Today’s Democratic State Convention was a disappointment, and it’s not the first time. After spending the better part of a February Saturday getting elected, and a June Saturday inside the DCU center, I have to say we need to start thinking about some much needed improvements.
First, the convention is an entirely different experience, depending upon your delegation (and their assigned seats). And there are stark differences between seats. If you are attending an arena football game, you would have paid $72 for the front row seats in the 100 sections occupied by Worcester & Norfolk, First Essex and Suffolk, Hampshire Franklin & Worcester, and First Middlesex & Norfolk. The back of Section 207, home of Fourth Middlesex, those tickets go for $7.
That difference is between the 100s sections and the rafters. There are no floor seats in arena football, so we can’t calculate the value of those seats, but certainly a good floor seat have value beyond the best seats in the 100s.
If you are on the floor, or close to it, the convention is an interactive process. You get visits from interesting folks, you get to watch various political celebrities, and folks put a mix of interesting stuff and worthless litter on your chairs. In the $7 seats, not so much.
The $7 seats are also accessed by steep and treacherous stairs that have a generous rise to make up for what they lack in run. Tellers and whips were on wobbly footing during the roll call up in mountain goat territory.
“What did we do to deserve this?”
From our $7 seats in Section 207, the conversation was, “What did we do to deserve this?” It certainly wasn’t the first time Fourth Middlesex was in a different zip code from the podium. At the last nominating convention, in 2014, Fourth Middlesex had the $7 view from the opposite end of the rafters, Section 227.
So, how do we have a convention when we don’t have this kind of extreme disparity in the quality of the experience? We’re the party of equity, of shared experience. We’re not the party of extremes, of haves and have nots.
The 2015 issues campaign in Springfield, on the same date as the New Hampshire convention in Manchester, when all the candidates were in New Hampshire and Massachusetts got the second tier surrogates. We couldn’t even get the struggling Martin O’Malley to visit, he sent Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley in his place.
So, for 2019, can we have a convention that attracts some 2020 presidential contenders, and where everyone has a decent seat in the general vicinity of all the action?
We can’t all fit on the floor, but it would be nice if there were some rotation so the same districts did not get the nosebleed seats every time..
If we’re in Worcester, nobody should be higher than the 100 level., and yes, there should be some rotation around the hall. We also need to abandon the tradition of the host district(s) getting the front row seats. Worcester gets the convenience of having the convention in their backyard, the meals tax revenue from the convention, and the best seats in the house?
The nosebleed seats were worrisome for many of my fellow delegates in 2nd Middlesex. No handrails is especially worrying for the people who walked with canes. Falling down concrete stairs is horrific.
Someday, someone is going to tumble during the Convention, and the State Party is going to get sued. I’m writing this now, publicly, in the hopes that someone in the State Party pays attention now and comes up with a smart solution before an avoidable injury or death occurs.
Aren’t there other venues besides this one? Every year I hear nothing but complaints about lack of ADA compliance and poor access to restroom facilities. Seems like they could do a better job.
It’s almost as though the organization likes things the way they are.
Sorry for being cynical, but I see absolutely zero evidence that the party cares about anything except itself.
This is a party that has done absolutely nothing about its pervasive culture of corruption even after three successive Democratic speakers have been indicted (Salvatore DiMasi, Thomas Finneran, and Charles Flaherty). A party who appointed its current leader, Robert DeLeo, as speaker for life even after Mr. DeLeo was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Probation Department scandal.
A party whose defenders here claim that that said Probation Department scandal wasn’t corrupt at all — that it was “just patronage”.
This strikes me as a dead and utterly irrelevant organization. As nearly as I can, the organization claims no responsibility for any actions taken by any of the elected officials who proudly wear its brand.
I have been a Democrat my entire voting life, and registered Massachusetts Democrat since 1974. This party is worse than meaningless, because it empowers Republicans like Bob DeLeo to be re-elected year after year while lulling Democrats like me to sleep with meaningless platform statements.
It’s time to pull the plug on this dead organization.
Yeah, that’s it Tom; the party doesn’t care about its delegates. We always try to make improvements, but we also have limited options. I fail to see how convention logistics have anything to do with your political complaints.
I look at this from the outside, you from the inside.
