27 November 2002
Minneapolis DFL Party
Re: Open meetings
Tuesday 17 December, 6:30 p.m., East Lake Library, 2727 East Lake Street, Minneapolis
Monday 20 January, 6:30 p.m., East Side Neighborhood Service Inc., 1929 NE Second Street, Minneapolis
Dear fellow committee member:
For the past few weeks, I have been averaging several calls or messages a day from other DFLers reeling from the recent election and looking for ways both of venting and of planning a constructive use of the impending time in exile. Here is one example (quoted with the author’s permission):
I keep hearing from DFLers who are in no mood to roll over, who want to know how they can plug into the party and make it better—and get us better candidates. What can I tell them? Is there any movement afoot? Any meetings planned where grassroot DFLers who want to organize and get this party stronger can come together?
There’s tons of energy out there. I’d love to figure out a way to start harnessing it. I figure since we’re going to be in the political wilderness for awhile, let’s use the time wisely. If there are any such gatherings happening, would you please let me know or put me on the invite list.
Interestingly, about half the DFLers that I have heard from (including the one who wrote the message just quoted) are not the usual suspects—they are not Party insiders, not Central Committee members, just faithful voters who don’t understand why the Party fared so poorly at the polls.
After consulting the other officers and senate-district chairs, we will be calling two City Central Committee meetings—one in December, and another in January so that the conversation can include members who cannot attend the December meeting—as a forum for these discussions:
I am not envisioning any agenda, just a forum for talking, listening, and reasoning together. I am also planning on inviting not only the Central Committee, but all the delegates elected at the precinct caucuses, as well as members from outside Minneapolis.
The meetings that I am envisioning are responding to the immediate post-election environment, which has built up an unusual pressure point in the Party. My perception is that there is much consternation, particularly among members who are not involved in the Party’s leadership at any level; and that, because there is no broad-based discussion going on, there are many insular and uncoordinated groups springing up around various issues that may harden into insular and uncoordinated agendas when we finally begin talking to each other. My short-term goal is relieving that pressure by advancing the process of getting everyone talking together in one room. I suggested that there be no agenda so that we don’t get into a debate about whose issue is most important or whose solution is the best—I think that we need a little while where we are all just listening to each other, before we go off figuring out what must be done. I therefore propose the following ground rules:
1. The meeting’s only agenda is an open conversation among interested DFLers about the Party’s direction and future. Every DFLer is welcome and, for these rules’ purposes, a "member" means any DFLer, regardless of whether he or she is on the City Central Committee or lives in Minneapolis.
2. Any member may, before the meeting, submit written remarks, which the chair will—
(a) circulate at the meeting, if possible; and
(b) share after the meeting with other interested leaders in the City, Congressional District, and State Party organizations.
3. Each speaker may speak for up to five minutes per speech. No member is entitled to the floor for a second speech as long as any other member who has not yet spoken is seeking the floor.
4. The chair will generally recognize each member who seeks the floor, in the order in which he or she seeks it. Any public officer, endorsed or other candidate for public office, Party officer or leader, candidate for Party office, other pooh-bah, or member organizing an interest group or a volunteer opportunity may speak on the same basis as any other member, and may identify himself or herself and his or her office, group, or opportunity, but is not thereby entitled to preference in being recognized over any other member.
5. A nonmember—that is, a member of another political party, or a citizen who is not a member of any political party—may—
(a) attend the meeting; and
(b) participate, to the extent that he or she is offering constructive commentary or criticism about how the DFL Party can reach voters outside its membership.
But a nonmember’s rights are subject to the members’ rights, which the chair may take into account when assigning the floor.
6. Each speaker must address his or remarks to the meeting. A speaker may comment, respectfully, on another member’s remarks, in which case the other member may respond when it is his or her turn, but is not thereby entitled to preference in being recognized over any other member.
7. A speaker may ask a question that can be answered with an objective fact, such as a question about the Party’s constitution, bylaws, or call, in which case the chair will answer the question or may refer the question to a knowledgeable member for an answer.
8. The chair will rule on any question of decorum or privilege in the first instance, subject to an appeal to the Central Committee, in which case the voting delegates to the Central Committee will decide the appeal.
9. The meeting will not take any straw poll or other vote supporting or opposing any particular idea, issue, or remark. No main motion, nor any other motion except a privileged motion, is in order at this meeting.
10. A motion to adjourn or recess during the meeting’s first hour takes a two-thirds vote.
Thank you very much. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Very truly yours,