Conducting the Delegate Selection Caucus in the 5th District is always a challenge, and Saturday was no exception. Thanks to the organizing prowess of 5th CD Chair Catherine Smith, along with her team of rock star volunteers, the event was a huge success. With few exceptions, caucus goers were in good spirits and polite. There were 77 candidates who qualified for 7 delegate slots and around 800 attendees. It wasn’t quite as large as the Historic 2008 5th District Caucus™ organized by Page and I, but it came close. And now it’s done, and well done Catherine. That’s the good news. Now for the bad.

What follows should not reflect negatively on any Congressional District Chair, or even the Democratic Party of Georgia. It should however reflect negatively on the DNC, whose rules for delegate caucuses are outdated and easily gamed. The executive summary is that it’s a hot mess that needs to be completely rethought before 2016.

As it stands, these caucuses aren’t for rank and file Democrats and that’s a shame. Every four years, the same cast of characters (young and old) comes out of the woodwork to steal the show. Most of the new ones are all about Obama and have never stepped foot in a party meeting. Most of the old ones are all about themselves and rarely step foot in a party meeting. They have little or no connection to the party, so why they all want to go to convention is a mystery. For whatever reason they do, and with a passion. Maybe it’s because they’ve seen it on TV. Who knows.

What should be a unique opportunity to build the party every four years is anything but. Instead of a well deserved reward for 4 years of party service, or a means to engage new Democrats, delegate slots effectively go to the highest bidder. It’s hard to imagine how the process could be less democratic. Case in point.

As he did in 2008, Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin rolled in with 3 motor coaches stuffed with Senior citizens. Many were frail or of advanced age (one woman was 97). Some seemed confused about why they were there, and several asked “When do I vote for Obama?” Many had difficulty walking or even standing, so special provisions had to be made to get them into the hall and seated.

It was a worrying sight and I couldn’t help wondering if their families knew they were there. If not, I doubt they would have approved.

Only 3 support staff (that I counted), accompanied over 200 Seniors. They brought food and water (C.T. buys them all lunch), but Martin staff often seemed more concerned with the Senior’s paperwork, than with their care and safety. Unfortunately, that responsibility fell somewhat on our party members. One of our long time Fulton Dems ended up escorting dozens of frail Senior men in and out of the restroom all day, at the specific request of a female Martin staffer. Thanks a pant load C.T.

Not to be too descriptive, but the condition of the women’s room was worse. There was only one ADA stall (as per code), with hand railings needed by aged people. With over 100 Senior women in the hall, the other stalls were used by necessity. In short, both Seniors and others who used the facilities were put at risk.

When one of the Senior women collapsed and had to be carried from the hall, thankfully two physicians were at the caucus. As far as I know, no nurses or doctors accompanied the Martin campaign, nor was there an ambulance on-site in case of emergency. The fact that no one died or was injured during the caucus doesn’t mean it wasn’t a dangerous situation.

As far as I know, C.T. Martin and his fellow slate members broke no caucus rules, but they did exploit loopholes that should be closed. For all I know, the Councilman is genuinely popular in his district, since he’s been re-elected a number of times. However, given his tactics, one wonders exactly who is serving whom. After watching the vote count for only a few minutes, it was clear the Seniors were given specific voting instructions. Ballot after ballot contained only the 4 people listed on the Martin slate, even though voters could have chosen up to 7 candidates.

For his part, C.T. Martin was rude and confrontational. When told that the hall was at capacity, he responded by yelling at Catherine. Having already bused in 200 people, he claimed to have 3 more buses on the way and demanded to know what she intended to do about it. A solution was reached, but thankfully they never arrived.

Of the 77 candidates who originally qualified, only half came to the podium to speak. No doubt others were discouraged by the obvious set up. Of the 7 candidates elected, 6 were African-American and two were elected officials. If this had happened organically, it would have been a good thing. It did not and does not accurately reflect the diversity of the 5th District or the inclusive nature of our esteemed Congressman.

Like C.T. Martin, Terrinee Gundy Briggs pulled out ALL THE STOPS in her bid for delegate, but unlike C.T. Martin, she did it the right way. As one of only 3 people not on the Martin slate who won, she earned votes with charm, spirit and a whole bunch of goodies. Terrinee had an over the top presentation that included: a RV, huge spread of delicious food, a DJ, toys for kids, pretty young volunteers in t-shirts, and a pony carrying her banner. Yes, a pony. She calls it a stallion, but to us 2012 will always be the year of the pony.

In any fair election, Terrinee would have been the top female vote getter instead of last to make the list. While this level of expenditure shouldn’t be necessary, she shouldn’t be dinged for it either. It was excessive yes, but it was all in good fun. She made a positive impact and enlivened the caucus. She won fair and square.

I don’t know her, but was impressed by what I saw. Terrinee seems like exactly the sort of Democrat we need to attract to the party: a young, professional, energetic, and spirited woman. She worked hard and deserves to represent us at the convention. Others, not so much.