What I see from the outside is an organization that is unresponsive to voters, unresponsive to its own delegates, and completely irrelevant to what actual “Democrats” do. On issue after issue, there is essentially zero correlation between what Massachusetts Democrats want and what alleged “Democrats” actually do.
“I fail to see how convention logistics have anything to do with your political complaints.”
The connection is that the party strikes me as overwhelmingly tone-deaf. It is not listening to Massachusetts voters. It is not listening to Massachusetts Democrats. It is not even listening to its own delegates.
Your commentary, regarding both Ms. Bump and this thread, reinforces my perception.
Mark L. Bail says
What exactly is “the party”?
An abstraction. It exists only in our minds. It can only be fixed at the level of abstraction.
It’s the political version of the pathetic fallacy: “the attribution of human feelings and responses to inanimate things or animals, especially in art and literature.”
Why can’t this country be more responsive to voters? Why can’t the Commonwealth be more responsive? Why can’t the Governor reflect the interests of his party?
It sounds to me as though you’re using different words that mean the same.
It appears to me that the GOP is a far less abstract entity. We know that a GOP governor will:
– Oppose any tax increase, no matter what
– Cut spending on goods and services that benefit the public, no matter what
– Do everything in his or her power to damage or destroy public transportation
Etc., etc., etc.
Fortunately, our state GOP has been politically dead for generations — which in my view goes a very long way towards explaining the distinctly red tinge to our allegedly bright blue state government.
At the national level, there is no question, no hesitation, and no doubt about what happens when the GOP is in power:
– Women suffer
– Blacks and Hispanics suffer
– Regulations on predatory banking and finance practices are rolled back
– Consumer protections are rolled back
– Environmental regulations are rolled back
I remind you that state law requires that the current organization is the ONLY entity that is allowed to use the word “Democratic” in its name.
So, according to your comment, my expectation that my local state party actually behaves like a political party is a “pathetic fallacy”.
That two-word phrase — “pathetic fallacy” — exemplifies everything that is wrong with today’s Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Mark L. Bail says
Tom, my point is that you’re personifying the party. There is an abstract entity: the Democratic Party. It’s made up of staff, the DSC, city and town committees, caucus and convention members.
I’m not disagreeing with your goals. I’m taking issue with your assigning agency to an abstraction. It’s easy to blame the Democratic Party. It’s hard to explain how and why it doesn’t achieve its goals.
The “Massachusetts Democratic Party” is a formal, registered organization. It is no more abstract any other corporate entity. It enjoys constitutional liberties, including freedom of speech, that are accorded to persons.
Like every organization, the Massachusetts Democratic Party has a vision, mission, and goals (whether or not those are explicitly stated). It measures its own performance in some way.
It also has a brand. Not only does it have a brand, it enjoys an exclusive monopoly on the word “Democratic” (as I recall, the protection includes any word whose stem is “Democrat” — “Democrats”, “Democratic”, etc).
I’m therefore quite intentionally and explicitly addressing the shortcomings of a concrete legal entity.
The entity I criticize is most certainly not abstract.
Yes, I see it from the inside, which is how I know we are constantly having discussions about how we can do better and I think are often successful. I heard from many delegates, and share the opinion, that this year’s convention was among the best run in some time.
“… this year’s convention was among the best run in some time.”
I’m sure it was, and I haven’t argued otherwise.
I suggest that we revisit the items I’ve mentioned in June of 2020 and see what, if anything, this convention has actually accomplished.
Let me be more specific:
– Will the wealth and income concentration of the state be improved?
– Will public transportation — especially public rail transportation — be any better?
– Will anything have been done about our culture of corruption?
– Will Bob DeLeo still be the Speaker?
Internally-visible improvements are all well and good.
Do you agree that my desire to see externally visible changes is a “pathetic fallacy”?
I’m just not sure why we are discussing convention logistics and public policy in the same thread. Keep in mind the platform is right where you want it to be on most issues, but neither the state committee nor the convention is the Politburo and thus cannot mandate, but rather advocate policy. Neither the state committee nor convention has a role in selecting the Speaker. The voters, including some who are not Democrats, select our nominees.
You make my case for me:
“Keep in mind the platform is right where you want it to be on most issues”
This is my point.
