OPINION | DFL muzzles dissent at upcoming Minneapolis city convention

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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.

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