How the CA Party Killed the Net Neutrality Resolution

bumped - Matt

(cross-posted from Calitics)

And the rest of the resolutions they did not want to have heard...

I learned a lot about the process of how resolutions are dealt with at California Democratic Party Conventions this weekend.  It is not particularly democratic, which is not surprising.  The party leaders decide what has a chance of getting approved and use the process to push off to the side any other proposed resolutions.

Take for instance the net neutrality resolution, which one would think should be heard in front of the Computer and Internet Caucus.  Instead we learned upon arriving at the convention that it has been, along with a bunch of other resolutions, referred to another caucus, thereby eliminating any potential avenue for its viability at this party meeting.  There is no process whereby you can appeal this move by collecting signatures, or any other appeals process.

So how and why did it get referred to the Labor Caucus?

Several weeks ago the Party leadership and upper level staff had a conference call lasting several hours to discuss the proposed resolutions.  They have these calls prior to every convention.  At that meeting they discuss who is on either side of the issue, what the party has at stake and decide what to do about them.  They have several choices.  The ones they want to have heard are allowed to proceed.  All others are either denied due to technicalities, or referred to other committees.

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.

The only way a net neutrality resolution will ever have a chance of being endorsed by the California Democratic Party is to have CWA on board.  The focus would have to be on how packets get treated and not deal at all with the issue of big companies like Google helping pay for building out the next generation of high speed in the country.  Otherwise the Party leaders will deny us at every turn.  Now it is possible to navigate the system and pass a net neutrality resolution, but it will take a lot of effort to make it happen.

Back to the process for a minute.  The Party leadership knows very well about the ability to do as someone did today, end the session abruptly by calling for a quorum.  In fact, they have a delegate prepared in advance to do just that if a resolution they do not want to have approved makes it through the appeals process (signature gathering) to make it to the floor.  That is not what happened today.  In fact, this was exactly what they did not want to have happen, as was evident in Chair Torres's reaction.  They had already set it up in a way that was favorable to them and wanted the debate that was occurring to happen.  Now they will have to deal with the fallout from a number of upset delegates.

This was an eye opening experience for me and a lot of bloggers.  We learned a lot about how the process works.  If we do ever work to support a resolution we must be prepared to compromise and work with the leadership, while still pressuring from the outside with grassroots support like the impeachment resolution folks did.  Bloggers are very good about working strategically.  This is one case where we would have to do just that.

Tags: CDP, net neutrality (all tags)

Comments

10 Comments

A very undemocratic Democratic convention

Speaking of thinking strategically, ISTM that one of our goals must be to force the Democratic Party, at the national, state, and local levels, to have small-d democratic processes.

We're the party that's supposed to be about the people.  If a bunch of insiders get to decide what they think the people want and should get, then we've got a long ways to go in that direction.

by RT 2007-04-30 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: A very undemocratic Democratic convention

Absolutely, and we are already starting to see a dialogue between the blogosphere and "the Party".  The Chair of the Rules committee has already left a comment in dday's thread on Calitics, soliciting suggestions on how to improve things.  I have already emailed several times with him today.  I think by having a discussion out in the open we will affect change.  I am actually encouraged this morning, whereas I was pretty dispirited yesterday afternoon.

by juls 2007-04-30 08:52AM | 0 recs
Alternatives
  As much as I would like to see the California Democratic Party adopt more democratic process, the fact is that California will be as large a challange as the nation as a whole.  
  Building the party and eventually moving enough progressives up through the CaDP ranks to make is a laudable goal; however, if the immediate goal is net neutrality, the referendum process is much more likely to succeed.  In fact, the issue will be much easier to co-opt into the CA machine once it has been codifyed into CA law.  This strategy makes it much more difficult for interests in either party from sabotaging the progressive movement.
by jefedelosjefes64105 2007-04-30 05:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Alternatives

Perhaps, but AT&T has lots and lots of money, and resolutions are expensive. Bing spent $80 million on Prop 87 (oil tax) and that still failed. I suppose we could get it through if Yahoo and Google poured some cash in, but it seems unlikely.

by utbrian 2007-04-30 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: How the CA Party Killed the Net Neutrality Res

How can the Democratic Party transform our deformed democracy into an authentic democracy if it is not functioning democratically itself?

It is gut-wrenching to see the same old special interests skew decision-making processes inside the party on a matter as critical to the future of our country as net neutrality, just like they skew them outside the party in electoral and legislative processes at all levels of government.

