Green Convention

Green Party of Louisiana Convention 2014 Flyer

Over the past couple weeks, volunteers (including yours truly) have attempted to call every registered Green in the state of Lousiana, just to let people know that we’re organizing this convention on January 25. Our 2012 presidential candidate Jill Stein will be there.

Don’t let the slick graphics fool you: This is a grassroots, seat-of-the-pants effort. We value each and every person’s participation.

I should perhaps mention what the Green Party is about. A lot of people think it’s an environmental group. It’s not. It’s a political party which holds ecological wisdom as a core value. Social justice, grassroots democracy and nonviolence are the other pillars of the party. Obviously our efforts are focused on Louisiana, but the Green Party is an international movement.

Frankly the party needs an infusion of fresh blood. If you’re at all interested in these things, you should most certainly come and learn more. Please register at lagreens.org.
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Malik’s Money

We got our Malik Rahim campaign sign, and it is proudly on display in front of our house.

I chatted with Christian Roselund a bit when he dropped the sign off. He informed me that Malik’s candidacy has caught the attention of many Greens across the country. Some of them are, as one might expect, a little flaky, bless ‘em. But the monetary support is pouring in, and the campaign is using that money for media buys.

Therefore I read with some interest Michelle Krupa’s article in this morning’s paper, about the Republican candidate’s fund-raising efforts. After detailing Anh Joseph Cao’s financial situation and comparing it to William Jefferson’s, toward the end there is a mention of Malik’s campaign.

Jefferson’s other two challengers do not appear to have had much success raising money. Rahim reported that he collected about $2,000 from individual and corporate donors during the six-week period starting Oct. 1, and had pumped another $3,000 of this own money into the campaign. Records show he spent $900 on T-shirts.

But that is substantially less than the numbers mentioned to me by Christian. Sure enough, Christian has since confirmed by e-mail that, according to the SEC, Malik’s campaign raised a total of $10,985. He even supplies a link. He adds that by this time the campaign has raised closer to $20,000.

It’s also worth noting that Stephanie Grace’s recent opinion column made no mention of any candidate other than Cao and Jefferson.

Poetry Party Photo Collage

Dipping into ye olde hard drive, I found this photo collage I made six years ago. I still think this is pretty cool.

Poetry Party

I didn’t use a flash and so most of my pix turned out blurry, but when reduced for this collage they actually look decent.

Of all the people who read and performed at this event, I was most impressed by Christian Champagne. He was introduced as “doing for Yat what Dylan Thomas did for Welsh.”

Also, the big out-of-town guest, Art Goodtimes, is a pretty interesting guy.

All in all this was a great evening.

Not So Greenless After All

I recently bemoaned the lack of any Green Party candidates in the upcoming New Orleans elections. But apparently I was wrong. Somehow, I overlooked Paul Mirarchi Massa who is running for Clerk of Criminal Court as a Green, according to the sample ballot provided by the Secretary of State.

Assuming this information is correct, his candidacy is noteworthy. The Green Party only got official recongition in this state last summer, just a few weeks before Katrina. I believe that this is the first time a Green candidate will appear as such on a ballot in Louisiana. However, the LWV lists his party affiliation as “The Human Party,” of which he is both founder and chairman. Hmmm…

Also, there’s another candidate who is practically Green: Charles Duffy is running for City Council District C. He’s registered as a Democrat, but he says he considers himself as a Green. He would have run as a Green, but he was misinformed and told it wasn’t an option. Check out his website at voteduffy.com. He looks like a great candidate; alas, I’m not in his district.

Greenless

The qualifying period is over, and the field is jam-packed. Two dozen candidates for mayor alone!

I’m sorry to say that no one is running as a Green. Les Evenchick is running for City Council At-Large, but his party affiliation is listed as “no party,” which is probably accurate since I think he quit the Greens a few years back to start his own party.

This is something of a disappointment. The Green Party of Louisiana just achieved official party status in this state last summer. We were gearing up to run a Green slate of candidates for all the City Council posts. I was even tentatively planning to run for my district. “Editor B for District B.” Fellow running mates might have included Leenie Halbert, Malik Rahim and John Clark.