The reason I am talking about “internal” party concerns (such as convention logistics) is that I see absolutely zero indication that the party even recognizes how irrelevant it is.
When the party is in such extreme denial about its own role in public life (or absence thereof), then the “convention logistics” don’t matter.
At least so far, we in Massachusetts and America have no Politburo, so I don’t know why you bring it up. The GOP brand actually MEANS something, even here in Massachusetts.
What does the GOP do that we Democrats might learn from?
Actually extremely few, and its not as if these venues are not ADA compliant for their usual purposes. The thing about conventions is unlike a concert or a sporting event you can’t just have one designated accessible area, but there will be needs in potentially all 40 Senate districts.
Mark L. Bail says
I was in the very last row of the 1st Hampden-Hampshire District. I couldn’t see all of the video screens. They were partially screened. And it was pretty bad. I tripped once going up the stairs.
I haven’t been to a convention in a while, but I was happy with this one. The first one I ever attended nominated Shannon O’Brien. We left at 5:30 or 6:00 PM, but the voting for some offices was still going. And then everyone made the ballot anyway.
This year was much better. 1) I live an hour away, but I was home by 2:40 in the afternoon. (We didn’t stay for the results). 2) the kids working the floor were very helpful finding our section. 3) the check in was also quick as was the voting. The convention planners deserve high marks for time management.
I think the logic behind Worcester is that it’s in the middle of the state. The venue sucks, but the location is a good travel compromise for the entire state. I refuse to go to Lowell for a non-nominating convention. It’s close to two hours of travel each way for me to go to Lowell. I took me an hour to go drive to Worcester.
The trip from Springfield to Boston proper takes 90 minutes. It’s longer if you’re not near the Turnpike. For people who live in the Berkshires, the trip to Boston proper is closer to 3 hours. Lowell would be farther and more time.
I was kind of curious about people’s reaction to the city. Worcester is rebounding pretty well. Although most of your leaders and speakers probably went to eat at the 111 Chophouse did anyone venture down Shrewsbury St to Funky Murphy’s. In the other direction west you’d have the upper/ lower class choice of the Sole Propietor and the Boynton.
What about the traffic? And the parking, you can actually find some and not have to take out a loan. Comfortable city, enough to do, developed but not over-developed. What does the state do to try and help Springfield? Stick a casino downtown.
Any speaker at the convention bring up expanded gambling as one of their achievements?
Mark L. Bail says
I scheduled to arrive a bit late. After 9. No problems parking. No traffic. No chance to explore Worcester either. I remember it from the 80s when my friend went to Assumption. It wasn’t that hot. I read regularly now about improvements.
“Any speaker at the convention bring up expanded gambling as one of their achievements”?”
An excellent question.
Arguably the ONLY significant accomplishment of a two-term Democratic governor, and nobody wants to mention it.
For eight years (from 2007 to 2015), Democrats controlled the entire Massachusetts government. We had a Democratic governor, a Democratic house, and a Democratic senate.
Did we solve the wealth and income concentration crisis? No, we worsened it
Did we solve the public transportation crisis? No, we worsened it.
Did we solve the public education crisis? No, we worsened it
Did we solve the healthcare crisis? No.
Did we crack down on the network of doctors, lawyers, and lobbyists that created and maintained the pension and disability abuse racket? No.
Did we clean up state government after three successive indictments of three successive speakers of the house? No, we doubled down on the corrupt systems that lead to them
Did we at least act decisively to stop new scandals? No, we created and ducked two major scandals in our state-run criminal labs and ran the other way from a massive Probation Department scandal.
What DID we do, then?
We expanded legalized gambling. It’s just a coincidence that the current speaker-for-life — and unindicted co-conspirator in the Probation Department scandal — happens to be in a district that will benefit the most from welcoming this mob-ridden industry to our state.
It’s just a “pathetic fallacy” that I expect more from my party.
Tom is not wrong about any of this, which is why independent voters like Central Mass Dad tend to pick folks like Baker to prevent the ‘danger of unified government’. Even though in many ways Baker is governing like a DeLeo Democrat. Can Jay and Not So Silent Bob do what Deval could not do and tame the legislature or primary some people?
