LiveStreaming Your Dirty Laundry
Let's get this part out of the way right here and now. The main reason for my troubled state is that all is not hearts & flowers within my state party. As I mentioned last week, we have rifts, some of them deep, concerning strategy and tactics, and even concerning the purposes of the Green Movement and what constitutes Grassroots Democracy. We also have some troublesome members, some of whom stir up shit because they have passionate beliefs about the Party's direction, some of whom stir up shit just because they can. I will not point out any of them by name, but you may soon be able to watch video of our proceedings and decide for yourself. The event was LiveStreamed for the benefit of those who couldn't attend.
In a separate post, I'll dish on Corpus Christi, or at least the parts of it we saw. For now, let it suffice to say that, in comparison to some other state meetings we've had, we were kind of roughing it.
SEC and NC Election Results
There are certainly some positive developments worth reporting, including the new lineup of the State Executive Committee. Except where otherwise noted, these were contested races—i.e., more than one person raised a hand and said, "Gee, I don't have a lot of time to devote to it, I guess I can do that if nobody else is willing."
- Wesson Gaige of Denton County is the new co-chair, serving alongside Harris County's Laura Palmer. Co-chairs serve staggered two-year terms.
- Gary Stuard of Dallas County, who challenged Pete Sessions for the TX-32 Congressional seat last year, is the new state secretary. By defeating None of the Above, Stuard replaces katija gruene, who has been on the SEC in various capacities for quite a few years and will get a well-deserved break from it.
- Herb Gonzales (Bexar) and Janis Richards (Brazoria) were elected as at-large members. Remington Alessi of Harris County, a 2014 Congressional candidate, retained his at-large seat for another two years. Mary Gourdoux of El Paso County received formal approval to finish a departed member's unfinished term until the 2018 ASM.
- David Wager's current term as treasurer continues for another year, as does 2016 TX-21 candidate Antonio Diaz's at-large term.
New co-chair Gaige is also fairly new to the party. He and his wife Nancy Gaige connected with GPTX just within the last two years. Since joining, he has applied his IT experience to the party's conversion of its out-of-date websites onto the Nationbuilder platform, as well as the less IT-intensive management of Slack channels for internal communications. He conducted a one-hour Tech Tools workshop, covering use of both Nationbuilder and Slack.
The delegates also elected a slate of nine delegates to the GPUS National Committee, a mixture of familiar and new faces: Valerie Alessi, Alison Bittick, Adrian Boutereira, Travis Christal, Wesson Gaige, Herb Gonzales, katija gruene, Laura Palmer, and Janis Richards. Yes, we do allow members to serve on both the SEC and the NC: Sometimes it's a good idea to know first-hand what's happening in both bodies.
More Positive Notes
There was plenty of additional good news to report:
- For my money, Comrades Palmer and gruene did a superhuman job of running this meeting on multiple counts.
- This was by far the best-attended ASM in an odd-numbered year since the party's origins, with just over 40 delegates and about a dozen observers.
- There were many new faces, which is a mixed blessing, but a blessing nonetheless. New delegates aren't as familiar with the way these meetings operate, including our modified parliamentary procedure and consensus model; the party has no orientation program, so newbies tend to take up a lot of time with procedural questions. The newbies also had to adjust to gruene's copious sh- and f-bombs from the dais.
- Several of those new arrivals were on the young side—i.e., under 40—including 18-year-old Peyton Williams. Some of them among the state's newly elected delegates to the National Committee. One of the younger set even expressed an interest in taking over the Treasurer position some day, to longtime treasurer Wager's delight.
- If I'm not mistaken, the number of counties represented was larger than at any time since 2000: The ones I can remember are Harris, Travis, Bexar, Dallas, Tarrant, El Paso, Collin, Denton, Brazoria, Williamson, Hays, McLennan, and Orange. Those last five had one delegate each. There was also a delegate who purported to represent the East Texas counties of Jasper and Tyler. (Minor Update: After publishing this entry, I remembered that we also had one observer from Corpus Christi/Nueces County on Saturday morning.)