Post-Katrina, I didn’t feel up to it, and I guess none of my fellow Greens did either. I’d heard Malik was running for mayor, but according to today’s paper, he’s not.

At least the Libertarians aren’t fielding any candidates either. That would have been embarrassing.

Nope, it’s mostly Democrats, a smattering of Republicans, and a surprising number of Independents and “no party” people. (What’s the difference, I wonder?)

I notice Manny “Chevrolet” Bruno is running for mayor again. He got my vote last time. I didn’t know anything about him except I heard he was a “barstool philospher.” It was a protest vote, the closest thing to “none of the above” which I could find on the ballot.

I sure hope I don’t have to vote for Manny again this time. There’s so much at stake.

As for Kimberly Williamson Butler… Her candidacy would have amused me in the past, but post-Katrina, it’s just embarrassing.

It’s Official

Today, the Green Party of Louisiana became an officially recognized political party in the state of Louisiana.

Filing

Here’s to a greener future!

On a personal note: Wow. I was there at the founding of the Greater New Orleans Green Party, five years ago, and in the thick of the aborted first effort to form a state party which took place thereafter. I worked the door at the founding convention of the Green Party of Louisiana, when was it, three years ago? I was a delegate from Louisiana to the national convention last summer. I haven’t been as involved lately, but Leenie and Steve came by my house this evening with pix and video of the event, which I helped them get online. I was happy to be a part of the occasion in a small way.

House Party

Last night we had a house party for Adam Wilson, who is running for State Senate in District 4 here in Louisiana. He’s the Green candidate, running against an independent and a Democrat on December 4th.

I’d say the party was a success on several counts. We had more guests than we expected. All the beer got drunk, and a lot of the liquor, and all the food got eaten. A number of people told me they’d never had vegan jambalaya before. Over $400 was raised for the campaign and the Green Party of Louisiana. A number of people were exposed to the Green concept for the first time. Our musical guest, the White Bitch (a.k.a. Michael Patrick Welch) rocked. I personally had a great time, and so did Xy.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the camera out until almost everybody had left, so I don’t have any good pictures, but I think Adam’s campaign manager Jason Neville shot a roll of film.

Not a good picture:

Adam

As for Adam, he’s running on platform to:

  • reintroduce the “Contraceptive Equity Bill” which would require health insurance plans to cover contraceptives
  • restore cut funding to Charity Hospital and establish universal healthcare
  • raise the minimum wage to a living wage
  • provide public financing to City Park
  • support lead abatement programs

Adam Wilson should not be confused with Adam Holmes who is running for vice-president of Ridgeview Elementary School.

Cobb on Slashdot

Holy shit! David Cobb is on Slashdot today. I guess I missed the initial call for questions last week. Today, they feature David’s answers to the twelve best questions from Slashdot readers. (Well, I say “best” but actually they’re voted on by other readers, so perhaps “most popular” would be more accurate.) The questions are pretty interesting and, as you’d expect in this venue, they incline toward the techo-geeky. David’s answers demonstrate exactly why I supported him. I even get the feeling that they were really written by him personally, though of course I have no way of knowing; it could be an intern.

It’s nice to see him make an explicit connection between Green politics and the Open Source movement.

My Ears Are Clean

The Green Party had a media training workshop; since it was at Xavier I had to be there for the duration. Attendance was not so good; in fact it was pathetic. Blame it on Ivan, or the fact that it was an election day, or both. Besides myself and Debbie (the organizer) and Scott (the trainer) there were only two people who showed up. But the quality of the information was good.

Afterwards Xy and I voted.


Once every three years or so, I take out my earrings and clean them, whether they need it or not. And they always need it. They are hollow and they get filled up with wax or dead skin cells. Anyway, that’s what I did Saturday night.

