Caucusing with the DFL

DFL-logoBY DEBORAH KEEFER RAMAGE

My precinct caucus last Tuesday was in the same place as the precinct caucus a year ago, which, because my precinct is (supposedly) massive compared to others in Ward 12, is also the same place as last year’s ward convention—the elegantly shabby auditorium of Roosevelt High School. Attendance was a bit over 30, and our delegate count for the Senate District 63 is a whopping 68. This is because in 2008 and 2012, my precinct had a freakishly large turnout for Obama and/or Franken, so that tells you something about the political leanings of my neighbors.
I brought three resolutions, all filled in properly on DFL website-supplied forms, and, the mark of the true cognoscenta, I didn’t waste precious time writing “Whereases” on the backs, because I knew they wouldn’t read them. Two of the resolutions were the top two from the FLA priority list and the third was the Pollinator resolution that generated so much emotive language on the e-democracy Minneapolis-Issues forum. I made a tactical decision not to bring more, because I know my precinct pretty well by now, having worked it for Gary Schiff last spring. They like their politics left-ish, but not too pushy; just a nice gentlemen’s agreement that we’re all on the same side here, even if your ideas are a little—different? They don’t despise or fear socialists in Precinct 12-8, at least not until they make the precinct caucus go on past 8:30. Then they may start questioning if you’re really serious enough to be here.
The chairing of this thing was a joy to behold. (I’m not being sarcastic here; I know it’s hard to tell sometimes, but I really did like the style of our chair.) The chair, as he told us, has lived in the precinct since 1984 and been precinct chair since the early 1990s. He was efficient without suppressing anyone; modest and sensible and even a bit droll. On the delegates, the numbers just magically worked out, no need to vote. We only half filled our delegate quota for the senate district convention; we hit it right on the head for the city/school board convention. I was worried about the county delegate slots, because this is the one I really wanted, and we only have four delegates and four alternates. But even that worked out just right.
A number of officials and candidates came by: three district school board candidates, Rep. Jim Davnie and newly-elected City Council Member Andrew Johnson, who was by far the most popular. We suspended the rules to allow a quick Q&A with him. He was very excited about the bees, and about a new technical solution to the southwest LRT routing that will avoid impacting the Minnehaha Creek Watershed.
We considered a total of 12 resolutions. The two FLA ones I brought ended up being combined with others, and I voted Yea in both cases. In the case of the single payer one, the FLA resolution, as I wrote it, was more specific and stronger than the other one, so the other lady conceded to say hers was included in. The minimum wage one was a bit more problematic. There is a coalition working on this project already, under the auspices of JobsNowCoalition apparently, but their minimum demand is only $9.50, as opposed to $15.00. I borrowed a couple of their points—particularly one about preserving the ban on tip penalties. At the caucus, I gave an impassioned speech in one minute or less. But we could not vote in favor of both; either they would have to be combined or one dropped. If we dropped the larger coalition’s resolution, the resolutions committee would probably just drop ours. So, and here is where you see a good chair who can think on his feet, we did a clever merge. We worded it to say at least $9.50, but that that’s not really a liveable wage, so $15.00 would be better. The committee may drop it anyway, but it will give them pause. Other resolutions from other labor or liberal groups included Scrap the Cap and Oppose Right to Work. In the end, one resolution was defeated (involving some unclear wording about specifically protecting the wages of construction workers who work for the state). The other 11 passed unanimously.
How fun was this caucus? Apparently so fun that all the old hacks got into the groove and lost track of time. At 8:34, with all the business done and a little chitchat going on, the chair made this cryptic announcement: “Ya know, a motion to adjourn is never debatable …” Well, I for one know how to take a hint that broad. “Motion to adjourn!” I riposted.

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