Part of what rubs party people raw about caucus rules is something most people don’t know. These caucuses are organized and conducted by state and county party members who also foot the bill. The DNC and DPG provide zero funds, so CD Chairs are expected to raise their own funds or cover it out of pocket. The cost for this year’s 5th CD caucus was almost $3,000. As in previous years, it falls to party members as individuals to help out. If we don’t come through, the same woman who got yelled at by C.T. Martin, also gets stuck with the tab. Thank you sir, may I have another?

In 2008, we didn’t have venue fees, but Page and I covered all other expenses. This is an “off the books” contribution since there’s no way to submit an in-kind form or even write it off on taxes. I tried to submit an in-kind form to the DPG in 2008, complete with receipts, but it was never posted. Whatever. This level of expense should not be a condition of serving as a Congressional District Chair or Vice Chair with the DPG, especially given everything else on their plates.

Who should pay? The most logical answer would be the delegate candidates. Don’t want to join the party? Fine, but you don’t get a free ride. If candidates can afford to spend thousands on buses, lunches, toys, games, DJs, signs, and every other thing, they can certainly afford a modest qualifying fee. If the 77 candidates in the 5th District had been required to pay a $35 qualifying fee (the same as Fulton Dems pay to qualify as voting members), this would have covered 90% of the cost.

An alternate, but less acceptable, approach would be to charge an entry fee to vote. If the 800+ attendees were required to pay $5 to vote, we would have easily covered expenses. This would also eliminate, or at least curtail, candidates gaming the system. They would have to earn their votes fair and square. BTW, none of these issues are restricted to the 5th and none of them are new. It’s the same in every Georgia Congressional District only on a smaller scale, and apparently always has been.

If I’m still around in 2016, more than likely I’ll be involved in the caucus again. If Hillz runs, I’ll be all up in the mess. However, between now and then, the rules must change to prohibit busing and “pay for play” voting. In addition to being counter productive as party policy, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or dies on site. The current level of exposure should be unacceptable to the entire DPG Executive Committee, provided they were still permitted to speak. As well, elected officials should only be allowed to run in the At-large or PLEO elections.

Otherwise, we might as well start planning right now to hold the 2016 caucus at the Senior high-rise. At least that will ensure these citizens will be safe from harm, but more so, safe from those who would exploit them for their own selfish purposes.

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58 Responses to Nobody died and we had a pony

  1. ire says:

    Can we get a link to back of some of these stories about Terrinee?

  2. JMPrince says:

    The slut is correct. (Someone has to say it). It all comes down to the purpose of the ‘vetting’. This is not for a judgeship, or a cabinet or an ambassador post. It’s much simpler than that. The main considerations? Are you a threat to the POTUS and/or his family & other high ranking members of the administration? Have you been a threat to anyone else in the past? Do you have a criminal record & what’s the nature and character of it if so? That’s likely most what they’re checking for. Next, if they’ve got the time or information (which they often don’t) is anyone who might prove to be a huge embarrassment politically if the media wanted to play it that way. Not if you’re a ‘nice person’, if you’ve ever been divorced, if that divorce was ‘amicable’, if your kids are well adjusted, or even if you’re making your money ‘ethically’. They might want to run an IRS check to see if you’ve paid taxes in the last few years, if possible. (That’s mostly just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, something Mitt still can’t & won’t do for much of the last 5-10+ years, BTW).

    But much of the detail included here would be obviously missed. Someone prone & known to be carrying and using a vuvuzela might be more likely to be barred from the proceedings. Lying on your resume or lying in general, to everyone about everything? By trying to enforce that whimsical edict we’d have to empty Washington DC out twice daily to rid the precincts of such miscreants. Ditto for all the State Capitols on down the line. And we’d still be running behind the task by substantial numbers, even with all the magic. JMP

  3. slut says:

    Um ah, no chance she’s divorcing you dj C?

    In the interest of accuracy, the blog post was about the caucus not Ms. Briggs. Observations made about folks that showed up, participated, volunteered are just that observations. In depth dossiers are not part of vetting to my knowledge and only a small number of folks in GA would even know what that process is. Pretty sure it boils down to being a registered voter and not having a felony rap sheet.

  4. Peaches says:

    The caucus is over. She won. No one here campaigned or vouched for her. Maybe the vetting process should be revamped too. The whole process is a mess.

  5. Peaches says:

    As I wrote, I don’t know Terrinee Briggs, but enjoyed meeting her on Saturday. The Obama campaign vets everyone who applies to be a delegate to the convention. She passed DNC and OFA vetting. Whatever issues she might have, or you might have with her, if she’s good enough for President Obama, she’s certainly good enough to represent her community.

  6. slut says:

    ah, dj C, you realize the only “support” was a tip of the hat for her style running a popularity contest for a seat at a 3 day long convention right? It’s not like anyone is endorsing her for Chief Justice.

    But if this is the case, as you say, seems the DNC/DPG vetting process is pretty weak and awful.

    Once folks are on the ballot, not a lot anyone can do but assume they are welcome to run for a $5,000 dollar you pay yourself to attend a giant pep rally.

  7. nonchalant says:

    Just an observation. I was present for the entire caucus and this is exactly why we need to have serious reform into this process and hope that we can work once this cycle is over to make that happen. Some will try to “poo poo” the criticism made about certain participants, but hopefully even they can see that this unfunded mandate of the DNC onto our local party officials simply cannot continue in this present form. We can argue and scream until we’re magenta as to what our concept of democracy is, but unless there’s a sensitivity to the role that the CD Chair is forced to play into this process, and so far, I’m really not feeling it on the part of some, then I’m not exactly sure how you can call it a true democratic process. This is not a reflection on any of the winners but just to the procedure as outlined and mandated by DNC.

  8. Juliana says:

    Steve P, thanks for the report.

    Blue lights flashing.. now that’s almost as good as a pony!

    Ours ran about $700 too. Most of it was the location, a school. But the wifi wasn’t great, so the tech guys worked something else out-I’m not asking what.

    The 100% need for internet is going to make selection of locations like schools a challenge, or perhaps not…by 2016 who knows what we will be operating off of.

  9. Steve Perkins says:

    4th: We actually went very smoothly. Cost about $700 and actually reimbursed by the CD Chair. Rep Billy Mitchell. RJ stepped in when our Chair resigned in February and our Vice chair was involved in the Legislative Session. Got the two counties involved organized.. found a place for virtually nothing. Little bit of drama with a few days to go as to who was going to run the caucus. but that got worked out. Only problem we had was internet access on caucus day we did not have wi-fi. Fortunately my mobile could host five devices so we were up an running on time.

    Of course I realized 30 minutes later that I did not have AC power for the mobile and it was not going to last through registration. I actually had a deputy sheriff run me home with blue lights on to get the cord. That was a hoot. we only had about 300 show up so no buses and no long lines.

    I would give the 4th a B+

  10. Cranky & crusty says:

    Anyone hear what happened in the 13th? Or the 4th?

    Looks like the 6th and 11th chimed in.. what say you folks in the other metro districts…huh

  11. CatherineAtlanta says:

    Mr Bryan,

    Since you were there on Saturday, surely you can see that future caucuses will require additional professionally trained staff on hand to assist those seniors who are unable to walk on their own into the auditorium and to the restrooms. As well, my recommendation for future caucuses will include a standby ambulance. Seeing that need, my question is: Who pays for that?

    Looking out at the crowd from the podium gave me both the thrill of a diverse audience and fear for the elderly and frail that were, as caucus chair, my responsibility. Thankfully, we had physicians on hand (one a volunteer and one a candidate) when the woman fainted. As well, thankfully, it was a treatable situation.

    I am very sorry that Councilman Martin felt that he had to be unpleasant to me, and to other volunteers. I am a volunteer, who paid for the renting of the hall, the hiring of the security officers, and other expenses related to the caucus. I work with many Democrats throughout the year, and Councilman Martin is the only one who has yelled at me and treated me with such disrespect. It’s really a shame. I’m sure we have a lot more in common than he might think.

  12. slut says:

    Well thank you for doing that. I’m sure at times it was fun and enjoyable, these events certainly have that element.

    However, this “election” wasn’t a great leap forward in any legislative or representative way.

    It was held to to elect a few individuals go to a convention where they will nominate the President for re-election.

    I’m sure we can all see that this is not exactly the same as what these same folks will honorably do in July and Nov at the polls. I certainly hope that all the SAME efforts will be made to see that they are brought to the polls, or helped to vote in whatever mechanism they choose.

    What happened saturday was more a popularity contest and not representative democracy.

  13. Vince Bryan says:

    Slut, (for lack of a better word)

    Not only was I there, I helped many of those same seniors that you spoke of. I was proud and enjoyed the conversations I had with some of the seniors I met. Especially, the old war vets that proudly wore their uniform insignia. I was taken aback just to past the time and allow them the stage to reminence on the days of old. So,that not only made their time go by, it helped put a smile on their face as well.

    What Mr. Martin did should not be frowned upon, but applauded for giving our seniors a something to look forward to every ” four years”. Allowing them to practice the same democratic process that they have practiced in years when they could move a little bit faster.

    I am ashamed that some of us can’t identify the great fiber of competition and when someone else has a better plan we try to pick up our ball, run home and cry foul play.

  14. slut says:

    Vince, question…. were you there on saturday? Because they really could have used your help.

    Many of your statements indicate to me you were not.

    Nothing was said about these folks beyond a serious concern for their safety and the issue it’s a long day for anyone especially seniors. The fact they appeared frail and needed help isn’t a insult, it’s a fact.