Mid-Convention

People showed up after all, over 20 in fact. Andrea Garland and some others spoke about Get Your Act On! Sandra Hester talked about her school board campaign. I was impressed with Hester; her persona on her television show is clearly an act designed to popularize her agenda. When she spoke today, she seemed eminently sane. She also stressed that she’s running as an independent, not a Democrat (as printed in the paper). She’s got my vote.

We’re on lunch break now.

Convention?

Awrite, I got a laptop and projector set up in the room, put signs up around the building. Now it’s 9am, starting time for the convention, and there’s no one here. Except me. Seems like there’s only three or four people in this big old building. It’s kind of spooky.

Maybe people took note of the agenda, which says “Registration/Check-In” lasts from 9am until 10am, and are planning to arrive later. But if anyone did show up now, I wouldn’t have a clue how to register or check them in.

Pre-Convention

The Green Party of Louisiana‘s annual state convention begins in a couple hours. I’ve secured a room at Xavier for the event, which was something of an ordeal in itself.

I’ll confess I’m a bit nervous. For one thing, I haven’t heard much recently from the actual organizer of the event; I think Lee may have been in NYC for the RNC this past week. But, beyond that, I have this gut feeling that some sort of foolishness will go down today. Will it be a problem with the facility? Will there be infighting? Maybe a crazy person will show up and cause a scene. Maybe no one will show up. I don’t know. Maybe everything will go smoothly. Here’s hoping.

Forum. Threeum? Twoum? No-um!

Went to a forum at Grace Episcopal Church to hear the various school board candidates for my district. Only there was a typo in the paper: They got the Canal Street address wrong by five blocks. So I had to walk a little further, but my tardiness didn’t really matter. The forum was getting a late start. There was a pretty good turnout, I thought, about thirty people or so.

In fact, as it developed, three of the four candidates didn’t make it to the forum. One had a death in the family. One was ill. I forget what the third story was. Only the incumbent, Jimmy Fahrenholtz, showed up. Well, you can’t have a forum with one candidate, so the League of Women’s Voters took their signs down and Jimmy was allowed to make a brief statement.

According to the Times-Picayune, none of the no-shows notified the organizers that they would be absent. I don’t wish to be uncharitable, but I was not impressed. I attended because I was truly interested to hear what these candidates had to say. I especially wanted to hear from Sandra “Eighteen Wheeler” Hester. She’s been such an outspoken critic of the school board lo these many years, her public access television show is perfectly outrageous, and now she’s a candidate. She once called the incumbent “Jimmy Fahren-honkie,” and it’s that kind of rhetoric that promised to make this an interesting event. The GNOGP has endorsed her independent candidacy, but the paper said she’s running as a Democrat.

I’m conflicted because part of me would like Hester in a position of authority, just to see what she does. But I am also inclined to vote for Fahrenholtz because he was one of only two board members who recently supported Superintendent Amato. The rest of the board tried to fire him in a scenario that just seemed very dirty. He strikes me as one of the good guys, but I’d like to hear from his opponents. Something is way wrong with the school board; maybe there aren’t any good guys.

I ran into Dave Cash so the evening was not a total loss. Looks like Poppy Z. Brite was also there at the forum that didn’t happen. She’s posted Hester’s Top 10 Reasons Why The Orleans Parish School Board Should Be Recalled and Indicted on her LiveJournal.

Convention Notes: Aftermath

Saturday afternoon: Even though I didn’t vote with the pro-Nader folks, I did attend a “Greens for Nader” confab that took place immediately after Cobb accepted the nomination.

The energy in the room was weird, to say the least. These Greens were going to continue working for Nader even though he didn’t get the endorsement of the Green Party. Almost as soon as I arrived, a Cobb supporter started bellowing, “What happened to unity?” He was very loud; he almost seemed drunk, though I don’t think he was. The Nader supporters immediately responded: “Why didn’t you support our unity proposal?” — that is, the dual endorsement proposed by Camejo.

One Nader guy got the Cobb guy to quiet down, and was talking to him earnestly, when some other people decided Cobb supporters had no place in this meeting. They approached the Cobb guy and asked him to leave. The Nader guy who was already talking to him got agitated: “Leave him alone! I don’t like people acting like a mob! What happend to free speech? Don’t touch me!” When the others told him to leave too, he got angrier: “I’m a Nader supporter!