The sabotage of the net neutrality proposals before the California Democratic Party Convention by the CWA, a labor union no less, working as an extension of its telecom bosses, is a perfect example of how our democracy has been hi-jacked by large corporations who have penetrated even into the inner sanctums of the Democratic Party at state level.

These machinations convince me that the progressive movement is not going to be able to get control of the Democratic Party anytime soon, especially since we see in the campaign finance filings of the major presidential candidates that upwards of 85% of their contributions come from large corporations and wealthy individuals, not individuals making small contributions. The system is driven by 'Big Money', not American voters, who end up with elected representatives who sell out their constituents' interests to their corporate campaign contributors.

If and when net neutrality goes down the tubes politically and the telecoms impose monopoly pricing on voters' Internet access, they will take the progressive movement and the remaining tatters of our democracy down with it.

I am probably quite biased on the subject, but there is only one way that I know of for citizens at the grassroots to reshape this deformed system of government within the foreseeable future. I apologize for appearing to push Citizens' Winning Hands (www.CitizensWinningHands.net) but if there's a better more workable grassroots strategy by which American voters can salvage our democracy within the next 20 years, I'd like to know what it is.

What it does is provide a web-based mechanism by which grassroots voters and authentic democratic stakeholder groups can build autonomous winning voting blocs inside, outside and across party lines to regain control of electoral and legislative processes. With this mechanism, grassroots voters ALONE will decide whether they want to leave the major political parties standing or relegate them to the dust bin of history, where I am increasingly inclined to believe they belong.

by Nancy Bordier 2007-04-30 06:53AM | 0 recs
How the CA Party Killed the Net Neutrality

The bloggers in California are not big enough and powerful enough to do this alone.  They have the respect of the CDP, but not the leverage.  We need to cultivate partners that can tap into the activist communities and mobilize people so that we can get an inside-outside strategy the way that progressives did on the impeachment issue.  Fortunately, I was told that PDA is going to spend the next year "scaring our membership to death" about net neutrality.  "Without net neutrality, we can't organize," I was told.  So I think the opportunity is there to coordinate on the issue and get the partners we need.  There are good people who want to move forward and take up this fight.  I know what Governor Richardson said to us in our private meeting with him (more on that later).  "Don't let the telcos swallow you up, because they'll take you out."  If you explain this issue to people, it hits them where they live.  I'm confident we can duplicate the inside-outside strategy.  But it will take an incredible effort.

by dday 2007-04-30 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: How the CA Party Killed the Net Neutrality

Absolutely, that is the way to go.  

I did not want to demonize the Party or the leadership, or CWA for that matter, with this post.  I simply wanted to expose how the system operates, so we can hopefully make it a bit better and so we can have the knowledge on how to successfully maneuver within it.  13 issues made it through that process and I do believe we can get net neutrality through as well.

by juls 2007-04-30 08:16AM | 0 recs
Make Sure Your People Stay

The other thing to remember is that floor action is always possible, IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE ON THE FLOOR.

Often organizations, businesses, and parties will have the voting business on Sunday of a weekend convention - as was the case in CA this weekend.

The organizational rationale is two-fold for doing the voting on the last day.  First, it gives organizers and potential voters enough time to lobby, be lobbied, compromise, educate, and prepare for the vote.  More Machiavellian though, is the fact that less people are around for a Sunday vote in almost every case then if the vote was on Saturday.  This was the case at the CDP convention yesterday as HUGE NUMBERS of people were gone by this time.

On Saturday there were so many people running around supporting different resolutions that it was hard to imagine any of them failing, but by the time Sunday rolled around scores of people had left.

by Mister T in AZ 2007-04-30 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: How the CA Party Killed the Net Neutrality

"The focus would have to be on how packets get treated..."

Ok, so why not focus on that and get it done?  This is the part of net neutrality that is the most important imho.  Provide legislation requiring unrestricted and undegraded access to content.  Fight out who pays for it later.

I would also point out that Google is a non-union shop, and has resisted attempts to organize it's labor force.  While it is handing out plenty of perks now, the future remains to be seen.

by viperlmw 2007-04-30 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: How the CA Party Killed the Net Neutrality

I agree with you completely.  That is the path I think we should take.

FYI..I have a few clarifications and corrections to this post I put in a new thread at Calitics.

by juls 2007-04-30 01:52PM | 0 recs

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