The rules flap, from someone who was there

In light of all the excitement over the “elected delegates” issue and Chris Gabrieli’s newly-minted run for Gov, I thought this comment by PatrickA on Charley’s post was important enough to put on the front page:

I was at the state committee meeting last night when James Roosevelt (party legal counsel/parliamentarian) explained the discussion that the rules committee had over the language.

Part of the discussion related to the history of changes that had been made to the language. Roosevelt explained those changes and that seemed to satisfy the members of the state committee (who, you must remember, are a mostly pro-Patrick group). As town chairs, ward chairs, and state committee members are all elected, they qualify under this provision. It’s not clear whether this provision has ever been used before, so there’s not a lot of precedent here.

Basically, John Bonifaz doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and the rules were never changed.

OK.  As I’ve been saying for months, most of these rules are bullshit, anti-democratic ways to ensure the continued power of the hackocracy.  And I think Gabrieli’s vanity move to inject himself into the Governor’s race is a really bad idea.  But let’s not get all worked up over something that may well be a non-issue.  From the vantage point of someone who wasn’t there (i.e., me), PatrickA’s version looks perfectly reasonable: there was a question as to how to interpret ambiguous language (“elected convention delegates”) in this rule, both possible interpretations were reasonable, a decision was reached, and that decision favored Chris Gabrieli.  Was the fix in?  Who knows.  But it does seem to me that Bonifaz is off-base by claiming that this was a “rule change” rather than an interpretation, and by asserting that the “literal meaning” of the rule is perfectly clear and that the party disregarded that clear meaning, when that doesn’t appear to be the case.  Bonifaz doesn’t do his long-shot campaign any favors by leveling dubious accusations.

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13 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. What do you expect...

    ...from a candidate for Massachusetts Secretary of State who has as a main position his opposition to the war in Iraq?

    Not that there's anything wrong with that position...it just would be nice that it had SOMETHING to do with overseeing elections and corporate behavior.

    • Whoa dude

      This guy's been grassrooting on that issue and more all over the place. You can't say he doesn't have a background in fair elections organizing.

      • I'm not arguing his fair elections expertise...

        ...I just wish he'd been practicing it on behalf of Al Gore in 2000 and not Ralph Nader...if he did, we wouldn’t be in this Iraq mess. 

        Bonifaz is an intellectual fraud (at least the one time I saw him speak).  Talking about his valiant fight in Ohio against electronic voting machines and contract workers that count the votes...clearly inferring (at least the day I heard him speak) that Massachusetts was going in that direction.  (This has not and will not happen under Galvin’s watch.)  He made it seem like the Sec. of State could unilaterally establish a motor-voter program or change the voting day from a Tuesday to a Saturday by decree.  Of course these require Legislative approval and a Governor's signature.

        And Bonifaz is so intellectually dishonest and so accusatory; he'll never get anything passed in the legislature.  In fact, in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, I wouldn't be surprised that his budget gets cut because of his style.

        No, Bonifaz belongs where he is...as a strong public advocate for voting rights. 

    • non-sequitir

      Frank, interesting that you seem to be calling out Bonifaz's Iraq stance as a non-sequitir (with which I completely agree with you) in a thread essentially about voting, which the Secretary of State basically runs.

      That's like a non-sequitir squared. Just sayin'.

  2. Ambiguity in the mind of the beholder

    For the life of me, I can't figure out how anyone can construe "elected convention delegates" as anything other than delegates elected at caucuses.  Under Jim Roosevelt's opinion, every delegate is elected - if that's so, why should there be any reference to "elected" before "delegates"?  A basic rule of statutory construction is that no statute should be interpreted in a manner than renders any part of that statute irrelevant, but that is exactly what Jim Roosevelt's opinion does.  I think this is ripe for a challenge.

    • I'm not defending this

      interpretation in any way but state committee people are elected, state reps and senators are elected, I believe even the add on delegates are elected by the state committee members so in the strictest sense all the delegates I can think of are elected. I like your argument about the predicat elected, why is there a reference to "elected", what was the intent.

      • I don't know very much about who gets to be an ex officio delegate,

        but it strikes me as pretty questionable to tell, say, a Mayor that he or she is not an "elected" delegate - after all, a Mayor won an actual election, whereas a caucus delegate was "elected" by a tiny number of people who showed up at a caucus that the general public didn't even know was happening.  Are there ex officios who are not also elected officials?  If so, that would resolve your statutory construction issue.  And even if there aren't, the "elected" language still strikes me as more naturally extending to elected officials.  Canons of statutory construction notwithstanding, anyone who has read a lot of statutes (and I have) knows that in fact they routinely contain excessive verbiage that is redundant or serves no purpose.

    • RE: Language $quot;elected$quot; v. $quot;ex officio$quot;

      From post on Democratic Underground

      Rules about town committees - note use of elected, ex officio and associate

      source: http://www.massdems.org/about/bylaws.htm

      Article XII: Town and Ward Committees

      a.

      b.Town, Ward and City Committees may assess dues providing that the amount of dues has been adopted by a two-thirds vote and that no elected or ex-officio members or associate committee member shall be required to pay dues in order to vote or otherwise participate in committee business.

      • True but that is not refering to caucuses

        It is referring to town committees. In which case there are some very specific definitions. An elected committee member is a person whos name appeared on the Democractic Primary Ballot in a Presidential election year and were elected to the seat. (I fall in this category). Associates are members who have either not been elected in such a fashion, but fill an unoccupied position in the committee or are in addition to the full set of committee members for a town or ward. Ex officios are there by the current or previous elected positions. In my ward we do not use that practice. Everyone has to be elected once every four years. None of the voting for "elected" members takes place in a caucus. So I do not see how that applies. 

  3. For what it's worth

    Based on what I know of Jim Roosevelt, if he thought Bonifaz had a reasonable argument and would raise some entertaining hell if he prevailed, he'd go with Bonifaz.  I like John Bonifaz but I doubt very much he was treated unfairly by Roosevelt.

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