This mess was resolved in relatively short order, and the Cobb guy joined the long line of people who were each allotted one minute to speak.

A French-Canadian woman at the head of the line spoke her piece, and said that Nader and Camejo had given her a “political orgasm.” A few more also got to speak, then the group deferred to Nader’s vice-presidential running mate, Peter Camejo.

I was worried that Camejo might denounce Cobb or question the legitimacy of the nominating process. He didn’t, at least not directly. But he did make several dark allusions and hints. “I could say some things, but that would make people angry.” He referred to “hanky-panky” in the process, but he did not elaborate, stressing that now was not the time for that.

It was, Camejo noted, a “peculiar” situation. After all, if Cobb had lost the nomination, that campaign would have ended; but since Nader was running as an independent, his candidacy would continue. This was a disappointing day, but it was not a disaster. Instead, it was a “speed bump,” and the thing to do was to “analyze that bump.” In part, it revealed a new development, that “political currents” now existed in the party. Greens embrace diversity in many forms, and now we need to start thinking about how to embrace political diversity, too.

Mainly Camejo spoke against Kerry and the Democrats. The crowd applauded him again and again.

I looked across the room at Art and Robert, my fellow delegates, firmly in the Nader camp. Would they leave the party? Would we still be friends when we got back to New Orleans? What of the hundreds of other Nader delegates, and the thousands of pro-Nader Greens across the country? Would they accept and respect the democratic process, however flawed, that led to the Cobb nomination, or would they split from the group? Clearly, there’s a rift here. How deep is it?

Convention Notes: 2nd Round

Saturday afternoon: We walked a few blocks to a shop that sold Fair Trade coffee. We got some sandwiches. We ate. And we tried to figure out what would happen next.

The field would be narrowed in the second round of voting. Only candidates who had submitted a letter of intent, stating that they would accept the nomination, would remain in the running. Cobb was the only person known to have submitted such a letter. Nader would not be an option. Of course, the “no nominee” option would be there, and if “no nominee” prevailed, we would have the option to endorse a candidate, including Nader, which would be decided via instant runoff voting.

I ran into Kent Mesplay outside the coffee shop, and he told me he had submitted a letter and was still in the running. The joke began circulating that Mesplay was a “spoiler.” I emphasize that this was said in jest!

When we got back to the floor, Matt announced the field had narrowed to four options: David Cobb, No Nominee, Kent Mesplay, and JoAnne Bier Beeman.

We were now free to vote our consciences, as virtually all delegates were “released” after the first round.

Cammie offered Dan a backrub if he’d vote for Cobb.

Robert asked the pro-Cobb people in our delegation to make one last pitch for why he should vote for Cobb. Then Robert gave us a very good pitch on why we should support Nader.

Robert took Jason and Dan and me off the floor to talk briefly with Jason West, the young mayor of New Paltz, New York. He’s something of a hero within the Party because he started performing marriages for people who happened to be of the same sex. He was also named one of the “50 Hottest Bachelors” by People magazine. (Hm, come to think of it, didn’t the Bay Guardian name Matt Gonzalez one of the sexiest people in the Bay Area?) Jason to pitched the dual endorsement idea to us.

I was starting to find dual endorsement somewhat appealing, but the road to getting there was problematic. We would have to vote for “No Nominee” now, with no assurance that a dual endorsement would actually carry the day.

With substantial misgivings, I wrote “David Cobb” on my ballot. I almost wrote “No Nominee.” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Was I making a mistake? Was I thinking to much about my party and not enough about my country? I couldn’t get past my same simple-minded objections: Nader could have sought the nomination, but he didn’t. In fact, I realized, I hadn’t really changed my mind since January, when Nader announced he would run as an independent. Was I being small-minded, petty? I really like David Cobb. But was I really voting for him, or was I voting against Nader? I’m not trying to be coy with all these questions; they were bouncing around in my head at the time, and I still don’t know what to think.

The second round of voting was much more matter-of-fact and less flamboyant than the first.

When Minnesota turned in a large Cobb vote, Art remarked, almost under his breath, “I thought Minnesota would have been more left.” This offhand comment really got my attention. I felt that it encapsulated the divisions that had emerged in the run-up to this moment. Was this really a battle between leftists and moderates within the Green Party? I honestly don’t know.

Our delegation was split: five votes for No Nominee, four for Cobb.

Soon the votes were in. Final tally:

Cobb 408
No Nominee 308
Mesplay 43
Beeman 8
abstain 3

Thus, Cobb secured the nomination. There was plenty of cheering and jubilation amongst the Cobb camp. The Nader camp was pretty dejected.

Cobb took the stage as “Fortunate Son” blared. He began by saying that “as a white person, I have to acknowledge that white privilege exists, and male privilege exists,” and with that he introduced his running mate, Pat LaMarche. She spoke briefly. Sadly, all I can remember was her joke about blow-drying her hair for the first time in years. Then Cobb gave his speech, leading off with how Nader had more influence on him than any human being outside his family.

All I could think was how odd it felt to vote for a winner. I’m used to voting for righteous losers, but here was the guy I voted for doing a victory dance. That felt funny and not entirely good. I’m experiencing voter’s remorse! It kind of makes me wish I’d voted for Kent Mesplay. However, I take some consolation in knowing that, in four months, Cobb will lose the big race, and I can continue to gripe about whoever wins.

I think the party made the right decision, but time will tell if Cobb can make good on his promise to help local Green parties and candidates, given his limited resources and relatively low profile.


This write-up of mine is pretty lame, but I hope it at least serves as an accurate record of one person’s experience. Here are two much better articles that reflect on what happened in Milwaukee from two very different perspectives:

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/June04/Glick0629.htm
http://www.counterpunch.org/maass07012004.html

See also: The aftermath.

Convention Notes: 1st Round

Saturday morning: After breakfast at the Midwest Diner, Debbie and I walked over to the massive Midwest Airline Center, where the Presidential Nominating Convention was to take place. I registered and got my delegate credential. The other members of our delegation were already there, including Art, who was working at the Solidarity table. Talk was circulating amongst the pro-Cobb camp, warnings of expected disruptions on the floor from the pro-Nader camp. I wonder if similar talk was circulating amongst the Naderites?

After a bit of milling around, we each made our way into the big ballroom and onto the convention floor. This was my first political convention ever, but I found myself familiar with the general milieu, I guess from watching the Democrats and Republicans on television. Of course, the Green Party is much smaller, so there were hundreds of delegates on the floor rather than thousands. But there was a general sense of excitement and anticipation.

Soon things were rolling. Matt Gonzalez was the elections manager and presided over the process. On the San Francisco Board of Supervisers, he’s one of the most important Green officeholders in the land, but more importantly he’s the brother of Chuck Gonzalez, who rocked such great Bloomington bands as Stranded at the Drive-In and Lessick’s Kid.

Each of the candidates addressed us in turn. Not Nader, of course; he wasn’t in Milwaukee, but Peter Camejo spoke on his behalf and encouraged us to support a dual endorsement. A Cobb supporter yelled something at him. Later, Jason stood and applauded Camejo, as if to show that not all Cobb supporters were assholes.

Cobb spoke, and he concluded his speech with the news that he’d been endorsed by the newly-formed Black Caucus. Immediately a couple of African-American delegates near us stood up and protested: “That’s not true!” A general hubbub arose, then quieted quickly as the next candidate took the stage.

Carol Miller from New Mexico gave an angry, strident speech. “It is the United States government that is the enemy of the peoples of the world.” Now there’s a sentiment you won’t hear at the Democratic or Republican conventions. She also made a damn good case against Cobb’s campaign strategy, perhaps the best case I’d heard yet.

Lorna Salzman, Kent Mesplay and several others gave good speeches.

