JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
img

NYRA Freedom Volume 5, Issue 4

Written by NYRA Mar 29, 2011

NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Volume 5, Issue 4

April 14, 2005

Contents:

Introduction
Vermont Drinking Age Campaign
Washington State Voting Age Bill
NYRA-Berkeley Voting Age Progress
Regional Captains
Gainesville Chapter Formed
Fundraising Contests Update
Students Rights Victories
NYRA Benefit Show in Rochester
News from the Web
Conclusion

Introduction

In the past I have often said that NYRA was at a crossroads. In the past there has often been some event looming that I felt could transform NYRA from a small band of dedicated activists to large organization with vibrant chapters in every part of the country. Today I say the same thing, but with a much deeper sense of urgency. No longer are we on the verge of some endeavor that will add support and viability to our cause. Rather, we are in the midst of it. The actions of NYRA members in Berkeley, and especially those of us in Vermont and in Washington state, are having a profound affect on the course of the youth rights movement. The National Youth Rights Association has arrived.

Vermont Drinking Age Campaign

NYRA is currently engaged in an effort to lower the drinking age in Vermont. Through lobbying politicians and reaching out to the public, NYRA hopes to help make a drinking age bill become law. Rep. Richard Marron recently put a bill before the Vermont legislature that would lower Vermont’s drinking age to eighteen. The bill has considerable support from many in Montpellier, and it represents what may be the best chance to lower the drinking age since it was effectively raised by the federal government. NYRA wholeheartedly supports any legislation along these lines, and our Vermont chapter has committed itself to seeing that the bill passes.

A “horde” of volunteers, including NYRA-Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz, Dave Varney, Matthew Mallone, Alexis Grant, and Rio Samise, traveled from Washington DC to Vermont to aid the chapter in their efforts. The horde has been working in unison with the core members of NYRA-Vermont; Ken Boring, Hardy Machia, Jay Leff, Heavenly Ryan, Jeremy Ryan, Kevin Ryan, and others.

The aforementioned have been actively recruiting on nearly every college campus in the state, and have attracted the support of several hundred college students. Recruiting was so successful at one college that 200 people signed up in an hour and a half. Alex Koroknay-Palicz has speaking engagements scheduled at several local schools, which will deliver the message to an even wider audience. The chapter held a successful press conference that has lead to a number of media appearances. A number of newspaper articles on the Vermont campaign are included in the “News from the Web” section, and there are more to come. Due in large part to the extensive connections of NYRA-Vermont Secretary Hardy Machia, the chapter has been able to rub elbows with many important Vermont politicians. A few state legislators came to talk to NYRA officials at the press conference, and at one event Alex Koroknay-Palicz spoke about the drinking age with the Governor of Vermont.

On Tuesday, April 5th, NYRA played a key role in a drinking age debate at the State House in Montpellier. Alex Koroknay-Palicz, along with Rep. Richard Marron, represented the side in favor of lowering the drinking age. For two hours they debated Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper and Rep. Loren Shaw, who were against the idea of a lower drinking age. By all accounts Alex and Richard did very well. Over forty people were in attendance, many of whom supported NYRA’s position. Special thanks to Chris Batchelor for organizing the phone banking efforts that preceded this event. All in all the debate was an overwhelming success.

The Vermont drinking age campaign is far from over. Alex and Dave will stay in Vermont for several more days, and the chapter will continue the campaign after they leave. So far the Vermont drinking age campaign has exceeded everyone’s expectations, and we hope that it will continue to do so. Check out www.oneandfour.org for more frequent and detailed updates.

Washington State Voting Age Bill

The voting age continues to be NYRA’s number one concern. A strong NYRA chapter is emerging in Olympia, Washington, and they have thrown their support behind voting age legislation. If passed, the bill will lower the state’s voting age to sixteen. Coming so soon after the California voting age bill, one can not help but sense an emerging trend. NYRA-Olympia President Jason Puz has been integral in rallying support for this bill. He has been in contact with several of the legislators who are behind it, and has been in touch with members of the media.

The bill, co-sponsored by Washington State Representatives Hunt, Williams, Green, and Haigh, went before a committee on Friday. The State Government Operations & Accountability Committee is comprised of ten members, three of whom co-sponsored the bill. Jason Puz, Heather Kelley and Kehlen Sachet. testified on behalf of the bill, and by all acounts the testimony went well. After the hearing, they spoke to reporters. Check the news from the web section for an article on the Washington voting age bill. Keith Mandell and Robert Reynolds have also been working on this issue, and every member of the committee received a letter from the NYRA Board of Directors. If it gets enough momentum, this bill will attract a lot of attention. It will invigorate the Olympia chapter and offer hope to millions of disenfranchised young people. If you can help in any way please email Keith Mandell .

