North Pleasant Street Amehrst MA

2017 Massachusetts Democratic Convention Summary

Our Town Democratic Committee has not had much discussion about local issues in Amherst, but the emails below show an interest in starting such an exchange.  We won't all agree, but there is no loyalty test here.  Start with Chris Brashear's note next to the bottom.
The Platform Convention went pretty well.  There were speeches by all the statewide officials, the three announced candidates for nomination to Governor, and from our State Senator Rosenberg, Congressman McGovern and the two Senators (among many others).  I  think the best speeches were by Elizabeth Warren, followed by Maura Healey and Ed Markey.  By the time these were done the 3,000+ delegates were ready to vote on the platform planks, but speeches continued for a while.
The platform business was really about the draft sent out by the state party after 30 hearings across the state, and the amendments proposed by various groups, mostly to emphasize issues more or move the party left.  Voting moved incredibly fast (one hour for the whole thing), with few speeches about them, divisions of the house by voice vote or standing up, and no roll calls.  We were supposed to move on to workshops, but because the voting started late the voting ended late and the workshops were cancelled, so the formal work of the convention ended about 4:30.  For real politicians, the work started the day before and continued after, as supporters were identified, organizing across the state was set up on issues and candidates, and friends found.
Our Revolution Massachusetts (the continuation of Bernie's campaign, or "ORMA") provided the following summary of the convention as they see it:
Convention Highlights

    The Draft platform produced by the party, including free higher education and Sanctuary legislation, was the most progressive draft in Massachusetts history, thanks to the testimony of the dedicated testimony of ORMA members and other progressives making their voices heard during platform hearings.

    ORMA collected over 5,400 signatures during the course of 6 hours (Friday6:30PM-11PM / Saturday 8AM-9:30AM).  That’s 700 signatures an hour!

    ORMA successfully registered 8 Platform amendments, 11 resolutions, and 2 Charter amendments into official consideration:  Many thanks to the dozens of volunteers who swarmed parties, credentials lines, and the whole convention center.  [NOTE:  all the resolutions were tabled and the Charter Amendments lost.]

Platform Amendments

Wins: 4 of 5 amendments were accepted, and we passed 4:

    A Public Safety Plank by Black Lives Matter, Indivisible Essex 6, and ORMA called for consequences for excessive force by police on minorities, an end to for-profit prisons, and a long term call for transitioning resources away from prisons toward restorative justice.

    A Climate Justice amendment which made the language in the Climate plank stronger on multiple points.

    Student Loan Debt Forgiveness was added into the Education plank:  A call for no means-test and no income cap requirement on who qualifies for Free Higher Ed and funding to cancel or forgive the current outstanding student loan debt for Massachusetts residents.

    A packed Voting amendment:  Rank Choice Voting, Election Day holiday, independent commissions to fix gerrymandering, and an end to Massachusetts DNC superdelegates.

Loss: 1 amendment was controversial.

    Our Fair Housing amendment was narrowly defeated by an extremely close margin. Many delegates objected to one of the bullet points, and our attempts to make a friendly amendment to remove that and ensure passage, was not allowed by the Chair.

Blocks: 3 of our 8 amendments were blocked from voting by the Chair, and although ORMA had a lot of support, a 2/3 supermajority of delegates was required to suspend the rules.

    2 Peace amendments to change foreign policy were blocked on grounds that the Rules specify “State & Domestic” issues only.  However, MA soldiers are killed abroad; MA taxes are diverted outside the state for wasteful wars; and our citizens suffer increased risk of terrorism when we fuel overseas conflicts with arms rather than heal them with diplomacy.

    1 “Platform in Action” amendment to hold our elected officials accountable who disregard our platform by prioritizing the campaigns of others who do; because Article 6, Section V of the Charter absolves officials from removal for opposing a platform plank.  However, we were NOT calling for removal, but selective campaign funding.

Nearly half of the delegates were first timers, so there was lots of energy . Emily Stetson, who was elected as a delegate here in Amherst, got to introduce Sen. Warren.  Next year's convention will be about nominations for state-wide offices, so if this sounds interesting, think about running in the next caucus.