caucus with the state Senate Republicans.
"The most anti-Democratic action that was taken was by Jeff Klein," @MMViverito. She says the governor empowered and emboldened the IDC, but @JeffKleinNY denied a woman of color the majority leader position.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
Miner declined to make news regarding a potential primary challenge against Cuomo, an idea she has flirted with in the past.
.@MinerNYS says "good for Cynthia Nixon" in challenging Cuomo. On possibly running for governor herself: "I'm not making an announcement tonight, here, but I'm going through a process and frankly I'm enjoying going through the process."— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 1, 2018
Mark-Viverito also sidestepped an opportunity to make news after the event herself.
After the event, @MMViverito says that she is not yet ready to make an endorsement in the gubernatorial race, although she agrees with a lot of Nixon's platform in terms of immigration rights.— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 2, 2018
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