    I’m sure they are all super voters, and likely that why they were “asked” to be there. However, this pattern of behavior every four years on the part of Mr. Martin appears not to be the democratic process, but rather has a serious whiff of exploitation of these fine people.

    • Trent says:

      What is undemocratic about bringing people to the polls and letting them vote? Isn’t that the basis of Democracy itself?

      Do you not think Democrats target senior citizens during campaigns? Do you not think the Obama campaign will purposefully try to re-turn-out the people who voted for him last time. I do not see what is so undemocratic about voting.

      • Steve says:

        Okay, you seem to misunderstand what “bussing” people in is.

        And, somehow, we– the party that stands for the best person winning, not the one with the most money– are all too willing to praise those of our own that win using only their pocketbook, and not their efforts.

        I don’t know Councilman Martin, and nor do I know of him. And being as politically active as I am, I’d think that to be a problem. Many people lost on Saturday that were very deserving, including a former YDG President and John Lewis’ right hand man. The only reason CT Martin one was that he spent money and bussed people in. The literal opposite of democracy.

  15. Vince Bryan says:

    Dear Bob and Peaches,
    Your recent blog entitled “Nobody died and we had a pony” was inaccurate, inappropriate and excessively condescending towards the African-American community. We’re used to being attacked like this from republicans, but didn’t expect such a display from your blog. Your sentiment is eerily similar to the “ghetto grandmas” comments we’ve heard from the GOP to advance laws aimed at disenfranchising African-American seniors. Such a contention is unacceptable within our party. It does not reflect democratic values. The citizens that were present were professors, educators, business owners, home makers, students and young professionals.
    You seem to suggest that the African-American citizens that chose to attend the District 5 Delegate selection Caucus were unfit to vote. Although some of them may be “physically frail”, which is why transportation was provided, I take exception to the implication that they are mentally incapable. Many of these citizens are super voters and former educators, activists and civil servants of Atlanta. They enjoy the democratic process and look forward to being able to participate in caucuses like the one held Saturday. To imply that they’re not of sound mind is disgraceful and belittles the people who made Atlanta what it is today. They’ve fought and bled in the civil rights movement to fully enjoy their citizenship. You should be thanking them not attempting to diminish them in the minds of your readers.
    They chose to vote for Councilman C.T. Martin because he has served them faithfully .They know very well who their representatives are and seek opportunities to support them. The assertion that Councilman Martin conducted himself with anything other than integrity is pure embellishment and propaganda. Furthermore, if you think organizing over 500 people is easy then your knowledge of organizing must be called to question. Barack Obama would have been thankful for the participation on Saturday.
    Once it was concluded that no rules or ethical boundaries had been breached, the conversation should have ended. However, it was continued with the stench of sour grapes by those with no appreciation for the competitive element that makes our democracy so great. As it stands, the delegate selection process does not belong to you or those who provided you with the revisionist facts you recount. It belongs to District 5 voters, including African-Americans.
    I hope you will recant your statement and apologize to the intelligent and active African-American citizens who you have offended tremendously.


    Vince Bryan

  16. Vince Bryan says:

    bled in the civil rights movement to fully enjoy their citizenship. You should be thanking them not attempting to diminish them in the minds of your readers.
    They chose to vote for Councilman C.T. Martin because he has served them faithfully .They know very well who their representatives are and seek opportunities to support them. The assertion that Councilman Martin conducted himself with anything other than integrity is pure embellishment and propaganda. Furthermore, if you think organizing over 500 people is easy then your knowledge of organizing must be called to question. Barack Obama would have been thankful for the participation on Saturday.
    Once it was concluded that no rules or ethical boundaries had been breached, the conversation should have ended. However, it was continued with the stench of sour grapes by those with no appreciation for the competitive element that makes our democracy so great. As it stands, the delegate selection process does not belong to you or those who provided you with the revisionist facts you recount. It belongs to District 5 voters, including African-Americans.
    I hope you will recant your statement and apologize to the intelligent and active African-American citizens who you have offended tremendously.


    Vince Bryan

  17. Emily says:

    I guess busing in voters is okay, but only in the instance of Mayoral elections?

    CT is a tool and a waste of space on the City Council, but he knows all about organizing. It’s really too bad that he’s figured out a way to manipulate the system all these years.

  18. JMPrince says:

    Several things here for cleanup:

    1.) Mr. Steve Reed above is discussing things not all that pertinent to the thread, and though important, happened in MO, and are only the latest in 135 actions filed by this very active citizen. Needs a separate thread perhaps.

    2.) Getting back to the matter at hand, our CD Delegate selection process. For the 11th CD, as the host & Chair of the local county party, Bartow put out about $100 for materials including ice, all the sodas & all the snacks. I put on enough for about 60, which was well in above the 40-50 participants we had at the last largest gathering of this kind. Don Wilson was right in that we had about double the amount of participation as we might usually expect. That’s hard to plan for, and I was glad he finally got us enough water & more ice on the day. We ran out of snacks, but not water. So not too bad considering, and a fine turnout.

