Sunday, December 11, 2005

Second news from California Plenary

Well gang, I just got off the phone with Cat Woods of the California Greens. Wilson Shealy, the logistics guru for the UC Davis plenary, handed me over to Cat, and she gave me a quick sketch of what happened tonight in California.

First of all, I will not quote Ms. Woods. I am not a journalist, and I'm not about to start playing one on the Internet now. I am a partisan Green with a passion for Grassroots Democracy, Ecological Wisdom, Non-violence and Social Justice. No one should rely on me as a primary source of information. These are my impressions of what Ms. Woods told me. If she has time, I hope she will correct what I imagine will be embarrassing mis-statements and frustrating errors. All I can promise is that I'm doing my best.

First of all, there were about seven different proposals that dealt with the question of California's relationship with the national party. The cell phone connection was kinda bad, but I believe Ms. Woods said that part of the problem is that there are several statements made along the way from the state party's first stirrings to it's membership in the Association of State Green Parties to the Green Party of the United States which said, more or less, that the California Green Party would remain pretty much autonomous in it's dealings.

In addition to these repeated assurances that the CA Greens would be free to control their internal issues free of national influence, there seems to be a question about who formally signed the affiliation papers, whether they were the right people to sign it, and whether proper process was followed, leaving the possible question, was California ever properly affiliated? The decision should apparently have properly been made by the General Assembly, which is what this plenary was. The group which apparently approved the affiliation in the first place was the Coordinating Committee.

At the one extreme was a proposal to disaffiliate the California Greens. Another was apparently the opposite, or affiliation with few if any reservations I gather. Questions of affiliation and such currently require an 80% approval, and none of the proposals was going to approach that level of support. In the end a decision was made to re-visit the issue at a future plenary session, likely in the spring.

Before dispensing with the issue for now the CA Greens conducted a straw poll, and they seem to have narrowed their differences somewhat, and plans are going forward to achieve solidarity on the issues.

I know absolutely nothing about California politics. It's 2 AM here and I'm tired. Cat was tried after a long day of working hard at being a Green, as were most if not all the others I imagine. From this vantage and with so little knowledge to go on, here's my take:

California Greens voted in a primary in the last presidential cycle. By a substantial vote they showed a preference for Peter Camejo. Most California Greens believed that Peter was running as a stand-in for Ralph Nader, making a vote for Peter a vote for Ralph. I'm not saying they were right, but that this is what I think happened, and I could be wrong.

After so many California Greens voted for Nader/Camejo, and after they saw their thousands of primary votes counted as equal to a few dozen Green convention votes in other states, some began to feel that the party was no longer behaving democratically, and began to seek redress. This current question is an extension of that unsatisfying experience.

I get the impression that there is little enthusiasm for forcing any sort of confrontation with the national party in California, but neither is there much willingness to pretend that issues raised by the 2004 campaign are resolved. If folks in California are willing to share with me and the readers here what the future brings, I will gladly pass it along as best I can.
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Well, Thank you for the update.

But, can we get any more details...

Like, who was elected as the GP-US reps?

Were there any interesting floor fights?

Any great proposals passed?

Thanks for any more news.
I have been watching the morning "talking heads" programs and cleaning up the house a bit, but these are great questions. The plenary is still ongoing, and I'll send email to folks I know in CA with your questions. I'll also go ahead and call some more folks as I find phone numbers so I can report more than one person's observations.

I had thought that I had this set up to publish comments immediately, but I got an email telling me that I could approve the above message, or not. I don't want to moderate comments, so hopefully someone else who uses blogspot can tell me how to set it up that way. *Pleading eyes*
OK, guess I didn't need those pleading eyes afterall. I was able to get into the "guts" of blogspot and change settings. I *think* that now folks will be able to post replies without having to have me approve the message.

I also wanted you to know that I have sent an email to Cat with your questions, but since they are back in session, I doubt she'll be able to respond soon. I hope to contact a staff person at UC Davis, if I can find one, who's been near the plenary session to get an outsider's view. Frankly, I rather doubt that anyone from the straight press is there, or even anyone from the alternative press. This is why Gonzo journalism is so crutial. Even if we have serious conflicts in trying to be fair in our reporting, so long as everyone knows where we are coming from, more news is always better than less news.

At least I think so. <-:
I've talked to the SF delegation, and it was (surprisingly) a very positive plenary. Most people I talked to had expected a bloodbath after the Sylmar debacle. None of the more controversial proposals such as lowering the voting threshold or disaffiliating with the GPUS passed, but some good things (such as a new health care plank) were actually accomplished.

I'm assuming that the "Camejo won the Californa primary because he was a stand-in for Nader" was Cat's opinion, not yours, because it's a complete fantasy. I estimate that the number of people who voted for Camejo as a proxy for Nader was probably less than 1000 statewide, as it was not widely publicized prior to the 2004 primary. My wife, the coordinator of the GPCA media committee, didn't hear about this strategy until well after the primary (in fact, not until after Milwaukee). Most people presumably voted for Camejo because he was well known among Greens from the 2 gubernatorial elections, and had represented the party very well in the televised gubernatorial recall debate.
Thank you JMC! I intend to copy your message here and add it to my next post about the plenary session. I have calls in to several folks listed at the state party website as media contact folks, and I'm sure one or more of them will return my call eventually.