I have my doubts. I do know they will not turn a blind eye to State Police corruption like the Governor, Probation Dept. corruption like the Speaker and Mayor of Boston, and they will veto more tax breaks to business. They will not deputize Massachusetts law enforcement to do the bidding of ICE. They will not appoint anti-labor reps to the labor relations board or judgeships. That’s enough for me.
Any of those would certainly get my attention.
My prediction is that within four years, our “Democrats” will be back with hat in hand telling us how vital it is that we somehow find a way to help the “struggling” casino industry cover its “unexpected” losses.
I predict that the casinos in Everett and Springfield will be bleeding cash and threatening to declare bankruptcy and close.
I predict that Bob DeLeo will be telling dire stories of casino workers and their families facing hardships, local businesses that are “suffering”, police, firefighters, and teachers facing “unavoidable” layoffs — and that the state will therefore be raising general taxes in order to address this “unpredictable and urgent crisis”.
Charley on the MTA says
No governor will “tame the legislature”. Deval Patrick tried, and I think we agree he failed; Baker isn’t bothering to try.
The only people that can “tame the legislature” is us — Dem primary voters.
May I point out how many legislative primaries there are? If progressives get a few victories, that will change the consensus view within the House and maybe — maybe – force DeLeo’s hand on a few things. I don’t want to make any wild promises. But power is always a negotiation. Baker doesn’t pick fights, and if there’s a big upsurge of interest in transit, clean energy, countering ICE, etc. I could imagine even DeLeo will have to acknowledge it.
No big promises. But it’s either this, or just accept it all lying down.
Charley on the MTA says
Worcester is not a terrible place to hang out. But it could be so much better. On a recent trip I was struck at how oppressively car-centric the downtown is — huge four-lane streets, massive parking lots, really not pedestrian-friendly. Even residences have paved what should be front lawns to stow their cars — not pretty. Overall it’s great if you’re going to drive downtown — and then leave as fast as possible.
A new urbanist mentality, viewing city space from the perspective of pedestrians and bicyclists, eg., would really perk up the downtown and beyond, and help those local businesses attract more out-of-town bucks..
Rapid transit to Boston would also help with undoing the car centric designs of Worcester and Springfield alike. Absolutely agree that the city has a lot of potential as an affordable alternative to Boston. We need to find ways to move people in areas with higher unemployment to areas with jobs and conversely move the employees in areas with tight housing markets to areas with cheap housing. A win win, if we can fund it.
You’ll be happy to know that improvement of mass transit was raised in speeches multiple times this weekend.
What publicly-visible steps can I expect to see over the next year to accomplish this improvement?
Well, since we are talking about mostly a Governor’s race pushing the proposals won’t start in earnest until we elect one of our candidates. Our current statewide incumbents don’t hold offices that have much say in this. Both Massie and Gonzalez have made this a priority and you can look at their websites for details.
@ Christopher and transit proposals:
“Well, since we are talking about mostly a Governor’s race pushing the proposals won’t start in earnest until we elect one of our candidates.”
Our legislature controls the budget, and our legislature is filled with representatives who claim to be members of our party.
Our party could demand that the legislature fund public transit, and demand that it do so by raising taxes on the wealthy.
It took me less than a minute to find a helpful explanation of how local party committees can provide financial assistance to candidates.
Does state law require that this happen? Would it violate state law for the state party to establish parameters that govern which candidates receive that assistance? I doubt it, and even if so then the legislature can change those laws.
I suggest that our state party is toothless and irrelevant because our “Democratic” officials like it that way.
We can’t demand much, only advocate. I wouldn’t mind some discretion regarding funding, but would also object to single issue litmus tests. As for local party committees be careful what you wish for. Don’t forget many Dems you object to match their own communities and districts well and would in fact enjoy the support of local party committees.
@ local party committees:
Again you make my point for me.
I’m not talking about “single issue litmus tests” (though I suggest that addressing our extreme wealth and income concentration might qualify).
If local party committees are so divergent from the encompassing state party, then I suggest they be invited to find another umbrella organization.
