Shut Out in North Andover at Dem Caucus

I just walked out of the North Andover Democratic Caucus completely disgusted.  It was run with all the democracy of a Politburo election.


The meeting was called to order and the chair asked if anyone else wanted to run for delegate.

I asked if any delegates were supporting Deval Patrick, the person whom I came out to support.  I was told that I was out of order and that they would “walk me through it.”  They then put the names of the candidates on the board and handed out ballots.  There was absolutely no way to know who was supporting which candidates.  None of the delegates made speeches or distributed information.  Only a list of  the “North Andover Unity Slate” was distributed.

If this is how establishment Democrats run things, no wonder Democrats can’t capture the corner office.  As Democrats, we should be committed to honesty, openness, and accountability.  When people come out to take part in the process, they ought not to be shushed and given a meaningless ballot.

Are there any North Andover Dems out there who want to get active in trying to reform this Town Committee?

This post was originally published with Soapblox and contains additional formatting and metadata.
View archived version of this post
.



Discuss

28 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. organize

    I have a somewhat different take on this: Nominating convention caucuses aren't for just walking into, unprepared, unless nobody else has prepared either.  Caucuses belong to those who organize for them.

    If an individual walks into a caucus without having organized with others in advance, they may be lucky and have some impact.  For example, there may be two competing slates, and if so, each slate will try to woo the extra vote.  Perhaps they're supporting different candidates for governor, which would make the choice easy.  Or maybe nobody organized a slate, and there might be an opportunity for people to run for delegate and attract votes.

    But if an individual, or two or three or more, walk in un-organized, and another group of people go to caucus who did organize for it in advance, made a slate, and got out the vote, those who organized will own the caucus.

    Now, it may be that the North Andover Democratic Committee is actually very welcoming to new people. I don't know them, so I can't say.  What I can say is, if they were organizing a unity slate, the two ways to play a meaningful role in the caucus process would be 1) to organize with them, or 2) to organize against them.

    To organize against them, you put together a competing slate, and bring more voters to the caucus than they do.  To organize with them, you tell them ahead of time - probably in December - that you're interested in running for delegate.  You can't walk in on caucus day, after they've already worked out who is on their slate and all agreed to vote for them, and expect them to bump someone who was expecting to be on it, when they have no idea who you are.  They might, but it's not something that's necessarily fair to expect.

    We could come up with a different process for electing delegates to the convention, that might work better for people who don't do a lot of organizing ahead of time.  But given the rules as they are, that's what it takes.

    • Cos on the money

      What Cos described is the difference between me showing up naive at the Brookline Caucus in 2005 and being frustrated by the slate, and me showing up at the Brookline Caucus in 2006 and being a member of the slate.

      Get more involved with local politics.  Then you'll be in a better position to influence "insider" change like caucuses.

      Also, keep in mind that you can apply as an add-on with full voting rights if you are:  * Youth (inder 35) or  * Disabled or  * Minority.

      Four years ago, about 1 in 5 youth candidates were selected.  1 in 4 minority candidates, and 1 in 3 disabled candidates.  There is a checkbox on the application for "Ran in/Attended my caucus"; make sure you check it off as it will increase your odds of being selected.

  2. Rules

    I knew that I was not organized.  I contacted the Deval people via the website, and they didn't have enough interest for a slate.  I don't really know anyone in town yet - just moved here in July, have a two-year old daughter, and work in Brookline. 

    What bothers me is that they did not follow the rules at all.  There was no nomination process, and no ability to speak.  According to people I spoke to, they could waive two-minute delegate speeches, but only with a two-thirds vote. 

    I'll bone up on my Roberts Rules of Order and go the Town Committee meetings.  This was a wake-up call.  I will be heard.

    • Good to get started

      At least you came away from this experience energized and not dejected. It's sometimes amazing how much you can do at the local level to change the party.

      I agree that people who are interested in having a say in internal party politics should get involved and have a duty to inform themselves. However, the key here is not the existence of a slate, but that they didn't seem to follow rules (according to the poster, at least).

      Also, perhaps I'm misreading the post, but I think the poster was not looking to run for delegate himself but was looking to support a Deval Patrick delegate. If the slate was organized with not Deval delegates, he'd be out of luck, but it should have been made clear who was going to be pledged to whom.

