Tuesday, May 17, 2005

You Got Some 'Splainin to do

We had a good meeting last night. In addition to Kate
Donaghue, we also had Chad Radock, who is our State
Committee Representative. Kate and Chad gave
presentations about how the state committee can help
us grow our town committee and then they opened the
floor for questions.

We kept the comments respectful, but we did get across
our position that the convention experience was not as
democratic as we would have liked and that we were
unhappy that the party seemed to be squeezing the
grassroots out of having a real voice in the party.

Kate told us that we could put forward a motion to
have our State Committee Rep. (Chad) present our
concerns to the State Committee at the next meeting in
Pittsfield. Naturally, that motion passed

Personally, I don't think it will have much effect,
and Kate herself said that these types of situations
have never been successfully challenged.

However, I do think that town committees or Democracy for America
or Progressive Democrats of MA or whomever should speak out, just on principle.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

2005 MA State Convention

The Convention was quite an experience. It was
disorganized, exciting, overwhelming, and ultimately,
somewhat disappointing. This is not meant to be a
rant, just some observations from a fellow party
member. I'll start off in-order.

I know by reading the Mass Dems Blog
that the party was having trouble getting all the credentials and platform information out to the delegates. Members of
my own delegation did not receive all of their credentials in time and unfortunately were unable to attend the convention.

My delegation caravanned up to Lowell for the convention. We wanted to arrive early in order to attend the Delegate Breakfast hosted by Senator Ted Kennedy and the AFL-CIO. Again, it was somewhat disorganized. First there was only decaf coffee, but no regular coffee and no milk. It was basically a continental breakfast. I was hoping for pancakes. :-)

There was a parade of speakers, too many to list. Most of the candidates for state-wide offices were there and spoke for a few minutes. One of the highlights for me was Senator Ted Kennedy, who still has that great fire-in-the-belly speaking style. He is such a strong advocate for labor rights, human
rights, health care and working families.

The other highlight for me, was DNC Chairman Howard Dean. You could just feel the energy serge under the tent when he arrived. He also speaks with a fiery passion. He understands that the grassroots folks like us in our town committees are going to drive this party forward.

When the breakfast was over, our group walked over to Tsongas
Arena for the convention. We assembled in the arena according to our senate districts. We sat in the Worcester and Middlesex section.

We met our State Party Representative Chad Radock from Leominster. Even though our entire delegation did not attend, Townsend still had more representation at the convention than some of the larger cities and towns like Leominster. I'm not positive of the number, but I believe only two of their delegates attended. Chad was very impressed with the turnout of our delegation.

We heard again from the candidates for state-wide offices. Ted Kennedy gave the keynote speech. Howard Dean spoke again. Former Governor Michael Dukakis spoke also. We also heard
from various State Committee members. This went on for quite some time. Eventually we got down to the business of the platform.

I'm not sure if business is the right word. Various party member came up to the podium and read out sections of the platform. There wasn't anything close to what could be called a discussion. When this was done, the platform as a whole was put forward for a voice vote. The platform was accepted and then there was a motion to accept the platform amendments as a

This procedure was not a surprise to us because when
our delegation attended the last M&W Coalition
meeting, Kate Donaghue told us that this was likely to
occur, even though there were amendments that her own
Field Services committee had voted to reject.

My delegation planned to vote no on having the
platform amendments accepted as a whole. We wanted to
have each amendment voted on separately - it didn't
seem like such a big deal. There were only 14
amendments. Most of which were very small and would
have been discussed quickly. The chair asked for a
vote. What happened next is somewhat in dispute. I
believe that initially most delegates voted against
having the amendments accepted as a whole. However,
the chair thought that most people had voted in favor
of pushing though the amendments.

Then some brave soul came forward and asked for a roll
call vote, but the chair said that was against the
rules. The chair also mentioned that if we voted to
hear each amendment separately, that it would take
more than 2 hours. After endless hours of speeches,
it's no surprise that folks voted to vote on the
amendments as a whole, which they did, but here's what
gets me. The chair asked for aye votes and then said
the ayes have it. He didn't ask for the opposition
voice vote. It was bizarre, and frankly
disappointing. I'm still trying to get my head
wrapped around the whole experience.

On a positive note, it was very nice to see people at
the convention that I have met from other groups that
I am active in and through my association with my
town committee. Politics are a strange business.
However, I am a firm believer that the system works
best when people get involved. That is the only way
we can make our voices heard. In Howard Dean we have
a national chairman who understands this, and I think
on the state level we need to put someone in office
who understands this as well.