NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Scott Davidson and Adam King

Volume 5, Issue 12

December 3, 2005


Alex Koroknay-Palicz attends drug policy conference
NYRA gains technical support
Koroknay-Palicz attends Kennedy Memorial
Hold house parties for NYRA, Board suggests
NYRA Board of Directors passes new chapter policy
Chapter News
–NYRA Chapter Meeting
Feature: Freedom increases in size
News From the Web


by Scott Davidson

The youth rights movement has had another successful month. The national office continues to work on obtaining grants and creating chapters. At the local level, youth rights activists are achieving tangible success in their struggles against various manifestations of ageism. Though things are going well, it is important that members continue to donate, especially until we start receiving some grants.

For the past three years, this publication has been comprised almost entirely of my writing. I am pleased to announce that Adam King, my friend and colleague, has joined NYRA Freedom, and contributed significantly to this issue. Adam and I will be accepting submissions, 400 words or less, for publication in future issues of NYRA Freedom. If you are interested, please email Scott.

Alex Koroknay-Palicz attends drug policy conference

by Scott Davidson

Alex Koroknay-Palicz, NYRA’s Executive Director, recently attended a conference in Long Beach, Cali., organized by the Drug Policy Alliance. The conference attracted many leaders in the drug policy reform movement, including Scarlett Swerdlow, formerly of NYRA’s Board of Directors, and former Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Cali.), who sponsored an important voting age bill in California.

Koroknay-Palicz had many opportunities to network with other activists. He attended two fundraising workshops, and he received tips from individuals who run large non-profits. From the time he boarded the plane until the end of the conference, Koroknay-Palicz was meeting with influential people who could potentially become staunch allies and even lead NYRA to new sources of funding.

Perhaps most importantly, Koroknay-Palicz had an opportunity to lead a panel discussion. The discussion dealt with the drinking age and how parents should talk about drugs with their sons and daughters. The panel was a resounding success, and many of those who participated found themselves in agreement with NYRA’s Executive Director. Ira Glasser, former Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, was one of those who agreed with Koroknay-Palicz’s arguments.

The generous people at Common Sense for Drug Policy agreed to pay Koroknay-Palicz’s way to the conference. Special thanks to Common Sense for Drug Policy and the DPA for organizing the event.

NYRA gains technical support

by Adam King

NYRA members may begin to notice changes on the website and on the forums. In mid-November, James (Jim) Pleger joined the developers at NYRA to enhance the site. With the additional help, NYRA will become more integrated and user-friendly.

Pleger is currently studying Computer Information Systems (CIS) at a local college in Phoenix, Ariz. While attending school and working with NYRA, he is also employed at GoDaddy.com. “Youth rights are a huge thing to me, and I think that they are way too important to not have them,” Pleger said.

“We had many other pieces to our tech puzzle with design people, other tech skilled staff,” Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz said, “We just needed that one last person to complete it. I am very pleased to have Jim with us now.”

Koroknay-Palicz attends Kennedy Memorial

by Adam King

Alex Koroknay-Palicz, NYRA’s Executive Director, attended a memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy.

On Nov. 16, Koroknay-Palicz went to events held at the Capitol Building in memory of Kennedy. Koroknay-Palicz hoped to network with important people and spread the news about NYRA.

Koroknay-Palicz tried to talk with representatives from organizations, relatives of Kennedy and a reporter from CNN. According to Koroknay-Palicz, his attempts at networking did not go well. “I’m not so good at networking or talking to people I don’t know on semi-social situations,” he said. “I’ve always got good intentions though.”

At an awards ceremony for people carrying on the legacy of Kennedy, approximately 500 attended. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), CEOs of companies and organizations and other public figures were among those present.

“It’s significant that we got invited to such an important gathering,” Koroknay-Palicz said. “It’s a sign we are moving up in the world.”

