NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Volume 5, Issue 5

May 7, 2005


NYRA Election and General Meeting Scheduled
NYRAthon 2005 – $$$
The Battle for Berkeley-Voting Age
Bill Aimed at Regulating Gulag Schools
Vermont Drinking Age Update
NYRA Wrist Bands – $$$
News from the Web


April was another good month for the Youth Rights movement. NYRA has more money under its name than ever before. A victory as sweet as the Vermont drinking age campaign would have seemed far fetched only a few years ago. The struggle for a lower voting age in Berkeley is moving along promisingly. Over a dozen qualified individuals have announced they will run for the NYRA board of directors, insuring competent leadership in the coming year.

NYRA Election and General Meeting Scheduled

Each year, NYRA members vote for nine candidates to serve on the Board of Directors. The board is NYRA’s highest governing body, and this annual election is of the utmost importance. Anyone is welcome to vote in the election or run for the board, so long as they have paid their membership dues. If you have not paid your dues, it is only ten dollars and you are strongly encouraged to do so. This year the election will begin on July 6th and end on August 6th. Several people have already announced their intention to run for the board. More are expected to announce their candidacy in the coming weeks.

Since NYRA has grown so much over the past year and so many new members are taking an active role in the organization, this election will be the most competitive in NYRA’s history. A lot of election discussion is already taking place on the NYRA web forums, which members are always urged to visit. The election will culminate on August 6th, with a general meeting in New York City. Many youth rights activists from New York, Vermont, D.C., and elsewhere are expected to attend. The general meeting is always a fun event. Alex Koroknay-Palicz will read the annual report and announce the election results. This meeting is a great opportunity to meet other NYRA members face to face. Housing may be provided to members traveling great distances. More details will be posted when they become available.

NYRAthon 2005

There is just under a month left until the end of NYRAthon 2005, NYRA’s first biannual fundraiser. The fundraising contest has been an overwhelming success thus far. NYRA estimates the contest has already brought in around $2,000, and it will end until June 1st. The Berkeley chapter held a silent auction that brought in a significant amount of money. NYRA-Vermont sponsored a dinner to raise money for the organization. “I Don’t Know,” a band from Rochester New York, organized a benefit concert that brought in over three hundred dollars. NYRA-DC, NYRA-NYC, and NYRA-Olympia have also made sizeable donations. The chapter that raises the most money by June 1st will be awarded a prize.

Significant contributions have also come in from individuals, including Marcus Berry, who secured the donation of three cars. NYRA intends to have the cars fixed up and sold. Car donations may soon become a very significant fundraising source for NYRA. A few other members have made contributions of well over one hundred dollars. Remember, various prizes will be awarded to individuals according to how much money they raise, so it is important that you send in your donations before June 1st. A lot of people have donated generous amounts of money, but thus far no one is so far ahead that they can not be easily surpassed. It is still anyone’s contest. This kind of aggressive fundraising is necessary if NYRA is ever to expand and grow as we hope it will. It is great to see people donating money on such an unprecedented level.

Send all donations to this address: NYRA, PO Box 5882 NW, Washington, DC 20016

Berkeley Voting Age Update

NYRA-Berkeley is continuing its drive to lower the voting age. Ever since the voting age bill was defeated in the state legislature, the chapter has focused its efforts on lowering the voting age in the city of Berkeley. The city of Berkeley is regarded as very progressive, which increases the chance that the proposal will go through. If it does, Berkeley will have the lowest voting age of any city in the United States, and it will be largely thanks to NYRA. It will generate a lot of media attention, and the issue will be thrust to the forefront of the American political discourse.

NYRA-Berkeley’s proposal to lower the voting age to sixteen was approved by the Berkeley Youth Commission by an astounding 10-1 margin, with one abstention. NYRA Vice President Robert Reynolds, NYRA-Berkeley Treasurer Rio Bauce, NYRA-Berkeley Vice President Pamela Tatz, and other NYRA-Berkeley members were largely responsible for this victory. The Youth Commission has made two recommendations to the Berkeley City Council. The City Council is being urged to support local choice in California. Local choice will allow cities and counties to lower their voting ages if they so choose. The Youth Commission also recommended that an amendment to the city charter to lower the voting age be put on the ballot.

Robert Reynolds is optimistic about the May 24th city council meeting, where the possibility of lowering the city’s voting age will be discussed. NYRA-Berkeley reports that three city council members are firmly behind the effort, and that Mayor Tom Bates may support it as well. NYRA-Berkeley will be meeting with other council members to rally support. This is another great victory for our Berkeley Chapter and young people throughout the country. Special thanks to council members Darryl Moore, Kriss Worthington, and Max Anderson, and to the Berkeley Youth Commission for throwing their support behind this campaign. The chapter has already created a stir in the local press, and if you think you can help generate media attention please email Robert Reynolds.

