OptOut is holding it first-ever public event next month! On Feb. 27, we are hosting a 2023 kickoff party and fundraiser in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We hope to meet you there! Please RSVP if you're planning to come, and share this with anyone who'd be interested!

OptOut News 2023 Kickoff and Fundraiser
Help the OptOut Media Foundation kick off its third year in Brooklyn!
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Good morning and happy love day! Here are some examples of love languages that you might practice:

  • donating to independent news organizations
  • donating to platforms that feature said organizations
  • for god’s sake, waiting for people to exit the subway before you get on
  • not booing the president when he’s delivering a speech
  • donating (here)

Big things are brewing in this big city. Dr. Yusef Salaam, one of the victims of Central Park Five, is running for City Council. This is the ultimate revenge story, and Salaam—and his supporters—are ready for it.

In a poignant statement on his campaign website, Salaam reflected on his journey and the future hope he is bringing to his constituency.

“What I faced may have been an extreme example, but there are countless young men in Harlem who have never been given an uplifting hand,” he wrote in his campaign note.

“I’ve focused on being better for my experiences, not bitter. Stretching out my hand in partnership, to offer hope not despair,” he added. “And now more than ever, I believe Harlem requires that type of leadership—leadership that is of and for the people.”

Are you a journalist who covers NYC or New York? If so, apply to join our forthcoming Discord chat community, where you can network with other journalists, discuss solutions for problems in the industry, share your work, and lots more.

What does 12 divided by 89 equal? Immunity for police misconduct. An investigation by THE CITY reveals that only 12 officers out of 89 who were charged with police misconduct during the 2020 George Floyd protests have faced consequences for their actions.

We’re not even talking discipline discipline; their version of it is docking 10-15 days of vacation. Even toddlers get more than that if they refuse mashed broccoli.

Not all the other officers are in the same place, however. Some were spared by virtue of their resignation or retirement, and some are still in the process of the internal disciplinary process.

Just a Dozen of 89 NYPD Officers Responsible for Serious Misconduct During 2020 BLM Protests Have Been Disciplined
Report from Civilian Complaint Review Board sums up consequences of 321 investigations, many for improper use of force.
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Gov. Kathy Hochul has a new plan to improve housing in New York: building homes near train stations in an effort to bolster community engagement, safety net for families, and job security for both employees and employers. Her proposal targets the building of 800,000 homes over the next decade.

Housing advocates have lauded the proposal, as have climate activists, who believe that this is a “transit-oriented development” wherein the proximity of one’s home to their job would reduce dependence on cars.

NEW YORK FOCUS tells us more:

Hochul Wants to Build Hundreds of Thousands of Homes Near Transit
The governor’s proposal to increase density near train stations has gotten a mixed reception from suburban legislators. They killed a similar plan last year.
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A conservative City Council member’s anti-abortion views are deeply affecting immigrant women in New York City. Vickie Paladino, who represents Queens, donated $10,000 worth of City Council discretionary funds to an anti-abortion clinic in Queens.

“Crisis pregnancy centers tend to target low-income people, immigrants, and non-native speakers; people who are attracted to a place that is offering free services,” Aviva Zadoff of the National Council of Jewish Women New York told DOCUMENTED NY.

“They do a good job trying to look and sound like a real clinic so if you are not someone who’s super familiar with our healthcare system and not familiar in English, something that is purposely trying to fool you will be more successful,” she added.

The report acutely highlights the intersection of language, politics, immigrant communities, gender, and health. Give it a read:

City Council Member Funnels Taxpayer Dollars to Anti-Abortion Clinic - Documented
City Council member Vickie Paladino gave $10,000 of City Council discretionary funds to a Queens anti-abortion clinic which advocates say puts immigrant women in danger
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It’s tax season! Or maybe not yet? I can never tell at which point we go from winter or early spring bliss to the looming dread of tax season. It creeps up on you real fast:

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This might make it slightly bearable—our neighbor Connecticut is doing something right when it comes to taxes and the state’s low-income population. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has proposed an income tax cut for those earning between $46,500 and $64,000, a plan that would reduce income tax by $211 for each adult in a household, impacting the lives of 211,000 families.

CT MIRROR has the story:

Lamont unveils $45M tax cut for CT’s working poor
The expanded earned income tax credit would save families about $211 per year on average and make CT’s EITC rate among the highest.
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LISTEN: Remembering a COVID-19 victim

“It’s like putting a memory on to a piece of paper.” These haunting words are from Maddie about her father, Joseph Trevor Fletcher, an MTA worker who died at the age of 60 in April 2020 after he fell sick from COVID-19.

Paintings, lego sets, that snorkeling story—these are how the Fletcher family remembers him. The pandemic took so many lives that too often the statistics were the feature, not the stories of those who experienced that loss. This conversation with the Fletcher family is a window into the lives they have led and how they continue to mourn and honor him three years on.

If there’s one story you listen to this week, let it be this from FAQ NYC:

LISTEN: The Fletcher Family on Remembering the Husband and Father They Lost to COVID
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Our Black History Month highlight

A throwback to an analysis reiterating the importance of the right to vote, with a focus on how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice reverberates around this particular issue.

The essay, written by New York state lawmakers Latrice Walker, Zellnor Myrie, Julia Salazar, and Harvey Epstein, concerns Dr. King’s poignant note about how voting access for African Americans, who are disproportionately represented in America’s prison population, is inseparable from the civil rights of all Americans.

Walker & co. agree.

“Amending the New York State Constitution to rid New York of this denial of human rights is the right thing to do,” they wrote in the January essay honoring MLK.

All New Yorkers will benefit from increased opportunities for civic and political engagement by all of our citizens. And encouraging such engagement will assist people in planning for re-entry into their communities post-incarceration and will make our neighborhoods safer.

Read it in THE APPEAL if you haven’t already:

To Honor MLK, Let New Yorkers in Prison Vote
Four lawmakers explain why they introduced legislation to finally end felony disenfranchisement in New York.
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It feels like every time I sit down to write to you, there’s new grief for us to count and grapple with. It is unrelenting, but it is also a time for us to reflect on and reach out to our community, our neighbors, and those who are directly impacted in a crisis. The horrific earthquake in Turkey and Syria has already claimed more than 30,000 lives; closer to home, we are learning about New Yorkers caught in the catastrophe.

As we wrap up, let's take a minute to remember the names of a Queens family who died:

Burak Firik, 35 🕊️ Kimberly Marilyn Firik, 32 🕊️ Hamza, 2 🕊️ Bilal, 1 🕊️

…and names all the unknown names lost in the rubble 🕊️

The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.

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