NYRA-Berkeley Voting Age Progress

It was not long ago that California State Senator John Vasconcellos sponsored a bill to lower the voting age. While that bill was eventually defeated, it brought the voting age to the attention of millions of Americans, due in no small part to the hard work of NYRA-Berkeley. The chapter continues to strive for a lower voting age, and has brought the issue to the Berkeley City Council.

NYRA-Berkeley drafted a proposal to lower the city’s voting age to sixteen. The proposal received the necessary support of Berkeley’s Youth Commission, but due to a technicality, a re-vote is required on Monday. Once approved by the Youth Commission, the proposal will have the support of City Council Members Kriss Worthington, Max Anderson, and Darryl Moore. The chapter also hopes to gain the support of Mayor Tom Bates. Berkeley is a very progressive city, and this proposal certainly has a shot. If it goes through, Berkeley will be the first town in America to have a voting age lower than seventeen. This seems very fitting, as Berkeley has become a Mecca of youth rights activism over the past year.

The chapter continues its efforts to lower the voting age on the state level. Over eight hundred and fifty letters were sent to Senator Perata, and the chapter plans to send a comparable number of letters to Representative Loni Hancock. If you can help NYRA-Berkeley lower the voting age, please email Robert Reynolds.

Regional Captains

In order to stimulate the development of chapters, NYRA has created a number of new positions. Dividing the country in to regions, NYRA has already appointed “Captains” for the south and the west. Keith Mandell, NYRA’s unofficial director of chapter development, has been integral in the development of this info structure.

NYRA appointed Svend La Rose to be regional captain in the west. Before assuming this position, Svend worked closely with Robert Reynolds and others in the Berkeley chapter. Svend is currently in the process of developing public service announcements for NYRA. He is also helping to establish the Olympia chapter and forming regional public and media relations committees. Kelvin Oliver has been appointed regional captain in the south. Oliver is actively stimulating the development of chapters in the south, and chairs the southern committee on public and media relations. Adam King has been appointed associate regional captain, and has also been doing a lot of work towards chapter development in the area. Adam is also spear heading NYRA’s Ashville, North Carolina chapter. Kelvin and Adam plan to apply for a Youth Venture grant, and are considering holding a convention some time in the future.

Gainesville Chapter Formed

NYRA member David Washington has founded a NYRA chapter in Gainesville Florida. The chapter is already picking up momentum. The chapter plans to publish to essays in “The Front,” a local newspaper run by young people. They also plan to send weekly opinion pieces to the Gainesville Sun. Local members are encouraged to get involved.

Fundraising Contests Update

A while ago, NYRA began a fundraising contest to take place between individual members, and another to encourage competition between NYRA’s various chapters. NYRA’s three most active chapters are bogged down with other work, but the contest is running smoothly regardless. NYRA-Berkeley has raised a few hundred dollars in cash, and local businesses have donated some goods for a silent auction. NYRA-NYC had a lukewarm experience at a recruiting event in New Jersey, but contributions from individual members have added a couple hundred dollars to the chapter’s total. NYRA-Vermont is having a fundraiser later this week, and if things continue to go as they have been going for that chapter, they may win the contest. Four of NYRA-DC’s key members were a part of the “invading horde” in Vermont, and two are still up there. However, the DC chapter has spoke about possible benefit concerts at the Electric Maid, a DC area venue with ties to NYRA. It is still “anyone’s game.” If you are thinking about making a contribution, do it before June 1st so it will count towards the contests.

Students Rights Victories

NYRA member Chris Batchelor, better known to some as “Galen,” has won two decisive victories for Students Rights. Chris has a friend who had to do a report on the USA Patriot Act for school. When the student was told he could not use a picture of a man burning the American flag, he contacted Chris, knowing about his involvement in youth rights. Chris wrote a letter to the school’s principal, informing him that the student was well with in his rights. Chris pointed out that to censor this young man’s report in such a way was a flagrant violation of Tinker v. Des Moines, the Supreme Court ruling that constitutional rights can not be denied in public schools. While initially upset, the principal eventually agreed to let the student use the picture, and even sat in on the class to assure that the teacher did not try to stop him.

In another incident, a student was given detention for circulating a petition calling for action to be taken against one of her teachers. This young woman’s punishment was clearly not in accordance with Tinker v. Des Moines. Chris wrote another letter, and the administration was forced to issue a formal apology to the aforementioned student.

For his efforts, Chris Batchelor has been appointed Student Defense Coordinator. If you are subject to unfair, authoritarian treatment at your school, please send Chris an email.

NYRA Benefit Show in Rochester

“I Don’t Know,” a promising band from Rochester New York, organized a benefit concert for NYRA. Held on April 2nd at Holt Lodge in Webster Park, the concert went very well. The concert went on for over eight hours, and the lodge was packed. I Don’t Know played one of their youth rights oriented songs, and the much to the crowd’s delight. NYRA made over three hundred dollars at the concert, and bands made additional money by way of selling merchandise. Special thanks to Missile Crisis, Big F—–‘in Explosion, Primordial, Destrux, Fatality, Finisher, Skate Fast And Die, Dead To You, Fight For It, Another One Down, The Expired, Teenage Junkies, and especially I Don’t Know, for contributing their talent. Check out www.idk.cjb.net for more information on I Don’t Know.