Portions of the memorial, however, were marked by overt ageism. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) gave a speech in which he attempted to align the values of Robert Kennedy with V Chips, curfews and school uniforms. Koroknay-Palicz raised his objections to Emanuel’s speech, but the audience seemed partial to Emanuel’s view.

Koroknay-Palicz has written a blog entry about the event at www.oneandfour.org. NYRA leaders have already begun to write Emanuel regarding his speech, and all NYRA members are encouraged to do the same. Emanuel is the Chairman of The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It is important that he knows the Democratic Party will not attract young voters by advocating youth curfews and school uniforms,” Koroknay-Palicz said.

Hold house parties for NYRA, Board suggests

by Adam King

At the last meeting conducted by NYRA’s Board of Directors, an idea for members to host house parties was suggested. Board Director Keith Mandell is coordinating the national effort. Mandell hopes the money generated from holding house parties will “take NYRA to the next level as a major civil rights organization.”

During the month of December, members are urged to gather with their friends, co-workers, peers or family to make this effort a success. In order to raise money, members should ask for a donation from their guests. There are several ways to make the parties fun: Play video games, watch movies, listen to movies or do whatever else you please.

The parties do not necessarily have to be at a house. They can be held in a restaurant, outside or any place available.

In addition, members can visit with the owners of local businesses or write to them explaining what NYRA does. When asking for money, members should inform the owners that NYRA is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The donations to NYRA will be tax-deductible. With the donations from local retailers, members can then hold a raffle or silent auction at their party.

The parties can be large or small. If there are only five people who can come, invite them, Mandell says.

“December is NYRA House Party month for two reasons,” Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz says. “First, it is a great time to hold a party and get lots of people to attend. Second, NYRA is trying to raise money to ensure a successful 2006.

“We need to raise at least a $1,000 to make sure that we will have adequate funds to pay our Executive Director into next year and to engage in numerous specific civil rights activities…”

For information on how to hold a silent auction or receipts for donations, contact Koroknay-Palicz.

For general information or to request support, contact Mandell

NYRA Board of Directors passes new chapter policy

by Scott Davidson

The Board of Directors recently passed a resolution that will add certain rules to the bylaws governing the creation and operation of NYRA’s chapters. The new bylaws will remain in effect until the general election this summer, when they must be approved by an affirmative two-thirds vote of the membership. Until now, NYRA has had no official chapter policy. NYRA’s leaders feel that the new policy will make it much easier to deal with issues regarding the relationship between NYRA’s chapters and the national office.

The policy was written by the bylaws committee, which consists of Alex Koroknay-Palicz, Chris Howell and Scott Davidson, along with Keith Mandell, NYRA’s chapter development coordinator. The Board was overwhelmingly in favor of the new policy. Davidson was the only director who voted against it, despite having a hand in writing it.

He has been calling for the Board to adopt a chapter policy since last year. “This is a good proposal, but it does not ensure that chapters will adopt all of our position papers,” Davidson said. “We should be willing to sacrifice a few potential chapters in order to retain our ideological purity.”

Koroknay-Palicz shared Davidson’s concerns, but he did not vote against the new policy.

The policy requires chapters to

*include “National Youth Rights Association” in their name;
*have a minimum of five charter members;
*pay a $30 charter fee; and
*be approved by the Executive Director. The policy also details that chapter status will be revoked in the following situations:

*If any chapter openly contradicts a NYRA position;
*If they are known to discriminate; or
*If they fail to address corruption.

It also defines chapters as separate legal entities that do not fall under the incorporation of the national office.

The second half of the policy addresses the issue of state chapters. It sets specific requirements for the creation of state chapters, and it places limitations on what they can and cannot do. The policy only applies to future state chapters, so NYRA-Vermont will not be affected by the resolution.

Every Board Director agrees that the creation of new chapters is vital to NYRA’s success. The national office functions as a coordinating body, but it is up to the chapters to lead campaigns, change laws and show initiative.

“The new chapter rules will clear up some confusion we’ve had in the past and better enable a smooth-running grassroots organization,” Koroknay-Palicz said.

