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Gongwer: Credentials committee to discuss membership appeal today

by: Eric B.

Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:27:20 AM EST


The Democratic Party's Rules and Credentials Committee will meet Friday to consider a challenge to 1,349 new party memberships submitted by the United Auto Workers amid the hotly contested race for party chair between Mark Brewer and Lon Johnson.

On Monday, the party's Appeals Committee overturned the decision of Mr. Brewer, the current party chair, to reject the party memberships, largely because of the submission of payment for the memberships after the 5 p.m. January 25 deadline to apply. Payment arrived the following Monday.

The Brewer camp had signaled it would challenge the decision of the Appeals Committee, and the 7 p.m. meeting at Cobo Center in Detroit of the Rules and Credentials Committee, which is the same as the party's Executive Committee, is the next step in that process. Its decision could be appealed to the full convention on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Jack Lessenberry says the race is too close to call, while MIRS is reporting that momentum is swinging towards the challenger, because of the Brewer camp's decision to go negative.

The call on Johnson's behalf comes as sources tell  MIRS  that momentum seems to have swung to the side of the former House candidate, whose support from the UAW and the Congressional delegation has been largely played up in recent days. 

Sources tell MIRS union leaders met tonight with a strong push to unite behind a change in MDP leadership in the face of a series of statewide and local losses despite continued wins in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Wayne County Clark Cathy GARRETT is supporting Johnson, a new development that is significant in that she is the sister of AFSCME President Al GARRETT. AFSCME has stayed publicly neutral on the race, but if they were to swing for Johnson, obversers concur Brewer would be in big trouble.

Submitted without comment.

Eric B. :: Gongwer: Credentials committee to discuss membership appeal today
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I presume the committee meeting...
...is open to Democratic Party members for observation? If so (and it should well be), then all those that are able should attend to ensure the proceedings are done in the best interests of the party members as a whole, not for one preferred candidate or another(and I say that not knowing what the answer is or outcome should be, since I am not privy to the pre-designated rules and the full nature of the submitted memberships in question).

Great Lakes, Great Times.

Where the Heck is the Meeting?
Checked the stagnant MDP web site and nothing.

[ Parent ]
It is in Cobo Hall.

[ Parent ]
Ah, But Where (Is The Committee Meeting)?
Cobo is now a big place.

[ Parent ]
... and getting bigger!
When the renovations are complete, at least.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Interesting indeed
If it were me, and its not, I would start by setting up a different check in station for folks with application dates of 1/25 - or after.  No reason to slow down other attendees.

Then, I would have a list of addresses that were used multiple times on applications.  Obviously, this raises questions of fraud.  We want to make sure that any person who has a suspicious address on their application can prove that they actually live in Michigan.

Obviously, anyone who applied using a Toledo address would be rejected.

After figuring out who is actually in danger of being disenfrachised, I imagine this is not a large an issue as we are assuming.  I just don't see 1,400 "extra" people showing up.

From the Rules of the Michigan Democratic Party,
as contained in the 2013-2014 Party Building Manual:

C. Jurisdiction
1. The Appeals Committee shall have jurisdiction over matters of procedural fairness and observance of Party rules and regulations in the internal operations of the Democratic Party of Michigan as guided by the Political Reform Convention and resolutions of other Democratic State Conventions and the Democratic State Central Committee.
2. The Appeals Committee shall have no jurisdiction over matters of Party Policy or Hart-Kennedy House, Inc.
3. Decisions of the Appeals Committee shall be final and binding to the extent permitted by law on all matters within its jurisdiction.

Now the issue at hand -- whether these delegates should be seated or not -- is clearly a "matter of procedural fairness..." and not a Policy question. And Party rules say that the Appeals Committee decision shall be FINAL on matters within its jurisdiction.

Yet here we go....

What does the latest manual edition
spell out for the Rules and Credentials Committee?

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Nothing whatsoever.
The Chairperson shall, within sixty (60) days of assuming office, by and with the consent and approval of the State Central Committee, appoint the following Standing Committees, together with such others as may be deemed advisable.
A. Formation
Committee on Rules and Political Reform
Committee on Policy and Resolutions
Committee on Finance

The Credentials Committee is a committee of the Convention, not a standing committee. And Chair Brewer told us on a recent Chairs conference call that he decided not to have the County Parties hold a pre-Convention County Convention (where the Credentials, Rules, and Resolutions Committee members are typically chosen). So, in default of having a Credentials Committee for this Convention, I guess the MDP Executive Committee serves as the Credentials Committee, although where this is stated in policy (it is not in the Rules) I have not  a clue.