The Episcopal Church made a careful and reasoned decision to ordain women as priests and as bishops. Some years later, the organization did the same for gay men and women. There were local parishes who objected, and the national church wasted more than a decade attempting to accommodate them. Those parishes left anyway. I suggest that all parties are better off now.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party should not, in my opinion, be “whatever it takes to elect members in local communities and districts”. That is, again, exactly what I mean when I say that our brand is meaningless.
I think that a good starting point is to look at valid and recent polling of registered Massachusetts Democrats on issues. I think that for issues where there is widespread support (where “widespread” means something like more than 65% agreement), we should be looking at ways to ensure that elected officials who wear our brand reflect those positions.
To bring this back to the excellent question from scott12mass, polling data from June of 2014 showed that only 39% of registered Democratic voters supported casino gambling:
So the signature accomplishment from eight years of complete “Democratic” control of the government was supported by only 39% of registered Democrats.
We must do better.
To truly do what you suggest we would have to start excommunicating people or choosing nominees in smoke-filled rooms. To use the example of Colleen Garry, she has a lot of support from the Dracut DTC. In fact she is currently the chair of the Dracut DTC. The Dracut DTC like all such committees is elected by Dems (and unenrolleds for reasons passing understanding) during the Presidential primary). The state party cannot nullify the election of the members so only community residents can organize a slate to run against them. DTC members are often elected convention delegates as well and can be challenged not for holding divergent views, but only for publicly endorsing a non-Democrat in a partisan race. Of course when it comes to public policy, legislators act for their entire district, not just for their party. What would you do differently?
You are explaining why there is no place for me in the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
This thread is persuading me that it is perhaps time to do what I contemplated doing a few years (at James Conway’s urging).
If you leave the party you definitely can’t change it. IIRC you are actually pretty happy with your own legislators. Change has to happen from the bottom via primaries, but the state party won’t and shouldn’t do that for you. You still haven’t said what you would have the party do differently. Since parties exist to protect the members they have and elect new ones it sounds like your objection is to the very concept of parties rather than specifically the MDP. Are you aware of other state parties that do what you want better and if so how do they keep their electeds in line?
Tea Party Republicans kicked porcupine out because she was pro-choice. She lost an RSC race during one of those primaries. It is because their voters care about local government and controlling the party apparatus. See how easily all the official engines of the RNC and GOP fell to Trump and his supporters? Nationwide the Tea Party scared the crap out of establishment Republicans and the election of Trump confirms they won the war.
Yet our party is always told to accommodate its heretics in the name of a big tent that in MA has resulted in fewer progressive pieces of legislation passed than any other blue state. Kick anti-gay Timilty out, kick anti-immigrant bigots like Garry out, kick out Ross, Golden and the other legislators who backed Scott Brown and still hold committee chairs. Even a centrist Democrat like Cuomo, who went so far as to engineer a Republican State Senate, got more progressive legislation passed than the far more progressive Deval did. It takes courageous leadership. Our state party has none.
First, what you describe is done by voters, not the state party, and of course an alternative candidate has to put him/herself forward. Second, I’m not sure I want a Dem tea party. The GOP version managed to kick out solid conservatives and in some cases lost general elections they should have won in the process.
@ “If you leave the party you definitely can’t change it.”
You are on one hand explaining that change is impossible and on the other that I should stay in order to change it. You can’t have it both ways.
If change is possible, then I ask why you spend so much effort here arguing otherwise.
I have the distinct impression that Denise Provost and Pat Jehlen are here in spite of, rather than because of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Ms. Provost was unable to be present for the most recent vote to make Mr. DeLeo Speaker.
My objection is to the premise that a political party must be content-free. I’ve been as clear as I’m able about the kinds of carrots and sticks I propose.
I’m not willing to play a why-don’t-you-yes-but game with you about internal party rules and regulations. I’m the outsider, you’re the insider. It is the party’s job to persuade me that I should belong to it.
I’m telling the party, as clearly as I’m able, that the party MUST find a way to be more relevant and more effective in order for me to continue my own membership in the party. You’re telling me all the ways that my request is impossible to fulfill.
It is time for you and Massachusetts Democratic Party to piss or get off the pot.
You should belong to the party because you agree with us on the issues. In our system there are two viable parties and I assume you agree with Dems much more than the GOP.