News From the Web

Washington Voting Age
Vermont Drinking Age 4/6
Vermont Drinking Age 4/2
Vermont Drinking Age 3/31
Vermont Drinking Age 3/29
Canadian Voting Age Article 4/5
Canadian Voting Age Article 3/24

Conclusion

As I stated earlier, this past month was the turning point. It is a new day for the youth rights movement. In retrospect, we will view Vermont as our Montgomery. I can not, however, over state the importance of continued involvement amongst our members. It is also important to note that NYRA is making a lot of technological progress. In the past an inadequate system of delivering email to members has had a crippling effect on NYRA’s recruiting. The work of NYRA Director Rich Jahn is alleviating that situation.

img

OUR BLOG

img

Avi Hein – 20th Anniversary Reflection

Growing up outside of Washington, DC, politics is life. But, as a 15 year old, volunteering isn’t the same as voting. It was the second half...

BY Avi Hein
img

Alex Jonlin – 20th Anniversary Reflection

As a ten-year-old kid in Seattle, I was already interested in politics. My friends and I marched around the playground protesting the Iraq War, and I...

BY Alex Jonlin
img

Scott Davidson – 20th Anniversary Reflection

Former board member (2003-2007) and president, Scott Davidson reflects on his time with NYRA and the people he got to know during his time being active...

BY Scott Davidson
img

Jackie Ferro – 20th Anniversary Reflection

I first got involved with NYRA in 2009, when I was in 8th grade. I had formed a small coalition with some fellow middle schoolers called...

BY Jackie Ferro
img

NYRA-Fairfax Secures Voting Age Endorsements

Thanks to the efforts of the newly formed Fairfax County NYRA chapter, the Fairfax County Democratic Party and grassroots organizations Virginia Democracy Forward and Virginia Civic...

BY Brian Conner
img

NYRA Mourns Passing of John Taylor Gatto

Renowned critic of compulsory schooling, John Taylor Gatto passed away this week at the age of 82.  A teacher for 30 years, he achieved notoriety after...

BY Alex Koroknay-Palicz
img

Stefan Muller – 20th Anniversary Reflection

I joined NYRA in 2003 after reading about it in a news article about the voting age. This wasn’t my first introduction to youth rights—I’ve believed...

BY Stefan Muller
img

NYRA Launches New Website!

After months of hard work by NYRA's team of volunteers, we are pleased to finally unveil our brand new look! With a new logo, a new...

BY NYRA
img

Bill introduced in U.S. House to lower the voting age to sixteen

Last week, U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced a resolution proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would lower the voting age to sixteen throughout...

BY NYRA
View More
img

Support the New YouthRights.org!

NYRA's current website was redesigned in 2011 and while it looked great for the time, it is now dated in both style and function. The current...

BY NYRA
img

Portland Student Rights Union joins NYRA to address Student Rights

Members of Portland Student Rights Union - A NYRA Chapter We originally started the Portland Student Rights Union (SRU) in October 2017 to protest the administration...

BY Portland Student Rights Union
img

Scott Davidson – 20th Anniversary Reflection

Former board member (2003-2007) and president, Scott Davidson reflects on his time with NYRA and the people he got to know during his time being active...

BY Scott Davidson
img

Schwarzenegger v Gamers – Help Us Fight Back

Arnold is trying to take away your games. Don't let him. California passed a law that would ban the sale of all "violent" video games to...

BY Alex Koroknay-Palicz
img

Activists in Massachusetts Make Progress in Lowering the Voting Age

In Massachusetts, two best friends made headway in the push to lower the voting age. Aaron Nelson and Max Carr passed articles in their hometowns of...

BY NYRA
img

Over 70 people testify in favor of lowering the voting age in Washington D.C.

On Wednesday, NYRA members attended a public hearing before the Washington, D.C. City Council to support the Youth Vote Amendment Act of 2018. If passed, this...

BY NYRA
img

Alex Jonlin – 20th Anniversary Reflection

As a ten-year-old kid in Seattle, I was already interested in politics. My friends and I marched around the playground protesting the Iraq War, and I...

BY Alex Jonlin
img

Speaking out against curfew laws in Fort Worth, TX

NYRA Chapter leader Bryce Hall spoke out against extending the juvenile curfew law in his home town of Fort Worth, Texas last Tuesday. He and other...

BY NYRA
img

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, And Drags When You’re Young

When I talk to people about lowering the voting age to 16 or lowering the drinking age to 18 they often say “Why the rush? Two...

BY Alex Koroknay-Palicz
View More