    3.) Counting ballots by hand usually is labor intensive and takes more volunteers than expected, especially when being observed. I’m not sure if this can be automated though. I was personally whipping folks to try and remain at the venue, but some folks did have other things to do & work to attend to. Being there since 8.30 I could relate, but I was constantly telling them to hold on & wait.

    4.) We had a big rush in the last hour or so when we had the most folks show up, <12, and the lines got clogged predictably. This is akin to the infamous 'bus scheduling problem', and was likely also predictable, although I do not recall it being that bad in prior years.

    5.) I personally spoke with most of the winning candidates, and all seemingly were personable, well educated and accomplished folks. They also were a pretty good looking bunch almost universally, which as I told our members in our county meeting last night, is an important criteria for a TV event. There's nothing being contested here at the convention, not much heavy lifting required, so we might as well go more for the glamor. (Being somewhat of a traditionalist, it's not what I look for first however). Sure, I suggested to one or more candidates my oft repeated suggestion of a universally agreed upon 'true objective criteria' of either Mass (Kg) or Height, but to little avail.

    6.) For me again the issue remains their (potential) further involvement in party politics. If it's a 'spur' or impetus to their increased participation, we've gained something valuable in return for this valuable auction. But make no mistake, this is a type of 'auction' where we essentially 'give away' one of the few true prizes of considerable value to all comers. Any Ga. Democrat can show up and can be selected to go to 'the big game', while many party regulars might indeed otherwise suffer in silence, knowing that they'll never experience it personally. That also incurs some considerable 'intangible' costs, disheartening many, and will tend to discourage participation from our older members. (And here 'older' need not mean 'ancient' but just merely 'middle aged' too).

    7.) Again my thoughts are that we need to recognize that there are some real costs to doing such an auction for delegates in such a manner. Sure, the 'at large' delegates are meant to address some of this disparity, but I'm not sure adequately. And history tells us that it's a triumph of 'hope over experience' that many such newly minted delegates are thus 'converted' to regular active party members at anything approaching expected return rates above, what, 25% or 1:4? Perhaps that's just expecting too much of the process. And perhaps we give away and 'sell' such real goods too cheaply for the 'good will' that it may otherwise bring elsewhere.

    8.) I suspect the original intention of the Delegate selection plan was dictated by reforms long ago that moved us away from more structured & rigid ways of determining who might be allowed to participate at such gatherings. And this is well & good and there's a real value to that sort of openness (cue Fannie Lou Hamer singing: We all need to be mindful of that, and the real progress seen here. So as I said at the top, a complex issue & problem with no easy answers. And I'm certain that we'll be arguing about this long after I've (hopefully) retired to BC too. Lots of good suggestions though, and perhaps we need more singing too. More music can't be all bad either. JMP

  19. Cobb Dem says:

    With no prior experience at an event like this, I don’t know if the 11th’s unexpected crowd was an aberration that won’t likely happen again after the 14th breaks off, or a sign of good things to come.

    No animals, and no rude candidates. There were not enough volunteers (I WAS warned to expect that) for the crowd. We had 4 people actively coordinating the day, plus the CD Chair/Candidate who could only do some things, and the DPG Rep. How I wish Justin, our Republican Scout, arrived when the line was really long! If our DPG rep had not gone above and beyond, it would have been ugly. Trying to get a volunteer (who arrived mid-registration and had never used VB) set up while simultaneously checking people in was a challenge, but it all worked out.

    The expectation that a CD Chair is responsible for funding this process is mystifying. As is allowing elected public officials or even elected party officials to run as anything but a PLEO.

    Yes please to an automated counting process. Are there other options besides scantron ballots? Counting over 100 ballots seemed to take forever. We lost over 30% of the voters before the runoff. I cannot fathom hand counting 600+.

    Yes please to modest qualifying fee. Requiring voters to pay just has too many negative connotations for me. Plus maybe more of the candidates would actually show if there was some initial outlay.

    We had a few candidates that obviously put in effort to get their voters there. I’m baffled by those candidates that didn’t even show up. I wasn’t aware of any slates, but I was stuck at the registration table and couldn’t really hear what was being said by candidates other than during their speeches. I’m not opposed to slates, as they can be a way to leverage modest resources and networks.

    An absence of guidelines regarding acceptable campaign behavior allows gaming the system. There’s also got to be a mechanism to involve and recognize active party participants (not officials) who work hard ALL the time without creating too many entry barriers to new blood. There were expressions of frustration and even animosity in various districts because candidates were unknown to those “in the know” locally. How do you balance the desire to reward sincere dedication without excluding potentially valuable new participants who may be active in their community but just don’t happen to play in the same clique sandbox every week?

    In addition to some DPG bylaw changes to prevent busing and the like, the vetting process should also take into consideration past misbehavior.
    You didn’t play nice the last time, you get a time out.