There are lots and lots of practices that are not laid down in the Rules. Do they exist in some Standing Rule of Order adopted by the MDP Executive Committee? You would need to ask a member of the Exec.

[ Parent ]
The Appeals Committee cannot pull rabbits out of hats
The Appeals Committee cannot decide that a resident of Ohio can vote in our convention.  If it votes to do so, then its edict should be ignored.  Then, you just go to court after the convention.

[ Parent ]
I think you're right on that...
... but was that ruled upon by them? They were stating that the memberships were indeed valid in terms of the deadline to vote at the convention, no?

If an error beyond the deadline question precludes a membership from being valid, well, that is another matter entirely and should subject individual applications to thumbs up or thumbs down.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
No, of course not.
And they did not rule on that. Ordinary screening of delegate applications can take place, as far as I am aware. They just ruled that these applications could not be thrown out  wholesale.

[ Parent ]
I haven't seen the ruling, but
My understanding is that you had three issues.  First, were the applications "late"?  Second, did the applications have addresses from  out of state?  Third, did applications have addresses which were used multiple times - because the address used was for a union hall, for example.

The Appeals Committee could certainly decided the first issue, especially if we have past practice as a guide.

I am not sure how the Appeals Committee could order memberships to folks in the second and third category.  The second category would have to be rejected.  The third category should be reviewed somehow.

My understanding was that they ruled all of the 1,400 apps were good.  If I am mistaken, then my concerns are misplaced.

[ Parent ]
Come to think of it,
I have not seen the text of the Appeals Committee decision. So, I withdraw my comment above. I do not know exactly what they ruled on.

[ Parent ]
Jack Lessenberry says "too close to call" but...
I believe in crowdsourcing. Grebner's poll here was 30 to 10 for Lon to win, last I checked. I would put more weight on that result.

I'm predicting a Lon Johnson victory
I've said as much today on social media, but I could be mistaking buzz for genuine support. It could always be that the county and Congressional delegations will deliver votes and Johnson will have only won in the headlines.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Mr. Marks from Ingham County
had a lengthy comment on the Detroit News story outlining a great many Ingham, Eaton, Clinton et al area endorsements.

Ms. Thornton from Detroit also had a number of comments raising concerns about problems at the district chair voting level. She raises a number of legitimate issues.

What is the lay of the land in the respective congressional district leadership races?

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
The 11th District Exec Committee...
...will be elected from a single slate led by Jim Gualdoni of the West Oakland Dems, with membership drawn from the District's most active clubs (Northville, Plymouth, Troy, West Oakland, Livonia and "Community" i.e. Canton area).

Initially, Karl Burnett from Livonia Dems was challenging Jim for the Chairmanship. But a quick chat behind the proverbial "woodshed" led Karl to withdraw and take a spot on the Executive Committee slate.

As of right now they've made no endorsement -- but I believe most of the people involved individually support Mr. Johnson, even though their clubs maintain a wary neutrality.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison

[ Parent ]
I wish the 11th District well
... through their evolution from the districts of old to the district of new.

How has the process been for most activists, so far?

Have the Troy / Auburn Hills / Waterford portions also been actively integrating?

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Slowly integrating
Troy's club has done the most to bond with the Wayne County clubs. The others are simply smaller -- or in the case of Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, effectively nonexistent.

Which is a shame, since Northville is as red as Birmingham, but the NDC managed to get 262 paid members in 2012 and are on pace to break that record in this off-year.

Gotta break that mindset that there's nothing to be gained from canvassing the "Bs." It shouldn't take a modern-day Diogenes -- wandering past the McMansions and gated communities, lantern in hand -- searching high and low for a honest Democrat. They're there, but probably don't realize that they're not alone.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison

[ Parent ]
So much for the single slate thing
I'm still not quite sure what happened at our 11th District Caucus Saturday.

Walking into a very crowded room I had no clue that my name had been offered with the others who had signed on those clipboarded sheets the previous Saturday as a so-called "Diversity Slate" -- which was everyone who'd expressed an interest but had not been included in the 41-member "Unity Slate."

I really thought that forming the Unity Slate would have ended the discussion: The random individuals who'd signed would be set aside, or asked by Jim Gualdoni to join an expanded Executive Committee once the dust settled (which, in fact, happened to me).

But no. Out of nowhere, we random individuals (about 12 in all) were presented as an alternate slate. Given that I had already verbally accepted Jim's offer the week before, when I saw my name on the wall as a "Diversity" candidate for Executive Committee I walked up and crossed it off before the vote.

That said, it a room packed with more than 200 people -- about evenly split between Wayne and Oakland Counties in terms of bodies, but with the Oakland side getting more say because the new 11th has more residents from north of Eight Mile -- very few grasped how slate voting works.

