Those who attended the state party meeting yesterday may have hoped for an efficient election of DNC members and delegates that would allow attendance at the Save Our Schools rally. Alas, those hopes were soon dashed. The minority caucus, led by Dr. Reed, convened in the same room as the main meeting (but behind a curtain so “outsiders” could not see that particular brand of sausage being made). Despite a 9:30 start that should have allowed the SDEC proceedings to begin on time, that meeting ran well past the 11:00 am published start time. That was just the first hint that we were in for a very long day.
When Judge Kennedy was finally allowed to start the meeting, the body appeared to be making up for lost time – we had a 7 item agenda and moved efficiently through the first 4. Then we got to the election of DNC members. We needed 3, and the first 2 were uncontested nominations. The third spot, however, ended up with two nominees. In keeping the the national committee’s rules, and the need for verifiable elections, the election for that last seat was conducted by paper ballot. Dr. Reed immediately objected and came down on the floor among the committee, wheeling, dealing, and gathering votes for his nominee. When he was finally asked to return to his seat (not by name, but by a generic request for everyone to clear the aisles – a request that was made twice before he decided it applied to him), he passed close to me on his way to the dais and I clearly heard him say words to the effect that he didn’t know why we were doing this because “we got the votes”. Respectfully, it’s called THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS and everyone having the right to vote whether you like the way they’re going to vote or not.
Things went downhill from there, as we proceeded to the election of the balance of Alabama delegation to the presidential convention in Charlotte. Again we used written ballots, this time because, in addition to the reasons above, in most cases we were choosing more than 1 from a field. (How would you vote for a group of choices by standing vote even if you wanted to? I’m genuinely curious) It was a maddeningly slow process. 2:30 came and went, and as a consequence, many SDEC members did not make it to the education rally. We finally adjourned about 4:00, I think.
Those who stayed for the Delegate meeting after were treated to a return performance by a “great Parliamentarian” (in the words of Shelia Smoot). Dr. Reed, as chair of the delegation, stepped down to make a nomination from the floor (leaving Nancy Worley to preside) and, when his slate was not the only one presented, offered a motion substituting his nominations for the competing slate. Here’s what the Oxford Guide to the US Government says about a substitute motion:
Such a motion substitutes a different text for part or all of the bill being debated. A majority vote to accept the substitute kills the original version of the bill.
And it worked as described – first the delegation voted to accept the substitute motion (Dr. Reed’s slate), and then they voted to take his nominees as the committee members. The fact that the fix was in was revealed by the fact that the motion vote was a “stand and be counted” procedure, while “his slate” was accepted by a voice vote (lots of Ayes, quite a few abstentions – at least no one tried to say it was an election by acclamation).
Yes, the delegate balloting probably could have been handled more effectively but kudos to the ADP staff for taking on the challenge. On the other hand, the big take-away from yesterday’s meeting is that the Dr. Reed political machine is still active and still holding up real progress on the SDEC. Before the meeting, someone described past delegate selection meetings as “the Joe Reed show” and despite the best efforts of Judge Kennedy & his staff, yesterday’s performance sadly lived up to that description.
(for a much more detailed version of events, please see “A Little News from the SDEC Meeting” from mooncat)