From: Jake Beal <jakebeal@...>
Date: Sat May 14, 2005  5:43 pm
Subject: A Convention Report

jakebeal@...
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As long as I'm sitting by the side of the road here waiting for AAA, I
might as well get a report written up so everybody can know what
happened at the convention. By the way: Marty Martinez totally has me
& Abi's votes since he's the sort of person who'll pull off the road
to help you in your time of need (also Fred Berman, but he's not
running for anything :-).

Anyway... we found ourselves with an unexpected tough battle on our
hands today, as there were a number of odious changes to the party
charter that were proposed by the State Committee, hidden amongst the
innocuous ones. Some of us started talking about it this morning,
being concerned that everything would simply get voted in by people
who had no idea what was in there. Frankly, this took all of us
sleeping, despite the fact that some people had noticed it well in
advance, and next year we need to organize to deal with whatever new
bullshit the State Committee is going to throw at us. We lost the
battle today, but I think the party leadership looked really bad and
fascist, and I think a lot of people saw that clearly today.

We ended up targetting a few of the most odious amendments to the
party charter:
- Supermajority resolutions, making things like the scorecard much
harder to pass.
- The Vinnie Ciampa clause, allowing the party leadership to oppose an
unexpected winner like Carl in the general election.
- No Accountability clause, which frees the State Committee from
responsibility to obey resolutions at conventions, or even the party
charter.
- Secret meetings, barring the public from drafting meetings, along
with anything else the Committee feels like going to executive
session for.
- "We control Democratic" clause, requiring organizations calling
themselves "democratic" to be approved by the State Committee

First, a big thanks to all of the people who worked hard, at the drop
of a hat, and in the midst of great confusion. I felt really proud of
PDS today, and happy to be part of an organization capable of
mobilizing at the drop of a hat for something like this. It was also
really good to see all of the other people not affilited with us who
worked with us on this, and who I think we worked quite well with,
particularly the Cambridge folks and the DFA folks.


So here's what went down, play by play:

We spent a while this morning figuring out what our options in
opposing the odious amendments were, and got help from a lot of
experienced folks as well as sympathetic elected representatives.

Once we'd figured that out, we went to the Sargeant at Arms to submit
a Motion to Divide each of the odious amendments for separate
consideration. He took our motion into the closed back room for
discussion, and came back to tell us it was out of order. We kept
asking questions, and eventually we were ruled in order since they
couldn't confuse us into leaving, and Roberts Rules were on our side.

We then tried to find out when we could sign up to speak on the
amendment, and were told they didn't know, and that it would be
announced sometime. We'd brought about a dozen people down by this
time, all wanting to do something about the problem, and they were
getting edgy and kept telling us to clear out and return to our seats.
Eventually they told us it would be happening in "ten minutes" when
speeches stopped and the Chair called for people to sign up.

At this point, a contingent headed out to start creating a buzz and
getting other delegates riled up about the amendments, while some of
us remained down front waiting to sign up to discuss the amendment.
During lunch we discovered that they'd surreptitiously put out the
paper, and people started signing up to talk about particular
sections.

Finally, after all other convention "business" was completed, the
Chair brought up the charter amendments and then willfully
misinterpreted our motion, saying, "Jacob Beal has moved to divide the
amendment so every point is voted on separately, which will keep you
all here another two hours." and proceeded to ask if people wanted to
stay another two hours, which of course the delegates did not. Our
objections were not heard.

He then simply omitted debate and called the question, over our
objections. The voice vote was unclear, though he tried to call it
for the Ayes and was shouted down from the floor. The Chair then did
a most unusual voting procedure, when he had people stand up for Aye,
then stand up for Nay, ignoring the confusion, the people who were in
the aisles who he could count however he wanted, and the people
(including Somerville) who were up in the bleachers and invisible in
the poor lighting.

Brian Young, from Cambridge, had the microphone and called for a roll
call vote, which the chair summarily deemed unnecessary, reading out
selecting excerpts from the rules, then when pressed put it to a voice
vote and called it for the Ayes.

The convention hall was not happy with the Chair, by and large, and
there was a lot of loud booing, calls for change of leadership, and
general rowdiness and discontent --- and not just from us. They got
their changes passed, and prevented us from speaking formally, but I
think they ended up looking really bad to a lot of Massachusetts
Democrats.

Thanks,
-Jake