OPINION | Minneapolis governance belied or betrayed or delayed?

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The fact that there was no endorsement for mayor at the City DFL Convention wasn’t my major disappointment; it was that the DFL endorsement seemed more about who was going to put the logo on their literature than about any hope for participatory governance. That was too bad. Most of the city was represented at the convention center, but missing was any real discussion of our city, of our misbehaving police force who have been unsuccessful in providing safety on our streets and in our homes, of our banks and their continuing foreclosures and refusal to negotiate in good faith, and of the increasing number of hungry, poor, homeless and unemployed people in our city. Let me correct myself, there was a lot of talk about these issues at the tables and in the halls and outside among the smokers, just not on the convention floor.

I was on the Party Constitution Commission to try to address this sad situation, but the Commission spent most of its time defeating several resolutions presented by the current chair to consolidate decision-making with party and city insiders and eliminate as much grassroots involvement in the party as possible. There was the proposal to eliminate elected ward representatives on the central committee and even a proposal to eliminate the elected Constitution Committee. The various proposals to increase discussion of what we stand for as a city party were received well. The final report approved by the Convention said, “The Minneapolis DFL Constitution Committee shall be an ongoing commission. Each ward convention shall elect two delegates to the Commission for a four-year term.

This commission shall review and make recommendations regarding the Minneapolis DFL Constitution and bylaws to the Minneapolis DFL Central Committee and the City Convention.” The final report acknowledged the importance of our proposals for discussion and debate of resolutions: “A proposal was made to codify a process for the City Caucuses and Convention to receive and vote upon resolutions, and perhaps a City Platform. This is such an important issue to the Commission as well as the DFL members residing within the City of Minneapolis. In order to fully address the issue and propose the best language possible, given the time constraints of preparing for this Convention, the Commission agreed to work on this proposal at its next meeting. If you have a specific idea regarding this or any other matter that you would like the Commission to consider, or if you would like emailed notice of the next commission meeting, we would love to hear from you; please contact Jason Cassady, the Chair of the Constitution Commission at jrsc@jrsc.org.”

To call the convention a disappointing spectacle would be to mislead. Spectacles generally are interesting and entertaining. This was boring, kind of like the open auditions to American Idol. Yes, I think that American Idol is a lot like how this felt: trivialized and marketed and completely devoid of soul, honesty and relevance.

The good news is that we can create a party that is a vehicle for regular people to participate in the governance of our city. We can decide to ignore the insider’s contempt for our need to think about issues, and we can refuse to swallow the pabulum. The Farmer Labor Association will be having discussions on issues this summer. Real live discussions with carbon-based bipeds thinking and sharing, as well as online discussions moderated by our silicon-based allies. Our city needs some creative, disciplined thought and action, and that must come from all of us.