    • Peaches says:

      “Requiring voters to pay just has too many negative connotations for me.”

      I agree this is the most undemocratic option, and is essentially a poll tax. However, I have it on good authority that some people are paid to attend the caucuses, at least in the Metro districts. We can acknowledge reality, and act accordingly, or we can keep the status quo. I don’t think the status quo is working for us.

      The idea of guidelines or attempting to intervene in the vetting process hadn’t even occurred to me. Interesting ideas, both.

      • ire says:

        This just popped in my head but the pay-to-vote scheme while arguably the best, would have to have that exception of “financial hardship” blah blah blah and I can honestly see C.T. having 400 senior citizens fill out hardship exemptions and clogging the system down.

        Honestly the best way to avoid all this crap is to bar C.T. Martin.

        • Jules says:

          only way to do that is have the Presidential campaign refuse him during initial vetting, right? So his name wouldn’t even be on the ballot.

          • ire says:

            That OR create a bylaw specifically restricting him from participating. And Emma Darnell while we’re at it.

            • Jakey says:

              This is a slippery slope. If you can ban person-by-person, then what is to stop you from banning anyone.

              The key would be just to defeat him. Campaign better and rally support for other candidates.

              • Steve says:

                I don’t think you understand exactly what happened, Dustin. This “election” was not like what happened in Athens. BUSLOADS of people were brought in. It’s kind of hard to defeat bussing people in.

                • CatherineAtlanta says:

                  I think Councilman Martin may have had additional buses on hold, in case someone else tried to bring busloads in. This was not a “friendly” election for him, like I believe it was for most of the other candidates.

                • Jakey says:

                  I’m not agreeing with what he did. I am just saying that I don’t want someone or even a group of people being able to single out a person and say they cannot run in an election.

                  I realize that all of this issue is coming up from a particular candidate in the 5th district. However, we need to think about the broader implications. What constitutes “bussing in.” If I bring 4 of my friends in my car, is that bussing in? What If I get all the young Democrats to come and support me and I help them with gas money (which I didn’t do), would that be bussing? What if I rent a van that holds 12 people and we all ride together?

                  Another thing, the 5th district is small. What about the 10th? Jana Hill had to come from Rabun County to Morgan. That is a 2.15 hour drive. Should she be allowed to bus since she has to drive such a long distance?

                  Obviously this guy knows how to game the system, but before we go for hard rule changes, we should think about the long term consequences. Maybe instead of not allowing bussing, we could put an expenditure limit – so that candidates cannot spend more than $X getting elected. This could help level the playing field for those who do not have a lot of money to spend.

                  Again, I think what he did was wrong and dangerous, but making rules to react to a single situation without thinking of the broader consequences is dangerous.

                  • ire says:

                    OK, here is why you are an idiot…I mentioned rather sarcastically that the solution would be to stop the person who goes so far and beyond what would be “acceptable”(?) for this type of election, which no one seriously considers good policy or something worth pursuing you then spend several hundred words arguing against a position no one wants to take…

                    • slut says:

                      I have an idea, no sensible recommendations are made and adopted before Dustin moves to Atlanta in 2015. He’s elected 5th congressional district chair and put in charge of the 2016 delegate selection process w/CT. Catherine and all of her rock star volunteers stay home eating bon bons watching reruns of West Wing that day. Problem solved.

                    • Dustin says:

                      What makes you think I am moving to ATL?

                      And no, I am not saying that no changes should be made, I am just saying they need to be carefully thought out. I don’t like what happened more than anyone else, but I don’t want to put in place policies that will adversely affect other people.

              • Jules says:

                I think a case could be made that there are certain individuals who bring unnecessary drama, expense, effort, possible risk and conflict to these caucuses.

                There may need to be a provision that addresses this, or if nothing else they are warned in advance of a code of conduct/assumption of responsibility while “their” people are on site.

                It sounded like while arrangements were made for transportation and basic food, the rest of the day they became the responsibility of the 5th Congressional District volunteers and Chairperson. In that way, it’s not outside the reasoning the 5th Congressional District can’t have some say in that.

              • ire says:

                You are such an idiot it is truly astounding.

  20. JulianaI says:

    “Punishment of the Just” is so spot on and poetic!

    Looks like we will spend some energy on this at the next state comte meeting.

  21. JMPrince says:

    All well put. And it’s an abomination that any CD Chair has to pay for let alone oversee such a circus. Every 4 years too? We need our heads examined, and the ByLaws & Delegate Selection process changed certainly. But it’s not going to be easy, clean or welcomed by everyone. I’d like to see what the YDG’s did to prevent ‘busing’ but that’s only part of the problem here.