"Bylaws" Remains One of My Least Favorite Words
Various individuals, county organizations, and the SEC submitted nearly a dozen proposals to amend the GPTX bylaws. Our state's election code requires that any changes made to bylaws must occur during odd-numbered years, when there are no statewide elections. There were also proposals to amend the state and national platforms (one each) and some resolutions, which did not get the time needed for full discussion because the bylaw amendments ate up so much time.
Just typing the word "bylaws" requires me to fend off nausea and fatigue. But we spent a total of about four hours discussing these amendments, debating them, and getting multiple shades of pissy about them.
In particular, the amendments addressed the following issues:
- Expulsion of members, officers, candidates for public office, and affiliated groups: Passed, sort of. Several amendments passed to address this topic; previously, the bylaws had no such abilities specified. The State Executive Committee can now revoke memberships, endorsements, affiliations, and even elected positions on the SEC itself for cause. These causes include violations of the Ten Key Values, public misrepresentation of the Party's positions, and actions that jeopardize the Party's credibility (including ethical and election law violations). Additional language was adopted to make certain that these rather drastic actions could not be undertaken willy-nilly.
- Converting GPTX to a dues-paying organization: failed. Dues would be on a sliding scale, with the ability for impecunious Greens to substitute voluntary time for money. This produced some of the most heated debate, details of which are too complicated to address fully here. The amended was tabled on Saturday, revised through several hours of work Saturday night, resubmitted Sunday, and tabled again with resolution.
- New requirements for SEC and NC candidates: passed. Now that membership is increasing, GPTX can be a little choosier about who runs for Party offices. A compromise set a minimum of nine months of county party (or affiliated group) membership in good standing for a members to be considered for the State Executive Committee or National Committee. New members can be very enthusiastic, but they may also overestimate their abilities and the time they can devote to these jobs. This amendment did not affect the elections at this year's ASM.
- Blocking nominations for public office from single-member counties and districts: passed. This paragraph will be much longer than the amendment itself. Last year, as in 2014, Hal Ridley was the Green nominee for TX-36. He challenged Republican Brian Babin for the seat and won 11% of the vote, with no Democrat running. He nominated himself at the District 36 convention. In fact, he was the District 36 convention. District 36 spans several counties, most of which have no local Green Party organization. We like Hal Ridley, and he likes us. But if he weren't a sincere Green, if he filled his speeches and website with racist or corporatist or pro-war positions, the state would like the ability to say, "I'm sorry, Hal, but I'm afraid we can't let you do that." Now the state has that ability.
- Representation for student groups, clubs, and identity caucuses at the state level: passed. This one was almost unanimous. It grants up to two delegates at state meetings and conventions for campus organizations, multi-county groups, and caucuses—e.g., Black, LatinX, Women's, Lavender/LGBT, Disability, Youth. The rationale for this policy is that members of a Campus Greens organization might be too busy with their organizing work to also meet with their county parties, or may not have a county party nearby.
- Expanded protection of GPTX's media identity to include social media: passed. This was unanimous. Don't go telling the world on Facebook, YouTube, et al, that you're with the Green Party of Texas if you're not.
Youth Rights Added to the Platform
The Green Party of Texas has never had an age minimum for membership. If you know enough about the Ten Key Values, you can work with us and have a voice at our meetings. The GPTX Platform for 2018 will call for more youth empowerment, including lowering the voting age and age of consent to 16, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to run for school boards (the current minimum age is 18 in Texas), and more rights for those 16 and up to work late without being subjected to punitive curfew laws. On the criminal justice front, the Platform now calls for an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, zero-tolerance policies, and keeping youthful offenders behind bars well into adulthood.
We went well past our allotted time for delegate business on Sunday, and I needed to eat lunch ASAP, so I did not stay until the end. I sneaked out of the meeting room and walked to the only eatery within walking distance. Afterward, I helped with clean-up and accompanied a large group of SEC and NC members, new and old, to lunch at a seafood joint called The Astor. It's on Leopard Street near the Selena Museum. But this is venturing too far into my next post, the one in which I kvetch about Corpus Christ. So I'll stop here.