Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The 2008 Nevada State Convention

You could say we were "Delegates" to the convention if you want, but we weren't counted in the final "Delegate Count." We were 'invited' to upgrade to Delegate and paid to attend so we could represent Clinton, but we like many other Clinton Alternates weren't allowed to upgrade to "Delegate" until AFTER they did the final credentials count ... so they could make sure Obama could steal extra delegates from Hillary. In my book, that's corruption at it's worst and not a recipe to 'unite' a party. So ... don't begin adding additional insult to injury by asking us to support and contribute to a party who abdicated its role to ensure the campaigns didn't corrupt what was clearly the Party's responsibility to manage. I'll support a candidate who espouses my values ... but I'll not support a Party organization that allows such corruption of its nomination processes.

Here is a copy of my feedback letter that I sent to our illustrious NV State Party Chairman regarding the corrupted Nevada State Convention:

After attempting to participate in this weekend’s Nevada Democratic Convention, I’m no longer surprised why many voters across America feel so disenfranchised and why they no longer bother to participate in the process. What Roger and I experienced in Reno was politics at its absolute worst, which left us angry and disillusioned.

The Convention began with temporary Convention Chair, Richard Bryan, rudely mishandling the opening of convention business. He directed microphones to be turned off, he ignored or sorely abused Robert’s Rules of Order, and he bulldozed through the early agenda items by declaring that the ‘ayes have it’ when clearly, any reasonable person would have expected him to say, “the chair is in question and a standing vote is in order.” But, all of that was nothing compared to how Alternates were treated, or should I say, mistreated.

The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee was asked to supply a list of Delegates and Alternates to the state organization, which we did along with a contact list of every person who attended the County Convention. A Delegate and Alternate list was also supplied to the Clinton Campaign when we received an inquiry as to who our Delegates and Alternates were. Roger and I were submitted as Alternates for Clinton, as was Ed (last name withheld here). Nicki (last name withheld here) was submitted as an Alternate for Obama. When we arrived on Friday, NOT ONE of the four of us were on the “Alternates” list. Roger and I had been expressly invited by the Clinton Campaign to upgrade to Delegates, so we expected to find ourselves on the “Delegates” list for Humboldt County. We were neither on the Delegates list, nor were we on the Alternate list. Even though all 4 of us (Roger, Nicki, Ed and I) had prepaid our registration fees for the Convention, we were all turned away from the Registration area on Friday because none of us were “on the list.” We were told there was nothing they could do and that we should return on Saturday morning to see if anything had changed.

Because Roger and I were Clinton Alternate/Delegates, we sought out someone from the Clinton campaign and talked to a lady named, Brin (?). She said she had our names on a list and that they had a meeting with the Obama campaign at 10 PM Friday night to talk about the upgrading of Alternates. She explained that she had our phone number and would call us after that meeting concluded to let us know what was up. We received no such call. (Hello ... the process of upgrading Alternates to Delegates is an express function of the Credentials committee ... not the campaigns!)

On Saturday morning, we arrived at Registration promptly at 7 AM and were, once again, turned away because we were “not on the list.” We weren’t on the Delegate list (as we expected to be) nor were we on the Alternate list. Finally, at 8:30 AM, we magically appeared on the “Alternate” list and were able to receive an “Alternate” badge. We could, at least, sit in the Alternates area and observe the convention business. The best Nicki and Ed could get were “Guest” credentials, even though they had been reported as Humboldt County Alternates and even though they presented their credentials forms they had completed at the County Convention. When Roger and I asked when we would be able to upgrade our Alternate’s credentials for Delegate Credentials, we were told that would happen at 10 AM. That time came and went and we were told the revised time would be 12 Noon instead. But 12 Noon came and went, and it wasn’t until 2:05 PM that we finally received our Delegate credentials.

The Credentials committee should have known how may Delegates each County was entitled to seat. There were credentialed Alternates waiting desperately to be seated as Delegates. They purposefully failed to seat any Alternates as Delegates until AFTER the final Delegate count. I have belonged to a number of organizations and have served as a convention registration chair, a credentials chair, and a convention chairperson. Never have I ever seen a final credentials report submitted to the convention body before all eligible Alternates have be seated as Delegates. A FINAL Credentials Report should be submitted to the convention body only after all eligible Alternates have been seated as Delegates! To do otherwise distorts the true representation of the body, which is exactly what happened.

