PDS Vice Chair Rachel Heller sent around information about the Caucuses scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5th. I’d like to address the question that folks may be asking themselves: why bother to go to an “issues” convention? What does it matter what the Democratic Party platform says? Isn’t it more important who we elect?
Of course, if we elect good people, we get better government. But sometimes, good people avoid tough decisions, or make bad choices out of political expediency. The Issues Convention is our opportunity to make a statement on behalf of the policy initiatives that we are waiting for our elected officials to implement… and against some pending proposals that represent bad public policy.
I suspect that many of us were alarmed at Gov. Patrick’s effort to pass legislation to promote the develop of a casino industry in Massachusetts. Now, the new Speaker of the House is talking about passing legislation to allow slot machines, which are even worse than casinos. The Convention would be a great place to make a stand against legalizing and promoting the slots.
Even those of us who believe that the social and financial costs of casinos outweigh the benefits would probably allow that casinos might boost the tourism industry and create jobs. Nobody, however, would argue that legalizing the slots would boost tourism or create jobs. We’re not going to draw tourists to Massachusetts with one-armed bandits. Legalizing the slots is all about exploiting the vulnerability of Massachusetts gambling addicts in order to raise revenues without raising taxes. We might as well be proposing to authorize the sale of heroin for the purpose of boosting the State’s sales tax revenues. (Legalizing the slots would also generate the revenues that local dog tracks and horse tracks need in order to keep functioning, despite dwindling crowds.)
That’s just one reason I hope to go. The Convention would also be a great place to make a stand in support of a long list of other policy initiatives whose time, I believe, has come:
· same-day voter registration
· instant runoff voting (IRV)
· corrections reform that replaces mandatory sentencing for drug-related crimes with sentencing that emphasizes treatment, instead of perpetuating a system that bankrupts the Commonwealth and leaves ex-offenders with few options to shuttling back and forth from prison to homeless shelter and back again to prison;
· local option taxes that allow municipalities to raise the funds they need to sustain basic services;
· lifting the sales tax exemption on alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption and devoting revenues to substance abuse treatment;
I’m hoping that the delegates we elect to the Convention will be willing to actively work for a Platform that includes these elements. I’m sure that everyone reading this has their own priorities. I hope that people who care about these and other issues will take the time to either run for delegate yourself, or to make sure that candidates for delegate who share your values get elected.
H: 617-776-0503 C: 617-501-1404
Rachel Heller’s email to the PDS List Serve….
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 7:56 AM
Subject: PDS: Attend your Democratic Ward Committee meeting this week!
Do you want to help shape the Democratic party? Attend your Ward Democratic Caucus this Week!
This past election was a big victory for Democrats. Now, it is time to build off of that momentum and shape the future of the Democratic party! Somerville Democratic Ward Committees are meeting this week to elect delegates to attend the 2009 State Democratic Convention in Springfield. Wards 1,2,3,5,6, and 7 are meeting this Thursday, February 5 at the Argenziano School at 290 Washington Street. Wards 1,2,3,6, and 7 will meet at 7:00 pm. Ward 5 will meet at 8:00 pm on Thursday, February 5. Ward 4 is meeting on Saturday, February 7 at 10:00 am in the Winter Hill Community School at 115 Sycamore Street. If you have any questions about the caucuses, please contact your ward chair or Democratic City Committee Chairperson, Kate Chang at email@example.com.
The caucuses are open to ALL registered Democrats in Somerville. Each ward will elect delegates and alternate delegates. Those not elected as a delegate or alternate may apply to be add-on delegates. If you are unsure of your ward, visit www.wheredoivotema.com.
The Democratic State Convention will bring together Democrats from across Massachusetts to adopt the party’s platform for the next four years. Keynote speaker, David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s campaign manager, will be the keynote speaker. He will share insight he learned during the campaign and his vision for the Democratic party.
The platform process will begin soon and information will be available at the caucuses this week. Whether or not you plan to attend the Convention, you can still play a role in shaping the platform!
The Convention will take place on Saturday, June 6. It costs $75 to attend. Students, seniors, and handicapped delegates can attend for $50 by submitting a waiver form available at www.massdems.org. There will be many carpools bringing people from Somerville. Connect with others at your ward caucus on Thursday, February 5, to start planning carpools.