The four District officers ran unopposed, so that wasn't an issue. It happened when UAW reps from the Wayne County side tried, again and again, to suspend the rules and force through the entire 41-member Unity slate without a vote. But they were hamfisted, ignorant of the rules -- both the MDP's and Robert's -- and in the end their rudeness cost the Unity Slate some seats.

With proportional voting for the 15 Executive Committee slots, the dominant slate got more than 90% of the vote...electing just 14 of their 15 candidates. With names being listed in a particular order, the 15th name on the Unity Slate was the one who got bumped for the top name on the Diversity Gaggle.

Same thing happened with the four State Central Committee votes (Male and Female Members, and Female and Male Alternates). But, as the meeting wore on, more and more people got pissed at that small group of UAW reps who insisted on suspending the rules -- and what had been a 90-10 split became more like 80-20, with fewer abstentions.

Long story short, two of the Unity candidates at the bottom of their lists were bumped. And I'm now an Alternate member of the MDP State Central Committee -- because my name had been scrawled as the first of three for that race and I did NOT cross it off.

I might have been a pawn in some stupid power game behind the scenes, but at least in that one race for one insignificant position I was someone's favorite pawn.

Who knows? Maybe Chairman Johnson will give the SCC more of a role than they had under Chairman Brewer (something about rubber stamps), and this whole thing might actually be relevant. We'll see.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison

[ Parent ]
Here is some hard data....
from the Sixth District. These are folks I've talked to, and are confirmed coming to the Convention.

Brewer 9
Johnson 15
Undecided 9

They would work out as follows in proportional votes:

Brewer 38.96
Johnson 62.30
Undecided 55.74

This is about the number of people who typical attend Convention from the Sixth. A bunch of our regulars can't come, and this includes new folks I have found who are coming.

so, unless (1) the undecideds break for Brewer, or (2) a lot of folks come out of the woodwork who have not attended Convention before (which is certainly possible), and they break for Brewer, then Lon has the edge.

[ Parent ]
Not Sure
Not sure if there is any way to really "poll" this race within a good degree of probability and precision. Total potential voting population is about, what, 20,000 people? Then the votes have to be apportioned by each district's delegated votes.

Grebner, what do you think?

On a side point:
Most of the 'polling' that presumably has been conducted was moreso about identifying prospective support or opposition by the respective candidates. If an individual offers up that they are supporting the candidate that polled  them, then they'll be contacted as much as possible to ensure they get to the convention; conversely, if they are stating support for... oh you know how it works -- but I thought it was a point worth making, that the 'polls' that have previously been commented upon were conducted not for empirical gauging of the race, but for determining turnout targets.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Thanks Mike
Basically, I don't think that Lessenberry or MIRS can really say who's "leading" or if the vote is "tied." For the reasons you stated.

One thing is certain however, Brewer does not want the 1,400 new members voting, probably because most of those will vote for Johnson.

[ Parent ]
Impossible to tell. Lessenberry is just spouting off about what he doesn't know (per usual) and I'd guess MIRS' "momentum" article is referring to the pace and number of endorsements going Lon's way.  

[ Parent ]
Knowing the state party numbers game...
... but not knowing the names included on those membership forms.... I wouldn't expect that even half of those numbers will turn out. I also wouldn't expect that they would be determinative of the outcome.

By far, the largest pots of apportioned delegate strength are:

Congressional District 5.
Congressional District 9.
Congressional District 12.
Congressional District 13.
Congressional District 14.

From those five congressional districts, I anticipate that Mr. Johnson wins these district votes by substantial margins. The margin in the Detroit-anchored districts 13 and 14 alone will probably be brutally pro-Johnson.

And with that, coupled with solid numbers throughout the rest of the districts (even if it means absorbing losses in District 1, 2, 4 or elsewhere) I anticipate he'll win the overall race by a respectable count.

My expectation of that outcome is not contingent on the 1,000-plus UAW member deluge. I believe that is a psychological effort to convey organizational might beyond what will fully materialize in Cobo Hall.

Whether my prediction is folly or not, I hope it remains a respectable, organized and democratic affair.

P.S. -- But, yes, I imagine Mr. Lessenberry is basing it upon reading of tea leaves (a/k/a reading the latest waves of endorsements and calling up his Huntington Woods neighbors who previously held office or stay plugged in to the party and getting their read of the landscape -- not that there is anything wrong with that!), not exhaustive polling information.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
MIRS reports MDP Executive Committee votes by large margin
to allow 1300 new members as delegates.

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