    For whatever reason, ‘party regulars’ or even officials not automatically included as PLEO Delegates are actually being disadvantaged by the process, and have been for quite sometime. And truth be told, it actively discourages continued participation in the party & the State Committee. I’ve heard the same & similar complaints from many long term party activists. True, a few have already ‘been’ but many will never even get close, and that grates.
    And it’s no doubt responsible for a large drop off we have seen in ‘older’ folks choosing to remain active with our party and/or their level of continued participation. How many times does a CD chair have to put up with yes, CT Martin’s rudeness and more? History tells us about twice, at best perhaps.

    Again, history also suggests that the problem & issue is a complex one. Part of the problem is that even with a ‘small’ crew as Jakey suggests, (say half a dozen for example), your effort may be easily swamped by folks who’ve rarely if ever have been involved in the party, and are sadly unlikely to be in the future, if history’s any guide. This contrasts with party activists, some of them active for some decades, being repeatedly shut out, and then finally tiring of all the bureaucratic roadblocks to their participation & perhaps picking up a ‘lifetime achievement award’ and then slowly drifting away. That’s so common, no one notices it much any more. Selfless devotion is one thing, but selfless devotion without much recognition or reward is another. No one singed up for the Convent or the Cloister, to see the rewards of your hard work only reflected in the smiles of younger children who’ll never understand your sacrifices or hard work. And yet that’s so common again that no one hardly notices. Perhaps it’s the ultimate truth of what we do.

    So change is needed. Perhaps we need a separate category and yes quota for long time party activists, I don’t know. I do know that being a ‘candidate’ may not match up well with the skill sets of many activists, which is why some of them are there as ‘midwives’. And the process has been susceptible to being swamped in such a manner for a very long time, easily back to the Bobby Kahn days too.

    I’ll add that I’ve never stood for being a DNC Convention Delegate. I think I might be able to finally justify & afford the expense now too. I’m happy to see others who’d benefit more from the process AND Remain involved and active in the party do so in my stead. But again sadly, we have arrived at the situation described in the post, and unfortunately it’s now not benefiting many of the folks we want to stay involved, and favoring those who are only perhaps transient in their interest. Sadly, we can not long maintain a party of, by or for those of intermittent or fleeting interest & attention, and therein lies the problem.

    While I remain ever hopeful, especially for all our shiny young new elected delegates, from where I sit, we are constantly burning though our best volunteer resources, and this deeply flawed bureaucratic process is but one prime example of this. Again perhaps this is common in every volunteer organization. Perhaps this is why truly successful and long lasting ones are so rare. The costs are one thing, & I’ll be happy to contribute what I spent on our 11th CD Caucus (~$100) to help defray the 5ths exorbitant & needless expenses. But it’s seeing year after year ‘the punishment of the just’ that’s so exhausting. That’s what literally burns people out, year in & year out. Everyone too, not just those directly afflicted. JMP

  22. Jakey says:

    I do understand your point and agree with you somewhat – especially in regards to the seniors.

    However, we also need to balance the fact that candidates running as a slate and getting people to the polls should be rewarded. We would like to think that we all go in with an open mind, but we all have our favorite. Just like national politics, it is all about turnout. When we run campaigns for primary – we focus on strong dems/leaning dems. When we do general election, we target leaning rep/independents/leaning democrats. What it comes down to is turnout. Who can turnout the most voters and win over the most independents.

    I do think people should have to be active in their party to win – its just how do we want to define that. Do you have to be a member of one of the county parties in the district to run/vote? Do you have to be a member to run, but let anyone proclaiming to be a democrat vote? Is it even legal to charge people to vote, or is that considered a poll tax? I honestly don’t know.

    I will say this – I won in a much smaller district (10th); however, I did not bus anyone in. I brought Brett. I won through shaking hands, talking to people. I did not have signs, I did not have stickers, name tags, etc. I know this is significantly different in ATL since you guys had a good deal more people.

    Just some thoughts.

  23. CatherineAtlanta says:

    “I think what typically happens is that everyone gripes for a few days but is too worn out to pick up the issue again until it is too late to do anything about it.”

    So true, but not this time. I will prepare a report concerning much of what has been pointed out here, as well as the counting process. To whatever extent I can, I will not allow another Delegate Caucus to utilize hand counting again. It is torture for the volunteers , unnecessary tension for the candidates awaiting results, and long waits for the voters concerned about revoting due to a tie. We must determine a faster and more accurate system.

    I will be working on these issues in the coming days and weeks.

  24. Steve Perkins says:

    That’s an horrific set of circumstance. Catherine I am doubling my offset I promised to you… wish I could do more, ….I expressed a concern about the gaming on FB (Felt it needed to b be said prior to the caucsus and since I was not a candidate,, knew it could not be construed as Sour Grapes.

    The system must be made fairer. Two notions. I think what typically happens is that everyone gripes for a few days but is too worn out to pick up the issue again until it is too late to do anything about it. (See Linda Edmonds). We are about to go through a Bylaw change which would create a place for Advocacy groups.. I think there is an opportunity there to have a formal Advocacy group to move to a more sensible approach.