As to the comment vis-a-vis Camejo as a stand-in for Nader, that actually was my opinion and had been for a long time. I accept your proposition that the votes were Camejo's himself and not as a stand-in for Nader, but that was the conclusion I had come to on my own. I don't know California politics, in fact, I'm not sure I know South Carolina politics, but I'll try to catch up as fast as possible.

As I say, I make no bones about my politics. I am an unabashed Green Party partisan. I have no use for nor time for any other political party. I'm too busy trying to build my own.

I was not happy with the way things werte handled in 2003 and 2004, but we are still here, still loving each other, and still trying to fix a world we didn't break. I'm glad we're in it together.
I was at the Plenary, and Cat Woods and Marybeth (forget her last name) won for the GPUS delegate positions, even though they wanted to deaffiliate. They, of course, would act like we love Camejo. They are working to make Greens more like Democrats- in a proposal to lower the voting threshold (used if consensus is impossible, particularly in time-sensitive issues) from 80% to 2/3, and mentioned that they wanted eventually to have majority rule, taking away the spirit of the Green Party.

Also, of course Cat would portray Camejo in a better light- she loves him, but many were annoyed by him- he was rude to the moderators, goijnng over time limits and speaking out of turn, as well as being exceptionally rude and obnoxious.

I can give you a better view on the Plenary, but I would like to do so anonymously. Post your email and I will send you a letter about it.
Cat and Marybeth won for delegates to GPUS, ironically they wanted to deaffiliate with the very organization. They have a chance at destroying the Green Party- they presented an initiative to lower the voting threshhold (used if consensus is impossible, particularly in time sensitive issues) from 80% to 2/3, and mentioned that eventually they wanted to see majority rule in the party, and in their presentation it said VOTE (or consense).

Of course Cat spoke well of Camejo, she loves him- he's her way into power- but many at the convention were appalled at his behavior- speaking out of turn, being rude to the moderators by goig well over time limits when they persistently asked him to stop, mudslinging, and bringing a negative feel to parts of the plenary.

I'd love to give you more information, but I prefer to do so anonymously. If you write your email I will send you a letter about it. Overall, it was very positive- there was still much anger over the $10,000 or whatnot- but people came out with a positive outlook.
I'm so sorry that there isn't an email link at the site. I'll take care of that later tonight. I am still trying to pull together two or three pieces to post tonight. Almost at 90 hits, which is more attention than my opinions have gotten here at home. *Grin*

Send me email any time you care to at Thanks.

I want to say that I enjoyed talking with Cat. She has written me a note which I will use as I write one of my pieces tonight. I sense no desire on her part to hurt the Green Party, and while I could be wrong, I can say with certanity that she never said Peter Camejo's name, nor did she mention him in the email she sent me, and it was pretty detailed. I think maybe Cat's a better Green than you give her credit for, but I have precious little to go on. I hate to be this way, but I don't know any other way to do it. Until I see with my own eyes that someone is behaving poorly, I will assume that they behave appropriately.

Now, people I know and trust well have told me that Peter and the Nader supporters behaved badly at the Milwaukee convention. I wasn't there, but I trust these folks. I do know for sure however that if we don't get our act together and treat each other with respect, from all perspectives, we are likely to loose out on an opportunity.

Think of it this way. If the sucess of the Green Party is partly on Cat's shoulders, and now it clearly is, wouldn't you want her to be sucessful in building the Green Party? Of course you must be sure to keep the Green Party the party it is meant to be, but the folks in charge are the only ones who can make the decisions, because we elected them to do so.

Oh hell, it's up to you guys in California. If you want to harangue, go ahead. I think I'd rather demand real leadership from national and local party officials, and offer them real followship in return.
Well I hope this blog does not start to take on the unfortunate aspect of Ken's towards the end where it was used a lot by some Greens simple to attack other Greens. (Be clear that I do not think you Gregg were someone doing that.) I wrote to Ken asking he use more varied sources and try to not set the tone which facilitated the creation of such an atmosphere. I was one of the earliest to link to Ken's blog, but by the end, despite claims to the contrary all reality of independence went out the window. (Hey I kept linking to it as he was a valuable voice, and he didn't need to be independent - I certainly don't claim to be.)

But back to the topic at hand. I don't think it is appropriate to claim someone is "working to make Greens more like Democrats" by wanting to change voting thresholds. Or that they are "taking away the spirit of the Green Party." The I'm more Green than you are arguments don't advance anything.

I'm pushed strongly for supermajority threshold at times - that is when they are appropriate. But I know that having practiced and taught the consensus process for decades, that sometimes such a threshold can get in the way of working towards consensus. (Let's no make the common mistake of confusing consensus with unanimity.)

But more importantly, lets not go to where people who disagree with us on a rule or how to proceed are somehow less Green.

We already see Kat's views put down as someone who loves Camajo, when she did not even mention him.

And lets get away from the constants attacks. The GP-US email lists already contain messages from the national Secretary accusing National Committee members of fraud and acting unethical (she now say "accidental fraud" however that is possible) because they dare to openly attempt verification of a GP-US election. (I fail to see how openly going over election results is fraud, i.e. something that is intended to deceive people.)

I know blog are full of opinion, that is one of their purposes, but I but if all the Green blogs we do is just make another outlet for attacks on each other, perhaps we should all pack it in. We have too much of that already.

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