Bill Aimed at Regulating Gulag Schools

The behavior modification industry is a hidden epidemic. The youth rights movement has long recognized the atrocities being committed “behavior modification schools,” more commonly referred to as gulag schools. The NYRA Board of Directors passed a position paper criticizing the behavior modification industry earlier this year.

The World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools is perhaps the supreme culprit. WWASPS runs several “schools” throughout the country and abroad. The abusive at Ivy Ridge, a WWASPS affiliate in upstate New York, is beginning to come in to focus. Several sources report students routinely being punched, thrown to the ground, or forced to sit in painful positions for several hours. Inadequate food and medical care is also a concern. One former student has said, “…90-95% (of students) would rather have been in jail. At least you can read newspapers or see your family…” This is all standard operation procedure at behavior modification schools, which constitute a $5 billion dollar industry. Ivy Ridge is by no means the most notorious WWASPS affiliate.

Representative George Miller of California, the ranking democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, recently proposed HR 1738, The End Institutional Abuse Against Children Act. This bill will provide funding to states to promote licensing, ensure that these programs are monitored, and establish federal penalties for child abuse in residential treatment programs. It will also take measures to protect young people in overseas facilities run by U.S. companies. Representative Miller was inspired to propose this legislation after his appeals to the Justice Department fell on deaf ears.

The bill has received support from several other members of Congress. NYRA members are urged to write letters to their Congressmen on this important issue. If this bill passes, it will be a great hindrance to the sadists who run many of these schools, and it will do a great service to America’s youth. Visit NYRA’s web forums for more information.

Vermont Drinking Age Update

NYRA’s Vermont Chapter, along with a horde of youth rights activists from other states, have played a key role in rallying support for a drinking age bill in Vermont. If it passes, the bill will lower Vermont’s drinking age from twenty one to eighteen. In the last issue we covered this campaign extensively, but a few major developments have taken place since then.

A few days after the successful drinking age at the state house, NYRA President Alex Koroknay-Palicz delivered a speech at a meeting of the Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, a group with ties to the youth rights movement. The speech went over well, and Alex generated more interest in the issue. The Vermont Chapter and their visiting supporters also continued to speak with students, and by and large they met with continued success.

Perhaps most importantly, an article appeared in the New York Times that addressed the issue and quoted Alex Koroknay-Palicz. Alex was supposed to have appeared on the Early Show not long afterward, but the appearance was cancelled. The Times article led to a surge in coverage. Unfortunately, Alex and the other visiting NYRA officials had left by the time media coverage reached its peak. But Representative Dick Marron appeared in several important media outlets, including CNN and a staggering number of radio stations. By all accounts he made a good case for lowering the drinking age.

In response to all this, MADD began to organize opposition to the bill. The ageist group encouraged their members to write local politicians and oppose any effort to lower the drinking age. In turn, NYRA-Vermont set up a system whereby members can simply enter their information in to the chapter’s website and automatically write local representatives. The Vermont drinking age campaign will go down as one of NYRA’s most impressive victories, regardless of its final outcome. Visit oneandfour.org for more in depth coverage.

NYRA Wristbands

Ever since Lance Armstrong popularized the “Livestrong” bands to raise cancer awareness, the wrist band has become a popular means of showing support for a particular cause. NYRA members in Berkeley and Olympia realized that selling these bands would be very lucrative, and it would help get the word out about NYRA and youth rights.

After extensive discussion and debate, it was agreed that the bands would be a light blue color and read “Youth Rights.” NYRA’s national office put up over $850 for the purchase of 1,000 wrist bands. This is the largest purchase in NYRA’s history, and some chapters have agreed to partially reimburse the national office. If you would like to purchase a wrist band, email us. The wrist bands may soon be made available on the website.

News From the Web

Berkeley teens take vote fight to council
Demands to lower voting age to 16 in UK
Berkeley Teenagers Urge City Officials to Lower Voting Age
Tarentum police enforce curfews
Youth Deserve a Voice
Transferring teen clout to the voting booth
Give youth a voting voice
New York Times Drinking Age Article


As you can see, NYRA has been growing both in size and stature over the past two months. Never before have we had the capacity to embark on two simultanious large scale campaigns as we are doing now. If this continues NYRA may soon become a large organization with a full time staff. A force to be reckoned with.

This summer I would like to expand the scope of the newsletter. If anyone has experience with layout, or if you have any thing you want published in this news letter, please send me an email.