The complete chapter policy may be found on the website here: http://www.youthrights.org/forums/showpost.php?p=118434&postcount=1

Chapter News

WAYVRS obtains $500 grant

by Scott Davidson

The Washington Youth Voting Rights Society (WAYVRS) recently received a $500 grant from Mix-it-Up. WAYVRS has strong ties to NYRA, and for a time they were a chapter. WAYVRS has done important work on a bill to lower the voting age in the state of Washington. NYRA would like to extend its gratitude to Mix-it-Up for their generous contribution to the movement.


by Scott Davidson

On Dec. 13, members of NYRA Berkeley will debate two people from the Junior Statesman of America. The debate will concern NYRA Berkeley’s efforts to lower the voting age to seventeen for school board elections.

The chapter is also planning to meet with members of Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Oakland) staff to discuss a possible effort to lower the voting age at the federal level. NYRA-Berkeley Chairman Rio Bauce met Lee at a party, and she said she supported the idea of a lower voting age. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has publicly supported the idea of lowering the voting age, and NYRA Orange County chapter has had some success lobbying for a lower voting age at the federal level.


by Adam King

The membership of NYRA Gainesville, Fla., has decided to take a 2.5 month hiatus. They will resume normal operation on or after Jan. 2, 2006.

NYRA Chapter Meeting

by Scott Davidson

NYRA’s office of chapter formation will hold a meeting on Dec. 18, at 8 p.m. Eastern, in the AIM chatroom “NYRA.” Send an Instant Message to “teenvote” that night if you wish to be invited. All official chapters are required to send a representative to the meeting.

Staff Changes

by Adam King

In mid-November, Rio Bauce resigned from his position of West Region Captain of Chapter Formation. Tina Phillips was hired to take his place.

Phillips may be contacted by e-mail.

Staff Needed

by Adam King

The North, Midwest and Central regions of NYRA are in need of a chapter formation captain. Keith Mandell is responsible for chapter coordination, and he said that a captain for the North is the most needed due to an influx of recent chapter activity. Chapter formation captains are responsible for handling new chapters, assisting official chapters and fundraising within their region.

To apply or for more information, contact Mandell

Feature: Freedom increases in size

by Adam King

Seeing as how I am joining the NYRA Freedom newsletter staff this month, I believe that an introduction is in order.

I have been working closely with NYRA since the beginning of 2005. In March, I became the Assistant South Region Captain, and in July, I acquired the job of South Region Captain. In the time since I have joined, I have performed various tasks for the administration and for the Board of Directors. In addition, I am currently serving as the chair of NYRA’s High School Policy Committee.

By joining the Freedom, I hope to bring my knowledge of journalism and my experience with youth rights to the readers of this publication.

To contact me, email me.

News From the Web

Compiled by Scott Davidson

Student Suspended for Hair

Kids not so suicidal after all

Lawmaker: Lower Drinking Age For Troops

Paterson curfew idea flies with voters

Sony PlayStation to Get Parental Controls

Paterson voters to decide on curfew; not all happy with idea

Youth Found Competent to Make Medical Decisions

At Some Youth ‘Treatment’ Facilities, ‘Tough Love’ Takes Brutal Forms

Young Voters Led Surge in 2004 Election


by Adam King

It is hard to believe that the calendar year is coming to a close once again. I have been involved with NYRA for almost a year, and I have witnessed a lot of changes and successes. During this year alone, NYRA has gained chapter formation captains, increased the number of chapters, hired Alex Koroknay-Palicz as its full-time Executive Director and has done much more. With every month that goes by, NYRA gets better and better. During this past month, NYRA has been recognized by other organizations and important people. This allowed Alex to attend a conference on the West Coast and to attend a memorial for Kennedy. I hope that during this month of various holidays and celebrations, you will keep NYRA in your mind. Remember to donate money or to work on other important tasks that NYRA greatly appreciates.