A guy named Richard Campbell spoke on behalf of No Candidate/No Endorsement. He ran for office in Maryland and lost by 80 votes. A fellow Green he worked with lost another race by 20 votes. His point was that we need to concentrate on local races we can actually win rather than pissing off a lot of friends running a race we can’t win. I was impressed by the sincerity of this argument. It’s pretty fuckin’ cool to have someone speaking up on behalf of None of the Above.

After the last candidate had spoken, the leaders of the Black Caucus appeared on the stage to correct Cobb’s statement and offer an apology on his behalf. It seems a caucus member had miscommunicated to Cobb; in fact the Black Caucus had endorsed the D.C. Blue-Green Voter X-Change Project, which requires a Green candidate, but they hadn’t been any more specific than that.

Ballots were distributed. I marked mine for Jonathan D. Farley, as I was bound to do. I was elected at our state caucus, remember?

Finally the main event began: the tallying of votes. Each delegation, standing beside its state placard and surrounded by cameras and microphones, gave its official vote count to the Matt, with a side order of pomp and circumstance. Again, this was something I’d seen on television. But the Greens did it a little differently.

Alabama went first. “The state of Alabama has four delegates… We are, in the Alabama Green Party, proud and privileged to cast all four votes for David Cobb and Pat LaMarche.”

I think California was the biggest delegation with 132 delegate votes, and they came out heavily in favor of Camejo, with 80-odd votes for him. That’s a lot — nine times the total number of votes Lousiana has. What if Camejo won? This was a mystery to me. After all, Camejo had stated repeatedly that he was not running for president. He’s Nader’s running mate, but Nader was not seeking the nomination. So what would a Camejo victory mean, exactly?

When my Hoosier homies took the mic, we learned that the great state of Indiana stretches “from the shores of polluted Lake Michigan in the north to the clear-cut banks of the Ohio River in the south, with many other sins in between.” [This quote got picked up by the New York Times and some other newspapers.]

When Leenie gave our votes, she affected a Southern drawl, or some kind of weird country twang. This was strange, since she grew up in Baltimore, and since people in New Orleans don’t really talk like that. She took note of Louisiana’s vanishing coastline, and proclaimed that we were the “saggy pants capitol of the world” and that we now had the “most liberalest or Greenest” ballot access laws in the country. “Us Louisiana Greens proudly present these votes.” We cast three votes for Camejo, three votes for Cobb, and three for Jonathan D. Farley. These three votes were the only ones Farley got. I’m sure many people were wondering who this guy was. I hope they remember the name.

Eugene Debs got one vote from the Minnesota delegation.

The Mississippi delegation gave one of the most rousing deliveries, impassioned and angry. Some parts I couldn’t make out because of the cheering of the crowd. “Mississippi, the Magnolia State. With all due respect to our brother and sister states, the greatest state in the union! We’ve given this nation its highs, with musicians like Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley… and also its lows, with Emmett Till… and Edgar Mevers. A state where compasssionate conservatism means kicking 65,000 of our most vulnerable citizens, elderly and the poor, off the Medicaid roles, in an example of what happens when the Frick Republican Party meets the Frack Democratic Party, in a conspiracy to deprive working men and women of justice… and a fair standard of living. We are proud to cast our four votes: Three for Pedro Miguel Camejo, and one for David Cobb.”

(I’d met the lone Cobb delegate from Mississippi the night before, an older gentleman named Sherman Lee Dillon. He ran for governor of that state last year.)

I was moved by these little speeches given by people from all over the country. I almost choked up once or twice. But soon it became clear that no one would take a majority of the votes in the first round. 385 were needed to win, and Cobb came closest with 308. That meant we’d take a break for lunch, then come back and vote again. Anything could happen; the situation was complex and way too close to call.


Tallies for the first round:
Cobb 308 (385 needed)
Nader 117.5
Camejo 118.5
No Nominee 74.5
Mesplay 23.5
Salzman 40
Miller 9.5
NOTA (None of the Above) 35.5

…I don’t have the numbers for the other candidates such as Shiela Bilyeu but I know Farley got three and Debs got one.

To be continued!