Monday, April 30, 2007

CA Dem Party insiders kill net neutrality resolution.

This is the first in a series of posts about the convention. Today's entry focuses on what certainly appears to be an effort by certain factions higher up in the state party to kill a resolution on net neutrality.

First, some background on what exactly resolutions are for the California Democratic Party.

Resolutions, essentially, are statements of philosophical intent that are non-binding regarding any particular piece of party business, but are supposed to be used a guideline for the party in general, and shows that the party is on record as supporting particular stances or issues. Resolutions are considered for passage by the Resolutions Committee at the convention.

The process for getting a resolution to the Resolutions Committee is simple: get it sponsored by 25 members of the State Central Committee (i.e., delegates such as myself), or get it sponsored by any charted Democratic club. At the convention, any resolution that does not meet the "philosophical intent" guideline--say, a resolution calling for supporting a particular piece of legislation, or calling for a particular amount of funding to be given to a particular project--are referred to a more relevant committee for discussion and debate. If a resolution is not approved, it can still be brought to the floor by getting 300 signatures of voting delegates--or at least, that's the way it used to be. More on that below.

So, to the issue at hand. There was a resolution on net neutrality that was appropriately sponsored and made its way to the Resolutions Committee. When we checked the status of the net neutrality resolution, we saw that it had been referred to...the Labor Caucus.

Now, that made a lot of us say, WTF?. This is really strange, because a caucus has no legislative authority in the Party to be able to do anything with the resolution after the referral--it's essentially a death sentence for the resolution, since after the referral there is no longer any mechanism for bringing the resolution to the floor to be able to get it adopted. And why is that? Because of an obscure rule change this year which prevents resolutions from being brought to the floor by signature unless they are totally killed in Committee. So because the net neutrality resolution was not killed, but was just referred, it could not be brought to the floor by any mechanism in the party rules.

Secondly--why the Labor Caucus, of all places, especially when there's a Technology and Internet Caucus? Well, the answer may likely have to do with AT&T and the Communications Workers of America (CWA). For some background on why CWA is opposing net neutrality, please read this piece by Matt Stoller at MyDD.

So, okay then. CWA opposes net neutrality. So what does that have to do with the Resolutions Committee of the California Democratic Party? I'll let Juls at Calitics take it from here. You should read the whole piece, though I warn you that some of what she has is as of yet unconfirmed.

In this case they knew that AT&T, a major party donor and sponsor of the convention, opposed the deal. Since Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, 1st Vice-Chair of the Party sits on the Executive Board of CWA #9400 they knew about CWA's issues with net neutrality. They also knew that Jim Gordon, Chair of the Labor Caucus, is also with CWA. Thus, they could be assured that the concerns of the organization would be addressed when the resolution is heard at a later date. In addition, one must be a member of a union and a dues paying member of the Labor Caucus to be heard at their meetings. Those supporting net neutrality would be unlikely to have someone to carry this for them at any meeting.

Now, there were obviously conversations between the Resolutions Committee and party leadership about the resolutions that had been proposed. That's par for the course, and it is, of course, impossible to know what was discussed about the net neutrality resolution, or who said what, and there's no foolproof way to know which party officials would have been most responsible. But to sum up the facts once again:

A resolution on net neutrality which would countervail the desires of a major party sponsor and a party vice-chair, was killed by referring it to a caucus (after which it can no longer be passed by petition) that not only has no legislative authority to deal with it, but whose chairman also belongs to the same union that is opposed to the deal and whose membership is the most exclusive since you must be a card-carrying union member to have voting rights.

Stuff like this is why we need to have more people with our values at the higher levels of party infrastructure--so we can know what's going on with little tricks like this and hold people accountable. I myself am going to request an appointment to a Party committee this week--I hope that some of my fellow delegate bloggers do the same.

No comments :