      • Good to Get Started

        I had a similar experience re: the latter comment -- that is, I wasn't sure who was a Deval Patrick delegate and who wasn't, only one of the delegates actually said who they were supporting.

        But I also think there's a larger point here -- someone taking the initiative to come to a caucus who had never before participated is a big deal -- it's a huge opportunity to increase the ranks of activist, engaged party members.  We (Democrats) need to have built into every public process an infrastructure that makes new participants feel welcomed and clued in.  For example, just having someone sitting at the sign-in desk asking "have you ever participated before?" and then explaining the process (the outer process and hidden processes as well), and making sure that there's contact with them after the caucus as well.  The fact that there is no such infrastructure means that anyone new comes away with the impression that the party is controlled by insider hacks who have no interest in new members.  I'm not saying that newbies need to take the initiative, just saying that if we're serious about reforming the party, reformers need to have, as part of their program for change, making the process user friendly, welcoming and transparent.

        My first post, long time lurker.

        • great point

          See Kate's comment below.  Yes, a caucus newcomer is a good opportunity to get someone involved, and I hope people there realize that when it happens.  We also should think about possible ways of altering the process for electing delegates so that it is a more accessible process for newcomers.  Of course the most simple change would be to get rid of the registration deadline.  Iowa allows at-caucus registration at theirs.  But that wouldn't solve the problem of people who didn't organize in advance feeling like they have no role at all.

    • Read the Method in the Call to Convention

      Here's the link to the PDF file for the Call to Convention.

      The rules begin on page 23.  As I posted earlier to you, you should challenge the caucus if you feel they violated the rules. 

  3. Challenge the caucus.

    I'm a Chair of a Town Committee and we followed the process to the letter.  I expected some folks to show up--actually on the Reilly side--to mess with our caucus, so I was sure to do everything by the book. 

    Based on your description, it does not appear that they followed the method as outlined in the Call at all.

    You have every right to challenge.  Rule #35 in the Call to Convention explains what to do:

    Challenges to the conduct of caucus and or the election of Delegates and Alternates shall be filed separately for each Ward and Town with the Compliance Review Committee by a registered Democrat, residing within the ward or town, and having direct knowledge of the grounds for the challenge.  Said challenge shall be postmarked no later than ten days after the caucus.  Specific grounds must be addressed in an initial challenge.  The Chairperson of the Compliance Review Committee will review the challenges, and shall determine if a hearing is necessary, and shall present all information pertinent to his decision to the full committee, all subject to further review by the full committee if requested by the challenger or otherwise.  Information concerning challenges will be available from the Democratic State Committee, 56 Roland Street, Suite 203, Boston, MA  02129, (617)776-2676. 
    • If you challenge the caucus...

      be prepared to show up to the "next one" with a bunch of folks from town.  To be eligible:  * must be registered  * as a Dem  * in the right location  * by Dec 31 2004.

      Show up with a posse.  Better yet, maybe have a telephone call with the Patrick campaign to see if they could put you in touch with other Deval supporters in your area for a slate.

  4. North Andover

    Cos and others are on the money.  In 1998 we had some newcomers walk into our caucus where we had a unity slate of active Democrats.  Our slate was elected as planned.  I reached out to the new people who came.  They all became active in our committee.  All of them eventually became delegates or alternates over the following years.  Four years later when I invited one of them to be on our slate in the very competive nominating convention, I reminded him of his comment four years earlier that it was clear that the "fix was in."  I told him that iif we did the work, he would be "in" this year. Like it or not, that is how the system works. 

    Do take the time to get involved.  It will pay off. 

    On a more technical note, from the brief information listed, I didn't see anything that sounded like a violation. I'm assuming, maybe incorrectly, that there were actually open nominations as they wrote names on the baord.  Even if no motion to waive speeches was made, candidates are not required to make them.

     

    • Hi Kate

      This line in the poster's subsequent comment is what tipped me off that they may not have played according to Hoyle:

      There was no nomination process,...

      Everything you say is right, of course, but it does appear they did not follow the rules regarding nominations. 

      At any rate, after reading the Call to Convention, the poster can decide for himself whether or not any irregularities merit a formal challenge.

      Cynthia

    • No, that's not $quot;how the system works$quot;

      Like it or not, that is how the system works.

      No, that's not how the system works.  That's how a bunch of people committed to hijack a democratic process can succeed in doing that while technically complying with the rules.

      Organize for the caucus, sure.  But refusing to say what candidates the nominated delegates support?  Give me a break.  Every single registered Democrat in the state has the right to go to their local caucus and cast a vote, win or lose.  That right is not conditional on "getting involved" or anything else. 

      Organize for the caucus, sure, but when you get there, be candid that that is what you have done.  Refusing to provide people with basic information about what is going on is, in fact, fixing the process, regardless of whether you are technically complying with the rules.

      If this account is correct, the people running the caucus in North Andover should really be ashamed of themselves.  It's the Democratic Party, not pep club or some other high school nonsense.

    • No, that's not $quot;how the system works$quot;

      Like it or not, that is how the system works.

      No, that's not how the system works.  That's how a bunch of people committed to hijack a democratic process can succeed in doing that while technically complying with the rules.

      Organize for the caucus, sure.  But refusing to say what candidates the nominated delegates support?  Give me a break.  Every single registered Democrat in the state has the right to go to their local caucus and cast a vote, win or lose.  That right is not conditional on "getting involved" or anything else. 

      Organize for the caucus, sure, but when you get there, be candid that that is what you have done.  Refusing to provide people with basic information about what is going on is, in fact, fixing the process, regardless of whether you are technically complying with the rules.

      If this account is correct, the people running the caucus in North Andover should really be ashamed of themselves.  It's the Democratic Party, not pep club or some other high school nonsense.

      • I don't want to seem like a jerk, but I must disagree

        No, that's not how the system works.  That's how a bunch of people committed to hijack a democratic process can succeed in doing that while technically complying with the rules.

        No -- it's how a bunch of people can work together to democratically elect the candidates of their choice.  There's no hijacking, as they are completely complying with the rules.  They're just doing a better job collecting votes which is how you win an election.

        But refusing to say what candidates the nominated delegates support?  Give me a break.

        Well, no candidate has to ever divulge his stance on any issue to voters.  It's often wise to do so, but never required.  In fact, it's often savvy to say just enough to get elected and not a word more.  Don't like their lack of disclosure?  Don't vote for them.  That's democracy my friend.

        Every single registered Democrat in the state has the right to go to their local caucus and cast a vote, win or lose.  That right is not conditional on "getting involved" or anything else.

        Of course -- provided they meet the requirements (reg Dem by 12/31/05, etc).  But, everybody gets 1 votes, and if a group larger than yours votes the same way, they've won under democratic principles.

        Organize for the caucus, sure, but when you get there, be candid that that is what you have done.

        Why?  When you go vote for president, do you disclose with other voters that you've encouraged your friends to vote the same way you will, in an attempt to swing the election?  Same principle, different scale.

        Refusing to provide people with basic information about what is going on is, in fact, fixing the process, regardless of whether you are technically complying with the rules.

        Not really.  The rules of the process are publically available, on line and in writing.  Ignorance of the process is not the responsibility of others.  The rules are structured, and must be followed.  Everything after that is irrelevant.

        The question that's been tossed around and should be focused on is: were the rules regarding the nomination process followed?  If yes, then they did it right.  If not, there's a major problem.  However, showing up organized and like-minded isn't something to be cynical or frustrated about, it's something to celebrate: organizing, planning ahead, and reaching out to like-minded folks is how to win elections.

        • The rules aren't the end of the story

          The rules are structured, and must be followed.  Everything after that is irrelevant.

          Under this logic, there is nothing wrong with the Republicans posting flyers in minority neighborhoods informing residents that if they have unpaid parking tickets, they will be arrested if they try to vote, or that election day will be on Wednesday this year.  Hey, it's not against the law!  The voters can inform themselves that the flyers are inaccurate by studying up on election law and regulations at Secretary Galvin's office!

          Complying with rules alone does not make you an ethical person.  I repeat:  If what happened in North Andover is as reported, then the people involved should be ashamed of themselves.

          • Read my whole post...

            If "what happened in Andover as reported" refers to the nominations procedures not being followed, then there are serious problems -- both technical and ethical.

