OPINION | DFL muzzles dissent at upcoming Minneapolis city convention


The DFL Party Bosses and the mayoral candidates have agreed to an agenda for the city convention, and it doesn’t include anyone stepping out of line or asking questions.

The campaign committees of the candidates have made it clear they will not support a challenge to Dan McConnell as chair of the convention. Nor will the convention waste time debating and discussing resolutions. According to the rules agreed to by the Bosses and the campaign committees, resolutions may be discussed “between other business” at the discretion of the chair. And the chair will determine whether the resolutions are appropriate, that is, “of citywide importance or significance”; not in violation of “the DFL Constitution and Bylaws”; in alignment with “the DFL Ongoing Platform and Action Agenda.”

Further, “Resolutions must receive 170 signatures from 2013 Minneapolis Convention delegates or alternates and be submitted on the Petition Resolution Form,” and “be turned in to the convention secretary by 12 noon on June 15.”

And, if you are willing to jump through all those hoops, then, instead of a simple majority to approve a resolution, “Resolutions that pass with 60% or more support will be entered into the official minutes of the convention and given to 2013 DFL-endorsed candidates.”

The authority to run the convention originates with the delegates, but once delegates agree to these rules they will have surrendered any power to discuss or debate the values of the DFL to the “discretion of the chair.”

That’s a shame because the Minneapolis Energy Options coalition has had a resolution passed at both the precinct and ward conventions to call for a ballot initiative on municipalizing energy utilities, and I have sponsored a resolution that calls for the city to use its powers of eminent domain to stop foreclosures by purchasing foreclosed homes and selling them back to the homeowners—which also passed precinct and ward conventions.

Also, there are large contingents of new immigrants who have joined the DFL who have never been heard at a city convention. We will miss an opportunity to hear concerns from our Somali and Latino brothers and sisters.

To protest this muzzling of delegates, the Farmer Labor Association will be passing out strips of duct tape at their table at the convention. The FLA does not recommend putting the tape across your mouth, but they believe it could be effective to simply put a strip across your delegate badge to show your silent protest at this disastrous restriction of free speech.

4 thoughts on “OPINION | DFL muzzles dissent at upcoming Minneapolis city convention

  1. I’m a longtime fan of Ed, I think he says the things on controversies when it seems no one else is willing to step forward. I hope he prospers and keeps hammering for as many years as possible. We need aggressive progresive voices like his.


    But resolutions? As a city delegate, I want nothing to do with them at this convention. There should be a few votes on mayoral candidates, and unless a fix is in, I expect no endorsement. So we can move on to the real action, the campaign to replace hacks with true resident representatives downtown.  From decades of DFL caucus and convetion experience, I have a jaundiced view of resolutions. They are mostly theater to create the illusion that the DFL cares about something other than its partisan dominance.  Issues should be fought outside so that they can’t be hijacked by phonies in the party who plan to sell out once they are in office.  Let the regulars get out with Occupy and other issue groups and put in hours and sweat to show they care about anything but their own careers.  Resolutions just exhaust the activists in conventions.

  2. Yeh, I’m well aware how dear to the hearts of DFLers these resolutions are. But they put delegates through hours and hours of arguing and voting.  And some end up in a platform. And the candidates know they aren’t bound to defend your resolution, even if the rank and file decided it was worthy.  “Rubber stamp”  Why rubber stamp?  If you think the voting for candidates is about that, you shouldn’t even bother to go.  That means the central committee or big donors have already decided the election and your vote means nothing.  Really, organization exist to fight on issues year round, not just in these election years.  If parties ever do anything, the cause organizations have forced them into it.  Not party platforms.  If endorsements mean little, resolutions mean less than little.  As a “social lubricant”, they may help break the ice, but how many hours of time of other people who don’t need to break the ice in that way can we in good conscience waste?  I think even-numbered years are more than enough opportunity for resolutions.  At least a platform exists for the candidate to ignore in those  years.  R T Rybak rode airplane noise into a paying job.  He used resolutions probably as a way to build an image that turned out to be pretty deceptive. I don’t need to invest my time so that other people with career ambitions do what Rybak did.

  3. Resolutions were my first avenue into the political process when, at a very young age, I drafted proposals for resolutions and suggested the ones I thought my DFL-activist dad should carry to the convention. Resolutions allowed me to speak to other DFLers at precinct caucuses over the years – and to find out when I was among kindred spirits and when that was not the case. Resolutions offer a chance to do something besides rubber-stamp or choose among the few candidates for office, who have often spent their time trying not to take sides on the issues. It may be true, as you say, that issues will be “hijacked by phonies in the party who plan to sell out once they are in office.” But resolutions lead to platforms and offer a chance to say that the party is more than the candidate – and that candidates can be held accountable to some principles bigger than themselves. 

  4. And I am a long time fan of Jim Mork.  I love your post today on the Issues List on Mark Andrew.  We just put the Southside Pride Riverside edition to bed and I was informed by two of your posts on something, somewhere to help write articles on the new Riverside Market and burglaries in Cooper.  I agree that opportunistic politicians will cynically agree to anything to get elected and sell us out downtown, and I agree that debating resolutions can be exhausting and frustrating, but how else do we have a hope of holding the bastards accountable and how else can we hope to educate our neighbors about new possibilities.  It’s like everything else in a democracy–it’s long, tedious, easily sold out, easily corrupted and, for the most part, boring–it’s just better than anything else.

    See you tomorrow at the Convention.

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