Also, to reply to your most recent comment above (which apparently is too far over to reply to directly) I made the Politburo reference because you are the one who seems to think the party apparatus can somehow directly govern the state a la Communist systems. The GOP as a much smaller party is also more homogeneous, though they do also sometimes complain that their electeds aren’t faithful to their platform too. I’m not sure how you do what I think you want without sacrificing democracy in ways we would not accept.
@ Christopher and “politburo”: The national GOP controls far more local and state level entities than the national Democratic Party — that’s one reason they have so much power.
In spite of that significant numerical advantage, the GOP has done a much more effective job at managing it’s brand. That is one reason why it is so much smaller in Massachusetts.
I invite you to offer an example of any Republican-dominated state legislature that promotes the Democratic agenda in way that is comparable to the way our “Democratic” legislature promotes the anti-government anti-tax GOP agenda.
Is there any state where the GOP has had a veto-proof majority for decades and where the legislature passes tax increases on the wealthy in that state? Is there any other state where a Republican governor has proposed a tax decrease and the Republican legislature has declared that proposal “dead on arrival” and proceeded to instead pass a tax increase?
If the current leadership of the Massachusetts Democratic Party can’t find a way to make our brand mean something without “sacrificing democracy in ways we would not accept”, then I think that leadership should step aside.
We own the legislature. The laws and regulations that you cite that restrict the party can be changed (we do have a veto-proof majority).
I don’t have the answers either. I think the only way we’ll get those answers is for the party insiders to aggressively ask questions that will lead to those answers.
Let me be quite specific. Colleen Garry is a disgrace to the party. I want to the party to ask itself what carrots and sticks it has to distance itself from her. If Ms. Garry wants to sit in the House, let her do so as a Republican.
How much funding has Ms. Garry received from the Massachusetts Democratic Party since she was first elected in 1994?
Mark Adler says
There is PLENTY not to like about how the Convention is run or whether it should happen at all. The hours of wasted time, the pointless speeches, the quality of the food options, process of voting, the uselessness of voting when any candidate about 15% goes onto the primary anyway, and on and on and on.
But the mere fact of your delegation’s lousy seating is hardly worth the headline, “Time to rethink the Democratic State Convention.” I thought there was going to be more than just “aw… we got bad seats.”
I fully agree with your last paragraph. As for your first I think we mostly were very time-efficient this year. We had a unified ballot and with only two-way races we knew we weren’t going to need any second ballots. We didn’t have lots of pointless speeches though a few were used to fill counting time it seemed. I was impressed that we adjourned by 4PM. We also don’t know if everyone will get 15% until we actually count votes. Food is whatever the venue provides so very little we can do about that.
If the purpose of the convention is to bring Democrats together, why are we assigning seats so some delegations are in the rafters and others are in the middle of the action?
In this century, we shouldn’t need to be seated by delegation. We all have delegate credentials with a barcode. Similar to congressional voting, a delegate should be able to walk to a kiosk, scan their credential, and cast a vote. We could have 40 scanners, one for each senate district, and place them strategically in the hall.
Or, we can do Convention in the Round. Set up a center platform, ditch the podium, and let folks speak with a hand-held mic. There were 11 unused sections in the 100 level, and plenty of empty floor space behind the curtain, so a Convention in the Round would eliminate seating in the 200 sections.
Congrats to those who made the convention more efficient. Now we need to work on more inclusive.
Not sitting by delegation would take all the fun out of convention and make roll calls impossible. This is a transparency issue too since votes are public.
I don’t know about “fun”, but the voting method proposed by Pablo would work just fine for roll calls.
You have to be seated within earshot of the district teller to conduct a roll call.
Yeah, I get it.
People are supposed to risk life and limb because the party can’t figure out how to update voting process created in the 19th century (or perhaps before then).
Nobody is risking life and limb. What you clearly don’t get is the convention atmosphere. We need to keep improving on accessibility, but this is old fashioned democracy in action – a town meeting for the state party.
Ah, I see. The important thing is to enjoy the party. People who struggle with steep balconies with no handrails are just party-poopers.
I’ll tell you that I’ve been in many town meetings and I’ve never known any town meeting that forced participants to endure conditions remotely similar to the “nosebleed seats” described here.
This from a participant who argued to preserve the criminal penalties for marijuana because he dislikes the smell.
I invite you to perhaps rethink your priorities and values regarding all this.
I have actually been to town meetings which are crowded enough that some end up pretty high in the auditorium. You mischaracterize both my attitude toward people with accessibility issues and (though I certainly don’t want to rehash this) my objections to pot.
You can walk up to the tellers.
Hey, Mark, where we you sitting?
Mark L. Bail says
Last row. Section 208.
Mark L. Bail, I know where you were sitting. We were next to you. I was asking Mark Adler, who seems to think “lousy seating is hardly worth the headline.” My hypothesis is he is in a delegation with perpetual floor seats.
I do agree that your headline made it sound like we need to rethink the whole concept of convention rather than the detail of seating arrangements.
It’s bigger than that. If we can’t achieve some sense of equity under the current paradigm, we need to change it up. It might be a big change, but something big needs to change when about a third of the delegates are exiled out of the event in unsafe conditions.
Mark L. Bail says
Most of the conventions I’ve been to have been in Worcester. I went to two in Springfield, where my district (which includes some of Springfield) was on the floor. I always thought preference was given to local delegations. However, I also thought that nominating conventions rotated locations regularly. With that said, I wouldn’t travel to Lowell without a very good reason. No offense to Lowell, which I would actually like to visit, but I weigh my time with the importance of my vote.
Would it change anything if you were able to get to a venue in Springfield, Lowell, or Lawrence using convenient, reliable, and affordable public transportation?
If you could, for example, get on a trolley or light-rail vehicle near your home and spend a safe, comfortable few hours in transit, would it change your feelings?
My son attends U-MA Amherst — the largest and oldest state university in Massachusetts. I find it ironic, absurd, and indefensible that there is no public transportation between Amherst (or even Northampton) and Boston, Worcester, or Springfield — even though the rails themselves have been there for more than a hundred years.
Am I the only one who sees the irony in these complaints about the inadequacy of our regional transportation system from convention participants for the political party that has controlled our state government for generations?
The failings of our regional transportation ought to be near the top of the list of our party’s priorities — especially when the convention is so acutely aware of those failings.
Mark L. Bail says
Are you talking to me, Tom? (This narrow nesting is killing me).
@ Mark Bail: Indeed, I was asking you whether improved rail access would affect your feelings.
It’s tough to follow these deeply nested threads sometimes, yes.
Mark L. Bail says
Probably not. The two variables affecting my attendance at a convention are time used and the significance of my being there.
Does my vote matter at all? An issues convention would not warrant the travel time for me. A train would still take forever for me to get to Lowell. I’d have to drive to the station, park, and wait. Minimum time before the train ride: 30 minutes. I don’t mind driving and I have a Prius, so gas isn’t a huge problem for me. I listen to podcasts and generally enjoy driving.
Statewide nominating conventions have been in Worcester for as long as I have been involved. My understanding is that only DCU is big enough. Preferential seating has generally gone to the host delegation and delegations of certain party bigwigs. I live in Lowell so those are the easiest for me to get to. My attitude toward Friday nights is I only go if it is in Lowell or a statewide year.
Mark L. Bail says
We nominated Elizabeth Warren in Springfield in 2012. Some people here might remember the Globe saying there was a conspiracy to exclude Marisa DeFranco from the ballot. Ernie was big on it, though he wasn’t there, of course.
Steven Leibowitz says
It is appropriate and welcome to forward suggestions for improvements to your state committee members, and they should be bringing that back to the State Committee. I know in fact, as a Cape & Islands delegate for about 20 years, that our delegation has been everywhere. This was the first year we were in a front section on the floor. Other years, we’ve dealt with the challenges of the nosebleeds (where we have had visits from candidates). One challenge is the limited number of venues available. The DCU is more centrally located than Springfield or Lowell, and I don’t remember ever using a Boston venue in my experience (which is probably good from a distance and cost factor).
I am glad that we are trying to use technology to improve the voting experience. There is more to do there. You probably improve the logistics by having fewer delegates, but is that desirable? So again, send ideas to your state committee people and to the state party. I would also encourage the party to send out a post-convention survey to get more feedback.