I attended part of the Democratic Party Delegate Selection Caucus Training Workshop in St. Louis City on Saturday, March 27. It was an unpleasant experience.
It was hot/warm. No air circulation. I have no idea why the ceiling fans were not turned on. The door to the parking lot was left open but smokers were hanging out too close and wind did not favor the nonsmokers inside.
As a hearing impaired person, it is important for me to sit in the front of an event so I can read the lips of speakers. I sat on the front row. Unfortunately, the speakers did not speak from the podium. For much of the time I was at the meeting, the speakers spoke from the center aisle of the first row. Most first row participants sat side saddle in chairs with necks craned. It was uncomfortable. In my case, understanding what was said went poorly.
I was told at the Information Table that I did not need the literature because it was intended for the person running my ward/township/county caucus. I got the impression that being the Committeewoman not running my caucus meeting made me persona non grata. I explained that I am deaf and written materials are important to my understanding of things. All will be handled by your chair, I was told. I took the literature anyway.
Glad I walked off with the packet. Inside, I found out how may delegates were awarded to each ward. My Committeeman, the senior committee person in our ward, will run our caucus meeting and is not one to share information. As example, I had to contact our county chair to obtain the location of our ward caucus.
I am embarrassed that my central committee and state party have done such a poor job promoting participation in delegate selection.
It was announced that the Missouri Democratic Party would soon post caucus locations on their website. Soon. It was March 27. Caucuses are April 7th.
It was announced that St. Louis City Democratic Committee had advertised caucus locations in the St. Louis American. The City Chair offered to provide a copy to anyone who wanted it. That’s pretty much it for publicity by City Democratic Central Committee. It does not have a website/blog. A committee has been assigned to work on it. Yes. A committee. Meanwhile, St. Louis County Democrats announced they had promoted their caucus locations with every tool including their website and on Facebook.
It took me 15 minutes to post the St. Louis City Ward Caucus Locations and Delegate Selection Information on our 7th Ward Independent Democrats blog.
We were told at the beginning of the meeting that the meeting was really for people running the April 7th caucuses, not people who wanted to be delegates. There was no “Wow. Thanks everyone for giving up a beautiful Saturday afternoon to be with us. Great to see so many people want to be a part of the process.” It seemed instead very unwelcoming, Establishment politics, insiders perturbed by the presence of non-insiders.
Caucus training was to include a power point presentation. As a hearing impaired person, this was going to make attending the event worth it. But, after the meeting started, we were told that the Missouri Democratic Party is short staffed and there was no one to provide the power point presentation at that meeting. We were told that the Party was working on a video about delegate selection that would be posted soon on the MPD website. Soon. It was March 26. Caucuses are April 7th.
We were told the delegate apportionment between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the ward caucus level would be based on congressional district vote, not ward vote, and be released, yes, soon. I wanted to ask a question about this. It appeared they were saying that wards/townships/counties that voted overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders would end up with more Hillary Clinton delegates if the congressional vote went for Clinton. I was not given an opportunity to ask about this. It’s possible that I just misunderstood. I have written the Missouri Democratic Party for a clarification on the matter.
I stayed long enough to find out the Missouri Democratic Party has abandoned the “Must Have Voted In Presidential Primary” requirement for participation in the delegate selection process and election as a delegate/alternate. Allowing people who could not be bothered with voting in the Presidential Primary to participate in the delegate process is a very big deal. We were told the change was necessary because some counties would not be able to provide lists of those who voted March 15th in time for caucus. Discussion on this matter was shut down before all questions asked/answered, including mine.
I have requested the names of the counties that Missouri Democratic Party knows will not be able to provide lists of persons who voted March 15th in time for use at April 7th caucuses.
And, as I said, it was hot and getting smoky in the room, I was unable to read speakers’ lips most of the time, and sitting side saddle was very uncomfortable. So, I left the meeting. I find it hard to believe there was not more intrigue after I left.
This is not my first rodeo. April 7th will be the ninth time I have participated in a ward/township/county Presidential Caucus in Missouri. It will be my first caucus as 7th Ward Committeewoman but not my first caucus as a committeewoman because I was previously elected in another county.
But this is only the second time in my life that I felt like caucus was some kind of inside deal. Four years ago, the 7th Ward Caucus was held at the Mardi Gras Inc. office and there was only a handful of us there. I made a commitment then to do my best to get the word out and increase participation for 2016 caucus.
I hope everyone participates in their caucus. I hope activists write some fine resolutions to be voted on. Again, the locations for City Ward Caucuses are here.
– Marie Ceselski
7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman