Politics Gets a New Face at Local 802

Volume CVIII, No. 7/8July, 2008

Paul Molloy

Someone once said that success is about how well you deal with plan B. After 21 years of earning a living as a musician (and sometimes not), I set out on two different career paths: politics and teaching. 

I’d been active in Democratic politics in Brookhaven Township on Long Island since 2000 and I wanted a challenge. So last summer I became a campaign manager for a first-time judicial candidate. In January, I was hired to serve as Suffolk County Regional Coordinator for one of the Democratic presidential candidates. Additionally, since I’d taught intermittently over the years, I got a job as a substitute teacher at my son’s grade school. 

My judicial candidate won, becoming the first Democrat to sit on the bench in Brookhaven’s 6th District Court in over 30 years (and the first woman Democrat ever to be elected to that post). The presidential candidate I worked for was about tied with the other Democratic candidate after Super Tuesday. And teaching? I loved every moment. It was a great privilege to tap into my students’ natural curiosity and further instill a love of learning. 

Those endeavors were fulfilling but they weren’t paying the bills. Finding no steady, well-paying work on Long Island, I worried if I’d ever find a job that would make use of my love of politics, education, and music.

To make a long story slightly less long, I was hired as Local 802’s new political action and public relations director in May.

Among other things, I am creating Local 802’s political action infrastructure. While much attention is focused on the presidential race, it’s important to know that currently there is pro-musician legislation at the local, state and federal levels. If all proposals are signed into law, the result will provide tremendous work opportunities and protections for our members. 

At the local level, there is a resolution to establish a tax credit for small venues that promote live music. Additionally, there is proposed legislation to give tax credits to film companies who do their post-production work (i.e. film scoring, among other things) in New York City. This tax credit complements an existing proposal in Albany to create a 30 percent post-production film tax credit. In Washington, there is the Performance Rights Act, which requires radio station owners to fairly compensate musicians when their work is broadcast on the air. 

However, these bills and resolutions won’t pass by themselves. That’s where all of you come in. By now many of you have heard from me, asking you to play a part in securing the future of live music and of those who create it.

My goal is to teach all who are willing (and after those nine people, everyone else too!) the benefits and simplicity of citizen lobbying.

It starts with this: We hire our elected officials. We pay their salaries. And if they don’t do their jobs properly, we can fire them.

I often hear “But I’m not political!” Well, if you’ve ever hustled for work, held a long-standing gig, worked as a sub, or dealt with contractors, regular players, conductors, bandleaders, section leaders or producers, you’re political.

Decisions are made by those who show up. You see something you don’t like or don’t understand? Get informed and get involved. Anthropologist Margaret Mead said it best: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

Paul Molloy can be reached at or (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.