            If, however, the gripe is that  (a) a group of people organized their votes beforehand and voted in a bloc, and  (b) the candidates refused to say who they supported then there is no legitimate gripe.  They acted within the rules and ethically.

            Your GOP examples are clearly irrelevant.

            • Thank you for conceding my point

              There is no meaningful difference between the GOP examples and the behavior described at North Andover.  Your resort to flat-out declarations that they behaved "ethically" and that the examples I raise are "irrelevant" concedes the point.

        • there is one more question

          Are the rules we have now, the rules we really want?  Could we have a process that works better?  A way of electing delegates that doesn't frustrate newcomers and does a better job of pulling them in?

          That doesn't necessarily reflect on the people who ran the North Andover caucus, but it's something for us to think about.

  5. by the rules, but still disheartened

    Thanks to those, especially Cos, who have provided clarification. My Ward meeting seems to have gone by the rules, but I had a similar experience as bcal92, where almost none of the nominees were pledged explicitly to a given candidate - governore or LG - so you were basically voting on a bunch of names you didn't know. I'm actually fine with the 12/31 registration deadline - it doesn't seem too much to ask caucus participants to be registered with the party for a month - but it would be helpful if all candidates had to run, Electoral College-style, identified with a pledged candidate, even if that pledge was non-binding.

  6. follow the rules

    Dear Bcal92,

    If the caucus in North Andover failed to follow the rules, you  may have different complaint then those who showed up at a caucus last year and did not organize well enough to be elected as a delegate.  The dem party rules say that a nomination must be first and seconded.  For male delegate nomination and female delegate nomination, they must be done seperately,if a North Andover unity slate was voted on all at once time, that again would be a violation of the dem party rules.  If there are other individuals who were at the caucus who also witnessed what took place, you should contact them as well.  If any or all of these rules violations took place, you have a right to appeal what took place and request the party hold a hearing on the matter. North Andover may need to rehold it's caucus. losing a fair election were the other person out organizes you is different than breaking the rules.  Call the democratic party and ask them to investigate your concern!! If we don't stand up for ourselves who will? -Marcus 

  7. I drafted a letter

    To challenge the caucus results.

    After looking at the rules, I realized that they were not supposed to waive reading the rules, and secondly, that they cannot waive two minute speeches without a 2/3 majority in favor - they never held a vote.

    One of the more disheartening things I found out was that a local African American family who I saw at the caucus had contacted the Patrick campaing as well, and there was no mention of the Affirmative Action policies of the party.  There are very few minorities in North Andover at all.

    I'll post my letter a little later.

    • I'm sorry your experience

      was so disappointing.  From your account, it appears as if you have a very good case to challenge the results as it sounds like they were either willfully flouting the rules or simply disrespecting the process. 

      • Waiving of Speeches

        It is very clear that a motion and a 2/3 vote is needed to waive speeches.  If the voter from North Andover was nominated and denied the right to make a 2 minute speech, this is a valid complaint.  Even if no motion to waive speeches is made, candidates are not required to make speeches. 

    • speeches

      Just to clarify about "waiving the speeches" - a 2/3 vote can decide that there will be no speeches by the nominees for delegate.  However, if speeches are not waived, nominees are not compelled to make speeches.  No vote is required to give them the option of not speaking, and if there's only one slate and all the nominees are on that slate, it's very likely none of them will want to speak.  If, on the other hand, someone is nominated and says they'd like to speak, but are prevented from doing so, and there was no vote held to waive speeches, then it's a rules violation.

      At the caucuses I attended, Cambridge wards 2 & 4, there were no votes to waive speeches.  Ward 2 had no speeches because exactly enough delegates were nominated to fill all the slots, and everyone was planning to vote for all of them.  Ward 4 had those three LaRouchies show up, and even though they were up against an organized Deval Patrick slate from the town committee with something like 25 voters, and therefore had no change of getting elected, they still got to make their speeches.

  8. Would like to know more

    Hi bcal92: I'd like to know more about what happened, but don't want to crowd the room with info they may already know. Would you be interested in contacting me at hudson_ej@yahoo.com?

    Thanks!

« Blue Mass Group Front Page

Add Your Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fri 25 Apr 2:03 AM