By Chris Horton
Many of us have experienced the Democratic Convention petition/resolution process as humiliating, degrading and fruitless. It requires a huge effort, a considerable expense, and it is increasingly handled by the leadership in a dismissive manner.
This year the resolutions were shoved to the end, when a large proportion of the people had left or were in the process of leaving. The copies we prepared at considerable expense were left undistributed, the resolutions were flashed on a screen too quickly for delegates to even read and digest them, no one was allowed even a few minutes to explain them, and a voice vote was called before delegates who weren’t invested in them even knew what was happening. And then several resolutions which were arbitrarily chosen for last were cut off by a ruling from the Chair that there was no longer a quorum – although there probably wasn’t a quorum when we started!
This contemptuous procedure reflects and reenforces the increasingly open conversation from the top of the State Party that resolutions – and even our Party Platform – are meaningless – that the voice of the members doesn’t matter to them.
The Party lost another chance to generate some excitement when Grace Ross was denied a chance to speak to the Convention. Ross’ ballot quest failed to collect sufficient signatures – in no small part due to pressure from a joint Patrick/Murray campaign of doubtful legality – but she had weighed in at an astonishing 27% in the May 12 Rasmussen Poll of 500 likely voters in a three-way matchup with Baker and Cahill. She could have brought the delegates to their feet shouting, cheering and stamping. With some serious negotiations this could have been channeled into support for the Democratic Party Ticket.
This is energy the Party badly needed, but whether from fear, contempt or class prejudice, the opportunity was tossed away.
The fruit of all this is a Party that is in danger of shriveling into a spiritless association of officeholders, functionaries and their supporters. A Party that has lost its power to rally the people to confront the grave crisis we find ourselves in. A Party in short that has lost its way.
What it will take to reverse this is for the regular people whom the Party used to include and represent to crash the gate – perhaps by writing in Grace Ross for Governor on Sept. 14!
The alternative I fear is that the regular people, the voters, will tear our proud Party down – as they showed their inclination to do on Jan 19 – leaving us to pick up the pieces and start over under the nasty and hostile conditions of the non-union low-wage fear-dominated lawless Red State that Massachusetts is in imminent danger of becoming.
By Bijan Afshartous
Any one who has submitted a resolution to a mass democratic convention knows that it is not a pleasant experience. It is a race against time to get the minimum 50 signatures needed to put it on the agenda. On Saturday there is about three hours to do it. To get the signatures one has to interrupt the delegates while they are listening to speeches. Many times their response is “I am all set”, meaning go away.
You are allowed to collect signatures on Friday, the day before the convention, but this is not publicized. That is not the only problem, the number of hard copies required is huge. In 2008 was 3,000 hard copies, in 2010 has increased to 5,000. there are two big problems with these number of hard copies:
1. The cost, at staples 5,000 copies costs $470, at print shops could be much
less, but still a significant amount.
2. It is very difficult to distribute so many copies if not impossible.
3. Five thousand hard copies fit in more than one heavy box, just taking them to
the convention and moving them around can be a challenge. If a person
uses public transportation, then dealing with heavy boxes becomes even
I don’t think it is even necessary for me to describe the advantages of an on-line system. Delegates before coming to the convention can read them, and even decide to sign them on-line or not. Since the convention is so short, this will be a great time saver.
One argument against an on-line system was that not every delegate has a computer. That may be so, but almost all public libraries have access to Internet, and the reference librarians can show the delegate how to use he on-line system.
Another so called “Obstacle” to on-line system is that the rules specify that before a resolution can be discussed in the convention every delegate should have a hard copy in his/her hand. Obviously to set up an on-line system this rules needs to be changed.
Here are several questions for the experts:
1. Why hard copy system despite its draw backs should remain in place?
2. If consensus is to set up an on-line system, how should it be done?
a. Does it require charter amendment?
b. Do we have to wait until 2011 convention to rule on this?
In 2008 a petition was submitted to the Mass Democratic Convention rules committee to set up an on -line system. The response was it has merits, it is easy to set up, but now in 2010 still has not been implemented.
Setting up an on-line system is no brainer. If we have to wait until 2011 convention, I can tell you what is going to happen. Let say in 2011, convention approves it, well by that time, it would be too late for 2011. When it get to 2012, may not be ready then either, why? we had a lot of other more important things to deal with, gosh we just forgot about it, we will set it up by 2013. Before we know it it will be our grand children who may have to deal with it.
In 2008, I spent $504 for resolutions. My wife kept asking how much did you spend? I kept responding you don’t need to know! Finally she figured no information was going to come from me. She picked up the phone, and called Staples. When I paid for the copies to 2 different Staples, I knew it will come to this, so I paid half of it cash. Please keep this to yourself, I don’t cherish the though of living in a shelter!
At the end of the convention, Sergeant at arms told me leave them here, janitors will throw them out. I said, I paid over 500 dollars, and you tell me leave them here, they will throw them out. I took them home. I resubmitted one of them in 2009.
Later my son told me the money you spent on the resolutions is like burning money!