    The other thought I had is that while the CD committee clearly has to remain neutral. I see no prohibition of the County Parties making endorsements, The idea is if you want to go to the DNC you need to be known by local dem activists. Just a thought,

    • Steve says:

      I’m happy there are some Bylaws changes coming, and as a self-proclaimed Bylaws nerd (YDA National Bylaws Secretary), I’d love to be a part of the changes coming up, so keep me in mind.

      That being said, I’m glad there’s going to be some sort of outlet for this. I think all of the people who care enough to actually be active within the Democratic Party of Georgia (the entity, not the political affiliation) should be rightfully outraged at this method of “winning.”

  25. CatherineAtlanta says:

    Thank you, Melanie. While I expected to have some out-of-pocket expenses related to the caucus, I didn’t expect it to be $3K. Some contributions have come in, or have been promised, and I appreciate that so much. This is an unfunded mandate. What if I had not had the money for this?

    We go to great length to alert the delegates of the expenses associated with attending convention. It may be necessary to do the same for Congressional District chairs…

    If you would like to help defray the expenses of the 5th Congressional District Delegate elections, you may make a contribution here:

    If you could just send me an email (catherineatlanta [@} to let me know that you made a donation, then I can be sure that it is properly logged.

    I will submit a detailed report with recommendations to the DPG in the very near future.

  26. JulianaI says:

    OMG, and I thought my caucus in the 6th had some low points. Had something happened, that million dollar policy probably wouldn’t have been enough.

    In our case the opposite was more true than not, candidates showed up but didn’t bring any voters with them. We had several strong “party” people running, but when it came down do it either you got people there or you gave a barn burner of speech, no ponies thank gawd.

    What I worry more about is the first impression these events leave with new people. It’s very difficult to encourage participation in future events when these are so difficult an exhausting to conduct. I had 12 volunteers, also rock stars, to help about 100 people. Had they been 100 people who’d come to this before, it would have been fine, but 80 of them didn’t know the process, the folks had a lot of questions, of course they would! Again, it’s all about prep and scale.

    I echo many of the same logistical concerns and points that were made. I plan a lot of events, and often we don’t know how many people will actually attend. That said, we can generally guess at the swing, will it be 50 or 75, 200 or 250?With these elections/caucuses it can be a swing of 200, ok that’s NOT cool and will make a huge difference in the scale of the planning. Is the local high school gym a good location, or do you need a mega church. I for one am completely against holding political/party events in churches and think it sends the wrong message, but given that in some cases it’s the largest building in town likely may have to come to that.

    The costs are of course an issue, fortunately Ben M raised more than sufficient funds and told me if we needed to raise more he would be able to do it. However, I heard that this was’t the case in many of the districts and it will either be a hardship on the organizer or on the party who they borrowed money from. I doubt we could ever get the DNC to agree to a entry fee, but a modest qualifying fee seems reasonable and might act as a caution to anyone who can just fill out the paperwork. Vetting and reviewing these documents isn’t without it’s own costs and time consumption. Heck if you can afford the steep cost of the convention, food, buses and a pony you can afford $25-35 dollars to qualify. Obvious exceptions could be made, but few and far between.

    While this is fresh in everyone’s mind, the DPG probably ought to organize a debrief with the congressional district chairs and their surrogates to document the process, issues, concerns, areas of improvement for 2016. Just a suggestion. I made my own notes, but I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and whoosh their goes what little institutional knowledge I have.

  27. Steve says:

    I wasn’t there, but there are a lot of things truly sad about it.

    For one, those people (like Jane Bradshaw) who work their tails off for this party, and have done so for years, get thrown aside. It’s sad that those elected do not reflect the diversity in age, race, and experience that our party contains.

    Second, I want to echo what you said about changing the rules. In the past, YDG candidates for office would do the same basic thing as C.T. Martin- literally bus people in. Since then, the rules have drastically changed in YDG, making it all but impossible to simply bus people in. Understandably, this would be harder in the DPG, but the point is that this kind of thing is just sad. C.T. Martin is not the face of our party, nor should he be. In Fulton County, I can think of mounds of more qualified people than him (offhand, the fact that I’m entrenched in Atlanta area politics and have never heard of the guy), but of course, they don’t have insane amounts of expendable income or senior centers to raid.

    • ire says:

      C.T. is well known for this type of shit… and falling asleep at City Council meetings etc.

      When you think of the stereotypical self-serving city politician/Clay Davis IRL… he’s it.

  28. ire says:

    Well. Effing. Said.

    An overlooked part of Saturday’s action: me telling Andy Young to get back in line and wait.

    Please believe it I would dish it right back to C.T. if he or his people tried to get up in my shit.

  29. Jason says:

    Let’s hope she takes her job as delegate more seriously than she did as law professor. I hope she was told that one of the prerequisites of being a delegate is actually showing up to the convention.