The problem with the timing of events described above is that by the time they finally credentialed the Alternates as Delegates, the final credentials report had already been submitted to the convention body and none of the Clinton Alternates, who were eligible to be seated as Delegates, were recognized as Delegates until after that final count. Thus, they weren’t counted, wouldn’t be counted and Obama managed to walk away with 2 Clinton Delegate seats to the National Convention! From our perspective, and based on the number of people sitting around in the Alternates/Guests Room who were holding Clinton signs, or who were wearing Clinton shirts, there were far more Clinton Alternates waiting to be seated than Obama Alternates.
Now, I know that we were told that it’s up to the campaign just exactly who they want to upgrade from Alternate to Delegate (not an agreement between both campaigns where one campaign can refuse to seat any) . But in our case, we were expressly invited to upgrade to Delegate by the Clinton Campaign Regional Field Director - Ryan Patrick Donohue. We were also told by Cindy Trigg that because of that invitation, we should register and pay our registration fees on the NVDems site. Based on the reliance that we were to be upgraded to Delegate and would be able to support Clinton, we paid $100 in Convention fees, made hotel reservations and gassed up the truck for the trip to Reno. Absent that invitation, we would NOT have committed to those expenses. We would have stayed home since we’re retired and have a limited income. As we see it, monies we expended to attend the convention were ill-spent as we were unable to support Clinton … the whole purpose for our attendance.

  • From: Ryan Donohue [mailto:rdonohue@hillaryclinton.com]
    Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2008 1:56 PM
    Subject: Delegates to the State Convention

    Hello, I am writing to inform you that you both will be able to be delegates to the state convention in Reno!

    Please let me know that you will be able to attend and that you have rooms and transportation details locked in. If you are unable to attend, please let me know that ASAP as well.

    Ryan Patrick DonohueRegional Field Director - Hillary Clinton for President
    Cell - 702-985-8148
But, all of that aside, the final insulting moment occurred shortly after we were finally credentialed as Delegates. We participated in the rural caucus to vote on the at-large members to the NVDems Executive Committee. Once voting was completed, we were told by the Caucus Chair that based on the Delegate counts (which wouldn’t be updated to include the newly credentialed Alt/Delegates), Obama would be the candidate going forward from the Rurals and that ONLY the Obama Delegates would be allowed to vote on who the one male delegate to National Convention would be. We were told to go find something else to do while the Obama folks voted on who that representative would be. That was enough for us! It was apparent that no one wanted to “unify” anything and that neither our input nor our presence was valued. We left. We’d had enough abuse and didn’t need any more.

From our perspective, this weekend was all about ‘who’ was able to exert enough power to deny others the ability to support their views and their candidate. While we have no absolute proof that the Obama campaign conspired to prevent people supporting Clinton from participating in the Convention process, perceptions are reality. We’re left with our perceptions from having to overcome one obstacle after another and having a pretty good impression that the 10PM meeting between the two campaigns prevented many Clinton Alternates from being upgraded and counted as Delegates. It left us with a very bad taste of politics at its very worst. There were no attempts at unity … only attempts to exclude. And, if our perceptions truly are reality, Obama’s promise of hope and change is nothing more than a massive illusion that he and his organizers are perpetrating on the masses.

As it stands now, I doubt I’ll ever be able to convince Roger to participate in any other State Democratic events and I seriously doubt that either of us will contribute any money to the ‘party’ itself given the way we were mistreated. You can’t blame how we were treated on the individual Candidate Campaigns. The “Democratic Party” doesn’t have the right to abdicate its role in assuring fair and equitable treatment of its members by the campaigns. I have belonged to a number of organizations and I have never attended any other convention, for any other organization, where final Delegate counts were taken before Alternates were seated. Things happen and people can’t attend. That’s why Alternates are elected/selected and why they stand ready to participate in the original Delegate’s stead. The Party should have established rules to ensure the process isn’t corrupted and to ensure elected Alternates are seated prior to any final accounting of Candidate-Delegate counts.

Going forward from here, please be advised that we’re quite unhappy with the “party” organization itself. While we’ll be happy to support individual candidates who espouse our values, I doubt we could find it in our heart to provide much support for an organization that abdicates its responsibilities and condones such ill-treatment of its members. We don’t want nor do we need an apology. What we do need, however, is for the Nevada Democratic Party to fix its processes so no other Democrat is ever treated as badly as we were this weekend.
Good luck trying to 'unite' the party after that fiasco!

No comments: